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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Port City Prepares For Cruise Ship; Crippled Cruise Ship Heads To Port; Shooting At Olympic Superstar's Home; Naked And Beaten; Senate Committee Takes Up Sequestration; Giant Sinkhole Swallows Park; C Plus Lawsuit Keeps Going; Golfer Unfazed By Black Widow Bite; NBA Player Suspended For Drug Use; Zimmerman Court Hearing Today; Hydration Inspiration; Banana Joe

Aired February 14, 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: Sheila Gurganus is helping organize those efforts and she's the Alabama cruise terminal general manager. It's nice to talk to you. So you've got to imagine 4,000 angry people coming of the ship in a little while. They're hungry, they've been living in disgusting conditions including out and out sewage on their ship. What is your plan to deal with this?

SHEILA GURGANUS, GENERAL MANAGER, ALABAMA CRUISE TERMINAL: Well, we're hoping that we can make it a little more pleasurable for them when they get inside the terminal. We have it set up like a cruise terminal. We're going to have some warm food and some drinks and things in there for them, a clean environment, and hope we can make it a little more pleasurable for them. We're doing the best we can.

O'BRIEN: Go ahead, I'm sorry for interrupting you.

GURGANUS: That's OK. Mobile has jumped up there and there have been so many donations and all of the vendors in Mobile have come out wholeheartedly to support this. The mayor of Mobile, Mayor Sam Jones, has just jumped in there and done everything we can through the city to support this.

O'BRIEN: Wow, that's great news.

GURGANUS: We've had so many people to support this.

O'BRIEN: That's such great news because I would imagine these are 4,000 people who really need that kind of support. What kinds of donations are you getting? What are people in the community offering up for those folks as they come off the ship?

GURGANUS: Well, you know, Krispy Kreme is a big thing in the south. So Krispy Kreme is bringing stuff in and the Coca-Cola is bringing a lot of drinks in. There are a lot of people but we're going to have a cater in with hot food for them.

And Carnival has stepped up the pace and brought in a lot of -- they're the ones bringing in the hot food. Carnival is doing everything they can. I say everything they can to make it a pleasurable experience once they get here. O'BRIEN: Exactly. They haven't eaten hot food or good food in a little while. Do you have medical folks coming in as well? Especially I would imagine for people who are elderly and for people who are disabled on that ship, you know, there have got to be some serious -- potentially serious problems either unfolding or their way to unfolding?

GURGANUS: Well, I've been told by Carnival that all their medical needs have been met. But as a standard, and I will say this, as a standard for seven years when I had a ship here by Carnival, I always, always had EMTs here from the Mobile fire and rescue here in Mobile, and that is a standard thing I do. I will have them here today and tonight. That is not something that I'm doing as a special thing. I always have them here so they will be here.

MARK ORWOLL, INTERNATIONAL EDITOR, "TRAVEL & LEISURE": Ms. Gurganus, let me ask you a question. Where will the passengers actually be staying and how long do you expect most of them will be in Mobile?

O'BRIEN: There's so much noise around you.

GURGANUS: I have a train passing by.

ORWOLL: Let me repeat that. Where exactly will the passengers be staying once they get off the ship and how long do you expect to host them in Mobile?

GURGANUS: Can you say that once again.

O'BRIEN: What Mark was asking you is so where will they stay? They come into Mobile, where do they go? Do they stay in Mobile? Will you host them in Mobile or do they go off to other places?

GURGANUS: Well, Carnival has set all that up and I really can't say where they're staying. They set up a lot of hotels for some and flights, flights to go back home. But I really don't know where they have got them staying.

O'BRIEN: It will be interesting to see how it all turns out. Thank you for talking with us this morning. We certainly appreciate it. Her job is to greet the 4,000 people coming off that ship. That is going to be a tough gig today for sure. Appreciate your time, though, thanks.

Coming up at the top of the hour, we'll take a look at the ship from the sky. We're going to talk with some live team coverage as well as this thing comes steaming in. I do not envy her job today. Can you imagine those folks? On one hand so happy to be coming off that ship.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Limping in.

ORWOLL: A little southern hospitality right about now sounds pretty good.

JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": This thing has taken a long, long time. O'BRIEN: Krispy Kremes can go a long way to making you feel better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think those trains were sent by Carnival to be very candid with you.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I think Krispy Kremes and some crisp $100 bills a lot of them is what Carnival is going to have to pass out.

O'BRIEN: People in interviews have been saying they don't think what's been offered the $500 and some other things have been far enough. So it will be interesting to hear the very first I'm assuming lawsuits that will come out of this and what grounds people could take action on.

Other stories making news though and John Berman has got an update for us on some.

BERMAN: Thanks so much, Soledad. Updating you on a breaking news story, a deadly shooting at the home of South African track star Oscar Pistorius, his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, shot multiple times and killed. We just received this picture of Pistorius leaving the police station.

You can see him there. He's covered up in that gray wind breaker right now. A spokesperson for Pistorius says he is, quote, "assisting the police with the investigation." They have no further comments, though.

Police are not confirming that the 26-year-old suspect they have charged with murder is Pistorius. Pistorius is 26, though, keep that in mind. What we do know is that Pistorius and his girlfriend were the only two people at the home at the time of the shooting, and police say there is only one suspect in the case and there was no evidence of any kind of forced entry.

A video of a vicious beating in Newark, New Jersey, has gone viral on YouTube and three men are in custody this morning. We want to warn you, this may be hard to watch. The suspects are shown stripping the victim, spraying him with water and whipping him with a belt some 50 times. Police say the assault was over a $20 debt owed by the victim's father. Newark's mayor and a lot of people are outraged.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR COREY BOOKER (D), NEWARD, NEW JERSEY: We do not tolerate this level of cruelty, of callous disregard for the dignity of humanity. We do not tolerate this viciousness. We do not tolerate this kind of evil in our community.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Newark police say all three suspects are affiliated with gangs.

The impact of sequestration debated on Capitol Hill this morning at a Senate committee hearing. Automatic budget cuts are set to kick in March 1st. Cabinet members will weigh in on the impact those cuts will have on their respective departments.

Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano already on the record, she says staffing levels of border patrol agents will have to be cut, passenger waiting times at airports will increase because of reductions to the TSA workforce and funding for FEMA would have to be slashed by $1 billion.

So take a look at this. Not one, but two sinkholes have swallowed up part of this park in Albany, Georgia. This is about 180 miles south of Atlanta. Nearby workers say one of the sinkholes started at a mere 8 inches in size before it exploded to this. That's huge! They're likely caused by a whole lot of rain recently.

A Pennsylvania judge scolding both sides in a lawsuit over a "C" plus grade saying it was regrettable that the case is in court, but he let it keep going, rejecting Lehigh University's request to have the case tossed out.

A graduate filed a $1.3 million civil suit accusing professors of conspiring to hold her back after she complained about an internship. She said one of them targeted her about her position on same-sex marriage. The university says she received the "C" plus grade for behaving unprofessionally in class. C plus, suing.

O'BRIEN: How do you behave unprofessionally when you're a student in a class?

BERMAN: They say she broke down crying once and they say she shouted obscenities in class. That's what they say she did in class. That's unprofessional.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But your grade --

O'BRIEN: How is that affiliated with your grade?

BERMAN: It was because -- I can answer that. The grade she was given, she got a zero on class participation. So if you're not behaving --

O'BRIEN: She participated, just badly.

BERMAN: The university says, you know, she was behaving badly.

ROMANS: It's too bad it went this far, but the judge didn't throw it out. He said it was regrettable but didn't throw it out.

O'BRIEN: Did you hear the story about the golfer that was bitten by a black widow spider, decided to take matters into her own hands and finished off the round anyway. The details in today's "Bleacher Report," which is coming up next.

Then he was against some tough competition dog wise but Banana Joe proved that he was is the top dog. Westminster best in show will join us live ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. So here's kind of an incredible story, a professional female golfer bitten by a black widow spider while she was on the golf course. She carried on, though, didn't stop, used the golf tee to dig out the venom and finished the round. Joe Carter has some details for us in today's "Bleacher Report." What?

JOE CARTER, "BLEACHER REPORT": Isn't that the plan from the start? I mean, you don't want to stop mid-round and go to the hospital. Yes, that golf tee, which costs a mere few cents to make may have actually saved her life, Soledad.

Daniellea Holmquist was on the fourth hole at a PGA Tournament and she felt a sharp pain in her ankle while she was playing. She looked down and saw a black widow spider. She said her leg began to swell, the pain became severe.

Rather than quit and go to the hospital, which most of us would have done, she used a golf tee to cut open the wound and squeeze out all the venom. Not only did she survive, she ended up finishing her round. She's one tough cookie.

The NBA has suspended the Orlando Magic's Turkoglu 20 games for using steroids. After the news broke, Turkoglu released a statement saying he was given a medication by a trainer when trying to heal from an injury.

What's refreshing is he did not try to deflect the blame for his positive steroid test. H e says he does take full responsibility for what goes into his body. His suspension started last night against the Hawks.

Duke's head coach Mike Krzyzewski got what I'm sure he was asking for on his 66th birthday, a win over his biggest rival, North Carolina. UNC unranked right now hung with the second-ranked Blue Devils for most of the game until Duke's two stars got hot.

The Blue Devils have now won six straight games and have beaten North Carolina six out of the last eight times. For all your entertaining sports news, go to bleacherreport.com.

Soledad, one word comes to mind when I think about the girl, awesome, awesome.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I would have just left the round, honestly, gotten to the hospital. A little Macgiverish. All right, appreciate that.

So he is the big winner at Westminster, Banana Joe, the best in show, is going to join us up next. Hi, guys, congratulations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, HOST, CNN'S "THE NEXT LIST": I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. This week on "THE NEXT LIST" meet Ed Lew. He's building a space telescope. He said it's going to protect the earth from asteroids.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the space telescope.

GUPTA: That's it? That's the size of it there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. The real one is about the size of, say, a delivery truck so it's about 23, 24 feet tall and 2,600 pounds.

In over a six and a half year period it will scan earth's orbit and map all the asteroids across the orbit because those are the asteroids that could hit us. So it's going to track about half a million asteroids. Each month it's going to discover about 10,000 asteroids.

GUPTA: Each month?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Which is more than all other telescopes throughout history have combined to discover. So it will do that every month.

GUPTA: Watch more on former NASA astronaut Ed Lew and his urgent mission to save planet earth, this Sunday on "THE NEXT LIST."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. A quick look at some of the top stories this morning, a critical court date this afternoon for George Zimmerman, the man accused of killing Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

A judge will decide whether to move ahead with a stand your ground hearing in April. If Zimmerman's attorneys are successful there and prove he had reasonable belief that his life was in danger, Zimmerman could walk out of court a free man.

An embarrassing moment on national TV has been turned into a fund- raising opportunity for Marco Rubio. The Florida senator got some negative press for pausing during a "State of the Union" response to take a swig of water. Well, now his political action committee, "Reclaim America," has capitalized and started selling Marco Rubio water bottles. It will cost you a $25 donation.

O'BRIEN: That's so brilliant.

BERMAN: That is a very smart move right there.

So in honor of Valentine's Day, Google doodle today celebrates George Ferris. Why, that's because the inventor of the ferris wheel was born on this date in 1859. It allows viewers to spin the wheel and get two animals who are featured in a romantic but tastefully romantic scene.

O'BRIEN: All right, later this morning the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange is going to be rung by a dog, but not just any dog. Not just any ole dog. It's going to be rung by Banana Joe, a 5- year-old Affenpinscher who just won "Best in Show" in the 137th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Show. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The "Best in Show" winner for the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is the Affenpinscher.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: But he's so calm when he wins. Banana Joe is with us this morning. Ernesto Lara is his handler. David Frei is back, co-hosted the show the past 24 years. It's nice to have you with us. Congratulations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: What was that moment like?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was an unbelievable moment, something that everybody's involved in dog shows like we are just dreams about so when it happens it's unbelievable, really indescribable.

O'BRIEN: This is the first time an Affenpinscher breed, I think for many people this is the first time we heard of an Affenpinscher breed. Why do you think it such a great breed to be a winner in this kind of show?

DAVID FREI, CO-HOST, WESTMINSTER KENNEL CLUB'S ANNUAL DOG SHOW: First of all, it's a great specimen and great show dog. It has a great charisma in the ring, but I'm telling you going around yesterday doing all the media appearances he did, this is constant Joe. He's calm and collected and happy and everybody flocks to him and loves being around the dog.

O'BRIEN: Some people think of little dogs as hyper and yippy, but he looks completely calm.

ERNESTO LARA, BANANA JOE'S HANDLER: He's a very sensible dog and this breed has some kind of human-like attitude about it, called the monkey dog, and they just possess a wonderful personality. They're just very settled and just great to have around.

O'BRIEN: Why is he called Banana Joe? John Berman was asking this question many times yesterday. Why is he called Banana Joe?

LARA: Well, he came from the Netherlands and this breed is also known as the monkey dog the theme with the banana came to mind.

BERMAN: We might want to cover Joe's ears but we've talked about this before, terriers, small dogs like Banana Joe, Affenpinschers always seem to win at Westminster. How come Americanish dogs like labs and golden retrievers seem to not do well?

O'BRIEN: He's outraged, David.

FREI: We're all outraged because labs and goldens are wonderful dogs. I think we all agree on that, but it just happens they haven't won best in show. The terriers have an edge because they were bred to look for trouble, look for vermin and rats and things like that.

So they're always on the edge of their toes and their attitude is it's my world and you're just living in it. The labs and goldens want to be with us all time and so loving of people it takes that edge away.

O'BRIEN: You were saying that Banana Joe speaks five languages.

LARA: He understands five languages.

O'BRIEN: He barks in five language, communicates and understands in five languages.

LARA: That's right.

O'BRIEN: So Spanish.

LARA: Spanish, English, Dutch and German.

O'BRIEN: What's the fifth one?

BERMAN: The language of love.

LARA: French.

O'BRIEN: So truly you're not kidding when you say that.

LARA: He was born in Holland so that's the way he was trained I believed, and when he came here, we all speak English, but I'm from Mexico so I talk to him all the time in Spanish, and when I show him, just every day. He liked it, too.

ORWOLL: You're his handler. What does a handler do with a dog like this? What's your role?

LARA: In a way sort of like a housing jockey, you have a dog in the derby, make sure the dog is in top condition, that he's trained in tiptop shape, but also you are like his confidant. You train them, you teach him, his best friend.

O'BRIEN: So he is talking to you. You're his confidant.

BERMAN: What is next for Joe?

LARA: Retirement. Now I guess he'll have a very quiet life and maybe little girlfriends will come his way.

O'BRIEN: I have to imagine he's valuable, you joke about that, but he's valuable for breeding, right?

FREI: That's what dog shows are all about, finding the next generation of healthy, happy dogs and the greatest dogs to put into your breeding program and we want more Joes out there in family homes sitting on the couch.

O'BRIEN: He's so cute. Good boy. Congratulations to you.

LARA: Thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: And Joe, you're so cute. Thanks for coming in to visit us.

We have to take a short break. Still ahead it is almost over for the 4,000 people who have been trapped on that cruise from hell. Just a couple hours away from a hot meal, maybe some showers, too. We'll take a look at that ship from the sky and talk to some moms who had their daughters on board.

Also a sports world stunner, there's been a shooting at the home of the blade runner, the Olympian Oscar Pistorius, his girlfriend a former model, shot dead inside. We've got some developing details on this story straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, the nightmare almost over, the cruise ship from hell has been trapped in the gulf for days will finally reach shore today. We're live as it inches its way toward land, talking to two mothers who are anxious to greet their young daughters on board.

A shocking murder this morning at the home of the Olympic bladerunner, Oscar Pistorius, his girlfriend shot and killed, the unravelling details straight ahead.

BERMAN: New details overnight surrounding the final moments in the dramatic manhunt for Christopher Dorner. What the people he took hostage are now saying about their terrifying encounter.

ROMANS: It will be the world's largest airline, U.S. Airways and American Airlines will seal the deal. They will merge, what it means for American's survival and for your airfares.

O'BRIEN: It's Thursday, February 14th, Valentine's Day and STARTING POINT begins right now.

Welcome, everybody. Our team this morning, Lou Palumbo, retired Nassau County, New York police officer, Kim Mance, host of the "Travel Channel," correspondent for "Forbes" and Mark Orwoll, an international editor at "Travel & Leisure." John Berman sticks around with us as well.

Right now, we're talking about that nightmare cruise, of course, it's been floating lifeless, if you will, in the Gulf of Mexico. Four thousand two hundred people on board. It's been slowly making its way into an Alabama port with the help of now four tugboats.

Officials say the ship is expected to arrive on land between 7:30 and 8:00 Eastern tonight. Passengers have been describing for us the disgusting conditions on board, some saying that the stench is so bad inside that people have been forced to sleep on the deck.

Kim Kerrigan and Mary Poret are with us this morning. Kim's daughter Ali and Mary's daughter Rebecca are close friends. They are both on board the ship with their dads, on board the Carnival "Triumph" and they are waiting there at the port for their daughters.

Ladies, it's nice to see you. I know it's been a rough go for you. Tell me a little bit if you start for me, Mary, the last time you spoke to your daughter, what did she have to say?

MARY PORET, 12-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER ABOARD CARNIVAL TRIUMPH: The last time, I've only spoke to my daughter one time and that was on Monday, about 30 hours after the fire. She was very scared, she called me at work, I pulled my phone into my office and she was very scared. Hysterically, you know, crying and very, very upset. Mommy, I'm so scared. Mommy, I don't know what to do --