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George Zimmerman Released on Bail; Snow Storms Hit Parts of North East; John Edwards Trial Begins; Metta World Peace Penalized for Violence on Basketball Court; "Stain Of Interest" In Etan Patz Case; Hudson Family Murder Trial; New Threats From North Korea; U.S. Stock Futures Point To A Lower Open; Fastest Growing Industries; Job Seeker Buys "Hire Me!" Billboard; Meteor Shower Causes Sonic Boom; Where Is Isabel?

Aired April 23, 2012 - 06:59   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST: And good morning. Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning is out of jail and back into hiding. We're talking, of course, about George Zimmerman. The man accused of murdering Trayvon Martin. He's been released on bail just moments after midnight.

Sex, lies, money and a battle for the most powerful office in the nation. It is day one of the John Edwards criminal trial.

And airport delays, blackout alerts, winter arrives - yes -- already after daffodils have bloomed. These are live pictures of snow falling in Pennsylvania. We're following severe weather, which is set to pound the Northeast this Monday, April 23rd. STARTING POINT begins right now.


O'BRIEN: I don't! I want to wash my hands and face and hair with spring! But unfortunately, we're talking about snow. Of course, that's Bing Crosby.

Our panel this morning. We're joined by Ted Poe, a congressman, Republican from Texas. A former judge as well. Nice to have you, sir. Gives us two Texans on the panel this morning. Will Cain is a columnist with and Jon Fugelsang is back. He's a political comedian. Nice to have you all with us this morning.

We start with George Zimmerman, who is a free man this morning. He walked out of a Sanford county jail after he was able to post bond. Exactly where he is heading as he awaits trial on murder charges remains a mystery. The location of course being kept secret because of threats to his safety.

We start this morning with Darryl Parks, an attorney for Trayvon Martin's family. Nice to see you, sir. Always great to talk to you. Thanks for being with us.

DARYL PARKS, ATTORNEY FOR THE TRAYVON MARTIN FAMILY: Good morning. O'BRIEN: First and foremost, reaction from the family to the release of George Zimmerman. How are they feeling about that this morning?

PARKS: Well, Soledad, they have certainly are still devastated by him being allowed to walk the streets. However, this family respects the wishes of this court and realizes that under Florida constitution, he has a right to be released. But still that doesn't negate the fact that they have mixed feelings about him being released so close to his actual arrest and the long journey it took to get him there.

O'BRIEN: And $15,000 is what we had to pay on $150,000 bond. How are they feeling about that amount? There are a number of people who said in print they thought that sounded low.

PARKS: The family has stayed away from that issue. We are trying to be as respectful as we can to this process and the court process. Their aspect of this is far more emotional because they have lost their son. And the journey that it took to get them to the point of having him arrested has been a tough one. It's with a very, very heavy heart they see him walk freely late last night back into the public.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Mr. Parks, Will Cain. Part of this process you described was the bond hearing where George Zimmerman took an opportunity to apologize to Trayvon's parents. I understand that wasn't well received with them. What was it about that that they did not appreciate?

PARKS: We had asked them prior to that we thought it should be a private process and happen at some point in the future. It's rather clear at a bond hearing that's not a time for you to take the stand and to offer an apology. At a bond hearing you put on evidence in a case that's related to the pretrial release of bond conditions of the defendant. They took the opportunity, a very self-serving opportunity, to go ahead and offer this apology. When you're in a bond situation, all evidence from the stand should have been directed to the court, and it was not. It was rather clear.

O'BRIEN: There are details about his release at midnight. He followed another man out, didn't look at any of the controversy. Many of them, of course, were surrounding the jail. And then got into a white BMW and drove away. Will you and the family members be notified if in fact George Zimmerman is leaving the state if he leaves Florida and moves to another state while this trial is pending?

PARKS: That part is unclear. As you may know, when the court made its pronouncement, all pretrial release conditions are coordinated with the sheriff's office since they're the ones responsible for his release. However, I'm sure that as we go into it, they will notify the victims' advocate with the state attorney with any information that the family needs to know and are entitled to under law.

O'BRIEN: I see, it will eventually get to Trayvon's parents. We saw in the "Miami Herald's" obituary page a card of thanks and notes from the parents saying they wish to express their heartfelt appreciation for words of encouragement, peaceful rally support to those who signed petitions, poems, video tributes, monetary gifts to our defense fund and al acts of kindness shown to them during this difficult time. Tell me a little bit about this card of thanks and why they decided to put this in the paper now.

PARKS: Well, Soledad, that card is no different from any other newspaper in our country where a family who has lost a loved one where friends have come to the aid to console them during their time of loss. So this is customary in America. Hopefully everyone sees it as just that. Every day in America we see this in the paper and obituary section. This is no different.

O'BRIEN: Will you sum up the case how you think it's going so far. There are critics that say they think the prosecution's case seems weak at this point. Would you agree with them?

PARKS: I disagree with them. The situation we were in last Friday was a bail situation. Mr. O'Mara decided to take a few stabs at the probable cause affidavit, and he did so. Obviously he was not successful in terms of the hearing because, one, his client is still in custody, and number two, bail was set at a level.

I think that we need to be clear here, the prosecution did not come to court to try its whole case. I agree wholeheartedly with what the prosecutor said after the hearing. That was not the trial. It wasn't a mini-trial. That was a bond hearing. We are very confident as we move forward of the evidence that we are quite aware of is enough to convict him. There's also probably additional evidence that we're not aware of, but we believe we have more than sufficient evidence to convict George Zimmerman.

O'BRIEN: Darryl Parks, always nice to see you. Thank you for talking to us. Appreciate it.

PARKS: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Another big story we're following this morning is snow, snow. How weird is that, wet, heavy snow falling hard in parts of the northeast? Some areas between West Virginia and western New York could get up to a foot of snow or more. Other place that could get soaked by four inches of rain and some cities could experience power outages that could last several days. That brings us right to Brian Todd. He's in Pennsylvania this morning. Dubois, is that right?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Soledad, you nailed it Dubois, Pennsylvania. This is where the winter wonderland is occurring on April 23 of all times. You see accumulation around me, the big concern right now, Soledad, heavy accumulation on the trees. The trees here have almost full foliage on them. You see wet snow on the trees packing and they're worried the trees will start to collapse and bring down power lines. We're told from the statewide power company, they already have about 3,000 power outages in Indiana County just west of here, and so that's a big concern. It's going to be a concern throughout the day. This is very heavy wet snow as I climb out of the ditch there. We'll go across the railroad tracks. Our photojournalist is going to follow me. The question is, when is it going to start accumulating on the roads? As you can see here, we're on a highway near interstate 80. Not accumulating on roads yet. There are snowplows and trucks that have gone past here this morning getting ready to plow the roads.

Interestingly for those snowplows they've had to reattach plows and spreaders because they took those of the trucks for spring not anticipating weather like this, Soledad. So they are trying to get out ahead of this as fast as they can.

One emergency management official here told me that a big concern here in Clearfield County and nearby Center County where the snow is starting to accumulate is that they will get all sorts of calls for emergencies. They are worried about home fires. Many have home burning fireplaces and stoves and cold furnaces they'll fire up in this weather and if they get problems with that or fires, they'll have to deploy emergency management people and fire teams and they don't have many in rural areas like that. They are afraid they may get overloaded with calls and have to call someone in the neighboring county and maybe that county will have trouble sending people over because they are heavily deployed. So that's going to be some of the things we'll be looking for in the next few hours as this snow starts to accumulate, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, Brian Todd for us this morning. Such a beautiful shot. It looks so pretty. I have done many of those snow shots. They are so miserable. No hat on, freezing. It looks great. Let's get to meteorologist Rob Marciano to see where the storm is headed now. I know you have done a few of those yourself, mister.

ROB MARCIANO, METEOROLOGIST: Not many in late April. That's what is certainly unusual. Even more -- it's not unprecedented but unusual. What is kind of really weird is that the last time we had a big snowstorm across the east coast was back in October, back when the trees had leaves because it was still fall. This has been a crazy winter in that regard. Center of the low is over New York where it is dry and will continue to be dry. This will move up toward the north and west. But the damage is already done in some spots across parts of upstate New York and through the Finger Lakes.

Temperatures right around hovering around the freezing mark. Notice buffalo and Pittsburgh are above freezing. They're not going to see the accumulation but what we have seen so far, Newfield, New York, 10 inches of snow, Ridgebury, eight inches of snow, Locke, New York, seven inches of snow. More accumulation is expected across western Pennsylvania and cold air will work in from Canada, eight to 16 inches potentially in some spots especially across the higher elevations. Brian Todd mentioned the fall foliage. Winds gusting to 40 miles an hour creating problems not only in snow zone but across major metropolitan airports with delays at Philadelphia, five minutes. LaGuardia will chime in as well.

O'BRIEN: Does that mean my daffodils are done?

MARCIANO: It's mild in New York City right now. So as long temperatures cool down only into the 40s, you're fine.

O'BRIEN: Thank you. Let's get to Zoraida.


O'BRIEN: Zoraida has the rest of the headlines for us. Good morning.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad.

Iran says it cracked the codes on a U.S. spy drone it captured last year and now officials in Tehran are leaking the alleged details. Iran long bragged about capturing the drone which was caught flying in its airspace in December. The Pentagon doubted Iran's military would be able to decode it but Iran says it has. It also claims the data from that drone shows it's the same one that flew over Osama bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan two weeks before he was killed.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy finding himself in a fight for his political life this morning after finishing second in the country's presidential election on Sunday. Socialist candidate Francois Hollande came in first. He defeated Sarkozy by just over one percentage point. The two will face each other in a runoff election on May 6th.

Students and teachers return to class in Oikos University in Oakland this morning three weeks after a gunman opened fire on campus and killed seven people there. And 43-year-old One Goh has been charged with seven counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder. He is due back in court next week to enter a plea.

Rocker Ted Nugent's controversial comments are starting to cost him. Commanders at the U.S. army base in Ft. Knox, Kentucky, have canceled his upcoming performance there. They cite Nugent's recent remarks at an NRA convention that he would be dead or in jail if president Obama was re-elected. Last week the guitarist explained his comments during a meeting with the secret service last week. Consequences, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All of the explanation in the world won't fix that one. All right, Zoraida, thank you.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, sex, money, power, and a sick wife at home. The criminal trial of John Edwards begins today. We'll tell you what to expect and who is going to testify.

And in our "Get Real," it was a world of hurt. Metta World Peace, there's not so much. And if you are headed to work, don't miss the show. Check out our live blog at This is off Jon's playlist, MIA, "Paper Planes."


O'BRIEN: This morning we're talking about sex and politics, money and betrayal. It is in fact the basis for the federal criminal case against former presidential candidate John Edwards which starts today in a North Carolina courtroom. Edwards is accused of accepting nearly $1 million in illegal campaign contributions during his bid for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

Prosecutors say he used that money to pay the expenses of his mistress Rielle Hunter and to hide their extramarital affair from voters and his wife, too. Edward's defense will argue that much of that money was actually siphoned off by his aide Andrew Young to help Young build an expansive dream home. Edwards faces up to 30 years in prison if he's convicted.

Let's get right to a criminal defense attorney Joe Tacopino. Nice to have you. How he has fallen, John Edwards, from running for the presidency of the United States to keeping himself out of it prison. He was offered a deal which he decided not to take in this case.

JOSEPH TACOPINO, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And I think that speaks volumes to the hurdles prosecution has in this case. They offered John Edwards a deal of basically he'd served three months in jail.

O'BRIEN: And he would keep his law license.

TACOPINO: That to me says the prosecution understands and realizes that they have an uphill bat until this case. While John Edwards doesn't win popularity contests for sure, this prosecution and these charges are clearly expanding the scope of the definition of campaign contributions.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about that. Is election finance law clear cut or is there a lot of wiggle room? Because it sounds like so much wiggle room they bring these charges.

TACOPINO: There's enormous amount of wiggle room. It's so vague. Here's one of the key questions -- were these funds being earmarked for the campaign? Were they meant to influence the election? The answer the defense is clearly not. They were not used for the election. And if the donors were going to give this money regardless because they were personal friends of his and they didn't want this extramarital affair to come out, that's not a violation of campaign finance laws.

FUGELSANG: Could not both sides say that concealing the mistress was an attempt to win an election?

TACOPINO: Of course. Concealing a mistress is an attempt to keep your reputation intact. That does not make it a donation for campaign finance. That would then -- any time someone did something for John Edwards that sort of enhanced his reputation or helped him prevented his relationship from being damaged would be a chip that would go into campaign finance kitty. And that's not the law.

This is dangerous. If this prosecution win this is case and they could because of who John Edwards is, this will send a message that will reverberate through any potential candidates going forward because it really muddies the water as to what is campaign finance and what is not.

O'BRIEN: The lawyers have said the indictment of Mr. Edwards amounts to prosecutorial vindictiveness. They point to the prosecutor who initiated the investigation is a Republican who eventually could be seeking that U.S. Senate seat for North Carolina, which is what John Edwards was sitting U.S. senator before all of this drama unfolded in his life.

How ultimately do you think this is going to end? Is this going to go through the entire courtroom process and end up with all of this information being revealed, which I'm sure all parties, certainly Edwards, has no interest in, or will they come to a different deal that's not on the table originally?

TACOPINO: Anything could happen during a trial. Things happen. Witnesses take the stand. They're not what perhaps the prosecution thinks they're going to be after they testify and maybe they revamp their deal. But I know John Edward's lawyers and they certainly are on top of their game.

O'BRIEN: He's had a million.

TACOPINO: The team he has in place is on top of their game. And the laws here are very unclear and when you talk to a jury about proof beyond a reasonable doubt, in this case there's plenty of reasonable doubt.

CAIN: A simple question for you. What is John Edwards -- I know this sounds like we're going back five steps here. What is he specifically charged with? Receiving over his limit of campaign contributions from a single donor?

TACOPINO: That and also making false statements to the government about it. He has to file certain documents.

CAIN: On the first charge, receiving over his limits of campaign funding from a single donor, that is different now, right? This happened in 2008. He's being prosecuted for a law that's no longer enforced?

TACOPINO: But it was in place at the time of his candidacy and that's really what counts. It's a federal offense at the time, and again he's filed documents that the government is claiming were false because he didn't include these contributions although the donors are saying or were saying at the time these were not campaign contributions. These were personal payments that we made.

REP. TED POE, (R) TEXAS: Of course the campaign finance law in the filing is just as complicated as IRS code. People disagree on what it means. These were not public funds. This is not taxpayer money we're talking about. It's private funds. Isn't the issue whether it was a contribution for the campaign, isn't that the main issue whether it was for some other purpose or as a campaign contribution?

TACOPINO: Absolutely. We don't know, but you have to look at circumstances. These are people who knew them. If they made donations to him so to speak regardless of the campaign to cover up his extramarital campaign, that's not a campaign contribution.

And don't forget the defense has two experts. If the judge allows them to testify in this case, it's game over for defense. I think they get an acquittal full blown. It's two former members of the campaign finance committee who will say that this is not a violation of a campaign finance laws.

O'BRIEN: Plus, he's really, really, really wealthy. You have to ask yourself for $900,000, which is tons of money to all of us but actually for him not that much money, wasn't part of that going to intent, which is you need another source of funding because you got to get it around your wife because you don't want people to know about the girlfriend. Isn't that going to be proof in a way for him?

TACOPINO: I guess part of it is he didn't necessarily need the money to subsidize this, but then what account would that come out of that would have raised sort of bells and whistles?

O'BRIEN: You are talking politics. I'm talking affair. All right, appreciate it.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, it's a bird, it's a plane. No. It's actually a really, really loud meteor shower. We'll show you that straight ahead.

Plus, no chance for World Peace as the player formally known as Ron Artest revisits his brawling days. That's his victim on the ground. We have details coming up in our "Get Real" next. Here's Will's playlist, "Redneck mother." That's a terrible name.



O'BRIEN: Toby Keith, "Beer for my Horses."


O'BRIEN: Our get real this morning, who could forget this moment? Take a look back if you will, 2004 Ron Artest playing for the Indiana Pacers runs into the stands and starts brawling. Remember this? Look at that. He just runs into the stands. People are, like, my god, go get him. He starts having a fistfight with fans. It was called "malice in the palace," and was suspended for 86 games.

Fast forward to September, 2011. Artest decided to give up brawling ways and changed his name to Metta World Peace. Who knew World Peace could be so painful. He now plays for the Lakers. He was ejected from yesterday's game for decking Oklahoma City's James Harden with a nasty elbow. That looked seriously painful. He dropped to the court and stayed down for a minute. World peace was tossed for a fragrant foul and the league is reviewing the blow. Do you call it Mr. Peace? He apologized. He said he was only celebrating after a dunk. He says that was not intentional. Take a look. FUGELSANG: He had no idea his body was brushed up against him.

TACOPINO: Last year he won the citizenship award. I don't know what it proves. It proves something. It proves that he should get read about focusing on his name.

FUGELSANG: We remember when Charles Manson changed his name but it didn't change anything. We've seen in the NBA that players can be redeemed and we've seen it happen can Kobe and I hope it happens again with Ron Artest.

CAIN: It hasn't happened yet.

O'BRIEN: I don't know. Accidental?

FUGELSANG: No. Not accidental.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning, a stain that could be blood. Will the new clue lead to a break in the case of Etan Patz?

Also, the emails, Facebook, tweets all of that information overload could actually be making us dumber. How do you deal with it? It's explored in a new book. The author will be with us live. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Is it a blood stain? That, of course, is the question that's being asked this morning about a stain that was found on a wall in the search to solve the decade's old mystery of Etan Patz.

Police and the FBI have been scouring the basement of a building in Lower Manhattan just steps from where the 6-year-old went missing some 33 years ago.

It was the workshop of a local handyman. His name is Othniel Miller who allegedly had paid the boy a dollar salary to be his helper the night before he vanished.

Now on Saturday, forensics evidence found what they called "a stain of interest," which is now being tested at an FBI lab in Quantico.

Lisa Cohen is back with us. She is an Emmy-Award winning producer. The author of a book in 2009 called "After Etan." It's nice to have you back with us. We appreciate it.

So let's walk through what has happened over the last couple of days. First, they've removed literally cut out this stain of interest. It looks like better technology has allowed them to focus on this stain. Update me on what's happened here.

LISA COHEN, AUTHOR, "AFTER ETAN": Well, I just know that they've spent the last four days looking and they haven't had the eureka moment. They haven't found actual remains up to this point. I think that they are probably almost done, but now what they're going to do is take away everything they found because really there's a whole another level of the investigation that will go on over the next several weeks and possibly months.

It was four months before in 2000 when NYPD dug up the basement of the prime suspect to that point, Jose Ramos, before anybody actually came forward to say, well, we've gone through everything. Short of actual skeletal remains, now there's a whole other step.

O'BRIEN: Now, there's so much more technology, right? Now you can actually find fibers and you can look at hair samples. All those things had been removed apparently from the floor, the concrete floor that was dug up now and is being -- they did a grid system and they're removing it in pieces. Why would that not have been removed 30 some years ago because Mr. Miller was interviewed all those many years ago?

COHEN: Yes, honestly, I couldn't tell you. I only know and you know, the way it's been characterized up to this point is that, you know, it would cost too much money for NYPD to do it.

I don't know that's the way it worked. I think my understanding was always that it was an offhanded remark. You're welcome to dig up the basement as long as someone pays for me it.

And it's not clear that then -- we shouldn't do it because we weren't going to spend the money.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: So, Lisa, while attention moved away 30 years ago from Othniel Miller and focused on Jose Ramos as you mentioned. The last couple of years apparently, they started to look again at Mr. Miller, right?

And he somehow in their terms skyrocketed to the top of the list. In the course of one of these interviews he says what if the body was moved. He blurted that out. How did that statement lead them to this new basement?

O'BRIEN: It was his basement.

COHEN: It's was his basement. That's where he had his workshop. I would say the reports that day before he got a dollar from Othniel Miller. He knew Othneil he had been a pal of his for a while.

Not like it was one singular moment that should have tipped everybody off that this scary guy was suddenly zeroing in on him. They knew each other for some time. He knew the family. They were friendly.

He would help them out often around his odd jobs. Othneil did work in that building in the Patz's building.

CAIN: So this is a question of why wasn't more attention on Othniel Miller this past decades and statement what if the body was moved, all of a sudden, made all their heads go how about this guy? COHEN: I only know that there were hundreds of people that the Patz's knew. I mean, there were neighbors and friends that, you know, one little sentence that somebody said would cause attention to be riveted at them for days or weeks on end.

Someone took Etan away for a weekend camping and suddenly they were the person that would be the attention of that or the neighbor across the hall used to drove Etan to school every morning or drove him to school in the morning when there was a bus strike going on.

And he was looked at because he said a few things that made everybody's head spin around.

O'BRIEN: Also since that there are some doubts about Jose Ramos, which was -- he's a child molester who is serving -- I think he served 20 years in prison and is due to get out of prison soon.

But they said that his M.O. was small children was to work a lot to gain their trust. And that in fact, there's not a lot of evidence that he and Etan had a lot of interaction that sort of goes against his M.O. even though the family was able to win a judgment against him.

COHEN: Yes, I mean, I think it would be hard to put yourself in the mind of Jose Ramos to say what turned him on and what didn't turn him on and how he did his work.

I know that he did groom children over periods of time, but I also know that he was somebody who he knew the baby sitter. She wasn't really a baby sitter. She's someone who had walked Etan home from school after school bus ride.

He knew the baby sitter. There was speculation that he was meeting the baby sitter on the way home sometimes. He may have known Etan beforehand and Etan may have known him.

O'BRIEN: So many questions still -- the family members must be, you know, it's so hard to think of, like, if we're going through every moment, you know, with a fine-toothed comb, you have to imagine for parents that live that, brutal, brutal.

Thank you, Lisa. We appreciate you updating us on this. We have to get to headlines. Zoraida has a look at those for us. Hi, Z. Good morning.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Soledad. Good morning. Opening statements begin today in the trial for the man accused of killing Jennifer Hudson's family.

The singer is expected to testify against the defendant, William Balfour. Balfour is the estranged husband of Hudson's sister. He is accused of shooting her mother, brother and nephew in a jealous rage. Balfour has pleaded not guilty. That trial is expected to last up to four weeks. A new round of threats from North Korea against the south. The statement from North Korea's military warns it will soon launch unspecified special actions to reduce South Korea's government and media companies to ashes in less than 4 minutes.

The threat comes on the heels of North Korea's failed rocket launch. The U.N. condemned Pyongyang for the launch of a long-range rocket that exploded just after liftoff. That was 10 days ago.

And "Minding Your Business," U.S. stock futures pointing to a lower open this morning. Dow futures are down sharply right now, 121 points, that's partly because of a new report overnight showing economic growth slowing in China. Also growing concerns about the economies of some European countries especially Spain.

Here at home, a new report showing some businesses are booming. IBIS World tracked the top ten fastest growing industries. Some are unexpected including self-tanning products, Pilates and yoga studios, hot sauce, 3D printers and online eyeglasses and contact lenses.

Also doing well are generic pharmaceuticals, solar panels, social networking games and green and sustainable construction and for-profit universities.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Bennett Olson lost his job in March and was having no luck finding a new one despite sending out dozens of resumes. So the laid off casino worker gambled on a $300 electronic billboard next to a highway in Minneapolis.


BENNETT OLSON, JOB SEEKER: I was just trying to think of ideas to set myself apart from other people and to get myself out there and maybe try to capture the attention of somebody.


SAMBOLIN: So no job offers yet, but a vice president of a laser tech company e-mailed Bennett that he wants to talk to him.

And a meteor shower that you could see and you could hear. People from northern California to Nevada reported hearing a loud boom yesterday morning. The sound occurred at the same time as a meteor shower that happens every year on the same day.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was enough to shock me into what was that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard a big boom. It sounded like my daughter fell out of bed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kind of felt it. Almost felt something.


SAMBOLIN: Astronomers estimate the meteorite that made the noise was probably about the size of a washing machine when it hit the earth's atmosphere. Soledad, back to you.

O'BRIEN: All right, Zoraida, thank you.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, suffering from information overload. The author of a new book tells us how to process your Facebook updates, your e-mails and your tweets.

Plus a 6-year-old girl vanishes from her bedroom and hasn't been seen since. This morning the search is growing frantic. The chief of police leading the investigation is going to join us up next. You're watching STARTING POINT. We'll take a short break and see you on the other side.


O'BRIEN: That's "Information Overload" from "Living Colour." There are 340 million tweets are sent today. That's sound low to me, nearly 4 million articles on the English language Wikipedia site than at our e-mail's Facebook, updates text.

If you are feeling information overload, the author of a new book has a book about information and how we got to this point. It's called "The Information, A History, A Theory, A Flood."

And I think we're certainly all feeling the flood part of it. James Gleick joins us now. When I was younger, my dad bought me a book called "Chaos," which is an amazing book that James wrote. My dad was an expert in chaos theory. I was excited to see "The Information."

Because I love sort of the way you process something that we -- that's part of our daily lives. You start with 1948. A semiconductor is invented, discovered, and you say this is the first time that the reality surpassed the hype. Why was that such an important moment?

JAMES GLEICK, AUTHOR, "THE INFORMATION": That was the year when information theory was born. When I was working on that book about "Chaos" all those years ago, I remember hearing a bunch of physicist, scientists studying some physical system talking about information theory.

And I thought, first of all, there's a theory of this stuff, information, isn't information gossip, news, it's abstract. But not only did they talk about this mathematical frame work of information theory, they were using it to analyze chaos in a physical system, to understand order and disorder in that system. So I filed that away.

O'BRIEN: You knew you were onto something. So today, you end with the flood as you sort of literally walk your way through the history of how we got information from bits to African drums sending information. To me to some degree it feels like false information has as much weight as true information. Is that just a modern day occurrence or is that sort of the arc as information goes?

GLEICK: Well, this is the predicament we find ourselves in now. All of this is accelerating. I spent seven years working on this book. When I started working on the book, there was no Twitter. There was no -- I don't think Wikipedia even existed or we hadn't heard of it yet.

Now we're inundated. Yes, you have expressed the essential problem. We're overwhelmed with information. We feel we have too much of this thing that we value more than anything. And yet we realize that maybe we're not necessarily any smarter.

Maybe we're having trouble finding the knowledge hidden in the information. Maybe it's harder than ever to distinguish the true from false.

CAIN: Have you seen the movie "Philadelphia."


CAIN: Remember that part where Denzel Washington says explain it to me like I'm a 2 year old. Would you do this for me? Explain this to me like I'm a 2 year old. What is information theory?

GLEICK: Information theory is the mathematical frame work that allows scientists to understand information as that a thing that a scientist can deal with just the way that energy is a specific concrete thing that the world is made of.

Until science got to the point of being able to treat energy as something they could measure, they couldn't build engines. Well information is -- we know that information is practically everything in our world.

We're creating it now and sending it out over the airwaves. We store it in books. We store it in CDs. The computer on Soledad's desk is processing information at very high speed.

But all of this stuff is of a species. It's measured in a unit of measure. We know what it is. It's the bit. Information theory is the theory that created the term bit as a fundamental unit of measure for this stuff of which our world is made.

O'BRIEN: But does a bit matter if you can't get the information out because none of this information if it's not correlated with meaning, why do we care about it? I mean, more info doesn't help you, more blogging, more tweeting, more Facebook updates --

CAIN: What's the point am measuring it?

O'BRIEN: If it's not connected to some value, all you feel is overwhelmed at the end. GLEICK: That's true. And then in the end I think we begin to find our way. I end up being optimistic. It's true that it's a sort of paradox. A paradox I had to wrestle with in writing this book.

For engineers to treat information as a scientific thing, they had to treat it apart from meaning. They had to say this spring of bits we're dealing with might be true or false, I don't care.

We're sending it through the wires. All we care about though is meaning. That's why these great enterprises have popped up in our world. Wikipedia, Google, Yahoo! even Twitter with its how many million messages a day.

O'BRIEN: A lot.

GLEICK: And you know that they are mostly rubbish and you know that --

O'BRIEN: Except for mine, sir.

GLEICK: Except for yours and except for mine. Honestly, even a few of mine are rubbish and yet we use Twitter to help us find our way.

O'BRIEN: Interesting. James Gleick, it's called "Information History, A Theory, A Flood." I love this book and I loved "Chaos" as well. It's so glad to talk to you. My dad is at home watching. Yes, James Gleick is on.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a snow is pounding the northeast right now. Delays, power outages are expected across several states. We'll tell what you to expect and where.

And then we'll tell you the story of a 6-year-old girl who has vanished from her bedroom. Does a reported window that's open provide a much needed clue? We're going to talk to the police chief leading the investigation. That's up next.

You're watching STARTING POINT. We're taking a short break. We'll be back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. The search is intensifying this morning for a 6-year-old who vanished from her bedroom in Tucson, Arizona. Her name is Isabel Mercedes Celis. She was last seen in her bedroom around 11 p.m. on Friday night.

When her father went in to wake her up though, at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning, the girl was gone. Now law enforcement officers and volunteers searched over the weekend, but so far there have been no signs of this little girl.

We're hearing that investigators are looking into a possible entry point into Isabel's bedroom. Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor. He joins us this morning. It's nice to see you, sir. Thanks for being with us. We certainly appreciate it.

We've heard investigators pointing and I'll quote, "suspicious circumstances around a possible entry point." Can you elaborate on that for me? There was an open window in her room, correct?

ROBERTO VILLASENOR, TUCSON POLICE CHIEF: That is correct. We have a window that was open and the screen removed. We're labelling it as suspicious circumstances and a possible abduction mainly so that we keep all possibilities open. We don't want to focus just on one path. We want to be open to all leads that may come in.

O'BRIEN: Who are you focused on right now?

VILLASENOR: At this point, we haven't focused on anyone. We're still trying to determine where Isabel is. That's the primary concern and focus is to try and find her and bring her home safely.

Obviously, we're following up on all the leads that we received. We received over a hundred leads and we're making sure that our investigators check each and every one of those.

O'BRIEN: I know you had a chance to interview her parents and I read that in fact what you do is you separate the parents. You know, interview one in one room, the other parent in the other room to sort of see that their stories match up. Have those interviews with Isabel's parents gone?

VILLASENOR: Well, I don't want to go into the details, but the parents have been cooperating with us. That is standard protocol when we have more than one subject in involved in an incident. We do try and separate them to make sure that there's no collusion on the stories and that we would be able to verify what each one says.

REPRESENTATIVE TED POE (R), TEXAS: Chief, nothing -- nothing worse than getting in someone's bedroom, a child's bedroom and steal in the middle of the night. That's probably the worse crime that can be committed especially for parents. Are you focused on what range from the house, how far out is the search for Isabel?

VILLASENOR: Well, we conducted a ground search going door to door and all the businesses and we probably did about a 2-1/2-mile radius.

We also brought in our investigators to contact each and every one of the identified sex offenders that live within a 3-mile radius of the residence to make they account for where they were and to see what they're doing.

These cases are extremely traumatic. I've been doing this for over 31 years and I can remember the handful of incident where we have had young children abducted and they just stay with you.

O'BRIEN: It's such a horrible thought honestly. I think you're right, Congressman. I think it's one of those cases where you think, as a parent, what could possibly be worse. Is this what you think, Chief, has had happened? That in fact that this is an abduction that someone has climbed through the window and stolen this child. I'm told she weighs about 40 pounds and then removed her from the house that way?

VILLASENOR: Well, like I said earlier, we're not closing ourselves off to any possibility. That could be one of the possibilities that we're looking at. We also are looking at other possibilities. We want to keep our mind open because we don't want to miss any leads that may come in or any clues that maybe there and that we don't see them because we're focused so blindly on something else.

O'BRIEN: We should mention that you put up a tip line and if you've seen anything, you can call 520-888-CRIME. What happens next? You continue to search, physically search the surrounding area with volunteers?

VILLASENOR: We will be evaluating that today. We've searched at least three times now because the size of Isabel and the fact that the area has open space as well as businesses and residents.

It's very elaborate to search all that area, but we're going to evaluate what we continue to do with that. Our investigators will continue to follow up on leads that are brought and we'll work with the resources that we've brought in from our federal partners.

O'BRIEN: Roberto Villasenor is the Tucson police chief. Thank you, Sir for talking with us this morning. We appreciate it.

VILLASENOR: Thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead, coming up in the next hour of STARTING POINT, disturbing new video. It shows we believe an illegal immigrant who's being beaten and then tasered to death by a border agent. And it might be cracking open a bigger issue.

The journalist who uncovered the video and the woman who recorded the video are going to join us in our next hour. We're going to show that tape.

Plus, high tech un-manned drones, great for spying on military enemies, but soon, universities could be using them. We'll tell you why. Got a controversy over that. We're going to talk about it straight ahead. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.