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First Papal Vote Today; Interview with Michael Notar; Sandberg Urges Women to "Lean In"; Seeing the World Her Own Way

Aired March 12, 2013 - 08:30   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. You're watching STARTING POINT. In just three hours, 115 cardinal electors will take an oath of secrecy and then head into the Sistine Chapel to vote for a new pope. We could see smoke from the chimney about the chapel at early as this afternoon at 2:00 pm Eastern.

Black smoke would mean that the first vote failed to select a new pontiff. White smoke would mean that a new Holy Father has, in fact, been chosen.

Earlier, the cardinals attended a special mass at the Vatican and Jim Bittermann is live for us from Rome this morning. He was inside that mass with the cardinals.

Hey, Jim. Good morning.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Soledad. Good morning. I went to the mass; I've got the book to prove it. It's not the kind of book you see very often, issue by the Vatican for a mass, a holy mass for the election of a Roman pontiff, a real souvenir, Soledad.

Basically this mass comes along only when there is an election of a pope. It was led by Angelo -- celebrated by Angelo Sodano, who's the dean of the College of Cardinals and all the cardinals were there, not only the cardinal electors who're going to actually vote later on today, but also the cardinals who are too old to vote as well as thousands of people.

The public were let in and the basilica was pretty much full as this mass took place this morning.

Sodano thanked Benedict XVI for his role as pope.

And he went on to talk a lot about evangelization and the need for charity in the church and the idea that a pope should, in fact, be ready to give up his life for the church, kind of a -- something that would focus the minds of the cardinals present, because, in fact, one of the 115 that are going to vote is probably going to exit later on this week sometime if it goes according to what we think it's going to go to, as the pope.

So that is basically the mass this morning. One of the things that I think was interesting for me was not in the mass but outside the mass, and that is a little chapel alongside -- many of the cardinals stopped to say quiet prayers this morning, because I think they really appreciate the seriousness of this vote -- of this event, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Jim Bittermann for us this morning, thank you, Jim; appreciate it.

John Berman's got a look at some of the other stories making news.

Must be so amazing, right, to be there while it's happening, just the pomp and circumstance, whether are you Catholic or not Catholic, to be able to be part of that.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (Inaudible) process that's, you know, 800 years in the making.

O'BRIEN: Oh, my goodness, and the solemnity of this really. Really exciting to watch from here.

BERMAN: Fascinating.

We do have some other news going on right now this morning.

Tensions near a boiling point between North and South Korea. The South warning it's ready with U.S. help to respond to any provocations resolutely and destructively. Those words from South Korea. This follows the latest saber rattling by North Korea, which claims it canceled the armistice that ended the fighting in Korea 60 years ago.

An update now on a story that we've been following; attorneys for two Steubenville, Ohio, teens accused of rape want the judge to dismiss the charges because they say key witnesses will not testify. They argue the 16-year-old boys' constitutional right to a fair trial is being jeopardized.

Prosecutors say the accuser was too drunk to consent to sex. Defense attorneys say she was aware of what she was doing and making decisions. The boys' trial is scheduled to begin tomorrow.

The federal government has charged the State of Illinois with securities fraud. The Securities and Exchange Commission claimed that investors were defrauded because Illinois did not completely disclosed information about the financial condition of its pension funds. The two sides have reached a settlement; only once before has the SEC accused a state of securities fraud. That was New Jersey back in 2010.

So manatees are dying in record numbers off the coast of Florida because of an algae bloom known as red tide. State wildlife officials say it's killed 174 manatees since January along southwest Florida. Scientists say what's happening is the manatees are eating algae that's settling on the sea grass, which is a key part of their diet.

O'BRIEN: Oh, my God, that's terrible. What are they going to do about that?

BERMAN: The red tide, apparently, will continue for some time. So it doesn't look to get any better any time soon.

O'BRIEN: Oh, that's awful.

Some new details this morning about that tragic car accident that claimed the lives of six teenagers. It happened near Warren, Ohio.


O'BRIEN (voice-over): Authorities say the owner of the Honda Pilot that was involved in the crash reported it stolen. And police say none of the teenagers involved in the accident are related to the owner, nor did they ask permission to use the vehicle.

Five boys and a young woman between the ages of 14 and 19 were killed when that SUV flipped over a guard rail and then landed in a small pond.

Yesterday the mother of one of the teenage boys spoke out.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he can't come home, he can't come through the door, "Mom, what's for dinner? What did you cook, Mom?" I'm not going to hear none of it anymore.


O'BRIEN: Oh, just heartbreaking; the tragedy has rocked what is a blue-collar community, 41,000 people -- so a small town. It's right near the Pennsylvania border.

Want to get right to Michael Notar. He's the superintendent of schools for Warren City, Ohio.

It's nice to have you with us. Thank you for talking with us.

How are the schools reacting? I know there's some thoughts about closing, and then it seemed that it was actually a better idea to keep the school open. Walk me through how that has gone.

MICHAEL NOTAR, SUPERINTENDENT, WARREN CITY, OHIO, SCHOOLS: Yes, we decided -- we met as an administrative group on Sunday. We had some services from an outside counseling agency come and kind of give us some direction as a school district. And there was some consideration in closing the school district down for yesterday.

But after much discussion, we thought it was in the best interest of our students, our families, our parents, to open up our school buildings and provide our students, our teachers and families with counseling services that were available.

O'BRIEN: I know that some of the people who were seeking out help and certainly solace were some of the siblings of the kids who died in the crash, is that right?

NOTAR: Yes, that's true. I was at our high school yesterday; my associate superintendent was at our Willard (ph) K-8 building. And very, very emotional day. Some of the siblings of the deceased decided to come to school. We were happy to see them there, to offer our condolences.

You know, once they saw some of their teachers and friends, they began to open up. And we felt that they needed that. It was good for everybody yesterday to be able to be around one another and support one another through these difficult times.

O'BRIEN: Just sounds brutal, it sounds horrible. Warren, of course, is a small city. I have to imagine it's the kind of place where pretty much knows everybody else or knows someone who knows everybody else. And this would be a largest loss of life in a car accident in the history of the community.

What has the impact been outside of the school? But on the entire community?

NOTAR: You know, I've stated the last couple of days -- I've worked in a couple of different school districts and Warren is a wonderful community. One thing I have noticed, they come together in difficult times.

Unfortunately, we had a tragedy about a year ago from today that involved some of our students and families, and we rallied together as a community, supported one another and we'll continue to do so.

So a lot of local support, a lot of our pastors, and a lot of our local school districts reached out. They sent guidance counselors from various school districts to help out yesterday. So I can't say enough thank yous to everyone who has helped out and has come together and has tried to help the district and our community as a whole move forward.

O'BRIEN: Yes, it must be a really helpful thing. Michael Notar is the Warren City Schools superintendent. Thank you for talking with us this morning. We appreciate it.

NOTAR: Thank you. And again, my thoughts and our prayers go out to those families.

O'BRIEN: Oh, gosh, ours, too. What a terrible story to have to certainly report and certainly have to be living in the community where you are. Thank you, appreciate it.

Ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, we're going to talk a little bit more about Sheryl Sandberg's new book. It's about why more women aren't at the top of the business world and it's sparked a reaction, a big one, and kind of polarizing.

Is she the right woman to talk about how women can press ahead? STARTING POINT is back in just a moment.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SHERYL SANDBERG, COO, FACEBOOK: Because of the position I'm in, I feel I have that responsibility to speak out on behalf of all women. We deserve equal pay, we deserve equal voice, we deserve to sit at any table we want to sit it.


O'BRIEN: Go for it, sister. That's the Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, talking about her new book, which is called "Lean In." We want to continue the conversation.

We started a little bit earlier today, because the book is also being used to launch a nationwide movement to empower women.

And Rachel Thomas is the president of Lean In, the organization, which was created in conjunction with the book.

Have you found that this debate -- and sometimes it's kind of a fierce debate about all of this -- has increased the number of people who are interested in Lean In, the movement?

RACHEL THOMAS, PRESIDENT, LEAN IN: So I think this is a really good thing. The more that we're talking about women and women in the workplace and issues that are relevant for us, the better.

So we've been very excited about the very active dialog, and what I hope it spurs is more individual conversations between manager and employee, parents and siblings -- I mean, parents and sons and daughters, and husbands and wives.

O'BRIEN: Take a drink of water, because I want to ask you a question about your Lean In moment. I know a little bit about your background. You start -- went to work in startups in tech and then you'd had one that ended up falling apart, and you didn't lean in, you leaned out?

THOMAS: I did. So years ago, as a recent grad, I ran a company that had a very kind of difficult end, and I really did feel myself lean back for a point in time -- and I actually think we all do. We all have moments when we lean back. And it really took some time to get my confidence again. And confidence is an issue for all women.


O'BRIEN: Wasn't the leaning back good? I mean, wouldn't you say that it was valuable in that moment to lean back and not lean in?

THOMAS: So I do think there is a time and a place. I think there is a French phrase, which is kind of leaning back to lean in. And so I do think there are --


O'BRIEN: (Inaudible). It does.

THOMAS: -- I think there's different moments in time --

O'BRIEN: Lean back to lean in.

THOMAS: -- but I think the fundamental issue is women are actually less confident than men. So we underestimate our ability slightly; men overestimate their ability. Men need to be 100 percent qualified -- I mean, women have to feel 100 percent qualified to apply for a position. Men don't. They can feel partially qualified and that's enough.

So really understanding those issues and having an open dialog about them, we think, can make a material difference.

O'BRIEN: A lot of the book is just a lot of stats and research about women in the workplace, the percentages of which they apply for jobs, you know, just all the research.


O'BRIEN: -- was very fascinating.

THOMAS: I think one of the great things about the book, is Sheryl has really put herself out there. And I can speak for myself personally, I have felt self-doubt; I have felt a lack of confidence. And knowing --


O'BRIEN: Because are you a human being.

THOMAS: Exactly. And knowing that --

BERMAN: (Inaudible), too, though, let me say --


THOMAS: I think that's a great point. And lot of men have read the book and say a lot of the message in the book resonate with them as well. We all, as human beings, feel a lack of confidence. Just women in generally underestimate our abilities where men generally overestimate abilities.

O'BRIEN: Want to run a little clip of what Sheryl was saying to Katie (ph) about -- talking about children, because I think a lot of this conversation really is rooted in the fact that women have kids and that is sort of where we differ with men and kind of how we think about our jobs. Listen.


SANDBERG: We don't talk to our bosses and we don't talk to our employees about you might want to have a child one day. I'm here to help you. I think we can change that.


O'BRIEN: Do you think that we can change that? You know, the advice I have always given young women is never, ever, ever mention the dreaded "I am going to have a child" phrase because your bosses will absolutely positively not appreciate that.

THOMAS: But imagine a future state where this is actually part of our national dialog. Women and men are actively talking about this as a topic. I know right now it sounds daunting to go from something we generally don't talk about to make it a very open subject. But we're losing women when they start to have families and we're losing women and they're not making it all the way up to leadership positions. I think really addressing this is very important.

KATHERINE ROSMAN, REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: I think there is often an assumption in workplaces that a woman of a certain age, you know, might potentially have a child and I don't -- I don't know. I felt it was irrelevant to me personally. I never felt myself held back and I'm a mother and, you know, never -- I wasn't like running around saying I can't wait to be a mother. But I certainly never hid it. And it's just you do your job and you do it well and work hard.

O'BRIEN: I had a lot of conversations where people feel like if you are interesting in being a mother, that what you're saying is I don't really have a commitment to being -- when I had my wins, which were my fourth -- third and fourth children, the head of the company said to me, well, you know, you're not going to know how you're going to feel about coming back? I'm like, I have four kids, I have to work. Are you kidding me? I am the only employee here who has to come in, in six weeks when my maternity leave is done.

I was joking with him but there was this sort of assumption, like well you know, you may not have to even think about coming in. That person who is responsible for your career is not -- you know I can tell, not betting on you, if they are thinking --

ALEX MCCORD, VH1'S COUPLES THERAPY: Yes well, that's for the executive to have, I mean they are not going to be heralding the best talent.

O'BRIEN: I don't think it's unusual. Go ahead.

MCCORD: Well we have to step in and lean in because if we don't take baby steps, nothing is ever going to change. So yes it's polarizing and yes everyone has got a lot of opinions on it. But if we don't talk about it, we will never get anywhere.

I think what she's doing is great. I think we can all take what resonates for us and it's individual. We're not all going to be Sheryl, but let's all take a step forward.

THOMAS: And I think an important point to make is there is a moment to make that decision in your life right. If you have a child and you want to decide to stay home or want to decide to stay in the workforce, but what Sheryl has seen a lot and I think all of us have seen is very young women starting to worry about that, starting to internalize a decision they don't need to make yet. And if they kept their foot on the gas and they advanced, they're sitting and looking at a different decision the day they make it.

Now they're a senior manager, or there are a director, and they moved ahead with all of their peers and then they're making a decision as opposed to have leaned back and have lost opportunities and just not looking at interesting or dynamic a role on that decision day. I think that's a big part of the message.

O'BRIEN: It's going to be interesting. I sit down with Sheryl Sandberg tomorrow to talk about all of this. And you know she's kind of put herself now, right in this maelstrom of some people who think that she's a villain for saying. You know some have framed it as she's blaming women for their role in this, which is not what the book says.

Other people heralding what she is doing and sort of creating this movement. You know I think as an individual, right, that's always a crazy place to be in the middle of the swirl of a debate. And be front and center your face on it. It will be interesting to chat with her about that.

You can catch my interview with her. It's going to be starting next week on Monday on STARTING POINT.

Coming up next, so if you want -- if you like curly fries, you must be smart. If you like science, you might be dissatisfied with life. We're going to tell you what your Facebook likes say about you. Yes, I'm not making this up, John Berman.


ZAIN ASHER, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back to STARTING POINT everyone. I'm Zaine Asher in for Christine Romans. "Minding your Business" today.

Stocks are for a slightly lower open but not huge Dow are futures down less than 30 points. History shows that in the two months after a record high, stocks tend to drop a little or stay flat.

Also be careful what like on Facebook. Because it could reveal a lot about you. Researchers at the University of Cambridge looked at what thousands of people likes online. It turns out they can predict if you're white, African-American, gay or straight, Democrat or Republican, if you smoke or drink alcohol. Some of here like if you like Cover Girl, you're probably a woman. But the study also says that you are more likely to be intelligent if you like the "Colbert Report" Mozart, Morgan Freeman's voice and curly fries.

It's quite interesting because also if you like iPods, they say that you're probably going to be dissatisfied with life. If you like the "Hunger Games", you're probably single.

O'BRIEN: I'm so confused because I like the "Hunger Games" and curly fries and I like iPods.

ASHER: You're very smart.

O'BRIEN: I'll be smart but dissatisfied and single yet married with four children. That's really interesting. I'd love to know the algorithm behind that. ASHER: Great for advertisers though in terms of getting revenues.

O'BRIEN: I guess yes.

This next story is about a woman who is 89 years old and she's blind, but her lack of vision is not stopping her from traveling the world. Her name Arlene Gordon, and she's featured in a new book which is called "On Looking: Eleven walks with expert eyes".

Here is our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta with this week's "Human Factor."


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is what the world looks like through Arlene Gordon's eyes. 100 percent darkness, 100 percent of the time.

ARLENE GORDON: It started in my 30s, 40s. The vision became so bad that I decided to gamble. I said, you know, it's worse this way. I'm neither here nor there.

GUPTA: Gordon scheduled herself for an operation she was told could potentially make her vision even worse.

GORDON: For six weeks, I had the best vision I ever had in my life. It was fantastic. I was -- I was like a baby walking around looking at everything.

GUPTA: But just as she had been warned, a few weeks later, her remaining vision vanished, rendering her completely blind. But soon she learned to navigate her new world.

GORDON: As you tap you are deliberately clearing the path in front of you.

GUPTA: The streets of New York city were never enough and Gordon refused to let her blindness stand in the way of her passion for traveling -- Cuba, South Africa, countless cities in Europe. Collecting souvenirs at every stop along the way.

GORDON: There are so many things you can experience other than visually. As a matter of fact, one friend said to me, I never saw as much as I did when I traveled with you.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporting.


O'BRIEN: That was so interesting, isn't it?

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


O'BRIEN: Our "End Point" will go to Rachel this morning. What's your big take-away from the morning?

THOMAS: I just want all women everywhere to feel confident leaning into their ambitions whatever they might be. This is a very big tent and I hope everyone will join us at Join the community, and tell us what they like so we can really grow this together.

O'BRIEN: Great. It's interesting. I actually -- it will be interesting to see what happens after sort of the debate over the book dies down and what women are really able to do and move forward in a year, in two years. Are we really seeing major change? Fascinating topic.

THOMAS: Hope to see it at the top.

O'BRIEN: And at all levels. Thanks, ladies. I appreciate you being with me this morning. You too, John.


O'BRIEN: Coming up tomorrow on STARTING POINT, celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels is going to join us live. That's ahead tomorrow. I'll see everybody back here tomorrow morning.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, breaking overnight. A final good-bye to Pope Benedict.