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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

How Low Can They Go?; Putting Women on the Front Lines; Interview with Representative Adam Schiff of California; N. Korea To Test Nukes, Long-Range Rockets; One Lucky Texas Baby

Aired January 24, 2013 - 06:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: How low can they go? Subzero temperatures cause health warnings from the Midwest, all the way to the Northeast.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Also causing some deaths.

And females on the front lines. The Pentagon clears the way for women in combat. We're just minutes away from talking live to a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee.

BERMAN: And overnight, new tough talk from North Korea. A threat of more missile tests with America in mind. We're going to have a live report just ahead.

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

SAMBOLIN: Nice to have you with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

It is Thursday, 24th of January, 30 minutes past the hour.

Our top story is the cold that you probably didn't even think was possible. It is going to be a bitterly cold day across much of the country.

Take a look at Providence. This guy wasn't trying to steal a car, he was trying to chip his way into his car.

And how about this? It was too cold to ski. Mountains closed due to potentially deadly cold.

So let's just go to Jennifer Delgado. She's actually tracking the deep freeze for us.

How cold, how low are those temperatures actually going today?

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, they're going to feel like in some locations, Zoraida, down to minus 40. Right now, Zoraida, we have an actual reading of minus 33 in International Falls. Now, of course that's one of the colder spots out there.

But as we go through the morning, it's still going to be bitterly cold out there. Notice, we're going to see a lot of single digits, as well as a lot of the lower teens for areas like Columbus and Chicago. You're really going to barely struggle to make it above 10 degrees.

Now, as I show you what the chill feels like, it feels like minus 11, Chicago, and the winds still having an effect in Green Bay. Feels like minus 12 there, minus 15 in Portland and minus 14 in Boston.

Now, as we go through the day, you certainly want to make sure you're bundling up out there, you're protecting your face, your hands and, of course, your head needs to be warm. In fact, we have some video coming in out of D.C. of residents doing just that this morning. They're trying to stay warm.

As we go through the next couple days, temperatures are going to be running about 10 degrees below average for this time of the year.

Here's a look at some of the highs for today: 31 in Washington, 48 in Atlanta, and then for Kansas City, you can see 27 degrees.

Now, we are still also tracking some snow out there, lake-effect snow. Look at that, that fetch coming in right of Lake Michigan. We're going to see some of these locations about three to four inches of snow, the same for Erie.

And then down towards parts of Virginia, D.C., you had some snow showers out there earlier. We still could squeeze out about another half inch. You could see some rain spreading into eastern parts of North Carolina.

We'll continue to follow all this weather out there but, Zoraida, it looks like a lot of the indices we're looking at shows that we could be dealing with this arctic pattern and these outbreaks for the next couple weeks to come.

SAMBOLIN: Jennifer, are these records?

DELGADO: You know, we have been seeing some record lows and some record -- I should say low temperatures, but really it's the wind chills that we've never seen.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

DELGADO: We saw minus 85 in New Hampshire and that was in Mt. Washington.

SAMBOLIN: That's incredible. I don't know how you possibly go out.

DELGADO: How you go out of the house. You just sit in the bed, electric blanket.

SAMBOLIN: Great idea.

Jennifer Delgado, live for us in Atlanta, thank you.

DELGADO: You're welcome.

BERMAN: All right. The other big news this morning, the so-called brass ceiling in the military about to be a thing of the past. Today, outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to lift the military's ban on women in combat. This move will open up hundreds of thousands of jobs for women who want to serve on the front lines.

So I want to talk about this with Congressman Adam Schiff. He's a Democrat from California. He's a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Good morning. Thanks for coming in this morning.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Good morning, John.

I'm ranking on the subcommittee. I don't want to get in trouble with my boss.

BERMAN: OK. Ranking on the subcommittee. A demotion right there but we're still happy to have you this morning.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

BERMAN: Let me ask you right off the bat -- what do you make of Secretary Panetta's decision?

SCHIFF: I think it's a wonderful decision. I think it's overdue. And it's wonderful for several reasons.

First, it's going to be an extraordinary opportunity for women and also it's going to be extraordinary for the institution itself. Whenever we've integrated an institution, not only benefits the women who have additional job opportunities, but it benefits the institution with better leadership and better coordination. So, very positive step.

Also I think very positive that this step is being taken by the military. The military itself is bringing about this change. It's not being forced to do this. I think that's extraordinarily positive.

And, John, it reflects the reality on the ground. We've had over 20,000 women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. We've had hundreds of women injured or killed in combat. So this is not really something new. It will be new in the sense that there will be more positions, but it really reflects the change and reality in the nature of warfare.

BERMAN: One of the most notable things so far has been the lack of political protests on this. Everyone on Capitol Hill seems to approve or at least remain quiet about the decision so far, but there is some dissent out there in the world. There is an op-ed in "The Wall Street Journal" today from Ryan Smith.

And he writes, "It would be distracting and potentially traumatizing to be forced to be naked in front of the opposite sex, particularly when your body has been ravaged by lack of hygiene. Combat effectiveness is based in large part on unit cohesion. The relationships among members of a unit can be irreparably harmed by forcing them to violate societal norms."

This is the type of criticism we have heard over the years. Is there a valid concern there?

SCHIFF: You know, I don't think so. It certainly will take some time to adjust to the new policy, but frankly that process has already begun and has been going on for many years now. These concerns that you just expressed from the person who wrote this, these are going to seem in very short order completely antiquated. And I think it won't be borne out by the reality as this policy is implemented.

So I think it's going to be well-received in the military. I think it's, as I mentioned, great that the military itself is leading this change and I think the attitude that we just heard is going to be very much a minority view.

BERMAN: So, of course, the other big news on Capitol Hill, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared up there in two separate hearings for a total of five hours yesterday answering so many questions about the attack on Benghazi, probably the most heated moment came during an exchange between Secretary Clinton and Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin when he was pressing her about the confusion about whether it was a video or another form of terrorist action.

Let's listen to what she said here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The fact is, we had four dead Americans.

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: I understand.

CLINTON: Was it because of a protest or because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference at this pointing does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Congressman, does it make a difference?

SCHIFF: No, I think the secretary is absolutely right. The excessive and partisan focus on, well, did we get it wrong initially about there being protests? Yes, it took the intelligence community a while to get it right. But why are we going after the secretary of state over this, why did we go over the U.N. ambassador for a mistake that the intelligence community itself made?

And the pivotal point here, as the secretary pointed out, Americans lost their lives here.

BERMAN: Well --

SCHIFF: It used to be the partisanship ended at the water's edge but not anymore. Not even when there are fatalities.

BERMAN: But, Congressman -- don't the facts always make a difference and doesn't knowing the facts and knowing them quickly always help in evaluating the situation so it can be prevented in the future?

SCHIFF: Oh, absolutely. And the secretary said, you know, we do need to know what happened so we can know how to prevent this and protect our people in the future. But this excessive focus that people have had that initially, the intelligence agencies got it wrong, that seems to me to take -- distract us from the more important mission as the secretary alluded of how do we protect our people going forward, how do we bring to justice those who were responsible for this? And in any other nonpresidential year, those would have been the only issues we had our eye on and I think this has been a horrendous distraction.

And I mention further that comments -- I don't know if it was this senator or one of the others made, questioning her when she got emotional about meeting those fatalities and meeting those family members. When my GOP colleagues wonder why there's a gender gap, it's because of things like this, and statements like that, which are just offensive -- not only to women but all Americans.

BERMAN: Congressman Adam Schiff in California, House Intelligence Committee -- great to see you this morning. Thanks for coming in. Appreciate it.

SCHIFF: Thank you, John.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-eight minutes past the hour.

Here's a quick look on the top CNN trends that are on the web this morning.

The guy who voiced Charlie Brown in some of the most beloved "Peanuts" movies, well, he is facing a dozen felony charges in San Diego. Fifty-six-year-old Peter Robbins is accused of stalking his ex- girlfriend and threatening to kill her plastic surgeon as well as a police sergeant. Robbins has pleaded not guilty. He voiced Charlie Brown when he was a child back in the 1960s.

BERMAN: Lots of people talking about this too. A Chelsea soccer player in the U.K. apparently kicking a ball boy. The referee gave Eden Hazard the red card, which means, you know, you're out of the game, you're out of the next game, too. It is a bad thing.

Hazard later said he was trying to kick the ball, not the boy. He apologized. Police say they won't press charges but Hazard could be banned from several more matches. The ball boy looks like he's in a lot of pain there.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, no kidding. I don't know. It didn't look to me like he was kicking the ball.

All right. Eighteen-year-old American Sloane Stephens got knocked out of the Australian Open. Top-seeded Victoria Azarenka beat her in straight sets. Stephens had to sit and wait again during a medical time-out. Azarenka asked for after she botched five match points. Stephens had to wait for Serena Williams to shake off an injury during their match the day before. BERMAN: Sloane Stephens, of course, knocking off Serena Williams. That was such a big win but she couldn't continue the run in Australia.

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BERMAN: All right. A small county in Ireland has voted to allow some drunk driving. The Irish county of Kerry voted to legalize drunk driving to make it easier for people who live in very rural remote areas to go out and get a drink and socialize. One counselor claims it will help prevent depression and suicide in isolated areas where roads are empty and where strict DWI laws have trapped some people in their homes.

I said this before, I'll say this again. There is nowhere in the world that I have founding it scarier to drive than in Ireland. That seems --

SAMBOLIN: So you think that's a bad idea?

BERMAN: The roads are this thick and there's that windy.

SAMBOLIN: But folks are used to driving. They could probably drive it with their eyes close.

BERMAN: It sounds like, oh, yes, a few drinks relaxes that. I think it's a bad idea.

SAMBOLIN: Why should we drink?

Yes. OK. So saber-rattling in the Far East echoing all the way to Washington this morning. Overnight, North Korea pushing the envelope with more talk of missiles and nuclear testing. We go live to South Korea. That's coming up.

BERMAN: Plus in the line of fire, just released video from a wild police chase and a gun battle with bank robbers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: So would you just look at who's here? Soledad O'Brien joining us with a look what's ahead on "STARTING POINT."

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: You're lucky day. Good morning.

Lots happening this morning. Still questions, of course, lingering for the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. You'll remember the Wisconsin senator, Ron Johnson, really went at it with her yesterday. He says he's still not satisfied with what she testified about yesterday on that consulate attack in Benghazi. He's going to join us this morning live to talk about that.

Then, we'll get back into the Manti Te'o story. He's still sticking with it. We'll dig into what the former Notre Dame player said in his interview with Katie Couric about this fake, dead girlfriend, and also look at the implications for his football career.

We'll talk to Chris Draft. He's a former Atlanta Falcons player. L.Z. Granderson will join us as well. He's a senior writer for ESPN.

Inside the world of Scientology. We'll sit down with the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who uncovered things never known before about the secretive group, including new details about its obsession with Hollywood.

Then, an interview we couldn't refuse. The stars of "Mob Wives." Have you seen that show? Big Ang and Ramona Rizzo is going to talk about --

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: Actually, I saw a little bit of that the other day and I was shocked.

O'BRIEN: Larger than life does not come close to describing these two ladies. They're going to join us to talk about the new season.

SAMBOLIN: Wow.

O'BRIEN: The third season of their show, "Mob Wives."

BERMAN: Be afraid.

SAMBOLIN: Colorful. Very, very colorful. Thank you, Soledad.

All right. Forty-four minutes past the hour.

We have more on the story that was developing overnight. It's out of Asia. Some really tough talk from North Korea -- that country says it plans to carry out new nuclear testing and further long-range rocket launches in a new phase of confrontation with the United States.

North Korea's national defense commission called the U.S., quote, "the sworn enemy of the Korean people." This happening just after the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution condemning North Korea's rocket launch from last year and strengthening sanctions against them.

So, let's bring in Andrew Salmon. He is live from our bureau in Seoul. He has a lot more for us this morning. So, Andrew, what is North Korea trying to prove here?

ANDREW SALMON, JOURNALIST: I think this is amplification of their statements yesterday which were, themselves, a reaction or a statement of defiance against the U.N. Security Council's latest censure and sanction of North Korea's behavior.

SAMBOLIN: And that statement says we are the sworn enemy of the Korean people. Why are they aiming all the animosity directly at the United States?

SALMON: Well, I mean, animosity towards the United States is nothing new for North Korea. This is 2013, which is the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. And in the North Korean world view, it wasn't the North Koreans who attacked South Korea, it was the South Koreans aided and abetted by the Americans who attacked North Korea.

And of course, that war was never finished, at least on paper, with a peace treaty. It was only ended with an armistice. So, the North Koreans have always held this animosity towards the United States. This, itself, is nothing new.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So, do you think that they have the technology to actually make this happen, to actually go through with these threats?

SALMON: My understanding is that they're not quite there yet. There's two critical hurdles they've got to pass over and they have passed those, but they're not 100 percent there yet. Firstly, they want to have a nuclear weapon that fits on top of a missile. They've carried out nuclear tests. They actually do have nuclear devices.

Their next challenge is to compress this material into a warhead -- the size of a warhead and that's why they need to do more nuclear tests. The second thing they need to do is they've got a missile that actually goes up into the atmosphere and they now need to have a re- entry vehicle that brings it back down.

So, again, they passed the first big hurdle, but now, they need to keep testing to finalize this weapon system.

SAMBOLIN: So, Andrew, what do you think happens next?

SALMON: I think we're going to hear a lot of statements from the U.S. condemning this. I think there's a very good chance they will carry out another nuclear test. When, I wouldn't like to guess. It could be in half an hour, it could be weeks or months from now. And the question then is, is how the international community reacts to that.

And frankly, the reaction of the international community is something which North Korea has always managed to defy before. So, a pretty grim outlook.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Andrew Salmon live in Seoul, thank you very much.

BERMAN: All right. Forty-eight minutes after the hour right now. Let's bring you up to speed on all the brand new news this morning.

Extreme cold gripping much of the country again this morning with overnight wind chills and ski resorts in New Hampshire, get this, negative 85. At least three people have died due to exposure from this cold.

SAMBOLIN: In about three hours from now, Senator John Kerry will be in a nomination hearing for secretary of state. President Obama picked him to succeed Hillary Clinton after Ambassador Susan Rice withdrew her name.

BERMAN: We have some heart-stopping video to show you this morning. The moment a Houston area police officer came under fire during a bank robbery turned police chase. This is dash cam footage of an officer getting pelted with 15 rounds of AK-47 fire. He was hit in the head and arm, but he survived.

So, this chase actually happened two years ago, but the footage is brand new, only coming to light now because the alleged getaway driver is on trial. The robbery suspect was killed by deputies when the 20- minute chase came to an end on a dead-end street. The suspected getaway driver surrendered.

SAMBOLIN: Singer, Adele, will be performing her Oscar nominated hit "Skyfall" at the academy awards in Los Angeles next month, and she said she's thrilled about it. She said in a statement, "It is an honor to be nominated and terrifyingly wonderful to be singing in front of people who have captured my imagination over and over again."

We haven't really heard much from her since she had her baby.

So, it will be nice to actually hear --

BERMAN: And whatever we do hear from Adele is usually quite good.

SAMBOLIN: Yes.

BERMAN: All right. Coming up, a little baby who beat the odds. What she had to do to overcome this will just amaze you.

SAMBOLIN: That's her little beating heart right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Such a great story. A Texas baby had a really rough start. Audrina Cardenas, she was born in October with about a third of her heart beating, and guess where it was beating, outside of her body.

BERMAN: It is amazing. This is a rare condition and babies who have it, they rarely live more than a few days. But Audrina is one tough little girl. Christi Myers from KTRK has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTI MYERS, REPORTER, KTRK (voice-over): After three months in the hospital, little Audrina and her mother were ready to go home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's doing really good. She'll be going home on a little bit of oxygen, but very little. She's going home on a feeding tube, but hopefully with O.T. help we'll be able to get her feeding through a bottle.

MYERS: And she's come a long way since she was born October 15th with a third of her heart beating outside her body. In a six-hour surgery, Texas Children's doctors reconstructed her chest cavity to make space for her heart, but she doesn't have a bony breast plate to protect her heart so they made her one, one out of pink plastic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She doesn't have a sternum. She doesn't have anything over her heart besides the skin and the little muscle that they put over. So, this is very important for her to wear, especially for a car seat. The straps go right on her heart, and if she didn't have anything hard, it would just damage her heart.

MYERS: In the future, Audrina will have another surgery and Texas Children's doctors will make a sternum for her out of some of her ribs. But Ashley loves her baby just the way she is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In a mother's eyes, sometimes you don't see, you don't see her any other way.

MYERS: She packed Audrina's toys and clothes getting ready to leave, but she's not leaving Houston. The baby needs to be near the hospital for a while.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not pushing in any way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

MYERS: Dr. Charles Frazier is the heart surgeon. He did a last minute checkup, and she walked out with Audrina's other doctors and nurses, all of whom were critical in giving this baby a chance. She was happy to leave. Ashley is a little daunted by the medical equipment she's going to have to handle, but very grateful, too.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAMBOLIN: Is she a little doll or what? That was Christi Meyers from our affiliate, KTRK, in Houston. And about eight babies out of a million are born with that kind of condition that Audrina has, but most only live about three days. That is one lucky little girl.

BERMAN: One tough little girl.

SAMBOLIN: And isn't she adorable?

BERMAN: She's great.

SAMBOLIN: And I think that mom has twins at home too, so she has her hands really full.

BERMAN: Oh, yes, she does.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. Yes.

BERMAN: All right. Today's "Best Advice" from one of the creative minds behind the J. Crew empire. That's coming up.

SAMBOLIN: And later on "STARTING POINT", that is, Manti Te'o talks for the first time on camera about the fake girlfriend scandal. We're going to hear from Christ Draft, a former Atlanta Falcons player and L.Z. Granderson, one of my favorite people on earth. He's a senior writer for ESPN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Just a few minutes left now.

SAMBOLIN: And we wrap it up as always with "Best Advice." Here's Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: A little fashion advice from the president of J. Crew, Jenna Lyons.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNA LYONS, PRESIDENT, J. CREW: The best advice I ever received was to hire people that are smarter than you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So that's now fashion advice, that is a --

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: Always surround yourself by people who know what they're doing and hire someone who's smarter than you.

SAMBOLIN: Smarter than you.

BERMAN: They made the belt, they made the shoes that Michelle Obama wore the day of the inauguration.

ROMANS: That's right.

BERMAN: That is all for EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: Look at the fashionista.

(LAUGHTER)

SAMBOLIN: I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now.