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AMERICAN MORNING

Bloodshed in Bahrain; Reporter's Rant Triggers Rage; Violence Against Women; Computer Crowned Jeopardy King; Posh Couture

Aired February 17, 2011 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello there, everybody. Good morning to you all on this Thursday, February the 17th. Welcome to this AMERICAN MORNING. I'm T.J. Holmes.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kiran Chetry. Glad you're with us.

A stunning revelation revealed from Senator of Massachusetts, Scott Brown. He told "60 Minutes" that he was sexually abused in summer camp when he was 10-years-old, and was told that he'd be killed if he told anyone. We're going to have more of his emotional interview ahead.

HOLMES: Also this morning, a number of school districts in Wisconsin closed once again because their teachers have walked out or called in sick. Many teachers and state workers protesting the new budget that Governor Scott Walker is trying to put forth to balance the budget. He wants to take away some of the rights to collective bargaining by the unions. President Obama has called this an assault on unions.

CHETRY: And a solar flare the size of Jupiter headed for earth could make a light show but also mess with your cell phone and all kinds of earthly communications. We'll have more on that.

HOLMES: We want to turn now to what had been -- had been -- a peaceful protest the past several days in Bahrain. Well, now it's changed. Deadly protests you can call them now after clashes with police and protesters. Army tanks are now in the streets of the capital there, Manama, where thousands had gathered for largely peaceful protests. It's erupted overnight. Riot police also have been firing tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters.

Take a listen

(VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Many people we know, as well, have been sleeping in camps there in the city's main square. At least three have been killed. Hundreds more have been injured.

There are protest and violence we're seeing spreading to Libya and Yemen. Demonstrators clashes with police in both of those countries, and Libya, this is the first real challenge we have seen in some 40 years to the rule of Muammar Gadhafi.

CHETRY: In Egypt, government officials releasing the latest numbers relating to the deaths from the recent uprising. Egypt's health minister says 365 people were killed in the protests that forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign.

At 8:15 Eastern Time, we're going to be talking more about violence in Egypt especially against women with columnist Mona Eltahawy.

HOLMES: Also this morning, Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts revealing that he was sexually abused as a child. He says this is a secret he never told anyone, not even his own mother. The new revelation is being made now in a new book that's coming out. He talked about this in an upcoming "60 Minutes" interview. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LESLEY STAHL, 60 MINUTES: You tell us that you were actually sexually abused, more than once?

SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Yes. Fortunately, nothing was ever fully consummated, so to speak. But it was certainly back then, very traumatic. He said, if you tell anybody, you know, I'll kill you, you know? I will make sure that no one believes you.

And that's the biggest thing when people find people like me at that young, vulnerable age who are basically lost, the thing that they have over you is they make you believe that no one will believe you. You know, you can't --

STAHL: So you never reported it?

BROWN: No, my mom will read about it for the first time. My wife hasn't read about it. No, no one, I didn't tell anybody. That's what happens when you're a victim. You're embarrassed. You're hurt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Brown says that he is coming forward now to help other victims overcome the trauma.

HOLMES: Well, kids in many school districts in Wisconsin are getting another day off because their teachers have walked off the job. Many of them, at least 15 school districts we're talking about, have canceled classes.

Look at that scene there -- playing out the last couple of days in Madison. Thousands of state workers, teachers among them, are protesting, expecting more demonstrations today. They are upset with the Governor Scott Walker for trying to balance the budget and avoid layoffs.

They are dealing with $3.5 billion deficit the next two years. He is trying to make up for that by taking away some of the collective bargaining rights of some of these workers, these public workers, says it will save $300 million the next couple of years.

We just spoke to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and he says, hey, these are tough times and they require compromise.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARNE DUNCAN, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: Teachers who are teaching our children across the country are doing probably the most important work in society, and we have great, great public school teachers in every state around the country, including Wisconsin. I've visited many schools in Wisconsin. And we have to work together to educate our way to a better economy. So, I'm hoping the situation in Wisconsin can come to a good, to a positive resolution.

But where we are fighting each other, where we are divisive and where we are demonizing and vilifying any group, including unions, I don't think that helps us get to where we want to go as a country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Another Wisconsin legislator is expected to vote on the governor's new spending bill today.

Meanwhile, turn to New York City now. Listen to this. Some 4,600 teachers could be losing a job. Mayor Bloomberg is expected to release his budget around noon today, a noon address he's going to make, and some 4,600 teachers reportedly will have their jobs cut, 1,500 positions more will be eliminated through attrition. The mayor says tough choices are needed to balance the budget and the New York City school system is the largest in the country with just over 1 million students.

CHETRY: The sun has unleashed its most powerful explosion in four years. NASA says this blast took place early Tuesday. You can see, it's a solar flare the size of Jupiter. The blast so powerful that it has already reportedly interrupted some communications on Earth.

Scientists say that it could bring the northern lights as far south as Washington, D.C. Incredible flare was captured in extreme ultraviolet images by NASA. Scientists say that the sun could be warming up for a massive solar storm. This would be in 2013. And that actually could threaten power grids and communications.

That's amazing that we could even get shots like that. It still just astounds me.

HOLMES: It's astounding to hear that the sun is warming up.

CHETRY: No. I mean, it's warming up for a --

(LAUGHTER)

CHETRY: -- it's warming up for a massive unleashing of an attack on our communications systems.

HOLMES: Rob Marciano is here with us as well.

I wish, at some point, this summer the sun would actually warm up and warm some of us. But it doesn't work that way. ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You're not alone there. I guess waking up would be a better term. We've been in the solar minimum which means the sun spots and those solar flares have pretty been much nonexistent the past handful of years. Less than we've ever seen in quite a long time, so it's been due to do this, so to speak.

And those northern lights probably got to some spots last night. Tonight will be the big show, potentially.

All right. Speaking of a big show and big snow, check it out. Parts of the Sierras getting hammered with up to two feet of the fresh stuff. These shots probably out of Blue Canyon, on the way up to Truckee and Tahoe. I-80 probably shut down in some spots.

And with that snow, certainly came some travel headaches. Two to five feet total with this system. Winter storm warnings remain posted in the Sierras and the Wasatch and also the Colorado Rockies.

And with this snow has a tremendous amount of wind energy as well. Look at these winds out of Utah. Ogden, Utah, 110-mile-an-hour wind gusts. That's at about 8,000 to 9,000 feet. But Park City, 85 mile- an-hour wind gusts near Deer Valley. Salt Lake City proper seeing 65 miles an hour for a wind gust. So, a lot of energy with this system.

At ahead of it, definitely sunny or at least warm. But with that warmth has come some fog. We've got fog across the western Great Lakes. We've got fog across parts of the Plains and we also have fog actually, boom, right here in the ATL. Look at that shot. Ground stop in Atlanta right now because of low visibility and there is the skyline of downtown trying to have the sun burn it off, but it's going to take an hour or two before it does that.

So, it will be a slow go here in Atlanta for the next couple of hours. But the warmth is going to be the key here. Temperatures going to get, well, into the 60s and 70s in some spots.

Even New York City getting at least into the 50s today, maybe higher than that.

How's that for the sun warming things up? T.J., Kiran, back to you.

CHETRY: The solar flare we can all embrace.

MARCIANO: There you go.

CHETRY: Thank you.

HOLMES: Thanks, Rob.

MARCIANO: All right, guys.

HOLMES: Well, it was day one for the new White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. We will see if our CNN correspondents sent him running with the tough questions.

CHETRY: Also, Generation Y entering the workforce now, getting out of college. They have bills to pay and they need jobs, but not if they have the right degree. If they're doomed or not -- Christine Romans is going to explain coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: We're 10 minutes past the hour on this AMERICAN MORNING.

These protests started out as peaceful, Egypt-inspired demonstrations, but things have changed overnight in Bahrain. The situation there simply turned to that is what you're seeing here. It's what it turned to overnight.

CHETRY: Yes. Witnesses are reporting the soldiers just came upon them, riot police as well, firing tear gas and rubber bullets, driving protesters from their encampment. They say they were sleeping, at least many of them were, at the time of the attack. Right now, at least three people are dead. Hundreds more wounded.

Our correspondent Nic Robertson is there. He was at one of these protests camps and we've been trying to establish contact with him. I think we're having trouble getting him but we will bring you back to Nic and he has new some information what is going on in Bahrain today.

We're going to take a break. When we come back, the sexual assault against the CBS correspondent Lara Logan in Egypt illuminating an issue often ignored violence against women in Egypt and other Arab countries.

Up next, we're going to be speaking with Mona Eltahawy. She is an activist and columnist on Arab and Muslim issues and she's going to have more on what life is like for many women in these countries.

It's 11 minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: All right. Thirteen minutes past the hour now on this AMERICAN MORNING.

We've been telling you about these protests in Bahrain. They turned deadly overnight after a few days of relatively peaceful demonstrations.

Our international correspondent Nic Robertson is live on the phone with us now from the capital.

Nic, have things certainly calmed down from what you saw there overnight?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): They have calmed down quite considerably. Many of the stores here still remain closed, but the highway that we witnessed just a few hours ago, a column of at least 50 armored personnel carriers with heavy machine guns driving down this deserted highway in the center of the city, that has now got a lot more traffic on it. It's not business as normal up, but it business up and running. We can see police manning checkpoints now in the area, cordoning off what is known here as Pearl Roundabout. This central gathering place where the protesters were having a peaceful protest last night when more than a thousand police swept on them, broke up a demonstration and --

HOLMES: It looks like we might have lost our Nic Robertson on the line there. Yes, we did lose our Nic Robertson, but he's keeping an eye on things for us and trying to get the best up-to-date information we have there, but at least, three people dead, hundreds more having to go to the hospital after things took a turn overnight and got deadly at the protests in Bahrain. We will continue to follow it -- Kiran.

CHETRY: T.J., thanks. An American journalist is coming under fire after a shocking Twitter rant about the brutal beating and sexual assault in Egypt of CBS war correspondent, Lara Logan. In a series of tweets, Nir Rosen, who is an NYU fellow called Logan a war monger and claimed that she was simply trying to outdo Anderson Cooper who was also attacked while covering the Uprising in Egypt.

Now, Anderson had a chance to confront Rosen on last night's "AC 360," and Rosen said he didn't know when he posted those tweets how seriously Logan had been attacked.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIR ROSEN, JOURNALIST: At the time, I didn't know that. I've been in the Middle East and not really was much access to information. And I just assumed that you were roughed up, and she was roughed up. None of that (ph) is justifiable. No matter what -- whether it's just roughed up, obviously, it's wrong but had I known that it was a sexual assault, there is no laughing matter, especially for a man, and there is no excuse for it. I just -- no defense no matter what I say or try to explain, I look like a jerk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Again, Rosen was an NYU fellow. He also covered the Iraq war extensively. So, since the Twitter posting, he has resigned his position with NYU Center on Law and Security.

President Obama also spoke to Lara Logan Wednesday afternoon, phone calling her to make sure she was OK. The barbaric attack she suffered came as shock to most of us but not necessarily to the women in Egypt. There was a 2008 survey that really illuminates major problems for Egyptian women.

This is by the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights. 83 percent of Egyptian women in Cairo and 98 percent of foreign women in Cairo said they had been harassed at one time or another, and 62 percent of men in Cairo actually admitted to harassing women as well. And a lot of people are questioning in light of what happened to Logan, will we hear more now about these harassments and assaults against women in Egypt and other Arab countries and will behaviors begin to change? Joining once again this morning is Mona Eltahawy, activist and columnist on Arab and Muslim issues. And you tweet extensively, thousands and thousands of tweets, and your Twitter feed actually became almost a forum for this discussion in the wake of the horrific attack on Lara Logan. How did that come about?

MONA ELTAHAWY, COLUMNIST: You know, it was my way of kind of condemning unequivocally what happened to Lara, and giving Egyptians also of forum to show how disgusted and saddened we were by her attack on such a happy day when Hosni Mubarak finally stepped down. But also for me, as a woman and as a journalist, and you will know this, Kiran, that has been groped and harassed in various places.

And also, the woman who lives in the U.S. who most (ph) that is rape here every two minutes. So, I wanted to open it up to women in Egypt who face sexual harassment and assault. But women here in the U.S., and I heard from women all over the world and men who actually very generously and courageously shared their own experience with sexual assault and harassment. So, it was very cleansing and it was very -- it helped us open up and share experience at a very difficult time.

CHETRY: The number, when you look at this study, and people ask, you know, somewhere between 80 percent and 90 percent of women in Cairo. Is that just Cairo or were they just being more honest just as far more commonplace than we think?

ELTAHAWY: It's far more commonplace in Cairo than many people have thought. I can't speak for the rest of the Egypt because I've spent most of my life in Egypt in Cairo, but I think what was significant about that survey was that it gave Egyptian women in 2008 finally a chance to speak out against all of these forces that have tried to silence them and shame them into not talking about this.

CHETRY: But is this a cultural -- I mean, is this a cultural thing? Why does 62 percent of men say, yes, I've harassed women? And why 80 percent of women say they've been harassed?

ELTAHAWY: I think what this is -- is what happened to Egypt, what's changed Egypt over the past few decades, because in my parents' generation, this was not something that they heard of or complained of. And when they saw someone being attacked, they would help them. What happened in Egypt over the past few decades was this increasing conservatism where the Mubarak regimen would use a very conservative form of Islam, basically, to fight its opponents.

And everything became so conservative that women paid the biggest price. So, when women were harassed, when I was grew up in the street, and I would fight back and hit, people would just ignore it. What happened with Lara's attack was that 20 Egyptian women rescued her from her attackers. That says to me that what happened in Tahrir was that women found their voice and were able to speak out and say, I'm a revolutionary, and this has got to change.

And remember, Tahrir Square opened on that day to everybody. So, we don't know who attacked Lara. I think she's very courageous in coming out and saying that she was sexually assaulted and giving women a chance to speak. But I would like to know who her attackers were, so we could bring them to justice. But also, you know, she was targeted by the ministry in Egypt. She was targeted by the regime. Who is it who attacked her?

Having said that, I'm very encouraged that Egyptian women rescued her because that says to me that this is a change in Egypt. I have women friends who have groups that fight against harassment. There's a great project called Harass Map where women are encouraged, because of these horrific figures, women are encouraged to call up or send a text message or tweet and say I was groped or assaulted here. And then,

CHETRY: You're seeing a picture of it right now. So, this is really to just put some sunshine on this issue.

ELTAHAWY: exactly.

CHETRY: Is this a bigger problem in Egypt and in the Arab world than in other parts of the world?

ELTAHAWY: I think it's bigger in that people haven't been talking about it for such a long time, and women have been shamed into silence, you know, in the way that rape victims in the 1970s would always be asked what were you wearing and how many boyfriends did you have? In Egypt, what were you wearing? You must have asked for this groping, and the majority of the Egyptian women wear head scarves.

CHETRY: We're glad that you brought this up because speaking of that, we had some pictures at Cairo University to tell a very interesting. These are yearbook pictures from Cairo University, and you just mentioned that sea of change that happened. This is 1978 right there. In the picture, you see most of the women in western dress. Let's fast forward to 1995. You see more women wearing head scarves. When you put up the 1995 yearbook photo at Cairo University.

And then, let's go to 2004 where the majority of women in the picture in 2004 are wearing head scarves. Now, you say this is by choice but a safety measure as well. What does this say about the comfort level that women feel in terms of being at a university and also being interacting on a daily basis with men?

ELTAHAWY: It says to me Egypt has changed a lot. I wouldn't even say that this is the way (ph) western clothes in the 1970s because in the 1950s and 1960s, Egyptian women felt very Egyptian dressed the way they were, but what has happened is this tremendous pressure on women. As I said, this growing conservatism that women pay the price for. I used to wear a head scarf out of choice. I chose to take it off.

My mother and my sister both with Ph.Ds., when my sister is working on her Ph.D. choose to wear it. So, women definitely do choose to wear head scarf, but we reached the stage in Egypt before the revolution where there were so much social pressure. Part of that social pressure was if you're assaulted or groped, if somehow you assault (ph), and women were silenced. What I'm hearing from women who area in Tahrir was we defied our families to spend the night outside in Tahrir.

CHETRY: Right. In mixed company.

ELTAHAWY: Exactly. With men, this is completely against what most Egyptian families experience. So, women, it's like a real awakening, and we're discovering their voice, and they're saying, this has got to change. We demand an active role, and I think this is one of the constructive things that we can take out of this horrific news that Egyptian women are demanding and equal say in Egypt as they should have because they helped this revolution.

CHETRY: Amazing. Well, Mona, it's great to get your take as always. Thank you so much for joining us this morning.

ELTAHAWY: Thanks for having me, Kiran.

CHETRY: T.J.

HOLMES: All right. Well, coming up, how would you like to be at this dinner? Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and President Obama. That's the list tonight for a high tech dinner happening out in California. Our Ed Henry is live at the White House for us coming up. It's 22 minutes past the hour on this AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JIMMY FALLON, HOST: Watson, the computer, beat his human opponents on "Jeopardy." The humans were like, either way, I still love this game, and Watson was like, "I still don't know what love is."

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: That's right. It's a victory for artificial intelligence, even though, he may not know love, he knows the answers. IBM super computer known as Watson beat two former "Jeopardy" champs in a historic matchup of men versus machine. They didn't throw a woman, and then, she might have beaten. A three-day battle a bit one-sided. Watson earned a total of $77,000. That's more than former champs, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, combined.

HOLMES: Also, a lot of people are familiar with and maybe like the movie "Robocop" back in 19 -- you remember the movie?

CHETRY: Of course.

HOLMES: It's kind of a cold classic. That was one thing I like the movie, but they are taking this to a whole new level in Detroit as a group of artists and sci-fi fans who have lobbied now for a statue of Robocop. Now, what am I looking at here? I thought I was going to see the video of the actual statue. I can't explain the video to you, but I'll continue with the story here. Mayor said the statue -- just take that down. It's not doing us any good right now.

CHETRY: That's a nice big fish there.

HOLMES: Yes. All right. Let me explain what's happening here. They want to have a statue of Robocop to commemorate the movie from 1987. The mayor says no, too expensive, they've gotten private donations with $50,000 to get that thing together. They did it in six days. They're just looking for a place to put it like other statue.

CHETRY: Nice. All right.

HOLMES: Yes.

CHETRY: Well, the economy, by the way, is expected to grow more than originally thought. Of course, that's good news from the most recent Federal Reserve meeting, and our Christine Romans is here "Minding Your Business" this morning. We'll take it.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a little upgrade from the fed. You know, these are the minutes from the fed most recent meeting, and it looks like fed officials there are expecting maybe growth of 3.4 to 3.9 percent this year. It doesn't sound like much, right, but it's more than we thought. Unemployment rate maybe by the end of the year, 8.8 percent to 9 percent. Not far from where we are, but still, a little better than expected.

So, why? Strength in household spending at the end of the last year. They specifically noted cars. You're out there buying cars. Positive business activity. Companies are buying software. They're starting to invest again in some of their infrastructure, and the labor market is gradually improving, although, the fed officials said that the data are erratic.

If you listen to us every Friday when there are a jobs report and on Thursdays when we have those jobless claims, it's something we pointed out to you that sometimes these numbers are very hard to discern. So, the labor market gradually improving but slightly erratic. So, what does all of this mean? I mean, even though the fed is saying it's upgrading its expectations for growth in the economy, we're still very concerned about Generation Y.

Generation Y graduated from college into a period where you still got millions of jobs that have been lost by the recession. I asked Ian Bremmer, the president of Eurasia Group yesterday what are the prospects for Generation Y and how do things looked?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: It looks great for Generation Y if they're university educated and if they're entering into the sort of higher levels of the economy. The Gen Y is not going to be one sort of mass if everyone can get a job. It's going to become like the country increasingly divergent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Increasingly divergent, and that's something really interesting to watch here even as these forecasts come out showing that the economy could be slowly improving and a recovery is underway. Increasingly divergent, meaning there are people who are left behind here having a harder time, and there are others who are on the, quote/unquote, "right side of economic recovery" who are able to invest, able to get a new job, and able to move forward.

So, this will be the story, I think, of 2011 Ian Bremmer from Eurasia Group, who was sitting there with Nouriel Roubini. They both agreed that we could be in a position here where you're creating a big underclass people in this country. We're going to be talking about graduation for Generation Y for the class of 2011 in May. They are competing with the class of 2010 and the class of 2009.

So, things loosening up a little bit, but pointing out that if you have a college education and you're in science technology, engineering, math, you're in parts of the economy that are moving forward. Things are great for Generation Y. If you're not, you're going have to work harder.

HOLMES: It's good for kids to be armed with that information going in so that could help out. Christine, appreciate you, as always.

CHETRY: Thanks, Christine.

HOLMES: Bottom of the hour here. Let's take a look at some of the stories making headlines.

At least three people dead in what's become a violent and deadly crackdown in Bahrain. Riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters overnight and many of them had been sleeping there in camps in the capital's main central square. The army says soldiers took steps necessary to protect the capital.

CHETRY: Two TSA officers allegedly stealing for passengers in JFK airport. They were arrested after $40,000 went missing from a bag last month. Prosecutors say the two men scanned the bag with an x-ray machine and swiped the cash and meet up in a bathroom and divide it up and hide it in their clothes. Police say the men confessed to other thefts that could total to $160,000.

HOLMES: No school for many students in Wisconsin today. At least 15 school districts shut down because teachers not going to work and many calling in sick. This is the third day of protests today expected at the state capital.

Governor Walker there is trying to balance a budget, a budget has about $3.5 billion in deficits the next two years. He is trying to avoid layoffs, he says, by making these changes. He wants to force teachers and other state workers to pay more for benefits and take away many collective bargaining rights.

CHETRY: President Obama is heading to silicon valley to have dinner with some of the high tech executives there. On the list is Mark Zuckerberg and Apple's CEO Steve Jobs.

HOLMES: And our Ed Henry is live at the White House today. Ed, good morning to you. If he could get Zuckerberg to get his 500 million friends to vote for him he would be all right next election.

(LAUGHTER) ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He would be all right. If President Obama had a personal Facebook account, which he doesn't, he would probably be friending the executives instead of flying across the country.

But he is doing it in person, and he wants to advance that innovation engaged he talked about in the state of the union address last month where he talked about what can the government do to create a climb to help American business stay ahead of other countries, but also create jobs because of the desperate unemployment situation in this country right now.

You mentioned Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs they're telling us will be at the dinner with the president tonight. Also interesting, as you know this is the high profile meeting we're aware of Steve jobs having certainly with the president but also some of his competitors in the high tech field since he announced in January that he is going to be taking his second medical leave of absence in recent years to deal with an unspecified illness. A lot of people concerned about his health so interesting he will actually be sitting down with the president tonight. T.J. and Kiran?

CHETRY: And Press secretary Jay Carney had his first White House briefing yesterday. How did it go?

HENRY: Well, it was interesting because it's going to be a balance for Jay Carney as a former journalist, a reporter for "TIME" magazine and others. He is now sort of on the other side of the podium, if you will. Interesting to me how quickly he adapted to that side of the podium, if you will, by talking no comment, I'm not going to gauge in a hypothetical, and a lot of things Robert Gibbs was adept at in terms of deflecting some of the questions.

And then there was this lighter moment when someone asked who he wants to play him on "Saturday Night Live." take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Do you have a preference on which member of the cast of "Saturday Night Live" plays you this weekend?

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: God forbid that anyone does. Christy?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: You heard at the end there some folks say you just engaged in a hypothetical which you said you wouldn't do by speculating who might play you on "Saturday Night Live."

But in all seriousness he really didn't slip up in any major way. First day on a job like that, not slipping up is a victory.

CHETRY: They should do a "Saturday Night Live" skit where there is a White House press secretary that answers every single question that you guys ask literally and completely. That would make the gaggle -- the press conference a lot shorter, wouldn't it?

HENRY: You're right. That would be human humorous if they answered the question. You're absolutely right. I think it would be ironic, in a way.

CHETRY: Ed Henry, the politics of Washington and on and on. Thanks so much.

HOLMES: Good to see you.

The NBA is teaming up with the department of Homeland Security. Yes, this is happening. Janet Napolitano and the NBA commissioner David Stern announcing a partnership that starts at the NBA all-star game this Sunday in L.A. This is part of the campaign of homeland security department to tell folks and remind people if you see something, say something. You will see a lot of posters and public service announcements.

CHETRY: Before he was America's favorite TV dad and before he was a comedy icon, Bill Cosby was a sailor, and today the U.S. Navy will be honoring him. Bill Cosby will be recognized as an honorary chief petty secretary of the Navy. Cosby enlisted in the Navy in 1956 and trained as a hospital corpsman and assigned to work with Korean War casualties at Bethesda Navy hospital.

HOLMES: And also coming up this morning, "Glee" actress Lauren Potter is here with us. She is leading a new campaign to stop bullying kids with disabilities. It's 35 minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: It's 38 minutes past the hour now. Welcome back to this "AMERICAN MORNING."

I want you to take a look at a piece of video here. We showed it to you last fall. What this is showing you is a farther James Jones. He is from central Florida. He boarded a school bus to confront his daughter's bullies. His daughter was cerebral palsy, and Jones says she was teased, spit on, and poked with pens.

Now a new report is out saying her story is common for children with disabilities. Studies show they are two to three times more likely to be victims of bullying than their nondisabled peers. The study concludes that enough is enough and offers steps to protect the most vulnerable students in some of our schools.

Joining us this morning is Lauren Potter, spokesperson. One of the stars you may recognize of the popular show "Glee," and also Timothy Shriver, Chairman and CEO of the Special Olympics. Thank you for being here.

LAUREN POTTER, ACTRESS, "GLEE": Thank you.

HOLMES: Lauren, you're 20 years old now, right? Your experience growing up in school, were you picked on?

POTTER: Yes, I have.

HOLMES: How bad was it? Tell us what kind of things would people do to you?

POTTER: They call me names like I'm stupid and they made me eat sand. But it's really funny that they -- I told them to grow up.

HOLMES: How long did it take you to get to a point where you were confident enough to stand up to those bullies? How difficult was it to get to that point for you?

POTTER: It is still hard when people call me like stupid and also someone once told me different isn't bad. It's just different.

HOLMES: Tim, let me bring you in here now. We shared some of the numbers there but how common of a story is this?

TIMOTHY SHRIVER, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, SPECIAL OLYMPICS: It's a silent epidemic. Children with special needs all over the country are bullied three times the rate of average children, and often the bullying goes on for a year. What that tells us it's not just isolated cases but these re situations where adults in effect condone it.

This is the real tragedy here. We have a generation of children who have not been told by adults to stop because too many adults don't see it as a problem and hear the word "retard" and say it's a joke. They see they are making fun of children on the playground.

HOLMES: Do you think they are more submissive of a child being picked on?

SHRIVER: I don't think they don't see it. Too many times special kids are not vocal and their parents don't have a chance to fight in the school and fighting to get into the school and fighting for health care, for transportation for these kinds of things. So this becomes at the end of the line.

But Lauren told me just before we sat down here today that she was called a retard in Target just a few days ago. And so what is that telling us is that these kids in Target see Lauren, a television star, a person who, as she says, is different, but there is nothing wrong with being different. They have been raised to think it's OK to make fun of her. That is the condition.

And so many kids are victims not just the kids with special needs but the bullies themselves because the schools have not taken on this challenge.

HOLMES: What is the easier way to take on the challenge, get the adults to change their thinking and get the bullies to change their thinking or to get the poor kids who are being picked on just the confidence to stand up to it? SHRIVER: I think two things. First of all, in our work, we are trusting kids and telling kids about the problems, nondisabled kids and kids with special needs. And as soon as they stand the problem, they act. We have a project called project unify. Best buddy, the arc al working together to mobilize young people to lead the change in their schools.

But secondly, schools have to look at this as a comprehensive challenge. You heard Secretary Duncan saying we have to educate kids not just academically but social. We need programs that start in kindergarten and help kids grow up in a social network.

HOLMES: Laruen, why do you want to be a part of being a spokesperson for getting this word out and this message out?

POTTER: That's a good question. The arc happens to be one of the companies and also -- I'm sorry.

HOLMES: No, you're fine. You're fine.

POTTER: What was the question again?

HOLMES: You're putting yourself out there. You have a face and a voice and a name now. People know you. What has that been like? Do you want to use that "Glee" success and fame now and turn this into something, a message that can help others?

POTTER: Of course. I really love going to a lot of movies like acting, more acting.

SHRIVER: And Lauren is a spokesperson for the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign. March 2nd of this year kids and adults all over the country challenging each other to end the use of the word "retard" and create it with respect and create more trusting and open environments for all kids.

HOLMES: And we are showing the PSA she is a part of. Guys, thank you so much. It's an important topic that not a lot of people realize there are problems out there. We will put up links to all of this information people will have it at home. Lauren, congratulations on the success of the show.

POTTER: Thank you so much.

HOLMES: I haven't had a chance to see a lot of it.

SHRIVER: You're missing out.

HOLMES: I'm now going to check it out. Thank you both for being here.

POTTER: Keep watching.

(LAUGHTER)

HOLMES: You keep watching us, too, OK? POTTER: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

CHETRY: Good deal. Thanks, guys.

We will take a break and when we come back we will check in with Rob Marciano. Warmer temperatures in store for many people who have felt the cold all winter, but, unfortunately, Rob says it's not going to last. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: A resident in Chicago named Michelle picked this song because she says hey, if it's 49 degrees in February in Chicago, it's a beautiful day. A bit later, they are looking at showers going up to 56.

So I guess you can expect a lot of the hardy natives to be wearing shorts and maybe even still laying down and putting up an umbrella on the shores of Lake Michigan.

HOLMES: Yes. Chicago in the winter.

CHETRY: Yes.

HOLMES: It's the best summer city in the country. Chicago, Illinois; I love you. And I'll see you in June.

All right, Rob Marciano is standing by for us. It's a pretty good day in Chicago, right?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, not bad at all. You're right, if it gets over 50 in -- in February, you'll take it and in Chicago, in New York and just about anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon. And that's what we've been seeing here today but as mentioned all morning long, it's not going to last all that long. 45 right now in D.C., it's 48 degrees in New York and 46 degrees in Atlanta.

We've had problems with fog at the airports and there is a ground stop, still is, for the next few minutes here in Atlanta. Although, it looks like it's beginning to lift and some volume delays in Houston.

All right, this storm out west has really piled up -- piled up the snow. I just checked the North Star near Tahoe, 32 inches in 24 hours but with that has some serious winds. Ogden, Utah, 110-mile-an-hour wind -- that's just east of Snow Bay. And Park City at Deere Valley, 85-mile-an-hour wind gust yesterday.

And Salt Lake City right at lake level 65-mile-an-hour wind gusts, so a very powerful storm or series of storms that's rolling across the Intermountain West. And getting into the plains now another storm coming out west and then, out ahead of this is certainly some warmer air and moist air and that's bringing in some fog in some areas because of the cold ground. And actually in some spots we still have some -- some snow on the ground so that obviously makes it very cold.

Day time highs though in Chicago of up to 56, 73 in Memphis, 56 in New York and 68 degrees -- 68 degrees in -- in D.C. So not only today, but tomorrow as well as we begin to build this heat. But again, don't expect it to last that long. Colder air moves in for the weekend. It's kind of for the birds.

A quick shot of what happened in Omaha earlier yesterday. They got a problem with the wild turkeys. And you know, it kind of slows down traffic just a little bit. You should see some turkeys there at some point.

Anywhere there is your traffic report for Omaha, Nebraska. Oh there you go. Good eating there, guys. But I wouldn't stick around through the summer and fall. People are on the lookout for you. There is your obligatory turkey report from the Midwest.

Back to you guys in New York. Have a great day.

CHETRY: You cracked up T.J. today.

HOLMES: Oh because I had issues earlier with some video and things didn't show up when it's supposed to, Rob.

MARCIANO: Well, honestly I hadn't checked out that video and I was expecting to see the birds right away.

HOLMES: Yes.

CHETRY: Yes.

MARCIANO: And --

CHETRY: You got thrown for a loop there. You got it -- it was a turkey. What are you going to do?

HOLMES: Yes.

MARCIANO: It was.

CHETRY: Thanks, Rob.

MARCIANO: See you guys.

HOLMES: You're a good man, Rob.

All right, coming up in just a moment do you live in one of the most active places in the country?

CHETRY: It's pretty safe to say if you don't move, you'll get run over in New York especially on the sidewalks.

HOLMES: There's a good chance, we will tell you where the coach potatoes in the country are. It is 10 minutes to the top of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: What is he doing?

CHETRY: That's his exercise for the day.

HOLMES: Is that what that is?

CHETRY: Yes he is using --

(CROSS TALK)

HOLMES: For the day?

CHETRY: -- resistance training with rubber bands.

HOLMES: That's nice, that's our Phil.

CHETRY: To -- to build muscle.

HOLMES: That's our Phil. And Phil, I hope he's paying attention to this segment right now. Because -- for the "A.M. House Call". We're talking about which U.S. states have the most couch potatoes and which state have the most active people.

The CDC put this report out of the most and least active populations. So, the least active folks: Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee.

CHETRY: And your own home state.

HOLMES: No, it's not on this list. I'm Arkansas.

CHETRY: Oh, ok.

HOLMES: Yes, we just missed it. But you can see kind of the -- the region where a lot of these states are in the south.

Now, the most active states?

CHETRY: California, not -- no shocker there. Hey, the weather is nice there, you know? Hawaii, that's easy, of course you can be active when you live by a gorgeous ocean. Colorado, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont and Washington state.

So what they did was they tracked physical activity county-by-county.

HOLMES: One other thing here for the folks in Kentucky, that actually four out of the five least active counties are in that one state and four out of the five most active are in Colorado, that includes Boulder which of course they like their outdoor sports out there and they like their bike friendly community.

So there you go.

CHETRY: They do a lot of skiing in Colorado.

HOLMES: Yes, a bit, I heard.

CHETRY: Congrats.

Well, the Food and Drug Administration has approved the wider use of the lap-band weight loss device. This will now allow companies to market it to people who are less obese than the current patients who qualify.

So they say an estimated 11 million more Americans could be eligible for the device which again is inserted laparoscopically (ph) and they put a little band around your stomach to reduce the amount of food that you eat.

HOLMES: All right, your "A.M. House Call" for the morning.

Also coming up, we have a fashion call for you this morning as well. David and Victoria Beckham, they're worth about $150 million. That's not stopping Victoria from getting a day job as a fashion designer. But is she the real deal?

Our Alina Cho sits down with her. That's next.

It is 54 minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Well, it is fashion week and this is a big to do in New York. More than 200 designers showcase their collections on runways but perhaps none more famous to -- to most people -- to a lot of people out there, Posh Spice, Victoria Beckham.

HOLMES: Well, a lot of the people know the name, they might not -- not realize that she's actually a designer and she is showing off why now she is Posh as she sat down with our Alina Cho.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She burst on to the scene as Posh Spice, married soccer star David Beckham and lived the glamorous life of a celebrity mom. But Victoria Beckham's passion is fashion.

(on camera): I've read many times that you say, "I'm a control freak."

VICTORIA BECKHAM, FASHION DESIGNER: Absolutely. I want to be. You know? My name is on the label.

CHO (voice-over): On dresses, jeans, handbags and sunglasses; her line is carried by luxury retailers like Neiman Marcus.

JIM GOLD, NEIMAN MARCUS: If the product wasn't phenomenal their dresses will not sell.

CHO: And they're not cheap, starting at about a thousand dollars.

BECKHAM: I put all of the dresses on and I look in the mirror. Would I wear this? And if I would, then out it goes.

CHO: It's working to rave reviews. So much so, Kate Middleton has come calling.

BECKHAM: She has asked to try on some dresses.

CHO (on camera): Wedding dresses?

BECKHAM: No, no, no, no. I'm not ready for a wedding dress just yet. She's asked to see a couple of dresses and should she pick one then that would be right.

CHO (voice-over): Beckham admits her designs aren't for everyone. But for the girl who's willing to spend the money and has the body to pull it off. After all --

(on camera): They all say what does she look like? Isn't she so thin? Does she look like she --

BECKHAM: Yes.

Just tell them yes. They're thin. Ridiculously thin.

CHO: You don't have to work.

BECKHAM: No. I don't have to work. But I'm really happy doing this, making women look and feel beautiful. That's what I want to do. That's what it's about.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHO: You know what? The clothes are great. Beckham is the first to say I'm not the best singer, I'm not the most beautiful but guess what, I work really hard. And guess what; it shows and it's part of the reason why the fashion press loves her because she is the first to say, you know, I still have a lot to learn and I don't have a lot of experience but she is trying really hard and the clothes are selling and good for her.

HOLMES: Trying hard pays off sometimes. And if you want to get your education in fashion you can check out Alina's special "FASHION WEEK BACKSTAGE PASS", airs this Saturday February 19th at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time.

Alina thank you.

CHO: Thank you.

CHETRY: All right. Thanks so much for joining us. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning, bright and early.

Meantime, the news continues, "CNN NEWSROOM" with Kyra Phillips starts right now.

Good morning Kyra.