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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Storm Rolling Through Midwest; Chavez Battling Severe Infection; North Korea Making New Threats; John Kerry Speaks to CNN; "Bush 41" Opens Up About "Bush 43"; Interview with Doug Wead

Aired March 5, 2013 - 08:00   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody.

Our STARTING POINT this morning: bracing for a big snow. A late winter storm barreling down on the Midwest, making its way to Washington, D.C. Those color bars were not the storm. Team coverage on the ground as we track the storm for you.

Then, Secretary of State John Kerry is in Qatar right now. CNN there with him. We'll tell you what he's saying about Dennis Rodman's bizarre trip to North Korea.

The country is making new threats this morning. We'll tell you why they say they'll nullify the agreement that brought peace after the Korean War.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's health takes a turn for the worst. We are live in Caracas this morning.

And Martha Stewart in court today. Why a deal with JCPenney has her in problem with Macy's.

O'BRIEN: At the bottom of the hour, we're going to have a chance to Khalil Edney. Yes, there he is. A high school basketball player who made a 60-foot buzzer beater shot winning the sectional championship.

It's Tuesday, March 5th. And STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody.

Our team this morning: Christopher John Farley in the middle, senior editor of digital features at "The Wall Street Journal."

Daryl Hannah joins us as well. She's got a new movie coming out. It's very intriguing title, "Reading, Lying Bastards."

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Stop talking about Washington like that.

O'BRIEN: Executive producer of this film.

And Roland Martin is with us. He's a CNN contributor. Nice to have you all.

Will you stop that?

Nice to have you all with us.

MARTIN: That's the queen.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I know. And that would not be you.

Happening right now: another winter storm smacking the Midwest, dumping snow and ice from North Dakota to Ohio. Several inches blanketed Minneapolis overnight. Still coming down this morning.

Chicago is now bracing for what could be their biggest snowfall of the season. Some people are saying 11 inches predicted there by tonight in the metro area, one to two inches an hour. I mean, just think about that, two inches an hour.

Chicago O'Hare and Midway airports preparing for serious delays and flight cancellations.

Let's start there with Jennifer Delgado. She's live there. Karen Maginnis, I should mention, is monitoring the storm for us at the CNN weather center.

But, Jennifer, I want to start with you. You know, O'Hare and snow is a really ugly combination.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely, because, you know, when you get those delays at O'Hare or Midway, of course they can end up being hours, if not days at times. Now, we're finally getting the snow out here. Last hour, we weren't seeing the snow.

And right now, it's light. But it is going to be picking up as we go later into the morning and, of course, later into the evening.

When you combine that snow with some of these wind gusts that are going to be up to 30 miles per hour, that's going to lead to travel problems, visibility issues. Now, right now, on the roadways you can see people are getting along just fine. Of course, the roadways are starting to get wet.

But crews have been out. They put the salt down. They've done their job. They're preparing for the storm that potentially could bring between six to eight inches of snowfall.

Some areas locally could see ten inches of snowfall. Now, you're right. This is going to be their biggest snowstorm of the season. They actually need the precipitation because parts of Chicago and northern parts of Illinois are dealing with a drought.

So, again, winter storm warning in place. That is going to last until midnight tonight. But if you are going to be trying to fly out later on today or driving home in that evening rush, you really need to be cautious on the roadway with conditions deteriorating. Soledad, what can I say? It's cold. It's snowing. Happy to be here, but --

O'BRIEN: She lies.

Happy to be here. Here I am. It's snowing and I'm cold. But I'm happy to be here.

DELGADO: The positive. The negative. Freezing.

O'BRIEN: Yes.

MARTIN: Try to go shopping on Michigan Avenue.

O'BRIEN: We are supporting you, but you do -- you look cold and a little snowy. Thanks, Jennifer.

Early as tonight, the nation's capital and the surrounding areas could hit by this vicious winter storm, could see, by some accounts, nine inches of snow there.

The D.C. suburbs of Alexandria, Virginia, are not taking any chances. They're preparing to deploy 4,000 trucks and snowplows.

Karen Maginnis is in the CNN weather center in Atlanta, and she's tracking the system for us this morning.

Hey, Karen.

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, Soledad.

Yes, for Jennifer, she was waiting for that snow. But Chicago, 335 days, they saw no snow. No measurable snowfall. That was until the end of January.

So it took a while for this winter season to really kick up. But look at this -- for Chicago, four to eight inches this afternoon. That afternoon drive time, it is going to be horrendous.

Also the airports, looks like we could see a number of cancellations as we roll through the afternoon. Then for Washington, D.C., we play it forward just a little bit. That storm system kind of comes together, moves across the central Appalachians for the mid-Atlantic, and I dare say for Washington, D.C., you will probably see winter storm warnings issued probably in the short term, in the next couple of hours, it wouldn't surprise me. You could see a number of school closures there as well, as we've already seen in Chicago.

So, a couple weather systems come together, move across the Ohio River Valley. Then towards the mid-Atlantic, pretty sure, very confident this area of low pressure is going to develop here across the mid- Atlantic. After that the computer models are all over the place.

And, Soledad, it's going to be windy. Could see some wet snow. And we could see the potential for some coastal flooding in New England. Back to you. O'BRIEN: Oh, it looks like it's just a big old mess.

Karen Maginnis -- thanks, Karen.

John Berman has got a look at some other stories making news.

Good morning.

BERMAN: Thanks, Soledad.

So, new this morning, Hugo Chavez appears to be losing his battle with cancer. The ailing Venezuelan president is battling a serious new infection, and his government describes the situation right now as fragile.

Shasta Darlington is live in Caracas, in Venezuela, with the latest this morning.

Good morning, Shasta.

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.

That's right. It's that sort of dire language the minister used when he made this announcement on live television, talking about the very delicate situation. This new severe infection that's rattled more than a few Venezuelans.

Of course, we haven't actually seen Hugo Chavez in public for almost three months now. So, for many people, it doesn't come as a surprise.

He went to Cuba to undergo cancer surgery in December. We haven't seen any photos of him since he's been back in Venezuela now for two weeks, just those hospital bedside proof-of-life photos that came out of Cuba. So for a lot of people, it doesn't come as a surprise. But it's sort of this moment they've been dreading or waiting for may actually be coming.

And what will happen, of course, if the government announces that Chavez has either died or he is no longer in a position to assume the responsibilities, the full responsibilities of the presidency, they'll have to call new elections. But don't expect any big changes in relations with the U.S. and that's because the man who is set to win those elections is the current vice president, Nicolas Maduro -- pretty much a fire brand there, John.

BERMAN: All right. Our thanks to you, Shasta Darlington, in Caracas in Venezuela -- where the government appears to be preparing the people for perhaps the death of Hugo Chavez.

Six minutes after the hour right now.

And as of about an hour ago, the Sistine Chapel has been closed to the public in preparation for the conclave to elect a new pope. When the conclave will happen is still a mystery right now. The Vatican spokesman says he senses no desire to rush to set a date, but we now know it is not necessary for all cardinal electors to be president (ph) to set a conclave date. About 110 of the 115 cardinal electors are there right now.

Before the conclave does happen, one of the cardinals has addressed the sex abuse scandal directly. Cardinal Francis George, the archbishop of Chicago, said the next pontiff must commit to what he calls zero tolerance.

This just in to CNN: North Korea is now threatening to scrap the armistice that ended hostilities during the Korean War in the 1950s if the South and the United States continue their annual military drills. That is according to the South Korea's Yonhap News Agency. This all happening at the U.S. Security Council gets ready to meet the morning to begin punishing North Korea for its third nuclear test last month.

According to "Reuters", China is on board with possible sanctions this time.

A hazing scandal erupting this morning at a prestigious high school here at New York City. Three members of the track team at the Bronx High School of Science arrested. Police say they physically and sexually abused a freshman member of the team over a three-month period.

O'BRIEN: Jeez.

BERMAN: The students all aged 16 and 17 are charged as adults. The school suspending all track events until the investigation is completed.

A new aerial view of that deadly sinkhole near Tampa. Demolition crews exposing what is left of the room after the sinkhole opened up under 37-year-old Jeff Bush's bed. He is presumed dead after that hole just swallowed him up.

And a second sinkhole just three miles away has that neighborhood on edge. This one opened up in a backyard yesterday. There was no structural damage to homes though a fence dividing two homes was damaged. The family who lives there now, now says they want to move.

O'BRIEN: Can you imagine trying to sleep at night when there's a sinkhole in your backyard after your neighbor a couple miles away was sucked under? It's going to be terrifying.

CHRISTOPHER JOHN FARLEY, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: You wouldn't be sleeping much, I think.

O'BRIEN: Yes, exactly. I can understand that.

So, this just into CNN this morning. Secretary of State John Kerry is talking to CNN's Jill Dougherty during his first official trip to the Middle East on the situation in Syria. Secretary Kerry says he hopes nonmilitary and the opposition will be helping.

Jill Dougherty is on the phone for us from Doha in Qatar.

Good morning, Jill.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Hey. Good morning, Soledad.

In this interview I think what came out, the most interesting part to me, was something that really has emerged on this very long trip, 11 days, nine nations. That is the -- you know, we've been talking about would the United States arm the opposition.

Well, it looks as if the United States is leaving it to others to arm the opposition. It's obvious that other countries, Qatar where we are right now, Saudi Arabia, are providing weapons. And that seems to be OK with the United States. But the U.S. so far is not going to do it.

Let's listen to what Secretary Kerry said when I asked him about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: In the next weeks and months, our hope is that this ratcheting up can avoid the level of killing and provide a window of opportunity for President Assad and the Russians and Iranians and others to get a negotiation that actually saves lives and provides a transitional government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOUGHERTY: And also, we got into Iran. Secretary Kerry's role in the administration. After all, he is the new secretary of state.

And then one other thing, I asked him about Dennis Rodman in North Korea meeting Kim Jong Un. And Secretary Kerry, as a diplomat he himself, said that, "Well, he's a great basketball player." And that's about how he handled that one.

Basically he thinks it ought to be government to government when you deal with North Korea -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: He's on my turf and he should stick to basketball.

Jill Dougherty for us this morning by phone -- thank you, Jill.

Up next this morning, a father feels some serious pain for his son who's being torn apart in public. We're not talking about any father/son relationship. Really intimate details from a new book written by President Bush 41 about his relationship with President Bush 43. It's all about the letters that they exchange.

Then this -- it's one of the best buzzer beaters ever in the history of forever as my kids would say. It wasn't in the NBA. High school basketball player, 60-foot throw wins the team's sectional championship. We're going to chat with him about that experience. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: New revelation this is morning about the relationship between our 41st president and his president son in the days after Hurricane Katrina, as George W. Bush faced a lot of public outrage over his response to the disaster.

His father, President Bush, wrote this to a friend, "My heart went out to him. Here's a guy who cares deeply, who wants every possible resource of the federal government brought in to bear to help people. Yet he's been roundly accused of not giving a damn. The critics do not know what's in 43's heart, how deeply he feels about the hurt, the anguish, the losses affecting so many people, most of them poor."

The reflections are revealed in an updated collection of president's personal correspondence called "All The Best, George Bush: My Life in Letters and Other Writings," and it's being released today. Doug Wead, served a special assistant to President George H.W. Bush and also an adviser to his son, George W. Bush. Nice to have you with us. Thanks for talking with us.

WEAD, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRES. GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Thanks, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: So, let's start with hurricane Katrina, because that's a story I know really, really well. And I spent a lot of time in New Orleans, and I remember covering that story and getting the sense that it was a disaster on the ground, but also a big disaster for President Bush.

So, to read a little bit of that letter where 41 believes that somehow his son has been sort of mis -- inappropriately blamed for the mess, I found that a little bit strange. I guess, a lot of the take is more about a father than a president.

WEAD: Yes. You know, Barry Fitz (ph) writes about this and speaks about this and says that what we say about a person's children is far more impactful than what we say about them. So, the president's being very human here, the former president, in expressing how hurt he is. And he's touched a raw nerve. This was a serious political problem for his son.

O'BRIEN: He goes on to write, "61 years ago to this very day, this is the same letter, "I was shot down by the Japanese over Chichi Jima. Now, I see some of his most nasty critics trying to shoot down my beloved son. Shoot him down by means spirited attacks. I was a scared kid back then. Now, I'm just an angry old man hurting for my son."

Again, that was kind of an interesting connecting between -- you know, my son as the victim when his son is the president of the United States really responsible for how that disaster was, you know, being rolled out.

WEAD: Well, he's showing the vulnerability of the moment. And, you know, I think this is one of the greatest books ever written by a former president, because it's not stream of consciousness, it's stream of heart. It's how he feels. And public figures will give you dates and times and quotes, but they guard how they feel. And here, the former president is letting it all out. He's hurting very deeply. And it's revealing to me that the illustration he uses is when he was vulnerable. It wasn't that he was hurt so badly, the shot down over the pacific as much as he was very vulnerable, dependent on others. And I think they felt that political vulnerability at that time.

ROLAND MARTIN: Hey, Doug, it's Roland Martin here. As a historian --

WEAD: Hey, Roland.

MARTIN: -- are you somewhat saddened by the fact that few people today actually write letters? When you look at the audiotapes of previous presidents that we're not going to have the same sort of look into a president's mind or former president's mind because they're not communicating the way they used to for us to be able to analyze what they say and what they thought?

WEAD: That's a very good point, Roland. And he was a great -- and is still a great writer. You know, there's one point, though, he was a tweeter before Twitter, because his little notes, they were short. They were not long essays.

MARTIN: In the margins.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Yes.

WEAD: And yet, they revealed a lot.

O'BRIEN: Let me read another bit. This is a letter from the day that the U.S. tanks rolled into Baghdad, and Saddam Hussein's regime fell. He wrote this to his son

I guess it's an e-mail to his son. "Bar," as in Barbara, "and I are at your side. I hope you can feel it. We will stay out of the way, but I am there beside you. My heart overflowing with happiness on this day of vindication. No doubt, tough times lie ahead, but henceforth, here and abroad, there will never be any doubts about our commander in chief, about his leadership, about our boy, George."

BERMAN: You know, that phrase our boy, George, my boy, George, actually got him into a lot of trouble of the 2000 political campaign. George H.W. Bush did a political event for his son W during the 2000 primaries, and he introduced his son. He goes, my son, my boy, George W. Bush, and he was ridiculed for that right there.

It sort of demeaned his son who was running for president. And of course, John McCain went on to win that primary.

O'BRIEN: There's very interesting words in that, right? The vindication part of that. We're talking about the rolling in to Iraq and the fall of Saddam Hussein. And some of this letter, as much as it's George H.W. Bush writing to his son, it's a lot about George H.W. Bush, really. WEAD: It is. It is. And the word "vindication," you know, we have to remember that Saddam Hussein ordered the assassination of George Herbert Walker Bush. And before the Iraq war began, Uday Hussein, the son of Saddam Hussein, publicly announced let not he who attacks us think that his mother and children will be safe.

So, this was a vindication. That word is very revealing. I think historians are going to have a field day going over these notes. This is a great book.

O'BRIEN: He says never any doubts about his leadership, about our boy, George. I think historians will also be really obviously looking into that as well. Nice to have you with us this morning.

WEAD: Thanks, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: The name of the book is -- what's the name? "All The Best." I know. Sorry. It's hard to read from here. "All The Best, George H.W. Bush." Thank you, Doug, for talking with us this morning. We appreciate it.

Ahead this morning, holy captured suspect, Batman. A caped crusader comes to the help of police. Look at this guy, but look at his outfit.

BERMAN: Sort of looking more of the Adam West (ph) Batman.

O'BRIEN: He's sort of the middle-aged Batman coming to the rescue. We'll have details of what happened here straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Trending online this morning, Batman's kind of let himself go a little bit in between the sequels.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Wait a minute. This is the surveillance video. Authorities in Britain completely baffled when they say a real life superhero, a guy who's dressed in a completely full Batman outfit, showed up to the station, dropping off a suspect wanted in a burglary. They even mentioned Batman in the official press release, then he just turned and left.

(LAUGHTER)

FARLEY: Was the suspect also a super villain?

O'BRIEN: Apparently not. Suspect, regular burglar guy.

DARYL HANNAH, ACTRESS: I love it. I think it's great.

MARTIN: The suspect is going, dude, seriously. You in a Batman outfit.

O'BRIEN: And then he dropped him off at a police station. MARTIN: Right. Seriously?

O'BRIEN: And then this one, already one of the most anticipated movies of the year. Will Ferrell is reprising his role as Ron Burgundy in "Anchorman: The Legend Continues." Now, a Hollywood giant is joining cast. Harrison Ford is going to play a veteran news anchor.

MARTIN: Again?

O'BRIEN: Again. Right. What movie was that?

(CHANTING) "Morning Glory."

O'BRIEN: "Morning Glory." He was good in that. I liked that movie. You don't like the movie?

BERMAN: it was brilliant.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Diane Keaton?

O'BRIEN: He's going to play, we're told --

MARTIN: He's so convincing, John.

O'BRIEN: -- a Tom Brokaw-like (ph) anchorman. I thought Diane Keaton's outfits were very good anchor outfits. That's what I judged on. So, it's safe to say that he will not be saying this.

(LAUGHTER)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love scotch. That is good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're on!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You look awfully nice tonight. Maybe don't wear a bra next time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're on!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're on the air right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: This movie was so funny. "The Anchorman" sequel will be coming out in December.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: I bet you have the first one at home on DVD. O'BRIEN: I don't have it on DVD, but I did like it. It was research into my industry.

MARTIN: Right.

O'BRIEN: Governor Christie has a message from Washington, D.C. Fix the --

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: -- forced spending cuts. His sharp word of challenge over the lack of leadership. We'll explain what he said coming up next.

And then, he is the latest basketball sensation. High school player makes the shot of his life, beats the buzzer, and beats the other team, too, in the cross court toss. We'll meet the star, chat with him about how it went down, up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. Big story this morning, the weather. Millions in the Midwest right now either getting ready or already dealing with several inches of snow. It's all thanks to a powerful winter system that's making its way east heading toward the nation's capital.

It's already dumped inches of ice and snow on major metropolitan areas from the Dakotas to Indiana. In Minneapolis where it is still snowing right now, they've gotten 3.9 inches overnight. Milwaukee is looking at two to five inches. Indianapolis, three to five inches. Right now, Chicago bracing for four to eight inches.

Some people are saying actually it's going to be more expected by tonight, and that would make it the most of the season. John Berman is looking at that and other stories for us this morning.

BERMAN: Thanks, Soledad.

In just a few hours when her murder trial resumes, Jodi Arias will be back on the witness stand for a 15th day. This will be another day of redirect examination for the defense.