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Obama Tapping New Cabinet Members; War Vets "Ride 2 Recovery"; Halle Berry on Her 911 Call; Backlash at Yahoo! Telecommuting Ban

Aired March 4, 2013 - 10:30   ET


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well you know it's a major task that we've been talking about the fact that there have been so many fiscal crises happening over the last four years and certainly now as well that the most pressing one is trying to halt those spending cuts that took place at the end of last week.

And then there's what's going to happen in terms of funding the federal government that the White House has said that it supports this CR or this Continuing Resolution that would help sort of bridge the gap and allow the federal government to continue running and prevent that shutdown. So these are some important issues that she would have to deal with if nominated.

If you look back over the last four years there have been things such as you know the fiscal cliff and the debt ceiling and these are all major fiscal issues that the office of OMB has played a critical role and the director has played a critical role in helping the President -- guide the President's decision-making and crunched the numbers if you will as well.

And so this is a very important role as the Administration tries to stabilize a lot of these fiscal issues that they are currently facing.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Right and Christine Romans, you know everything about money as we talk about. What does she bring to the table in your opinion based on? I know you've studied her background, what can she do and maybe -- what may be some red flags?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You and Dan made a really good point. You know this is about crunching the numbers but this is also about politics and getting the President's vision in a budget and getting that budget presented to the American people. I mean that's -- that's what this job is. She is the one who is going to put the President's vision into numbers on paper that are supposed to be the budget.

And we've all of these hiccups, all of this budget theatrics in Washington right now. So this job is a really big job. She's 47 years old, only the second woman to ever hold this position if she's confirmed. Alice Riflands was the only other woman to hold this job. And especially now it is a very big job.

Another thing here to remember is that Jacob Lew, he's the Treasury Secretary, also a Clinton alum, she's got experience in the private sector in the -- in the Gates Foundation also, in the Wal-Mart Foundation. But it's that Clinton era experience, so those alums from then that are -- that are really rising now in the second Obama Administration.

PAUL: All righty, Christine Romans and Dan Lothian. Thank you so much as we continue to watch what's happening in Washington. We're back after a quick break.


PAUL: Good Monday morning to you, I'm Christi Paul. Thanks for keeping me company here. I want to give you a check on the "Top Stories" right now.

A coroner and a family are disagreeing about the murder of Marco McMillian, an openly gay Mississippi mayoral candidate. Now his family contends that he was beaten, dragged and burned. The coroner says he's not sure where that information is coming from though and says there are signs of an altercation but that wasn't what killed him.

So an investigation is on-going. We do know police have charged 22- year-old Lawrence Reed though, with murder.

Secretary of State John Kerry continues his overseas trip by meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Saudi Arabia. Kerry wrapped up a two-day visit to Egypt Sunday pledging $250 million in U.S. aid to support the country's future as a democracy.

And I cannot believe I have to tell you about another winter storm hitting the northern plains and moving east. Could blanket the nation's capital with a foot of snow. The actual amount in which areas of the Mid-Atlantic will be affected depends on the trajectory it takes. Strong winds could also trigger coastal flooding and a storm surge. So do take care if you're in that area.

You know for many veterans wrestling with the demons of war, the journey to healing and the happiness could begin on a bicycle. This is "Ride 2 Recovery", it's a series of bike tours across the United States, each one stretching for hundreds of miles. And many of the wounded vets say it transforms them. They sleep better. They find new friends. They reawaken a hopefulness that had grown pretty dim.

John Wordin is the founder of "Ride 2 Recovery" he joins us from today's stop in Gulfport, Mississippi. So John thank you so much first of all for the work you're doing and secondly, I know you and the program were featured on "60 Minutes" last night and I watched part of it. You discussed the particularly a heart breaking case of Clay Hunt, a former Marine haunted by PTSD. I want to listen here to something you said.


JOHN WORDIN, FOUNDER "RIDE 2 RECOVERY": He was the darkest of the dark. You could look in his eyes and you could see that -- that hopelessness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could he ever articulate what it was exactly?

WORDIN: He would always say, you know what, John, I don't feel like being here anymore.


WORDIN: -- he should have been killed in Iraq with his buddies.


PAUL: I know you took him into your home, you did almost everything possible to try to help him and yet we need to point out that he -- he committed suicide at the age of just 28. Is his death a sober reminder of just how haunting PTSD is you know to you and the people you've met?

WORDIN: Yes, there's no question. It's a very difficult thing because each person that has PTSD deals with it in a different way. And it -- and it manifests itself with triggers that you just don't know what they are. And with Clay, it was -- it was always trying to help people and make the world a better place. And he was frustrated by the fact that it wasn't happening the way he thought it should. And he didn't think that you know the support for veterans was as good as it should have been. And it really frustrated him.

And riding his bike with "Ride 2 Recovery", really helped him deal with that and made him a better person. He really liked riding bikes. I mean we would -- when he was living with me, we would go mountain biking near my house and we really have a good time. And it was the happiest he ever was.

PAUL: So John, I mean, where are we falling short here? I mean, what do vets with PTSD need from us that we're not giving them?

WORDIN: That's a very complicated question, but the short answer is, I think that many people look at PTSD as a medical problem, when PTSD is more of a life problem. It's how do you adjust from the chaos that you had in Iraq and Afghanistan and now you come back to America and your family is different, your community is different, and you're treated different.

And the support system that these guys have is just not there. And that's what we try to help with, with -- with "Ride 2 Recovery", is try to create that sense of family community where these guys have other vets that have gone through what they're going through they have someone to talk to and they have an outlet by riding a bike. A lot of them have physical injuries but riding allows them to all ride together.

We have hands cycles, recumbent, rigger (ph) upright bikes and we adapt the bikes for the warriors so that they can all ride together that gives them an opportunity to have what we call group therapy on wheels.

PAUL: How have you seen firsthand some of these veterans change in your -- in you program as they're cycling? WORDIN: Well, I mean we just started to ride yesterday in New Orleans and we're riding across the Gulf Coast. And you know, the first day you'll see all of the guys, they'll be off by themselves in the corner they won't really talk to anybody. They'll just sort of be by themselves.

And by the end of the week, they'll be in the middle of a group talking and laughing and having a good time. And you can just see over time they -- they go from being antisocial and sort of alone to being part of a group. And it was funny this morning at breakfast, I was listening to one of the guys who did the ride last year talk to one of the new guys and they were talking about their first day's experience. And the guy was like, "I had no idea how much fun this was and how cool this was."

And the vet that had been on the ride last year was telling them, the thing that makes this ride great is -- it's not the ride as much as it is the camaraderie and the fellowship that happens on ride.

You're going to go home with phone numbers and you're going to have people to call. So when you're the -- when you're up in the middle of the night at 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m., you have someone to call that understands what you're going through. And I think that's what part of the magic --

PAUL: Part of the magic is. Yes John Wordin thank you so much, "Ride 2 Recovery", for all that you're doing for them and please let them know that we appreciate and are so grateful for their service and we're grateful every day. So thank you.

WORDIN: Yes. Thank you, Christi.

PAUL: And we're going to be -- sure. And we're going to be right back.


PAUL: Last hour we started to tell you about Halle Berry's new movie "The Call." But we had to break in that report because Queen Elizabeth was leaving hospital. We wanted you to see that.

We want to get back and finish that conversation though with Nischelle Turner in Los Angeles because I know that we started talking about how her real life has some actual similarities to this role in this movie, right?

NISHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. We'll do take two here Christi of Halle Berry. And so to pick up where we left off last hour I was telling about Halle Berry talking about having to make a 911 call to -- to 911 about a year before she started doing this film. And here is what she told me.


HALLE BERRY, ACTRESS: I did have to call 911 about a year before I made this movie. I had someone who was attempting to break into my house. And when I called, I told the 911 operator, I think they are in my house. And from the time I thought they were in, I couldn't stop talking and the operator said to me, ma'am, if they're in your house, you must be quiet. Stop talking. And I could not stop talking. And she kept telling me, ma'am, be quiet. Ma'am I need you to be quiet. Be quiet. And I could not stop talking.

So next time if I ever have to call, I know the importance of being quiet and listening to someone.


TURNER: And that is such a good point. Because earlier this year an obsessed fan Richard Franco pled no contest to felony stalking after being arrested outside Halle Berry's home. He had tried to or actually broken into her home at least three times. The last time she came face to face with him and that's when she went and called 911.

Now Franco was sentenced to 386 days in jail, five years probation, but Christi, Halle also on another kind of lighter note broke some news while she was out promoting the call that has people very excited. She revealed that she's coming back to "X-Men" one more time. She's going to play "Storm" again in the next movie. Because there was a lot of --

PAUL: Nice.

TURNER: -- speculation about whether or not she would be coming back. Yes, she'd be doing it --

PAUL: Hey Nischelle Turner, thank you so much. Great interview.


PAUL: Sure.

It was supposed to simply be a change in policy but it turned into a huge PR nightmare for Yahoo! Everyone must work at work, not at home. Not sitting well with everybody.


PAUL: 48 minutes past the hour, let's get you a check of the top stories here.

More than 100 cardinals will meet again next hour; could set the date for the conclave that will choose the next pope. A Vatican spokesman says Catholics may not have to wait very long to find out who it's going to be. A new pope could be in place they say by March 14th, well before Easter, of course on the 31st.

In his first post-election interview, Mitt Romney tells Fox News he faced a number of challenges including trying to overcome that 47 percent comment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You know, when you speak in private, you don't spend as much time thinking about how something can be twisted and distorted and could come out wrong and be used. But, you know, I did and it was very harmful. What I said is not what I believe.

Obviously my whole campaign, my whole life has been devoted to helping people, all of the people -- I care about all the people in the country. But that hurt, there's no question that hurt and did real damage to my campaign.


PAUL: Romney also mentioned the long primary campaign where he said fellow Republican attacks were not on the mark and he said his campaign lost momentum because of Superstorm Sandy as well.

Speaking of storms, we feel for all of you in the northern plains because there's a winter storm hitting you, it's moving east. Could blanket the nation's capital with a foot of snow. The actual amount and which areas of the mid-Atlantic will be affected depends on the trajectory. Strong winds could trigger coastal flooding and storm surge as well. We'll keep you posted. Back in a moment.


PAUL: You know several technology companies are known for flexible working hours and locations and I know you've heard that Yahoo! is making this big change. As the search engine giant looks to have all its employees come into the office, no more remotely connecting to the office here.

Yahoo!'s new CEO Marisa Meyer wants her employees to work side by side. It's not sitting well with a lot of people, particularly working mothers. You've probably had this conversation.

Barbara Turvett is executive editor of "Working Mother" magazine -- Turvett, excuse me; and Prerna Gupta is chief product officer of Smule, a software company. We appreciate so much you being here with us ladies.

Prerna, let me start with you because I know you worked from home a good chunk of your professional life. What was your initial reaction to this new mandate?

PRERNA GUPTA, CHIEF PRODUCT OFFICER, SMULE: When I first heard about it, first thought was I'm really glad I don't work at Yahoo! As you mentioned, I worked from home most of my life. I started my own company as well so I've managed a large team and a large organization and I understand the challenges presented when some of your employees work from home.

But I believe that flexibility is ultimately better. It leads to greater productivity for your workers and it's better for both employees and employers. PAUL: All right. Well, Barbara, we know technology has given us some new tools. I mean it helps us be in two places at once, so to speak. Do you think we really need to be in the office five days a week?

BARBARA TURVETT, "WORKING MOTHER" MAGAZINE: Absolutely not. In fact, smart companies realize that the way to attract and retain good talent is to make their lives better in terms of their work and their life. And so like we put out the 100 best companies every year and these companies, which include a lot of tech companies by the way, know that flexibility like work from home policies are really good for their employees and for their profits.

PAUL: You know Barbara, I think what might have left a sour taste in people's mouths is the fact that Meyer has made some provisions for her family. She's built this nursery right next to her office.


PAUL: Is that going to be detrimental do you think to her ability to lead when she's mandating that telecommuting but she's making allowance for herself and her child that maybe others can't afford?

TURVETT: I think so. She is sort of a reluctant role model but we need to look at woman like that as role models, there's not very many female CEOs in Fortune 500 companies. So that's the way we look on her. And so far, we've seen her be pregnant and get hired by Yahoo! That was an incredible thing.

Then she took two weeks maternity leave when she had her baby and we thought, maybe not so good but we'll respect her choice. Then she built the nursery with her own money but she makes $17 million in five years. We thought, wish I could have a nursery next to my office.

Now she's eradicating work from home policy. So it's sorts of been this progression of we're happy, well we're questioning on now we're kind of mad at her. Yes, I don't know if she's setting a great example for her employees.

PAUL: Ok. So Prerna let me ask you, there's a strong reaction from working moms specifically as Barbara was talking about, about this new mandate. And they are saying the same.

But what about people who don't have children? I mean are they being punished by being forced to come into the office every day as well? Do they feel that?

GUPTA: Yes, absolutely. I don't have children and you know, I'm married as well and my husband is a man without children. We both feel really strongly that working from home is better for everyone.

And you know, the thing is, this idea that everyone should be in the office five days a week, eight hours every day, it's really a pretty antiquated idea. It comes from a time when we didn't have tools to work from Home. You know, you had to come into the office to work, you know, that's decades ago, right.

PAUL: Right, yes.

GUPTA: We work from home every evening, every weekend now most of us. Why not give people the flexibility to work when they are most productive?

PAUL: All right. Prerna Gupta and Barbara Turvett. Thank you both, ladies, so much for giving us your thoughts today. We appreciate it.

Thank you, all of you at home. Hope Monday has been good so far. I'm Christi Paul, "CNN NEWSROOM" with Ashleigh Banfield continues after a quick break. Stay close.


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It's nice to have you here with us.

This is the most delicate demolition you will ever see. A big crane with a long reach brings down the house that --