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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Unemployment Falls; Abbie's "The Girl"; CNN Hero Helping Foster Kids

Aired March 8, 2013 - 08:30   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Single mom who's in some kind of shady dealings across the border. It's really interesting movie. We're going to talk to her about that.

John Berman, though, first has a look at day's top stories.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Soledad.

The son-in-law of Osama bin Laden expected to be arraigned in federal court in a New York court in the next 90 minutes.

Suleiman Abu Ghaith is charged with conspiring to kill American and faces life in prison. In the past month the former al Qaeda spokesman went from house arrest in Iran to Ankara in Turkey, where he was arrested, later rested there. Turkey decided to send him back to his native Kuwait through Jordan. That is where the CIA nabbed him. Complicated to say the least.

North Korea now responding to tough new U.N. sanctions designed to prevent Pyongyang from funneling cash to its nuclear program. Today the North is repeating its vow to ditch all nonaggression pacts with South Korea. The Security Council voted unanimously to adopt the new sanctions that includes support from China which could have used its veto to -- veto power to block the plan.

Before yesterday's U.N.'s vote North Korea threatened a preemptive nuclear strike against its enemies including the United States.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN's breaking news.

O'BRIEN: All right. Let's get right to the breaking news. The job numbers are in and they're good. What you got?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I got 233,000 -- 236,000 jobs created in February, far more than we thought would be added. The forecast was for 170,000, it is 236,000. The jobless rate, according to the Labor Department, fell to 7.7 percent, so it had been 7.9 percent. This is better than we had been expecting.

Again I want to give you the the headline, 236,000 jobs created. I'm going to jump right back into this briefing. I wanted to make sure you had those two big headlines much better -- much better than expected. I'm going to try to drill in and find out where those jobs were created. We -- looks like we weren't seeing the effects of the northeast -- O'BRIEN: Well, those were the things -- before I let you jump back on -- I call --

ROMANS: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Those are the things that they were -- when they calculated the number that was much lower than some of the things that they were calculating, whether the storms, they thought that that was going to be problematic.

ROMANS: And also we want to see how the sequester was going to -- or these forced spending cuts if they were having a -- sort of a foreshadowing or an early, early effects there.

LAUREN ASHBURN, CONTRIBUTOR, THE DAILY BEAST: You also want to know where the jobs are being created and that is what's most important in determining the future of the economy.

ROMANS: Absolutely. I'm guessing is it's going to be -- it's healthcare but we see them in the --

O'BRIEN: Christine is just like, I'm getting on the phone.

(CROSSTALK)

You've seen them in the service industry and that's been a little bit of a problem of course because those are the jobs that are not the jobs that are replacing the jobs that are lost.

ROMANS: Right.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, CNN'S "RELIABLE SOURCES": Those are encouraging report but let's face it, 7.7 percent unemployment is very still high. I think a lot of people are saying, the banks got bailed out, Wall Street record profits, the stock market is breaking records, and still we have this systemic problem with unemployment.

O'BRIEN: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: No, but it is -- it is going down, this is a much bigger number than we saw. When Christine comes off the phone and gets more numbers I'm going to be interested to see if there have been any upward revisions in the months before that. Maybe time is -- you know.

O'BRIEN: This looks like private sector job growth.

BERMAN: OK.

ROMANS: 236,000 private sector jobs. We lost 10,000 government jobs. We're expecting of course government job losses to amplify during the beginning part of the year because of the forced spending cuts. But what we've been seeing is a private sector that's showing signs of healing. Yesterday I saw these jobless claims number that was below 350,000 again. And what that means, when you have a jobless claims every week 350,000 people lining up for benefits it sounds like a lot but it actually means there's some private sector hiring happening, that's actually kind of a good level of that number.

KURTZ: Could that -- could that offset the shrinkage in government jobs we're going to see from the sequester budget cuts?

ROMANS: Well, that's what becomes so politically interesting about it, right? Because I've been hearing from the White House for so long that forced budget cuts, it was going to slow, slow the -- you know, it was just going to slow the economic growth but something is happening in the private sector that is interesting, at least in February.

We got to see what the storm effects were. It might be that the timing of the surveys, maybe some of these layoffs got delayed.

ASHBURN: This is -- this is another issue, though, for the sequester. Because right now we're not feeling the pain of the sequester. Now we have jobless numbers and we have unemployment numbers that are better than expected.

BERMAN: And within -- look, there were 10,000 fewer government jobs in there, that could be the forward edge of the sequester you're looking at right there, the forced spending cuts, and remember what President Obama said, just before this happened. He said every time you hear a positive economic report it could have been better. It could have been better right now with the forced spending cuts. That's what he tried to sell.

(CROSSTALK)

ASHBURN: Right. But this is actually a positive.

O'BRIEN: It is, a much better number right there in and of itself. But we'll break down those categories even more if we get through --

ROMANS: Yes, and I want to look at the races, too, because --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Always.

ROMANS: You know, the races always tell --

O'BRIEN: That unemployment (INAUDIBLE).

ROMANS: The two different stories depending on where you are in the demographics.

O'BRIEN: Very, very interesting. All right, John has got more news for us.

BERMAN: OK. We'll keep gong here.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is declaring victory following his marathon 13-hour filibuster on Wednesday which delayed a vote on John Brennan's nomination to become CIA director. Rand Paul was protesting White House drone policy. In a letter to Paul yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed that President Obama does not have the authority to use a drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on U.S. soil.

Here's what Senator Paul had to say about this to CNN's Erin Burnett.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I think the response was important. You don't always get a response from the White House when you make an argument. But we have been asking for six weeks for this response. The fact that we got it, I feel like it's a victory for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: John Brennan was confirmed by the Senate to become the CIA director in a vote yesterday. The vote was 63-34.

A group of five Native Americans trying to sack the NFL's Washington Redskins in court. They're claiming the team should not be allowed to trademark the name Redskins. Now they argue it's an offensive term and they're trying to prove to the court that it disparaged a significant number of Native Americans when the club was granted the trademark starting in 1967.

An attorney for team says it would suffer serious financial harm if it no longer had the exclusive marketing rights to the name Redskins. No word on whether trademark trial and appeal board will make its final ruling.

KURTZ: It's not going away.

BERMAN: No. You know, this is an issue that's been around for a long, long time. I think this is the first time it's been taken up in a trademark court. This is kind of a new twist, a new angle to this debate which has been raging for a long time.

The city of Nelson, Georgia, could soon require the head of every household to own a firearm and the ammunition to go with it. The Nelson City Council voting unanimously this week to pass what it calls the Family Protection Act. This would impact all --

O'BRIEN: It sounds like some kind of contraception thing.

KURTZ: It could. That's true.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: But carry on, yes.

BERMAN: There are 1300 people who live in this town. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most everybody that lives here that are original residents here have always had firearms.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our government at the moment, they want to take as much away from us as they can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Now council members say this measure, it will not be aggressively enforced even if it makes through the final vote next month. What they're trying to do here, they say, is just send a message to Washington. They're getting a little publicity, too, (INAUDIBLE).

KURTZ: Not be aggressively enforced. They're knocking on everybody's door, can I see your firearm, ma'am?

ASHBURN: Right. It sounds like it's out of the Middle Ages or something.

KURTZ: This is so blatantly unconstitutional, and as you say, John, a stunt, let's face it.

O'BRIEN: I don't know about that. I mean, you know.

KURTZ: Requiring?

ASHBURN: I don't have to carry a gun or own a gun.

O'BRIEN: I would be curious to know the legal implications if something happens with someone you've mandated to have a weapon. Right?

ROMANS: A lot of legal protections for gun manufacturers, that's an interesting thing, too, because it's a --

O'BRIEN: Well, for them, yes. But not necessarily for someone who has the gun.

ROMANS: Or for the -- I guess for the lawmakers who said you had to have it, too.

O'BRIEN: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

ASHBURN: It is smart because it is a pr message that is sending to Washington and president Obama saying hey there is another side.

O'BRIEN: The town again is Nelson, Georgia?

BERMAN: Nelson, Georgia.

ROMANS: We're talking about them.

O'BRIEN: And now they're on the map.

Next, we're going to talk about this new film -- really interesting story. It's a story about a single mother who's struggling to make ends meet. When she gets this big opportunity to make some real money and that is smuggling people across the border. The star of "The Girl", which is the name of this movie, is Abbie Cornish, and she's going to join us up next to talk about this film. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: In a gritty new film that's called "The Girl" the actress Abbie Cornish stars as a single mom in southern Texas who's struggling with the lost of her son to social services and of course struggling to make ends meet, too. And there's the surprise visit from her dad, a truck driver, played by Will Patton, who shows her an easy route to making money by smuggling immigrants across the border. Here's how that goes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABBIE CORNISH, ACTRESS, "THE GIRL": There's people back there, ain't there?

WILL PATTON, ACTOR, "THE GIRL": Yes, there's people back there but I don't know who they are and I don't ask.

CORNISH: Brought them across the border? Jesus. We could go to jail.

PATTON: Nobody is going to jail.

CORNISH: You know what could happen to me? I'd lose Georgia for good.

PATTON: You stop worrying? Passed the check point half hour ago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Desperate for cash she tries her hand eventually at the smuggling and goes terribly, terribly wrong. Abbie Cornish joins us to talk about the film.

It's great to have you. This is riveting film. But I've got to ask you first about the accent. Because you're Australian.

CORNISH: I'm Aussie, yes.

O'BRIEN: And then you had to deal with a southern south Texas accent.

CORNISH: Yes.

O'BRIEN: And then of course, you speak Spanish in the film, too. Walk me through. Was it hard? Was it easy?

CORNISH: Considering I have, you know, split personalities, it wasn't too difficult.

(LAUGHTER) O'BRIEN: That explains it.

CORNISH: Yes. You know?

BERMAN: (INAUDIBLE).

CORNISH: Tripolar. No --

KURTZ: You were (INAUDIBLE).

CORNISH: I know. That's why David cast me. He met me and he was like you're crazy, awesome.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: You're in. Tell us about --

CORNISH: Totally. Crazy, tick. It's underneath clowning.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Ashley Coulton. Tell me about this woman who -- you start off in the movie really disliking her because she's not a good mother.

CORNISH: Yes. Yes, yes.

O'BRIEN: And she's a hot mess, frankly, but then as the movie goes forward it's not just about trafficking immigrants across the border. It's also about her growth as a mom.

CORNISH: Yes. There's -- this film and this story is beautiful for many reasons because first of all we're addressing a political issue which is very relevant and has been very relevant for a long time. The -- you know, America, Mexico, the border, what's happening at the border, the divide, and -- but this story is also told in an intimate scales. It's a story of a young Texan mother who's lost her son to the welfare system, who's trying to get her life back together but is full of anger and regret and sort of this negativity and darkness, I guess.

And so it's her journey into the light and it's her journey into the light that's brought on by her adventures in Mexico and the culture and the people.

O'BRIEN: Around a girl.

CORNISH: And --

O'BRIEN: It was a girl --

CORNISH: Yes, a 9-year-old, a young 9-year-old girl.

O'BRIEN: Who's trying to reunite with her mother.

CORNISH: Which is so beautiful because it almost connects in a way -- it connects her with her inner child and it also allows her to figure out what it is to be a mother.

O'BRIEN: Let's play a clip from the movie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CORNISH: (Speaking in foreign language).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Her father tells her, ditch the girl, like ditch the little girl. It's insane that your character is holding on to this little girl as she tries to find her mother but this is obviously --

CORNISH: Yes.

ASHBURN: What kind of research did you do to get into the role? I mean, it is a very sort of personal and moving --

KURTZ: Portrayal.

CORNISH: Yes.

ASHBURN: Yes, portrayal of this -- of what happens right now.

CORNISH: It was one of those films that required a lot of research and a lot of preparation. And I -- as soon as I got the role I started and so of course, you know, to answer your first question in regards to accent, learning Spanish, learning how to speak Spanish, getting that under my skin, the Texas accent but learning about the border, what's happening at the border, getting a real insight into it.

We did a lot of -- I mean David researched this film for years but we did sort of like field research in that we visited these sort of safe houses for migrants that were making their migration up north and we actually spent time with those people.

KURTZ: Could you identify with the character in some ways?

CORNISH: Of course I did. Yes I mean as an actor you're --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Really? She's such a mess. I can't imagine.

ASHBURN: Well she said she was crazy.

CORNISH: I'm really a mess, it's all smoke and mirrors.

O'BRIEN: Yes but her character, her life is falling apart? I mean in the long --

CORNISH: Yes no but you know as an actor, I mean and also, too, you know I did spend a lot of time talking to women, young women, women in this situation that lived the life that Ashley lives, that have had -- women that have lost children to the welfare system, women in general, mothers. It was quite -- it was actually quite a lovely little discovery but you know, what I -- what I -- as an actor, you are challenging yourself in so many ways because you're not only putting yourself under the microscope, you're putting the rest of the world under the microscope.

And I am blessed by what I do because I'm given the opportunity to learn about the world, to learn about myself.

O'BRIEN: And teach other people, too. It's a great story.

(CROSSTALK)

CORNISH: To teach other people and to share you know. Because that's what we do when we make films, we share -- we share stories and even in entertaining films they're you know we're sharing laughter, we're sharing warmth. You know what I mean.

BERMAN: We find it a very entertaining film.

ASHBURN: It's sort of personal base on it.

O'BRIEN: This is -- this is a -- it's a hard core film it's really interesting it's called "The Girl". Abbie Cornish, nice to have you with us. Thank you.

CORNISH: Yes. Cheers, thank you so much.

O'BRIEN: Cheers back to you. I like that, cheers. Back to you.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT Al Gore has been hit with a multimillion-dollar lawsuit over the sale of Current TV. We're going talk about that ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT.

A quick look at the news this morning. New research says the earth continues to get even hotter. Scientists behind this study published in the journal "Science" say that climate change is to blame for the earth going from its coldest decade in history of human civilization to its hottest all within the same century. The study looked at temperatures going back 11,000 years and they say a similar heat spike has never happened in that time.

Former Vice President Al Gore is facing a $5 million lawsuit over the sale of Current TV to Al Jazeera. Media consultant John Taranzio I should say claims he came up with a plan to distribute an American version of Al Jazeera. Taranzio says Gore first opposed the idea but then had a change of heart and went ahead with the $500 million sale.

O'BRIEN: He saw all the zeros.

KURTZ: Hey good idea. O'BRIEN: I'm changing my mind.

BERMAN: So mixing guns and God and causing an uproar this morning. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott posted an ad on his Facebook page that shows a gun and a bible and reads "Two things every American should know how to use, neither of which are taught in schools." Now reaction from Abbott's Facebook followers ranges from quote, "Can I get an amen?" to quote "Have you ever read the Constitution?"

You may recall that Abbott caused a stir a couple of months ago with another online ad by New Yorkers to move to Texas because he says, "They can keep their guns there."

So don't forget to spring forward this weekend, Daylight Saving Time -- you know there's no "s" in that.

ASHBURN: Really?

O'BRIEN: I know every year we say it wrong.

BERMAN: It's just Daylight Saving Time. I know. Well I didn't I corrected myself in the screen there, you're welcome. It arrives at 2:00 Sunday morning.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: No push your clocks ahead you're going to lose an hour of sleep.

ASHBURN: Oh I know.

BERMAN: But the good news -- the good news is starting next week you get an extra hour of daylight.

KURTZ: It improves my mood.

O'BRIEN: I know.

BERMAN: This improves some guy's mood. This is an art collector's dream, works by an obscure impressionist painter found inside a garage on Long Island are worth $300 million. Thomas Schultz bought the Belford (ph) home of the late artist Arthur Panajian in 2006.

Panajian's family had not cleaned out the garage and they asked Schultz and his business partner to throw out 60 years' worth of paintings. They refused to toss the artwork and are being rewarded I would say handsomely. Some of the pieces have already sold for up to half a million dollars.

ASHBURN: Why doesn't that happen to us?

BERMAN: You live in Long Island. That never happened to you.

O'BRIEN: We didn't have a garage, that's clearly the problem.

(CROSSTALK) ASHBURN: I had tricycles and bikes in my garage.

BERMAN: We're getting a sneak peek at "The Hangover Part 3" this is the final instalment of the comedy franchise The Wolfpack is back in Las Vegas for this one. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Alan and I bought a giraffe. Oh my life is great.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Berman: "Hangover 3" opens Memorial Day weekend in an art house cinema near to you.

ASHBURN: Nick Galifianakis has a cult following and I think that --

KURTZ: What final instalment, it's going to get to Hangover 10. Let's face it.

BERMAN: He's making -- you know making money to make people laugh.

KURTZ: That's fine with me.

O'BRIEN: I was going to say they wouldn't stop it at three, if it's really --

BERMAN: No way.

O'BRIEN: I don't think so.

For more than 400,000 children who live in foster care small things can make a big difference. Often though some of those little things are out of reach. This week's CNN hero has found a way to give a little piece of childhood back to those who might need it the most. I want introduce to you Danielle Gletow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been in and out of foster care for most of my life. When you move from place to place, you don't really get the same connections that your peers have. You get very insecure. You don't think that people really care about your desires and wishes.

DANIELLE GLETOW, CNN HERO OF THE WEEK: When I became a foster parent I realized a lot of these children decide that it's not worth wishing anymore because it isn't going to happen. People have made promises to them that they haven't kept.

You want to take any of the babies?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. Here you go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's cute.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything's brand new.

I thought how do we give them the feeling that people are out there that care about you, even if you've never met them? My name is Danielle Gletow and I help make wishes come true for thousands of foster children all over the country. Anybody, anywhere, anytime can look at hundreds of wishes from children in foster care.

Working on auditioning for a play, needs a radio in order to practice with his audition CD. Wishes are as unique as the children who make them and so personal.

Isn't that beautiful?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

GLETOW: These small things make an enormous difference in the life of a child. It's really just a kid being a kid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wish was for a suit so that I could attend a family member's funeral. It meant a lot that someone took the time and they knew that that was important.

GLETOW: This looks awesome.

When a child's wish is granted we are reassuring them that their voices are being heard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love you, Evie.

GLETOW: There is this big world out there that just wants to wrap their arms around them and protect them and we need to all step up and do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Oh my gosh that is such great work she's doing.

"End Point" is up next. We're back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Our "End Point" this morning is all business news with the new job numbers in.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST: That's right. Ok. So 236,000 jobs created in the month better than expected. Futures are up. It shows you that employers are hiring. The jobless rate fell and part of the reason it fell is because you had 130,000 people drop out of the labor market. So they weren't finding any opportunities and they simply dropped out of the labor market. One economist said this is not significant jobs growth but it is moving in the right direction.

O'BRIEN: And revision is upward. ROMANS: Revision is upward and revision downward. So last month was revised downward. The government jobs, we lost 10,000 government jobs in the month, most of those were schooled jobs. I think you can look for more of that in the month ahead.

O'BRIEN: We're going to keep following it. Christine, thank you.

Thanks, guys. Appreciate it as always. Have a great weekend. We'll see you back here on Monday morning.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Don Lemon begins right now.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Next right here in "NEWSROOM", your paycheck, your nest egg, your neighborhood this morning -- new numbers giving us a better picture of the economy and where it is heading.