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Two Dead in London Helicopter Crash; Facebook Versus Google; Restaurant Food Hides Big Calories; White House Tackles Gun Control; Chinese Government Silences Protestors

Aired January 16, 2013 - 05:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Thirty-one minutes past the hour. Breaking news. A helicopter hits a crane and crashes to the ground in flames in Central London.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Facebook takes aim at Google. The social media giant it rolls out its very own search engine.

SAMBOLIN: Front row seat. A police chase on live television turns in to an up close event for one viewer.

ROMANS: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans in for Zoraida this morning.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is Wednesday. It's about 31 minutes after the hour right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BERMAN: More on this breaking news out of London. A helicopter has crashed after hitting a crane in Central London killing two people and injuring at least two others. This happened during rush hour next to a very busy commuter hub at a time when thousands and thousands of Londoners were heading to work. Firefighters and police are on the scene right now. We're going to stay on the story throughout the morning.

ROMANS: All right. President Obama officially unveiling his gun control plan today. A source tells us it will call for universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons, a ban on high capacity magazines that hold more than ten rounds, and more funding for mental health programs.

The White House calling the plan, quote, "common sense measures" that protect Second Amendment rights while keeping guns away from people who shouldn't have them. The NRA saying it's going to be a very expensive and hard fight.

And Oregon sheriff says he will not let his deputies enforce any new gun regulations that he, he personally, considers unconstitutional. Linn County sheriff, Tim Mueller, wrote a letter to the White House in protest. The letter written to Vice President Joe Biden was posted on the agency's Facebook page.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can ban every firearm out there, and it's not going to fix it. People that are going to commit these kind of heinous acts, they're going to find a way to do it.


ROMANS: Our affiliate, KOIN, reports Mueller does think treating mental health problems is helpful, but he says, harsher sentences are the way to go. At least one other sheriff in Kentucky says he will not comply with the new gun laws.

Keep it here. Later this morning, Wolf Blitzer anchors special coverage as the president unveils his gun plan. Join Wolf right here starting 8:30 a.m. eastern.

BERMAN: A federal grand jury is investigating a police beating in Henderson, Nevada. Dash cam video shows a highway patrol officer pointing a gun at the suspected drunk driver. Moments later, several cops have him on the ground and seemed to be hitting and kicking him. It turns out the driver wasn't drunk, but he was in diabetic shock.

He won a nearly $300,000 settlement from the city of Henderson. And now, the grand jury is hearing evidence against the officers.

The crackdown has long begun on texting while driving, but what about texting while flying? That seems like a pretty awful idea. In a new Federal Aviation Administration proposal, airline pilots would be prohibited from using personal electronics at any time during the flight except those that directly relate to the operation of the plane. This plan stems partly from incidents involving airline pilots who overflew their destinations.

ROMANS: Goodbye Google? That's what archrival Facebook is hoping you'll say. The social networking site has unveiled its own search engine called Graph Search. It helps to knock out the likes of Google, Yelp, even That's because Graph Search mines data from Facebook users, collecting info on everything that you've liked or you've tagged.

For example, if you want to find the best sports bar in your city, Graph Search will let you browse which ones your friends have checked into. Facebook executives say the engine can help -- even help you find your next job, find a doctor. The company is hoping to change the way you use the Internet again, banking on the idea that you'd rather get recommendations from people you know than from strangers.

But if you are looking for something outside your social zone, Facebook has teamed up with Microsoft's Bing to let you search more broadly. So, take that, Google. And for those concerned about privacy, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg says you will be able to control what you want people to see.

And MySpace, remember MySpace? The site now not only has a brand-new look but launching a brand-new service with some star power. MySpace rebranding itself primarily as a music sharing social network. Kind of a throw back to its old days, right? It lets musicians share music. Singer Justin Timberlake who, by the way, owns a big chunk of MySpace, he used the new site to unveil his brand new single, "Suit and Tie."

MySpace is hoping to beat out services like Pandora and Spotify with tools help you discover new artist and songs. There's also an audio player at the bottom of every page. I was just checking out your MySpace page. You haven't updated that since 1994.

BERMAN: I vaguely remember MySpace. That was the thing, right? And then there was Friendster. I remember that, and I had prodigy with AOL way back when also.

ROMANS: Sometimes you can be first, but the question is if you're first, will you be last, you know? Will you last?

BERMAN: All right. Thirty-six minutes after the hour right now. Former South Carolina governor, Mark Sanford, expected to announce today that he's running for Congress. Sanford's political career really imploded in 2009 after he disappeared and later admitted it was because he was having an affair with a woman in Argentina.

Just this week, his ex-wife decided against challenging Sanford for his old House seat. Jenny Sanford said it would be more productive to focus on raising her child than running for the house.

And despite her recent health scare, former president Bill Clinton says Hillary is doing great. During the interview at a Clinton Foundation event in California, he made a bold prediction about the outgoing secretary of state.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She's always been very, very healthy and she has very low blood pressure, very low sounding heartbeat. I tell her that, you know, she's still got time to have three more husbands after me.


CLINTON: So, I think she'll live to be 120.



BERMAN: There you go. I wasn't expecting that. Hillary Clinton, as you know, is recovering from a blood clot in her head.

ROMANS: All right. In Englewood, California, a woman has experienced -- a man, rather, has experienced his own version of reality TV. He was watching a high speed chase on television when, all of a sudden, the car with the cops in hot pursuit passed right in front of him. Police eventually arrested the driver who led them on the pursuit and said he was only a boy, although they declined to reveal his age.

BERMAN: So, believe it or not, this picture you're going to see tells only half the story. Coming up, the bizarre train wreck caused by a cleaning lady.

ROMANS: Wow! Plus, extreme eating. Every time you go some of the most popular restaurants in the country, and we're not talking about drive-through, we're counting calories. You are going to be shocked next.


BERMAN: You're looking at the city of Atlanta right now where it is currently 64 degrees. It's going to drop to 60 later on. And I hate to tell you, you are in for a rainy day.

So, who doesn't love going out to dinner? Well, you may think twice after you see how many calories are packed into the meals at some popular restaurants. Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is live in Atlanta. So, Elizabeth, you know, how many calories are we talking about here?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: John, we're talking about an enormous number of calories. In one dish, you're getting the calories that should you get in an entire day, and in some cases, even more. And you know, John, I think Americans have come to expect that, let's say, fast food is high calorie.

I think they don't get it that even when you sit down in a nice restaurant, sometimes, you're getting even more calories. So, take a look at two dishes that we brought along. This one right here is Cheesecake Factory's bistro shrimp pasta. It's buttered shrimp in a cream sauce, 3,120 calories. All right?

BERMAN: Did you say --

COHEN: I'm sorry?

BERMAN: Did you say 3,000?

COHEN: Yes, three. That's a three.


COHEN: You heard that right. And you're supposed to get about 2,200 calories a day. So, it's way more than you're supposed to have in an entire day. As a matter of fact, that one dish is the equivalent calorie-wise of 5 1/2 Big Macs. You would never sit down and eat 5 1/2 Big Macs, but that's what's in this dish.

And, John, let me show you another one. We went to Maggiano's and they had a dish called veal porter house and crispy red potatoes and that one has 2,710 calories. Again, more than you're supposed to have in an entire day. It is the equivalent of three pints of Ben and Jerry's ice cream, in that one dish. BERMAN: 3,000 calories in a single dish. I didn't even think that was mathematically possible, but staggering. You know, when you go out for a burger and fries, you kind -- you know what you're getting into. But you know, when you go to another restaurant, how can you spot what the high calorie unhealthy meals may be?

COHEN: Right. There are certain key words you should look for, because it won't be enormously clear. I mean, you think like shrimp, for example, like, you know, jeez, how could I go wrong. Seafood, right? OK. So, what you want to do is on the menu look for certain terms. For example, if you see something that says cream sauce, that's an issue.

Battered, breaded, con queso, which means the cheese, crispy, stuffed, all of those are red flags that say, wow, there's probably going to be a lot of calories in this dish. So, I want to -- but I also want to tell you what the company said about this, because we reached out to cheesecake factory and didn't get a response. We also reached out to Maggiano's, and they said two interesting things.

They said, one, look, we do our own nutritional analysis and it's not as bad as what the Center for Science in the Public Interest found, and they also said our dishes are served in generous portions, perfect for sharing or enjoying later at home. So, of course if you eat, you know, a quarter of it and bring the rest home, you know, that's a whole different scenario.

BERMAN: Yes, and eat it over the next two or three week.

COHEN: Right.


BERMAN: You know, that list of five terms you put up on cringing because those are some of my favorite words.

COHEN: Of course.

BERMAN: And now, wondering, you know, what I'm going to do about, you know, cutting out the con queso which I love so much. We always talk about calorie counts going on the menus with food items. When can we expect that to become a reality?

COHEN: You know, it's interesting. Obamacare required it. I mean, a lot of people don't know that it was just about insurance, but Obamacare said you got to put it on the menu if you're a big chain restaurant, and they published things at the federal register, et cetera, et cetera. And it seems to just not quite have happened.

And so, in that case, since it hasn't happened, you have to be an empowered restaurant eater and find out the facts on your own. So, anyone who's got a smartphone, you can just do it on your own. There's tons of different apps that will tell you the calorie count. You can go online before you leave home. So, don't wait for the restaurants to tell you. You have to figure it out yourself.

BERMAN: All I can say about these numbers is wow! Elizabeth Cohen, thanks very much. And please, save the Big Macs for me.

COHEN: I will.

BERMAN: You can read more of Elizabeth's reporting about this on

ROMANS: All right. A stunning site for commuters in Central London just hours ago as a helicopter collides with a construction crane. The latest on this breaking story coming up.

And if you're leaving the house right now, you can watch us anytime on your desktop or on your mobile phone. Just go to


BERMAN: Forty-eight minutes after the hour right now. And if you're joining us right now, there is breaking news. Two people are dead, at least two others injured after a helicopter crashed into a crane on top of a new building in Central London. The chopper plunging to the ground near a major transit hub during rush hour. Thousands of people now caught in traffic in London. Quite a scene on the ground there.

ROMANS: That's right. President Obama is about to unveil his gun control plan. A source tells us it will call for universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons, and a ban on high capacity magazines that hold more than ten rounds. And it will call for more funding for mental health programs.

The National Rifle Association, the NRA, already attacking the president over this plan, releasing an ad calling him an elitist hypocrite for being skeptical about armed guards at schools when his daughters get secret service protection.

BERMAN: A woman whose husband was killed in the Colorado movie theater massacre has filed a lawsuit. Chantel Blunk is taking legal action against the psychiatrist who treated accused gunman James Holmes and the University of Colorado where the doctor works. The suit claims the psychiatrist knew that Holmes was dangerous and should have alerted authorities.

ROMANS: The bus stops here. A citywide strike by New York school bus drivers set to begin within the hour. The walk-out would affect more than 150,000 students. At issue for the driver's union, the city's planned to privatize school bus contracts. This would be New York City's first school bus strike in 34 years.

BERMAN: So, a 20-year-old cleaning lady allegedly made this epic mess. Look at that. Swedish officials say she commandeered an otherwise empty commuter train before it derailed and crashed into a three-storey building outside of Stockholm. She was reportedly air lifted to the hospital with serious injuries. Luckily, no one inside that building was hurt.

ROMANS: All right. Take a look at this adorable little puppy. He's only three months old. He survived an 80-foot plunge off a cliff near San Diego. The puppy, he's got broken ribs. He's got head trauma, but vets say he's doing OK. He's expected to make a full recovery. Animal control officers are searching for his owners. They believe this little Chihuahua was abandoned after he fell --


ROMANS: Look at that.

BERMAN: Oh, that cliff. How could you abandon a face like that?

ROMANS: I know. What an adorable little dog?

BERMAN: All right. So, some of the video you're about to see is pretty shocking. It shows how far Chinese communist leaders will go to silence critics and keep up the appearance of stability -- literally dragging protesters away and throwing them into vehicles.

Here's CNN's Beijing producer, Steven Jiang.


STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING PRODUCER: The traumatic video may be shocking to watch for many viewers outside of China, but it's actually quite a familiar scene for those of us who have covered this country for a long time. In one widely circulated clip, a young protester after being interviewed by German TV was dragged away by plainclothes police and thrown into and locked in the van.

The incident took place last week in front of a progressive newspaper's headquarters in Southern China where protesters had gathered to demand press freedom. Now, ever since the Arab Spring, the Chinese authorities have become more and more concerned about social stability because this is a country despite of fast economic growth, facing many problems such as income inequality and social injustice, just like in those Arab states.

So, many local officials have increasingly resorted to the kind of tactics you see in the video to silence their critics or other so- called troublemakers. And in many occasions, the goal of maintaining stability has become so important, the authorities simply don't seem to care that foreign media is present.

Last August, I covered a high profile murder trial of the wife of a disgraced leader. Her supporters showed up in front of the courthouse, but as I was interviewing them with our camera still rolling, plain clothes police started dragging them away and stuffing them into cars as they kicked and screamed in vain. Just one more example.

Now, China, of course, has had a new leadership since last October and they have promised reform and saying they would listen to people's concerns and delivering a more just society to all citizens. But judging from what has happened, so far, the new leaders are still not going to tolerate anything or anyone who dares to challenge the communist party's monopoly on power.

Steven Jiang, CNN, Beijing. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: All right. Thanks to Steven. A reminder, free press is nothing to take for granted.

ROMANS: Absolutely. And they call social stability the most important thing for communist leaders, the most important thing when U.S. officials talked to them as human rights. And that's always a conflict between the United States and China.

BERMAN: All right. Well, coming up, we have a packed hour ahead on EARLY START. Our free press loving EARLY START, including a live update on breaking news from London after a chopper hits a crane and goes down in flames right by a transit hub during rush hour.

ROMANS: Plus, he's on a solo race around the world. Just him and the unforgiving elements on the open water. And Alex Thompson says he'd kill for a Big Mac right now. We're going to talk to him live from, I don't know, somewhere next.

BERMAN: He's one of the coolest guys on earth.


BERMAN: But first, you know you're crazy when the cast of Honey Boo Boo tells you to take a hike. America's rose is forced to part ways with a key member of the cast. That's next.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. Fifty-six minutes after the hour right now.

ROMANS: What time is it?

BERMAN: I know.


BERMAN: I'm John Berman. I can say that and -- this is Christine Romans. we're taking a look at the top CNN Trends on the Internet this morning.

ROMANS: So, how crazy is he? Too crazy even for the cast of Honey Boo-Boo. "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" co-star Crazy Tony. He's been kicked off the show. TMZ says Mama June, the matriarch, as we call her, she laid down the law basically told Crazy Tony he's too crazy for their family oriented show. This petition follows the news that Tony was arrested while wearing a gorilla suit last month.

BERMAN: It's an important story.

ROMANS: It is.

BERMAN: Drive 800 miles and turn left at Croatia. Apparently, a woman tried to go about 90 miles to a Belgium train station, ended up in a completely different country instead, 810 miles out of her way, because she says that's what her GPS told her to do. The 67-year-old woman told Spain's El Mundo paper that she was distracted, yes, I guess so because the trip took two days.

She was heading south the whole time and her destination was actually a couple hours north. Imagine, in the U.S. it would be like, oh, I'm in Canada instead of Virginia. Oops.

ROMANS: It's like your mother always tells you, if your GPS tells you to jump off a bridge, would you?


ROMANS: All right. Apparently, she would. He enjoys flying royal choppers and the occasional, you know, naked romp in Vegas.

BERMAN: Who doesn't?

ROMANS: You know who we're talking about. Prince Harry, he has been named the Most Eligible Bachelor in the world by "Town and Country" magazine. He beat out other royal offspring and really famous faces like George Clooney and Tim Tebow.

"Town and Country" says, "Harry is wildest card royal, the naughty one, the one who goes out with raw women, hangs out with a fast crowd, downs too many drinks, and goes home at the wrong moment. That's why we like him best."

BERMAN: You know, he's just a little bit dangerous, but I would say he's the right kind of dangerous.

ROMANS: I know. look at the -- yes, we like him.


BERMAN: I'm humoring you, obviously.

Late night laughs now and Jon Stewart targeting Mr. Fib. Take a look.


JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": On Monday, Lance Armstrong admitted doping while he was winning the Tour de France seven times. What?


STEWART: I believed in you, Lance Armstrong. I shelled out a dollar --


STEWART: -- for a rubber bracelet that I have somewhere in my house.


STEWART: For you, I did it for you. And when I think of the fact that I spent a dollar --


STEWART: It's good news for America's second favorite cyclist, who I'm sure is in there somewhere.


STEWART: America's second favorite cyclist, let's call him Bikey Joe.


STEWART: And the interview doesn't air until Thursday on the OWN Network, which stands for Oprah Winfrey's not on Channel 7 anymore.


STEWART: So, you'll find it.


BERMAN: EARLY START continues right now.