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Deliberate Terrorist Assault; Rep. Peter King Calls For Ambassador Susan Rice to Resign; Captured Weapons; The Candidates Plan For Health Care; Olivia Wilde on Women Empowerment in Kenya; Big Fall in Housing Market in Three Years; Movie Sparks Debate Over School Reform

Aired September 29, 2012 - 06:00   ET


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN ANCHOR: From CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, this is EARLY START WEEKEND.


REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: I believe she should resign, yes.


FEYERICK: A top lawmaker calling for a U.S. ambassador to resign, only on CNN. We have reaction to the new intelligence report that the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans was an act of terror.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Abortion, gun policy, the war on drugs. There's some of these social issues shaping the presidential race. All morning, we put them in focus.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can see it in his face that there was a lot more to her story than even what she was willing to let on.


FEYERICK: Women hold up half the sky. That's the message of a new documentary from "New York Times" columnist Nick Kristof. In an interview exclusive to CNN, he sits down with the celebrities from the film.

And it is Saturday, September 29th. Good morning, everyone. I'm Deb Feyerick.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. It is good to be with you and it's good to have you with us this morning.

FEYERICK: Thanks so much.

BLACKWELL: We are starting with the new revelations on the deadly attack in Libya.

FEYERICK: It's the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. BLACKWELL: The U.S. intelligence community now says it was a deliberate terrorist assault. CNN intelligence correspondent Suzanne Kelly has more.

SUZANNE KELLY, CNN INTELLIGENCE CORRESPONDENT: Deb and Victor, this is really the fullest accounting yet on behalf of the intelligence community, which rarely ever ventures into the public domain on issues like this, to issue a statement like this about what they knew. Right now the intelligence community says it was -- this was a deliberate and organized terrorist assault carried out by extremists affiliated with, or sympathetic to al Qaeda. Now, that comes from Shawn Turner. He's the director of communications for the office of the director of National Intelligence.

I think the reason why we're seeing something like this too, some two plus weeks after the attack, is that there's a reason growing frustration within the intelligence community itself about how information is being used. There's really a lot of frustration about that initial assessment being that this was a protest, a was a spontaneous attack that grew out of a protest in response to those anti-Muslim films we've seen broadcast in Cairo. It appears that as more information came in, that picture changed.

The story, however, from administration officials didn't change so dramatically. And I think that really shows that there are still unanswered questions. We don't have a direct timeline about when administration officials knew that this was a terrorist attack and when they came out and actually said it. So I think you're going to see a lot more questions around this story, but, still, this is a really unbelievable statement put out by the intelligence community -- Deb and Victor.

BLACKWELL: Well, let's talk for a moment about what was said immediately after the Benghazi attacks. Some of the statements were made by the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice. Well now, New York Congressman Peter King is calling for her to step down. Here's what he told our Wolf Blitzer.


REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK (via telephone): I believe that this was such a failure of foreign policy message and leadership. Such a misstatement of facts as were known at the time. And for her to go on all those shows and to in effect be our spokesman for the world and be misinforming the American people and our allies and countries around the world, to me, somebody has to pay the price for this. We've got too much things to go wrong and everyone forgets about it the next day.

I think we have to send a clear message and on such a vital issue as this where an American ambassador was killed, where by all the accumulation of evidence at the time, the presumption had to be it was terrorism. I can see why if they wanted to say it's too early to say it's definitively terrorism. But to rule out terrorism, to say it was not terrorism at that time was, to me, a terrible mistake to make, whether it was done intentionally or unintentionally. And to show the significance of that, I believe she should resign, yes.


BLACKWELL: Well, the White House is standing by Rice. It says, "everything she said in that interview was cleared by interagency groups based on the latest information that the U.S. had and certainly nothing was designed to mislead the American people."

FEYERICK: And now to Syria where eyes are on the country's chemical weapon stock. But the big question is, who has control?

BLACKWELL: Well, CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has more.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Deb, Victor, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta weighing right in on what he knows and doesn't know about Syria's chemical weapons.


STARR (voice-over): A top Syrian opposition group claims it captured these missiles in Damascus and said they had been adapted to carry chemical and biological warheads. CNN cannot independently confirm the claim. But now a new admission from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Serious chemical weapons have been on the move and he's not sure what exactly has happened.

LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: There has been intelligence that there have been some moves that have taken place. Where exactly that's taken place, we don't know.

STARR: Panetta insists that Bashar al Assad's forces still control the major chemical and biological sites, but there are security concerns.

PANETTA: There has been some intelligence that, with regards to some of these sites, that there has been some movement in order to -- for the Syrians to better secure what they -- the chemicals.

STARR: Rebels clearly are making a public play that they can get to the weapons. On this video, a narrator points to satellite imagery of what he says is a chemical weapons warehouse in Damascus and a tunnel that connects the warehouse to a military airport. The video cannot be independently confirmed. Panetta knows rebels are on the hunt. He doesn't know if they have succeeded.

PANETTA: I don't have any specific information about the opposition and whether or not they've obtained some of this or how much they've obtained and just exactly what's taken place.

STARR: President Obama has said a tight lid must stay on the Syrian arsenal.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. STARR: Concerns about the weapons? Recent bombings of government buildings in Damascus and stepped up fighting all underscoring the rebels are taking the fight to the regime's power centers.


STARR: A senior administration official tells CNN that President Obama's red line on Syria's chemical and biological weapons is all about the potential use of those weapons. And the latest intelligence shows there's no evidence that is about to happen. Deb, Victor.

FEYERICK: Barbara Starr, thank you so much.

And we will taking you to the region live for more on this story coming up in just a few minutes.

BLACKWELL: President Obama spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the phone for about 20 minutes yesterday. The White House says the president reaffirmed his commitment to Israel's security and agreed they must prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. The president has been criticized for not meeting with Netanyahu in person. Netanyahu has expressed frustration with the U.S. for not taking a more aggressive stance on Iran. The U.S. is relying on diplomacy and sanctions.

FEYERICK: And shortly after Obama's phone call ended, Mitt Romney also spoke with Netanyahu over the phone. According to the Romney campaign, he told Netanyahu that Iran is the greatest threat to Israel's security and to the world. His campaign has slammed Obama over the issue, saying a Romney White House would be tougher on Iran.


DAN SENOR, MITT ROMNEY SENIOR CAMPAIGN ADVISER: There should have been tougher sanctions in place sooner. We should have taken opportunities to stand and strengthen the Iranian opposition to put pressure on the regime domestically, politically, which the United States did not do when it had this sort of once in a generation opportunity in June of 2009, and it should make the threat of military action credible.


BLACKWELL: The election and your health. What exactly do President Obama and Mitt Romney plan to do about health care? Well, we're going to check in with our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

FEYERICK: And later, an amazing rescue. And, yes, that's right, you are going to see it all play out.


FEYERICK: Well, we hear a lot of spin on the campaign trail when it comes to the big issue, so CNN's helping cut through the noise. And this morning, a look at one of the most controversial social issues facing our nation, and that is health care. Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, goes in depth on President Obama and Mitt Romney's positions and their plans when it comes to your health.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Since President Obama's health care law was enacted, 3.1 million people under the age of 26 are now covered by their parents' plans and preventive care is covered 100 percent by insurance companies. Seniors, in particular, have benefitted on prescription drugs.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Seniors who fall in the coverage gap known as the doughnut hole will start getting some help. They'll receive $250 to help pay for prescriptions and that will, over time, fill in the doughnut hole.

GUPTA: And 5.5 million seniors have saved a total of nearly $4.5 billion on prescription drugs since the law was enacted. That's according to the Health and Human Services Department.

OBAMA: I have strengthened Medicare. We've added years to the life of Medicare. We did it by getting rid of taxpayer subsidies to insurance companies that weren't making people healthier.

GUPTA: By 2014, the law requires everyone to have health insurance, whether they purchase it themselves or through their employers. And insurers can't deny you if you have a pre-existing condition or increase your rates.

In hopes of covering more people, the law planned to expand Medicaid to the states with the aim of covering 17 million more people. But the Supreme Court ruled in June that it was up to each state to decide whether to expand coverage.

The law has become a cornerstone of the Obama campaign.

OBAMA: I refuse to eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor and elderly or disabled, also those with the most can pay less.

GUPTA: But Romney says the Affordable Care Act is "unaffordable."

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We know that health care's too expensive. Obamacare doesn't make it less expensive.

GUPTA: Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan propose to cap malpractice insurance, cut Medicaid by $810 billion over the next 10 years, give states more control over their Medicaid funds, overhaul Medicare. The overhaul? People now younger than 55, when they reach retirement, would have the option of getting a voucher to purchase private insurance, or they could stick with traditional Medicare.

PAUL RYAN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This financial support system is designed to guarantee that seniors can always afford Medicare coverage, no exceptions.

GUPTA: While the repeal of Obamacare would get rid of the prescription drug benefit to seniors, Romney doesn't want to take out all of the loss provisions.

ROMNEY: We have to make sure that people who have pre-existing conditions are able to get insured and that folks that get sick don't get dropped by their insurance company.

GUPTA: Douglas Holtz-Eakin is the president of the American Action Forum. He doesn't support the current health care law.

DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN, PRES., AMERICAN ACTION FORUM: Both sides agree that the amount we spend on Medicare has to be caped. They just disagree on how to get there. Romney and Ryan says what we're going to do is give the money to seniors, give them a place to go shop for competing choices. If they don't like the care they're getting, they get to go to another choice, and that that will meet the cap.

GUPTA: Jonathan Cohn supports the law and writes about health care for The New Republic.

JONATHAN COHN, WRITER, THE NEW REPUBLIC: The Obama budget says, look, we want to hold down costs to this target and we're going to do our very best to accomplish that. But we're also not going to sacrifice benefits. No matter what happens, we will make sure that seniors get the same level of benefits they're getting now.

GUPTA: Both Obama and Romney agree that health care needs to be more affordable, they just disagree about how to do that.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporting.


FEYERICK: And one of the most contentious issues dividing President Obama and Governor Romney is what to do with millions of illegal immigrants living, studying and working in America. Next hour we'll be focusing on another social issue, illegal immigration.

BLACKWELL: More on Syria. U.S. officials confirm the government's chemical weapons are on the move and the opposition claims to have captured some.

FEYERICK: Plus, three fishermen are rescued in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat overturns. And, yes, it is all caught on tape.


FEYERICK: Czech President Vaclav Klaus is recovering from a bizarre attack. It happened while he was inaugurating a new bridge. Well, as he was walking through the crowd, a man, armed with a replica (ph) gun, fired plastic pellets at him. Look at that gun there aimed at the president. The Czech leader was taken to the hospital with reported bruises, but no serious injuries. The suspect, he is in custody.

BLACKWELL: Pope Benedict's former butler is on trial today at the Vatican. He's accused of leaking hundreds of secret pages from the pontiff's personal apartment to an Italian journalist. If he's convicted, he could spend up to eight years in prison. He's pleaded not guilty. A Vatican computer technician is also on trial.

FEYERICK: And take a look at this incredible video off Mexico's coast. Eight fishermen got tossed into the sea waters which Tropical Storm Norman's heavy winds and rains capsized their boat. And look at it just bouncing there. They were hauled to safety and dry ground by a rope. Several suffered bruises. One had to be treated for inhaling too much water, but they're all expected to be OK. You just see them fighting the waves and the wind. It's remarkable.

BLACKWELL: Jaw dropped when you watch something like that because typically when we talk about boats capsizing, it's a pontoon boat. It's a small fishing boat.


BLACKWELL: Something this large in waters that rough, you do the best you can. Fortunately, people came out of that.

FEYERICK: You know, and they're lucky, also, that based on where it is, it's not hitting the rocks.

BLACKWELL: That's true.

FEYERICK: It could have very easily hit the rocks and crushed those poor guys. So, the fact that they had cameras or the fact they had rescuers there (INAUDIBLE) --

BLACKWELL: Yes, there are cameras everywhere now with the cell phones.

FEYERICK: That's true.

BLACKWELL: But it's so good they came out of that. Wow.

FEYERICK: Of course.


FEYERICK: All right. Well, some headlines we are also following this morning for you.

Two people remain hospitalized after a shooting rampage in Minneapolis earlier this week. Police say the shooter was laid off just hours before the incident. He then returned with a gun, shot and killed five co-workers before committing suicide. His family says he had a history of mental illness. Among the dead, a business owner who was recently honored at the White House.

BLACKWELL: And now to Michigan and the search for Jimmy Hoffa. Police say there are, quote, "no discernible remains" in the soil samples that were taken beneath a storage shed in suburban Detroit. A tipster claimed to -- claimed a body, rather, was there around the time the former teamster leader disappeared. The samples are being sent to Michigan State University for testing, but police doubt any remains would be from Hoffa.

FEYERICK: Can you imagine? You know, when we used to drive into New York, my mom would always point to a field just outside the Meadowlands and say, that's where Jimmy Hoffa's buried.


FEYERICK: So who knew he was in the shed, possibly.

BLACKWELL: Listen, I'm sure there are a lot of people pointing a lot of places saying Jimmy Hoffa's right over there.

There's an interesting piece on about why do people still care about where Jimmy Hoffa is?


BLACKWELL: It's kind of just the perfect kind of made for television story that this guy just disappeared.

FEYERICK: Yes. And he was a mythical figure also. His connections to the mob and just sort of, you know, kind of getting whacked at the height of his career.


FEYERICK: Or allegedly --


FEYERICK: Whacked.


FEYERICK: One should say.

BLACKWELL: The perfect word there, whacked.

All right. To baseball and a homer heard around the league, but not the one that everyone expects. Homer Bailey. The Cincinnati Reds pitcher threw a no-hitter last night against the Pittsburgh Pirates. It's the first of his career and the first for the Reds since the 1980s.

FEYERICK: And, today, 10 miles of one of the busiest freeways in America, well, they're closed. And people in Los Angeles are calling it "Carmageddon II." Last summer drivers feared that a similar closure on Interstate 405 would jam the interstate, but it went smoothly last year because most drivers, well, they did what they should have done, they stayed home to avoid the hassle. This weekend, crews are building a new car pool lane. Officials are, once again, asking motorists to just stay off the road. That section of 405 will be reopened, they say, on Monday.

And celebrity activists Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union and many others go to different corners of the world to meet with women who are overcoming abuse and oppression. We'll preview a new documentary just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) FEYERICK: Half past the hour now. I'm Deb Feyerick, in for Randi Kaye.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Thank you for starting your day with us.

We are now going to talk about chemical weapons in Syria. YouTube videos uploaded by an opposition group suggest rebels know where they are. CNN cannot independently confirm this video or the claims, but Syrian activists say this video shows military installations and tunnels as they describe chemical weapons. We will go to more about this in just a moment. Our Mohammed Jamjoom is in Syria.

FEYERICK: And around the world courageous women are changing their lives, making a decision for themselves and their daughters. "Half The Sky." It is a new documentary by "New York Times" columnist Nick Kristof and it's airing next week. It's inspired by his award winning book co-authored with his wife, Sheryl WuDunn. Kristof and celebrity activists including Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union, America Ferrera and Olivia Wilde went to different corners of the globe to meet with women who are overcoming abuse and oppression. Kristof explains why this project is so important.


NICHOLAS KRISTOF, AUTHOR, "HALF THE SKY" (voice-over): We're going to be going on a journey to some of the places in the world where the repression of women and girls is truly at its most extreme. We'll be traveling to six different countries and we've invited six American actresses to join us. We're going to meet some people who have so impressed us with the work they're doing to build a better Sierra Leone, a better Cambodia, a better Vietnam and working on issues like sex trafficking, violence against women and also solutions such as getting more girls into school and keeping them there.


FEYERICK: And in a special report for CNN, Kristof sat down with these actresses to talk about what they learned about the women holding up half the sky.

First, Olivia Wilde tells us about her eye-opening journey to Kenya.


OLIVIA WILDE, ACTRESS: Oh, wow, this is huge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is huge. The biggest market of second hand --

WILDE: Really?


WILDE: Jane is a businesswoman because of an organization called Jami Bora, in Nairobi in Kibera slum. Jane had been a commercial sex worker for many years. She is HIV positive, she has three children and she has suffered unimaginable odds and come out of it as a dressmaker.

Oh, that's nice, yes.

And she's a great example of how financial empowerment can really work to transform the community. Because of her business, her kids are all in school.

Not only are they in school, they are at the top of their class and these are people who were born in the toughest slum in Kenya.

I think the other extraordinary thing we saw was the communal power of business, bringing women together.

And when we were in Umoja, in central Kenya, the village of all women, they sustain themselves by running a jewellery business.

And it was extraordinary to watch them working together and knowing that they can rely on each other to learn this technique, to sell these goods and they will keep this village going together.

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, JOURNALIST & AUTHOR: And the women in Umoja, they passed the time by singing their vagina songs.

WILDE: Yes, it's my favorite song. I assumed it was like a welcome song and then when we asked what the lyrics were, it was all about celebrating their vaginas.

Which is extraordinary for so many reasons including the fact that most of them had suffered genital mutilation, and most of them had suffered all sorts of abuse, directly related to having a vagina.

So, the fact that they could celebrate them, it was like the most moving, awesome thing in the world. But I will never forget the feeling of being in that village, in Umoja; the village of all women.

And just understanding the beautiful power of sisterhood.

KRISTOF: Plenty of men suffer brutally around the world, Syria today, all over. Why focus on women? Why narrow that sphere?

WILDE: Hi, I'm Olivia.

That's a really good point that reminds me of this boy that we met in the village of all women in Kenya. One boy, Isaiah, was about 16.

When I asked him what he thought about the reasons for -- why this village had to be created to protect the women from all this violence and oppression, he couldn't even understand why his father would want to hurt his mother.

He didn't understand the concept of domestic violence. He's like, I don't know, I don't know why the men would want to hurt them.

And that was because he had been educated by women and encouraged as you were saying, you know, from the first moment and nurtured by a woman who was empowered, then he was able to see the world through a completely different lens.

So, that's why it's about empowering the women to affect the men, and it's not that men are inherently the problem.

It's that, unfortunately, they've been raised in a culture that hasn't encouraged them to see the value of the women in the world.


FEYERICK: What a remarkable spirit, changing the world and changing men, one at a time.

Well, next hour, actress Gabrielle Union, Gabrielle Union tells us about meeting a 15-year-old girl in Vietnam who stunned her with her extraordinary courage.

Half a sky, turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide that is going to air on "Tbs" Monday and Tuesday.

BLACKWELL: Great story. There is more positive news on the home front, if you are in the market to sell. Home prices on the rise for the third straight month, we'll tell you where.


FEYERICK: Well, just two weeks after its launch, Apple is issuing a rare apology for the iPhone 5, specifically its maps function.

Apple recently dropped Google maps in favor of its own software. And that sparked complaints from consumers, CEO Tim Cook said he was sorry for the frustration that the company is trying to make the maps better.

And education pays, just ask students at Princeton, who according to one website are pulling in the top pay checks among college graduates averaging $137,000 a year.

That's Princeton alums with at least ten years of experience in their fields. Harvey Mudd College, MIT and Stanford are also in the top ten.

BLACKWELL: Case-Schiller's 20-city composite index report came out this week and it seems to have some good news.

Home prices rebounding to levels not seen in nine years. I asked CNN Business correspondent Alison Kosik if this is a sign that the bottom of the market is now holding.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS: Victor, it's funny that you're asking that $64,000 question.

And you know it's what many buyers and sellers have been wondering for quite a while at this point. Yes, the good news is that more and more analysts are coming out and saying that the bottom has actually passed and that at this point we're actually on the way up.

And there are some numbers that came out this week that you mentioned that support that. S&P, Case-Schiller said that home prices across 20 major U.S. cities rose 1.6 percent in July.

And then there was a separate report from the Commerce Department and what it showed was that the median price of a newly constructed home is at $257,000, that's a jump of 11 percent from July to August.

Now, there are few reasons for these higher prices. There's less of a supply of homes on the market and that means more people are going after fewer properties.

Plus, mortgage rates are at record lows, that's a real good incentive to get people out there to buy. Also, an increasing number of buyers.

They just haven't been able to find previously owned homes that they've liked, so they're opting to go brand-new and those are traditionally more expensive, Victor?

BLACKWELL: Good news for the housing market, but what impact did this really have on the overall economic outlook?

KOSIK: And you know what? No doubt about it. You know, housing is really a critical component, manufacturing is really what pulled us out of the recession and economists, they want to see that sector pass the baton now to housing.

Rising home prices mean that fewer borrowers are under water, under homes. And that's really important for consumers spending.

Because when people feel like their home is worth more, they feel wealthier and they tend to spend more and that's something our economy really needs.

There's also a direct correlation with the jobs market. You know, people don't buy homes if they don't have jobs or they don't feel secure in their jobs.

So, as we see these reports improving, what it shows is that people are out there who've been putting off the move that they may finally be feeling more confident to do it.

All of that is helping the housing market but also acts as a sign that the entire economy is getting stronger, howbeit, very slowly.

Plus, when people buy a new home, adds that, supports the construction jobs, that can hurt either.

BLACKWELL: And there're a lot of people who feel confident and they want to go out and buy a home, but we've known since the beginning of the housing crisis, that it's been tough to get a loan.

Could we now see more lending?

KOSIK: You know, and that's the whole picture, that, you know the Federal Reserve's recent stimulus move actually meant to open up the gates a bit.

And what that did, essentially is what -- bank's mortgage-backed securities with the Fed's cash. And what it's supposed to do is really make banks more confident.

You know, make them more comfortable in giving up money, but the Fed, in reality, the Fed can't force banks to start lending.

So, it's really up to the firms to become more generous with those loans. And since the financial crisis lending standards have actually gotten a lot tighter, so it's still very tough for a lot of Americans to qualify for a loan.

Even if the bank is willing to give it out. Now, often times, it's real tough out there, you know you need to put 20 percent down and have a good size, have a good size bank account, that's the harsh reality of the situation, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, so bottom line is, if you want a home, you're in the market for a new home, now is the time to buy before all this good news adds up to higher prices?

KOSIK: OK, but I don't have a crystal ball. But you know what? Most signs do point to the upward trend and prices continuing.

You know as we keep on saying, there're a lot of experts that are saying, the bottom is actually behind us, and with mortgage rates so low, and prices still affordable, you know, many will say, you know what?

There's no reason that if you were looking before and you really want to get into a new home, it's certainly a good reason enough for you to go out there, stick your toe in the water and see what's out there.

FEYERICK: Well, a new Hollywood film sparks protests across the country. It's getting lots of buzz over how teachers and unions are depicted, that's just ahead.

But first, in Afghanistan women typically don't have much of a place in society and as long they could stream this -- often use violence to keep girls from getting an education.

One woman has braved all that to set up a free school for girls near Kabul. She's this week's CNN hero.


RAZIA JAN, PHILANTHROPIST: In Afghanistan, most of the girls have no voice. They are used as property of a family. The picture is very grim.

My name is Razia Jan, and I'm the founder of a girls school in Afghanistan. When we opened the school in 2008, 90 percent of them could not right their names.

Today, 100 percent of them are educated, they can read, they can write. I lived in the U.S. for over 38 years, but I was really affected by 9/11.

I really wanted to prove that Muslims are not terrorist. I came back here in 2010, girls have been the most oppressed and I thought, I have to do something.

It was a struggle in the beginning, I would sit with these men and I would tell them, don't marry them when they are 14 years old, they want to learn.

How do you write your father's name?


JAN: After five years now, the men, they are proud of their girls, when they themselves can't write their names. Still, we have to take this with cautions.

Some people are so much against girls getting educated. We provide free education to over 350 girls, I think it's like a fire, it will grow.

Every year my hope becomes more, I think I can see the future.


BLACKWELL: The top ten CNN heroes honorees for 2012 has been revealed and now you can vote for your choice for hero of the year.

Up to ten times every day, each day. Go to, vote early, vote often.


BLACKWELL: America's public education system is getting some Hollywood attention. Protests have popped up at theaters across the country as the new movie "Won't Back Down" hits the big screen.

I spoke with CNN entertainment correspondent Nischelle Turner about the controversy surrounding the film and its growing popularity.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: It started out as a little movie that's got a lot of big buzz. So, it's turning into a big movie, Victor.

We're talking about the movie "Won't Back Down", and that's a movie about school choice parents, trigger laws, it's kind of based on actual events.

A Hollywood depiction of when a parent and a teacher decide to fight a failing school and take over to do better for the kids.

Now, the reason why this is getting so much buzz and gotten so much attention is because this issue of school choice and parent trigger laws is a big deal right now.

This movie was shown at both conventions, the Republican and the Democratic National Conventions.

One of the things that's been a big sticking point is, some people are saying that it's an anti-union movie and that it makes the teachers look like they're the bad guys.

BLACKWELL: I see the two big stars here, Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal, what are they saying about this?

TURNER: Well, by the way, the reviews for their acting in this movie, very good. The movie in itself is getting some kind of mixed reviews.

But both of them are saying they did not make an anti-union film. Maggie Gyllenhaal said she is a -- from a very pro union family, from a very leftist family.

She said she wouldn't be able to go home for thanksgiving if she made an anti-union film.

Viola Davis simply said, she wasn't even aware of all of this school choice. Let's listen to a little bit of what she told us.


VIOLA DAVIS, ACTRESS: I really did, I thought it was evenly represented all sides, and I think that I really didn't know what a hot bed subject education was.

I knew that everybody was on fire about education, pro-education, but I didn't know that there was just so many different kind of inner turmoil with charter schools and public schools and unions.


NISCHELLE: And so, there you have it from Viola Davis, Victor. You know she talked about the fact that she wasn't aware that education in this form was such a hot button issue.

So, she actually learnt something from making this film too.

BLACKWELL: Yes, an issue that people on both sides are very passionate about. Now the Teachers Unions and the teachers, are they planning any type of -- like formal boycott or protest?

TURNER: Well, there have been protests already, you know at the screening of this film in New York.

There were protests by the Teachers Union, and why this is such a big deal too, especially with the election coming up, Victor.

Is that usually the Democrats and the unions kind of work hand in hand a lot of times. And so the fact that a lot of Democrats are starting to embrace school choice and parent trigger laws, the unions aren't looking too kindly on that. So, it's becoming kind of a play in this upcoming election as well. So, expect to see some protests and to see some people not too happy with this film.

FEYERICK: Well, if you're looking to improve your health or just drop a few pounds, if you have a few pounds to drop, we've got just what you need.

Fitness and nutrition expert Mark McDonald is here to show us how to work out smarter, not harder.

And Mark, I think working out smarter is a lot better because then --


FEYERICK: You're more efficient.


FEYERICK: So, where do you start if you're just beginning?

MCDONALD: It's a great question Debb. And the biggest thing is that beginners just want to dive in and they never get going because they get -- it's so overwhelming.

So, just start doing three to five days a week, 30 minutes of any type of activity. Now, how do we get smarter? Simply look at Victor here.

Victor is leaning back, let's bring him up --

BLACKWELL: All right --

MCDONALD: Bring his shoulders back --


MCDONALD: Hiding his core. See, stable blood sugar with your right nutrition, you release your stored fat, that fat is burned up in the muscles.

And your goal of exercise, activate your muscles. So, by just walking like this, walking upstairs, taking --

BLACKWELL: Walking like this? --

MCDONALD: Out the trash can? --


Yes, well, you know --


MCDONALD: You feel strong right? And tightening the core --

BLACKWELL: I do, I've gotten -- learned how to breathe -- MCDONALD: And then instead of sitting in a chair, you can just sit in the ball.

KORSI: Right.

MCDONALD: Or sit on the ball and that's going to activate your core, makes you burn more muscles. You just got to get going as a beginner.

FEYERICK: OK, so, how do you think it's fun because I think that's also part of it. It becomes this thing that you kind of want to do, maybe you want to do it, maybe you don't have time to do it --


FEYERICK: If you wait until at the end of the day, you just don't have the energy to do it. So, how do you really make it fun so you're looking forward to even 30 minutes, let's say.

MCDONALD: That's one of the greatest questions, because if you don't like your exercise, you're going to not do it. No one wants to dread it.

So, find things you enjoy, maybe it's tennis, maybe it's racquetball, maybe it's playing basketball. Maybe a simple -- but what we do as a family, we do once a week.

We go to an indoor trampoline park and play indoor dodgeball, with my son Archer(ph) who is seven, my wife Abby(ph).

So, we make it fun, we go on a walk in the neighborhood, make it enjoyable. When I do, when I do my cycling or treadmill, find like Netflix, or watching movie while you do your exercise.

That's the key, make it fun.

BLACKWELL: There're a lot of people who only have the 30 minutes, right?


BLACKWELL: If they spend 15 minutes getting to the place and 15 on the way back, they're not going to make it. So, what can you do at home?

MCDONALD: It's a great question. So, with home, for less than a $100, you can get a ball that's going to help you, you can do all of your exercise on it.

You can get some push-up handles, you can do a plank, you can get some bands, you could simply get a little four pinball, carry that around.

You can get a weighted vest, you can get an ab wheel, you can do very simple things that educate you on it.

And in body confidence, the both, you can really learn in chapter six, how to optimize your body and optimize your muscles so you make your exercise the best.

Working smarter and not harder.

FEYERICK: And one of the things you also mentioned Mark is also eating small, more smaller meals so that your body is constantly working to burn off the fat.

MCDONALD: It's the key. Nutrition with stable blood sugar you release your stored fat with those small, frequent meals.

That fat thing gets burned up in the muscle, we turn your body into a fat-burning machine, right?

BLACKWELL: I'm sorry --

MCDONALD: Just sit up!

BLACKWELL: I'm going to sit up --

MACDONALD: Full tight.

BLACKWELL: Suck it in --

FEYERICK: I can keep hanging here for the rest of the show. I'm just going to keep testing those --

BLACKWELL: I'm getting used to this. All right, Mark --

MCDONALD: Thank you.

FEYERICK: Thanks, my friend, appreciate it.

Well, what do President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney plan to do about illegal immigration and just how different are their plans?

We're going to be breaking it down for you in about 20 minutes.


FEYERICK: Well, we have all the news you missed overnight in just minutes.

BLACKWELL: But first, we're going to end this hour with a few late- night laughs.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who here has a job?


There we go, there we go, and what do you do, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a manager at Burger King.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go, having it your way. (LAUGHTER)

DAVID LETTERMAN, JOURNALIST & TELEVISION HOST: Mitt Romney is doing what he can, he's trying very hard to un-stool, unite America. Wants to unite America, the rich with the wealthy, the poor with the indignant --


And the white with the Caucasian.


Obama and Romney had to agree to a 32 pages of rules, 32 pages of rules. They had to both agree, both parties, both camps had to agree, rules, 32 pages.

I mean, it's like being a Kardashian husband.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in a deep financial hole, the numbers are bad, 23 million people out of work. But things are getting better.

Remember that movie, "The Sixth Sense?


I'm like the kid in that movie. I see employed people.


I know you don't see them, or don't even know they're there.


But one day all of you will be Bruce Willis and you'll realize that you were employed all along.


JAY LENO, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: Mitt Romney, if he's still -- what he can to try to broaden his appeal. In fact, in his latest policy act.

You know he's trying to target that 47 percent that he annihilated a couple weeks ago, remember that whole thing?

See, I think he's trying a little too hard, show the new ad.



Struggling to find work in today's economy. My plan will create 12 million new jobs over the next four years. I'm Mitt Romney and I approve this message.


FEYERICK: Thank you so much for starting your morning here with us.

BLACKWELL: Oh, that was good. We've got much more ahead on CNN SATURDAY MORNING, starts right now.