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EARLY START WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Rescue Operation Suspended; Internet Blackout; Websites Protest "SOPA"; Cruise Ship Rescue Suspended

Aired January 18, 2012 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And a very good morning. It is quite an EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We are bringing you the news from A to Z. We're very happy you're with us this morning. It's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

So, let's get started.

BANFIELD: And we've got a lot of breaking news that's been coming into our offices around the world.

You know this story already, remarkable pictures out of Italy. And now, we are hearing the rescue operation of that cruise ship listing on its side has been suspended once again because that ship is moving. But not only that, one of the rescuers had to be rescued as well. So, we're going to get you details on that.

SAMBOLIN: So, Wikipedia and other popular Web sites going partially dark, right after midnight that happened. They're protesting anti- piracy bills. That's Google right there.

BANFIELD: You know, if you thought that all's fair in love and war and even the fringes of war, the U.S. and Pakistan are having some trouble right now. Pakistan has pretty much said to the United States -- you know that special envoy you sent us? Send them back. We don't want them.

We'll get to the details of that, too.

SAMBOLIN: Mitt Romney reveals that he pays about a 15 percent tax rate. How do you feel about that? He is resisting calls to release his tax returns. We've got a lot more details headed your way on that.

BANFIELD: First up, though, we want to get you breaking news from overnight, the rescue operation that we've been now covering since the weekend of that doomed cruise ship that is listing perilously on its side in 60 feet of water. So, all of the rescue operations for the remaining people who are considered to be onboard have been suspended because once again, that ship is moving.

It's sitting in 60 feet of water on rock, but there is ocean movement. There are tides. And that means there is movement, and it is dangerous, especially for those who are trying to do the rescue. You see that gurney coming out? That is a rescue worker on that litter being rescued from the operation itself. So, clearly, it has become dangerous for all involved.

U.S. Coast Guard says -- the coast guard workers felt sick because of the stressful conditions under which they have been operating.

And by the way, new today, the captain of the doomed cruise liner is out of jail. He was released overnight. And we have video. It's so strange, looking as though he's being put into a confined vehicle and taken away from the jail. Perhaps for his own safety, perhaps it's standard operating procedure.

SAMBOLIN: He actually looks like he's in handcuffs as he's being escorted out.

BANFIELD: It would be odd, I mean, particularly because yesterday was sort of a perfunctory investigative process as opposed to a typical American court hearing.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BANFIELD: He's still got the presumption of innocence in that country.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, it was odd to see him in handcuffs if he's going into house arrest.

Journalist Barbie Nadeau on the phone right now from Rome.

What is the latest, Barbie?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, I would say there's outrage here in Italy this morning over the (INAUDIBLE) that Francesco Schettino, the captain of this ill-fated ship, is home south of Naples right now. He was whisked away from the jail at 2:00 a.m. local time, arrived at his home in the south of Naples, and that's where he'll stay until the judge makes another decision.

The prosecutor is livid. He's made comments this morning to a number of reporters that he's going to try to get the captain back in jail. Yesterday at a hearing, the judge made a decision not to make a decision about whether or not he should stay in jail for the duration of the investigation. And between the time she made that decision and this morning, he was let go on house arrest. That doesn't mean he's going to stay there for the duration, but it's where he is right now -- as the workers in Giglio are braving, you know, dangerous conditions and stormy seas to try to conduct the rescue operations.

BANFIELD: Barbie, the transmissions that we've been listening to between the captain and the port authority have been absolutely remarkable, more than anyone assumed could be. I'm wondering if there's talk in Italy right now about just how guilty this makes this man sound and how the locals are reacting, as well as the people who are probably still there, the passengers who are still probably in country waiting to go home. NADEAU: Right. And don't forget, 1,000 Italians who are on that ship who are listening to this in their native language. You know, if you understand Italian, the nuances of this commander of the coast guard as he was speaking to this captain, who wasn't speaking to him in a formal tone and was sort of talking to him like he's talking to another sailor, it's just incredible.

And the coast guard official handled it so professionally. He was -- his concern was obviously safety first. He is trying to downplay the notion that he's the hero, and this coast guard official. He said, people are dead, there is no hero.

This is a real drama at this point. This is just the beginning. There's a number of missing people on board.

And there's also the threat of an environmental emergency. There are 500,000 gallons of fuel on that boat. There's a storm predicted, sea storm with waves up to six feet, which is huge for the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean is a very calm sea.

And all of these factors are swirling around. And this captain at home. You know, it's really unbelievable.

SAMBOLIN: Barbie Nadeau, thank you for following this for us. We're going to check back in with you. She's live from Rome.

So many details emerging this morning -- it's kind of tough to see him in handcuffs going home.

BANFIELD: I couldn't tell though. It may have looked that way, but I really couldn't tell.

SAMBOLIN: His hands, I looked at it very carefully to see. His hands are in the front.

BANFIELD: It would be odd, certainly as you're free. Something we would never do in this country.

SAMBOLIN: As he was going to home, right?

BANFIELD: So, as you're looking at headlines, I don't know if you've got your early papers, it's 5:06 on the East Coast.

This one is absolutely remarkable, "The New York Post" basically saying "Chicken of the Sea" with a picture of this captain. In the smaller print, it has the port authority's quote to him over those transmissions. "Get back on board for F sake." And that wraps up the conversation between the two parties.

And we're also hearing standing by now to find about a huge operation to salvage this crippled cruise ship. It's just off the coast, literally in a couple of hundred meters off the rocks of the coast. But there is a heck of a project that they're start to go think through.

Step one, get what Barbie was talking about, those half million gallons of fuel out of the ship's 17 different tanks. It was only three hours into the cruise, so it was pretty much full. That process alone could take weeks upon weeks.

Then they have to decide what to do with the mess. If they can right the ship, they've got to decide whether to cut it up, haul it away for scrap, salvage it in some way.

And the workers thinking who are thinking about all of this salvage are working aside the rescuers as well.

SAMBOLIN: And up until the rescue operation was suspended, they continued to blast holes in the side of the ship. They were looking for signs of life. But so far, they haven't seen any.

The death toll stands at 11 now. Two dozen are still missing, including that American couple from Minnesota, Jerry and Barbara Heil. And today, a prayer vigil will be held for the two of them. There's a picture right there.

The couple's children desperately waiting for any answer, any word about their parents.

(BEGIN VIDEO C LIP)

SARAH HEIL, DAUGHTER OF MISSING PARENTS (via telephone): My mom never travels much until after my dad retired. So they've been going a lot of places. I was really happy for them because they deserved to go on this awesome trip that they had planned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: This was a 16-day vacation they had planned with a trip to the Vatican, devout Catholics, really tough to hear the family there.

As for the owner of the cruise line, it insists that its ships are safe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PIER LUIGI FOSCHI, COSTA CRUISES CEO (through translator): An episode like this which was caused by human factors cannot and must not destroy what we've all done collectively. Our ships are as safe today as they were on Friday. What happened has nothing to do with maritime safety. It has nothing to do with policies and procedures, or our technology, training, and quality of our staff.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Coming up in the next hour at 6:00 a.m. Eastern, we're going to talk to Joe Ryan. He is a passenger on board that cruise ship.

BANFIELD: All right. So, one of the things you might do, if you're like Zoraida or me, is you get up in the morning and you log on. You start looking for information, whether it's news or sports or all sorts of fun things. You might head on to, like, I don't know, your Google, right?

There's a lot of sites that you're not going to be able to get to today. Wikipedia for one is completely blacked out. That's what you're going to see.

And take a look at me over here, I decided to call up my Google page just to do a quick search. Come on over here and take a look at this, guys.

SAMBOLIN: You can get on Google. You're just a little blocked out.

BANFIELD: You know, but it's funny. The way Google operates, they always have a message on their icon. And that's the message today -- big old black bar right over the Google icon.

All of this is essentially a protest over anti-piracy bills. You probably heard of SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act. It's legislation that's kind of, I supposed you can say being worked on, but it is real sluggish. Things aren't going so well on Capitol Hill right now.

I think the intentions were good here. I do think the intentions of this bill were that online piracy is a big problem. Hollywood, television, music -- they all suffer from it. You know, they lose billions of dollars from people who steal.

So the bill is an attempt to sort of mitigate that, but it's not going over so well with people who think it amounts to censorship.

SAMBOLIN: We're actually going to break it down for folks so they understand how it affects for them as well.

BANFIELD: To make it a little more simple, last night on CNN's "OUTFRONT" with Erin Burnett, the co-founder of Wikipedia said it just amounts to online censorship.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY WALES, WIKIPEDIA.ORG: There's a lot of different versions of the act. In the worst version of the bill, Wikipedia would be defined as a search engine and would not be able to even link to something like the Pirate Bay, even in our encyclopedic description of what Pirate Bay is. I think that's a real problem. That raises really serious First Amendment issues.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Full disclosure here, CNN and Time Warner actually supports this legislation, the SOPA, that's sitting before Congress.

SAMBOLIN: And Wales says, "By censoring free and open Internet, the U.S. government would be doing exactly what China does."

The time now is 10 minutes past the hour.

U.S. markets higher yesterday. The Dow and NASDAQ each gained about a half a percent. The S&P 500 up about 0.3 percent. BANFIELD: I don't know whether I should be taxing you on SOPA so early this morning.

Christine Romans, I know there's a huge money issue that has to deal with that. You know what? More people probably today, more concerned with their credit card debt?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're right. Credit card is down over the past year. Last year, we paid off some of our credit card debt. Now it stands on average about $6,576.

So, how much credit card debt do you have? Because the national average is $6,576. It depends where you live. Some states have more credit card debt than others.

You can see from this -- the more red it is, the more likely you are to have higher than average credit card debt. And the whiter that color is of your state, you're likely to be down there.

But, you know, especially the end of the year. A little thing I'm concerned about is the holiday spending. We started putting money back on our credit cards. So, this overall number for 2011 showed we were paying down our credit card debts, guys, but we were still picking up more auto loans, we were still picking up more student loans. Our mortgage debt didn't go down. But we were paying down our credit card debt a little bit.

And I think this year we have to really watch to see if people start -- economy gets a little bit better. People start adding more credit card debt, because the banks are sending me notices. Have you been getting the notices in the mail?

BANFIELD: Two a day.

ROMANS: The banks are starting to send them. They're trying to find people they think are going to able to be good customers.

SAMBOLIN: They think I'm not going to be a good customer. Maybe it's all the moving I've done.

ROMANS: Maybe. They can't find you yet. Then they'll find you. So there you go. Just be careful when you add the debt.

SAMBOLIN: All right. And are we talking politics?

ROMANS: Yes, I want to talk politics quickly because, as the candidates head South, they're getting into new territory in terms of unemployment rate, in terms of foreclosures. I mean, they're going to a couple of big states. Big primaries coming up, South Carolina and Florida that are hurting in a couple of ways.

I want to talk about South Carolina first. The unemployment rate, 9.9 percent. Half of the people unemployed are long-term unemployed, meaning they're really hurting there. And one in 70 properties in South Carolina is in foreclosure. Now, let's head south to Florida. And you can see the unemployment rate there is about 10 percent. You can see that they have 240,000 long-term unemployed. And one in nine properties in some stage of foreclosure.

So housing and long-term unemployment -- two very big things for the GOP candidates as they head South.

BANFIELD: And you're working on Nevada, I'm sure, with those housing numbers, right?

ROMANS: Oh, yes, Nevada's housing numbers are just unbelievable.

BANFIELD: They're like Florida, aren't they?

ROMANS: I think they're worse than Florida. I'll have to check. I mean, look, they're both so bad that it just hurts.

SAMBOLIN: Christine, thank you.

Thirteen minutes past the hour here.

They're getting a big blast of winter in the Pacific Northwest. Have you seen this? Seattle bracing for five to 10 inches of snow.

We say that's no big deal. But for them that's a very big deal. It's usually what they get in a year. It could be one of the largest snowfalls since the 1940s.

BANFIELD: Rob Marciano has his finger on the pulse. He's in the weather center watching all the snow, and watching the reaction to it, and letting us know what's going to happen.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, guys. Yes. In that part of the world, one inches of snow, two inches of snow is a big deal.

Yes, to get several is certainly going to be epic, especially south of Seattle. Right now in Portland, we're seeing several inches of snow on the ground. So, chaos for the most part has ensued there.

There are actually 10,000 people that are without power at the moment as this stream of moisture makes its way into the Pacific Northwest. Eventually, it will get down to the northern California area.

Winter storm warnings have been issued now from the Canadian border, all the way south towards northern California into Utah as well. So, this is a big event. And we'll -- the good news is it will replenish or at least start to build some of the snow pack that's been so, so low this year.

All right. Snowing in Portland right now. Vancouver, three inches on the ground. The rain/snow line just south of Portland.

So, the warmer air will push in. Seattle is just about to get the snow, the second round at least started. And again several inches expected. At least five, if not 10 inches expected Seattle, Tacoma, in through parts of Olympia as well.

The East Coast, a little frontal action moving through the Southeast and cold and blustery -- colder, I should say, across the Northeast. Hold on to your hats. Windy conditions expected from New York to Boston today.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Rob Marciano, thank you so much.

And still to come on EARLY START: rivals want Mitt Romney to show them the money. He's not revealing tax returns, but he is offering up new information about how much he pays Uncle Sam. We're going to share those details with you.

You are watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: It is 5:18 in the East. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin, along with Ashleigh Banfield.

And it's time to check the stories that are making news this morning.

It's a massive rescue operations now temporarily suspended off the coast of Italy, cruise ship rescue because the partially sunken cruise liner Costa Concordia is moving. In the meantime, the ship captain has returned home under house arrest. You see him there being taken away in handcuffs -- it looks like -- as he's headed to house arrest.

And Wikipedia partially dark this morning -- the online encyclopedia protesting anti-piracy legislation. That is before Congress, critics say, the Stop Online Piracy Act, SOPA, as it's known, amounts to Internet censorship.

Time Warner, in sake of full disclosure here, supports this legislation.

And authorities say a smoking object was thrown over a White House fence during an Occupy Wall Street protest. The president and first lady were not there at the time. They were out there celebrating Michelle Obama's 48th birthday.

BANFIELD: So, if you've been watching Mitt Romney and his money seems to be a pretty big headline and actually a real nagging one for the Republican front-runner because his rivals are pushing like mad saying -- all right, Romney, release your tax returns.

Everybody knows that Mitt Romney is a wealthy man. But Mitt Romney is not interested at this point in releasing his tax returns. He's definitely trying to mitigate the situation and kind of just threw this little piece of meat to all those circling media lions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What's the effective rate I've been paying? Well, it's probably closer to the 15 percent rate more than anything because my last 10 years, my income comes overwhelmingly from investments made in the past rather than ordinary income or rather than earned annual income. I get a little bit of income from my book, but I gave that all away. And then I get speaker's fees from time to time but not very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Speaker's fees from time to time but not very much. That's going to be key for my panel in just a moment because from Chicago, we've got conservative radio host Lenny McAllister, and from Washington, "Roll Call" political writer, Shira Toeplitz, and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona.

All right, Lenny, I want you first on this one.

Not very much, apparently, the speaker's fees. But when you actually look at what his speaker's fees were from last year, $374,000. I don't know about you, but for me, that's a lot of money, Lenny.

Does this sort of play to that whole argument from his, you know, fellow politicians and candidates that he's out of touch?

LENNY MCALLISTER, CONSERVATIVE RADIO HOST: I absolutely does, and it's not good thing for the GOP to continue from an establishment standpoint to push him as the nominee. He pays an under tax rate than a lot of Americans do. Somebody that thinks it's not a lot of money to get over $300,000 in speaker's fees. Somebody that can throw around $10,000 bet.

And the big thing for me was, what he mentioned on Monday night, saying that felons that have paid their debt to society, that are moving forward with their life and have reformed, still shouldn't get their voting rights reinstated, something that Rick Santorum did stand for? This is a guy that can't relate to the vast majority of a diverse America moving forward in the 21st century.

He couldn't relate to the issues that Rick Santorum brought up that are impacting black America. He can't relate to the people that are struggling. He thinks that $10,000 bets are something to throw around.

BANFIELD: It's weird. It's weird.

MCALLISTER: This is something that's not good for him. And I think that the grassroots of the Republican establishment and the conservative base are going to say something about it on Saturday to be quite honest with you.

BANFIELD: And I think they're going to invoke his own family's words because our intrepid reporters here at CNN were able to dig back to, oh, 1967 for an article from the "St. Joseph Missouri Gazette." The income tax returns for the last 12 years revealed by Romney. That would be George Romney. That would be Mitt Romney's dad.

And you know what's fascinating about it? This was unprecedented. He's the first politician really to have done so, and he released 12 years. So, Shira, what is the harm, at this point, because it's getting so ugly, for Mitt Romney just to do what his dad did?

SHIRA TOEPLITZ, POLITICS WRITER, ROLL CALL: I think there's probably something in those tax returns that doesn't make us look too favorably on Romney. Look, we're already talking about this being his biggest weakness on the campaign trail, he's uncomfortable talking about his own wealth. That time he's referred to in the past -- maybe remember several months ago in New Hampshire, he jokes that he's unemployed, too. Well, it's not really funny when you're a gazillionaire unlike the people in the diners who are with them.

I think it's a problem for Romney. And I think there's probably something in those tax returns that he doesn't want people to see, because if there wasn't, he would just go ahead and release them already.

BANFIELD: All right. So, I love this. On Sean Hannity's show last night, on a certain cable news channel called FOX, we had a comment from the lovely and talented Sarah Palin. I am always fascinated by what she has to say. She gets traction no matter what you think of her.

This is what she had to say about the candidates and which one in particular she likes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: If I had to vote in South Carolina, in order to keep this thing going, I'd vote for Newt, and I would want this to continue more debates, more vetting of candidates.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: I'd vote for Newt.

All right. So, Maria, she'd vote for Speaker Gingrich. I wanted to sort of get a feel for what all of that meant to the Democrats as they continue to mount their eventual general campaign against whomever the front-runner is going to be.

Does what Sarah Palin says matter or make it easier or harder for the Democrats' battle?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think it matters in that she still has a lot of followers who listen to her, and I think it also matters because it underscores essentially what Lenny was saying earlier, which is this huge tension in the Republican Party between those that believe Mitt Romney is possibly the most electable candidate and those who believe that it's completely the opposite of that because he is not somebody that can be trusted to carry the flag of conservative ideals. And it is something that he cannot, the most important here -- and Lenny alluded to this -- is that he cannot be trusted to relate to middle class families and working class families who are going through so much pain right now. And, frankly, in the general election, they're the ones who are going to be making the decision about who they're going to vote for president. And so, when you have somebody like Mitt Romney representing those interests, he's not credible in that.

So, Sarah Palin and the other conservatives are desperate to find somebody who can really compete with Romney, who can relate to middle class families and blue collar workers, and frankly also carry the ideals of conservative voters. And, right now, Mitt Romney is not that person.

BANFIELD: And just to end on a fun note for those who said I'm not interested in getting in the race, she can still get in. There is a technical way. I know it sounds crazy. There's a technical way -- a whole online movement where she could get on the ballot in all 50 states.

That's not even a conversation for now. It's for another day.

MCALLISTER: Or ever.

CARDONA: That would be great. Lenny, I agree. I'm all for it. We'd love that.

BANFIELD: Guys, thanks. We'll see you in the next hour.

And for the best political coverage in television, make sure you keep it right here on CNN.

Tomorrow night at 8:00 Eastern, join Soledad O'Brien and the rest of the CNN newsteam for live coverage of the Republican presidential debate.

And then also, be sure to stick right here at 7:00 Eastern for live coverage of the South Carolina primary. That is Saturday night.

SAMBOLIN: Five-twenty-five.

And ahead on EARLY START, a developing story in Islamabad. A U.S. envoy to Pakistan says you're not welcome. U.S.-Pakistan divide maybe it's widening now? He's going to postpone his trip. We're going to go a live report coming up next.

You are watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: It is 5:29 in the East. Thanks for joining us this morning on EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BANFIELD: I'm Ashleigh Banfield. Nice to have you back with us on EARLY START, or some would call, really, really EARLY START.

We've got a lot on the agenda we've been working hard overnight and on the next half hour for you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD (voice-over): Some incredible news from Italy. Terrifying passengers, just absolutely incredible words that they heard over the loud speaker on a British airways flight. Ready for this? They're all sleepy, and they hear, "our plane's going down on a water landing." How'd you like that? Turned out it was a false alarm. How'd you like that? Explaining to do on that.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Surprised there weren't any heart attacks on board.

At an Italian cruise ship disaster, can the wrecked Costa Concordia be saved? They're attempting to do that now. It's huge problem with the oil on board that ship as well. We're going to get some more details for you. But first, let's check the stories making news this morning.

Wikipedia, among several prominent internet sites, partially shut down in protest at midnight last night. The companies are fiercely opposed to anti-piracy bills now working their way through Congress. They believe SOPA, which is the Stop Online Piracy Act, will lead to widespread censorship. Time Warner supports this legislation.

BANFIELD: Co-founder of Yahoo! says it's calling it quits today. Jerry Yang is resigning from the board of directors and all other positions (ph) as well of that company. Beginning of the end began with Yang in 2009 when he snubbed a $47 billion buyout from Microsoft.

SAMBOLIN: And new this morning, the rescue operation off the coast of Italy has been suspended. The Italian Coast Guard says the cruise ship is moving. The ship's captain is now out of jail. He is under house arrest.

And also, we have new and dramatic video of the holes the rescuers blew into the side of that ship. Did you see that?

And also new this morning, you can see rescuers risking their lives, hoping to find more survivors. Our Dan Rivers is live on Giglio Island, Italy. Dan, every time we hear more details about this story, it becomes more and more remarkable. The captain was actually released and went home under house arrest?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DAN RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely amazing for his critics here, yes, and that is being challenged now by the prosecutor, challenging that decision to allow him to go home under effectively house arrest because the impression we were given initially from the judge or the prosecutor, that initial hearing was that he was going to be held in custody.

And then, suddenly, there was news that he'd gone back to his hometown south of Naples. So, they are going to try and challenge that and get him back behind bars while this is all (INAUDIBLE). Behind me, if you can see the scene there, there's still a rescue operation ongoing this morning. One of the actual rescue team members had to be plucked off to safety, suffering from, I think, exhausted and stress with all this work.

And they brought in this huge crane as well this morning that they're going to start presumably thinking about how to salvage this ship. There are still a large number of people missing, though, and they've been working all through the night. We were down here until very late last night watching the boats out here.

The police (INAUDIBLE), and they're resuming again this morning. Twenty-three people still missing, and they're very determined to make sure they've searched the entire ship before, I think (ph), salvaging.

BANFIELD (on-camera): Dan, when you're staging on the island of Giglio, the rescuers, we've heard some reports that they're just so demoralized by this, that this is a really tough, you know, assignment from them. Are you getting any buzz from the people that you're around? And when they hold these meetings, are they talking to you about their mood and how they feel about this work?

RIVERS: I think they are. They're absolutely shattered, because they've been going at this now since Friday night here, and you can imagine a lot of them have been doing four hours on, four hours off for, what, five days almost now. They're all exhausted. Of course, you know, a lot of the people on the island anyway, some of the rescuers as well, knew the boat and knew members of the crew.

This ship used to go past every week. So, it wasn't like some distant boat from thousands of miles away. This was a kind of local ship, if you like, crewed by a lot of Italians, some people from this island. And I think this is just devastating to have to search through it now for bodies, including missing Italians, and see the ship as it still is every morning, you know, when the sun comes up.

It hits you like a kind of slap in the face when you see this thing lying on its side and you just realize the terrible sort of trauma that must have gone on aboard as she went over.

BANFIELD: All right. Dan Rivers live in Italy for us. Thank you very much for that report.

And once the rescuers that Dan was talking about are actually allowed to go back to work, because everything just shut down when the ship started moving again overnight. The cruise are going to try to determine if the ship is just complete right off and total loss or, maybe, if it can be safely righted and floated.

Christine Romans has been working into the possibilities, working out all the different scenarios. What have you found out about that operation?

ROMANS: And to do this without any loss of life is really important here, because these are very dangerous procedures. I mean, look, this thing is sitting on its side in 60 feet of water. It's the size of a skyscraper, and they're all kinds of perils and damage inside. First thing that has to happen is naval architects, engineers, divers, computer modelers, salvage experts. They got to see how much damage is done and if this ship is even seaworthy. One theory is then to get it upright by something called par buckling. The ship's starboard side is under about 60 feet of water. Work loads would have to pump air into this balloon, really, get this thing popped up, and then, you'd have other ship barges and even cables attached to the land which would help raise this thing.

So, even just getting it upright, you can see the technical skill involved in all this. And they've got to make sure that the shifting weight doesn't cause the vessel to roll. If they're going to refloat it, they need to repair the gaping holes, and all of that, and it really is a long process. So, here it is. They would get it upright.

And what's interesting here really is that there are 17 different tanks full of oil. That's really important. They've got to pump all that oil out, get this thing solid, and as they're pumping it out, they've got to also be careful to pump out the sea water and replace it with air. That would allow the ship to rise. And they've got to do that really carefully as well because, guess what, this is in 30,000 square miles, 30,000 square miles, of a marine mammal sanctuary.

So, any time this just getting this thing up, when you don't even know what's happening inside of it, is going to be quite difficult. Now, the step of moving this up with the air bags and the barges pulling on the cables attached to the ship is incredibly technical. This could take weeks and weeks. And the question in the end, you guys, once righted, they've got to decide if they're going to tow this away or they're going to scrap it, they're going to try to repair it, $450 million.

This thing was $450 million in 2006. They've got some really big questions longer term about what to do with this thing. Do tear it apart in place? Take the pieces off for scrap? You could repair it and put it back in service, at least, until December. That's according to the ship's owner.

But you guys, I mean, we're right at the very beginning still here. They're still looking for people inside of this ship even as they're concerned about a storm coming as it's moving, and even this morning, finding out the coast guard has halted any kind of salvage operations because they're concerned that this whole thing is shifting on the rock right now.

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): When you look at that monstrosity and you see the gaping holes in it, it seems almost impossible that they could repair that and that would set sail again and that you would feel comfortable getting on it.

ROMANS: You know, I mean, look, they're going to need welders, computer modelers. They're going to need special engineers. They're going to need divers, underwater welders. This is just the very -- I mean, I can't even -- they're talking about what to do right now. The salvage experts are right there with the rescuers because this is the same kind of operation in the very early stages, but there's a long way to go for this thing. BANFIELD: And the storm coming that you just mentioned, that is just ominous. Christine, keep an eye.

ROMANS: All right.

BANFIELD: Thanks very much.

SAMBOLIN: And still ahead, Wikipedia and other popular sites going dark to protest internet piracy bills before Congress. We're going to speak to the managing editor of one of those sites, Boing Boing. You're watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: And good morning to you, Houston, Texas. It's 45 degrees outside, and it's only 4:40 in the morning. So, don't despair. You're going to head up to 64 today. By the rest of the nation's standards, that's a vacation spot. Hi, Houston. Love you, miss you.

SAMBOLIN: How long were you in Houston?

BANFIELD: I was actually in Dallas and spent time going back and forth between Houston, but I spent four-and-a-half years in Texas, and I feel like it's an adopted home.

SAMBOLIN: Great state.

BANFIELD: And when I talk about Texas, all of a sudden, start talking Texan.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: I don't know why that is.

SAMBOLIN: I wonder. All right. It's 40 minutes past the hour here.

Popular Internet sites, Wikipedia, and other major sites like Redhead and Boing Boing partially dark for 24 hours. Why? They're protesting legislation now before Congress to fight online piracy. So, they fear that more government control will lead to censorship of the free and open Internet. Time Warner, we need to tell you, the parent company of CNN, supports this legislation.

And Rob Beschizza, I think I got it right, managing editor of Boing Boing is with us from Pittsburgh via Skype. Did I get your last name right or wrong?

ROB BESCHIZZA, MANAGING EDITOR, BOING BOING: You did perfectly. Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: Excellent. All right. So, you know, when we come in in the morning, we go online, and you know, we're trying to do a little bit of research, perhaps, we're looking at some video. How are we affected by this legislation that you oppose?

BESCHIZZA: Well, in the past, the media industry has often gone after particular infringes, people who downloaded stuff and (ph) sharing it. And now, they're going after web sites that link to these things. And the bill is supposed to let corporate holders get against them.

And there all sorts of various methods for getting sites blacklisted or blocked. The problem is that the measure so wide ranging, so open to abuse, that we're worried the sites like ours can be brought down by frivolous claims.

SAMBOLIN: How does that affect the average user? I don't mean to use us as an example as the media, but us as an example, as the average person.

BESCHIZZA: Well, what it means is that the sites that they like will be taken down off the Internet, and it also means that sites where they participate and contribute content such as Redhead and such as Boing Boing might no longer be able to let them publish anything they like because the liability it creates for them and for us.

SAMBOLIN: OK. But piracy is a big issue on the Internet. So, if not this legislation, then what?

BESCHIZZA: Well, the problem is this legislation won't stop piracy. And years of new laws and aggressive litigation, none of it has had the slightest impact on piracy. Even if they get everything they want, there's no reason to think that pirates won't find a way around it.

So, you know, if the media industry, the MPA and so on, if they want to find a way to fight piracy, they need to spend less money sending legal threats and more money making recultures (ph), maybe making working on their PR a bit.

SAMBOLIN: And so, what specifically about this legislation would you change?

BESCHIZZA: I would kill it, because the whole thing from the ground up was designed to interfere with how the Internet works. That's the current kind of solution that the media industry is approaching.

And it can't be fixed because when you approach it from that perspective where everything is about blocking DNS and starting up Internet blacklists, you only are going to be one step away from censorship and all the message, though, authoritarian regimes use to keep control of the Internet in less pleasant places than the United States.

SAMBOLIN: Now, this was supposed to start as a major effort, right? All of these web sites were supposed to go black, and they didn't. So, I mean, do you think that the sites actually support the legislation, because, you know, maybe it's a little bit more difficult to navigate or you get a little confused, but they didn't actually go black.

BESCHIZZA: Well, ours is black. If you go to BoingBoing.net, you'll see exactly what will happen to our web site if laws like this pass. I don't think it was fair for people to expect big sites like Twitter and Google to go down, because they kind of serve a role as communications medium, as an infrastructure medium.

So, you know, they can't really go down. But sites likes ours, which are small sites, which are easily put in, you know, all sorts of trouble by frivolous lawsuits, we're the people who need to really worry about this, and I think our readers will understand why we're doing it.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Rob Beschizza, managing editor of Boing Boing, thank you for joining us this morning.

BANFIELD: It's 44 minutes past 5:00 on the East Coast. Time to get you up to date on the top stories of the morning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD (voice-over): The rescue operation on board the capsized cruise ship in Italy on hold again this morning. Concerns because that ship once again is moving in the ocean. The ship's captain, at this point, is under house arrest after being released from jail late yesterday.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, revealing he pays about a 15 percent income tax rate. But so far, he is still resisting to release his tax returns. Romney says his annual income is overwhelmingly from investments, which is taxed at that rate.

BANFIELD: And leaders of the Occupy Wall Street movement are approving a partial spending freeze on their movement after their web site showed that the group spent almost $2,500 on tea leaves and herbs and another $3,000 on, quote, "supplies for puppets for Halloween."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD (on-camera): Now, there could be puppets for, you know, protest purposes. I've seen those before. So, that may not be such a bad thing, but just seeing that in print might not be too palatable for some.

And still to come on EARLY START, you got a developing story out of Pakistan. That guy, that happens to be our U.S. envoy to Pakistan. And Pakistan is saying thanks but no thanks on your way back to the U.S. What exactly is wrong with our relationship with someone who's supposed to be our ally? The answer coming next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Good morning, everybody. It is an EARLY START for you. It's 48 minutes past the hour.

And if you needed further evidence this morning that the relationship between our country and Pakistan is on the ropes? Look no further. Because Pakistan is asking our U.S. special envoy, Marc Grossman, to quote, "stay away" and suggesting that a visit from Mr. Grossman could actually spark anti-American sentiment. SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Reza Sayah is breaking the story for us, and she is on the phone right now from Islamabad. What can you tell us? Any last-minute developments here?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pakistan is essentially saying now is not the right time for a U.S. visit. And this obviously shows all is still not well between Islamabad and Washington. Marc Grossman is a U.S. special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan. He's been here many times. He was going to be in the region, and he wanted to visit Pakistan, but the government here is saying not now.

Government official here is saying they've asked Mr. Grossman to hold off on the visit until the government here finishes reviewing its partnership with the U.S. This partnership, obviously, has been a rocky one, to say the least despite U.S. aid, these two countries have butted heads. Things really going downhill last year when the U.S. raided the Bin Laden compound and didn't tell Pakistan beforehand.

Then, you had the NATO airstrike in November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on Pakistani soil. So, there's a lot of anti-American sentiment in Pakistan. The government is under pressure to do something about it. They're reviewing their partnership, and essentially, saying don't come, Mr. Grossman, until that review is over.

And U.S. officials are downplaying this decision. they say they understand, and they say a visit will be more productive until after this review has been completed by Pakistan.

BANFIELD: Reza, when Richard Holbrooke was the U.S. envoy, it did not seem that we were having these kinds of difficulties. In fact, it seemed as though the relationship was getting a whole lot better. So, I guess, I'm curious as if, perhaps, it is strictly a drone attack issue or something far greater is afoot?

SAYAH: Look, when Richard Holbrooke was the special envoy, he didn't have the Bin Laden raid on his compound last year. You didn't have the NATO airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. There's always been two very different narratives when it comes to U.S.-Pakistani relations.

One is the Washington viewpoint. We give Pakistan billions and they owe us, and they're not doing enough. The other is from Pakistan that says the U.S. is the root cause of the problems in the region, and no amount of U.S. aid will compensate for the damage Washington has done in the region.

It's Pakistan's position that there was no militancy in the region until the U.S. came in with Pakistan's support and backed the Afghan jihad against the soviets in the 1980s. They also say they didn't have suicide attacks until the U.S. invaded Afghanistan after 9/11. And it's those different viewpoints that's the reason why this partnership has been a rocky one.

In the past, these two countries have managed to work things out because they've needed one another. There's no sign right now that this partnership is going to fall apart, but certainly, they have a lot of work to do in this latest decision by the government. To tell Mr. Grossman to stay away is another indication of that.

SAMBOLIN: It's a critical relationship. Reza Sayah, thank you so much for joining us this morning.

5:52 in the east. Up next, flyers aboard one jumbo jet getting quite a scare. A voice comes over a P.A. system telling everyone on board they might only have a few minutes left to live. Brace yourselves for a water landing. How would you react?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. It's just about six o'clock in the east here. We're keeping you in the pop culture loop this morning by taking a look at what's trending on the web and in social media.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): This is a doozy here. British Airways is apologizing to passengers. They mistakenly played a frightening message during a flight from Miami to London Friday night. The passengers were actually told they were going down and to brace themselves for a water landing.

BANFIELD (voice-over): Ow! That would be horrifying.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): So, a flight attendant comes on 30 seconds later, and she apologizes for the mistake. But in the meantime, there are folks crying, thinking they're dying. It was just horrific. And when they got off the plane, there was a letter waiting saying we're sorry. We made a mistake.

BANFIELD (on-camera): It's like, they pressed a button? Is it that simple?

SAMBOLIN: There's just no -- there's been no explanation yet for it.

BANFIELD: Well, it's a good thing it has a good ending.

Here's something that's interesting. If you like food channel and you like the Southern Belle of Butter -- I love Paula Deen. She's now confirming that she has type II diabetes and has had it for three years.

She was on the "Today" show talking to Al Roker saying she's kind of wanted to keep this private for awhile, but did disclose that she's a paid spokesperson for a pharmaceutical company that actually supplies her the drugs to treat her diabetes. And she's -- look at those biscuits. Oh, Lord! They do look phenomenal, and she has talked a lot about sugary and fatty foods for a long time, but she --

SAMBOLIN: A lot of people are really upset about this. BANFIELD: These foods are terrible, it's just in moderation, you can manage it. And she's also suggesting she's going to tailor a lot of what she does towards a healthier eating.

SAMBOLIN: But they're upset that she waited so long to, you know, make the statement, right? And now, that she's making money off of a pharmaceutical company. So --

BANFIELD: Especially with all that, you know, attention to butter. I love butter like the next guy, but it is a fear. It is for sure.

SAMBOLIN: All right, in the next hour on EARLY START, the Italy cruise ship disaster. There are new developments with the captain. And also, how do they salvage the wreckage? Are they going to be able to do that? They're working really hard trying to accomplish that but very dangerous conditions.

And if someone threw a smoking object over your front lawn fence, how would you react? I'll bet you you wouldn't have a bunch of people out in front of your lawn protesting to start with, but you know what, the White House takes everything on its lawn seriously. We'll tell you what it was that was hurled onto the lawn.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)