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CNN NEWSROOM

Sandy Hook Students Return To School; Armed Officers Watch Over Students; Pennsylvania Governor Sues NCAA Over Sanctions; Few Extra Pounds Won't Kill You; Big Changes In Store For Tech Industry; 60,000 Dead In Syria War

Aired January 2, 2013 - 14:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Students from the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, will return to class tomorrow. Their new school in the nearby town of Monroe has been renamed Sandy Hook. School officials discussed the transition about an hour ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANET ROBINSON, NEWTOWN, CONNECTICUT SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT: The teachers have met this morning. The parents of some of the children have been walking through and at other times we have an open house as they walk through today. The children are coming in. They're so excited to see their teachers and the students coming in complete a circle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: The new Sandy Hook School will have a larger staff and parents are welcome to visit tomorrow. The school has been refurbished with desks, book cases, and other furniture in hopes of making the students more comfortable, returning to class after the tragic shooting just last month.

Gun control is a huge topic after the Newtown shooting. The number of FBI background checks for gun purchases last month set a record 2.8 million background checks. Today, armed police officers watched over students returning to school in Marlboro, New Jersey.

The armed cops are controversial and, remember, the NRA wants armed officers in every school across the nation. Marlboro Mayor Jonathan Hornik, he pushed to add the armed officers in his schools and in his town. He joins us now by phone.

Mayor Hornik, how much money does it take to pay for armed guards at every school in Marlborough? Who pays for it?

MAYOR JONATHAN HORNIK (D), MARLBORO, NEW JERSEY (via telephone): That will be coming out of the Board of Education's budget, Don. The reason why we felt it was necessary to put our police officers -- these aren't armed guards hired from third parties.

This is from our police department, who are very familiar with the schools, is in order to bring a calmness to the community until we could fully assess the security situation based on what we're going to learn from Newtown, Connecticut.

LEMON: So, Mayor, where are the armed officers placed in the school?

HORNIK: Well, for security reasons we can't tell you exactly where they're located. But we have nine public schools, and our police officers who are all emergency response team trained.

Meaning they're the first to show up if there is an active shooter scenario in our school system, will be in our schools for the next 90 days at least until we can make a determination of security protocol and what needs to be changed.

LEMON: How does one armed officer cover an entire school?

HORNIK: Well, these police officers are trained in order to deal with situations such as active evolving shooter scenarios. The school has other security measures which are in place, which I'm not at liberty to speak about. But having a police officer with a side arm in the school gives a level of safety, protection, comfort to our students and our community.

LEMON: You say, Mayor, you supported arm guards in school before Newtown. What obstacles did you face before Newtown to putting armed guards in schools?

HORNIK: No, not before Newtown, before the NRA came out with its recommendation. What happened in Newtown, Don, is that the unfortunate events up there changed school security. And I think every elected official in the country has to take a careful look about their school system, how security is put into place.

You have a choice right now. You can do something or you can do nothing and hope it doesn't happen in your school district. We made a collective decision together with the Board of Education and the police department that we had to do something now as we wait for law enforcement report out of Newtown in order to address the security failing of that school.

And that's what we're waiting for. During that waiting period, we're more comfortable having our able police force in our schools than not in our schools. Now, Marlboro Township has always had police officers in our schools, so this isn't something so new to our children that they should be concerned about.

LEMON: Mayor Jonathan Hornik, thank you.

HORNIK: Thank you very much, Don.

LEMON: The fallout continues from the Jerry Sandusky case. The NCAA imposed stiff sanctions and a $60 million fine against Penn State University. Now, Pennsylvania's governor is taking the NCAA to court.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: The courts say former Penn State Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky deserves 30 to 60 years in prison for molesting young boys. But Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett says Penn State doesn't deserve the punishment it got for Sandusky's crimes. Today, Corbett announced a lawsuit against the NCAA.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOVERNOR TOM CORBETT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Our complaint states that the NCAA forced Penn State's new president to agree to its sanctions under threat of the death penalty for the Penn State football program for four years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: You'll recall in July the NCAA fined the university $60 million, stripped 14 seasons of football victories from the late Head Coach Joe Paterno and then banned Penn State from Bowl games for four years and reduced football scholarships.

All of this was for the university's reported inaction while Sandusky violated his victims, in some instances on campus. Let's turn to Sara Ganim, who has won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting of this case. Sara, why sue now?

SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's an interesting question, Don, because initially Governor Tom Corbett said that it was the right thing for Penn State to accept the sanctions. He said part of the corrective process is to accept the serious penalties imposed today by the NCAA.

That was back in July. Today, he said he felt this lawsuit this federal lawsuit was the right thing to do and he said he filed it specifically after the football season so it wouldn't stop the momentum of the football team. That's what he said today.

LEMON: What is the governor, Sara, hoping to achieve through this lawsuit?

GANIM: He wants these sanctions to go away. He wants the wins returned. He wants the scholarships returned and he wants the fine, the $60 million fine returned.

But he did say he hopes Penn State on its own would take the $60 million and still give it to charitable organizations that help victims. He felt that was their responsibility morally, but said what he didn't agree with was the NCAA telling them that they had to do that.

LEMON: Sara, how is the NCAA responding?

GANIM: Pretty harshly. Governor Tom Corbett had some harsh words. I'm going to read to you the statement from the NCAA, which was equally harsh. They said, "Not only does this forth coming lawsuit appear to be without merit, it is an affront to all the victims in this tragedy, lives that were destroyed by the criminal actions of Jerry Sandusky.

While the innocence that was stolen can never be restored, Penn State has accepted the consequences for its role and the role of its employees and is moving forward. Today's announcement by the governor is a setback to the university and its efforts."

LEMON: Sara Ganim, thank you very much.

Next hour, we'll talk with Governor Tom Corbett. He's going to join us live to discuss this case.

Your New Year's resolution might be to lose a few pounds. But now a new study suggests you might want to keep them. The pros and cons of being slightly overweight. Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen spells them out next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: This story is for me and probably everybody watching. If you packed on a couple of extra pounds over the holidays, excuse me, you might not have to worry so much about it. According to a new study, being a little overweight might help you live longer.

Elizabeth Cohen is our senior medical correspondent. Elizabeth, I'm going to live to be 150 then.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Don, please. You're one of the most fit people I know.

LEMON: It sounds counterintuitive though. Help us understand this. We can ditch our diet.

COHEN: Right. Because we have been preached at all these years, get down to a normal weight, you don't want to be overweight, it puts you at a higher risk for heart attacks, et cetera. This study is very interesting. We should take it with a grain of salt.

What it found is that for some people -- or this is the conclusion you could make, for some people you can be technically overweight by the BMI chart, but maybe your blood pressure is fine, your cholesterol is fine, you don't have diabetes.

So you may be just as healthy or perhaps more healthy than someone who, say, is 5 or 10 pounds lighter than you. It is not 100 percent all about the weight.

LEMON: So maybe mom's right. You look better with a little meat on your bones. You know how mothers always say that.

COHEN: That's right. Moms do say that, that's true. That's true.

LEMON: So what exactly is overweight then?

COHEN: Right, overweight by the BMI chart is -- take a look at numbers, this explains it. Let's say you're 5'4", you would be considered overweight if you weigh between 150 pounds and 170 pounds. Less than that is normal, more than that would be considered obese. A 5'10", anything between 180 and 210 would be considered overweight. This is for both men and women. So that gives you an idea of what constitutes overweight.

LEMON: All right, so bottom line is then, bottom line, what is healthy, Elizabeth?

COHEN: OK, the bottom line is that weight is important. And certainly if you're way off the charts if you're severely obese, you are definitely putting your health at risk. There is no question there.

However, there are other things you want to -- if you're in this gray zone this overweight zone, there are other things you want to pay attention to in addition to your weight. You want to find out what is your blood pressure, what is your cholesterol, especially that bad cholesterol.

Your blood sugar to find out if you're at risk for diabetes and fat distribution, some people have a lot of fat right around their belly, got that big old waistline, that is particularly dangerous. Where the fat is, is also important. So pay attention to those things, not just the number on the scale.

LEMON: If your fat jeans don't fit like mine anymore, you need to slim down a little bit.

COHEN: Yes. You know, I think part of it is how you feel. I think that's important. It is not just the number on the scale. It is how you feel.

LEMON: Thank you, Elizabeth Cohen.

COHEN: Thanks.

LEMON: Appreciate it.

To find out whether you're overweight, you can go here, go to cnn.com/empoweredpatient. Up next here on CNN, it is one tech writer says his industry is about to see some big changes this year and they involve all the gadgets you use. We'll tell you what to watch for.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right, replacing credit cards with the swipe of a phone, Siri voice control, touch screen PCs, 2012 has been a big year for technology. But those in the know tell us 2013 is going to be even bigger.

So Nilay Patel joins us now, the managing editor of "The Verge." So Nilay, in your cnn.com article, you said this, here's the brutal truth of the smartphone market. The only companies that make any money are Apple and Samsung. Microsoft, Sony and Google's own Motorola, are they stepping up this year? NILAY PATEL, MANAGING EDITOR, "THE VERGE": This is the year that they have to step up. Otherwise, there might not be anything left in the market for them to take next year. If you look at when Steve Jobs introduced first iPhone, in 2007, he said we think we're five years ahead of the competition.

Now it is five years later and the entire market has changed. The era of the PC, the desktop pc you have at home, even the laptop computer has really changed people's usage moves to smartphones and tablets and other mobile devices.

Because Apple and Samsung are the only companies making serious money in those arenas, they're in control of the market, how the market looks. So Microsoft has been furiously racing to catch up.

Windows 8 has changed, designed for PCs with touch screens. They have Windows RT on their own surface tablet. They re-launched Windows Phone 8. And those bets really have to pay off for Microsoft this year so it can become a player in the race on par with Apple and Samsung mobile.

LEMON: Nilay, let's get the specific on Apple. They have been setting the bar high for the last couple of years. Can they keep the momentum -- there is rumors of Apple TV as well.

PATEL: You know, the Apple TV rumors are really interesting. You know, CES, the Consumer Electronics Show is coming up in just a few days. I think we'll hear a lot of noise about change in the TV space.

For apple to put out a TV that lets you get rid of your cable box, there is going to have to be serious change in how the cable industry works. So we're going to see some developments there. I'm not particularly confident that Apple can show up with a product like the iPod or the iPhone or the iPad and make a splash in the same way with the TV.

A lot of industry work to do. But Apple's bigger problem is that they have put out now a few products that just haven't been successful on a software level. The iPhone 4S launched with Siri. The iPhone 5 launched with the maps app, which was so buggy that Tim Cook had to apologize for it.

So Apple really needs to step back into the leadership role and the software space. If you look at what I've done with my iPhone, with what a lot of people I know have done with their iPhones, I've replaced Apple's Mail Client with Gmail.

Their Maps Client with Google Maps, they got rid of the YouTube app and I have Google's YouTube app. They need to start building apps that are best in class again. So, you know, their customers don't have iPhone for Google services.

LEMON: Nilay Patel, thank you very much.

You saw it here live on CNN, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie blasting House Speaker John Boehner, for not allowing the House to vote on relief for Sandy victims. Very soon, Boehner is expected to meet with lawmakers from New York and New Jersey. Stay right here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: I want to talk about the civil war in Syria and the staggering loss of life there. The number of people killed in almost 22 months of fighting is much higher than we knew, 60,000, 60,000, that's according to a new analysis by the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

This is the first time the U.N. figure has topped the 45,000 deaths, estimated by groups opposed to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad. And there is no letup in violence. More than 150 people were killed just today, the majority in and around Damascus and areas pounded by Syrian government warplanes.

One of the deadliest air strikes was this one, on a suburban gas station. The air attacks come as rebels fight a heated battle with government forces over a key air base in Idlib Province.

I want to bring in Jim Clancy for our international unit. Jim, I want to start with the government attacks today in and around Damascus. What is the government's goal here?

JIM CLANCY, ANCHOR, CNN INTERNATIONAL: Well, the government is extremely concerned. They're losing their grip on the very suburbs of the capital. All of this is within ear shot of the presidential palace. But it is really -- I think it is only fair to say it to admit what is going on here.

They are targeting civilians in whatever numbers they can find. The regime obviously frustrated, they have not been able to strike with any significant effect on the Free Syrian Army, on the rebel and opposition groups and they have turned to civilians who are lining up, whether it is for bread or whether it is for fuel, some 75 people known to have been killed in this incident alone.

It reflects the pattern that we're seeing here, Don, a pattern of increased casualties. We were looking at a thousand casualties a month at one point. And now it is probably more than a thousand a week. We have been well over 100 for almost as long as I can remember.

LEMON: In announcing its analysis of the human toll of the war, the U.N. Human Rights commissioner, says there has been a proliferation of serious crimes including war crimes and most probably crimes against humanity by both sides. And she says, collectively we have fiddled at the edges while Syria burns. Can anything be done to deal -- to dial back the brutality here?

CLANCY: There is -- it is going to be very, very difficult because both sides are so entrenched. You have the Islamists, the more militant fighters that are out there, that are very successful. You have other smaller groups.

As they begin -- as people on both sides lose family members, suffer casualties, what is built into that is revenge and resentment in the worst of kind, the worst kind that can possibly be imagined. And they strike out like this.

War crimes are being committed. There is little doubt about that. Crimes against humanity, you can argue the whole thing is a crime against humanity. The diplomatic efforts are simply going nowhere.

This is a death embrace between these two sides neither willing to give up. And it is unclear what, if anything, the outside world is going to be able to do to bring it to a halt.

LEMON: A group, the United States recently designated as a terrorist organization, is among the rebels fighting for the Syrian military base. Are there concerns about who will run Syria if Assad falls?

CLANCY: There are concerns, but, you know, here, when you don't have any skin in the game, when the U.S. hasn't participated or helped the rebels in any meaningful way, just how much influence do they have?

There is some people within that recognized government, alternative government if you want to call it, of Syria right now, that are listening to the United States. But they're not controlling what's on the ground.

Today it is the fighters on the ground that are controlling things. Now, things can turn very quickly against them. I think a lot of Syrians are quite nervous, uncomfortable, with some of the kinds of fighters they see.

But at the same time, trying to protect their children against these air strikes, when they're trying to protect relatives against reprisals, they'll take anybody that they can get and they will support them. When it is all sorted out, though, the U.S. is going to have less, not more influence on the ground.

LEMON: CNN's Jim Clancy. Jim, thank you.