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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Northern California Rocked By Storms; NASA to Announce "Curiosity" Discoveries; American Psychiatric Association Amends DSM; Notre Dame-Alabama Championship Set

Aired December 3, 2012 - 05:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): California under water, a flood warning, and several flood advisories and place right now for parts of California, and another big storm is coming through the region tomorrow.

ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The hunt for the building blocks of life. Today, NASA is making a huge announcement about Mars.

SAMBOLIN: And did you hear? Call (INAUDIBLE) ahead of time. The pope, the pope has a Twitter account. I'm going to follow him this morning.

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Welcome back to EARLY START. We're happy you're with us, folks. I'm Sozoraida Sambolin.

CHO (on-camera): And I'm Alina Cho. John Berman has the day off. It is December 3rd, and it's 30 minutes after the hour.

Well, they are sick and tired of getting soaked in Northern California this morning. The third pacific storm in five days saturating the San Francisco Bay area this weekend. Thousands are without power. Trees are down and hundreds of homes have been damaged by falling limbs or floodwaters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TERRY POHRMAN, WITNESS: People are evacuating out of the park. They're trying to get out of here. And as you can see in the front of the park, you can't get out. I had to park up on the hill and walk down the side hill to get in here. It's really, really just very bad in here.

REGINA KORNBRUST, FLOOD VICTIM: This thing just went up fast. Real fast. We had previously gotten up real high, but hasn't gotten this bad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You live right here in the park?

KORNBRUST: Right there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right here?

KORNBRUST: Yes, right there. I got my mom out. I took her down to a friend's house down the street because you never know with water like this, what it's going to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: Rob Marciano is tracking the pacific storms for us. He's in the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta. So, Rob, good morning. Is the rain over yet for these folks?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is for today. But as you mentioned, there's been three pulses. You get about a 12, maybe 18- hour break between all of them. And the next one is going to be coming in tomorrow. So, there's still small stream advisories. The Sacramento River, actually, is still rising and causing some flooding around Sacramento.

But today will be the day where they can at least catch their breath and let the ground drain some of that water and there's a ton of it. Look at this. Petrolia, California, 17 1/2 inches of rain. Are you kidding me? O'Brien, Oregon, is seeing over a foot. (INAUDIBLE), California also seeing over a foot, and San Francisco proper seeing over three inches of rainfall, Olympia, Washington.

Even in the desert, the Carson, Nevada, seeing over an inch and a half rain. Raining right now, Seattle to Portland, some snow at the higher elevations. That's good news. Yesterday, snow levels came down a little bit and that helped it just a bit. And right now, what's helping is that the radar is quiet, but there's another storm lining up here in the pacific. It's about to take aim at the pacific northwest mostly, but it will get down to Northern California here as we go through time.

Here's the moisture forecast, first Seattle/Portland and eventually down to San Francisco. So, we've got one day here guys where San Fran and Northern California can catch its breath. A lot of infrastructure damaged with this heavy rainfall, and today will be a welcome rest, but tomorrow, the rains return.

CHO: Yes. They need a break. All right. Rob Marciano, thanks so much.

MARCIANO: You got it.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thirty-three minutes past the hour her. In 29 days, the nation goes over that so-called fiscal cliff. Tax hikes and spending cuts kick in if no agreement is reached between the White House and Republicans on how to close the budget gap. It has been more than two weeks since President Obama invited the major players to the White House to discuss the situation. And as of this morning, no new talks are scheduled. White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar, joins us. Good morning to you, Brianna. So, many Republicans say they are now pessimistic about a deal happening in time to avert this fiscal cliff. Some say it is for political reasons. What can you tell us?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And it may all be for political reasons, right? I mean, that's no surprise here in Washington. And as you see, Zoraida, through deal making not just on this but things in the past couple of years between the White House and Congress, there's almost this rhythm that has evolved.

And I think we've kind of gotten to that blame game part were both sides are pointing fingers at the other for an impasse.

Now, what we have over the weekend, Republicans like Senator Lindsey Graham just slamming the White House, slamming Secretary of the Treasury, and Tim Geithner for a plan that he laid out on behalf of the administration, laying out about $1.6 trillion in new revenues coupled with only about $400 billion in Medicare cuts to entitlement reform. Listen to what Graham said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: I think we're going over the cliff. It's pretty clear to me they made a political calculation. This offer doesn't remotely deal with entitlement reform in a way to save Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security from imminent bankruptcy. The president's plan when it comes to entitlement form is just quite frankly a joke. So, I don't think they're serious about finding a deal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: So, over the weekend, the Sunday shows, you saw Geithner basically drawing a line in the sand. He said there's not going to be a deal on entitlement reform and tax reform, unless, Republicans budge on letting those income tax rates for the country's wealthiest earners increase. And in response to that, Zoraida, House Speaker John Boehner said he was flabbergasted by the White House's offer.

He said it was, quote, "not serious," and Republicans are calling on the White House to put more details on the table.

SAMBOLIN: Well, you know, Americans want compromise. Any time we take a poll, that's what we find, they want some compromise here. So, what's the deal? Republicans are backed into a corner? They're going to be forced to raise taxes or else we go over that fiscal cliff?

KEILAR: You know, they are a bit backed into a corner here. I mean, when you just look at the lay of the land, the White House and Democrats are pretty confident that they have leverage and that's because they do have some here. So, yes, they are backed up into a corner a little bit because tax rates, at least, on some Americans, are going to be increasing at the end of the year no matter what.

SAMBOLIN: Right.

KEILAR: As you know, it's set to expire, those Bush era tax rates are set to expire at the end of the year for all Americans. And, you know, at this point, the White house and Democrats feel like they have enough leverage to dig in and say they have to stay in place for the middle class or really for the first $250,000 in earnings, but beyond that, wealthy Americans are going to have to pay more money.

So, the question now is really, does the country hit this cliff with these spending cuts and these tax increases that could send the country into recession next year or is it going to be a more thought out plan that includes entitlement reform, tax reform, spending cuts, and yes, some new taxes.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Brianna Keilar live at the White House for us. Thank you very much.

CHO: The grieving Kansas City Chiefs come together and pull out a win over the Carolina Panthers a day after police say their teammate, Jovan Belcher, shot and killed his 22-year-old girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins. A few minutes afterwards, he turned the gun on himself just outside the chiefs practice facility in front of his coaches and the general manager. He and Perkins leave behind a three-month-old daughter.

SAMBOLIN: Major changes are coming to the manual that psychiatrists use to diagnose mental health disorders. Over the weekend, the American Psychiatric Association voted to amend the DSM, that is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. For example, a child With Asperger's Syndrome will, instead, be told they have autism spectrum disorder. Binge eating and hoarding have also been added to that manual.

CHO: NASA officials will discuss the first use of the Mars rover Curiosity's full array of analytical instruments during a news conference today in San Francisco. The Mars rover is searching for organic compounds, carbon containing chemicals which are, by the way, the building blocks of life. Last week, the director of the Mars jet propulsion lab suggested that Curiosity may have found, quote, "simple organic molecules."

SAMBOLIN: President Obama recognized entertainers at the Kennedy Center Honors. This was last night. This year's honorees include Oscar winner, Dustin Hoffman, late host, David Letterman, ballerina, Natalia Makarova, blues guitarist, Buddy Guy, and the legendary rock band, Led Zeppelin.

And during a reception for the event, Mitt Romney's supporter, Kid Rock, ran into President Obama. Rock said the run-in wasn't awkward. In fact, he said they were able to laugh off their rivalry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KID ROCK, MUSICIAN: I saw the president tonight. He said I'm still here. I said no hard feelings. And he remembered meeting my son when I played his inauguration, which is very special. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: That was nice. And Kid Rock also ran into, look, Wolf Blitzer. This is right before the ceremony. They look good together. Wolf tweeted this picture #verycool. I would agree with that.

CHO: Wolf looks great.

Starting today, the flock can follow the pope on Twitter. Sign of the times. Pope Benedict officially launching his own Twitter account this morning. A Vatican official tells CNN the pope will be composing the tweets himself.

SAMBOLIN: Really?

CHO: He's no stranger to Twitter. The Vatican launched a Twitter news feed about 17 months ago, kicked off by the tweet from Pope Benedict. And by the way, if you want to follow him, he already has more than 17,000 followers. I think his handle seems to be @Pope_Benedict.

SAMBOLIN: I made another one. We've got to be figure this one out.

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: Yes. All right. Sunday night football action, the Dallas Cowboys take on the Eagles in Philly. A big night for cowboys QB, Tony Romo, who threw three touchdown passes in the second half as he led the cowboys to a 38-33 victory. Romo also brought the Cowboys record for career touchdown passes, a record previously held by Troy Aikman, with 165. Romo now has 168 career touchdowns.

CHO:

Wow! College football, two legendary football programs set to battle for the BCS championship. The undefeated Irish of Notre Dame and the Crimson Tide of Alabama. We are going to take you live to south bend and Tuscaloosa to see how the students are gearing up. That's next.

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CHO: Forty-three minutes after the hour. Well, it doesn't get much better than this, college football fans champing at the bit for the January 7th showdown between undefeated Notre Dame and the Crimson Tide of Alabama for the BCS championship. The fighting Irish, the top rank team in the nation, looking for their first national championship since 1988.

Meanwhile, Alabama trying to become the first team to ever win back- to-back BCS titles. It's a classic match-up between two of the country's most popular and successful programs. Our ted Rowlands is taking the pulse of Irish fans. He's live in South Bend, Indiana this morning. And our Joe Carter joins us from Tide Country in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

I want to begin with you, Ted. So, how are students gearing up for the big event?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alina, here in Notre Dame, it is all about tradition and it's all about winning. Inside the stadium, they have all their national championship banners hanging here. Outside the stadium, they have statues of all of their legendary coaches. Here's Knute Rockne statue over here.

The problem for Notre Dame fans, though, has been that for the last 24 years, they haven't won a national championship. So, as you can imagine, people around the country that are Notre Dame supporters and students here at South Bend are very excited.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Super excited. Campus has just erupted. Everyone is like going nuts on campus right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone is worried about getting tickets to the game right now, because they're doing a lottery. So, it's been pretty tough to get tickets, but we're all just worried about getting to Miami, I think.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Especially after coming back from Thanksgiving break. There's just so much excitement. You just hear so much about, oh, are you going to Miami? Like, yes, everyone is going to Miami whether they have a ticket or not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROWLANDS: And those, Alina, are going to be tough tickets to get because there are a lot of Notre Dame supporters that are going to be making the trek to South Florida for this game in January.

CHO: As a BC Eagle, you know, I've been on that campus in South Bend. I remember that leftover pizza on the floor of my jeep like it was yesterday. All right. Ted Rowlands, thank you. Let's move on to Joe Carter. He's live for us in Tuscaloosa. Joe, how is it going over there?

JOE CARTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's going great, Alina. Good morning to you. We're outside of the cathedral, the college football cathedral here in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. And right out in front of the stadium is what they call the walk of champions. And basically, it's all the coaches that over the years have won national championships.

There are five coaches here, 14 national champhionships collectively, and talk about the confidence of this Alabama fans. This is Nick Saban's statue, which by the way, is the only one that dons tennis shoes and a golf shirt. Everybody else is decked out in suits.

But you'll see Nick Saban has won, so far, two national champions, one in 2009, one in2011. And the fans are so confident they've already penciled in a championship for 2012. So, talking to people about the game that's coming up and about Alabama football history, they say that Alabama football and college football is more than just a sport. It's a way of life, and it's a culture. And cheering for the Crimson Tide starts at a very, very young age, as you'll hear from this Alabama fan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAROLYN WRIGHT, ALABAMA FAN: Alabama, my children, I've got a daughter, she's 30. She's been to 31 home comings. And my son has been -- he's 21, he's been to 22 homecomings.

NEAL HOLLINGSHEAD, ALABAMA FAN: I think it's incredibly special that Alabama earned the opportunity to play again. And you know, I look forward to Alabama beating anybody, but particularly, anybody is not in the SEC.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARTER: You know, Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide have certainly been here before. This is the third time in four years that they'll be playing for a national championship game. But before everybody gets too excited about this game, we have 35 days to go until we see these two storied programs battle it out in Miami for the national championship.

CHO: All right. Joe Carter, everybody getting excited there. I can't believe they already penciled in 2012. I mean, now, they have to win, right? Joe Carter, Ted Rowlands, thank you so much.

SAMBOLIN: Who are you rooting for?

CHO: Definitely -- I think I might have to root for Alabama just by default, because I'm a BC Eagle, and the fighting Irish were our arch rival. So --

SAMBOLIN: I'm going to go for the fighting Irish.

CHO: You're going to go for the fighting Irish.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, I am.

CHO: So, we're even.

SAMBOLIN: Forty-seven minutes past the hour. The mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Cory Booker is going on food stamps this week. Seriously. Find out why straight ahead.

And if you are leaving the house right now, you can watch us any time on your desktop, even your mobile phone, just go to CNN.com/TV.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHO: Fifty-one minutes after the hour. Let's get you up to date with this morning's top stories.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHO (voice-over): The Kansas City Chiefs manage a somber win over the Carolina Panthers. A day earlier, police say their teammate, Jovan Belcher shot and killed his 22-year-old girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins. He then turned the gun on himself after arriving at the chief's practice facility, killing himself in front of his coaches.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Claiming psychological and physical pressures, Egypt's top court has shut down indefinitely. Supporters of President Mohamed Morsi prevented the judges from entering the courthouse in Cairo on Sunday. The judges were supposed to rule on the legitimacy of the Islamist dominated upper house of the Egyptian parliament.

CHO: President Obama has a busy couple of days coming up. Today, he hosts the prime minister of Bulgaria in the oval office, then heads to National Defense University to deliver remarks there. Tomorrow, the president meets with governors at the White House. They will be discussing, what else, the impending fiscal cliff.

SAMBOLIN: News Corporations UK newspaper chief, Tom Mockridge, is stepping down. Mockridge took over Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper unit 18 months ago at the height of the company's phone hacking scandal

CHO: So, the time has finally come. Cory Booker taking the food stamp challenge this week. The Newark mayor will only be eating what he can afford to buy with just $33. That, by the way, is the average weekly food stamped benefit in his state. Booker tweeting he'll be giving up coffee because he won't be able to afford it. That will be tough for us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): That would be -- no doubt.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: That would be interesting to see at the end of that --

CHO (on-camera): How he does.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

CHO: I'm sure he will be documenting on Twitter what goes on during those days.

All right. Coming up, one of the strangest cases of cosmetic surgery can't make this up. Did you read about this?

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

CHO: Mustache implants. That's right. We'll tell you about it next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: All right. Welcome back to EARLY START. Fifty-six minutes past the hour. I'm Zoraida Sambolin along with Alina Cho. And we're taking a look at the top CNN trends on the web this morning.

Mustache transplants, seriously folks, are on the rise. In the Middle East, a thick mustache is seen as a sign of virility and maturity. a cosmetic surgeon in Paris says he's been keeping busy performing mustache transplants, and that most of his patients are from the Middle East. The procedure involves taking hairs from other parts of the body and then implanting them on the face. Just think of the possibility.

CHO: The mental, the visual of that.

Hugh Hefner and Crystal Harris, guess what, did you hear this?

SAMBOLIN: I did. I read it this morning.

CHO: They decided to get married after all. TMZ is reporting the couple will tie the knot on New Year's eve. Where else? At the Playboy mansion. Hefner, the founder of Playboy, 86 years old. He looks pretty good for 86. Harris, 26. You may recall that they were set to be married last year, but Harris called it off five days before it was to be held.

SAMBOLIN: I will keep my mouth shut on that one. All right. It looks like more and more parents are looking at their Smartphones before they name their babies.

CHO: This is good.

SAMBOLIN: The folks at babycenter.com say Apple, Siri, and Mac didn't make the top 100 most popular names, but they do sense a trend. I- babies for girls, the name Apple jumped 15 percent in popularity from 2011. Siri, Siri was up five percent. As for boys, the name Mac is also gaining ground, up 12 percent from last year.

CHO: Well, Apple, you know, that could be a (INAUDIBLE).

Well, check out other top CNN trends, by the way. Head to CNN.com/Trend.

You know, we've been talking a lot lately about the fiscal cliff, what it might mean for you, why it matters, but Jay Leno found a way to break it down by making Lindsay Lohan a part of the punch line. In fact, Lohan's arrest was a recurring theme on late night. Check it out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Are you sick and tired to hear this term fiscal cliff? Oh. You know, it turns people off. They don't understand it. It doesn't tell you how serious the situation is. They need more colorful metaphors. You know what I'm saying?

Here's how they should explain it, OK? It's 4:00 a.m. for our economy, and Lindsay Lohan is behind the wheel. See that?

(LAUGHTER)

LENO: That says danger. People understand that. They understand that.

(APPLAUSE)

CRAIG FERGUSON, HOST, "THE LATE, LATE SHOW WITH CRAIG FERGUSON": So, everyone in L.A. goes nuts when it rains. People like, oh, no, it's raining! It's never been this bad before!

(LAUGHTER)

FERGUSON: People are taking shelter under Meg Ryan's lips, the whole city --

(LAUGHTER)

FERGUSON: The whole city smells like a wet Kardashian! It's panic here! Lindsay Lohan went to jail just to stay dry!

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: EARLY START continues right now.