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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
Obama in Israel; More Drama in Arias Case; Sleep Less, Weigh More; Interview with Mayor Sly Johns; Interview with Lt. Jeff Kramer; Democrats Drop Assault Weapons Ban; NBA Great Giving Back
Aired March 20, 2013 - 08:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone. We have some new pictures right now of President Obama arriving in Jerusalem. It happened a short while ago. Earlier he landed in Tel Aviv, greeted by a number of Israeli leaders and a host of soldiers and bands. The president spoke there briefly, emphasizing that Israel is an ally and friend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I see this visit as an opportunity to reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our nations, to restate America's unwavering commitment to Israel's security, and to speak directly to the people of Israel and to your neighbors.
We stand together because we share a common story. Patriots determined to be a free people in our land. Pioneers who forged a nation. Heroes who sacrificed to preserve our freedom. And immigrants from every corner of the world who renew constantly our diverse societies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So today the president will meet further with Israeli President (sic) Benjamin Netanyahu - prime minister I should say - Benjamin Netanyahu. Easy for me to say.
When Netanyahu welcomed him in Tel Aviv there was a bit of a funny exchange. You have to watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: Get to rest for these (ph) next two days.
OBAMA: (INAUDIBLE) get away from Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: It is nice to get away from Congress and then a hearty laugh from both men there. The president's trip will include a visit to the Eest Bank and Jordan as well. Zoraida Sambolin has the rest of today's top stories.
ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Fireworks inside the courtroom at the Jodi Arias murder trial in Phoenix. Prosecutor Juan Martinez got into a testy exchange with psychologist Richard Samuels, that was hired by the defense. He diagnosed Arias with amnesia. She's accused of stabbing to death boyfriend Travis Alexander. She claims self defense and that she doesn't remember that attack. Samuels admitted on the stand that Arias lied repeatedly to him during his evaluation of her. That led the prosecutor to question his credibility.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUAN MARTINEZ, PROSECUTOR, JODI ARIAS MURDER TRIAL: How much are you getting paid per hour?
RICHARD SAMUELS, PSYCHOLOGIST: I get paid per hour $250.
MARTINEZ: And for $250 an hour, you're saying that this is -- you weren't paying enough attention to put whatever else was needed in your seat (ph)?
SAMUELS: I reviewed the report numerous times and I must admit I missed it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: If convicted, Arias could receive a death sentence.
New shocking sex and drug allegations against the man who used to be the voice of Elmo. 24-year-old Sheldon Stevens is suing Kevin Clash, alleging he smoked crystal meth while engaging in sexual activity with Stevens in 2004. The lawsuit alleges Clash also gave Sheldon poppers as a sexual aid. Poppers generally refers to capsules that give users a rush when broken and then inhaled. Clash's attorney calls the suit meritless and barred by the statute of limitations.
Listen to this, sleep less, weigh more. New research suggests if you go just a few nights in a row with not enough sleep, you can experience almost immediate weight gain. Researchers at the University of Colorado studied 16 healthy men and women for two weeks. Some were allowed to sleep nine hours a night, the rest five hours a night. Those who stayed up late and got less sleep not only ate more, they also ate less healthy foods, consuming 6 percent more calories than the well rested group. I contend they didn't need this study, they could just come over here and we could prove this to be true.
BERMAN: That is the worst study in morning show history.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I'm just going to take a little nap for ten minutes.
SAMBOLIN: We know those extra five or ten pounds, like that.
ROMANS: Those state of the city speeches are pretty predictable, right? Not this one. This state of the city speech was something to behold. Check out what happened to Kansas City Mayor Sly James as he was delivering his speech and someone rushed the stage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This man just got through talking about exactly (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
SLY JAMES, KANSAS CITY MAYOR: Well, that was unfortunate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Look at him, unfazed. Mayor Sly James finished his speech and he joins us this morning from Kansas City. Sir, you were so poised. I would have fallen to my knees. I'm not sure what I would have done. You just stood there. What were you thinking?
JAMES: Actually I was just simply trying to figure out exactly what this gentleman was doing and why he was there. It happened fairly quickly, so there wasn't really a whole lot of time to react overtly. It was clear he had something to say and he was intent on saying it.
BERMAN: You did not flinch. I mean not even the slightest little bit. In fact at the end there it looked like you sort of even pushed him off a little bit. It looked like you were in complete control there. I have to ask when you see something like that happen and when you go through it, do you have questions about the security that was around?
JAMES: No. Let me divide the security issues into two parts. First of all, the two security officers, the two officers I have with me, Casey Jones and Marlon Bowie (ph), I have nothing but complete faith in. They do their job extremely well. With regards to pre-security, you know, people said you should have had magnetometers. Well, he didn't have a weapon so he would have walked in.
At some point in time you have to understand, at least I feel I have to understand that people are going to be around me, and they're going to be around me all the time. I don't want to set up a situation where the security is such that people don't feel that I'm approachable. I'm not the president. I'm the mayor of a city. I'm supposed to be out with people and talking to them.
CHRIS FRATES, REPORTER, "THE NATIONAL JOURNAL": Mayor, what happened to the gentleman after that clip happened? Was he brought up on any charges? What happened after that clip?
JAMES: Well, as far as I know at this stage he was taken off to jail where he apparently remains. There is some news reports that he's apologized. You know, I don't have any animosity towards Mr. Black, I really don't. I understand the level of frustration he must feel. The only difference that he and I may actually even have is his method of delivery. I have my frustrations about things that are going on as well, but I also recognize the good things that are going on. And I think sometimes people when they find themselves in bad circumstances focus so much on the bad that they forget how blessed we really are in this city and in this country. So I wish him nothing but the best and perhaps sometime in the future we'll have a conversation and try and get some things straightened out.
KATHERINE ROSMAN, REPORTER, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": What was he -- what were his concerns? What were the points he wanted to make if he was able to?
JAMES: Well, I'm not sure. He didn't really have much of a chance to get a full sentence or two out. My suspicion -- I mean my security folks, Marlon and Casey were there and dealt with it. My suspicion is that his frustrations are the same as my frustrations. We have, as every major city in this country, we have an area of our city where there is underemployment, nonfunctioning educational resources, people in need and in poverty and without hope where crime is high. I'm sure those were the things that he was concerned about, or at least some of them. I'm concerned about them as well. The problem is, is that there are no quick fixes to poverty and to educational systems that haven't worked for decades. We have to work on those things diligently, consistently and every day and that's what we're trying to do.
BERMAN: Mayor Sly James, the most poised, calmest, coolest mayor on the planet.
ROMANS: Former marine. There's some marine training in there I have a feeling.
BERMAN: Thanks for joining us this morning. Really appreciate it.
ROMANS: Ahead on STARTING POINT. We're talking about the front page of "The Daily News." Take a look at this. It's all about guns in America as Democrats drop the assault weapon ban. It says shame on us, assault weapons bill is dead. And the "New York Post," Senate Surrenders and NRA wins.
BERMAN: A lot of people talking about those headlines.
Also we have a really fun story. Adrian Dantley (ph) from the street corner. Yes, the NBA hall-of-famer will tell us how he's giving back. And this is really a surprise.
ROMANS: We're getting new details on a breaking story we brought you earlier. The executive director of Colorado's corrections department shot and killed last night in his Monument, Colorado, home.
BERMAN: 58-year-old Tom Clements (ph) was appointed to the post in Colorado two years ago after serving with the Missouri corrections department for three decades. He is survived by a wife and two daughters.
Joining us now on the phone is Lieutenant Jeff Kramer from the El Paso county sheriff's office. Lieutenant, what can you tell us about what happened this morning? JEFF KRAMER, EL PASO COUNTY LIEUTENANT: Well, I can tell you we received a 911 call last night about 8:37 in the evening from a family member of Mr. Clements who was reporting a shooting. When we responded, we discovered an adult male who was deceased who of course has since been identified as Tom Clements. Our investigators during their response last night arrived on scene and were busy immediately in terms of processing the scene and had remained throughout the night and are still on scene this morning making sure they do a thorough job and their observations and collection of any evidence that is on scene.
ROMANS: What can you tell us, sir, about a suspect, a motive and where you go from here in the investigation?
KRAMER: Well, at this point we have no known suspects in this case. We're certainly sensitive to the fact that because Mr. Clements served as the executive director for the Colorado department of corrections that certainly opens up a dynamic that we're sensitive to regarding any number of people who may have a motive to perpetrate a crime such as this against him. So we're sensitive to that, but we're also remaining open-minded regarding other possible theories as far as this investigation is concerned, so it's just a matter of time as we work through not only the evidence on the scene but also work through other information-gathering efforts as we move forward to hopefully answer some of those unanswered questions at this point.
BERMAN: We'll let you get back to that investigation. Jeff Kramer from the El Paso county sheriff's office in Colorado. Thanks for taking our call this morning. Appreciate it.
Meanwhile, there is a big controversy after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid removed a proposed ban on assault weapons from new gun legislation. Reid said that keeping it would guarantee a Republican filibuster.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN, HARRY REID, (D-NV) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I'm not going to try to put something on the floor that won't succeed. I want something that will succeed. I think the worst of all worlds would be to bring something to the floor and it dies there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: You have to take a look at the cover of the "New York Daily News." Christine saw this immediately. It jumped right out at her. It says "shame on us."
ROMANS: Surrounding the headlines are the pictures of the children killed December 14th in newtown, Connecticut. Every single one of their little faces. When you look at the "New York Post" similarly it says "Senate caves, NRA wins." Stripping out this obviously politically in Washington it said it would have had a Republican filibuster if they kept that provision in. But a lot of people who are advocates that maybe something is different, something changed on December 14th in America, look at Washington and they don't think so anymore.
BERMAN: Chris covered Congress? It shouldn't be a surprise that this didn't get to the floor?
FRATES: That's right. This played exactly like everybody thought it would. And what was so interesting is that all of the attention around Newtown didn't change the political dynamics in the Senate.
And the question had always been would Harry Reid put this assault ban into a bigger package of gun control and then force Republicans to vote against an entire gun control bill which would have been much harder than pulling this piece out individually and allowing one vote on it and it will go down as an amendment and then the broader gun control package, including background checks, will likely pass.
So it allows the toughest, most controversial piece to get a vote separately and allow the rest of the package to move forward. And it was just surprising only that the Newtown massacre did really not change much of the political dynamic when it comes to guns.
ROMANS: (inaudible) we're pointing out our other top story this morning is that --
ROSMAN: In Orlando, the thwarted attack with this guy with all this ammunition and guns and you wonder if not these kids at Sandy Hook, if that's not going to change the dynamic, I mean, what will? I mean it's the rhetorical question really because you just can't imagine anything more jarring to the nation than what happened December 14th.
ROMANS: So as American society and Congress accepted a certain level of this kind of news flow over and over again, a thwarted attack, an attack that went wrong, someone planning an attack, God forbid an attack that actually happened.
FRATES: Well I think so and we saw that with Congresswoman Giffords. You know a member of Congress was shot in the head, and that didn't bring any kind of gun control afterward. So when one of their own is attacked and Congress doesn't act, you really have to ask what would make them move forward.
BERMAN: Just quickly yes or no, do you think some kind of gun bill will get a vote in the Senate?
BERMAN: Right thanks very much.
ROMANS: Right. Ahead on STARTING POINT, he was a college all American, he had a Hall of Fame NBA career and now Adrian Dantley is giving back to his community in a very surprising way. He's going to join us live after the break.
BERMAN: And do not forget to watch CNN's new show "The Lead" hosted by Jake Tapper it is today at 4:00 Eastern Time.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: So after an all American career at Notre Dame, Adrian Dantley went to greatness in the NBA. And these days the Hall of Famer is pounding the pavement instead of the hard court. It's part of his new job. Dantley spends an hour each day as a crossing guard in Silver Spring, Maryland. We are really lucky now to be joined by Adrian Dantley at the school where he works.
A.D., it's great to see you this morning. Thank you for talking to us.
ANDRIAN DANTLEY, NBA HALL OF FAMER: How are you doing? It's pretty cold.
BERMAN: So please explain to our audience why you're doing this. You made millions playing in the NBA, you're a hall of famer. Why this job?
DANTLEY: Well, basically I didn't work last year so I got bored sitting around the house and usually I'm -- I'm a routine guy, so I was in the weight room one day and some guys were in there talking and they said they like to do some things for some kids just a little bit, maybe one hour a day. And then one guy said, you know what, my wife is a crossing guard.
And I said to myself that would be a good job for me. That way I can stay busy, spend some time with the kids, do something for the community. And that's why I'm here.
ROMANS: And you know you're off the clock, we should point out, so there are no children waiting on the other side of that street. You're off the clock, as of now you finished your shift. So tell us you work one hour a day. Now, some folks have said that maybe, you know, you like the money or is it the benefits? I mean, what are -- what are the perks besides just being able to play with the kids?
DANTLEY: I think a lot of people talk about the benefits, but I am basically doing it for the kids. Yes, you do have some benefits. It helps -- it pays for my health insurance. I think that's what everybody is talking about.
ROMANS: Now that's smart. You know what they say smart is the new rich.
DANTLEY: Well, you know, in the NBA -- in the NBA even though you make a lot of money, they don't -- they don't pay for your health premiums and me watching news and business and the premiums goes up every year. And I always joke to people, I told my wife, I said, you know what, I don't care how much money that people might think I might have, I'm not going to spend $17,000 on health insurance. That's what I spent last year.
BERMAN: Always a smart player, A.D., no doubt.
FRATES: A.D., so do you get recognized? Are the kids' dads coming up to you looking for autographs now? How is that going? DANTLEY: Well, when I started the school year in September, people who knew basketball, they knew me. But now in the last week, I think everybody in both schools know me now.
ROSMAN: Does having the long arm span of a professional basketball player help you in your crossing guard duties?
DANTLEY: Well, I'm at two intersections that's pretty dangerous. Two kids almost got hit twice. I almost got hit once in the beginning in September. I was a rookie. And all the other crossing guards were kind of kidding me a little bit. But you have 146 crossing guards in Montgomery County, and there's only three men.
So when I had a meeting the first day of work, three guys, man, I'm so happy you joined us. These women give us a hard time. So I am in the minority -- I'm in the minority here in the county, in Montgomery County.
ROMANS: What a role reversal. What a role reversal because it's so interesting that he's the rookie now.
BERMAN: More challenging opponent, the 1988 Celtics or the kids, the scores of kids crossing the street every day?
DANTLEY: I think -- I think it's more dangerous out here than playing one on one and me taking a hard foul from an NBA player.
BERMAN: All right Adrian Dantley, thank you so much for coming on. And good luck to you. Nice to see you out there every day helping all those kids.
ROMANS: That is so cool.
DANTLEY: Thank you.
ROMANS: That is so cool. Those kids are so, so lucky to have him there.
The "End Point" is next.
BERMAN: Time for "End Point" now. Katie, you want to start us off?
ROSMAN: Sure. Well I'm going to be looking to see what happens in Israel with Syria up there pushing the envelope. And I also want to mention there's a great story in today's personal journal section of the "Wall Street Journal" about Type A cleaners, like crazy, crazy, manic cleaners and what consumer product companies are doing to give mostly women just this like hard-core ammo to just get down and un- dirty.
ROMANS: It's household perfection.
ROSMAN: It is.
BERMAN: You're a clean guy, Chris.
FRATES: I'm a clean guy and I'm always looking for a clean kitchen. So I will tune in. But I'm also like Katie looking at the Middle East. And I think with what's coming out of Syria, the developments about who used chemical weapons and when, with the President there, things are starting to feel a little more bellicose. And I'm looking for signals in the public appearances and the press conferences that both the President and the Prime Minister will hold that something is changing -- there, the talks are changing there. How fast is Israel -- what kind of timeline are they running on before they want to strike Iran. Where is the President on that and is Syria going to overtake this.
I'm watching it closely. And I have a little worry that we could be headed down a road toward some kind of attack and violence.
BERMAN: Right now the U.S. not wanting to say that they have confirmation that there are chemical weapons in Syria, but we will watch that closely. Chris Frates, Katie Rosman, thanks so much.
FRATES: Thank you guys.
ROSMAN: Thanks for having us.
ROMANS: All right, that's it for us. NEWSROOM with Carol Costello begins right now.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, breaking overnight: the President landing in Israel.