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Northeast May Face Winter Storm; Christie To Doc: "Shut Up"; Alzheimer is America's Looming Epidemic; "Lincoln's" Historical Error; Milky Way Full of Earth-like Planets

Aired February 7, 2013 - 05:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Will it be the blizzard of 2013? Big, important cities like Boston, the most important city of them all, right in the path of a major winter storm.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Actually quite serious. That's a lot of snow that's being dumped there.

And taking off in a matter of hours, Boeing's troubled Dreamliner jumbo jet. So, don't expect to see any passengers on board.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY: This is just another hack who wants five minutes on TV.


SAMBOLIN: Yes. He's going there no holds barred. Chris Christie unloads on the former White House doctor who said that governor is so heavy that he could die in office.

BERMAN: That controversy getting louder and louder and louder. Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is 31 minutes past the hour. So, we begin with a potentially epic winter storm that could dump more than two feet of snow on parts of New England starting tomorrow. So, right now, there's a blizzard watch in effect for sections of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and plenty of freezing rain and damaging winds forecast for the rest of the northeast as well.

Boy, this sounds terrible. Let's go right to Indra Petersons. She's tracking the system from the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta. How big, how bad is this one going to be?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Oh, yes. Potentially, one to two feet of snow. Some models even bringing it higher than that. So, by now, I think we all know a lot of snow is headed to New England, but what I want to talk about is why. I want to point out, look at this instability, the showers building in the south currently. We'll, we're going to be watching as a low forms and it starts to make its way up to the Carolinas. So, with that, we'll see some heavy showers into the southeast today, then, it will become a rain and wind event as it makes its way up again to the Carolinas, then we're going to watch as two systems merge. When that happens, we form this large nor'easter that we've all been talking about.

Again, I keep pointing out, it's all going to depend on the positioning of this low. If it's closer to the coastline, of course, we'll get more moisture. We'll see some heavier snow totals, and then the positioning of the freezing line, depending on how low that goes on, cold air goes, we'll be talking about snow even further south towards West Virginia.

Well, we do have, as we know, our blizzard warnings -- excuse me -- blizzard watches in effect from Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon. I'll be mentioned Boston, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. But notice, this is a large area that's going to be impacted by the storm. Much of New England seeing these winter storm watches, and of course, even a way that kicks through Michigan could bring some heavier totals for them as well.

So, talking about some of these numbers here, you're going to see as this develops. We'll start to see maybe some flurries in the morning in New England. But then by Friday evening, we're really going to see that heavy stuff accumulate. And notice these totals again, of course, towards New England, one to two feet is possible.

Some models bringing it higher, and again, all depending on that position. But right there in New York, you guys are right on that freezing line. So, little tricky. Again, you could start off as sleet and then turn into snow or some of the models bring you with snow the entire time, in which case you'll see those higher accumulations. I just hope at this point you guys are ready.

SAMBOLIN: We are prepared. Although, we said shovels, and I think we need trucks or something. All right. Snow blowers. Thank you, Indra Petersons, live in Atlanta for us.

BERMAN: Thirty inches in Boston. That is a lot of snow for one storm. It could be a lot of fun this weekend for kids up there, but also dangerous, so be careful, everyone.


The grounded Dreamliner 787 will fly again today for one time only.

"USA Today" says the FAA okayed a one-time ferry flight from Ft. Worth, Texas, to the factory in Everett, Washington to complete production on one of the jumbo jets. There'll be no passengers on board. "The Wall Street Journal" says Boeing is proposing a series of battery design changes that it believes would minimize fire risk.

SAMBOLIN: Big outrage this morning over cutting the postal service's Saturday delivery for first class letters. Postal unions and some lawmakers criticize the change, but USPS says this is necessary to stop the agency from hemorrhaging even more cash. Some postal customers also really unhappy about this move.


TIM NORMAN, POSTAL CUSTOMER: Not cool. I want mail on Saturday. Why not?

RITA LEE, POSTAL CUSTOMER: Frankly, it really doesn't bother me. I'm retired. I'm not worried about getting my checks or anything if I get them Saturday or Monday.


SAMBOLIN: So, the service changes take effect in August and are expected to save the postal service $2 billion a year. Packages, however, will still be delivered, folks.

BERMAN: I don't know -- no one writes me letters anymore, anyway.


BERMAN: It's sad.



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You have less time to pay your bills. This is going to shrink the time. If you get your bills in the mail still, you're going to have less time between when you get your bill and you have to -- you have to budget another two days to pay your bills.

SAMBOLIN: Do things electronically, I think.

BERMAN: It may be the change it needed, but it is a big change. And people will notice a difference. I think that's clear.

All right. Thirty-four minutes after the hour right now. We have a disturbing story, just an awful story to tell you about this morning. An Indiana couple outraged when they saw how their eight-year-old daughter, Shaylene (ph), who has Down Syndrome, was sent home from school on Monday.


NATE SEARCY, DAUGHTER DUCT TAPED AT SCHOOL: I'm like, Shaylene (ph), come on, and she just kind of stood there and kind of limping a little bit, and I'm like what's wrong? She's like my feet hurt.


BERMAN: Now, it turns out her feet hurt because they were duct taped --

SAMBOLIN: Oh my goodness. BERMAN: -- along with her ankles. The tape was so tight she needed to be rolled on to the school bus in a wheelchair. A spokeswoman for the Indianapolis area school called the incident appalling, it certainly is, and says the procedure is not condoned by their restraint policy.

The school is offering ongoing and training for staff and putting a number of employees on administrative leave while they investigate. Shaylene's (ph) parents say they hope the incident can lead to improvements in how students are treated in the future.

SAMBOLIN: Oh my goodness! Is that one of the worst things I have ever, ever seen?

All right. A just-released study warns Alzheimer's is a looming U.S. epidemic. New estimates in the journal neurology predicts the number of older people living with the disease will almost triple by 2050, affecting 13.8 million people, including the 18 baby boomers.

BERMAN: Florida senator, Marco Rubio, has been selected to deliver the Republican response to the president's state of the union address next week. He will present it live in English while a prerecorded version in Spanish runs on Spanish language networks. The Republicans ramping up their outreach Hispanic-Americans after 71 percent voted for President Obama in November.

SAMBOLIN: A former White House physician finds herself in a very public feud this morning with a very furious Chris Christie. The New Jersey governor offering up some choice words to describe what he thinks of Dr. Connie Mariano after she went on television and voiced concern that Christie's weight might cause him to die in office. So, Christine Romans has the blow by blow. This is kind of crazy.

ROMANS: And is she backing down? No, she is not. The dispute between the governor and a woman who has cared for three sitting presidents began, you recall, earlier this week after Christie went on the David Letterman show and he munched on a doughnut in mid-sentence (ph). So, the governor called himself the healthiest fat guy you've ever seen.

The audience roared. It was a comedy bit. Dr. Mariano didn't think it was so funny. The Arizona physician says she likes Christie. She would like to see him run for president, but her public remarks about the possibility of the governor dying in office sparked this angry tirade from Christie.


CHRISTIE: She must be a genius. She should probably be the surgeon general of the United States, i suspect, because she must be a genius. I think this is -- listen, this is just another hack who wants five minutes on TV. And it's completely irresponsible. Completely irresponsible. My children saw that last night.

If she wants to get on a plane and come here to New Jersey and ask me if she wants to examine me and review my medical history, I'll have a conversation with her about that. Until that time, she should shut up.


ROMANS: A "hack." "She should shut up." Christie says his 12-year- old son saw the Dr. Mariano's comments on TV then asked him if he was going to die. So he called Dr. Mariano personally to vent.

Listen to her described that phone conversation to CNN's Anderson Cooper along with her reaction to the governor's name calling.


DR. CONNIE MARIANO, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PHYSICIAN: Well, it was rather shocking to hear those things. I was in clinic, so I did not hear his broadcast, but he used some pretty strong words there. Out of deference to him, I'm not going to comment on that, but I can only share with you that that phone conversation, when I think of it, the words gracious and appreciative do not come to mind.


ROMANS: Dr. Mariano says she does not regret making the comments about the governor and that she'd like to see him get some help for his weight problem. But, again, she has treated three sitting presidents, and she said her concern was someone of that weight could die in office.

It's something that doctors like Dr. Mariano, when they see a patient like Chris Christie come into their office, they say, look, your biggest concern here is get the weight down. This is something that could really affect your life. He was furious.

BERMAN: And he clearly has a flair for nuance and subtlety that the governor of New Jersey doesn't enjoy as she was describing that conversation. But no, I mean, she's a public figure. She's served as the White House physician before, and she was weighing in on a public issue.

SAMBOLIN: Well, and she says it's evident to the naked eye. You don't need to have a medical degree in order to see that there is a problem. So, it -- it would back and forth quite a bit.

ROMANS: It started with this week on Letterman joking about his weight. It ended in really insults to someone who criticized him about his weight. I don't know what the plan is in the Christie quarters about putting -- the more we're talking about Chris Christie's weight, it has to be politically not good -- you know, this story has turned from being funny about his weight to now being very serious about it.

SAMBOLIN: He did say he's working on it, though. He did say that we should see some changes if he's successful.

Thirty-nine minutes past the hour. Richard Simmons weighs in on the feud between the governor and the good doctor. Catch Soledad O'Brien's interview with the fitness guru in the 8:00 a.m. hour of "STARTING POINT" this morning.

BERMAN: So, there's no question that it's an Oscar-nominated blockbuster success, but plenty of questions this morning about the accuracy of Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln." Why one lawmaker actually wants the director to change the movie.

SAMBOLIN: Also, is there life in outer space? Why scientists say there may be planets just like Earth, and apparently, they're nearly next door as well.


BERMAN: All right. Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone.

So, it is one of the year's most celebrated films. Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" is nominated for 12 academy awards and it's been a huge box- office success, but it turns out that "Lincoln" contains historical error in, perhaps, its most critical scene.

As CNN's Brian Todd tells us, it has a Connecticut congressman determined to set the record straight.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Congressman Joe Courtney finally got to see the movie "Lincoln" in recent days. He was riveted by the scene showing the debate in the House of Representatives over the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congress must never declare equal those who God created unequal.

TODD: Later, the climactic scene, the actual vote. We're not allowed to show you the clip, but here's what the character said. The clerk of the House, quote, "We begin with Connecticut, Mr. Augustus Benjamin on the matter of this amendment, how say you?" Benjamin, "Nay." The clerk, "Mr. Arthur Bentley," Bentley "Nay." So, two congressmen from Connecticut voted against abolishing slavery?

REP. JOE COURTNEY, (D) CONNECTICUT: You know, something's wrong here. I mean, this just cannot possibly be correct.

TODD: Courtney who represents Connecticut's second district was bugged about it all the way home. When he got home, he Googled the information, thought he was on to something.

(on-camera): Then Courtney got with the Congressional Research Service, part of the library of Congress, asked them to check the historical records. They did and quickly got back to him with the news that he was right, that all four members of Connecticut's House delegation had voted in favor of the amendment.

(voice-over): Courtney has written a letter to director, Steven Spielberg, saying "I could not believe my own eyes and ears that the movie wrongly depicted Connecticut's delegation as being on the wrong side of history. COURTNEY: That's a source of information that a lot of people may never get any other source in terms of the history of the civil war or the 13th Amendment.

TODD: The names of the Connecticut congressmen like most names for congressmen in the movie were made up, but we found no other voting inaccuracies in the film. I spoke about it with Lincoln historian, Christian McWhirter.

CHRISTIAN MCWHIRTER, THE PAPERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN: Hollywood movies frequently have this kind of errors in them, and "Lincoln" is an exceptionally good Hollywood historical film. And so, I think we have to have a certain amount of tolerance for a certain amount of error.

TODD: Indeed, the movie isn't a documentary, doesn't claim to be one. It's historical fiction and doesn't have to be 100 percent accurate. But Congressman Courtney has asked that that part of the movie be corrected before it's released on DVD later this month.

CNN has reached out to representatives for Steven Spielberg, screenwriter Tony Kushner, and the distributor, Disney, asking for response to Congressman Courtney's complaints and asking if the DVD version will have a correction. We've not heard back.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


BERMAN: You know, that's why they always say don't mess with Connecticut.

SAMBOLIN: You know, that's an important piece of history, right? So, getting that right, I think, would be good.

BERMAN: So, that's a strange one to get wrong. I agree with the congressman. That was like, huh?


All right. Forty-six minutes past the hour. Are we alone? Does another planet exist out there? How about 4.5 billion of them? Astronomers now say our Milky Way galaxy may be full of billions of Earth-like planets. That's according to the Harvard Smithsonian Center for astrophysics. The co-author of the report says this would make it much easier to discover life beyond our solar system than originally thought.

BERMAN: The truth is out there.

So, Facebook coming clean. What they're about to start telling you about the ads on your profile page.

SAMBOLIN: Plus, the geeky Go Daddy commercial star, locking lips on TV again? This time, it's no supermodel. Wait until you see this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. It is 50 minutes past the hour. Time to get you up to date. Here's Christine Romans.

ROMANS: And the weather is the top story today, guys. The northeast about to get socked by a potentially historic winter storm.

Right now, there's a blizzard watch in parts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. They could see more than two feet of snow. Freezing rain and damaging winds are being forecast for several other northeast states. I will be getting my generator out post-hurricane Sandy once more.

NBA commissioner David Stern says the league hopes to follow Major League Baseball and the NFL and begin blood testing for human growth hormone in time for next season. The most part of the league is still clear from the biggest scandals involving y performance-enhancing drugs in pro sports.

Facebook will start telling you when ads on your page are specifically targeted to you. The social network is under increasing pressure to beef up security and transparency. So, it figures telling you, hey, this is -- the ad is here because of your online activity. It will get points with consumers. I don't know.

I don't know about that, telling me, hey, we're targeting you.


BERMAN: We're on to you. And this is how we know all this stuff.

SAMBOLIN: Big Brother is always watching.

ROMANS: You're right.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Christine.

BERMAN: All right. So, it's a look at one of the deadliest days of America's longest war through the eyes of one of the men who was right in the middle of it. A warrior who ignored his own wounds to rescue the injured and recovered the dead during an ambush by 300 Taliban fighters others.

This is part of a new special called "AN AMERICAN HERO" from CNN's chief Washington correspondent, Jake Tapper. Here's a sneak peek.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Throughout all of this, did you ever think, this is it? I'm not going to get out of here?

STAFF SGT. CLINT ROMESHA, AFGHAN BATTLE HERO: It's like a fighter going into the boxing ring. You know, if you think you're going to lose before you even step in the ring, you've already lost. You're there to win. You're there to fight. You're there to, you know -- your brothers to your left and right are depending on you, so you don't have that in you.


BERMAN: This is based on Jake's truly fantastic book, "The Outpost." Don't miss the CNN's special documentary, "AN AMERICAN HERO." It airs tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern just days before Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha will receive the Medal of Honor for President Obama. And our own Jake Tapper will be here with a preview of this show later on "STARTING POINT".

SAMBOLIN: Oh, that's cool.

BERMAN: It's a terrific book, and this is a terrify report.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Fifty-two minutes past the hour. Mad hoop skills. And this little guy is only two years old. I cheated this morning. I sent this out already on Facebook and Twitter because it truly is remarkable. A toddler showing off trick shots and taking over the net. This is viral video you do not want to miss.

BERMAN: He's got game.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, yes.


SAMBOLIN: Fifty-six minutes past the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin along with Mr. John Berman, and we are taking a look at the top CNN Trends on the web this morning.

BERMAN: So, we have a parenting lesson for everyone out there. Bribery works. A father from Massachusetts named Paul Bare (ph) paid his 14-year-old daughter 200 bucks to quit Facebook, even drew up a contract and posted it on his wall. It says the teenager has to stay Facebook free for five months, and dad gets her password so she can't reactivate her account. I'm a big fan of bribery when it comes to parenting --

SAMBOLIN: Boy, that's a steal.

BERMAN: Ice cream, money

SAMBOLIN: Two hundred bucks. Yes.

All right. For those of you hoping Justin Bieber would go away in 2013, it's not going to happen. Biebs just made more music history, becoming the youngest artist to land five chart-topping albums in the United States with his latest record, "Believe Acoustic," debuting on top of the billboard 200 chart. The album also topped iTunes downloads charts in 63 countries.

BERMAN: It will last forever.

SAMBOLIN: How about that? Yes. Forever.

(LAUGHTER) BERMAN: All right. Down the stairs, off the wall, wearing a one (ph) and nothing but net. So, that guy is a toddler showing off his amazing basketball trick shots. By all accounts, this video is totally legit, even down the stairs, really? Two-year-old Titus, that guy can play. The guy who posted this on YouTube says he began shooting baskets shortly after learning to walk.

We started filming some and then got totally carried away. This video has posted two million hits on YouTube since Sunday. This kid probably left Chuck E. Cheese with enough tickets to buy a Ferrari. He's got another free throw percentage, by the way, than half the NBA. I mean, Shaq never hit that many free throws in his career.

SAMBOLIN: No, it's incredible. Watch the whole video, though. I put it out on Facebook and on Twitter this morning. Probably, EARLY START had it as well. He gets so excited when he makes the basket. Only two years old.

BERMAN: Can't dunk, though, by the way.

SAMBOLIN: Well, he will.


BERMAN: Only a parameter, so far. He's got to work on his inside game. Just saying.

SAMBOLIN: Whatever.

All right. So, late-night laughs now, and that dude with the chubby red cheeks from the go Daddy Super Bowl ad getting a little more -- on-camera action, but no supermodel this time. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm thinking, any chance we could recreate the ad?







BERMAN: Breath mints.


BERMAN: EARLY START continues right now.