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Flu Outbreak; James Holmes to Stand Trial; Teen Shooting Suspect Says He Was Bullied; Tornadoes and Flooding In Louisiana; Setting an Anti-Gun Violence Strategy; Damning Report About Jimmy Savile; Big Corporate Layoffs

Aired January 11, 2013 - 06:00   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: OK. Friday, sick day. Doctors struggle to control a fierce flu outbreak spreading through offices and job sites all over the country.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Flood of trouble. Take a look at this. Severe storms leave parts of one southern state under water.

SAMBOLIN: Heron in the classroom. This teacher is one of two stoppers who stared down the barrel of a shotgun and talked a school shooter into giving up. Quite a hero this morning.

Good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. We're really happy you're with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is Friday, January 11th. It is 6:00 a.m. in the east. We hope are feeling you OK because pretty much everyone we know is sick, a severe flu strain spreading fast and furious across the country.

Nearly two dozen children have died and widespread activity reported in more than 40 states. All hands on deck in Boston, where the mayor has declared a city-wide emergency because of the flu. And now a leading health official acknowledging the outbreak has reached a new level.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES FOR HEALTH: If you look at the charts that the CDC put out on their web site, it clearly has gone above that threshold. So we are into what would classically be described as a flu epidemic.


BERMAN: All right, that sounds all bad. But we're joined now by senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen, who is live in Fort Worth, Texas. She has what may be some good news here. Elizabeth, you have an early look at the brand new flu numbers out just this morning.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: John, that's right. Every Friday, the Centers for Disease Control comes up with their new flu numbers. I got an early peek last night. Take a look at this in the last report, 29 states reporting high levels of flu activity, lots of flu.

However, in this newest report, 24 states are showing high levels of flu activity. So that's five fewer states. We are seeing, of course, more illnesses and more deaths. There were in the last report, 18 pediatric flu deaths, kids dying from the flu, two more, now there have been 20 deaths -- John.

BERMAN: There are fewer states where you're seeing those high levels. So that actually it mean it's getting better there?

COHEN: Right especially in the southeast region. In the southeast region, you are seeing in parts of it the numbers are going down, the reason? That's where the epidemic started. That's where they started seeing high numbers, the sooner your epidemic starts, the sooner it's going to, you know, end and start to taper off.

BERMAN: So you are in Fort Worth and you spent the day yesterday with the family of a little boy who is in the hospital with the flu. How is he doing?

COHEN: You know what? He's doing so much better, and, John, I tell you, I wanted to visit this little boy because his mother was a great empowered patient who did what parents should do when their children have the flu. She knew her son had the flu. She knew he had asthma. She was watching him.

You really should watch your child even if they don't have asthma because things can get very bad. What happened was all of a sudden, he started having trouble breathing. He started to become delirious.

He didn't even recognize his own mother and she got him care quickly. Let's take a listen to what she told me yesterday.


COHEN: Did you know that flu could make a kid so sick so fast?

ROBBIE CAREY, SON HOSPITALIZED WITH FLU: No, I didn't, not at all. I mean, I do now, but not then. And that was real scary, I mean, 30 minutes to an hour, he took a turn for the worse, right in front of me.


COHEN: Now most kids when they get the flu, they do just fine. But parents, really I urge you, keep your eye on your child. If your child acts more lethargic, not quite him or herself, talk to a doctor. See if you need to go in or get your child to a doctor -- John.

BERMAN: That's right. Parents are the first line of defense here. No question about that.

COHEN: That's right. That's right. BERMAN: Elizabeth Cohen in Fort Worth, Texas for us this morning. Thanks a lot, Elizabeth.

Coming up at 6:30 Eastern, we're going to talk about the flu with Dr. Anthony Fauci. He is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.

SAMBOLIN: It's 3 minutes past the hour, the decision is in. James Holmes will, in fact, be tried for murder in the Colorado movie theatre rampage that ruling from the judge who presided over his three-day evidence hearing this week.

Holmes will be arraigned today on 166 counts of first-degree murder and other charges. He is accused of opening fire inside an Aurora, Colorado theatre last July killing 12 people, wounding dozens of others. The murder charges could carry the death penalty.

BERMAN: The 15-year-old who opened fire, critically wounding a classmate at his Bakersfield, California High School claims he was bullied. Investigators say he was targeting two boys. He shot a second round as student cleared out yesterday, but missed.

The Kern County sheriff says they are investigating reports that the suspect actually had a list. He said after Aurora and Newton, Teacher Ryan Hebber and Campus Supervisor Kim Lee Fields deserve high praise for taking the gunman down.


DONNY YOUNGBLOOD, KERN COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: This teacher and this counselor stood there, face to face, not knowing whether he's going to turn that shotgun on them, and because they've seen the news media throughout our country in the last several months and they probably expected the worst and hoped for the best, but they gave their students a chance to escape and conversed, and it worked.


BERMAN: The suspect will be charged as a juvenile with attempted murder. It will be up to prosecutors to decide if he will be charged as an adult.

SAMBOLIN: These developments happening as Vice President Joe Biden's federal task force on curbing gun violence begins to take action. Biden will make recommendations to President Obama by Tuesday. We will take you to Washington live in a few minutes. We'll hear from our White House correspondent Dan Lothian, that is coming up.

BERMAN: Severe storms, including three tornado touchdowns leave parts of Louisiana underwater. One town, Eunice, in south western Louisiana has been drenched with more than a foot of rain over just three days. Seven parishes have widespread flooding, prompting Governor Bobby Jindal to declare a state of emergency. And the bad news, more rain is forecast this weekend.

SAMBOLIN: Major League baseball out front on testing for human growth hormone. In-season blood testing of players will begin during the 2013 baseball season. That announcement comes just a day after a star-studded but checkered class of candidates was shut out entirely by the hall of fame. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa were the most prominent players rejected because of links to steroid abuse.

BERMAN: So baseball had this in the works for a while, but they announced it yesterday after the whole hall of fame thing mostly just a coincidence --

SAMBOLIN: The players are on board.

BERMAN: The union has signed on to this. They've said they agree. I don't think the players love the idea, but they are going to do it and that is a huge step in drug testing, not just in baseball, but maybe a first step for all sports.

SAMBOLIN: And in the right direction.

BERMAN: Absolutely. It's 6 minutes after the hour right now. We have a very happy update to a story we've been following. Those killer whales stuck under sea ice and sharing one breathing hole have escaped we think into Canada's Hudson Bay.

Winds reportedly shifted overnight and what that did is it pushed floating ice away from the coast and it opened up the waters so the whales could get out. Had their breathing hole frozen over the whales would have likely died.

SAMBOLIN: People were predicting just yesterday that it was certain death for them. So this was just incredible news that Mother Nature took over there.

BERMAN: They don't know where the whales are right now so if it does freeze over again fast, it isn't certain what will happen to them. But for now at least --

SAMBOLIN: We're going to end on a happy ending. It's 6 minutes past the hour. Mystery solved after nearly two decades. Coming up, a young boy who vanished all those years ago, found alive and well.

BERMAN: Plus, a would-be thief who learned the hard way. Crime doesn't pay. More of what a surveillance camera captured. We'll have that coming up.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. It's 10 minutes past the hour. Vice President Biden's gun control task force will deliver its recommendations to President Obama by Tuesday.

Yesterday, the vice president met with representatives on various sides of the issue. The former head of a movie industry group argued that movies don't cause violence. While the NRA stepped away from the discussion, criticizing the focus and calling it an attack on the second amendment. White House correspondent Dan Lothian is following all of the developments for us. Good morning to you, Dan. So the vice president said that he saw emerging consensus in some areas of gun relations, but the NRA said they were disappointed with that meeting yesterday. Tell us what happened?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Again, the vice president pointing out that these are not his suggestions, but things that he has been hearing, recommendations that have been coming in from all of the officials that he has been meeting with over the last few days.

And the things that are rising to the top of that list total universal background checks, so this would include private sales of weapons, banning high capacity ammunition clips, something we've been talking about for quite a few days now. And also the vice president talked about the need for more federal research into gun violence, having access to more information.

Believing that with that they might be able to prevent some of the violence you see happening across the country. But some harsh criticism from the NRA, saying talk has less to do with protecting children and more to do with an attack on the second amendment. Listen to what the president of the NRA had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The vice president had said we would do this with an open mind, but at the meeting, he said, no, we've already made up our mind on that. No, there won't be an agreement on that. In a sense, they were checking a box. They were able to say we've met with the NRA. We've met with the people who are strong second amendment supporters.


LOTHIAN: Now, Zoraida, one of the things we did not hear the vice president talk about is the reinstatement -- support for the reinstatement of the ban on assault weapons. This is something that the White House has been talking about now for quite some time.

White House aides saying that the president, the vice president, still support that, but perhaps this is a recognition that this would be difficult to get through Congress and so they are looking at other elements that might be easier to get bipartisan support.

SAMBOLIN: And yesterday, Biden met with entertainment industry officials. Today, he will meet with the video game industry. What kind of solutions is he seeking from that industry?

LOTHIAN: Well, you know, he hasn't laid out anything specifically, but he is trying to get to the root of the problem. Are these movies, are these violent video games contributing to what we're seeing out there. He is getting some pushback as well from Hollywood.

The former head of the Motion Picture Association saying in part, quote, "I don't think the abundance of movies that are put out by the entertainment industry are that violent or cause violence. Hollywood does a pretty good job of letting parents know through its rating system what kind of movie is coming out, whether there is violence or sexual conduct or other kinds of things."

I think what is the consensus that's developing here is that everyone realizes that this is a major problem, but it's difficult to figure out what are the right solutions. Now the vice president will be presenting some of these recommendations to the president by Tuesday.

He says that there is a short window here of time, but acknowledging that there is pressure from the public to act quickly.

SAMBOLIN: Now, absolutely. I think the dialog is good, Dan. We found a "Time" magazine article that says that Sandy Hook shooting video games blamed again. But when you dig deep here, there was a video game violence researcher who said there is no good evidence that video games or other media contributes even in a small way to mass homicides. So it will be interesting to continue the dialogue and to see actually what does the research suggest?

LOTHIAN: That's right.

SAMBOLIN: Dan Lothian live for us in Washington, thank you.


BERMAN: All right, this just in to CNN. A damning report has just been released in London concerning the long time BBC children's host Jimmy Savile. It is shocking really. It concludes that he was a prolific sexual abuser of children. We want turn right away to senior international correspondent Matthew Chance in London. Good morning, Matthew.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. That's right. The report here which I have in my hand, giving victims a voice, an attempt by the police to get that on record, or the testimony they have received over the last 14 weeks of investigation into the goings on of Jimmy Savile.

He is dead, of course, so there won't be any criminal prosecutions against him, but the scale of abuses quite breath taking over more than a 50-year period. Four hundred and fifty complaints have now been reported against him, 214 of those have been recorded as actual abuses.

And amongst that 214, we're looking at least 34 rapes over that period so quite an astonishingly high figure.

The age group of people who were abused as well, between the ages of 47 on the upper end and the age of 8 on the lower end. So, a huge broad spectrum of ages that people were targeted by Jimmy Savile. Not all of them female, 82 percent of them female as well.

According to the report, the majority of the abuses took place in relatively public venues as well. With Jimmy Savile, a major celebrity and a major fund-raiser as well for charities, was visiting places for charitable purposes, places like hospitals, TV or radio premises, where he undertook his broadcasting work, and schools, where he was often invited as part of his "Jim Will Fix It" show, where he arranged for children to have their wishes come true.

And so, Jimmy Savile, the report saying, a prolific abuser of vulnerable people through that very long period of time, decades, in fact, in this country, John.

BERMAN: The report says he used his celebrity to hide in plain sight. We saw a picture of him with Margaret Thatcher. You said he was a big celebrity. Many Americans may not have heard of him. I mean, this guy, is really a household name in Britain, correct?

CHANCE: No, I mean, that's right. He wasn't big internationally. So I wouldn't be surprised if Americans haven't heard of him. But in Britain, the people of my generation, we grew up with this guy. I mean, there was a program called "Jim Will Fix It," where when you were a school child, you wrote it, said I want to go and ride an airplane, and he's sort of come to your school, take you away, let you ride on an airplane. It was huge for decades and decades.

He also hosted a show called "Top of the Pops," which was one of the most influential popular music shows in the past 50 years. And he was the first broadcaster on it, deejay on it, last one on it as well. In fact, in that last broadcast in 2006, that he carried out one of his last abuses against an underage girl on that live show.

So, again, every opportunity was there, he appears to have taken over a 50-year period.

BERMAN: All right. Matthew Chance, thank you so much. The scope of these allegations simply breathtaking. Thanks, Matthew.

SAMBOLIN: Who knew and who didn't tell, right?

Seventeen minutes past the hour. Let's get you up-to-date. Here's Christine Romans.


Doctors are still struggling to contain the flu outbreak this morning. New numbers from the CDC, they are due out later this morning, suggests flu activity has actually gone down. Officials say 24 states report high levels of flu activity compared with 29 the week before. The numbers have dropped in parts of the South and Southeast where the flu outbreak began. We have 47 states with cases of this dangerous flu.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai meets with President Obama at the White House. They will discuss America's troop presence in Afghanistan after 2014. Karzai met yesterday with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. They and their top aides held talks, as you can see, over dinner. Some good news for American couples in the process of adopting Russian children. A controversial Russian law banning adoptions by Americans, signed by President Putin last month. It will be put into place next year, one more year. It was supposed to take affect this month. That means that some adoptions can proceed giving families who are so, so close some new hope.

And one dumb criminal has a painful reminder of a robbery gone wrong. Check this out. A thief caught on surveillance video ramming into an ATM machine at a store in Miami-Dade, Florida, and walking away holding thinks shoulder. This after two crooks tried to pull it out with a chain attached to a car. They failed. They are wanted in another ATM robbery earlier in the day.

And news flash. The companies that make ATM companies, they know the dumb criminals will try to steal them, so they make them so they don't move.

SAMBOLIN: That, though, I'm telling you, takes the cake. One of the dumbest things we've aired.

ROMANS: He is working so hard for that money, he should just go work hard for some money.

SAMBOLIN: Very good point, Christine.

All right. Thank you for that. Nineteen minutes past the hour. It's time for your "Early Reads". Your local news that is making national headlines.

In "The New York Times," Mayor Bloomberg trying to crack down on prescription drug abuse. The mayor banning all city-run hospital rooms from prescribing more than three days worth of the most powerful prescription painkillers. The city health commissioner said more than 47,000 New Yorkers are addicted to painkillers and are in need of drug treatment.

BERMAN: And the "Indianapolis Star" reports this morning, a nearly 20-year-old mystery has been solved. A 5-year-old boy kidnapped in 1994 was found alive, well, and living in Minnesota. His grandparents had taken him after a custody dispute with the boy's parents.

Richard Wayne Landers is now 24 years old and married. A Social Security card helped track him down.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, because of the custody dispute, wasn't looking good where he was going to be placed, so they took him away.

BERMAN: All right. For expanded look at all of our top stories, head to our blog, You can also follow us anytime on Facebook and Twitter. Just search for EarlyStartCNN.

SAMBOLIN: It's sort of anxious Friday if you work on Wall Street. Mass layoffs in the works for some leading financial firms. Christine has all the details, coming up.


BERMAN: We're minding your business this morning. U.S. stock futures, they are flat this morning.

SAMBOLIN: But yesterday marks a milestone in stocks, Christine.

ROMANS: It does. A five-year high for the S&P 500. Isn't that something? Yay, yay. Five-year high. Glad everybody is loaded up on stocks -- oh, that's right we're not.

Five-year high for the S&P 500. The highest close since September 2007, up 3.6 percent over that period. So, congratulations, you got 3 percent growth in your stock portfolio over the past five years.

I want to talk about some concerns on Wall Street about layoffs. American Express, the most recent big, big corporate firm based on Wall Street, to announce layoffs, 5,400. There will be some travel- focused layoffs, and it will be here and overseas as well.

Earlier this week, sources telling CNN Money that Morgan Stanley will be laying off 1,600. And the concern among Wall Street bankers is that some of those layoffs, according to sources, telling CNN Money, they will be at the higher end of the food chain. Meaning, managing directors, or people who are on the path to become a managing director. That's, you know, a really good job on Wall Street. Citigroup in the midst of 11,000 in layoffs.

Yesterday, in terms of gun stocks, down again. Second day in a row, we've seen gun stocks come down. You know why, because in Washington, they are talking about ways to prevent gun violence.

And some discussions of preventing gun violence mean limits on guns. So, that hurts gunmakers, down a couple of days, but I will point out, they're still up very, very big over the past year. That last year a very good year for gun sales, a very brisk year for background checks, one proxy for trying to find out -- we don't track gun sales in America. We just track the FBI background checks, so, it's kind of a proxy for what sales are.

Walmart also wanting it to be known that after they decided to meet with the vice president's task force, they didn't meet with the vice president, instead, Eric Holder, who you see on the screen there. And so, after their change of calendar to meet with the vice president, the vice president didn't actually meet with them. It was Eric Holder, and Walmart wanting to get on the record that they were not pleased about that change. We gave them such a kind of --

SAMBOLIN: Hard time?

ROMANS: A hard time about not coming to the meetings and they met with the attorney general, who is seventh in line to the presidency. The vice president is first in line. So, maybe I guess it's a pecking order.

BERMAN: Eric Holder is the attorney general of the United States. It's not like he's an intern. ROMANS: No, and quite frankly, the retailers, some say the reason why the retailers were working with the attorney general, because of legal issues, the legal issues of selling guns, background checks, waiting periods, restrictions on ammo, and the like.

So, anyway, that drama continues. Meanwhile, there's a gun violence group that's planning next week, I think, a big protest at a Walmart in Connecticut. They'd like Walmart to stop selling the AR-15-style weapon, like one used to kill those kids.

BERMAN: So, what about our money? What's the one thing we need to know about our money?

ROMANS: Hey, recent graduates, or people graduating this year, new evidence that you will be paid a little bit more. Starting salaries rose 3.4 percent for new college graduates in 2012, from the National Association of Colleges and employers, brand new numbers on the range of salaries, for humanities and social sciences jobs, starting salary, about 37 grand. John is laughing and giggling. Sixty-two thousand for engineers.

Choose your major wisely. But the good news here is that graduate salaries are rising and it's a little easier to get a job this year than last year.

SAMBOLIN: You need to do a little story on that, on choosing your major wisely, and just having it live forever.

ROMANS: So hard when are you 18 and so hard to choose your major wisely, you know? You're 18.

SAMBOLIN: But you can give parameters and good advice, Christine. I'll hold you to that. Thank you.

BERMAN: Twenty-seven minutes after the hour right now. And coming up, you have to look at this. The gun stunt that caused a police lockdown in the Northwest.

SAMBOLIN: Plus, nine years old and an Oscar nominee. Can you believe it? You're going to hear from her on what that's like, coming up.