FROM CNN WIRES:
(CNN) - A U.S. Army infantryman who lost all four limbs in a 2009 roadside explosion in Iraq has undergone radical transplant surgery that may help him regain use of his arms.
Last month, the 26-year-old infantryman had successful surgery - a rare double arm transplant - at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
Brendan Marrocco is one of only seven people in the country to successfully undergo the surgery, and the first quadruple-amputee soldier, according to Johns Hopkins.
The surgery, which took 13 hours and 16 orthopaedic and microvascular surgeons from five hospitals - was also the first bilateral arm transplant performed at Johns Hopkins. All of the surgeons volunteered their services; the surgery and rehabilitation costs were paid by the Department of Defense's Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine and Hopkins.
The team of surgeons rehearsed the procedure on cadaver arms four times over the past 18 months, said lead surgeon Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee, director of the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Johns Hopkins.
This morning on "Starting Point," Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee and Dr. Gerald Brandacher with Johns Hopkins Medical Center describe the technique used in the surgery, and Marrocco's prognosis.
READ MORE: Iraq vet undergoes successful double-arm transplant
Steroids have bruised the reputation of Major League Baseball yet again. A published report links Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez—and other major leaguers— to a Florida clinic that's described as the "East Coast version of BALCO" for selling performance-enhancing drugs to ballplayers. A-Rod has denied any relationship with the clinic—or its owner, but he already has a track record of lying about juicing, denying he doped before finally admitting to it back in 2009.
Baseball says it's investigating the allegations. CNN's John Zarrella has more on the story.
If you're looking forward to to checking out the commercials during this year's Super Bowl, you don't have to wait until game day.
This morning, Starting Point gets an exclusive look at the ad by Mercedes Benz, filmed in New Orleans and starring Kate Upton and Usher.
In the ad, Mercedes unveils its new Mercedes CLA, a "highly stylized coupe" at a lower price that is aimed at younger car buyers.
"We felt like this was an opportunity to introduce Mercedes Benz to a much broader audience, to folks who probably wouldn't have ever considered a Mercedes Benz," company president and CEO Steve Cannon says on Starting Point this morning.
When asked about the cost of the Super Bowl spot, Cannon acknowledges that it was an "eight figure commitment," but insists that "when you play in the Super Bowl, you have to step up your game."
President Obama laid out his plan to fix immigration at a stop in a majority Hispanic high school in Las Vegas yesterday, offering his support for many of the ideas laid out by the Senate's "Gang of Eight" in a bipartisan reform proposal.
On Starting Point this morning, Senator Bill Nelson calls the president's plan "right on track" and says that there's "very little difference" between the two proposals.
However, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida), who has been instrumental in crafting the Senate's plan, issued a warning to Obama yesterday, insisting that he's "not going to be part of a bidding war to see who can come up with the most lenient path forward."
When asked about this statement, Nelson, a Florida Democrat, urges Soledad to "give [Rubio] a break."
"I think he’s going to give a lot of cover to the Republicans who otherwise would choke on this," Nelson says.
People are being warned to take cover this morning as a line of violent thunderstorms moves quickly through the south and a series of tornado warnings go into effect.
New pictures into CNN show widespread damage in Tennessee, where there are reports of a trapped family and one fatality in the state.
Mt. Juliet Tennessee police spokesperson sergeant Tyler Chandler joins Starting Point this morning to discuss the "significant damage" in the town.
"Fortunately there are no injuries to report," Chandler says. "It looks like we may have missed a major bullet."
Alex Rodriguez is the highest paid player in Major League Baseball, but a scathing new report by The Miami New Times on performance enhancing drugs says the Yankees' third baseman is also a cheater and a liar.
The paper claims that Rodriguez got human growth hormone, testosterone, and other banned substances from an "anti-aging" clinic run by Anthony Bosch in Miami called "Biogenesis," which is now closed.
The Miami New Times claims it found evidence incriminating Rodriguez in files leaked by a former Biogenesis employee. Also reportedly mentioned in those records are three players who were suspended last year for using banned substances, Melky Cabrera, Yasmani Grandal and Bartolo Colon, as well as two players never before linked to substance abuse, Nelson Cruz and Gio Gonzalez.
Major League Baseball is investigating the report, and so far, Rodriguez and Gonzalez have denied the accusations.
On Starting Point this morning, Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy says that athletes always deny doping allegations and "unfortunately for Alex, in the Lance Armstrong fallout, people aren't really believing it," especially considering A-Rod's history with steroid abuse.
Referencing Rodriguez's recent hip surgery and "declining skill set," Shaughnessy notes that this report could "lead to a battle from the Yankees to get out from under their contract [with A-Rod], which they would love to do anyway."
"This is a guy with 647 home runs in the big leagues," Shaunessy says. "There was a time where he was predicted to be the guy to hit 800 and do it cleanly, and that’s all behind him now."
One of the most famous economists in the world, and a leading liberal voice in the media, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is also the author of “End This Depression Now” out now in paperback. He joins the "Starting Point" team this morning to weigh in on proposed immigration reform.
He also discusses what it will take to strengthen the U.S. economy, and debates Rep. Marsha Blackburn on the elements that are holding the country back from growth.
Transcript available after the video.
This morning on "Starting Point," Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) weighs in on the various plans for comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. that have been released this week.
"What we want to make certain is that it is not amnesty," Rep. Blackburn says. "I have to tell you I think this is some of the particulars and the legislative language that people want to see. Because one of the lessons we have learned from decades past, decades, they have tried to address this issue, over the decades. It doesn't matter if it was Clinton or if it was Reagan, what we've learned is, if you grant amnesty, what do you get, more amnesty."
"Let's make certain it's going to be fair. Let's make certain that we're not doing something that is going to put even more pressure on the Obama care system and on the Medicaid system that we have," she adds.
This morning on "Starting Point," Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the Senate's 'Gang of 8,' weighs in on the bipartisan plan put forth for immigration reform.
"I think Senator McCain would say we've acknowledged that we've made tremendous progress," Sen Menendez says. "The question is, how do we use additional technology to enhance our border security? How do we amass the resources we have with border patrol, customs and others to the entry/exit points that are critical both for the border security, as well as for the commerce, along the border states?"
"We believe that there can be specific, substantive items that can be achieved, and that's what we'll work towards in the legislation. If I believed that, at the end of the day, this would just be a process for a veto towards achieving a pathway to citizenship, I would not have signed on to the principles. I think this is an important part of it and it will not be an impediment to achieving our goal of a pathway to citizenship," he adds.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) on the Senate's 'gang of 8' bipartisan plan for immigration reform.
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