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Coming to Terms with the Belcher Tragedy; Cory Booker Begins Food Stamp Challenge; "Zero Dark Thirty" Buzz

Aired December 4, 2012 - 09:30   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: It is 30 minutes past the hour. Good morning. Thank you so much for being with us this morning. I'm Carol Costello.

Sports teams could be another family for players, especially in trying times. So, the Kansas City Chiefs still think of Jovan Belcher as one of their own, even though he killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, and then killed himself.

Listen to Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel.


ROMEO CRENNEL, HEAD COACH, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Jovan is a member of the family. What he did, we didn't like, we're not crazy about. But he's still a member of our family, you know? And when you go out in society and things like this happen in society -- because they do happen in society -- you don't see people throwing the family members out the door, you know? They are still loved by their family members.

But the act -- you don't like the act. And so, you move on. You deal with it. And you don't have a choice. You have to move on.


COSTELLO: Mike Brusko knows what it's like to be a member of Jovan Belcher's family. They were teammates for four years at the University of Maine.

Thank you so much for being on with us this morning, Mike.

MIKE BRUSKO, FORMER UNIV. OF MAINE TEAMMATE OF JOVAN BELCHER: Good morning, Carol. Thanks for having me.

COSTELLO: You've said it was therapeutic to talk about Jovan Belcher. What would you like people to know about him?

BRUSKO: Well, before I start, let me just say as difficult as these past days have been for people like myself, his teammates, his friends, nothing can compare to the pain that his family and the family of Kasandra Perkins are experiencing right now. So, my utmost and sincerest sympathies to those families and their baby daughter, Zoe. So, what I would like people to know about Jovan and those who knew him, you know, I'll be preaching to the choir, but he was -- this was not the person -- the picture that people got of Jovan Belcher Saturday was not the person who Jovan Belcher was.

He was incredibly passionate, loving individual. He enjoyed everything he did. He -- I'll always remember him with a smile on his face. He had a huge smile, great smile, infectious smile.

Excuse me. And, you know, that's the picture that I have of him. He cared. He loved, had such a big heart, loved so many people.

And the feeling was mutual. He was loved by so many. So, it's just -- it's an incredible tragedy and very difficult to come to grips with.

COSTELLO: It's difficult for many people to come to grips with. Because everybody says oh, there was no history of domestic violence in his past.

But there are reports out there that he did have one experience while he was at Maine. And do you know about that? Where he became so angry, he put his fist through a wall or glass window?

BRUSKO: He -- there was an incident with -- where he did put his fist through a window. To me, it was our freshman year. He was 18 or 19 years old. I always credited that to an immature decision, some -- a decision that I actually have another friend who has done the same thing -- not to justify or defend that or make it sound like a reasonable thing to do.

But for Jovan, it was a decision that he made as a young man that he would -- I'm sure would have taken back.

COSTELLO: What was he angry about? What was he angry about, Mike?

BRUSKO: That, I don't know. I don't know the specific circumstances and I don't care to speculate. I just -- obviously, I was there and we knew that it happened.

Like I said, it wasn't ever anything that any of us looked at and said, well, this is a bad sign. We all attributed it to immaturity and just a lack of -- an inability to make a really informed decision at that point in time. You know, myself I've made plenty of bad decisions when I was 18, 19.


COSTELLO: Let me interrupt you. I ask you this question. I understand when you were at Maine, you both were members of Male Athletes Against Violence. Why did you guys decide to get involved in that organization?

BRUSKO: I do need to correct you. I actually was not a member of the organization. Jovan was. I knew about his participation in it. He seemed sincere about it. But as far as myself being a part of it, that I can't comment on because it wasn't anything that I ever had any experience with.

And his decision to join, not -- probably not something that I'm able to really comment on because I never talked to him about his specific decision process in joining the organization.

COSTELLO: All right. Mike Brusko, thank you so much for being with us this morning. We appreciate it.

BRUSKO: Sure. Thanks for having me.

COSTELLO: Coming up in just about half an hour, Diana Reese, who reports for the "Kansas City Star", has a closer look at who she says is the forgotten victim in this tragedy, Kasandra Perkins.

Papa Johns, hitting back against a new study showing its brand favorability dropping after comments its CEO made about Obamacare. The new Public Opinion study shows the pizza chain's favorability score dropped from 32 on Election Day to four at the end of last month, 40 is the top score.

Papa John's released a statement saying the results are contradictory to another study by the same company showing significant reputation gains. That statement also says the comment CEO Johns Schnatter made about Obamacare, quote, "his remarks on the Affordable Care Act were mischaracterized in the media. That mischaracterization didn't seem to have had an effect on the brand." Papa John's also notes that it continues to offer health insurance to 100 percent of its company employees.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie isn't shy about asking the federal government for money. He wants FEMA to reimburse the state for 100 percent of its emergency costs following superstorm Sandy. That's cleanup and repair. The total? Nearly $40 billion.

We've heard the controversy surrounding the food stamp program. Now, another politician is taking the challenge to see what it's like for other people who rely on it.

Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker is beginning that challenge today. He is vowing to live of $30 in groceries for one week.

Booker joins others like celebrity Mario Batali, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Congressman Robert Brady, just few who have done their own experiments.

For Mayor Booker, it started after a Twitter exchange with a woman who wrote, quote, "Nutrition is not a responsibility of the government."

Joining me now is Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network. She speaks out for those who are less fortunate and lobbies lawmakers on issues of economic justice.

Thank you, Sister, for joining us this morning. SISTER SIMONE CAMPBELLL, EXECUTIVE DIRETOR, NETWORK (via telephone): Glad to be with you, Carol.

COSTELLO: I just wondered what you felt about Mayor Booker's exercise. What do you think? Is he doing the right thing?

CAMPBELL: Well, I think anything that brings attention of ordinary folks to the struggle of people, low-income people in our society. This probably is a step forward.

I think he's going to find it quite challenging because when we were in Milwaukee during a tour, our bus tour, we discovered Billy and his wife and two kids who used food stamps for breakfast and lunch during summertime when the kids aren't in school. And what Billy told me was that having a 14-year-old child, a boy, who is growing and eats everything in sight, the only way they can do it, to try to keep him fed, is then come into the evening to St. Benedict's dining room because Billy's salary is only enough to keep a roof over their head and keep them from being homeless.

So, I think Mayor Booker's trying to bring attention, shine a spotlight on this issue. It's probably a step forward. Politicians too easily just think of the dollars and cents that can be bargained away in the grand bargaining. But all that argument going on in Washington, D.C. where he is illustrating the plight of so many families who are the working poor in our society. It could be a step forward. I hope it is.

COSTELLO: Sister, I'm sure you're well aware that a lot of people in this country think there are too many people on food stamps, you know, more than 15 million. Some people believe that there are plenty of people taking advantage of the system.

How do you respond to them?

CAMPBELL: Well, quite frankly, the Congressional Budget Office, or accounting office that reviews utilization of these programs, found that the food stamp program was most effective program because they do an amazing amount. One, of screening. But two, because it's all done through electronic benefits now, they can really track how it's being used. So, there's a great level of accountability.

The real plight in our society is the fact that there are so many hungry people. People don't realize if you work for minimum wage, there's not enough money to go around. And so, food stamps becomes a subsidy for your salary that isn't enough.

And I like to say that employers are benefiting as well as the employees who use food stamps, because the employers then pay lower wages and can make more of a profit or keep their business going while they have workers. We really missing this as a society that these programs are integrate and we really need to be responsible.

COSTELLO: Sister, I think many people are probably listening to you and saying -- but still, Sister, too many people rely on the government. And the government can't keep paying out the government assistance it needs to pay out to help these people forever. There has to be some other solution out there.

In your mind, what is it?

CAMPBELL: Oh, there are solutions. One, we can raise minimum wage to make sure everybody working is not living in poverty. Two, what we can do is help folks get into the job market, keep growing this economy.

But the fact that our people in the richest nation on Earth are hungry -- yes, it is disturbing. It's not disturbing because people are hungry -- I mean because people are using food to feed themselves. It's that they're hungry.

Let's get systemic changes and move forward to grow the economy so people make more money in their jobs. I mean, that's where we need to go.

COSTELLO: Sister Simone, thank you for being with us this morning. Appreciate it.

CAMPBELL: Thank you. Appreciate it.

COSTELLO: Still ahead, one-on-one with the woman who brought you "The Hurt Locker" on the greatest manhunt ever.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where was the last time you saw bin Laden?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God, is that what I think it is?


COSTELLO: "Zero Dark Thirty", next.


COSTELLO: Just about 45 minutes past the hour.

If you like "The Hurt Locker", get ready for "Zero Dark Thirty."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're sending billions of dollars. We are still no closer to defeating our enemy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Twenty detainees recognize that photo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No birth certificate, no cell phone. The guy is a ghost.


COSTELLO: Film critics are calling it a stark portrayal of the grueling hunt for Osama bin Laden and the raid that eventually killed him. The movie opens in limited release on December 19th. And the controversy surrounding it certainly is helping to create buzz.

A.J. Hammer joins us now from New York.

Kathryn Bigelow, she made "The Hurt Locker." Actually I've heard this movie is supposed to be terrific.

A.J. HAMMER, HLN HOST, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT": That it is, from everybody I've spoken with who's seen it. It's gotten some good critical acclaim. And they're just excited to get this movie out there at this point. There's been so much speculation, Carol, about the film and whether or not it was actually going to be some sort of pro Obama movie.

But Bigelow and star Jessica Chastain both say they're happy to let this movie just be judged on its own merits. Watch what they told us.


KATHRYN BIGELOW, DIRECTOR: It's definitely nice to have the film out there. Because I think it's been so kind of debated, kind of -- you know, obviously a bit of a -- there's some bit of controversy that has surrounded it. And I think it's nice because now the film can speak for itself, and I certainly have a feeling that a lot of those debates will transition to something, you know, slightly less controversial.

JESSICA CHASTAIN, ACTRESS: So I find it really interesting. A lot of people had ideas of what this movie was before it came out. I think a lot of people were afraid it was going to be a propaganda film and they all thought they knew what the story was. It's actually not at all.


HAMMER: Yes Carol, so as it turns out, there are only brief shots and mentions of the President in the film. Because the story really centers on the CIA operatives who were trying to fight terrorism and find bin Laden. Bigelow calls it a search for a very, very sharp needle in a very, very large haystack.

And by the way Chastain's performance, playing the CIA operative who is really ruthlessly determined to track down bin Laden it is impressive. Now controversy Carol may shift to how some of the scenes were shot, the CIA operatives are using Abu Ghraib style tactics trying to break down detainees.

COSTELLO: Interesting, I can't wait to see it. A.J. thanks so much.

HAMMER: You got it.

COSTELLO: Next hour A.J. will be back and review the New York Film Critic Circle Awards, are those films now Oscar favorites? We're back in a moment.


COSTELLO: Fifty minutes past the hour. Time to check our "Top Stories".

"The Wall Street Journal" reports the United States has stepped up its spying of an Iranian nuclear reactor, the move coming after Iran discharged fuel rods from the reactor in October. U.S. drones are involved in that surveillance.

You knew this would happen, flights around the holidays are getting more expensive. Priceline says the average holiday airfare will cost $469. That's an increase of four percent over last year, but you can find cheaper fares if you're willing to fly on Christmas day and on New Year's Eve.

Britain now begins a royal baby watch. But the more immediate concern for Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, is her health. Many remember her as Kate Middleton. She'll be in the hospital for a few days dealing with an acute case of morning sickness. I still know her as Kate Middleton.

And could you imagine Black Friday lines to get your child into a school. This was last Friday outside a school in Greenville, County South Carolina. Parents nearly trampling each other to be first in line. One parents was injured, the parents then camped out for three days before they could actually register their child for this school.

Is Cory Booker's food stamp challenge helpful or a pointless exercise? Your responses to our "Talk Back" question today.


COSTELLO: All right. Talk back question this morning. Is Cory Booker's food stamp challenge helpful for just a pointless exercise?

This from Joseph. "It's a gimmick to get national attention. Isn't it obvious?"

This from Tyler. "Sure it's a gimmick, a gimmick with a very valid point. You only hear about poor people. You rarely get a chance to understand their desperation."

This from Stephen, "He should instead focus on things that can realistically be done to get off food stamps. Show that it's not beneath someone to work at McDonald's or Macy's to get back on their feet."

This from Sara, "It's not about telling us something, it's about continually raising awareness and not letting the plight of those suffering get lost."

And this from Leslie, "He may be doing it for the right reason, but I know elderly people that live like this for years. I don't see what one week will prove. Now, six months, that's a different story."

Keep the conversation going. I'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COSTELLO: RG3 is so good that even when he makes a mistake his team scores, at least they did on one play from Monday night football. The Redskins rookie quarterback, you're going to see him just in a minute, he fakes to the back and then he rolls out against the giants, and then he's tackled.

He's going down, the ball pops loose. Then Redskins receiver, Joshua Morgan grabs it and he takes it in for a touchdown. Afterwards the players joked that it was all planned. Washington went on to beat New York 17-16. Now trails the Giants by a game in the NFC East.

You won't see Alex Rodriguez taking grounders in spring training. The Yankees say A-Rod will have surgery next month on his left hip. He's expected to be out four to six months. As you well know, A-Rod turns 38 next year and is currently owed $114 million through the 2017 season. A-Rod's surgery will be similar to one he had on his other hip.

And hockey fans get thrown out for throwing stuff on the ice but not at the Calgary hit men's annual teddy bear toss game. When they score their first goal, fans tossed out stuff -- look at that -- they tossed out more than 21,000 teddy bears onto the ice. It took 45 minutes to pick all that stuff up. The stuffed animals were given to needy kids with the players helping to hand to them out. That's awesome.

And that's a look at sports this morning.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

Stories we're watching right now in the NEWSROOM.

Drone debate -- Iran says it has another U.S. unmanned aircraft and it says "We shall trample on the United States."

She was shot and killed by an NFL player before he turned the gun on himself.