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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

North Korea Launches Long Range Rocket; Court Hearing In Etan Patz Case; Alabama Men Face Terror Charges; Pope's First Tweet; Republican To Democrat; "Then And Now"; Lieberman's Farewell; Competing Comet Light Shows; Super Secret Mini Shuttle Launches

Aired December 12, 2012 - 07:30   ET

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


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SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. Our team this morning, Deepak Chopra is back. He is the author of a new book. It's called "Superbrain." Thank you for writing a book about my brain.

"Superbrain," unleashing the explosive power of your mind, I'm kidding, relax, to maximize health, happiness and spiritual well- being. We're going to talk more about your book tomorrow, but we're happy to have you on our panel today.

Margaret Hoover is with us. She is a CNN contributor, former White House appointee in the Bush administration and Ryan Lizza is a Washington correspondent for the "New Yorker." It's nice to have all of you with us this morning.

Closely watching developments in East Asia, and a bold move that's unnerving lots of neighbors, the North Korea launched a long-range rocket, lifted a satellite into orbit. It appears it went off without a hitch.

The U.S. blasting the move, so to speak, calling it provocative. CNN's Paula Hancocks has live reaction in Seoul, South Korea today. Paula, good morning.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Soledad. Well, as you say, the U.S. has blasted this move. But we have actually counterblast from North Korea, blasting the international condemnation.

The KCNA state-run media has got a quote from the Foreign Ministry in North Korea and they have said that, quote, "Hostile forces are showing signs of a sinister bid to take issue with the launch for peaceful purposes."

Now, Pyongyang has insisted that this is for peaceful purposes. It wants to put a working satellite into orbit. They claim that they have achieved that, but of course, other countries including the U.S. believe it's a cover for testing long-range missile technology.

Now the U.S. has actually been singled out for harsh criticism from the North Koreans, saying that the U.S. overreacted to the satellite launch back in April. Remember that that was one that actually failed. They say that they overreacted and added to hostile feelings.

So you can see that the international condemnation before the launch did nothing to stop the North Koreans from carrying out this launch anyway and even the condemnation after the launch is being dismissed by Pyongyang. Kim Jung-Un's regime is determined to celebrate what they have done today, because they see it as a success -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: It seems, Paula, like everybody was surprised, which may be behind sort of the aggressive condemnation. It seems like the neighbors and the United States surprised by this launch.

It looks like we've lost our audio connection with Paula Hancocks. We'll get that question to her, though, because I think that is a bit of a shock in this story, is that after a launch that failed not long ago. And they talked about postponing a launch. They then pulled off a launch that was successful.

JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": Just two days ago, we were talking about major technical delays there. They thought it might never happen and then wake up this morning and something in orbit.

O'BRIEN: A little bit of a shock to everybody. Other stories making news this morning, John has an update for us.

BERMAN: All right, thanks, Soledad. An arraignment is set today here in New York City for Pedro Hernandez. He is charged with the murder of Etan Patz, the first missing child, of course, to appear on a milk carton.

The 6-year-old child disappeared from near his Manhattan home in 1979 while on his way to school. Patz body has never been found. Hernandez is expected to plead not guilty.

Two Alabama men are charged with plotting and providing material support for a terrorist attack in West Africa. Mohamed Abdul Rakman Abu Daer and Randy Wilson, both 25, were arrested in Georgia. Both are U.S. citizens.

Wilson was arrested as he was about to board a flight to Morocco. Abu Daer was arrested at a bus terminal. They were allegedly going to meet up in Casa Blanca then wage violent Jihad somewhere near Mauritania.

Pope Benedict XVI is tweeting. He sent this, his first tweet a short time ago. Quote "Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart."

O'BRIEN: Did he write heart or did he do a little symbol for heart?

BERMAN: Hashtag on the pope -- the guy sent three tweets and has 700,000 followers.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: He's got 120,000 right now.

BERMAN: He has sent several tweets out this morning. His Twitter handle, by the way, if you want to be one of these followers is @pontifex, which means bridge builder in Latin, 720,000 followers so far and counting.

O'BRIEN: Apparently I think the three --

BERMAN: There was video of him doing it. There was one tweet that was written. He actually hit the send button. So he's involved with tweeting himself.

O'BRIEN: He will have to tighten it up, make it a little more interesting.

BERMAN: It's hard. He'll get into it.

O'BRIEN: His pictures, Instagram.

BERMAN: We do have one more story here that we want to get to because it's a favorite of Soledad's. It's about the hit reality show "Storage Wars." The question, is "Storage Wars" real or fake?

According to Radar Online, former star Dave Hester is suing the A & E! Network, claiming the network fired him in retaliation after he complained about stuffing lockers with valuable things to make the show more exciting.

O'BRIEN: A reality show that's not real? What?

BERMAN: It's shocking. Say it isn't so. The show rigged the bidding and paid for a female cast member's plastic surgery to ad sex appeal. A&E has no comments on this. All I can say, if you can't believe in reality shows what can you believe?

HOOVER: There is no Santa Claus.

O'BRIEN: Can't believe in "Storage Wars."

BERMAN: Yes, the news you definitely can believe in.

DEEPAK CHOPRA, AUTHOR, "SUPERBRAIN": You know, I have watched news in the Middle East and Al Jazeera and BBC, the Indian news. Everybody has a different news story about the same story, different interpretations.

O'BRIEN: What is the truth? Interesting, but this guy says it isn't "Storage Wars."

Let's talk about Charlie Crist, shall we? A former staunch Republican changing sides. He says he didn't leave the party, the party left him behind. He was one of the most prominent Republican in his party, served as governor state of Florida, but ran for Senate as an independent.

And then he spoke at this summer's DNC, Democratic National Convention. Here is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHARLIE CRIST, FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Half a century ago, Ronald Reagan's, whose optimism was inspiring to me to enter politics. He famously said he did not leave the Democratic Party, but the party left him. Listen, I can relate. I didn't leave the Republican Party, it left me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Well, last Friday, Crist officially became a Democrat. He joins us this morning from the state of Florida. It's nice to have you with us, sir. Thanks for joining us.

CRIST: Thank you, Soledad. Good to be with you.

O'BRIEN: Thank you. Appreciate that. You tweeted out pictures after you officially swapped parties, holding the paperwork, the official paperwork, which makes you a Democrat now. So 2006, you ran as a Republican for governor, 2011, by then you are an independent and 2012, you're a Democrat. Why did you feel the need for all of these swapping?

CRIST: I just felt the need to go full circle. Really it's where I feel a lot more comfortable to be perfectly honest with you. I was proud to be a Republican, the party of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt who started the national parks system.

But it seems to me today that the leadership of the Republican Party has become a lot more rigid, a lot more challenging. When you look at issues, Soledad, like immigration, they talk about deportation. When you talk about education, they defund it.

When you talk about voter suppression, they deny voting to people, and I just can't embrace that anymore and be true to myself.

O'BRIEN: Let me read some of your own quotes back to you. It's hard to be more conservative than I am on the issues. This is back on 2009. I'm pro-life. I'm pro-gun. I'm pro-family, I'm anti-tax. Are you saying that you've changed on those four specific things?

CRIST: No, I'm not saying that at all. I'm pro life, but I don't believe in imposing my will on other people. I believe people should support and protect the second amendment. I believe raising taxes isn't something anybody really wants to do.

Certainly, I never wanted to do it either as a legislator or as governor. You know, I believe in public safety. I believe in protecting the environment. I live in Florida. It's the most beautiful state in the country in my humble opinion.

You know, these things are what I have always believed in, education, ethics, the environment, protecting the economy, and fighting for people.

O'BRIEN: Let's focus on tax for a moment because as you know, in this fiscal cliff debate, tax is a big part of that. So where do you stand on that, I mean, if you are anti-tax? CRIST: Anti-tax, but not, you know, anti-common sense. You know, it's obvious to me that what the president is trying to do is the right thing to do. I mean, you know, sometimes you have to have revenue in order to fill the hole. That's what President Obama is trying to do and I think he's right on the mark.

I support what he's doing, but I think we have to watch our spending too. I mean, common sense is really what I think Americans want and what they believe in. It's what I believe in.

And I think that when you apply common sense to any of these issues, we can have common ground and we can move forward as a nation, do what's right and have a better future for all of us.

HOOVER: Governor Crist, good morning. Margaret Hoover here. You know, what you are saying sounds great, but there are Republicans who would say this sounds a lot like political opportunism at the expense of principle.

That you became an independent when you aren't going to get the nomination for Senate against Marco Rubio and now you're becoming a Democrat because there is no political future for you in Florida as anything else. What do you say back to them?

CRIST: Well, there are a lot of cynics in politics, Margaret. I think we all recognize that. That's unfortunate. But, you know, in order to be true to myself, I have to do what I think is right for my heart. And what's right for me is to pursue the things I believe in.

The values that my mother and father and the principles that my mother and father taught me. You know, I'm the grandson of a Greek immigrant who came to this country with nothing.

America gave him a chance, an opportunity. This is a place where if you work hard, if you live by the rules, if you do what's right and be true to yourself, you know, the label is not so important. It's your values and your principles that are really --

HOOVER: Could I just follow up --

CRIST: I didn't mean to interrupt you, I'm sorry.

HOOVER: No, it's OK. Your principles would suggest have changed quite a bit. Remember, you were not in favor -- you are in favor of merit pay until you needed to not be in favor of it. You've changed on multiple positions and it seems as though that is political opportunism rather than the party having left you.

CRIST: With all due respect --

CHOPRA: Isn't it OK to change positions sometimes?

HOOVER: Sometimes it is OK. We see this all the time, but with Governor Crist, Republicans would suggest we have seen not a natural revolution, but one that is sheer, political calculations.

CHOPRA: A lot of what he said made sense to me, common sense actually.

CRIST: Thank you. Thank you. Well, that's from a superbrain.

O'BRIEN: Yes, he's not writing about me. Why would a voter who supported you in 2006, when you were elected governor, why is that voter still with you? Because you have, as you say, you come full circle, which is another way of saying you've changed a lot on a lot of positions. So what makes that voter who originally stuck with you as governor want to still be with you as you head into your career as a Democrat?

CRIST: Well, when I say I've come full circle what I mean by that is Republicans independent to Democrats. Not really an ideological shift to be honest with you. When I ran for governor in 2006, for example, I was in a tough Republican primary, and you know, issues come up about different social issues.

How do you feel about these things, what do you think is important? I said, you know what, whether it's gay issues or it's the abortion issue, my feeling, live and let live. That's how my mother and father raised me and my three sisters.

I presented that in a Republican primary, a very conservative primary and I got elected by about 30 percent in that primary. So I'm still being true to what I said, you know, back in 2006. I've just changed the label because frankly, what I said at the convention is true.

The Republican Party left me. Even Jeb Bush has said that Ronald Reagan would have a tough time today in today's Republican Party. Having said that I want to stress the fact that I don't think all Republicans are that strident or that hard right.

My mom and dad, for example, are still Republican, and I love them dearly and they are compassionate, kind, caring people and I think a lot of Republicans are and probably were frustrated like I am. I made a personal choice to become a Democrat because it's really where I'm much more comfortable.

O'BRIEN: And now it's official. Charlie Crist, the former Florida governor joining us this morning. It's nice to have you with us, sir. We appreciate your time.

CRIST: Soledad, I want to wish my wife a happy anniversary. Today is our fourth anniversary, 12/12/12.

O'BRIEN: Happy anniversary. You've done it here live on our show. I like that. Thanks, appreciate that, sir.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, famed photographer Steve Schapiro has photographed Mohammad Ali, Andy Warhol, Barbara Streisand, hundreds and hundreds of other people, some of the incredible iconic images from his new book. We'll share with you straight ahead.

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O'BRIEN: Over his five decade career, photographer Steve Schapiro likes to say he's photographed everything from presidents to poodles. He's also the guy behind classic photos of rock stars, film stars, politicians and documentary images of migrant workers and the Selma march with Martin Luther King.

He's got a new book out. It's called "Then And Now" and it compiles some of the most iconic images with some never before published photos as well. It's nice to have you with us.

STEVE SCHAPIRO, AUTHOR, "THEN AND NOW": Thank you.

O'BRIEN: It's called "Then and Now." And I notice this is a real theme of juxtaposition. Not only then and now time wise, but also just sort of the images you take. I want to start with the first one, which I thought was kind of jarring.

It's two little girls, which I think is in the Selma march in Alabama, in 1965, juxtaposed with two little girls in Chicago at American Girl Place. Why is something like this so interesting to you because you've set them up on the page that way?

SCHAPIRO: Because it's two different styles in America. It's two different areas of America, and always interested me to capture all of the different elements that make up our country.

The two girls are watching the Selma March, come into Montgomery, Alabama, and the little girls just bought these dolls at an expensive store in Chicago. It's just -- it's a different look at things.

O'BRIEN: You like to do class structure, and I think especially in Hollywood, which really does have its own class structure. Marlon Brando, one of the rare picture, I mean, the man is never smiling at any picture ever except the pictures you've taken of him. Here is a picture when he was playing --

SCHAPIRO: When I photographed "The Godfather" I actually did a book called "The Godfather Family Album," which composed all of the elements of the "Godfather" films and Brando let me photograph his makeup session. It was a serious session, changing a 47-year-old man into Don Coleone and in the middle of it he gave just me this wonderful look, which luckily I caught.

O'BRIEN: You have a great picture of Dustin Hoffman and he is jumping in the hallway.

SCHAPIRO: He is a delight on and off camera. He just has such spirit and you know, such wonderful feeling, and humor all the time. He's a really wonderful person. This was just a moment after they had been filming and it just was a spontaneous event.

O'BRIEN: When you're sort of over the top in these Hollywood glitz and glamour and you look at a picture, a stunning picture of the bean pickers. Let's show that picture because it brings you right down in the middle of the book of I guess it was for "Life" magazine.

SCHAPIRO: This was the first story I ever did. I always wanted to be a "Life" magazine photographer, and so one of the things that interested me was the migrant worker situation in America and particularly in terms of children, who went from one camp to another, and never really had a real education.

So I spent four weeks there on my own, photographing and making an essay on that. There's a picture which is not in the book, which is just of a cabin wall in which a child has written "I Love Anybody Who Loves Me."

It really exemplifies that whole feeling there, and you felt where are these kids going to go? How can they really move forward in their lives in a deductive and you know intelligent way.

O'BRIEN: Look at this picture of Barbara Streisand. It is stunning. Do you love the Hollywood stars or do you prefer the people whose lives and existence is a real insight into sort of the American class struggle?

SCHAPIRO: I think everything makes up our country in a way and our interests vary very much in terms of political things, documentary things and also we love movie stars. I work for "Life" magazine and other major magazines and when they folded I saw the country was going gaga for celebrities.

I went to California and started working much more on films. Basically, there's no difference for a photographer. You're looking for emotion, you're looking for that spirit of a person, and the only difference in terms of a real life or documentary situation you don't always know what will happen next. In terms of movies, if you read the script you have a general idea.

CHOPRA: A picture is worth a thousand words, that's the expression, he's telling stories.

O'BRIEN: And the book is spectacular. It's called "Then and Now." Steve Schapiro, nice to have you with us.

SCHAPIRO: Thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: Appreciate it. We've got to take a short break. We're back in just a moment.

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BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. Senator Joe Lieberman kicking off his farewell tour with a farewell address on the Senate floor this afternoon. Lieberman is retiring from the Senate next month after 24 years of service. After this, he plans to visit diners across Connecticut in the coming weeks to thank voters.

NASA says a new meteor shower could make an appearance this week at the same time that the Gemenid meteor shower seeing here is lighting up the sky. The new meteors come from a debris field that has never crossed paths with our planet before.

Also in space, the Air Force sending a super secret mini shuttle back to space with a spectacular launch from Cape Canaveral. The military is keeping quiet about where it's headed. What it's doing and what it's carrying. In fact, you know, this launch they cut off the launch commentary 17 minutes into flight. So you couldn't hear what they were talking about anymore.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, North Korea defying the world launching a long range rocket despite the threat of sanctions. We'll tell you why the U.S. was apparently caught off guard.

And what would you do if you're a black lady with short hair and someone writes this on your Facebook page at the station where you work, "the black lady that does the news is nice, but is she a cancer patient? She needs a wig or to grow more hair."

She writes back a lovely response that says "Have a great weekend, thanks for watching" and gets fired. We'll have Rhonda Lee's story straight ahead. We're back in just a moment.

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