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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

New Nasty Stomach Bug!; Deep Freeze; Firefighters Rush To Save "Mango"; Two-Year Anniversary Of Egypt Unrest; Seeking New Chandra Levy Trial; Squatting In A $2.5 Million Mansion; Plane Battery "Spewed Molten Electrolytes"; Women In Combat; "Shred: The Revolutionary Diet"

Aired January 25, 2013 - 07:30   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: And then a little bit later this morning, Dr. Ian Smith has a new book. It's called "The Shred Revolutionary Diet." He says you can lose four inches, two sizes, six weeks. I guess I shouldn't have had a candy bar for breakfast this morning.

RICHARD SOCARIDES, WRITER, NEWYORKER.COM: Right, not eating those candy bars you like in the morning.

O'BRIEN: Well, you know, if you probably tell me I can't do that.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That's without having a baby, right?

O'BRIEN: Also this morning, nothing is worse than having someone described the details of a sickness that they had, but apparently this stomach bug going around, is a new strain of the Norovirus.

The CDC says that from here to Australia, it is causing nausea, forceful vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, I know, I'm sorry, it's gross. But this is how people identify whether or not they have this thing.

Our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, is in Atlanta. Why is this one so nasty this time around, Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know what, Soledad? It is the perfect storm for this particular stomach bug. So let's go over the three things that make this one really bad.

First of all, this particular strain, so new, it's called the Sydney 2012. It was first spotted in Sydney just last year that means that we're not immune to it. Our bodies haven't seen it before. So it comes on with full force and also highly contagious.

You just need one or two particles of this virus to get you sick. And a lot of people get this illness, they are contagious, but symptom free. They are not sick, but they are running around making the rest of us sick.

O'BRIEN: That's so disgusting. You know how I feel about those people. Elizabeth Cohen for us this morning. Thank you, Elizabeth. Listen, she and I agree on the Purell thing. John Berman has got a look at some of the other stories that are making news today. Good morning.

JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": Good morning, Soledad. The southeast getting a dose of the deep freeze today with snow, freezing rain and dangerous ice expected from the Carolinas to Tennessee even farther south.

Drivers in Nashville this morning are being told don't travel if you don't have to. Out west, the rare sight of freezing rain storm forced the runways at Salt Lake City's international airport to shut down for a time.

And big kudos to a group of firefighters in Portland, Oregon, they rescued a dog who was stuck out in the ice on a frozen lake, about 40 feet from shore. It took a little while to reach Mango, but Mango is now safe and sound.

This just in to CNN, live pictures from Tahrir Square where at least 29 people have now been injured during clashes between protesters and police. This as Egypt marks the two-year anniversary of their revolution.

The world watched as thousands took to Tahrir Square to protest what they call dire living conditions, corruption and police brutality. Now two years later, Egypt has a new leader, but how much has really changed?

CNN's Reza Sayah is live near Tahrir Square in Cairo. Reza, tell us what's going on there right now?

CNN REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, clashes taking place at this hour. Earlier clashes took place as well, 29 people injured, minor injuries, mostly cuts and bruises according to the health ministry, it's important not to blow these clashes out of proportions.

What we have is a street a few blocks away from Tahrir Square that leads to the interior ministry. Police have erected a barrier, we have police on one side, protesters throwing rocks, and on the other side police responding by firing teargas, sometimes police are throwing rocks as well, which is probably not a tactic they didn't learned at the police academy.

A few blocks away, Tahrir Square mostly calm and ordinarily. Crowds not huge at this point, but they are starting to grow a few thousand people in Tahrir Square at this hour. Of course, it was two years ago, when Egyptians started an uprising that led to the toppling of then President Hosni Mubarak.

These were protesters who came to Tahrir Square and other locations in Egypt and they said enough with an oppressive dictatorship. We want our personal freedom, political freedom, a better way of life and we want an end to the Mubarak regime.

Eventually Mubarak did step down. Two years later though, many Egyptians are not happy. What you're having in Tahrir Square throughout the day today, the secularist, the moderates, liberals who claim, John, that current President Mohamed Morsy and his supporters, the Muslim Brotherhood have hijacked the revolution.

BERMAN: In Cairo this morning where so many Egyptians two years later just want some stability back in their lives. Thanks very much, Reza.

So it is a murder mystery that turned Washington, D.C. upside down and now a brand new development in the Shandra Ledy murder. This was such a big deal. Now more than 10 years later, the "Washington Post" reports that defense attorneys want a retrial.

They say prosecutors withheld important information about a witness. We don't know which one, but defense attorneys say the government had the information during trial. The 30-year-old Igmar Guandique of Salvador and who was in the U.S. illegally is serving a 60-year sentence after being convicted of first degree murder back in 2010.

A 23-year-old man living in a $2.5 million mansion by the water in Boca Raton, Florida, and he is not paying a dime. Andre Barbosa is doing some very posh squatting, very posh. So this house was in foreclosure and empty. He moved in. Police say they can't boot him, because no one saw him break in, and the neighbors not one bit happy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Walking into a house? That's crazy, and the point of not being able to get him out is even crazier.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So Florida law apparently allows the squatter to move in, claim the title. He needs to stay there seven years, pay the property taxes and hope the owner, Bank of America in this case, forgets about the place. I'm no lawyer. That sounds a little sketchy.

So, you know, we have some pretty tough interviews here on STARTING POINT, but nothing quite like this. A local reporter goes into an animal pen. See what happens.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From the Manatee County Fair, Linda Carson, ABC 7. Would you not eat my pants?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: All right, can we see that again about 100 times?

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Not quite the same without the wonderful scream.

BERMAN: So that ABC's Linda Carlson. She was at the Manatee County Fair reporting a story about kids who raise goats. The news here she was completely, completely fine. She was laughing about it, which is why we can show it again and again and again and again and again and rejoice in its overall awesomeness.

O'BRIEN: I have to agree with Will. It's the audio makes the story.

ROMANS: And the smile on her face when she gets at the end.

O'BRIEN: All right, John, thank you.

We're learning a little bit more this morning about problems with Boeing's batteries that the NTSB investigation is focused on. Christine Romans with a look on that. Richard Quest is in Davos to explain a little about that as well. So Christine, why don't you start with me.

ROMANS: So we can see the picture of this charred battery on a Boston plane. The NTSB, giving us an up close and personal look at the battery involved in that fire that took place in Boston earlier this month. No battery should look like this.

The NTSB is trying to get to the bottom of an engineering mystery. Remember, the FAA allowed Boeing to use lithium ion batteries. The light fuel-efficient plane is supposed to save airlines a ton of money on long-haul flights.

But right now, there are no Dreamliners in the air. As Boeing, it says, quote, "we're working this issue tirelessly in cooperation with customers and the appropriate regulatory and investigative authorities.

They've say they've got hundreds of people, engineers and technicians looking into this. But it is still a mystery. Yesterday, the NTSB laying out this charred battery, showing reporters just exactly what they are digging into.

O'BRIEN: That was a quite a little press conference they held yesterday. Richard Quest is in Davos, beautiful behind you. Tell us about the presser? It was pretty remarkable. As Christine pointed out the battery charred, on the table.

RICHARD QUEST, CNNI BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: The pictures are absolutely remarkable of what the battery looked like and not only that, but also the damage that took place to the electronics bay at the same time when that fire broke out. But the serious part in all of this is what the NTSB Chairman Debra Herdsman said.

She basically made it clear there had been a fire, sign of a thermal runaway this is when the battery starts getting so hot it keeps getting hotter, which gets hotter and hotter, U.S. a destructive force and went on to say there had been evidence of molten electrolytes spewing out from the battery.

Two incidents like this, she says two fires or two incidents with the lithium ion battery. That's why this is so serious. Take a listen to the chairman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DEBORAH HERSMAN, CHAIRMAN, NTSB: We know the lithium ion battery experienced a thermal runaway. We know that there were short circuits and we know that there was a fire. The work that we continue to do will tell us why these things happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: Now, it is the seriousness of that that is, of course, called the question -- called the whole Dreamliner into question and its safety. And that's why Boeing and the NTSB, now at least four investigations in different parts of the U.S., and in Japan, looking at those batteries, and crucially there is no date yet for the return of Dreamliners into service.

O'BRIEN: That's kind of a big story right there. Richard quest, thank you. Appreciate the update.

Ahead this morning, the ban on women in combat has been lifted. Is it a safe plan? Is the military ready? We're going to talk to Marine Captain Zoe Bedell as well as author and Professor Kingsley Browne, two people with very different opinions on whether women should be serving in combat position for the military. That's straight ahead. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: There's been some widespread praise, but also some criticism this morning over a new decision allowing women to fight on the front lines in military combat roles. We'll take a look at both sides of the issue this morning.

Kingsley Browne is the author of "Co-ed Combat." It's a book about why women should not serve on the front lines. And Marine Captain Zoe Bedell has served two deployments in Afghanistan. She is one of four female veterans that sued the Pentagon last November to try to end the ban on women in combat.

It's nice to have both of you with us. We're going to begin with Kingsley if I can. Why are you against this? I know you don't think women should be serving in combat positions. Why not?

KINGSLEY BROWNE, AUTHOR, "CO-ED COMBAT": No, I don't. One of the problems obviously is the physical problem. Everybody recognizes that there is really very little overlap in physical capacity between men and women.

And the -- the announcement says that as long as women can meet the applicable qualifications, well, the military has never been willing to impose rigorous -- the same rigorous physical requirements on women as they do on men.

So the question is if this is a gender neutral standard, in order to get any significant number of women to pass the standard will have to be reduced.

O'BRIEN: I understand -- I'll stop through if you don't mind. I understand that everyone says it would give everyone an opportunity to try to meet those standards, before I get to Zoe, she has a lot of experience in this clearly. You said physical differences and also said psychological differences between men and women. What do you mean?

BROWNE: Well, there are quite a number of -- average differences. It's not that there's no overlap. Men are substantially more inclined to take physical risks to expose themselves to the risk of harm, more physically aggressive. That is, willing to impose violence on strangers and so those things are obviously things that are relevant in ground combat, primarily what we're talking about.

O'BRIEN: Let me stop through, I want to bring in Zoe. You heard about the physical limitations of women, and psychologically too. You were part of this lawsuit. So do you think he's wrong?

CAPTAIN ZOE BEDELL, U.S. MARINE CORPS RESERVEE: Well, there certainly are physical differences and some women can't do the job, just like some men can't do the job. We're looking for an opportunity for everyone to try to meet the standards.

I don't think the military does have a history of lowering the standards. That will be suggesting that the military as we have now is not up to the fight and I think we have ten years of experience that suggest the opposite.

Again, and for the sort of mental attitudes, ten years of experience suggest women are volunteering to go join the military, to serve in Afghanistan and Iraq and are doing a good job while they are there.

O'BRIEN: So Kingsley, back to you. There are 200,000 women active in the military. Do you think women don't want the opportunity to serve combat roles?

BROWNE: Well, most surveys show a lot of women don't. Most men don't either. The likely number of women who will be interested and will qualify is very small. It will lead to pressure to reduce standards.

O'BRIEN: Let me stop you there. You said it will lead to sort of the military changing the rules, lessening the rules to get the number of women up. If women can't make the standard, you believe the military will drop the standard. Where are you getting that from?

BROWNE: The military now imposes substantially lower standards on women than men. Men are required to do three times as many push ups as women, required to run faster. A 20-year-old woman can be slower and weaker than a 50-year-old man in terms of the physical fitness test.

So the standards are very different right now. So the question, whether you will impose the same rigorous standards on men and women for example, for infantry, and the British Ministry of Defense found 1 in 1,000 female recruits and 1 in 100 female trained soldiers have the capacity of infantry and armor.

O'BRIEN: Doesn't that make the point -- well, let's get back to Zoe. Then wouldn't that be the tiny fraction of women who would be able to meet the standard --

BEDELL: Exactly. I mean, we are not asking for a quota. We are not asking for set number of women in jobs. We want the opportunity to compete, and the other thing, the standards that women are meeting are necessary to do the job, and that's what we're asking people to evaluate. What is necessary to do the job and give everyone a chance to compete for it.

CAIN: So it seems like there's two debates going on. One is over the physical limitations or standards, the conversation we're having right now. The other is over this concept of unit cohesion, that somehow a fighting force is more effective when it's cohesive. And the argument is that a fighting force of all men is better able to bond. You introduce a woman into it, you just introduce extraneous things such sexual attraction, sexual harassment.

O'BRIEN: Sex, period.

CAIN: Is there not merit to that argument?

BEDELL: No. There's not. It's all about leadership and frankly, those are the same arguments that people made when we were integrating the military, looking at the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," all of those units still working, very strong.

And the question is, are -- are you leading the unit? Are you meeting a mission? Training everyone to the same standards? Women are already in units, again, this is not a new concept. Women are already serving in these units and they are doing a very good job.

O'BRIEN: Kingsley, last quick question. I'll read from the colonel. The army is not a sociological laboratory to be effective, but as we organize, train according to the principles, which will ensure success, experiments, are a danger to efficiency, discipline, moral and would result in ultimate defeat. Is this essentially what you are saying?

BROWNE: I think it's true with respect to ultimate defeat of the United States in a war, I think it's likely to occur is the defeat of the United States in small battles which means people will die.

Now, we're talking about sex, and it was sort of disputed that there was going to be -- sexual distractions, but large numbers of women fail to deploy because of pregnancy. Something caused that pregnancy and my guess it was sex. It was a --

O'BRIEN: I want to go back to that quote I read you. That was a guy in 1941, and that argument was about not allowing black people in the military. That was his exact argument of why blacks should not be allowed in the military because it's a danger to efficiency, discipline and morale and will result in ultimate defeat. Sounds like --

BROWNE: Well, that's a pretty weak analogy though, because race and sex are different. Race is, of course, biological. That's why black parents have white children. O'BRIEN: Same argument, though.

BROWNE: But the reason for the exclusion of blacks had nothing to do with the biological differences. It had everything to do with the social construction we put on them, the view of white superiority and racial inferiority --

O'BRIEN: Cohesion of the unit.

BROWNE: Segregated -- segregated schools, segregated bathrooms, segregated drinking fountains.

O'BRIEN: Cohesion of the unit.

BROWNE: No one thinks segregation of bathrooms by sex is wrong or that it's wrong that we have a women's NBA, that's not apartheid, so the argument about race is different from the argument about sex.

O'BRIEN: It's the same argument about cohesion. It's exactly the time argument about cohesion.

BROWNE: Except you could get -- blacks and whites interact the way they do because that's the way they've learned.

O'BRIEN: In 1941, that was the argument. I'm out of time so I have to stop the conversation here so forgive me for interrupting you, but we will continue this conversation, because obviously it's something that people are still arguing over. Appreciate your time, both of you, thanks for being with us.

All right, still ahead this morning, we want to drop two sizes in six weeks? Not really, but for those of you who do, if you tried all these other diets and failed there's a new plan to help you shed weight and keep it off. The "New York Times" best selling diet, we're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: So we're 25 days into the New Year. Have you already broken your resolution to lose some weight? Dr. Ian Smith can get you back on track. He has a new book, which is number one on the "New York Times" bestseller list right now. It's called "Shred, The Revolutionary Diet" says you could lose six weeks, four inches, two sizes. Dr. Smith is with us this morning. It's nice to have you.

DR. IAN SMITH, AUTHOR, "SHRED: THE REVOLUTIONARY DIET": Good to be here.

O'BRIEN: What is the philosophy behind this diet?

SMITH: The philosophy is meal spacing. You eat every three to four hours, four meals a day, three snacks, gives your metabolism keeps your metabolism revved up, diet confusion, where you change the type of food that you eat and the volume to keep your metabolism revved so you're not always eating the same food. O'BRIEN: Well, I don't feel like I have to lose any weight, but if you were to do a diet could you lose weight and not have to bother going to the gym?

SMITH: Well, listen, people have lost weight on shred, 5,000 people, those who lost the most weight were exercising. If you want to maximize weight loss and beyond that live longer and be healthier, you need to have physical movement about 35 minutes four days a week.

O'BRIEN: People fall off diets all the time.

SMITH: They do, 80 percent of people who stay on diet four weeks and then fall off. This is about making lifestyle changes people love. You eat good healthy, regular food, you don't always eat perfectly. You can have bacon and pancakes for breakfast.

O'BRIEN: I had a candy bar this morning.

SOCARIDES: We witnessed that.

SMITH: People say they love the plan because it is realistic. I don't ever ask people to eat perfectly because I don't eat perfectly. I ask you on balance to eat better not perfect and people love that.

SOCARIDES: How do you maintain a good attitude about a diet, right attitude is a big part of in?

SMITH: Sure, the way to maintain a good attitude you're incorporating something into your life not for the short term, but you're going to eat a piece of fruit every morning for breakfast, you'll have a smaller dinner rather than huge steak and potatoes.

If you realize incorporating this benefits not just you but your family and the benefits are outrageous you'll stay on the program. Shred delivers very fast results but not just for the short term, for the long-term.

O'BRIEN: Can you use this diet if you're diabetic?

SMITH: Diabetic, vegetarians, vegans because it's flexible. While every meal is spelled out for you for six weeks, you also have options if you medical conditions or preferences to substitute.

BERMAN: How much fast food can I eat?

SMITH: I'm not against fast food. I'm not going to say no because fast food places have some healthy stuff. You can have burgers on the program. Can you have it every day? Absolutely not and you shouldn't want it everybody. There's a lot of processed foods are not good for you.

O'BRIEN: He's a big runner though so maybe he could have it every day.

SMITH: You couldn't run off 3,000 calories a day, unless you run around Manhattan twice, no disrespect to you. BERMAN: Ruin my morning.

O'BREIN: Dr. Ian Smith, the book is called "Shred, Revolutionary Diet: Six Weeks, Four Inches, Two Sizes." It's nice to have you with us.>

Bundle up before you head out today. The deep cold is sticking around. It's affecting flights too. We'll tell you about that.>

O'BRIEN: And he has so far rescued his neighbors from burning buildings and helped folks shovel heavy snow. Newark Mayor Cory Booker doing it again, he saves man's best friend. We'll tell you what happened, that's ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, it's going from bad to worse, ice, snow, freezing rain adding to the bitter cold and causing some big problems. Schools closed, flights canceled.

Also this morning, the new GOP Reince Priebus fights to keep his job. Can he reinvigorate his party?

BERMAN: And she is the face of the Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax. Diana O'Meara is here and reacting to Te'O's big interview.

And Matt Damon's revenge, after years of getting bumped by Jimmy Kimmel the star bites back and it's hilarious.

ROMANS: New hope for a stronger economy in housing, new numbers about to be released plus interest rates are on the move. I've got everything you need to know.

O'BRIEN: Coming up this hour, Mel Martinez, former senator from Florida and former RNC chairman and Hugh Panaro and Sierra Boggess, stars of "Phantom of the Opera," which (inaudible) a big milestone. We'll tell you about that. It's Friday, January 25 and STARTING POINT begins right now.