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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Man Takes Child Hostage; New PED Scandal Hits Major League Baseball; Alex Rodriguez Denies Steroid Charges; Storms Hit U.S. South

Aired January 30, 2013 - 07:00   ET

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


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT.

Two big stories happening right now. Breaking news: storms spreading a path of destruction, widespread damage to report from Kentucky to Tennessee, and tornado warnings are still in effect right now.

Plus, a child held hostage, a standoff, after a man boards a school bus, shoots the driver, grabs a six-year-old boy, and takes him to an underground bunker that he had been building for years.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Rally on despite all the fiscal landmines. Markets nearing an all-time high this morning, but why and can it last? I'll explain.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Life after politics or maybe not? With only three days left as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton talks to CNN about her plans for the future and the answer is they keep changing.

O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, we'll talk to Dan Shaughnessy from "The Boston Globe" about those allegations, new allegations of performance enhancing drug abuse in baseball. Florida Senator Bill Nelson will join us. The two doctors behind that double arm transplant for a U.S. veteran, and the screenwriter of the Oscar nominated "Life of Pi," David Magee, will join us.

It's Wednesday, January 30th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.

Welcome everybody. Our starting point this morning, a line of violent thunderstorms is tearing through the south and moving east. New pictures in to CNN show the widespread damage in Tennessee. One person is reported dead there. There are reports of a family tractor- trailer lies on its side. Roofs ripped off homes, warnings in effect right now. Let's get right to meteorologist Indra Petersons. She's been following this for us. Good morning.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. Right around 4:00 central time we saw the bulk of the activity in the Nashville area pushing off to the east. Even through middle Tennessee, we still have tornado warnings in effect. However, it has become a lot more active in the last hour. Now we're watching out toward Kentucky, east of Louisville. We continue to have tornado warnings in effect this morning and even extending to the south, right through Alabama. Northern portions of Alabama, heading out to Huntsville. Remember, these are quick-moving systems, so you're not going to have much time to take cover, so please heed these warnings.

I also want to show you how large of a system this is. Look at the severe weather from Michigan through Louisiana. We're talking about 1,600 miles of severe weather. It will continue throughout the day, stay right ahead of the cold front. And severe weather will continue to pop as it continues eastward.

Take a look at what we're expecting by the afternoon as we warm things up, heat things up, more instability will be out there. Also keep in mind, we're starting to see the low or the trough push off a little to the northeast. It will take its time progressing out of here, nonetheless, we'll see the line continue to progress to the east and by this evening, we'll still be talking about the threat for severe weather, really extending from the mid-Atlantic region straight down to the southeast. We are going to be dealing with the severe weather.

That's not the only story behind this. We are going to talk about a lot of cold air in place. So once again, talk about that cold, arctic air diving down to the south to that low on the back side of that low, and temperatures dipping down. Keep in mind, temperatures in the 50s. One day later, talk about temperatures, a good 50 degrees cooler, single digits. And, yes, temperatures below freezing in Minnesota.

O'BRIEN: Thank you, Indra, for the update. Appreciate it.

Another big story that we're following for you this morning, standoff that's happening right now. This is the scene in Midland City, Alabama. A man boarded a school bus yesterday, shot the driver, grabbed a six-year-old boy, took that boy hostage. Then, officials say, the suspect took the boy into an underground bunker that he had been building for years. I want to get right to reporter Josh Rultenberg. He's with affiliate WDHN, and he's live on the phone with us from Midland City, has the latest for us. Josh, where are we now in the hostage standoff?

JOSH RULTENBERG, REPORTER, WDHN (via telephone): I can tell you, the suspect and his six-year-old hostage are held up in that underground bunker on Dikes' property in Dale County. Authorities say even though the child is still being held he is physically OK. One law enforcement official indicated to us earlier that the little boy has special needs and is, perhaps, autistic.

As of now, the FBI is in charge of the operation, which has been going on for over 12 hours. And this all started yesterday afternoon when Dikes allegedly boarded a Dale County school bus and demanded the hostage of one kid. The bus driver resisted that request, and we're told by witnesses that he moved to protect the kids, and he was shot multiple times by Dikes. The bus driver has since died and then since then, Dikes and the six-year-old hostage have been held up in that underground bunker. Dikes is in his 60s. He's a white male. Neighbors say he has a history of mental issues. He had a prior brush with the law. Court records indicate Dikes was arrested in December on a menacing charge and he's actually due in court today on that charge, and it's believed that shooting and hostage situation is somehow connected to that court appearance today. Again, the young victim still being held hostage but is physically OK. Authorities say this could go on for some time, because neighbors say Dikes has been building this bunker for a while now, and he has enough supplies to last for several months.

O'BRIEN: Josh, I have to ask a couple of questions. The first, do we know any details about the relationship between Dikes and the 6-year- old boy? Are they related in some way?

RULTENBERG: As of right now, we do not have that information. Police have not given us an update on any information for several hours now. But we do not have that information at the time.

O'BRIEN: Final question. You are being told that the boy is physically OK. How do we know, since he's in an underground bunker?

RULTENBERG: Well, I can tell you that police have been communicating with Dikes through a PCV pipe that is in the ground. I suppose it's for air. But they have been communicating with him. And the boy, who actually takes medication for his autism, got his medication and he's been fed because Dikes has allowed this to happen.

O'BRIEN: Josh, thank you, we appreciate the update. What a bizarre, bizarre and horrific story. We'll obviously continue to monitor that story as it unfolds over the next hour and maybe even days and weeks.

All right, let's talk a little about finance this morning. Good news, investor optimism.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: After five years of the market rally, we're convinced. You're looking at all-time highs now, very close to that for the Dow Jones industrial average. It could happen this week. We know there's a record shattering $55 billion of new money that's been pumped into stock funds this month, stocks closing higher yesterday. The Dow now 15 points, Soledad, from 14,000, the highest level in five years, about 200 points shy of an all-time high.

O'BRIEN: Whoever thought we would say that, Dow 14,000?

ROMANS: The S&P has doubled since those horrible days in the financial crisis. Now the S&P, that is most likely what reflects your stocks and 401(k). It's really close to a record high there as well.

Couple of things going on here. The Fed has been propping up the economy. We know this, for years now, and the Fed meeting going on today, more from the fed today. We know corporate profits have been coming in. They're not hiring, but they're still squeezing out money, and that's what the Dow and the S&P measure, right? They don't measure your job prospects. They measure corporate profitability, and that's been doing well. And the economy is healing and investors coming back in part because of the housing market is convincing regular people that things are getting better. Look at home prices. It has been years that I could say home prices rose five percent year over year, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: It feels so good.

ROMANS: It really does. Now, does it last? A lot of people say, wow, it looks like we are set up for a fall. When regular people come rushing in, the market falls down. We're in the final stages of a long bull run. But sometimes the final stage can be the most profitable for people. That's why investors are coming back in.

O'BRIEN: Christine, thank you.

ROMANS: So there is a damning new report that puts Alex Rodriguez and some other major leaguers at the center of a cheating scandal involving, surprise, surprise, performance-enhancing drugs. A Miami newspaper reports says they got human growth hormone and other substances from a south Florida anti-aging clinic. Rodriguez is denying the report. He has denied things in the past. He denied he used PEDs until he finally confessed in 2009. CNN's John Zarrella is following developments for us this morning. He's in Miami. Hey, John, good morning.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. Tenants at this office building where this anti-aging clinic was said there were always fancy cars, always lots of people coming and going from the clinic. But that all stopped abruptly, they say, a couple weeks ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZARRELLA: The anti-aging clinic was called Biogensis, run out of the office building in Coral Gables, Florida, until two weeks ago when it shut down. Now the vacant business in the center of another saga of performance-enhancing drugs, PEDs, and major league baseball players. A report in the "Miami New Times" says this clinic was a pipeline to PEDs for several players.

TIM ELFRINK, "MIAMI NEW TIMES": It's clear that Biogensis like a lot of anti-aging clinics was selling a lot of HSH and a number of other drugs banned in sports, testosterone, anabolic steroids. The records we've seen indicate that, you know, as for the population, it was providing the same kind of drugs to professional athletes.

ZARRELLA: And they are banned substances?

ELFRINK: That's correct.

ZARRELLA: According to Major League Baseball, three players have been disciplined under the league's joint drug program. In a statement major league you baseball says, quote, "We're in the midst of an active investigation and gathering and reviewing information. We will refrain from any further comment until this process is complete."

Representatives of New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez, identified in the "New Times" article, but not named as being disciplined, issued this outright denial, quote, "The news reports about a purported relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Anthony Bosch are not true. Alex Rodriguez was not Mr. Bosch's patient. He was never treated by him and he was never advised by him."

Gio Gonzalez, a Washington Nationals pitcher who also named in the article, tweeted, quote "I've never used performance-enhancing drugs at any time and I never will. I have never met or spoken with Tony Bosch or used any substances." Tony Bosch, the man both players referenced, ran the clinic according to "The New Times" and others in the building.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was the one who was there all the time.

ZARRELLA: And you used to see him come by all the time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely.

ZARRELLA: Were there a lot of high-end clients that would come here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were expensive cars. There were definitely some expensive vehicles coming in and out, so some high-end clients I would definitely say.

ZARRELLA: We tried but have not able to reach Bosch for comment. The DEA wouldn't comment on whether Bosch or Biogensis was being investigated. In its statement Major League Baseball reiterated that there was no place in the game for banned substances. But clearly for America's pastime the issue is far from in the past.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZARRELLA: You know, it is unclear, what, if anything, is being done to locate Tony Bosch, if there really is any interest on the part of the drug enforcement administration in talking to Bosch, because, as I said in the piece, not talking about what, if any, investigation into Bosch or his company is going on. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: John Zarrella, thank you. Coming up next, we'll talk to Dan Shaughnessy for "The Boston Globe" about these allegations.

Also we have some business news.

ROMANS: It could be the answer to BlackBerry's problems, Research in Motion unveils the new BlackBerry 10. This is not it. But RIM shares are up two percent in the premarket. We'll tell you about the BlackBerry 10 smartphone wars. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: So let's talk more about A-Rod. The scathing new report by the "Miami New Times" pointing fingers at Yankees player Alex Rodriguez as a possible client of this anti-aging clinic in Miami. The clinic has records that may or may not show they delivered performance enhancing drugs to A-Rod and other big league players. I want to get right to Dan Shaughnessy, a sports columnist for "The Boston Globe," author of the new book "Francona." Nice to have you with us. Let's talk about this report. What does your gut tell you about this report?

DAN SHAUGHNESSY, SPORTS COLUMNIST, "BOSTON GLOBE": They always say no. They always deny IT. We understand that. And, unfortunately, for Alex right now in the Lance Armstrong fallout, people aren't really believing that, plus A-Rod has history with this. He -- three, four years ago, 2009, he confessed to us very fully at the time, said he was young and immature at the time, talking about transgressions from 2000, 2003. And people cut him slack and believed him. If this comes out to be true, it won't be good for Alex.

O'BRIEN: That came, that confession, came after lots of lying about it.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, yes. He went on "60 Minutes" with Katie Couric who asked him flat out if he used steroids and he said no. And he had come back and say he lied.

O'BRIEN: They don't really have a lot of corroborating material. Would you be more likely -- does it make you disbelieve it more, make you feel like it's reasonable for someone allegedly giving you performance enhancing drugs, keep records with their names. That seems kind of strange to me.

SHAUGHNESSY: It could be an elaborate hoax to make somebody look bad. On the other hand, two or three of the people on the list were caught red handed by MLB last year and did serve 50-suspensions. Some are known to be dirty.

O'BRIEN: A-Rod's people said this, "The news about a purported relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Anthony Bosch are not true. Alex Rodriguez was not Mr. Bosch's patient. He was never treated by him. He was never advised by him. How unusual is it that that's a statement that is not coming from the Yankees, not A-Rod himself, coming from I guess some PR firm of Citric & Company.

SHAUGHNESSY: Right. I think Alex's representatives say there is no truth to the story. This will get dicey with the Yankees and MLB. Alex Rodriguez has five years remaining on a contract that will pay him $114 million over the next five years. He just had hip surgery, he has declining skill sets. So this could lead to a battle for the Yankees to try and get out from under that contract.

O'BRIEN: Walk me through those options. If they wanted to do it anyway, what are the options there?

SHAUGHNESSY: The option is a big war with the Major League Baseball Players Association which would consider this treason. Any kind of a violation of their basic agreement, they would not go for it. They would protect the player as they always do. But Yankees probably want out from under the contract anyway. Now they might have something to hang that on. BERMAN: The may be able to force him to try to retire or something, leave voluntarily and take some kind of settlement. It's the ammunition for Yankees to use.

O'BRIEN: But if anything, Dan, we're proven down the road, whoever paid out some kind of settlement, I would assume would have legal grounds to get that back if down the road it were proven to be true, these allegations, right?

SHAUGHNESSY: Absolutely. You want to try and get your money. And this is a guy with 647 home runs in the big league. There was a time he was projected as the guy who was going to hit 800 and do it cleanly. That's all behind him now.

O'BRIEN: Interesting to watch. Dawn Shaughnessy, great to see you, as always, appreciate it.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, we'll talk more about the new BlackBerry. Christine held one up. Not the new one. What it means for RIM, of course. And a brand new car recall to tell you about. We will have more than 1 million Toyotas and Lexus are considered unsafe. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. Our team this morning, Congressman Connie Mack is with us, former representative from the great state of Florida. Cameron Russell joins us, talking about modeling as a career, AKA don't do it. Thank you. Christine and John are sticking around as well.

Let's start with business news. BlackBerry.

ROMANS: Let me start with the big recall. Toyota, more than 1 million vehicles sold in the U.S., Soledad, the issue faulty airbags and windshield wipers. The airbag issue affects about 752,000 corolla and corolla matrix vehicles sold between 2003 and 2004. The faulty windshield wiper is about 270,000 Lexus IS models between 2006 and 2012.

All right, now let's talk about BlackBerry. Research in Motion BlackBerry 10 will be unveiled today. It has enhanced touch screen technology, something called blackberry balance, business and personal work separate on the same device and a redesigned app world. RIM needs this to be successful. That is not pretty. Soledad says in her technical analysis experience that does not look good. Over the past three years, down 76 percent. BlackBerry's share of the smartphone pie continues to get smaller by the month. It only have five percent, bottom right of the screen, down from 20 percent in 2009.

O'BRIEN: I didn't realize android 67 percent.

ROMANS: And three years ago, Android was only four percent. IOS apple operating system, 20 percent of the market. People love web browsing and they love mobile downloading and stuff that we don't know -- we don't really use your BlackBerries for. We use this for e-mail, for work.

O'BRIEN: The big thing for me, I'm a blackberry user, is the keyboard. I cannot use the touch screen to type fast. I wrote a book on a blackberry. Imagine that on an iPhone? I think having a real keyboard would be relevant.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: They're putting out a version of the new BlackBerry with the keyboard, but they are pushing the touch screen.

ROMANS: At 10:00, they will unveil all of this and we'll get a good look. Ali Velshi will have a look at this.

O'BRIEN: They need to do something, because of the trend away from it.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: This is the company that addicted us to our e-mail at our hand. And then they lost their way. So in a way it's an interesting business story too. They were the first mover and they lost first. Can they get it back?

O'BRIEN: Leading edge. Looking forward to that. I am very emotionally attached to my BlackBerry.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning, breaking news about severe weather. See these pictures out of Nashville, Tennessee? You're looking at this right now. My goodness, lots of destruction there. Tornado warnings are still in effect right now. We'll update you on the very latest on what's happening down south.

Also, we know about the president's plan for immigration reform. He announced it yesterday. Florida Senator Bill Nelson, a state that deals with a lot of immigration issues will join us up next to talk about that. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. People are being warned to take cover as a line of violent thunderstorms moving quickly into the south. Widespread damage in Nashville, Tennessee, one person dead, and there are reports right now about a family that's trapped. A tractor- trailer is on its side. Roofs have been ripped off of homes, a tornado warning in effect right now.

Joining us by phone is the Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, police spokesperson Sergeant Tyler Chandler with us. Nice to talk to you sir. Update me on exactly what is happening where you are.

SGT. TYLER CHANDLER, JULIET, TENNESSEE: Yes, ma'am, good morning. This morning, we had some type of weather event move through. Not sure exactly if it was a tornado or strong winds, did do significant damage along a portion of our city. One building with three stories and the whole third floor ripped off. Luckily, there are no injuries to report and it seems like we missed a major bullet. And everyone is OK.

O'BRIEN: So is it limited to that one building that's had the damage, or is it more widespread than that?

CHANDLER: It's definitely widespread damage. The most significant damage would probably be the building missing the third roof.

O'BRIEN: Do you feel like everybody is accounted for at this hour?