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March 28th, 2013
10:57 AM ET

Two College students' Anti-rape video "A Needed Response" goes viral

Samantha Stendal and Aaron Blanton are two film students from the University of Oregon, who made an anti-rape viral video called "A Needed Response.” They sit down with Soledad Obrien on Starting Point to talk about the quick and surprising reaction the video has received so far.

Stendal claims she came up with the idea for the video while she was "studying for finals, and reading up on the Steubenville Rape Case." The video is only 26 seconds long, and shows what a man should do if he finds a girl passed out drunk.

She pursued making this video after witnessing the entire "victim blaming that was going on online, and the general rape culture, and seeing all the negative responses that this female was getting in this case." She claims she "really wanted to have something that was out there that was positive toward a victim of rape."

Their anti-rape video quickly reached 1.5 million views. Blanton was very surprised that the video resonated with their intended audience, "so the fact that we did so quickly is pretty extraordinary." The Steubenville rape case played out on social media, and outraged many, therefore it is fitting for a viral video to serve as a launching point to They believe that the instant awareness of the video shows that this sort of discourse needs to happen.

Filed under: Rape • Steubenville • Viral video
March 28th, 2013
10:44 AM ET

Chicago Teachers Union president: 'Local control of schools has been usurped for mayoral control'

Hundreds of public school teachers and their supporters took to the streets yesterday to protest Chicago's school consolidation plan, which will close 54 of the city's public schools.

The demonstration was non-violent, but more than 100 protesters were escorted away by police. Mayor Rahm Emanuel appears to be holding his ground, saying that the time for negotiations is over. The Board of Education votes on the plan in late May, and it's expected to pass.

Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis joins Starting Point today to discuss the measures the city is taking to address their budget shortfall and to explain why she opposes closing the schools.

"Changing children from one building to the next is not going to ensure that their education is going to be that much better," Lewis says. "Where we have a problem is that you cannot just pick a number out of the sky and this is the number of schools we’re going to close. Mayor Rahm Emanuel went around town talking to anybody who would listen to him that he wanted 50 schools closed... I’m telling parents to take control of their school. We have local school councils. The whole purpose is so we can have local control of school and that has been usurped for mayoral control."

Filed under: Education
March 28th, 2013
09:37 AM ET

Zimmerman's attorney 'absolutely' concerned about how client's brother's tweets may affect case

The brother of the man who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year is now embroiled in some controversy of his own. Robert Zimmerman recently sent a series of tweets that many found controversial or even racist.

Zimmerman posted side-by-side images of Martin and De'Marquise Elkins, one of the teens arrested in the shooting of a baby in Florida, giving the middle finger, with the caption, "A picture speaks a thousand words: Any questions?"

George Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara joins Starting Point this morning to discuss the outrage over his client's brothers tweets.

"I’m not sure where his heart was but I’ve always said that we have to have a conversation about race and the Zimmerman case has brought it to the forefront, particularly the way young black males are treated in the system," O'Mara says. "These types of tweets, these types of comments were insensitive to that and quite honestly were the opposite of what I hope the conversation would be to try to figure out what’s wrong with the system and a good way to fix it."

When asked whether or not he's concerned about Robert Zimmerman's comments affecting his case, O'Mara responds "absolutely."

"Quite honestly, I worry about everything and how it may affect the case. Everything that happens in this case is, if not overblown, hyper focused upon so that everything George says or does is important. Certainly, when a family member for my client says something that comes across as wholly insensitive if not much, much worse then it’s going to have an effect and we’re going to have to deal with it" O'Mara explains.

Filed under: George Zimmerman • Trayvon Martin
March 28th, 2013
09:37 AM ET

Trayvon Martin's family attorney responds to Robert Zimmerman's controversial tweets

George Zimmerman's brother Robert is facing a major backlash over controversial tweets he sent comparing Trayvon Martin to De'Marquise Elkins, one of the teens arrested in the shooting of a baby in Florida.

In one tweet, Zimmerman writes that the liberal media should "ask if what these [two] black teens did [to] a woman&baby is the reason [people] think blacks might be risky."

Zimmerman has apologized, saying that he was simply trying to generate discussion about the media and it's portrayal of his brother and Trayvon Martin.

Trayvon Martin's family attorney Benjamin Crump discusses Robert Zimmerman's tweets on Starting Point this morning and comments on the content of an interview from "witness 9," revealed to be a cousin of George Zimmerman.

In the interview, Zimmerman's cousin says, "growing up, they've always made - him and his family have always made statements that they don't like black people, if they don't act like white people.  They like black people, if they act white.  And other than that, they talk a lot of bad things about black people."

Crump discusses Robert Zimmerman's tweets in relation to the interview from "witness 9," saying, "within 72 hours after Trayvon was murdered, she called the Sanford police department to say that she knows George Zimmerman, she knows he’s confrontational, she knows he doesn't like black people. She went on farther to say that his brother, mother, sister and father don’t like black people. So when you look at these tweets of Robert Zimmerman... he didn't say Trayvon Martin, he said blacks, meaning the entire black race, that tweet tends to be very consistent in supporting what his cousin said when she first called the Sanford police department."

Filed under: George Zimmerman • Trayvon Martin
March 28th, 2013
09:14 AM ET

Battle against DOMA; Edith Windsor rep Roberta Kaplan says 'it was a good day'

Arguments yesterday in front of the Supreme Court could determine if same-sex couples get the same federal rights as others. Roberta Kaplan is representing Edith Windsor. She argued against the Defense of Marriage Act in the Supreme Court yesterday and discusses the case on "Starting Point."

She merely quotes her client's remarks regarding the arguments in saying "It was a good day."

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Filed under: DOMA • Supreme Court
March 28th, 2013
08:35 AM ET

Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue Chief Ed Hartin says Whidbey Island landslide is 'much larger than the typical slides that we encounter'

A massive landslide wreaked havoc on Whidbey Island just north of Seattle, WA overnight. Central Whidbey Island Fire and Rescue Chief Ed Hartin shares how he’s dealing with the unstable aftermath.

Hartin says he has warned the community that the slide is still active. “But based on a preliminary geotechnical investigation, recommendations of the engineer were that we can allow these folks back into their homes.” Residents have been allowed to return to all but three homes above the slide.

While slides are fairly common in the area, Hartin says the size of this landslide was unusual. “This is much larger than the typical slides that we encounter.”

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Filed under: Landslide • Weather
March 27th, 2013
11:47 AM ET

Finding humor in a chemical attack? Julia Stiles on her new dark comedy 'It's a Disaster'

Imagine: You're at Sunday brunch, and the world is about to end. That's basically the premise of a new movie "It's a Disaster."

It's a dark comedy starring Julia Stiles and David Cross, who portray a group of 30-something friends at an obligatory couples brunch. As you can imagine, awkward moments abound.

The couples eventually learn they are in the middle of a chemical attack. The movie opens in theaters on April 12 and Julia Stiles joins Soledad O'Brien on "Starting Point" to talk about the dark but hilarious movie.

Filed under: Dark comedy • Entertainment
March 27th, 2013
11:38 AM ET

Will first female Secret Service director change the organization's culture? Fmr. agent Dan Bongino weighs in

Fmr. Secret Service agent Dan Bongino on the historic appointment of Julia Pierson as the head of the Secret Service.

Filed under: Secret Service
March 27th, 2013
11:23 AM ET

USC professor: Petraeus apology 'made sense'

Lee Reynolds, assistant professor with the USC Army ROTC program, on fmr. CIA dir. Petraeus's apology.

Filed under: Petraeus scandal
March 27th, 2013
11:09 AM ET

Actor Courtney Vance a 'Lucky Guy' in new Broadway show

From Hollywood to the Great White Way, Tom Hanks is making his Broadway debut as "New York" newspaper columnist Mike McAlary. He stars alongside two-time Tony nominee Courtney B. Vance, who plays McAlary's editor Hap Hairston. The play is also the final work of the late three-time Academy Award nominee Nora Ephron.

On "Starting Point" this morning, Vance talks with Soledad about the role, and coming back to Broadway after decades working in Hollywood.

Filed under: Broadway • Entertainment
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