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Court: Amish Girl Must Receive Chemo; New Documentary On NFL Injuries; Elizabeth Smart Tells Her Story; "Gravity" Grounded In Reality?

Aired October 8, 2013 - 07:30   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHRO: -- in favor of an Ohio hospital that's trying to force a 10-year-old Amish girl with leukemia to resume chemotherapy treatment. Without that treatment, doctors say Sarah Hirsberger will die. Her parents favor using homeopathic remedies instead. They the chemotherapy was making their daughter violently ill and she has been begging to stop treatment. The court granting a registered nurse limited guardianship over the girl with the power to make medical decisions for her.

And finally, these shoppers having some trouble deciding what to grab from the alcoholic beverage aisle, but as you're about to see, they'll have to settle for mixed drinks. Why? Because this happened -- this happened.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Wait for it. Wait for it.

PEREIRA: Apparently the guy stocking shelves stands up to check out his handy work and the whole aisle buckles. The ladies are very lucky to not get hurt. The video is going viral naturally and someone wasn't all happy about to clean up or some of the folks about having --

CUOMO: Those bottles fell in exactly the right way to not hurt those two women.

PEREIRA: They kind of went down.

CUOMO: They fanned out.

BOLDUAN: It was fine.

CUOMO: Good luck. Science on his side.

All right, so speaking of science, the NFL admitted no wrongdoing when it agreed to a nearly $800 million settlement over concussion. You'll remember that back in August. The issue is anybody but settled. A new documentary claimed the league ignored and denied mounting evidence for years, while a growing number of players suffered life- changing injuries. "EARLY START" co-anchor John Berman joins us. What do you think about it?

JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": This is a really big deal. Look, today there's this controversial new book being released, accompanied by a "Frontline" documentary on PBS tonight. This is all regarding the NFL and traumatic brain injuries. Two terrific reporters, brother, Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada spent nearly two years researching what the NFL new about the risk of permanent brain damage for players and more importantly, what, if anything, can be done about it.


BERMAN (voice-over): Offensive lineman, Mike Webster was a football god, leading the Pittsburgh Steelers to win four Super Bowls in the 1970s.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once you hit full speed and you're moving backwards, you're gone.

BERMAN: But once he retired after a career of hitting players at full force again and again, he effectively lost his mind.

MARK FAINARU-WADA, CO-AUTHOR, "LEAGUE OF DENIAL": He really began to have all sorts of problems, you know, focusing, concentrating, he had anger issues and then ultimately he dies in 2002. He had really been waging a war believing that football caused his brain damage and several doctors had agreed with him.

BERMAN: Webster became the first known victim of chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, a brain disease that scientists believe is caused by repeated blows to the head and multiple concussions common in football.

ROBERT STERN, NEUROPSYCHOLOGIST, BOSTON UNIVERSITY: Each time that happens it's around 20g or more. That's the equivalent of driving a car at 35 miles per hour into a brick wall, 1,000 to 1,500 times per year.

BERMAN: Investigative journalists and brothers, Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada set out to discover what the NFL knew about the risks of permanent brain damage to its players. They say their startling realization was that as scientists issued warnings, the NFL denied there was a problem.

WADA: The league's approach was effectively to deny it or attack those very scientists saying that.

BERMAN: Just last week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent an e-mail to 10 million subscribers on the NFL's mailing list emphasizing the league's safety initiative. Saying, we will continue to find ways to protect players so they can enjoy longer careers on the field and healthier lives off the field. And this August, the NFL reached a deal in a class action lawsuit to pay $765 million to retired NFL players and their families for concussion-related compensation.

WADA: The issue is not just an NFL issue. It's a kid's issue. It trickles down to high school and pop Warner and the 3 million kids playing and making those decisions based on emerging science and concerns about whether playing football can lead to long-term brain damage.


BERMAN: The brothers say the NFL refused to give them an interview or a statement during the course of their reporting. The NFL did give a statement to CNN saying in part, the NFL has made a profound commitment to the health and safety of its players, that can be seen in every aspect of the game and the results have been both meaningful and measurable.

The book, "League of Denial" hits bookshelves today and the documentary airlines on front line tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern on PSB. This will continue the debate which has been white hot in youth, high school, pro for the last 2-1/2 years.

BOLDUAN: The debate continues. Are they reaching conclusions? Are they doing anything about it --

BERMAN: Well, the important thing is to figure out what to do going forward.


BERMAN: Is there anything you can do to make this, if not perfectly safe, at least safer for these very large men playing pro football and for these kids who aren't so big playing the younger levels.

CUOMO: Safer, perfectly safe.

PEREIRA: Big distance between the two.

BOLDUAN: All right, thanks so much, John.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, Elizabeth Smart's harrowing personal story, her terrifying account of the nine months she was held in captivity and the miracles she found along the way. She's going to join us live.

CUOMO: Have you seen the new hit movie "Gravity"? You'll want to see our discussion. Astronauts, no so kind in their reviews, why? What is the science? We'll tell you.


CUOMO: Welcome back to "NEW DAY." getting ready to leave? Hold on a second. Let's check in with Indra Petersons. What are they going to see out there?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: A big difference from yesterday. A lot of people like looking at this map. They show the damage report that exited out of the region. That's the key. It is now off the coast. That's the good piece of news. What do we have in place now? The huge dome of high pressure bringing in cold air from Canada. You'll feel this huge difference over the next several days.

Remember, we were above normal. Temperatures are 15, 20 degrees above. We were seeing 70s and 80s out there. We'll now be dropping down to average temperatures today in the upper 60s. Eventually we'll start dropping down to below average. Low 60s by the middle of the week. That's what we're expecting here in the northeast.

Take a look at the lows overnight advisories, 30s overnight tonight in upstate New York and through Vermont. You'll feel the chill. Down in the southeast, the tail end of the storm spawned up a low. It will hug the coastline over the next several days. The reason is matters? If it's hugging the coastline, it will bring in the moisture. We'll be talking about rain and a good amount eventually making its way up into the mid-Atlantic. We talk about rain even in the northeast by the end of the weekend -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Indra, thank you so much.

Taken from her bed at knife point, Elizabeth Smart was 14 years old when she was taken from her Salt Lake City home. She was forced to endure nine months of starvation, emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her kidnappers. The world watched as Elizabeth was eventually rescued and returned to her family.

Now more than a decade later, Elizabeth is revealing more details than ever in her new book, in her own words, "My Story." And Elizabeth Smart is here to talk about it this morning. It's great to see you, Elizabeth. Thanks so much for coming in this morning.

ELIZABETH SMART, AUTHOR, "MY STORY": Thank you for having me.

BOLDUAN: Of course. It's been ten years, more than ten years since you were kidnapped. Why now? Why come out to tell your story?

SMART: I thought a lot about it, but one of the main reasons why I wanted to write this book is because I have had the incredible opportunity to go around and speak around the country to different groups. Every time I've spoken to a different group, there's always been at least one person to come forward and say, I was raped or I was kidnapped or I've never been able to talk about this before but this happened to me when I was a child.

And that just breaks my heart. It makes me sick and then to go on and think about the one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before they're 18. That's staggering. So when I was considering writing a book, this played a real big fact near it because I wanted to be able to reach out to these survivors and reach out to these victims and help them know it is terrible. It's not fair. It's terrible what happens, but that you can come back.

BOLDUAN: You're not alone.

SMART: Yes, you're not alone. You can move forward, reclaim your life and become the person you want to be.

BOLDUAN: Many sit here and the world, the country watched and waited for your return and has followed your story. Many would think, man, I would want to run as far away from this as possible. You stopped to record it and relive it. Was it painful to do?

SMART: I have seen the very worst of humanity. But with that being said, I've been back and been able to meet different people, I have seen the very best of humanity as well. And I know where I am in my life today and I am so happy with my life today, I know my ending. And so with that being said, the writing process wasn't as hard as it otherwise would be because I do have a happy ending. I do know what has taken place in my life since I was kidnapped.

BOLDUAN: That's an amazing amount of perspective. You go into great detail in this book. Were there some details that were too painful to include that should stay only with Elizabeth?

SMART: When I wrote my book I wanted it to be as real as it could possibly be. I wanted it to be as if the reader was right there with me because I'm not doing anyone any favors by sugar coating anything. Had I omitted 90 percent of the details, other survivors, other victims might feel cheated. They might be like, well, nothing really happened, did it?

And I'm still alone. So when I decided to write this book, I wanted it to be 100 percent. Everything that is put in the book I have thought so much about and I have worked so hard on it. I mean, it is as accurate as I could make it.

BOLDUAN: And in the interviews I've heard you speak about this. One way you describe your time in captivity really stuck with me. You said that your days were filled really with three things during those nine months, with boredom, with hunger and with rape. You write in great detail about the sexual abuse that you endured. Why did you want to go into detail about that? Many would think that part, maybe I don't want to include or I don't want to go into detail about.

SMART: I thought a lot about it. I really did, but I did go through it. And I did survive it and that one in four and one in six, they also go through it. And they need to know they could survive it and that they're not any less of a person that they're not any less of a human being, that their value hasn't been decreased and that they can still be whoever they want to be. That's why I included that.

BOLDUAN: You are so strong and you're doing this because you want to help people. You want to inspire people. But when you look back at just some of the details of your book, everyone will remember that you write about, you wake up in the middle of the night in 2002, there's a man standing over you with a knife to your throat. Even today, do you still feel that terror? Do you still feel that fear that you experienced as a young girl?

SMART: No. I don't.


SMART: I don't. That happened and it was the scariest moment of my life. I remember waking up and feeling like this couldn't happen, how could this strange man break into the safest place in the world, to me, but it did happen. It was terrible. It was absolutely horrendous. But coming back, the morning after I was rescued, my mom gave me the best piece of advice. I tried to follow her advice. I'm not perfect at it.

BOLDUAN: Nobody is.

SMART: Who is, especially when it's their mom telling them. What this man has done to you are terrible, there aren't words strong enough to describe how wicked and evil he is. He has stolen nine months of your life from you that you will never get back but the best thing you could do is to be happy, to move forward and live your life the way you want to. Because by feeling sorry for yourself and using this as a crutch throughout the rest of your life, you're only giving him more time and he doesn't deserve another second.

BOLDUAN: It's one thing to be able to get that advice, but to be able to internalize it and live by that advice shows a strength in character. I think people are watching, you are so comfortable and you are so strong. I know people will want to know, how did you get here especially how did you get to a place of being able to trust again because very few people live through that kind of trauma.

SMART: Well, I had had so much taken from me. I remember while I was kidnapped it was Thanksgiving and we were out in San Diego. We were walking along and I saw an elder couple walking along the boardwalk. They were holding hands and they look contented with their life with each other. I remember as they walked by me, I just felt like, I will never have that.

That has been stolen from me. I will never have that happiness in my life. And so when I came back, when I was rescued, I felt like I had been given a second chance at life. I felt like everything that had been stolen from me was being given back. I have the opportunity to date, to get a license, to go to school, to find someone I really love and grow old with them.

BOLDUAN: You're married now.


BOLDUAN: I think everyone would love hearing that. What is next for Elizabeth Smart?

SMART: I love so much of what I'm doing right now. I love speaking. I love working with incredible, incredible people, trying to make a difference. That's what I've been doing the last couple years that's what I plan on continuing doing.

BOLDUAN: It has been quite a journey. Not one that you have chosen but one that you've handled with a remarkable amount of grace and courage. Your book is called "My Story." Elizabeth, it's great to see you. Thank you so much for joining us.

SMART: Thank you for having me.

BOLDUAN: All right, Chris, over to you.

CUOMO: All right, thanks, Kate. We're going to take a break now on NEW DAY.

When we come back "Gravity," the new hit film getting praised by audiences and critics, but not by astronauts and physicists, why? It turns out it's science.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: I love how good our producers are at picking music for our show. Welcome to NEW DAY. Imagine this nightmare scenario, disaster in space leaving two astronauts drifting in the infinite abyss. It's the premise of a new space thriller "Gravity." The movie has more than just the critics talking.

Joining us this morning is an actual NASA astronaut, Mike Massimino. It's real pleasure to have you here. He is a veteran of two space shuttle missions, both of which service the Hubble space telescope including the historic final repair mission. I'm a little breathless because I love astronauts. He is also a visiting professor at Columbia University School of Engineering. Such a thrill to have you here, thanks so much.


PEREIRA: All right, first of all, I know you love the movie. Two of all space movies you've seen --

BOLDUAN: What was number one?

CUOMO: "Space Balls."

MASSIMINO: I wasn't going in that direction, but "Right Stuff" was my favourite.

PEREIRA: Fair enough. Fair enough.

MASSIMINO: Feeling old.

PEREIRA: Scientific community not necessarily loving the film. I want to show you a tweet from renowned physicist. Good guy. He's concerned that we care more about science fiction and make believe space more than we enjoy actual people in real space. What do you make of this tweet? Does he have a point?

MASSIMINO: I think he does. If you really want to learn science, you may need to go to school than watch a movie. The movie can inspire you. You won't get college credit, but he has an interesting point. There are exciting things going on in space. We do have people on the space station doing great things every day.

But if you were to show what we actually do, I don't think many people would watch. During my own space walk, my wife was going to my kid's LITTLE LEAGUE game while I was walking in space. If you just show exactly what we do, you don't get too many people coming to the movies.

PEREIRA: They upped the drama.

CUOMO: That's what this movie is being held out for that it's closer than normal. MASSIMINO: The thing that amazed me, Chris, you look at a movie a different way when you know something about the topic.


MASSIMINO: Exactly. I wasn't paying attention to what Sandra Bullock was doing, but looking behind her head at my tools. I saw a cutter tool that I used on my flight. I told my wife, that's where it is. I was wondering what happened to my cutter tool. It had number eight on it. I called it Yogi Berra. So they did the exact -- I think what the director did was watched our Hubble I-max movie. That's a real space documentary kind of movie and I think they studied that and they wanted to make it as accurate as possible from that standpoint.

BOLDUAN: The question on everyone's mind --


BOLDUAN: What happens in this movie, could this happen in real life?

MASSIMINO: I'm glad you brought that up. The other thing it shows on a serious point is that space a dangerous business.

BOLDUAN: Yes, it is.

MASSIMINO: That is a bad day on steroids.

BOLDUAN: Bad day.

MASSIMINO: Really bad day. We practice things like -- maybe not that big.

BOLDUAN: You practice for disasters?

MASSIMINO: We practice for disasters.


MASSIMINO: One of the first meetings we had as space walker was we've lost people in space. Very dangerous thing we're going to do is space walk, make sure we take care of each other, double-check everything, make sure everyone is buttoned up and everybody comes home. Micrometeor impact or debris getting you is something we practice in the water, practice rescuing each other. You have to demonstrate that before you can go. We think about it all the time in our training but try not to dwell on it.

PEREIRA: Because the fact is that you have wives and little league practice you need to get home for.

MASSIMINO: That's right.

PEREIRA: This will hopefully inspire a whole new generation people interested in astronauts.

MASSIMINO: I hope it will. PEREIRA: What a pleasure to have you here today.

MASSIMINO: Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: Of course, he had no natural advantage as an astronaut being an Italian.

MASSIMINO: Chris couldn't even pronounce my name.

CUOMO: Mike, thanks for being with us. Astronaut on set, how could you go wrong?

When we come back on "NEW DAY," no closer to ending the gridlock in Washington, we'll speak about it with Bobby Jindal, possible Republican candidate for president in 2016. What is he going to say about the situation? Does he have a solution? Maybe we need to keep Massimino.

BOLDUAN: It isn't rocket science.

CUOMO: That's a good one!



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't even notice the tree was in half. I turned around and realized I didn't have a house. That was hard for my kids.


CUOMO: Vicious storms batter the east coast overnight from Florida to New England. Homes damaged, cars flooded --