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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Cardinals Continue Conclave to Choose New Pope; No New Pope Chosen By Catholic Conclave; Desperate Search for Missing Teacher; Keeping Teens Safe Behind the Wheel

Aired March 13, 2013 - 07:00   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, it's black smoke and that means no pope. Black smoke billowing there from the chimney at the Sistine Chapel just happened minutes ago. And that means that cardinals have not yet picked a pope.

But could we see white smoke a little bit later today? We're live in Rome and at the Vatican for you this morning.

Then, an intense manhunt is over. Police have a man in custody. He's accused of murdering his grandparents right after they picked him up from prison. We'll have developing details in just moments.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Fire on the water. A tugboat hits a natural gas pipeline sending at least two to the hospital. We'll have the details coming up.

And imagine standing on a golf course when an 18-foot hole opens up right beneath you. This really happened to a guy who was rescued by his friends. And better yet, he joins us live with this amazing story.

O'BRIEN: It's Wednesday, March 13th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.

Welcome everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, black smoke rising once again from the Sistine Chapel. It happened just moments ago. You see the pictures there. And it is a signal from the 115 cardinal electors that they still have not selected a new Pope. It marks the end of a morning session that has featured so far two unsuccessful votes. The cardinals will return four hours from now for afternoon balloting.

And at 12:30 this afternoon all eyes will be back on the Sistine Chapel's chimney where they are awaiting another smoke signal from those cardinals. If they fail to choose pontiff, voting concludes for the day at 2:00 p.m.

I want to begin this morning in Rome. Chris Cuomo is anchoring our coverage this historic morning. He's joined by Anderson Cooper, the host of "AC 360" and John Allen, CNN Senior Vatican Analyst and correspondent for the "National Catholic Reporter." Gentlemen, good morning. CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you. We're still here waiting for the Pope. As part of smoke watch I guess what we can tell you is obviously the smoke was black. It was less than what we saw last night. I guess they did. It also seemed to be two-staged. Which John you suggests could be because two votes to burn.

JOHN ALLEN, "NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER": That's right. They had two rounds of balloting this morning, each of the 115 ballots and all the notes. Because there's not supposed to be any written record whatsoever of what goes on inside the Sistine Chapel. When I interviewed the papal master of ceremonies after the conclave of 2005 he told me there were occasions where we saw two bursts of smoke because they simply couldn't cram all of that stuff in at once.

Part of the pageantry of this, of course, the chimney, the stove they use is from 1939. It's just a big, black kettle stove. Nothing sophisticated. There's a secondary unit that injects the chemical packs to help color the smoke, which so far seems pretty good. The smoke wasn't as dark, but it seemed to be there.

The important thing is obviously the significance. Three votes, no Pope. John you had suggested this is a Super Tuesday of the conclave. This is when the leaders must show that they should be a front-runner, or they go.

CUOMO: It's the make or break moment for whoever was at the head of the pack last night. I mean, you know, to extend the metaphor. Last night is the New Hampshire primary. We find out who has legs as a candidate. Today is Super Tuesday in the sense that whoever that front-runner is, either closes the deal or begins to lose ground, in which case the cardinals realize this person may not get to that magic two thirds threshold of 77 votes and we're going to have to find someone else.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC 360": And a large crowd had assembled this morning waiting for several hours wanting to be there to see the smoke, whether it was white or black, want to kind of witness the history of it. That crowd is starting to fade. You can see people starting to walk away. No doubt a lot more people will be coming back this afternoon. And with each passing hour, the crowd will be building, with each passing day, in anticipation as well.

ALLEN: Well, sure, because with each round of balloting it becomes more and more probable that we're going to get a Pope soon. It was somewhat -- it was a very remote possible ability that we could get a Pope this morning or this afternoon. And certainly if this goes into tomorrow, I think this crowd will swell because the odds go up that you're going to be there when the white smoke come up.

CUOMO: I'm getting a note from the Vatican spokesman, he said the black smoke was officially at 11:39, earlier than we had been anticipating. The rationale, smoke came earlier because once they're familiar with voting they can move more quickly in terms of casting ballots. So that's a little bit of a mystery answered there.

COOPER: The voting process, when we think of a conclave I think a lot of people might think they're actually discussing things inside the Sistine Chapel, as we've been discussing. That's not the case. It's much more akin to a religious ceremony than it is kind of an actual discussion.

ALLEN: Yes. What happens inside the Sistine Chapel is much more like going to church than going to a political. They pray, fill out their ballots in absolute silence, process up, drop them and so on. It's all carefully choreographed, and it's heavily ritualized. So there's nobody standing up and giving a speech and saying let's vote for that guy. That goes on in another venue which is the hotel on Vatican grounds. Right now they're having their lunch.

COOPER: This being Rome it is a rather long lunch break.

ALLEN: Yes. This is not running to the Burger King and getting back to your day. It's typical Roman lunch, takes two or three hours. They will be off the clock from noon until about 4:00.

COOPER: And yes, this is when a lot of work gets done. This is when a lot of discussion gets done, and as we were talking about last night, after last night's vote, there would be discussions after dinner, probably maybe even late into the night.

ALLEN: Of course it depends on whether they get a Pope this afternoon or not. Again we don't know the dynamics. It could well be that somebody is just a few votes short of that two-thirds threshold, in which case it's almost going to be a celebration. They're going to know and they're going to relax.

Now, it could also be that those votes are spread among two, three, four, five candidates, and they're going to go in knowing they have an awful lot of heavy lifting to do if they don't want this conclave to be overridden.

CUOMO: One thing if for sure, they have to send a big message with this decision, because Catholic or not the world is watching this church to see if this next Pope is a reflection of an urgency about the issues that this church faces. The mood, obviously, mostly there at St. Peter's square, has been a big crowd anticipating, will be back later. Miguel Marquez has been watching the reaction. What was the reaction to the early smoke, Miguel?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there was a big, huge reaction. I don't think anybody was expecting that. Now that they've seen that black smoke, people here in Rome are voting with their feet by coming. It appears police have shut off the roads around Vatican City and people streaming in at the moment. I think the expectation is that we may have a Pope and white smoke this afternoon. I'm with three very lucky -- here in Rome, Kevin, and Molly. Amazing. My head still works. How is it to be --

KEVIN MOLYNEUX, AMERICAN WAITING FOR NEW POPE: Well it's complete history. We've never had a Pope step down completely under his own will. And so it's just amazing to be here for that. And then to be here to witness this craziness that's the conclave.

MARQUEZ: And when you see the white smoke, what will that be like?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It will be incredible history. Honestly it's going to be a dream.

MARQUEZ: Why such a big decision this year? How important is it this year?

MOLLY KING, AMERICAN WAITING FOR NEW POPE: I think it's really important, you know. The church really needs some direction, and I think that this is going to be the year.

MARQUEZ: What is your feeling? How great are your hopes, how high are your expectations right now?

MOLYNEUX: Well, I think that right now, we're kind of just going to see. But I think that the cardinals will make a good choice. My host mom here is rooting for card until O'Malley from Boston.

All right, we'll see. Host mom gets a vote. If she does, Chris, it's O'Malley apparently. This place is getting jam packed. Back to you guys.

CUOMO: The archbishop cardinal up in Boston, obviously. Ordinarily you'd laugh that off but fair to say John Allen, the first time we're mentioning an American as a legitimate part of the dialogue of becoming Pope.

ALLEN: I think that's a major part of the conclave. In the old days the idea used to be you can't have a Pope from the United States because you can't have a superpower Pope. You know, America already has too much influence. Everybody would think the CIA is somehow managing what happens at the Vatican.

But you know, we live in a different world. America is no longer the only superpower. My experience with interviewing catholic bishops when you say the word superpower to them, they don't think of the United States, they think of China. So that's changed the calculus somewhat.

And further, there are a couple of Americans who are plausible candidates this time. The very media savvy and charismatic Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and cardinal O'Malley from Boston, simple, humble man wearing plain, brown habit. In a country where Franciscans are rock stars, which Italy certainly is, O'Malley has exercised a kind of, you know, fascination in the streets of Rome that is just incredible. The bar, Chris, where the Roman coffee shops, I was getting a cappuccino this morning, the two girls who work behind the bar were asking me, please, please, please, will the church give us Cardinal O'Malley as Pope? That just tells you the buzz in the street.

COOPER: You hear from that American, like his host mother, they are hoping it's Cardinal O'Malley. Cardinal Timothy Dolan had gotten a lot of press before this conclave began but O'Malley really does seem to be getting a lot of attention. CUOMO: I think it's a combination of two things. One is the Franciscan bit. Which is a religious order founded by Francis of Assisi. And for Italians who are used to thinking of clerics, and particularly cardinals, as aloof and aristocratic, and given to intrigue, the Franciscans are the polar opposite of that. They're simple, humble, close to the people. Dolan, however, is very serious candidate.

COOPER: And Cardinal O'Malley has received credit here for his handling of some of the sex abuse scandal.

ALLEN: Absolutely. He profiles as a reformer, not from his record in Boston, but the two diocese he's been in before he faced similar problems on a smaller scale and had a similar track record as a reformist.

CUOMO: We're getting word there will be a presser from the Vatican at 1:00 p.m. local, 8:00 a.m. eastern standard time. We'll be monitoring that, if anything significant to tell we'll come to you. Until then, Soledad. The three of us here on smoke watch.

O'BRIEN: All right, gentlemen, thank you very much. As the catholic faithful wait for news of a new Pope, new this morning the catholic archdiocese in Los Angeles has struck a deal to settle sex abuse lawsuits. They've agreed to pay nearly $10 million to four different victims allegedly abused by a defrocked priest who is now serving time in prison. The suits claim Cardinal Roger Mahoney knew the priest's behavior and allowed him to continue in his position. Right now Mahoney is in Rome taking part in the conclave.

I want to get right to Monsignor Hilgartner. He's the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. It's nice to have you with us, really appreciate it. How does it feel, this L.A. story, the cardinal who's now in Rome, it's a big deal here in the United States. How much of a distraction, a problem, how big of a deal is it there inside the conclave?

MONSIGNOR RICK HILGARTNER, U.S. CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS: Well, because they're cut off from the outside world, they don't know. Unless this happened and they were able to communicate with cardinal Mahoney before they entered into the conclave yesterday, they have media silence. It's not like they can go back to their rooms at the Domus Santa Marta and put on the TV and check their e-mail.

O'BRIEN: So there is a chance they're operating without really having any knowledge about this.

HILGARTNER: Correct. It really depends on how -- when that went down, and were they able to notify cardinal O'Malley since he was involved in that. Obviously so it's possible that they have no idea that this happened.

O'BRIEN: We look at these pictures of the black smoke, and it was really interesting. John was on the air and I was watching it. About 20 minutes earlier, everybody thought the vote would come in. How likely does it make it that the next vote, in fact, will be aim successful vote?

HILGARTNER: Well, as John Allen just said, we really don't know. There are lots of scenarios. I think that the longer it goes, the more outside the box they'll be thinking. And so, there are a lot of pundits who were saying that a quick conclave would mean an Italian Pope. If it means trying to break a logjam or a tie between some kinds of voting blocs, then the compromise candidate starts to enter into the picture, and maybe that's where we start to see somebody that perhaps nobody's even thought of. We've got all these short lists of 10, 12 names, and depending upon how things go during their conversations, somebody else gets surfaced and suddenly rises to the top, and it might be somebody that's not even been on a list.

O'BRIEN: A winning Pope would need 77 ballots out of the 115 votes to be elected. Give me a sense of, the way you described it, I guess gives me some insight in this which is you have, say five, six people who are now on this list. Does it work that you just sort of narrow it down, the bottom two fall off, or as you say, is it possible that sort of new names keep resurfacing?

HILGARTNER: Well, prior to this year, before the last revision of the rules, they could just keep this logjam going for 21 days, and then it moved to a simple majority. And that doesn't happen now. Pope Benedict changed the rule to say it has to be a two-thirds majority, so there really has to be support and consensus among the body, which makes good sense.

The only difference will be if they get through the end of this week and take the day off, he they return, only the top two names from the last ballot appear on the ballots from then on.

O'BRIEN: So it's a winnowing process?

HILGARTNER: Right now it happens as the natural process. So there may -- we don't know how many names were on the ballot. In the first ballot yesterday you could have had people voting for their friends or just trying to honor somebody with some votes because they knew they would never get elected. And it's the winnowing naturally as people gravitate into camps, and it all happens silently, of course, other than the conversations around the dinner table later today, what's going on now.

So between now and the end of the week, the process is this natural process as votes start aligning. After that, if they have to go through the day of pause for prayer and discussion, then only two names appear on the ballot.

O'BRIEN: I have absolutely no time to ask you this question, but I'm going to ask anyway, holy week obviously is so crucial and so important and such a focus for the Catholic Church, but I wonder if there's a sense to the cardinals that this has to get done to meet that deadline.

HILGARTNER: There probably is. It's an artificial deadline because it doesn't have to happen. But, they don't want to stay in this sequester long. They don't want to be there. And in the 20th century, no conclave ever lasted longer than four days.

O'BRIEN: And you threw in the sequester word, really, monsignor?

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Nice to have you with us. As always we appreciate the insight.

Coming up in our next hour we'll be talking with Cardinal Carakese, the retired archbishop of Washington. He was part of the conclave that chose Pope Benedict XVI. And for the first time since the conclave started we're expecting a live news conference at 8:00 a.m. eastern, less than an hour from now. We're going to bring that to you live obviously when that happens.

Other stories making news, John has got that for us.

BERMAN: Thanks, Soledad. An apparent home invasion that turned into a hostage situation in Maryland is now over, but the search is on for the suspect. Police in Jessup Maryland, about 20 minutes outside of Baltimore say five people, three adults and two children, were inside the home at the time. Police managed to get inside and make sure that everyone was safe.

A standoff comes to a dramatic end in Oregon. 26-year-old Michael Boysen suspected of killing his grandparents in Washington state and stealing their car. He has been captured. Boysen was just released from prison on Friday. His grandparents picked him up from prison. They were found dead the next day. A tactical team forced its way into Boysen's beachside motel room in Oregon last night. They used water cannons to blast down part of the front door. Boysen reportedly suffered self-inflicted cuts. He was placed into an ambulance waiting right outside just after his capture.

Happening right now a factory up in flames. Between 40 and 50 firefighters have been battling this huge blaze at a vacant factory in eastern Alabama all night. It was reported around 7:00 p.m. Tuesday in the town of Opelika, about 100 southeast of Birmingham. The plant's been closed since 2008. So far, it's just a spectacular fire, no injuries have been reported.

Meanwhile an intense, dangerous fire on the water. The coast guard now says it's going to let a barge and pipeline fire off the coast of Louisiana burn itself out. It started when a tugboat pushing the barge hit a natural gas line. Flames shot about 1,000 feet into the air. Our affiliate WWL reports one person on the tugboat was burned over 75 percent of his body in critical condition right now this morning. A second person was reportedly injured when he was knocked off that boat. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: All right. There's a teacher who's missing in New Orleans and now there's a frantic search under way for her. What exactly happened to this young woman? We'll have a live report up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O'BRIEN: Developing this morning, a desperate search is on for a missing New Orleans school teacher. 26-year-old Terrilynn Monette vanished without a tries in New Orleans just about two weeks ago. Police say she was celebrating at a bar when she was last seen. CNN's Nick Valencia is live in New Orleans for us this morning. Nick, good morning.

NICK VALENCIA CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. Answers appear to be in short supply as to the whereabouts of missing 26-year- old Terrilynn Monette. The teacher went missing at this bar on March 2nd. Authorities tell CNN there are no new leads in her search.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VALENCIA: It's well into its second week, an intense search for a recently honored school teacher. Her family and friends are grossing increasingly desperate.

TONI ENCLADE, MISSING TEACHER'S MOTHER: I might be sitting here, I might look strong, but inside I'm just breaking. I just want my baby back. I just want her back.

VALENCIA: Police say Terrilynn Monette, 26-year-old transplant from Californian who taught second grade, was last seen on March 2nd. This popular bar in the lake view area of the city. Friends told CNN affiliate WWL, Monette was out celebrating her recent nomination for teacher of the year, for turning one of the lowest performing classes into one of the highest achievers in just a matter of months.

The bar's general manager told CNN Monette appeared to have too much to drink and was cut off by a bartender. Police say she then decided to sleep it off in her car. Police say a witness saw Monette in the parking lot talking with a man around 4:00 a.m. Officers questioned him, but he has not been named a suspect and is not being held. Her car, a 2012 black two-door Honda Accord, has not been found, either. And Monette's mother believes foul play was involved.

ENCLADE: I really do believe someone took my daughter. Someone literally got in her car, and took her. That's what I feel like. You know, I could be wrong, but that's how I feel. I don't think she's let someone into her car. If she did, it was someone that she knew. I don't think she would have let a stranger into her car.

VALENCIA: : Police are checking tips, reviewing surveillance tapes from local businesses and searching local parks and waterways, for any clues in the teacher's disappearance.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VALENCIA: Soledad, new this morning, Equi-search, that mounted search and rescue team from Texas, they're expected to help out with the search today. They'll be searching local lagoons and waterways looking for any signs of Terrilynn Monette.

O'BRIEN: Oh, my goodness what a terrible, terrible story. That poor mother. Nick Valencia for us this morning with his report. Coming up in our next hour we're going to be talking to Toni Enclade, she's Terrilynn Monette's mom. You heard a little bit of what she was saying to Nick in his report. We'll talk with her a little bit more in our next hour.

Coming up next, right now communities in three states are reeling after major car wrecks claim the lives of 15 teenagers. Take a look at what's being done to keep children safe behind the wheel. Live report coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: This week communities in Illinois and Texas and in Ohio all reeling from startling series of fatal car accidents that claimed more than a dozen young lives. The number of fatal crashes involving teenagers is on the rise. And driving instructors across the country hope that these tragic wrecks will at least send an important message about safety.

Want to get right to CNN's George Howell live for us in Atlanta this morning. Hey, George.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Soledad, good morning. When you look at the statistics about teenagers and safety on these highways, the stats are alarming. Teenagers are three times more likely to be involved in fatal wrecks on the roads. That's according to the CDC. And the sheer number of teenagers killed recently has a lot of people talking about safety.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Three tragic car wrecks in three different states claimed the lives of 15 teenagers in a matter of just three days. The most recent near Chicago. Authorities found four teenagers dead after they believe the driver lost control on a patch of water or ice and slammed into a creek. Before that five teenagers were killed in a fiery crash at an intersection in the Texas panhandle town of Dumas. Police say their SUV ran a stop sign and collided with a fuel tanker whose driver was severely burned. And in Ohio investigators say an SUV took a curve too fast and flipped over into a small lake, killing six of the eight teens in the packed vehicle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She sped up. I don't know if she lost control, she jerked, or how fast she was going that she lost control.

HOWELL: Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers ages 15 to 20, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. At Taggert's driving school in Georgia, teenage students are given a quick reality check.

What do you tell teenagers, the first thing, what do you tell them about driving on the roads in your class?

ELEANOR BARNETT, DRIVING INSTRUCTOR: The first 15 minutes of class, I have the students randomly, it's every third student is what it is. And I have them stand up. And then they have them look around in the classroom, and I said all right. This is a third of the students. The first year you drive, a third of you will be in an automobile accident.

HOWELL: Accidents caused by everything from distracted driving to drunk driving. A study by the governor's highway safety association shows the number of fatal crashes for 16 and 17-year-olds rose 19 percent during the first six months of 2012. From the same period a year earlier.

RANDY DEVAULT, DRIVING INSTRUCTOR: We're going to go around the course. This is a closed course. This is the first part of the person's driving exam.

HOWELL: Even first-time drivers like Kali Katz (ph) have firsthand knowledge of the risks.

KALI KATZ, DRIVING STUDENT: There's a girl at my school that died last year. A lot of people are really disturbed by that. Makes sense.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: So Soledad, you know, in the story you heard about the sharp increase recently. But putting it in perspective, the insurance institute for highway safety, they show that there has been a dramatic decrease in teen-related fatal crashes from more than 8,000 in 1975 to more than 3,000 in 2011. The CDC attributes that to seat belt laws and graduated license programs. So that is some good news. But still a scary situation for teens on these roads.

O'BRIEN: And a scary time with the number of young people who died in this terrible high profile crashes. George Howell for us, thanks.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, today two high school football players will go on trial. They're accused of raping a teenage girl. Pivotal role that social media will play in this case is up next in a live report.

And Google admits to a major breach of privacy. What this means for the internet giant is straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. For the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, there is still no pope this morning. Black smoke rising from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel. Happened about 50 (ph) minutes ago. That's the signal from the 115 cardinal electors that they still have not agreed on a new spiritual leader. That marks the conclusion of the morning session's two votes. The cardinals now return to the Sistine Chapel three and a half hours from now. Then at 12:30 this afternoon, all eyes back on that chimney waiting the next smoke signal. Someone was saying yesterday, maybe it was Arianna Huffington, it's the opposite of Twitter. Smoke signals, Twitter, completely the opposite.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why can't they just text it?

O'BRIEN: One would imagine there would be easier ways, but then you don't have the visual. If they fail to choose a pontiff before 2:00 p.m. deadline, voting will conclude for that day and will roll into the next day.

Want to bring in our team this morning. Howard Kurtz, the host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES," he's Washington for bureau chief for the "Newsweek/Daily Beast." Lauren Ashburn is a contributor for "the Daily Beast" and editor in chief of "The Daily Download." And Bruce Feiler is the author of "The Secrets of Happy Families." It's nice to have you all with us this morning. Appreciate it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning.

O'BRIEN: Are you finding yourself riveted to the chimney and the smoke?

LAUREN ASHBURN, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "THE DAILY DOWNLOAD": Absolutely. I can't get enough of it.

O'BRIEN: Are you Catholic?

ASHBURN: I am.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: There are some who are riveted and are not Catholic. I just think the whole pageantry around it and the history behind it is so fascinating. Although when the smoke first came at about 20 minutes of 7:00, it looked white at times.

ASHBURN: It did.

O'BRIEN: It looked grayish.

ASHBURN: It's not going to be -- sometimes it isn't all white. So you were right to analyze it.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": We have these journalistic army trying to predict which one will happen. The whole thing is so shrouded in secrecy. There's no political consultants, there's no polls you can take.

O'BRIEN: We take polls anyway and ask political consultants anyway.

BRUCE FEILER, AUTHOR, "THE SECRETS OF HAPPY FAMILIES": Speaking of politics, I think we've heard more positive things about the Catholic Church in the last two weeks because of the conclave.