Return to Transcripts main page


March for Gun Control; Norovirus on the Rise; SAG Awards Tomorrow

Aired January 26, 2013 - 16:00   ET


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN ANCHOR: It's 4:00 p.m. on the East Coast, 1:00 p.m. out west. For those of you just joining us welcome do the "CNN Newsroom." I'm Miguel Marquez, in for Fredricka Whitfield. Here are the top stories we're following right now in the "CNN Newsroom."

Demonstrators are rallying in Washington today, demanding tougher gun control laws. Several thousand activists weathered the cold temperatures to protest. Demonstrators want a federal ban on the sale of military semiautomatic rifles like the one used in the Newtown, Connecticut, school massacre.

A long time Senate Democrat is ending his political career. Tom Harkin of Iowa says he will not seek re-election in 2014, an unabashed liberal. He served in the House for 10 years before Iowans sent him to the Senate in 1984. He also ran for president in 1982 but lost his Democrat nomination to Bill Clinton.

Extreme arctic weather is making this weekend unbearable for people in the Dakotas all the way to New England. The cold is so bitter, water can't even flow out of this fire hydrant in New York. It turned rock solid as firefighters desperately chipped away at it. In the south, icy roads are blamed for this 10-car pile up in Kentucky last night. The National Weather Service is warning bitterly cold, possibly deadly conditions will continue for much of the country through the weekend.

U.S. government officials have confirmed there's been a cyber attack on the U.S. Justice Department. The secretive group, Anonymous, apparently were the ones who took over the site, belonging to the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Once they had control, the group posted a message on the site. It threatened embarrassing disclosures about the Justice Department unless federal prosecutors stop going after hackers.

CNN's Emily Schmidt is following the story for us. Emily, what exactly are officials saying about the attack?

EMILY SCHMIDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miguel, this early morning move from the hackers, Anonymous, has prompted the U.S. government to react this afternoon. We have a new status update for you from the United States Sentencing Commission. It says early this morning, the commission's Web site was hacked and defaced. The site was quickly pulled down and is currently being restored. The Commission is working to have the site fully functional, secure, and accessible as soon as possible. Now this is what the Web site looked like earlier in the day as Anonymous said it was declaring war on the U.S. government by targeting this Web site. It contained a long warning threatening to release some sensitive information about the Department of Justice in what it calls warheads. Those warheads are named after U.S. Supreme Court justices. Now you may never spend time browsing but Anonymous says the selection was very intentional and calling it symbolic, targeting the very agency it believes has unfairly targeted hackers.

Earlier today, the FBI responded through its executive assistant director of the Criminal Cyber Response and Services branch, that's Richard McFeely and he says, "We were aware as soon as it happened. We're handling it as a criminal investigation. We're always concerned when someone illegally accesses another person or government agency's network."

And Anonymous included a YouTube video along with its message just to underscore the message it was trying to get out. Miguel.

MARQUEZ: They are concerns, obviously, as the government takes so many measures to prevent this sort of attack from happening. This group Anonymous is known for being motivated for a variety of reasons. What sparked this attack?

SCHMIDT: This attack, Anonymous says, was sparked by the death of an internet activist named Aaron Schwartz. He committed suicide two weeks ago. And something interesting about him. He really pushed the boundaries of the internet, a lot of things like RSS feeds that some people consider beneficial, but then also trying to really push the line on internet privacy. It landed him facing federal charges for computer fraud. Could have landed him in jail as much as 35 years. This was a 26-year-old. His family says that those charges drew him to commit suicide, drove him to commit suicide. And Anonymous said that was really the final tipping point for them. It's why they're doing something they're calling Operation Last Resort.

Is it just bluster or do they have a real threat here? That's what is being tried to figure out right now. Miguel.

MARQUEZ: Emily Schmidt, thank you very much.

With influenza now rampant across most of the U.S., most people are taking extra precautions, but those same measures might not protect you from another highly contagious illness that can knock you down for days. It's called the Norovirus but you can probably just call it the stomach bug. Here's CNN's Lisa Sylvester with tips on how to avoid it.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Norovirus. You may have heard of it before. There have been several major outbreaks on cruise ships in recent years. The Norovirus in layman's terms is a stomach bug. We're at the height of a new season with a new strain. The Norovirus has spread through food or drink that has been contaminated. You can also get it if you touch a contaminated surface or object and put your hand to your mouth. Symptoms include abdominal cramps, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue, it hits you all of a sudden.

DR. GARY SIMON, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: It's very contagious, and there are multiple epidemics of it. And other than cleaning the area, there's really not a whole lot people can do about it.

SYLVESTER (on camera): The norovirus is so contagious because it's so hardy. Your typical hand sanitizer, that alone is not going to do it. A typical disinfecting wipe to wipe down surfaces normally that would be fine, for instance, with the flu virus. But not the case with the norovirus.

What you really need to do is to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. And when you wipe down surfaces, make sure you use a bleach based solution. Most people infected recover after a few days.

(voice-over): In rare cases, it can be fatal, particularly for the very old and very young, and those with weaker immune systems. According to the CDC, there are more than 20 million cases of the norovirus each year, resulting in about 800 deaths in the U.S..

SIMON: It's so infectious and requires such a low concentration of virus, it rapidly spreads through a population. That's why you see outbreaks on cruise ships, in dormitories, in places where people are in close contact with one another.

SYLVESTER: Top five ways of protecting yourself according to the CDC. Wash your hands often. Wash fruits and vegetables. Cook shellfish thoroughly. Clean surfaces and wash soiled laundry, and when you're sick, don't prepare food or care for others.


MARQUEZ: Just hearing about it makes me think I have it. Great advice from CNN's Lisa Sylvester. Thank you.

Actor Burt Reynolds is said to be doing better after being hospitalized for the flu. A representative for the 76-year-old actor says Reynolds was dehydrated and placed in intensive care in a Florida hospital. We'll keep you updated on his condition.

There could be new developments in the Chandra Levy case. We've got the information, new hearings on the case are being held behind closed doors.

And a body discovered in Long Island, New York, why some fear it's the work of a serial killer.


MARQUEZ: Imagine at this square, this one I'm standing in right now, here is my kitchen, there's my living room. There's my bedroom right over there. All of this, imagine all of this just 300 square feet. It may seem small, but not in New York City. Our Mary Snow has a story on microapartments.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a city tight on living space, things are about to get even tighter.

(on camera): So this one room is living room, bedroom -


SNOW: Everything?

ALBRECHT: Everything.

SNOW (voice-over): These full-time living quarters are what is called a microapartment. Squeezed into an area the size of a modest hotel room.

ALBRECHT: And there's the bed unit. Then, if you don't want to look at the television, you have a bar. At the same time, you have a work space. And you have a desk. They are traditional ideas that have been updated in a modern, sexy, Italian way.

SNOW (on camera): I mean I can do this. Sort of.

(voice-over): Pay a visit to some New Yorkers who already live in tiny spaces. That modern sleekness may be tough to maintain.

ALBRECHT: Clothes come down.

SNOW: This microapartment which is a museum exhibit, is 325 square feet. Regulations require a minimum of 400 square feet for new units, but the city is going to bend that rule for a pilot project to build 55 microaparments, making space for more people and reserving nearly half just for low and middle income residents.

This Museum of the City of New York curator Donald Albrecht said New York is following the lead of other places like Tokyo and Hong Kong.

(on camera): Why the need for these kinds of apartments to live like this?

ALBRECHT: Because the city is going to have 600,000 more people, and a lot of those people are going to be single. And so they want smaller units that they can afford.

SNOW (voice-over): What may buy a house in other parts of the country won't get you far in New York City. One major realtor in New York said the average price for a studio apartment is roughly $300,000.

PAMELA LIEBMAN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, THE CORCORAN GROUP: The average price here is $1.4 million. For that, you're getting just a small apartment. So even though this seems really expensive for New York, it's a bargain.

SNOW: A bargain for someone who thinks outside the box but is willing to live in one.

Mary Snow, CNN, New York.


MARQUEZ: Now ahead, is a serial killer lurking the shores of Long Island, New York. A body has just been discovered on the island's north shore. But is it connected to 10 other bodies found? We've got the latest.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. This is a spiker box. One of these along with a cockroach could make you an expert on the brain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Try to make tools simple enough to be used. Things people are already familiar with, cell phones or a laptop, and then our equipment has one button on it. You just turn it on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have been enlightened by the neuroscience (INAUDIBLE) how our brain functions. You get a better understanding of the muscles, and brain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're almost up to 100 high schools, but I'm greedy. We want that across all of the country. We don't just want one kid. We want every kid.

GUPTA: Neuro scientist Greg (INAUDIBLE) this Sunday on "The Next List."



MARQUEZ: New information has surfaced in the murder case of Chandra Levy, the 24-year-old former congressional intern who disappeared in 2001 amid reports she had been having an affair with then California Congressman Gary Condit. Reports are surfacing that federal prosecutors and lawyers for (INAUDIBLE), the man convicted of Chandra's murder are seeking a new trial for their client on the grounds that prosecutors withheld key information about a witness.

A serial killer may be at work around Long Island, New York, and may have struck again. This week, the body of a young woman was found near the water in Nassau County but on the island's north shore. Police are not saying whether there's a connection to any previous murders, but 10 bodies have been found near beaches on Long Island's south shore, creating suspicions that a serial killer is indeed at work.

Dr. Helen Morrison is a forensic psychiatrist. She joins me from Chicago. Doctor, what stands out to you when you look over the evidence of the bodies found in Nassau County?

DR. HELEN MORRISON, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST; First of all, the bodies were all found in similar geographic locations. They were not places that were highly visible, but what stood out to me was the fact that the woman who reported this find had walked her dog frequently in that area. So the question is, is there someone who is storing his victims? And then dumping them?

The second thing is that although there were 10 bodies found previously, it doesn't mean that a serious killer isn't the same person. Although the body was a mile away, serial murderers are known for disposing of their victims in various geographical locations.

MARQUEZ: So are you saying that the new remains that they found, could they be linked to the previous killings?

MORRISON: They could be. One of the things that people tend to forget is that serial killers change their way of murdering their victims. So they may strangle a group, they may stab a group or whatever, but they don't commit the crime in the same exact way all the time. So it's a definite possibility.

MARQUEZ: On this latest body, there was a necklace found on this young woman or woman. What was the significance of that, do you think?

MORRISON: Well, one of the things that was found on this woman was a necklace with a pig. But the jewelry itself was made of 24-karat gold. 24-karat gold is not popular in the United States. It's too soft, and people don't like its color. It's more frequently found in places like India and the far east. So is the possibility that this victim is of a different ethnic group has to be considered by the investigators.

MARQUEZ: Interesting. And as investigators sift through all of this with all of these bodies, what do they need to keep in mind as they go through all this stuff?

MORRISON: They need to keep in mind they have to have an open mind. They can't say "Oh, this is just one victim because of some hit and run grudge," but they also have to think that just because they have 10 bodies, they have to look at this victim as a completely new find. And not put her in a box. So to speak.

MARQUEZ: Dr. Morrison, thank you very much for joining us.

MORRISON: Thank you for having me.

MARQUEZ: Dr. Morrison is also the author of "My Life Among the Serial Killers." Doctor, thanks again.

Changing gears now. Awards season continues in Hollywood. We'll get you ready for the next big affair. The Screen Actors Guild Awards. Who do you think is the favorite to walk away with one of the statues?

But first, here is Dr. Sanjay Gupta with a preview of his show which is just moments away.

GUPTA: Miguel, I'm going to be sharing this big investigation into the safety of flame retardant chemicals that are almost everywhere that we turn. Here is one big surprise. They may not work as advertised.

I'm also talking to sportscaster Hannah Storm. She's telling me about a serious accident that left her with second degree burns. All this coming up at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.


MARQUEZ: In Florida, a squatter is using an ancient law to stay in a Boca Raton mansion. But as Terry Parker with our affiliate, WPBF reports, the bank's now making its move to reclaim the property and kick the squatter out.


TERRY PARKER, REPORTER, WPBF (voice-over): For weeks, neighbors knew there was trouble at this formerly empty water front home.

BECKY DAVIS, NEIGHBOR: I got an e-mail from the home owners association saying that there were intruders living in the house.

PARKER: Twenty three-year-old Andre Barbosa had somehow gotten in and was claiming the house as his. Citing the little known Adverse Possession Law.

DAVIS: I did walk around the back of the house and noticed that they had changed out all of the locks.

PARKER: But now after neighbor outrage led to international news coverage, the owner of the house, Bank of America, has fired back, filing a lawsuit Friday to force out Barbosa and his friends, some of whom drove off Thursday without answering questions, their license plate taped over.

Bank of America says in its complaint that Barbosa is a squatter in wrongful possession of the home without permission or consent. It asked for a permanent injunction restraining Barbosa and others from trespassing on the property. But some are questioning how Barbosa came up with the scheme in the first place.

DAVIS: I had heard that the theory is that this kid is working for somebody else. He's just the warm body that has to occupy the body to make it legal because I don't know how he would have found this law that most of us have never heard of.


MARQUEZ: Well, that squatter was driving a Mercedes. I was not expecting that. That was reporter Terry Parker with our affiliate, WPBF.

And here's what's trending online right now. Do you believe in big foot? People in Oregon may for good reason do. Some folks near an Indian reservation say they have been waking up to some strange sounds coming from a nearby forest. Sounds they have never heard before and not like the wildlife they're used to.

It's official. JJ Abrams will direct the next "Star Wars" film. It will be the first "Star Wars" movie since Disney agreed to acquire Lucas Films. Abrams is no stranger to blockbuster franchises. He directed the 2009 "Star Trek" movie and produced "Mission Impossible, Ghost Protocol."

If you're still on a high from the Golden Globes and all that fashion and glamour, then brace yourself because Hollywood is set for another round of it. The 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, it kicks off tomorrow honoring the best actors and actresses in TV and films. And CNN's Nischelle Turner has more.


NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the pantheon of Hollywood honors, you might call the Oscars, the grand daddy, you might call the S.A.G. awards a sassy teenager.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a big deal, it's film and TV mixing together, and it's the recognition of your peers, unlike sort of any other ceremony in Hollywood.

TURNER: And like other teens, this one has strong opinions and is often a trend setter.

The actors are the biggest (INAUDIBLE) of the academy so very much so what happens at the Screen Actors Guild Awards can be a precursor to what's going to happen at the Oscars.

TURNER: "Daily Variety's" John Weisman says earlier awards this season have given some S.A.G. nominees momentum.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The performances were great in so many of these movies. Anne Hathaway in "Les Mis." Jennifer Lawrence in "Silver Linings Playbook." Of course, Daniel Day-Lewis in "Lincoln."

TURNER: But the night's biggest prize of all, cast in a motion picture is still a horse race.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what I do and I have never left anyone behind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have terrific movies nominated including, "Argo," "Lincoln," "Les Miserable," "Silver Linings Playbook," plus "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." Any one of those casts are deserving of victories. It is what everyone is talking about right now.

TURNER: When they're not talking about TV dramas. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The flavor of the month or the year right now is "Homeland." "Homeland" has been winning everything in sight. But not maybe the ensemble in the way "Boardwalk Empire" is, and then of course, you got "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" just sort of lurking there, going what about us?

TURNER: As for the comedy dejour?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Girls." That's sort of the hot new show of late but that's not nominated at the SAGs, so that takes away one potential rival for "Modern Family."

TURNER: Seen as the front runner for its third straight win.

Nischelle Turner, CNN, Hollywood.


MARQUEZ: And don't you date miss our coverage live from the red carpet at the Screen Actors Guild awards, that's Sunday night, 6:30 Eastern right here on CNN. That will do it for me today, I'll be back with you again tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time, that is, with more of the latest stories.

CNN NEWSROOM continues at the top of the hour with Don Lemon, but first, Dr. Sanjay Gupta's exclusive investigation into chemical flame retardants, their safety and effectiveness. Now under major scrutiny. "SANJAY GUPTA MD" starts right now.