Return to Transcripts main page


Oklahoma HIV Scare; Suicide Bomber Attacks Near U.S. Consulate; North Korea Orders Rockets On Standby; Army Vet's Father: My Son Is "No Terrorist"; Clerk Turns Tables On Armed Robber; Bullet Train To ISS; Big East Showdown In Elite Eight; "Dunk City" In "Big D"; Landslide Jolts Whidbey Island; Congress Urged to Pass Gun Control Laws; S&P 500 at New Record High

Aired March 29, 2013 - 06:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- their dentist in Oklahoma. Officials there calling Dr. Scott Harrington and his Tulsa practice both a menace to public health. We're told some of the investigators who inspected his office were physically sickened by what they found.

Ed Lavandera is live in Tulsa this morning outside Harrington's Dental Office. Good morning, Ed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Well, you know it must be bad when health investigators who do this kind of work for a living inspecting dental clinics are the ones saying that they were floored by what they found.


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. I mean that's just how bad -- and I've 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 inspecting the dental 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 nephew play with them out in the dirt. 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 a nerve-wracking sense of unease. Patients are receiving letters urging them to get tested. DR. KRISTY BRADLEY, OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: The magnitude of these infractions in clinical practices, 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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have reached the office of Dr. Scott Harrington. The office is currently closed.


LAVANDERA: Now those 7,000 patients will be receiving free testing from health officials here in the State of Oklahoma. That testing begins tomorrow, and, John, so far, no criminal charges filed against the dentist. But health officials say they are in contact with the district attorney's office here in Tulsa, Oklahoma -- John.

BERMAN: All right, Ed Lavandera in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The numbers are staggering, 7,000 possible patients. All right, Ed, thanks to you.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a developing story this morning in Pakistan. A suicide bomber blew himself up less than half a mile from the U.S. consulate in Peswara. That's right near the Afghan border.

And hospital officials say that at least six people were killed in that attack, another dozen hurt. Police say the bomber rode a motor bike up to a security checkpoint then detonated about 20 pounds of explosives that he was wearing.

BERMAN: New developments this morning in North Korea's increasingly aggressive stance against the United States. State media reports leader Kim Jong-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 has B-2 stealth bombers, which can carry nuclear weapons over South Korea as part of joint military exercises. The north considers those exercises a threat of war by the United States.

HARLOW: And the father of a former U.S. soldier now charged with conspiring with al Qaeda in Iraq as he fought in Syria says that his son is no terrorist. In fact, he says that his son, Eric Harroun, is a hero for fighting alongside Syria's opposition. The FBI arrested Harroun on Tuesday near Dulles Airport in Virginia. They charged him with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction outside of the United States, specifically a rocket-propelled grenade.

BERMAN: What a run it has been for the S&P 500. Yesterday's closing bell the index's 500 large U.S. companies put an exclamation point on a really impressive four-year rally finishing up six points to close at an all-time record high 1,569. The S&P 500 is up 10 percent in the first quarter of 2013. It has now erased all the losses from the financial crisis back in 2008. That's some good news.

HARLOW: It is some good news for investors and this is sort of a gut check. What would you do in this scenario? Check out this grocery store clerk in Virginia, turning the tables on an armed robber. The suspect entered the store with his weapon raised. The clerk rushed in and took the shotgun right out of his hands and the thief just ran away on foot. No one was injured, totally brave.

BERMAN: I'm not sure I would do that.

HARLOW: I don't think I would. I would duck.

BERMAN: Good for him. It's 5 minutes after the hour.

So, was Hans Solo at the controls here? The Soyuz spacecraft managed to get to the International Space Station in just under six hours. I don't know how that compares. The trip normally takes two days.

NASA says equipment and computer software upgrades helped speed up this trip. Soyuz orbited the earth four times before docking. It usually orbits 16 times. Travel time was about the same as Los Angeles to Honolulu, flying from L.A. to Honolulu, a pretty quick flight. Two Russians and one American will be at the space station until September.

HARLOW: And only two top seeds remaining among the top 12 teams left standing in the NCAA men's championship basketball tournament. Fourth seed Syracuse knocking off top seed Indiana 61-50 last night.

The Orange racing to an 18-point first half lead over the outclassed Hoosiers and never looking back. That sets up an elite eight match-up on Saturday between Syracuse and its big east rival Marquette, which easily handled number two seed Miami 71-61 last night.

BERMAN: Also advancing last night, number two seed Ohio State with a 73-70 win over Arizona. Wichita State was over La Salle 72-58. On the schedule tonight, some phenomenal games, top seed Louisville taking on Oregon then it's Michigan against Kansas. Michigan State/Duke that's a huge one.

And then the one everyone is talking about, 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast University, the eagles from dunk city, looking to keep the dream alive against Florida Gators. Joe carter is in dunk city, Fort Myers, Florida, where fans are already -- wow. They really are going nuts. Joe, how are you? JOE CARTER, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, obviously I'm doing well. John, these guys went nuts when they heard you say dunk city. So you can see the excitement that's here at Florida Gulf Coast University. Look at these kids.

I mean, to see them up at 6:00 in the morning with their faces painted it's nice. These guys really have captured the energy that this basketball team has generated not just in Fort Myers but across the country.

FGCU becoming the "it" team of the NCAA tournament. Look at these guys. I do want to talk to a few fans. Let me ask you real quick, how cool is it that your team and your school is the talk of the tournament?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Totally awesome. We're on the map now.

CARTER: What about the energy on campus this week?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's amazing. It's so amazing. To see all the student body out here. Awesome!

CARTER: It's hard to think? It's hard to hear, but these guys have a mighty challenge on their hands. Obviously, the basketball team taking on the third seeded Florida Gators essentially David versus Goliath in every sense of the word, 265 miles separated these two campuses.

And they're obviously basketball reputations couldn't be further apart. But what love best about this morning was they said, they may be fourth the size, but they've got two times the spirit. And as you see right here, this is a great indication that these guys are excited for tonight's match-up against the Florida Gators.

BERMAN: Joe, the sombrero look on the left we like the most and then, of course, we're wondering this morning, you know, I'm sure all these students will be going to class.

HARLOW: That's just what I was going to ask. Anyone going to class or are classes canceled, Joe?

CARTER: We were joking let's see if they can keep this energy up until noon.

BERMAN: They will be studying hard today.

HARLOW: At the bar.

BERMAN: You know that. All right, Joe Carter in dunk city, good luck to you. Good luck to the Eagles down there. It is really a phenomenal, phenomenal story.

HARLOW: Totally rooting for them.

BERMAN: The 15th seed in the sweet 16. All right, so it is life on the edge for dozens of homeowners right now, wondering every second whether the earth will give way. We're going to have a live update from the scene of a landslide coming up.

HARLOW: Plus, why we might be seeing the last of a TV legend Barbara Walters at least on the air after five decades on television.


HARLOW: Welcome back to EARLY START. Well, that stunning landslide in Washington State still threatening homes as we speak. It happened early on Wednesday morning, on Whidbey Island that is near Coupeville about 50 miles northwest of Seattle where a 1,000 foot stretch of hillside just collapsed into the ocean, destroying one home, cutting off several others. And some folks allowed back in. Others still forced to stay out.

Our Kyung Lah is live there on Whidbey Island this morning. Good morning, Kyung. Investigators, have they figured out why this happened?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, nothing officially, but, geologists are saying that this has been in the works for some time perhaps 100 years. I want to point out the sign over my shoulder, it's a sign warning people to stay back, that this is still an active land slide area, and it is still on the move and style frightening to people who live here.


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: Kind seems like the best interest to go.

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

GARCIA: I wouldn't -- I'd rather not but the situation kind of dictates.

LAH (voice-over): This sort of large landslide in Washington State is a 1 in 100 or 200-year event says geologist Terry Swanson.

TERRY SWANSON, GEOLOGIST: Just beyond the cliff here. So the entire road, this whole section here, about 600 feet to 800 feet of it has been completely rotated.

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

SWANSON: When you get lots of water, the water 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? Have we built on stuff we just didn't understand? SWANSON: Yes, absolutely. Back in the 1930s and '40s when they were plotting this in 1950s, even the 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 of it as like a huge, big huge wave crashing against the cement wall and it was just really strong.

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

MCCOY: She's a little freaked out right now. It's OK. There's just a lot of anxiety about what's going to happen. Will I be able to move back home?

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


LAH: Not everyone is leaving this area. We were at a meeting last night where residents said that they were going to stay. Some say they just love it. Others are stuck here. They don't have the properties insured for this sort of disaster and they can't exactly sell their property at this point.

And, Poppy, if you're wondering exactly how many other houses are in immediate risk, the state says one is in significant risk. There are four at a moderate risk level. The rest are probably safe for now.

HARLOW: All right. We're hoping for the best for all of them, especially that one house on the precipice.

Kyung Lah live for us on Whidbey Island this morning -- thank you, Kyung.

BERMAN: Fifteen minutes after the hour right.

Let's bring you up to date.

There is an HIV and hepatitis scare developing right now in Oklahoma. Seven thousand patients being informed they may have been exposed to these diseases by Tulsa dentist Scott Harrington. Investigators are calling Harrington a menace to public health, claiming he used rusted, unsterilized equipment, also reused needles.

HARLOW: And this morning, we know the cause of death of a Maryland woman aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship last weekend. And the FBI reports that she had heart disease. An autopsy did find a 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: President Obama turning up the pressure on Congress for tougher gun laws. He met at the White House yesterday with people touched by gun violence, including families from Newtown, Connecticut.

The president this is the moment to act, and that the nation has cried enough over violent episodes like the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And the entire country was shocked. The entire country pledged we would do something about it and that this time would be different.

Shame on us if we've forgotten.


BERMAN: Documents released yesterday revealed Adam Lanza showed up at the Sandy Hook Elementary School practically armed for war, with an assault weapon, high-powered weapons, hand gun and a shot gun. Lanza killed 20 children and six adults in less than five minutes.

HARLOW: Black smoke seen for miles around Las Vegas, coming from the Key Largo Casino. More than 100 firefighters had to try to get it under control. A couple of them were hurt. Nothing too serious, though, and no word yet on how this blaze broke out. The Key Largo has not seen any action in eight years. It was supposed to be torn down to make way for condos. Those plans fell through as the real estate bubble burst.

BERMAN: Soaring on solar power. The solar impulse jet making its debut in the United States. The Swiss-made jet was reassembled in the San Francisco Bay Area, unveiled yesterday. The plane will go on test flights leading up to its coast-to-coast five-city tour in May. It's packed with some pretty amazing technology. It can fly day and night for more than 26 hours at a time and it flies in about the same amount of power as a typical scooter.

HARLOW: That's just so fascinating to see what they can do with solar power. I won't be flying on that right now. It's not a big flying fan, but still fascinating.

BERMAN: You can't get an upgrade. That's the problem.

HARLOW: All right. Well, it may be the end of an era in television news. Barbara Walters will reportedly end her 50-year career in television in May of next year. "The New York Times" and cite unnamed network executives. ABC, though, is not officially commenting at this moment.

Bill Carter of "The New York Times" details her remarkable rise in television news last night on "A.C. 360."


BILL CARTER, NEW YORK TIMES: 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, through force of will. And once she got inside that, she's a very determined, and ambitious and bright woman.


HARLOW: A trailblazer for sure.

Walters feature on "The View", either on the panel or behind the scenes still unclear. She did help create that talk show back in 1997.

BERMAN: She broke every barrier that exists in journalism.

HARLOW: Great, great role model for everyone.

BERMAN: You know, we'll see what she does for the next year. I'm sure it will be impressive.

Nineteen minutes after the hour. It is a record, a new one, for the S&P 500. But not everyone came out a winner. We're going to take a closer look at the companies caught up in this stock surge, coming up.


HARLOW: Welcome back.

Minding your business this morning. A new record high for the S&P 500 but investors will have to wait until Monday for a shot at more gains. The market closed today in honor of Good Friday.

Our Alison Kosik joins us bright and early this morning.

Great numbers for people in the market. Long term investors, historic quarterly performance, too.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. You look at Dow and S&P 500, they're sitting at record highs, Poppy. But the S&P 500, we like to look, even though the Dow gets all the headlines, the S&P 500 is a broader measure of the stock market, because it includes 500 stocks, not just 30 that are in the Dow.

So that record high, it's 1,569, that is a little more impressive. And the market did it coincidentally on the last day of the first quarter yesterday.

Look at these gains. Look at these returns. In just the past three months, the Dow is up 11 percent. You know, the S&P 500 up 10 percent. The NASDAQ is higher.

Of course, there are winners in this gain that helped push these major averages higher. The first, the best performing stock during the quarter, Netflix. Its shares more than doubled, up 104 percent since the beginning of the year. Investors seem to like that the company still has room to grow, despite plenty of missteps over the last couple of years. Still the stock has recovered quite a bit. Best Buy shares up 87 percent in the quarter. Hewlett-Packard even up 68 percent. The funny thing is, is both Best Buy and Hewlett-Packard, they're struggling. They're having a hard time. But they're trying to make a comeback. They're trying to go through this turnaround right now.

One of the big losers, though, that was Apollo group. That company owns and operates the University of Phoenix. You see all the commercials. Its stock was down 16 percent.

JCPenney, poor JCPenney, that company is in the middle of a turnaround but investors are not buying its makeover plan. The stock lost 23 percent of its value just over the quarter. It's CEO Ron Johnson, he came from Apple. He got in there, he tried a pricing strategy, pretty much killed sales. And customers just didn't like it. They ran for the exits.

Now he's saying -- now he's bringing back the old pricing because he realized, take care of the customers who like to feel like they're getting promotions and discounts and they want to go to the counter and bring their coupons and feel like they're getting something. He's going to bring this back, see if it works. Investors aren't buying it at this point, though.

BERMAN: If your stock's not rising in this environment, you're in big trouble.


BERMAN: So, what's the one thing we need to know about our money?

KOSIK: The one thing, gas prices, they keep falling, surprise, surprise. And some experts are saying prices may not even go much higher for the rest of the year. AAA says the national average for a gallon of regular dropped to $3.64 overnight. That's 28 cents below this time last year. Hey, usually prices rise in the spring, ahead of the summer driving season. So, I'd say enjoy it while you can.

HARLOW: And it matters to everyone. You know, we talk about the stock market but almost half of Americans don't have a penny in the market. A lot of them have cars to rely on gas.

KOSIK: Gas prices are going to matter.

HARLOW: Thanks, Alison.


HARLOW: It is a reality check for one winner of I dream lottery jackpot. We'll have the story, next.


BERMAN: He'd being called a menace to public health. A developing investigation into a dentist who may have exposed thousands to HIV and hepatitis. HARLOW: Wild animal on the attack. The zookeeper takes on a tiger and lives to tell about it.

BERMAN: New this morning, the Obama administration ready to change the rules for cars that may cause smog. But will you be paying more at the pump as a result?

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. It is Friday, I'm John Berman.

HARLOW: I'm Poppy Harlow, in for Zoraida Sambolin. It is 30 minutes past the hour.

And now to our top story of the morning. Seven thousand people potentially exposed to HIV and hepatitis by their dentist.