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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

"Complete Chaos"; Internet Blackout; Mitt Romney's Money; Pakistan To U.S. Envoy: 'Stay Away'; Iran Refuses to Return Downed Drone to U.S.; Captain of Sunken Italian Cruise Ship Under House Arrest; Perry Talking Turkey; What's a Mom Worth?

Aired January 18, 2012 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Our STARTING POINT this morning is the rescue operation has been suspended in Italy. The death toll in this cruise ship crash is now 11. The captain is under house arrest.

Prosecutors say, no, that's not good enough. They would like to see him back in jail.

We're going to hear this morning from a husband and wife who survived. They made their way to the United States. They join us this morning. We appreciate you being with us.

Also, in the black. Web sites go partially dark. It's all a protest of these anti-piracy bills that are before Congress. We'll talk about what's happening there.

And Mitt Romney says his tax rate was about 15 percent. He won't release his tax returns yet. We'll talk about the implications for his candidacy.

And we'll reveal what a stay-at-home mom is worth. I'm going to guess just under $5 million or more.

STARTING POINT starts right now.

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

Hope is fading in Italy today that more survivors could be found alive on that cruise ship. Rescue operations are now on hold. The ship apparently is now moving in the water. There are two dozen people who are considered to be missing and that number includes two Americans. The death toll now stands at 11.

The captain's been put under house arrest. Prosecutors are appealing that decision. They would like the captain to go back to jail. And we're hearing more of these tapes between the captain and the port authority emerging, their conversation in Italian seems to show that the captain was safe in his life boat and ignoring orders to return to his sinking ship.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PORT AUTHORITY (through translator): I understand. Listen. There are people who are coming down the stem ladder. You must take that ladder in the opposite direction. Get on board the ship and you tell me how many people there are on board and what do they have. Clear?

You tell me if there are children, women, people with special needs. And you tell me how many there are of each of this category. Is that clear?

Look, Schettino, you might have been safe in the sea, but I will make sure you go through a rough time. I will make sure you go through a lot of trouble. Get on board. Damn it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: It's interesting to hear the interpreter's voice where you actually can tell the Italian, they're shouting at each other. It's very emotional. There were roughly 4,200 people on board that cruise ship, including husband and wife, Brian Aho and Joan Fleser. Their 18-year-old daughter was on that ship as well.

Thanks for talking with us.

When did you get back to the United States?

JOAN FLESER, PASSENGER ON THE COSTA CONCORDIA: Yesterday morning, little after midnight.

O'BRIEN: Is it terrible to look at those pictures? I mean, what does it feel like to watch that sight?

FLESER: It's overwhelming. While it was all happening we were just so focused on getting off the ship, staying together, and that we really didn't have a full comprehension of the severity of the issue. It wasn't until the next morning when we came down back to the dock that we saw that the ship had finally capsized to its present position and then it was like, oh, my God. You know, it really was serious. You just didn't think it could happen.

O'BRIEN: It was described for us as for people who were having dinner, like you were, that suddenly there was this jolt and immediately you could tell something was wrong. The ship started to --

BRIAN AHO, PASSENGER ON THE COSTA CONCORDIA: The ship started to list.

O'BRIEN: And then what did you do?

AHO: The first thing we did was we knew where the life boats were. They were on the deck directly above us, so we wanted to make our way to the gangway and up to the boats and get life jackets obviously. But as we were starting to go towards the gangway, the lights went out and everybody -- everyone was screaming.

O'BRIEN: What did you do? How did you stay with each other? Because I know your daughter who's 18 was with you. I mean, did you hold hands? What did you do?

AHO: Yes, we made a chain.

O'BRIEN: It was pitch black?

FLESHER: It was pitch black.

AHO: No one could have broken that chain, I guarantee you that.

O'BRIEN: How did you get life jackets because it sounds like descriptions there was frantic, chaotic rush for the life jackets.

AHO: The problem was everyone coming out of the dining room, which was half of the ship, they didn't have life jackets because they were back in the state rooms. So, when we got up on deck I checked the first locker I could find along the gunnels and there were no life jackets left. Checked a couple of more lockers and there weren't any.

And, finally, about the fourth one there were three life jackets. I dove into the locker.

O'BRIEN: Was the ship at this point turning over?

AHO: Yes.

O'BRIEN: How did you hold on?

FLESER: There were railings along the deck there so we were just holding on to the railing to keep from sliding towards the ocean.

O'BRIEN: Did you think you were going to die?

AHO: Not at that point. We didn't think it was as serious at that point until it really started listing. We were having trouble at the life boat station because there was no guidance.

O'BRIEN: What was going on at the life boat station?

FLESER: A lot of panicky people.

O'BRIEN: Screaming?

FLESER: Screaming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did the crew behave responsibly?

FLESER: There was no crew.

SEEMA IYER, FORMER PROSECUTOR: A lot of us are wondering was there any kind of organization for you? I mean, was there anyone leading you besides each other?

AHIO: There was one person that told us which way to go.

O'BRIEN: Who was that?

FLESER: It was a show girl in the restaurant. She showed us which way to get out the quickest.

IYER: So you were really just depending on each other, it sounds like.

FLESER: Really.

O'BRIEN: So, you were able to fight your way into a life boat?

FLESER: Pretty much. The crowd was pushing and shoving so much that the way the flow of the people went, I ended up first in the boat and --

AHO: First of us.

FLESER: The first of us. Then, Brian, and Alana was starting to get separated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your daughter?

FLESER: Yes. Some man was trying to elbow her out of the way, and --

IYER: What did you do?

FLESER: Well, actually, at that point I was in the boat, which brought my eye level to the feet of the passengers on the boat. I saw her feet. I grabbed her ankles and I pulled her in the boat.

O'BRIEN: How is she doing?

AHO: She was the last one on the boat.

FLESER: She's pretty upset. She was going to come with us but really decided she didn't want to go through this again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And did you end up in the life boat in the water in the darkness?

FLESER: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what was that like? How did you get to the land and what happened?

FLESER: It was relatively short distance, but most frightening part was when the life boat was trying to disengage from the ship. It was obvious that this life boat hadn't been released in a long time because when they finally pulled the pins, paint is flying and -- I mean, they just kept painting over it and over it and over it.

So, the crew never practiced releasing the life boats.

IYER: It sounds like you were thinking that in your mind. When was the last time this life boat was used? That kind of scares you.

AHO: It was fluttering down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't sound like it was used in drills very often.

FLESER: We've been on other cruises and we've seen crews do their own life boat drills where they release the life boat.

O'BRIEN: Test it.

FLESER: And drive them in.

O'BRIEN: So when you hear that the captain appears to have abandoned ship, was in an early life boat, earlier than the one you were on, and that he's having this fight back and forth with the port authority.

AHO: We were angry.

O'BRIEN: Are you angry?

FLESER: It's unbelievable that someone can take such a major responsibility of thousands of people's lives and just throw it to the wind. You know, just disregarded --

AHO: He's disgraced his profession and his country and hopefully the courts will take care of it.

O'BRIEN: The court has let him out on home arrest even though the prosecutor, I think, is going to later today sort of fight to get him back in jail. What are you -- I guess the argument is that he's not a flight risk, although when I read these transcripts, I think this is the definition of a flight risk.

The first thing you did was -- I mean, no joke. I'm not being funny.

IYER: She knows she's not being funny.

Soledad, that's exactly what part of the CNN wire addresses that issue, that he's not a flight risk, and I think like in the States, when they say flight risk, they're saying he's not going to go to another country. I would be interested to hear if the judge did take his passport.

And another part of the conditions, the wire says, there's no risk of committing the crime again, which is also kind of laughable. The judge says in her ruling that Schettino expressed intent to change life and no longer go on board ships. Is that insulting?

FLESER: That's bogus. You know, just to be blunt about it. That's ridiculous.

The decisions that this man made or a lack of decisions have cost at least 11 people their lives. You can't take that lightly. And just to put him under house arrest is like giving him a slap on the hands.

O'BRIEN: What do you want? I mean, is there anything -- are you thinking lawsuit? Are you thinking, I'll never cruise again? Are you thinking I want not just the captain to pay, but I want Carnival Cruises to pay?

AHO: We're waiting to hear from Costa first. There's always been a lack of communication. That's been a problem.

We're not jumping to any conclusions on how they're going to respond. We only lost personal property. We didn't --

O'BRIEN: I have to imagine the trauma.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But they haven't reached out to you particularly?

AHO: We haven't heard from them.

FLESER: Actually, there was a voicemail yesterday --

O'BRIEN: That said what?

FLESER: -- that said they were checking to see if we got home. They would reimburse us for the full cost of the cruise.

IYER: Oh, you think?

FLESER: Gee, thanks.

O'BRIEN: Wow.

(CROSSTALK)

FLESER: And articles, but there were no details as to how much or what. So, we're waiting to see.

But one issue I would like to bring up is because we lost our passports, all our documentation, we had to go to the embassy to get new passports. We had no help. No support from the embassy whatsoever other than just getting the passports.

The other nationals --

IYER: The American embassy?

FLESER: The American embassy. The other nationals had their ambassadors coming to the hotels to help their constituents, their people.

I called the embassy and told them the situation. They said, "Well, come on down and get a new passport." I said, "Well, we're here at the hotel. We have no transportation. We have no money." They said, "Well, grab a cab." "We have no money."

O'BRIEN: It sounds like chaos.

FLESER: "Borrow it." From whom? We were on this boat for five hours. We don't know anybody. And it was just unbelievable.

Thank goodness the hotel supplied a shuttle and we got to go to the embassy.

O'BRIEN: Joan Fleser and Brian Aho, thank you for coming in to talk to us. I know you have say lot to do. So, we appreciate we were one of your stops, really just bring update.

Others news, though, to get to and Christine has got those headlines.

Hey, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Soledad. All clear at the White House this morning after a smoke bomb was tossed over the fence. It happened during Occupy protests where more than 1,000 people were demonstrating last night.

But President Obama and the first lady, they weren't home at the time. They were out celebrating the first lady's 48th birthday. No one was arrested.

Newt Gingrich says he's the only candidate who can beat Mitt Romney. And three days out from the South Carolina primary, he has a message for GOP rivalries, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry: That message: drop out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, I'm respectful that Rick has every right to run as long as he feels that's what he should do, but from the standpoint of the conservative moment, consolidating into a Gingrich candidacy would in fact virtually guarantee victory on Saturday. And I'd be delighted if either Perry or Santorum want to do that. They have to make that decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The U.S. Peace Corps withdrawing more than 150 of its volunteers from Honduras because of that country's growing crime problem. The Peace Corps is now in the process of assessing the security situation in Honduras, which has the world's highest homicide rate.

And maybe good for what's ailing debt -strapped Greece. Some of the country's most cherished archaeological sites may soon be available for rent. Greece's culture ministry says it plans to open up ancient sites to advertising and other ventures.

All right. Minding your business this morning, futures for the Dow, NASDAQ, S&P 500 all pointing higher. Big Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs just announced it made $1 billion in profit in the fourth quarter last year. The bank says it used, quote, "encouraging signs of improved economic -- improved economy and the markets" -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Thank you very much. Christine, appreciate it.

Hey, people, don't block my shot here.

Wikipedia, of course, one of the most popular sites online. But it's blacked out today. For 24 hours, Wikipedia and others are going dark. And it's all in protest of this anti-piracy legislation that now is before Congress. They say the legislation would essentially censor the open Internet.

I should mention that Time Warner, CNN's parent company, supports the legislation.

Alexis Ohanian is the cofounder of Reddit, one of the sites that's going to shut.

It has shut down already, right? Earlier this morning, I was taking a look, it was there.

When did it shut down? Fourteen minutes ago.

ALEXIS OHANIAN, CO-FOUNDER OF REDDIT: Yes

O'BRIEN: I can help you. We have an actual clock. Look at the cameras. Fourteen minutes ago.

We're back with our panel, of course.

Explain to everybody what Reddit does. You're an aggregator of information and content.

OHANIAN: Yes, about 35 million people visit every month to submit interesting links to sites all over the web that have interesting content and then discuss it and vote on all of it. It's sort of a democratic front page of the web.

O'BRIEN: What's the position about SOPA? Because you're clearly -- you're against it clearly.

OHANIAN: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Why?

OHANIAN: Actually, both SOPA and PIPA are threats not just to the U.S. economy and not just all the jobs that this tech sector creates. But if they had existed, Steve Huffman and I could have never started Reddit. And it's just frustrating to see legislation that was so clearly written by lobbyists and not technologists potentially become law.

O'BRIEN: There are some people who said by going black, what you're doing is a gimmick, right? You're trying to bring attention and come on morning shows, talk about it. When actually Reddit could be part of the conversation and Google could be part of the conversation because sort of -- it sounds to me like all sites think piracy is a bad thing. There's no one arguing piracy is a good thing.

ALEXIS OHANIAN, CO-FOUNDER OF REDDIT: If you look last year, $94 million was spent lobbying to get this bill -- to get these bills made. And, it's just so frustrating because we look at Congress, and we can't see them do anything that's important. They can't solve the problems of unemployment. They can't solve the problems of the deficit.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Reference the Congressional figures we were showing you earlier about approval of 11 percent.

OHANIAN: Precisely. And yet, as soon as a lobbyist shows up with $94 million, Democrats and Republicans line up to co-sponsor it. Something is wrong there.

O'BRIEN: Right.

ANDY SERWER, MANAGING EDITOR, FORTUNE MANAGER: Have media companies accused you of piracy at Reddit?

OHANIAN: No.

SERWER: So, you're not part of the problem according to the other side, then?

OHANIAN: Well, what's curious about it is the legislation is so poorly and so vaguely written, that Reddit could actually be misconstrued as a search engine under these bills.

O'BRIEN: And that's a concern, right. So, you're saying is it's now that they're taking the focus off, it's very hard to look at piracy if they're coming out of foreign countries, right? So, what the focus would be potentially on Reddit, which would be responsible for monitoring that content, which could make you liable.

OHANIAN: And it would not just be Reddit, it would be any of these U.S.-based sites. In a world where so much content is user generated, you're creating a scenario that is nearly untenable for large sites, but totally untenable for the next Facebook, for the next Twitter. The two person startup in a cafe here in New York.

SERWER: You mentioned a lobbying number, that $94 million, to be clear. The other side is spending millions of dollars on lobbying too, which is to say Google, Facebook, and other big companies like that. I think that's important to point out.

OHANIAN: I should report that number comes from the center for responsive politics.

SERWER: I'm not saying that that's not true, but I'm saying that the other --

OHANIAN: But the numbers are coming from the tech sector last year was actually 15 million.

O'BRIEN: Still a lot.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Final word to Will Cain.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, obviously, this is an extremely complicated problem. Most people at home probably don't understand what SOPA is, much less what the acronym stands for, Stop Online Piracy Act. We have a legitimate problem which we all can agree on, and that (INAUDIBLE) like Time Warner, our boss, creates something in an offshore companies pirate it and give it away for free.

The solution is the debate. How do you stop this? The debate is, do we make people like Reddit take links of their site? If we make people like Google, take links off their site.

O'BRIEN: Everybody is against piracy. So, at the end of the day, theoretically, you should be able to move forward with some kind of a solution. It's nice to have you. Thanks for being with us this morning. We appreciate it.

OHANIAN: Thank you for having me.

O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning on STARTING POINT, America's envoy was headed into Pakistan, but Pakistan is saying, literally, stay away.

And Mitt Romney under fire again. Rivals and others would like to see his tax returns now, not in April. We'll talk about that when we come back after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: That's an appropriate song this morning, isn't it? Mitt Romney under attacks for saying he pays around a 15 percent tax rate, close to, I think the words he used. Back to our panel this morning and Christine Romans joins us. She's been crunching numbers all morning. Christine has been running -- let's talk about this number.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: We woke up together looking at IRS tax data.

O'BRIEN: Because we're fun girls. That's why. OK. So, a lot is not known. For example, we don't really know how much Mitt Romney made last year at this point.

ROMANS: Right.

O'BRIEN: What he has said is that he pays close to 15 percent, and everybody's gotten into a tizzy because of two things. One, that would be significantly lower than people who are in the highest tax bracket, which is what he would be and this is a number because of his investments, right?

ROMANS: Right. So, your investments and dividends are taxed at 15 percent. And again and again, that number has been, you know, started I think in the Bush administration when we lowered it. But also, you go back over years, we wanted to incentivize -- Washington (ph) wanted to incentivize investment, investment in all different kinds of things as a way to grow the economy.

So, people who are super rich and super, super rich, they tend to have lower tax rates because more of their money is coming from investments which are taxed less than work, how we work, what we do to go to work, and we're taxed at a higher rate. Right.

O'BRIEN: OK. So, then, it's not a big surprise that he's being taxed at 15 percent. People who are investing in bonds would be taxed that same. It's not specific to him. Anybody who's investing in bonds and getting their income out of that investment would be at the same rate. Is the issue -- and how much of a political issue. I mean, when you hear that number, I think people sort of said, oh, blood in the water as we go forward toward November.

CAIN: From an emotional level, it's going to be very effective politically. You're going to be able to use this trite argument now that Mitt Romney pays less than his secretary. The question in the debate --

O'BRIEN: Percentage less.

CAIN: Percentage wise, right. The debate I want to have, and Andy and I started to have it in the last hour is, should he be. The debate I want to have is the one that Christine started talking about. Should we incentivize investment? Not -- the debate can be, does it work? Does it actually incentivize investment?

But that -- it shouldn't be, why does he pay so low compared to his secretary? It's not that he cheated the system. This is how it is set up.

ROMANS: But it's more complicated than that, because we haven't seen the tax forms. So, I don't know what percentage of his income is in some blind Bain Capital tress that's also stashed some place overseas. You know, we don't know where his money is.

(CROSSTALK) O'BRIEN: Well, OK. My conspiracy theory lists across the table for me. No. I do think that there is, for an issue that has consistently come up time to time, not only from the White House against Mitt Romney but also his own competitors in a bunch of the debates, it seems like he can't get a grip on the argument against it.

SERWER: Yes. I mean, he really should take ownership. I mean, if you like the system, if you support lower tax rates for investment income, say it. Say it loud, say it proud. Be proud.

SEEMA IYER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Only rich people those tax rates.

SERWER: Well, that's not completely true.

CAIN: Right.

SERWER: But also, if you support it, own it. That's my point.

O'BRIEN: So, is the issue then, the reason he's not doing that is that ultimately, as Christine is sort of saying, no one really knows? Is it that there's a big iceberg under there? And in fact, one of the reasons, if you look at how he responds, all these awkward moments are always around money. We have compiled a little real of this. I want to play that now. Can we play that?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know what it's like to worry whether you're going to get fired. There were a couple of times I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip.

Rick, I'll tell you what, 10,000 bucks? $10,000 bet?

I should also tell my story. I'm also unemployed.

Time will tell, but I anticipate that most likely, I'm going to get asked to do that around the April time period. I'll keep that open.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: It's funny. He's not going to get asked to do that around April. He has been asked to do that for months. Don't roll your eyes. That's a fact.

CAIN: Why is he so bad at this? I'm going to tell you why he's so bad, because not only is Mitt Romney a businessman, he is also a politician. Well, I say he should embrace this argument and he says how that argument. He knows, as everyone has said, that's bad politics.

ROMANS: The moment is the occupy Wall Street moment. The moment is income inequality. The moment is for rich aren't paying their fair share. That's the moment.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: We were talking about earlier that --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Ripping the band-aid off. That's less sexy. You could rip the band-aid off and just get to the issue, because I think a lot people who are in those high income rangers would say, we're investors. We are helping America grow, but we have to take a break. I'm being literally screamed at in my ear.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Coming up next on STARTING POINT, we're going to talk about U.S.-Pakistan relations, and now, why they're taking a turn for the worst, our special envoy. Pakistan has been told to stay away. That's straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. The relationship between America and Pakistan is deteriorating. Pakistan now asking the U.S. special envoy to stay away. They claim that if he does, in fact, visit, it could spark anti-American sentiment. Let's get right to Reza Sayah. He is breaking the story live from Islamabad this morning. Nice to see you. What's going on here?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is another sign, Soledad, that U.S./Pakistan relations are not well. The government here, essentially, is saying now is not a good time for a U.S. official to visit. Ambassador Mark Grossman is the special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

He's been here many times. He was going to be in the region next week. He wanted to drop by and visit, but the government here said, Mr. Grossman, please stay away until we finish reviewing our U.S. policy and our partnership with Washington. Of course, these are two countries that have butted heads for more than decades.

They haven't been getting along. Things really deteriorated last year when the U.S. raided the Bin Laden compound without informing Pakistan beforehand. Last November, you had the NATO airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. There's widespread anti-Americanism here already. A lot of pressure on the civilian government to either cut ties with Washington or reduce ties.

And the government here is taking a look at that, considering that, essentially telling U.S. officials no visits for now. Stay away until our review has been completed. And for their part, U.S. officials are downplaying this. They say they understand. They'll be happy to try again once this review has been completed here in Islamabad.

O'BRIEN: When they talk about reviewing policy and partnership, that almost sounds like a threat or maybe just is a threat. Is there any sense that the relationship is salvageable or is this the beginning of the end?

SAYAH: Well, there are certainly a lot of problems between Islamabad and Washington, but there is no indication that these two countries are going to break their partnership because they see one another as vital partners. But, there are two different narratives here. One is in Washington, and their position is we've given Pakistan billions of dollars in aid. If you look at the money the U.S. has given Pakistan since 2002, roughly 20 billion in aid, 5 billion in security aid, another 8 billion in what's called coalition support, that's the U.S. reimbursing Pakistan's expenses when they fight militants.

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: -- they see one another as vital partners. But there's two different narratives here. One is in Washington, and their position is we've given Pakistan billions of dollars in aid. If you look at the money the U.S. has given Pakistan since 2002, roughly $20 billion in aid, $5 billion in security aid, another $8 billion in what's called coalition support, that's the U.S. reimbursing Pakistan's expenses when they fight militants, another $5 billion in civilian aid. And essentially they're saying they're not getting enough in return.

Pakistan's position is it doesn't matter how much Washington gives us, they're the root cause of the problem, the root cause of the turmoil and violence. And those two diverging narratives really illustrate why these two countries are repeatedly butting heads.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Reza Sayah this morning live from Islamabad. Thanks for the update. Appreciate that.

Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, Iran tweaking the United States, calling the president of the United States a toy drone. The idea that, no, you're not going to get your actual drone back.

Also Rick Perry not exactly making any friends in Turkey today. He says the country is run by terrorists. And we've been hearing from the Turkish foreign minister. We'll update you on that story straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Headlines first this morning with Christine Romans with an update. Good morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning again, Soledad. The House is expected to vote on raising the debt ceiling today. The outcome really isn't in doubt. It doesn't matter quite frankly. This is a symbolic vote. Conservatives want to use that symbolism. They are expected to defeat the measure. They see it as a chance to show their opposition to President Obama's request to raise the debt limit by another $1.2 trillion. Maryland democrat Chris Van Hollen served on the debt super committee and he talked to Soledad earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VAN HOLLEN: This is a perfect illustration of what people don't like about Congress. If we don't raise the debt ceiling, meaning if we don't allow the United States to pay for the debts it's already incurred, you would wreck the economy. You would you send it into a tailspin. You would destroy a lot of jobs, which is why responsible people aren't going to allow this to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: All right, Sarah Palin isn't giving her full endorsement to Newt Gingrich, but she says if she lived in South Carolina, she'd vote for him in Saturday's primary. Palin says it's too early in the process to allow Mitt Romney to walk away with the nomination.

An Iranian company plans to send 12 tiny toy drones to the White House in a response to President Obama's request to Iran to return the U.S. drone that crashed there last month. These toys are one-80th of the size of the actual drone that crashed. The company says it's trying to determine President Obama's favorite color so they can paint the drones before sending them over to the White House. Funny.

All right, by some accounts Casey Anthony is the most hated woman in America. You don't get any argument from a travel agent in Florida. When he learned that Anthony might be living in his town, he offered her a one way ticket to anywhere in the world provided she never returns to Florida. There's been speculation Anthony is living in Port Saint Lucy, but her attorneys have not confirmed that.

(WEATHER BREAK)

ROMANS: Christine, I want to thank you, because yesterday I forgot to thank you. I got several hostile tweets. So thank you. Thank you for today, tomorrow, if I forget. So thank you for being you. I just love you.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Thank you, Christine. Our tribute to you this morning.

Rescue crews are doing all that they can to try to rescue, maybe it's a recovery effort now, in those operations in Italy. But it now has been suspended. The final count is 23 people still missing. Two Americans are included in that number. They're from Minnesota. This is because the ship is apparently slipping and moving. Earlier this morning I spoke to a former Navy Seal about what it would be like in that ship.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC GREITENS, FORMER NAVY SEAL: It's an incredibly difficult rescue situation. You have to keep in mind that the minute that they head into that hull there is no natural light and there's no electricity. So it's pitch black. You also have debris from the ship. Every mattress, every piece of furniture, every personal item is now floating in that ship.

You're moving through a ship that was 1,000 feet long, 100 feet wide with multiple levels, thousands of doors, and as the rescuers are moving through they have to check every single one of those compartments as they search for bodies in the ship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: That was Eric Greitens, a former Navy seal updating us on what the rescue might be like inside the hull of that ship.

The captain we now know is out of jail. Prosecutors say they plan to appeal the judge's decision that placed the captain under house arrest. Jack Hickey is a maritime attorney and he's in Miami this morning. Thanks for joining us on the panel here. Appreciate it.

First of all, this whole case will be decided in Italy, right? It's flying under the Italian flag. It happened in the country of Italy. The expectation is this is now a fully Italian case, correct?

JOHN HICKEY, MARITIME ATTORNEY: Right. In the ticket contract, which if you talk about the claims by the passengers against the cruise line, Costa, in the ticket contract it provides that all of those claims in any cruise that does not touch a U.S. port, in the case of Costa, all of those claims should be brought in Genoa, Italy. Yes, those claims will be brought there and those claims will be governed by Italian law.

O'BRIEN: So there are 70 people or so we're told who sort of come together to create this, what I think we would call a class action lawsuit. Is that how this eventually is going to come down, it has to be a class of people who are suing, the 4,000 people who are suing here?

HICKEY: No. It's really -- I know about there's talk about a class action. I think it's mainly a big group of people bringing claims. In the United States certainly it would not be a class action. It would be an action by a large group of individuals for claims. We, in fact, are working with an Italian attorney to bring claims over there. And it's just on behalf of each individual injured person or the family of the folks who have passed away. So it's really not a class.

But there is -- yes, there is a group of people, 70 people, who are banding together over in Italy or to bring claims over in Italy. And so they should.

O'BRIEN: Sir, my question is, are there now separate actions with respect to criminal actions, civil actions, and then maritime law violations?

HICKEY: Well, there's -- you know have to sort out the different legal aspects here. One is the -- one are the claims but the crew members and that's governed by maritime law. And it's going to be the law as applied by the Italian courts or by the United States courts. And I'll talk about that in a minute.

Two is the claims brought by the passengers. Then three are the claims brought by the Italian authorities either against the captain or other officials or the cruise line itself in the criminal context. That's completely different, and that's, of course, governed by Italian law.

This business about the captain, we can all focus on the captain, and certainly the cruise line wants us to focus on the captain. The fact is the captain did a horrendous -- many horrendous things, running aground number one, number two, not calling for mayday right away, number three, himself evacuating the ship. The captain absolutely should be the last man, the last person off the ship. And those will subject the captain to criminal proceedings in Italy. Those will be layers.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question. I think we have a graphic of this. Lloyds of London has showed that the ship has done this before. There's satellite tracking that shows this particular ship has gone close to the shore before. And so while we know that the company Costa has been trying to obviously, every word they've said, it has been to voice blame on the captain, who clearly, I think, from where we sit, is full of blame. At the same time, how responsible -- what's their culpability of Costa if this has been done before. People who are locals knew that the ship would come by. They'd all waive. Blow the horn to celebrate certain kinds of festivals, et cetera. So how liable potentially, sir, could Costa be?

HICKEY: This is a really good question. I want to bring up something right away. Costa cruise line is responsible for the actions of its master in this incident without regard to whether it's been done before. That's number one.

Number two is you bring up, Soledad, the big picture. The big picture is here is it just this one captain that one time did one thing wrong? It's not. And there are a lot of questions here that go back to the systemic problems. That's what you bring up, and that is, hey, this has veered off course before, number one, and why have the alarm bells not sounded then? And number two, what about that night at 10:00 at night when the ship veers off course? They have GPS. It's a $500 million or so piece of property.

O'BRIEN: More people than the captain knew that that was veering off course.

HICKEY: Right. Why can't they track it?

SEEMA IYER, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Can the prior incidents be used -- can the prior incidents be used against Costa in the litigation involved?

HICKEY: I don't think it's really necessary that that be brought up against Costa. Certainly it can be, but the fact is Costa is responsible for the negligent actions of the captain in this incidence. The questions, the systemic questions are, hey, if this has been done before, why hasn't Costa retrained its captains? Why hasn't Costa tracked it? Even that night why didn't Costa track it and get on the radio, hey, Captain Schettino, why are you off course? We have you on the GPS, we have you on the radar right now. You are of course, sir. What's going on?

O'BRIEN: Good questions.

HICKEY: Or whomever is on the bridge. That's the bigger pictures.

O'BRIEN: Taking a look at some of the questions that I know all the lawyers will be going through over the next weeks and months ahead. Thanks, sir. Appreciate your time.

Coming up this morning on STARTING POINT, Rick Perry versus the entire country of Turkey. Perry says the country is run by terrorists. Turkish officials say, not really, and they're furious. Rick Perry is holding his ground in his interview with Wolf Blitzer. We'll play a little bit of that for you this morning.

Plus stay at home moms play chef, house keeper, driver, babysitter. We'll take a look at that this morning about how much are they worth. It's a lot.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

*** 845 GOES HERE

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Plus stay at home moms play house keeper, chef, driver, baby-sitter. We'll take a look this morning in our "Reveal" about how much they are worth? It's a lot.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

Rick Perry is talking Turkey, says that country is run by, quote, "Islamic terrorists". The Turkish officials, no surprise there, outraged. And then we know that Perry made those comments during Monday's debate. But it was the standing by those remarks in "The Situation Room" on CNN is what he did when he talked to Wolf Blitzer. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Are you ready to revise your comments?

RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Not at all. A country that allowed 140, 160 honor killings in 2011 I will tell you, that is not a country that America wants to be associating with.

BLIZTER: This specific issue averting of the other Turkish leaders right now, you say they are, in your words, Islamic terrorists. Are you really saying that?

PERRY: I -- I said that if they are treating their citizens that way, that they approach that terminology. I mean, when you allow for honor killings, Wolf, I mean, I hope you're not defending honor killings as an appropriate act in any country, much less a country that we send foreign aid to and we do send foreign aid to that country. I think some $4 billion. That's not just a drop in the bucket.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: I hope, Wolf, that you are not supporting honor killings. As if Wolf Blitzer has ever.

ANDY SERWER, MANAGING EDITOR, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: Let me be clear. Let me be clear. Wolf Blitzer has never said a word --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Wolf doesn't need to back away from the honor killing issue he has never supported. I mean that, I thought, was just odd in the debate, but then I thought it was really, really odd, this interview.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The immediate reaction is and should be to mock Rick Perry. We'll get there. Let's started with this, his statement has a kernel of the shadow of truth in that the last decade Turkey has moved in as Islamist direction. They have moved increasingly towards --

O'BRIEN: Totally different than calling someone an Islamic terrorist.

CAIN: Let me get there. You're right. You're totally right. So therefore he starts. And then he goes flying over the cliff by not only being wrong. They're not Islamic terrorists, but making a huge geo-political mistake. Turkey is key to the Middle East. And they are a key ally of ours. Maybe an imperfect one. Maybe an imperfect one.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: And it's a very big incident we've been doing.

CAIN: That's a very important relationship.

DORIAN WARREN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: So you're saying he's going to be Romney's VP pick? CAIN: That's right.

SERWER: I mean can you imagine how upset the people in the State Department are who have worked for all these years trying to get Turkey into the tent, trying to work with Turkey. As Turkey has gotten, you know, more Islamist, yes, but they've managed to maintain that relationship during that process and then you get this stuff.

SEEMA IYER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And it really just highlights his lack of foreign policy experience. I mean, this is not the guy that you want to be your commander-in-chief.

WARREN: Well, I think it does remind Americans of a previous Texas Governor who had a very stymied --

(CROSSTALK)

CAIN: I -- I am a Texan. And we're going to have a fight if we keep going after Texas.

O'BRIEN: Well you know and he talked about foreign aid. I thought that that actually Turkey doesn't get foreign aid. Am I wrong about that? Should we double check this number? My understanding was that over the last decade or so Turkey --

SERWER: Well, it does get aid from the United States, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: So that's what he's -- that's what he's calculating in.

WARREN: Yes right. Turkey, Pakistan --

SERWER: And I'm not clear with the honor killings. I'm not even clear what that's all about.

O'BRIEN: Well and the Turkish officials have like -- there is no one who is doing press conferences saying I support honor killings.

SERWER: Right.

O'BRIEN: The Turkish people -- Turkey's position on honor killings, is we are against it, we do not support it. My question is, why? What -- is -- is he just trying to get relevance in a debate that seems to have left him behind? Because he's polling, as we know, very, very low. What was the strategy here?

CAIN: Well, I think it's a combination of ignorance and -- so let's start with the ignorance, right? That -- that this idea that we're all talking about, the honor killings, the Islamist move of Turkey in the last couple of years, it has nothing to do with the actual importance of this state. And as you started a minute ago when you came in on me, is that it's a geo-political ally, an imperfect one. Right? An important but imperfect one.

If those honor killings are going on in Turkey. We're not endorsing it, we're not supporting it, but we also don't call them terrorists? So why would he do that? Because it talks -- it plays to a voting base that can only process it at times on that level. Islam has some very ugly things involved in it.

IYER: And I agree with that, I agree with that. But what I think Rick Perry latches on to a statement or a fact and then when you ask him to go beyond the four corners of that fact, he gets thrown because he's not prepared because he doesn't know this issue.

And this is where Gingrich is very strong. Gingrich is very strong with foreign policy. And he understands that to be an effective president, you have to understand Islam and people do not.

SERWER: But what was the strategy here?

O'BRIEN: That was my question. And I don't think anybody is answering that. Which is it doesn't sound like any strategy. We have to take a break. Because my most favorite segment today is --

SERWER: Yes, we're talking about it.

O'BRIEN: Yes, exactly. Air time.

How much do you think a mom is worth?

WARREN: A mom?

O'BRIEN: A mom.

WARREN: Millions.

IYER: Not enough.

O'BRIEN: Yes. Thank you Dorian. Yes, you are right. Not enough.

It's kind of a loaded question, isn't it? We're going to talk about how much a mom is worth with all the jobs that we do. Straight ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

We know moms are priceless, I would agree with that. But What if you actually had to put a figure on every single thing that a mom does? What would that add up to? The folks at investopedia have done just that. They've crunched the numbers. Here's what they come up to.

First of all, cooking. If you're going to hire a private chef to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner, five days -- why five? What happened to the other two days? But anyway, we'll go with their numbers.

Kids, you're on your own for Saturday and Sunday. That would cost you more than $5,200 per year.

SERWER: $52,000.

O'BRIEN: No, private chef, $5,200.

IYER: $52,000.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: You know why, because my cooking is --

SERWER: It's only worth --

O'BRIEN: -- microwaving chicken nuggets. So mine would be $5,200; but for everybody else it's $52,000. Sorry. I clearly can't read.

Then, housekeeping, house cleaning, if you had to pick up someone -- pay someone to pick up the toys, the laundry, et cetera, et cetera. That would cost you $6,000 a year.

Child care, more than $31,000 a year to hire somebody to do child care.

More than $4,000 grand if you needed a chauffeur to drive your kids back and forth to school and soccer games. And roughly $1,500 a year for someone to handle all the yard work or handle the telling of other people to do the yard work. The grand total there is $96,261.

WARREN: Let me just say, there are over 200,000 nannies and housekeepers in New York state alone who have been engaged in trying to improve labor standards of the houses they clean. They don't make anywhere near $96,000.

O'BRIEN: They have a union?

WARREN: They do have a union, the Domestic Workers United. But they've -- again, they're trying to lift standards. They have no overtime. They have no health insurance. They work under often very difficult conditions that we all take for granted.

O'BRIEN: And I wonder if that $100,000 number is really multiplied. Is that like for one kid?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, right.

WARREN: That's the question. Right.

O'BRIEN: You could throw more chicken nuggets in and microwave them. That's not that hard. It's interesting.

All right. Straight ahead we're going to have our "End Point with our panel. That's up next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: The music. We have a minute left to get to our "End Point". We're going to start with Dorian this morning.

WARREN: So in Wisconsin the signatures were delivered yesterday. Over a million more than double.

O'BRIEN: A recall for Scott Walker.

WARREN: A recall for Scott Walker. I will point out though -- there's a lot of enthusiasm to recall him. I will point out that it's only happened two times in history where governors had been recalled: 1921, North Dakota, and then 2003 in California.

O'BRIEN: We're watching that story. Will Cain.

CAIN: Yesterday Seema brought up in her "End Point", I believe it was that there is a recount -- I am --

(CROSSTALK)

CAIN: The Iowa caucus recount that possibly Rick Santorum could be proclaimed the winner in Iowa. We laughed at her and said it's meaningless. It's not. It changes the inevitability narrative around Mitt Romney. The historical fact that he's the only guy to win both Iowa and New Hampshire.

O'BRIEN: I will give you that. Seema.

IYER: On behalf of all of us I just want to send our thoughts and prayers to the victims and survivors and their families of the cruise accident.

SERWER: On a different note, Wikipedia is shut down today because of SOPA. So if you're looking to look things up, you might have a problem. But you can get Wikipedia on your mobile device still. Just a note.

O'BRIEN: I'll do the final end point and I'm going to go off with what you said, Seema. With this cruise ship horror. Having that couple sit here. They seemed almost shell shocked. And I think -- and those were people who were able to get into a life boat and grab their daughter and pull her in as well.

Think of all those stories that we have not heard. People who had to swim when the life boats were gone. I think as we know more information, see more of these folks we're going to get some more horrific details on this story that we've been following.

So we wrap it up here at STARTING POINT. I'm going to go hop on a plane and get to South Carolina.

We hand it over to "CNN NEWSROOM" with Kyra Phillips. That begins right now. I'll see you back here tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m. -- Kyra.