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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

President Obama Set To Talk Faith; Blizzard Bearing Down On Northeast; Panetta: "This Is Not A Game"; U.S. Air Force Renews NASCAR Deal; Rubio To Deliver Response To SOTU; GOP Has Got To Change; Toddler Is A Baller; Smith Lends Voice To Gun Issues; Mom Refuses To Sign Son's Letter Of Intent; $80K For A Baseball Card; Manhunt For Former Los Angeles Cop; Behind The Kitchen Door

Aired February 7, 2013 - 07:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody. You're taking a look at some live pictures from the National Prayer Breakfast, which is taking place in Washington, D.C., at the D.C. Hilton.

The president is expected to arrive at any moment and then roughly in about 30 minutes or so, he's going to be making his first remarks to the faith community, ever since he announced his support for same-sex marriage.

We'll bring those remarks to you live when they happen. We're expecting those at 8:05 a.m. Eastern Time.

Other stories making news this morning and John has got that. A big winter storm will be a big problem for us.

JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": They're talking about more than 2 feet in Boston. This monster winter storm is about to blast the north east. It could be one for the history books. Parts of New England are already under a blizzard watch. Two feet or more of snow could fall in parts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island starting tomorrow. Much of the northeast will be facing freezing rain and damaging winds.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta gets fired up in his final days on the job warning we are on the brink of the most serious readiness crisis faced by the armed services in more than a decade unless Congress takes action to stop the across-the-board budget cuts from taking effect on March 1st.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: This is not a game. This is reality. These steps would seriously damage a fragile American economy and they would degrade our ability to respond to crisis precisely at a time of rising instability across the globe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Even as these budget cuts loom, the U.S. Air Force just renewed its NASCAR partnership with Richard Petty Motorsports number 43 car. NASCAR says the Air Force will be the primary sponsor for two races and associate sponsor all season.

Senator Marco Rubio tapped to deliver the Republican response to the president's "State of the Union" address next week. The Florida senator will speak live in English while a pre-recorded version runs in Spanish on Spanish language networks. The GOP trying to reach out to Hispanic-Americans, 71 percent voted for President Obama in November.

So recently made Xbox contributor Dick Morris sat down with CNN's Piers Morgan Wednesday night and they went over several topics. Here's what Mr. Morris said about being so very, very wrong in predicting a Mitt Romney victory. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK MORRIS, FORMER CLINTON ADVISOR, BEST SELLING AUTHOR: The question really is why Obama won by such a margin. And I think the answer is that there has been a fundamental demographic shift in the United States. And I thought that it surfaced in '08 because of a charismatic candidate.

I thought it would go back down again and it did in '10. But in 12 they showed up in huge numbers and eight million whites stayed home. And I think the Republican Party has got to change in fundamental ways, otherwise it will never win another election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: That was Dick Morris who again predicted the Romney victory. So it has got to be the diapers. Check this out, a toddler showing off some pretty sick basketball trick shots. By all accounts, this video is totally legit.

My gosh, even that one, so 2-year-old Titus is his name. The guy who posted this video on YouTube said he began shooting baskets shortly after learning to walk. He started filming sometime after that and totally got carried away. This video has close to two million hits on YouTube. They say it's real. I don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're just jealous.

BERMAN: Yes, A, I'm very jealous. B, I'm not sure that's real, the one from lying down and shooting? I don't know.

O'BRIEN: I love that this kid has the pacifier in his mouth. My God, that's hilarious. Fast forward 18 years.

RICHARD SOCARIDES, WRITER, NEWYORKER.COM: We're going to find out --

O'BRIEN: The kid will be in the NBA.

SOCARIDES: -- it will be like the bird who came down and picked up the toddler.

O'BRIEN: I believe this one and you know how cynical I am. I believe it.

OK, so let's talk a little bit about gun control this morning. If you do not know our next guest for her award-winning one-woman stage shows you probably will recognize Anna Deavere Smith from her many recurring television roles, most recently on the Emmy Award winning show time series "Nurse Jackie." Here's a little clip of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where are you going?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Disneyland.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When are they expecting you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today. Now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not good timing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know. I'm sorry. It's a small window. If I don't get in, they're going give my bed to somebody else.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, yes, that is how Disneyland works.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Anna Deavere Smith is one of many celebrities speaking out against gun violence in Capitol Hill this week. Yesterday, there was a news conference that also featured the comedian Chris Rock, the actor Adam Scott, singer Tony Bennett. They all urged Congress to act on the president's plans to tighten the nation's gun regulations.

Anna Deavere Smith joins us this morning. It's nice to have you with us.

ANNA DEAVERE SMITH, ACTRESS: It's nice to be here.

O'BRIEN: You're usually not political outside of your roles. I mean, I've never -- I can't think of a time where I've seen you at a press conference taking a side politically.

SMITH: The work I do in the theatre seeks to show multiple points of view and I suppose that's my social activism, if not political activism, but this is different. This is a time that I feel it's important to come forward and take advantage of this dark moment to remind Americans that we have also a history of nonviolence. And we need to find ways to get automatic weapons off the street and to campaign for background checks and to make gun trafficking a federal crime.

O'BRIEN: How did you start working with mayors for illegal guns?

SMITH: I was just invited to do so and I'm very proud of our mayor, Bloomberg, and also Mayor Menino of Boston. "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" has been in operation since 2006. So the infrastructure is there. A lot of other grassroots organizations trying to control what's going on with guns and so this is a chance when the nation is looking, understands how tragic this is, that we ought to be able to get something to happen.

O'BRIEN: What do you think celebrity can leverage in this? I'm sure you saw that mash-up of a lot of the celebrities who were criticizing or talking about gun violence and saying we have to figure out how to manager gun violence. And then they intercut with it those same celebrities using guns in their various roles and various movies. So can it rub both ways?

SMITH: Maybe they're having a transformative moment, I don't know. Of course to think about hurting -- to think about getting all celebrities or all artists in one basket of anything would be like herding cats.

And also, of course, it's interesting that the first and second amendment are right there right next to each other, but I think a lot of celebrities are coming forward right now to use the fact that people know them on screen to bring attention to this.

SOCARIDES: Can I ask you, do you think this moment is going to be any different? Do you think it's going to be different this time?

SMITH: I hope so. I hope so.

O'BRIEN: What gives you hope to think so? Because I feel like I've now covered, John, you and I between us have covered ten, 12, 15, many, many of these sorts of shootings. It feels a little bit different to me as well, but history would tell me that it's not different.

SMITH: Maybe it's just the accrual of these horrible, horrible events over a short period of time that causes us to do some introspection and to ask more of our legislators.

BERMAN: Soledad brought up the video of celebrities shooting the guns. Do you think Hollywood has any responsibility here? A lot of people do make a lot about the violence in films and TV.

SMITH: Well, I think that Hollywood, again, it's like herding cats. What's Hollywood? You know, I'm hardly going to get a script at my door to be a gun-toting Rambo. That's not going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd watch it.

SOCARIDES: Sounds like something I've written. You would be perfect.

SMITH: I think it's out of responsibility, it's a privilege. I think it's a privilege and an honor and an opportunity for any of us who get to be on your show or any other show to say, let's get background checks. Let's get these high-capacity military weapons off the street.

O'BRIEN: Would you turn down a role -- I'm sorry, Abby. Would you turn down a role if someone said you're going to be toting an AR-15? It's a great role and it's Rambo 4 and starring you.

SMITH: Well, I would, yes.

O'BRIEN: You'd take it?

SMITH: No, I would turn it down.

O'BRIEN: OK, just checking. I'm curious --

ABBY HUNTSMAN, HOST, HUFFPOST LIVE: She's tricky, I know. Soledad is a tricky one. When you look at a city of Chicago versus Salt Lake City, different things need to be done in different parts of the country. What do you think makes sense nationally? Because this is obviously a national effort that you guys have.

SMITH: What makes sense nationally -- look, I was thinking about the safety patrol. When I grew up in Baltimore, public school number 144, we had safely patrol.

O'BRIEN: I was a safely patrol too.

SMITH: You were -- a white thing across here, a badge.

O'BRIEN: Yes.

SMITH: So this very nice young man met me in Washington to go to the press conference and he's from Wisconsin, Wisconsin, dairy farm. Drinking warm, grainy milk, I said did you have a safety patrol when you were growing up?

He said, no, we didn't have any metal detectors. So even in Wisconsin, right, a dairy kid grows up in a rural community with metal detectors. Where have we gone that school is no longer a place where you can be safe, have imagination.

So, you know, I think it's time for us to -- all of us to see what we can do and talk about it and talk until it changes.

O'BRIEN: Times certainly have changed. Anna Deavere Smith, so nice to have you with us this morning. Appreciate that.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, batter up, a rare 148-year-old baseball card is going for an impressive price on the auction block. We have details up next.

Then if you ever wonder what really happens at your favorite restaurant behind the scenes, from low wages to unhealthy work conditions, there's a new book that exposes the dirty underbelly, and we mean dirty, of the restaurant industry. It's called "Behind The Kitchen Door." The author will join us up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody. A bizarre story coming out of national signing day, it's not official for the student athletes, of course, until their parent or legal guardian cosigns on the dotted line, but the mother of a top high school football player refused to sign his letter of intent because she didn't like his choice.

Joe Carter has this morning's "Bleacher Report." Good morning, Joe.

JOE CARTER, BLEACHER REPORT: Good morning, Soledad. I feel bad for the boy and kind of feel bad for the mom too because at the end of the day, she just really, really loves her boy.

She doesn't want him to leave home, she wants him to stay close and that's why she refused to sign her son's letter of intent yesterday. So Alex Collins is the boy we're talking about. He's considered one of the best high school running backs out there in the country.

He was expected to sign to play for Arkansas, but just before he could sign the letter of intent with mom, she stood up and split mid-press conference. She said she wants him to stay close to home in South Florida and play football at the University of Miami.

Unfortunately, mom's power play did not work. ESPN is reporting that mom will sign the papers for him to play at Arkansas a little later today. So the big winners on signing day, Alabama no surprise, the rich get richer.

They take home the number one recruiting class, followed by the Buckeyes of Ohio State and Florida at number three. Of course you can't forget about Ole Miss.

If you like to collect baseball cards, listen up. A very rare card originally found at a yard sale sold at an auction for $80,000. Jason Leblanc from Maine paid 80 large for this card.

He said he's going to give it to his 4-year-old son as an investment gift. The card is nearly 150 years old. It's a photograph of the 1865 Brooklyn Atlantics. It's believed to be a one-of-a-kind baseball card.

For those of you watching us from the gym this morning, here is a little extra motivation, get a little extra cardio in. It's the 36th annual run to the top of the empire state building, 600 runners from 18 countries competed in this race and a pair of Australians won.

Mark borne ran from the lobby to the observatory deck, which is 86 floors. He did it in 10 minutes and 12 seconds. Susie Walshman raced up 1,500 steps in 12 minutes and 5 seconds, clearly why they invented elevators.

For more entertaining sports news, go to bleacherreport.com and of course, you can check out today's article, the details the winners and losers from national signing day.

Ole miss the big winner from signing day yesterday, but I'm feeling tired. My gluts, my back, everything, from watching those people climbing up those stairs.

O'BRIEN: I don't even like walking up the stairs. It's a tourist attraction. All right, thanks. Appreciate it. Coming up next, we're going to talk about restaurants. Are they safe and do they discriminate when it comes to hiring? There's a new book that exposes some of the secrets at the nation's most popular restaurants. We'll talk to the author behind the book which is called "Behind the Kitchen Door." We're back in just a moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You look at microbes and see what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Little chemical factories. That's how we treat them. So our goal is to produce fuels that behave exactly the same as petroleum-based fuels.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We call them drop-in biofuels and those are fuels or blend stocks, molecules that are identical to those that are in fuels today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. Breaking news this morning, a manhunt under way right now, authorities in California say a former police officer is the prime suspect in the murder of a Cal State Fullerton basketball coach and her fiance over the weekend.

This is a live look at the search right now. According to the "Los Angeles Times," they're looking for Christopher Dornor. He was fired from the force five years ago for falsely accusing a female sergeant of kicking a man at a hotel.

It's believed Dornor may have committed the murders out of revenge for the firing. The father of the female coach he's suspected of killing him represented him in front of the board that eventually ruled to dismiss him. We'll have more on this developing story as it comes in, but again, a manhunt under way right now.

O'BRIEN: John, thank you.

How much do you know about your favorite restaurant, not necessarily the specials list or the wine list or their online rating? We're talking about how much do you know about the people who work there and how they're treated by the management of the restaurant?

There's a new book, which is called "Behind The Kitchen Door" takes a critical and very revealing look at an industry, which is rife with low wages, next to no benefits and sometimes unhealthy work conditions.

The author, Saru Jayaraman, joins us this morning to talk about that. She is also a co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Center, ROC, which works to improve wages and conditions, working conditions at restaurants. It's nice to have you with us.

SARU JAYARAMAN, AUTHOR, "BEHIND THE KITCHEN DOOR": Thank you for having me.

O'BRIEN: You know, I guess, I'm trying to figure out if your goal in writing this book was to fix the conditions or expose the conditions. As a diner what do you want me to do when I read about some of the terrible things that go on in restaurants?

JAYARAMAN: We want to you engage with us, take action. You know, restaurant workers make as little as $2.13 an hour. Most people don't know that tips actually make up the core of workers' wages. It's not just a bonus on top of a wage.

Actually workers make as little as $2.13 an hour, that's the federal minimum wage for tipped workers, often don't have paid sick days, which means that two-thirds cooks report cooking with feeling sick or the flu.

So it's not that we want you to stop eating out. In fact, we want you to eat out. It's just that we want you to engage with us, speak to management every time, let them know these conditions are not OK for us as consumers.

We don't want sick or poor workers serving us and so I think what we want is consumers to stand by our side, speak to management, speak up and mostly let legislators know that $2.13 is just not enough for any worker.

O'BRIEN: What does that come to when you factor in tips on average? This is the math you do for the restaurant workers.

JAYARAMAN: Yes. On average, across the country, workers make less than $9 an hour, including tips, but there are plenty of workers across the country who go home late at night, graveyard shifts with no tips whatsoever so take for example, Claudia, a woman I profiled who worked at an i-Hop in Texas, many nights, graveyard shifts she'd work and earn $2.13 an hour and that's what she'd take home, no tips.

Although the law says the restaurant is supposed to make up the difference when tips don't, too many times that doesn't happen and this woman didn't have enough money to pay gas, didn't have enough money to put food on her own table. That's a critical issue. The workers can't feed themselves when they're feeding America.

O'BRIEN: You tell a lot of individual stories, which I find very, very fascinating but some of these charts that talk about race and opportunity and race correlated to where you're going to be working in the restaurant, I find stunning. Tell me about that.

JAYARAMAN: Yes, unfortunately, we did more than 6,000 surveys of restaurant workers and we found there's a $4 wage gap between workers of color and white workers and it's because workers of color are working in lower level positions.

O'BRIEN: The busboys.

JAYARAMAN: Dishwashers, exactly, and in lower level segments so say you're a dishwasher, you really want to move up the ladder, unfortunately our research shows in most restaurants that opportunity just doesn't exist for training and promotions to move up the ladder to a job that actually makes more wages.

HUNTSMAN: In terms of the kitchen conditions, I feel like it's everyone's worst nightmare, what were some of the horrendous things you saw doing research in this book?

JAYARAMAN: There is a story of a man, it's not that uncommon, who actually was never paid by the restaurant. The restaurant kept saying we'll pay you, they never paid, ended up being evicted, living in an attic of the restaurant and the same restaurant was doing really nasty things to the food.

O'BRIEN: Like what?

JAYARAMAN: You know, they would serve food that had slime on it, it was old. Yes, the dishes hadn't been washed. I mean, these kinds of conditions we find exist when the restaurant is neither responsible to its workers nor to the consumers.

O'BRIEN: The book is amazing "Behind The Kitchen Door" Sara Jayaraman thank you for joining us.

JAYARAMAN: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: We've got to take a short break. Still ahead, two storms converging could mean big trouble for folks in the northeast. What's going to happen when more than two feet of snow could start falling tomorrow?

If you're looking live right now at D.C., in a few minutes the president will be speaking about his faith at the National Prayer Breakfast. We'll bring that to you live straight ahead. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome everybody. Our STARTING POINT this morning, developing story a manhunt under way for a former police officer who is suspected in a double murder. We'll have details on that story straight ahead.

In just about 5 minutes, the president's expected to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast, here's a live look at the Washington health forum, going to be talking about the president's support of gay marriage. Will he mention anything about that today as he talks about faith and his faith specifically at this prayer breakfast?

BERMAN: Getting ready for a winter storm, a blizzard that could drop up to 3 feet of snow on parts of the east coast. This is on the move. We'll have a live report plus new developments concerning the U.S. drone program this morning.

Iran claims it has hacked an American drone as the president prepares to release to Congress a controversial memo. What does this mean for our national security?