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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Syrian Regime Fires Scud Missiles; Cause Of Death Revealed; Senate Intern An Undocumented Immigrant; Justin Bieber Targeted; Google Maps Is Back; No Deal As Fiscal Cliff Draws Near; Jerry Brown Treated For Prostate Cancer; Police: Woman Had Cocaine Breast Implants; Fiscal Cliff Frustration

Aired December 13, 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: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. A military assault in Syria. The latest bid by the Assad regime to up the ante in this long and violent civil war. U.S. intelligence now confirming that Syria launched four short-range scud missiles from the region around Damascus into northern Syria presumably they were targeting rebels trying to overthrow the regime.

Our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty is up at the State Department for us this morning. So Jill, what's the very latest about this?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Soledad, number one, these scuds are significant because it's really upping the ante. One of the reasons it's very important is because this is a sign that now the rebels, the opposition forces, really are gaining territory.

They are strengthening and using a weapon like this, which is a very powerful weapon, is a sign that they have to fight back. The regime of Bashir Al-Assad has to fight back with what they've got and now they're using scuds.

Interestingly, they went north in the direction of Turkey. Remember, we've been paying a lot of attention to that because NATO decided, proved just last week to send in patriot anti-missile systems into Turkey to protect them from any possible attack from Syria.

So that is a good step. It will take a while for them to get there, but that is a good step. And finally, you know, I was talking to one expert who was mentioning that the scuds can be equipped with chemical weapons.

They are not doing that at this point, but that has been a concern. What would the Syrian government do with its chemical weapons so there's a lot of concern here certainly -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: What other weapons in addition to the scuds has the regime been using?

DOUGHERTY: You know, when we had the briefing yesterday here at the State Department, they were mentioning a number of them. One of the most disturbing is what are called barrel bombs. And those are incendiary devices.

They create flame, fire. They're very disturbing in the sense that the injuries that they create are terrible. People are burned sometimes right down to the bone.

And don't forget in areas like this there are very few hospitals. Medical care is failing. So it's extremely disturbing to hear that for the civilians on the ground.

O'BRIEN: My goodness, all right, Jill Dougherty, updating us on that. Thank you, Jill. Appreciate it.

John Berman has a look at some of the other stories making news this morning.

JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": Thanks, Soledad. New this morning, autopsy results reveal the British nurse Jacintha Saldanha was found hanging by the neck with a scarf at her hospital living quarters. Wrist injuries were also reported.

This happened three days after Saldanha was fooled by Australian deejays posing as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles. A coroner's inquiry is now under way in London. Testimony here today indicates that Saldanha left behind several suicide notes.

A little bit of an embarrassing situation for Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey. Federal immigration officials have arrested an intern who worked for a few months in the Democrat's office.

They say the young man is an undocumented immigrant from Peru and he is also a registered sex offender. He remains in custody facing deportation. The senator's office said the senator did not know this man.

Two New Mexico men have reportedly been arrested in a bizarre murder- for-hire plot. Police say one of their targets was Justin Bieber. KRQE TV in Albuquerque says 41-year-old Mark Stayke and his 23-year- old nephew, Tanner Ruane were allegedly plotting to kidnap and kill four people.

Including two witnesses to a crime committed by a murder convict who knew Stacy in prison and also they were planning to kill Bieber and his bodyguard, bizarre.

Finally, our long navigational nightmare is over. Google Maps is back and possibly better than ever. The app is now available to download with turn-by-turn navigation, subway, bus and walking directions are also back, along with street view and much, much more.

If you remember, Apple replaced Google Maps with its own version of a mapping app. The new software slammed by users for warped 3D graphics and misplacing landmarks. Some cities were like 70 miles away from their actual location.

O'BRIEN: And you think that's far?

BERMAN: The Google Maps app that's out today is getting great reviews.

O'BRIEN: Thank God.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It sounds like Google is the only map application out there.

O'BRIEN: There's nothing worse --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's OK to be lost.

MARTIN: No. Use Map Quest and Telenav.

O'BRIEN: Do you mean that spiritually lost? Emotionally lost or literally just lost?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think unpredictability, uncertainties.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Speaking directly to Roland.

MARTIN: No, we know you're lost. We'll have him lay hands on you. Don't worry about it.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT heading overseas to bring jobs and business to the United States. Delaware's governor will join us live. He's in South Korea this morning, to talk about how he is courting Asia to come and do work on our shores.

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O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Just 19 days and counting until we officially go over the fiscal cliff. The last conversation between the speaker, John Boehner and President Obama was described as tense, which doesn't make us feel so good about going into day 18 tomorrow.

We want to talk this morning with the Democratic governor of Delaware, Jack Markell. He is a frequent guest on our show. Right now, he's in the middle of a trip in Seoul, South Korea. We'll talk about why he is there in just a moment.

First though, we want to start with the fiscal cliff. How close do you think we are to negotiations? I mean, it's getting a little bit ridiculous almost.

We start looking at whether people are talking, not making any press statements, how their press releases look and whether they're meeting at all and how the vibe is in the capitol. All of these things are silly to look at, but that's kind of what we have at this point.

GOVERNOR JACK MARKELL (D), DELAWARE: Good morning, Soledad. Thanks for having me on. Obviously, it's hard to know. I had a chance last week along with a number of other governors, Democrats and Republicans, to meet with the president and separately with Speaker Boehner and then separately with Leader Reid to talk about the fiscal cliff from the perspective of governors.

And we were very grateful they gave us an opportunity, they invited us to have a seat at the table as they are considering different options. But one of the things I've seen certainly since I'm in Asia as well as back home is when you talk to business leaders they're really looking for some certainty here.

That's the key issue because we're not going to see investments until they know what it's all going to look like.

O'BRIEN: Interesting. So you're in South Korea, you've just come in from Japan. What has been reaction to that rocket launch from the North Koreans?

MARKELL: The amazing thing here in South Korea is that even with the rocket launch, folks here are working, they're building. They're thriving. They're focused and they're building their economy.

There's actually been relatively little conversation and don't seem all that worried. I think they believe the foreigners that are here are a lot more worried than they are.

They're going about their business, and their business is building the country, building the economy. It's been very impressive to see what I've seen.

MARTIN: Governor, Roland Martin here. I'm curious. You're trying to bring business from South Korea to your state. What kind of business, though? How are you pairing those two up in terms of what your state is good at? South Korea might say, it might be a good idea for us to go?

MARKELL: When I was in the business world, I spent a lot of time visiting customers. Now that I'm governor, I still spend time visiting customers. Some of those customers are right in Delaware, but some of them are in other countries.

We have businesses in Delaware that are based all over the world, including Japan, including South Korea, and so my visit here is in large part talking to people who are in our state, making sure they know that we're committed to their success, that we understand their industry.

That we understand their companies, and that's a conversation that we have all the time. No matter where I visit businesses, I ask one question, which is how can we facilitate your success because these days when we facilitate the success of companies in our states they're more likely to hire.

And so that's really the conversation we're having here and really it crosses a range of industries.

DEEPAK CHOPRA, AUTHOR, "SUPERBRAIN": Governor, most of the jobs that are outsourced are either for manufacturing or for services. So what are the strengths in manufacturing and services that your state offers? MARKELL: What most businesses are looking for and again it's across a range of industries, it could be manufacturing, it could be services, businesses are looking to be in an environment where are there are really good schools, a great workforce, reasonable cost of doing business and a very responsive government.

And so that's what we offer across the board, across manufacturing services and the like. These days we spend a lot of time focused on workforce development because we know that companies have more choices than they have ever had before.

One of the most important things to look for is where can they get access to a skilled workforce. We have that in Delaware, we're fortunate. Of course, one of the great benefits these days is the falling price of natural gas across the country.

Means that businesses who previously may not have looked to do something in the United States, they're looking once again at the U.S. because the cost of doing business, thanks to energy costs, is coming down.

O'BRIEN: Governor Jack Markell joining us this morning. He is a Democrat from the state of Delaware. It's nice to have you with us, sir. We appreciate it. We had a few little audio glitches while you were talking so our apologies for that.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, you know, when the show you're watching goes to commercial, all of a sudden things get so much louder, have you noticed that?

People complain about that all the time. Well, now the government is going to step in and fix this problem. It's about time. We'll talk about that straight ahead.

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BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT everyone. California Governor Jerry Brown is being treated for prostate cancer, but doctors say they cause this very, very early. His prognosis is excellent. Brown is 74 years old.

Smuggling taken to the extreme, a woman lands in Barcelona on a flight from Colombia. The story she tells security doesn't really sound right then strange, strange signs, bandages and blood under her breasts. Police say doctors extracted these bags from her breasts containing a total of three pounds of cocaine. She is now in jail.

So good news, say goodbye to excessively loud television commercials, the FCC is barring them starting today. It says ads must maintain the same average volume as the shows they sponsor. I think this is great news. I used to think I was crazy because the volume kept on going up in the commercials. What's wrong with me?

CHOPRA: This should go for Bill O'Reilly then.

CAIN: Deepak Chopra over there. O'BRIEN: That is such a sad story, about the woman coming in from Bogota. She's clearly the mule, right? What lengths drug traffickers will go to, to take a woman's body, cut it open and implant drugs into her hoping she'll get through security?

MARTIN: You see examples with their family threatened.

O'BRIEN: My God, my goodness. Let's continue to talk about the fiscal cliff this morning because negotiations we know are stalled, and there's a new poll from NBC News/"The Wall Street Journal," 67 percent of Americans said they would accept a compromise on one or both of the biggest sticking points, which is increased taxes, cuts in federal spending.

Republican leaders say government overspending is the root of our economic problems. Our next guest says that a collaboration between government and private industry is exactly what would move the nation forward.

William Janeway has got a new book that's called "Doing Capitalism In The Innovation Economy" and it's ranked among 2012's best books by the "Financial Times." It's nice to talk with you this morning. Certainly appreciate it. You know, people talk about an innovation economy. What does that mean?

WILLIAM JANEWAY, AUTHOR, "DOING CAPITALISM IN THE INNOVATION ECONOMY: I mean, the processes by which through trial and error we discover new technologies, research is applied, and then the stuff that really matters is built out into the kind of networks from the canals to the railroads to the highway system.

The electricity grid and the internet that transform the market economy and then finally there's a process again, trial and error, of exploring what this new stuff is good for. The point is that this innovation economy cuts against the notion that efficiency is the virtue of markets.

O'BRIEN: So Republicans are saying listen, you don't need to cut taxes. In fact, people need to have as much money as they can privately because they want to invest it back in and that will be good for the economy.

The Democrats say you want to grow from the middle and actually not cut spending because that's a problem for the people in the middle so what is the right, what grows the economy? Who is right on this argument?

JANEWAY: What you need are sources of funding that are not focused on a narrow calculation of economic return, of short term financial return. The U.S. government, when it has had politically legitimate missions, going from national development, subsidizing the railroad construction to the Defense Department laying the foundations for the digital economy.

The government has played a fundamental, necessary role that no other source could play in building the kind of platform that entrepreneurs and venture capitalists can dance on. That's what's missing now. We're stalled.

O'BRIEN: Why has the stimulus been a problem? People argued there was not enough money in the stimulus, the stimulus hasn't worked in a lot of ways the stimulus would work, not as bad as some who say the stimulus has not done anything. With the new FDR, it hadn't done that. What was the problem?

JANEWAY: Two different issues, one it wasn't big enough and the data from people like Christy Roemer is very clear. Second, it did put a floor under what was a collapsing economy. The second part of it was that some of the targets of it I don't think were very well thought through.

The alternative energy loan guarantees, mistake, it was taking over a Bush program and expanding it. The way the Defense Department pulled the semiconductor and software industries along was being a creative customer.

CAIN: I'm going to grant you your premise, innovation is done through trial and error and error and error. All of the examples of government forcing that forward are happy accidents are they not. The way private industry used it was the happy accident.

The stimulus didn't work as Soledad's question to you is, because it is for the purpose of innovation. That does exactly the opposite of what you want. That narrows trial and error to just the one the intellectual elites want to see.

JANEWAY: We're not disagreeing. I'm saying that the only time the government has had the scale and the mass and the momentum to create that opportunity for private industry is when it's had a politically legitimate mission.

CAIN: So we can't ask government now to say what is the industry of tomorrow. We can't ask them to do that. They have to have legitimate goals and have happy accents built off of that.

JANEWAY: It's the low carbon industries, but you've got people who are absolutely rejecting any role for government. My question to you is did they reject the role for government in responding to climate change because they're skeptical about the science or are they skeptical about the science because accepting it would legitimize an active role for the government?

CAIN: I'm sorry. I'll grant you the problem, fine. Say we want to find some solution to expanding carbon, but I think you've narrowed the field to what government elects to invest in. You have crowded out this natural chaos of capitalism.

JANEWAY: No reason you have to do that. Back in the '60s the Defense Department said if you can deliver a silicon that will do "x" we'll buy it, we don't care whether you're IBM or a bunch of engineers down in Houston, Texas, working for Texas Instruments.

Today the government would say you give us a battery with this kind of energy density or solar cell with this degree of efficiency, and we'll buy it, whether it comes from General Electric or three guys in the garage and we'll pull you down the learning curve. We'll pull you down.

O'BRIEN: Obviously --

CHOPRA: The United States is still the creator innovations, all of the innovations have come from here the last 20 years?

JANEWAY: I think the United States remains a continuing leader at the frontier of innovation, but there are others that are catching up.

O'BRIEN: The book is called "Doing Capitalism In The Innovation Economy." Bill Janeway, nice to have you. We'd love to have you back because anybody who likes to throw it down with our friend, Will Cain --

JANEWAY: I look forward to it.

O'BRIEN: It's done and done. You heard him say yes. We have to take a break. Still ahead this morning, we'll be talking about North Korea launching that satellite into orbit. We're hearing there are problems, they may have lost control.

Genetic testing on your baby, is it a smart cautionary move or a dangerous slippery slope. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back right after this.

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O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, new information on the gunman who went on a rampage in the mall during the holiday season, his downward spiral over the last final days.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hang up on taxes and heading for the cliff, this morning, a warning from the fed chief that stalemate in Washington is already affecting your money.

BERMAN: Would you want to know your baby's future, both good or bad? The debate over genetic testing on infants, are the results still --