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Court Hearing for Brain-Dead Texas Woman; Iran Says It Will Honor Nuke Deal; Student Shot at South Carolina State University; "Planet Hillary" - Those in Her Political Orbit; Surf Competition Mavericks; FDA Reboots Food Labels; South Sudan Cease-fire

Aired January 24, 2014 - 15:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: In less than an hour, a court hearing will begin that may resolve the case of this brain-dead woman in Texas who is on a ventilator.

A judge will consider the request from this family to remove the breathing tube of Marlise Munoz.

John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth has refused to do so, saying Texas law directs that, quoting a hospital official here, "life- sustaining treatment cannot be withheld from pregnant patients," end quote.

Munoz was 14 weeks along when she was found unconscious. On Wednesday, the family said medical records show the fetus is developing abnormalities.

Ed Lavandera has been all over this for us in Texas. You're in Fort Worth. We know the hearing is in about 45 minutes.

Tell me about this major development coming from these court documents that were just filed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just here, as you mentioned, Brooke, in a few minutes, the decisive moment in this case that has been going on since late November, but in court filings that were just filed a short while ago, attorneys for the hospital and for Eric Munoz, the husband of Marlise Munoz, filed paperwork stipulating to the facts that they will agree to in today's hearing.

Two significant portions of the documents include the hospital, John Peter Smith Hospital, acknowledging for the first time what the family has said all along, that Marlise Munoz is brain dead and has been brain dead since November 28th, two days after she collapsed of an apparent blood clot in her lung in her house in the middle of the night.

In fact, the paperwork said that Eric Munoz, who's a paramedic, was able to revive her, but two days later, she succumbed and has been brain dead, all along.

The other significant portion is that hospital official say -- also agreed with what the attorneys for Eric Munoz has been saying, which is that the fetus, which is now about 22-weeks along is not viable. It does not appear any chance that this fetus will be able to survive in any kind of way.

Attorneys for the Munoz family will argue, as well, that that is regardless, beside the point in this law, that regardless of the condition of this fetus, that. because Marlise Munoz is dead, this Texas law that the hospital is citing does not apply to her and the family should have been allowed to turn off the ventilators and let Marlise Munoz go.

And what they will be asking the judge for here today, and we could very well possibly have an answer from the judge in this case, the Munoz family wants Marlise Munoz disconnected from the ventilators.

She's just a few miles away from where we are here in the intensive care unit of the John Peter Smith Hospital.

They want those ventilators turned off so that they can bury Marlise Munoz with dignity, as they say.

So, here, possibly within the next couple of hours, we could have a final ruling in this case.


BALDWIN: Just imagine the emotions this family has been going through.

Ed Lavandera, we'll stay tuned to your reporting on the hearing. We'll see you on CNN as soon as that wraps up. Thank you so much.

Here's something that very few U.S. news organizations can actually say. Right now, we have a correspondent in Iran.

CNN is in Tehran as Iran's leaders say they will honor a new nuclear deal that just took effect here.

The U.S. seems convinced that they are telling the truth, that this deal will be enough to keep Iran from building a nuclear bomb.

But Iran's president seems to have a different story, telling CNN, sanctions against Iran are illegal.

CNN's Jim Sciutto with more on what's happening there in Iran. Jim?


We've gotten a very warm reception since we arrived here. We went to Friday prayers at the main mosque in Tehran, really the showcase Friday prayers, nationally, and when my producer walked in and an Iranian woman saw that she was American, she came up and gave her a hug and kiss.

And when I spoke to Iranians about this new diplomacy between our countries, they said they welcomed it.

That said, when you speak to Iranians, whether they are hardliners or reformists, all of them support Iran's nuclear program.

They believe it's peaceful. They believe its their country's right.

And at Friday prayers, politics is never far from the conversation. When the presider mentioned this case earlier this week when Iran was invited to the Syria talks and then disinvited, the crowd broke into loud chants of "death to America," those familiar chants.

Now, in my experience here, there's always theater involved in these chants, but it show how the emotions are still raw. The distrust is still raw.

But there was another positive sign. When I asked Foreign Minister Zarif in our interview about the cases of two Americans still held here, Amir Hekmati and Saeed Abedini, he opened the window to at least glimmer of hope.

Here's what he had to say.


MOHAMMED JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, they have, unfortunately, judgments, court judgments, against them.

Of course, we have various clemency measures in Iran that can be introduced, have been in the past, can be introduced again in these cases.

But I cannot predict that, because that is something for the judiciary to decide, and the executive usually doesn't have much influence over what the judiciary decides.


SCIUTTO: Foreign Minster Zarif also said it's up to the judiciary; it's not up to him.

But it was a small sign of hope and when I shared his comments with the families of Hekmati and Abedini, back home in the U.S., they were both very happy to hear it.

They are desperate for any positive news, and for them, this was at least a glimmer of hope.


BALDWIN: Jim Sciutto, in Tehran, Jim, thank you very much.

And when you walk out your front door, you probably don't think twice, and this couple didn't either until surprise! A bear! Much more of this couple's close encounter, coming up.

Plus, it is the magazine cover that everyone is buzzing about. It's all about Hillary Clinton. The actual article has some surprises, as well. That's next.


BALDWIN: Breaking news here on CNN as we are getting word out of Orangeburg, South Carolina, of a school shooting.

Let me just read you what I have here. Police say one student has been shot on South Carolina State University's campus. A suspect has not been apprehended. This is according to a posting from the school. The student has not been apprehended.

Here's the lay of the land on this university there. Police have confirmed there's been a shooting. I am just reading from the school.

According to police, one student has been shot. Police have not apprehended the suspect, but they are in pursuit of that individual they believe to be the perpetrator.

The school is on lockdown as police continue search for the suspect here. Students urged to take precaution.

That is what we have out of South Carolina. As soon as we have more information, we will pass it along to you live.

We want to move along, though, and talk about Bob McDonnell, once a rising Republican star, arraigned this morning in federal court.

Federal prosecutors charged the former Virginia governor, he was on the take. They say his wife Maureen also took illegal gifts, and she, like her husband, pleaded not guilty.

A lengthy indictment changes the McDonnells received more than $150,000 in gifts from a Virginia donor and then helped to promote his business.

And it seems everyone who can Photoshop is having fun with this cover here. Look at this with me.

This is Sunday's "New York Times." And you see that face in the middle? Hillary Clinton, it's called "Planet Hillary," kind of a strange bit of artwork.

She kind of looks like a Teletubby. I don't know. What do you think?

So, now, you have these knockoffs floating around the Internet. Some are kind of funny. Maybe you've seen this one.

We're not kidding. That's not the moon in the background. That's not the sun.

Jake Tapper, with me from Washington -- sorry. I'm going to hold back on the giggles.

Our chief Washington correspondent and I know the cover here, this "Planet Hillary" cover, is getting all the attention, but there's a lot of reporting in there, a lot of surprises. And one of the things we gleaned is that, if Clinton runs for president, she and her husband have so many friends, hangers-on here, if she runs, what does she do with everyone?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORREPSONDENT: The point is that there is this old guard and also a new guard and how many people can you bring into the Clinton's orbit and actually beyond that man in the moon or woman in the moon cover are all these individuals in the orbit surrounding Hillary Clinton and that's the purpose of the cover if you expand it out.

But it's going to be a challenge, and one of the things that Donna Brazile, I believe, is quoted in the article saying - CNN's own Donna Brazile -- is that you can't kick people out, but you do have to bring some people in.

One of the interesting things is she's been bringing in some people who have been with President Obama in the recent past, including his last campaign manager, Jim Messina, who is going to be taking over Priorities USA.

That's the SuperPAC that helped Obama in 2012. Now, it's going to be a pro-Hillary Clinton SuperPAC.

That's going to be a little bit awkward, considering there is another member of the Obama cabinet who may run for president, Vice President Joe Biden.

BALDWIN: A lot of sharp elbows. The closer to planet Hillary you get. She has her own chief of staff.

TAPPER: She is not little baby Chelsea anymore. She is almost 34- years-old and she's married and basically running the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Foundation.

She has her own press secretary. There has been some turn over there. Yes, she is a force in the Clinton orbit, perhaps like no other, other than, of course, Mr. Clinton.

BALDWIN: Of course.

Bill Clinton, to whom you are referring here.

TAPPER: I'm sure you've heard of him.

BALDWIN: I think I have.

Jake, thank you. We'll see you in 15 minutes on the lead.

But coming up here, ObamaCare enrollment, let me tell you about this. This is on the rise.

The administration released numbers today showing that, overall, healthcare enrollments have hit the 3 million mark, so that means 900,000 people have signed up in the first three weeks of this year.

The deadline to get insurance without paying a fine is March 31st.

Now to some of the hottest stories in a flash, "Rapid Fire." Roll it.

BALDWIN: Now, we get to this couple here. You've been waiting for this.

Leaving a relative's home in California, going about their day. She's sort of looking around, he's locking the door and then, oh, oh! Do they not even see there's this bear cub on the porch.

And then little bear cub just decides to follow the bear cub to their car. Actually it grabbed the guy's leg, scratched this man, but he got a tetanus shot, and all is A-OK.

Yesterday, the president's spokesman had a beard, and today -


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I decided that the time had come to shave, so here I am, the old me.


BALDWIN: Jay Carney shaved. That's all.

Every couple has a proposal story, but I'm pretty sure most don't start with a police stop.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Had us both step out of the car and everything. They pretended to put handcuffs on him behind the back and then the cops started patting him down, and pulled something out of his pocket.

BALDWIN: Romantic much? Turns out the boyfriend worked with the police in Massachusetts to set up the fake traffic stop. Officers even went so far as to cuff him.

And you see what happens next here, a couple of people coming around, friends, family, witnessing the special moment, and, of course, she said yes.

Surf's up. Take a look at the amazing video we just got in from California. The surfing competition started today, the waves more than three stories high.

We have a live report from Half Moon Bay where all this is going on.

Plus, big changes coming to the food you buy, the FDA taking aim at food labels and hoping it will change the way you shop. That's next.


BALDWIN: Takes a real maverick to conquer some of the most spectacular waves along the north California coast, and for some surfers the thrill can be death defying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ever see something and you think it's the reason you are put on this Earth?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are talking about?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The biggest wave in the world. Mavericks, it's real.


BALDWIN: See that movie, "Chasing Mavericks?" It's actually based on a true story, and this competition at Mavericks, happening right now in Half Moon Bay.

Dozens of the bravest athletes taking on the rolling sea in this monster surf competition.

And that where Dan Simon is, assigned to cover Mavericks today for us. And how big are the waves? You're there.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, first of all, it is calm behind me, but don't let that fool anybody, don't let that fool you. The waves are 30-to-40-feet tall. These are enormous waves.

This is where they put the media, this is where they're putting the spectators, because the waves are huge and the beach is small, so they're having everyone over here for safety consideration.

So, let's explain what Mavericks is. This is a one-day event. It's an annual competition. It can happen any time during the winter months. It's invitation only for two dozen of some of the best surfers in the world.

And here's the catch. They're only given 48 hours notice to get here. It's decided when the conditions are going to be most ideal. So they're out there right now. They're competing.

It's also one of the most dangerous in the world, in addition to being one of the most prestigious, because there rocks in the water. It's only 55 degrees. So it can be dangerous. People have died in the past.

And, Brooke, there is not a huge payday here. The winner gets $12,000, so not a whole lot of money, but you talk to any of the surfers, they'll tell you they do it for the trophy and not the money.


BALDWIN: You get to say you surfed Mavericks.

Dan Simon, thank you so much, crazy, crazy pictures and waves there.

Now to your food, the FDA is rebooting nutrition labels on just about everything you eat. And health officials hope it could change what you buy.

CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen, joining me now, and so when we talk labels, what are we -- how can they change?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: They can change in a variety of ways. They've been the same for 20 years, so it's kind of like let's -

BALDWIN: We're over it.

COHEN: Yeah, we need something new. We need something interesting.

And, so, one of the big ways that people think it might change is to highlight the calories more, because what's, of course, one of the big problems that we have in this country is that people are just consuming -

BALDWIN: Eating too much.

COHEN: -- too many calories. Too many calories, so we don't know how they're going to do it, but here's what at least one consumer group wants to see, Center for Science in the Public Interest.

They want to see calories made more prominent, so maybe bold them. Put it on that label and make it big and make it bold and it would really hop out at you.

So let me show you what a label looks like now. So that's what a label looks like.

BALDWIN: We all know that.

COHEN: Are the calories jumping out at you?

BALDWIN: I know where to look, but beyond that.

COHEN: You where to look, right, but they're not jumping out at you.

So let's see, let's show what it could look like.


COHEN: And here's another way you can make it jump out at you. You could put it in another color, right? Make it big, bold --


COHEN: Another color, fancy.

So that's at least what some health experts want to see happen.

BALDWIN: But the thing is, yes, you can be sort of be almost manipulative with calories, though, because you may think, 60 calories? Meh. It's really the portion size, right?

COHEN: Right. Exactly. And that's been a problem, because sometimes food manufacturers --

BALDWIN: People don't look at that. COHEN: They don't look at it, and so, you buy this. Now, if you bought this, you would think, this is for you, right? You're going to eat this.

BALDWIN: The whole thing, definitely.

COHEN: This is two servings. Two servings, this little, tiny bag is two servings.

And, so, you look at the calories and you're actually getting double what you think.

So, there's a bunch of things that are labeled that way. It's like, oh, come on, I'm finishing that on my own. I'm not sharing with a friend.

BALDWIN: Do you think the bold calories, the yellow calories, will that really change how we eat?

COHEN: You know, they are hoping that those changes will help and that another change might help.

Let's say you're drinking a soda that has 65 grams of sugar, which isn't unusual. It's a huge amount of sugar, and some folks say, let's call that to people's attention.

Let's not just say 65 grams of sugar. Let's somehow put a big red X or something that let's you know that this is a lot.

This is way more than really you are supposed to be getting in one thing because the rest of your day you're probably end up with a ton of sugar.

So if it makes some people feel like it makes a bit of a judgment call, that would be a good thing.

BALDWIN: Just even a pause.

COHEN: Yeah, just look down and say, wow, that's a lot of sugar.

BALDWIN: Not necessarily a bad thing.

Elizabeth, thank you very much.

Coming up next, this remarkable escape here, a family living overseas caught in the middle of this violent revolt. They made it back to the U.S. safely.

We will ask them about their voyage, coming up next.


BALDWIN: In one of the most dangerous places on Earth, we are hearing word of a cease-fire, the South Sudanese government and the rebels, reaching a major breakthrough in talks and a possible end to this wave of ethnic, political violence that's killed as many as 10,000 people. Let me just say that again, 10,000 people. in fierce fighting that spanned just a matter of weeks.

And now to this, a happier picture, because you are looking at what the U.S. believes is the first American baby ever to be born in South Sudan.

Jordan's parents are there for peace-building ministry work. Full disclosure, I have known Jordan's dad and mom since high school. They are dear friends of mine, and they joined me late last year before the situation. They went back to South Sudan before it got worse.

So, Shelvis and Nancy Smith-Mather are joining me now. Love, love, love you, and I'm so glad you are safe and back OK.


BALDWIN: I've gotten a lot of emails about you two. So you can see them. They are OK.

Hadn't planned on having Jordan in one of the most rural places in the world, so that happened. You go back home and then you live in this -- your home village is called Yei.

And we were emailing. You said in one given day 18 people were killed. Soldiers were setting fire to homes.

What were you seeing?

N. SMITH-MATHER: Fortunately, Brooke, we were actually in Uganda at the time that the army was in Yei, divided. It's generally a stable area there.

The biggest challenge at this point is the internally displaced people that have come in to Yei from the other areas that have had more of the inter-ethnic conflict.

I think within the country there's a little more than half a million people that have been displaced from their homes, so it's --

BALDWIN: Do you know any of these people back home in South Sudan? Who are these people?

SHELVIS SMITH-MATHER, DAD OF FIRST U.S. BABY BORN IN SOUTH SUDAN: Friends, neighbors, adopted family members, people who have been trained by Reconcile International and are doing peace-building work.

But masses have been displaced. And even when you share those numbers of 10,000 people losing their lives, we really don't know. Mass graves are still being found in Juba and other major cities and people simply won't know until the fighting ceases and other relief organizations are able to go in and to get full tallies of these numbers.

BALDWIN: This has been your home away from home. How tough was it for you to finally -- you and your itty-bitty one -- leave?

N. SMITH-MATHER: It was really -- we left at a time that we were going out for the holiday break in the hope that we'd come back in a week or two and just kept getting the stories of all of the -- each day of things deteriorating, the situation getting worse and worse. It really is tragic.

S. SMITH-MATHER: But I think the greatest tragedy, I mean, Brooke, we're fine. We're fortunate. We're back here. We have family that loves us and cares for us. We go have Chic-Fil-A and all those different things.

But the reality is the majority of people are not able to leave. The majority of people are displaced in U.N. camps or in the bush, so to speak, and are searching for help.

BALDWIN: Do you believe, as we report on this cease fire, do you believe that it will stick, knowing what you know about this part of the world?

N. SMITH-MATHER: We're hopeful. We spoke with the South Sudanese colleague right before coming on, and he was just saying, please ask the international community to continue to draw close to us during this time and to encourage this peace process, because even though the cease-fire has been signed, there's still possibility that conflict can continue, so to continue to put that international pressure towards peace is important.

S. SMITH-MATHER: Can I add this, Brooke?

BALDWIN: Go for it.

S. SMITH-MATHER: Just to be honest about this, this is very hard to imagine as Americans or to an American audience.

BALDWIN: Very hard.

S. SMITH-MATHER: But if we can imagine being in a place where there is a lack of infrastructure, a lack of access to education, to medical care, a lack of access to drinking water, where the government is still developing, it's within that backdrop where the church is active, where the church has a unique role to be engaged in not only bringing relief, but also to help in this healing process.

BALDWIN: She mentioned being hopeful, and I think that the word hope, help this American audience who cannot begin to wrap our heads minds around what is happening in South Sudan, which is your home away from home, what draws you there, where do you see hope?

N. SMITH-MATHER: I think we both feel God has called us to serve there at this time, and the hope -- one of the great hopes is the vast majority of South Sudanese people want a peaceful and stable country.

They want their children to have a better life than what they've experienced and to have educational opportunities.

So you have the mass that are willing to work for peace.

We see, even in our hometown of Edmonton (ph), there's so many displaced people there that several of the churches have decided that they'll fast for one day and give the money they would have used that day to feed the people who are displaced across ethnic lines.

So there's great unity and great courage that's happening at this time.

BALDWIN: In the 30 seconds that we have left, how can people help, other than We have resources there, but you also have a resource.

S. SMITH-MATHER: I'd say this. There are many major organizations that are offering relief, World Vision, CARE International.

We're working specifically with the Presbyterian Church USA and the Reform Church in America. We're working with Reconcile International, trying our best to be a part of the peace-building and the relief that's going on there.

So, as people look, the Presbyterian Church is one way of many.

BALDWIN: Of many.

Quickly, you have news?

N. SMITH-MATHER: Baby number two.

BALDWIN: Baby number two.

S. SMITH-MATHER: Baby number two, praise the Lord.

BALDWIN: Baby number two, maybe not to be born in South Sudan -

S. SMITH-MATHER: Praise the Lord.

BALDWIN: But we will see on this one.

Guys, thank you so much. Love you both dearly.

N. SMITH-MATHER: Thank you.

BALDWIN: And that's how we will end today.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me.

"THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts now.