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"It is Only a Technical Failure"; Chocolate's Child Slaves; Romney Record Under Attack; Transcript of Conversation Between Port Authority and Italian Cruise Ship Captain Released; The Human Factor; Burger King Testing Home Delivery

Aired January 17, 2012 - 08:00   ET



SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. Welcome back, everybody.

Our STARTING POINT this morning is that Italian cruise ship disaster. There's new infrared video. Have you seen this?

Those little dots are people who have sort of formed this human chain trying to get to safety as they kind of hold onto the hull of the ship. This is infrared. So, these are pictures that were taken overnight, pitch black, while they're trying to figure out how to get to the boats and get off the ship. All the life boats, we're told at this time, had left and made their way back to the shore.

Then we have the captain of the ship telling the port authority early on, it's only a technical failure. Of course, it ends up being much, much more serious than that. We're going to investigate what happened and also talk to a woman who survived this.

Plus, it was a smaller field, but a much sharper tone and from the audience, too, at this GOP debate last night. So, how did the man who's the front-runner, Mitt Romney, do? We'll take a closer look at his performance last night.

Then, police in Oakland on the lookout for someone who is suspected of sexually assaulting two women and then we'll tell you just how young the suspect is, straight ahead.

Plus, children working as slaves in the cocoa industry. That industry promised to crack down on that very issue. But have they? CNN travels deep into the Ivory Coast looking for some answers.

Those stories, much more ahead, as STARTING POINT begins right now.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. We'll introduce you right to our panel.

We've got Seema Iyer joining us. She's a former prosecutor. She jumps in every time we talk any kind of criminal case ever and other stuff, too.

Dorian Warren is a political science assistant professor at Columbia University.

It's nice to have you joining us today.


O'BRIEN: And Will Cain is a CNN contributor and a columnist.

Let's talk about this Italian cruise ship disaster because there are so many developments. I want to start with a couple of things from this new video from the Italian navy. It is showing the rescuers trying to blast a hole in the side of the ship because they've got to get back into the ship. You watch the little flashes on the left side of the screen, that's actually blast. It's going to make it easier for the search and rescue teams to kind of enter and exit the cruise liner.

There's still 29 people who remain unaccounted for. And they say the death toll is at 6. So, we're following that story about how that rescue goes.

And then look at these pictures. These are underwater pictures of the rescuers having to swim literally through debris to try to get -- these are the hallways inside the ship. The first black box, we're told, is already providing some minute-by-minute details of how this disaster unfolded.

The Italian coast guard says they've now located the second black box. And the divers are trying to retrieve that black box now.

And then this morning, we're seeing these transcripts which are just crazy. It's a recorded conversation between the port authority and the captain of the ship for the very first time. This comes to us from the Italian newspaper "Corriere della Sera."

And the port authority says this, "How many people are on board?" And Schettino, who is the captain of that ship says, "Two- three hundred."

The port authority says, "How come so few people?" They know the ship holds roughly 4,000 plus." And he says, "Are you on board?"

And Schettino captain says, "No, I'm not on board because the ship is keeling. We've abandoned it."

The port authority says, "What? You've abandoned the ship?" Schettino says, "No, what abandoned? I'm here."

The port authority says, "You must return on board. Climb the ladder, rope ladder, return to the fore, the stem, and coordinate the work." And Schettino does not reply to that.

The port authority says, "You must tell us how many people are on board, how many women, how many children. You have to coordinate the rescue operation. Commander, this is an order. Now, I'm in charge. You have abandoned ship and you are going to go to the stem and coordinate the work. There are already dead bodies."

So at that point, Schettino, the captain says, "How many?" And the port authority think it sounds like they are stunned by this kind of question says, "You should be the one telling me. What do you want to do? Do you want to go home? Now go back on the stem and tell me what to do?"

The captain says, "OK, I'm doing it," although newspaper reports say that the captain actually never went back on the ship. Pretty stunning developments as we get these transcripts. I'm sure there will be more transcripts following.

I want to bring in Lauren Moore. She was on the Costa Concordia cruise ship. And she joins us.

Lauren, it's nice to talk to you. I know you're back home now. So, you must be relieved.

This was your first cruise. And I know you were at a dinner when you felt something. What did you feel? What happened?

LAUREN MOORE, PASSENGER ON ITALIAN CRUISE COSTA CONCORDIA: We were at dinner, and we felt the initial impact of us hitting the rock. And someone made a comment to the effect of -- was that an engine blowing?

And all of a sudden we heard all the plates and dishes begin to hit the floor and crash. And the boat started leaning. And everyone started getting up and running out of the dining room almost immediately.

O'BRIEN: What were the -- what were they saying over the loud speakers? Were they giving you advice? Were they telling you to go to your rooms? Were they telling you to get off the ship as fast as possible?

MOORE: It took a while for the first announcement to come overhead.

O'BRIEN: How long?

MOORE: At least half an hour probably. The first announcement said, "Ladies and gentlemen, stay calm. We have the situation under control. It's an electrical problem. And we'll be back up and running in a short while."

O'BRIEN: And at that point, that 30 minutes later, was the ship already listing to the side? Was it sort of hard to make your way to your room?

MOORE: It was. It was leaning and it wasn't completely difficult to walk, but you could tell it was -- it was getting harder and harder, yes.

O'BRIEN: I've seen some of these pictures. Those infrared pictures which are I find just stunning where the little black dots are really people, there they are, as they're trying to, you know, hold on to that hull. I think by this point, the life boats had already left for the shore, those that existed.

You were able to get on a life boat. Tell me about that process. Was it as chaotic as I imagine it to be?

MOORE: It was. That was the most chaotic part of it all. As you can imagine, people were just fighting for their own lives at that point, and people were just scrambling to get on a boat. And the process of getting on the boat and getting pulley system down to the water was just agonizing.

And I'm just so thankful that I wasn't one of those people trapped on the ship without a life boat to get on now that I see those infrared images, it's just -- it's terrifying to see.

O'BRIEN: When you hear -- I don't know if you were able to hear a little bit of the transcript that I read from the captain talking about abandoning the ship and sounding incredibly confused about even the number of people who were on that ship, what do you make of those words from the captain?

MOORE: I think when you see and read that transcripts, you can see why there was such chaos on the ship, because there was no leader on the ship at that point.

O'BRIEN: Lauren Moore, we're glad that you made it out well and OK.

MOORE: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: As we've mentioned, there are 29 people they're still trying to figure out what happened to them. They're going to go back and restart that search and rescue this morning. Thanks, Lauren. Appreciate your time.

MOORE: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Time to check in with CNN's Christine Romans. She's got a look at some of other stories that are making news this morning.

Hey, Christine.


A California teenager wanted in connection with two alleged sexual assaults. Police in Oakland say the 14-year-old boy is suspected of attacking two women. They're asking for the public's help to locate him.

The FBI asking farmers and ranchers in Montana and North Dakota for their help in searching for the body of school teacher Sherry Arnold. Arnold disappeared more than a week ago while jogging near her home. Two men in custody in connection with the case are now charged with aggravated kidnapping.

A probation update for Lindsey Lohan -- just because everyone wants to know, right? The actress will be back in court today in Los Angeles for a judge to assess her progress in fulfilling community service requirements to keep her out of jail. Lohan's been working at the county morgue. It's part of her sentence for stealing a necklace from a jewelry store.

Apple has suspended sales of its new iPhone 4 in China. The company fears for the safety of its employees after rioting broke out last week when the iPhone went on sale. But there are plenty of iPhones available for sale for a steep price. The black market there is booming and bogus Apple Stores are popping up all over Beijing.

AAA says the price of gas is now $3.39 a gallon on average, 30 cents higher than this time last year. That's the highest ever for January. Some research analysts say gas prices could hit $5 in some spots, $5 a gallon by summer.

All right. Now, let's get a check on the markets.

U.S. stock futures pointing to a higher open after a good report this morning on growth in the Chinese economy. European markets also up on that report as well right now -- 100 points higher right now, Dow futures are. But don't count on a lot of volatility in the near term because of that debt crisis in Europe.

Also, Citigroup, the big American bank, big international bank now, just announced it earned $1.2 billion in the fourth quarter, down from the year earlier. The bank is saying that the weak U.S. economy still affecting its business -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right. Christine, thank you for that update.

It was 10 years ago that the chocolate industry pledged to end the use of child slaves in West African plantations. But the question now is: has the industry made good on that pledge? David McKenzie traveled into the interior of the Ivory Coast to look for some answers.

And all this week, I should mention, David, CNN is examining this problem. He's live for us in Nairobi, Kenya.

So, back us up 10 years. What was the agreement that everyone sort of went into this chocolate industry?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Soledad. You know, it's really great that we're putting focus on this issue because it's such an under understood issue. Basically, 10 years ago, the Harkin-Engel protocol was signed. Now, that was a senator and representative from the U.S. government who pushed this end to these practices of child labor and child trafficking in West Africa as you say.

Now, in that protocol, what they said, that as a matter of urgency, they wanted to stop these bad labor practices and child slavery in the plantations of Ivory Coast.

I just want to put it into perspective very quickly, Soledad. In the U.S. alone, several billion pounds of chocolate are consumed every year, and as you know, it's home to some of the biggest brands in America. What we found in Ivory Coast, 10 years after all these promises were made, was deeply shocking.

O'BRIEN: So is there a sense that they recognize that it's deeply shocking, that they actually haven't fulfilled the promises that they originally agreed to 10 years ago, and that there's any sense at al that they want to change it? Or is it just -- we're going wait for the focus to leave and we'll continue to do business as usual?

MCKENZIE: I was hoping to run a little bit of video there which showed two children there who have been actually enslaved effectively by the cocoa industry. And yes, there's a sense on the ground in Ivory Coast that not enough is being done.

When we put the question, Soledad, to the companies, a lot of them don't actually want to answer directly to CNN. They want to push us over to their industry representatives, who do say that not enough is being done but they put it in quite generic terms.

I think for anyone who makes an effort to go Ivory Coast, to see what is going on in those farms -- and to be honest, it's not that hard to find -- they would be deeply shocked. When you go into a mall and buy your chocolate, get your groceries, what you should know is that other than a few fair trade brands, when you buy chocolate, guaranteed that company's source of chocolate from Ivory Coast. And up to 80 percent of their sourcing, they don't know where it's coming from.

So, really, it's time for this industry to clean up its act say most activists.

O'BRIEN: So, let me ask you a quick question before I let you go. So, if I'm going to go to the store and buy some chocolate, I want to look for a fair trade stamp? That will help ensure that there are not children, slave laborers who are harvesting that chocolate that I'm going to have here?

MCKENZIE: Well, I don't want to prescribe what anyone should do themselves, Soledad. But what people should do, I think, is understand this issue a little bit better. And maybe put some pressure on these companies, because the power of this industry lies with the brands, with the brands that you see in your store. It doesn't lie with the farmers in the Ivory Coast or the children who obviously are harvesting that chocolate, that cocoa. They have no power.

And the value chain of this all lies or mostly lies with the brands. They're powerful companies we all know about. The Hershey's of this world, the Mars, the Nestle. These are all companies that sourced their chocolate through cocoa from the Ivory Coast.

We've asked them all to come forward and say what they think about this. Only Nestle came forward directly and said that they're disappointed with the level of change that they've seen through the Harkin-Engel protocol. The others referred us to a trade group.

So, really, what people need to do is think about this issue and understand it a little better. And when they see children like we met, like a 10-year-old Abdul who has been working for three years, Soledad, chopping at the plantations, cracking open cocoa pods, and he's been there for three years, he is only 10 years old.

O'BRIEN: It breaks your heart.

MCKENZIE: These are the people -- exactly, it breaks your heart. And these are the children who are in these terrible situations. The consumer ultimately holds the power.

O'BRIEN: David McKenzie joining us with that update. Thank you, David.

Gosh, you know, you think about it, like ultimately, we kind of have -- I buy a lot of chocolate. We have the power of being able to stop this.


WARREN: These are previous examples. Students across college campuses at the last 10, 15 years have been able to end sweat shops when it comes to the apparel industry. So, they targeted the brands Nike, Rebook, et cetera, and they were able to put pressure on those companies.

O'BRIEN: Well, as David said, it's all about sort of knowledge about, you know, who's doing what.

IYER: Can the U.N. get involved in terms of like regulating all these companies? I mean, this is -- we're talking about child labor.

O'BRIEN: It's an excellent good question, but I'm going to go to commercial break.

IYER: OK. Mull it over.

O'BRIEN: We're going to discuss this during the commercial break. Yes, you may.

Still to come on STARTING POINT this morning, we're going to go back to talking about the Republican debate.

Also, you're not going to be able to access the Wikipedia tomorrow. We'll tell you why the CEO is blocking out the website in protest. Straight ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome back, everybody. Republicans at the debate in South Carolina know their enemy, and it was Mitt Romney last night. Apparently, they're focusing on his record at Bain. Perry to Romney said, "show us your money." Take a listen.


GOV. RICK PERRY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mitt, we need for you to release your income tax, so the people of this country can see how you made your money.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My record is out there. Proud of it, and I think that if people want to have someone who understands how the economy works, having worked in the real economy, that I'm the guy that can best post up against Barack Obama.


O'BRIEN: Let's get right to Ron Brownstein. He's CNN senior political analyst. He's also the editorial director of the "National Journal." He's part of our panel, but today, he's in Washington, D.C. So, we're with you, but remotely. Big take away, do you think, from last night?

And I also want to, at some point, mention the audience which was way over the top, I thought, but what would you say is the main thing to take away from this debate?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think, it was, once again, the dog that didn't bark. I thought the opponents of Mitt Romney who are running out of time. Two polls are out this week within with the double-digit lead in South Carolina where if he wins on Saturday, he might effectively end this race, and yet, they failed to make a systematic, coherent race against him.

You know, we've seen Newt Gingrich on "Face the Nation" on Sunday. Rick Santorum, and an adding release yesterday, begin to sharpen that ideological case that Romney is simply someone that conservatives cannot trust. That never came through the debate last night. Their attacks were kind of episodic, disjointed, one subject to another.

You know, there was a great deal of fuss at the beginning of the beginning by the moderators about whether they can have a bell or a buzzer.

O'BRIEN: Which they should have had, by the way.

BROWNSTEIN: You know -- yes, which should they have had. I think they needed an alarm clock, because they needed to wake up these candidates. You know, they are really running out of time, and they simply did not display the sense of urgency you would expect for opponents who are really on the brink of watching the frontrunner potentially lock up this nomination in a matter of days.

O'BRIEN: I was surprised to see how Ron Paul really struggled, really struggled. He had, you know -- and he was booed a couple of times by the audience. Let me run a clip of that, because he seemed to be the most, I think, challenged in this debate. Listen.


REP. RON PAUL, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Maybe we ought to consider a golden rule in foreign policy. Don't do to other nations what we don't want to have them do to us. So, we endlessly bomb these countries, and then, we wonder why they get upset with us. And, yet, it continues on and on.


O'BRIEN: It was not his audience.

DORIAN WARREN, POLITICAL SCIENCE ASST. PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: This is not his audience. And, remember, the crowd boos Juan Williams, too, when he's asking Newt Gingrich why he's engaging in a certain kind of dog listing. What I think is actually racially coded dog whistling around the food stamp president.

They booed Juan Williams, too, even though he's very popular as a conservative. So, it was a very interesting debate for both Ron Paul, who was the loser, but also for Newt Gingrich who landed punches even with some racial coding behind it in the state that still wishes they could fly the confederate flag.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I (INAUDIBLE) racial coding argument, and I think that we search for bigotry too often behind every single bush, behind every single door where, I think, more often than not, it's not there. You know, the food stamp rolls are primarily made up of White people. So, to see racial coding in this argument, you're almost wanting to see it.

That being said where, you know, I do agree. Newt Gingrich was the winner last night. But I think Ron's point. What's the take away from last night? There is no take away. Newt Gingrich may have won the debate, but Mitt Romney still stands in first place. And although he had his worst debate to date, he still stands in first place.

O'BRIEN: Hey, Ron, hold that thought for one second. We got to take a short break. On the other side, we'll continue this conversation about the debate last night and who won and who did not. Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: And we're back. Decoding 2012 with Ron Brownstein plus our panelists as well. Let's talk a little bit about the tone of the audience, which I thought was way over the top. The candidates, you could see they were totally wrong, pandering to the audience. And I think partly the fact that there was no time limits helped that along a little bit. What did you make of the audience?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, you know, South Carolina's a much more conservative place than New Hampshire. Seventy percent of Republican voters in 2008 in the primary called themselves conservatives. You can hear them about half in New Hampshire, and you heard that in the hall last night. It was a very raucous crowd, and they were particularly raucous at several points.

You mentioned, one, Ron Paul, really I think, underscored the ceiling that he faces in his Republican support. His worst answer wasn't even the one that you showed, it was when he got totally lost and I thought befuddled trying to explain whether or not the U.S. should have gone into Pakistan to take out Osama Bin Laden.

And then, in the section with Juan Williams, it looks extraordinary section where he asked a series of questions about whether Republicans were being insensitive to racial minorities. And you know, he was openly jeered by the crowd. Of course, Newt Gingrich, you know, returning to that role, I think as will suggested, playing to the crowd.

Got that big applause for suggesting that personal responsibility was the key to uplift in the minority community. So, it was kind of a reflection of where the Republican head is and heart is in South Carolina. It's very different than in New Hampshire.

But again, despite that, the candidates chasing Romney failed to make a cogent, coherent, crisp, ideological case against him and kind of let him to go through yet another checkpoint on the road to this nomination.

O'BRIEN: Is it too late?

CAIN: Too late to attack Romney?


CAIN: I think this whole thing --

O'BRIEN: Dorian's saying, no, no, no.


WARREN: We have two things at work, well, three things. One is, there's still the impact of anti-Mormon sentiment, I think, in this state. Secondly, what's going to happen with the evangelical endorsement of Santorum? And third, there's one more debate still. Romney could have -- he could falter on Thursday night.


O'BRIEN: I actually think he has to literally trip on the stage for people to feel like, well, that didn't go --


SEEMA IYER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He's always the best out there. He sells himself as a president.

O'BRIEN: How will that play, though, in the general election, right? Because what he's done very well is manage -- he manages it well. When he fails is when he's knocked off guard a little bit, when he doesn't expect the answer, when he doesn't know what's coming. And in the general election, I think that you're going to see people try to knock him off kilter.

IYER: He always keeps his composure. He always has that cute, little smile.

O'BRIEN: Not always.

IYER: I think, better than Obama.


CAIN: We saw some cracks for the first time last night. If there's one thing that Mitt Romney came away with last night, he can be flustered. He's an extremely premeditated man. When he's prepared, he will knock it out of the park.


O'BRIEN: Oh, people, one at a time for God's sake, please. We were doing so well.

IYER: We need that bell.


O'BRIEN: Where's the alarm clock? I need that for my panel. Ron, so, what do you think? I mean, do you ultimately think that that is going to be the case, that there is too far ahead and that he really has no cracks? And unless he falls on his face, as Will suggests would be the one thing that could happen, you know?

BROWNSTEIN: Look, divide and conquer has worked for him all the way through. There's no sign that it's going to stop working any time soon. I think Mitt Romney is a plurality nominee if he wins. There is not a majority of the party that affirmatively wants to nominate him.

He still doesn't get more about 35 percent in national the polls, even after winning the unprecedented, you know, daily double of Iowa and New Hampshire, but that more conservative part of the party continues to fracture between Santorum, Gingrich, and Perry. And no one is showing sign of coalescing that against him.

So, he is in the strongest position. He's consolidating the center more than anyone is consolidating the right, and that leaves him with a, you know, not an overwhelming position but enough to be kind of steam rolling toward this nomination.

O'BRIEN: So, Will, give you something to think about as we go to commercial break, which is what happens in the general erection, right? Because if he's consolidating the middle, he's losing the right, you've seen it with the Santorum endorsement, as you go through the general election and you see those numbers, people who are enthusiastic start to go down, isn't it ultimately about turnout, turnout, turnout? Think about that answer.

CAIN: I will.

O'BRIEN: We'll get back to you a little bit.

I want to remind everyone -- take your time. Thursday night, 8:00 p.m. eastern, the Southern Republican presidential debate will be carried live on CNN. You want to watch it here. And of course, we will be talking about it the next morning.

Still ahead, the Italian cruise ship captain is facing the judge right now. We'll update you on what is happening inside that courtroom in just a little bit.

Plus, Wikipedia going dark for 24 hours. It's all in protest of the U.S. government's anti-piracy act. That story (ph) straight ahead. Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. We are bringing you the first insight into what happened after that captain steered a cruise ship right into the rocky coast of an Italian island. There are transcripts now of a recorded conversation between the port authority and the captain of the ship. We're seeing these for the very first time. It's printed in an Italian newspaper. The port authority says this - "How many people are on board?" And Schettino, who is the captain says, "200, 300." The port authority says, "How come so few people? This is a ship that holds 4,200, at least. Are you on board?" And Schettino says, "No, I'm not on board because the ship is keeling. We've abandoned it." The port authority says, "What? You've abandoned the ship?"

Now Schettino contradicts himself and says, "No. What abandon? I'm here." Port authority says, you must return on board, climb the ladder, the rope ladder, return to the fore, the stem, and coordinate the work." Schettino then does not reply. The port authority goes on to say "You must tell us how many people are on board, how many women, how many children. You have to coordinate the rescue operation. Commander, this is an order. I'm in charge. You have abandoned ship, and now you are going to go to the stem and coordinate the work. There are already dead bodies."

At this point the captain, Schettino, says, "How many?" The port authority, I think sent completely over the edge, says, "You should be the one telling me this. What do you want to do? Do you want to go home? Go back on the stem and tell me what to do." And Schettino says, "OK, I'm doing it." But it doesn't appear, according to newspaper reports, that the captain went back to the ship.

There are some people e-mailing me saying if there is a language issue where he contradicts himself, because what this is going to hinge on in fact is did he abandon that ship. And someone says that number, 200 to 300 sounds so off. Is he talking about people evacuating? He said no, I did not abandon the ship. Is he saying he's evacuating he's talking about? So I think it's one of those things we're going to understand as we figure out what happens in this courtroom where the captain is seeing a judge for the very first time and they'll be able to parse through exactly that conversation.

Dan Rivers is updating us now on what is happening in the search and rescue efforts. I'm wondering, Dan, if they're still on rescue or if it's just search at this point? Good morning.

DAN RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They are. Yes. They've been using explosives this morning, Soledad, to blast their way into the ship to try and access parts of the ship that have so far been inaccessible to them. The Italian Navy has five times this morning used explosives, huge, big blasts echoing around this island as they continue to try and search for the 28 people that are missing.

There's been quite a lot of confusion about exact breakdown of that figure, but one thing's for sure, the figure has increased dramatically since 24 hours ago because they think there are a party of German passengers aboard that so far have not been accounted for that are now included in the missing list.

So quite a significant number of people still missing, and basically the message from here is they will continue to search until they have made absolutely certain that every single inch of the ship has been completely cleared and that no one is left inside trapped inside this wreck behind me.

O'BRIEN: Let's open it up to the panel. You're a prosecutor, so let's talk about what could be happening in that courtroom. We know there are two black boxes. Both of them have been discovered. Only one's been recovered at this point.

SEEMA IYER, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I think the interpretation of the black boxes is going to tell us a lot. And it's going to be very compelling information for the judge. Right now the captain, he's facing charges of manslaughter, what I believe to be based on a reckless theory that he breached his standard of duty as a captain. And like I said, this is very analogous to Dr. Conrad Murray, who breached his standard of care as a doctor. By breaching that standard, that's an element of the manslaughter charge and it proves recklessness. Now he's also facing charges of abandonment.

O'BRIEN: Ship wreck and abandonment.

IYER: That's right. With those charges I believe it's up to 15 years.

Also, of course, the captain, the cruise ship company, the cruise ship itself, they're all facing civil charges by all of these passengers and their families. And now I'd also like to hear about, at some point I think this will come up, if there's separate maritime charges because maritime law takes effect as well.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Soledad, I'm sympathetic to the e- mails you got suggesting maybe there's a language issue. I want to give someone the benefit of the doubt in this. To simply abandon ship and run for the shore seems beyond comprehension. But as you read that entire transcript, that, in fact, sounds like exactly what happened. He says, where are you? What have you done? He said, I'm out, man. The ship is keeling. The ship is keeling.

O'BRIEN: But he did an interview from land. There are still 29 bodies at the very least or hopefully people who are survivors who are on that ship. The captain is supposed to, go down with the ship.


O'BRIEN: At some point he's in a TV studio doing an interview so, you know, it's unclear --

CAIN: It's hard to give this man the benefit of the doubt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Buy, sell, or hold, this is going to have a huge impact on the cruise industry as many Americans and people around the world book their tickets this month for the entire year. Sales are going to drop tremendously.

IYER: And it's been revealed that there have been prior accidents, which is really an interesting issue, because in criminal practice we use prior incidents as showing guilt, a preponderance of evidence, but in this instance I think they can use that in the civil suit to say look at all these prior incidents of accidents with the same company.

O'BRIEN: All right we will check in with Christine romans to take a look at some of the other stories that are making news. Christine?

ROMANS: Good morning, Soledad. The House is back in town. Members returning to the nation's capital today from their winter recess. They have work to do. A new CNN poll shows Congress's approval rating at 11 percent, a new low. Earlier on STARTING POINT, Soledad asked Missouri Democrat Emanuel Cleaver about that. He says Americans are giving Congress more credit than they deserve.


CLEAVER: I think the 11 percent of Americans that think we're doing a good job need therapy. This is a very, very sad moment. I'm embarrassed and every member of Congress ought to be because, look, you can't make honey and sting at the same time. The Congress of the United States has become a body of stingers. And if we continue to do that, it's going to irreversibly do damage to the body of politics because the American public is angry.


ROMANS: In Wisconsin organizers of a petition drive to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. They say they have more than the half million signatures required by today's deadline. Walker's been under fire for limiting the bargaining rights of public employees.

Wildlife officials say at least 20 dolphins have died after washing up on Cape Cod. Nearly 50 have been found stranded next to shore. Officials just aren't sure why.

Wikipedia shutting down tomorrow for 24 hours. The site is protesting anti-piracy legislation being considered by Congress. Wikipedia says the bill could lead to online censorship.

And the Steve Jobs action figure project not happening. A Chinese sculpture maker had planned to start selling the G.I. Jobs figurine next month, but Apple, no surprise, having none of it, threatening to take legal action if it ever hit store shelves.

A positive report on growth of the Chinese markets. U.S. futures are looking up. European markets are up too. Earning season continues. Big bank Citigroup just announced a disappointing profit report as well. We'll closely watch Citigroup shares today. The bank says the weak U.S. economy is still affecting its business. The company's stock is down about three percent in pre-market trading right.


O'BRIEN: Still to come on STARTING POINT this morning, our reveal, how you can skip the drive-through in favor of fast food delivery.

Plus he nearly drowned as a little boy. Now he's an Olympic gold medalist in swimming. Dr. Sanjay Gupta brings us the "Human Factor." You're watching STARTING POINT. We'll be back.


O'BRIEN: According to the CDC, ten people die every day from drowning, and two of them, two of those ten, are under the age of 14. Cullen Jones almost became a drowning statistic when he was a little boy. And now he is the first African-American world record holder in swimming.

CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has today's "Human Factor".


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Beijing, the 2008 Olympics. Cullen Jones wins the gold medal in the 400 freestyle relay, becoming the second African-American swimmer to take home gold and the first to hold a world record.

But growing up, learning to swim was the last thing on his mind.

CULLEN JONES, OLYMPIC CHAMPION: My dad was a basketball player. So I watch the NBA and he was like, he was like, do you want to play basketball?

GUPTA: But a trip to a water park at the age of five changed his life. JONES: We went down this ride and I ended up flipping upside down because I was so light. And I almost drowned. My mom tried to come down and save me. She couldn't swim. So the life guard had to come and get me. And my dad had to get my mom.

GUPTA: After that learning to swim became a priority. Not easy when you're growing up in the inner city neighborhood.

JONES: I grew up in an area that wasn't the nicest area, it wasn't the friendliest person to walking around in a little brief.

GUPTA: He found challenges in simply being different.

JONES: I'm 15 years old, I'm like, dad, there's no black people here. And he's like, well, if you stuck to basketball you wouldn't have that problem. And you know we laughed about it. But I mean, that was a big step for me. And overcoming it was hard.

How many of you guys has ever had a sore?

GUPTA: Which is why it's so important for him to inspire other kids that are like him.

JONES: I was getting sixth and seventh place. And now I've got an Olympic gold medal. So there is hope. You just have to keep -- stick with it, keep with it. And that's what I tell kids.

And she's splashing. There you go.

GUPTA: Jones is sharing his story with kids who never imagined they'd be getting swimming lessons from an Olympian.

JONES: This sport has given me a lot. I really want to make sure that I give back to it and make sure that I can shine the path to another kid.

GUPTA: And he's not stopping there. He's going for gold again and he hopes to compete in the Summer Olympic Games later this year in London.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cullen Jones winning in a time of 22.52.

JONES: If you learn anything from my story, it can happen. You know as long as you stick with it. There are going to be rough days. I still have rough days. It's not easy. It's never easy. But it's worth it.

When you can sit back and you're standing on the podium, you hear your national anthem, that's what I swim for.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporting.


O'BRIEN: Yes, gold medal would make it all worth it. Still ahead this morning, you might be able to soon order that Whopper without leaving the comfort of your own home. We will tell you how straight ahead.


O'BRIEN: It worries me that you just said that. Say what you just said to Will, "I like that you're suspicious." That's nice, it's nice the little Kumbaya around the panel we have today. Oh my goodness.


O'BRIEN: Oh my good -- yes it is. Isn't it?

Time now for our "Reveal". Today we're talking about fast food delivery. It comes easier now to get food right to your door step fast food. Burger King, America's number two burger chain has started testing home delivery of its burgers and fries and more at four of its restaurants in Maryland and in the state of Virginia.

And by next week they're planning to actually expand it to a dozen more stores in that area. So why haven't all the burger chains jumped on board before this? Well if you've ever done the -- the drive through, you know by the time you get home with your food everything is cold, the fries aren't as crunchy. All that stuff.

So Burger King says what has changed for them is they have something called proprietary, our lawyer can tell us, that means they can sue you if you feel that. I didn't go to law school, but I know that, proprietary thermal packaging technology that ensures that the Whopper will be delivered to you the way you want it. It's a $2 delivery fee. And most stores require $8 to $10 minimum. Ordering starts at 11:00 a.m. for lunch.

McDonald's offers deliver kind of only at a couple of restaurants in New York City and only to businesses apparently. So it's hard to compare sales. But you can look at stock prices. McDonald's is way up from the low 70s to over 100 in 2001. Yum Brands which includes Pizza Hut and KFC is up from 46 to over 60. And Burger King which was just sold to a capital company at $24 a share is up from its initial offer four years ago which was at $17.


O'BRIEN: So would you -- yes, I'd love that.

SEEMA IYER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I'd love it if they include like beer and vodka and things like that can be delivered to my house.

DORIAN WARREN, SPECIALIZES ON STUDY OF AMERICAN: I want Chipotle to be delivered. That's what I -- I would be happy about. Can't they use the same technology that Domino's and all the pizza places use?

O'BRIEN: That's proprietary -- IYER: It's not proprietary I think it's the -- brown paper, or the white paper bag with the foil inside and that's the proprietary technology.

O'BRIEN: To keep it warm.

IYER: That they've copyrighted.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I wondered though, $2 for a delivery fee plus you probably have to tip the guy.

IYER: Right.

O'BRIEN: And you're talking about meals that are incredibly inexpensive. That could make your basic meal double in cost.

CAIN: It feels like we're not touching low hanging fruit here that you no longer have to get off your butt to go get fast food and grow your butt.

O'BRIEN: We thought that was clear. We thought that was just clear, reference back to low hanging fruit, yes.

All right, we've got to take a short break. Our "End Point" with our panel is up next. Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. It's time to get right to the end. And by the end, I mean the "End Point". We've got Seema back with us and Dorian and Will. Seema why don't you start? What's your take away from this morning?

IYER: Today, it's actually -- this is my take away is the recount from Iowa may be in on Santorum. So we may actually have a new winner. Now whether that has any impact or not, you know, it may not, but it'll be interesting to see that if the recount is finished, if he actually did pull it off.

CAIN: Might have won Iowa.

IYER: Maybe.

O'BRIEN: You're going to tell me there's no impact, whatsoever.

My end point is something that doesn't matter at all. Right?

WARREN: So we talked earlier about the disapproval of congress. Well today is the fourth anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. And today it's Occupy Congress.

O'BRIEN: Today is the fourth anniversary?

WARREN: Fourth month.

O'BRIEN: Oh, fourth month.

WARREN: Four months. Four month anniversary.

O'BRIEN: You sound like a teenager. It's our fourth anniversary, our four months anniversary.

WARREN: Four-month anniversary. Occupy Congress is happening today with thousands of Occupy supporters going to Congress. They made appointments with their representatives. And I think that's going to send Congressional approval rating down lower.

CAIN: Four months anniversary --


WARREN: And also speaking of anniversaries, happy birthday to Muhammad Ali.

O'BRIEN: That's right. 70 today. 70 years old today.

All right Will Cain. I'll tease you up with a question. Enthusiasm?

CAIN: All time low.

O'BRIEN: We had some stuff get in the way. Some other news. So enthusiasm gap. Isn't that at the end of the day going to be a big problem?

CAIN: No. I do think it will be an issue. I don't think it will be a big problem because I think it exists for both candidates. And I know you think that as well because we talked about it.

O'BRIEN: Mitt Romney, Barack Obama.

CAIN: Assuming he's the nominee; Mitt Romney is the nominee, Barack Obama is going to suffer from a lack of enthusiasm that was there for him four years ago. Whether or not that revolves around young people, or hope and change, or people that voted because they wanted to have a black president. If they wanted that symbol to be behind. I don't know that's going to be there for a second time around.

So I think enthusiasm will be even on both sides. But in the end, this thing is going to be about Barack Obama. The election will be about him. Mitt Romney is a white sheet of paper. It doesn't mean anything.

IYER: Literally.

CAIN: He's bland.

WARREN: Except for those --

CAIN: It will be a referendum on Obama.

IYER: I agree with that.

WARREN: Except for those attack ads.


O'BRIEN: That could be our conversation as we continue tomorrow. We have to get right to "CNN NEWSROOM" with Kyra Phillips. That begins right now.

We'll see you on STARTING POINT tomorrow morning. 7:00 a.m.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much Soledad.