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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

National Park Nightmare; Angelina Jolie Makes Red Carpet Appearance; Ten-Year-Old Needs Lung Transplant to Live; Fight for Life; Buzz around New Cheerios Ad

Aired June 3, 2013 - 08:30   ET

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


IVAN WATSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Before leaving he gave a speech to the media basically accusing the demonstrators of being vandals and members of extremist groups and challenging them, saying, listen, if you're accusing of me of being a dictator, let's settle it at the elections 10 months from now and we'll see who get the majority of the votes.

That is the kind of heated rhetoric that is probably not going to calm the anger of this spontaneous explosion of anger that we've seen in the streets of Istanbul and other cities over the past four days.

Back to you.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Ivan Watson, thanks. And of course we watch so closely what is happening there because it is a democracy that has been stable and a reliable partner for the U.S. So obviously watching what's been happening over the (inaudible).

(CROSSTALK)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Major U.S. ally that is often an island of stability when we see protests like that in Turkey. It could be disturbing, very much.

All right. Here at home, a national park nightmare. The search continues this morning for 11-year-old Aleh Kalman (ph) who was swept over a waterfall while swimming at Yosemite National Park over the weekend.

Park rangers believe it is impossible to survive the 600-foot drop that he must have endured. CNN's Miguel Marquez live at Yosemite National Park for us this morning.

Miguel, what's going on there?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you know, John, this place is an absolute wonderland of nature. I mean, this is -- Yosemite Falls right here, which is just stunning to be here in the morning to see this.

And as far as beautiful as it is here, it is also incredibly dangerous. Mr. Kalman (ph) was about three miles up on a hike near a different set of falls. He went swimming. There are signs posted there that say that it is dangerous to swim there because you are very close to the precipice of the falls.

And he apparently went anyway. The authorities say that he swam out to a rock in the center of the stream. When he tried to swim back, that's when he got caught up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARI COBB, YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK SPOKESWOMAN: He actually got swept away in the current and unfortunately, got swept downstream and over the waterfall. Nevada Fall is a 600-foot waterfall and we do believe that it is impossible to survive a fall like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUEZ: Now they launched everything, helicopters, dogs and dozens of rescuers as soon as he went over those falls. But now they believe that they're peeling a lot of that back, they believe it's almost impossible for him to have survived.

They are now searching along the river bed hoping to find his remains. But he was with a church group. It is summertime. He was young. There was a lot of people out there. And it is a very good warning for people out in the nature this summer, John.

BERMAN: Yes, we're looking just at simply beautiful images -- the view, of course, and also what's behind you there at Yosemite. Great pictures.

Anyone who has been to Yosemite knows there are warnings posted everywhere to be careful in situations like this. But after a tragedy like the event that we just witnessed here in Yosemite, any sense that they will try to tighten the restrictions even more?

MARQUEZ: There is not. They say there are lots of postings exactly where he was swimming. It's a long way up there. It does get hot here during the day. He may have just wanted to cool down. But it is deceptive. That water may look calm on top, but once you're in it, it can sweep you, John.

BERMAN: All right, Miguel Marquez in Yosemite National Park this morning. Thanks so much, Miguel, appreciate it.

ROMANS: All right. A cloud of smoke covering an area north of Los Angeles this morning, the so-called Powerhouse Fire exploding in size over the weekend and taking homes with it. It's now burned 25,000 acres. It's just about 20 percent contained. Thousands of people potentially in harm's way have been told to evacuate.

Fire crews in New Mexico are battling two out-of-control wildfires there.

BERMAN: The tornado death toll in Oklahoma now stands at 16 and we're getting another look at just how dangerous and powerful these storms can be. Watch as this tornado in El Reno, Oklahoma, sucks a tractor- trailer backward before it does this, just simply flips the thing over. Oklahoma City's five chief saying they recovered five bodies yesterday several miles from the storm drain, where the victims likely sought shelter during Friday's violent weather.

The search continues today for six other people who are missing, among the missing an 8-year-old girl.

ROMANS: Will the winner of a $590 million Powerball prize please come forward?

It has been two long weeks now since a single winning Powerball ticket was sold at a public supermarket in Zephyr Hills, Florida. Conspiracy theories abound in this small town as to who might actually have won.

The winner has 60 days from the time of May 18th drawing to claim a lump sum payment and until mid-November for annual cash payments.

BERMAN: Taking their time.

ROMANS: Talking to an attorney.

BERMAN: Probably a good idea.

ROMANS: Maybe a divorce lawyer. No, no, I'm just kidding. Just teasing.

BERMAN: Christine Romans, how your mind works.

Angelina Jolie looking more spectacular than ever. She is back in the spotlight and breaking her silence after stepping out of the red carpet. This is the first time she's done so since her double mastectomy.

She joined fiance Brad Pitt at the London premiere of his new movie, "World War Z," the power couple speaking openly about her surgery and their decision to bring the public into their private lives. CNN's Erin McLaughlin now live from London this morning with the latest on this, good morning, Erin.

ERIC MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Well, Angelina looked absolutely beautiful yesterday. I had a chance to chat with Brad at the premiere and he told me that her health means everything to him.

There were moments when they both became teary-eyed at the premiere. And they talked to me; it was clearly an emotional event.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Hundreds of photographers and thousands of applauding fans greeted Angelina Jolie for her return to the red carpet.

ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTRESS AND ACTIVIST: I feel great. I feel wonderful. I'm very grateful for all the support. It's meant a lot to me. MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Angelina didn't disappoint. She was a vision in a backless, floor-length Saint Laurent gown. Her best accessory: long-time love Brad Pitt in matching black.

Angelina was on hand to support Brad at the premiere of his zombie movie, "World War Z." It was Angelina's first red carpet appearance since she'd announced that she'd had a preventative double mastectomy. The mother of six was at times emotional.

MCLAUGHLIN (from captions): Have Brad and the kids been really supportive?

JOLIE: Oh, they've been -- I get moved to talk about it, yes.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): It was her decision after testing positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation which increased her risk for breast and ovarian cancer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ever since Angelina Jolie announced that she had a double mastectomy, everyone was wondering what was she going to look like and when she appeared on the carpet with Brad Pitt, she looked absolutely stunning.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): She has become an inspiration to millions since her brave revelation.

JOLIE: I've been very happy to see the discussion about women's health expanded and that means the world to me. And after losing my mom to these issues, I'm very grateful for it.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Angelina's biggest fan says he is thankful to have his fiancee healthy and happy by his side.

BRAD PITT, ACTOR: It's actually a heroic decision to undertake that and then to go beyond that and share that with others, because she realizes that this is not available for everyone and it should be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCLAUGHLIN: Well, because Angelina was in London supporting Brad, she was not able to attend her aunt's funeral. Debbie Martin, who also tested positive for the BRCA gene, passed away last week from breast cancer. It's reported that Angelina is in contact with the Martin family offering her sympathy and support, John.

BERMAN: They both looked great out there on the red carpet last night. Erin McLaughlin in London for us, thanks so much, Erin.

ROMANS: OK. Joining us now from Atlanta to discuss the medical aspects of Angelina Jolie's recovery, both mental and physical, is CNN's senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen.

Elizabeth, let's talk about the challenges she may have faced along the way after a double mastectomy. We're seeing her now four months after her original surgery. ELIZABETH COHEN, SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know what, Christine, I was talking last night with a doctor who is a friend of mine, she's a gynecologist who had the surgery, who had a mastectomy and reconstruction.

And she is a tough lady, but even she was out for six weeks, didn't return to work for six weeks. Those first six weeks afterwards, that would have been February to mid-march for Angelina, are hard. You're recovering from a surgery that can be as long as five or six hours. Obviously you've been cut into. And so those first six weeks are hard.

But she said after that, she was able to go back to work. She was still kind of fatigued, she said, for several months, but she said really after a couple of months, she did feel like herself again.

ROMANS: What about the future, what issues she might face going forward? Again, it's been four months, so now, the surgeries are over, the healing is over. Now what comes next?

COHEN: Right. What comes next is she actually mentioned that she's going to have her ovaries removed. And this is standard for someone in this situation, because having this bad BRCA gene puts her at risk for having not just breast cancer but for getting ovarian cancer as well, which of course is what killed her mother.

That's a simpler procedure in many ways. The recovery is quicker, but it does put you into menopause. So that's something that women have to think about, how they're going to handle.

Now, as far as the long-term complications from the breast surgery, usually there aren't any. Sometimes the implants don't do what they're supposed to do and doctors have to go back in, but usually it does go well.

BERMAN: Of course, what Angelina Jolie has really accomplished here is making this discussion so public, a lot of people talking about this right now.

What can other women take away or learn from what she's been through?

COHEN: What women can learn is that they need to be empowered patients. If you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, you should know that family history and do something about it.

I've talked to women who were just scared, who were just too scared to do anything. Don't be scared into a paralysis. Go to a genetic counselor or go to a doctor who specializes in this and ask if genetic testing is right for you, because that then gives you the tools to make a decision about whether you want to have this surgery or not, like Angelina did.

ROMANS: All right, Elizabeth Cohen. Thank you so much, Elizabeth.

COHEN: Thanks. BERMAN: All right. Ahead on STARTING POINT, this Pennsylvania mother tells us how a change to an organ donor policy could save her daughter's life.

ROMANS: And the maker of iconic breakfast cereal Cheerios standing by a new ad that some are praising, most are praising, rather, but others surprisingly say they're offended by it. We're going to play you the ad. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone.

So Sarah Murnaghan may only have weeks left to live. The 10-year-old Pennsylvania girl has end-stage cystic fibrosis, she desperately needs a lung transplant and she's been waiting 18 months to get one.

But because of her age and federal guidelines, her parents say that Sarah is being left to die. They have now hired an attorney and they're formally petitioning Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to change the rules. Jason Carroll here now with this heartwrenching story.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's really coming down to the wire for this little girl, and her parents are trying to do everything they possibly can.

With each passing day, Sarah Murnaghan's lungs just keep getting weaker. She is suffering from cystic fibrosis which is a genetic disorder that affects the lungs. The 10-year old is at the top of the list for receiving lungs from another child, but she's been waiting for 18 months and time is running out.

Right now federal guidelines prevent Sarah from getting priority on the adult donor list. Her parents say the federal government should change those guidelines, and they've appealed to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Her parents say she has the power to make the change. But on Friday, Sebelius emailed Sarah's parents, saying she does not have the authority. The email says, "I know that this is not the answer you were hoping to receive, and I can't begin to imagine how difficult the situation is. My prayers are with you."

Sebelius says she will order a transplant policy review, but if there were to be a change of policy, that could take years. Sarah's parents say they simply do not have that kind of time. This morning her mother is saying this is a civil rights issue for all children and now they have taken legal action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANET MURNAGHAN, DAUGHTER NEEDS LUNG TRANSPLANT: Yes I just like to say that you know we have hired counsel and we have sent a letter to Secretary Sebelius stating for her why this is in the scope of her ability to change this law for all of the children rather than let them wait to die.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARROLL: And they sent that letter out this morning. In the meantime, Sarah compared her lung disease to a boat filling with sand. But she says she is never going to give up. And from what you hear right there it seems that the family, her parents are not going to give up either.

ROMANS: And they have been waiting 18 months for that call.

(CROSSTALK)

CARROLL: Eighteen months.

ROMANS: For that call where someone calls and says we're ready, we've got the lungs and we have a go. And they've been waiting for children's lungs until now --

(CROSSTALK)

CARROLL: Right.

ROMANS: -- they say -- we want -- we want to be on the adult list, too.

CARROLL: But we were just discussing this before. I mean you guys know what the situation basically is. The reality is there is just not enough in terms of donations out there for children or for adults.

ROMANS: Right there aren't enough organs for the people who need them. And you know this mother is taking it a kind of a very different turn than we've seen a family who is fighting for the child.

CARROLL: Right.

ROMANS: She's saying the government's red tape will kill her daughter, like she would like to see this red tape released. But boy, it would be just -- it will be wonderful for them to get a call today.

CARROLL: That's right and they're trying to change the red tape in a short amount of time.

ROMANS: Right.

BERMAN: Which is why she's asking for a one-on-one donation essentially to someone to reach out and say --

(CROSSTALK)

CARROLL: Absolutely.

BERMAN: -- we will give you this organ from our family member.

CARROLL: Yes.

BERMAN: Jason Carroll, thanks so much we appreciate it.

ROMANS: All right, ahead on STARTING POINT, the use of an interracial family in a Cheerios commercial prompting praise, but then this online nasty criticism. The company had to shut down its comments section of its official YouTube page. We're going to play you the ad just ahead.

You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: A key Democrat says he's confident immigration reform legislation will pass in the Senate. Chuck Schumer of New York is a member of that bipartisan Gang of Eight working on this bill. And he says it will come to the floor next week and predicts it will pass by Fourth of July with GOP support. But the bill faces deep resistance in the Republican-controlled House.

BERMAN: The Supreme Court finishing up its remaining caseload. You're looking right now at a live picture of the Supreme Court where justices will meet today and for the next three Mondays to announce their rulings. 28 cases awaiting opinions including a few really high profile decisions on affirmative action, same-sex marriage, voting rights and also human gene patents.

South African blade runner Oscar Pistorius is due back in court tomorrow. Pistorius facing murder charges in the death of his girlfriend model Reeva Steenkamp. He has been leaving with his aunt and uncle and Pistorius keeping a low profile since being released on bail. His lawyers now want to know how some graphic crime scene photos wound up being broadcast last week on Britain's Sky News.

BERMAN: So it's a cereal that barely needs any advertisement to begin with -- Cheerios has been a household name for decades. But one of their new ads is really serving up controversy. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes honey.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dad told me that Cheerios is good for your heart. Is that true?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It says here that Cheerios has whole grain oats that can help remove some cholesterol. Nuts are healthy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: We're laughing. It's kind of goofy and this wholesome kind of way. What exactly has caused such a stir? Well it seems the use of an interracial family has everyone talking and even has some people upset. Some folks saying it's an important step, others posting comments that got so bad Cheerios had to shut the comments down on the official YouTube video. We want to talk about this with Nancy Giles. She's a social commentator and a contributor to "CBS Sunday Morning". Thank you so much for being with us.

NANCY GILES, SOCIAL COMMENTATOR: It's a pleasure.

BERMAN: Is this ad groundbreaking?

GILES: I guess it is because -- because you don't -- you still don't see too many interracial families on television. I think there was a series actually years ago Fox tried to do a series with an interracial couple I think when they first started that ended up off the air pretty quickly.

But it's just a beautiful family. And the kid is so cute. And the Cheerios are so cute. I mean what -- I don't -- I really, I love seeing it, but I don't think there is really -- there should be the controversy about it.

ROMANS: It actually sort of unremarkable, right, so you have this tag line at the end called "love".

GILES: Right.

ROMANS: And you've seen some of their other love ads like this big baby just eating Cheerios and it just says "love" at the end. So this is obviously is sort of just grew out of the love. But then they put it on YouTube and people were nasty.

GILES: People are horrible.

ROMANS: The comments were nasty.

GILES: People can be horrible. I think with social media, there is some level of anonymity. Anonymity God it wouldn't come out -- where people don't think that they are going to be seen as themselves. And it lets free this kind of horrible, horrible remark making like the old slam books where you used to write in and no one would know it was you and people say the most awful things.

BERMAN: I was asking if it was-ground breaking because there was an interracial couple in the Jeffersons which was a long time ago.

GILES: That's right, that's right.

BERMAN: We have a president who you know -- who is bi-racial.

GILES: Really? Are you serious?

BERMAN: We've sort of come you know a fairly long way. But you said you were very unsurprised by the reaction.

GILES: Oh my God of course not and I -- because we have a president that is black and white we've -- it's brought out a lot of bizarre behavior in people. It's a clear symbol that the country's changing. And the demographics of the country are changing. And you know, people who are of different faiths sometimes fall in love, different colors. Sometimes you have families where there are two mommies and two daddies. And there are people who can't take that.

And they still want to hold on to the way things were. And change just happens. That's just how life is. And look at that beautiful kid.

ROMANS: I know. She's so cute.

GILES: She's just adorable.

ROMANS: So 19,000 people gave the video a thumbs-up on that YouTube channel; 1,300 gave it a thumbs-down. So I guess if you're looking at perspective and ratio --

GILES: Right.

ROMANS: 19,000 to 1,300 -- General Mills said that it was surprised -- surprised that this had become a news story. This is what the associate market director for Cheerios said. "Our actors reflect so many families across America that we are actually a little surprised to see this ad become a story on its own. Multicultural families are everywhere including on television. So the attention that this received from the media is somewhat surprising."

GILES: When you have a bunch of vicious, vicious remarks by people, and as you were saying earlier, these days the comments to anything that is posted almost become the story as much as the thing itself. And people felt perfectly fine to just let it rip and say the most racist, bigoted backwards kind of things about this lovely couple. And I agree with General Mills, there are a lot of couples that look that way. They just do. They're there.

BERMAN: General Mills is in the business of selling Cheerios. Do you think they did this to get that extra little bit of publicity?

GILES: You know, it's possible -- we're talking about it. You know, a lot of people are talking about it. But in the end, if you're a little kid and you love Cheerios, you know how many times you see kids having temper tantrums in the cereal aisle. I can't imagine some parent who might be bigoted saying, "We're not buying them because they had a black father and a white mother" and the kid's like "I want it. I want it."

I think in the end it will sell and it will keep selling.

BERMAN: Nancy Giles, thank you so much.

GILES: You're welcome. You too.

BERMAN: It's great to talk to you this morning. It's been a blast. Appreciate it.

STARTING POINT back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BERMAN: "Fast and Furious 6" is the number one movie in America.

ROMANS: Yes, I wonder why. Two weeks running now. But the film's $34.5 million weekend is a 65 percent drop from last week's opening. Follow the math here. It is followed at the box office by "Now You See Me" which made $28.1 million and the disappointing "After Earth" which took in $27 million. Some were saying that it received zero stars --

ROMANS: Zero stars at post.

BERMAN: Can't get less than zero.

ROMANS: Happy Monday. That's it for STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. "NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the "NEWSROOM" -- deadly chase.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go south. Brandon, if you don't go south we're going to die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on, brothers. Hold on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Storm veterans caught and crushed by the violent storms that struck Oklahoma.

This morning new questions about the risks these scientists take.