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Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien

Inspector General Issues Report on ATF Conduct; New Evidence Emerges that Attacks on U.S. Embassies in Middle East Organized; Mother Attacks Boy Bullying Her Son; California Prison Riot; New MS Pill Shows Promise; Kroger Spinach Recall; Split-Second Save And A Beauty; A Starbucks In Your Kitchen; Joel Osteen "Declares" His Faith

Aired September 20, 2012 - 07:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning, only on CNN, new information about the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens. We'll tell you what he said about threats against him in the weeks before he died. And new details that the attack in Libya was terrorism.

A "Fast and Furious" fallout. Fourteen federal law enforcement officials have been named in a blistering new report on the botched gun-running program, but not Attorney General Holder. I'll tell you why some people think he should still take the blame.

And Mitt Romney makes his case to Latino voters, tries to undo the damage from his 47 percent controversy. Listen.


MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a campaign about the 100 percent. And over the last several years, you've seen greater and greater divisiveness in this country. We had hoped to come back together, but instead you've seen us pull apart and politics has driven us apart in some respects. So my campaign --


O'BRIEN: Is the backtracking enough to get his campaign back on track?

A packed showed for you this morning. Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings is our guest. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz will join us. Pastor Joel Osteen will join us live as well.

It's Thursday, September 20th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.

Morning, welcome, everybody. Our starting point this morning, it was a terrorist act. Brand-new details about that attack in Benghazi that claimed the lives of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans. The nation's counterterrorism chief is telling Congress that armed extremists saw an opportunity to attack during an protest over an anti-Muslim film and then they took that opportunity.


MATTHEW OLSEN, NATIONAL COUNTERTERRORISM CENTER DIRECTOR: I would say, yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy.


O'BRIEN: Sources tell CNN that Ambassador Stevens expressed concerns in security in the months before he died, specifically mentioning a rise in Islamic extremism, a growing al Qaeda presence in Libya. He also acknowledged being on an al Qaeda hit list. Senator John McCain was practically seething last night when he talked to Anderson on "AC 360".


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Does it make any sense to you the level of -- or the small level of security he apparently had with him?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: It doesn't make any sense. And I'll tell you what else doesn't make any sense is the White House spokesman, secretary of state, and our ambassador to the U.N. stating categorically that it was not a terrorist attack, when obviously it had all the earmarks of a terrorist attack, including rocket-propelled grenades and heavy weapons and a very well-carried out military operations.


O'BRIEN: Libyan military officials tell CNN that they met with members of the U.S. consulate three days before Ambassador Stevens and those three other Americans were killed and they warned them about the rising threat against western interests.

Our other big story this morning is the Justice Department finding no criminal behavior in the botched gun running operation Fast and Furious. The inspector general, Michael Horowitz, did single out 14 employees at the justice department and the bureau of alcohol, a tobacco, and firearms for poor judgment and bad management. Two of them are already gone, one, a key deputy to attorney General Eric Holder. As for holder, the report says he was pretty much left out of the loop. Crime and justice correspondent Joe Johns is live in Washington, D.C., for us this morning. Hey, Joe, good morning.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. There's going to be a congressional hearing today to talk about that report from the justice department's inspector general. It said just a variety of things. I think this inspector general's report read operation fast and furious and related matters revealed a series of misguided strategies, tactics, errors in judgment, management failures that permeated ATF headquarters in the phoenix field division, and at the headquarters of the department of justice, referring 14 people for possible disciplinary action. It did not recommend anyone for criminal prosecution.

Almost within the hour of the report released, two of the highest ranking individuals named in the report were out, former ATF director Kenneth Melson and deputy assistant attorney general Jason Weinstein. This report also found no evidence that Attorney General Eric Holder knew about a lot of the facts in operation fast and furious prior to January 2011. Of course, that was important, because Eric Holder, as you know, Soledad, was actually found in contempt of Congress for not giving up certain information about this to the people who were investigating. I asked Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz, among others, if this meant holder was exonerated. Chaffetz essentially said, no. He said this was his organization, Holder's organization, he should take some personal responsibility.

So the upshot of this, Soledad, as you know, if Washington, D.C. is, look, it was politics before it got started. There's still an element of politics in it, and that politics is probably going to continue, on both sides, for a while.

O'BRIEN: So let me ask you a question then, on that front. We also know in new report that they look back to the similar program under a different name, which was significantly smaller under the Bush administration. One way to, I think, remove the politics from it would be to investigate everything under any administration, right? Is that happening?

JOHNS: Well, they're really talking mostly about operation fast and furious, quite frankly. And again and again and again, we hear on Capitol Hill, this discussion of whether the Justice Department handed over sufficient information for Congress to be able to do its job. And there's a continuing question raised in this report about whether there were a bunch of red flags all over the place, particularly in applications for wiretaps that were asked for in operation fast and furious, that should have sort of set off alarms in the justice department, and people know that they needed to send information up a decline, ask questions, and none of that was done the inspector general's report says, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, we're looking forward to that congressional hearing today. Joe Johns for us, appreciate it. In a few minutes, we'll be chatting with Congressman Elijah Cummings, a ranking member on the Oversight Committee to talk about that report and the congressional testimony today. But first, let's get to John Berman with a look at today's top stories. Hello.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad, great to see. Battleground Florida is where Mitt Romney will be again today. Yesterday Romney was trying to court Latino voters at a Univision forum in Miami, where he was asked about his comments dismissing 47 percent of the electorate.


ROMNEY: This is a campaign about the 100 percent. And over the last several years, you've seen greater and greater divisiveness in this country. We had hoped to come back together, but instead you've seen us pull apart. And politics has driven us apart in some respects. So my campaign is about the 100 percent in America.


BERMAN: The 100 percent a new line for Mitt Romney. He says the Republican Party is the natural home for Hispanic Americans. President Obama today will take on the same meet-the-candidate Univision event as Romney. That's in Miami. It will be streamed live on Facebook at 1:00 p.m. eastern. The President then heads to Tampa for a fund-raiser before head back to the White House.

Prosecutors in Colorado hoping to add ten new criminal counts against shooting suspect James Holmes in court today. Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 during a packed midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" back in July. The judge is also said to consider whether a diary Holmes sent to his psychiatrist just before the shooting can be used as evidence.

The space shuttle Endeavour is on its final journey atop a modified 747. Today Endeavour flies from Houston's Ellington field to Edwards Air Force Base in California. This will include a flyover of Tucson in Arizona, this to honor former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Giffords' husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, was the commander on Endeavour's final mission. The retired shuttle ends trip in Los Angeles, where it will go on display at the California science center. You will not see this picture ever again, by the way, of a shuttle on top a 747 like that, at least, we think.

Beginning next week, New York City subway riders will see ads saying, "Defeat Jihad" in ten subway stations. Officials initially refused to display these ads, but their decision was overruled when a judge ruled the "Defeat Jihad" sign is protected under the first amendment. So you will be seeing them.

O'BRIEN: That's interesting. But there's a lot of stuff on the subways, so maybe it will just be ignored. Thanks. Appreciate that.

Attorney General Eric Holder has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the botched gun running investigation now known as Fast and Furious, but a new report does call for disciplinary action for 14 officials in the justice department and the Aft. Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings is the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee. Thank you for talking with us.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, (D) MARYLAND: Good to be with you.

O'BRIEN: So we know that one of the 14 has been reassigned -- one resigned, one retired, and several were reassigned. What should happen to the rest, these 14 people who have really been named in this report?

CUMMINGS: Well, the attorney general already referred all of them to the office of professional responsibility and DOJ. But keep in mind, Soledad, when this first came up, when he first learned of these tactics, the attorney general immediately did some shuffling around and moved people around, because he wanted, first of all, to be fair to them. And when he ordered the IG report, which we just got, now that he's gotten it, of course, you just mentioned Weinstein and Melson, who's head of Aft, but gone. Now the others have been referred to the, you know, the office of professional responsibility.

So they're going to make their determination, look into this, and I'm sure make recommendations to the attorney general. But, again, he acted on this, and keep in mind, this was a report that was issued at his request. In other words, he asked for the investigation.

O'BRIEN: Right. And the report says this, specifically, about the attorney general. "We determined that attorney general holder did not learn about operation Fast and Furious until late January or early February 2011, was not aware of the allegations of gun walking in the investigation until February. We found no evidence that the department or Aft informed the attorney general about operation wide receiver or operation fast and furious prior to 2011." That's very critical.

But Republicans would say, it's not really a vindication of the attorney general, even if it reads like one, because it's an indication that he lacked leadership. I mean, ultimately, it was the attorney general who had oversight of that program, that ended up in the death of Brian Terry.

CUMMINGS: Well, I think the attorney general has said over and over again that this was a botched and irresponsible operation. He made that very clear. But keep in mind what the report also said. This was a bottom-up operation, not a top-down. In other words, the Phoenix office of the Aft and the Arizona U.S. attorney's office, the report says, were responsible for this. And --

O'BRIEN: Right, but somebody leads those, right?

CUMMINGS: Somebody leads those.

O'BRIEN: The report points out, and let me read --

CUMMINGS: No doubt about it. But I think Eric Holder makes it clear he takes responsibility for this as head, but at the same time, it's kind of hard to take full responsibility of something that you haven't even been provided information with regard to. Keep in mind that the head of Aft, Mr. Melson, who's now gone, never -- he claimed that he didn't even know about it.

O'BRIEN: OK, but the report itself, though -- let me interrupt you for one second, sir. The report itself said this -- "We reviewed wiretap allegations in both operation wide receiver, operation Fast and Furious, and concluded that the affidavits in both case included information that would have caused a prosecutor who was focused on the question of investigative tactics, particularly one who was already sensitive to the issue of gun walking, to have questions about ATF's conduct of the investigations."

In other words, they're saying, there are all these red flags, and if anybody who was reading these wiretap affidavits, which we know the attorney general has said he read in 2011, that they should have known. That's kind of the paragraph that says, he should have known.

CUMMINGS: The fact is, I was there at the briefing yesterday, and what the investigator said was that it had been the custom of folks who should have read actually the affidavits with regard to these wiretap operations, it had been the custom for them to merely read a summary. And unfortunately, just reading the summary, they didn't get all of the information. Sure, there were a lot of things that went wrong here, but clearly, there was -- they concluded that there was no -- everybody here acted in good faith. Maybe some bad judgment, some mismanagement on the lower levels, but clearly, no -- the report concluded that there was no effort to mislead Congress.

O'BRIEN: A lot of the conversation we've been having since we started talking about this has been how much of this is politically motivated. How much is this playing politics? And we now know that the report is critical of both operation wide receiver, which happened turned Bush administration, and operation fast and furious, which happened under the Obama administration. Is there any intention to investigate operation wide receiver, a significantly smaller operation? Is that going to happen?

CUMMINGS: Well, we've been pushing -- the Democrats have been pushing for us to look at that operation wide receiver, which, of course, was under the Bush administration, but we have not done that, and that's partly because I don't think the chairman was that interested in wide receiver, again. And I think a lot of this is political and I've said it all along.

But the fact is that we -- I keep -- I want to go back to the fact that, unfortunately, we had a border patrol agent who was killed. And our aim was to look at this entire situation, to try to figure out why it happened, and make sure it does not happen again. And I think this report goes a long ways towards resolving a lot of issues and showing us what needs to be done. So, hopefully, we will now move to reform. We need to do that.

I think that we have looked at it. I think the IG has looked at it very carefully. And I applaud the IG. I think they've done a very thorough job, reviewing over 100,000 documents, interviewing 130 witnesses. And so now we must move on. But keep in mind, Soledad, that from the very beginning, some very strong and unfortunate allegations were made against Attorney General Holder, saying that he approved it and authorized these tactics.

O'BRIEN: Later this morning, we'll talk to Congressman Gowdy about some of those comments --

CUMMINGS: And we come to find out, he didn't even know about it. So I think that now we need to get to reform. We've got the information, let's move forward.

O'BRIEN: Congressman Elijah Cummings joining us this morning. Nice to see you, sir. Thank you for your time.

CUMMINGS: Good to see you.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, this is information you'll hear only on CNN about how worried Ambassador Chris Stevens was about security in Libya right before he was killed. And take a look at this. Have you seen this video? Watch this. They move. Seconds later, a car comes in, knocks a police cruiser right in front of a couple of people. We'll tell you how one officer jumped into action to really save some lives. That story's ahead. We'll be back in a moment.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDNET: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans. Minding your business, U.S. stock futures signal a lower open for Wall Street. World markets are falling after a weak manufacturing report from China showing China's factories slowed for an 11th month in a row.

Mutual fund managers say the stock market rally is over. And 58 percent of fund managers surveyed by bank of America, Merrill Lynch in September, say stocks are the most overvalued investments in the world. That's up from 51 percent in a survey in August.

And 6 million Americans will pay penalties under Obama's health care law for not having health insurance. That's 2 million more than previous estimates. That's according to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office and the joint committee on taxation. Of course, those fines and penalties, Soledad, begin in the year 2014, and start at $285 per family.

O'BRIEN: Christine, thank you.

Some new details to tell you about on that attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. It was an act of terrorism, according to the nation's counterterrorism chief. Matthew Olsen told Congress that heavily armed extremists saw an opportunity to attack during protests over an anti-Muslim film and they took it. Sources also tell CNN that Ambassador Stevens expressed concerns in security in the months before he died, specifically mentioning a growing al Qaeda presence in Libya. He also acknowledged being on an al Qaeda hit list. Arwa Damon is in Tripoli and has more on that for us. Hey, Arwa, good morning.

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. And as for that act of terrorism, the U.S. saying it most certainly was, but which group is fact responsible for it? That is what both the U.S. and the Libyans are trying to figure out at this stage. But more than a week after this attack took place, the Libyan government is saying that they don't know specifically which, if any group, was behind it, saying that they've questioned at least 50 individuals who were present at the initial demonstration, but none of who they say are directly linked to this attack, Bearing in mind, though, that this horrific incident was not isolated. There have been a series of attacks against western interests in Benghazi, in the previous. You had an attack against the convoy of the British ambassador, the head of the U.N. a mission, an accomplished attack on the head of the ICRC. And of course the consulate itself was attacked in June.

All of this contributing to that sense that according to a source close to the ambassadors thinking, was leading him to express concerns about never-ending security threats and also as you mentioned just there, that he was potentially on an al Qaeda hit list. So there was this growing sense of awareness, not just within the ambassador's thinking, but also in general, about this ongoing rise of threats coming from these extremist militias, a threat that the Libyan government itself has acknowledged it was unable to control it. The Libyans, of course, saying that they warned the Americans about growing threat against them, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Arwa Damon, thank you for that update.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT, a mother fights back against her kid's accused bully, literally. That's them having a brawl right there. Now she's in big trouble.

And our STARTING POINT team is walking in, Margaret Hoover, Richard Socarides, and Deepak Chopra joining us this morning. A short break and we're back in just a moment.


BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. A look at some of your top story this morning. Formats and topics now revealed for the first presidential debate. The first of three debates is October 3rd. It will be 90 minutes long divided into six 15-minute segments. The moderator, Jim Lehrer of PBS says the first three minutes will focus on the economy, the other will deal with health care and governing.

A Danish gossip magazine has featured a 16-page spread featuring Kate Middleton sunbathing topless in the south of France. Earlier this week a French court barred publication of those photos. The magazine editors said "the British royal family wants to sue us, we'll deal with it."

Ant 20 people who got stuck on an amusement park ride at California's Knott's Berry Farm are back on solid ground this morning and probably very happy about it. There was some kind of problem with the wind seeker ride that left these folk stranded 300 feet in the air for nearly four hours. Four hours, sitting there.

O'BRIEN: You know, I would think that's one of those, like, both bring me down now, and also, but don't rush it so that anything bad happens fast.

BERMAN: That's probably a safe bet.

O'BRIEN: That would be very terrifying. I was once stuck in an elevator that fell below the basement and it took a long time to get out, when I was in college, and it was really terrifying, because you really within the sure -- you know, you wanted them to do it fast, but also, be careful with the cable so we don't all die. That was kind of our --

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: How many other people were in with you?

O'BRIEN: It was overcrowded, so it was like 30 people. It was like a college party. It was bad on so many -- a lot of drinking. It was college, drinking in the elevator.


O'BRIEN: It was a college party. Yes, there was drinking in the elevator. Not by me, of course. I was just there to observe.

Anyway, our panel this morning, Margaret Hoover, is with us, former White House appointee in the Bush administration. Nice to have you. We both got the memo about the green. I like that. Richard Socarides is with us as well, writer for "" Deepak Chopra is the author of "God, a Story of Revelation." Nice to have you. Thanks for joining us.

Our "Get Real" this morning, normally if a mother thinks her child is being bullied at school, you have options. You can call the school or their parents. But this is not what happened. This woman, Felicia Phillips, got into an actual, physical fight, like, look at it. it's right here, caught on tape. A 17-year-old boy, a bus stop yesterday. The fight then continues on to the bus. The two of them are wrestling. Phillips says, listen, she was going to confront the bully who was harassing her son, and her son said he thought it was great that his mom stuck up for him. Listen.


FELICIA PHILLIPS, CHARGED WITH CHILD ABUSE: Words kept going back and forth, whatever, he called me out my name, and I smooshed him in his face or whatever. I love kids. I don't love a disrespectful child, and that's what he is.

TEREZ SMITH, SUSPECT'S SON: I feel great about it because I know a lot of people wish they had a mom that would have their back. Some parents, when you tell them, they just ignore it.


O'BRIEN: So the mom has been charged with child abuse and she also, the 17-year-old was the alleged bully, and trespassing on school property for bringing the fight on to the bus.

Once, many years ago, I had a little friend who was a sixth grader when I was probably in high school or a little older, and these kids were mercilessly teasing the kid and we went on to the school bus, and I didn't have a fistfight with this little child, but can you see a mother's frustration in being bullied.

HOOVER: Playground justice from a 12th grader to a sixth grader is one thing, but I feel like we see so many stories about bullying, but we also see so many stories about bad parenting. Clearly you don't take justice to a school bus and beat up kids. I know I'm not the expert here. I know, you, Deepak Chopra, have actually -- you're actually on Lady Gaga's commission for anti-bullying, is my understanding. So you're quite, you know, into this.

O'BRIEN: What do you do? Obviously, going on a bus and trying to pound a 17-year-old kid if you're a grown woman is wrong. But I have to tell you, I understand the frustration of feeling like your kid has been mercilessly tortured by somebody, and what are you going to do about it?

DEEPAK CHOPRA, AUTHOR, "GOD: A STORY OF REVELATION": Well, first of all, all kids reflect the consciousness of their parents, the bullies, as well as the one who's being bullied. We need a national education campaign that says that bullies have poor self-esteem and they come from dysfunctional families. And you have to address that, that bullying is a lack of courage, really, and when you say, you educate people about this and create a national campaign, then something may happen. That's exactly what we're doing at Lady Gaga's foundation. It's obviously inappropriate for that woman to take action.

O'BRIEN: And illegal, apparently, because she's getting sued.

CHOPRA: But at the same time, incidents like this bring to our awareness that there have to be bigger solutions than these isolated incidents.

O'BRIEN: Pounding a kid for pounding your kid is obviously never a good solution.

Ahead this morning, we're going to be talking to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. We'll talk about the economy, how to create jobs. And also Starbucks has this new invention we'll tell you about. And an incredible video -- a police officer saves a woman's life after a speeding vehicle knocks his cruiser right at them at full force. We'll show you those pictures again.

You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everybody. Let's get right to John Berman. He's got a look at the day's top stories. Good morning.

BERMAN: Thanks, Soledad.

New information this morning about the attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.

The nation's counterterrorism chief tells Congress that heavily armed extremists saw an opportunity to attack during protests over an anti- Muslim film.


OLSEN: I would say, yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy.


BERMAN: Sources tell CNN Ambassador Stevens expressed concerns about security in the months before he died, specifically mentioning a rise in Islamic extremism and a growing al Qaeda presence in Libya. He also acknowledged being on an al Qaeda hit list.

A riot at a California state prison in Sacramento also known as New Fulsome Prison has left 13 inmates in the hospital. It started yesterday in an exercise yard for maximum security inmates. Several inmates suffered stab and slash wounds and one prisoner was shot by a guard. It took prison staff about 10 minutes, that actually doesn't seem very long, to get things under control.

In our "House Call" this morning, an experimental pill showing promise for treating multiple sclerosis. In two studies, researchers say the drug reduced the relapse rate by about half in patients with the most common form of MS. If approved, BG-12 will become the third oral drug for people with multiple sclerosis.

And this, check the refrigerator before you leave the house, Kroger's supermarkets recalling packages of fresh spinach in 15 states because they may be contaminated by listeria. The recall involves 10-ounce bags of fresh selection tender spinach with a use-by date of September 16th.

All right, now everyone, come to your television and check out this video. A woman in Texas, she owes her life to a Lubbock police officer. Dash cam video shows him pushing her out of the way, just as a van slams into that police cruiser and sends it flying. The officer and the woman, they suffered minor injuries. Apparently, the guy driving the van was cited for DUI. It's amazing to look at, isn't it?

O'BRIEN: It's shocking. I don't fully understand exactly what happened. Something hit that cruiser and that cruiser flew into, and we're seeing it because it was captured on the dash cam. So they must have stopped the woman --

BERMAN: After an accident, and another man comes flying by --

O'BRIEN: There was a study that said that the lights of a police cruiser actually attract drunk drivers and things like that, that's why it's so dangerous, that drivers who are drinking tend to swerve towards those lights. It's dangerous. Lucky to be alive. Sometimes that's a cliche, but sometimes not.

All right, we want to bring in the CEO of Starbucks. Howard Schultz is with us this morning to talk about a bunch of things. You've got a big announcement. And every time you come in we talk about jobs and the economy and politics. We're going to talk a little bit about that. Let's start with the unemployment numbers and the economy.

Last time we spoke, unemployment was 8.2 percent. Now it's down, 8.1 percent over the last, whatever number of months it was since we've spoke, they've added 301,000 jobs to the economy. Do you feel good about that number? I mean, do you feel as a CEO, like, wow, now we're on the right track?

HOWARD SCHULTZ, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, STARBUCKS: No, I don't. I think when you have 14 million people in America unemployed, a large percentage of those people are African-American and Hispanic. You've got a real problem. And I think what we've tried to do at Starbucks over the last year is create our own jobs initiative around the fact that the engine for job creation in America is small businesses.

The fact is that small businesses, despite what the banks have been saying, are not getting access to credit. As a result of that, we created our own program to provide small business with access to low- interest loans. We've raised a fair amount of money, we've created jobs.

O'BRIEN: How much?

SCHULTZ: We've -- about 15 million, but there's a 7x multiplier that, so it's almost $100 million. But the fact is that with government focused more on the election than they are about the people in America and such acrimony between the two parties --

O'BRIEN: You think? Really? I haven't noticed over the last few months.

SCHULTZ: And no sign whatsoever that's going to change despite who wins the election. The problem that we have is that we've got to get people back to work in America.

O'BRIEN: Why are voters optimistic? If you look at a new poll that came out from the "Wall Street Journal"/NBC, it says, in registered voters, 42 percent feel the economy's going to get better over next 12 months, 18 percent say worse and 32 percent say, stay the same. I was wondering what was fueling that optimism.

RICHARD SOCARIDES, WRITER, NEWYORKER.COM: We're an optimistic country, right? And there's optimism at Starbucks, right? That's a good sign of the economy.

SCHULTZ: I think it is a good sign, but I think as you look at calendar 2013 and beyond, with the problems in Europe and the underpinning of the U.S. economy, the optimism perplexes me, as does the stock market. I don't know why the stock market is where it is when you have so many people out of work and so many problems in the economy.

O'BRIEN: Talk to me about your new barissimo.

SCHULTZ: So we are introducing a fantastic single cup brewer today.

O'BRIEN: Where you pop it in and make your own coffee.

SCHULTZ: The key to this machine, for this first time, it will make a perfect latte with real milk. For $199, you can have a fantastic single cup machine in your home.

O'BRIEN: This is a market that's already heavily taken, right? If you go to Europe and lots of places in the United States, Nescafe owns a lot of that. The Keurig, everybody has that. Sara Lee has a chunk of that.

SCHULTZ: The market is an $8 billion category growing at 143 percent a year, and three out of four people who go to Starbucks every day do not own one, because they've been waiting for Starbucks to come out with its own machine.

SOCARIDES: Hold it, hold it, hold it. A lot of us just like going to Starbucks. I'm not going to buy this because I like going to Starbucks.

SCHULTZ: Well, I think the fact is, we've been selling coffee to people's home for 40 years. That's not going to change.

SOCARIDES: I do have Starbucks coffee in my house.

HOOVER: One other initiative, talking politics, and Washington state on the ballot this November is a same-sex initiative ballot. And Starbucks has been very vocally behind it. How do you think it's going to go?

SCHULTZ: I think it passes. I think it passes because the humanity of America is at stake and I think people will do the right thing.

O'BRIEN: Are you planning to run for office?


O'BRIEN: Really?

SCHULTZ: I have no plans to run for office.

SOCARIDES: Sounds like Hillary Clinton.

SCHULTZ: That's another story. No, I'm happy with the job I have.

O'BRIEN: Right, at this moment. Everybody always says, I'm very happy with the job -- it's very rare that you sit down with a CEO and they talk a lot about their business. But they also have a lot of plans for in politics and for jobs, but with the political sort of edge to it. I find that unusual.

SCHULTZ: But I think for anyone running a public company today, the rules of engagement has changed. We can't wait for government to solve our problems. And businesses and business leaders need to do more. People view that as a political agenda, but we're just trying to do the right thing, both for the employees we serve and the communities we serve. That's all.

CHOPRA: Howard, do you think we need a new index on the financial market, that says just capital 100. Identify 100 companies that are making a difference, like you are, but we need to --

SCHULTZ: It's an interesting idea. I don't know if we need a new index. I would question the indexes we have that need to be refined with the kind of companies that reflect the economy, and as you said, the optimism of America.

O'BRIEN: Howard Schultz, nice to have you. Thanks for being with us. Appreciate it. And if you want to send us one of those barrissimo, we drink a lot of coffee here.

CHOPRA: Have you seen all the new studies on coffee reducing cancer.

SCHULTZ: Green coffee extracts --

CHOPRA: As well as the liver --

SCHULTZ: As well as weight loss. And we have that new product called refreshers that is green coffee extract base.

O'BRIEN: Send it all. We'll try it out and tell you what we think.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, he is one of the most watched inspirational figures in this country. Pastor Joel Osteen is with us. He's got a new book -- 31 Declarations that he says will change your life. We're going to talk to him about that and much more. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment. Good morning, nice to have you with us.


O'BRIEN: Joel Osteen is one of the most recognizable faces of Christianity in America today, from his television sermons, which reach millions across the country, to his podcasts, to his best- selling books. He's trying to bring his ministry to homes around the world. He's got a new book out. It's called "I Declare: 31 Promises To Speak Over Your Life."

And Joel Osteen joins me this morning. It's nice to have you with us. So we were just debating whether speaking affirmations out loud really makes a difference. This book is 31 affirmations because it's sort to match every day for the month, right?

JOEL OSTEEN, AUTHOR, "I DECLARE": That's right. You know, Soledad, I believe it does, of course. I think how you start the day many times determines what kind of day you're going to have. A lot of people get out of bed and they think, I don't want to go to work, I don't feel good --

O'BRIEN: Who told you we were thinking --

OSTEEN: It just draws in the negativity. But if you can get up and speak something positive over life, Lord, you know, God, thank you for your favor today. I declare your blessings. I declare your faith. I declare wisdom. It's just getting your mind going in the right direction. I don't think there's anything magic about, but those words go out and comes right back in and affects your own self-image.

O'BRIEN: Do you agree with that? You think affirmations can actually make an actual change in your life?

CHOPRA: I start my day, by the way, by asking myself three questions? Who am I? What do I want and what's my purpose? And then I do some of the things you do. Because I've believed forever that there's no mental event that doesn't have a brain representation, that every thought actually generates molecules. And we know that.

And these are molecules you've heard about, endorphins, opiates, oxytocin, dopamines, serotonin, they're antidepressant molecules, but they're also are immunomodulators. It modulates the activity of your immune system.

O'BRIEN: Which I totally follow you on that. I'm going to read affirmation for day 10, "I declare that God will accelerate his plan for my life as I put my trust in him. I accomplish my dreams faster than I thought possible.

It will not take years to overcome an obstacle, to get out of debt, to meet the right person. God is doing things faster than before. He will give me victory sooner than I think. He has blessings that will thrust me years ahead, this is my declaration."

When I get to the debt part, I'm like, really? You get up and do your affirmations and that's going to lead -- you're going to get out of debt faster?

OSTEEN: That's just the opposite of getting up and saying, nothing good ever happens to me. I'm single. I've been single for 20 years, Joel, I'm never going to get married now. You've got to change your thinking.

When you start the day off like this, it's activating -- it's activating faith, it activates God's power in your life. The way I believe is that faith is what causes God to work. So when you're simply believing that, God, I believe you got the right person out there for me. I believe that I will get the right breaks. That I won't be in debt all my life, it's a frame of mind.

CHOPRA: And on a very simple level, it changes your perception. You start looking for opportunities. It changes your behavior, your speech, and your social intersections. Your personal relationships are all dependent on what you're saying to yourself. That internal dialogue influences everything that happens outside.

OSTEEN: It's the power of positive thinking.

CHOPRA: Even more.

HOOVER: How do you -- what makes for an exceptional sermon. Your delivery is what makes people watch you. How do you deliver an exceptional sermon?

OSTEEN: Well, for me, it's something I'm going to say that's going to empower people. I try to talk to people like I would want them to talk to me. I also think about how -- you know, I talk to a lot of people during the week and they're going through struggles and things like that.

What can I do to lift their spirits? I believe there are enough pushing people down already. So when people leave one of our services or read one of my books, I want them to leave saying, I can be better and rise higher.

It's trying to speak to people one on one. Not speaking down to them. I mean, I was raised and my father was a great minister, he didn't speak down people, but in the old days, church, you know, you went to church to know what you were doing wrong.

You left there thinking, I'm so guilty, I can't do right, but it's just the opposite. I want people to leave thinking, I can be a better father, I can be a better employer. I can accomplish my dreams. It's speaking to the seeds of greatness that God's placed in all of us.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question, because when you came on Piers Morgan's show a while ago, he asked you about homosexuality, and almost every time we have a pastor on, it's a conversation we have.

And you're known for these uplifting services and talk to a lot, it's like 45,000 people who attend. And I always wonder when you say homosexuality is a sin and there's a bunch of people who clearly are gay who are in your church. You're calling them sinners. I mean, that is the opposite of uplifting, I would think.

OSTEEN: Well, Soledad, I don't necessarily focus on that. I only talk about that in the interviews. The other thing, Christianity, we categorize sin. I mean, pride is a sin. Being critical is a sin. Being negative is a sin.

SOCARIDES: You say we're all sinners?

OSTEEN: We are all sinners.

SOCARIDES: So sexuality is not so bad, right?

OSTEEN: It's not --

SOCARIDES: Nobody is God's best, right?

OSTEEN: We're all growing.

SOCARIDES: Don't you think, though, with the country struggling with increasing acceptance of all its citizens and you're for basic fairness for everybody that in situations where we're trying to pass these marriage equality bills in certain states now. That is, you have an important voice to lend to that, especially to kids who are maybe worried about who they are and where they fit in the community?

OSTEEN: Well, you know, I think I have an important voice but I think I've been good -- I think part of my, if you want to call it success, I've stayed in my lane and my lane is lifting people's spirits and there are issues that good, bible-believing people see on both sides of the fence.

SOCARIDES: You would say to gay young people that, you know, do what you feel is comfortable, yes?

OSTEEN: You know, I would say do what I feel like the scripture says. I don't think being --

SOCARIDES: Well, there's a big debate about what scripture says, right?

OSTEEN: It is, it is. SOCARIDES: That's good.

O'BRIEN: But when you say -- you would say the scripture says homosexuality is a sin.

OSTEEN: Exactly.

O'BRIEN: I go to church regularly, but I'm not so strong on the bible. You have to walk me through this. And there are some pastors who disagree. They say the scriptures don't defend that and Jesus didn't weigh in on homosexuality.

So my question is, when you're talking to your 45,000 people in your service and some of them are gay, you're saying to them you're a sinner.

OSTEEN: Well, Soledad, first of all, in my services I don't cover all these issues that we talk about here.

O'BRIEN: But you make it clear that you think that homosexuality is a sin.

OSTEEN: When I read the scripture, that's what I believe, that the scripture condemns it or says it's a sin. It also says, you know, lying it and being prideful is.

O'BRIEN: So you shouldn't lie. But for people who are gay, you're saying so you shouldn't be gay? That's what --

OSTEEN: They can't choose not to be gay. You have to work out your own salvation.

SOCARIDES: Do you think you choose to be gay or not gay? Do you think you choose to be straight?

OSTEEN: I know I've not chosen to be straight. That's who I am.

SOCARIDES: So how could I choose to be gay?

O'BRIEN: One question at a time.

SOCARIDES: I'm sorry. I'm trying to be respectful. I'm a big admirer of your work. I think you're trying to lift people up.

OSTEEN: I am. And I don't understand all those issues and so, you know, I try to stick on the issues that I do understand. I know this. I'm for everybody. I'm not for pushing people down.

Obviously I watched the story on bullying and things like that, that come from it. I don't know where the fine line is. I do try to stay in my lane and lift people's spirits.

O'BRIEN: I'm going to try some of these affirmations. I don't believe it. I don't believe it works. I really don't.

SOCARIDES: I do affirmation. O'BRIEN: We have to take a break.

HOOVER: You have spiritual evidence here and spiritual evidence here.

O'BRIEN: I won't give it 31 days, but I'll do seven and we'll see how it goes. Thank you for joining us.

HOOVER: It will change your life.

O'BRIEN: The book is called "I Declare: 31 Promises To Speak Over Your Life." We're back in just a moment. Stay with us.


DAVID EAGLEMAN, NEUROSCIENTIST: When I was a child, I was 8 years old and fell from the roof of a house under construction. The point is that it seemed to take a very long time. I seemed to have lots of clear thought.

So that got me very interested because we're trying to figure out how time is represented in the brain. And this is a critical piece of the puzzle. There was no study on this, because you can imagine how difficult it is to try to figure out how can you capture a subject right in a life-threatening moment and measure something about them?

And what we did was we dropped people from a 150-foot tall tower backwards and they're caught by a net below. I'm David Eagleman and I'm a neuroscientist.



O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, he knew al Qaeda was out to get him. We'll tell you what U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens said about threats against him weeks before his death in the Benghazi attack. We're live for you from Tripoli this morning.

And "Fast and Furious" blame game. A blistering report points fingers at more than a dozen of officials for the botched gun running operation. But the attorney general is not pointed at. We're going to talk to a congressman who will grill the man behind the report today.

STARTING POINT is back in a moment. Stay with us.