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Defense of Marriage Act on Trial; North Korea Cutting Key Hotline; Death Aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship; Accusations Against Justin Bieber; Indiana School Voucher Program Upheld

Aired March 27, 2013 - 06:30   ET


SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But take a listen at Chief Justice John Roberts. He asked a question about this whole notion of redefining labels on what it means to be married.


CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, U.S. SUPREME COURT: If you tell a child that somebody has to be their friend, I suppose you can force the child to say, this is my friend. But it changes the definition of what it means to be a friend. And that's what seems to me what supporters of Proposition 8 are saying here. All you're interested in is the label and you insist on changing the definition of the label.


TRAVIS: Meanwhile, Elena Kagan, Justice Kagan, she's one of the more liberal justices on the bench, says this whole notion about whether or not supporting same-sex marriage will actually affect men and women having children, take a listen at what she had to say about that.


JUSTICE ELENA KAGAN, U.S. SUPREME COURT: Suppose the states said because we think that the focus of marriage really should be on procreation, we're not going to give marriage licenses anymore to any couple where both people are over the age of 55? Would that be constitutional?

CHARLES COOPER, ATTORNEY FOR PROP 8 SUPPORTERS: No, Your Honor, it would not be constitutional.


SHANNON: Now, Zoraida, I started by saying that yesterday, we don't have any more clarity of what they'll do, maybe today we'll have a little bit more.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, today, actually the court is looking at DOMA. And at issue here is whether House Republicans have standing to make the case. Can you explain to us what that means?

SHANNON: That's right. It's very simple. Basically the Obama administration is not defending the Defense of Marriage Act. Normally the solicitor general of the U.S. is the one who goes to the Supreme Court and defends it. They're not. So, the House Republicans, they hired a team of lawyers to step in, and defend DOMA. So that's basically what's happening.

So there's the question of whether or not the House Republicans, having stepped in to do this, whether they have standing, the legal authority to actually argue this case in court that could really affect the outcome.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Shannon Travis, live outside the Supreme Court, thank you so much.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A developing story this morning. North Korea says it's cut off an important military hotline to the South. This hotline is key because it allows south Koreans to cross the border to work at a jointly run industrial complex in the North.

Our Matthew Chance is live from Yeonpyeong Island, only seven miles from North Korea.

Matthew, this is not the first hotline they've cut. What's the significance of this?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it's significant because it's North Korea trying to do whatever it can, short of actual military action against South Korea, to kind of damage relations between the two countries, if you like. I mean, you're right. It's cut military hotlines before.

This is a key one because it's a hotline that exists in something called the Kaesong Industrial Complex, which is a jointly sort of operated industrial zone in North Korean territory, where South Korean companies, very high tech companies often, have manufacturing spaces which employs many, many North Korean workers. And so, you know, in the sense that closes down it could actually be damaging to North Korea, as well.

But you know, it's just comes as another one of the threats of the actions that North Korea's been carrying out over the course of the past several weeks, since it faced renewed sanctions at the United Nations over its missile and nuclear programs, to show its anger and outrage at the sort of actions taken -- against it by the international community. And so, a very -- a very serious step, but also just another step in a series of actions that have been taken, escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula -- Christine.

ROMANS: Those two countries at war, technically at war, but they do, on the border there, allow this cross-traffic so that they can work together in this -- in this facility. So what would this mean for deteriorating relations between the two countries?

CHANCE: Well, it's obviously not a good thing. This Kaesong Industrial Complex is one of the sort of bright stars, really, bright areas of the relationship between the two Koreas. It's been an opportunity for the two countries to come together in a peaceful way and make some profits. I mean, it's very profitable for the North Koreans, as well as for the South Koreans. So, it serves that purpose as well.

It's a very important owner, in fact, of hard currency for the regime in Pyongyang. And so, if it's damaged, if this means the companies can't operate there, it will be very damaging, as I say, to North Korea's economy, as well. But I think from the South Korean perspective it's seen as a sort of bridge, literally, and symbolically, between the two countries, and I think many people in South Korea would be very sorry to see that bridge damaged in any way.

ROMANS: All right, Matthew Chance. Thank you so much, Matthew.

Meanwhile, a developing story this morning, the FBI investigating what it calls suspicious death of a 64-year-old passenger aboard a royal Caribbean cruise ship. The Virginia woman was found dead by her husband in their cabin on Sunday. The ship Enchantment of the Seas returns to Baltimore on Monday following a seven-day cruise to Florida and the Bahamas.

No word on why investigators, Zoraida, are calling this death suspicious.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-five minutes past the hour.

New developments in the murder of a 13-month-old Georgia boy. The mother and aunt of one of the teenagers charged in the case have been arrested, accused of making false statements or writings. This is according to an official complaint. The women have been released on bond.

Two teenage boys are accused of shooting the baby to death last week. The child's mother saying they tried to rob her before firing at her baby and shooting her in the leg.

ROMANS: A court appearance this morning for the man accused of kidnapping and murdering Etan Patz. The 6-year-old child disappeared on his way to school in New York City in 1979, but it was only last year that 51-year-old Pedro Hernandez was arrested and charged in this case. He worked in a store in Patz's neighborhood at the time the child vanished.

SAMBOLIN: And new this morning, a fire captain from Dayton, Ohio, is in serious condition after attempting to rescue a driver from an overturned vehicle on a really icy road. Look at what happened when another car comes crashing into them.


SAMBOLIN: Oh, my goodness.

Captain Barry Cronn (ph) was thrown 25 feet through the air but fellow firefighters were able to carry him to safety and got him to an area hospital. We are told the firefighter's injuries are not life threatening. Captain Cronn was trying to free one of the drivers involved in a 12-car pileup on U.S. 35. It took crews several hours to clear. ROMANS: Reports this morning of another possible sinkhole in the same Florida neighborhood where a man was swallowed up and killed in his own bedroom. Two families who live in this duplex in Seffner, Florida, evacuated yesterday after they discovered cracks in the floors and the walls. Fire rescue and code enforcement officials came out to check the home. Still not clear if the problems are being caused by a sink hole under the home.

But you know there are property and insurance companies that look at Florida, and they say there are thousands and thousands of potential sites under homes where this could happen.

SAMBOLIN: I would imagine if it continues to happen in that neighborhood everybody has to check their homes. I would move out. Go live with mom.

All right. Trending this morning, word that a neighbor of teen heartthrob Justin Bieber is accusing the singer of quote, "battery and threats." Los Angeles officials are investigating a confrontation Tuesday morning right outside Bieber's home in Calabasas, California. A member of the singer's security team says the neighbor entered Bieber's property and words were exchanged, but that there was no physical contact. Officials are deciding whether they should file charges.

ROMANS: Prince William may need to dust off his resume. The British government announcing Tuesday its search and rescue helicopter service which employs the duke of Cambridge is being taken over by an American company, Bristow Helicopters. It is unclear whether Bristow plans to keep the same crew employed.

Prince William has been flying an iconic Sea King chopper and it's being reported that fleet is scheduled to be grounded.

SAMBOLIN: I think I would keep Prince William on my payroll.

ROMANS: I think it's good P.R.

SAMBOLIN: A new Nike ad for Tiger Woods is triggering a social media uproar. Take a look at this for yourself. The online ad shows a picture of the number one golfer in the world, he's back up there with a quote from him that says, "winning takes care of everything." It's supposed to celebrate tiger's return to form, and the top of the golf world after a very public fall from grace.

But critics are slamming it. They're calling it inappropriate in light of Woods' past infidelity problems.

ROMANS: A family shattered with children --

SAMBOLIN: Winning takes care of everything. That's not a true statement.

ROMANS: Right.

All right. Firefighters in Riverside, California, say a very alert dog named Mole (ph) as a hero, for leading his master to a hiker who was trapped in some rocks on a mountain for several days. The victim had no food or water.

Listen to Ramon Llamas, Mole's owner, explain what happened yesterday.


RAMON LLAMAS, DOG OWNER: He kind of pulled me over. Pulled me, crying, and I said, what's going on, boy? So it was dark. Still dark.

And I see his face, with the eyes, and trying -- I thought it was an animal. And I talked to the person. He don't talk to me. He was too weak.


ROMANS: Wow. Llamas gave the victim water and called for help. A rescue team then pulled the man out of the rocks, took him to an area hospital where he's being monitored this morning.

SAMBOLIN: That is a special dog.


SAMBOLIN: So, while you were sleeping big changes were taking place on the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. We're going to share them with you.

ROMANS: Plus, lounging in the lobby. Not your average guest -- at a California hotel.


SAMBOLIN: Soledad O'Brien joins us now with a look at what's ahead on "STARTING POINT."

Good morning.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: A lot happening this morning.

We're talking about David Petraeus this morning makes a public apology for the first time after that extramarital affair that forced him to resign from the CIA. So, this is the first step, right, in overcoming the scandal. We're going to talk this morning with his friend, the retired General James "Spider" Marks, and also an Army reserve officer who served under Petraeus.

And the Supreme Court is going to hear arguments today about the Defense of Marriage Act, the DOMA. That states marriage is only between a man and a woman. We'll take a look at how the court could vote. CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is going to be with us.

And then starring in a new comedy called "It's a Disaster", serious topic but a comedy. Julia Stiles will join us live to talk about that. And then Phil has some explaining to do. Punxsutawney Phil, Groundhog Club president taking him to task over his inaccurate early spring predictions.

SAMBOLIN: You have Punxsutawney Phil on today?

O'BRIEN: Yes, we do.


O'BRIEN: Yes, yes! People just had him on Groundhog Day. We have --

ROMANS: I'm told he spent a lot of time in hair and makeup.

O'BRIEN: It's groundhog day redux because the prediction has not been working out for us.

SAMBOLIN: No, it has not.

All right. Looking forward to that.


ROMANS: Speaking of that prediction, we're about a week into spring, right? Winter-like conditions still hanging around much of the country. Will it finally warm up in time for the holiday weekend?

Jennifer Delgado is live in the CNN weather center.

And, Jennifer, you can send us your questions for how you like us to grill Punxsutawney Phil people this morning.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Exactly. And tell Soledad, in Phil's defense, he doesn't have radar. He doesn't have satellite down there.

O'BRIEN: Oh, you weather people stick together.

DELGADO: Oh, we do stick together.

O'BRIEN: I see where this is going.


DELGADO: He's getting a bad rap over there.

O'BRIEN: Oh, no he's not. He screwed it up.

DELGADO: Hey. As I said, follow science, not Phil.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. That's a good point.

DELGADO: And the science today -- exactly.

We want to talk about the cold temperatures out there, guys, and as well as gals. We have temperatures right now in the 20s and the 30s. We are still flirting with temps in the upper 20s. And that means for areas down in the South, we have nearly a dozen states right now under a freeze warning. Anywhere in blue, I feel for you, because it's cold there. And it's cold in Atlanta down towards Florida. We're also looking at cold temperatures, freeze warnings in place even for Glades County.

And temperatures, they are running 10 to 20 degrees below average for this time of the year. We're not worried about the setting up (ph) tomorrow. We are seeing temperatures warming back up. But on a wider picture, the weather forecast is going to be very nice and quiet today. Just a few lingering snow flurries.

You can see for areas, including up to Maine as well as right along the mountains, including the Apps. But for New York City as well as in Washington, D.C., you are going to see some clouds around and chance for a few sprinkles. Sunshine and warm down towards Texas as well as out towards the west.

Here are your high temperatures for today. For Denver, Chicago, you're all going to see a warming trend by Friday. You'll be by average it looks like the weekend for New York City, and the same for Atlanta, but as we move into Sunday, of course, this is Easter. Everybody gets excited. They want to know can you break out your spring clothes? I wouldn't do it.

I think you should just wait on that a little bit. We are going to see chance of rain and some snow setting up for parts of the Ohio Valley and then warm down towards the south. I want to leave you with some photos coming in out of southwest -- and beautiful display of sand sculptures. Let's gets you kind of in the spring fever a little bit.

You're talking about the beach. Beautiful, right? E.T.'s phoning home there. And, we're also looking at Harry Potter. They have about 20 of these giant sculptures.

SAMBOLIN: That's great.

DELGADO: I'm telling you. This is impressive. I can't even do stick figures much less something like that. I mean, that is amazing.

SAMBOLIN: It takes a lot of time and a lot of patience.

DELGADO: It does.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you very much, Jennifer.

DELGADO: All right, ladies.

SAMBOLIN: Say hi to Phil is what she said. We shall.

Forty-six minutes past the hour.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): New era begins this morning on San Francisco's famed Golden Gate Bridge. Every toll on the span is now electronic. So, that means drivers handed over flowers as well as cash to all those toll takers on their last day of work, which was yesterday. Officials say the move will save $2 million a year by eliminating 28 jobs.

But some drivers worry that traffic will stop moving as confused motorists hesitate while driving through the toll lanes.

ROMANS: An unusual guest found his way into a five-star resort in Southern California. A rescue crew from Sea World was called to the hotel after this little guy, malnourished and dehydrated California sea lion decided he needed a little rest and relaxation. Human guests didn't seem to mind.

And the sea lion remained relaxed until the net squad showed up. The pup is resting comfortably at Sea World this morning. We hope he's doing better.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Yes. Hope so. All right. It's a long way from the glory days for Grammy winner, Dionne Warwick. The big challenge the singer is now facing, that's coming up.

ROMANS (on-camera): And call him the comeback kid. Notre Dame's Manti Te'o taking off and trying to leave that fake dead girlfriend scandal in the dust.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Fifty-one minutes fast the hour.

The school voucher program in the state of Indiana has been upheld unanimously by that state's Supreme Court. Supporters of the program maintain that it gives Indiana families no matter what their income more options to educate their children, but opponents call the voucher program unconstitutional, claiming it takes money away from the public schools.

ROMANS: A sad new chapter for singer, Dionne Warwick, despite selling millions of records over a 50-year career. The 72-year-old performer had to file for bankruptcy in New Jersey last week. She blames her financial troubles on bad management in the 1980s and 1990s that left her owing $10 million in tax penalties to the IRS and the state of California.

SAMBOLIN: Sad to see her fall.

ROMANS: I know. Andy Enfield and his former supermodel wife have become the talk of the NCAA tournament. Sport's new power couple sat down with CNN --

SAMBOLIN: Who cares about the team?

(LAUGHTER) ROMANS: -- talks about his family and the unexpected success of Enfield's team, the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. Joe Carter has more on this morning's Bleacher Report. Good morning.

JOE CARTER, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey, good morning, guys. Yes. This whole story is really great. It's more or less shocked the sports world, of course, the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles becoming the first 15 seed to advance to the sweet 16. But it's not just this team that has an amazing back story. Their head coach, Andy Enfield, does, as well.

He was the valedictorian at his high school. He became a great, outstanding college basketball player. He was a self-made millionaire in business, and he's a man with enough charisma, you could say, to end up courting and then marrying a supermodel.

Friday night, his Eagles are hoping to, of course, continue this Cinderella story, but it might be the couple's daughters who want daddy's team to win the most.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My oldest daughter's focus is to go to target and buy dinosaur from the dollar bin, because that was promised after we got back from the tournament.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told her if we won the first game, she could get a dinosaur, and the other daughter would get a Barbie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do they get if you win game three?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They get more. I've already agreed to that.


CARTER: All right. So, Enfield, and the 15 seeded Eagles play Friday night against third seeded Florida. The game is in Cowboys Stadium. Tip-off time 10:00 p.m. eastern Friday night.

Parts of the story getting the most buzz this morning on is Manti Te'o. The linebacker made up for a disappointing performance at the NFL combine by running a faster 40- yard dash yesterday at Notre Dame's pro day. Now, some experts say his new time greatly improves his draft status. He's now moved up to a first round pick. Others are saying, you know what, we're not quite convinced he's star material yet at the NFL level.

A couple of updates from a wild weekend in NASCAR. Driver, Denny Hamlin, who crashed his car hard into the wall during the end of the race, he's been released from the hospital. He cannot race, though, for at least six more weeks because of a compression fracture in his lower back. Now meanwhile, NASCAR has decided a few things.

They're not going to penalize Joey Logano for sending him into the wall and no suspension for Tony Stewart for trying to fight Joey Logano after that wreck.

Chicago native, Mr. T., yes, Mr. T. was at the Black Hawks game last night. The legendary actor had this to stay before a shoot the puck competition.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is your prediction for shoot the puck?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pain! I pity that puck! I pity it!


CARTER: Oh, the always energetic Mr. T. was involved in a slap shot contest. He missed the first two but then he made the third one. Oh, that's so fun during the intermission of the Black Hawks game. Of course, the crowd went wild and when you think of hockey from this point forward, guys you will think of Mr. T. Apparently, he did this a couple years ago, missed the shot, said he trained -- training he was able to make one.


SAMBOLIN: Good for him. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

ROMANS: I love Mr. T. Did not know he was from Chicago.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, yes.

ROMANS: Awesome.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So, just minutes away on "Starting Point," David Petraeus. We're going to have much more on his very public apology.


SAMBOLIN: Thank you for joining us today. That is it for us on EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. "Starting Point" with Soledad O'Brien begins right now.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Welcome, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning is new information. David Petraeus is speaking out for the first time about his very public sex scandal. We'll tell you what he said and why he's saying it now.

Then, the Supreme Court is taking up the federal Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA just one day after the justices took a look at same-sex marriage ban in California.


VOICE OF ANTHONY KENNEDY, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: The voice of those children is important in this case, don't you think? (END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: What do you think? CNN legal analyst, Jeff Toobin, will join us to talk about what to look for when justices grill the attorneys today.

ROMANS: President Obama putting a woman in charge of the secret service for the first time. This morning, we're learning more about her background, and ask, can she help turn the agency's image around?

And pictures you have to see. Terrifying. A light pole smashing through a bus window as the bus driver somehow jumps out of the way, but it's what he does next that's even more amazing.

O'BRIEN: It's Wednesday, March 27th, and "Starting Point" begins right now.

Welcome, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning, a public apology from the former CIA director, David Petraeus. New this morning, the retired four-star general is breaking his silence five months after resigning in disgrace over an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. Casey Wian is live for us in Los Angeles this morning. Hey, Casey, good morning.