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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
California Wildfire; Tragedy Along Tornado Alley; Seeking Solace In God; $590M Powerball Winner Still A Mystery; Jolie Returns To Limelight; National Park Nightmare; Pacers' Player Fined For Anti- Gay Slur; Tiger's Terrible Weekend; Husky On The Loose; Yankees And Red Sox Get A Scare; "Left To Die?"
Aired June 3, 2013 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: -- the 25,000 acres, just 20 percent contained. Crews have now told thousands of people to get out.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The tornado death toll in Oklahoma now stands at 16 and we're getting another look at just how dangerous and powerful these storms can be. Watch as this tornado in El Reno, Oklahoma, sucks a tractor trailer backward before just flipping the whole thing over. Here it goes.
That is a powerful, powerful storm. Oklahoma city's fire chief saying they recovered five bodies yesterday, several miles from a storm drain where the victims likely sought shelter during Friday's violent weather. Today the search continues for six people who are still missing among the missing an 8-year-old girl.
ROMANS: Blade runner Oscar Pistorius is due back in court tomorrow in South Africa. Pistorius facing murder charges in the death of his girlfriend the model Reeva Steenkamp. He's been living with his aunt and uncle in Pretoria since being released on bail. The track star's aunt says Pistorius been seek solace in God and attending church regularly. His lawyers want to know how graphic crime scene photos wound up being broadcast last week on Britain's "Sky News."
BERMAN: So it's one of the biggest lottery jackpots ever and the winner of the $590 million Powerball prize not pictured. That's because he or she has yet to come forward. The single winning Powerball ticket was sold two weeks ago at a supermarket in Florida. The winner has 60 days from the time of the May 18th drawing to claim a lump sum payment until mid-November for the annual cash payments. Better hurry.
ROMANS: All right, Angelina Jolie looking more breathtaking than ever while breaking her silence and stepping on the red carpet for the first time since her double mastectomy, the superstar actress joining husband, Brad Pitt at the London premier of his movie "World War Z." Jolie and Pitt talked openly about her surgery and their decision to go public with a private family member.
CNN's Erin McLaughlin is joining us live this morning from London and a lot of people have been waiting for this moment, this first red carpet appearance and she seemed relaxed and radiant. ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Christine. She looked healthy and happy. I actually had a chance to chat with Brad Pitt at the premier and he told me that her health means everything to him. It was at times an emotional event for Hollywood's golden couple.
MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Hundreds of photographers and thousands of applauding fans greeted Angelina Jolie for her return to the red carpet.
ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTRESS: I feel great. I feel wonderful and I'm very, very grateful for all the support. It's meant a lot to me.
MCLAUGHLIN: Angelina didn't disappoint. She was a vision in a backless floor length gown, her best accessory, long-time love Brad Pitt in matching black. Angelina was on hand to support brad at the premier of his zombie movie "World War Z." It was Angelina's first red carpet appearance since she announced she had a preventative double mastectomy. The mother of six was at times emotional.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Been very supportive?
JOLIE: They've been -- I get moved to talk about it.
MCLAUGHLIN: It was her decision after testing positive for the BRCA-1 gene mutation, which increased her risk for breast and ovarian cancer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ever since Angelina Jolie announced she had a double mastectomy, everyone was wondering what was she going to look like? And when she appeared on the red carpet with Brad Pitt she looked absolutely stunning.
MCLAUGHLIN: She has become an inspiration to millions since her brave revelation.
JOLIE: I've been very happy to see the discussion about women's health expanded and that means the world to me and after losing my mom to these issues I'm very grateful for it.
MCLAUGHLIN: Angelina's biggest fan says he is thankful to have his fiancee healthy and happy by his side.
BRAD PITT, ACTOR: It's actually her decision to undertake that and to go beyond that and share that with others because she realizes this is not available for everyone and it should be.
MCLAUGHLIN: Because Angelina was in London supporting brad she was unable it to attend her aunt's funeral. Debbie Martin, who also tested positive for the BRCA gene mutation, passed away a week ago from breast cancer. Reportedly Angelina Jolie is in contact with Martin's family, offering sympathy and support -- Christine.
ROMANS: All right, thank you, Erin.
BERMAN: Joining us to talk more about Angelina Jolie's first public appearance since revealing her decision to get that double mastectomy is Michelle Tan, the senior editor at "People" magazine. Michele, you know, we just learned a few weeks ago about this surgery and it started so many discussions here. I think women across the country and men too were discussing this. How much pressure do you think was on Angelina Jolie before this first public appearance?
MICHELLE TAN, SENIOR EDITOR, "PEOPLE": Well, it's so interesting is that Brad Pitt actually told "People" magazine Angelina really wasn't nervous to make this first public appearance. This is a woman, reminders everybody, she went to the Congo after having this surgery. You know, this was her first public appearance. It meant the world to them to be the symbol that life can move on and that you can be strong, you can be a confident woman after having such a preventative surgery.
ROMANS: It's interesting so many people watching this for the celebrity of it, right? You know, these are two very well-known people. You want to see Angelina on the red carpet, but for people who are cancer survivors and had reconstructive surgery they're watching as well. How important is it for regular people who have undergone these surgeries to see Angelina Jolie on the red carpet?
TAN: She's become their symbol. She's become somebody who's spoken out and really made these issues come to the forefront of the national conversation. So a lot of people are actually discussing these issues and, you know, people are wondering more and more if they should be undergoing the same testing.
BERMAN: What do you think this has done to their image as a couple, you know, "Brangelena," which is actually a phrase that I despise, but you heard it all the time, but people must look at them differently now.
TAN: Absolutely. You know, for a while they were the image of Hollywood glamour. They have a chateau in France. They would travel to London and L.A., which is really hard to empathize or sympathize with them. This makes them so much more human. You want to know about their love, their incredible bond that they have with each other and they just become more human to all of us.
ROMANS: Did she steal the show? It's his movie premiere, I mean, you know, "World War Z," Angelina Jolie, you know.
TAN: I think what's fantastic is that what you really see is that they have a close bond. I don't think she stole the show. I think the two of them together have become much more powerful as a Hollywood couple. He supported her throughout the entire surgery and she is now with him.
ROMANS: As a celebrity isn't it amazing how her public perception has changed so much over the past 10 years, I mean, really completely changed. She is now sort of this role model, radiant, grown up, a mother, very different than her early days on the Hollywood stage. TAN: I know, but what you can see is whether she was a wild child or now just a humanitarian she is, she was always true to herself. She was always going to be Angelina Jolie, voicing what she believes and really strong behind that.
BERMAN: Is this a blueprint for other celebrities who take up a cause? I mean, you know, this is not a cause that I'm sure she would love to have. I'm sure she liked to be doing different things. This is something that's plagued her in her own life, but she's really seems to do this in a way that could be an example for others.
TAN: Absolutely, you know, this is the time of social media where we know what celebrities are eating for breakfast based on Twitter. This is just a reminder of how powerful celebrity voice can be when focusing on important issues that can be of help to others.
BERMAN: Michelle Tan, the senior editor of "People" magazine, thanks so much for being with us this morning. Appreciate it.
Happening right now, a desperate search under way for a teenager who went over a waterfall at Yosemite National Park, the 19-year-old Aleh Kalman was swimming on Saturday when the current picked him up and carried him over the 594-foot Nevada Falls. CNN's Miguel Marquez is live this morning for us at Yosemite National Park. Miguel, what's the latest?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest is that this is typically a playground and a, you know, pristine beauty spot for people, but this young man got himself in some serious trouble. The falls that he went to, he was with a church group out of Sacramento. They hiked up about three miles to these falls.
It gets very warm here during the day, up into the 80s and after a hike that long perhaps he wanted to go for a swim and cool down a little bit. But rangers here on the scene saying they don't leave a lot of hope that he survived that fall.
BERMAN: Miguel, where he was swimming, is swimming permitted there? Is this has started any discussion about whether maybe it should be banned?
MARQUEZ: No, it's not permitted there. There are signs posted at this area. It's very close to this enormous fall. It's 600 feet. The water is rushing very fast, even though we haven't had a big snow pack this year, it is still the spring runoff is. The water is racing down, you know, the slopes there and to be 150 feet or so from the precipice of that waterfall just too fast.
Even though it may look placid on the top once you go in the current will grab you and take you right down and that's essentially what the rescuers believe happened. They put out helicopters, search dogs and dozens of rescuers on day one. Now they believe it's just a recovery mission. They're going to have individuals along the riverbed looking for the remains of this young man.
BERMAN: You know, Yosemite really is one of the most beautiful places on earth, Miguel, but there are so many dangerous places there. Clearly marked usually by what you should and shouldn't do. Miguel Marquez at Yosemite for us this morning. Thanks so much.
ROMANS: OK, ahead on STARTING POINT, a mother's desperate plea to save her 10-year-old daughter who needs a life-saving lung transplant. She says the government is leaving her daughter to die and she only has one option left to save her little girl. Her story is coming up.
BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. The NBA has fined Pacers' center Roy Hibbert $75,000 for using profanity, including an anti-gay slur during a postgame press conference on Saturday. Jared Greenberg has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Good morning, Jared.
JARED GREENBERG, "BLEACHER REPORT": Good morning, John. No one in the league office is laughing, and now Roy Hibbert has to pay. A month after the NBA became the first major North American sports league to have an active player announce that he is gay, Hibbert made an error in judgment to say the least during Saturday's postgame press conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROY HIBBERT, FINED $75K FOR VULGAR LANGUAGE: I really felt that I let Paul down in terms of having his back when Lebron was scoring in the post or getting to the paint because they stretched me out so much --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREENBERG: Not so funny now. Hibbert later apologized for the insensitive remarks. However, the NBA still slapped the Pacers' big man with a $75,000 fine for using inappropriate and vulgar language. He said it just after scoring 24 points and grabbing 11 rebounds as the Pacers beat the Heat to stay alive in the Eastern Conference finals forcing a decisive game seven, which will be played tonight in downtown Miami, the winner to take on San Antonio in the NBA finals.
Tonight, you'll hear our colleague Charles Barkley and as he would say, Tiger Woods was terrible over the weekend. Tiger's game looked a little like the Chuckster's. Second worst four-round finish ever featuring three triple bogeys. Tiger finished 20 shots off the pace. If Tiger was terrible, Barkley would say Matt Kuchar was awesome. This 20-footer gave Kuchar his second win of the season. Even Jack Nicklaus liked it, high-fiving Cuechar's son. U.S. Open less than two weeks away.
If a black cat running across the field brings bad luck, what does a husky bring to the table? The loose husky isn't a mascot for either team, but managed to take center stage during an NCAA basement tournament game, peaceful and just checking things out. After a brief 90-second delay the dog made his way out of the stadium, allowing Arizona State and Cal State Fullerton to proceed.
A lessen in cameras are always rolling. Coming in at number three on bleacherreport.com's lineup, during a rain delay in last night's Yankee/Red Sox game, the weather got a little too close for comfort for both teams. Loud thunder nearby made the Yankees almost jump out of their pin stripes. There were three different rain delays in last flight's game. No word yet, John and Christine, if teddy bears or blankets were requested for any of the players involved.
ROMANS: But the dugout caught a lot of "I want my mom."
GREENBERG: I think you guys said that. I didn't say that one.
BERMAN: The Yankees should have been scared of the Red Sox pitching. It doesn't take the Red Sox nine innings to beat the Yankees anymore. We did it in five last night.
GREENBERG: I think Yankee fans would argue it was a little bit of a cheap victory, only 5 1/2 innings. Red Sox do take two of three from the Yankees. You are happy about that.
BERMAN: Feel like we got our money's worth, Jared. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
ROMANS: All right, ahead on STARTING POINT, we've telling you about this story all morning. Her 10-year-old daughter may only have weeks to live and with the government not willing to step in and help, our next guest is making a final desperate plea for her little girl's life. Her story is next. You're watching STARTING POINT.
BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. The parents of a 10-year-old Pennsylvania girl who may only have weeks to live, they are hoping for a miracle this morning. Sarah Murnaghan has end-stage cystic fibrosis and she will die if she doesn't get a lung transplant. But because of her age and some federal guidelines that no one seems willing to challenge right now, her parents fear that Sarah is being left to die. Jason Carroll is here with this heartbreaking story.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, it is a story as we were talking about, a story about parents trying to do everything they possibly can to try to save their little girl. And with each passing day, Sarah Murnaghan's lungs keep getting weaker and weaker. She is suffering from cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that affects the lungs.
Murnaghan desperately needs that lung transplant. The 10-year-old is at the top of the list for receiving lungs from another child, but she has been waiting for 18 months and time is running out. Right now, federal guidelines prevent Sarah from getting priority on the adult donor list.
Her parents say the federal government should change those guidelines and they have appealed to help in Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Her parents say she has the power to make the change. But On Friday, Sebelius e-mailed Sarah's parents saying she does not have the authority.
The e-mail says, "I know that this is not the answer you were hoping to hear -- to receive and I can't begin to imagine how difficult the situation is. My prayers are with you." In the meantime, Sarah says she's never going quit. She compared her lung disease to a boat filling with sand and what she has missed the most since being in the hospital.
She's a tough little girl. Sebelius will order a transplant policy review, but if there were to be any sort of change, that policy could take years. It really -- what it really comes down to is it's tragically you see what's happening to this little girl. But the reality is for other little girls, other children out there and for adults as well, the reality is there are just not enough donors out there for children or adults.
ROMANS: And I do hope that pleased when they see this story and they see these interviews, they remember, you know, this is the biggest gift you can give. When you leave this world is to leave your healthy organs for someone else so that parents like Sarah's parents aren't pleading with authorities to try to find a way, try to find a way to keep their --
CARROLL: Ask any family who is sitting out there who has a love one waiting for a subsequent --
BERMAN: Jason Carroll, thanks so much.
ROMANS: Joining us now is Sarah's mother. We're so -- we're so pleased to have you come here and sort of tell us this story. First, tell us how is Sarah doing this morning?
JANET MURNAGHAN, DAUGHTER HAS CYSTIC FIBROSIS: She had a bit of a rough day. Thank you for having me. She had a bit of a rough day yesterday. Her CO2 carbon dioxide levels had popped up again yesterday, but last night she looked pretty good right before bed after we had gotten her fevers under control and she had a restful night.
ROMANS: You're doing this waiting game that so many families do when they are waiting on an organ donation list and waiting. Every morning you wake up and you pray or you hope or you hope or you beseech that today is going to be the day you get that call. It could happen today but for 18 months, you've been waiting for that call?
MURNAGHAN: For 18 months we've been waiting and praying and the call hasn't come. What we've learned is the odds are really stacked against young children like Sarah.
BERMAN: You've started a petition on the website change.org to try to change these rules.
BERMAN: And have something work out for Sarah. Let me read you what the response was from the Organ Procurement Transplantation Network. They say, OPTN cannot create a policy exemption on behalf of an individual patient since giving an advantage to one patient may unduly disadvantage others. How do you respond to that statement? MURNAGHAN: I would respond that we're not asking for an exception for Sarah. We're asking for all children to be treated equally and fairly. This isn't just about Sarah. This is about all children. Children are dying at almost three times the rate of adults waiting on that transplant list, almost three times the rate. They are not being treated fairly or equally. It's unjust. It's not within the constitution. My child's civil rights are being violated.
ROMANS: But medical professionals -- tell me why they say adult lung transplant is a different than a child to child. It is more difficult and doesn't have the same success.
MURNAGHAN: Well, it is a more difficult surgery for the surgeons. But our surgeons at the children's hospital in Philadelphia assure us their outcomes are as good as the transplants with children, that there is no difference in the two year survival rate for children who receive partial adult versus children who receive pediatric lungs. That this wall is -- sorry, go ahead.
ROMANS: Finish your thought.
MURNAGHAN: That this law is outdated. Maybe back in 2000, 2005, this wasn't the case, but today the case is that children can be as successful. And there are 2,000 adult lungs a year and there are 20 children lungs a year.
BERMAN: Given the law is what it is right now, what do you think the best chances are for Sarah to get a lung?
MURNAGHAN: Our first appeal is to the American people and to anyone out there who is in just a gut wrenching position of losing a loved one and making that beautiful gift of life that they consider making a direct donation to Sarah. This can supersede this policy and secondly, I'd just like to say that we have hired counsel and we have sent a letter to Secretary Sebelius stating for her why this is in the scope of her ability to change this you law for all of the children rather than let them wait and die.
ROMANS: Janet Murnaghan, we certainly hope -- best of luck and give our prayers to Sarah and please --
MURNAGHAN: Thank you, God bless you.
ROMANS: Keep us posted and maybe that call will come today.
BERMAN: It's 56 minutes after the hour. Ahead on STARTING POINT right now, thousands of people forced to flee their homes as this unpredictable and fast growing wildfire is scorching Southern California. We will go live to the fire line and then no relief for Oklahoma as the tornadoes pound that state. Get a look at this video of this semi-truck getting flipped by a twister. Stay with us. You're watching STARTING POINT.
BERMAN: Our STARTING POINT, this dangerous wildfire in Southern California, it is forcing thousands from their homes and has tripled in size. Can fire crews contain this out of control blaze?
ROMANS: And images that prove there is nothing a tornado can't destroy. A semitrailer flipped like it's nothing more than a toy truck. We head to Oklahoma where another tornado outbreak is wreaking more unthinkable devastation.
BERMAN: A 19-year-old swimmer swept over a 600-foot waterfall in Yosemite National Park. Is there any chance he could have survived that fall? We're going to head to the scene of the search.