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EARLY START WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Two American Tourists Kidnapped at Gunpoint; The Dragon Returns; Two Americans Kidnapped In Egypt; Banning Big Sugary Drinks

Aired May 31, 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 HOST: Breaking news this morning: Two American tourists kidnapped by gunmen in Egypt. We go live to Cairo, straight ahead.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN HOST: Plus, happening right now. Live pictures as a first commercial spacecraft prepares for its return to earth.

BANFIELD: And caught on video. An out of control truck slamming into a tavern. Helpless customers up against the bar. You will have to see this video to believe what they went through.

Wow. Unbelievable.

Good morning everyone. And welcome to EARLY START. Nice to have you with us. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

SAMBOLIN: I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We're bringing you the news from A to Z.

It is 5:00 a.m. here in the East. So, let's get started.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

SAMBOLIN: We begin with breaking news this morning.

Two American tourists kidnapped by gunmen in Egypt. It happened in the town of Dahab in the Sinai region of Egypt. The report says that two Americans were forced out of a car and taken away. The alleged kidnappers demanding the release of a man who was arrested a day before for drug possession.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is live in Cairo.

I know these are late-breaking details. What can you tell us?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, what we know -- we've all heard from the American embassy. They say they are in very close contact with the Egyptian authorities, they say to resolve this situation.

Now, it's not unusual, not the first time that tourists, including Americans, have been kidnapped in the Sinai. Keep in mind that since the revolution at the beginning of last year, state authority in that part of Egypt has really sort of crumbled and there are parts of the Sinai that simply are out of government control. That particular area going up the eastern coast of the Sinai Peninsula in the direction of Israel and the direction of Jordan has actually been relatively quiet compared to other parts of the Sinai.

But this is yet another indication that the Egyptian state really doesn't have a lot of control in this area that was until quite recently quite popular with tourists.

SAMBOLIN: Ben, do we have any other information about the Americans? Are they releasing names? Do we know the condition that they're in?

WEDEMAN: Well, the U.S. embassy is not releasing any personal details about these people. We understand there are two Americans in their early 30s. Interestingly enough, on the Web site of "al Haram," the biggest newspaper in Jordan -- rather in Egypt, they did publish the passport numbers of these two individuals, which is something that the U.S. embassy is not really happy with.

According to the accounts that have been made public here in Egypt, they were not harmed. Their car was stopped by armed men and they were taken away. Now, in November, I believe, or early December, two other American tourists were kidnapped in the Sinai. They were not harmed. They were treated very well. And after intervention by the local authorities, they were released unharmed after just a few hours.

Now, we don't know anything about the particulars of the kidnappers, but this may simply be another case of local grievances being played out through foreign tourists.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Ben Wedeman, live in Cairo for us -- thank you.

BANFIELD: It is three minutes now past 5:00. The Dragon is coming home to Earth. The SpaceX Dragon capsule release from the International Space Station about 5:35 Eastern Time this morning, about half an hour from now. From there, it's going to reorbit, deorbit.

And in about 10:15 this morning, expect it to splash down in the Pacific Ocean sometime before noon.

So, a relative schedule but you know what? This is space. NASA is going to hold a briefing on the mission and get us all up-to-date on it. So far, the mission has been a success to making history as the first commercial rocket to dock with the International Space Station.

Space analyst Miles O'Brien joins us live to talk about this.

Oh, where to begin, Miles. You're like a kid in a candy store when it comes to stories like this.

But very exciting stuff as they decide to come back to Earth, they're bringing things back.

Take me through what's going to happen today.

MILES O'BRIEN, SPACE ANALYST: Well, that's a key point. That little point that you just mentioned, that they're bringing things back, they're currently without the shuttle flying anymore. There's currently no vehicle in anyone's fleet that is capable of bringing any appreciable amount of cargo back to Earth.

And so, they've got about 13,655 pounds worth of stuff, about a pickup truck's worth of stuff on the Dragon, which will come back down, some experiments, some equipment.

One of the things they do, by the way, Ashleigh, is they swab the International Space Station and put the samples inside the capsule so that they can analyze it on the ground to make sure that some bacteria or bad things aren't growing there.

So, in any case, every thing is running smoothly right now. Dragon is at the end of the robot armor at the International Space Station, as you say. About 35 minutes past the hour, they will release Dragon and begin a series of burns, as they call it, that's rocket firings, which will slow it down, move it away from the space station and a long nine-minute burn which will be the final burn before it starts to drop into the atmosphere and becomes sort of a fire-breathing Dragon as it makes its way to the Pacific, about 500 miles off the coast of Los Angeles.

This streaking meteor will come down. It will be recovered by a private ship operated by the SpaceX Corporation and the capsule will be brought back to Los Angeles. It should be interesting to watch.

BANFIELD: So, I'm fascinated about this. Not only by the things that they're bringing back. I did read somewhere that what they're bringing back this time isn't critical. If anything goes wrong, they're not going to lose any critical kind of science experiment.

But there is a timeline. When this thing hits the ocean, they got to get moving. They got to get it. They're timing this thing out, because eventually, they want people in there and they want science experiments that are viable, right?

O'BRIEN: Absolutely. This is a demonstration flight. And none of the cargo that went up or is coming down is considered critical or mission critical as it were. They sent up things like underwear. I guess they figured --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: To me, that's pretty critical. I don't know. Leave that aside for just a moment.

The fact is, this has gone well and if none of this cargo had gone up or down, the show would have gone on. Now, the next mission, which comes up the latter part of this year, assuming everything goes well today and NASA gets a green light for it, as we expect it will, the next mission will be a for real cargo mission with so-called mission critical items.

And as time goes on, there will be more important stuff that will go up and down on Dragon. So fascinating. That's just to the right of you. I mean, that's the Canada arm. I would love saying that, the Canada arm. You know, the contribution to space.

Miles, good to se you. Stick with us because we want you to do play-by-play for us as this plays out this morning. Thanks.

O'BRIEN: I'll be here.

BANFIELD: OK.

SAMBOLIN: It is seven minutes past the hour.

And new this morning, the death toll in a Seattle shooting rampage is now at five and police say the suspected gunman took his own life. Four people were gunned down at a coffeehouse in the city's university district. Another was killed in an alleged carjacking in downtown Seattle.

After a fire-hour manhunt, police say the suspect shot himself. They still have no motive in this case. It is the latest in a wave of gun violence in the city. Seattle's mayor admits people are on edge.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR MIKE MCGINN, SEATTLE: We've had two tragic shootings today that have shaken this city. And it follows on the heels of multiple tragic episodes of gun violence that have occurred throughout the city. It's their highest priority to identify the strategies that we need to employ to try to bring an end to this wave of gun violence that the city is seeing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Well, Seattle had 20 homicides all of last year. They've had 19 already this year so far.

The former Rutgers University student convicted of spying on his gay roommate with a webcam begins serving his 30-day jail sentence this morning. The judge said he didn't see any reason to put 20-year- old Dharun Ravi in prison with hardened criminals for longer than that.

Ravi's roommate, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide after that spying incident.

BANFIELD: Troops, shelling Syrian town of Houla this morning. The scene of that massacre that killed more than 100 people, most of them children, and the scene that sparked international outrage as well. Now, the Free Syrian Army is setting a Friday deadline for the government, for the Syrian government and its troops to get those troops out of residential areas and allow humanitarian aid to come in.

The rebels are not saying what's going to happen if, as expected, the Assad regime does not comply.

SAMBOLIN: Not exactly happy hour at Gordy's Bar. Check out this incredible surveillance video. A few of the regulars were having drinks at the local watering hole in little Canada in Minnesota yesterday when a 51-year-old woman lost control of her vehicle, took out a utility pole, then crashed -- look at that -- right through the wall on to those people, pinning five customers against the bar.

The manager Pat Sazenski got out of the way just in time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAT SAZENSKI, BAR MANAGER: It happened like that. You didn't have time to react.

Three feet down and I see a pole flying through. I thought that's kind of strange. Then all of a sudden I heard a boom and a truck came right through the wall.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Six people, including the driver, were hurt and police say the driver may have had a medical condition that caused her to lose control.

BANFIELD: Unbelievable.

SAMBOLIN: Unreal. It looked like those folks would have been dead.

BANFIELD: It's lucky that they did survive. Everybody did survive that.

SAMBOLIN: Anyway, when we come back, we're going to have a lot more on our breaking news story. Two American tourists kidnapped in Egypt by gunmen. We're going to have much more on that developing story when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN, breaking news.

BANFIELD: We have breaking news about two Americans who have been kid mapped in the Sinai Desert, that portion of Egypt to the north of the country that's right in between Israel and Egypt. You can see to the right of Egypt, up into the red sea. That spot that's call Dahab. That's where these two tourists have been apparently abducted at gunpoint as they were leaving the area of Dahab and on their way to a hotel.

That's actually not a bad little tourist area. It's somewhat underdeveloped but it's apparently an area where a lot of the Bedouins have complained that there aren't a lot of services for them from the Egyptian government. And, in fact, back in February, you might recall -- we had a similar kind of breaking news where two Americans were abducted and actually were released shortly afterwards. We're not sure who is behind the abduction, but we are being told that the people who did this abduction are demanding the release of a suspect who was arrested in a drug possession case.

We'll keep you posted on this one. Again, at this point, two Americans, both 31 years old, abducted at gunpoint in the Sinai Desert in the Dahab area of Egypt. We'll keep you posted.

SAMBOLIN: It is 14 minutes past the hour. Let get you up-to- date. Here's Christine Romans.

Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Zoraida. Good morning to you.

Release the Dragon. In less than half an hour, the SpaceX capsule will separate from the International Space Station and begin its journey back to earth. It's been in orbit more than a week now. The private space craft expected to complete this mission with a splashdown in the Pacific just before noon Eastern.

Police now have a suspect in the discovery of a man's dismembered torso in Montreal, Canada. They're looking for Luke Rocco Magnotta, also known as Eric Clinton Newman. He's a 29-year-old Montreal resident who has appeared in gay porn. They're asking for the public's help in tracking him down. Investigators believe the torso may be linked to a human hand and foot that were mailed from Montreal to Ottawa.

Still not clear what caused the death of arena football league player Johnie Kirton. A teammate found the 26-year-old San Jose Saber Cats dead in his hotel room Monday night. Police don't suspect foul play.

The FAA now investigating a collision on the ground at Chicago's O'Hare. The rudder of an American Eagle commuter plane that had just landed in Chicago Wednesday got clipped by the right wing of a cargo jet, a Boeing 747 that was taxiing for departure. Thankfully, no one was hurt. But that must have been quite a bump.

BANFIELD: Did the people on the big one feel it?

SAMBOLIN: I doubt it actually.

BANFIELD: When you see them next to each other, hmm, I think I spilled my soda.

Thank you, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BANFIELD: Let's get a check now with Reynolds Wolf, who is standing by in the weather center.

You know, I think tomorrow, Reynolds, is supposed to be the start of hurricane season. But we've got stories of tornado (AUDIO BREAK)

REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we do. We've got a little bit of everything.

We've got a heat wave developing in parts of the Southwest. Of course, we've got a chance of severe weather again today. But yesterday, let's go back in time and so you the rough stuff that happened in Holly Hill, South Carolina, just yesterday.

You see the video there. So typical of what happens when we see the tornadoes pop up. A lot of tree damage. A lot of structural damage to a lot of homes. A tremendous mess.

And, of course, we might see that play out again today.

As we go back to the weather computer, very quickly, time is of the essence. We see some scattered showers and thunderstorms developing along parts of 44 on the show me state of Missouri. Far south, we go into Texas, where they're having a rude awakening in Dallas this morning. We could see some delays there, no question.

And the chance of severe weather today is really going to pop up from the Ohio Valley Southward to parts of the Gulf Coast, including Houston, back into Waco. Even Memphis and Nashville before all is said and done. And perhaps even some flash flooding, may be some isolated tornadoes mixed in too. So, certainly, be advised on that.

Rain for parts of the Upper Midwest. We're going to be seeing also the hot conditions still persisting for you in the desert southwest. Some place like Phoenix well over 100 degrees expected for the day. But Albuquerque, a bit higher in the elevation. With it, some cooler temperatures, 87 degrees would be the high, 95 in El Paso.

Out west we go. In San Francisco, 73 the high by Pier 39, 67 in Seattle, 69 in Minneapolis, 79 in New York and 85 in Washington, D.C.

Delays, delays, delays -- we've got them, unfortunately, in Chicago, New York and Miami. We also expect major delays in St. Louis, Houston and San Francisco. San Francisco due to that fog which could be heavy, but the wind too, might cause some problems. Keep you on the tarmac a little bit longer than you might want.

So, there you go.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you very much.

It is --

WOLF: See you guys soon.

BANFIELD: Thanks, Reynolds.

SAMBOLIN: Seventeen minutes past the hour. Time for "Early Reads".

And we have some shocking statistics here. The U.S. now has the second highest rate of child poverty in the entire developed world. A new report from UNICEF, this is in the "International Business Times," showing 23 percent of children in the United States are living in poverty. That is second only to Romania with a 25.5 percent rate. Iceland has the lowest child rate of poverty at 4.7 percent.

BANFIELD: Second to Romania. It's not a stat you want.

Science has a confirmation this morning and this one is a bit odd. Elderly people actually do have a different scent and apparently they smell better than everybody else. So there.

"Philadelphia Enquirer" has this for you. The researchers apparently sampling body odor from three different age groups -- young, middle aged and old. I'm not a describing ages to those classifications.

They found that people age 75 -- I guess I will -- 75 to 95 had apparently the mildest and most pleasant smell. Middle aged men, aged 45 to 65 apparently smelled the worst. So there's that. That's a look at our top stories, just head to our blog. CNN.com/EarlyStart.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Here today, gone tomorrow. I'm still pondering that one.

All right. As Facebook stock plunges, so does founder Mark Zuckerberg's status among the Wall Street's elite. We'll explain that coming up.

(COMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: We're minding your business this morning at 5:22 on the East Coast. Welcome back.

Another rough day for U.S. stocks. The Dow, NASDAQ, S&P 500 all losing more than 1 percent again yesterday.

SAMBOLIN: With so much uncertainty in the markets because of Europe's debt crisis, where are people investing their money.

Christine is here talk about this.

ROMANS: In treasuries. They're buying U.S. treasuries, because they're worried about everything that's happening in the world and it now has never been cheaper for the U.S. government to borrow money. The yield on the benchmark 10-year treasury note is down to a record low of 1.6 percent.

I want to show you a chart showing the 10-year over the last year. Borrowing costs are rising around the rest of the world, but not here in the U.S. The concerns about Europe's debt crisis are causing it -- making more difficult for European governments to borrow money, more expensive for them to borrow money.

But investors are flocking to the safety of U.S. debt, and that means the U.S. can borrow money more cheaply. I mean, that's almost free money when you look -- people who cover markets can't believe what they've been seeing in treasuries.

At the same time, investment like stocks, commodities, like oil and gold are all down.

What do the low interests rates in the U.S. mean? They mean mortgage rates will keep falling. Your mortgage rates will keep falling.

So, when you borrow money, these rates are very low. It means you're going to borrow money cheaply.

But for those who depend on interest on your savings, you're getting virtually nothing there. So, the good news, if you're borrowing money, it's cheap if you can qualify for it. Borrowing money is cheap.

If you're depending on holding on to your money in a bank account, you're getting nothing too. That's what the low interest rates mean.

BANFIELD: Have we ever relied on interest from our savings accounts?

ROMANS: Well, you know what? I'm going to tell you, a lot of seniors do and a lot of people, pension funds like to put their Monday into safe parts of their money into higher yielding assets. C.Ds -- there are some seniors whose retirement was built on C.D.s.

Remember, gosh, even 20, 30 years ago, seniors were retiring with certification of deposit with 12 percent, you know? That doesn't happen anymore. So, people who depend on their savings are really getting hurt here.

Also getting hurt, Facebook CEO here. Well, hurt is a relative word. He's no longer one of the world's richest people. He's been honeymooning, of course, in Italy.

And his stock has been dropping and he's fallen off of Bloomberg's top 40 billionaires index. Not one of the top in the world. He's still worth $14.7 billion, though, which is still a lot of billions.

Stock closed at $28.19 yesterday. We've been watching -- I've been watching the options trading. Options for on this stock have started. You've got bearish bets on the stock continue to come out there. So --

BANFIELD: You don't have to exercise that option if you don't want.

ROMANS: So, yes, we're going to continue to watch that one, too.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Christine, thank you very much.

BANFIELD: I can't believe $14.7 billion doesn't qualify you for the Forbes list.

ROMANS: It's actually the Bloomberg list. He's lost so much in the past week, there's probably a disease he could have eradicated with all of his charitable giving. You think about how much money just evaporated.

BANFIELD: Maybe it will come back. Never know.

SAMBOLIN: He's still got a load of cash.

ROMANS: Sure does.

SAMBOLIN: Al right. It is 25 minutes past the hour. Thirsty enough to order the big time gulp? Not in the Big Apple if the mayor has his way. More on the ban and the outcry from the other side, coming up.

We also have breaking news out of Egypt. Two American tourists kidnapped. We have received a statement from Egypt from the embassy. That is coming up after this quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: We're following breaking news. Two Americans kidnapped at gun point in Egypt. We'll have a live update from Cairo just ahead.

SAMBOLIN: Supersize smack down. New York City moves to ban big sodas and sugary drinks in the name of health.

BANFIELD: And no people? No problem. What one man is doing by traveling across the country without any human contact. Are we a world of robots?

SAMBOLIN: Oh, gosh. I hope not.

BANFIELD: Turns out we kind of are, but there's an interesting side to this as well. Welcome back to EARLY START, everybody. Nice to have you with us. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is 30 minute past the hour here.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BANFIELD: And we begin with breaking news this morning. More on the story of two American tourists being kidnapped in Northern Egypt in the Sinai Peninsula. It happened in the town of Dahab. That's the Sinai up on the right hand portion of your screen just at the top of the Red Sea there.

Two Americans forced out of their car, taken away at gunpoint. The alleged kidnappers demanding the release of a man who'd been arrested the day before on a drug possession charge. CNNs Ben Wedeman is live in Cairo. And I know Ben that you've had a chance to talk to the embassy officials. What are they saying about this?

WEDEMAN: What they're saying is that they're doing everything they can. They're in close contact with the Egyptian authorities. They say to try to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. But we have to underscore that the Sinai, since the fall of the Mubarak regime, has really experienced a massive deterioration in law and order.

Now, what's surprising is that the area where these two Americans were kidnapped on the eastern coast of the Sinai Peninsula was considered one of the safest parts of the Sinai. But apparently, as you mentioned, that local man was arrested by the authorities for drug possession. And of course, this is a part of Egypt where there is a lot of smuggling of people, of drugs between Egypt and Israel to the east of there.

And so, this is really indicative of the gradual deterioration in the security situation in that part of Egypt over the last year and a half since the revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak.

BANFIELD: And Ben, just quickly, I have been to Dahab, and it is a beautiful area, and it's teeming with tourists. I know you're saying that things have deteriorated, but this is considered a safe place. Is it still very busy and what are people there doing to be careful now in light of this recent development?

WEDEMAN: Well, tourism has sort of declined fairly dramatically since the overthrow of the Mubarak regime certainly here in Cairo. You go to the pyramids or to the Egyptian museum and you see just a fraction of the number of tourists who were here before. In Sinai (INAUDIBLE) at the very southern tip of the peninsula and this road leading up to Israel was considered the safest area.

There really haven't been any incident. Most of the incidents were the inner part of the peninsula or the northern part of the peninsula where there are fewer tourist attractions. But obviously, now, when news spreads that two American tourists have been kidnapped, probably there's going to be an increase in cancellations, and of course, this at a time when Egypt desperately needs as many tourists as it can get.

BANFIELD: All right. Ben Wedeman live for us in Cairo this morning. Thank you for that.

SAMBOLIN: It is 33 minutes past the hour. A big first in the fight against obesity, but it comes with a lot of controversy. The mayor of New York City wants to ban the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at all city restaurants, movie theaters, even at the ballpark.

Our Alina Cho is on that story. She's here with so much more. And you're just the bearer of the news, right?

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It's not my fault. But we're talking about this right here. I mean, under the new rules, which could take effect as soon as March. These would be banned at bodegas, some bodegas in the city, ball parks as you mentioned, movie theaters, restaurants. So, yes, get used to it. It's probably going to happen.

Good morning. You know, critics, of course, call Mayor Bloomberg Nanny Bloomberg, but remember, the mayor has been really "out front" on this issue of health and fighting obesity here in New York City for quite some time. He championed the ban on smoking in restaurants, remember that? And then, later, a ban on artificial trans-fats.

Well, now he wants to ban sodas larger than 16 ounces from being sold at New York City restaurants, delis, movie theaters, ball parks, even some bodegas and street side carts. And here's why.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: Oh, gross!

CHO: That's right. There, you see the man drinking a whole glass of fat.

BANFIELD: Oh, man!

CHO: And you saw the copy (ph) there. Just drinking one can of soda a day can make you ten pounds fatter a year. Don't drink yourself fat. The ad suggests that you drink water seltzer -- you should see these two girls -- of water, seltzer water or low-fat milk.

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: It's so disgusting at this hour of the morning, too, right? Very effective.

CHO: Listen, it is incredibly effective, and that was put out by the New York City health department. Now --

BANFIELD: Wow.

CHO: Just to remind everybody, this ban would affect any cup or bottle of sweetened drinks larger than 16 fluid ounces. It would not, however, affect diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy-based drinks, or alcoholic beverages. And it would not extend to grocery or convenience store.

So, if you're boiling it down and I read all of this, it appears that the ban affects mostly places where you can actually order food. BANFIELD: So, this is 20 ounces?

CHO: That's right.

BANFIELD: And this is standard nowadays.

CHO: I was surprised. I thought 16 ounces must be really, really big, you know, shows how much I know about this. But remember, you know, you look at a soda like this. This is diet, of course. You look at the soda like this. This is Coca-Cola, 240 calories per bottle. For some people, like our size, that's half a meal.

SAMBOLIN: What about a grande latte? Yes, it has sugar in it, coffee, like a drink like that? No?

CHO: Well, it appears that that's not affected by the ban. But you're absolutely right. A frappuccino could be 800 calories. I know. You know, well, we'll have to work on that.

BANFIELD: 800?

CHO: Could be.

BANFIELD: Wow.

CHO: In some case. That's right. And by the way, 240 calories sometimes not half a meal, it's a whole meal. It depends on the day of the week.

BANFIELD: It does.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So, obviously, the mayor is taking action here because obesity is such a big problem in this country. How big? And I know there are two schools of thought on this on whether or not he should be taking this particular action.

CHO: Well, there is -- I mean, there's no denying that obesity is a massive problem. We know this. More than a third of Americans, 35.7 percent, I believe, to be exact, are considered obese. What is interesting is you may think with all the walking that people do here in New York City that the rate here in the city would be lower.

That's not the case. In New York, more than half of adults are considered obese or overweight.

BANFIELD: Wow!

CHO: Right. And the health commissioner blames sweetened drinks for half the increase in obesity rates over the past 30 years right here in New York. What's even more interesting is that the city has done research, the studies show that higher obesity rates are more common in neighborhoods where soda consumption is high.

They've pinned it down. And that's why they're saying that they're taking action here. SAMBOLIN: Yes. Well, you know, the CDC has the support. It's data that shows that calories from sugar sweetened beverages are a small and declining part of the American diet. So, two schools of thought on that one. Is it a done deal?

CHO: It appears so. I mean, listen, it could take effect as soon as March -- it could take effect as soon as March. That's right. You know, it needs to be approved by the board of health here in the city. But you may not know this, the members are appointed by the mayor. So, that seems like a foregone conclusion.

And as I mentioned, if all goes as planned, the ban could take effect as early as next March. Get used to it.

SAMBOLIN: Wow!

CHO: What is also interesting is you might remember that the mayor tried to levy a tax on sodas. He tried to ban the use of food stamps for the purchase of sodas. Both of those measures fell through. They died. And so, the mayor is really trying to see how far he can go without outside approval. And this is one big --

BANFIELD: He can still do this.

CHO: That's right. This one is still OK.

BANFIELD: I kind of like the smaller cans these days, personally.

SAMBOLIN: Drink more of them. I mean, I supposed right throughout the course of day.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: That defies the purpose.

CHO: That's a little --

BANFIELD: Yes.

CHO: That's right.

SAMBOLIN: Thanks, Alina.

CHO: You bet.

BANFIELD: Thirty-eight minutes now past 5:00 on the east coast. Do you remember that pastor in North Carolina who said that gays and lesbians should be rounded up and put inside an electric fence until they died off? It has happened again with a different pastor in a whole other state.

A Kansas pastor who used a Sunday sermon to call on the government to kill all gay people, says he's just preaching scripture and that he has nothing to be ashamed of. I am not making this up. Pastor Curtis Knapp (ph) is his name. He's the pastor of the New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca, Kansas. His phone hasn't stopped ringing since his sermon went viral. Surprise, surprise. Listen to what part of what he preached is followed by his explanation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VOICE OF CURTIS KNAPP, NEW HOPE BAPTIST CHURCH: They should be put to death. That's what happened in Israel. That's why homosexuality wouldn't have grown in Israel. It tends to limit conversions. It tends to limit people coming out of the closet. Oh, so you're saying that we should go out and start killing them? No. I'm saying the government should. They won't, but they should.

We punish pedophilia. We punish incest. We punish polygamy and various things. It's only homosexuality that is lifted out as an exemption in Leviticus 20:13. If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act. They surely be put to death.

I don't think homosexuals have anything to worry about. I don't think the government is going to do that. They don't have anything to worry about from me. I don't believe I should lay a finger against them. And my hope is for their salvation, not for their death.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Pedophilia is not by choice, last I checked. In his sermon, Pastor Knapp blamed Bush administration for its tolerance of gay people. He says that he claims that set the stage, in fact, for the Obama administration to endorse same sex marriage. Like I said, you can't make this stuff up. Unbelievable. Speechless, right?

SAMBOLIN: Yes. I thought it was going to be the same guy, the same pastor. Very young, as well.

BANFIELD: Surprisingly, yes.

SAMBOLIN: Really young.

BANFIELD: Again, we got to outline here. When he says they punish incest and pedophilia, please. Those things are often not by choice and are crimes.

SAMBOLIN: Crazy.

BANFIELD: Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice by people. It is voluntary. It just defies logic. It really does.

SAMBOLIN: All right. It's 40 minutes past the hour here. Happening right now, live pictures as the first commercial spacecraft prepares for its return to Earth. We are all over this story for you. That's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. It's 44 minutes past the hour. Let's get you up to date. Here's Christine Romans. Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you. Breaking news this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS (voice-over): Two U.S. tourists kidnapped in Egypt at gunpoint. A newspaper report says the unidentified Americans were forced out of their car by kidnappers in the Sinai region, demanding the release of a suspect who was just arrested for drug possession. The U.S. embassy says it is in contact with Egyptian authorities trying to resolve the situation.

The SpaceX dragon space capsule departing the International Space Station after more than a week in orbit. Dragon being released from the station's splashdown in the pacific will come later this morning. It will mark the end of the first commercial U.S. space mission.

New York City police releasing this photo of Pedro Hernandez in custody. He's suspected in the death of Etan Patz, the six-year-old boy who disappeared 33 years ago. Police say the 51-year-old Hernandez confessed to murdering Patz. He's charged with murder is now on suicide watch at a New York hospital.

Newly discovered audio recordings of Charles Manson's right hand man could help police solve cold case murders. Los Angeles police are about to get their hand on eight hours of conversations between Manson Family killer, Charles Tex Watson, and his attorney from 1969.

They believe the recordings capture Watson talking about unknown murders the Manson Family committed. Manson is serving a life sentence for seven murders.

A Texas woman who lost her arms and legs to a flesh-eating infection after giving birth two years ago, she is set to make medical history. Katy Hayes is about to become the first amputee to receive a double arm transplant. Hayes is a married mother of three and says this has given her a new outlook on life.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATY HAYES, QUADRUPLE AMPUTEE: Before I was kind of dependent, laying there and not seeing really any kind of light at the end of the tunnel. Now, I got that light. I'm just charging ahead, you know, because it's within my reach. It's going to happen. Brushing my own teeth, washing my own face, wiping my own butt, you know, things that everybody takes for granted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Things everyone takes for granted. Boston Brigham Women's Hospital is performing this complicated experimental surgery. It's expected to last at least 15 hours, and we wish her and her family the best of luck.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SAMBOLIN: Charging towards the light.

ROMANS (on-camera): I know.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: Also, a notable hire at a historically black college in Mississippi. Jay Hobson was just hired at Alcorn State. He's the first-ever non-Black head football coach in the Southwest Athletic Conference. Hobson says about (INAUDIBLE), I don't see black and white, purple and gold. Purple and gold. I love that. Just love that.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you so much, Christine.

Who knew we'd have a story like that.

BANFIELD: I'm still hung up on the Texas woman without the arms and legs.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, incredible.

BANFIELD: I'm also hung up on it because the story started with her having a baby and then having a flesh-eating disease and bacteria. Necrotizing fasciitis, and we have that story now.

SAMBOLIN: Again.

BANFIELD: A woman who had twins -- I don't think she's that serious, thank God.

SAMBOLIN: No, but the young girl who went zip lining is. I mean, she's lost --

BANFIELD: Two of her limbs at this point, right.

So, it's 47 minutes now past 5:00 on the east coast. You probably heard about people fasting from technology, right, just giving it up, taking a break? We're going to go to a guy who's done the opposite and fasting from humans and going on technology. Can you imagine life just with the machines? He's going to explain himself in a moment.

SAMBOLIN: No.

So, if you're leaving the house right now, you can watch us any time. Take us with you, on your desktop or your mobile phone, just go to CNN.com/TV.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. I'm Johnny Cab. Where can I take you tonight?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drive! Drive!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you please repeat the destination?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anywhere. Just go. Go!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not familiar with that address. Would you please repeat?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Johnny Cab. We may be a few years away from robot cab drivers, but with all the high tech gadgets available today, it seems like you can do just about anything without help from an actual person.

In a new piece for the July issue of "Automotive" magazine reporter, David Brancaccio, set out to prove just that, taking off on a cross country road trip to see if he can go coast to coast the whole way without interacting with a single human being. He did, however, decide to interact with me now live on the set. Welcome back.

DAVID BRANCACCIO, REPORTER, "MARKETPLACE": An actual human being, not a robot.

BANFIELD: It's nice to see you. Should we touch?

BRANCACCIO: Yes, there we go. It's proof. I'm here.

BANFIELD: Did that change your life, all of a sudden, being humanless for the last six days or so? Well, it's longer than (ph) six days.

BRANCACCIO: Well, it was recently.

BANFIELD: Right.

BRANCACCIO: And so, "Automobile" magazine gives me this great car that's quite robotic in itself. It's got all the electronic doodads, an Audi 87 (ph).

BANFIELD: Yes.

BRANCACCIO: And the idea is, can I get from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean without ever interacting with a real live, flesh and blood human being.

BANFIELD: Well, you had check-in to hotels, you to get gas, you had to get groceries, you had to eat. How did you do that?

BRANCACCIO: Well, this is how it worked, right? I had done a series for American public media's marketplace, the radio show, about how robots may be taking our job, even if you have a college education. And as part of that, they said technology is becoming so pervasive and moving so quickly that it's everywhere.

So, that's where I got the idea. So, how do you get into a hotel? There's a chain of hotels that has a robot receptionist.

BANFIELD: Seriously?

BRANCACCIO: Well --

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: Like a kiosk?

BRANCACCIO: It's like a kiosk at the airport. How did I eat? Well, you just go into the local supermarket and do self-checkout.

BANFIELD: OK.

BRANCACCIO: And I stowed away a microwave oven in the back of this cool car. So, that's how you eat. Easy pass for the tolls.

BANFIELD: OK.

BRANCACCIO: And it goes on from there. Of course, you do self- pay at the gas pump and the question is this. You ever have those days where you've been staring at your smart phone most of the day and when you're not doing that, you've been on the Internet, and the whole day goes by, that's what it's like that now.

You can get across this great country of ours, 3,200 miles, six days, and I did not transact business with a single human being.

BANFIELD: But you couldn't avoid contact, right? Like you had to have some kind of contact -- I suppose if you tried hard, maybe, but you did come into contact with people.

BRANCACCIO: Well, you couldn't quite keep all the humans at bay. It was actually wonderful. I was getting bored of the TV dinner style, things as putting into microwave over. So, I bought some produce, an ear of corn. Well, it didn't scan well at the self- checkout. You know what produce stuff at self-checkout.

So, it's amazing of the self-checkout and growing (INAUDIBLE) descends on me. Couldn't avoid her. Very nice lady named Pat.

BANFIELD: I have this image of you running from her like Dracula in the light.

BRANCACCIO: Well, that almost happened.

BANFIELD: You're ruining my project.

BRANCACCIO: No, exactly. And it almost happened a couple days later, midnight, checking in with one of these robots at a hotel. Nobody there. Robot, me, and my credit card. The night manager spotted my name in the computer, and it turns out he's a fan from my radio.

BANFIELD: Oh, you're kidding. BRANCACCIO: He just wants to meet me. So, what am I going to do, I'm sorry, I'm not speaking with my fans this week. There's no way that's going to happen. So, I had a nice conversation with him. But just about made it. Certainly no money changed hands between me and a human being over those long six days.

BANFIELD: But the big take way, I'm guessing, is this. Sure it can be done. But is it likely to really be the way of the world? I mean, we're people. We need each other.

BRANCACCIO: I know, we're hungry for it. I certainly felt it after a number of days. I mean, this car had the coolest 3D Google Earth navigation screen. And that's what I stared at across this great country of ours. A cartoon version of America. That's no way to live.

And by the time I got to San Francisco, what I really needed to do was sit down with the actual flesh and blood human being, a buddy of mine and have a real beer with a human being.

BANFIELD: So, what about this little nugget that I spotted in your research that you saw a robot comedian?

BRANCACCIO: Yes.

BANFIELD: There's really robot common (ph)?

BRANCACCIO: As part of my reporting for "Marketplace," we're looking at the good side of robots because they're creating jobs for people with those high-end skills. And at Carnegie Melon University in Pittsburgh, there's a wonderful graduate student who's training a robot to do stand-up comedy.

It has a serious purpose. It's to see if machines can start to read other human beings. Read reactions. Read facial expressions.

BANFIELD: Hecklers.

BRANCACCIO: Hecklers, in my case. And laughter.

BANFIELD: So, do you want to do the opposite now?

BRANCACCIO: That's exactly right. I mean, you just read my mind. The trick now would be, let's go from San Francisco back to the beach in New Jersey, do it in not such a great car. We'll see if "Automobile" magazine will give me something crummy.

(LAUGHTER)

BRANCACCIO: But meet as many human beings as possible, avoid as much technology as possible, and I bet, better stories will arise from that journey.

BANFIELD: No Blackberry, no internet, no nada. I will go with you on that trip, my friend.

BRANCACCIO: All right. It's a date.

BANFIELD: It's a day. Nice to see you. Thanks for coming in.

BRANCACCIO: My pleasure.

BANFIELD: How's that? Feel good?

BRANCACCIO: It feels great.

BANFIELD: You can't replace an anchor, that's all I'm saying.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: David Brancaccio, thanks for coming in -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: I think they've tried, Ashleigh.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: Yes. I'm failed (INAUDIBLE).

SAMBOLIN: I don't know.

All right. Fifty-five minutes past the hour. We have breaking news this morning out of Egypt. The kidnapping of two American tourists at gunpoint. We heard from the U.S. embassy just a short time ago. We're going to have a live update from Cairo coming up.

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