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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Fires Continue to Burn in Colorado; Heat waves Hit U.S. Northeast; Republicans Vow to Repeal Obamacare; Olympic Run-Off In Jeopardy; Syria Deal May Not Work; Turkey Scrambles Jets Over Syria; Russia's Role In Syria; Extreme Heat; Japan Restarts First Nuclear Plant; Students Suspended For Taunting Bus Monitor; Murdoch Slams Scientology; Report: Al Qaeda Plotting Attack; Divine Alignment

Aired July 2, 2012 - 07:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: This has to be ripped out by its roots.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: The stakes growing bigger for the November elections. A jam-packed show for you ahead this morning, legendary journalist Dan Rather, Delaware attorney general and Vice President Joe Biden's son Beau Biden, George Congressman Tom Price, Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. It is Monday, July 2. STARTING POINT begins right now.

And here we go on this holiday week, good morning to you. Our STARTING POINT this morning, millions of Americans all the way from the Midwest to the northeast struggling to survive another day of dangerous and potentially deadly heat here. And 16 people have already died since Thursday when digit temperatures unleashed those deadly storms leaving millions of people without power. You see all of these states in yellow? These are the states suffering. Ohio, 425,000 customers without power as of 10:00 last night, same story in Virginia, same story in Maryland, where hundreds of thousands of people are waiting, waiting for that electricity to flip back on. There is really no let-up in sight this morning. And 20 states under heat advisories and there's a state of emergency in Maryland, Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia. Athena Jones is live this morning in Montgomery County, Maryland. And Athena, what's the situation. It sounds pretty dire.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, we're standing at an intersection where a traffic signal just got the power back not too long ago. There are several I can see down the road that don't have power. That's a big issue as people head back to work on this Monday morning. We did get an update. The utility companies say the workers are out in full force working around the clock. They've got teams from 12 states and as far away as Quebec, helping to get the power restored.

The latest from Pepco, a few miles north of D.C., they have 229,000 people without power and dominion in Virginia, which at one point, a main provider there, 1 million customers without power are down to 247,000. So progress is being made, but that's little consolation to people who still don't have power when they are dealing with high temperatures, it's supposed to be 95 and up today here. That's not counting the heat index. The companies say if the weather cooperates, that is to say there aren't more storms that come through and create more problems, they should be able to get everyone's power back on by the end of the week. But, of course, Brooke, it's only Monday.

BALDWIN: Make sure you and your crew stays hydrated as well, Athena Jones in Maryland.

Colorado, a whole other story there, battling extreme heat and deadly wildfires. This morning it looks like firefighters, they are finally gaining the upper hand with the Waldo Canyon fire, now 55 percent contained. The focus now is on the evacuees. Evacuation orders have been lifted for all but 3,000 people in Colorado Springs. You'll remember 32,000 were ordered to leave the area, and sadly, many of them will return to absolute devastation. One fire victim posted this heart-wrenching video of the place she's called for 18 years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm leaving my house for probably the last time. Oh, my god. Smoke in the air, so bad. Let me see if I can pull up through here. This hill was on fire a second ago. There's flames. This is my home. Oh, my god.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: That is tough to listen to. Rob Marciano, I know you're talking a lot of people in Colorado Springs who are thankful they have their lives but lost everything else. That containment number is much higher than last time we talked last week.

ROB MARCIANO, METEOROLOGIST: Yes. And we had record breaking high temperatures again here in Colorado Springs. And yesterday red flag warnings with gusty winds, firefighters were worried but 55 percent containment on this thing but the damage is done. Almost 18,000 acres as you know, over 340 homes completely destroyed, the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history. Now the victims are allowed to go back and look. They are doing it in caravans of personal vehicles. At one point they were going to put them on buses but probably a more humane way to do it in privacy of your own vehicle. This is what folks had to come back to.

And sun up now coming on Colorado front range, revealing some of the charred land here. It's been an emotional week as you can imagine from shock to sadness, to frustration of not being able to go back to their homes to sadness once again of seeing what's left of their homes. Down from 32,000 evacuees to 3,000, and a lot of those -- a lot of those won't go back at home because they'll have to rebuild or move somewhere else, sadly.

BALDWIN: I can't imagine all of them being on one big bus. As least they can, the more humane way of seeing what they lost individually. Rob Marciano, awful stuff you have to cover. We appreciate you in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

And in Maryland this morning, more than 200,000 people are without electricity, and there's a major cleanup operation right now. Want to bring in the mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Her city has extended a code red heat alert through tomorrow. Good morning.

MAYOR STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE, (D) BALTIMORE: Good morning to you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Tell me what you're doing for folks in the Baltimore area to keep them from suffering heat exhaustion, heat stroke. It's supposed to be triple digits for the next couple of days.

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: We're dealing with two weather emergencies, certainly the Derecho, the weird storm that no one knows what it is. But the heat is the major thing, and that's where we anticipate being vulnerable with heat deaths. We've been giving out bags of ice and asking city residents to check on vulnerable neighbors, those without power and they know don't have air conditioning, check on them, living in isolation, to check and really come together neighbor to neighbor.

BALDWIN: I read you spent your Sunday, correct me if I'm wrong, handing out ice blocks to people who I know don't have the ac and in terms of major intersections, have lived in the Washington D.C.- Baltimore area. I know morning commutes aren't fun, especially adding insult to injury with the fact that the lights aren't working. Talk to me about what you're doing. Are you bringing in police officers to make sure they get through the intersections A-OK?

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: Definitely. We have generators out at many intersections and where we aren't able to have rate generators, we have police officers at those critical intersections to make sure -- I know a lot of people probably aren't looking forward to going back to work after not having electricity, but we don't want to contribute to that by having the intersections being blocked. So obey the traffic signals, please be mindful of the officers at the crosswalks. And we're going to get through this. It is rough, it is rough especially with the heat on top of not having power but I believe we're going to get through it.

BALDWIN: I read in "The Baltimore Sun" I think over the weekend had a quote from your governor, Governor O'Malley, saying, you got this hurricane punch without the two, three, four days of heads up. And you could be seeing more thunderstorms. Are you getting, mayor, more federal help or federal help period?

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: We have been in touch with FEMA to make sure we are all on the same page. We're tracking our spending. So if we do qualify for federal assistance, we have all of the receipts to make sure we are tallying up the cost --

BALDWIN: If you do, so you haven't yet?

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: Right.

BALDWIN: OK, what is your biggest worry going forward?

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: Our biggest worry is the heat-related deaths. That is where we are so many people, about a quarter of the citizens are still without power. And when we have citizens that are 65 and older and in isolation, those are vulnerable. We're trying to get the word out. We're going to go back out with ice and opening additional cooling centers with air conditioning so people have options, we need to make sure we're checking on each other.

BALDWIN: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, we appreciate it. Good luck to you.

RAWLINGS-BLAKE: Thank you.

BALDWIN: And let's see what else is going on in the news. Let's check in with Zoraida Sambolin. Zoraida, good morning.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, to you, Brooke.

Mexico's old guard returning to power after a 12-year absence. An official preliminary vote count of the Institutional Revolutionary Party winning the election but le candidate is refusing to concede defeat. Nieto's party, known as the PRI, controlled Mexico until the election of the National Action Party in 2000.

New York State Supreme Court will intervene in the congressional race between Charlie Rangel and his challenger. There will be a hearing this afternoon. Rangel has already declared opponent conceded, but now it seems votes in dozens of districts vanish. The latest count shows Rangel's dwindled to 802 votes with more than 3,000 still uncounted.

New evidence shows three former Penn State officials may have covered up a 2001 incident involving former coach Jerry Sandusky and a young boy in a shower. This is according to e-mail, CNN hag going through between former university president Graham Spanier, vice Gary Schultz, and athletic director Tim Curley. After graduate assistant Mike McQueary reported the incident to them, Spanier decided to not tell authorities. Instead he told Curley, "The only downside for us is if the message is heard and acted upon and we become vulnerable for not having reported it. But that can be assessed down the road." Curley and Schultz face perjury and also accused of failing to properly reporting suspected child abuse.

And the only abortion clinic still operating in Mississippi can stay open, at least for now. A new law in the state took effect yesterday requiring abortion providers to be certified OB-GYN practitioners with privileges at area hospitals as well. That law puts the Jackson Women's Health Center at risk. But a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order that keeps the clinic's doors open at least until a hearing on July 11th.

And that graduate student from Georgia who lost her hands, left leg, and her right foot to flesh eating bacteria is leaving the hospital today and she is headed to a rehab center. Amy Copeland's father says his daughter will get inpatient treatment and work on her graduate thesis in psychologist at the same time. I'm not kidding here. Amy hopes to graduate from the University of West Virginia in December. Good luck to her.

And our runaway victory, defending champion Spain trounced Italy four-nil. That was Sunday. Spain got out to an early lead and never looked back. Spain becomes the first country to win three major tournaments in a row, consecutive victories and 2008 European champion son and 2010 World Cup and now the 2012 European championship.

I've got more for you. Michael Phelps could be headed for another eight gold medals at the summer games. Phelps took first place in the final swimming trial in the hot 100 meter fly last night with a world leading time of 51.14 seconds. That means he is qualified for five individual races and likely to be selected for three relay teams. He says this is going to be his last Olympic Games. I don't know if I believe him.

Get ready to see and hear a lot about this gal, Missy Franklin. She blew away the field in the 200, swimming the fastest time, two minute, 6.12 seconds. Franklin is competing in seven races in London, four individual and three expected relay. She will be the first woman to do that in a single game. And Missy, just 17 years old, a high school senior in the fall.

BALDWIN: Amazing. I was in London recently for the diamond jubilee, that place is one big party, between the diamond jubilee and the London Olympic games.

SAMBOLIN: Now we've told you who to watch.

BALDWIN: Thank you very much. I love the Olympics, so exciting.

Still ahead, Republicans are fighting for the upper hand in the health care debate. Will voters and not the U.S. Supreme Court have the final word come November? Coming up next, doctor and Republican congressman Tom Price will join me live with the GOP's new line of attack.

And our "Get Real" this morning, listen to this, are Facebook and twitter making young girls more aggressive these days. You're watching STARTING POINT on a Monday morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Alison Kosik with your business headlines.

Apple is paying $60 million to end a legal dispute over the iPad name. The lawsuit centered on whether Apple or Proview, a Chinese computer monitor company, owned the rights to the iPad name in China. The settlement means apple can move forward in sales in its second biggest market.

And extra leap second added to the clock has been causing technical glitches for popular websites like Four Square and Yelp and Gawker. The leap second if you didn't notice was added Saturday to keep the coordinated universal time clock in alignment with the earth's rotation.

And we're watching stocks set for a mixed open today. Dow futures are up less than 10 points as investors get some worrisome signs from overseas. Unemployment in the Eurozone hit a record high of 11.1 percent in May. And in China, new data shows manufacturing is slowing down. The concern for Wall Street is how all of that will affect the U.S. You know what, Brooke, one day it's a good day, another day it's -- we have 200-point gain on Friday and who knows what today will bring.

BALDWIN: That's what we were talking about 4:00 on Friday, changes on a dime, doesn't it, Alison Kosik?

KOSIK: It does.

BALDWIN: Thank you so much.

Republicans are taking the message to repeal the president's health care law straight to you, to the people. They were blanketing the Sunday shows, insisting the Supreme Court's decision Thursday will not stop their efforts to bring down the law, but when pressed on what the party would replace it with they were kind of vague and instead answering the question by turning the focus back on the law itself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Let me say the single best thing we can do for the American health care system is to get rid of Obama care.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Preserve any of these programs or does everything go?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we will vote to repeal the entire law I believe on July 11th. What's frustrating about this, when Obamacare was being deliberated, we were offering patient-centered solutions. I'll just say this, we can have a health care system in America where America has affordable access to health insurance, including people with preexisting conditions, without a government takeover.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Congressman Tom Price is a Republican from Georgia. He is also a doctor and also the chairman of the Republican Policy Committee. Congressman Price, good morning to you.

REP. TOM PRICE, (R) GEORGIA: Good to be with you, Brooke, thank you.

BALDWIN: Let's talk about the public. Do you think the public is ready to move on? I'm sure you've gotten many letters and e-mails from your constituents since Thursday. What are they telling you? PRICE: Just what they are saying on Wednesday, they think this law is the wrong direction. So regardless of his constitutionality, it's the wrong policy for the country. As a physician I know they believe that because they are concerned about the relationship that they have with their physician. This doesn't work for patients or doctors or employers. Already small businesses are saying they are not going to be able to hire because of this law. It doesn't work for states. You've got a lot of states opting out. And it clearly doesn't work for the federal government from a financial standpoint.

So what we need to repeal the law and move in a positive direction that gets folks covered and solves the insurance challenges, and we can save hundreds of billions of dollars in the system, all without putting Washington in charge.

BALDWIN: Let me jump back to what you're saying, Americans are saying we're going in wrong direction. I want to point you to this new Gallup because it appears the approval numbers are up. According to this Gallup poll, 46 percent agree with the Supreme Court's decision, 46 percent don't. More interestingly, among independents, 45 percent now agree, 42 percent disagree. As I mentioned, those approval numbers are up since Thursday. Do those numbers, sir, do they suggest that the public is ready to move on from this?

PRICE: I think what the American people will say is if the Supreme Court rules its constitutional, then it's constitutional. But again, the fact it's constitutional doesn't mean it's the right policy for the country.

I had a conference call last night with doctors from around the country who are so terribly concerned about this law because they know it will limit their ability to care for their patients. That's the bottom line. If doctors aren't able to provide the kind of care they've been trained and through their experience give to their patients, then this is the wrong law. And that's exactly what we believe will occur and what the doctors of the land understand.

BALDWIN: Let's get to that "R" word we've been hearing from Republicans, repeal, July 11th, it really is strictly symbolic, you don't have a majority in the Senate and don't have a Republican sitting in the walk. Here's what's Phil Gingrey told us this Friday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PHIL GINGREY, (R) GEORGIA: One issue over the next four months, repeal Obama. Once we do that, then indeed if we have a majority? The Senate, we maintain that majority in the House of Representatives and we have the president of the United States, Mitt Romney, then we can indeed repeal this Bill and do it by reconciliation since it's a tax issue now, as Justice Roberts has redefined the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So, let's say you and your Republican colleagues get your way and repeal this law. You know as a doctor there are multiple parts to this law that people really like, including you mentioned a moment ago, preexisting conditions, coverage for that, allowing kids to stay on their parents insurance and reducing Medicare, the doughnut hole for prescription drugs. How do you then congressman, you repeal the law yet you keep the parts that people like. How do you do that?

PRICE: Again, they are wonderful solutions. First you've got to repeal it because the premise for the president's law land is that Washington knows best about your health care. Again, that's harming the ability for physicians to treat patients. It's also harming the ability for small businesses to hire out there. So it's not just bad for health care, it's bad for the economy.

Now, the proposals that we put on the table will get virtually every single American covered but covered with the kind of health coverage and insurance they want for themselves and for their family, not that the government wants for them. And affordability and preexisting are relatively easy to solve without putting Washington in charge. You simply allow individuals to take -- to own their coverage regardless of who's paying for it so it goes with them if they change their job.

BALDWIN: How do you maintain that with regard to the preexisting conditions. You have to have healthy folks paying the premiums so the people with the preexisting conditions are covered?

PRICE: If you look at whose troubled by the problem of preexisting illnesses and industries, it's folks in the individual and small group market. The easiest way is with robust pooling mechanisms for all those millions of Americans so they can pull together and get the purchasing power of millions. When you do that you make it so every single American can have the kind of health coverage they want for themselves and for their family, now what the government wants for them. And that's a critical distinction.

BALDWIN: I want to get to this question because it's really -- we're all fascinated and some people surprised the role of Chief Justice John Roberts and the whole decision. I want to read two op- eds. This is from the "Washington Post." Fred Hiatt says this, "Chief Justice John Roberts last week did something that in polarized Washington may turn out to be more important than saving Obamacare. He showed that compromise can be consistent with principle." And one was from the "Wall Street Journal." This is how Roberts decision is being read by politicos, quote, "The chief justice is a genius. All of a sudden he's a chess master, a statesman, a Burkean minimalist, a battle loser but a war winner, a Daniel Webster for our times. Now that we've had more to take in chief justice Roberts reasoning, we have a better summary politician."

Congressman Price, which is it, politician or symbol of bipartisanship?

PRICE: I think historians will be able to answer that better than I. What I will tell you --

BALDWIN: No, if I may, which is it to you in your opinion? PRICE: I think the chief justice was wrong on this, but that's not for me to say. The court has ruled and I respect that ruling. But I think what the chief justice says, he said it himself, it's not the role of the court to protect the citizens from their political decisions, the consequences of their political decisions. He threw it right back in the American people's lap, and appropriately so. This is a policy decision. Whether or not it's constitutional and it's been now ruled constitutional, doesn't mean it's the right policy and now we've got to go to the people and say, do you want Washington involved in your lives in this manner, or do you believe --

BALDWIN: I understand. So you won't give me whether he's a politician or man of bipartisanship? You won't give it to me?

PRICE: I don't think that's the role of the court. The court said the law is constitutional. It remains the wrong policy for the country, which is why we believe that through appropriate political processes, the American people will select a Congress and president that will put in place patient centered solutions, not Washington centered solutions.

BALDWIN: We will see what the history books write about Chief Justice Roberts. Congressman Price, appreciate you being on. Thank you.

PRICE: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Still to come this morning on STARTING POINT, sugar and spice and everything nice, except when they tweet. Parents, can you relate? Why social networks could be making girls more aggressive. This is our "Get Real" this morning. Our STARTING POINT panel walking in to talk about that and more, Margaret Hoover, Marc Lamont Hill, Abby Huntsman. Marc's playlist, Common. Good morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. A couple of quick headlines for you. The youngest son of NBA great Michael Jordan is in trouble with the law. Police say 21-year-old Marcus Jordan was intoxicated and involved in an altercation with two women in Omaha, Nebraska. Jordan is charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and obstructing justice.

Tiger Woods fighting off dangerous heat in a strong field to win the AT&T national by two strokes in Bethesda, Maryland. It is Tiger's third win of the season, more than any other PGA player. It was also the 74th victory of his career.

-- third place tie in the women's 100 meters. Boy, everybody really wanted to watch that, Brooke.

BALDWIN: She actually got to do the victory lap. If you're a real athlete or real competitor, they'll run it off, right? They'll run it out tonight?

SAMBOLIN: I hope so. BALDWIN: Zoraida, thank you very much. Let me give me give a quick good morning shout out to our lovely, handsome panel this morning. You have Margaret Hoover, author of "American Individualism," Marc Lamont Hill, professor at Columbia University and host of "Our World Black Enterprise" and Abby Huntsman of Huffpost Live. Good to see you, guys, again.

HOOVER: Good morning.

BALDWIN: Bright and cheery on a holiday week. So this is time to get real and I think this is kind of interesting. So the story is basically about how young people are coming across as a little bit more aggressive based upon, you know because so many gals these days are having to tweet, 140 characters or less or on Facebook. Now speaking as though they are tweeting and curt and it's offensive.

HILL: It's offensive to old people. If you're a young person and communicate through Twitter and you talk in 140 character expressions and when someone speaks outside of that, you're comfortable with it.

HOOVER: It's totally a generational thing. It's millennial speak, right? This is how the 30 and under because they speak more rapidly.

BALDWIN: Rapid fire, spit it out.

HOOVER: They communicate by texting and it actually comes off as more aggressive, but it's unintentional.

HUNTSMAN: I think people read too much into it. Even 140 characters is very short. I usually put a smiley face at the end of everything I write. So no one takes it personally.

BALDWIN: But Marc, does that fall upon the older generation to speak Twitter or the reverse?

HILL: To just understand. We need understanding. You don't need to speak Twitter.

BALDWIN: Let's all get along.

HUNTSMAN: Don't take it personally.

HOOVER: But there really is another language that young people are using when they are texting each other and when they are on Facebook.

I've had grandparents say, they've finally learned how to speak to their grand kids when they learn to text and they learn the alphabet of language they use back and forth.

There's a whole vocabulary to texting that they finally were able to bridge when they learned how to text.

HILL: Now I have to convince my students not to use that language in their papers.

BALDWIN: We need eloquence.

HILL: Yes, or just proper spelling.

HUNTSMAN: I'm going to take your class.

BALDWIN: Twitter might be making Rupert Murdoch more aggressive as well. Here's what he had to say about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes splitting up and what scientology has to do with that.

Plus, veteran newsman, it's such a pleasure this morning, Dan Rather, he's going to join us live to talk about this special he is ready to air about the crisis in Syria.

We are sitting down with the legendary newsman as he walks in the studio. You are watching STARTING POINT. Welcome.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. A new international agreement to help end the fighting in Syria may not succeed. That's coming from the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: There's no guarantee that we're going to be successful. I just hate to say that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Clinton tells CNN she is optimistic the deal will at least ease President Bashar Al Assad out of power. Over this past weekend, it was Saturday, the Geneva Conference, world powers agreed to a transitional government in Syria.

But Syrian opposition fighters fear the deal leaves open the possibility that Assad himself could remain in power. Secretary Clinton however insists that will not happen.

Opposition forces say more than 14,000 people have been killed over the past 16 months, more than half of that number were killed in the past four months alone.

Dan Rather, is the anchor and managing editor of "Dan Rather Reports" on AXA TV and his special report, which is why you're sitting here talking to us this morning called "Inside Syria" airs tomorrow night 8:00 Eastern Time.

Dan Rather, a pleasure for having you.

DAN RATHER, ANCHOR AND MANAGING EDITOR, "DAN RATHER REPORTS" ON AXA TV: Thank you very much for having me on.

BALDWIN: Let's just first talk about this report of David Inders. So he was inside Syria for three weeks, correct? RATHER: That's correct.

BALDWIN: What did he see?

RATHER: Well, among the things he saw was one, the opposition forces, the anti-Assad forces are getting stronger. They are better armed, better organized and able to control more territory.

I don't want to overstate they are on the edge of forcing Assad out, but compared with even a half year ago, maybe three or four months ago, they are making real progress.

Now, that's not to say that the day after tomorrow that Assad will be out. As you just reported, there's an international effort.

But frankly, inside Syria, this is one of the things we found, that the anti-Assad forces have no confidence, zero confidence in the United Nations effort.

BALDWIN: I'm curious if his reporting could corroborate the "New York Times," I believe it was just last week or two weeks ago reporting that the CIA is in Turkey, of course, next door to Syria.

And that they are helping sort of choose which members of the opposition can be armed. Did Inders see any of that? Did Inders see any kind of role the U.S. is taking on?

RATHER: No, our report doesn't -- it's reasonable to believe that, but in journalism you trust your mother but cut the cards, which is another way of saying that they are all kinds of indications not contrary to the "Times" report.

But certainly this is a situation where if the CIA were not involved in some way, you would be saying why aren't they involved? Have they gone so far as to begin to pick people to succeed in a new interim government kind of thing? I simply don't know.

BALDWIN: Arm the rebels?

RATHER: Right. Well, the rebels get their -- on the national arms market. However, somebody has to supply the money.

BALDWIN: How are they getting the money?

RATHER: Well, it's really hard to trace this kind of money, but clearly Turkey is a major player on the outside of Syria. I think that's really important to understand that the United States government in some ways is helping Turkey take the lead.

But Turkey takes the lead and Turkey, as you know, they have a democratic elected government, one we may or may not like, but it's democratically elected.

Their economy is very strong. They have a very strong military. Turkey is the place to watch and you can bet that President Obama is consulting often on a back channel basis with the Turks. HOOVER: What did you learn -- first, what did you learn about the freedom fighters? This is one of the concerns the American and the international community have, who is the opposition?

And what did you learn about them? You spent three weeks with them and secondly, you were one of the first folks in Afghanistan in the '80s, very strong views on Iraq. What do you think the United States should do about Syria?

BALDWIN: Good question.

RATHER: Well, you know, I'm a reporter. I'm not a diplomat. However, since you've asked, I think there does need to be a concentrated international effort to at least alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Turkey.

You talk about people killed and wounded and suffering. It is by and large, not fighting troops that do suffer. It's the women, the children, the aged and the elderly. They are caught in the middle.

They are suffering tremendously. The Turks are doing some refugee camp work on their border. The Lebanese give them credit. This is where the international community needs to focus. That doesn't mean putting boots on the ground, but such things as a no fly zone.

Because the Assad forces, their advantage is in the air with helicopters. That's their best weapon, but a no fly zone or maybe a no drive zone would relief the humanitarian situation, which is desperate.

The Syrians, inside Syria, this is one of the things became clear in our report. They are disgusted with the international community and yes, the United States saying, how can they look and let this happen and not do something?

BALDWIN: Speaking of the disgust, I had read something where you were quoted as saying that this could be President Obama's Rwanda.

RATHER: Yes. The frame of reference being President Clinton, one of the biggest mistakes he made was not doing something about Rwanda what we knew what was happening there.

And I think it could be President Obama's Rwanda, but you know, that really understates this because if it's his Rwanda, it's our Rwanda.

HUNTSMAN: I was wondering, I want to talk about Russia a little bit because isn't that really the most important relationship for the U.S. in terms of working with everything that's going on in Syria?

RATHER: That's true and a very strong point that Russia has a long relationship with Syria. And if the United States and other powers who are interested in doing something could get Russia to go along, that would help a lot. But up until including now they haven't. I don't see a prospect of doing it. The big non-players -- Turkey is a big player, the big non-players are Russia and China.

They're holding out and holding back. And frankly, until they come aboard, as much as I respect Kofi Annan and the United Nations effort, it's not like that it would go anywhere without Russia and China.

HILL: And you don't anticipate that change. I mean, over the last few years -- every step Russia and China have been very difficult allies and very difficult playmates. Do you anticipate that changing at all?

RATHER: I don't anticipate changing at all. If it's going to change, it's more likely with Russia than with the Chinese. You know, our relationships with Russia, up and down over the years, not in a good place right now despite President Obama's talk of rebooting with Russia. I don't see that changing at least in short.

BALDWIN: Dan Rather, we appreciate it.

RATHER: Thank you very much.

BALDWIN: We'll be looking forward to it tomorrow night, "Inside Syria." Thank you, sir. Let's go to Zoraida Sambolin now for the rest of today's stories. Hi, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you, Brooke.

Another day of hellish heat facing millions of Americans from the northeast to the Midwest. This morning, 20 states are under heat advisory warnings with the state of emergency declared in Maryland, Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia.

Sixteen people have died since Thursday, including two little boys that were out camping, 2 and 7 years old when triple digit temperatures spawned killer storms and left millions without power.

The nation's capital still reeling from the heat and a devastating Saturday storm. Trees and power lines are down everywhere, tens of thousands of people still don't have power and the index is expected to hit triple digits again today.

For first time since May, a nuclear power plant is up and running in Japan. Despite protests outside, start up operations began Sunday night at the Owi nuclear plant's three reactor.

Japan gradually shut down all 50 of its nuclear power plants for safety checks following the meltdown at the Fukushima plant, which was hit by a tsunami in 2011.

And the four middle school students who verbally harassed their school bus monitor have been suspended from school and the bus for one year.

You'll remember the YouTube video that went viral. All four students will take classes at alternative education center. They must also complete 50 hours of community service with senior citizens.

The bus monitor, Karen Klein, says she will spend the nearly $700,000 raised on her behalf to pay her bills, help her children and then she plans on donating some money to charity as well.

And News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch says he is being attacked over his tweets, criticizing after Tom Cruise and the Church of Scientology.

Murdoch tweeted about the pending divorce between Cruise and his wife, Katie Holmes. He said scientology back in news, very weird cult, big money involved with Tom Cruise either the number two or three in hierarchy.

He also called the religion and its followers creepy and maybe even evil. Since then Murdoch says he has been hit with hundreds of attacks. Be careful what you tweet, right, Brooke?

BALDWIN: True, true. And 140 characters or less can get you in some trouble. Zoraida Sambolin, thank you very much.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a developing story, this report that al Qaeda operatives are plotting to take down a U.S. plane in the run up to the Olympic games in London. We have the latest that is next.

Plus, is there something more to the coincidences of our life? A chance meeting, a phone call out of the blue, the man who says there is a lot behind those mysteries.

We're going to leave you with a track from Dan Rather's playlist, Willy Nelson. I just saw him in concert. You are watching STARTING POINT.

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BALDWIN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. Al Qaeda operatives may be plotting to take down a U.S. plane in the days leading up to the summer Olympic games in London.

This is according to the "Times" of London. Al Qaeda's Yemen-based terror cell is believed to be behind the planning of this attack.

CNN's intelligence correspondent Suzanne Kelly, of course, on this -- joins me live from Washington. Suzanne, what are your sources telling you?

SUZANNE KELLY, CNN INTELLIGENCE CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, I'm really glad we're talking about this. There's a lot of hype and a lot of concern about these when the British papers came out with the reporting over the weekend. You know, CNN has gone back and spoke with both officials in the U.K. and the U.S. who are all saying there is absolutely no specific credible threat about bringing down a U.S. bound airliner any time around the Olympics.

Now that being said, keep the mind that the president did meet with his national security team last week and they did talk about efforts to prepare for keeping the fourth of July festivities secure.

And of course, working with our British counterparts on the Olympics, but again, no specific threats, it sounds like there may be more hype here than fact.

One thing to tell you though, the Department of Homeland Security has come out and said that their security posture and I'm quoting from them here includes a number of measures both seen and unseen.

We will continue to respond appropriately to protect the American people and what they are really asking is for people to be vigilant and pay attention.

The director general of MI-5, however just recently came out and publicly said al Qaeda does remain a very serious threat. They are still plotting. They are still trying to find ways to attack.

But again, according to U.S. government officials and officials in the U.K., there's no specific threat tied to the Olympics right now -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK, just sounds like a bit of a headline. Suzanne Kelly, thank you.

Question for you, did you ever experience a life changing event that seems a little too incredibly fortunate to actually be true?

Our next guest says, you may have been the recipient of a "God Wink." Squire Rushnell, the author behind the "God Wink" books and creator of "Schoolhouse Rock" is here to explain. That's next. Welcome. It's nice to meet you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to see you.

BALDWIN: You're watching STARTING POINT.

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BALDWIN: I know we've all had those little moments that seemed a little too strange to be mere coincidence, a chance meeting, a life changing opportunity or a phone call just out of the blue when you least expect it and really needed it the most.

A series of books calls these moments God winks or communication from God that gives us guidance in life. The newest book, it's called "Divine Alignment, How God Wink Moments Guide Your Journey" comes out tomorrow.

Squire Rushnell is the author behind those books. He's also a former ABC executive and creator of "School House Rock." Squire, it is a pleasure to meet you.

SQUIRE RUSHNELL: Nice to meet you.

BALDWIN: Read the whole thing last night. I just want to begin with divine alignment, what does that mean?

SQUIRE RUSHNELL, AUTHOR, "DIVINE ALIGNMENT": Well, it's the basic thesis. It takes that idea of God winks, those little things that you don't know what to call so you call them God winks. They're not really coincidence.

But it pulls back on the lens and it shows that we are all interconnected. God wink by god wink, person to person, I think you have probably god winks and divine alignment in your own life.

Everybody here because you -- there was somebody who called you out of the blue or you bumped into somebody and that person led you to the job, the girl, the guy, the place in life and you say, wow, what a coincidence.

BALDWIN: You say not so.

RUSHNELL: We're really on a GPS, god's positioning system.

BALDWIN: You mentioned your own personal story and you say, yes, this is the first time I've told this about being a big, bad executive at ABC.

And, yes, I was fired and you know, times were tough and you get money from some friends, you end up paying them back. Tell me a little bit about your story and your own divine alignment.

RUSHNELL: Well, I actually it was the first time that I ever admitted that I was fired from ABC. They used that word downsized. But I also realized that it was kind of a kick in the pants that I was getting because I'd been there for 20 years.

And I needed to get out of the nest and fly on my own. So I became an entrepreneur and I found out why that rhymes with manure. But at some point, I decided to become what I always wanted to be, which was an author/speaker.

And I had to go out and find my topic. And one day when I was giving a talk about coincidences, I realized that I was connecting with my audience in a way that I had never connected before. And so that was my pursuit.

HILL: So we are all pretty lucky people here. We're employed and stuff. But what about people who are really having a hard time, people who are homeless, people who are struggling, they may not see their god winks. What do you say to them? RUSHNELL: I believe that god winks happen to everybody. And god winks happen when you allow them to happen or once you see god winks, you see them more and more and more.

I believe that there is, indeed, a destiny that is kind of built into each of us and we have a built-in GPS. We just have to figure out how to tune in to it.

HUNTSMAN: What do you say to the 11 percent, I think it is today, that don't believe in it God? What do you say about -- you know, when they read this book, there's a lot of spirituality that you talk about in terms of how people meet, how they come together.

RUSHNELL: Well, I would say to those 11 percent, and you're right, it's only about 11 percent. I would say that those 11 percent, just keep an open mind.

And listen to the stories of these incredible things that happen to a lot of other people who didn't believe that they could rise up from the terrible situations they were in.

Probably much more difficult situations than those individuals are in at this particular moment.

BALDWIN: I want to get to your final point. So basically, the book has seven different steps, right? You go through to mapping your destination, unshackling your baggage. We talked about the balloons because we all have anger in us.

We have to let it go and forgive. But this final step, be content with what you have, here is what you write, too many of us are never at peace. We maintain our marathon struggles to be bigger and better and have more, bigger house, better car, more stuff.

This is accompanied by a prevailing fear that if we don't maintain enough control over the people around us, the bubble will burst and we'll be left with nothing.

I'm curious after the horrendous financial crisis of 2008 when a lot of people are walking around with a heck of a lot less than they had, I'm curious if you've gotten feedback from them. Are they more content with the little, the less they have?

RUSHNELL: I don't know. I haven't talked to necessarily those folks, but I do know that there is a well within that we're always trying to fill with stuff. We fill it with something trying to give us contentment.

And until we fill it with the love of God, we won't be able to fill it. I tell the story of Darryl Strawberry who is a guy who had a $22 million contract and he fell the longest distance of anybody I know to be flat on his back and to have nothing.

And until he filled that well with the love of God, he was not a content person. He is now a very content guy.

BALDWIN: Squire Rushnell, we appreciate it. The book is "Divine Alignment."

RUSHNELL: Thank you. Good to be here.

BALDWIN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, an unprecedented rematch with an Olympic spot on the line, but will these two sprinters even get to the starting line tonight? Some developing news on that story to tell about that.

Plus New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is known for his, shall we call it blunt style. Wait until you hear what he had to say to a reporter who apparently asked the wrong question at the wrong time. You're watching STARTING POINT.

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