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Nugent To Attend State of The Union; Emergency Talks After Nuke Test; Homeless Man Returns Engagement Ring

Aired February 12, 2013 - 14:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Four thousand people are stuck, right now, on a cruise ship with sewage running down the walls, toilets broken, fistfights over food. You will hear from one of the passengers.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. The news is now.

A dad is charged with murder for allegedly killing the drunk driver who ran over his two young sons. We're on the case.

Plus, North Korea rattles the world by launching a nuclear test. I'll tell you when America should be worried.

And --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President of the United States!


BALDWIN: Inside the most bizarre moments from past State of the Union Addresses. My TV crush, John Berman, joins me live. Wait until you see what he found.

Hi, everyone. I'm Brooke Baldwin, live inside the CNN world headquarters.

Want to begin with some of the hottest stories in a flash. We call it "Rapid Fire." Roll it.

A Carnival Cruise ship that broke down at sea, now on its way to Mobile, Alabama. Folks on board this ship say food and water are scarce and the smell of sewage, oh, sickening. Listen.


ANN BARLOW, ABOARD THE CARNIVAL TRIUMPH (voice-over): Flooded (INAUDIBLE) sewage, raw sewage. It's pretty bad. When you walk in the hallways, you have to cover your face. We don't have any masks.


BALDWIN: This sewage is apparently running down the walls. And, to make matters worse, the ship is moving very slowly. I'm talking ride on lawnmower speed. More than 4,000 passengers expected to limp into port as early as Wednesday or as late as Thursday.

New revelations today about Pope Benedict's health. Did you know he has a pacemaker? This appears to be the very first time the Vatican has acknowledged that. His spokesman says the device did not have any bearing in the pope's decision to resign. Doctors replaced the pacemaker's batteries just a couple of months ago in a routine procedure.

Meanwhile, take a look at this. Just a couple of hours after the pope announced his resignation yesterday, I'll tell you, this is the picture seen around the world. Lightning appeared in the sky of St. Peter's Basilica. Stunning.

He cannot leave yet, but that does not mean Leon Panetta cannot say good-bye. And that is precisely what the defense secretary did today in his farewell ceremony. This is just outside the Pentagon. He spoke about his challenges his replacement must face.


LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: You're going to have to continue to deal with rogue states like Iran and North Korea. We just saw what North Korea has done in these last few weeks. A missile test and now a nuclear test. They represent a serious threat to the United States of America. We've got to be prepared to deal with that.


BALDWIN: "Deal with that," he says. Panetta has been leading the Pentagon for the last 18 months, but he's been in public service for the last five decades.

Live this hour, a big moment for Chuck Hagel, the man President Obama would like to become the next secretary of defense. The Senate Armed Forces Committee holding a vote on Hagel's nomination. And while it is likely he will be confirmed, several Republicans, they're still putting up a fight. That happens this hour.

Also, cereal and soda? Pepsi introducing a new Mountain Dew drink for, dare I say, breakfast. They're calling it Kick Start. The company says it doesn't consider this an energy drink, even though, yes, it's packed with caffeine. Why the new product? Mountain Dew says customers wanted an alternative to coffee and tea in the morning.

And tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, which means today is Fat Tuesday. OK, I tweeted this out. I said this is a colossal waste of time and I can't stop watching it. You can watch this on one of these live cams. Mardi Gras in full swing. We have been hearing trumpets from this live web cam. This is Bourbon Street. It is New Orleans' biggest tourist draw with more than 50 parades. Mardi Gras is the feast and celebration right before Lent, a time of fasting for Catholics.

A huge blow -- have you heard about this -- to one of the world's oldest sports. International Olympic Committee says it is recommending wrestling be cut from the 2020 summer games. Wrestling has been in the Olympics ever since 1896. The Wrestling Federation says it plans to fight this one and officials have to make their case against seven other sports and only one will survive.

That is Kesha. She is headlining this weekend's NBA all-star game, specifically the pre-game show. She'll be joining Ludacris and B.o.B. in Houston. You can watch it on our sister network, TNT, Sunday night.

Got a big story brewing in Washington today. It is the president's State of the Union Address, 9:00 p.m. this evening. And a major announcement on America's longest war. What you're seeing right there, that, of course, that is the president entering -- this is last year's State of the Union.

Tonight, he will tell the nation more than half of our troops are coming home from Afghanistan. Folks, we have been there 11 plus years. The president is set to announce he's bringing home 34,000 U.S. troops, 34,000 troops gone from Afghanistan by this time next year, 2014. That, do the math, cuts the force by a little more than half. So you will have 32,000 U.S. troops still in Afghanistan into 2014.

Stay tuned because we will hit on this a little later, this major troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. But I want to talk now about tonight, about the State of the Union, about gun control and, yes, Ted Nugent.


TED NUGENT, NRA BOARD MEMBER: If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.


BALDWIN: That man, Ted Nugent, says he will come to the speech tonight, unarmed. Not a bad idea. But here you have prominent gun right supporter, how do I say this, known to be a little excitable. You with me. He will be right there in that regal House chamber for tonight's State of the Union. Ted Nugent will be the guest of Steve Stockman, House Republican. Stockman, from Texas, says Ted Nugent's a patriot. Here is more of Ted Nugent, again, speaking last April.


NUGENT: Our president and attorney general, our vice president, Hillary Clinton, they're criminals. They're criminals.


BALDWIN: So, you could say interesting that brewing (ph) in Washington.

Let's talk about this. Let me bring in, from New York, Amy Holmes, anchor for "The Blaze," that is Glenn Beck's network. In Washington, CNN political analyst and Democratic strategist Cornell Belcher. And here in Atlanta, Patricia Murphy, contributor to

To all of you, welcome. The first question I want to ask is, should Ted Nugent be at the speech tonight? Amy Holmes, what do you think? AMY HOLMES, ANCHOR, "THE BLAZE": Sure, why not? We know that citizens are often invited to State of the Unions to underscore political points. Usually the president has folks sitting alongside the first lady. So why not have a Congress bring in Ted Nugent, who will underscore an issue, which, by the way, has bipartisan support when it comes to the Second Amendment. We talk about it on my show quite a bit that you have six Democratic senators who are up for re-election in red states that Mitt Romney won. And you're seeing that when it comes to, say, the assault weapons ban, you're not getting the type of Democratic buy-in that the president sort of suggests.

BALDWIN: Maybe on universal background checks. That's what we've been hearing. But you're right, in terms --

HOLMES: Universal background checks, but not on the assault weapons. So while --

BALDWIN: Right, on the assault weapons ban.

HOLMES: While the suggestion is that Ted Nugent is somehow extreme or to the right on this issue, he's actually alongside a lot of Democrats.

BALDWIN: Cornell, what do you think? Do you agree with that?

CORNELL BELCHER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's just absolutely ridiculous. Ted Nugent is an extremist and who spews forth some of the vilest, craziest stuff you've ever heard in your life. If you don't believe me, just Google it. I mean the ideal that he's mainstream and he should be invited by a member of Congress to sit in State of the Union, it shows you just how far we've gone over the deep end and just how far sort of the Tea Partyism has taken over the Republican Party.

There should be no place for that sort of extremism at the State of the Union. It's not for that. It's a time for both parties to try to bring people together. I think you will hear from the president sort of talk about, you know, how to bring people together, while at the same time, you know, you've got guys inviting Ted Nugent to the State of the Union. It's bad and it looks bad for Republicans.

BALDWIN: You know, Patricia, Amy is right, though, that members of Congress, they can bring a plus one, if you will, sometimes to events like this. What kind of -- what kind of, I don't know if it's a signal, message do you think Congressman Stockman's trying to do by bringing someone such as a Ted Nugent?

PATRICIA MURPHY, CONTRIBUTOR, "THE DAILY BEAST": Well, I think it's a very in your face message toward the president. I think it's actually very disrespectful. It's extremely provocative. And I think it's actually the exact message that Republican leaders don't want to be sending. They have somebody like Marco Rubio coming up and giving the response to the president. They are trying very hard to rebrand the party to be less extreme, to be more concerned about sort of the everyday issues that people are facing. And to bring Ted Nugent, I think, really distracts from that message that the larger Republican body wants to concentrate on. And somebody like Steve Stockman, who has a history of being a little bit Looney Tunes on a whole variety of issues, I think this is just par for the course for him, but I think it's a bad move for Republicans on the whole.

BALDWIN: He's also making other news today.


BALDWIN: Hang on.

He's making more news today because apparently he's also going to be live tweeting the State of the Union Address. So that's making ripples only because some folks are saying it's rude. On the other hand, you could also say, well, the White House is doing the same. But that will also make the headlines a little later tonight.

You did mention Marco Rubio. We're going to get to that. That response and the Tea Party response. But can we give props to Dana Bash, our chief congressional correspondent, because, I'll tell you, this woman, she never stops working. And today she ran down, of all people, the speaker of the House, John Boehner. So let me play this sound. This is John Boehner on tonight's State of the Union.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, I hope we hear something new tonight, you know. I hope it's something new about the economy and jobs and not the same old dribble about higher taxes and more government spending.


BALDWIN: So, Boehner says no more of "the same old dribble," his words. And these are the words of David Gergen, our senior political analyst. Let me read this for you. "The suspicion deepens," writes Gergen, "that the Obama folks have secretly adopted a strategy of making Republicans look so extreme that they will be driven from power in 2014, and the president can then govern the country as he chooses in his final two years in office."

Patricia, let me start with you here. Will we know after the speech whether David Gergen's suspicion is true, that the president is done with Boehner and the Republicans? Wants to run them out of town?

MURPHY: We'll have a really, really good idea. I think that the first shot across the bow from the president toward the House Republicans was his inaugural address. It was something that I think most people expected him to reach out -- to reach a hand out to House Republicans to sort of say, OK, the fights are over, let's start to work together. He didn't do that at all. And House Republicans were really quite livid, very surprised and he marched forward with an agenda that was really quite liberal with gun control, with gay rights, with talking a whole bunch about climate change. These are all very near and dear issues to Democrats, not Republicans. They don't want to work with him on it. And I think that we'll know tonight if he's going to stick with that agenda, which really are about sort of his goals and what are near and dear to him, or is he going to tack more to the center to really try and get things done, particularly on the budget. That's the elephant in the room. That's the biggest problem facing the country.


MURPHY: And is he going to reach a hand across and try and work with them on it.

BALDWIN: Amy, I know your skin is crawling on this one.

HOLMES: Oh, well, no, but I will be listening tonight for if the president's giving a State of the Union that's about governing, as Patricia suggested, working with Republicans to try to get legislation passed, or if it's going to be a speech, as was suggested in "The Washington Post" yesterday, about circumventing Congress through executive action. That would be a very brazen sort of message to deliver in the people's House.

BALDWIN: And if he does? And if he does?

HOLMES: In front of 535 elected officials to tell them, I plan to ram through my agenda through executive order, basically an imperial presidency, and announcing that tonight. That would be pretty shocking and I think that you would have a pretty vigorous Republican response.

BALDWIN: Cornell, I want you to weigh in, but let me get to this first. This is something else we wanted to talk about. Tonight we will have not just one, but these two Republican responses. One from, as we mentioned earlier, Florida Senator Marco Rubio. That's the official Republican response. And the other one from Rand Paul. And I guess you call this the Tea Party response. Cornell, what do you think of all that? Both of these people?

BELCHER: Well, he -- well, first of all, let me get back to the point earlier. It's hilarious to me that a Republican Congress that has an approval -- disapproval rating of 72 percent -- 72 percent disapprove of a Republican Congress. You know, somehow the president needs to be coming to them. The president has literally double the approval rating of Republicans in Congress but somehow the -- you know, the Republicans -- the president's got to keep bending over backward to come to the Republicans. I mean that on the face of it just doesn't make any sense.

I think that it's problematic for Republicans, the dueling sort of speeches of Rubio versus Rand Paul thing --

BALDWIN: Rand Paul.

BELCHER: Because it shows the world that there is really a divide in the Republican -- with Republicans nationally, with the Tea Party and more establishment -- than more establishment Republicans. I mean it is -- it is -- it is not at all helpful for Americans to see sort of how divided the Republicans are. And, quite frankly, they get the understanding that this divide among the Republicans is part of the problem with Washington and why nothing's moving.

BALDWIN: Cornell Belcher, Amy Holmes, Patricia Murphy, thank you all for weighing in. We appreciate it. Of course, we'll all be watching tonight. Do not forget to catch CNN's special coverage tonight begins at 7:00 Eastern right here live on CNN.

It felt like an earthquake, but something just as powerful has rattled the world here. North Korea detonating a nuclear bomb. So what does this latest act of defiance mean to Americans?


BALDWIN: The U.N. calling an emergency meeting issuing a strong condemnation and promising actually to do more. The reason, North Korea detonated a nuclear bomb overnight. Keep in mind, this is the North's third underground test, and really it's the most powerful yet. We're talking about roughly half the strength of the bomb that dropped on Hiroshima in World War II.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This nuclear test was conducted as a realistic response to protecting the safety and sovereignty of our country against the intrusion of the United States' atrocious, hostile activity, opposing our country's right to launch a legitimate peaceful satellite.


BALDWIN: Did you hear that? A warning for the U.S. The test inciting anger and condemnation from the White House, all the way to Beijing.

Let me explain. This was a test. And I want to just emphasize that. South Korea broadcasting this animation here. This is what they saw, showing these series of tunnels here in North Korea's underground test site. This is how we know they did it. So while you were sleeping, this blast here was felt all throughout Asia.

What's North Korea's goal, you ask? To figure out a way to miniaturize a warhead and strap it to a rocket. Two people I want to bring in. Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr and CNN executive editor -- step on with me, Mr. Lister, Tim Lister.

But, Barbara, let me just begin with you, because we saw this animation video from North Korea last week. It shows, you know, a launch in a burning American city. I want you to just explain to me North Korea's capability, lack thereof here, of dropping a nuclear bomb say on a city like New York.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Brooke, the real concern right at this minute is whether or not North Korea really did what they say they did, which is detonate a device underground that was miniaturized and yet more powerful. Miniaturization, making a smaller device with maximum lethality is the key to putting a nuclear weapon on the front end of a missile, a long range ballistic missile, that can then travel thousands of miles and potentially, potentially strike the United States. They did a missile test in December. They did put something up into space. They were successful with that. They've now claimed they've succeeded in miniaturization. If they can put those two things together, this, analysts say, moves North Korea potentially from being just a rogue nation of bad actors into being a potential strategic threat.

BALDWIN: Miniaturization. This is this word that we're learning today, as you point out, to maximize the damage.

Tim Lister, I want to bring you in, because on the flip side, on our end of things here in the United States, we know that there have been, what, hundreds of these underground bunker tests.


BALDWIN: In fact, there was a big of an incident in Nevada. How dangerous are these here?

LISTER: Well, they're a lot safer than doing it above ground or underwater. And those sort of tests were banned back in the '60s. And the last underground test before North Korea started its underground tests were India and Pakistan.

But take a look at this picture.

BALDWIN: Yes, what are we doing?

LISTER: This is not North Korea. This is not the South Pacific. This is Nevada, 1970. The Baneberry test site where it all went wrong because there was too much dampness underground. The geological formations hadn't been particularly well worked out. So you had this radioactive dust cloud erupting to 10,000 feet above the Nevada desert.


LISTER: And several dozen men were contaminated by this. And, in fact, there were lawsuits that went on for quite some time claiming that the leukemia some had suffered had been generated by this cloud. So it's not particularly safe. And you've got to wonder, the North Koreans have now carried out three tests at this site. Underground tests. What's happening to the geology there? It wouldn't affect the United States so much as it would affect their immediate neighbors, obviously.

BALDWIN: Barbara, who's actually helping North Korea here? Is it China?

STARR: Well, you know, this is now the dilemma for the intelligence community. It's -- as we've said, it's sort of like, think of it as CSI North Korea, but you can't go to the crime scene to investigate.


STARR: They're going to look at the test results and work their way backwards at the CIA, trying to figure out, OK, if this was the test, how did they get there? Do they really have the expertise to do it themselves or did they get help? And perhaps, maybe not China, maybe Iran, maybe Pakistan. A lot of concern that Iranian scientists have traveled to North Korea and that they are sharing their expertise. And that, of course, takes this nuclear threat right back to Iran, potentially.

BALDWIN: Barbara Starr, Tim Lister, thank you both very much. I appreciate it.

Coming up next, this fantastic story. This homeless man finds something shiny in a cup carrying loose change. And what happens next means the world to one woman.


BALDWIN: A Kansas City woman's good deed nearly broke her heart. She accidentally dropped her engagement ring into this cup that this homeless man was holding when she was giving him some loose change. She thought she'd never see the ring again. She was wrong. Betsy Webster from CNN affiliate KCTV has this amazing story.


BILLY RAY HARRIS, RETURNED ENGAGEMENT RING: You spare the change today, sir. God bless. You spare the change today, sir? Thank you. God bless you.

BETSY WEBSTER, KCTV REPORTER (voice-over): Billy Ray Harris got that change and then some last Friday.

HARRIS: The ring was so big, I knew if it was real, it was expensive.

WEBSTER: He didn't notice it in his cup until almost an hour after its original owner unzipped her wallet and dumped her change.

SARAH DARLING, LOST ENGAGEMENT RING: My rings were bothering me, so I put them in my coin purse.

WEBSTER: Sarah Darling didn't realize what she had done until the next day.

DARLING: I was so incredibly upset because, I mean, more than just the value of the ring, it had sentimental value.

WEBSTER: It was her engagement ring, after all.

HARRIS: You spare the change today, sir.

WEBSTER: Billy Ray didn't know that, but he knew plenty well how sentiment matters more than money.

HARRIS: She squatted down like you did like right there and says, do you remember me? And I was like, I don't know, I see a lot of faces. She said, well, I might have gave you something very valuable. And I said, was it a ring? And she says, yeah. And I says, well, I have it. DARLING: It seemed like a miracle. I thought for sure there was no way I would get it back.

HARRIS: Spare the change today, sir.

WEBSTER: Makes you wonder why he didn't just pawn it and start a new life.

HARRIS: My grandfather was a reverend. He raised me from the time I was six months old. And thank the good Lord it was a blessing I do still have some character.

DARLING: And I think in our world we often just jump to like the worst conclusion and it just makes you realize that there are good people out there.

HARRIS: God bless you.


BALDWIN: How about that? By the way, this is not the first valuable that Billy Ray Harris has found in the plaza. He says a couple of years ago he found and returned the Super Bowl ring a retired football player lost while drinking.

A frantic 911 call as a teen athlete stops breathing. And what the 911 dispatcher does next the family says could have contributed to the teens death. We're on the case, next.


BALDWIN: Bottom of the hour. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Here's the story. This teenager suddenly stops breathing. A call goes out to 911. But the dispatcher won't send an ambulance until he gets the exact address where this child is, even after they name the school. This happened to one Los Angeles family. This is according to our L.A. affiliate KCBS. I want you to listen here as the coach of a collapsed soccer player is talking to the dispatcher.


LOS ANGELES DISPATCHER (voice-over): OK, sir, can you repeat your address please?

COACH RIVAS (voice-over): Ah, it's Wilmington Middle School.

LOS ANGELES DISPATCHER: What's the address, sir?

COACH RIVAS: Wilmington Middle School field. I don't know the --

LOS ANGELES DISPATCHER: OK, that's not an address, sir. That's just the name of the school.