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May 15th, 2012
12:10 PM ET

"The Good Food Revolution:" Basketball prodigy turned urban farmer Will Allen discusses new book

"Never say never" is a phrase that Will Allen freely uses to describe his life. A sort of prodigal son, Allen left his farming roots behind after highschool to become the first African-American basketball player at the University of Miami. While on a professional team in Belgium, he took a morning to help plant potatoes on a teammate's farm.

"Once I touched the soil, something really came alive, I really wanted to start growing food again," he says. "I must have had some hidden passion."

Since then, Allen has taken that passion and turned it into a lifestyle. He is currently the director of urban farming project "Growing Power" west of Milwaukee, and he discusses with Brooke Baldwin the dire state of the nation's eating habits and his hopes for a national return to healthy, homegrown food.

He cites statistics from HBO's "Weight of the Nation" 4-part documentary, the first two segments of which aired last night. "We're in a situation now where obesity is at an all-time high," he explains.

In his new book, he details his so-called "Good Food Revolution" - a farming movement, he says, which has indeed reached the revolution stage and is something he fervently hopes to pass on to later generations.

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Filed under: Health • Obesity
May 15th, 2012
10:28 AM ET

Starting Point playlist for Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Christine Romans opened today's music features with “Float On” by Modest Mouse. Sound vaguely familiar? The song is perhaps most well known for Lupe Fiasco's 2010 remake "The Show Goes On," featuring the prominent bass line. Also on Christine's playlist: "Today" by Smashing Pumpkins.

Will Cain's picks for the day included "Santa Monica" by Everclear and "Wouldn't It Be Nice" by The Beach Boys. The oldies band performed their hit "Good Vibrations" at the 2012 Grammy Awards, their first live performance with all surviving band members since 1996.

Marvin Gaye's crooning saxophone tune "What's Going On" was brought to you by Will Allen, urban farmer and author of "The Good Food Revolution." Other guest picks were, from Murray Lipp, "Truly, Madly, Deeply" by Savage Garden, and Bruce Springsteen's "Highway Patrolman," from Kerry Kennedy.

Panelist Margaret Hoover played "Radioactive" by Kings of Leon, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta closed the show with "You Dropped a Bomb On Me" by The Gap Band, hearkening back to the 80s.

May 14th, 2012
03:03 PM ET

Unprecedented 'golden ticket' to SNL – Diehard fan Louis Klein on being a witness to comedy history

Louis Klein is a diehard Saturday Night Live fan. He attended last Saturday's performance hosted by Will Ferrell, and in fact has attended quite a few weekend performances over the last 30 years.

Klein attended the dress rehearsal of the very first SNL production on October 11, 1975, and since then, he says he's been to 665 shows - so many that he has been issued the first-ever "permanent ticket" in SNL history.

Why does he keep going back? "I love it," Klein says. "It started out as something to do on a Saturday."

Now his Saturdays are filled for good, without the long nights spent on the sidewalk in front of Rockefeller Center in line for tickets.

May 14th, 2012
11:41 AM ET

Charter schools: Segregation or choice? CNN education contributor Steve Perry on why inner-city charter schools lack diversity

More than 2 million kids are enrolled in charter schools, 32% of which are African American - and of that 32%, more that half attend schools comprised mostly of minority students. This morning, CNN education contributor Steve Perry explains the lack of diversity, saying "We had to convince white people to come to a very good school in the hood."

Perry is the founder of charter school Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, CT. The demographic of his school has, in the past, been primarily black, poor students–until they were given a quota to provide some semblance of balance. Perry explained the reasoning for the so-called "segregation."

"The children who are typically choosing charter schools are the children who don't have the best education options in the nearby neighborhood, which in many cases are people of color and/or low-income students. They choose the schools they feel are going to give the best opportunity to fulfill what they believe is their true potential. So, many of those families choose charter schools and overwhelmingly they are people of color," he says.

But, he vehemently refutes the segregation claim, saying there is a fundamental difference between choice and segregation.

May 14th, 2012
10:28 AM ET

Starting Point playlist for Monday, May 14, 2012

Abby Huntsman opened today's show with her playlist and a taste of the 90s: "Semi-Charmed Life" by Third Eye Blind, shortly followed by the Red Hot Chili Peppers "Californication" off their album by the same name. The RHCP track topped Billboard modern rock charts in 2000.

Continuing the 1990s trend, Will Reed played some much-appreciated Pearl Jam with "Yellow Ledbetter" from his tracklist. Slated for release on the band's debut album "Ten," the song never actually made it onto a studio album. Nonetheless, "Yellow" reached #21 on mainstream rock charts and managed to become a Pearl Jam classic.

Panelist Ryan Lizza brought some alternative sounds to the mix with "Kim's Watermelon" by Flaming Lips and "Hoppipolla" by Sigur Ros.

The show closed with Brooke Baldwin's music - "Feel It All Around" by Washed Out, and "Intergalactic" by the Beastie Boys. Native to New York City, the Beastie Boys suffered a tragedy a couple weeks back when vocalist and bass player Adam Yauch (known as MCA) died of mouth cancer, after the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April.

May 11th, 2012
11:54 AM ET

Ganging up on gangs: 'Clique' in L.A. County Sheriff's unit glorifies shootings

An officer's badge may not be the only badge of honor sported by a Los Angeles County police unit. Recently, a secret deputy clique was uncovered within the gang enforcement unit of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department and marks its members with a different badge: permanent ink.

The "Jump-Out Boys" allegedly tattoo themselves with the image of a skull with glowing red eyes. The skull wears a bandana with the letters "OSS" - short for Operation Safe Streets, the larger initiative which established their unit to clear city streets of gangs. An ace and eight of spades, the so-called "Dead Man's Hand" in poker, fans out to the left of the image, with a skeletal hand brandishing a revolver to the right side. Reportedly, after a member is involved in a shooting, smoke is tattooed over the barrel of their gun - an enduring sort of high-five for a mission accomplished.

The tattoos harken back to other law enforcement "gangs" which branded members in a similar manner, and ultimately, Soledad said, the concern is that the ink glorifies violence - especially considering the unit's task is to comb neighborhoods labeled for "dangerous gang activity" and disarm gang members.

"Los Angeles Times" reporter Robert Faturechi explains.

May 10th, 2012
12:12 PM ET

Attachment parenting: Misogynistic plot or loving relationship? TIME's Belinda Luscombe on this week's cover story

This week’s provocative TIME Magazine cover features a woman breastfeeding her 3-year-old son, inspiring Soledad’s panel discussion this morning. Belinda Luscombe, editor of TIME, expands her view on the article.

"We could not have attachment parenting if we hadn't first had feminism," Luscome explains. "If you want to be a successful woman, you have to over-deliver. You need to work harder at what you do and be better at it. And I think women have brought all that energy and engagement and education and said, 'I'm going to be the mother of all mothers.'"

Attachment parenting is, according to baby guru Dr. Sears, "a style of caring for your infant that brings out the best in the baby and the best in the parents."

There are seven "Baby B's" that go along with attachment parenting. They are:

1.  Birth bonding– Parents should be vigilant about developing an intimate bond with their child as soon as possible post-birth.
2.  Breastfeeding– The subject has been a debate among parents, but facts are facts: breast milk contains nutrients unique to the mother's body, and that physical attachment familiarizes body language.
3.  Baby-wearing– Wearing your baby allows you to develop familiarity while allowing your child to absorb many environments in a quiet, alert state.
4.  Bedding close to baby– Co-sleeping gives time for working parents to bond with children at night, as well as reduce nightmares and separation anxiety.
5.  Belief in the language value of your baby's cry– Crying is the baby's primary form of communication, and parental responsiveness encourages a trust bond between infant and parent.
6.  Beware of baby trainers– Base your parenting on your child, not previous "how-to" styles.
7.  Balance– Remember to give attention to yourself when you need it.

Dee Snider, musician/author and guest on the panel, acknowledges the style as similar, if not identical, to his family's mechanics.

"Baby, baby, baby, baby," he says, laughing. "Those are the four 'B's' of my life."

It's true, as Luscombe points out, that parenting has evolved: smoking while pregnant is, nowadays, heavily discouraged, and television isn't the cure-all for a bored child. However, she poses the question: "Has the pendulum swung too far?"

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