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New Nasty Stomach Bug; New Development in Chandra Levy Case; J.J. Abrams to Direct New Star Wars; Deep Freeze to Hit Southeast; Catholic Hospital: Fetuses Aren't People

Aired January 25, 2013 - 06:30   ET



ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Frozen on a Friday. An ice storm threatens travel across the Southeast.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: New questions about Chandra Levy's murder. This was such a big story. Now, more than a decade later, a judge looking closer at the case.

SAMBOLIN: So, what's worse than snakes on the plane?

BERMAN: I don't think there's anything worse than snakes on the plane.

SAMBOLIN: Really? How about 1,600 crocodiles loose by a school? How about that?

BERMAN: That's a little worse.

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. We're going to have that for you and so much.

I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. It is Friday, January 25th. It is 31 minutes after the hour right now.

And down South, they are bracing for impact from this arctic cold. Snow, dangerous ice expected across the Southeast. As this weather system moves in.

And take a look at out West. Freezing rain forced the runways at Salt Lake City's international airport to shut down for a time yesterday. It's a mess everywhere.

Jennifer Delgado is live in Nashville, Tennessee, where they're getting ready. Hey, Jennifer.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi there, John. Hi, Zoraida. And you're right. We are getting ready. You can see the salt trucks that are coming through. And they have plenty of salt to choose from.

Now, over the last half hour and 45 minutes, really haven't seen any rain or freezing rain. But if you look at the ground, they are wet. That means motorists -- they're going out there this morning, the threat for black ice and, of course, icy roads are going to be great because we have been seeing rain.

In fact, as we go to the radar, we're starting to see more developing to the east of Nashville and we're also seeing more starting to the reignite to the West. So, this threat is going to last looks like through about 10:00 a.m. That's when those temperatures are still going to be well below freezing.

Now, joining us now is Burel Tidwell. And he is with the Tennessee Department of Transportation. This man knows everything to know about salt, brine and how to keep motorists safe out there.

And, Burel, can you tell us, what are you doing out there right now to make sure that things are under control?

BUREL TIDWEL, SUPT., TN DEPT. OF TRANSPORTATION: We're out on standing by at all the major intersections and trouble spot to make sure we don't get any black ice. If we do, we're ready to take care of it.

DELGADO: You know, Nashville, you get a lot of traffic around here.

TIDWELL: Yes, we do.

DELGADO: I'm sure it gets pretty congested. So, what is something that motorists can do to ask for help in addition with the road crews out there?

TIDWELL: Be careful. Watch out for overpasses, bridges, and black ice. If you do see us out there salting, give us a little room and kind of stay back away from our trucks.

DELGADO: OK. So, this salt is helping to keep people alive, by getting it down there and kind of lowering the freezing part.

But you also do another part of this step of prepping the roads.

TIDWELL: We put out brine, which is basically liquid salt, to keep precipitation from sticking to the roadway and makes it easier to get off.

DELGADO: So, so far, you got a pretty quiet winter and I guess that's why we're seeing so much salt over there. Any concern of shortage possible?

TIDWELL: No, we shouldn't have any shortages. I think it will be a mild winter, so we ought to be in good shape.

DELGADO: All right. Well, thank you, Burel. And, of course, we'll continue to follow the freezing rain event. Keep in mind for areas of eastern Tennessee, they're going to see the greater chance for some more ice accumulation. Some parts could see a quarter of an inch in the same parts of northeastern Georgia.

When you get a quarter inch or more, you see the threat for power lines to come down as well as trees, looking at about a tenth of an inch. Don't let that fool you. It's enough to make you slide on the road.

Zoraida and John, are you enjoying yourself in the warm studio?

BERMAN: It's so very nice here.


BERMAN: It's so very nice. Thank you, Jennifer Delgado, in Nashville. And thanks for the brining lesson.

SAMBOLIN: I know. I had no idea. I'm from the Midwest and I never heard of laying brine.

BERMAN: We brine turkeys sometimes at Thanksgiving. Now you can brine the roads, tastes as just as good apparently.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thirty-four minutes past the hour. If you're having breakfast, please forgive me.

As if the flu outbreak isn't enough, the CDC says a new strain of norovirus has reached the United States from Australia. According to the CDC, the bug accounted for 58 percent of last month's stomach flu cases. This is why I'm apologizing here because it causes nausea, forceful vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is in Atlanta for us.

Berman lived through this actually around the holidays. He actually got the norovirus. Why is this particular bug so bad?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know what, this year, Zoraida, it is a perfect storm for norovirus, what many of us call the stomach flu. It's not really a stomach flu. It is just a horrible stomach virus that makes you miserable for several days.

So, let's talk about the three things that make this a perfect storm. First of all, this a brand new virus. It's called Sidney 2012 because we saw it in Australia last year. It means that we haven't had a chance to build up any kind of immunity. It's new to us. That's not good.

It's highly contagious. With norovirus, you just need a couple of little pieces of that virus, a couple of little spores, and you are really sick.

And also, here's another thing, a lot of people are symptom-free, but they have norovirus, and they are still contagious. So, they don't even know they are sick, they're walking around making the rest of us sick -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Sounds really nasty. How can we avoid it?

COHEN: You know, it's hard to avoid. This bug is so contagious. But there's a couple of things you can do. First, wash your hands like you've got OCD basically. Wash your hands a lot. And don't just use sanitizer. People think I will just use sanitizer and that's it. Use sanitizer, that's fine. But don't let it substitute for soap and water, which really does the best job with norovirus.

Another thing is, is that remember, even after you are feeling better, you can still spread the virus for quite a while. So, after you've recovered, don't cook for other people. Or if you do, be really careful, because you can still spread it.

SAMBOLIN: You know what happened in John's house is that all the adults got it. They were all having dinner. But luckily the children didn't get it, because I could imagine that could be a real problem for dehydration. It lasted only 24 hours.

So, here's my big question. When will we see an end to all of this?

COHEN: Well, you know, norovirus usually peaks in January. So, hopefully, in the next couple of weeks, we'll start to se this taper off in a couple of weeks.

SAMBOLIN: Good. All right. Elizabeth Cohen, live for us in Atlanta -- our senior medical correspondent -- thank you for that. Appreciate it.

BERMAN: Thanks for bringing my home medical history on TV. It's great.

SAMBOLIN: Well, you shared it. It was really nasty too, folks.

BERMAN: It was bad enough the first time. So, now, we've got to share it with America.


BERMAN: All right. Thirty-six minutes after the hour right. Taking a look at the top trends on this morning.

This is a murder mystery that turned Washington, D.C. upside down. This is 2001. I was there. It was nuts.

Now, a brand new development in the Chandra Levy murder case. "The Washington Post" reporting defense attorneys want a retrial. They say prosecutors withheld important information about a witness. We don't know which witness is involved, but defense attorneys say the government already had the information during the trial.

Thirty-year-old Ingmar Guandique who is El Salvadoran who is in the U.S. illegally, or was, is serving a 60-year sentence after being convicted of first-degree murder back in 2010.

SAMBOLIN: OK. Crocodiles on the loose? Are we going to see them? It's in South Africa. Some 1,500 crocodiles escaped from a reptile farm this week -- after it was flooded. About half have been recaptured. One was located 75 miles away on a high school rugby field. Officials say they use to be just a few crocs in Limpopo River, one of the country's largest, and now, there are apparently a lot.

BERMAN: Yes. So much for a flu outbreak. There's a crocodile outbreak in South Africa.

All right. This maybe the best news of the year. First, "Star Trek", now, "Star Wars". Reports say Disney has J.J. Abrams to direct the first film in their "Star Wars" sequel.

SAMBOLIN: Such a geek.

BERMAN: No, it's not geeky. This is important.

Abrams is also directing the new "Star Trek" film, the second one, "Into Darkness", is due out in May. So, "Star Wars Episode VII" will fallow "Return of the Jedi" in the "Star Wars" chronology. It is expected to be released in 2015.

I think we're all hoping it's better than the whole one through three thing was with the "Phantom Menace," that debacle. This could be a little better with J.J. Abrams at the helm.

SAMBOLIN: And I know that we're going to follow this story closely.

BERMAN: We're assigning several people to it, some of our best people be on this 24 hours a day.

SAMBOLIN: All right.

Thirty-eight minutes past the hour, folks. Excuse me. The Catholic Church says that life begins at conception. But in a new court case, the church seems to be contradicting the assertion. We'll hear from a church spokesperson live, coming up.

BERMAN: Plus, the chase is on with the robbery suspect vent on trying to get away at all costs.

Also, the revolution in Egypt, it's two years later now. We're going to live to Cairo to Tahrir Square for a look today. And there is some new tension there.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Soledad O'Brien joins us now with a look at what is ahead on "STARTING POINT."


A push for a federal ban on assault rifles could face an uphill battle, with opposition on both sides of Congress. We're going to bring you the latest on that.

Yesterday, we heard from Manti Te'o. Today, we talk to the face of the girlfriend hoax. Diane O'Meara is going to join us. And we'll tell you about a diet. How you guys doing on your New Year's resolution.

SAMBOLIN: I need to lose 10 pounds.

O'BRIEN: Really? Well, this is a great book. Number one on "The New York Times" bestseller list, "Shred: Revolutionary Diet." Dr. Ian Smith has written it and he'll tell us how, he says, you can lose four inches, two sizes, six weeks.

SAMBOLIN: Great. Sign me up.

O'BRIEN: Then we have Cory Booker, once again, coming to the rescue. And super hero or is he the mayor of Newark, New Jersey? He saves the day once again. And we have to ask if this means he's jumping the shark. Enough with rescuing people, Cory.

We'll tell you what happened in that story. That's actually very cute.

BERMAN: I don't think Frank Lautenberg thinks he's a super hero.

And the notion you have to lose 10 pounds is ludicrous, by the way. But let's leave that there.

O'BRIEN: I do.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you very much. I will be paying attention, Soledad. I appreciate it.

BERMAN: Forty-three minutes after the hour. We're going to go overseas. Live pictures to look at in Tahrir Square, where protesters and some violence have return this morning as Egypt marks the two year anniversary of their revolution. Two years now. You will remember the world was watching when thousands took to Tahrir Square to protest what they called dire living conditions, corruption and police brutality. This led to the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.

But there are critics who say they replaced one dictator with another. So, two years later, we'll ask this -- how much has changed?

CNN's Reza Sayah is live near Tahrir Square in Cairo. And, Reza, you know, we've been seeing some pictures. It looks like there's some activity going on in Tahrir Square. It looks like more people headed there.

Give us a sense of what's going on because it looks like just a tiny bit chaotic.

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, there are some clashes taking place, but it's important to point out that they're not widespread.

A few streets away from Tahrir Square, there's a road that leads to the Interior Ministry. Police have erected a barricade with concrete blocks and what you have is one side, about 40 or 50 protesters. They look like teenagers who were throwing rocks. On the other side, you have police are responding by firing teargas and sometimes police are throwing rocks as well, which is a strategy that's probably not in the police handbook.

A few blocks away, you have you Tahrir Square, much more calm, not a lot people there, about 3,000 protesters have gathered. We're expecting more people to come as Friday prayers has ended.

It's hard to believe that it was two years ago that an uprising here in Egypt led to the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak and it all started here in Tahrir Square, really the heart of the Arab Spring, where Egyptians gathered and said enough with an oppressive dictatorship. We want our personal freedoms, our political freedoms, jobs, a better way of life, and an end to the Mubarak regime.

Incredibly, Mubarak was ousted. However, two years later, not all Egyptians are happy. The people protesting in Tahrir today are the secularists, the moderates, the liberals who claim that current president, Mohamed Morsi, and his supporters, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Islamists have hijacked the revolution and the principles of the revolution.

So, two years later, John, we have a divided country, a country that's in a state of flux, but nonetheless, moving forward with their version of democracy, John.

BERMAN: All right. Reza Sayah in Tahrir Square. I have to say, police saying -- police throwing rocks seems like a little bit of combustible strategy right now in a somewhat chaotic scene. Reza Sayah in Cairo, thank you very much this morning.

SAMBOLIN: It is 45 minutes past the hour. The arctic air mass about to settle in over the southeastern United States. The same system that's gripped about a third of the country. Snow, ice, and freezing rain are expected in the Carolinas, in Tennessee, in Georgia, and that could spell trouble for all of you air travelers this morning.

Hundreds of flights have already been canceled. If you're at the airport, we're very sorry. If you're on your way, check first. And this morning, commuters in Nashville are being warned don't travel if you don't have to. There's a lot of black ice out there.

BERMAN: Police in Atlanta say a man drove drunk for 15 miles and slammed his pickup truck into at least 17 other vehicles along the way. A passenger in one of those vehicles was killed. This epic hit and run finally ended when a pickup crashed into a restaurant. Seventy-year-old Michael Snyder (ph) was not seriously hurt. He is now in jail without bond.

SAMBOLIN: And check out this police chase. This is Albuquerque. A man driving a stolen SUV does a 360-degree turn right in the middle of the road. Later, he's blowing right through stop signs, crisscrossing medians. He's going the wrong way. He nearly hit a school bus and some pedestrians.

We are happy to report no one was hurt, and he, eventually, pulled over. Look at him right there. He is going to get out of that truck and hit the ground. Very smart.

BERMAN: One lucky guy. I don't know how smart he is --

SAMBOLIN: Smart to do that, because he's in big trouble.


BERMAN: All right. So, her record at the post office in Detroit puts Cal Ripken to shame. Debra Ford (ph) retired this week after 44 years without ever calling in sick, not once. Not once. That's just shy of 11,000 workdays. I mean, Ripken has got nothing on that. So, how did she do it?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why didn't you ever take a sick day?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, in 44 years, you've never been sick?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Minor instances. You shake it off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We take sick days when we feel --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You feel better when you get there, though.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no. You never feel better when you get there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your mother told you that. You feel better when you get there.



BERMAN: I was never sick. So, Debra Ford (ph) says the key to achieving perfect attendance is having a positive attitude, which clearly she has. Congratulations to her.

SAMBOLIN: And coming up, as Catholic Church going against its own teachings about conception and human life as it tries to defend itself a against a lawsuit. It is a fascinating case, and we are going to talk to Bill Donohue from the Catholic League all about this, coming up.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Fifty-one minutes past the hour. Is a fetus a person? According to the Catholic Church, the answer is yes. They have gone as far as fighting federal and state laws to protect fetuses, but a catholic hospital in Colorado has won a wrongful death lawsuit by arguing a dead fetus and a dead person are not the same.

At issue, a woman who was seven months pregnant with twins. She had a massive heart attack in St. Thomas More Hospital and she died. Her husband filed a wrongful death lawsuit, arguing the obstetrician and staff should have performed an emergency cesarean section to save the twins. Now, the man, Jeremy Studgehill (ph), is asking the state Supreme Court to consider this case.

Colorado law says the hospital is not liable, but what does the church doctrine say? So, joining me now is Bill Donohue. He's the president of the Catholic League. This is a really tough one because you have the doctrine of the church, but then you have Colorado law which says that a fetus is not a human being. How do you argue that?

BILL DONOHUE, PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC LEAGUE: Look, the civil courts can do whatever they want. I understand what Colorado law is, but the fact of the matter is, Catholic Church is driven by natural law. Catholic Church says natural law trumps the civil law. We know that life begins at conception. That's when a DNA and all the properties that make us human begin.

For the Catholic Church now to say we're going to hide under this (INAUDIBLE) of civil law, because the lawyers say they're going to save us money, then they're acting like harlots, quite frankly. And then, they want to just shut down. I hope they get -- I hope the hospital gets stripped of its catholic status, because you can't have it both ways.

Jesus said the worst thing you can provide to the faithful is scandal. What he meant by that is to create confusion and doubt in the minds of the faithful. Never mind non-Catholics will be confused over this. Catholics themselves are going to be outraged if the Catholic Church doesn't speak up on this.

SAMBOLIN: So, Mr. Donohue, are you suggesting then that the catholic hospital should have said, we're just going to go ahead and settle this and we are not going to follow the law? We are not going to defend ourselves in this particular case?

DONOHUE: That's exactly right.

SAMBOLIN: That's precedent setting, right, isn't it?

DONOHUE: So what? I mean, what are the choices in life? I mean, you're a Catholic solution institution, you either are faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church or you're a harlot. Now, quite frankly, they can't have it both ways. They would just shutdown as far as I'm concerned. If you can't go along with the faithful -- look, are you driven by the lawyers? Who's weighing the ship?

The mission of the Catholic Church is to serve every human being regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation from concept to natural death. For them to play a game now to save money because the lawyers are advising them you got covered by Colorado civil law is not something that's going to sit well with Catholics.

SAMBOLIN: I know that the bishops are taking closer look at this. I believe that what they say is that this was the first that they're finding out about this. A, do you believe that, and B, do you have any insight into that? DONOHUE: It probably is the first. Certainly, I wouldn't know about this. But look, there are a number of catholic hospitals and institutions who've been playing a little footsie games with the law over the years on abortion and other things. The bishops have to look at this issue very seriously. I think they will do the right thing. You can't have it both ways.

SAMBOLIN: What is the right thing then?

DONOHUE: The right thing is that you have to come up with a settlement. Colorado law is not going to tell a catholic institution that you can't settle. I'm sure they'll be able to come up with a settlement. What they can't do is to hide under the cloak of civil law, and say I'm sorry, we're still pro-life, but you know what?

You're not really a person when you're a fetus, because we're just hiding under Colorado civil law. If that's the case, then they made a mockery of catholic teaching and they should be stripped of their catholicity.

SAMBOLIN: When you look at things like contraception and the position that they've taken that -- hospitals have taken, it kind of contradicts that. So, in this particular case, when you look at the law, right, because when it's contraception, that's one thing, but this is actually the law, and so, I find this one a conundrum.

DONOHUE: The Catholic Church is always fighting laws. Here in New York State, we're fighting against Governor Cuomo who wants to bring in non-physicians to treat women who want an abortion. So, the Catholic Church does not just simply take its dictates from civil law. As I say, it takes its dictate from natural law.

We know in our hearts what is right. And they can't -- as far as I'm concerned, it's not as difficult as some people may want to make it out to be. There's not a whole lot of wiggle room if you're truly catholic.

SAMBOLIN: I think in the past also, a catholic hospital has been stripped, right, because of issues like this as well.

DONOHUE: That's right.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Mr. Donohue, thank you so much for joining us and bringing your passion with you this morning. Appreciate that. John, back to you.

BERMAN: Thanks so much. So, just ahead on "STARTING POINT", Soledad talking to the face at the center of the Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax, Diane O'Meara. Stay with us.


BERMAN: Just a few minutes left.

SAMBOLIN: We wrap it up as always with "Best Advice." Here's Christine. CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And the advice today comes from one of the stars of VH1's "Mob Wives," Ramona Rizzo.


RAMONA RIZZO, "MOB WIVES": The best advice I ever received probably would be something that's helped me in the past year or so. If you didn't hear anything with your own ears, just learn to ignore it, because a lot of people like to stir the pot and cause trouble.

And you know what, that's what I'm teaching my girls, because it will get you less aggravated, less issues, less drama, and it will (ph) just make you keep smiling. So, just try to clean your ears of all the nonsense, and the less you don't hear with your own ears, make like a statue.


ROMANS: But if you hear with your own ears from us, it is true.


ROMANS: You can still listen to that.

SAMBOLIN: I was actually watching them, and they were getting all excited because somebody said something about somebody that they didn't hear.


SAMBOLIN: So, I don't know about that best advice.

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

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