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3.1 Earthquake in Arkansas; 911 Dispatcher Calls Mom for Help; Obama to Speak on Gun Control in Colorado; Enforcing Existing Gun Laws; Interview with Rep. Elijah Cummings; Bus Plunges Off Brazilian Highway; Jane Henson Dead at 78; "42" At the White House; ESPN Anchor Debuts First Novel

Aired April 3, 2013 - 08:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Bottom of the hour. Welcome back to STARTING POINT. Good to be with you. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman. Coming up, we're speaking to CNN chief Washington correspondent and anchor of "THE LEAD", Jake Tapper. We'll also be speaking with Congressman Elijah Cummings about President Obama's trip to Colorado, also gun control.

First, let's get to Christine Romans with today's top stories.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, you guys. If you live in Northern Arkansas, you may have been shaken out of bed this morning. A small earthquake in Northern Arkansas, 3.1 magnitude tremor struck at 7:16 Eastern Time outside the town of Clinton. That's about 80 miles north of Little Rock. No injuries or damage have been reported so far.

Film critic Roger Ebert says he's battling cancer again. He is cutting back on movie reviews while undergoing radiation. In typically Ebert fashion, the 70-year-old saying he's taken a, quote, "leave of presence." The veteran critic has previously had cancer in his thyroid and salivary glands and lost the ability to speak and eat after surgery. Wish him the best.

Louis Taylor is a free man this morning. He was released from an Arizona prison yesterday after 42 years. Taylor pleaded no contest in a deal that set aside his original conviction in a deadly hotel fire that killed 29 people, and Louis Taylor will be our guest here on STARTING POINT tomorrow.

Louisville's Kevin Ware back on campus after being released from an Indianapolis hospital. The 20-year-old sophomore suffered a horrifying compound fracture of his right leg during a nationally televised game on Sunday. Ware is expected to be off the court for about a year while his Cardinals continue on to the Final Four in Atlanta this weekend. Ware is hoping go with them, but he needs clearance to travel from team doctors first.

Who does a 911 dispatcher call when she needs help? How about her mom? When a frantic call came into Raeyden Grasseth about a girl drowning in the freezing Columbia River in Washington state, she knew it would take at least 30 minutes for a rescue boat to get there. She also knew her mom lived nearby.


RAEYDEN GRASSETH, 911 DISPATCHER: I thought, OK, I know exactly where that is, and decided, well, I know some people in the area, and so I then called and asked. I'm proud to live in a community where people are so willing to help out. It's -- it's wonderful.


ROMANS: Mom Cynthia, along with her husband and nephew, were able to get the woman on a boat to safety. She's just a little cold and wet, but that is one quick-thinking dispatcher.

BERMAN: Call Mom for help.

BALDWIN: Call Mom. Got to love the moms.

ROMANS: I call Mom for just about anything.

BALDWIN: I do too. Love you, Mom.

BERMAN: All right, 32 minutes after the hour. President Obama heading to Colorado today to make his case for Congress to take action on gun control. He's going to meet with law enforcement and community leaders at the Denver Police Academy, not far from the site of the Aurora movie theater massacre. The president is pushing for universal background checks for gun buyers, and he's calling on Congress to at least vote on an assault weapons ban and limits on large-capacity magazines.

Colorado just expanded background checks and placed restrictions on magazines.

BALDWIN: So how are the gun laws that are already on the books enforced? "THE LEAD" host and chief Washington correspondent, Jake Tapper, is here. Jake Tapper, good to see you bright and early. Let me just ask you first, tell us about the president's trip today?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, he'll be going to Denver, as John mentioned, and his message will be basically, look, Colorado is a state that has a long tradition of gun ownership. It's a frontier state. They take their Second Amendment rights very seriously. But even here in Colorado, people are able to come together and pass common-sense gun legislation. That will be his message, pointing to, as John mentioned, the improved background checks and the ban on high-capacity magazines. I believe it's over 15 rounds. So that will be the message that the president gives.

BALDWIN: And your show today, you -- you were in L.A., you embedded with law enforcement there to do what?

TAPPER: Well, this is interesting. Everybody agrees that the laws on the books should be enforced. So we decided to take a look at this one state program in California where they go after individuals who are not allowed to have guns, but have them. The reason they have this list is because in California, there is gun registration.

So they combined the list of all of those registered to have guns with the list of those who are not allowed to have guns -- either they committed crimes, or they're domestic abusers, or whatever. And they come together with the list and then they go out, it's just about three dozen officers in the attorney general's office, go out and try to get these guns that belong to about 20,000 individuals.

Here's a clip from that report.


TAPPER: And even though he's admitted that there are guns in the house and he's not allowed to own guns, you're not allowed to go get them?

OFFICER: Well, everybody has rights, and his rights are against search and seizure. So at this time, he denied consent to search his residence. So we'll go present all the facts to a judge and ask to search the residence for the illegal weapons inside the residence that we believe to be in there.


TAPPER: So John and Brooke, what's really interesting about this program is we spent the night with these officers. It is an incredibly labor intensive process. Most of the people were not home or were pretending not to be home, but this was a house in which there were individuals there. They did have guns there. They were not allowed to have gun there. And it just took hours and hours.

We'll take you behind the scenes of this program. Like I said, just about 30 or so officers trying to get more than 20,000 people's guns who are not allowed to have guns, and they're really fighting a losing battle.

BERMAN: You know, Jake, that is such an interesting issue. Jake Tapper, anchor of "THE LEAD", thanks so much for joining us.

We're going to bring in Elijah Cummings right now. He's the ranking Democrat in the Oversight Committee, the cosponsor of Gun Trafficking Prevention Act. And Congressman, you saw Jake's report there. He highlights what is such a serious issue. Everyone seems to agree we should be enforcing the gun laws that are on the books, but as you saw in Jake's report, it's really, really difficult.

In Los Angeles, there were people they knew had guns illegally, and it took forever for law enforcement officials to get a hold of them.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: Yes, there are a lot of people who are disobeying the law. But when I think about something like Sandy Hook, where 20 beautiful children, our children, were murdered, I think the time is worth it. We've got to get a hold of this situation. And Congress cannot be afraid to take a vote on these difficult issues. We cannot allow a Sandy Hook to happen. We cannot allow what's happening in Baltimore and other cities, where young people are literally being slaughtered every day with these guns, or the Aurora situation in Colorado, without doing something.

And what I'm afraid of right now is that we will have a lot of motion, commotion, emotion, but no results. And so hopefully we'll move past that.

BALDWIN: Congressman, I want to ask you about that, because Jay Carney, as part of the White House daily briefing, was kind of asked about that, because there was so much commotion and emotion back when Sandy Hook happened in December. The concern is now has the moment passed?

Here was Jay Carney.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESPERSON: He believes that passion, that urgency, still exists around the country and it still exists, you know, if not in full then in part in Washington, and that's why he is continuing to make the case and why he will make the case in Denver, and will make the case in Connecticut. It's why we are engaging in Congress on this very important matter.


BALDWIN: Congressman Cummings, let me also just point out a map because we did some digging on this show in terms of legislation since then. We know legislation has been enacted in at least 24 states that prevents -- prevents enforcing some federal gun laws. You only have these three states, New York, Colorado, Connecticut, of course, where he's headed today, taking steps toward tougher gun legislation. Has the moment for real legislation, real change, sir, has it passed?

CUMMINGS: No, it has not passed. And I think that the children who sadly perished in Sandy Hook, the young man whose autopsy I attended this Friday in Baltimore, who was shot down and killed at 21 years old, my nephew who was killed -- the would cry out to us and say it's never too late. And we really don't have the right to be silent.

And it's going to take -- we need to get away from caution and have some courage about this. This is our watch. We have a duty to make a difference and I want to tell you, if you cannot -- if we cannot bring about change, when we've got our children being slaughtered like they were at Sandy Hook, I don't know when we're going to do it. And the situation can only get worse. So hopefully we'll get something done here.

BERMAN: We've talked to a lot of law enforcement officials in the country. They say if they can get only one thing passed in this round of discussions, they hope it is background checks. That's what law enforcement officials say. This issue came up yesterday on "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Asa Hutchinson. Asa Hutchinson, the former Congressman, is leading the NRA's National School Shield Task Force, and he was talking to Wolf about the issue of background checks. Let's listen to what he said.



ASA HUTCHINSON, NRA'S NATIONAL SCHOOL SHIELD TASK FORCE: I'm open to expanding background checks. He can do it within a way that does not infringe upon an individual and make it hard for an individual to transfer to -- to a friend or a neighbor.


BERMAN: Now, that caught a lot of people off guard. He went on to clarify that he meant increasing data on the National Instant Criminal Background Check system, not increasing background checks for the gun show loophole or person-to-person sales. Still, your reaction to his comments?

CUMMINGS: Let me be clear. We've created laws that says we do not want criminals to -- convicted criminals to get guns. And there are these loopholes that allow folks to do exactly what we intended -- I mean, they are able to do -- go against the law, in other words, get around the law.

It seems to me if we are going to make laws which say that criminals should not have guns, then we need to do everything in our power to make sure that we have all the elements in that law to make it work. We want to be effective and efficient. Nobody is trying to take away the gun of the collector or the hunter or the person who wants to protect their home. I want them to have their guns, but at the same time, we've already said -- our society has made a statement that we do not want criminals to have guns, period. And yet and still, we have all of these efforts, like you just said, 20 states trying to prevent us from even doing it.

BALDWIN: Twenty-four.

CUMMINGS: And when I look at the NRA, you know, if the NRA were truly concerned, they would join in these efforts and understand that nobody is trying to take away their Second Amendment rights, but simply trying to protect our society.

BERMAN: Congressman Elijah Cummings, thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

CUMMINGS: Thank you.

BERMAN: Forty-one minutes after the hour. Ahead on STARTING POINT, even First Lady Michelle Obama gets a little starstruck. See what happened when she met Harrison Ford, Han Solo, at the White House, coming up next.


BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. A grisly scene on a busy Brazilian highway. A passenger bus plunging 30 feet from a viaduct in Rio de Janeiro on to its roof, at least seven people were killed. Six others injured. Witness told the Brazilian TV station the driver had a dispute with a passenger -- look at that -- right before the crash. So a problem with that dispute.

BALDWIN: People are holding up their camera phones taking a video of that.

Also jaw-dropping pictures here a gas station blown to bits.

BERMAN: Oh my goodness.

BALDWIN: This is England. This blast was reportedly caused by thieves trying to break open an ATM machine watch it again and there she goes. Amazingly, no one was hurt. Police did get there to find the ATM blown open and money from inside gone.

BERMAN: Explosions at a gas station, a very, very bad idea.

BALDWIN: Don't go stealing ATMs.

BERMAN: All right. Stunning new video -- we have more stunning new video a new vantage point from inside the house of that massive sinkhole that swallowed a Florida man alive. Hillsboro County released the video to our affiliate Bay 9 -- Bay News 9 I should say. You can see the sinkhole, stretched the entire length of the room, from wall to wall. It's reportedly 60 feet deep, 37-year-old Jeff Bush was killed when the ground opened up under him back in February. The house has since been torn down.

BALDWIN: The Jim Henson Company, says Jane Henson, the life of late Muppets creator died Tuesday at her home in Connecticut. She was battling cancer. A memorial mass is planned next week she was 78. Her late husband, Jim, died back in 1990.

BERMAN: And she was a key figure by the way in the entire evolution and creation of the Muppets from the very beginning all the way through the Children's Television Workshop again and again. So she was a pioneer in that field and she will be missed.

A second Republican senator has come out in favor of same-sex marriage. Illinois Senator Mark Kirk issued a statement saying same- sex couples should have the right to civil marriage. Kirk said he began to change his mind in January when he returned to the Capitol after he suffered a significant stroke.

BALDWIN: And even the First Lady -- like me sitting next to you every day -- gets starstruck. This is what happened when Michelle Obama introduced a Hollywood legend during an event yesterday at the White House. Watch.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to thank Harrison Ford. I've wanted to say that for a while. Harrison Ford -- so you think you trip because I'm here? I am tripping out.


BALDWIN: Harrison Ford appears in the new Jackie Robinson biopic, "42." I cannot wait to see this, which was screened at the White House, a lot of movies getting screened at the White House. This is about how Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball. The First Lady said she and the President were deeply moved by the film.

BERMAN: She even get star struck when "Hansel" and any of the (inaudible) shows up at the White House.

BALDWIN: I think so a kind of a big deal. A kind of a big deal.

BERMAN: A big deal.

BALDWIN: Ahead on STARTING POINT, you know him as the tough sports guy out of ESPN hugely popular "Mike & Mike in the Morning." But Mike Greenberg is debuting a softer side -- fair to say -- softer side with a new novel inspired by the loss of a very close friend. That's next.


BALDWIN: Fans know him as one-half of ESPN's popular "Mike & Mike in the Morning". Now the sportscaster is adding title to his resume, that of novelist. Mike Greenberg's first novel is titled "All You Could Ask For". And chances are sports fans will be surprised by the story. And he joins us now. Good to see you.

MIKE GREENBERG, ESPN: It's nice to be here thank you.

BALDWIN: Before we talk about the book. I really -- we read a few books for this job. I had never heard before heard of 100 percent of the proceeds going from the author to fighting cancer. This is personal for you, because of your wife's dear friend, Heidi. Explain the back story.

GREENBERG: Yes. Well our friend Heidi, we met her, her son Walker and my daughter Nikki were on a twos program together, that's how long we've known them and they're now both 12. In early 2009, she developed pain in her back. Finally, her doctor said let's do an MRI just to rule a few things out. Well, the MRI showed that she had stage 4 breast cancer that had spread to her bones and she died seven months later.

And her struggles, but less her struggle than the way I saw three women -- my wife and two other dear friends of hers whom I started calling Heidi's angels, not with any celestial connotations but sort of named after "Charlie's Angels", just the way they were there for her.

BALDWIN: Great friends. GREENBERG: Yes, the way they were there for her is really what inspired the story. So the story is not about cancer. The story is about the power of friendship to lift people through times of adversity and so Stacy and I, my wife have created a foundation called "Heidi's Angels" and we're donating 100 percent of the proceeds that we receive from the book to the V Foundation for Cancer Research in her honor to fight breast cancer.

And the only I can say is if you knew Heidi, you'd know it's the least we could do.

BERMAN: And Mike, you brought up the fact that this story is about three women. And I think that will be surprising to a lot of people who know you as the co-host of "Mike & Mike", talking about sports every morning, a lot of guy stuff, every morning.


BERMAN: How hard was that?

GREENBERG: It was hard. You know, my wife -- my partner's wife, Chris Golic, has a saying, she always says, "You don't find the story; the story finds you." And that's what happened here. I've always wanted to write novels and I always imagined that I would someday and I certainly never would have imagined this would be my first one. And then I had wonderful help. I put together a three-woman focus group who helped show me where I was getting it wrong.

For example Sara McGrath, a 28-year-old yoga instructor said to me and wrote me a note and said, Michael, no 28-year-old woman would ever use blouse.

BALDWIN: Blouse, we wouldn't.

GREENBERG: And so -- we took out blouse and other words like that. So there -- there were little places where they felt I was getting it wrong and needed to be authentic for a female audience and I hope that it is.

BALDWIN: It's told through the perspective sort of this alternating narrative, first-person perspective of these three women. And there's a point in the book where -- and I'm just curious if you are relating this to your life and the story with Heidi where basically they are saying, maybe there was a reason why this couple got pregnant, had a baby. Maybe the person could ultimately find the cure for cancer. Is that something perhaps that could happen in this book?

GREENBERG: I'm amazed that you picked up on that, yes. That was the one -- literally the one paragraph in the book that was me talking, in a way. You know, my own sense that there must be some justice in the universe was really rocked by this experience. It made me angry more than it made me sad, and so that in some ways was me talking.

I'm really impressed and moved that you picked up on that because I feel like some good will come of this, right? Whatever money we raise from this book and I hope it's a fortune, we're going to donate it all to breast cancer --

BALDWIN: That's so great.

GREENBERG: -- and then one of those dollars is going to be the one that keeps some other woman from dying so two other little kids don't have to grow without their mom.

BERMAN: I have that. You said you wanted to be a novelist your whole life. What did your wife think about this? I think if I told my wife, I'd say, you know, honey, I'm going to write a novel about three women, she would probably say yes, dear and just assume that by tomorrow I would be on to some other project. What has she been like through this whole process?

GREENBERG: Well, again, I mean Heidi was one of her best friends in the world. So she, I mean, from the inception, she's been aware of what we were doing and she's been extraordinarily helpful. She's been fairly -- not fairly -- she's been extraordinarily supportive and fairly impressed by the entire thing.

BALDWIN: Fairly impressed.

GREENBERG: Fairly impressed. Had the circumstances been other than that, then I would agree with you. Your wife and your wife probably should go out together, they would get along very well. But in this case, she has been -- as usual, she's been very supportive and she got it. She understood it from the very beginning.

BALDWIN: Mike Greenberg, the book is "All You Could Ask For". Thank you.

BERMAN: Amazing.

GREENBERG: Thank you. Thank you very much for having me on. I really appreciate it.

BALDWIN: Appreciate it.

BERMAN: It is such a wonderful book. "All You Could Ask For" by Mike Greenberg. You have to check it out.

BALDWIN: It's so great.

BERMAN: STARTING POINT back in a moment.


BALDWIN: So it's been a pleasure.

BERMAN: It's been a great morning.

BALDWIN: We had a good morning?

BERMAN: We've been following the story all day from Rutgers coach Mike Rice. Yes, the basketball coach accused of, you know --

BALDWIN: What will happen to him?

BERMAN: -- verbally abusing, physically abusing his players. A lot of people on Twitter including David Plouffe, the former campaign honcho for President Obama --

BALDWIN: Saying he's done after today.

BERMAN: -- David Plouffe said that there's no way Mike Rice lasts a day.

BALDWIN: Suspended for three games back in December but now that this is out, thanks to ESPN and all their reporting, I think we can be --


BERMAN: And stay with us all day to find out the developments which are really almost bound to happen.

BALDWIN: Thanks for being with us. You've been watching STARTING POINT. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman.

Tomorrow on STARTING POINT, we're going to talk to award-winning actor Jeremy Irons about his hit show, "The Borgias".

BALDWIN: Meantime, "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now.