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Agreement to Release Americans; Revolutionizing Online Education; "TIME" Magazine Writer Pens Piece and Caring for Aging Parents; Mayor Bloomberg Proposes Banning Sugary Drinks from Many New York City Establishments; Banning Big Sugary Drinks; Is Exercise Bad for Some?

Aired May 31, 2012 - 08:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody.

Our STARTING POINT this morning is breaking news. Two American tourists pulled out of their vehicle in Egypt and kidnapped. The gunmen just announcing their demands. We'll take you live to Cairo with details.

Also, a teenager in Indiana now stuck in Mexico. An immigration technicality could keep her stranded there for the next three years. Her name is Elizabeth Olivas. She's supposed to graduate on Saturday. She's going to talk to us live from Juarez this morning.

And is it time to cut ties with the tie? Gentlemen talking to me this morning have ties. Why the billionaire business mogul Richard Branson says, men, let's go casual.

It's Thursday, May 31st and STARTING POINT begins right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

O'BRIEN: All right. Let's get right to the breaking news that we're following from Egypt this morning. U.S. embassy officials are trying to secure the release now of two American tourists who are kidnapped at gunpoint. It happened in the town of Dahab in the Sinai Peninsula.

Officials say the alleged kidnappers are demanding the release of a fellow tribesman. That particular tribesman was arrested for possessing a large amount of marijuana.

Here's Ben Wedeman reporting from Cairo.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Armed gunmen have kidnapped two American tourists in the southern Sinai Peninsula.

According to Egyptian interior ministry officials, local officials as well as representatives of Egyptian intelligence are in direct contact with the kidnappers. The kidnappers are saying that they want the release of one of their tribe members, who was arrested with a large amount of marijuana to be released in exchange for the release of those two American tourists.

The U.S. embassy here in Cairo says that they are in constant and direct contact with Egyptian officials to resolve this situation as quickly as possible.

The Sinai Peninsula has been an area where law and order, security and stability, have largely deteriorated since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. It's an area where there's little love lost between the Egyptian state and the local inhabitants. Often times that dispute is played out at the expense of foreign tourists.

I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from Cairo.


O'BRIEN: Let's turn now to Christine Romans. She's got an update on the rest of the top stories this morning.

Hey, Christine.

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

Six people are dead including the gunman in a shooting spree that started at a popular coffee house in Seattle. Authorities still don't know what triggered this rampage. Seattle has long been considered one of America's safest big cities but it's been plagued by a recent wave of gun violence. The city recorded 20 homicides in all of 2011, but so far this year, they've had 19.

The Dragon capsule firing on all cylinders and heading home from space. The unmanned spacecraft left its parking part at the International Space Station this morning. It will soon reenter the Earth's atmosphere, splash down into the Pacific Ocean, expected to happen just before noon Eastern Time.

The companies that built and set up trailers used following hurricane Katrina, they agreed to a nearly $43 million settlement with people who say they were sickened by formaldehyde in those units. The proposed settlements have been submitted to a federal judge in New Orleans. About 60,000 people should be eligible for a share of the settlement. One hundred fourteen thousand FEMA trailers were set up after Katrina and more trailers were deployed following hurricane Rita, which struck a month later.

The White House changing strategy this morning, dropping the Bain Capital attacks to target Mitt Romney's record as governor of Massachusetts. The president's senior strategist David Axelrod scheduling a news conference later this morning at the statehouse in Boston. He'll be joined by Massachusetts officials who served with Romney.

And this just released campaign video offers a preview of what we can expect.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People want to know what I stand for, they can look at my record as governor.

JOHN BARRETT: Mitt Romney was not an effective leader in Massachusetts and the proof is in the pudding.

JAY KAUFMAN: I had worked only under Republican governors and worked well with all of the others. There was not much working with Mitt Romney.


ROMANS: The White House plans to make the case that Romney economics resulted in slower job creation, more debt, and bigger government and cuts to essential middle class programs during his time in office in Massachusetts.

Mitt Romney's latest gaffe by the way is Internet gold. His campaign introduced a new iPhone app with a huge misspelling. It says a better Amercia. Obviously, it's means to say a better America. The app encourages Romney supporters to post photos of themselves with the slogan.

Did the Internet oblige? Yes, a hilarious page has been created called Amercia is with Mitt. The Romney campaign said they submitted a correction.

Meantime, another Romney typo is going viral. His campaign Web site's page on gun rights says, quote, "As president, Mitt will work to expand access and opportunities for Americans to hunt, shoot and protect their families."

O'BRIEN: It will be a long campaign.


O'BRIEN: I'm going to predict it's only the beginning. Thank you, Christine.

So, Elizabeth Olivas has already missed her senior prom and she's just days away from missing her graduation where she was set to give the salutatorian speech. She's stuck in Mexico 1,500 miles from her home.

She lived in Indiana since she was 4 years old, but she was born in Chihuahua, Mexico. She never became a U.S. citizen. The law required she returned to Mexico within 180 days of her 18th birthday to get her visa or green card. But due to a calculation error caused by leap year, she was one day late returning. So now she's barred from returning to the United States for three years unless she's able to get a waiver.

A glimmer of home this morning, though. She's got an appointment in less than two hours at the U.S. consulate in Juarez where she's going file that waiver application.

Elizabeth joins us by phone from Mexico. Her attorney Sarah Moshe is with us as well this morning.

Nice to have both of you.

Elizabeth, lets start with you. You are going to file that application today. Is it at all feasible that potentially you could be back in the United States in time to give the salutatorian address at your graduation on Saturday?

ELIZABETH OLIVAS, BANNED FROM U.S. (via telephone): Good morning. That's what I'm most hoping for.

O'BRIEN: You hope that's possible and I wonder if that's possible at all. You were brought to the United States as a small child. You're 4 years old.

How old are you before you realized that you didn't have documents?

OLIVAS: You start to realize once you get into middle school age when everybody starts talking about college and you start seeing different opportunity that you have.

O'BRIEN: So did your parents have a conversation with you and everyone starts talking about college, saying this may not be an option for you because you actually weren't born in the United States and you don't have papers to stay here?

OLIVAS: Right. We had been fighting this case for a long time now. Because of different errors and different attorneys, we are where we are today. But, yes, I knew for a long time but it's something you try to keep your hopes up and hope that one day you'll get your things fixed.

O'BRIEN: Sarah, let me ask you a question. I know your dad became a naturalized citizen in 2004. The law said in order to become a permanent resident you have to go to Mexico and you have to apply at 180 days. I guess you are trying to cut it really obviously very, very close and instead it turned out to be 181 days. How did you miss the deadline?

SARAH MOSHE, ATTORNEY FOR ELIZABETH OLIVAS: That's correct. We used a legal calculator upon which many attorneys rely and in fact we had previously calculated that the date was April 19th and that calculator corrected us and said April 17th, which is the date Elizabeth left the United States.

O'BRIEN: So then you turned out that you were off one day. How did you figure out in fact that Elizabeth who thought they was going to go do paperwork and be able to come back to the United States instead was going to be stuck and stuck in Mexico maybe for three years.

MOSHE: At her appointment at the consulate on May 4th, they informed her that it was the 181st day and then Elizabeth notified me and I spent the following weeks fighting that. I requested an advisory opinion and they came back on May 11th saying, no, they were sticking to it. It was 181 days.

O'BRIEN: So, how likely do you think it is when she goes to the consulate this morning that, in fact, they're going to be able to give her equivalent of a humanitarian visa to come back into the country by Saturday when she would graduate?

MOSHE: It's not a humanitarian visa. We did apply for humanitarian parole but that was independent of this waiver application. Regarding the waiver application, she'll file today, I'm extremely hopeful. I have told Elizabeth all along I won't stop fighting. I'm remaining very, very positive for her.

O'BRIEN: So, Elizabeth, while you're in Chihuahua, where are you staying? What are you doing? You are still a student. You still have classes ongoing.

Are you studying? Are you continuing to work with your classmates in some way?

OLIVAS: In some way that's right. I currently live -- I was living with my grandparents. I have both my mom's side of the family here and my dad's mom and dad here. So I've been going from house to house spending time with them.

But luckily in the rush of the day I thought I was supposed to leave, I brought my laptop with me and that's helped me getting to the school Web site and doing all of my homework and I also brought a journal and my another book that I had to do because I knew what I had to take because I talked to my teachers. So, I've been doing everything online so my dad came to visit me for the first appointment that we have, first interview, I asked him to take the homework I finished so they could see at school that I've been working on my homework.

O'BRIEN: All right. Elizabeth, we wish you the best of luck.

Elizabeth is 3.967 GPA at school.

Also, Sarah, I hope you keep us up to speed on what happens not only with this particular waiver application but also in general with this case. We appreciate that. Thank you for talking to us.

MOSHE: I will. Thank you so much.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, development in the case of those two Americans kidnapped in Egypt. Word may be that there is an agreement to release them. We'll take you live to Cairo, up next.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

Development on that breaking news story: Two Americans trapped in Egypt. They were taken at gunpoint in the town of Dahab in the Sinai Peninsula. Now, there is word that there maybe an agreement to release them.

Let's get right to CNN's Ben Wedeman. He's live for us in Cairo this morning.

Ben, what are you hearing?

WEDEMAN: Yes, what we're hearing from a senior official in the southern Sinai government where this kidnapping took place is that after intensive negotiations between intelligence officers, local officials and kidnappers, that an agreement has been reached for the release of the hostages and they will be released shortly.

This comes after, of course, the U.S. embassy has become involved. The U.S. embassy has been in close touch with Egyptian officials, with the family of the two Americans who were kidnapped. So, it does appear at this point that this problem is on the way to resolution.

O'BRIEN: Ben, any more details about where they were held or even details about the hostages themselves. I know a lot of that was kept very quiet, obviously, as they were trying to frantically do this negotiation.

WEDEMAN: Well, we understand they are two Americans in their young 30s. The U.S. embassy here, for privacy reasons, does not want to reveal their names, their identities. What's interesting is that on of the local newspapers, the biggest newspaper in Cairo, in fact, published their passport numbers which is something the U.S. embassy definitely does not like.

We do know from Bedouin Sheikh (ph) in the Southern Sinai that the kidnappers, they tell us, are treating the hostages well, and in fact, being very friendly with them is the exact expression we were given. So, they do seem to be in good shape. They have not been harmed. And as I said, hopefully, they will be released soon.

O'BRIEN: Very good news there. Ben Wedeman for us this morning. Thank you, Ben.

Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a learning academy with six million students and is all online. Is the future of education entirely in front of a computer? The founder of Khan Academy will join us up next.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: This is a great story.


O'BRIEN: Plus, the secret Charles Manson tapes. Police getting their hands on eight hours of recordings. Could they reveal more murders committed by Manson? You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back right after this short break.


O'BRIEN: You might not recognize his face, but Sal Khan's voice is known by countless students. Khan founded the Khan Academy three years ago with video tutorials on a wide variety of subjects, (INAUDIBLE) calculus, the Bay of Pigs Invasion. He has a knack for breaking down and explaining tough topics.

And now, six million students view the videos each month, and Khan is changing the way kids are taught. He's going to be speaking at the "Wall Street Journal's" All Things Digital Tech Conference, which is taking place in California today, and he joins us from Mountain View (ph) this morning.

It's so nice to se you. Thanks for being with us. You're a hedge funder who decided to quit the job and really head into education. Why do you think Khan Academy has been so successful?

SAL KHAN, FOUNDER, KHAN ACADEMY: You know, it's just a theory on my part. But I think it's a combination of it's very digestible. You go there. The videos are in these ten-minute chunks, but at the same time, it's very comprehensive. You go to the site. People are like, that's where I am.

I can start over here and there's basic arithmetic, but if I'm in college, there's stuff on calculus and there's -- financial crisis and history and current events, like you mentioned, and I think on top of that, you know, I started making these for my cousin so it kind of has a feel that you're talking to a family member.

It has a very, I think, hopefully, human feel. And I think people really like that kind of conversational or tone to it

O'BRIEN: Yes. I was about to say, I thought, when you listed the first two things, you're being very modest because many people say, really, the success is you. That your tone. You know, you're an amazing teacher. I want to play a little clip of one of the lessons, and we'll talk on other side of it.


KHAN: Well, this is the exact same equation. This is the exact same equation. We can see that we can take this equation, and it can apply to things in economics. Economics. Or it can apply to things in finance or it --


O'BRIEN: One of the things you do, though, is you talk a lot about scaling. How do you move from the model being you in Khan Academy and actually make that something that is bigger, even more transformative than you've already been in the three years that you've been doing this?

KHAN: Yes. You know, once we became a real organization, we set up as a not for profit about three or four years ago, and we got some significant funding. We started ramping up the team. We're now 32 people. Most of our teams actually are software engineers, because even though we got our start with the videos and that's what a lot of people are still using, we have a pretty interactive platform.

People can get exercises. They get feedback and classrooms. Teachers get dashboards, and where all of their students are. And so, for us the scale is, we're already at six million users. We think that could go to 10, 20, who knows how many million, and in terms of the actual video content, we're translating into 12 languages as we speak.

We have, I think, 6,000 videos already that are in multiple languages. And we are looking for other faculty members, so to speak, so that we can really cover all different subjects.

HOOVER: You know, Sal, one of the things I love is you told a story about how this isn't even just accessible for kids. Adults can go to your site, and in seven minutes, get a briefing on credit default swaps.

In fact, you even said once like one of the -- somebody unanimously e-mailed you from Lehman Brothers saying that your explanation of kind of default what's stirring (ph) the financial meltdown and enormously insightful to him about some of the tools, financial tools that the banks were using.

KHAN: Yes. I didn't say it was from Lehman Brothers. But yes, it was from a bank. Someone wrote me. They said, thank you so much for that video on mortgage backed securities. I now know what I do for a living.


MARC LAMONT HILL, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: I am a skeptic of this very much so. I mean --

O'BRIEN: What?

HILL: I'm an educational expert. A researcher. I do. I do teach at the leading college in the world. Yes, and I guess, two concerns I have is one about engagement, right, is that a big part of the learning process isn't just about teaching. It's also about students engaging ideas, and there's no space in this format to engage.

The other thing is, diversity of opinion, right? I mean, I would hate for Will Cain to be a professor, explaining the economic meltdown because he would say something like poor people caused it. And if that's the video that I get, then, that's my take on the world. So, how do you think about that idea of engagement and being able to challenge ideas and really engage in the learning process differently?

KHAN: I think those are both super important points. And what's neat about what's going on is that we might be able to super charge both of those things.

You know, engagement, obviously, virtually, there are ways, you know, if you have six million students in a place, you can pair them up and that's a feature we're working on right now so that if students have questions, there's kind of just tutors on the cloud really to help them.

It's all free. It's all not for profit. But on top of that, we do think the ideal experience is you complement Khan Academy with a physical experience or Khan Academy is the complement to physical experience.

So, a lot of the core academic scuffled happens virtually or happens at a students on phase so that when you go to a class, it's no longer, you know, all of us sit at rows in desks and watch a teacher give a lecture. Class time then becomes peer to peer tutoring. It becomes interactions with the teacher, Q&A with the teachers.

So, it really kind of steps up the level of interactivity. And in terms of the voices, I think that's where online really wins, because right now, if we're in a history class or economics class, you know, it will be 30 people in the room, and that one professor, they might say the right thing, they might say the wrong thing, and there's no one in the room to kind of have a check on that.

But when things like -- when I put a video out there, immediately thousands of people, I mean, within the next day, thousands of people watch it. If there's a mistake, even a minor mistake, people are very quick to point it out. Some of those people are professors, academic, professionals in the field. So, we actually have a very robust editorial body.

CAIN: So, I think that's the answer to Marc's question. How do you guard yourself against people like Will Cain giving you information you don't want. You have a multiplicity of voices, and that's what online experiences about. The question then becomes how do we encourage more people like Sal to do this?

And I know that venture capitalists are putting a ton of money into trying to answer that question. O'BRIEN: It will be interesting to see. I know you're giving your speech this morning, and you also are looking to doing a real bricks and mortar type Khan Academy. So, we wish you the very best of luck on that, as well. Sal Khan, nice to have you. Thank you so much. Appreciate your time.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a delicate but important subject dealing with ageing parents. "Time" Magazine's Joe Klein just wrote the cover story based on his own experience with his parents. He's going to join us.

And is it time to cut ties with your tie, gentlemen? We'll tell you why billionaire, business mogul, Richard Branson wants men everywhere to lose them.

CAIN: A long time ago, Richard.

O'BRIEN: Will Cain's playlist, Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band, "Hollywood Nights."


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Joe Klein is coming up as our next guest, and he is autographing Margaret's book for her. That's (INAUDIBLE) here behind me.

First though, we got to get a look at the day's headlines. Christine's got that. Hey, Christine.


ROMANS (voice-over): In Syria, government forces shelling the town of Houla, site of last week's massacre that killed more than a hundred people, nearly half of them children. The slaughter of civilians has sparked global outrage.

Meantime, Syria's main rebel group, the Free Syrian Army, is giving the government a Friday deadline to pull out of occupied cities and villages, unless, humanitarian aide in. Now, they're not saying what will happen if, as expected, President Bashar al-Assad ignores that ultimatum?

Will we see a verdict in the John Edwards trial today? Jurors begin day nine of deliberation this morning. The judge decided to send four alternate jurors home. They are the ones who got attention for matching T-shirts. Edwards faces up to 30 years behind bars for allegedly using nearly $1 million in illegal campaign donations to cover up an extramarital affair.

Newly discovered audio recordings of Charles Manson's right-hand man could help police solve cold case murders. Los Angeles police are fast to get their hands on eight hours of conversations between Manson family killer Charles Tex Watson and his attorney, conversations from 1969. A judge ruled to give them the tapes originally off limits because of attorney-client privilege. Police believe the recordings capture Watson talking about unknown murders the Manson family committed. Manson is serving a life sentence for seven murders.

An Illinois lawmaker loses it on the state house floor. The shocking video goes viral. Republican State Representative Mike Bost flipped out after Democrats pushed a last minute bill to reform the state's pension system.


BOST: This is not the American way. These damn bills that come out here all the damn time, come out here at the last second. I got to try to figure out how to vote for my people. You should be ashamed of yourselves! I'm sick of it. Every year we give power to one person! Enough!


ROMANS: That tirade went on for a minute and a half. Bost even tried to drop the mic but it was attached to the podium.

All right, this just in, 383,000 unemployment claims were filed for the first time last week. That's more than expected and the previous week was revised up as well below the 400,000 level that shows an improving labor market.

Is it time to say good-bye to wearing ties? Multibillionaire and Virgin CEO Richard Branson says yes. He's made it his life-long mission to stop people from wearing ties going so far as to carry scissors in his pockets to cut people's ties off. Branson says they serve no useful purpose. He says "Being comfortable and confident in what you are wearing helps people come up with more innovative and original thoughts. It's a little thing but it can make all of the difference." Soledad?

O'BRIEN: I like a man in a tie, got to tell you.


O'BRIEN: I'm not responsible for the shots that we take.

CAIN: Richard Branson and are on the same page. Nothing about a fancy cloth makes your thoughts more formal or you a better worker. It was designed at a time to show that you could afford a piece of fancy cloth.

HILL: I like that, will.

O'BRIEN: Let's turn to what is really a challenging topic. As I was reading Joe Klein's cover story, I saw the story of my parents unfold the same way. The question is figuring out how do you care for an elderly parent who is dying. It's clearly tough for any kid, but Joe Klein tells his personal story in "TIME" magazine, the tough road that he faced as he managed for his parents in the final months of their lives and the solution he found that made the process a little bit easier. Nice to have you with us. I thought you story is just -- I felt, yes that happened to us. So many will read this cover story in "TIME" and say this is the story of my elderly parents starting to fall apart and me having to now take care of them. How hard was it to write this?

JOE KLEIN, "TIME" MAGAZINE: This is the way one grieves. Only a geek like me could find policy implications of his parents' death. In a way, I don't know what it was like for you, but going through cartons full of memorabilia and thinking through their past and seeing pictures of my mom and dad when they were young and finding that my mom when she was 17 years old looked exactly like my daughter. It was just the perfect way to end a difficult process.

CAIN: Can I just ask this question? I took this away from your piece. I've said it, my parents have said it to me -- I don't want to be a vegetable. Pull the plug on me, as though there is a bright line or a point at which that decision becomes obvious. That wasn't the case for you.

KLEIN: It should have been obvious. I made the wrong decision. I was out in Iowa on one of my road trips. I was in Senator Chuck Grassley's kitchen from mom's doctor saying she's got pneumonia and she's not eating. You're going to lose her if you don't put in a feeding tube. I didn't want to lose her overnight. I wanted my brother in Asia to have an opportunity to be there as well. And so we put in the feeding tube even though I later learned she had another month to live without it.

O'BRIEN: You had a struggle moving your parents into this assisted living facility. There is this model. It's a model that you love. I think more than like it. You really think it gave your parents dignity and assistance that they need. Describe the model for us.

KLEIN: It's like Mayo Clinic. It takes care of 2.6 million people in central Pennsylvania in 44 counties. The big difference is that they pay doctors by salaries plus performance bonuses. Most doctors are paid fee-for-service, according to the procedures that they do and tests they run and so on.

And so when I moved my parents from traditional fee-for-service medicine into a nursing home that used these doctors and nurses, all of a sudden three big things started happening. One, people stopped sticking needles in my parents and doing things to them. Number two, the care became coordinated.

O'BRIEN: Case manager, which is really a critical thing when parents are sick.

KLEIN: Rather than having a whole flotilla of doctors all doing separate things sometimes conflicting things, you had one person in charge. And the third thing was -- and this is most important to me -- they started talking to me as if I were an adult. They started in a calm, humane, decent way, they told me the truth about the choices that I faced with my parents.

O'BRIEN: What's the pushback on that system? Many doctors say that they don't like it.

KLEIN: The pushback is that, first of all, doctors are like high priests. My wife comes from a family of doctors all of the way out to second cousins. We know about this. And they want to make every last decision. What Geisinger has done brilliantly is to use electronic records over the course of the last 15 years to figure out what actually works and what doesn't. And your performance bonus depends on how closely you adhere to the processes that they found actually work. Doctors don't like to have that hanging over them.

They also don't like to not do things because they are afraid of malpractice suits.

And finally, they get rewarded for doing the extra x-ray or extra MRI or blood test. And what Geisinger found is when they started this case manager system, which is essentially having a nurse, they added a layer of bureaucracy. And it's having a nurse call the elderly person or visit them three or four times a week, which, as you know, elderly people like to talk about their health a lot. And when you do that, all of a sudden visits to the hospital decline 20 percent, revisits to the hospital decline 36 percent, and it cost seven percent less. So if we were able to institute this kind of system having salary doctors rather than fee-for-service doctors in Medicare, we could save an awful lot of money.

O'BRIEN: I think this cover story is really a combination of sort of compassion 101 in dealing with a terrible time in your life as the son and in your parents' life as people are afraid and confused, and then also the policy around how we could solve a major problem in this country, which is the spiraling cost of health care.

KLEIN: Right. It doesn't get rid of all of the difficult stuff. My dad thought that old age was a reversible condition. I had to take away his driver's license and then I had to hide his car keys. And then I had to explain to him four different times why he was going into the nursing home. And there he started his own private occupy the elevator movement trying to get out.


KLEIN: But in the end, you know, he had -- he was a difficult guy. And we had some really fine moments at the end. And he died with dignity and when you're a human death panel, as I was for five months, that's the best you could ask, that they go peacefully, quietly, and serenely. O'BRIEN: Joe Klein, cover story in "TIME" magazine beautifully written and you learn a lot about policy of health care and model that might be a good solution. Nice to have you. Thanks for talking with us.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, a supersized smack down. New York City's mayor trying to ban sugary drinks from restaurants and movie theaters and ballparks. The controversy, we're talking about it up next. You're watching STARTING POINT.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back. We start with breaking news. Two American tourist kidnapped in Egypt have now been released. They were abducted by armed Bedouins in the Sinai town of Dahab. U.S. embassy officials worked to secure their released. An agreement was reached with the kidnappers. The kidnappers demand the release of an Egyptian man who had been arrested on drug charges. They have now been released. They are not hostages anymore. We'll give you more information as it comes to us.

Turning now to a big controversy that's brewing here in New York. The mayor of New York City wants to ban the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at all city restaurants, movie theaters, ballparks and among other places. Alina Cho on the story for us this morning. Good morning. We were debating this in the makeup room this morning. Nanny state?

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: "Nanny Bloomberg" is what the critics say. Remember, Soledad, this isn't the first time that Mayor Bloomberg has been out front on the issue of health and fighting obesity. Bloomberg has championed the ban on smoking in restaurants and then later a ban on artificial trans-fats. Now he wants to ban sodas larger than 16 ounces. This is 20 ounces. This could be banned under the new rule -- ban them from being sold at New York city restaurants, food carts, and any other establishment that receives a letter grade for food service in the city. New Yorkers are familiar with that.

And here's a good argument for it. Watch.




CHO: Did you get a good look at that? A man drinking a tall glass of fat. If you read along, it says drinking one can of soda a day can make you 10 pounds fatter a year. "Don't drink yourself fat" is what it says.

The ban, we should mention, does not affect diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy based drinks, or alcoholic beverages, and it would not apply to grocery or convenience stores. If you are boiling it down, it appears that the ban will affect mostly places where you can actually order food.

The idea is eat your calories and don't drink them.

In New York City alone -- listen to this, I found this really interesting -- more than half of adults are considered obese or overweight now. That's even with all the walking that we do and what's more interesting is that the city has actually done research and done studies and found that higher obesity rates are more common in neighborhoods where soda consumption is high.

The Board of Health by the way will vote on this measure in June. It will get a nod because the members of the board are appointed by the Mayor and this ban Soledad could take effect as early as next month.

O'BRIEN: I wonder if there's going to be -- you know like a human cry about this as there was over the smoking ban and the trans fat ban.

CHO: Well you know -- and this is something that we we're talking about earlier. What I found interesting is yes you're right there was a huge -- critics were coming out of the woodwork when the smoking ban was first instituted and now it's sort of a way of life right?

HILL: Right.

CHO: So you know listen, if -- if the study shows that people -- I know you and I disagree on this. You know I love you --


O'BRIEN: I always worry when someone starts with "you know I love you". You know I love you girl, but --

CAIN: If the studies show that alcohol leads to liver disease, should we prohibit alcohol?

HOOVER: Is this -- is this a slippery slope?

HILL: It's not even a slippery slope it's -- we're already there at the bottom. This is ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.

CHO: I mean, listen but look at -- look at the smoking ban in New York City. Smoking has gone down. I mean, appreciably. It's -- it's something -- it's something to take.

O'BRIEN: I like the calorie count on the menus. HILL: I do too.

CHO: I do too.


HILL: I like to know just how much I'm taking in right before I take it in though. I still want to eat it.

HOOVER: It is an enormous leap between -- here is the information of what you're about to consume to you cannot consume this.

O'BRIEN: No you still can consume it. You can buy as many of those --


CHO: You can buy as many as these as you want.


CHO: I mean -- you know and the interesting thing is that the mayor by the way is going to be holding a news conference at noon with the health commissioner. He's going to explain himself a little bit further.

A lot of people earlier were talking about coffee drinks. You know, would coffee drinks being banned?

O'BRIEN: Right.

CHO: What we're getting is that the proposal will limit the sale of large coffee drinks with excessive sugar if the drink is composed of less than 50 percent milk. Refills -- free refills will be allowed.


CAIN: Is the arbitrary -- the definite -- who is going to regulate this? Who is going to measure your coffee?

CHO: Here -- according to the city, the definition of a sugary drink is this, 25 calories per eight fluid ounces contains less than 51 percent or milk. Listen I didn't write the rules.


CHO: I didn't write the rules.

(CROSSTALK) O'BRIEN: They are able to say that places where you're selling food and places you can go and order food they'll be able to regulate it fine, right? All they have to do is say no 32 ounce Slurpee size things. You can buy ten of them if you want.

LAMONT-HILL: They just want to sell you two small ones.


CHO: It's one -- it is one of the rules of nutrition, though. Eat your calories. Don't drink them.

O'BRIEN: I actually think -- I get the obesity problem is huge.

CHO: You know I love you --


O'BRIEN: I am terrified to say this out loud, but I agree with Will Cain on this.

HILL: I think we all do.

O'BRIEN: -- which is but here's why. Because I think this is not the approach to solving the obesity problem. It really is not.

CAIN: I dare you it is.

CHO: If I -- and this is what we were talking about in the makeup room. I think it's just one step toward that goal. I think it could help.

HILL: I don't think the government has a right to tell me what I can eat. I should be able to eat as much bad food as I want.

CHO: You can, no you can buy as many of these as you want.

HILL: And that's what make it absurd then, so I can by two eight ounce cups but I can't buy a 16.

O'BRIEN: The point is, it won't, right? The point is when you go and order food, more likely than not you're going to order one.

CHO: That's right.

O'BRIEN: Because you're not going to do that it's only a little bit less -- a little bit more expensive and you buy the bigger one. In fact you'll only order one and therefore you will be cutting calories. CAIN: On the bright side we'll all be skinny.


CAIN: We'll all be skinny.

CHO: What's wrong with that?

O'BRIEN: You're not going to be skinny and you're not going to be a serf with this policy. Anyway moving on. Thank you Alina I appreciate it.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, even if you just gulped down one of those big sugary drinks, you might want to get off the treadmill. There is a newer study out that says exercise is bad for some people.

Here's Arcade Fire with (inaudible) off of Margaret's playlist. You're watching STARTING POINT.


ROMANS: A couple of quick headlines for you this morning. They finished just 2-8 last season, but the Alcorn State football team is making history. The Mississippi School's new coach Jay Hopson is the first ever nonblack head football coach in the South Western Athletic Conference. Hopson says about his hiring "I don't see black or white. We're purple and gold".

Remember the YouTube hit "David After Dentist". Well, the newest anesthesia aftermath courtesy of Matt.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel dizzy. Why do I feel dizzy?


ROMANS: Dizzy. He also asked about the orange thing on his arm. It turned out it was a cast. Soledad.

O'BRIEN: He was so cute.

All right. Let's talk a little bit about something else since we're on the medical kick this morning, it turns out exercise could be bad for some people. A well-known group of researchers including one who just finished penning a paper that justifies the national guidelines that promotes exercise for everybody, they now say that in fact after looking at six studies that they analyzed, 10 percent of the people in those studies actually got worse after exercise, 10 percent. So that means that exercise might actually be bad for some people. HILL: I think I'm 10 percent. I do.

O'BRIEN: Well they do worry a little bit about that. The lead author of the paper is quoted as saying "It is bizarre" which is never a good thing when lead author is saying that. But they did feel like and people have applauded their studies being well done; 90 percent did better and they want to remind everybody, 90 percent did better. But there are 10 percent of people in the study who actually did not do as well."

CAIN: Any person did not do as well in one risk measurement related to heart disease.

O'BRIEN: Right.

CAIN: So one measurement 10 percent --

O'BRIEN: Well but the measurement is of your blood insulin levels, your cholesterol and your high blood pressure. So a very important measurement that would be correlated with exercise, right?

HILL: But it's short-term as well right. There's a (inaudible) to the study that says it's possible that long- term those peoples don't have the long-term help.

CAIN: Don't have a heart attack.

O'BRIEN: Right. They did an analysis of six and it's considered to be a well-done study, I don't think anybody is saying that it was sloppily done.

HILL: No, no, no. I'm just saying I don't want people to infer necessarily that because even if they are among the 10 percent, if they exercise, they are more likely to get a heart attack. That will be everyone's excuse. Everyone's going to say they're the 10 percent.

O'BRIEN: No, not in the least. I don't think anybody listens to a thing that says 10 percent.

HILL: I think they do.

HOOVER: Isn't that human nature, though? Like oh wow, I might now have an excuse not to exercise.

HILL: Right.

HOOVER: I think this makes the case for individual plans for having a doctor tailor your exercise program, check out your health and then see --

HILL: Exactly.

HOOVER: -- you know, make sure you're not only 10 percent.

O'BRIEN: Did you do that? Before you start your exercise program, did you see your doctor? No. You're like, you know, I need to get on the treadmill. I'm going to start Monday.

HILL: Right. Beach guys.

HOOVER: You want to make sure you're not going to damage yourself.

CAIN: They don't even do that. They just need to start moving. They're too busy in the debate process.

O'BRIEN: Right. There's no debate.

CAIN: Move. Sit down the 20 ounce coke, don't wait for the government to take it away from you and we'll all be good.

O'BRIEN: I agree with you again today.

HOOVER: Oh my God.

HILL: This is scary. This is getting really scary. I think there's a phenomenon among American people that whenever there's a study that tells them -- that lets them off the hook, they go for it.

O'BRIEN: Is that true. Do you have evidence of that, Professor?

HILL: Yes. Yes. And it goes -- no. No, I mean -- no, no. When I talk to people, everyone thinks they have ADHD which is why they can't get their work done. Everybody when I see a study that says, you know, 10 percent of people will die from exercise. They say, I'm definitely 10 percent because my heart beats extra fast on the treadmill.

HOOVER: This isn't what your students are telling you.

HILL: That's exactly right. Exactly.

O'BRIEN: I don't believe it. I don't believe it.

All right. End point up next.

We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: End point starring Will Cain. What you got?

CAIN: We had two stories today. The story of Elizabeth Olivas who was the 18-year-old who was stuck in Mexico when she missed her deadline by one day. We had a second story about Diane Tran, the student who was in trouble for truancy and spent the night in jail.

And I just want to make this point. Sometimes we look at the law and we have an emotional connection to stories. We want the law to be empathetic. We want judges to be empathetic. We want them to make allowances for the circumstances but that's not really what the law is about. It's about applying the law.

Sometimes when the rules get broken we have to see it through that prism. Otherwise, we have a little bit of --


O'BRIEN: Judges have to -- I'm going to end the day disagreeing with you. Oh my God.

HILL: We are back. You are back to order.

O'BRIEN: Actually as you pointed out in your question, judges have the opportunity to figure out what is going on in someone's life and make a decision.

CAIN: Well, that's a separate question.


CAIN: If he had discretion -- if these judges had discretion --

O'BRIEN: They do.

CAIN: -- built into the law, that's separate.

O'BRIEN: The law has a certain amount --

CAIN: What we don't want is little mini kings with emotional connections to every single case.

HILL: Yes. But we also need laws that have flexibility to account for human individuality.


O'BRIEN: And I'm moving on. We'll continue this conversation tomorrow because we're about of time.

On STARTING POINT tomorrow, 23-year- old photographer hired to shoot Marilyn Monroe -- a meeting that changed his life. Bestselling author Lawrence Schiller, shares his story about the private Marilyn that he knew.

Let's get right to CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello. We'll see you back here tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. Hey Carol, good morning.