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Facing a Grilling on Benghazi; House Seeks Short Term Debt Ceiling Increase; Highlighting Documentaries at Sundance; New Study on CTE; '90s Boy Band Mega-Tour

Aired January 23, 2013 - 05:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Dangerous calls. Temperatures below zero have Americans bundled up from the Midwest to the northeast.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: No hesitation. A police officer caught on camera risking his own life to save a woman from a speeding train.

ROMANS: Family secrets. We're talking to the celebrity whose candid look at mental illness just premiered at Sundance.

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

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is 5:30 in the East. I don't even know the date. Do you know the date? Fact check, we're going to get back to you on the date.


BERMAN: We're looking into that. Our best people are looking into that.

ROMANS: It is Wednesday. I can confirm it is Wednesday.

BERMAN: It's Wednesday. And my people are telling me it is January 23rd. Thank you very much on that. One thing we do know, it is beyond bit early cold in some parts of the country. So cold people in some parts of the country like Chicago bracing for their coldest day in two years. They're bundling up to protect their skin from the -- just dropping temperature, and it's so cold in Fargo, North Dakota that hot water vaporizes then freezes in midair.

Look at that. This is one of a series of experiments, KVLY reporter, John Trierweiler (ph) try out. Our meteorologist Jennifer Delgado is inside at the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta tracking this bitter chill for us. At least four reports of deaths now. Jennifer, any relief on the way?

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, you know, we are going to see a slight warm up, but temperature is still going to be dangerously cold out there, John. We're still talking in some locations where wind chill values are going to drop down to about minus 30, even 35. Now, this is what it feels like this morning. If you're heading out the door in Duluth, Minneapolis, it feels a little bit better there, seven in Minneapolis, minus 1 in Des Moines, and then, you can see in Chicago, the current wind chill at zero. But that still means you need to dress warmly, because look at the areas across parts of the northeast as well as into New England including Montpelier, it feels like minus 22 degrees.

So, yes, we're talking about another day where temperatures well below freezing, but still, we have these advisers in place, spreading from parts of the upper Midwest. You can see from parts of Minneapolis as well as other parts of the Dakotas all the way over towards New England where we have, in fact, a wind chill warning, and that means this temperature is going to be felt in about -40 degrees below zero.

And this is going to be in place until this evening. So, certainly, you have to bundle up out there. This potentially could lead to frostbite, hypothermia, or even as John and Christine said, even deaths through parts of the Midwest as well as through areas of including the northeast. Now, you want to know when we're going to see some improvement out there.

Look for areas like Minneapolis. Today, a high of eight degrees, on average to be 24, but as I show you this video coming out in Minneapolis, they know how to deal with the snow, John and Christine. They bundle up and they make sure they protect their face and their hands and their clothes.

That's where you lose the most body heat. And today is going to be another day of that. And we're also talking about more lake-effect snow setting out for parts of New York as well as Pennsylvania, Michigan, you name it.

BERMAN: Today is the day for that ski mask. It may not be glamorous --

DELGADO: I know.

BERMAN: But wear it, anyway.

DELGADO: Wear to the --

BERMAN: All right. Jennifer Delgado, thanks very much.

ROMANS: Every snowbird in Arizona and Florida is just giggling right now. This is why they go down south.

BERMAN: This is why they moved.

ROMANS: All right. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expected to face tough questions this morning about security failures at the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi. We're expecting aggressive questioning from members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and also the House Foreign Affairs Committee, but no bombshells really.

Foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty is at the State Department this morning. What's the latest, Jill?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, you know, in the aftermath of Benghazi, there have been 30 hearings or closed door briefings, but this is by far the most high profile and it's one of the last things that Hillary Clinton will be doing as Secretary of State.


DOUGHERTY (voice-over): On the eve of long awaited testimony by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, new State Department cables, sources telling CNN's Jake Tapper that Ambassador Chris Stevens killed in the attack once proposed moving the mission where he died to a more secure location near a CIA compound, but the department refused.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: What did the Secretary of State know before, during, and after? Because the American people were clearly deceived.

DOUGHERTY: Aides say she's likely to repeat what she told CNN in October.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I take responsibility. I'm in charge of the State Department, 60,000 plus people all over the world, 275 posts.

DOUGHERTY: Nine days after the attack, she was the first top official to brief the full Senate in closed session. Since then, there have been more than 30 hearings and closed door briefings with State Department officials present. But Clinton's testimony was delayed by travel and then by illness.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: She needs to be asked about what she knew about the deteriorating circumstances in Benghazi. Did she see the 16 August cable? Was she informed of the rise of al Qaeda militia?

DOUGHERTY: That cable warned the U.S. mission in Benghazi was not secure enough to survive a coordinated attack. Other senators claim Clinton's State Department has not handed over all communications on Benghazi.

SEN. JIM RISCH, (R) IDAHO: The texting, the instant messaging, we really need to have a look at that, which we haven't seen yet.

DOUGHERTY: Others want to know what Clinton knows about those misleading talking points, that U.N. ambassador Susan Rice used in those September 16th Sunday talk show, and why Clinton, herself, didn't appear instead. Clinton is likely to tell Congress how she already has ordered implementation of recommendations from an independent review, tightened security at diplomatic posts worldwide, and sent threat analysts to over a dozen high-risk posts. Will Congress give the outgoing Secretary of State a hard time?

RISCH: I'm sure she's not going to be beaten up. She's highly respected by everyone on the committee. (END VIDEOTAPE)

DOUGHERTY: OK. But it may not be that easy, Christine. And you know, there are a couple of other things to watch. One would be the political atmospherics of this, because after all, in the Senate, there are at least two people who potentially could be GOP candidates for 2016 and that, of course, is what might happen with Secretary Clinton.

And then, also, you have this issue of the security backing if you want to call it in Algeria and Mali. And there might be some questioning on that, as well.

ROMANS: You're absolutely right. OK. Political atmospherics. Oh, there's always that, isn't there? Jill Dougherty, thank you, Jill.

BERMAN: Big day on Capitol Hill today.

Meanwhile also on the Hill, House Republicans shifting strategy. They say they believe they have the votes to pass a short-term debt ceiling increase today and seek deep spending cuts later.

Their plan was to spend the $16.4 trillion debt limit to allow the U.S. to keep borrowing money to pay its bills for another three months, then increase the legal limit to that new debt level.

Confusing, but important politically. In exchange, they're calling on the Senate to pass a budget by spring.

ROMANS: An important chess move. It really is an important chess move in the debt talks.

All right. Exit polls from Tuesday's election in Israel show Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will almost certainly hold on to his job but with less support than expected. The surprising surge of a new centrist party has weakened Netanyahu's power, but could ease strained relations with the U.S. and signal a good sign for more flexibility for peace efforts with the Palestinians.

BERMAN: So much closer than anyone thought there. Really interesting.

ROMANS: It's a candid look at mental illness in a very famous family. Actress Mariel Hemingway calls it "Running From Crazy". More from her and her documentary at Sundance, that's coming up.


BERMAN: Sundance Film Festival is in full swing and some star-driven comedies, dramas as well, as half a dozen or so documentaries are catching the eyes of distributors at the indie festival in the snow right now.

Now, one documentary, in particular, caught the eye of our very own Zoraida Sambolin. And it involves the family of a legendary author Ernest Hemingway. Zoraida is live for us now in Park City, Utah. And Zoraida, tell us about this movie, "Running With Crazy."

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is "Running With Crazy", and it stars Mariel Hemingway. It is her documentary. And she was running around like crazy yesterday promoting this film. And we talked about the fact that her grandfather, Earnest Hemingway, shot himself in the head and that her sister, Margo, died of a drug overdose. And I wanted to dig a little bit deeper.

Here's what she had to say.


MARIEL HEMINGWAY, ACTRESS: We go a little bit into my grandfather because my grandfather suffered from depression horribly. You know, I mean, the reason why he killed himself was because he was very depressed and couldn't write anymore. And then, his father had killed himself and then my grandmother's father had killed himself and then my great uncle had killed himself and my uncle and, you know, -- know, and then my sister, Margo.


SAMBOLIN: So, you see the girl that's sitting next to Mariel. That is her daughter, Langley, and she actually saw the film for the first time here at Sundance. And I asked her how did it feel for you to sit there and listen to your mother share all of her deep dark secrets. Here's what she had to say.


LANGLEY HEMINGWAY, DAUGHTER: If you just like -- if you put yourself into a position where you're going to, you know, not see the sunshine every day or like just one step at a time, and, you know, it's intense. And nobody realizes that the easiness of just one step, you know? And so, I think that obviously she wants to help you. She will see anybody on the street and it's like -- she'll talk to anybody.


SAMBOLIN: I got to tell you, John, I spent a lot of time with her daughter, Langley, yesterday. And one of Mariel's goals is to dispel this curse -- or the myth, rather, of the curse of the Hemingways. And her daughter is so incredibly well-adjusted. She is an illustrator. She is so proud of her mom and all the good work that she's doing on mental health and depression.

And she's so proud that, you know, she took the time to tell her story and to really dig as deep as she did. So, it was really a great experience and I told Mariel, at the end of the day, you've done a great job with your kid. So, she should be very proud of herself.

BERMAN: You know, such a famous family. Really interesting to see them bearing their souls for the whole word to see. Zoraida, I got to say that there's big news about one of the other films at Sundance. Tell us about this. SAMBOLIN: Big news, John, is probably an understatement, because this is potentially $10 million news. And it's the reason that filmmakers come here to Sundance, right? They want people to see their films. They want people to buy their films. So, the film is called "Way, Way Back."

And you know, and it's being compared to "Little Miss Sunshine", which was a darling here at the Sundance Festival some years back. The two directors are the same directors that won an Oscar for "The Descendants" just last year. So, there's a lot of buzz about this film and who knows what the potential is here.

You know, some people are thinking that, perhaps, it could be Oscar worthy. So, it was big news from overnight. We have not confirmed that it was purchased by Sony Pictures for $10 million, but that is all the buzz. So, we're going to get some more information on that as well.

BERMAN: On the cutting edge of the film news. Zoraida Sambolin, great to see you this morning from Sundance. Stay warm.

ROMANS: And I love "The Descendants." Did you see it?

BERMAN: Very good.

ROMANS: That was an excellent movie.

All right. A dramatic rescue caught on camera. Coming up, a woman saved after falling right into the path of an oncoming train. Terrifying.

And a mystery disease thought to be caused by hard hits on a football field, but a new test that could help save lives.

BERMAN: This is big news.


ROMANS: Some dramatic video from Spain to show you.

One of Madrid's finest jumped into action when a woman fainted and fell off a subway platform. She stumbled on to the tracks. The off duty officer can be seen jumping on to the tracks from the other side of the platform, and then, running to help the woman, pulling her out of the path of oncoming train. It took him less than 20 seconds to get the woman out of harm's way.

BERMAN: Guy's a hero. All right. Executive director of the NRA Wayne LaPierre had some harsh words for President Obama at Hunting Club Conference in Nevada. LaPierre accused the president of attacking gun owners by proposing a federal gun registry and expanded background checks for anyone purchasing a gun. Here's what he said.


WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NRA: There's only two reasons for a federal list on gun owners, to either tax them or take them. That's the only reason.



BERMAN: LaPierre went on to criticize the president's inaugural speech seeing parts of it as an attack on the NRA, the Second Amendment, and gun owners themselves. Though, there was not a single mention of gun control in Monday's speech.

ROMANS: He did say the word Newtown.

BERMAN: He'd say Newtown but not gun.


ROMANS: The disease that most likely played a role in the death of NFL great Junior Seau and several other players called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is difficult to define because it can't be diagnosed in living people. A new study out of UCLA may have changed that.

Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When he was a backup quarterback in the NFL, Wayne Clark was lucky to call a play or throw a pass. In fact, he spent most of his time on the sidelines.

WAYNE CLARK, RETIRED NFL PLAYER: So I didn't take the steady contacts that other players did.

GUPTA: Except for one game. One concussion in 1972.

CLARK: I went down in a slump because I didn't know where I was and didn't know what was going on and so forth.

GUPTA: He spent several bleary hours confused and then boarded a plane back home.

CLARK: And somewhere over New Mexico or Arizona, I finally became aware of what was going on again.

GUPTA: Clark's brain was rattled, but it only happened once during his five-year career.


GUPTA: And that's what makes this picture of Clark's brain so interesting and perplexing. Researchers at UCLA say Clark has an abnormal protein called tau in his brain.

Now, if tau sounds familiar, that's because it's been found in the brains of several former NFL players, Dave Duerson, Ray Easterling, Junior Seau, all had serious cognitive and emotional problems and eventually committed suicide and were diagnosed with CTE or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Clark is cognitively normal.

(on-camera): Let me show you what I'm talking about. Take a look over here. That's a normal brain scan compared to two players in the study who had had at least one concussion. You can immediately tell there are bright areas of yellow, bright areas of red. That's what the researchers believe indicates the presence of tau.

Now, keep in mind, CTE in its most severe cases has memory problems, depression, and anger. So, we're not looking just whether or not tau is present, but whether it's present in parts of the brain that are responsible for those emotions.

(voice-over): Dr. Gary Small, the study's lead researcher said he was surprised to find tau in the brains of all five players in the study. Tau, that until now, could only be seen by pathologists after death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What pathologists have been seen in the brain is little tau deposits. We can see the same pattern.

GUPTA: Small is cautiously optimistic that this brain scan will eventually diagnose CTE in living people.

DR. GARY SMALL, DIRECTOR, UCLA LONGEVITY CENTER: It's a step forward, but it's a baby step, because it's not specific to tau.

GUPTA: Robert Stern, a CTE expert at the Boston University School of Medicine, is a bit more skeptical. He says Small's brain scan doesn't just measure tau, it measures another protein called amyloid, which is present in Alzheimer's disease.

DR. ROBERT STERN, PROFESSOR OF NEUROLOGY, BOSTON UNIVERSITY: What we don't know if what's sliding up is the tau alone, the beta amyloid, or both.

The tau protein we see in Alzheimer's, but it's a different pattern.

GUPTA: Could the players be suffering from CTE, Alzheimer's, some other disease? These are important questions.

STERN: I mean, I would agree that the need to do autopsy follow up studies to pin down their hypothesis is correct.

GUPTA (on-camera): So, as you can see, the study is far from conclusive, but if this does pan out in larger studies, it could give us a better idea of what CTE looks like, how it progresses over the years, and maybe even how to treat it.

Now, Dr. Gary Small who you just met in the piece there has done a lot of work in the world of Alzheimer's, and he wonders if some of those same interventions that are being studied in Alzheimer's could also work for CTE, reducing stress, improved diet, anti-inflammatories, (INAUDIBLE).

It's going to be a while before he can test that hypothesis, but that's what Dr. Small and lots of others are angling toward.


ROMANS: CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Boston University Researchers recently studied the brains of 35 deceased professional football players. Thirty-four of the 35 players' brains showed evidence of CTE.

BERMAN: A lot of people talking about this study. There are just major implications for the very future of the sport. So important, important research going on right now.

We have a packed hour ahead on EARLY START, including the day many Republicans have been waiting for, a chance to grill Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the terror attack in Benghazi that killed one of her ambassadors. They've been forced to wait months making many on Capitol Hill angry.

What could happen today? We will ask one lawmaker who will have to be face-to-face with Mrs. Clinton today.

ROMANS: Plus, more on the first major scandal of President Obama's second term, Beyonce's "Star-Spangled Banner". Everyone agrees she killed it, but did she lip sync it? Does it even matter? Who cares and why won't anybody just clear it up for us? We'll get the pulse of the entertainment world from the editor of

But first, getting the boy bands back together. The mega tour that will bring out the teen or tween in you. 98 Degrees only the beginning. News from the tiger beat is next. John is so excited.

BERMAN: So excited.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. Fifty-seven minutes after the hour. I'm John Berman. This is Christine Romans.

ROMANS: Good morning!

BERMAN: We're taking a look at the top CNN trend on the Internet this morning.

ROMANS: Thirty-three million believers and counting. Justin Bieber is now the most followed human on Twitter. He passed a very famous nuclear physicist for that title. I'm just kidding. There's no nuclear physicist with that many -- he leapfrogged Lady Gaga. As of this morning, Bieber had about 33, 333,000 followers. Gaga is still beating the Biebs on Facebook. She has 55 million likes. He's only got a mere 50 million.

BERMAN: Toss some my way, man.


BERMAN: All right. So, in about a decade, Bieber may want in on this tour. Get ready to scream like it's 1999 or 1989 really, because New Kids on the Block, Boyz II Men, and 98 Degrees are all hitting the road together this summer. My goodness. Breaking news. Donnie Wahlberg and 98 Degree member Drew Lachey both confirmed this is happening on Twitter.

New Kids will also release a new album in April. They toured with Backstreet Boys about two years ago. This is exciting for all of us, really.

ROMANS: And now all their fans have to go out and get baby-sitters to go see --


ROMANS: -- to go see the bands they loved in high school.

All right. Late night laughs now. Jon Stewart addressing Anthemgate.


JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": The singer of note to address the powerful controversy coming out of Washington tonight.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beyonce may have lip synced the national anthem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This has never happened before on an inauguration day where the performance of the national anthem had been pre-taped.


STEWART: Oh, it's worse than that.


STEWART: It may not have been Beyonce at all. But --


STEWART: Noted Manti Te'o prankster, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.


STEWART: Tuiasosopo! Tuiasosopo!


STEWART: Either way, it's still better than what we would have had if Romney won.



STEWART: Nailed it.



BERMAN: That was Meatloaf in case you missed it.

ROMANS: Really funny.

BERMAN: All right. EARLY START continues right now.