CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Jersey Shore Reopen for Business; Obama to Tour Jersey Tomorrow; Remembering Our Fallen Heroes; Consumer Reports: Best Sun Block from Target, Wal-Mart; Big Weekend for Racing; Honoring our Fallen Veterans

Aired May 27, 2013 - 08:30   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Indra, thank you so much.

So Memorial Day is here. And the Jersey Shore is open for business. This is seven months after Superstorm Sandy demolished so much of the shore. Beachfront communities that rely on tourist dollars have been frantically trying to get ready for the start of the summer tourist season. And Seaside Heights, a town that relies on tourism for 65 percent of its economy, they are hoping for a strong start to the season. They have a gorgeous day for it today.

And CNN's Poppy Harlow is live in Seaside Heights to tell us how it's going. Great to see you, Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good to see you. If I have to work on Memorial Day, I'm glad I'm working here on the Jersey Shore. It is gorgeous, as you said, John. A beautiful day. They need this weather. They need the people to come.

This is the centennial for Seaside Heights, if you can believe it or not. And this may just be the biggest Memorial Day weekend ever for the Jersey Shore because it is when they will find out if people are going to come back and spend money here on the Jersey Shore where tourism is so critical.

I want to show you some video of what this place looked like just seven months ago right after super storm sandy struck and now we'll show you how it looks today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one!

HARLOW (voice-over): The games are back on in Seaside Heights.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, it's back. It's back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not back --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A hundred percent, but we're back.

HARLOW: And the people who came back liked what they saw.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, it's great. It's really good to see everything back to where it used to be. Almost close to where it used to be.

HARLOW: Almost, because the rebuilding continues. Nearly seven months after Sandy tore up much of the Jersey shore.

Vincent Storino's family owns Casino Pier. Before Sandy, it held 38 rides. Now, this.

(on camera): How much progress have you guys made?

VINCENT STORINO, MANAGING MEMBER, CASINO BEACH PIER: We made tremendous progress. In three months we've done what should take three years.

HARLOW (voice-over): It hasn't come cheap.

(on camera): Millions?

STORINO: It's millions.

HARLOW: Tens of millions?

STORINO: I would say tens of millions.

HARLOW (voice-over): The new boardwalk alone cost nearly $8 million.

MAYOR BILL AKERS, SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J.: We did what we had to do to get the doors open, to let people know that seaside heights is open. But there's so many more things we got to do.

HARLOW: Like more benches and lights. But Mayor Bill Akers is satisfied.

AKERS: You can walk the boardwalk north to north, and it seems like we got a few people up here today enjoying it.

HARLOW: A few people less than a typical Memorial Day weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say we're doing about half what we did last year.

HARLOW: But that hasn't dampened spirits.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean look around. You couldn't ask for better weather. Couldn't ask for more people. This is great.

STEVE WHALEN, OWNER, LUCKY LEO'S ARCADE: This is the golden goose, Lucky Leo's. We knew it was going to be slow. But, just the idea that we're here, and that truly is the remarkable thing.

HARLOW (on camera): What a way to ring in 100 years.

AKERS: Well, I guess we're doing the same thing that they did back 100 years ago. They needed to build a boardwalk. We're building it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: They absolutely are working around the clock here, a lot of grit and perseverance here. I give the folks a lot of credit, John. You know, just to give you some perspective of how important it is that people come here, tourism on the Jersey Shore makes up about $19 billion in total revenue every summer. And most of that comes in the 14 weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Last year, they had about $7.5 million visitors. Of course, they're hoping to reach that or get anywhere close to this year. And on a typical Memorial Day weekend, you'll have about 65,000 people here. But because of things like that you just saw behind me, the big tractor, a lot of repairs here, they don't expect to see that this Memorial Day weekend.

BERMAN: There's still so much work to do. But it is great to see that people out there. And of course the Jersey Shore tomorrow is getting an extra special visitor.

HARLOW: An extra special visitor; a lot of security will be here. President Obama is coming to see the progress, see what still needs to be repaired. He's going to be touring with Governor Chris Christie. They're going to, we're told by the White House, meet with business owners, homeowners; really focus on the middle class here. A lot of these businesses, they're all small businesses. This is a blue collar town. They're going to be up and down the Jersey Shore talking to business owners about what they need to get back on their feet and to see the progress.

But remember, right after Sandy before the election when President Obama toured the area with Governor Chris Christie, Chris Christie's warm embrace of the president, his welcome, that certainly made headlines. So it will be interesting to watch the chemistry between the two of them this time.

BERMAN: Oh it will be interesting indeed. And now it's Chris Christie who is up for re-election. So we'll see if the president returns the favor. Poppy Harlow on the Jersey Shore, thanks so much. Good to see you this morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Of course Memorial Day is also a time to remember our fallen heroes. "Carry the Load" is a charitable organization made up of veterans walking some 2,000 miles throughout the month raising money for families of fallen service members and raising awareness about this holiday's true meaning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tom actually took his own laugh on Camp LeJeune May 10th, 2010. I think that a lot of people think of Memorial Day as the start of summer, and we don't really remember what the actual meaning is. So I think that it's really great to get out there and show everybody and be like, look, there are people who are dying for your freedom. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was a wonderful father and a good husband to his wife. And I miss him. So this is my way of saying, hey, Tom, I'm still here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The group's national relay concludes today with an event in Dallas.

BERMAN: President Obama will mark Memorial Day by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. He will also attend a Remembrance Ceremony at Arlington. The president also spent his weekly address honoring American's fallen warriors.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They are heroes, each and every one. They gave America the most precious thing they have - the last full measure of devotion. And because they did, we are who we are today, a free and prosperous nation, the greatest in the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Yesterday the president was in Moore, Oklahoma, where he surveyed the damage caused by last week's tornado.

ROMANS: Police in Oregon say a 17-year-old was planning a school massacre deadlier than Columbine. Grant Acord is accused of making bombs for an attack on his own school. Police say they got a tip, they found bombs in a secret compartment under the floor in his bedroom. CNN trying to reach the teen's attorney for comment. Police will search the school now, before students return tomorrow.

A young paralegal found dead in the Philadelphia home of her boss, a high profile attorney she'd been dating. He says he was out of town when she died. An autopsy was done. Possible evidence was collected. So far, though, this case has far more questions than answers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS (voice-over): The body of 26-year-old Julia Law was removed by police from the home of prominent Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer A. Charles Peruto Jr. A maintenance worker found her unresponsive just after 10:00 a.m. on Saturday. Police sources say she was found naked, face down in a bathtub. Investigators have combed through the home, removing brown bags of possible evidence.

Peruto told police he was on the Jersey shore when Law's body was discovered. Police sources say they have no suspects in the case.

The medical examiner's office has carried out an autopsy but the cause of Law's death has not been disclosed.

According to her Facebook and LinkedIn profiles law worked as a paralegal and she was dating the 58-year-old attorney. In a statement to CNN, Peruto said, "She was my girlfriend and I loved her more than anyone can imagine. The people at my firm know that. This is God's theft of a perfect human."

The news of Law's death shocked neighbors in this quiet neighborhood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Certainly bizarre.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, that's shocking.

ROMANS: Peruto was visibly upset as he returned to his home.

When CNN affiliate WPVI asked him how he felt.

REPORTER: Who is this girl?

CHARLES PERUTO, CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER: Are you serious? Did you ever lose somebody? Are you serious?

ROMANS: For now, just how Julia Law died remains a mystery.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS (on camera): She had been working for him two years, 26-years- old. Police are still investigating the circumstances.

BERMAN: Thirty-eight minutes after the hour right now. You might want to take this news standing up. Doctors say growing research points to a hidden health hazard. That hazard -- sitting down. Sitting, they say, is like the new smoking. Americans now sit for more than half their waking hours, which raises the risk of diabetes, heart disease and could lead to an early grave. But reversing its effects is not as simple as spending more time at the gym. Doctors say it's a matter of keeping active throughout the entire day.

ROMANS: So is this a workmen's comp claim?

BERMAN: Exactly. We're coming after you, bosses.

All right, ahead on STARTING POINT, with summer just around the corner, folks are stocking up on sunscreen. But there really is something you need to know about generic versus name brands before you buy. You will be surprised. We're breaking down the sunblock myths next.

ROMANS: Then, it's the closest win in the history of the Indianapolis speedway -- the champion crossing the finish line less than a second before his opponent. We're going to talk with Peter Dempsey about his incredible win.

You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. British Prime Minister David Cameron launching a new government terror task force to crack down on extremist elements in that country. The move follows the murder of a soldier in broad daylight on a London street last week. At least nine have been arrested in connection with that case. At least two have been released without being charged. Three other suspects have been released on bail.

ROMANS: The death toll stands at three in San Antonio, the result of severe flooding in South Texas. Yesterday, the body of an 18-year-old was found one day after he was reported missing near a local creek, and two women died Saturday, a 30-year-old woman and woman believed to be in her late 60s. CNN's Weather Center says the worst of that rainfall is now over and the National Weather Service is expecting flood levels to quickly recede.

BERMAN: A temporary solution is in the works for that bridge collapse that injured three people in Washington State last week. New steel girders could help restore traffic by mid-June on that crucial artery between the U.S. and Canada. On Thursday a truck slammed in to an overhead support on that bridge, knocking out a portion of the interstate. A permanent new bridge is expected to be finished sometime in September.

ROMANS: So Memorial Day marks the unofficial start to summer, and that means it's time to break out the sunscreen if the weather is cooperating for you where you are.

BERMAN: And the Speedos. But the answer -- which is the best sunscreen? And that answer may surprise a lot of you. A lot of money does not necessarily get you the best protection.

CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now. So, Elizabeth, what is the best?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, according to "Consumer Reports," some of the best ones are some of the cheapest ones. And so there I was standing in the store yesterday, we didn't have any Speedos, but we were going to go out to the pool and have a swim. And I thought, well, maybe if you spend a little bit more money, you get something better. But actually it's not true according to "Consumer Reports."

They say that the number one brand according to their testing is actually the Wal-Mart brand. It's called - I'm sorry, the Target brand, Up & Up Sport SPF 50. And number two is Wal-mart, Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50. So again, very inexpensive, really kind of surprising in many ways. I thought it would have been something that cost a little bit more money.

BERMAN: Well, the good news is you can save money and be safe.

ROMANS: What about the SPF? There's such a huge range. I mean you look and some of them have just obscenely high numbers. Like, SPF 60. SPF 15. What SPF is best?

COHEN: What experts say is 30 is perfectly fine. Anything more than 30, go ahead, knock yourself out, but you don't need it. So when you are looking for sunscreen, go for 30 or higher. Use a shot glass full, yes a shot glass full of lotion. And look for something that says UVA/UVB and look for water resistant. You may also see something that say broad spectrum, that's supposed to mean UVA and UVB together. So look for those all of those things. Water resistant again is very important and put it on a lot. Like every two hours and certainly if you're swimming when you get out of the water, put it on again.

ROMANS: I haven't ever heard Elizabeth Cohen recommend a shot glass full of anything before. And of course it would be sun screen SPF 30.

COHEN: Sorry. Right, right.

ROMANS: Thanks, Elizabeth.

COHEN: Thanks.

BERMAN: It is a lot of sunscreen, though.

ROMANS: Yes.

BERMAN: You really have to dump the stuff on and frequently.

ROMANS: But it's interesting you even seen the kids like in pre- school and stuff now they just put their arms out in a big "t" and they wait to be --

BERMAN: Yes.

ROMANS: -- you know all lubed up.

BERMAN: Slathered.

ROMANS: Yes.

BERMAN: All right 46 minutes after the hour.

Ahead on STARTING POINT this was the closest win ever in the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the victor beating out his opponents by less than a second. That is nothing we're going to talk with champion Peter Dempsey live about his really unbelievable win.

There he is now. Hey Peter, we'll talk to you in a second.

You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: It was a huge racing for car racing with fan favorite Tony Kanaan winning the Indy 500 finally, but it was another race that really still has people talking -- Friday's Freedom 100. Some are calling it one of the greatest finishes in motorsports history. You have to take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remaining three wide Gabby Chavez, look at that a three wide shoot-out at the line. It's a drag race. Here comes Dempsey, four wide. It's going to be Dempsey. Dempsey won it. Oh Dempsey won it. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a four wide finish in Indy Race.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unbelievable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Oh, my gosh -- Irish racer Peter Dempsey edged out three drivers in the closest finish of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway ever. He won by only 0.0026 seconds.

Joining me now is the winner himself Peter Dempsey. And did you know you won? I mean you said all you could hear on the radio was screaming.

PETER DEMPSEY, IRISH RACING DRIVER: Yes, I mean it was an incredible finish. And a huge thanks to my team but I had been auto racing for (inaudible) that was you know 0.0026 good enough to win the race. But I have a feeling that I got to -- I looked to left and right and I couldn't see any cars in front of me. So I took the risk and shoved my fist in the air and thankfully I got it because it would have looked stupid if I had you know put my fist in the air I finished second.

BERMAN: So you're coming down straight there, you're coming toward the finish line. Four wide -- what are you thinking?

DEMPSEY: Originally I was just really thinking that I hoped they don't crash in front of me and I don't finish the race and we came off turn four and I said ok well at least I'll try to get a podium for my team. And move to closer and closer we're getting to the finish, I really felt I had a run. And you know I had to squeeze between Gabby Chavez and the wall at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and there was just enough room there for me to squeeze past. And fortunately you know the red bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway are pretty fragile and are front straight and for me it couldn't have been in a better place.

ROMANS: Wow I mean the picture says it all. I mean it really says it all. And this -- it's happening so fast. I mean for you as a driver, what -- you're going like 190 miles an hour, right? I mean what did that feel like that moment when you knew you won?

DEMPSEY: It was undescribable (ph). You know I mean the (inaudible) road to Indy has some hugely talented young drivers in the field. And for me to go to head and beat them in the style that we did is just incredible. And you know I put my face in the air. I wasn't really sure I got enough to win. And I radioed my team and I said did we get it, did we get it and I just heard them screaming you know in my ear. And it was a very emotional moment.

You know we've all worked extremely hard to try to get you know my first win and the team, Belardi Auto Racing's first win. And there's no more better or special place to do it than Indianapolis Motor Speedway. So it was a huge moment for us and also a huge moment I think for the Indy Light series because the finish has gone worldwide. I think it even made to Japan. So it's pretty incredible.

BERMAN: So how do you celebrate? Remember this is a family program.

DEMPSEY: Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get out too long. I was working with the race team (inaudible) straight after the race. So 3:00 came and I was over there working coaching some drivers and I was there both on Friday night and Saturday night. So it's been quite quiet.

But tonight we got an invitation to head down to Indianapolis for the Indianapolis 500 banquet. So I'm very excited to spend some time there. My girlfriend and my team owner Brian Belardi and they will definitely go and enjoy the night.

ROMANS: You -- you come from a racing family in Ireland. And you decided to move here, take a gamble, move here and race in the United States. What -- what are you hearing from back home?

DEMPSEY: The amount of support that floated in is incredible. My Facebook page has gone way up. And a lot of Irish names have definitely hit the "like" button. So that makes me very proud. And you know it's just incredible and hopefully will get on some radio interviews and TV interviews. I'm going home on June 2nd.

So I'm definitely going to try to milk the moment. And you know -- but you can't beat -- you can't beat the support from home especially when you're so far away. I didn't have any family over for the weekend but I know they were definitely watching the race and I know they are very proud of me.

BERMAN: I -- you know, I think you will get a chance to milk that moment even though the moment was what 0.0026 seconds. I assure you your family will be thrilled to see you. That is unbelievable pictures, too.

DEMPSEY: Yes.

BERMAN: We can't get enough of it. Peter Dempsey, thank you so much for joining us this morning --

DEMPSEY: No problem.

BERMAN: -- and congratulations to you. And we wish you the best of luck going forward.

DEMPSEY: Thank you very, very much.

ROMANS: Lesson for the kids at home, never give up.

BERMAN: Never give up.

ROMANS: That's what you tell your kids.

BERMAN: Never give up.

ROMANS: Never give up.

BERMAN: Push the gas at the end there. Next, a special thank you to our service members and their families. These are live pictures right now of the "Tomb of the Unknowns" in Arlington National Cemetery. President Obama will be there laying a wreath in just a few hours. Take a look at that picture, remember what today is about.

We'll be back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: You're looking live at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery where President Obama will be honoring this country's fallen heroes on this Memorial Day.

This is Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's first Memorial Day since taking office. And today Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, is also paying tribute to our fallen warriors.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHUCK HAGEL, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: These are not easy times for our country, for the world. And certainly these are not easy times to be part of our armed forces.

Memorial Day is a uniquely American day. It is the one day of the year we set aside completely to remember, to honor, and thank those who give so much and have given so much for this country. Memorials are not built to honor war. They are built to remember great causes and great actions and the people who helped shape the world for the better.

I would like to thank the men and women who serve this country, their families. I especially want to thank their families for their tremendous sacrifices and what they give. And I appreciate that. We all do.

I took the oath of office to become the 24th Secretary of Defense. It's a great honor. It's a privilege. To be part of your team, who you are is the honor. That's the great privilege. I'm proud of my background, I'm proud of my career, like you all are. But nothing makes me prouder than my association with the military and the veterans.

Our country will never forget those who fell in battle and those who have yet to return home. Their dedication and selfless service resonates deeply across the country and their legacy is carried forward proudly by those who wear the nation's uniform today. Thank you for your service and God bless you and your families.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: That's it for STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman.

CNN NEWSROOM with Carol Costello begins right now.