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NEW DAY SUNDAY

U.S. Carries Out Airstrikes, Food Drops; St. Louis Rams Cut Michael Sam; Joan Rivers Still In Serious Condition; Free Syrian Army Fighting ISIS; Storms and Rain for Labor Day; Rainy Weather For Labor Day; U.S. Wrestlers Visiting North Korea; Rev. William Greason's Life Story About Fighting in World War II And For Civil Rights

Aired August 31, 2014 - 06:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Sunday is upon us. We're so grateful for your company especially this early at 6 -- it came early today, didn't it?

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.

PAUL: I don't know what it is. It came early today. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Welcome to our viewers here on the east coast, 6:00 a.m., 3:00 a.m. for the folks out west who are probably still up from Saturday. This is NEW DAY SUNDAY.

It certainly is good to have you with us this morning. A lot going on in the world. U.S. warplanes taking aim at ISIS militants in Iraq.

PAUL: You know, the Pentagon says fighter jets struck and destroyed ISIS targets near Amerli to try to help save thousands of people who have been trapped in that besieged town for months at this point. I believe it was in June.

BLACKWELL: Yes. U.S. military planes also air dropped food and water to Amerli's starving, the residents there. Iraqi helicopters evacuated some women and children there. It's feared they could be massacred if is fighters get into the town. Dozens of people crowded around the aircraft you see here trying to get some help, hoping to be rescued. A few people are pulled onto the aircraft.

PAUL: Right. We know Australian, French and British warplanes also air dropped some supplies as well. You know, the U.S. is getting help from other countries in regards to the humanitarian crisis there.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the Pentagon says it acted at the request of the Iraqi government and will continue to provide humanitarian assistance as needed.

PAUL: CNN's Anna Koren is in Erbil. She joins us now live. So Anna, fill us in on what you know about the air drops there and the U.S. that's been calling for this international coalition against ISIS. Are we seeing anything develop now that, you know, Australia, France and Britain are taking part in the humanitarian mission?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, without a doubt, Christi. International community finally coming together to help the besieged town of Amerli. Let's stress that a week ago the United Nations as well as Iraqi prime minister designate both called for help.

The United Nations calling it a potential massacre was unfolding. So, you know, there are groups saying that both the United States and the international community have been dragging their feet in regards to Amerli unlike the Yazidi crisis and Mt. Sinjar.

They sort of feel that it's only because of the media attention over the past week that finally the U.S. and the international community is acting. But there were airstrikes around Amerli yesterday.

We also understand that there were aid drops carried out as you say by the United States, Australia, Britain, France, certainly delivering that much-needed food, water and medical supplies that they have been without now for weeks.

This is a community that has been under siege for two entire months. It's hard to fathom, but it's the local police, the local militia. It's volunteers who have managed to fend off ISIS from that particular township made up of Turkmen-Shia.

Yes, the Iraqi military have been flying in the occasional aid drop as well as weapons, but it just has not been enough. We are hearing from sources that some of those aid drops delivered yesterday did not make the township of Amerli so they definitely do need more assistance -- Christi.

BLACKWELL: I remember the image of a Yazidi woman there crying, screaming for help at the back of the legislative body there in Iraq. And we now understand that what she was fearing has come true, that there are reports that ISIS is selling hundreds of girls and women that were kidnapped.

COREN: That's right, Victor. The Syrian observatory for human rights is reporting that hundreds of women up to 300 women have been sold, married off to ISIS militants in the townships of Northeastern Syria that they have under firm control.

We believe through this commission that they are selling them off for $1,000 a woman, we don't know the treatment that they have endured, but we can only imagine that it has been absolutely horrific.

They have described, this is ISIS militants and I'll read you the quote, they describe these women as the captives of the spoils of war with infidels. It really is quite alarming.

We must stress that we cannot independently verify this information, but certainly we have been hearing these reports from government organizations, from aid bodies of women being captured, being enslaved, being married off to these ISIS militants -- Victor and Christi.

PAUL: It's terrifying.

BLACKWELL: It is. Anna Coren, thank you so much for the report this morning. Now in just about 20 minutes, we'll talk with a former Defense Department Foreign Affairs specialist. He is now a senior adviser to the Syrian opposition coalition. We'll ask him about the fight against ISIS ahead.

PAUL: We're talking about how Australia is pitching in on the fight here. We know that Australian military aircraft are soon going to fly guns and ammunitions to Iraq to help Kurds fighting the militant groups there.

As we mentioned earlier, they've already carried out that humanitarian aid drop in Amerli. But the Australian prime minister does say although they have no plans to get involved in a war, they have to do all they can to help.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY ABBOTT, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: While we understandably shrink from reaching out to these conflicts, the truth is that these conflicts reach out to us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: By the way, Australia is helping out, we know, based on a response to a request from the U.S.

All right, let's get you to Ukraine now where the president says a full scale war with Russia is highly likely. He called this, quote, "The point of no return." And said thousands of pro-Russian and Russian troops and hundreds of tanks are now in Ukrainian territory.

BLACKWELL: Ukraine's president spoke at a European Union summit in Belgium where top officials said that new E.U. sanctions against Russia will be proposed this week. The U.S. and Germany are also considering tougher action.

PAUL: Now as for Russia, it's continuing to deny that it's supporting the rebels or even sending troops across the border.

BLACKWELL: Ukrainian troops and residents have been working to defend the port city of Mariupol.

PAUL: Our Diana Magnay was there, she's now heading north we understand near the Russian border. But Diana, talk to us about the sense in Mariupol. What were you feeling? What were you seeing?

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are two main areas, Christi, of military activity right now. Down in the south near Mariupol and up where we are headed. I'll talk about Mariupol and the surroundings first of all.

One town very close to Mariupol, about 45 kilometers away by the Russian border has been taken over. It's called Novousovsk and it's been taken over by the rebels. Ukraine says rebels backed by Russian soldiers and tanks.

So the fear in Mariupol is that they will simply push west and take over this strategic city. So yesterday we saw residents of Mariupol digging trenches alongside a road block just outside the city. This is what they had to say about defending their city.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Today we found a human chain in order to show the whole world that in particular to Putin that we will not give up our city. If he wants to come to Mariupol, he will have to shoot innocent people. He will have to shoot women and children.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MAGNAY: But we have combed all the roads in that area and we've seen no sense that tanks or further troops are going to be pushing forward over the last two days, not a sign of it. If they did want to push west and capture Mariupol, they would need a lot more troops to do it -- Victor, Christi.

PAUL: All right, Diana Magnay there in Ukraine for us. Thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Diana. Two people have been killed more than 150 people hurt in clashes between protesters and police in Pakistan. Police fired tear gas as the crowds threatened to march to the prime minister's home in Islamabad. The protesters who have been demonstrating for two weeks now say the last election was rigged and they want Sharif to step down, and he refused.

PAUL: And also breaking overnight here in the U.S., a 3.4 magnitude earthquake rattled homes about 5 miles southwest of Napa, California. It happened just before 5:00 a.m. Eastern.

We have no reports fortunately of damage or injuries about this, but remember, this minor quake is coming just a week to the day after we were all sitting here last week at this time talking about an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.0 in that same area. That caused dozens of injuries and a billion dollars in property damage.

BLACKWELL: The NFL's first openly gay player is out of a job this morning. Michael Sam waived by the team just days before the start of the season.

PAUL: Also, fans are waiting to hear if legendary comedian, Joan Rivers, is getting better. She is still in the hospital this morning. We have some details on how she is doing and we'll share that with you next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: Look at this lightning.

PAUL: Wow. BLACKWELL: Severe weather here, you see where it is. I mean, forced a three-hour delay between the University of Florida and Idaho last night. This was the Gators or was supposed to be the Gators' season opener in Gainesville.

But after three hours when the game finally started, the game lasted for one play why? There was more lightning. The schools have not decided if they will reschedule that game.

PAUL: I'm betting there was a lot of drinking going on.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the beverages were passed. Yes.

PAUL: I'm just saying. You got to pass the time, people. This is official, the St. Louis Rams have cut defensive end, Michael Sam.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the former all-American football star earned a spot in history when he became the first openly gay player ever drafted by the NFL.

PAUL: Sam has bigger dreams here, he wants a career in the league, obviously or as he put it in one tweet last night, quote, "The journey continues." Rashan Ali joining us with more. A lot of people believe that he is good enough to play in the league. So what happened?

RASHAN ALI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they really were stacked at that position, the St. Louis Rams. They have two all-pro defensive ends already so it was hard for him to make the team, but his dream of becoming the first openly gay player to make an NFL team may happen somewhere, just not in St. Louis.

He was one of the players cut by the Rams yesterday. The all-American defensive end made history when he was drafted by the Rams in a seventh and final round.

Of course, he faced long odds from the start because the Rams are stacked at that position as stated. In the end, Head Coach Jeff Fisher said it was a football decision.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF FISHER, ST. LOUIS RAMS HEAD COACH: This was a football decision. Mike fit in very, very well. He was fun to be around, he was a good teammate. There was no issue there. Again, as I said earlier, I was pulling for him. It just didn't work out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALI: After his release, Sam tweeted a statement thanking the Rams and saying, I look forward to continuing to build on the progress I made here toward a long and successful career. The most worthwhile things in life rarely come easy. This is a lesson I've always known. The journey continues.

Now Sam got the bad news on the phone because he was on the Missouri sideline watching his alma mater play South Dakota State. The Rams' move doesn't necessarily mean the end of Sam's professional career. He could still be picked up by another team or end up on a practice squad. Missouri actually won that game, too.

BLACKWELL: A phone call?

ALI: Well, usually --

BLACKWELL: Is that how it happens?

ALI: No, usually the coach actually meets with the players face-to- face. But since he decided to go to the game and he had made the initial cut and teams had until 4:00 yesterday --

BLACKWELL: He expected to answer a phone call anyway --

ALI: Right. It was going to be good or bad.

PAUL: You think was he sitting at the game? That's not fun.

ALI: Yes.

PAUL: But are there teams out there who seem to be looking at him?

ALI: Well, I mean, he's a good enough player. He had three sacks in the preseason. Teams have until 12:00 today to add him to their roster. If nobody picks him up, he could be on a practice squad including the St. Louis Rams. We'll see.

BLACKWELL: The journey continues.

ALI: The journey continues as he said.

PAUL: So good to have you.

BLACKWELL: NASCAR driver, Tony Stewart, he returns to racing tonight in Atlanta.

PAUL: Yes, he actually sat out the last three races, remember, after his car hit and killed the driver during a dirt track race in New York. He was emotional and showed some remorse in his first public comments since Kevin Ward Jr.'s death. That was back on August 9th.

Well, I talked to fellow driver and Tony's teammate, Danica Patrick about how he's doing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANICA PATRICK, NASCAR DRIVER: Who knows how long it takes to digest it, to work through it and I'm sure it will always, to be honest, something that he will deal with the rest of his life.

But you know, as driving with him being my boss I'm you know, I'm happy to have him back at the track and as a team we will do whatever we can to help him in any way he needs help.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: Now the investigation, by the way, into Stewart's actions isn't over. The sheriff says it could last a couple more weeks.

Have you ever heard of such a thing? The Corvette Museum wanted to preserve, yes, preserve the sinkhole that swallowed eight of its classic cars.

BLACKWELL: I remember these pictures. Unbelievable.

PAUL: Preserve it, people. But you know, they ultimately decide against it. I wonder why.

BLACKWELL: Also there's this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She looked out at the audience and said you know, I'm 81, you know, I could go at any moment. I could just go over. That was her term. I could go over right here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: Joan Rivers cracking jokes about her own death during her final routine. Going to talk with a fan who was there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: Five stories we're watching this morning. Up first, two more medical workers have survived Ebola. A doctor and physician's assistant left the Liberian treatment center yesterday. Both had been given the ZMapp.

The same experimental drug credited with saving the lives of two Americans. Ebola has now spread to five countries in West Africa and it now takes the lives unfortunately of 1500 people.

PAUL: This is frightening, at number two, a 9-year-old girl died at an Oregon beach when a hole she was digging caved in. Isabel Grace Franks was playing with her siblings when this thing happened on Friday.

Beachgoers were frantically trying to dig her out, but the sand kept collapsing back into the hole. When police and firefighters did finally dig her out about 5 minutes later, she wasn't breathing and she died later at the hospital.

BLACKWELL: Number three the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky says it will fill that sinkhole that swallowed eight of its cars and damaged five of them beyond repair. The 45-foot hole that opened up in February has been both a blessing and a curse because visitor traffic has jumped by 70 percent.

People just want to see the damage. The museum considered preserving the sinkhole, but decided against it after learning it would cost them $1 million more to save it than it would to just fill the hole. PAUL: That would do it, yes. Number four, Miami Heat star, Dwyane Wade, and actress, Gabrielle Union, have tied the knot. They are official. Made so it yesterday in Miami. It was a small ceremony with family and friends including Wade's two children and a nephew that he's raising. Also a performance by John Legend. He proposed last year after four years of dating and it's the second marriage for both. Congratulations to them.

Number five, the world still waiting to hear how legendary comedian, Joan Rivers, is doing. We know she is in the hospital this morning. Her daughter, Melissa Rivers, has issued a statement saying her condition remains serious, but she is receiving the best treatment and care possible.

BLACKWELL: From friends, these trends on social media, you can see here that fans around the country are really concerned about Joan Rivers' health. Miguel Marquez looks at how she even joked about her death on the most recent show the one right before she was rushed to the hospital.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Joan Rivers appearing fit as a fiddle and in full outrage comedy mode at New York's Laurie Beechman Theater Wednesday night, even joking about her own death.

SHADE RUPE, FILM DIRECTOR: She looked out at the audience and said you know, I'm 81, you know, I could go at any moment. I could just go over. That was her term go over. I could go over here. You look down and you think it's part of the show.

MARQUEZ: Shade Rupe snapped this pic from his front row seat, a hard core fan, a.k.a. Joan Ranger. He even got this one with the queen of mean just after the show around 9:30 p.m. He says she was the picture of health.

(on camera): This was a classic Joan, tough, funny, bizarre, outrageous.

RUPE: The best I've seen her. Truly, I was really surprised she just gave everything.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Hours later early Thursday morning she was at Yorkville Endoscopy, a facility specializing in digestive disorders. By 9:30 a.m., during what should have been a routine outpatient procedure, she stopped breathing, went into cardiac arrest and was rushed to nearby Mount Sinai for emergency care.

(on camera): How shocked were you when you heard the news?

RUPE: Absolutely. The world turned upside down, 911.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): In recent days, the 81-year-old has been in tip top form, no indication she was ailing. Here she is taking the ALS ice bucket challenge on E! Entertainment last week.

JOAN RIVERS, COMEDIAN: Everybody happy? Security!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Love you, Joan.

MARQUEZ: Then there was Rivers walking out on a recent CNN interview.

RIVERS: Stop it with and you do this and you're mean and you're that. You are not the one to interview a person who does humor. Sorry.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Are we serious?

MARQUEZ: Feisty and tough as ever. Love for the razor sharp-witted Rivers pouring out. Actress, Marlee Matlin, urging Rivers to get well and, quote, moon the doctors for us while you're recuperating.

Comedian Bill Ikner tweeted so looking forward to Joan Rivers' jokes about this. Actor Zachary tweeted no one is ready to go on without you, lady. Her fans agree.

RUPE: Joan Rivers is necessary. We love her. We love you, Joan.

MARQUEZ: Miguel Marquez, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: You know, somebody who saw her show a couple years ago, I don't know if it was a couple years ago, said she is so vibrant on stage still at 81. She was crawling around, moving. She seems to be in very good health.

BLACKWELL: Yes. You know something I learned is that she keeps all of these one liners in file cabinets. She has years of these. If she wants to go to politicians, she goes to the politician's drawer, pulls that out and says all right, this works, that's how she puts together a routine.

PAUL: Somebody needs to give her an iPhone or something.

BLACKWELL: Voice commands. She could just -- so let's talk about the other big story we're following this weekend. Happening in the Middle East. John Kerry says the U.S. should help the moderate Syrian opposition in this fight against ISIS. He says ISIS can be defeated. We'll talk with a top adviser to the Syrian opposition coalition.

PAUL: Plus you remember Dennis Rodman and his basketball diplomacy missions to North Korea. Well, listen to this, for the first time in 20 years the government just invited, you see him there, pro wrestlers from America to punch and slam their way to more sports diplomacy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: Bottom of the hour now. And so glad to have you with us. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Thanks for staying with us. The U.S. is carried out new air strikes and also aid drops in Iraq. The strikes made against ISIS targets near the Mosul dam, Saturday, destroyed the militant fighting position and armored vehicle.

PAUL: About 100 miles south, though, U.S. Forces dropped humanitarian aid in the town of Amerli where ISIS fighters have surrounded that town we understand, the action comes as a Syrian human rights group reports ISIS has kidnapped and sold girls and women to its members for about $1,000 each.

President Obama says the U.S. cannot go after ISIS alone and is calling for a joint international effort, but, can ISIS be stopped?

PAUL: Yeah, we are joined now by Oubai Shabandar in Washington, he's a former Defense Department foreign affairs specialist, now a senior adviser to the Syrian opposition coalition. Thank you so much, sir, for being with us. I know that you have called for robust American action in Syria. What action do you see needs to be taken at this juncture?

OUBAI SHABANDAR, ADVISOR, NATIONAL COALITION OF SYRIA: Absolutely. There is no question that in order for the United States to defeat the ISIS terrorist army real strategy has to be focused on hitting the strongholds of ISIS, in Syria. Primarily in northern and eastern Syria where ISIS leadership and its command and control structure is concentrated. Now, there are some real vulnerabilities that can be exploited.

We heard last week that the White House and the U.S. administration was considering potential air strikes against ISIS positions. That option is still on the table, it's still being discussed. But it's very clear that if the U.S. is to truly have a sustained solution to stopping and pushing back the ISIS terrorist forces, U.S. air strikes against ISIS in Syria will be necessary, in addition to a significant increase of U.S. military support to the moderate Free Syrian Army forces on the ground in Syria that are actively fighting ISIS as we speak today.

BLACKWELL: So, the pairing of the airstrikes and then for the Free Syrian Army to come in and finish off the job essentially, individually to these projects, is the Free Syrian Army strong enough? Are they well organized enough, to handle that job? And what's the concern here for those resources that are given to the moderate rebels there compared to what we saw in Iraq? I mean the U.S. gave resources to the Iraqi army and those were just surrendered at some point to ISIS.

SHABANDAR: The issue of whether or not the U.S. has a capable and willing partner on the ground is really the crucial factor on whether U.S. military action will have a decisive impact against ISIS in Syria. In Iraq we saw the U.S. partner with Kurdish security forces and with Iraqi special operations forces after ISIS made significant gains. That has helped push, turn back the tide against ISIS. Now, in Syria, ironically, all of that captured American equipment, those taken by ISIS, is now being used by ISIS to bombard Free Syrian Army positions in the Northern Province of Aleppo. Now, the Free Syrian Army Forces on the ground have since January made some actually very significant and noticeable gains against ISIS with little international support. Now, this has made them the primary threat to ISIS, ISIS's leadership,

themselves issued a declaration in February declaring the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian opposition as their principle enemy. So now while the Free Syrian Army forces are being besieged by both the Assad military and ISIS, they are holding strong, they are pushing back, but it really requires significant increase of American support to ensure that the line against ISIS holds firm.

PAUL: You mentioned a little international support there, you know that, of course, Secretary of State John Kerry called for an international coalition here, in fact, in an opinion piece in "The New York Times" he said I'm going to quote this correctly, "With the united response led by the United States and the broadest possible coalition of nations the cancer of ISIS will not be allowed to spread to other countries. When you hear that, I have to wonder who do you think would be the strongest other countries to be part of this coalition with the U.S. and who would be the most willing?

SHABANDAR: Now, both Secretary Kerry and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Dempsey have really emphasized the importance of partnership, of fighting ISIS with a regional partnership and with fighting ISIS from, quote, the inside out. From the bottom up. Now, that is both are really crucial elements to not only containing ISIS because containment as we've seen simply is insufficient, but to roll back ISIS.

Now, you do have regional countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and now and the Kurdistan Regional Government that understand that ISIS is not simply a localized terrorist force, it is a regional and international terrorist force. So I believe the United States does have capable partners in the region as well as a willing partner on the ground with the moderate Free Syrian Army and the Syrian opposition forces that are willing to take the fight straight to the headquarters of ISIS if they have the necessary military tools and that is the big question today, whether the U.S. is willing to provide those tools.

BLACKWELL: Well, quickly let me ask you. You've worked inside the government in Defense Department, now you are the senior adviser to the Syrian opposition coalition. Why hasn't this happened? Secretary Hagel met with leaders of the Gulf states, the defense ministers and promised them that the U.S. would get involved and have a deeper commitment to the people in Syria who are fighting Assad. That was in May. Why hasn't it happened?

SHABANDAR: Now, there have been -- we have seen some progress on the ground in terms of what the United States government has been quietly working behind the scenes to help empower the anti-ISIS forces on the grounds. We have seen -- actually a pretty significant increase in the relationship between the U.S. government and those fighting forces on the ground led by the Free Syrian Army that are actively opposing ISIS. We have seen numerous regional trips by senior U.S. officials to meet with their counterparts in the Gulf and in the region to discuss fighting in -- a strategy to fight ISIS.

Now, that has proved to be insufficient as we saw by the rapid increase of ISIS territory since June. And since January the Syrian opposition has been beseeching the world, particularly the United States, to work in concert towards not only stopping ISIS from spreading, but from establishing the necessary strategy to defeat ISIS once and for all. I think the U.S. government is getting there slowly, now that this issue of ISIS has become an international one.

BLACKWELL: Yeah.

SHABANDAR: Particularly that ISIS is a threat to the U.S. homeland.

PAUL: All right. Oubai Shabandar, we so appreciate you being with us today. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Oubai.

SHABANDAR: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: The sports diplomacy to the extreme. Forget basketball scrimmages and Dennis Rodman although the world watched those. North Korea just hosted a two-day pro-wrestling showcase featuring Americans and the latest attempt to thaw global relations and CNN was there.

PAUL: Also, as a Marine he didn't think he would live past 25. After a story of life (INAUDIBLE). He is 90 now. And received one heck of an honor.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: Hey, remember when Dennis Rodman made those controversial basketball diplomacy trips to North Korea.

PAUL: Well, now the reclusive nation is taking a shot, pro-wrestling my friend. Pro-wrestling diplomacy.

BLACKWELL: All right, so, you know, it didn't have all of the glitz and glamour of the WWE wrestlemania, but thousands of North Koreans cheered and, you know, stood to their feet ...

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: For the Americans and North Koreans. Some international stars who punched and slammed their way through it two-day wrestling exhibition there.

PAUL: CNN's Will Ripley got an inside look for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILL RIPLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Prowrestlers wrangling in the ring would almost never be international news. But this is North Korea, and these are American fighters. Saying thanks to a Pyongyang crowd of 13,000.

JON ANDERSON, PRO-WRESTLER: We're here to do something bigger and better. RIPLEY: Jon Strongman Anderson and mixed martial artist and former

NFL player Bop Sapp may not be household names to most. In North Korea they are getting star treatment like they haven't had in years, pulling crowds all over the capital, public stunts with smiling kids and a host country keen on any positive international press. We, like the wrestlers, have been invited here and are being shown a very limited view of the country.

ANDERSON: While we expected a lot of gloom and doom.

RIPLEY: The North Korea they are seeing is very different from the country described by the United Nations panel as a brutal state accused of torture, slavery and mass starvation.

ANDERSON: You could find some crappy political view on everything.

RIPLEY: Foreign tourists are getting a carefully controlled capital city tour, Chinese, Japanese, even this American hip-hop artist co- founder of the group, the Fugees.

PRAS MICHEL, CO-FOUNDER, THE FUGEES: The infrastructure seemed really good for a third world country.

RIPLEY (on camera): At least what we're allowed to see.

MICHEL: Right. Right. Well, yeah. Well, yeah. Exactly.

RIPLEY (voice over): Japanese retired pro-wrestler turned politician Antonio Inoki organized this event. He says sports diplomacy can bring North Korea closer to the outside world.

The first time Pyongyang's had a wrestling festival like this. They had another one almost 20 years ago and we are told back then most of the audience members thought the fighting was real. This time they are enjoying the performance, but they see right through the theatrics.

"It looks more realistic in person than it does on television, this woman says, diplomatically. The biggest applause of the night was for something far more familiar to this audience. A perfectly choreographed tae kwon do display. They are here to see what the outside world has to offer, but this is their world. This is North Korea. Will Ripley, CNN, Pyongyang.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: It's not real? I'm kidding. Just saying. Why is it that we get to a holiday weekend and Mother Nature decides to mess with us?

BLACKWELL: There are storms on the way. You got to get ready. We'll tell you where these storms are. Jennifer Gray is coming up with the forecast next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: Yeah, watch then, you've got to get up too. Although when you get up make sure you take your umbrella when you head out. Because there will be a few thunderstorms today. Humid, wet, 94 degrees?

PAUL: You know, weather was a big factor in this college football season openers yesterday, too. University of Florida had to cancel its game against Idaho altogether because of that. What a great shot though.

BLACKWELL: Yeah. Whomever captured this, good job.

PAUL: Nice job. Yes. Already, how about the rest of the holiday weekend? Why does Mother Nature decide you got a day off, I think I'm going to ruin it for you.

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL: Jennifer Gray.

(LAUGHTER)

GRAY: I know, right. Yeah, we're going to see those showers push into the mid-Atlantic for today, also a risk of thunderstorms in the Midwest. So let me show you the mid-Atlantic first. Right now, D.C., Raleigh, New York, Boston, you're all fine. But as we go through the afternoon the showers are going to be pushing in your direction. Then we'd likely see a tornado, but we could see a hail and high wind threat so you have been included in that slight risk area for this afternoon. We could see large hail, damaging winds and a possibility of an isolated tornado here in the Midwest. Minneapolis, Des Moines, Omaha, and Kansas City.

Again, just a slight risk. For Labor Day, though, keep in mind this threat moves to the east so it will include tomorrow, Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Kansas City, some bigger cities and a lot of folks have the day off. So the hanging out by the grill make sure you keep your eye on the sky tomorrow if you are in those areas. We'll time it out for you, we could see a couple of showers or storms roll through Minneapolis. This is about 10:00 p.m. tonight as well as New York and Boston. Could see a couple of showers by then. Moving offshore after that, could see another round of rain again early Monday morning in Minneapolis and then pushing through Chicago late in the day again.

Some of those storms could be strong. So, keep in mind for that, couple of other cities we're looking at. New York City, of course, Sunday and Monday looks like rain. And then Tuesday clearing out nicely, of course. Right as you head back to work, Houston as well looks like we'll see some rain today and tomorrow. So a lot of cities rainy but we're seeing a couple of those cities that are getting some nice weather this weekend, guys.

PAUL: Good for them.

BLACKWELL: I told - the lid down on the grill, it still works.

GRAY: Yes. Exactly. PAUL: Makes a good point. There is still time for roasted meat.

(LAUGHTER)

BLACKWELL: There's always time for roasted meat.

(LAUGHTER)

BLACKWELL: Jennifer Gray, thank you so much.

PAUL: That's my favorite Victorism. Never a bad time for roasted meat. One man's life in sports. Could this be made into a movie or what? You may not have heard his name with your other baseball heroes. However, he is pretty spectacular.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, his name is William Greason, and he's one of the last surviving players of the Negro Baseball League. Nick Valencia has this incredible story. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLACKWELL: At 90 years old a lot of people would have enough stories to fill.

PAUL: I say so.

BLACKWELL: But no one's book would be quite like Reverend William Greason's. His stories would include ones from World War II to civil rights movement and being a player in the Negro Baseball League.

PAUL: Yeah, you know, he just added another honor to his growing list. Reverend Greason, there he is in the white jacket, received a Living Legend Award last weekend from the Negro Big Baseball Association and as Nick Valencia reports, man, he truly lives up to this title.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REV. GREASON, WWII VETERAN, FOUGHT ON IWO JIMA: Those are the good old days.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 90-year-old Bill Greason has had a lot of memorable days. Historic ones too.

(on camera): What are these medals here?

GREASON: You have Iwo Jima right here, you have Pacific, you have a good conduct, you have Korea, you have a World War II and now the presidential unit citation that was given to us.

VALENCIA (voice over): Greason is a Marine Corps combat veteran blessed, he says, if only because there was a time when he didn't expect to live past 25.

GREASON: When I went in - on Iwo Jima, I prayed and asked God if he saved me and whatever, whatever he wanted me to do, I'll do it. VALENCIA: His prayers were answered. Greason eventually got off the

island, but it's where he ended up that was unexpected. He is one of the only Negro League Baseball players still alive.

GREASON: I never dreamed that I would have been a baseball player. Nobody taught me how to play. It was a gift.

VALENCIA: A gift he shared with friend and teammate Willie Mays. Together in 1948, the two won the Negro League World Series with the Birmingham Black Barrens. He was a pitcher with a sharp curve.

GREASON: I had a good downer. I threw away, you know, it fall off the table.

VALENCIA: He even had a stint as a major leaguer with the St. Louis Cardinals, as the team - black pitcher. Later he moved from the mound to the pulpit.

(on camera): Do you have a favorite spot in this church?

GREASON: No. Right there. Right behind that desk right there. That's my favorite.

VALENCIA: That's your spot.

GREASON: That's my spot.

VALENCIA (voice over): The church Greason says is his true calling.

(on camera): Just a joy to stand here to be able to speak to people, you know, and you're looking around. The choir behind you, everything is going pretty good.

VALENCIA: But this has always been easy. It was everything else, he says, that hurt.

GREASON: This is the area where the bombing took place.

VALENCIA: in 1963 Greason was a member here the day that the 16 Street Baptist Church was bombed. Four little girls were killed that day, dozens were injured.

GREASON: Anger, anger the main thing. You see, we were angry. First of all because they were using fire hoses on people. And then they brought dogs in, you know, like you were animals. That'd anger anybody.

VALENCIA: The violent attack sparked unrest and the incident stands today as a flash point in the civil rights movement.

Greason remembers.

GREASON: This is the fire hose they used on people here in Birmingham. The dogs that they used. Homes burned.

VALENCIA (on camera): You were around for all of that. GREASON: Oh, yeah. Still am. Didn't blow me out.

VALENCIA (voice over): These days as a minister it's the divine spirit that keeps him going. Reverend baseball revolutionary and war hero.

(LAUGHTER)

VALENCIA: Pretty interesting life by any standards.

(on camera): A few more words from the Lord. That's all I want. Just to stand a few more times and say something.

VALENCIA (voice over): Nick Valencia, CNN, Birmingham, Alabama.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLACKWELL: Stories he could tell.

PAUL: And the things we can learn, really, you know, from him. I mean the hope and the faith. And that's pretty remarkable. He should do some writing.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Leave that story.

PAUL: For sure.

BLACKWELL: Our thanks to Reverend Greason and to Nick Valencia.

PAUL: Absolutely. And congratulations to him again. And thank you so much for sharing part of your morning with us.

BLACKWELL: We've got much more ahead on the next hour of your NEW DAY. It starts right now.