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December 31st, 2012
10:56 AM ET

Kendra Skaggs on bringing her daughter home in the face of a new Russian law banning U.S. adoptions

Many American families are in a painful limbo this morning because of a new Russian law that goes into effect tomorrow banning U.S. adoptions. For the past 13 months, Kendra and Jason Skaggs have been in the process of adopting a five year old girl with special needs named Polina. A Russian judge granted the Skaggs' adoption petition on Christmas Eve but it requires a 30 day waiting period. The Skaggs family already considers Polina a part of the family but the new law has them feeling unsure as to whether they will be allowed to bring their daughter to the United States. This morning Kendra Skaggs joins “Starting Point” from Los Angeles to share her story.

Filed under: Adoption • Russia
December 31st, 2012
10:40 AM ET

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta on witnessing the dangers of prescription drug abuse first-hand

About every 19 minutes, someone dies of an accidental prescription drug overdose. This number includes those dying from both legal and illegal drugs; however, most are due to legal prescription drugs that might be in your medicine cabinet right now. Accidental overdoses from prescription drugs now exceed the combined total of deaths from heroin, crack and methamphetamines. Some experts are calling this the worst man-made epidemic.

CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta shares his special report about accidental overdose and witnessing the epidemic first-hand in Washington State.

Filed under: Drugs
December 31st, 2012
10:29 AM ET

CNN's Chris Lawrence on the budget cuts the Defense Department faces if the U.S. economy goes over the fiscal cliff

If no deal is reached and the U.S. economy goes over the fiscal cliff the Defense Department is facing half a trillion dollars in budget cuts over the next 10 years.

– CNN’s Pentagon Correspondent Chris Lawrence takes a closer look at the possible gloom and doom scenario.

Filed under: Fiscal cliff
December 31st, 2012
10:16 AM ET

Rep. Burgess (R-TX) says he will not support a bill expiring Bush-era tax cuts for those earning over $450,000

As the deadline to avert the fiscal cliff nears, fears of a shrinking paycheck for Americans continue to grow. On Sunday, Democrats and Republicans met to negotiate before large tax increases and spending cuts were to begin taking effect on New Year’s Day but failed to produce a deal. The House and Senate are expected to reconvene Monday morning at 10 and 11 o'clock respectively.

This morning, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) joins "Starting Point" to weigh in on the latest fiscal cliff negotiations. Burgess says he will not vote for a bill that only expires the Bush-era tax cuts for households earning $450,000 or more.

Filed under: Fiscal cliff
December 28th, 2012
07:25 AM ET

National Journal Editorial Director Ron Brownstein talks fiscal cliff: 'we are looking at a divided government'

The U.S. is just four days away from falling over the fiscal cliff. Lawmakers in Washington have had quite a long time to cut a deal to avoid it, but there is still no deal in sight. Maybe that could change today, when president Obama holds a meeting with all four congressional leaders at the white house. Here to weigh the odds is Ron Brownstein, CNN Senior Political Analyst and Editorial Director for The National Journal.

Brownstein says the fiscal cliff standoff “is really indicative of a broader problem we face of a red coalition and blue coalition that are very different, that reflect very different visions of America and are showing less and less willingness to sort of accommodate the other.” He says, “The reality is we are looking at a divided government for the next two years, and most likely the next four years. If they can't make an agreement on this, with all of the pressure that the fiscal cliff implies, how are going to make progress on anything else?”

He also comments on the big White House meeting and whether a leader will emerge who can control his or her party. “I think democrats by and large would follow the president,” he says. “I think that that is clear. It is very unclear whether Republican leaders can control their caucus, especially in the House."

He also believes that there are only two options in terms of avoiding the fiscal cliff. “Either we are going to go over the cliff, which now seems more likely. Or John Boehner has to bring a bill to the floor that will be supported primarily by Democrats and opposed by a majority of House Republicans. Because I do not believe that these two Venn diagrams overlap.”

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Filed under: Fiscal cliff
December 28th, 2012
06:37 AM ET

Teens from Florida based bands raise money for Superstorm Sandy victims; Nicholas McDonald, 17, & George Pennington, 16, perform live

Many musicians jumped in to offer help after Superstorm Sandy hit the northeast. Several big name artists like The Rolling Stones and Billy Joel performed in an epic concert here in Madison Square Garden earlier this month to aid victims of the storm. But there were also many smaller benefits around the country, including one put on by two bands from Tampa—"Stix of Fire" and "Circle 4".

Made up of high school teens, the young artists raised almost $6000 for a relief fund, saying they did it because so many people have offered help to them during their own local disasters and they wanted to do the same for victims of Sandy. Seventeen-year-old Nicholas McDonald of is a member of "Stix Of Fire" and 16-year-old George Pennington is a member of "Circle 4”. They come to “Early Start” this morning with their story and a live acoustic performance.

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Filed under: Aid • Music • Superstorm Sandy
December 28th, 2012
06:10 AM ET

Ret. Gen. James "Spider" Marks remembers late Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf's legacy: 'a bigger than life' but 'humble man'

The nation this morning remembers the American general credited with orchestrating one of the most lopsided military victories in modern history. Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf died yesterday in Florida. He was 78 years old.

"Stormin' Norman", as he was called, was regarded by many as a media savvy general taking the lead during the first Gulf War. The entire campaign was televised live. The president paid tribute to the late military leader last night saying, “Our prayers are with the Schwarzkopf family, who tonight can know that his legacy will endure in a nation that is more secure because of his patriotic service.” CNN Military Analyst and Retired Gen. James "Spider" Marks joins us from Oakton, VA by Skype this morning with more on Gen. Schwarzkopf’s legacy.

"This truly was a 20th century American military hero,” Gen. Marks says. “General Schwarzkopf was a bigger than life man. His nickname certainly personified all of that. It’s a label—hero is a label that he would protest openly. He was a humble man.”

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Filed under: Memorial • Military
December 27th, 2012
07:57 AM ET

2012's top 5 moments in sports; SI.com anchor Maggie Gray has the score

Sports fans all over the world witnessed an exciting year in 2012. Usain Bolt made Olympic history in London, Johnny Manziel became the youngest college football player to ever win the Heisman trophy, and Lebron James finally won a championship ring. Maggie Gray is an anchor for SI.com, and she comes to the studio to count down Sports Illustrated's top five moments in sports for this year. Take a guess at what made number 1.

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Filed under: NBA • NFL • Olympics • Sports
December 27th, 2012
07:53 AM ET

Tributes to fallen firefighters from Christmas Eve blaze in Webster, NY; Fire Marshal of Webster Robert Boutillier reflects

This morning, we hear new recordings from a tragic Christmas Eve fire that stunned the town of Webster, a town in upstate New York. The blaze was set in a Webster home as a trap by a gunman who then targeted firefighters who responded. Sixty two-year-old William Spengler started a massive fire, then shot and killed two firefighters and injured two others.The awful scene playing out on the scanner: “Multiple firemen down. Multiple firemen shot. I am shot. I think it was an assault rifle. We have multiple firemen down. With a working fire.”

The two injured firefighters, who are still recovering in the hospital, released a statement thanking the nation for its support. They say: "We are humbled and a bit overwhelmed by the outpouring of well wishes for us and our families. Like so many others, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Michael Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka, and with those who lost their homes."

Meanwhile, the town is mourning for those two firemen who lost their lives as investigators try to figure out how and why this happened. Robert Boutillier is Fire Marshal of Webster, New York. He joins us live from Rochester, NY with the latest on investigation.

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Filed under: Crime • Fire
December 27th, 2012
06:52 AM ET

Top celebrity meltdowns of 2012; Us Weekly Senior Editor Bradley Jacobs has the scoop

For celebrities, 2012 was a scandalous year which included custody disputes, drunk driving, rehab, cheating, and divorce. Many of these scandals are featured in the 2012 Us Weekly Celebrity Yearbook issue. Bradley Jacobs is the Senior Editor of Us Weekly, and he comes to “Early Start” with the scoop on the biggest celebrity scandals of this year.

Demi Moore hospitalized and in rehab makes number five, followed by Kristen Stewart cheating on Robert Pattinson at number four, Lindsay Lohan receiving bad movie reviews and getting her probation revoked at number three and Amanda Bynes' mugshot meltdown at number two. Halle Berry, fiancée Olivier Martinez and Gabriel Aubrey, Berry’s ex, top the list with their Thanksgiving Day fight over Berry’s four year old daughter, Nahla.

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Filed under: Celebrities • Celebrity • Trending
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