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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Deep Freeze; Feinstein Pushes for Assault Weapon Ban; New Threat From North Korea; Rhode Island House Approves Same Sex Marriage Bill; Catholic Hospital: "Fetuses Are Not People"; Manti Te'o Speaks Out About Hoax; Dreamliner Nightmare

Aired January 25, 2013 - 06:00   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Travel plans on ice. Parts of the southeast getting a major dose of the deep freeze.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hanging on for dear life. Take a look. A police officer dragged after a traffic stop went horribly wrong.

BERMAN: And finder's keepers? Why a young man in Florida says a multimillion dollar bank owned mansion is all his now.

SAMBOLIN: That's the ultimate finder's keepers.

BERMAN: Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman. It's Friday.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, it is. We're very excited about that. Excited to have you with us this morning, too. I'm Zoraida Sambolin, Friday, January 25th, just about 6:00 a.m. here on the East Coast.

Up first, of course, we're talking about the deep freeze. It marches south. A new round of snow and ice bearing down on the southeastern United States. Bitter cold temperatures from the Carolinas to Tennessee and further south will make for some treacherous travel for you. The extreme weather is blamed for at least three deaths, so far.

Alexandra Steele is standing by at the CNN Weather Center. But first, we're going to go to Jennifer Delgado. She is live in Nashville, Tennessee where they need a lot of salt.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, they do. And you know, right now, Zoraida, we're right at 31 degrees. Of course, we know that freezing is at 32 degrees. 0We've been seeing some precipitation off and on in the form of rain as well as freezing rain.

Now the problem is, it looks like we'll see threat for more of that popping up even as we go through rush hour, right around 7:00 until about 9:00, potentially 10:00. You can see all the crews there, they're getting the salt.

They're going out to lay this down to help prevent areas of black ice forming on some roadways and overpasses and, of course, weather like this shouldn't come as a surprise after a wild, wild weather week.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DELGADO (voice-over): Frigid temperatures and record-breaking wind chills continue to plague much of the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Horrible, freezing cold.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's freezing out here, man.

DELGADO: Now freezing rain and ice in Tennessee. Crews armed with salt trucks are at the ready.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have 32 counties here in the middle Tennessee area we'll be keeping an eye on. We'll have enough people here to make sure roads are ready for rush hour in the morning.

DELGADO: Relentless freezing rain in Salt Lake City forced all the runways at the city's international airport to close on Thursday. Some parts of the Great Lakes, picked up between two and three feet of lake-effect snow this week, which led to this pileup in Ohio. In New Hampshire, brutal subzero wind chills continue to plummet. Precaution is underway Pat's Peak ski areas to keep workers and patrons safe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We give them hand warmers and foot warmers, rotate them more frequently and allow them to come into huts that are warmed up for breaks.

DELGADO: And in the Midwest, a stubborn warehouse fire that started on Tuesday night rekindled again in Bridge Point, Illinois leaving the structure looking, like, well a massive igloo. It's actually so cold in Minnesota, pipes froze leading to this ice rink melting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything runs through a condenser outside and that started slashing up on us so we couldn't get rid of the heat that we need to keep cooling.

DELGADO: But it could always be worst, wind chills at the top of Mt. Washington, registered an unbearable of negative 85 degrees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The best we've heard it described. Think of yourself diving into a very, very cold pool of water. It doesn't matter how well you are covered up, the air finds a way in.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DELGADO: And you heard him. Can you imagine, minus 85 wind chill? We, of course, are in Nashville. He would track freezing rain event as it moves through parts of Middle Tennessee and even into parts of the Carolinas. Some of the freeze warnings are going to be in effect until later on this evening. Also want to point out to you, Nashville has roughly 10,000 tons of salt out here, 100,000 tons I should say.

SAMBOLIN: That's good news.

DELGADO: Plenty in supply for surplus. So that is not going to be a problem. I also want to point out. You want to make sure you are taking it slow on the roadways, because the threat of black ice will be great, especially during the morning commute.

Also want to point out. We're using the phone, tracking the storm and tracking it in the studio, and Alexandra is going to talk more about parts of Eastern Tennessee as well as into north eastern Georgia. Where they could see a quarter inch of freezing rain and that could be enough to take down power lines or even trees.

SAMBOLIN: What a mess. All right, Jennifer, thank you very much.

BERMAN: As Jennifer said, Alexandra Steele is at the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta to tell us what, where, and when it all happens next. Hi, Alexandra.

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, John. Hi, everyone. Let me give you a big prospect. This is showing you Chicago. This is snow, right or what appears to be snow. We are kind of losing a lot of energy with this storm. The bark is worse than the bite.

There's not a lot of moisture here. Chicago has not seen an inch of snow since last February 24th and I don't think they're going to get it. Right now, the observation is not snow in Chicago. It's overcast skies and 20 degrees.

Places like Rockford, Illinois, seeing snow, but that's it and the back side is coming through. So it looks a lot worse than it really is. That's the snow side in the Midwest. I want to show you what's happening.

Here's Nashville, 30 degrees and you can see some spotty ice around. We are going to see kind of the bull's eye for the ice between a quarter and a half an inch begin in Nashville potentially between about 9:00 and 11:00 this morning, and we'll see Eastern Tennessee in toward the Western Carolinas.

Temperature department, we've got that covered. Just the moisture that we're lacking with this for this to really be a big storm. The forecast radar, this is noon. You can see where the ice is. You can see where the snow is not.

But Washington, D.C. will pick up maybe 1 to 2 inches of snow, New York, potentially just about an inch. Not a lot of moisture with this, guys. The cold air certainly there, but I don't think we'll see a real robust storm. But the ice in the southeast is a factor.

BERMAN: All right, Alexandra Steele, thank you very much.

SAMBOLIN: It's 5 minutes past the hour. A big push to ban assault weapons, Vice President Joe Biden will head to Richmond, Virginia, today to try to make the case on banning assault weapons.

The White House saying President Obama will also hit the road to promote the initiative at some point. In a Google plus hangout yesterday, Biden says this is about gun safety, not gun control. He also urged people to take action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you don't agree with a ban on assault weapons then you probably may agree with me on background checks, making them universal. Make your voices heard. This outfit, this town listens, when people rise up and speak.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAMBOLIN: CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser is following all of the developments from Washington. It's really nice to see you, Paul. So this is a major Democratic effort, but it is an uphill battle.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: It certainly is and part of that effort came yesterday from Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, she introduced a bill that would bring back an assault weapons ban.

Specifically what her measure would prohibit the sale, manufacture, transport, or import of more than 150 semi automatic weapons. It would also ban those large-capacity magazines with more than ten rounds of ammunition.

She made her announcement in pretty fashion. You can see from the pictures here she had on display, ten different types of assault weapons, including an AR-15, that's the kind of rifle used at the mass shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, last month. And at the event, family members and victims of gun massacres across the country. Feinstein made her case to the public. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: These massacres don't seem to stop. They continue on, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Tucson, Oak Creek. The common thread in these shootings is each gunman used a semi automatic assault weapon, or large-capacity ammunition magazine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEINHAUSER: Now, Feinstein also gave -- I guess you could say an olive branch to gun owners. She said more than 2,200 exemptions would be made for guns used for sporting or hunting purposes. Does that kind of make any difference with the NRA, the powerful gun lobby?

Here is their response to Feinstein. Senator Feinstein has been trying to ban guns from law-abiding citizens for decades. It's disappointing but not surprising that she is once again focused on curtailing the constitution instead of prosecuting criminals or fixing our broken mental health system. The American people know gun bans do not work and we are confident Congress will reject Senator Feinstein's wrong-headed approach -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right, Paul Steinhauser live in Washington for us. Thank you for that. Appreciate it.

Coming up on "STARTING POINT," Soledad will speak with gun rights advocate Richard Feldman who is the president of the Independent Firearms Owners Association.>

And we have more angry threats from North Korea overnight. A statement from the county's unification committee warns of what they call physical countermeasures against South Korea if they directly participate in U.N. sanctions against the north. The statement calls Seoul a puppet to the west and says the latest U.N. resolution is equivalent to a declaration of war.

BERMAN: Rhode Island could be the next state where same-sex couples could get married. House lawmakers there approved the measure last night by a vote of 51-19. The bill has been introduced every year for 11 years. This is the first time it made it out of committee. The bill now goes to the Senate there and if it survives, the government will sign it.

SAMBOLIN: All right, listen to this, a Catholic hospital in Colorado argues it's not liable for the deaths of two 7-month-old fetuses because those fetuses are not people. It's an interesting case because this goes against the Catholic Church's teachings that life begins at concept.

This all from a 2006 case where 31-year-old Lori Stodgehill who was pregnant with twins died at Saint Thomas Memorial Hospital in Cannon City. The lawsuit by her husband blamed Saint Thomas for failing to perform an emergency c-section to save the fetuses. So far, courts are siding with the hospital.

So later this hour, we'll speak to the president of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue about this very case. He should have some really interesting perspective that is happening around 6:50 Eastern Time. So stick around for that.

BERMAN: What an interesting case, a counterintuitive.

SAMBOLIN: The law versus the values and morals of the Catholic Church. So it's going to be very interesting to talk to him.

BERMAN: All right, it is 9 minutes after the hour right now, from fake girlfriend to real regret. Coming up, America hears from Notre Dame's Manti Te'o.

Plus, the Florida man squatting, real estate style, in a $2.5 million home.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: The girlfriend was fake, but he says the pain was very real. Manti Te'o opening up about the internet hoax that made headlines and unleashed punch lines all over the internet.

The Notre Dame football star player telling ABC's Katie Couric that he has some regrets, but insisted he was telling the truth. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANTI TE'O, LINEBACKER, NOTRE DAME: For people feeling they were misled, that I'm sorry for. I wasn't as forthcoming about it, but I didn't lie. I never was asked did you see her in person.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: George Howell joins us now. George has been following this story, the ins and outs from the beginning. The big question everyone is asking, George. Did it help or hurt?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, look, you know, mixed reactions because there are some people who are sympathetic for what they heard the other night and others, not so much. But Te'o all along, he insists that he really believed that his girlfriend was real. Then when he realized he was duped, he admitted he doesn't know what to say about that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL (voice-over): Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te'o denied any involvement in the online hoax of a girlfriend never met, a woman we know now never existed.

KATIE COURIC, ABC ANCHOR: Either you are the most naive person on the planet or this is the saddest story ever written. It goes on and on and on, this web of lies.

TE'O: I thought how could this all happen to one person? I had my doubts.

HOWELL: Te'o says he got a phone call in September, telling him his girlfriend dies of cancer and ten in December, before the Heisman Trophy ceremony, another phone call saying she was alive. But Te'o didn't change his story.

COURIC: At the Heisman Trophy ceremony, you were interviewed, and you repeated the story, that your girlfriend had, in fact, died of cancer. That's a lie. Why would you say that?

TE'O: At the time I didn't know. To be honest with you, like, I did not know.

HOWELL: Couric asked for proof of an intimate relationship and Te'o provided phone records, even voice mail.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

"LENNAY KEKUA": Get your rest and I'll talk to you tomorrow. I love you so much and sweet dreams.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

COURIC: You have no idea who the voice on the other end of the phone was. Do you think that might have been a man on the other end of the phone?

TE'O: Well, it didn't sound like a man. It sounded -- it sounded like a woman. But if he somehow made that voice, that's incredible. HOWELL: Te'o says this man, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, called him to admit his part in the hoax. The same man whose voice may have been on those voicemails. He also learned the identity of Lennay Kekua was actually a picture of Diana O'Meara, a 23-year-old marketing executive who never met Te'o. Both Te'o and O'Meara apparently knew Tuiasosopo.

Looking back at the web of confusion, Te'o says his biggest regret is the impact it had on his family.

TE'O: The greatest joy in any child's life is to make your parents proud. The greatest pain is to know that they're experiencing pain because of you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: You know, John, it was the interview that left a lot of people scratching their heads on this one. Te'o did admit that there were signs. He said that, you know, he would try to reach out to his girlfriend to go see her but she would not be available. He tried to Facetime, she could see him, but he could not see her.

So, look, was he duped? Was he part of hoax? He insists that he wasn't. Or was the sort of thing where you want to believe something so badly, that you will believe pretty much anything. Those are the questions people are asking after, John, watching that interview.

BERMAN: George Howell, thanks so much.

This is one of those stories where the questions never go away completely.

All right. And later on "STARTING POINT", the girl behind the face that Manti Te'o thought he was in love with. Diane O'Meara sits down with Soledad. That is in the 8:00 hour of "STARTING POINT."

SAMBOLIN: It is 17 minutes past the hour. Let's get you update. Here is Christine Romans with your top stories.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Baby, it's cold outside! Another day of bitter cold that's gripped much of the nation. Freezing rain, dangerous buildups of ice, forecasts for parts of Tennessee, now Georgia, and the Carolinas. Several inches of snow expected in the Ohio valley and the mid-Atlantic.

A 35-year-old pediatrician was found dead, bound and burned in her Philadelphia home. And police say the exterminator did it. Thirty- six-year-old Jason Smith was arrested and charged in her killing. Detectives say he got into an argument when he was at her house to take care of a rodent problem. Then he strangled her and set the body on fire to hide the crime.

Check out this dash came video of a sheriff's deputy near Orlando, trying to handcuff a shoplifting suspect. The guy spins around, back in the car, and drives off, dragging -- yep, dragging the deputy with him. The deputy dragged about 20 feet before he rolled out of the car, he's OK. The suspect was found later hiding in his own attic. And he is being held without bail right now -- Zoraida and John.

SAMBOLIN: All right. You know what? I'm going to go back to the exterminator story for a minute because that guy never had any criminal history ever before. It was a first, no arrest record whatsoever, not even for driving arrest -- nothing. Absolutely nothing. Never been stopped, and yet he kills this woman when he went over to exterminate.

BERMAN: That's just crazy.

SAMBOLIN: Unbelievable. It scared me to death. Thank you, Christine.

It did, you know, you're constantly calling people, and sometimes you're at home alone, and they come into your home and look at what could potentially be the outcome, yes, allegedly. I should say that, it was allegedly.

All right. Eighteen minutes past the hour. We're getting an "Early Read" on your local news that is making national headlines.

Let's start with the "Santa Fe New Mexican." A Republican state lawmaker Cathrynn Brown has caused a stir with her new abortion bill. Under that bill, a victim of rape or incest could be charged with a felony if she gets an abortion. The measure says that it is tampering with evidence. Brown says that's not what she intended and she is now working, she says, to make it clear that the bill would not actually punish victims. Total head scratcher.

BERMAN: All right. You got to see this story from "The Sun Sentinel" in south Florida. A young man living in a $2.5 million house and he is not paying a dime. He's not crashing at his parents' mansion.

Twenty-two-year-old Andre Barbosa is squatting. The house by the water in Boca Raton is empty, in foreclosure. So, he just moved in. And apparently, police can't boot him, because no one actually saw him break in. But neighbors, right now, they are not one bit happy.

SAMBOLIN: I bet.

BERMAN: So, for an extended look at all of our top story, head to our blog, CNN.com/EarlyStart. You can follow us on Twitter and on Facebook. Just search for "EarlyStartCNN".

Also, you know, Zoraida is @ZoraidaCNN. I'm @JohnSBerman. Follow us on Twitter. It's awesome.

SAMBOLIN: On the Twitter.

So, it isn't a pretty picture. Coming up, federal investigators get to the source of the trouble aboard Boeing's Dreamliner. That's not pretty at all.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: We're minding your business this morning. Twenty-three minutes past the hour. We are expecting a higher open on Wall Street today as investors wait for a report on new home sales. It has Christine very excited. Yesterday, the S&P 500 topped the 1,500 mark only briefly.

BERMAN: And new developments in the Boeing Dreamliner investigation. You know, we saw pictures on the grounded plane in Boston after a fire broke out. Now, the NTSB is giving an even closer look, displaying the remnants of the battery involved.

So, Christine Romans joins us to tell us all about that.

ROMANS: And let's look at that picture of the lithium ion battery inside this Dreamliner plane that was in Boston. I mean, you don't ever want to see something like this about a plane that you have been in. These batteries, lighter, more high tech.

BERMAN: Wow.

ROMANS: They're not like traditional batteries that have been in aircraft before. And the FAA, the NTSB, hundreds of engineers for Boeing, all trying to figure out what went wrong here.

I want you listen to what the NTSB chairwoman said yesterday about that battery.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEBORAH HERSMAN, CHAIRMAN, NTSB: We do not expect to see fire events on board aircrafts. This is a serious air safety concern.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: This is really a disaster averted. You don't want to have a fire in the battery on the plane. They are trying to figure out what caused it. Was the fire overheating caused by something else? Or the overheating of the battery caused the fire?

Boeing is saying this about the investigation. "We're working with this tirelessly in cooperation with our customers and the appropriate regulatory authorities." As I said, hundreds and hundreds of engineers and technical specialists within Boeing were working with the government -- governments across the globe, by the way, to figure out what went wrong.

SAMBOLIN: At least that fleet is grounded for now. So, that's good --

ROMANS: It is.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Yesterday, the talk was all about Apple.

ROMANS: Yes.

SAMBOLIN: All these incredible earnings yes, but the stock fell.

ROMANS: And the stock had a horrible day. I want to show you two big price moves yesterday. You look at Apple down 12 percent.

BERMAN: Wow.

ROMANS: And the big surprise, Netflix up 42 percent. Netflix at the end of the year, apparently, had a lot of new streaming customers and really surprise that they actually had profit.

SAMBOLIN: Wow.

ROMANS: Apple had great profit, but its margins are shrinking a little bit. We like the cheaper products.

Also, Apple revealing that it's stepping up its -- it's stepping its audits of supply chain, finding underage workers, making the products love so much. Apple is saying at least it's trying to audit, keep better control over the supply chain. They're really trying to keep the workweek to 60 hours or less and they don't want children making your products.

BERMAN: Twelve percent is not just a drop. It's a huge drop.

ROMANS: It's a big drop. Stocks not moving this morning. By the way, a lot of people wondering should I buy it? Should I buy it? Should it buy it? The stock is not moving very much. We'll see if it will bounce back or not.

BERMAN: What's the one thing we need to know about your money?

ROMANS: Housing recovering, but mortgage rates are starting to rise, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage, 3.42 percent. Highest reading since September.

BERMAN: Oh, really.

ROMANS: A lot of you, I'm telling to you refinance. Saying wait, wait, wait, wait. They're starting to gun again.

The recent trend is up a little bit. But remember, these rates are still near 40-year lows. But those rates are picking up a little bit. So, keep an eye on that.

SAMBOLIN: Is that the first time you said that?

ROMANS: Really. I mean, there's a couple of times where they gun a little bit, right back out, but now four-month highs for those rates.

SAMBOLIN: I know, refinance or buy.

ROMANS: Free money, geez.

SAMBOLIN: Thanks, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: So, 26 minutes after the hour right now. And Americans sick to their stomachs. A warning from doctors about a bold new norovirus, not -- you know, this really kind of sweeping the nation unfortunately.

Plus, 'Star Wars", the next generation. Disney's reboot now has a high-profile director.

BERMAN: All right.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)