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Rim Fire Still Spreading; Syria Gives OK for Inspection; Search for Missing PA Math Teacher; New York Sues Donald Trump
Aired August 25, 2013 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. Here are the top stories we're following for you.
California, a wildfire shows no signs of slowing down. We take you inside the fire zone where evacuees are sharing their stories.
And Syria gives the green light to U.N. weapons inspectors but a senior U.S. official says it may be too late to find any evidence of an alleged chemical weapons attack.
Plus, family and friends are desperate for any word about this Pennsylvania school teacher who's been missing for a month now. He went on a hiking trip and hasn't been seen since.
Let's start in California where that huge wildfire is still burning in and around the western edge of Yosemite National Park. More than 133,000 acres of forest have been scorched. Twenty six hundred firefighters are on the front lines right now but the fire is still only about seven percent contained. Nick Valencia is joining us from just outside Yosemite. So this fire is far from being under control, right?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're working against a lot of odds at this hour, Fred. And we're at the rim or vista. It's called the rim of the world. And if you've been to Yosemite, you probably have seen this before. I'm going to ask my cameraman to pan throughout just to give you a sense of what firefighters have dealt with throughout this entire week.
If you have come through Yosemite and used highway 120, you have probably seen this before but perhaps never like this. This is scorched as far as the eye can see and it really gives you a sense of what firefighters are dealing with. And this also is no stranger to fires. This is a monument given to a firefighter David Eriksson who lost his life in 1987, the complex fire, also very disastrous.
When we talk to residents, they mentioned the complex fire and how this fire has a lot of similarities but it's even more dangerous than that. The good news is some areas have been lifted, have had their evacuation orders lifted and some people are starting to go back but when you look at this, you really understand that the scope of the devastation. This came up to the lip of the edge and it jumped the highway and went up the mountain there. There's still some green trees but as you just saw, Fred, I mean just as far as the eye can see. And look at all that smoke. That haze. That's also some of the conditions that the firefighters are working under. It's difficult for our crew at times to breathe this stuff in. You can only imagine what it's like on the front lines, especially at this hour.
At this hour when the sun is high, these dry conditions are just even made more dry. Those canyon winds blow these flames all over the place making it even more unpredictable. Earlier when I was at the Groveland Fire Station where residents were getting updates from the local fire department about whether or not they can go back, I caught up with some evacuees and one evacuee told me exactly what she's been going through the last few days.
VALENCIA: Vickie, you have seen a lot in your five years in the U.S. Forest Service. You've seen a lot of fires. What does this compare to, those that you have seen in the past?
VICKIE WRIGHT, U.S. FOREST SERVICE: No fire is a good fire. I have never seen heathers the way I did earlier in the week this week, and it was astounding to see the power of what I witnessed earlier. So our main objectives right now, structure protection, just making sure that we keep everyone safe and we protect that park at all costs.
SUSAN LOESCH, WILDLIFE EVACUEE: It was a little nerve wracking when they came knocking on my door because, you know, this is new for us. I never been in an area where they had bad fires and I just wanted to get out. And then we came up here yesterday morning, it was very thick coming through the valley and then it cleared. Maybe I thought we're still OK. So we're hoping.
VALENCIA: And it's been difficult for everyone that's affected by this fire. Just in the few days and the two days that we have been here, this fire has grown to more than 15,000 acres and as you mentioned, Fred, just seven percent containment. Fred, back to you.
WHITFIELD: All right. Nick Valencia, thanks so much for keeping us posted.
So the winds in that fire area have been dying down just a little bit but the conditions overall are still feeding the flames. Alexandra Steele is in the severe weather center.
ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Fred. I mean, the weather is just not cooperating. A myriad fronts. Temperatures, rain and wind. So in terms of the temperatures, the temperatures in the morning haven't gotten as low or as cool as they have been earlier in the week and the fire activity picked up earlier in the day.
Also, this fire's creating its own weather pattern. It's so ferocious now and so large and what's happening is that smoke column is building up, it's breaking down and collapsing on itself and when it collapses it sends the downdrafts and wind gusts in opposite and disparate directions. So it's harder for the firefighters to know the direction from which the wind is coming.
All right. So here's what we can expect with the wind. Strongest late this evening and in to the overnight hours. Sustained winds between about 16 and 20 miles per hour. Gusts will be even stronger than that. And you can see that here in this legend when the winds really fire up. Really late in the day and overnight. So, on so many fronts, the temperature staying in the 70s. No rain at all to cool things down. And also, of course, the strong winds. And the temperatures during the morning hours. On so many fronts, this fire does not get a break from the weather at all, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Alexandra.
OK. So meantime, we are also getting in some pretty amazing images from NASA. Take a look at this shot of the Yosemite fire from space. The fire is just that big. And you can really see the burned out areas and the smoke that it is generating, as well.
Amanda Knox will not return to Italy for retrial in the 2007 death of her British roommate. That's what a spokesman for her family says. Italy's supreme court plan to retry the case this fall. The court says the jury that acquitted Knox two years ago didn't consider all of the evidence. It is still possible that Italy could request Knox's extradition from the U.S..
And a 12-year-old boy has lost his fight against a brain-eating parasite. According to the Facebook page that was providing updates, Zachary Rana died yesterday afternoon. The site says he is on a ventilator so his organs can be donated. His family says Zachary may have lost his battle but he won the war. Doctors had been treating him with an experimental drug.
Donald Trump is facing a huge lawsuit from the state of New York. The state's attorney general says the billionaire mogul's Trump University committed fraud and scammed students for thousands of dollars. If the state gets its way, Trump could have to fork over $40 million. We'll go to New York for the full story with CNN business correspondent Alison Kosik coming up shortly.
All right, the sound of bombs there and accusations of chemical weapons used go on in Syria. The Syrian government now says it will allow U.N. inspectors, weapons inspectors access to the site of the alleged chemical attacks but they're also warning the U.S. not to take any military action. Our Chris Lawrence is live for us right now from the Pentagon.
So Chris, is it too late now to find any evidence, any real evidence of chemical weapons attacks?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: No. I think just the opposite, Fred. I think they already have enough evidence and they are near certain that there was a chemical weapons attack and that the Syrian regime was responsible for that. A senior administration official tells CNN the belated decision by the regime to grant access to the U.N. team is too late to be credible. Including because the evidence available has been significantly corrupted.
As a result of the regime's persistent shelling and other intentional actions over the last five days. We now know that President Obama has been making a flurry of calls, he was on the phone with the president of France. We know earlier he spoke with the prime minister of the UK. It seems to be that they now have enough information and now what's happening is the allies are getting together to decide what is the best way forward.
WHITFIELD: And Chris, what are the options that the U.S. is considering?
LAWRENCE: Well, no boots on the ground. No no-fly zone. What we're hearing is potentially what's being considered at least standoff options. Fighter jets, firing from outside Syrian air space. Perhaps cruise missiles fired from one of four Navy destroyers that are in the Mediterranean. One of those moved closer to Syria. All are equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles which are designed to hit land targets from the sea and we know the Pentagon has recently updated its list of targets potentially to go after not only command bunkers but the actual delivery systems, the artillery batteries and launch systems that could be used to deliver chemical weapons.
I'm told by sources that basically all of these options are limited. They're designed to deter future chemical weapons use, not to change the situation on the ground, much less overthrow the regime of a Bashar Al Assad.
WHITFIELD: All right. Chris Lawrence in Washington, thank you so much.
WHITFIELD: Tomorrow is back to school day for students in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. But one of their most popular teachers is nowhere to be found. He vanished a month ago. Next, we'll take a look at the mysterious circumstances surrounding his disappearance and the latest efforts to find him.
WHITFIELD: In California, authorities are trying to solve a mystery that has a family and a school community on edge. They're looking for a popular Pennsylvania high school math teacher who vanished during a hiking trip to Mammoth Lakes. 39-year-old Matthew Green would have started classes tomorrow but he hasn't been seen or heard from since mid-July. CNN's Brianna Keilar has more on the search and how the family is coping.
TIFFANY MINTO, SISTER: I want to be hopeful but yet at this point it's so hard to be hopeful.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's hard because her brother Matthew Green is missing. The avid 39-year-old hiker and high school math teacher from Pennsylvania who loved being outdoors vanished more than a month ago while vacationing in the mountains of Mammoth Lakes, California. His family said he went there to camp, hike and climb. He had been staying at the Shady Rest campground nearby while his car is being repaired.
His family says he was supposed to pick up his car and then meet some friends. He never picked up his car and his friends say he never showed up.
MINTO: So there's really not a lot of clues to go by. And that's kind of the pitfall of the investigation right now is where could he have gone?
KEILAR: Air and ground searches haven't produced many clues. His family and friends launched a Find Matthew Facebook page.
TONY RODGERSON, FRIEND: This is one of our best friends and deserved our best effort. We're going to focus on the pages that were missing from his guide book that he probably had with him but we're looking at an area that's probably going to be 20, 30, 40 acres of mountains.
KEILAR: Police aren't sure what happened to Matthew. It's a missing persons case for now. His family just wants answers.
MINTO: At this point, no matter what the outcome, we just want to find him. You know? We just want him back. We want to know what happened to him.
WHITFIELD: And that's CNN's Brianna Keilar reporting. We also learned that a pair of eyeglasses that may belong to Matthew Greene were found by a hiker. Police are still trying to confirm if they are indeed Greene's.
All right. By the end of the week, Bob Filner will no longer be San Diego mayor. But what did the city council agree to do to get him to resign. We'll look at the deal and what it could cost the city.
WHITFIELD: Jodi Arias could finally be sentenced this fall. A judge could set a date for the penalty phase retrial at a hearing tomorrow. Plus, we may get a decision on a defense motion to ban cameras in the courtroom during that phase. In May, Arias was convicted of killing her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander but the jury couldn't reach a unanimous verdict on whether Arias get life or death. Now, a new jury will be selected to decide the penalty phase of this case.
Criminal defense attorney Carrie Hackett and Mo Ivory host of the "Mo Ivory Show" are both here with me. Oh my goodness. You know, it was already a marathon trial. And now, folks are going to kind of go through it again, ladies. But this time the penalty phase, very unusual. So, a jury has to be selected. Does this mean that they're going to, Mo, hear evidence, testimony, just like a mini trial again? MO IVORY, HOST "THE MO IVORY SHOW": Sure. Just when you thought you had enough of Jodi Arias, right, she's back? Yes, they will. It will be treated sort of like a brand-new trial but just dealing with the phase of sentencing and whether she will die by lethal injection or whether she'll serve life in prison without parole. So there can be evidence. In fact, Jodi herself could testify again.
IVORY: Yes. They could call her to the stand and she could testify again.
WHITFIELD: (INAUDIBLE) it was something like 18 days.
IVORY: Yes. She won't be subject to cross-examination because this is about her sentencing and not necessarily about the testimony in the case which they have already found her guilty.
WHITFIELD: So Carrie, what's the deal here with the motion of no cameras? This was a five -month trial. Very televised, very watched. And how can it argued now that television cameras wouldn't be or why would it not be appropriate in the penalty phase?
CARRIE HACKETT, CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER: Well, the best argument here is that the original jury was hung and that the jury couldn't make a decision about whether or not Jodi should be sentenced to death or sentence to life in prison. So you know, if that original jury was subject to all of this media information and speculation about whether she did, in fact, do it and they couldn't reach a conclusion, wouldn't that lend itself to a situation where it would be in the best interests of this court, this jury, the judge pull this altogether and move forward for the jury not to see media?
WHITFIELD: It's one thing for perspective jurors to be questioned.
WHITFIELD: And they, you know, are evaluated but now we're talking about it going to another level. We're talking about Twitter accounts that are being requested. To what degree, Mo?
IVORY: Well, I mean, I think they want to look at the totality again and these jurors. They're going to through that same selection process as the other jurors. You know, have they heard about it? But who hasn't heard about this? I don't think the judge wants to -
WHITFIELD: They want to see if their opinion, strong opinions.
WHITFIELD: You know, it's not just enough to sway -
WHITFIELD: A perspective juror.
HACKETT: And I think that the question more is not whether they have a strong opinion but whether they believe that they can be fair and impartial despite having that opinion? Because just about everybody at this point has some kind of opinion about this case.
WHITFIELD: All right. So a lot riding on potentially tomorrow, a lot could come out of that hearing.
All right. Let's now shift gears, let's talk about Bob Filner. We all talked about this. Maybe three weeks ago, when there was a great call by so many people after so many allegations of sexual harassment for him to resign. So now we saw at the end of last week he is willing to resign but there are conditions. The city is still going to finance in large part his legal battle. To what degree, Carrie?
HACKETT: That's right. Well, they're going to finance up to $98,000 in private attorneys' fees. So attorneys of his choosing. But that's really the only concession. Because he was a government employee, they would still be liable for his acts since he was in management position.
WHITFIELD: Because the accusations while he was an employee. But now that he's gone, you know, there's no connection with the city anymore as a former mayor. Why does the city have to continue to pay?
IVORY: Well, as it related to Miss Jackson, who was his director of communications, you know, she is the first - once you see Gloria Allred coming, right, you know there's going to be some money involved. So she is making sure that that suit is covered under the city of San Diego's finances. So there's the $98,000 and then they're also going to cover that particular lawsuit where his former director of communications. So he is the - the city is on the hook for that which is very unfortunate for the citizens of San Diego because I do think that he has been very blatant about what he has done and also in complete denial of taking responsibility for his actions and then in the end it's going to be the taxpayers in San Diego that end up paying for it. I do think that she will recover, you know, some damages if not a lot of damages.
HACKETT: But I think without making these concession, the city would be in a position where this mayor may be there indefinitely. I mean he had his heels in the ground and he wasn't budging. So I think that this is a fairly small concession to make in light of the city's responsibility from the legal standpoint.
WHITFIELD: And you ladies, attorneys, you are lawyers that you are, attorneys fees are very high. They seem to be skyrocketing all the time and just a little over $98,000, it seems like that's going to be, maybe a drop in the bucket considering the volume of cases. Then what?
IVORY: Well, then he is on the hook for it and he's going to be responsible for it and I don't think anybody is going to be worried about -
WHITFIELD: Public servant not likely to have a whole lot of money or super (INAUDIBLE).
IVORY: A lot of public servants that have a whole lot of money. So I don't know that we know for sure he doesn't have a lot of money. He was a congressman for many, many years and we often see that they tend to be some of the wealthiest individuals.
WHITFIELD: Working outside of that public service work.
HACKETT: And the other side of this is that he could face some criminal responsibility down the line depending on the nature of the allegations that other women bring forward.
WHITFIELD: Interesting. Fascinating stuff. OK. We'll have you back, of course. Carrie, Mo, good to see you both, ladies. I appreciate it. Thanks so much.
All right. There's more straight ahead. Bait and switch? A scam? Deceptive in every way. That's how the state of New York is describing Donald Trump's for-profit school. We could talked about that too.
Well, hear what Donald Trump has to say about these accusations and what the state is now demanding from him. And why the billionaire claims that he's the victim here.
WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back to the "Newsroom." I'm Fredericka Whitfield. If you're just tuning in, thanks so much for joining us.
A look at our top stories right now in the "Newsroom."
A large wildfire is still burning around the western edge of Yosemite National Park. At least 133,000 acres of forest have already been scorched by this rim fire. Warm, dry conditions are expected to continue into the area throughout the week.
Jerry Sandusky's adopted son and six other victims of the former Penn state assistant football coach have settled their lawsuit against the university. Attorneys for the victims confirmed today the final agreements in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse cases. But the amounts of the settlements are being kept confidential.
Investigators in Louisiana say an eight-year-old boy shot and killed his 87-year-old caregiver after playing a violent video game. Police say the boy was playing Grand Theft Auto 4 just minutes before he grabbed the gun in the home and then shot her. The child told police that it was an accident. He won't face charges under a Louisiana law. A child under the age of 10 is exempt from criminal responsibility.
And tomorrow, President Barack Obama awards the medal of honor for conspicuous gallantry to Army Staff Sergeant Ty Carter. Carter risked his life to get ammunition to his fellow soldiers during a deadly Taliban attack in Afghanistan nearly four years ago. The names of all eight men who died on that day are engraved on a steel band that Carter wears on his wrist. And Donald Trump is facing a huge lawsuit from the state of New York. The attorney general Eric Schneiderman says that the billionaire's Trump University committed fraud and scammed students for thousands of dollars. CNN business correspondent Alison Kosik is in New York to tell us what this is all about and how much money this state is trying to get out of Donald Trump.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, the New York state attorney general's office is trying to get $40 million for what it says Trump school wrongly took from people who attended seminars between 2005 and 2011 and these allegations are shocking considering Donald Trump is one of the most famous billionaires.
Now, New York State is suing Donald Trump and the investment school Trump University for making false promises about its classes with the lawsuit calling it an elaborate bait and switch. That students were told if they took part in seminars that they could learn Donald Trump's investing techniques. The lawsuit's claims read like a menu of accusations. It says the university was a sham, that it lured prospective students to a free 90-minute seminar that merely served as a sales pitch for another seminar. A three-day seminar that cost $1,500.
The lawsuit says once that these students were in this three-day seminar. It became what calls an upsell to pay for yet another year- long seminar that costs $35,000. The lawsuit also says that during that three-day seminar, speakers actually urged students to call their credit card companies during breaks to request increases in their credit limits for real estate transactions but the lawsuit says in reality it was - so students could buy even more classes at Trump University.
Now, Donald Trump tweeted his response saying this. "That lightweight New York state attorney general Eric Schneiderman is trying to extort me with a civil lawsuit." We also spoke with Trump's attorney who says that the suit has no merit and is no more than a cheap publicity stunt to deflect from Schneiderman's weak job performance and that 98 percent of Trump's former students were satisfied with their experience. Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Alison Kosik, in New York.
Former boxing champ Mike Tyson admits to being called a vicious alcoholic and vows to get on the right path but can he rehabilitate his life and image? We'll take a look at the challenges he may face, next.
WHITFIELD: All right. Now to that deeply personal confession from iron Mike Tyson. In an emotional news conference following his debut as a promoter on ESPN's Friday Night fights the former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world told reporters that he is a -- his words -- vicious alcoholic. He says he's tried very hard to stay sober. Listen.
MIKE TYSON, FORMER HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: I'm a vicious alcoholic. I haven't drank, took drugs in six days. And for me, that's a miracle. I've been lying to everybody else thinking I'm sober but I'm not. It's my sixth day. I'm never going to use again.
WHITFIELD: Wow. So deeply personal and you heard it in his voice like he was about to cry or on the verge of just emotionally just letting it all hang out. Mike Tyson, you know, revealing to reporters there and being asked about reconnecting with his former trainer, Teddy Atlas.
So let's bring in reinvention specialist and founder of ME University, Marshawn Evans. All right Marshawn. This is remarkable because iron Mike. I mean the title right there says, you know, and that he is just a force. He is iron. You know? He is steely and he can't possibly break down but he's revealing a big part of himself, this struggle. How do you interpret this? I know you mentioned that you think this is the cry for help. I would of thought that this is after the cry.
MARSHAWN EVANS, REINVENTION SPECIALIST, ME UNIVERSITY: I think this is the right type of cry, actually. And I worked with a lot of professional athletes and entertainers as a sports and entertainment attorney and what I recognize is that particularly with men, whether they're football players or boxers, they're expected to be very tough and they are expected to have it altogether and as celebrities we expect that of them but I think what Mike is saying is he's tried everything that he knows how to do and it just hasn't worked.
WHITFIELD: Which is so honest and so many people whether it's drugs or alcohol have gone through that same thing and he's revealing, he is peeling back the layers.
EVANS: We have to realize he's still a man who grew up with a broken childhood. His mom died when he was 16, his dad left when he was just 2, his sister died when he was 24.
WHITFIELD: His trainer Cus D'Amato being kind of that father figure and then him passing away.
EVANS: Him passing away, his daughter just passed away a few years ago from that accident.
WHITFIELD: Yes. The treadmill.
EVANS: You have to watch celebrities rise and we love to watch them fall but we forget that they're just people dealing with trauma and drama in their lives. And he happens to have his playing out on the public screens and I think that a lot of this has to do with things that he hasn't resolved as a kid.
WHITFIELD: So you see him as still very vulnerable. I mean you can hear the crack in his voice, but I mean that naturally will happen when you are revealing, you are totaling letting everybody know who you are, the pain that you've been dealing with. But you think in a way this makes it even more dangerous? Much more of a tight rope for him.
EVANS: I think it's actually a good sign because the first step of getting help is actually recognizing that you do need it and I think a lot of men, particularly male athletes, don't admit that they need help. And so for him to do so is so transparently it is a great thing but the question is does he have the right agents and the right advisers who are really going to help him through this process.
As someone who represented athletes, I find that most of the time people just capitalize upon the opportunity. As opposed to recognizing is this even the right thing for you right now, for you to go back into the media and the public eye if you're sick? If you're sick. He's been talented and his problem is not potential. I think one of his biggest problems is purpose. I think that he's a man, who is looking for something of real significance, had success. But I think now he is looking for true significance in other ways.
WHITFIELD: Oh, I want to ask you more about that. But here's another clip of Mike Tyson in a very personal, open way.
MIKE TYSON, FORMER HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: I want people to forget the thing. I'm a mother -- I'm a bad guy sometimes. And I did a lot of bad things. I want to be forgiven and so in order for me to be forgiven I hope they can forgive me. You know? I want to change my life; I want to live a different life now. I want to live my sober life. I don't want to die. I'm on the verge of dying because I'm a vicious alcoholic.
WHITFIELD: Oh my gosh that addresses it right there. Purpose. You talked about, you know, wanting purpose. I wonder if this new venture, being a promoter, a new chapter in his life, gives him that new purpose, maybe that hope that he for a long time has felt like he didn't have and that's why he sinks to drugs or alcohol.
EVANS: I think it's even deeper. I think even the question about how does he reinvent his brand and his business is a secondary question to how does he resurrect his life. And I don't think Mike has ever been asked who he is outside the arena box.
WHITFIELD: What is his brand?
EVANS: You know, I think his brand is that of a fighter and a boxer and entertainer but that's not who he is as a person. And that is what recognizes in working with celebrities and athletes. I work with a lot of athletes and you can lose yourself in the celebrity, lose yourself in the lights. You have to remember he was on top.
WHITFIELD: Yes. I wonder if people kind of forget about that part of Mike Tyson and they got distracted with the other things, the biting of the ear of Evander Holyfield.
EVANS: Those are symptoms.
WHITFIELD: The tattooing of the face. In terms of branding, I wonder if those things rebranded him where originally his brand may have been incredible fighter and what a fierce, you know, guy in the ring. People forgot about this.
EVANS: Well the definition of brand is simply perception. It is creating a perception that you need to get what it is that you desire and want and I always think that what is a mistake is to brand on bad soil. If you are not healthy and you are not well and you don't know who you are and you don't know what you want, if you are going to continue to chase after this paycheck or this movie or this opportunity or be a promoter.
I think what I would do if Mike was my client, I would say we are going to take a step back, we are going to actually look at who you are, what you want. Probably a question no one's ever asked him before and gives him an opportunity to maybe not even be a boxer. To maybe not even be someone who's in the entertainment and public eye. What if he just wants to be a painter?
WHITFIELD: Wow. Maybe you will get a call from Mike Tyson. You never know.
EVANS: Look at the person.
WHITFIELD: What an incredible step and I think a lot of folks can't help but to admire that and admire the courage that comes along with that moment for Mike Tyson. Marshawn Evans thank you so much. Good to see you. Appreciate it.
EVANS: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. She survived two lung transplants, talk about courage and now 11-year-old Sarah Murnaghan is getting ready to go home. She talks exclusively to CNN about her battle to get those life saving operations next.
WHITFIELD: Her fight for new lungs changed the rules for kids desperate for a transplant. Now, after undergoing two lung transplant surgeries, 11-year-old Sarah Murnaghan is breathing without the help of an oxygen machine. CNN national correspondent Jason Carroll sat down with Sarah and her family for their exclusive first interview since her transplant.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka Sarah has a very deep understanding in terms of just how sick she has been and for how long and during her first interview since having not one but two lung transplants, she talked about all she's had to endure. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
CARROLL (voice over): So many people have said that you're a tough, tough little girl. Do you feel like you are a tough little girl?
SARAH MURNAGHAN, 11 YEAR OLD, LUNG TRANSPLANT PATIENT: Yes.
CARROLL: You do?
MURNAGHAN: Very much.
CARROLL: Can you tell me why?
MURNAGHAN: Because every time I face things that I thought were going to be hard and then I've done them.
CARROLL: It turns out Sarah is due to be released as early as Tuesday, Thursday at the latest. Very exciting time for the family and I spoke to Sarah's mother and father about her prognosis.
JANET MURNAGHAN, SARAH'S MOTHER: She's going to fight and she's going to be OK. I fully plan to watch her graduate from college and watch her get married some day and do whatever it is she wants to do. And, you know, I believe those things are a reality. I just don't think they're as easy for her to obtain those things as somebody else but I think she is going to have them.
CARROLL: Fredericka, this really puts it into perspective. AT one point when I was talking to Sarah, she said, I'm not going for easy. She said I'm going for possible. And it looks like this week it will be possible for Sarah and her family.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Jason Carroll. Appreciate that. And of course you can see Jason's interview with Sarah and the Murnaghan family tomorrow morning on "New Day" right here on CNN.
But first, this week "CNN Heroes" saw refugee girls in urban Chicago struggling to get an education and to fit in to their new communities. So she took it upon herself to reach out to those who desperately need a place to call home.
(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE): My family comes to America because we want a better life. We are 12 people in the family. I got to Chicago; they put me into 9th grade. It's really hard. It I'm totally lost.
It's hard enough to be a teenage girl in the United States so it is even harder to be a refugee teenage girl.
BLAIR BRETTSCHNEIDER, YOUNG WONDER: My name is Blair Brettschneider and I help refugee girls find their place in America. In my free time after work I was tutoring different kids one girl is really struggling.
(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE): Hello.
BRETTSCHNEIDER: Hi. How's it going?
(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE): Good. Nice to see you. I had to do more because I'm a girl. Cook food for my family, go to the laundry, and take care of my brothers.
BRETTSCHNEIDER: We started going on field trips. We talked about college. Things started to change.
Are you excited for classes?
(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE): Yes.
BRETTSCHNEIDER: One of our biggest goals together was for her to graduate from high school and be on a path to going to college. And she did, I thought this is really important. I'm sure there's other girls.
Girls! We are awesome.
There are about 50 girls in our different programs.
(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE): Well, you are making great progress. I'm so proud of you. You know?
Our mentorship program matches refugee girls in high school with women mentors who work with them once a week.
(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE): You have to write an essay, right?
(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE): Yes. I want to write about my life.
BRETTSCHNEIDER: When you are walking down the street they are just teenagers.
(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE): I want to have my own salon.
(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE): One day I'm hoping to become a nurse.
(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE): I want to be a teacher.
(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE): I want to become a doctor or a nurse.
BRETTSCHNEIDER: What I see is what all the girls can accomplish and everything that they can do that's really why all of this exists.
REV. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR: I have a dream. Let freedom ring. (END VIDEOTAPE)
WHITFIELD: As we mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington we are also recognizing some of the many Civil Rights leaders who worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr. One of those leaders is Reverend C.T. Vivian. He worked with King at a southern Christian leadership conference and I recently sat down with him.
WHITFIELD: Could you have believed 50 years ago that the march would be as indelible, have this indelible place in history?
REV. C.T. VIVIAN, WORKED ALONGSIDE REV. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR: We knew it would have an imprint but I never thought it would be this deep. Now, think what we're talking about. Really, without that victory, we wouldn't have an African-American president. And I never thought we would have one for this century. See, remember this. Martin King led a moral and spiritual movement. He did not lead a political movement. And his remarks and his great statements don't back up a political movement. They back up a moral and spiritual understanding of life.
WHITFIELD: So now you're on a mission. You continue to be on a mission. It's really been your life to be on a mission. The president made it very clear that the 16 recipients of this Presidential Medal of Freedom in his words go to men and women who have dedicated their own lives to enriching ours.
VIVIAN: That's exactly right.
WHITFIELD: So what does it mean to not only be one of the 16 recipients but to share this day, this honor with the names like Ernie Banks, Oprah Winfrey, Gloria Steinem, Ben Bradlee, Sally Ride?
VIVIAN: It sounds good but let me tell you, if it doesn't allow you to help other people, it doesn't matter who you got them with and it doesn't matter what the honor looks like or where it comes from. You see what I mean? Is that only the things that help you help somebody are really worth the effort?
WHITFIELD: So this in your view is not an honor to represent all that you have done but instead you say this is incentive to continue to do more.
VIVIAN: Of course. Of course. And you got it exactly right. We have proven that we can solve social problems without violence. If we choose and that means at every level.
WHITFIELD: All right. C.T. Vivian also being honored as one of the Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients. So after 50 years after that speech, do Americans think the Dr. King dream has been achieved? CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser gave his opinion.
PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Hey, Fred. It was Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream, his speech and the massive march out of Washington became a crucial moment in the struggle for civil rights. Now, 50 years after his historic address, do you think King's dream has been achieved? According to a new Pugh Research Center Poll nearly half of Americans say a lot more needs to be done in order to reach racial equality. And the poll points out a big racial divide over whether King's dream has been reached. Nearly 8 in 10 blacks questioned said a lot more needs to be done. That number drops to 48 percent among Hispanics and 44 percent among whites.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thank you so much, Paul. So tonight CNN recreates the March on Washington through the firsthand voices of those who helped change history that day. We were there hosted by Don Lemon airs tonight at 8:00 Eastern Time.
WHITFIELD: All right. Let's look at the movies. Top films in America this weekend. "The Butler" starring Forrest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey number one. Pulling in $17 million dollars. Jennifer Aniston's "We're the Millers" was second and third "The Mortal Instruments City of Bones." What a combination.
All right. Lots of news to keep your eyes open this week. We start with sports. On Monday, the U.S. Open starts in Flushing Meadows, New York. Because of the draw, defending champ Andy Murray could face top seeded Novak Djokovic in the semifinals.
And Tuesday, students go back to school in Newtown, Connecticut. Children who attended Sandy Hook Elementary will be going to class in a neighboring school. The Sandy Hook school where last December's massacre happened is going to be demolished.
On Wednesday, President Obama joins former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
Fast food workers fed up with being paid the minimum wage are calling for a national day of strikes on Thursday. They want to be paid what they call a living wage, $15 an hour. That's more than double the current federal minimum wage. Workers in eight different cities have walked off the job this year in protest over their pay.
And on Saturday, the U.S. military starts offering benefits to same sex domestic partners of service members, their children will also be covered.
All right. We have a fun couple of stories for you right now. You know that feeling when you wear the same outfit as someone else at a big event? Usually people are humiliated. Well take a look at this. This is Ricky Fowler and Jonas Blix. Two pro golfers, boy both wearing some serious orange. Both playing in the Barclay Tournament in New Jersey this weekend.
Yes. There they are, side by side. Still hard to tell whether this was planned or whether this was just, you know a little boo-boo from their sponsors. They are both apparently sponsored by Puma. They have a great sense of humor about it and they are having fun and looking for the picture ops so that they can be together.
And then the first look at the new giant panda at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. It was born Friday. Aw. It had its first exam today. Can you believe that is the giant panda, the size of your -- that's you, Don. Where is that aw coming from? It is sweet. The zoo said the cub is healthy and the mom is doing well. She gave birth to a second cub yesterday but it was stillborn and so it is really miraculous that this one made it. The zoo said it's cautiously optimistic about that first cub. Look. That was the hand. Hand, hand, hand. That's the head here. That's how tiny.
DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Did you see the claws, though?
WHITFIELD: Yes. They can hurt.
LEMON: It's cute now.
WHITFIELD: But, you know, it's got to protect itself. Such a cute little baby. That's sweet. Hey, Don! How are you?
LEMON: I'm great, Fredericka Whitfield. Smooch it now.
WHITFIELD: Suddenly started talking.
LEMON: Until the claws come out.
WHITFIELD: It was very sweet. You will be sharing the new baby panda later on in your show as well. But straight ahead with the NEWSROOM, like right now.
LEMON: Like right now. They are saying, get to it. I know you and Fred love each other but get to it. Thanks, Fred!