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London Helicopter Crash; Pres. Obama's Gun Push; Hidden Calories in Restaurant Dishes; Round-The-World Sailing Race

Aired January 16, 2013 - 06:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Down in flames. Stunned commuters watch as a helicopter hits a crane and crashes near a central train station in London.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Bad weather. A stretch of rain, snow and ice from Texas, all the way up to Maine, could put a damper on your commuting and travel plans.

BERMAN: And Facebook takes aim at Google. The social media giant rolls out its very own search engine.

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

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. I'm in for Zoraida Sambolin this morning.

It's Wednesday morning. It's 30 minutes past the hour. More on the developing story now out of London, where a helicopter hit a crane near a very commuter hub during rush hour. Two people have been confirmed dead, two more have taken to area hospitals.

BERMAN: Some of the other stories we're following this morning.

In just hours, President Obama officially unveils his plan to battle gun violence. A source tells us it will call for universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons, a ban on high-capacity weapons that hold more than 10 rounds and more funding for mental health programs.

The NRA is already fighting the president's plan, releasing an ad calling him an elitist hypocrite for being skeptical about armed guards at school while his daughters get Secret Service protections.

If you're going to want to keep it right here on CNN because later this morning, Wolf Blitzer anchors special coverage as the president unveils his new proposals. Join Wolf right here, starting at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

ROMANS: So, goodbye Google? That's what arch rival Facebook is hoping you'll say. The social networking site has unveiled its own search engine, called Graph Search. Graph Search mines data from Facebook users, collecting information from things you liked or the things 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 execs say the engine could help you find your next job, help find a doctor. They are banking on the idea would you 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 MySpace. Remember MySpace? The site now has a brand new look, new services, major star power. It's rebranding itself primarily as music sharing social network, lets musician share music with tools to help you discover new artists and songs.

And the singer Justin Timberlake, by the way, he owns a big chunk of MySpace. He used it to unveil his brand new single, "Suit & Tie."

BERMAN: You know, the big thing about Facebook, the new graph search from Facebook. The question is: do you trust you your friends more than, say, experts? I'm not so sure. I mean, my friends are nice and everything, but I don't know if I always trust them.


ROMANS: I trust my friends. But, you know, I don't like -- Facebook also says that you're going to have -- you're going to be able to use your privacy tools so other people aren't going to know what are you searching for and stuff. But I always get concerned about privacy stuff.

BERMAN: But this is a big giant move for Facebook. Make no mistake about it.

Thirty-two minutes after the hour right here.

Some icy, slippery, dangerous conditions for the morning commute. A winter storm, sleet, and black ice posing a threat all the way from the mid-South to the Northeast.

Jennifer Delgado is in Atlanta this morning. Good morning, Jennifer.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, guys. You know, we already have some delays out there. For Newark, we have a ground stop due to some snow there and that is in effect until 7:10 Eastern Time. Of course, we'll be following that. We are expecting more delays today because of the rain, the snow, the wintry mix out there. In fact, we are still tracking some of that, moving through parts of Kentucky as well, into Tennessee.

But a lot of that will be coming to an end in the morning hours, but the heavy rain will continue to pound parts of the South, including Alabama, as well as into Georgia. In fact, Atlanta, rains coming down pretty good.

Now, we up towards the North. We're really talking about snow affecting parts of Pennsylvania, as well as into New York.

Now, for major cities, we're really just talking rain out there. The same for Washington, D.C., as well as New York, Boston, you are experiencing snow there now. We will see more coming down as we go through the day.

The good news out of the story, the storm system is quick moving. As we talk about warnings out there for the ice storm, warning down towards the South. That's until 6:00 a.m. local time. That is Eastern Standard Time.

And then up towards the North, from northern part of the mid-Atlantic, this will be in place until 11:00 a.m. That means some snow at times. We can still see some sleet, as well as freezing rain mixing in. And, of course, up towards New England, and it looks like that will last until later this afternoon as well as into the evening hours.

Now, here are some of the snowfall totals that we're talking about. Notice, it's mainly going to be north of Interstate 80 affecting Pennsylvania, as I said, as well as into Connecticut and parts of Rhode Island. Boston, you're going to see some of the snow. Heaviest, of course, is going to the West.

Look at some of the snowfall totals, already 4.5 inches in Summit Hill, New Jersey. Now, later today, we are expecting some delays mainly under an hour and that includes D.C., Philadelphia, Charlotte, Atlanta, and then New York over an hour delay.

So, guys, get used to the rain. It's going to be sticking around here for the day, and some improvement for tomorrow.

BERMAN: Thanks, Jennifer Delgado. And if you're in the Northeast trying to travel, be prepared to wait.

ROMANS: That's right.

All right. Taking a look now at some CNN trends, Superstorm Sandy victims, a giant step closer to more than $50 billion in federal aid. The House approved the Sandy relief measure last night. It's on top of the almost $10 billion in flood insurance already passed to help storm-ravaged states in the Northeast. The bill is expected to sail smoothly to the Senate, on its way to the president's desk -- John.

BERMAN: And another nightmare for Boeing. Two major Japanese airlines have grounded their fleets of 787 Dreamliners after an emergency landing in Japan. This is just the latest in the series of a problems with these jets. A Japanese ANA Dreamliner made the unscheduled landing Wednesday after reports of a battery alarm and a strange smell in the cabin.

ROMANS: And she is already the most traveled Secretary of State ever now. As Hillary Clinton recovers from a health scare, the former president fully admits his wife is indestructible.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: She has always been very, very healthy. And she has very low blood pressure, very low standing heartbeat. I told her that, you know, she still got time to have three more husbands after me. I think she'll live to be 120.


BERMAN: Does that mean she will run for president?


ROMANS: Hillary Clinton is recovering from a blood clot in her head, of course.

BERMAN: So, coming up, extreme eating. Every time you go through some of the most popular restaurants in the country, and we're not just talking about drive thru, we're counting calories, lots and lots of them, coming up next.

ROMANS: Plus, he's on a solo race around the world. Just him, him and the unforgiving elements on the open water. We'll talk to Alex Thompson, live from somewhere on the open water, coming up.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone.

Soledad O'Brien is here with a look at what's ahead on "STARTING POINT".

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, "STARTING PINT": Lots happening this morning right at the top of the hour.

An enormous fireball in the sky. A helicopter crashes into a crane and falls to the ground, happening in central London. This morning, we'll have an update on the accident and the aftermath.

Also, President Obama ready to present his new gun control agenda today. It's being called the most aggressive and expansive proposal in years. How will Congress react to it?

This morning, we'll talk with Illinois Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth and Virginia Congressman Randy Forbes.

Plus, the arts over the last decade we know are becoming less of a priority in public schools across the nation, but Swizz Beatz is going to join us to talk about what he's doing. His project to get kids passionate about music, which will ultimately change their lives.

That's all right at the top of the hour. I'm hanging out with Swiss Beats this morning. What are you guys doing?


O'BRIEN: I love it, I love it.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Soledad. It's great.

All right. When you take the family out to a popular restaurant, do you know how many calories are in the dishes you and the kids are eating? Some calories are eye-popping.

Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is in Atlanta this morning. Good morning, Elizabeth.


ROMANS: You're making me hungry and you're making me not hungry all at the same time. How many calories are we talking about here?

COHEN: Christine, we're talking in one meal, more calories than are you supposed to get in an entire day by quite a lot. And one of the things that I found sort of surprising is, you know, we all know fast food has a lot of calories, but these are nice restaurants, like seafood dishes, and you wouldn't necessarily think it.

So, let's start with our first one. What you're looking at now is the Cheesecake Factory's bistro shrimp pasta. And this totals out at 3,120 calories.


COHEN: You're supposed to get about 2,000 calories a day. So, this is about a third more calories -- no, 50 percent more calories and you're getting it just in one dish. And it's the breading on the shrimp that probably does a lot of it. It's the pasta. These all sorts of things.

And just to do a little bit of an equivalent here, the calories in this dish are the same as in 5 1/2 big Macs. You would never sit down and eat 5 1/2 big Macs, but I can see some people polishing off that plate.

ROMANS: Well --

COHEN: Let's look at the next one we have here. This is the -- I'm so excited about this one. Veal Porterhouse steak and crispy red potatoes.

ROMANS: It looks beautiful.

COHEN: Doesn't it? It smells great, too. We microwaved it so it would look OK and I can smell it.

So, 2,710 calories, again, significantly more than you should have in the entire day, and you're getting it in one dish. It is the equivalent of three pints of Ben & Jerry's ice cream.


COHEN: Wow. And you wouldn't even know you were doing it eat three pints of Ben & Jerry's, you know have you pigged out. I mean, you know that you've done that. But if you eat this dish, you think, wow, that's just dinner.

ROMANS: You know, unlike a greasy burger and fries, you wouldn't think these were five greasy burgers and fries. They don't look unhealthy.

How do you spot a meal you should avoid?

COHEN: Right.

There's a couple of ways to do that. First of all, you can go, you know, a lot of us have smartphones these days. Look up the calories in a lot of restaurant menus. So, that's one good way of doing that.

But if you can't do that, look for these red flags. For example, if something says cream sauce. That's a red flag it will have an enormous number of calories. Also, try to avoid things like that are battered, that are breaded, con queso, which means with cheese. Crispy, which means it's fried and stuffed, because it's probably stuffed with something really delicious and fattening.

So, when you see those words, turn the other direction, find something else on the menu.

ROMANS: But that's what makes it so delicious, Elizabeth.

COHEN: I know. And, you know what, you decide, you know what? I don't care. Weight is not a problem for me, or I've been, you know, really eating well the past couple of weeks, I'll go crazy and eat this 3,000 calories here, you now, whatever, go for it.

But know what you are going for, know what you are doing.

ROMANS: And take home most of it, share it with someone else, get another plate. You can't eat all that one sitting.

COHEN: Right, exactly. And speaking of which, Christine, we reached out to Cheesecake Factory and Maggiano's. Cheesecake Factory didn't get back to us. But Maggiano's said what you just said, which was, we served these huge portions and you can share it with someone and you can also enjoy later at home.

They also do their own nutritional analyses, it showed fewer calories than what this one dead by the Center for Science and the Public Interest. They said it maybe because different restaurants, you know, each one is done differently and that may account for the nutritional differences.

ROMANS: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, good morning. Happy breakfast.

COHEN: Thank you. I'll be digging.

ROMANS: She's going to have some granula and low-fat yogurt, something I suspect

COHEN: Absolutely.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Elizabeth.

COHEN: OK, thanks.

ROMANS: You can read more of Elizabeth's reporting on this at

BERMAN: Bon appetit.

All right. Moving on, 44 minutes after the hour.

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

ROMANS: Former South Carolina Mark Sanford, launching his political comeback today with announcement he'll run for Congress. Sanford's career imploded in 2009. Remember, he disappeared and then later admitted he was having an affair with a woman in Argentina. Sanford is married, of course.

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

BERMAN: A 20-year-old cleaning lady allegedly made this epic mess. Swedish officials say she commandeered an, otherwise, empty commuter train before it derailed and crashed into a three-story building outside of Stockholm. She was reportedly airlifted to the hospital with serious injuries. The amazing thing is, no one inside the building was hurt.

ROMANS: And unclear why she needed a --

BERMAN: A train?

ROMANS: A train.

BERMAN: Forty-five minutes after the hour right now, and he is sailing around the entire world all by himself right now. I had a chance to talk to him before the journey began. Take a look.


BERMAN: What's the fun part of this?




BERMAN: That's Alex Thompson. We're going to be talking to him again live about the race and the danger he's encountered along the way. That's coming up.


BERMAN: So, the Mt. Everest of yacht racing is in its final leg. It's called the Vendee Globe. It's a grueling three-month race where competitors sail solo around the world. That means all by themselves. They face harsh elements, loneliness, possibly even death. So, last summer, we introduced you to one of these amazing racers, Alex Thompson.


BERMAN (voice-over): Three months alone with no amenities.

THOMPSON: You asked about the toilet?

BERMAN: I did?

THOMPSON: There she is.

BERMAN: Oh, there she is.

THOMPSON: Yes. Right next to the toilet is the galley.

BERMAN: Kitchen.

THOMPSON: Kitchen, yes. That's a bag of food. (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: Just like in restaurants.

And then for sleeping. Just like this.


BERMAN (on-camera): So, it is not one bit glamorous, it's extremely dangerous. We are now joined by Alex Thompson who's currently running in fourth place as he sails around the world on the Hugo Boss Racing Yacht. He's off the coast to Brazil. Alex, you've been at this now for more than 60 days all by yourself. How are you doing, pal?

THOMPSON: Doing great, thanks, John. I can't believe it's been 60 days already. But a good race so far and I'm in the final stages. The boat is a little bit tired, I'm a little bit tired, but still on it, and anything can happen.

BERMAN: So, where are you?

THOMPSON: I'm about 100 miles off the coast of Brazil by recipe (ph) just over there. I'm sailing in trade winds. I've got about 20 knots of wind and the boat is doing about 16 knots at the moment. You can probably see the water rushing past in the background.

BERMAN: You know, it is a stunning, stunning view to see you sailing right now live off the coast of Brazil. Currently, you're running in fourth place. You're taking a bit of a different route than your competitor. Explain to me what you're doing. THOMPSON: The guys were a little bit ahead of me, and as the weather changes, their route became impossible for me to follow, and also, you know, if you follow somebody, you're much less likely to overtake them. So, the nearest guy behind me is 1,200 miles back there. So, I'm taking a little bit of a gamble, trying something different, and hopefully, I'll get some reward.

BERMAN: I've been following you on Twitter and Facebook all along as you sail through the southern seas. You know, frigid conditions, just awful sailing, and you had a really close call with disaster. Explain.

THOMPSON: Yes. I've got two little devices that set off the back of the boat that generate power like a hydro generator. And, I had a collision on this side over here, and with something unidentified in the water, that smashed that hydro generator and broke one of the steering bars.

So, I was left in the middle of the southern ocean with no possibility to steer the boat. But, I managed to sort it out. I managed not to lose too many miles and here I am off the coast of Brazil.

BERMAN: It's great that you managed to push on. It did seem to have some effect on you, you, though. You grew a rather awful beard. Can you explain or at least justify that facial hair that you grew?

THOMPSON: Yes. I -- that situation broke my hydro generator, so I couldn't really generate power. We don't carry very much fuels. So, I have to conserve power. So, I couldn't make enough water to be able to shave a bit. So, I heard this great, big, bushy beard like Captain Pugwash.

When I shaved off the other day, all our face were cleanse (INAUDIBLE) little handlebar type number now. But thankfully, I'm clean shaven now again, John.

BERMAN: You know, so Alex, as we're watching you sail off the coast of Brazil, all around the world by yourself, more than 60 days by yourself right now, your boat seems to be going pretty fast. You seem to be listing a little bit here. Is this completely safe what you're doing now?

THOMPSON: Absolutely. I mean, this is quite normal. I've got about 15 degrees. It doesn't look like 15, but it's not too bad. And really, here I am off the coast to Brazil. I'm in the trade winds, very constant winds, not too gusty, bright and sunny. In the southern ocean, you know, big, dark clouds -- everyday.

And the wind can gust from a force one to hurricane swell of 60 knots of wind in, you know, in less than 10 minutes. So, it's a very stressful place to be, but it is quite relaxing to that.

BERMAN: Alex, knock on wood, tell us how many more days do you expect to be out there?

THOMPSON: It's always a bit of a guess, but you know, I'm hoping be very close to the end of the month. So, another two weeks, and hopefully, I can see my wife and give my little baby boy a cuddle.

BERMAN: All right. Listen, congratulations on everything you've achieved so far. We wish you the best of luck. It's truly stunning to be able to talk to you all the way out there on the Atlantic. Wave to Brazil for us as you go in by there.


THOMPSON: I will do. Thanks a lot, John.

BERMAN: All right. by the way, he sleeps about 20 minutes at a time. He doesn't get to sleep more than 20 minutes at a time. He's all by himself out there, and he's got about 20 days left to go. He's tried this before. He's had major mishaps. He's never have completed the solo around the world race.

So, if he does finish and like I said, knock on wood, he's got fairly smooth sailing left to go, this would be the first time he's ever completed it. So, it would be an amazing accomplishment.

ROMANS: You asked him to take a second to wave to Brazil. He doesn't have a second. He's in the fight to win. He's in fourth now, right?

BERMAN: He's in fourth now. He probably won't move up, and he further hopefully not fall back any further Brazil. Just finishing a race like this is stunning.

ROMANS: An amazing accomplishment. All right. EARLY START back right after the break.

Later on "STARTING POINT", Boeing's Dreamliner nightmare, the new incident that led two big airlines to ground this highly touted jet.


BERMAN: A passerby finds an abducted five-year-old girl huddled beneath the playground slide in a cold. This happened yesterday nearly 20 hours after a stranger claiming to be her mother, signed her out of a Philadelphia elementary school. Police say officials are screening the girl to determine if she may have been sexually assaulted.

ROMANS: New York City police are asking the public for help in identifying this man. He's wanted in connection with the beating of an elderly man aboard a subway train last month. Surveillance tape got a real good look at him, so you should, too. He has not yet been captured, but there he is.

BERMAN: So, a craving for corn dogs turned into a million dollar miracle for one Oregon family. Riley Gunn and his wife, Misty, had been laid off from their jobs and living on unemployment when a stop for food at a local mini-mart changed everything. Gunn bought one $8 quick pick and he won a million bucks. Now, things seem to be looking up for this family of five.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To go to a car lot and be able to pick a car, any car I wanted off of a lot (ph). Never thought I'd be able to do that in my life.


BERMAN: Good for them. In addition to new car, they also plan to buy their very first home.

ROMANS: Good for them.

BERMAN: So, if you lose your cell phone? Don't blame Wayne Dobson. This is in "The Las Vegas Review Journal." Apparently, there's a glitch related to the Find My iPhone app in Las Vegas. It keeps sending people who lose their iPhone to the same guy's house.


BERMAN: They keep showing up at all hours of the day. It's actually forced him to put a sign up outside that says no lost cell phones. And police say they were even mistakenly directed to his house when they tried to track a phone on domestic violence call. Experts say it's appear to be related to a nearby cell tower and it's limited to Sprint phones.

ROMANS: That's very, very funny.

BERMAN: Is that amazing?

ROMANS: That's very funny, and he must be so irritated.

BERMAN: All right. That's all for EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. "STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now.