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Beryl Soaking Southeast; Radiation Found In Fish Off Calif. Coast; Anti-Gay Pastor Ducks Interview and Protests; Interview with Dr. Brian Greene of World Science Fair; Time to Get Your Geek On; Bald and Beautiful

Aired May 29, 2012 - 08:00   ET


WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: This replaces Sinatra's?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm saying this is a modern day iteration --

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN COTRIBUTOR: You are inciting violence. Why would you say replaces Sinatra?


O'BRIEN: Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, New York -- what is that? The New York state of mind, right?

CAIN: "Empire State in Mind".

O'BRIEN: Our panel this morning is Margaret Hoover. She's a CNN contributor. She's also an author of "American Individualism".

Alicia Menendez is host of "HuffPost Live."

Will Cain, CNN contributor and columnist for

We should just roll this under our entire show.

Our STARTING POINT this morning is the weather.

Tropical depression right now, but Beryl is dumping a foot of rain in some areas this morning looming across Florida and Georgia. Some of those areas believe it or not are thankful for the rain. They've got a long stretch of drought. Beryl is creating dangerous surf conditions including rip tide moving toward the Carolinas.

Let's get right to CNN's George Howell. He is live for us in Tybee Island, Georgia.

Hey, George. Good morning. How is it looking?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Soledad, good morning. Don't let the sunlight fool you. Just a few miles that way, there's a lot of rain happening in Savannah. We are right on the edge of this storm, this very slow moving system, that's expected to dump a lot of rain on this area.

Keep in mind, just a year ago, this area was in a drought condition. Obviously, a lot of people will be happy to have the rain but there is a concern about flash flooding. In fact, some flash flood watches have been issued for the area. There's also concern, Soledad, on the beaches.

I want to pan out and show you here. You see white caps out there indicating a lot of wind. But the big concern is the rip currents out here. Now, lifeguards have been preventing people from getting in the water. They have been doing that for the last two days and they may continue today.

Take a listen to what a lifeguard had to say to us just yesterday.


HOWELL: What is a rip current? And what is the concern about rip currents out here?

HUNTER ROBINSON, CAPTAIN, TYBEE ISLAND OCEAN RESCUE: Basically, a rip current is a body of water that pulls out to sea when there's too much water close to the shore and it's just back filling, basic gravity. Rip current will pull you out to sea for about, anywhere from 20 to 150 yards, eight to 10 miles an hour.

HOWELL: Can you swim against a rip current? You know, people who can get out there, how do you get out of it?

ROBINSON: You have trouble operating a jet ski against a rip current.

HOWELL: Wow, that strong?

ROBINSON: It is that strong.

To get out you can either ride it out, if you're a strong swimmer, swim straight back in when it is over with or swimming parallel to shore is the best bet.


HOWELL: A live picture here on the beaches is Tybee Island and you can se a few people out here. We saw a lot more out here yesterday and we doubt that we'll see that today because again, we're expecting a lot of rain out here and it is still to be determined whether people will be allowed into the ocean. Very likely not from what I've been told by lifeguards as they watch this system move in.

O'BRIEN: George, thank you for the update. We're going to keep checking with you to see how it's going to folks. Appreciate it.

Let's bring Rob Marciano. He is tracking it from the weather center this morning.

Hey, Rob.


This storm holding itself together well this morning. The satellite image showing a little bit of moisture, but radar really showing it. The center of it is right about there. So, just around Valdosta, Georgia -- everything to the east is still wet as far south as Orlando and as far north as Savannah, Georgia.

So, this will continue to rotate throughout the day today and eventually make its way up off the coastline of Savannah and maybe Charleston later tonight. May start intensify there.

But the damage is going to be the rainfall. Look at that -- over a foot of rain reported at a station in Midway, Florida. That's near Tallahassee. And six to eight inches in other spots.

So, as you mentioned, they desperately need rain. There's been pockets of obviously isolated flash flooding. We've got a couple warnings still out this morning.

Here's where the rain is going to spread over the next 48 hours all of the way up into the Carolinas. So, flash flood watches posted from outer banks, back through Jacksonville and as far south and west as Tampa. So, these systems can dump a lot of rain and that's what we get.

In most cases they can use it. Forecast track brings it offshore of Charleston later tonight and intensifying off the banks of Carolinas, and then it will really start to pick up speed and head out to sea. All of this is pushed by this front which is squeezing some of that stifling air that Northeast has been enduring the past couple days and cooler and drier behind it.

But as it comes through, the threat for thunderstorms could be severe from Texas, Oklahoma, all of the way up through western Pennsylvania and Upstate New York.

Soledad, back to you.

O'BRIEN: Rob Marciano keeping us up to date on that. Thank you. Appreciate it.

Christine Romans has got a look at the headlines. Good morning.


New this morning, Soledad, another deadly earthquake rocks northern Italy. At least 10 people killed in the latest quake, 5.8 magnitude centered near Bologna. It follows another quake in the same region nine days ago that killed seven people.

Rob Marciano says this morning's quake may have been felt by a million people across the country. Two powerful aftershocks were reported both aftershock greater than 5.0.

An emergency effort is on to save a peace plan in Syria. Today, U.N. envoy Kofi Annan is meeting with Syria's President Bashar al Assad. Annan says his goal is to end suffering and convince the government to cooperate with his plan. Global outrage has simply exploded following a bloody weekend massacre that left more than 100 people dead, including 50 children.

U.S. officials warn if these atrocities continue, military intervention could be likely.

The United States is reportedly planning to sell armored drone aircraft to Italy. "The Wall Street Journal" says the drones will be outfitted with missiles and laser guided bombs. U.S. officials say Italy plans to deploy them in Afghanistan. Some lawmakers say the sale could make it harder for the U.S. to deny weaponized drones to other allies, but supporters say these sales will enable trusted allies to conduct their own military missions.

Congress is expected to approve the plan.

New York City police hoping the sanitation department can help corroborate a confession in the 33-year-old disappearance of Etan Patz. Fifty-one-year-old Pedro Hernandez told police he choked the 6- year-old boy to death and then disposed of his body in a trash bag. Police asked sanitation officials for trash pickup and dumping records back to 1979 when Patz went missing. Hernandez is being held on a murder charge and kept on suicide watch.

Air Canada investigating an incident in which pieces of what's believed to be a Boeing 777 were raining down on people in a Toronto suburb. The metal chunks damaged several cars including one that smashed through a windshield. Luckily, no one on the ground was injured. The Air Canada flight had just taken off bound for Tokyo when the jet lost an engine. The plane with 318 passengers on board doubled back and landed safely at Toronto's Pearson Airport.

Baseball and Memorial Day go together. This was an amazing moment on the diamond. A U.S. airman surprising his family at the braves/cardinals game in Atlanta.

Master Sergeant Dave Simms (ph) recorded a special message for his wife and kids. He been away six months stationed with the Air Force in Afghanistan. His family got to come down on the field during the fifth inning. Simms said, "I love you and can't wait to see you again."

Watching the message and they didn't have to wait because he shocked his family walking out on the field to greet them. This makes me want to cry. They got to watch the rest of the game in the owners box.

And every time something like that happens --

O'BRIEN: You could just do these on loop. I love it when mom or dad walks into their kids' classroom and child's face is just one of absolutely being stunned. We should do that, Christine.


O'BRIEN: All of us at the panel here.

Christine, thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT: we're going to talk about that radioactive waste from Japan that's been showing up on the coast of California. And this morning, potential warning about fish from those waters that could end up in our grocery store.

Plus, CNN tracks down that anti-gay pastor from North Carolina. He's the guy that called for gays and lesbians who wants electric pens.

And Senator John McCain knows how to handle a heckler. Just call them a jerk. Dismiss him with that single word.

You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: There's some fish that could be harmful to eat. Scientists say they found nuclear radiation in bluefin tuna off the coast of California, very low levels. But they say it is definitely the result of Japan's tsunami-damaged Fukushima power plant.

Professor Nicholas Fisher is one of the researchers who's reported the findings. He's professor at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University.

Nice to see you, sir.


O'BRIEN: So, first, let's talk about the percentages and how they trace them to these particular bluefin tuna.

FISHER: These were fish caught off San Diego in August 2011. We dissected fish and analyzed the muscle tissue for radioactivity and we found two isotopes, radio isotopes of cesium, which were known to have been released from the Fukushima power plant.

O'BRIEN: So, that's the direct connection to Fukushima. You know that's where it's coming from.

What was I guess the percentage of cesium inside the tuna? I mean --

FISHER: We don't measure in terms of percentage. But the radio activity of the two isotopes combined was 10 Becquerels per kilogram. I know that's not very meaningful.

O'BRIEN: Is that good or bad?

FISHER: It's not terrible. A Becquerel is a unit of radioactivity. It means a disintegration per second.

But just to put in perspective, the natural radiation background primarily attributable to isotope, a radio isotope of potassium, called potassium 40, which is ubiquitous in all marine organisms had these fish had about 350 becquerels per kilogram of potassium 40 compared to 10 of the artificial radionuclides, the cesium.

So the total radioactivity was maybe 3 percent of the natural radiation background by the time the fish arrived in California.

CAIN: Not very much.

HOOVER: That's the thing. We hear radiation and go into a tizzy. We're going to get cancer. But actually, we're all exposed every day of our life to certain amounts of radiation that don't actually harm us.

So, is the amount of radiation in this tuna harmful or not?

O'BRIEN: Darn it. Margaret wants to know. Can I eat the tuna?

FISHER: I would personally -- if I hesitated to eat those tuna it would not be because of radio activity.

HOOVER: Would it be mercury poisoning?

FISHER: Mercury, that's right. And it's also a fish that is somewhat endangered.

CAIN: If we had a sushi plate of that tuna, you would not worry about the radioactivity.

FISHER: I would not.

O'BRIEN: But what does it say in the bigger picture?

FISHER: If I may add --

O'BRIEN: That scared me when he said that.

FISHER: But we calculated what the radio activity would have been when the fish left Japan. So, they migrate to the waters off California and Mexico. And we estimate it takes about three to four months for them to do that. And when they left Japan, they were more radioactive.

So, instead of 3 percent of the ground they were probably 45 percent attributable to cesium.

CAIN: Is this safe for sale on the market?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: But isn't the bigger picture how much radioactive waste has poured into the waters out off of Japan and now is floating its way and has floated its way to California, and we're just measuring some of those.


O'BRIEN: It scares me when you say that.


FISHER: I'll try and put your mind at ease.

O'BRIEN: Thank you.

FISHER: We also measured yellowfin tuna caught at the same place at the same time off San Diego in August. And yellowfin tuna tend to be more residential. That is they don't transit the entire pacific.

They had no radio activity attributable to cesium which meant that the radioactivity that we found in the bluefin tuna were actually transported by the fish from Japan all the way to California. It's not that the cesium was carried by currents all the way to California and picked up by local fish.

O'BRIEN: I guess that's better news for California and terrible news for the folks who live around Fukushima.

FISHER: But that was last year. And so, this year, we don't know what the story is going to be.

O'BRIEN: That's right. Thank you very much. Appreciate it, sir.

FISHER: My pleasure.

O'BRIEN: I (INAUDIBLE) covered that story, and as we would drive by the main highway goes not very far past the Fukushima Plant, and we never were really aware because, of course, you never were getting actual real accurate statistics about the amount of radiation that was being released into the environment. They kept widening the circumference around which you should not be.

FISHER: That's right.

O'BRIEN: Which was very terrifying, and I think everyone is scared about that. Appreciate it.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, Mitt Romney is teaming up with The Donald despite Mr. Trump's controversial birther comments. We're going to talk about that and say why Romney thinks that he needs The Donald to help him win come November.

And don't forget, you can catch us live on your computer or cell phone, just head to From my playlist, this is Stevie Wonder, "Superstition." You're watching STARTING POINT.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. That's crazy. That's seal. Alicia Menendez's playlist. You can see our entire playlist on our website, You can follow me on Twitter @Soledad_O'Brien.

I'm back on Twitter with a vengeance. I really am. I spent Memorial -- day off. Tweeting, pictures --


O'BRIEN: Did you?

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: They are so mad (ph).

O'BRIEN: I know. I know. I enjoyed it.

CAIN: -- alone.

O'BRIEN: My kids like to suggest what I should tweet. OK. Let's talk about Mitt Romney. The former governor, really, can see the finish line. Today, he's expected to cross it as today's Texas primary should give him the 1,144 delegates that he needs to clinch the GOP nomination.

Expecting he's celebrating by playing with the Trump card, teaming up with The Donald for a Las Vegas fundraiser. The Obama campaign is challenging Governor Romney to repudiate Trump's latest questioning of the president's U.S. citizenship. This is what Romney told reporters last night if any indication, it's not going to happen? Take a look.


MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't agree with all the people that support me. I guess, they don't all agree with everything I believe in. But I need to get 50.1 percent or more. And I'm appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.


O'BRIEN: All right. Let's chat about this. So, he just said, "I don't agree with all of the people who support me and I guess that they don't all agree with everything I believe in." Do you think that Mitt Romney is a mistake for him to embrace Donald Trump because he's not some random supporter?

Obviously, they're doing fundraising events together. He introduces him at events and has.

MARGARET HOOVER, AUTHOR, "AMERICAN INDIVIDUALISM": So, let's -- I mean, there are two things here. First, Donald Trump is doing a fundraiser for Mitt Romney. He's not going on the stump for him. He's not advocating his position on behalf of Mitt Romney. He's not a surrogate.

On the other hand, I sort of agree with George Will and his column this week in which called, you know, Donald Trump an -- what did he say? He said "a bloviating ignoramus," and what are they thinking going in such high profile public events with Donald Trump who -- you know, 24 percent of Americans apparently still believe this birther stuff.

But the state -- secretary of state of Arizona just this week had asked the secretary of state of Hawaii to see the certificate and long form certificate that President Obama released, looked at it, asked if it was real, they said yes, said done. Case closed. Again, the case is closed. And then, it continues to percolate to the surface.

ALICIA MENENDEZ, HOST, HUFFPOST LIVE: Fifty-three percent of non-Hispanic Whites feel very anxious about how quickly America is changing about our huge demographic change. They think it's going to change the values of our country, and this plays right into that. Then, you delve into those numbers.

There's a clear anxious Whites tend to lean right. There are people Mitt Romney needs to turn out in a primary.

HOOVER: The primary is over.

O'BRIEN: But it sounds to me like you're saying that this is an intentional move by Governor Romney to support someone who's a birther, like saying, he's supporting birthers without officially, technically supporting birthers.

HOOVER: Is that what you think?

MENENDEZ: That is what I'm saying. I think they understand that with all the baggage that Trump brings, he also brings voters to the table, and they know they need those voters to limp over the finish line.

O'BRIEN: Will Cain joined (ph) this, which always scares me when he starts rubbing his chin. He's thinking. I can see --


CAIN: The fact that they're both wearing blue --


CAIN: No. I think that there has to be a caveat always. Margaret started with one is this (ph), you are not responsible for all the views of your surrogate. And I don't think we want to start that game. We don't want to start analyzing all the views of every celebrity that endorses President Obama. That being said, don't align yourself --

O'BRIEN: This sounds like having it both ways a little bit to me, Will Cain.

CAIN: Don't align yourself with Donald Trump.

MENENDEZ: This is different. It's a conversation we've had for much too long. And he's not just a celebrity. He's someone who actually said he wanted to run for president. He's someone who some people take seriously as a political figure in America with that comes greater risk.


CAIN: -- but you open yourself up to this criticism.

O'BRIEN: But this could also be resolved, right? I mean, Mitt Romney could say, Donald Trump, stop saying it. He's not -- He's not Kenyan. He doesn't have a Kenyan birth certificate. The birther issue is over.

CAIN: Mitt Romney had certainly said he does not buy into the birther issue, and that President Obama is an American.

O'BRIEN: But he doesn't have -- right -- but, he has said that. But he hasn't said, Donald shut it on that issue, right, which would --

CAIN: Telling Donald to shut it, I'm sure really works. I mean, throughout Donald's history in his life, how many times have someone told Donald to shut it and he obeyed?

O'BRIEN: If you have a person who is throwing fundraisers for you, right, and involved in your campaign, I think a higher level than your average random person who's supporting you, right? We often (ph) agree that Donald Trump is not just random Joe who supports Mitt Romney.

Donald Trump is sort of in a special category. He is not a surrogate. I'll give you that. If someone was, let's say for you, someone was running around saying, I'm will Cain. I believe in Will Cain and also spouting something that you knew not to be true --

CAIN: I wouldn't say shut it. I'd say don't hang out with me anymore. That is my position on this. I don't think Mitt Romney should be hanging out with Donald Trump. I'd say don't hang out with me. He has made a mistake here because of people like Alicia, it leaves you wide open, and I'm saying, it leaves you wide open to this criticism.

HOOVER: Here's the catch, too. I mean, at what point does the Romney campaign think this continues to be beneficial? At what point do they just pull the plug? They get Texas today. By the way, are you absentee voting in your home state? They're going to get Texas today. --

CAIN: I take driver's license with me everywhere I go.


HOOVER: But they don't need those votes anymore. I mean, if this was a plate at the base play for the primary, fine. The primary is long over. So, at what point does the Romney campaign said and think, all right, this fundraiser is done in Las Vegas, and then we move on from Trump.

O'BRIEN: But is there a strategy in keeping Donald Trump on your side and happy because Donald Trump angry can take to the airwaves like that, as you know, and take you out.

MENENDEZ: Especially given the dearth of celebrities on the Republican side. I think that they have --

O'BRIEN: Does it matter?

MENENDEZ: Yes, I know, I think it does matter. I think when you have Sara Jessica Parker which still feels like a flashback to 1995 sending e-mails out for President Obama, you do, on the GOP side, hope that you have someone who can bring you attention.



HOOVER: Maybe we have kiss. Maybe we have a lot of rockers. Republican rockers for Romney.

O'BRIEN: Believe on that, Ted Nugent in Kiss. I like that.

CAIN: John Levitt, apparently.


O'BRIEN: All right. Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, is Iran trying to assassinate Americans? A new report with U.S. officials on the hit list.

And then, preaching hate, CNN tracks down that controversial pastor who wants to lockup gays inside an electric fence. See what he said. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back. Let's start with Christine Romans for a look at the day's headlines. Good morning.

ROMANS: Good morning. U.S. investigators are trying to get to the bottom of a plot to assassinate American diplomats. According to the Washington Post, this plot has been traced back to Iran and involved snipers. Among the targets of the alleged plot, embassy staff and family members of Azerbaijan.

Jurors in the John Edwards trial going back to work after the long holiday weekend. John Edwards is charged with illegally using campaign contributions to cover up an affair with his mistress, Rielle Hunter. Edwards denies any wrongdoing.

Just into CNN, we learned that Spain is expelling Syria's ambassador and four other Syrian diplomats and Italy declared Syria's ambassador persona non grata. France, Britain, Canada, and Australia also took similar measures in a coordinated action following a massacre in the Syrian town of Hula as Kofi Annan is meeting with Syria's president. Annan says his goal is to end suffering and convince the government to cooperate with his plan. Global outrage has exploded following a bloody weekend massacre that left more than 100 people dead including almost 50 children. U.S. officials warn that if these sorts of atrocities continue, military intervention could be likely.

War hero senator John McCain was not having it on Memorial Day. He fired back at a heckler alongside Mitt Romney in San Diego yesterday.


SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: A relative of -- jerk!


ROMANS: McCain was speaking to an audience of about 5,000 veterans.

President Obama presenting the Medal of Freedom to 13 people today including the first woman to serve as secretary of state, Madeleine Albright. Former senator John Glenn will also receive a medal along with Toni Morrison and Bob Dylan, who just finished his 35th album.

Stocks are up on positive news in Greece and talk of a stimulus program in China. May has been a rough month for U.S. markets so far in case you feel it in your portfolio. The Dow only had four up days in the month of may. The last time it closed out a month with only four up days was September 1903. The Nasdaq is down nearly 7 percent for the month.

Before the iPad, the iPhone, there was Atari. Steve Jobs memorabilia up for auction. The note suggesting ways to improve the company's world cup soccer arcade game in 1974 jobs began working at Atari after dropping out of college. They expect it to sell for $15,000.

O'BRIEN: Thanks, Christine.

The North Carolina pastor who called for gays and lesbians to be locked up behind an electric fence was back on the pulpit this weekend and according to one local newspaper he was greeted by his flock with a standing ovation but outside of the church, a different story. Hundreds of people from across North Carolina and the country gathered to protest Pastor Worley's message. He's refusing to speak to reporters so CNN's Gary Tuchman went to North Carolina to ask him if he stands by his sermon.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ever since Pastor Charles Worley made his now-infamous speech, we wanted to talk to him to see if he was sorry for what he said, sorry for the tone, or if he defended it. He dodged the press. We made an effort to find him and we did.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): We haven't seen or heard from Pastor Worley since his anti-gay sermon went viral until now.

TUCHMAN: Pastor, would you like to take back anything you said? Pastor, you have a chance to take anything back if you care to.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Pastor Worley chose to not answer either question. He was on his way to his church for a Sunday service on the same day that hundreds of people from North Carolina and other parts of the country protested the pastor's new infamous sermon.

CHARLES WORLEY: Build a great big large fence, hundred mile long and put all of the lesbians in there. Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I felt that he was preaching bigotry. My god is a loving god. My god loves everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not a preacher. This is bigot.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The protesters demonstrated several miles from the church. Where they encountered a small but loud opposition.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be saved by the grace of god.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We must repent because we have broken a god's law.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Pastor Worley's supporters carried signs that many thought were nasty and not accurate.

TUCHMAN: Where does it talk about AIDS in Romans 1:27?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't. It's a phrase we put on there.

TUCHMAN: There has been opportunity for confrontation here. People on one side of the issue march on the sidewalk. People on the other side of the sidewalk yell back at them but so far there's no problems.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a proud member of this church in Maiden, North Carolina. My pastor is Brother Charles Worley.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Worley's supporters were ignored and the focus was on the pastor's anti-gay sermon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's anti-Christian.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Many protesters brought children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want my kids to love everyone. I don't want them to see black and white, gay or straight. I want them to love everybody. TUCHMAN (voice-over): No one was arrested.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm telling you the reason that heterosexuals go to heaven is because they repent their sins.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need your identification.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): This pro-Worley supporter got a citation for using a bullhorn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not issuing any comments or statements.

TUCHMAN: We can't talk to the pastor?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): There would be no talking to Charles Worley at least on this day. The pastor is either not ready or not interested to publicly defend his sermon but as far as defending him, his family and supporters seem ready to step up. Five men walked out the door of his house when we asked pastor his question. One of the men appeared to have a gun in his waistband.

TUCHMAN: Two church services were held here. Reporters were not allowed inside. We're told we're not allowed to step on the grounds. One reporter who wasn't recognized tells us that Worley got a standing ovation and says he appreciates all of the support and that he told the people in the congregation he's been preaching for 53 years and do you think I'm going to bail out on us now? We should tell you a few minutes ago here someone changed the sign and now says "no worries, God's got it covered." Soledad?


O'BRIEN: Gary Tuchman reporting for us. This is such an interesting story in terms of how the Internet has given us a glimpse into people's comments that I think otherwise would have flown under the radar. He has these followers and supporters clearly stepping up to support him but I don't know that we would have ten years ago, 15 years ago really heard about this pastor. Today someone posts something and you can get that information immediately and I think now it can bring people across the nation to come and counterprotest in front of his church.

CAIN: Counterprotest which is largely -- this is almost a joke. These kind of comments are so caricatured and stupid and out-of- bounds, I don't know it can be parodied any worse than it is in reality.

O'BRIEN: I don't think they think it's a joke.

HOOVER: What's amazing is North Carolina wrote a ban on all relationship recognition. That's civil unions, marriage and any sort of civil partnerships. This kind of event in North Carolina may be an event to get people talking about the issue and kind of thing that can help change hearts and minds around this issue. So what I would be curious to know is how many people were at the counterprotest and is this beginning a dialogue about relevance and importance and the ban on same-sex marriage and relationship recognition that happened in North Carolina?

O'BRIEN: I find it fascinating. At some point this pastor will talk. At some point they'll put a sermon back online because that's what they do. Fascinating.

CAIN: An iPhone and sermon is all it takes to see what he comes up with next.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on "STARTING POINT," is it magic or science? May be one and the same. A look inside the World Science Festival is up next. You're watching Starting Point. Back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: That's Oingo Boingo, "Weird Science." It was once said it would be indistinguishable from magic. I think Arthur Clarke said that. That will be on display. Doing magic tricks will be Dr. Brian Greene. His message shows us how far reality has come. He's the co- founder of the festival. What's the big message behind the festival?

DR. BRIAN GREENE, CO-FOUNDER, WORLD SCIENCE FESTIVAL: The big message is science is a wondrous, dramatic story of adventure but kids in the classroom get a sense that science is boring or aloof or something not relevant. This festival shows it's the kind of material that makes your heart pound and that's what we want kids to leave this festival with.

O'BRIEN: So is it a two-pronged approach, one to entertain and really excite people at the festival but change education so seventh graders don't look at science with dread?

GREENE: That's what it is all about. When you go to an event we have one uptown tomorrow, about a boy that goes to the edge of a black hole and it's real science. But with an orchestral score by Philip Glass and an animated film and kids learn about the general theory of relativity just by going for a ride in a story.

O'BRIEN: Let's play the clip.


JOHN LITHGOW, NARRATOR: His father over the address system. All hands to stations. Race for emergency course diversion. We're navigating to avoid uncharted black hole. A black hole? Cool. Instead of strapping himself in, he dashed to the ship's bridge. Son, cried the commander, get to your console.


O'BRIEN: I'm anxious just hearing it. You do a lot bringing in artists and performers and -- and I think that's a really different way to look at science. And people think of science very dry and boring and sort of straightforward. Why do you bring in sort of the artistic community in a very big way in what you do?

GREENE: Our goal is to shift the place of science in culture. It's now at the outskirt. We want to shift it to the cultural center. We want it to be seen the way we look at music and art and film and dance and theater as something that's indispensable to a full and rich life.

I mean right now if I said to you, we're going to get rid of music, we're going to get rid of literature, but that's insane. But if someone says oh you don't really need to know that much about science somehow we think that's ok. It's not ok. It's our future.

CAIN: So it seems to me what you need do is now make science entertaining. That's how we start to pay attention and I read that you actually do some of these things that make as you said heart- pounding. Give me some examples.


GREENE: Yes while -- in your description of magic as advance technology is the right way of thinking about it. There are features of quantum mechanics that we will have on display at Brooklyn Bridge Park and in Metro Tech, at NYU Polytechnic next Saturday. Where you'll see quantum levitation. You'll see a double slit experiment where particles doing something that seems insane by every day standards but it's real.

It's not made up. And it's not magic. It's the way our world actually works but we're just not familiar with it because we live in a big every day environment.

If I made each one of you tiny, a hundred millions of a centimeter, of course, you would know about everything that I'm talking about intuitively. But we're not that small. So we need to use the power of thought and calculation to figure out how the world works. And it's thrilling when you do make the leap and understand the nature of reality.

O'BRIEN: You've been doing it for five years. Do you feel like people are getting your message or do you feel, I mean, now we certainly have more conversations about STEM but it's never really about the excitement. Sometimes it's about, listen, if you want a good job in this economy, which you really have to study is computer science or some kind of engineering.

GREENE: That's right, we have a mountain to climb I think before science is seen as something which is really wondrous and exciting. But step by step we get e-mails and responses from people who come to the festival that say you have given science back to me. When I was in school, the teacher made it so boring that I didn't want to have anything to do with it.

Now 20, 30 years later adults are saying, wow, this is what science is.

(CROSSTALK) O'BRIEN: How do you change that sense? I know, I would love my fifth grader to be interested and excited about science as opposed to feeling like she'd prefer to go for a tooth extraction because that's how it is sometimes.


GREENE: So that's why I met with hundreds of New York city school teachers over the last two weeks to teach them the science behind this (inaudible) at the edge of the time, the thing we're doing tomorrow. So the kids that they were telling about in the classroom, they learn science and come to the performance and it becomes alive. And I think experiences like that can really be formative.

O'BRIEN: You're here, I support that. Great. Thank you for being with us.

GREENE: That's right, thank you.

O'BRIEN: Brien Greene, nice to see you.

GREENE: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: And still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, forget Barbie's blonde hair. This doll is bald and she's beautiful and there's lots of controversy before they were able to get that doll on store shelves believe it or not. We'll tell you what happened.

You're watching STARTING POINT.


O'BRIEN: So Barbie has got a little more competition these days. In just a few days in fact the dolls on the shelves of your local toy store might look a little bit different. That's thanks in part to the efforts of a Jersey mom. And in this week's "Human Factor" Dr. Sanjay Gupta meets a cancer patient who successfully was able to lobby major companies like Mattel to create dolls that look just like her. Take a look.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jane Bingham had bounced between doctors for more than a year before finally being diagnosed with an incurable type of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

JANE BINGHAM, FOUNDER, BEAUTIFUL AND BALD MOVEMENT: They say this cancer is always there. Because it's in your lymph system, it's in your immune system.

GUPTA: For five years doctors were able to keep the cancer in check with immunotherapy, then that stopped working and doctors told Bingham she would have to start chemotherapy. Only then did her daughter realize that her mom was sick.

BINGHAM: She was four when I was diagnosed. And she had just turned nine when I had chemotherapy and lost my hair.

GUPTA: Bingham's hair became a defining moment for both her and her young daughter.

BINGHAM: She always knew me as long blonde hair. And she said numerous times, you know, that she missed my hair. She wished I didn't have to lose my hair. And that was her big focus was the hair.

GUPTA: Her daughter's experience prompted Bingham to petition toy companies to consider manufacturing a bald doll. Companies are listening. MJ Entertainment has created Bald Moxie and Bratz dolls as part of new collection that's going to go on sale this June. Mattel has promised to manufacture 10,000 beautiful and bald friends of Barbie.

BINGHAM: I think it's important to focus your energies outward instead of just focusing inward on yourself.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


O'BRIEN: I love that. I love that. That's so nice.

All right, our "End Point" is next with our panelists. We're back right after this short break.


O'BRIEN: "End Point", Margaret do you want to start?

HOOVER: Yes. I just -- all this question about Pastor Worley has me going back because the LGBT movement has over the last decade lost every time the issue of marriage or civil unions has been put to the ballot box. But this year in November there are four states that are going to have marriage on the ballot: Maine, Washington, Maryland and Minnesota all of them in their own right may very well win.

And the reason they'll win and the reason it could be different this time is because a lot of effort has gone into engaging the populace on this issue and having real conversations about gays and lesbians as equal members of our society. And what I wonder is with Pastor Worley is this the kind of sort of event that you need to codify and begin that kind of conversation in states like North Carolina?

O'BRIEN: How much of that do you think is because President Obama has come out in support of gay marriage?

HOOVER: I think him coming out certainly helps in these states. Certainly the trend was going in that direction. But I don't think President Obama is the decisive element. I think the country is moving that direction on this social issue and you see that exponentially in every (inaudible)


CAIN: I think it's a hopeful vision -- I'm sorry -- I think it's a hopeful vision but I'm afraid that it lives in the world of absurdity almost exclusively -- this Pastor's story.

HOOVER: The pastor is absurd and not my hope for it.

CAIN: Not you, Margaret.

O'BRIEN: Alicia.

MENENDEZ: In that list of medal -- my mike is now falling -- in my list Medal of Freedom nominees one is Dolores Huerta who I think is easy to forget. Where immigrants are in this country right now, where immigrant workers are, we have so much to thank Dolores Huerta for. In addition to organizing the wonderful grape strike, she also had 11 children. Can you imagine going through those fields with Cesar Chavez and having a lot of kids? That's a problem.

O'BRIEN: I can't just imagine doing nothing but having 11 children. That sounds really overwhelming.

Take it out for us Will Cain.

CAIN: I'm going to talk to you about our friends that arrived at Wrigley Field here today with their little pet miniature goat.

O'BRIEN: Wrigley.

CAIN: They walked 2,000 miles across the country -- I cannot tell you -- sleeping on the side of the road and taking care of little Wrigley. Taking turns. You think there was no bickering about who pushes Wrigley in the cart next.

O'BRIEN: You're still hoping about them being angry with each other.

CAIN: It's a fascinating experience in friendship and human relationships. I can guarantee you there were rough times. But, good cause.


HOOVER: You can have the hat.

CAIN: Really? This is mine?

O'BRIEN: My story of the day.

CAIN: It's a little small there.

O'BRIEN: My "End Point" is this. It's tweeted by Mario Travels (ph) and my girlfriend, Debby Smith has re-tweeted it and he says, "Judging by my morning commute, managers will soon start to have those awkward conversations about appropriate work attire because Gumby in the '90s and everybody starts wearing those mesh shirts that are absolutely, positively not ok in the office. I agree with that.

HOOVER: No mesh shirts on STARTING POINT.

O'BRIEN: No, no, no.

We're out of time. Coming up tomorrow on STARTING POINT, we're going to talk to Erin Brockovich with details about a brand-new project she's got uncovering some of the biggest crime and justice movies straight ahead.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello brings right now. Hey Carol. Good morning to you.