Coming up Wednesday

Wildfires burn through Colorado causing thousands to evacuate, and protests in Turkey are in 13th day. Tune in at 7am ET.
June 27th, 2012
01:53 PM ET

New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees helps kids play safe on the field with concussion education program

Sports related concussions are in the national spotlight more than ever. There are as many as 3.8 million concussions that occur every year in professional, college, and youth sports. Approximately 85% of them will go undiagnosed, and that, of course, could lead to even more serious injuries.

Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints quarterback and Super Bowl champion, wants to make a difference. He's teaming up with Dick's Sporting Goods to provide free testing to try to determine whether a kid has suffered a concussion.

This morning on "Starting Point," Brees talks with Soledad on the PACE program, which stands for Protecting Athletes through Concussion Education. He explains why he felt it was important to get involved in educating young athletes on the dangers of concussions.

Filed under: Concussion • NFL
June 27th, 2012
01:34 PM ET

Amy Winehouse's dad Mitch on his new book about the singer's life, says she was a strong young lady that had a weakness

It's been almost a year since Amy Winehouse died at the age of 27 in her London apartment after weeks of staying sober and trying to get back on the right track. The talented performer died from accidental alcohol poisoning last July.

Amy's father, Mitch Winehouse, decided to write a memoir about his daughter's short and turbulent life. The book, called "Amy, My Daughter" documents his relationship with Amy, her battle with drugs and alcohol, and the roller coaster of her final years

Mitch talks with Soledad on "Starting Point" and shares why he chose to share very blunt, painful memories of his daughter with the world.

In the clip below, Mitch also talks about supporting charities for young people with the Amy Winehouse foundation.

To learn more, visit

Filed under: Addiction • Amy Winehouse
June 27th, 2012
12:14 PM ET

'Magic' Johnson on launching ASPiRE, a TV network focused on positive achievements in African-American community

Earvin "Magic" Johnson isn't just a Hall of Fame basketball legend. He is also a successful businessman who has developed an empire of movie theaters, fitness centers, and has a stake in the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Now he's going to become a media mogul.

Johnson is launching a new television network today called ASPiRE, and it highlights the positive achievements of the African-American community. The programming will feature movies, music, comedy shows aimed at an audience that may be yearning for family friendly content.

"Magic" talks with Soledad on "Starting Point" about the new network.

Magic also shares some wisdom for Anthony Davis, the anticipated #1 NBA draft pick this year. See what he has to say in the clip below.

Filed under: Media • NBA
June 27th, 2012
11:10 AM ET

Sen. Johnson (R-Wis.): Immigration comes down to better securing borders, says hopes SCOTUS overturns health care so we can 'start over'

On Thursday morning, the Supreme Court is going to rule on President Obama's health care law. The House is planning on holding a contempt of Congress vote against Attorney General Eric Holder. And there is also ongoing debate on the President's executive order to allow some young immigrants to stay in the U.S. without the threat of deportation.

All these issues are simmering around the country as a new poll shows the presidential race is as tight as ever. In a new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll, 50% of people living in those 11 battle ground states prefer President Obama, while 42% back Mitt Romney.

How will voters view these issues?

Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), a Romney campaign surrogate, weighs in on the anticipation of the Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act, saying that he hopes the high court throws the law out.

"The cleanest decision would be to totally...rule the entire law unconstitutional," Sen. Johnson says. "Then we can start over with an open debate and a step-by-step approach. Republicans are not going to be putting forward a 2,700 page bill, another 12,000 pages of rules and regulations. We're going to take a look at the individual issues. And debate openly."

Johnson also responds to Soledad's challenge as to why Mitt Romney hasn't taken a firm position on immigration. He says it's all about border control.

"First of all, Soledad, this is a very difficult issue," Sen. Johnson says. "What Arizona is trying to do is it's basically trying to address a problem that President Obama and the federal government has basically abdicated their responsibility on. These are very serious issues. They are difficult issues."

He adds, "President Obama said during his campaign that this was such an important issue that he was going to handle the immigration problem in his first year. He has done nothing on it. He certainly has done nothing to secure our borders, which is the first step. And that's a real problem. Because we're not going to solve our immigration issue until we secure our borders."

See his clip with his comments on immigration below. Transcript after the jump.


Filed under: 2012 Race • Health care • Immigration • Politics
June 27th, 2012
10:54 AM ET

Tough Call: Should prisons have AC?

A lawsuit claims inmates are suffering cruel and unusual punishment by not having air conditioning in some prisons.

Filed under: Tough Call
June 27th, 2012
09:30 AM ET

Pat Tillman's widow chronicles struggles in new book

On April 22, 2004, former Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan by friendly fire.

In a new book called "The Letter," his wife Marie Tillman chronicles her life with Pat and her journey through grief after his death.

The book title refers to a letter Tillman left for his wife "just in case" he was killed that she opened the night she learned of his death.

In it, Pat writes, "Through the years, I've asked a great deal of you. Therefore, it should surprise you little that I have another favor to ask. I ask that you live."

On Starting Point this morning, Marie discusses the cover-up of Tillman's death and her journey through grief after losing her high school sweetheart.

Filed under: Book
June 27th, 2012
09:07 AM ET

Flesh-eating bacteria victim feels 'blessed' despite injuries

Aimee Copeland, the 24-year-old woman battling flesh-eating bacteria, may leave the hospital as early as next week. Doctors have upgraded her condition from serious to good.

Her father, Andy Copeland, tells CNN’s Soledad O’Brien on Starting Point that despite her injuries, his daughter feels blessed for the "unique opportunity that God has given [her]," explaining that she's looking forward to making the most of her disability.

Copeland has been fighting for her life since May, when a zip-lining accident left her with a rare bacterial infection. She lost both of her hands, her left leg and her right foot.

Yesterday, Aimee's mother and father took her outside for the first time in 49 days.

“She was just so excited,” Andy tells Soledad. “The whole world opened up for Aimee when she rolled out that door.”

Watch more from the interview with Aimee's father in the video above.

Filed under: Health
June 27th, 2012
08:54 AM ET

Can the pre-existing condition clause survive without the individual mandate? Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains

Tomorrow the Supreme Court will rule on President Obama’s health care law. The individual mandate, which requires all Americans to purchase insurance or face a penalty, is the most contentious part of the law.

CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta discusses the law with Soledad O’Brien on Starting Point this morning.

Pragmatically, Dr. Gupta says that due to monetary concerns, it's difficult to see how the law will work if the individual mandate is thrown out but the pre-existing condition clause remains. He explains that the profit from the mandate is intended to offset the costs of providing coverage for people who are chronically ill.

Up to 50 million people in the United States currently don’t have health insurance.

Filed under: Health care
June 27th, 2012
08:54 AM ET

Starting Point playlist for Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fans were crushed when Amy Winehouse passed away last year, but none so much as her father Mitch Winehouse. His new book "Amy, My Daughter" gives unique insight into the life of the singer. Her well known hit "Rehab" was played on this morning's show.

Also played:

Soledad O'Brien's playist:
Kanye West – "Amazing"

Panelist Will Cain's playlist:
Carly Rae Jepsen – "Call Me Maybe"

Panelist Margaret Hoover's playlist:
Deep Blue Something – "Breakfast at Tiffany's"

Panelist John Fugelsang's playlist:
Dr. John – "God's Sure Good"

June 27th, 2012
08:40 AM ET

Rep. Van Hollen: 'Better than a 50% chance' that SCOTUS will uphold the healthcare law

A high-charged political atmosphere is consuming the country this morning, with the Supreme Court set to rule on the president's healthcare law tomorrow and a contempt of Congress vote against Attorney General Eric Holder in set to happen in the House.

As these issues reach a boiling point, a new survey has been released that suggests that President Obama and Mitt Romney are in a dead heat in the 2012 race.

According to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, the president leads Romney by three points: 47 to 44 percent, within the margin of error.

On Starting Point this morning, Rep. Chris Van Hollen sits down with Soledad to discuss these figures in relation to immigration and the Supreme Court's decision about the president's healthcare law.

Regarding tomorrow's SCOTUS ruling, Rep. Van Hollen says that he's confident that there's "better than a 50% chance" that the Court will uphold the entire law.

Van Hollen also responds to critics of the president's inaction on comprehensive immigration reform, asserting that if Obama couldn't even get the Dream Act passed in the Republican Senate, it would be very difficult to get more comprehensive legislation through.

Filed under: Health care • Politics
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