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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Senate Debates Gun Control; Three Teen Boys Arrested For Sexual Battery; Hijacking A Plane From A Smartphone; Grieving Family: "Never Text And Drive"; Federal Budget Cuts Threaten New York's Fleet Week; Bob Seger's Coma Fan Gets Her Wish; Deadly Charter Bush Crash; Tiger Within Striking Distance; Tackling Life's Dreams

Aired April 12, 2013 - 07:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Christine Romans. It's 7:30 on the east coast. Our STARTING POINT this half hour, the Senate floor is now open for debate on gun control legislation. The bill is fiercely opposed by Republicans. A filibuster by most members of the GOP was voted down yesterday allowing debate to get under way.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Senators, both Democrats and Republicans, give credit to the families of the victims of the Connecticut school massacre for lobbying members to get the discussion going. Dan Lothian is at the White House this morning with more on this. Good morning, Dan.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. You know, the White House, as well is crediting those Newtown families and others struck by gun violence in moving this debate one step forward. They're also encouraged by the bipartisan progress that they're seeing, but I think everyone acknowledges that there are still some significant hurdles ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LOTHIAN (voice-over): Even with threats of political retribution from the National Rifle Association, a watered down gun bill is headed for a major congressional debate.

SENATOR HARRY REID (D), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Our hard work starts now.

LOTHIAN: How hard? The amendments are piling up. There's the bipartisan breakthrough on background checks brokered by Republican Senator Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Manchin.

SENATOR JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: We did not leave loopholes in the gun shows. We did not leave loopholes in the internet. We didn't infringe on any individual's rights.

LOTHIAN: There's an amendment to ban assault weapons, high capacity magazines and others on mental health and school safety.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: We want to have a bill that the boldest common denominator that we can pass.

LOTHIAN: The critical Senate vote that blocked a filibuster was viewed as an important step forward by many of the Newtown families who've been lobbying lawmakers in Washington this week.

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: We've been in darkness for 20 years when it comes to gun control, darkness, the lies, the misinformation, and when people see you it means much more than when they hear me or anybody else. So, you've made a huge difference.

LOTHIAN: But a cautious view from House Speaker John Boehner about how a final gun bill will look.

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of these victims and -- and I fully expect that the House will act in some way, shape or form. But, to make a blanket commitment without knowing what the underlying bill is, I think, would be irresponsible on my part.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LOTHIAN: Speaker Boehner points out that there are a lot of laws on the books that most Americans abide by them but that criminals don't. And so before you start putting together more rules and regulations, you need to start enforcing existing laws.

So, it should be an interesting next few weeks ahead. And by the way, a vote on the background checks proposal could come as early as next Tuesday -- John, Christine.

BERMAN: A pivotal couple of weeks on the gun control issue. Dan Lothian, thanks so much.

ROMANS: New this morning, three teen boys are charged with sexual battery months after their alleged victim killed herself. Prosecutors say 15-year-old Audrie Pott passed out at a party, was raped, and that pictures of the attack ended up on social media. Authorities weren't ready to make arrest until yesterday. All the suspects are 16 years old

BERMAN: Get this, hijacking made easy, a German security researcher has developed an app that can be used to take over a plane's controls. Just imagine this. Get out your Android phone and hijack a plane.

ROMANS: Whoa.

BERMAN: How scary is that? It works by sending radio signals to the plane that can change its direction and altitude. Yikes.

ROMANS: Wow. OK. A grieving Colorado family hopes to convince people to stop texting and driving with this image. It's their 22- year-old son Alexander Height's phone and what appears to be the message he was texting the very moment that he died.

They're hoping this photo can deter others from making the same fatal mistake he did. This college student was in a car crash in Greeley, Colorado on April 3rd. Witnesses say he was looking down when his car swerved into oncoming traffic, went off the road and it killed him.

BERMAN: A cherished part of springtime here in New York City might not happen this year. The forced federal budget spending cuts are threatening to sink the annual fleet week festivities set for next month in New York harbor.

The military has put on hold optional events like the big fleet week celebration. Those cuts have already scuttled appearances by the Blue Angels, the Navy's famed flight demonstration squad.

It is a dream come true for 79-year-old Evie Branan. We told you about her yesterday. She woke up from a coma with one request, one request, to see Bob Seger in concert. And last night in Michigan, Evie got her wish, showing off, you might say, some night moves of her own. And she had a close encounter with the man himself, Bob Seger.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EVIE BRANAN, GOT HER WISH TO SEE BOB SEGER CONCERT: He come over to me, put his hand out, shook my hand, and says, hi, I'm so happy to meet you. And I said, Bob, I'm so happy to meet you. I never thought this would happen. It happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Good for her and there he is, Bob Seger, giving a smooch to Evie. What a great sport he was. We're so happy for her that she was able to get a chance to live her dream.

New developments this morning in a Texas bus crash that left two people dead and more than 40 people injured. The charter bus was taking senior citizens to an Indian casino in Oklahoma when it swerved across lanes of traffic, and struck a concrete median flipping on its side.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Dallas with the latest. Good morning, Ed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Well, 15 of the 44 crash victims were brought here to Parkland Hospital, the trauma center that handled a lot of those patients. One of those patients reportedly had to have an arm amputated. It was an accident over in just a matter of seconds, but for those inside it was a horrific experience.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Just seconds after the passenger bus careened across a busy highway and flipped on its side, witnesses rushed to help rescue the elderly victims trapped inside the bus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Broken bones, bleeding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's fuel pouring out of the side of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know you don't expect to see this, but when you do you do everything you can to help. LAVANDERA: What caused the bus to crash isn't known yet. But Texas state troopers say the bus first collided with what's described as a crash cushion in front of a cement barrier then lost control.

SGT. LONNY HASCHEL, TEXAS DPS: Went back across the lanes of traffic, into a grassy area and struck the concrete median. It rode up on top of that concrete barrier and then rolled on its right-hand side where it came to rest.

LAVANDERA: The bus was headed to an Oklahoma casino for a fun day of gambling. Two people were killed in the crash including 81-year-old Sue Taylor, who organized the casino excursion. She had made so many of these trips in the past that she was known as casino Sue.

KEN HESTER, FRIEND OF SUE TAYLOR: I can't even tell you the emotion that I'm having. I'm just -- I'm shocked that it's so close to home.

LAVANDERA: The bus driver was Lloyd Rieve. His granddaughter described him as a veteran driver.

ASHLEY RIEVE, GRANDDAUGHTER OF BUS DRIVER: His health was fine. He had just went to the doctor not that long ago and they said he was good.

LAVANDERA: But now she says he's one of the 44 crash victims. He's in critical condition. Federal records show the bus company operator, Cardinal Coach Line, has a satisfactory safety record and no major violations in the last two years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happened pretty quick.

LAVANDERA: Survivors like 73-year-old Daniel Risik never imagined a bus ride for a day at the casino would turn out to be a risky and deadly bet.

DANIEL RISIK, SURVIVOR: People were on top of people, screaming, hollering, and yelling for help. It wasn't very pleasant situation to be in to say the least.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAVANDERA: John, that stretch of highway was closed down for much of the day yesterday. But this morning, all the lanes are back open and ready to go for the rush hour commute here in the Dallas area -- John.

BERMAN: All right, thanks so much, Ed Lavandera in Dallas for us this morning.

ROMANS: All right, Daniel Risik was one of the passengers aboard that charter bus. He joins us now from Dallas. Certainly a very, very scary moment, can you tell me, just tell me a little bit from your perspective about -- about what happened. You're riding the bus on the way to the casino and then it swerved into that median. Tell us what happened.

RISIK: Well, basically we were just moving up the highway, and traffic was quite light, so we were probably going at least the speed limit or close thereto and all of a sudden, the vehicle started to swerve, and people started yelling and screaming.

Then there was a loud crash, and then almost instantly after that the bus was laying on its side, and people were crying out, hollering, calling for help, some of those look like they were very severely injured and blood flowing from their heads. It was quite a sight.

ROMANS: You were traveling with some friends. You had a group that you were traveling with. Were any of your -- the people you were traveling with seriously injured? I mean, were you able to walk yourself off the bus or did everyone stay in the bus and try to help people?

RISIK: Well, there's no way you could walk off the bus the way it was. You had to go through the two escape hatches that were on the roof. But the bus on the side, it was on its side, so most of the people were taken out through those two particular venues.

BERMAN: Are you doing OK today?

RISIK: Yes, I -- I'm very fortunate and thankful that things weren't more serious. I have a few cuts and scrapes on my nose and lip and of course, a little bit sore and lame from the trauma of the accident. But hopefully I'll be fine. I'm just sad about the tour director being killed in this accident as well as the other victims and/or seriously injured.

BERMAN: It is a tragedy. Listen, did you notice anything strange or different about the driver before the accident?

RISIK: Not really. When we picked up the second group, at the final pickup location, he -- he turned around on the bus, introduced himself, and said he's been driving for 30 years, so we had, you know, looking forward to a good, safe drive. I figured well, the guy's been driving for 30 years. He's probably a good driver. So, maybe this was something out of his control. I really don't know.

ROMANS: Daniel Risik, thank you for joining us this morning. Hope you're feeling better and certainly our thoughts and prayers with everyone who was on that bus and their families.

RISIK: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

BERMAN: It's 41 minutes after the hour right now. Ahead on STARTING POINT, the Masters is under way. We're going to go live to Augusta next with a look at Tiger's first round and another look at that Chinese teen phenom. Man, did he do well.

ROMANS: Then former NFL quarterback was given a second chance for his career. Now he's paying it forward. He's going to join us live with his new reality show, the moment that gives people one other shot at achieving their dream. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. Tiger Woods was in reach of his fifth green jacket following that first round of the masters. Tiger posted a 2 under par 70 to finish four shots out of the lead yesterday.

BERMAN: Patrick Snell live from Augusta this morning. Patrick, a couple international stars sitting on top the leader board as we head into round two this morning.

PATRICK SNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John and Christine, yes, welcome to Augusta. One you've likely heard of one, perhaps not so much. Let's start with Sergio Garcia of Spain. He is co-leader at 6 under par still looking to win his first major title.

Of course, this is a 33-year-old Spaniard probably perhaps to me the best player to never have won a major. He's previously expressed doubts about his capacity to do so. He kind of retracted that, but after last year's Masters, he certainly did express some self-doubt.

And then the 29-year-old from Australia, Mark Leishman, who many people perhaps haven't heard of, but he did play here one time before in 2010. The only previous time but he was cut. He wasn't around for the weekend.

So he's just delighted to have a share of the lead at 6 under par, looking to become the first Australian ever to win this prestigious prize of the green jacket -- John, Christine.

ROMANS: Tiger didn't really do too badly. He's within six strokes of the lead.

SNELL: He's within four shots of the lead, absolutely right, but he's got work to do. There's no question about that. He's at 2 under par for the championship. Tiger Woods is in there nicely, doing what he has to do, and the omens are good for him. I have to say because he's won four green jackets.

Three out of those four occasions he shot 70 in the opening round and gone on to take the season's first major. So that's certainly bodes well for him. He plays fluent golf. He was looking the part. He was putting well. His game was intact. And for now he says it's just a question of staying calm and playing kind of a waiting game.

BERMAN: You know, Tiger may be several generations older than the golfer who may have caused the most excitement yesterday. This 14- year-old Chinese Phenom.

SNELL: Guan Tianlang. What a story. He opened up with a bogey, and at that point we all thought, no, this is going to be a disaster for him, but he held his nerves superbly and he shot 73, one over for the championship, which is superb for a guy who's 14 years, 5 months, 17 days, the youngest ever in Masters' history.

The guy who played practice rounds with Tiger Woods then goes home to practice his English, do his homework. We learned that his Masters bid is being fuelled by his mom's snack packs as well, which she prepares for him ahead of each and every round. What a wonderful story if he could be around for the weekend.

BERMAN: Must be some snack packs. How do you deal with eighth grade and the Masters all at the same time, very difficult? Patrick Snell, thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right, ahead on STARTING POINT, Kurt Warner got a second chance and became a Super Bowl winning quarterback. Now he's helping others take a second shot at a dream career. He joins us live with his new reality series "The Moment." You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: So who among us has not wished for a second chance to pursue his dream job? This is my dream job. Former NFL quarterback, Kurt Warner, is the host of a new reality show "The Moment," that does just that.

ROMANS: Nine people sidelined for one reason or another, given the opportunity to start over. Here's a little look as a mentor works with a woman who always wanted to be a sports photographer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is "Sports Illustrated."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The whole experience was a total rush.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tight, tight, tight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's why there is photography. That's what I love.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Telephoto. You should have that one. Here it goes. That's it. That's it. That's following him. That's following him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Kurt Warner joins us now this morning. It's so nice to have you here. It's like a makeover show with meaning though.

KURT WARNER, HOST, "THE MOMENT": Right. It's like a makeover, but makeover for lives and perspective on life. That's what I love about it, being a guy that got a second chance and understands the possibilities of a second chance.

Understanding what a second chance or at least chasing your passion and dream can mean for your perspective online. I tell everybody when you love what you do it makes you better at everything else in your life.

It makes you a better dad. It makes you a better husband. It makes you a better friend. So that's really the goal is that these are individuals that were chasing their dream, and then life gets in the way, which it oftentimes does.

Something happens out of their control, forcing them to step away, and then we get the opportunity --

ROMANS: What are some of the things that took them off path?

WARNER: You know, family issues, children, have to go through something, maybe taking care of a mom or dad due to an illness or somebody getting -- financial reasons, you know, things that just push you away.

And saying I can't chase that anymore because I have to get over here, making sure I make ends meet. So there are so many different things that can pull us away and it's close to me. My wife was in the Marines and wanted to be a lifer in the Marines.

Our oldest son injured when he was 4 months old. She had to get out of the Marines and has longed for that opportunity to do that because, you know, she loved it.

BERMAN: It's not just your wife. I mean, you talked about your own second chance. So famously, you were at one point bagging groceries and then the next year, you know, you are part of the greatest show on turf. You know, winning a Super Bowl. How was that second chance affected your perspective on life?

WARNER: Well, I think -- there are a lot of things because for me. I think I'm the one that blew my first chance. You know, a lot of times you see people sitting on their couch and going I could do that, but so-and-so didn't see my talent this didn't happen for me.

We blame it or have excuses in somebody else in those situations and for me, I realized what I did the first time and I realized second time around, I'm going to throw caution to the wind. Now it's going to be up to me.

I won't allow circumstances or somebody else to dictate what happens for my future and that was probably the biggest thing I learned. When you are faced with an opportunity, it's a defining moment in your life. How you approach that opportunity is going to determine everything.

ROMANS: In the end, some people still don't get their dream job. What's the message in that?

WARNER: Well, I think there are a lot of endings to this that can happen. You know, individuals can get their dream job, individuals can get the job and choose or realize along the way that what they thought was their dream job wasn't, what they are already living is their dream job, and others might not get the job, but the message in that is not every opportunity works.

Not every opportunity is the perfect opportunity, but if you realize along the way that this is what you are passionate about. If you realize this is really what you want to do, then you continue to chase that dream.

And a lot of times, these people are stuck, and we help them take the first step and they realize and get passionate and ignite that fire in them again and you really believe at the end of the show, whether they get the job or not, they find a way to chase that the rest of their lives.

BERMAN: I got to say if anyone knows about second chances, Kurt Warner it is you. The show is "The Moment." You are a TV star, the host. It's on the USA Network. Thanks so much for joining us.

WARNER: Thanks for having me.

BERMAN: Ahead on STARTING POINT, Secretary of State John Kerry in the middle of a firestorm now. He is in South Korea this morning trying to diffuse the Korean missile crisis. We're going to go live to Seoul in a second.

ROMANS: There are 3D movies and 3D TV, now comes the 3Doodler. It's a pen that lets you draw in three dimensions. The inventor of this very cool gadget is here. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Good morning. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Our STARTING POINT this morning, North Korea will not be accepted as a nuclear power, those words from Secretary of State John Kerry in Seoul this morning. What about the new information that the country can put nuclear weapons on a missile?

ROMANS: Happening now, at least three people killed in storms that tore across the country from heavy rains to tornadoes. We have a look at those damages? What you can expect today.

BERMAN: Plus, the National Hockey League is taking the lead in the fight against homophobia by teaming up with the "You Can Play" organization. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Phillies flyers scout join us live in moments.

ROMANS: And this is not what you expect to see in a bumper. How on earth did an iPad end up wedged in the car? It's Friday, April 12th. STARTING POINT begins right now.