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Interview with Monsignor Rick Hilgartner, Rape Suspect In India Dies In Custody; Bloomberg Defends NY Portion Control; Countdown To The Conclave; Justin Timberlake on "SNL"

Aired March 11, 2013 - 05:30   ET



ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Six young lives lost in a speeding SUV, and an Ohio community coming to grips with a senseless tragedy.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Huddle at the Vatican. Prayers and preparations on the eve of the conclave to pick the next pope.

SAMBOLIN: And the congressman versus the kickboxer. New York's Peter King trading actual punches instead of political jabs for a change.

Welcome back to EARLY START. Glad you're with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman.

You know, Peter King didn't look half bad right there.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, no kidding.

BERMAN: It is 28 minutes after the hour right now. Thank you so much for being with us.

It is just about voting time -- and I'm talking about the most secretive vote in the world. Tomorrow, 115 cardinals will walk from their home away from home, Santa Marta Residence at the Vatican to the Sistine Chapel. That walk would be taken twice a day every day until they elect a new pope.

Monsignor Rick Hilgartner is the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop, secretariat on divine worship. He is here to talk about all things conclave.

Thank you so much for being back with us, Monsignor.


BERMAN: We are a day away from the vote here. What happens now? How much last-second politicking is there?

HILGARTNER: Well, many would say it's all about politics at this point, but I think it's important to remember they recognize that this is a very spiritual moment. Their voting takes place right in front of Michelangelo's "Last Judgment." And in a very prayerful context, the conclave wants the doors closed is going to be less about caucusing or canvassing or surveying, and more about prayer, as they each in silence write their votes and then walk one by one up to place their ballot in the urn and say that they stand before Christ who will judge them facing that last judgment scene to give the name that they think before God who's going to be the next pope.

BERMAN: I understand there will be silence in the Sistine Chapel where the voting, but is there silence right now? I mean, I saw -- there was a spectacle yesterday which I thought was extraordinary which is that the cardinals all fanned out to the churches in Rome and they delivered sermons. It felt very much like a last-second audition for a lot of these cardinals.

HILGARTNER: For some of them, probably was. For many of them, probably, in their deepest heart probably trying to canvas that it would not be them. Many of them claiming that they've got their return ticket home back to their respective place after the conclave is over. It probably unprecedented that so many of the cardinals were out in the churches that they have an official relationship with, what's called their titular church.

When they're made a cardinal, they're assigned a church in Rome. So, this was probably their last public day. Today, they're in one last day of meetings and one last day of conversations about the church, and then, there's probably all the little sidebar conversations going on over pasta over little beverages.

BERMAN: And that's where the magic happens here?

HILGARTNER: Probably at this point. But they did say Cardinal George of Chicago said last week that the first vote will be the key, tomorrow afternoon, because that's the first time that they'll all really know what collectively the group is thinking as the ballots are counted and they'll all sit and listen to them, the reading of the ballots and the counting of the ballots, then, they'll really get a sense. It's really how it's going to hit the pavement for them to know what the trends will be.

BERMAN: And give me a sense of who goes into the conclave as the top two or three possibilities.

HILGARTNER: Well, that's been a moving target and unlike in our own electoral system where we've got exit polls and all kinds of surveys leading up, we don't have that. All we have is murmurings and the quiet conversations.

Two names that seem to be appearing right now are Cardinal Odilo Scherer of San Paulo, Brazil, who's emerging what some would say as the candidate of the curia and the Roman bloc if there is such a thing, and then, Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan who has been a name that's been circulating for a while.

BERMAN: And of course, we talk about Americans. We talk about Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and Sean O'Malley from Boston.

HILGARTNER: Absolutely. At this point, I don't think anyone would be surprised if one of the two of them emerged on the ballot.

BERMAN: And we talked about Dolan. We talked about the preaching yesterday inside Rome. I mean, he was literally kissing babies in Rome yesterday.

HILGARTNER: And from what I heard, he preached in Italian, which has been one of the criticisms about him is that his language skills might not be where some of the European candidates might be. But he celebrated and preached in Italian yesterday.

BERMAN: One of the things we talked about extensively is the security that will be in place in the Sistine Chapel. They won't be allowed their cell phones. There'll be no tweeting, but a lot of these cardinals, a lot of these people have been on Twitter. They have been more accessible in a way in this social media era. How do you think that affects thing heading into the conclave?

HILGARTNER: It probably affects their perceptions as much as it's affecting the world's perceptions, because they have an opportunity to know and learn more about each other in the college of cardinals because they're spread throughout the world and some of them don't know each other. And they're reading the same things we're reading in media and hearing in social media.

BERMAN: That's a great point, though. We talk about how this is their decision. They'll be behind closed doors. We don't know what's going on here, but how open are they to the chatter that has been going on around the world? How open are they to the articles, the speculation that are popping up now.

HILGARTNER: They are paying attention to it. Cardinal George, again, last week, in one of his interviews credited the media for circulating candidates and raising names that really make sense in a lot of ways.

There are a lot of pundits, a lot of people being consulted, and some of the names being circulated are based on what the cardinals are saying, though, after the great silencing last week in the media as they stopped giving interviews. Now, it becomes more of the underground chatter and the speculation that we're all --

BERMAN: I credit my wife for this next question. You know, in a political convention, there's deal-making. There's promises that are made. What can you offer if you want to be pope or if you are supporting someone for pope, what can you offer to other cardinals to maybe sway their votes?

HILGARTNER: There are some who would say that there might be potential future positions working in the Vatican in the curia, something like that. But for the bulk of the cardinals, they're already in the positions that they're in for the rest of their lives, and the papacy would be the only other move that they would -- they would make.

So, it's difficult to know exactly what anybody might promise. And in the end, this is a more spiritual thing than a political thing, and they're all going into this with that -- BERMAN: Monsignor Rick Hilgartner, we are lucky to have you here to talk about this with us over the next few days. Thank you so much for being here -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Really, a fascinating conversation. Thank you, gentlemen.

More in Ohio this morning is a city in grief. A makeshift memorial marks the site of an SUV crash that killed six teenagers. This was over the weekend. Police say the vehicle hit a guardrail, flipped over, and landed in a pond. Two teens who survived escaped the submerged vehicle. They went to a house, called 911. Friends and family of the victims are still in just utter disbelief.


KASMOND PARKER, COUSIN DIED IN ACCIDENT: We got to come together as a community because we can't just lose each other like this. And people need to be responsible before they get in any type of vehicle.

DEBORAH CROFF, KNEW TEENS WHO DIED IN SUV CRASH: You know, our heart goes out, you know, because don't nobody want to lose a kid, you know? Nobody want to lose their kid. You know, to have -- they didn't have a chance to live life yet, you know?


SAMBOLIN: There's a picture of the vehicle. Police say speed was a factor in this crash, but it's not clear how fast the SUV was traveling at the time of the accident.

Kentucky State police do not believe that foul play is responsible for a devastating house fire that killed seven people there. It broke out early Saturday morning in the rural community of Gray, Kentucky. Two adults, five children were killed. The cause of the fire is under investigation this morning, and it is believed the victims died of smoke inhalation.

BERMAN: Thirty-five minutes after the hour.

The Japanese government held a moment of silence in Tokyo, marking two years since the earthquake and tsunami that devastated parts of that country and created a nuclear catastrophe. More than 15,000 and more died in the disaster. The subsequent meltdown of the Fukushima Nuclear plant forced more than 150,000 from their homes. Most of them, they will never return.

Sunday, thousands took to the streets of the Japanese capital protesting that country's nuclear power programs.

SAMBOLIN: Well, John it turns out heart disease has been around for a while. A very, very, very long while.

BERMAN: This is amazing.

SAMBOLIN: A new study published Sunday in "The Lancet" showed mummies from around the world, some going back more than 3,000 years had a high prevalence of clogged arteries, a condition usually attributed to modern life, fatty foods, and a lack of expressway. Since these mummies outdate double cheeseburgers, videogames, or 20-ounce sugary sodas, some doctors are now reconsidering the causes of heart disease.

BERMAN: And got to find a new thing to blame there.

SAMBOLIN: Fascinating.

BERMAN: All right. Talking about heart right now. Take a look. New York Congressman Peter King, he is no worse for the wear after stepping into the ring this weekend for a charity exhibition with a former kickboxing champion. I think he looks great.


BERMAN: Look, the 68-year-old really held his own in the two-round bout at a Long Island pub against Irish Josh Foley (ph) who is less than half his age. You know, he's not wearing a mask. He's getting hit in the face right. Who (ph) hits the congressman in the face? Peter King is an avid boxing fan. He's been training for years.

I think the training shows. You know, I should also say he appears on cable television regularly so he has some practice in sparring, you might say.


SAMBOLIN: That's great. Nice to watch.

All right. Thirty-seven minutes past the hour. 1970s TV star, Valerie Harper, putting on a really brave face and speaking out in the face of incurable cancer. We're going to hear more from her just ahead.


SAMBOLIN: Forty minutes past the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START.

New developments this morning in a rape case that had an entire country looking within itself for answers. Police officials in India say that one of the suspects charged in the crime has committed suicide in custody by hanging himself. But the parents of that suspect, Ram Singh (ph) claim their son has been murdered.

He was one of the men accused in the gang rape and murder of a young woman aboard a bus in New Delhi. That was back in December. The brutality of that attack shocked Indians and led to calls for new laws to battle sexual assaults against women. CNN's Sumnima Udas is in New Delhi this morning. Good morning to you. And my question is, why does the family suspect foul play here?

SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the family and also the lawyer has claimed foul play. And the reason is, he said his client was actually under no stress. He was actually very happy with the way the case was going, and there was no reason to suspect that he would commit suicide. Of course, his parents have also questioned that suicide theory and said that he was, in fact, murdered, but the authorities are being very tight-lipped about this at the moment. All they're saying is that Ram Singh (ph) actually was found early this morning. He had hanged himself using his own clothes, but a lot of questions are being raised at the moment because this is a jail, otherwise, known as a very secure jail.

It's one of the biggest in the world. There are about 12,000 inmates there and, of course, he was not in solitary confinement. There were other inmates with him as well, and of course, there are cell wardens right outside his cell. So, a lot of questions are being raised as to how this could have happened in the first place.

SAMBOLIN: So, you're telling us how the lawyer reacted here and how the family is reacting. What about public reaction, because this has been a very high-profile case.

UDAS: Well, the reaction is mostly one of shock at the moment. And again, a lot of people are wondering what will happen to this very high-profile case going forward. Remember, he was one of the main suspects. It was through his statements to the police that the Delhi police were able to investigate, and finally, capture the five other suspects.

He is the prime accused. The prosecution says they do have enough evidence to go on with this trial in the same manner, but the defense lawyer has said he will talk to -- or he will bring this up with the top court, the Supreme Court, and see if he can move this case outside of New Delhi.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Sumnima Udas, we know you're following all of these developments for us live in New Delhi. Thank you.

BERMAN: The actress, Valerie Harper, is speaking up publicly for the first time since being diagnosed with a rare form of terminal cancer. Now, despite the diagnosis, the 73-year-old actress remains hopeful. This is what she said in an episode of "The Doctors" on CBS. Take a listen.


VALERIE HARPER, ACTRESS: It's also incurable, so far. That's the word I'm looking at, so far, because they're doing research, as we speak. And so, I just thought that while I'm still able, because it is brain, to speak and show you that I'm cooking my husband's dinner, I'm walking on the bluff at Santa Monica, and more than anything, I'm living in the moment.


BERMAN: She is amazing.

SAMBOLIN: Unbelievable.

BERMAN: Harper will also appear on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" later this week.

SAMBOLIN: You know, Ed Asner said and he started with her in the sitcom. He said if anybody can beat this, it's her, that he is hopeful that she has the constitution to beat this.

BERMAN: So much strength.

SAMBOLIN: Unbelievable.

Forty-four minutes past the hour. Controversial law is set to take effect tomorrow here in New York City. A ban on the sale of sodas and other sugary drinks in cups and containers that are larger than 16 ounces. It affects restaurants, coffee shops, movie theaters, and many other food service businesses.

The owners of those businesses are fighting the ban, but New York mayor Michael Bloomberg defends it as a way to battle the growing epidemic of obesity.


MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, (I) NEW YORK: We're not banning anything. It's called portion control. It's a typical ways that companies use to and governments use to explain to people what's in their interest and what isn't.


SAMBOLIN: Some people are already being told certain sodas are banned. Others are being told they have to sweeten and flavor their own coffees. New York officials will not begin enforcing the law until June while it is being argued in court.

BERMAN: -- like a mad rush to buy like large sodas. Grandfather in. Like, you know, I'm going to stack my office a 20-ounce soda.


BERMAN: All right. Ahead on EARLY START, the moment when the World Baseball Classic turns into an all-out brawl. I mean, this was an unbelievable fight.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, I missed it.

All right. If you're leaving the house right now, you can watch us anytime on your desktop or your mobile phone, just go to


BERMAN: Forty-eight minutes after the hour right now. Let's bring you up to speed on the headlines.

We could find out as early as tomorrow who the next pope will be. 115 cardinal electors in the conclave will vote for the first time tomorrow. Two U.S. cardinals are said to be in the running and could potentially become the first American pope, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York and Cardinal Sean O'Malley who is Boston's archbishop.

SAMBOLIN: The rape trial involving two high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio will center on one thing, consent. A friend of the defendant's recorded video of the 16-year-old accuser, she had been drinking. He could be heard calling her a dead girl and so raped. "Cleveland's Plain Dealer" reports the defense will say she consented to sex, that she chose to drink excessively, and chose to live with the boys.

BERMAN: A giant sinkhole has opened up in Eastern Pennsylvania. Officials in Bethlehem Township, north of Philadelphia, say one house has already been damaged. The family living there forced to leave. They're now checking nearby homes to see if any others are in danger. The sinkhole has been growing since last week.

This is just two weeks after that Florida man was pulled to his death into a sinkhole while he slept.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So much for international goodwill at the World Baseball Classic. Come watch.


SAMBOLIN: Mexico and Canada clearing the benches, throwing punches, look at that. That was during Saturday's game after a batter appeared to be hit with a pitch intentionally. Some side brawls even broke out between the fans, folks. Canada won 10-3, knocking Mexico out of the tournament. Since both teams are now eliminated, the WBC has decided against handing out any punishment.

BERMAN: You know, you do not see baseball fights like that.

SAMBOLIN: Wow! Oh, look how intense that is.

BERMAN: The good thing, the U.S. is like right between Mexico and Canada. Well, both teams out now.


BERMAN: Other sports news, Tiger Woods looking as good as he has in years. Now, this is just a month before the Masters.


BERMAN: He won the WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral by two strokes yesterday. This is amazing. Woods needed only 100 putts over four rounds. That is the lowest total in his PGA tour career. Steve Stricker finished second. He may have only himself to blame here. He gave his friend, Tiger, a putting lesson right before the tournament started, actually gave him some tips on the practice green.

SAMBOLIN: I bet he regrets that.


BERMAN: Yes, apparently. It worked a little too well, you might say. SAMBOLIN: All right. Fifty-one minutes past the hour.

A taste of spring at least for the east. Ice and snow melted away as much nicer temperatures and sunny skies, right? They grace the northeast this weekend. How long will it last, Jennifer? That's what we want to know.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Zoraida. Hi, John. Well, you know, after such a crazy last week with all the snow and everything else out there, it's nice to see we're just dealing with rain. And, if you see on the radar right now, really just some spring showers, a little bit early out there. Heaviest coming through parts of Kentucky, Tennessee.

For the northeast, you see the blue there, but it's actually not bringing any rain there. We'll start to see that arriving through the mid-Atlantic as well as the northeast as we head later into the evening. A lot of clouds around is going to be the big story for the northeast, but down towards the south for areas like Louisiana into Mississippi, there are some storms there, but we're really not expecting anything severe.

Right along the Gulf States, we could see some stronger thunderstorms developing but no severe weather is expected. Now, behind all that rain, well, now we're dealing with flood warnings through parts of Missouri as well as into Illinois even into Tennessee and that is after a brief warm-up, and then, we had the rain come through so that caused snow melt.

And we are hearing reports that some of the roadways have been closed through parts of Missouri. So, we're expecting some minor flooding there and that's going to continue through Wednesday.

But overall, here's the front bringing the rain, temperatures across parts of the Midwest from Michigan all the way down towards areas including Eastern Texas running about 10 degrees below average, some rain and possibility of some flooding concerns through parts of the pacific northwest, but here are your high temperatures for today.

We're talking 30s and 40s. Again, these are running 10 to 15 degrees below average. A big warm-up coming out from the west and then over towards the east, you can see temperatures in the yellow that's good. Zoraida, John, they're actually running in some of these locations five to ten degrees below average, and then, it cools back down and then warms back up.

So at spring, you get these brief warm-ups, and then, you get some rain and it goes back over again.

SAMBOLIN: You know what, we're delighted with this Jennifer. We really appreciate it.

DELGADO: I know.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you.

DELGADO: No blizzards. No snow. Nice!

BERMAN: For a day at least.

SAMBOLIN: Much better.


DELGADO: Good Monday.

BERMAN: Fifty-three minutes after the hour right now. Lebron James now matching Michael Jordan in one category, at least. We will have the details on the smoking Miami Heat coming up next.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. We're taking a look at the top CNN Trends on the web this morning.

Somebody call Dr. Feel Good. Motley Crue lead singer, Vince Neil, was hospitalized after he walked offstage last night in Sydney with severe kidney stone pain. Guitarist, Nikki Six, said Neil was doubled over on his dressing room floor five minutes till show time and actually tried to play through all of the pain.

He is 52 years old now. The group's next show is in Australia tomorrow, and apparently, it's still on.

BERMAN: Heavy metal, sex, drugs, and kidney stones.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, no kidding.


BERMAN: So, the white, hot Heat, make it 18 in a row for the Miami Heat. They beat the Indiana Pacers last night 105-91. The pacers were actually the last team to beat the Heat. That was a long time ago.


BERMAN: With the win, Lebron now matches Michael Jordan's career best winning streak at 18 games. You know, he still has five championships behind him.


BERMAN: Ten championships behind Bill Russell. Lebron was fairly quiet for the night. He had a season low, 13 points. You know, Dwyane Wade had 23 points and six steals. The Heat are playing out of their minds (ph) right now.

SAMBOLIN: They should.

BERMAN: So as Lebron.

SAMBOLIN: All right. To check out our other top CNN Trends, head to

BERMAN: So, everyone is talking about Justin Timberlake on "Saturday Night Live." There he was with a meatless message, massage, I say, as a piece of dancing tofu in an ode to Hugo Chavez. "SNL" paid very special homage to the late Venezuelan leader.

SAMBOLIN: Here is late night laughs.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it seems to me you lived your life like a candle in the wind.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If a candle could pull out two pistols at a press conference.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you said the U.S. caused earthquakes and outlawed code zero and on your shoulder stood your parrot with a matching red beret.



JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, ENTERTAINER: Have you heard about the new health craze.


TIMBERLAKE: Meatless burger with tofu mayonnaise.


TIMBERLAKE: Just ditch the biscuit, go vegetarian. Hey eat some kale it's so much fun. Ah! Veg out!




We found love in a meatless place. We found love in a meatless place. I wish I had some glow sticks



BERMAN: He is really becoming an iconic host at "Saturday Night Live." That guy is funny.

SAMBOLIN: Veg out. All right. EARLY START continues right now.