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Tracking Tropical Storm Isaac; Florida Keys Prepare For Isaac; Armstrong Drops Fight Against Doping Charges; Norway Mass Killer Sentenced; Banned From Campus; Ponderosa Fire; Tampa Preps For RNC

Aired August 24, 2012 - 06:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A disaster could be in store for Haiti, Tropical Storm Isaac ready to pound that island where hundreds of thousands of people still leave in tents there. We'll have a live report in just a few moments.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Also, a lot of people talking about this American hero this morning. Lance Armstrong, he will be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from competing for life after he decides to give up his battle against those doping charges. Huge story today.

BERMAN: And huge excitement here this morning because technology that used to make movies is now rocking the sports world.

BALDWIN: This is awesome.

BERMAN: Olympic gold medal swimmer, Dana Vollmer. There she is, in our studio live, demonstrating how Avatar stop motion technology is improving her performance. This is a guaranteed coolness.

BALDWIN: This is absolutely guaranteed coolness. The fact that they've done this in movies and now they're helping her, they're saying she looks really like a dolphin how she's doing in the fly in the pool. Awesome stuff. Stick around.

I'm Brooke Baldwin, top of the here. You're watching EARLY START.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Zoraida is off today. It is 6 a.m. in the east and of course, we are all talking about Tropical Storm Isaac, which is headed for Haiti right now.

Where hundreds of thousands of people, they still live in tents there after the devastating 2010 earthquake. The storm has already pounded Puerto Rico with rain and Isaac is projected to head towards Florida next.

Could be a hurricane by Monday, it's expected to hit just in time for the Republican National Convention in Tampa. That's what we are all wondering this morning.

Rob Marciano at the CNN Headquarters in Atlanta. Rob, what's the latest. ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, John. Let's get through the islands first and talk about the track. First off, preps in Haiti, hundreds of thousands of people there without significant shelter.

They are going to have to deal with not just wind but heavy rain from this and also -- then once it gets through Cuba, we're talking about the keys, Florida Keys also prepping. They have the game plan set up.

They are kind of strapping down some of the power lines, giving them an extra boost and trimming some of the trees. In Miami, although on the eastern fringe of the cone, they remember Wilma and today they certainly remember Hurricane Andrew. It's the 20th anniversary.

They've been gassing up just in case. All right, here the storm itself. Tropical Storm Isaac, 45-mile-an hour winds, big circulation, but still poorly organized heading to the west at 15 miles per hour.

Here's the forecast track from the National Hurricane Center. Because it hasn't strengthened much, we don't anticipate it becoming a hurricane before making landfall in Western Haiti and then again across South Eastern Cuba.

But it will have a tremendous amount of rain. You only need 10 inches or so, especially across Haiti where the mountains there are deforested to create some serious problems in the way of some mudslides.

All right, getting across Cuba into the Florida straits, we don't know what kind of structure it will have once it gets through Cuba. I think on Sunday night into early Monday morning, it hits the Keys in some way, shape or form probably a strong tropical storm at this point.

Then here are the forecast tracks. Still a wide cone, Tampa still in play and Florida panhandle certainly in play and now we're looking at New Orleans as a potential target as well. This is the 5:00 a.m. advisory.

Another update on 11:00 a.m., some of the data we got from yesterday's recount will help maybe narrow this and give us a little bit more confidence. But hurricane forecast to make landfall somewhere along the Gulf Coast either on the east side or that northern side.

BERMAN: All right, Rob Marciano watching this as the storm seems to move over to the left there. Thanks very much.

BALDWIN: As Rob said, the Keys currently in Isaac's path. The Florida Keys with the single row, connecting the string of islands to the mainland. Folks there already being warned of the possibility of evacuation.

With me now, Irene Toner, she is the director of Emergency Management for Florida's Monroe County, which includes all of those beautiful Florida Keys.

So Irene, good morning to you. Let's just begin with the possibility. I know there had been warnings that you would declare this local state of emergency today. Do you think that will happen?

IRENE TONER, MONROE COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT (via telephone): Good morning. We are issuing a local state of emergency today at noon. We had made some decisions regarding the response to tropical storm, but one thing I will emphasize that we will not have a general residence evacuation.

That is not planned although we are considering a visitor evacuation. If that occurs though, it would be sometime tomorrow, but we will still evaluate that movement and we'll have a final decision by this afternoon.

We did make decisions as far as the county government that the county government offices are closed on Monday as well as the courts and the sheriff's administrative offices. So we are preparing special needs for movement and encouraging residents to make sure to check their emergency kit supplies.

BALDWIN: Check the kit --

TONER: Sure, you may end up --

BALDWIN: So you may end up bearing the brunt of it at some point pretty quickly here. I'm just curious, Irene, why evacuate potentially tourists, but not the folks who permanently live there? How do you make that determination too?

TONER: Well, we have a two-part evacuation protocol for Category One and Two storms. We do not evacuate a general population for Category 3 or higher because we do not have adequate shelters in Monroe County for Category 3 or higher storms.

So for the safety of everyone, we do have to get them out of the county. The tourists and the special needs, they are required to evacuate for all categories and that -- because if you have a Category One, we are thinking Category Two.

The biggest fear is the interference of a storm. So we want to make sure that everyone who does not need to be in the county is not should such a situation call for it.

BALDWIN: Final word, go ahead.

TONER: I just wanted to say if we do have tourist evacuation, if we do, immediately after that, damage assessment, we reopen the county back for tourism. So this is not a long-term, you know, ban so to speak.

BALDWIN: So if they have to go away, you're saying, please come back to the Keys. Irene toner, thank you so much, the director of Emergency Management, Monroe County, Florida. So that is the bit of news though. She said they will be declaring that local state of emergency at noon today, noon today. Also coming up, because Florida, we're all talking about Florida and this particular storm.

Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, is going to join Soledad at 7:00 this morning for more on that.

BERMAN: As you said, local state of emergency in the Keys. Also news, no resident evacuation planned.

The other big news this morning, Lance Armstrong is throwing in a towel in a way. The seven-time Tour De France winner says he will no longer fight charges by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, USADA, that he used performance enhancing drugs.

Armstrong maintains his innocence, but he says in a statement he is, quote, "finished with this nonsense." A cycling insider who believes Armstrong is guilty tells CNN this morning. This is the least worst of his options.


PETER FLAX, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, BICYCLING MAGAZINE: Here he can claim the moral high ground and correctly portray this as a witch hunt. It definitely appears to me like it was an unfair process that came after him.

And at the same time, I think it's an acknowledgement on his part, not spoken, that's he's cornered. That the charges are largely accurate and he's guilty of a lot of these doping allegations.

So he's taken a path to be able to go to his supporters and his foundation supporters and claim innocence.


BERMAN: That is the debate that will be white hot today. Now the Anti-Doping Agency says it will strip Armstrong of his seven Tour De France titles and impose a lifetime cycling ban.

Armstrong has disputed that doping agency even has the power to do that, but the head of USADA says the International Cycling Union, another organization, is bound to recognize our decision and impose it.

BALDWIN: Also we're finally learning here, 21 years, this man is getting 21 years for killing 77 people. Anders Breivik, he was the man who admitted to last year's Norway rampage.

He is declared sane. Sentenced just this morning to Norway's maximum sentence, a lot of people don't realize this. The maximum sentence in Norway is 21 years in prison.

Breivik killed eight people in that bombing in Oslo then went on to kill 69 more, mostly kids and teenagers at that camp on an island back in July of the last year.

BERMAN: I did not know about that 21 year --

BALDWIN: Twenty one year max.

BERMAN: New details this morning about James Holmes alarming behavior before the movie theatre massacre. Prosecutors say the Aurora, Colorado shooting suspect had been banned from the University of Colorado campus six weeks before the movie theatre rampage that left 12 people dead.

Yesterday, they asked the judge to give them access to all of Holmes' University of Colorado records. Arapaho County prosecutor, Karen Pearson says that while a student there, Holmes made threats that had been reported to police.

BALDWIN: And that Navy SEAL who has now written his first inside account of the Osama Bin Laden raid has been identified by not just one, but two news organizations, but full disclosure CNN is not going to be revealing his name at the request of Pentagon.

The member of SEAL Team 6, he is now retired and book this called "No Easy Day" under the pseudonym Mark Owen. It will be publish this upcoming September 11th.

Officials say the manuscript was not vetted as required by the Pentagon. The military worried that identifying him could jeopardize colleagues and of course, his family, other family members as well. Later on, we're going talk with Retired Major General Spider Marx.

Firefighters in Northern California, they say they are closely containing the Ponderosa fire, which has burned through 28,000 acres, destroyed more than 60 homes. That fire was sparked by a lightning storm.

That was last Saturday. More than 550 state prison inmates helped firefighters chased the fire into the canyon and battled the flames by cutting fire lines with shovels and axes.

BERMAN: It's 10 minutes after the hour. Florida on edge with Tropical Storm Isaac looming dangerously nearby. Republicans, they are preparing for Mitt Romney's nominating event next week. We will have the latest on the live preparations coming up next.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. It is 13 minutes after the hour. I'm John Berman. Glad you're with us.

BALDWIN: I'm Brooke Baldwin. Zoraida is off today, back Monday, by the way.

But let's talk Tampa because, you know, they are bracing, right, for this tropical storm, at least that is what it is right now, has nothing to do with the thousands of delegates heading there for the Republican National Convention. It is all about Isaac, now as we mentioned this tropical storm, which could arrive as a hurricane just as the convention kicks off Monday, fingers crossed that doesn't happen.

Brian Todd, let's talk to you about convention preparations. You're live for us this morning in Tampa, Florida. So the numbers I've seen, it's like 50,000 folks headed there in addition to 15,000 journalists. In the if scenario, if this is a hurricane or even just a lot of rain, what's the plan?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, local officials are very confident they have a plan in place to evacuate all of us from out of town. As you mentioned, 50,000 delegates and other officials and journalists and thousands of them are here.

They have a plan to evacuate it. They are not being specific on the details. They said they've got some buses ready to evacuate people. There are going to be about 400 buses circulating around town anyway. So those buses will be used.

They're going to have some people shelter in place depending on where they are staying and happen to be if and when the storm comes here. You know, we're right by the water. Much of Tampa is very low to the water here and storm surge is a huge problem even if this doesn't turn out to be a hurricane here, even if it's residuals of a tropical storm, Brooke. They say they have a plan in place.

What's interesting is, one local emergency management official was quoted in a local paper as saying, it's going to be the call of Republican Party officials on whether to evacuate the delegates and when to do so.

Now, that's leaving it up to political people. Many of whom may not be from here, many of whom may not know the lay of the land or storm management procedures, but apparently they are going to be the ones to make the call on evacuations, Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK. OK, they'll make the call. What about though and obviously a convention, you have folks that don't necessarily agree with the politics that are in town, i.e. protesters. I know people are talking about they are worried about some anarchist groups disrupting the convention. What's the mayor telling you?

TODD: Not only worried about that, Brooke, but the mayor told me those groups are actually here. I spoke to them about that. Take a listen.


BOB BUCKHORN, TAMPA MAYOR: We have seen indications that they are here. We know the patterns are to send out advance teams and to sort of scout out the locations. You know, we are observing that. We're monitoring it. We're asking our citizens if they see suspicious activity to call us. That's exactly what happened last week when we found what was an anarchist-related stash of bricks and rocks. So, you know, we're on top of it. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: So they are monitoring possible anarchist activity. And what CNN has learned by getting a hold of an FBI and Department of Homeland Security intelligence bulletin is that they are concerned that anarchists may target bridges, may try to shut down or disrupt the traffic on bridges leading to and from Tampa, may use IEDs to get their point across. And that's obviously a very dangerous thing. So, they are on top of the situation, Brooke, but they are worried about what the anarchists hey may try to pull.

BALDWIN: OK. Brian Todd, thank you so much for us in Tampa.

EARLY START, the show, will be at the Republican National Convention live all next week, starting at 5:00 a.m. Eastern.

"STARTING POINT" will be there as well, live, starting at 7:00 a.m. Eastern.

So, Soledad, John, myself, I'll be there and CNN (INAUDIBLE) 4:00 Eastern. So join us. We'll be joining our colleagues live from the convention floor.

BERMAN: It's all going on down in Tampa.

BALDWIN: All in Tampa.

BERMAN: Seventeen minutes after the hour right now. We want you up to date on all the headlines. Some big ones this morning.

Christine Romans is here with that.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: A big one from Lance Armstrong, you guys. You know, he has been banned from cycling for life. He has stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. Lance Armstrong giving up the fight with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency over charges he used performance enhancing drugs.

Now, he still insists he never cheated. But he says he wants to devote more time to family and the Livestrong Cancer Foundation because he has dropped his appeal, he now will be stripped of all of those titles.

The man who allegedly open fire at the Washington, D.C. headquarters at the Family Research Council is expected to enter a plea in court today. Twenty-eight-year-old Floyd Lee Corkins was indicted earlier this week. A building manager was wounded in that shooting, according to the criminal complaint, Corkins targeted the FRC because he didn't like its positions regarding the gay community.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi on edge after the slumping Bronx bombers were swept by the White Sox in Chicago. He took it out on a heckler right in the middle of a postgame interview. Check it out.



JOE GIRARDI, YANKEES MANAGER: Hey, shut up, I'm doing an interview. Hey!


GIRARDI: He's got good stuff, he's got good fastball.


ROMANS: Tense. Wow. A tense, tense Yankees manager.

BERMAN: Full disclosure -- nothing makes me happier than a angry Yankee.


ROMANS: Our producers keep saying, he can't put that underneath your name, nothing makes me happier than an --


BALDWIN: Christine, thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BALDWIN: Coming up, unemployment in the battle ground state. Christine is talking about this. What the new members mean for President Obama and Mitt Romney come November. That's next.


BERMAN: We are minding your business this morning. President Obama and Mitt Romney are campaigning in several key battleground states this week and next week and guaranteed every week after until the election. And according by our political unit, there are 15 of these swing states in the election, the ones in the light blue leaning towards President Obama and the ones in pink lean toward right now, and the ones in yellow are the true toss-up states, undecided ones that could vote either way at this point.

BALDWIN: So, let's talk jobs and lack thereafter.

Christine Romans, you've been looking at the closer, some of undecided states. Jobs issue number one.

ROMANS: Absolutely. It's a different situation in each state.

Now, jobless rates overall in 44 states rose a little bit in July. Where it matters most are the swing states, very politically important. Let's focus on the undecided ones. The obvious metric here is the unemployment here. Now, this shows what happens on these states since President Obama took office.

Red -- these red jobless rates have increased. Green, this is where jobless rates have decreased since the president took office. Look at Nevada, really tough there. Highest rate in the country.

Colorado, 8.3 percent above the national average. Look at Florida, 29 delegates there, 8.8 percent unemployment rate, stuck in the mud over the past couple of years.

Wisconsin, look at this -- it's much better than the national average but people are talking about this now since Paul Ryan is now on the ticket. Virginia, New Hampshire, those have worse unemployment rates since the president took office, but still, pretty low here.

Now, I want to switch gears and talk about where things are better. Ohio, 7.2 percent unemployment in Ohio. Things have been getting better there. No GOP candidate has won an election without Ohio. Romney and Ryan plan to be there this weekend, a lot of delegates at stake.

Things are feeling better overall -- look at Iowa, 5.3 percent unemployment there. It's all about the momentum though.

And here's the momentum. This is the national average. Look at that. Only two states have worse unemployment rate than the national average right now. Those states are Nevada and Florida.

And look at the trajectory. Here is -- this is when George Bush was in office. Things started to get bad, the president took over --

BALDWIN: The slow climb upward.

ROMANS: And then this is what the White House would like you to focus on and this is when the Romney campaign would like you to focus on where it's getting -- it depends on where you live and how you're feeling about your job how you're going to vote.

I'll have more on this on "YOUR BOTTOM LINE," guys, this weekend, 9:30 a.m. Eastern. We're going to take a look at the middle class, jobless rates and really try to figure out what that's going to mean for each candidate.

BERMAN: Besides this fascinating political data, Christine, what's the thing we need to know today?

ROMANS: On markets, be careful on stocks. Stocks are near four- year highs you guys, but we've been looking at hedge funds, small and large hedge funds are holding record amounts of cash. So, the, quote- unquote, "smart money" is sitting in cash while stocks are at 4 1/2 years high. That means that, quote-unquote, "smart money" is worried about Europe, fiscal cliff, the election, some caution signs with stocks this high.

BALDWIN: Christine, thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BALDWIN: Stick around for this. This is awesome ,because movie magic, you have to race upstairs to do this. Stick around to see if Berman makes it. Likely going to revolutionize -- not yet, don't leave me -- the sports world.

We have Olympic gold medalist Dana Vollmer. She's live there in our studios. What does she have on her body? We're going to explain. She's demonstrating how Hollywood technology -- yes, nice move, Dana -- how it's going to change the way she swims. Stay here.


BALDWIN: Possibly a disaster churning towards Haiti right now. Tropical storm Isaac ready to pound the island where hundreds of thousands of people still living in those tents because of an earthquake two years ago. We're live in Port-au-Prince this morning.

BERMAN: Lance Armstrong dropping his fight against doping charges and now, he could be stripped of the seven Tour de France titles today and banned from racing.

BALDWIN: And guess who's in the house this morning? Olympic gold medal swimmer, Dana Vollmer. She's live in the studios. What she's doing? She's demonstrating how Avatar's stop-motion technology is improving her performance in the pool and changing the sports world.

BERMAN: We're so excited for this. That is really a terrific segment.

BALDWIN: She does butterfly apparently like a dolphin. She's amazing.

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

BALDWIN: Amazing like you.


BADLWIN: I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Half past the hour here on a Friday.

And virtually no sign of storm preparations for thousands of Haitians living in tents as tropical storm Isaac is inching closer and closer. People there, you know, the story, they are especially vulnerable. They are still recovering from the deadly devastating 2010 earthquake.

Gary Tuchman is up for us in this morning in Port-au-Prince.

Gary, just how prepared are these people to handle this?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, it's a great concern. Morning has broken and one of the problems is this morning, it's calm, it's a typical hot, humid august day here in Port-au-Prince and not a lot of incentive for people learning about Isaac arriving to leave their tents and leave their shanties and seek shelter.

The fact is a lot of Haitians are going to shelter, hundreds of shelters set up throughout the country. But these are those who have homes, who have TV sets ,who have Internet, who know about Isaac, who know about a potential threat.

And the potential threat is great. It's not necessarily the winds that are a big problem here, it's a deluge of rain and 12 inches are expected by tonight and early tomorrow morning after midnight and that could be deadly in this nation, which is heavily deforested, lots of mountain, lot of mudslides.

The problems we have found, there are roughly 400,000 people still homeless after two and a half years, after 955 days following the deadly earthquake and these are people who don't have TV and don't have Internet and haven't gotten the word about Isaac and we know that because we personally, with our interpreters, talk to people and they had no idea that Isaac was arriving, and a lot of them have made the decision not to leave. They are staying in the only homes they know, their tents, their shanties -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: So you and CNN people breaking the news that the storm is coming. How do they ride it out in the sort of make-shift communities and what kind of help are they getting in the meantime?

TUCHMAN: I mean, here's the thing, Brooke. I mean, there haven't been before this earthquake, there have been some homeless people, but not hundreds of thousands and there's never been a tropical storm or hurricane that hit since the earthquake on January 12th, 2010. So, we really don't know the ramifications and how it will shake out.

And tomorrow morning at this time, we should have a better idea.

BALDWIN: Gary Tuchman, we'll check back. Gary, thank you.

BERMAN: And, of course, once tropical storm Isaac moves past Haiti, its next projected target, one of them is Florida and it is expected to be a hurricane. Could be at least any day now, likely to hit just in time for the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

We want the latest on the storm and where it's headed from our CNN hurricane headquarters and our guy, Rob Marciano -- Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, John. This storm hasn't really gotten much better organized. Winds are 45 miles an hour. But it's still a large circulation. So, we do expect it to strengthen a little bit and some of the satellites on the west side looks to be better.

But here's Haiti and Port-au-Prince, Cuba, in the line of fire here. The forecast track is to take it over the western tip of Haiti and then south eastern Cuba here over the next 24 hours. The good news with this disorganization, we don't expect it to blow up into a hurricane

So, as Gary mentioned, the main threat is going to be heavy rain there across western Haiti and also across parts of southeastern Cuba, both fairly mountainous area. Another thing that will do, take say little bit of the punch out of Isaac until it gets back into the Gulf of Mexico or Florida straits and heads towards the Keys. And even south Florida, Miami still in the cone here, and then getting into the Gulf of Mexico, where of course the waters are very, very warm, about a degree above average actually for this time of year.

And so, we anticipate a little bit more in the way of strengthening in forecast and the forecast does become, get into hurricane strength status by Monday night into Tuesday morning and potentially making landfall Tuesday night or Wednesday somewhere along the Florida Panhandle, potentially along the Louisiana coastline, and again, Tampa still under the gun.

They are making preps across south Florida. Here's some video for you, out of Miami, which by the way today is the 20th anniversary of hurricane Andrew devastating that community. So, they take this stuff very seriously and when Wilma hit in '05. They were without power and supplies for days.

So, Miami then also in homestead there making preparations. And guys, of course, the folks in Tampa are making preparations not only for the convention but for the potential of seeing a part of Isaac at the very least. It's going to be on the east side of the storm which is usually the more stormy side.

So, even though it doesn't take a direct hit on Tampa, they're going to feel it in some way, shape or form.

BERMAN: All right. Rob Marciano, on top of things at the CNN hurricane center in Atlanta -- thanks very much.

BALDWIN: Well, he says he did not dope. But cycling legend Lance Armstrong says he's no longer going to fight the charges brought against him by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, that he used performance enhancing drugs. In response, the USADA says it plans to strip Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and propose a lifetime ban from cycling. So, he can never compete.

Armstrong still denies -- he says he's never done anything wrong, says the agency doesn't have the power to stop him from racing, but says the toll taken on his family, led him to say enough is enough.

BERMAN: Raised $500 million for cancer research over the years with the Livestrong Foundation.

BALDWIN: It's incredible.

BERMAN: So, you know, this is a battle for his reputation.

BALDWIN: He's still fighting it.

BERMAN: Thirty-five minutes after the hour right now.

Family, friends and police are not giving up hope for the search for Nevada teen swept away by floodwaters. They combed a drainage wash for hours yesterday and all they found is one of the 17-year-old William Mootz's shoes. He reportedly fell in after a downpour on Wednesday. A bystander with a cell phone camera says he spotted Mootz and called 911. He follow him along in his car to try to help, but said the flood was just too fast.

BALDWIN: A group of Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents who oppose President Obama's new illegal immigrant directives are suing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and their director, John Morton. The lawsuit sites the policy, allowing undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before age 16, who meet those very specific criteria, to apply for a two-year relief period in which they cannot be deported. The suing agents are being represented by Kris Kobach, an informal adviser to Mitt Romney, who worked on Arizona's controversial immigration law.

BERMAN: And what a story out of Boston, and what an incredible video. A Boston area woman was rushing to catch a subway train with her 4-year-old son. She fell on the tracks with the boy in her arms.

Meera Thakrar says she thought the train she need was at the station but got confused about one of the opposite side of the platform. But the great thing is bystanders wasted no time, none at all, jumping in to save them.


MEERA THAKRAR, FELL ONTO TRACKS: They were right there. They just didn't care, like the trains are coming or not. We fell and they jumped behind us.

We got a new life as of yesterday. We are saved. It's a miracle.


BERMAN: It is a miracle. The mother and son are doing OK. This is the great part -- she says she does care if she has to pay for parking, she'll never take the train again.

BALDWIN: All right. Massachusetts, this isn't great, this is wicked great.

BERMAN: It's wicked great. We don't say just great, we say wicked in New England.

Rocky ride here. A boulder comes crashing through a car window. How a scenic trip almost turned deadly. Look at that. Riding shotgun.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. It is 40 minutes after the hour. I'm John Berman.

BALDWIN: I'm Brooke Baldwin. Zoraida is off today.

Let's talk Lance Armstrong, because this is a huge story. It's likely to be banned from cycling for life and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after giving up the fight with the U.S. Anti- Doping Agency over charges that he used performance enhancing drugs.

Now, Armstrong still insists he never cheated and accuses the doping agency of conducting a, quote/unquote, "unconstitutional witch hunt." He says he wants to devote more time to family and the Livestrong Cancer Foundation.

BERMAN: Heavy fighting is reported in and around Syria's capital Damascus where Syrian forces are battling rebels for control of the city. Opposition groups say regime forces have been shelling parts of that city.

Meanwhile, the McClatchy News Agency says that American journalist Austin Tice has not been heard of since mid-August. Tice had been filing stories from Syria since May.

BALDWIN: In Sanford, Florida, a hearing today in the Trayvon Martin shooting case. George Zimmerman's attorney trying to block a prosecutional quest for his client's medical records. Zimmerman, charged with second degree murder, he claims he shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense.

: A visit to Sedona, Arizona, almost ended in tragedy when 140- pound boulder -- there it is -- went smashing through the windshield of a Massachusetts' man rented SUV. Peter Wilson (ph) was driving along Oak Creek Canyon last month when the boulder hit. Wilson and his friend got lucky the big rock broke through the windshield and wound up inside the SUV landing between the two men. Yes, I'd say they were lucky.

BALDWIN: Rented SUV, my question is, insurance, does it cover big boulders?


BALDWIN: Yes, said Soledad.

BERMAN: I like to know why you know that. There's a story here.


O'BRIEN: If it doesn't cover that, what does it cover? Really, you think about it.

Lots going on this morning. Pick up the coverage --

BALDWIN: Good morning.

O'BRIEN: Good morning to you and nice to have you here in New York.

Tropical storm Isaac, of course, unleashing heavy rain and winds as it tears closer to Haiti. We're going to cover this story in all directions this morning. Ahead, we're going to talk to meteorologist Rob Marciano, Gary Tuchman will check in with us. He's live in Haiti.

Florida's Governor Rick Scott will be our guest. Florida Congressman Connie Mack will join us. Tampa Bay mayor -- sorry, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn will be joining us as well. All of them live this morning on "STARTING POINT."

Also ahead, massive protests to tell you about in Egypt could turn ugly, opposition groups are organizing "A Million Man March" right now. We'll take you live to Cairo for that.

And a story of a Navy SEAL who took part in the mission to take out Osama bin Laden has written a book about it. He's been identified now and he could be in big trouble. CNN military analyst, General James "Spider" Marks will be our guest this morning on that. And a former Navy SEAL Chuck Parr (ph), he's going to join us as well.

Plus, actor Tony Danza, he is thinking about maybe running to be mayor of New York City. The other day I was saying, if only Tony Danza would run. I loved him on "Who's the Boss?"

BERMAN: It could forever answer the question, who's the boss?


BERMAN: There you have it, ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you, Soledad.

Forty-four minutes after the hour right now, if they let me come back. They use this technology to Avatar. But now, this Hollywood magic is going to change the sports world. It will definitely change our CNN studios forever. A live demonstration with Olympic gold medalist Dana Vollmer is next.


BERMAN: All right. Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. It is 48 minutes after the hour right now. This is just plain cool.

At the 2012 Olympics Dana Vollmer won the gold medal in the 100- meter butterfly. She broke the world record but her journey is not over. She wants to go even faster.

How do you do that? Well, the same movie magic technology that created creatures in "Avatar," that is now helping her improve her performance. And Dana joins us here now live to demonstrate this technology, along with her coach, Milt Nelms (ph) and the CEO of the company that developed the new technology, Chris Bregler (ph).

Dana, first off, I want to say I'm so relieved I didn't wear this today. Obviously we would both be wearing the same thing and that would be so embarrassing.

Congratulations so much on your Olympics.


BERMAN: What an experience that must have been. VOLLMER: Thank you. It was incredible and just knowing that the work and the effort that my coaches and I have put into this, I just -- I knew I was ready for that breakout swim.

BERMAN: How can this make you better?

VOLLMER: I think a lot of the work I've been able to do with Terry (ph) and with Milt (ph) has all been about quality of movement; it's not necessarily how many yards to do or how powerful you can be, it's about the quality I'm able to take into the water. And this is new technology that will actually be able to show what I've been working on.

BERMAN: All right. Chris, I have to ask, we've just been staring at these little things all over her. What's going on here? How does this work?

CHRIS BREGLER, CEO: So what we did, we installed one of those Hollywood motion capture systems here and you see here an array of high-speed cameras, 16 cameras on the ceiling.

And Dana, if you want to just stand here and all of those cameras, look at you right now, and they all see all of the dots that light in high resolution, reconstructed. Do you want to do a cartwheel, something to demonstrate this?

And so once we have these 3D dots, we can actually have a 3D x- ray and look at your skeleton. And so this has some very good potential for coaching and understanding.

BERMAN: So, Milt, you are a coach, not Dana's only coach per se; you help oversee her training and whatnot.

Explain to me, when you look at this, what can you see?

MILT NELMS, OLYMPIC COACH: Like Dana said, John, you pick up quality of movement. This is a realm in sport that talented people have quality of movement, so we're seeing actually in here why Dana is as good as she is.

BERMAN: You're looking at this, Dana, and yes, you can move very well. I can say first of all. You already move very well. What can you possibly improve?

VOLLMER: I think it's the relationship with the water and being able to see what does having my shoulders up affect my hips and affect how my ankles are able to move.

And all of that -- swimming is so much about balance and control from your hands all the way to your feet, little movements like that are going to make a big difference. And then for me to actually be able to see it and work on it and be able to see like if my arms are up here how my hips move and if they are in with my body how I'm able to move and work like.

BERMAN: And it just a view you would never get otherwise. VOLLMER: Yes, it's hard to see when we just have normal cameras on you in the water. And for this actually to be able to see the different points and how I can move is just incredible.

BERMAN: And you're using this technology, I understand, Chris, for some divers, right? Some divers are using this, too?

BREGLER: Yes, what we did with Abby Johnston (ph) and Nick McRoy (ph), we put the same marker system on them and like Nick (ph) was diving off 10 meters with several somersaults. And we could simulate the point of view of the diver itself -- that's impossible. If you would strap on camera on his head, he would not survive the impact of the water.

So if we can roll it -- yes.

BERMAN: There it is right there. And this technology, apparently, is water proof?

BREGLER: It works under water. This is another system complimentary to that. And we went to Berkeley and painted Dana with black and white patterns and so we can also capture her underwater, over water outside, everywhere, yes.

BERMAN: Now one of the coolest things I've heard this morning is that it's not just athletes who can benefit from this kind of analysis. But you know, I cover a lot of politics.

You think politicians can use this stuff? What do you learn about that?

BREGLER: Even politicians. And we actually have another project going on for the upcoming elections to analyze -- here you see our current president and our secretary of state and we can actually -- what Milt right now did sort of with -- interprets the 3D dots, we can do it automatically right now and figure out, oh. Oprah has the same body language as Nicolas Sarkozy or many others. Use it in psychology and many other disciplines --


BERMAN: Wow. You can hone down and see their posture, when their posture's good. What's relaxed, what works politically. Imagine the focus groups you can do on that.

Anyone give you a hard time for wearing this outfit?

VOLLMER: No, I mean, I think everyone just looks at it and thinks it's pretty cool. And I'm sure other swimmers are definitely going to want to do it.

BERMAN: I guess when you already have an Olympic record and a world record, you got to do whatever you can to get even faster. So good luck with this.

VOLLMER: Thank you. BERMAN: (Inaudible) we are so glad you came in and showed us this really cool stuff.

Milt, Chris, thanks for demonstrating this incredible technology.

And coming up, in full uniform here, we'll get gold medal advice from Dana Vollmer. We're so excited about this. You're watching EARLY START.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fifty-six minutes past the hour here, and special live best advice, right?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: I know, every day we ask for best advice on the show. We ask people like you, what is the one thing you learned or heard that has really stuck with you.

So, Dana, what is your best advice?

VOLLMER: When I first came to Cal, my coach Terry McKeever (ph), everyone -- athletes talk about having really high goals.

And what she told me is to look at every day and just try to get better at something every day. Then when it comes time for Olympic trials or the Olympics you're going to be where you need to be. But sometimes I think thinking so big you can get really overwhelmed and the task seems too large. She just said get better at something every day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did that translate outside of the pool for you?

VOLLMER: I think when I'm looking at work or going into jobs or whatever I am going to do in the future, it's like just take day by day and give the best that I can that day and then I'm going to be where I need to be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should we explain why Dana Vollmer has --


BERMAN: This actually is part of getting better every day. You're wearing this get-up because this can help you with your training?

VOLLMER: Yes. This is new to me and it's been really interesting to see what my butterfly looks like, being able to see all these different monitors and the technology behind it. And my coaches are really big on quality of movement versus quantity. And it's not just about force and strength, it's about the relationship that I have with the water. And this is actually going to be able to show that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So this is -- wow, and it's on you, just -- this is tape.


VOLLMER: Just stuck on me, yes.

BERMAN: Is it easier to rip it off fast or slowly?


VOLLMER: We haven't tried taking them off yet.


BERMAN: Dana Vollmer, thank you so much for coming in today and wearing this and demonstrating this technology. It is incredibly good stuff, a great way to end the week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Try to get better at something every day.


BERMAN: Absolutely.

That is "early start for today everyone. I'm John Berman.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brooke Baldwin and "STARTING POINT" with Soledad begins right now.