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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Strong Words from Kerry; Paving the Way in Sports

Aired April 12, 2013 - 08:00   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Our STARTING POINT this morning, the secretary of state trying to diffuse a powder keg on the Korean Peninsula. John Kerry arriving in Seoul, this happening while you were sleeping, he is meeting with South Korean officials right now.

Then he will travel to Beijing and Tokyo, where he will be doing a little diplomatic arm twisting to see if he can get some help in dealing with the North Koreans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Neither the United States nor the Republic of Korea nor the international community. We are all united in the fact that North Korea will not be accepted as a nuclear power.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Kerry's visit comes one day after a Pentagon intelligence report was made public, saying North Korea has the ability to launch a nuclear weapon on a ballistic missile.

BERMAN: We are joined now live on the phone by Jill Daugherty, she is traveling with Secretary Kerry.

And, Jill, you got to ask the secretary a question about the fact that North Korea seems, by all indications, seems to be preparing for a missile launch.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, there are a lot of good lack of clarity about that statement. But as you remember, congressmen up on Capitol Hill in a brief hearing asked about it, and this was a classified report, but an unclassified part of the classified report by the DIA, saying that North Korea could launch a missile with a nuclear device.

Now I asked Secretary Kerry and also the foreign minister of South Korea, whether they agreed with that. Secretary Kerry said he was inaccurate to suggest that they had tested or developed, or demonstrated the capability to do what it says in that one line in that report. However he did say they have conducted nuclear tests and of course they have missiles, but he added again, that is different from actually miniaturizing a warhead and putting on top of a missile.

I think, John, you'd have to say that the message from him was on the one hand, on the other hand. It was very strong in support of South Korea, but it was also giving some signs that the U.S. might be able or might be willing to talk to North Korea, if it did what it's supposed to do. But let's hear the secretary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: If Kim Jong-Un decides to launch a missile, whether it's across the sea of Japan or in some other direction, he will be choosing willfully to ignore the entire international community. His own obligations that he has accepted and it will be a provocative and unwanted act that will raise people's temperature with respect to this issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAUGHERTY: Secretary Kerry there. And he does have a busy -- very busy trip in Asia now. He's in South Korea. Tomorrow which is Saturday, we head for Beijing to a crucial part of the trip, talking with the Chinese, talking to -- the secretary will try to get them to use their influence, which he thinks is considerable with North Korea, and then finally on to Japan -- John.

BERMAN: Jill Dougherty, you will be on that crucial, crucial mission with the secretary of state. Thank you so much for joining us this morning.

Jill Daugherty from Seoul, South Korea.

ROMANS: And our Jim Clancy is also in Seoul. More from him now on the secretary's visit.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry used his visit to Seoul in an attempt to seize the initiative from Kim Jong-Un. He wasn't even mention -- by name. He said that he was calling on the leadership of North Korea, and one leader in particular, to he said, to make the right decision.

This was a matter of carrot and stick. Yes, he was telling the North Koreans that their nuclear program was unacceptable. South Korea felt that way, the region feels that way, the international community feels that way, and they are all firm in that conclusion. But at the same time, Secretary Kerry did hold out a carrot to Pyongyang.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: President Obama ordered a number of exercises not to be undertaken. I think we have lowered our rhetoric significantly and we are attempting to find a way, for reasonableness to prevail here and we are seeking a partner to deal with in a rational and reasonable way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CLANCY: Finding reasonableness may not be that easy. Pyongyang has made yet more harsh remarks, saying they were creating a new ministry for nuclear energy. Now take it again, three, two -- take it again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: All right, that was Jim Clancy for us this morning in Seoul, South Korea.

ROMANS: Yes. A taped report from Jim.

All right, let's bring in Franklin Graham, he is the CEO of Samaritans First, a Christian humanitarian organization. He's been to North Korea four times over the last 13 years.

So nice to see you here this morning, sir. We've got this revelation that North Korea could have the capacity to load nuclear weapons onto missiles, we have this ratcheting up of rhetoric. We have this leader in North Korea who has said he would just like a call from the president of the United States.

How do we ratchet -- what is the off-ramp here for the North Koreans and the crisis on the Korean peninsula?

FRANKLIN GRAHAM, EVANGELIST: First of all, I think we need to pray. We need to pray for our president, we need to pray that God will give him wisdom, as he makes decisions at this point. This is a very critical time right now for our country. And we need to come behind our president and support him with prayer. That God would just give him wisdom.

We look at these various off-ramps and there -- over the last few months, it's been almost a tit for tat. They do something. We do something. Then they do something again, and it's been -- the whole thing has been ratcheted up now, and I think the president has made the right decision to take some of these exercises that have been planned and now to delay them or to cancel them I think is the right decision to make.

You've got to find a way to tone this thing down. But not just tone it down, but we need to find a path forward. How do we resolve this crisis in Korea? For 60 years, we have had our armies there on the border and nothing has changed. And we need to find a way forward that would somehow bring peace to the peninsula. Both sides. The North wants that, I believe, and the South wants that very much. But how we get there, we just need -- we need God to give wisdom.

ROMANS: And we should say your family has been involved in the country for an awfully long time. Even your mother was there before the war. You have been there and visited. Your father has as well. So tell me the mindset of the North Korean people? I mean, one of the concerns here is that they are prepared for war, they are expecting war, and -- just listen to this. This is what a former North Korean spy who spoke to CNN about the mindset of the country told us. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MA YOUNG AE, FORMER NORTH KOREAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICER (Through Translator): I believe that the war will break out, and I believe that by 99 percent. Because when you think about the psychology of this people, they're not thinking that I need to survive, but you all die. It's not that. You're going to die and I'm going to die as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: What's your reaction to that? Is that the mindset from the people that you have met?

GRAHAM: The people of course I have met have been in the foreign ministry and I've met with church leadership. The people in the foreign ministry I believe want peace. But no question, the whole country is prepared for war. Everywhere you look, you see armed men, you see men in uniform. And it seems like to children, the early teens, all the way up through their mid 50s or 60s, all look like they have guns in their arms. So I think the whole country, no question, is ready for war.

And we are their enemy. They are fed that, day in, day out, that America is their enemy and they need to prepare to fight America. We have been doing humanitarian work for the last number of years. My mother went to school there in '34. My father made his first visit in the early '90s. We have tried to maintain a dialog, at least with the churches and the Christians in the country. Those -- we want them to know that America isn't their enemy, we're their friend and we want peace.

But more importantly this is an atheist country and I want them to know that there is a god who loves them and cares for them, who sent a savior and his name was Jesus Christ who came to this earth to die for our sins and we can be forgiven. And I want to -- I want the leadership in the North to know that god does love them. And they need his help at this time. Just like we need his help.

ROMANS: Reverend Graham, thank you so much for joining thus morning. As we continue to watch this unfold.

BERMAN: About 10 minutes after the hour right now. Happening right now, tornado watches still in effect from North Carolina and Virginia after a series of violent twisters and brutal thunderstorms. They simply tore a trail of destruction right through the center of the country. Cars, tossed around like toys, homes, churches, businesses ripped apart, entire neighborhoods, as you can see it. Just strewn with debris. At least one person was killed. Five more injured as a violent twister touched down in Mississippi.

Look at that picture right there. This was the second day in a row that severe weather just caused havoc ones in the Midwest and south. And guess what? This is not over yet.

Samantha Mohr is live in the Severe Weather Center in Atlanta for us.

And Samantha, what are we in store for today?

SAMANTHA MOHR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, the whole line is moving to the east. So as you mentioned, Virginia, North Carolina, still under the gun right now with those tornado watches in play. So throughout the morning we'll continue to watch it. And even into the afternoon here across much of Virginia, we'll be watching for possible severe thunderstorms and that chance that we could see an isolated tornado or so.

And that threat will continue along with the chance for some very gusty damaging winds and some large hails. We've had some very large hails associated with some of these severe thunderstorms.

So they were reporting rain in the D.C. area. And Leesburg, they're reporting heavy rain right now it's slowly making its way into Philadelphia and New York City. So, of course, that will be affecting the airports today. Major delays, over an hour expected in the New York and the D.C. metro areas, Philly, Boston, Minneapolis due to the snow there and the low clouds. Detroit as well will end up seeing delays, probably less than an hour throughout the day.

With the winter weather continuing throughout the Midwest for like third day now, little snow accumulation across the northeast and that system continuing to make its way up the East Coast.

So Christine and John, it's going to be another messy one today. A messy commute home from the city. You can look forward to that today.

BERMAN: Yes. Thanks for that. We are braced for an ugly one indeed.

Samantha Mohr, thanks so much.

Now a look at some more of our top stories. A mail bomb addressed to controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Phoenix. Thanks to a savvy and suspicious employee, that package, that mail bomb never made it past the post office in Flagstaff. Now a federal investigation is underway to find out just who sent it. Arpaio has been threatened before you may know is controversial and outspoken views. The federal government sued him for allegedly violating the civil rights of Latinos.

ROMANS: There are new developments in Colorado in the murder of that state's prison chief. Under arrest this morning is 31-year-old Thomas Guolee. Police took him into custody as a person of interest in connection with the shooting death of Tom Clements who was killed last month at his home. Guolee is said to be an associate of Evan Ebel, the man suspected of murdering Clements.

BERMAN: It's expected to take weeks but the gun control debate is now underway in the Senate. Sixteen Republicans joined Democrats yesterday voting down a filibuster that attempted to stop debate on the bill from taking place at all. Senators from both parties thanked relatives of the victims from the Connecticut school massacre for lobbying lawmakers to get this discussion going.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: We've been in darkness for 20 years when it's come to gun control. Darkness. The lies, the misinformation. And when people see you, it means much more than when they hear me or anybody else. So we've made a huge difference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: There will be many amendments debated, including expanding background checks on gun buyers, also banning assault weapons and banning high-capacity magazines.

ROMANS: IPad versus Nissan. And it ended in a draw. You might have seen this on Facebook. It went viral nearly two million views. A Georgia woman says she saw something flying at her car, but didn't realize she'd had a head-on collision with a tablet. Until later. This amazing thing, the iPad still works. It's now back with its owners. Still no word on whether Apple Cares is going to --

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: I think that's a crazy, crazy picture.

ROMANS: I can't believe it.

BERMAN: All right. Ahead on STARTING POINT, the NHL, the NHL, the National Hockey League, taking a big step towards preventing homophobia in the league by joining up with the You Can Play Project.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can skate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can shoot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can score.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Next, Philadelphia Flyers scout Patrick Burke and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will join us.

ROMANS: Then we'll meet the co-creator of this amazing 3-D pen. The Doodler. We're going to get a live demonstration, too, and we'll meet Carol the elephant. She survived a drive-by shooting. That's at the bottom hour.

You're watching STARTING POINT.

BERMAN: Wow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, if you can play, you can play. That's the unofficial motor of the NHL making it, they says, the most pro-gay professional sports league in the world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you can skate --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can skate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you can shoot --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can shoot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you can score --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can score.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: You know, to make that really striking video the NHL Teamed up with the You Can Play organization. It's a group really that has hockey in its blood. It was co-founded by Patrick Burke to honor his brother Brendan's memory.

Brendan was an athlete and student manager for Miami University's hockey team. He was really the first in the hockey community to come out as gay. He died in a car accident less than a year after he came out.

ROMANS: Now working with You Can Play, the NHL says it will fight homophobia, a move that could pave the way for the first openly gay athlete in professional sports. Patrick Burke joins us this morning. He's a scout with the Philadelphia Fryers. Also with us NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman.

And Commissioner, let me start with you. Why is it important for the NHL to be out in front on this issue?

GARY BETTMAN, NHL COMMISSIONER: Well, there are actually a couple of reasons. We have for the last two decades been stressing the importance of diversity and being an open and welcoming place for athletes, for hockey players, without regard to national origin, color. And I think this is the next stage of the evolution. I think Patrick has done an outstanding job on focusing attention on homophobia and what needs to be done to deal with it directly and honestly and candidly.

Because we want people to know whether or not you're an NHL hockey player, or you're a child, or a long-time fan that this is the place where you can feel comfortable, no matter who you are.

BERMAN: We're hearing this discussed so much more now than I ever remember being discussed in professional sports. Football, basketball, and now hockey.

Patrick, why do you think that is? Why now?

PATRICK BURKE, CO-FOUNDER, "YOU CAN PLAY": I think it's just time in a lot of ways. I think that for decades this was something that wasn't talked about in sports and when it was talked about, it was often in a negative sense. And now our athletes are tired of being seen as meathead jocks, they're tired of being portrayed as people who aren't supported.

You know, NHL athletes engaged. They're in their communities, they're socially active, and they are tired of being seen as bullies.

ROMANS: Well, the thing is too is that when you can have this kind of message, coming from the role models, then the message goes all the way down, because for many kids, the first time they're ever going to hear a word that's a derogatory term for a gay or a lesbian is we're going to be in a sporting event. It's the kind of things that kids tell each other. Talk to each other. Then we -- not even know what it means. If you can set this tone from the top, it can change that behavior.

BURKE: Absolutely. Our athletes are heroes to thousands of kids around the world and, you know, you can go into any city and find young athletes who can copy a player's skating style or batting stance, or touchdown celebration dance. Now we're saying let's copy them on this too and have your language fall in mine with what your NHL heroes are doing.

BERMAN: As we're saying, you're really is going sport to sport right now. And there are a lot of statements made on all sides of the issue, which can be striking. And just a few weeks ago, Phil Jackson, the famous basketball coach, said that he believed he did not believe he'd ever come across a gay player in basketball. Never, he said. I'm wondering if you think right now there are any gay players in the National Hockey League?

BETTMAN: I don't know. It's really pure speculation to even figure out whether or not that's the case or how many. I believe that sports mirrors society, so I would be surprised if there weren't gay athletes in any of the major sports.

But to echo what Patrick said, we in sports have a unique opportunity. We have the platforms to reach the greatest number of people, our players, our role models and I think it's incumbent upon sports leagues to try and do the right thing.

ROMANS: Do you think that gay players may hide their sexuality or may be turned away from professional sports because they are worried about coming out or worried about being discovered? So you think that's still the culture?

BETTMAN: It has been I suppose historically. But what we're trying to do is make it clear that we have an environment where whoever you are, whatever you believe, whatever you practice, whatever your orientation, you can feel comfortable and welcomed and we have the resources to back that up.

BERMAN: Patrick, what do you think is the biggest barrier? Is it money, is it the locker room, is it fear of the fans?

BURKE: I think now it's fear of media coverage. I think the last thing that's left is no one wants to be a part of a firestorm that's going to happen. No one wants to be the figure head on this. So from talking to athletes, no one wants to be a distraction.

This is their livelihood. You know professional hockey players, this is how they put food on the table, this is how they pay for kids' college tuition, and they don't want to be a distraction to their team, they don't want to be, you know, being swarmed by media, be distracted themselves. So I think the last thing that we need to do is have a plan in place to deal with media.

BERMAN: Do you have a plan in place?

BURKE: I do.

BERMAN: You do? Tell me about the plan.

BURKE: Well, it depends on the player. If the player wants to do 1,000 interviews, if he was wants to do CNN every morning and talk about how great it is to be openly gay in the NHL, then we can do that. If he doesn't ever want to do one interview in his life, he needs us to pass block for him and keep the mediocre back. Then we'll do that as well.

BETTMAN: And that's the purpose of the partnership.

BERMAN: This is what you want to see happened.

(CROSSTALK)

BURKE: Right.

BETTMAN: We want to make sure that people are comfortable being associated with NHL, with sports, whatever your age, whatever your orientation.

BERMAN: All right. Gary Bettman, Patrick Brook. Thank you so much for joining us. Now again, Initiative, is "You Can Play Initiative." We saw the PSA right there. It was striking. A wonderful message to send. Thank you so much.

ROMANS: All right, ladies, listen up. Ahead on STARTING POINT, could women be wearing bras for no reason. Whoa. The new study, that tease just surprised me and caught me offguard. That's trending, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Here's what's trending right now. CNN -- look at this. Jay- Z suggesting in song that his trip to Cuba with Beyonce was OK with President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY-Z, SINGER/RAPPER: Obama said, chill, you're going to get me impeached. You don't need this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) anyway, chill with me on the beach.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: In other part of song he say he got a White House clearance. But the White House says that's not true. Jay-Z -- actually the press secretary Jay Carney explained.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I guess nothing rhymes with Treasury.

(LAUGHTER)

Because Treasury offers and gives licenses for travel, as you know, and the White House has nothing to do with it.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So are you saying that the he did not -- the president did not have a conversation with JAY-Z.

CARNEY: I am absolutely saying that the White House from the president on down had nothing to do with anybody's travel with Cuba. That is something that treasury handles.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: I haven't seen analysis from the president's press secretary unwrap lyrics before.

BERMAN: No, I mean --

ROMANS: I have never seen that.

BERMAN: If you had the pleasure of being on Twitter yesterday, you saw a lot of people post words that do in fact rhyme with Treasury. So there were options out there, it turns out.

More news now. A French study may get us gals -- or you gals, I should say.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: You may think differently about your undergarments. The study shows wearing bras may not prevent women's breasts from sagging. In fact, it may even increase it. Published Wednesday by a French professor, this 15-year study involved more than 300 women. Those who did not wear bras had a slight lift. And their breasts were even firmer. There's also evident -- there's no evidence bras got rid of back pain. And I apologized for any one who was eating breakfast right now and they're to explain to the children what we're talking about.

BERMAN: I still don't know what you're talking about right now. Explain it to me.

ROMANS: Ahead on STARTING POINT, a mail bomb sent to controversial Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. We're on live air. (INAUDIBLE) for details.

BERMAN: An elephant caught in the crossfire in a drive-by shooting. We're going to meet Carol from the (INAUDIBLE) Brothers and (INAUDIBLE) Circus live and get an update on her condition from her trainer. And this is just awesome. Check this out. A pen that makes 3-D creations. We're going to meet the brains behind the 3 Doodler and get a live 3-D demonstration.

You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)