Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. Mulls Military in Syria; NC City Fights Meals for Homeless; Akron Children's Hospital Fights Parents; Miley Cyrus Fights Good Taste; Sarah Murnaghan Leaves Hospital After Transplant Fight

Aired August 26, 2013 - 15:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Bottom of the hour now. I'm Brianna Keilar, in for Brooke Baldwin.

And let's talk about Syria. You may have heard him right here just a short time ago, Secretary of State John Kerry blasting Syria. He said that there's no credible doubt that the Assad regime used chemical weapons against its own people. He said the Syrian government will not walk away unpunished.


KERRY: President Obama has also been in close touch with leaders of our key allies, and the president will be making an informed decision about how to respond to this indiscriminate use of chemical weapons. But make no mistake. President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world's most heinous weapons against the world's most vulnerable people.


KEILAR: A very strong statement from John Kerry, but no clear actions outlined, no timetable attached.

The U.S. Navy -- or, I should say, the U.S. now has four Naval destroyers in the Mediterranean within firing range of Syria.

And Hala Gorani is joining us from Atlanta. It looks as though we're talking about a military response. The expectation obviously will be, as we've seen in other places like Libya, would be that the U.S. would not do this alone.

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No. And we're hearing from France and the United Kingdom. They're saying quite clearly, in fact, Brianna, that they agree with the U.S. that chemical weapons were used. They agree that there should be a response.

There are many phone calls that have taken place over the last 48 to 72 hours as we've heard. We know as well as far as the international response is concerned, Moscow once again, is very clearly and adamantly stating it does not side with the United States, the U.K and France with regards to Syria.

Vladimir Putin spoke with David Cameron, the prime minister of the United Kingdom. We understand from that phone call that Vladimir Putin said there's no proof that the regime was behind this chemical attack and that there, in fact, is no proof that a chemical attack at this stage until we get results from an investigation took place. There is a division.

Now the big question, Brianna, is what will the response be? We've heard from Chris Lawrence in his reporting at the Pentagon that most likely this would be, perhaps, take the form, if it does happen, of a cruise missile attack on some very strategically important locations in Syria.

It could be runways. It could be depots where chemical arms are stored or that kind of thing.

One thing I think people need to remember is this. There is no appetite from Western countries for intervention in Syria. They had hoped against hope until now that some sort of transition of power could take place.

More and more as this war progressed, it became obvious, Brianna, that was not going to happen. Now I think rather reluctantly some sort of action will take place. What it is, though, still unclear.

KEILAR: You certainly get that sense, Hala, as he's talking about what's happened there being a moral obscenity.

GORANI: If I could add one thing, one of the latest poll numbers we've seen is that here in the United States, Americans do not want their country involved in Syria at all by a lot more than half of respondents.

Only a tiny fraction of Americans when asked say they believe the U.S. should be involved militarily.

As you know, there's no political pressure on President Obama to do anything with Syria right now.

KEILAR: Moral pressure seemed to be what John Kerry was saying today.

Hala Gorani, thank you so much.

A North Carolina city ordinance is pitting charitable work against the law. A group of Christian volunteers passes out free breakfast each week to more than 70 homeless people in downtown Raleigh. Sounds great, doesn't it?

But Love Wins Ministry says it was banned by local police from giving out food in a park, and it was told that if it attempted to distribute food volunteers would be arrested.

CNN is waiting to hear back from the police department, but Mayor Nancy McFarland weighed in on her Facebook page saying, "We will be taking this issue into the Law and Public Safety Committee immediately to bring all the partners together for a transparent discussion to work out a plan to address the questions surrounding this issue."

And to address those questions, let me bring in criminal defense attorney Darren Kavinoky and former prosecutor, Faith Jenkins. Thanks for being with me, guys.

Faith, I want to start with you. This group says it's been doing this for six years. It's not like it just started and got in trouble for doing it.

Why would the police just now decide to enforce this ordinance?

FAITH JENKINS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And the group is obviously addressing a need in the community in Raleigh.

On the weekends, according to this group, there's no public place that the homeless can go and actually get meals. There are no meals provided by the government.

So the group is going to the park where the homeless gather and they give out meals on the sidewalk.

Now there's an ordinance in place that says you have to have a permit, and the permit requires certain types of inspections in terms of the food that you're providing to give to the homeless.

This group believes it's because of some reorganization, revitalization of the park that the city wants to do. They want to sort of move the homeless away from this area. And that's the real reason why this ordinance is now all of a sudden being implemented.

KEILAR: OK. Darren, to you now, because let's talk about this ordinance. It says no individuals or group shall serve or distribute meals or food of any kind in or on any city park or greenway unless such distribution is pursuant to a permit issued by the parks recreation and greenway director.

OK, so, those permits according to the nonprofit cost 800 bucks. Do you think this group has a legitimate case against this ordinance?

DARREN KAVINOKY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think they do. This story, Brianna, is just one of many reasons why people learn to hate lawyers. Because the government has a legitimate interest in regulating activities that happen on city property. From a liability standpoint, there are concerns. They certainly have the right to have people have permits to undertake activity there. The city needs to know what's going on on city property at all times. And it's that permit system that allows them to do it. The problem is, when people feel like -- like we're dealing with a disenfranchised population already or that this is done for some kind of an ulterior motive to just engage in beatification and moving the homeless people who are so desperately in need out of sight and out of mind, obviously skepticism can brew. So hopefully there really will be a transparent conversation where the legitimate need of this very hurting population can be addressed.

KEILAR: Certainly. 800 bucks for doing a good deed just kind of seems like a steep price there.

Stand by. I want to ask you about another controversial case, a 10- year-old girl battling cancer has chosen to stop her chemotherapy. Her parents want her on holistic medications, instead. Her doctors are fighting to keep the treatments going.

We'll chat about that, next.


KEILAR: A battle of medicine versus the rights of parents over what doctors say is one girl's very treatable form of cancer.

Ohio's Akron Children's Hospital is fighting a legal battle to force a 10-year-old Amish girl to receive chemotherapy treatments for leukemia. The girl has already had some chemo.

She and her parents decided to stop the treatments blaming the severe side effects. One judge has already sided with the family, but the hospital is appealing.


DR. ROB MCGREGOR, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, AKRON CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Her family opted to not continue additional traditional chemotherapy and was seeking more of a holistic or a natural way of treating this disease. It's our obligation to do what's ethically and legally right by the child.


KEILAR: So what happens when doctors and parents disagree over potentially life or death decisions?

Let's talk about that with Faith Jenkins, criminal lawyer and federal prosecutor, and Darren Kavinoky, criminal defense attorney.

First to you, Darren, do parents not have the right to tell doctors how to treat or not treat their child?

KAVINOKY: Well, generally they do. Typically when we see this kind of legal tension arise, it's when very religious folks want to use faith as an alternative to traditional medicine.

When the Supreme Court chimes in, as they've only done a few times on this very delicate balance, they point out that parents have a right to martyr themselves for any cause they deem appropriate, but they don't have those same rights when it comes to their children.

And what's so very difficult about this particular case is that doctors who are opining on it indicate that, if this girl is given chemotherapy and traditional medicine, she's got an 85 percent chance of eradicating the cancer.

And if she doesn't go that path, there's a very good chance that she won't live another year. So this is a very extreme case, one that I wouldn't be surprised to see the courts intervening on the child's behalf to force the taking of the medicine.

KEILAR: OK, Faith, to that point, and maybe Darren just answered this, the family is Amish as we have said. They're not citing religion for stopping the chemo.

Would they have a more legitimate claim if they did?

JENKINS: Not necessarily. The key here is lifesaving treatment. The courts are going to look at this case very carefully. They're going to look at the parents' decision.

If they are making a decision that in the end will pose a risk of harm to their child and perhaps prevent her from going on and living a productive life, because doctors are saying she could die within the next year if she does not get this treatment, you're going to see the court perhaps intervene.

The parents have argued that their daughter has expressed extreme concern about the pain she's been in since she's been getting chemotherapy.

While that may be an issue, children don't necessarily have the long- term perspective in terms of giving their opinion about their treatment because they may take into account the current pain that they're experiencing and not take into account the long-term treatment and perspective about what getting the chemotherapy will do for them.

KEILAR: The long term consequence. We'll be waiting to see how the courts decide this one, definitely.

Faith Jenkins, Darren Kavinoky, thanks, guys.

KAVINOKY: Thanks, Brianna.

KEILAR: Coming up, the R-rated version of Hannah Montana. You know, if nothing else, Mile Cyrus certainly has America talking.

But what's behind her rather raunchy performance at the MTV Video Music Awards? That's next.


KEILAR: Trending today, a provocative, controversial, even offensive performance at the MTV Video Music Awards has everyone talking. Sound familiar?

This time it's not Madonna. It's not Britney Spears. It's Miley Cyrus who's exposing, you could say, a side of herself we've never seen before during a performance with Robin Thicke.

All right, let's go ahead now and join the discussion that is just burning up social media.

Jawn Murray is here in Washington, entertainment journalist and editor-in-chief of

What do you think of this? Is this a p.r. stunt or something deeper, maybe more troubling?

JAWN MURRAY, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, ALWAYSALIST.COM: If this performance had a name, it would be called "Hannah Montana's Musical Meltdown.

I watched her performance last night like I watch most horror films with my hands over my eyes.

I don't know if you've seen the photos circling on social media of Will Smith's kids, Jaden and Willow, but they were horrified. They looked like the "Home Alone" kids sitting in the audience.

It was like the deconstruction of Miley Cyrus. It was really kind of frightening to watch.

KEILAR: OK. I was sort of fascinated by this because she doesn't dance that great, let's be honest. It was a whole lot of, like, her Gene Simmons-length tongue and a lot of gross stuff going on.

But I want to talk to you about something that her dad, singer Billy Ray Cyrus, tweeted out. I mean, what the heck was he thinking? He tweeted last night, "Thanking God for so many blessings tonight. Continue to pray for world peace. More love, less hate."

I mean, this is so disconnected from what was happening last night.

MURRAY: Absolutely. Clearly, his Twitter timeline must have been flooded with all the people who were outraged by the performance.

But at the end of the performance, her mother stood up and gave her a standing ovation.

Listen, I know parents across the country are making sure their daughters are going to Bible class and Sunday school this week because this was a cautionary guide. My daughters, this is what we don't want you to do.

I mean, the aqua-colored flesh outfit. On social media they have photos with her next to the Purdue chicken and her backside. That's not what you want to happen after a national televised performance.

These performances are supposed to enhance record sales. They're supposed to entice people to want to see you on tour.

They're not supposed to give you nightmares, and that's what happened to me last night.

KEILAR: You said Will Smith's kids were sort of appalled by this. I will point out it was the Lady Gaga performance they were appalled by.

But I did notice during this one, for instance, Drake seemed to be slightly -- I mean, it was like everyone felt so awkward.

MURRAY: The most awkward part is Robin Thicke is my age. Well, he's a year older than me. He's 36. And Miley Cyrus is 20.

So when she grabbed his crotch and was doing the hooker gestures, it just made you feel -- it was like the dirty old man thing was happening on television.

Like, it was like you wanted to take a shower afterwards. It was very uncomfortable.

KEILAR: Yeah. It really was. Jawn Murray, thanks so much.

And, coming up, she is the little girl who grabbed the nation's attention with her heart-wrenching story.

Doctors said that Sarah Murnaghan needed a lung transplant to survive. Well, she got one just in the nick of time and now could go home as early as tomorrow.

CNN's Jason Carroll talked exclusively to the 11-year-old about her unbelievable strength through this very tough time.


SARAH MURNAGHAN, 11-YEAR-OLD LUNG TRANSPLANT RECIPIENT: Every time I face things, that I thought were going to be hard, and then I've done them.


KEILAR: This is a week the family of Sarah Murnaghan has waited for for a long time.

The 11-year-old is getting ready to leave Children's Hospital as early as tomorrow after undergoing two lung transplants.

Her parents waged a fierce public battle to change organ donation rules that were making it difficult for kids under 12 to receive priority on adult transplant lists.

It's a much different scene there than two months ago when Sara, who has had cystic fibrosis since birth, was in dire shape after being on the waiting list for pediatric lungs for 18 months.

CNN's Jason Carroll talked to Sarah and her parents in their first interview since the transplant.



Her voice barely a whisper, Sarah Murnaghan's strength comes in knowing she has made it this far.

JANET MURNAGHAN, SARAH MOTHERS: Yes, much better, much better.

CARROLL: Do you feel like you're a tough little girl?

S. MURNAGHAN: Yes, very.

CARROLL: You do. Can you tell me why?

S. MURNAGHAN: Because every time I face things that I thought were going to be hard and then I've done them.

CARROLL: Sarah survived two lung transplants and can breathe without an oxygen machine.

The 11-year-old's fight for new lungs changed, at least for now, national policy, the so-called "under 12 rule," a rule that gave children priority when pediatric lungs were available, but not adult lungs.

There were moments the family thought they would run out of time.

What were those moments like?

J. MURNAGHAN: Terrifying. She said I just didn't want to tell you I was dying. I didn't want to upset you.

CARROLL: Now Sarah is finally scheduled to go home.

What would you like to do when you go home?

S. MURNAGHAN: I would like to play with my brothers and sister.

CARROLL: Her sister, two brothers and cousins all waiting.


CARROLL: Sarah has a message of her own about her prognosis.

S. MURNAGHAN: I'm not going for easy.

CARROLL: You're not going for easy?

S. MURNAGHAN: I'm just going for possible. And what is in front of me right now is possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She knows it's not easy but there's so much you can do if you persevere.

CARROLL: It will be a long road to recovery but she is on her way.

S. MURNAGHAN: I really know it was a miracle.


KEILAR: Wow, wise beyond her years there in that interview that she did with you, Jason Carroll.

Can you talk a little bit about her recovery process and what's ahead for her?

CARROLL: Look, it's going to be a long road for recovery, no question about that.

She's going to have to learn to do some things all over again, like walking, for example. She was immobilized for so long, for six months or so, so her muscles have gotten weak, so she's going to have to learn to re-walk.

There's other therapeutic and occupational therapy things that she's going to have to go through.

We're looking at six to nine months before she can go back to class again. But the point is she has gotten this far and her family is thankful for that.

KEILAR: She said it's not easy, but it looks like it is possible and we certainly wish Sarah the best of luck. Great story, Jason. Thank you so much.

CARROLL: You bet.

Now this. You've heard of drive-in movies. Well, you're looking at sex drive-ins. You heard right. Customers can drive up and order a sex worker.

Not only is it legal, it's actually a government program. We'll tell you where next.


KEILAR: Well, this may sound incredible but in Switzerland drive-in sex shops are now open for business. This is Zurich.

You can see signs saying "stop aids." These taxpayer funded garages are to reduce street walkers and protect prostitutes from violent clients.

They have alarm buttons and have social workers available for hookers who want out of the business.

And scary moments on Pit Road, check out what happened on Sunday's Indy car race in California.

A crew member there carrying a tire for driver Will Power got clipped by the car driven by Scott Dixon. Two others were injured in this chain reaction.

Now, Dixon was in the lead at the time, but he was later penalized and Will Power ended up winning the race.

Thanks so much for watching. I'm Brianna Keilar and "THE LEAD" starts right now with John Berman.