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Oklahoma HIV Scare; North Korea Orders Rockets on Standby; S&P 500 Hits Record High

Aired March 29, 2013 - 05:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Just a terrifying discovery. A dentist accused of using dirty instruments, possibly exposing thousands to HIV.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And rockets ready to strike. Yet another provocative move by North Korea's young dictator.

BERMAN: Turning the table. A store clerk gets the best of a would-be robber and it's all caught on camera.

HARLOW: And basketball talk number one. A number one seed knocked off. Top seed Indiana toppled by Syracuse last night. And tonight, the long shots from Florida Gulf Coast look to keep the magic alive.

Good morning. And welcome to EARLY START, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow. Zoraida Sambolin is off today.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is Friday, March 29th. And it's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

I had Syracuse in that game, by the way.

But we're going to start with a staggering number this morning, 7,000. Seven thousand patients getting a startling and probably terrifying news this morning. They may have been exposed to HIV and hepatitis by their dentist.

Officials in Oklahoma calling Dr. Scott Harrington and his Tulsa practice a menace to health. We're told some of the investigators who checked out his office left physically sick.

Ed Lavandera is live from Tulsa this morning with this developing story.

Ed, this is just shocking.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The allegations that have been leveled here by health officials here in the state of Oklahoma against the man who runs the dental practice you see behind me is simply staggering.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): Tulsa health officials say the sanitation conditions inside this building where Dr. Scott Harrington works as an oral surgeon were horrifying.

SUSAN ROGERS, OKLAHOMA BOARD OF DENTISTRY: I will tell you that when the health department investigators, when we left, we were just physically kind of sick. And I have seen a lot of bad stuff over the years.

LAVANDERA: Those health officials say that as many as 7,000 patients in the last six years might have been exposed to HIV as well as hepatitis B and C. Health officials say Dr. Harrington treated a higher population of patients with those illnesses. But when investigators started inspected the tools and equipment in the office in the last two weeks, what they discovered was disturbing and extremely unsanitary.

ROGERS: The instruments that came out of the autoclave were horrible. I wouldn't let my nephews play with them out in the trust. I mean, they were horrible. They had rust on them.

LAVANDERA: So far, health officials believe at least one patient was infected with hepatitis C from treatments in this office.

The news has sparked nerve-wracking sense of unease. Patients are receiving letters, urging them to get tested.

DR. KRISTY BRADLEY, OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: The magnitude and the unknown length of time that the practices may have occurred have prompted public health to begin systematic notification of Dr. Harrington's patients and recommend testing for HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C viruses. As many persons who may be infected with these blood-borne viruses may be infected for years without experiencing any signs of illness.

LAVANDERA: State health officials say Dr. Harrington voluntarily stopped practicing after the investigation of health and safety law violations started a few weeks ago. Harrington is 64 years old, a veteran oral surgeon, who started practicing more than 35 years ago. But it's not clear if the closure is permanent or temporary. We haven't been able to reach Dr. Harrington yet, and this is the message callers to his office hear now.

AUTOMATED VOICE: You have reached the office of Dr. Scott Harrington. The office is currently closed.


LAVANDERA: And, John, those 7,000 patients -- if they haven't received those letters already, they will be getting them shortly. Free testing will be offered by state health officials here in Oklahoma and that testing begins on Saturday -- John.

BERMAN: I would hope it's free.

All right. Ed Lavandera in Tulsa, Oklahoma, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

HARLOW: Well, a developing story out of Pakistan this morning. A suicide bomber blew himself up less than half a mile from the U.S. consulate in Peshawar, near the Afghan border. Hospital officials say six people were killed, about a dozen more were hurt. Police also say the bomber rode a motor bike right up to a security checkpoint, and then detonated about 20 pounds of explosives on his body.

BERMAN: Some new development this morning in North Korea's increasingly aggressive stance against the United States. State media reports that leader Kim Jung Un has ordered that rockets be put on standby, ready to be fired at U.S. targets in the Pacific.

North Korea issued this latest threat after the U.S. confirmed that it flew B-2 stealth bombers, which can carry nuclear weapons, over South Korea, as part of joint military exercises. The North considers these exercises a threat of nuclear war by the United States.

HARLOW: And new information on that colossal landslide in Washington state. You'll recall, this happened on Wednesday morning. It's on the west side of Whidbey Island. That's near Coupeville. That's about 50 miles northwest of Seattle.

A 1,000-foot stretch of hillside just collapsed into the ocean, destroying one home, threatening several others. Some people are allowed back into their homes since then. Others are still force to stay out.

Our Kyung Lah is on Whidbey Island live for us this morning.

And, Kyung, I read this is the equivalent to some 40,000 dump truckloads of dirt basically just collapsing right into the ocean. And I'm wondering, have investigators figured out anything that may have caused this?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they have their suspicions but there's nothing official or declare there from the state yet. They do believe it dates back to prehistoric times, what the land looked like.

Although, Poppy, I want to look at this pile of dirt behind me. This is a pile of dirt and gravel that's' going to be laid down on a trail so that residents can hoof it down about five minutes, just down a steep trail to try to get to their homes, which have been completely cut off by this land fill -- a dramatic change from just a couple of days ago, for residents here who really consider this place an idyllic island.


LAH (voice-over): The view is breathtaking until you look closer. The earth is still tumbling down hundreds of feet. The grass of this backyard dangling on the edge above an impromptu cliff side that took out one house and cut off 17 others.

Daniel Garcia lives -- or lived here. His house tagged yellow means it's possible it could go tumbling.

DANIEL GARCIA, RESIDENT: It seems like the best interest to go.

LAH (on camera): So you want to get out of here?

GARCIA: I would rather not. But the situation kind of dictates.

LAH (voice-over): This sort of large landslide in Washington state is a one in a 100 or 200-year event says geologist Terry Swanson.

TERRY SWANSON, GEOLOGIST: Just beyond the cliff here, you don't want to get too close, and so the entire road, this whole section here, about 600 to 800 feet of it, has been completely rotated.

LAH: Swanson says scientists knew this was coming but couldn't predict exactly when.

SWANSON: The pressure can push the sand grains apart and then there's no cohesion and the stuff moves.

LAH (on camera): And is this an example of man versus nature? That we built on stuff we just didn't understand?

SWANSON: Yes, absolutely.

Back in the 1930s and '40s, when they were plotting this, 1950s, and even 1960s, people weren't thinking about this.

LAH (voice-over): Resident Karen McCoy certainly wasn't when she moved in a few months ago.

KAREN MCCOY, RESIDENT: I thought about it as a huge, huge wave crashing into a cement wall. It was just really strong.

LAH: It cut off the main road to her house. She finally climbed a dirt trail at night to get her cat.

MCCOY: She's a little freaked out right now. Hey, Shea.

There's just a lot of anxiety about like what is going to happen? Will we be able to move back home?

LAH: Daniel Garcia isn't anxious. He's made his choice. The man who moved into this house for the view is now leaving because he has too much of one.


LAH: Now, not everyone is leaving. We were at a meeting yesterday where a lot of the residents said they were staying. Some because they love it, others say they can't, they're stuck here. Their house is uninsurable, Poppy. And certainly, it's going to be tough to sell now.

HARLOW: So, I think the question going forward is, what are geologists telling you about the other homes, the beautiful homes on that idyllic island right on the edge of the cliff? Do they think more are going to fall right into that landslide?

LAH: Well, there is one that is at significant risk. They're calling that one the red card. But there are four others, like Mr. Garcia's house, they are yellow. The others, they say people can come back in. They're probably safe for the next 100 years or so.

HARLOW: Yes, Kyung Lah, live for us this morning -- thank you, Kyung.

BERMAN: Quite a first quarter for the S&P 500, the index of 500 large U.S. companies, capping off a really impressive 4-year rally. Yesterday's closing bell, you're seeing it right there, finishing up six points, to close at a record high of 1,569. The S&P 500 is up 10 percent in the first quarter. It has now recovered all, all of its losses from the 2008 financial crisis.

HARLOW: And it's not exactly the millennium falcon. But this is still pretty darn fast. The Soyuz spacecraft made it to the International Space Station in just under six hours. That trip guys normally takes two days. NASA says equipment and computer software upgrades helped speed up the trip significant.

Soyuz orbited the earth four times before docking. The usual is about 16 times. Travel time was about the same as a Los Angeles to Honolulu fight. Get that.

The Russians and one American aboard will be at the Space Station until September.

BERMAN: The millennium falcon made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.

HARLOW: Only Berman would know that.

BERMAN: Nine minutes after the hour right now.

You have to look this grocery store clerk in Virginia, turning the tables on an armed robber. The suspect entered the store with his weapon raised, but he got off-guard when the clerk just rushed in and took the shotgun right out of his hands. Look at that. Just takes it right out.

The thief escaped on foot without his gun. No one was injured thankfully.

HARLOW: Another number one seed bytes the dust. And now, 12 teams left standing in the NCAA men's basketball championship tournament.

Fourth seed Syracuse representing the Big East, well, knocking off top seed Indiana, 61-50 last night. The Orange opening up a 18-point first half lead, never looking back. That sets up an elite eight matchup on Saturday between Syracuse and Big East rival Marquette, which easily handled number two seed Miami, 71-61, last night. It is the first trip to the elite eight for the Golden Eagles since 2003.

Also advancing last night, number two seed Ohio State, with a stunning 73-70 buzzer, last-minute win over Arizona. And Wichita State pouncing over La Salle, 72-58.

All right. If you're watching basketball tonight, here's what's on your schedule tonight. Top seed Louisville takes on Oregon, then it's Michigan-Kansas, Michigan State-Duke, and 15th seed, Florida Gulf Coast University, the darling of the tournament, looking to keep the dream alive against the Florida Gators.

And the brackets?

BERMAN: Yes, we will bring up the CNN bracket challenge here. Christine Romans, who is off, gloating in all of her victory, is still leading in first place. She's tied with Ashleigh Banfield, tied for first. Good for them right now.

But there's something very dramatic happening.

HARLOW: This is because Berman is no longer fourth to last.

BERMAN: I was last at one point. Now I'm tied for fifth and coming on strong. I have three of my four final four teams still available. I could still win this whole thing.

HARLOW: Put money on it?

BERMAN: No, are you kidding me?

HARLOW: You know, Romans says she made these teams like they does stock picks. She did pretty darn well.

BERMAN: She's out celebrating today obviously.

Twelve minutes after the hour.

President Obama making an emotional plea to keep the momentum alive for new gun laws in the wake of the Newtown tragedy. You're going to hear about this coming up.

HARLOW: Plus, say it ain't sew. Why we might be seeing the last of a television legend. That's next.


HARLOW: Welcome back to EARLY START.

President Obama turning up the heat on Congress to pass stricter gun control laws at the White House yesterday with supporters of new gun legislation. Standing right next to him, he said that this nation has, quote, "cried enough" over violent episodes like the Sandy Hook elementary massacre, declaring that this is the moment to act.

But it is increasingly doubtful that the president will get all of the changes, all of the provisions that he wants.

Here's our Dan Lothian.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than 100 days after the mass shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama senses support for stricter gun laws slipping.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is our best chance in more than a decade to take common sense steps that will save lives.

LOTHIAN: While surrounded by mothers touched by gun violence, the president made an appeal, invoking the memory of Newtown massacre victims to shame Congress to act.

OBAMA: The entire country was shocked. The entire country pledged we would do something about it and that this time, it would be different.

Shame on us if we've forgotten.

I haven't forgotten those kids. Shame on us if we've forgotten.

LOTHIAN: One poll shows support for tougher gun laws dropping 10 points to 47 percent from 57 percent in December. And there's tough opposition to the president's sweeping measures.

What the Senate will be taking up next month lacks some key components the president pushed for -- universal background checks and a ban on some high-capacity magazines.

In addition, four GOP senators, including Florida's Marco Rubio say they'll block any legislation that puts more restrictions on gun owners. In a statement, Rubio said he intended to, quote, "oppose any legislation that would infringe on the American people's constitutional rights to bear arms."

But the president is getting support from groups like Mayors Against Illegal Guns, out with this new ad featuring relatives of the Sandy Hook victims.

GILLES ROUSSEAU: She just wanted to teach little kids. That was her goal. She died doing it.

LOTHIAN: Dan Lothian, CNN, the White House.


BERMAN: It is 17 minutes after the hour right. Let's bring you up to speed.

An HIV and hepatitis scare unfolding this morning in Oklahoma. Seven thousand patients being informed they may have been exposed to these diseases by Tulsa dentist Scott Harrington. Investigators call him a menace to public health, claiming he reused rusted, unsterilized equipment and reused old needles.

HARLOW: And an update for you this morning on a death of a Maryland woman aboard a royal Caribbean cruise ship last weekend. The FBI reports that she had heart disease. An autopsy found the cut on the 64-year-old woman's head, but it likely occurred when she fell. Initially, the agency had classified her death as suspicious.

BERMAN: Nelson Mandela is said to be responding positively to treatment in South African hospital this morning. The 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader is battling a lung infection again. This is the fourth time Mandela has been hospitalized over the past two years.

HARLOW: And black smoke seen for miles around Las Vegas coming, from the Key Largo Casino. More than 100 firefighters tried to get that fire under control. A couple of them were hurt. Nothing too serious. No word yet on how the fire broke out. The Key Largo hasn't seen action in eight years. It was supposed to be torn down to make way for condos. But with the real estate bust, those plans fell through.

BERMAN: Appears to be the end of an era in television news. Barbara Walters is reportedly ending her trailblazing 50-year television career in May of next year. "The New York Times" and cite unnamed network executives. But ABC is not commenting officially yet.

Bill Carter of "The New York Times" detailed Walters' remarkable rise in television on last night's "AC360."


BILL CARTER, NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER: When she started on the "Today" show in 1962, the women were considered sort of ornaments to television. They were not considered to be journalists. And she forced her way into that role, she really did and sort of force of will. And once she got inside that, she's a very determined and ambitious and bright woman.


BERMAN: She was also the first woman who anchored the evening news on any network. Walters' future on "The View" on the panel or behind the scenes is unclear. She, of course, helped create that talk show back in 1997.

HARLOW: And Wall Street hasn't seen a first quarter like this since, well, Bill Clinton was the president and the Backstreet Boys were number one. A closer look coming up on how we got here and where we could be headed next.

BERMAN: The Backstreet Boys?

HARLOW: I know.


BERMAN: Welcome back. We're minding your business this morning.

Financial markets are closed in the United States today. It is Good Friday. But still, stocks have been on a tear recently.

Alison Kosik is with us right now.

And, Alison, the S&P 500, new record high.

HARLOW: Yes. ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And I'll tell you what, if you got a requirement fund, if you got a mutual fund, if you're in stocks, this could be the day, even though the market is closed, this could be the day to go ahead and take a look at your portfolio, because you're seeing the residual effect of the Dow hitting its all- time high, you know, over the past few weeks.

And, yes, yesterday, the S&P 500, it was its turn to make history yesterday, closing at 1,569. That's important because it broke that all time high, that previous all time of high of 1,565. That was set in October 2007.

It was also the last day of the first quarter, and this is important because what a great quarter it was. Look at the Dow. Look at these returns. The Dow is up 11 percent just in the first three months of this year. The NASDAQ up 8 percent, the S&P 500 up 10 percent.

It's really is a market that's kind of riding this night wave. You know, even when there's bad news that comes in, the market just shrugs it off, you know, because the Fed continues to pump money, the stimulus money, into the economy, pushing down interest rates, making stocks most attractive investment.

So, the big question is, if we take out our crystal ball, what's coming next?

So, the path of least resistance seems to be upward. And what analysts are saying, they don't expect a dip in the spring like we've seen in the past four years. That's despite Europe's debt problems blaring up these days. The rally, these analysts say, has more room to run.

One analyst in particular, David Kelly, the chief global strategist at JPMorgan, he says stocks are actually cheaper that they were when the market peaked in 2000 and 2007, because valuations are lower than in previous market highs because company earnings are actually stronger. Plus, you look at interest rates are much lower than in previous years. So, you're going to see investors really taking their task, putting it into stock. It expects stocks to make returns of anywhere from 6 to 8 percent over the next five years.

So, if you're not in stocks, of course, consider your age, consider your financial goals. Who knows? There could be room to get in.

HARLOW: What a turnaround. I mean, one top business leader, one CEO told me recently, he said, you know, we sort of become like kids with really bad dysfunctional parents -- the parents being the government. We, as businesses, just do whatever, because we can't focus on what Washington is doing anymore. Big reversal, and the markets reacted so quickly to every move or non-move.

KOSIK: You're not seeing that reaction more, because the Fed is really pushing the market, pushing investors to stocks because it is the best game if town when it comes to investments. He knows it.

Of course, real estate would take longer for you to make money on. Interest rates are too low. So, why put your money in bond, everybody is running to stocks.

HARLOW: So true.

Thanks, Alison.

KOSIK: Sure.

BERMAN: Alison Kosik makes sense.

HARLOW: A dose of reality this morning for the winner of a dream lottery jackpot. How the past may be coming back to haunt the luckiest man in New Jersey. That's next.

And if you're living the house right now, you can stick any time on your mobile phone, your desktop. Just go to