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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Hundreds Die in Nightclub Fire in Brazil; Senate Proposes Immigration Reform; Post-Apocalyptic Zombie World

Aired January 28, 2013 - 08:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. Breaking news to start with just into the CNN Newsroom. One of the club owners of Club Kiss, also a band member playing at that club, has been arrested in connection with the Brazil nightclub inferno.

This morning, as we've been reporting, the funerals will begin for some of those that were killed in that horrific fire. Nearly half of the 231 victims were students from the same university. They were all celebrating their last weekend of summer break. When you look at some of the details from this fire, it's really too early. A full investigation hasn't been done. But did they block the doors? Were there exit signs up? The policy of having people pay before they leave, there's word that the doormen wouldn't let people out. They didn't want them to not pay as they were running for their lives.

CHRIS JOHN FARLEY, SENIOR EDITORIAL DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL FEATURES, "WALL STREET JOURNAL: It's so early to figure out what exactly happened here. We have to wait for the investigation to be done. But all we know is unfortunately it's going to happen again unless some steps are taken. It's happened all over the world. It happened in Russia, happened in China, happened in Rhode Island.

CHARLES BLOW, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: What are those steps, though? It's a tricky thing -- it's every parent's nightmare. As an older man, you walk in and say, oh, my god, it's crowded. I'm getting out of here. A kid walks in and says, oh, my god, it's crowded. I'm staying.

O'BRIEN: How did they not notice there were lighted exit signs if that turns out to be the case? Someone should be in charge of a club for 1,000 people cannot hold 2,000 people.

BLOW: It's also not an airplane. They don't come out and say, in case of emergency, the exits are here and here and here and here. Nobody knows where the exits are. Everybody is in there. You're drinking.

O'BRIEN: After the station nightclub fire, before they start a performance, they say, so everybody knows, the exit's there, and the exit's there, and it's over there.

FARLEY: Important to remember, these are students. Students make plans to get into a nightclub, not to go out. People figure out how to sneak in and see their shows and not worry about leaving. And so to put it on them figuring out where the exits are, that's never going to happen.

O'BRIEN: That's not putting it on them.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: The fire marshals have to do their part. You're right. Older people do this. We scan for exits and figure out, wow, this feels like a lot of people. And I think certainly, in Santa Maria --

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Someone might want to think about not lighting a flare on stage.

FARLEY: Pyrotechnics in small rooms.

O'BRIEN: We're also talking this morning about immigration, this sweeping new proposal to reform the nation's immigration system from top to bottom is going to be revealed today. There's a news conference scheduled today at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time. It's from a group of eight, four Democrats, Charles Schumer, Dick Durbin, and Republicans include John McCain and Marco Rubio.

The senators' plan includes these things -- pathway to citizenship provided that the borders are secured, reforming the current system to attract the best and brightest from other countries, creating an effective employment verification system, improving the process for admitting workers in the future. All four of those things could be a huge stumbling block. It comes one day before the president himself announces his own immigration proposal.

We spoke earlier with Congressman Luis Gutierrez, a Democrat from Illinois. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart is a Republican from the state of Florida. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: Congressmen, it's great to have you both with me this morning, appreciate it. Congressman Gutierrez, I'm going to begin with you if I can. You met with the president on Friday. Did he know this was coming? And of that list that we've talked about, points that are likely in this proposal, what do you think is the biggest sticking point?

REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ, (D) ILLINOIS: Well, look, he did know, and the important thing of Friday's meeting, quite honestly, is that the president said he's going to make this his top priority, his number one priority. Just so we have it clear, English is my first language. That's what he said. And I think that that's an exciting development that he's going to make it his top priority. What could be something that might cause us some problems along the way but not anything insurmountable? What's the road to citizenship?

O'BRIEN: You say it's not going to be a problem, but historically that's been a huge sticking point. I see in the proposal they're sort of separate categories for kids brought by their parents, separate category for people working in the food service industry. But that has actually been a very tough challenge in the past. How do you see it working, a proposal that everyone can agree on?

GUTIERREZ: Well, here's what I think. Look, we have my colleague and my friend, Congressman Diaz-Balart. He and I have been talking. We've been working together. I've spoken to all of the senators that are involved in the preparation of this proposal. Look, it's a work in progress. You ask me what a sticking point is, I try to give you my best response. But I think we're going to be able to overcome it because I think there's a real urgency to this matter.

In the end, soled da, they're going to become American citizens one way or another. It's a question of when it's going to be. I'd rather do it at the front end because, from my perspective, I want the undocumented to integrate themselves, to make a commitment, and to have to fulfill all the responsibilities that you and I have to fulfill as American citizens. I think that's what makes our country strong and fair at the same time.

O'BRIEN: So then let's turn to Congressman Diaz-Balart. It's nice to talk to you, sir. Where do you think Republicans will have a hard time with the proposal that has been sort of sketched out and will be presented later?

REP. MARIO DIAZ-BALART, (R) FLORIDA: Look, if this was an easy lift, it would have been done a long time ago. Here's the good news. The good news is, like my friend and colleague said, a number of us have been working on it for years. We've been trying to get through the details. We've been hammering out what has to be fixed. What has to be fixed is rather extensive. Whether it's border security, whether it's internal security, whether it's a process where people can actually come to the United States -- all of it is broken and all of it has to be fixed. It's been a very difficult process.

The good news is there's been so much work done. And I'll tell you, one of the things I'm most proud of is working with my colleagues. We've been able to do it quietly, seriously, not to take credit, but to try to solve this broken problem.

O'BRIEN: This tone of conciliatory nature, I'm not sure I can handle it this early in the morning, gentlemen. Let me ask you another question, Congressman Diaz-Balart. Rhetoric has been a problem. It was Governor Romney that talked about self-deportation, making conditions so bad people would want to leave. It was Michele Bachmann who talked about it could be done, she was referring to dragging parents off a bus and their kids crying. Herman Cain talked about the electrified fence. It was John McCain said this over the weekend about the last election. Listen.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: Look at the last election. Look at the last election. We are losing dramatically the Hispanic vote, which we think should be ours for a variety of reasons, and we've got to understand that.

Second of all, we can't go on forever with 11 million people living in this country in the shadows in an illegal status. We cannot forever have children who were born here, who were brought here by their parents when they were small children to live in the shadows as well.

O'BRIEN: Can this proposal go a way to fixing policy issues, but can it fix those tone issues the GOP has clearly struggled with?

DIAZ-BALART: I mean, that's been a big part of the problem. Look, I will tell you, both parties have used this issue for years as a political weapon. It's where it's really loved the Democrats. It's obviously been disastrous for the Republicans. But Congressman Gutierrez and I and this group of us working for years have been less frankly concerned about the politics. We've been concerned about solving the problem.

What we've never had is the moment, the right moment where everybody has come together and said, you know, it's time for the real work to begin. We think the time -- we thought the time was years ago. We hope that now -- we hope that the president tomorrow will have a conciliatory type of attitude. We've seen the speaker has said he wants to get it done. We've seen the minority leader says they want to get it done.

Here's the good news. A group of us have been ready for years. We've worked out most of the complicated details. The devil is in the details. We've dealt with that devil. Now it's an issue of filing legislation and hopefully get it passed.

O'BRIEN: Congressman Gutierrez, I'm out of time, but I want to ask you a super-fast question. When do you think we have new immigration law? Give me a date.

GUTIERREZ: I think we're going to get it done and get it done real quickly. I'm certainly hopeful we can get it done by the end of the summer.

O'BRIEN: Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, thanks for your time, appreciate it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: Still head this morning on STARTING POINT, tired of all those fees associated with your credit card? Get ready for more. We'll tell you why.

Also, "The Walking Dead's" third season is about to return. We're going to talk to David Morrissey about what to expect. That's ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans. U.S. stock futures are up slight this morning. The Dow is up about 792 points, or more than six percent this year, a huge rally for stocks, but not for Apple. America's most beloved tech stock lost 13 percent just last week. Apple is down 30 percent from it's all time high of $705 a share in September. Toyota has surpassed General Motors as the world's largest automaker. The company today said it sold 9.75 million vehicles last year. The Japanese automaker was helped by sales of heavy duty trucks and buses, a segment that GM has downplayed in the U.S.

Using a credit card, watch out for a new checkout fee. As of Sunday stores in most states can begin charging you a fee when you use plastic. This is the result of a dispute in a settlement between credit card issuers and millions of merchants. As part of that deal retailers have the option of charging customers a surcharge to cover their processing costs. Those costs run 1.5 percent to 3 percent of the purchase price. The fee won't apply to purchases in 10 states, including New York, California, and Texas. It's illegal in those states. And it doesn't apply to debit card purchases. And frankly it's unclear how many retailers are going to go ahead and charge it because retailers are concerned if they try to pass that charge on, it will really make people mad.

O'BRIEN: Haven't you had people pass that charge on to you? I have. If you want to use a credit card, I've got to tell you, I've got to pay, especially with American Express.

ROMANS: Starting Sunday, there's yesterday, a new charge they'll be able to pass on.

O'BRIEN: I guess it depends how much you really want something.

BLOW: We should walk around with a suitcase full of cash.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Cash, what's that?

ROMANS: Gold bullion.

O'BRIEN: It's one of the biggest hits on cable. The third season of "The Walking Dead" is just days away. The show's star David Morrissey is going to join us next with little scoop of the next season, up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone.

We have some heart-pounding video to show you out of Australia. A dangerous wall of fast rising flood waters trapped a young child and two women inside their truck. Now what you're about to see is amazing here. They really have no choice but to stuff the child with them into a waterproof duffel bag that rescuers used to lift the child to safety. You can see it happen right there. Then they lifted the adults out. There have been several reported dead and injured from the severe weather in that region.

O'BRIEN: Could you imagine being a mother who zips her kid into a duffel bag in order to save his life? Holy cow. BERMAN: And they did it so quickly. The presence of mind to do that is just extraordinary.

O'BRIEN: Oh my God wow. That was unbelievable.

BERMAN: We have some new reports out overnight that Chris Brown was involved in another brawl, this time with singer and current Grammy nominee.

FARLEY: This is not real.

BERMAN: Frank Ocean. TMZ says police were called to the scene at Westlake Studio in Los Angeles, where Brown had a run-in with, I guess, Ocean's people. But TMZ says no one was arrested.

O'BRIEN: That's been your rapper update. In other news.

BERMAN: Now for other news, President Obama getting a very special visitor on the night of his inauguration, the Ghost of Dr. Martin Luther King. This happened on "Saturday Night Live." And apparently he was dreaming of Beyonce.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The King, she was there to sing our national anthem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was she though? "Access Hollywood" would beg to differ.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Access Hollywood"?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes they said she was lip synching and I was like and I care why? Hash tag, Jay-Z is one lucky man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So and Beyonce may finally be addressing the lip synching sandal we think on Instagram. She posed for a pic in a sweatshirt with a message, "Can I live?" On it, that's also the title of a Jay-Z song but maybe the whole lip synch was a double entendre for live, live so everyone is trying to interpret what she means there.

O'BRIEN: I'm glad this mystery is going to be resolved, and we're going to get to the bottom of it. I'm not kidding I really --

CAIN: Did you say the Chris Brown fight happened at TMZ?

O'BRIEN: No.

BERMAN: No, no TMZ is reporting. Imagine that like Hollywood scandal streamlining their (INAUDIBLE)

O'BRIEN: Are you really asking for details on the Chris Brown-Frank Ocean brawl. Really? That's what you're asking for details on. Oh my goodness. All right, let's start talking a little bit about "The Walking Dead". I think we're just -- I guess it was 10 million people who watched the premiere of season 3, AMC.

DAVID MORRISSEY, ACTOR: That's right, yes.

O'BRIEN: And then of course you have the second half of the premiere, which is two parts which is in the second week of February. It chronicles a world overrun by zombies and the actor David Morrissey plays the governor. He's kind of a cult-like figure leading some of these survivors to what he all along the way is claiming is a safe and secure location. Here's a little bit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORRISSEY: I'm afraid the terrorists who want what we have, want to destroy us. And worse because one of those terrorists is one of our own.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Wow. The accent is so good. David Morrissey is with us this morning.

MORRISSEY: Not looking my best there, was I? Slightly worse for the wear and I've been through it.

O'BRIEN: Why do you think a show about zombies is so wildly -- and I mean wildly popular?

MORRISSEY: Well, I think it's to do with you know it can focus our imagination to imagine what it's like to be sort of in a place with that type of danger. We like to -- we like to be scared, don't we? I think that's the big thing. But I think it's a bigger show than the zombies. It's about survival, it's about human survival. It's about what we will go through. It's interesting showing that Australian clip about what we will do in times of crisis.

We never know ourselves until we're tested. We like to think of ourselves --

O'BRIEN: You're tested all the time in this show.

MORRISSEY: Yes.

CAIN: I watch "Walking Dead." That's exactly why I watch it. I would suspect some watch it for the many opportunities they have to kill zombies or put themselves in that situation.

O'BRIEN: Yes.

CAIN: But it's essentially "Lord of the Flies." It is essentially what happens if we are forced to start over from scratch. How would you react?

O'BRIEN: So Governor, good or bad? MORRISSEY: Well, we see kind of good or bad to whom? I mean, I think he's -- he's somebody who's really -- I didn't think he's trying to protect his people, but safety comes at a cost. You know and he manipulates his people by always telling them how much -- how dangerous it is out there. If they stay with him, he can protect them, but out there is a dangerous place. And I think leaders -- all leaders have used that manipulation of their populace quite a lot.

FARLEY: But do you think the market is becoming overburdened with zombie movies and features?

MORRISSEY: Oh, I don't watch anybody else's.

O'BRIEN: And neither do we, David.

FARLEY: We've got "World War Z" coming out with "The Running Dead" I guess. I mean, are you worried about that competing with you?

MORRISSEY: I don't watch anybody else out there. I only watch our shows. I don't know, I think you know the proof is in the figures the people are watching us so it works. And I think it's because the zombies aren't front and center of our show. "The Walking Dead" is about the people who are there trying to survive. And I think that's -- that's something that's really ringing a bell with people right now.

O'BRIEN: Is it physically demanding? I mean you look at some of these scenes. So that's you, you don't have stunt double coming in to do that?

MORRISSEY: Yes, it is.

O'BRIEN: So describe how that -- a lot of fighting.

MORRISSEY: Well, it's interesting. You know you get down there. And the heat and the humidity is the big thing. You know, you're working sometimes 14, 16-hour days and it's very hot down there. Even at night time, it can be very, very hot.

BERMAN: It's not the zombies, it's the humidity. That's what I would say.

MORRISSEY: And then there's of course the snakes and the ticks and the bugs and stuff like that. So it's all -- and not to mention --

O'BRIEN: You're a delicate flower.

MORRISSEY: -- not to mention the other cast. But you know it's quite -- it's quite full on. But I love it. I mean, it's a great show to do.

BLOW: Where is it filmed again? You said Georgia.

O'BRIEN: Georgia.

MORRISSEY: Just outside Georgia yes it a way and around a -- UM2: I'm from Louisiana. That's like Canada. We're much hotter than that.

MORRISSEY: Right.

O'BRIEN: So February 10th will be the second half of Season 3. When did they start doing the -- the new seasons but broken up?

MORRISSEY: I don't know about that. I was surprised. Of course, it doesn't affect us. We just film it straight off. So we don't get a break in the middle of it. If only we did, that would be great. By you know we're straight on.

O'BRIEN: You're complaining a lot today.

MORRISSEY: No, no, it's straight on, we go straight to it.

O'BRIEN: It's hot. It's muggy. There are ticks.

MORRISSEY: I love it. It's great. It's what we do.

CAIN: You've got to give us some spoilers. Tell us what we can look forward to.

O'BRIEN: Yes I was going to say.

MORRISSEY: Spoiler I can't do that. They'll lock me in a room with two walkers if I give away anything. I think it's going to -- it carries on in the vein that's been going through. So I mean, you'll see it's a really rocking show. So we'll carry on.

O'BRIEN: Do you read the script? I mean this show kills off a lot of people. And I think also now writers or maybe show runners are much more willing to kill off main characters when years ago right? You never kill off -- the main character was the only one you knew was going to survive. Do you read the script and think let me make sure I'm still in the end of this?

MORRISSEY: Yes you do. I mean you really when you get the script, then that's when you know. It's not -- you don't know beforehand. And I think that adds to the frisson of the show certainly from the viewer's point of view. They know that no one's safe. They can love the characters. They can really bat for them and then suddenly they just don't know whether they're going to be there the next week.

O'BRIEN: Play the scary music. All right. David Morrissey, it's nice to have you.

MORRISSEY: It's a pleasure.

O'BRIEN: The second half of season 3 is on February 10th on AMC. Nice to have you with us. Appreciate it.

MORRISSEY: Great to be here. Thank you.

O'BRIEN: "End Point" is up next, we're back in a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: We end as always with "End Point". Who wants to start? Christopher, why don't you take it for me?

FARLEY: Well, can I reflect what I've learned from this episode?

O'BRIEN: Yes, please. As a Jamaican-American on our air today.

FARLEY: The double interviews are great. I mean seeing Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton together being interviewed, there's a lot of energy there. You can see the interplay. I want to see you perhaps get Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama here together, and you interview them.

O'BRIEN: That would be awesome.

FARLEY: And see how that works out. That's what I want to see.

O'BRIEN: I'm on it, done. Write that down. On it. Charles, what have you got?

BLOW: I can't wait until we can line up the gang of eight's immigration plan against the President's plan. This is an issue we have to deal with. It's all in the details. It's not really the big ticket items, it is the down ticket items.

O'BRIEN: The big ticket items actually haven't changed from generations ago.

BLOW: Yes, you sit down. How do you actually get this done. How do you say, you know, everybody has to register, but they can't work until they've paid all the fines.

O'BRIEN: Details, details, details.

BLOW: All that stuff is where it really works out.

CAIN: The President said that as a father, he's not sure he would let his children, if he had boys, play football. I have to say I have two boys, and I deal with a similar debate. I grew up in football culture, Friday night lights, small town Texas, and I don't know that I'd let my sons play football.

BERMAN: It is a discussion that every parent avoids. It's been having -- I've had that discussion, you know, 15 times with friends of mine about their own sons. It's definitely going on all over the place.

O'BRIEN: I just say no.

BLOW: You say no?

O'BRIEN: I do. I have two boys. They want to play. I said no.

FARLEY: I have two boys, three fractures, and three titanium plates that are all there still.

O'BRIEN: Tomorrow on STARTING POINT, the director of "Silver Linings Playbook," David O. Russell will be our guest. Nobel prize winning economist and "New York Times" columnist Paul Krugman is going to join us as well.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning everybody. Hey Carol.