Coming up Wednesday

Wildfires burn through Colorado causing thousands to evacuate, and protests in Turkey are in 13th day. Tune in at 7am ET.
July 19th, 2012
09:06 PM ET

PREVIEW: Team USA basketball players Carmelo Anthony, Maya Moore and Chris Paul on pressure and excitement of Olympics

In a web preview, Soledad O'Brien's interviews Team USA Olympic athletes Carmelo Anthony, Maya Moore and Chris Paul.

Stay tuned for the full interview airing on "Starting Point" next week.

May 31st, 2012
07:49 AM ET

Starting Point playlist for Thursday, May 31, 2012


Criminologist Casey Jordan was on set today, and she kicked off our playlist with Fiona Apple's "Criminal." The Grammy and VMA-winning song is the biggest hit of Apple's career, and has been included in VH1 and Blender's "Best-Of" lists.

Margaret Hoover was back on our panel today and, as always, picked a couple of great songs for the playlist. Today they were Fatboy Slim's "Praise You," his only U.S. Top 40 hit, and Arcade Fire's recent rock hit "Rebellion (Lies)."

Hoover was joined on the panel by Marc Lamont Hill, Ph.D., the Columbia University professor and journalist. First up from Marc's playlist was Erykah Badu's "Honey." The 2008 hit included a 30-year old sample of jazz singer Nancy Wilson.

Marc also picked Stevie Wonder's "All I Do," a track from his 1980 album Hotter than July. Wonder is one of the most successful artists in the history of popular music, both as a singer and as a songwriter.

Kanye West made our playlist for the second day in a row, this time with "Amazing," a pick from Starting Point anchor Soledad O'Brien. The song is from his best-selling 2008 album 808s & Heartbreak. Soledad also picked Beyonce's "Video Phone."

Will Cain rounded out the panel with a couple of acclaimed songs: Bob Seger's 1978 hit "Hollywood Nights," and Don Henley's "Boys of Summer," which Rolling Stone included in its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Charlie Foley, who created the buzzworthy documentary Mermaids: The Body Found, stopped by today's Starting Point and brought along a fitting song for our playlist: "This Is the Sea," a song from the 1985 album of the same name by The Waterboys.

Finally, Christine Romans contributed a song today: "Keep Your Hands to Yourself," the early eighties hit from the Georgia Satellites.

May 30th, 2012
12:17 PM ET

Council on Foreign Relations' Michael Wahid Hanna says military intervention not an option in Syria

With the UN Security Council convening today on the deteriorating situation in Syria, Century Foundation fellow and member of the Council on Foreign Relations Michael Wahid Hanna believes that the current strategy in the country is suboptimal but "it's the only one that exists at the moment."

Hanna cites complex sectarian and ethnic grounds and a divided opposition in Syria for the difficulty in creating a clear plan of resolution. "More importantly," he tells Soledad on "Starting Point", "there is a divide in our international community which limits the range of options which can be brought to bear." Hanna says that a plan of managed transition and Alawite control of the security sector may be the best way to get cooperation from Russia and those in Syria that fear what a regime change could bring.

"It's not a clean concept. I would only say all the other options are very bad," Hanna continues. "If this fails, we're looking at protracted, bloody, sectarian civil war that could have regional impact in terms of Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and other countries and so this isn't something we should be discarding very lightly."

Military intervention is off the table, Hanna says, and he believes all diplomatic possibilities should be exhausted.

Hanna states that fissures in the al-Assad regime and Syria being isolated from the international community are the keys to bringing change to the riotous nation. "Obviously Russia abandoning Assad would be an important prerequisite but I don't think in and of itself it can solve the situation."

May 30th, 2012
08:28 AM ET

Starting Point playlist for Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Kanye West's "All of the Lights" kicked off our Starting Point playlist this morning, a pick from panelist Margaret Hoover. The 2011 Top 20 hit features vocals from a wide variety of artists ranging from Elton John to Fergie.

Margaret also picked Joe Cocker's 1969 cover of "Feelin' Alright" and Lifehouse's 2007 hit "First Time."

Ron Brownstein of the National Journal was a panelist today and brought two rock gems with him. First up was "Pride and Joy" by the legendary Stevie Ray Vaughan, followed by "Keep the Car Running," Arcade Fire's critically acclaimed 2007 hit.

Will Cain picked a soft-rock classic for his first playlist pick this morning: Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down." The 1989 hit was Petty's first release without his frequent band The Heartbreakers. Will also picked James Brown's "It's a Man's Man's Man's World." The 1966 single was a Top 10 hit for the Godfather of Soul.

Of course, Will also went a little country, picking "Time Marches On," the mid-nineties hit by Tracy Lawrence.

SP host Soledad O'Brien picked a couple of songs herself for today's playlist. Soledad picked "Shine" by Ledisi and Chaka Khan's classic "Tell Me Something Good." The song, a Top 5 hit in 1974, was written by Stevie Wonder.

May 30th, 2012
06:49 AM ET

Starting Point live blog for Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

This morning, "Starting Point" is live at 7am Eastern. Soledad O'Brien will talk with our panelists, columnist Will Cain, American Individualism author Margaret Hoover and "National Journal" editorial director and CNN Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein. Our panel will be talking about the following top stories:

Romney hits 'magic number' for GOP nomination but Donald Trump's fiery 'birther' defense steals thunder

After Syria massacre, what can the world do?

David Letterman talks with Regis Philbin on a special edition of "Piers Morgan Tonight"

Share your comments in the section below. If you're not by a TV, you can watch us here at Let's get started.


[UPDATED  7:20 Eastern] Ivan Watson, live in Istanbul, Turkey, says that Turkey announced it is expelling Syrian diplomats from the Syrian embassy in Ankara.

[UPDATED 7:28 Eastern] Chairman of the Intelligence Committee and former FBI agent Rep. Mike Rogers says he's not sure if arming the Syrian opposition is the answer  "mainly because we're just not exactly sure who the bad guys are and who the good guys are right now in Syria, so you don't know who you're giving weapons to."

[UPDATED 8:06 Eastern] Award winning journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad says of jihadists in Yemen, "This is the new age of Al-Qaeda." Adbul-Ahad says that the city of Jaar "has now become a de facto independent state that's run by Al-Qaeda."

[UPDATED 8:33 Eastern] Fellow of The Century Foundation and member of The Council on Foreign Relations Michael Wahid Hanna says that the current strategy in Syria is sub optimal but "it's the only one that exists at the moment." Hanna says that the international community can possibly push a "managed transition" in Syria.

[UPDATED 8:52 Eastern] Democratic strategist Christine Pelosi says that it is important to focus on the real issues-jobs, the economy and the empowerment of working families. "As far as this "birtherism" is concerned," she says "Donald Trump is only saying loudly what a lot of Republicans have been dog whispering for months."

May 29th, 2012
09:00 AM ET

Starting Point playlist for Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Today's Starting Point playlist kicked off with a pick from panelist "HuffPost Live" host Alicia Menendez: "Feels So Good" by Mase. The song was  a top five hit in 1997, and was produced by hip hop mogul Diddy, then known as Sean "Puffy" Combs. Alicia also picked Seal's first single "Krazy,"  the first of his many soulful hits.

CNN Contributor Margaret Hoover was also on our panel this morning, and brought along a couple of rap classics. Up first was The Gourds' cover of Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice," followed by the smash hit "Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. "I love Jay-Z," Hoover said. "His New York anthem makes all New Yorkers (and all wannabe New Yorkers) proud."

Will Cain's playlist pick today was "Swingin'" by John Anderson. Will remembers listening to the song with a friend as kids and laughing to the "funny song."

Starting Point anchor Soledad O'Brien contributed a song today as well: the Stevie Wonder classic "Superstition." Believe it or not, the number one hit will be forty years old this October.

Also heard on today's show were Steve Go0dman's "Go Cubs Go" and Oingo Boingo's "Weird Science."

May 28th, 2012
12:30 PM ET

Gen. Martin Dempsey talks Memorial Day and progress in Afghanistan and Syria

On this Memorial Day, Gen. Martin Dempsey discusses honoring our fallen servicemen and women, the progress in Afghanistan and the ever deteriorating situation in Syria.

“This is a day where we memorialize our dead,” Dempsey says. “I drive to work everyday past Arlington Cemetery and there’s 260,000 small American flags planted at each of these gravesites today. So, I just want to make sure they know we will never forget.”

With almost 2,000 U.S troops killed in the war in Afghanistan, Dempsey believes that success will come when “the Afghan security forces are capable of maintaining stability inside of their own country and that the central government of Afghanistanis able to provide governance.”

Speaking on Sen. John McCain’s concerns that the plan of withdrawal in Afghanistan will pose a security threat, Dempsey believes there is some validity to his fears.

“Well, I think they’re somewhat valid because there are multiple faces of the Taliban,” he says. “I think there are probably Taliban who will never reconcile. I will say the Strategic Partnership Agreement that we entered into with Afghanistan should give pause to the Taliban that they just can’t simply wait us out.”

With the situation in Syria growing more deadly each day, with 108 peopled killed in the town of Houla-49 of which were children-Dempsey says that “the military option should be considered” but he would like to see the international community come up with ways to increase the pressure on Al-Assad to “do the right thing and step aside.”

May 28th, 2012
09:00 AM ET

Starting Point playlist for Monday, May 28, 2012


Inspiring four year old Anthony Smith was on the show today and picked  "Boston" by Augustana for our playlist. The 2005 hit peaked at number 34  on the Billboard Hot 100 and cracked the top 10 on the Adult Pop Songs chart. The track has been featured in TV shows ranging from Scrubs to One Tree Hill

"Got" by Mos Def made John Fugelsang's playlist today. The song is from Mos Def's debut album Black on Both Sides, which went Gold after its release in 1999.

Wilco's "Jesus, Etc." was New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza's playlist pick today. The track can be heard on the group's album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which is one of the newest albums included in Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Will Cain's playlist pick this morning was "Brown Sugar" by The Rolling Stones. The classic rock song was a number one hit for the Stones in 1971.

Another number one hit– separated by 37 years– was Coldplay's "Viva La Vida," which hit the top of the Billb0ard Hot 100 in 2008.



May 25th, 2012
11:52 AM ET

Fawaz Gerges: The U.S. 'has very little to fear' from the Muslim Brotherhood

Tensions are high as the Egyptian ballots are counted and the world waits to see who the country's citizens elect as their new president.

While the Muslim Brotherhood claimed a lead in the historic election yesterday, saying that its exit polls show Mohamed Morsi leading the pack of thirteen candidates on the ballot, Morsi isn't expected to win outright.

If no candidate garners 50% of the vote in the country's first round of voting, a run-off between the two leading contenders will be held June 16-17th.

Responding to concerns that the election of a member of the Muslim Brotherhood would not be in America's interest, Fawaz Gerges emphasizes that the United States "has very little to fear" from the Islamist movement on Starting Point this morning.

Gerges, considered a top expert on the Middle East, acknowledges that the pluralistic democracies to be established in the Middle East in the aftermath of the Arab Spring will not look like the American system.

Gerges says that countries in the Middle East will develop their own models of democracy, emphasizing that he believes that the Islamists in Egypt are looking to Turkey, not Iran, as a model for the democratic system they'd like to establish.

Gerges calls his new book, "Obama and the Middle East," an indictment of American foreign policy while stressing that President Obama was faced with a "bitter inheritance" in international affairs when he took office.

Responding to various sources that have used his book as a negative referendum on Obama's foreign policies, Gerges stresses that "Obama has gone out of his way to try to repair the damage" to America's international relationships.

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Filed under: Arab Spring • Egypt
May 25th, 2012
11:33 AM ET

Teen suspended for creating anti-bullying video that showed fictional suicide

A New York teenager is back in school after being suspended this week for making an anti-bullying video for a school project that she hoped would raise awareness about the issue.

Jessica Barba, 15, produced a black and white video showing a 12 year old girl being bullied. Towards the end of the video, a caption appears saying that the fictional girl died by suicide.

Although there was a disclaimer at both the beginning and the end of the video explaining that the events depicted were not real, a concerned parent thought the video was factual and called the school.

Barba was then suspended for five days because the principal said the video caused a disruption in the school.

After an outpouring of support from around the world, Barba's suspension was lifted.

On Starting Point this morning, Barba and her parents discuss the video and tell Christine Romans that they're happy the video is getting attention because it’s spreading the message it was created to send: “Speak up, speak out.”

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Filed under: Bullying
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