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Crippled Cruise Ship Ports in Alabama; Accused Cop Killer Found Dead; Paralympic Athlete Accused of Murder; President's Education Proposals Debated

Aired February 16, 2013 - 10:00   ET


SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN ANCHOR: Good Saturday morning to you. Great to see you. I'm Susan Hendricks in for Randi Kaye. It is 10:00 on the east coast, 7:00 out west. I'm glad you're with us.

First a full scale investigation is underway into what turned a dream vacation into a nightmare. After five agonizing days adrift at sea, thousands of passengers who set sail on the Carnival Triumph are finally home. And the crippled cruise liner is at a shipyard.

Our national correspondent Susan Candiotti is in Mobile Alabama. And Susan, you have an update on the investigation?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Susan. Yes, you can see the Triumph over my shoulder in the distance. That ship has 13 decks. This is the first full day that the Triumph is at the boat yard. And of course team from the coast guard as well as the national transportation safety board will be going over many, many things. Among them, going over every inch of the engine room where the fire brought out on Sunday night turning, as you said, this cruise into a nightmare.


PATRICK CUTY COAST GUARD SENIOR MARINE INVESTIGATOR: When we investigate things like that, sometimes we find that the smallest thing will cause a major problem. And that might be what we find in this case. The investigation is still going on.


CANDIOTTI: And investigators will also be going over something called the voyage data recorder, which preserves, among other things, all the conversations that took place on the bridge. It also records all the systems, automated system that the ship runs under so they can examine that, as well, and of course, looking at the past history of the ship and past repairs. Susan?

HENDRICKS: Do we know if there's been a previous mechanical issue with the Triumph? Are they saying that?

CANDIOTTI: Well, most recently, we know there were problems back in January and February of this year, so within the last couple of months. One of those involved what they call an alternator. Another involved the propulsion system of the vessel. And Carnival says at least in terms of the alternator that that was inspected and repaired before it set to sea again.

HENDRICKS: And a Carnival CEO I know apologized to passengers. Anything else that Carnival is doing to repair their image with passengers and other future passengers?

CANDIOTTI: Certainly by everyone's account, this has been a public relations nightmare for the cruise line. But what they have done for the passengers, remember, as soon as this happened, was announced a full refund. In addition to that, they'll get a $500 in cash as well as a full discount on future cruises that anyone might want to take with them that was involved in this horrible mess. So that's certainly should go a long way to help repairing their image. And this is clearly something they hope they can bounce back from.

HENDRICKS: I hope so. Some of the people I spoke to say no, thanks, no more cruises for us. Susan Candiotti, thank you, appreciate it.

CANDIOTTI: You're welcome.

HENDRICKS: To Russia now, where they are cleaning up the debris from that shocking meteor explosion. Take a look.




HENDRICKS: Terrifying moments inside of a school in Russia. The shockwave from the exploding meteor broke windows through the area. As many as 3,000 buildings were damaged and 1,000 people were injured. Flying glass is blamed for most of the injuries. Emergency officials from Moscow are there now assessing the damage to the area. Authorities have also blocked off a nearby lake. That is where they think the largest chunk of that meteor came down.

In California now, investigators say the renegade cop blamed for a murderous spree likely killed himself. Christopher Dorner's charred remains were found in a burned out cabin after Tuesday's standoff with police. He died from a single gunshot wound to the head. Nick Valencia joins me again. You were there as the saga was unfolding in Big Bear. Turns out he was hiding near where the police were.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Less than 100 yards away. I know we use the term "chilling" a lot in the media, but I literally got the chills when a looked behind me. I saw less than 100 yards separated the command center from where Chris Dorner was hiding. He was hiding out under their noses. It's amazing when you consider how many police officers were looking for Chris Dorner. As many as 125 police officers as well as planes that used body heat sensors to find him, even though he was there under there.

HENDRICKS: Nick, take us back to the day where you heard something and, therefore, you communicated what you knew to the officers themselves. VALENCIA: Yes. I was actually in the northeast part of L.A. at the time that I heard there was a shoot-out between Chris Dorner and police. I was running past officers as all journal lifts run past breaking news. And I said to police officers, "Dorner's in a shoot-out with some of your boys, the LAPD officers." I broke the news to some, it was a surreal experience to have done that.

HENDRICKS: You're right, that is chilling. In the Big Bear area, you found some residents didn't know what was going on. Others were terrified of this man.

VALENCIA: One thing I wanted to point out, Susan, I actually spoke to someone who said they supported Chris Dorner. Online there was support that came forward for Chris Dorner. I said, how could you support a man who killed two innocent people? They said don't mistake my support for Chris Dorner for my disdain for the Los Angeles Police Department. There's a lot of people that think even though Chris Dorner is dead now, his allegations of corruption and abuse aren't.

HENDRICKS: It's outrageous, though, to support anyone who would kill other people and officers.

VALENCIA: This person stood by his belief and claim.

HENDRICKS: A $1 million reward, Nick. Where's it going?

VALENCIA: We just don't know that now. That could be another black eye and stain on the reputation of the LAPD. This million dollars was pulled together. More than 20 people will have a say in where it goes. Does it go to the couple that was tied up, to the man that was carjacked? Or maybe does it go back into the city? There was hundreds of hours of overtime used by the Los Angeles Police Department. It's going to be a very expensive Bill once that comes out.

HENDRICKS: It wasn't from taxpayers. It was from donors.

VALENCIA: It was from donors and private groups. The caveat to this all, no arrests, no conviction, perhaps no money. There's one person that has says he believes he deserves the reward money and is willing to split it with a couple that was tied up where Dorner was staying. But we just don't know right now. There's no confirmation about where the money will go.

HENDRICKS: I know two of the cops have young children. Maybe it will go to the families. We shall see. Nick Valencia, thank you. Appreciate it.

Overseas now where the Olympic hero known as "Blade Runner" is spending the weekend in jail until his bond hearing on Tuesday. Oscar Pistorius is charged with killing his model girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine's Day. Despite her death, a reality TV show starring Steenkamp is set to premier, as planned, tonight in South Africa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm talking about mansions, butlers. Welcome to Tropical Island of Treasure 5, where seven celebrities and seven lucky winners will live your island dream. Paradise is not --


HENDRICKS: A preview of the show. Errol Barnett joins us from Johannesburg. And Errol, is Steenkamp's family speaking out about their tragic loss?

ERROL BARNETT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We've not heard a statement from the family relating specifically to the reality which is set to premiere in South Africa in just a few hours. What they have said immediately following the tragic news of her death is they would like the media to respect their privacy at this obviously difficult time.

Should be noted, Reeva Steenkamp was a bikini cover model, gracing the covers of South Africa's "FHM" version and the like. Still, though, some are wondering if it wasn't inappropriate for the producers and organizers of the program to continue with the airing of the show even though the woman has been killed. The executive producer defends the decision and says, actually, it's a way for the rest of South Africa to see and appreciate her beauty and intelligence. They think it's helpful. And it will be preceded by a tribute for Reeva.

HENDRICKS: An attorney for Pistorius says he's denying the allegations in the strongest terms. A lot of people have a hard time believing the accusations against this guy.

BARNETT: It's just quite shocking. I mean, the reports are that this woman was shot multiple times in his home. How, we're wondering and we'll find out, can Oscar Pistorius defend those actions? You see, here in South Africa he's such an inspirational figure, this Olympic runner who made it to the Olympics. A former girlfriend of has taken to twitter to defend his character. Janea Adkins tweeted, "I want to say I've dated Oscar on and off for five years. Not once has he ever lifted a finger to me as people speculate." this was a domestic disturbance? Other athletes are saying the man they know was an inspirational one. Listen to this --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The things he's done for me, he's changed my life, not only me but millions and millions of people in the world. And he started a legacy. And I hope people don't forget his legacy.


BARNETT: And the truth is, we just won't know anything about what happened in Oscar Pistorius' home on Valentine's Day until the hearings resume on Tuesday. That's when we will possibly hear a defense and a plea. Until then, though, he will remain in jail, and his slain girlfriend will now only be seen on a realty program.

HENDRICKS: "Unbelievable" and "shocking" are the terms I've heard regarding this tragic case. Errol Barnett joining us, thanks.

Cruise lines are hoping you remember a little less of the cruise from hell and a little more of this -- fun in the sun, drinks on the deck. And they're hoping some rock-bottom deals will jog your memory a little faster. We have tips for you finding the right trip. Stay with us.


HENDRICKS: Welcome back. Facebook is saying it is the latest company to be the victim of an internet hacking attack. The social media giant says that no user info was compromised. Some of the computers were infected by malware in January. In the last month, hackers have also gone after Twitter, "The New York Times," and the "Wall Street Journal."

If you get travel deals in your e-mail, you've probably got one like this yesterday advertising what else but cruises with cut-rate prices. In the wake of the ill-fated Triumph cruise lines, royal crib to celebrity are dropping rates and hope to lure passengers like you back by reminding you how fun and affordable cruises can be. But how do you make sure we're getting a good deal? Here to help us is travel expert and contributing editor from Budget Travel Reid Bramblett. Great to have you here.

REID BRAMBLETT, REIDSGUIDES.COM: It's a pleasure to be here.

HENDRICKS:. There are great deals out there now. If someone's looking to take a cruise now, where do you find them?

BRAMBLETT: You find them can he cruise discounters. We have a graphic I know with Cruises44, Cruises411, Cruise Brothers, they're about everywhere. You can get cruises in the Caribbean for $179, $189 which for four days, three nights. And not just on Carnival which is discounting its cruises majorly to get more business drummed up. You can get them on Holland America, Royal Caribbean, just about anyone.

HENDRICKS: So the other cruise lines are reacting to what happened with Carnival and hoping that people won't shy away from taking a cruise because of what happened.

BRAMBLETT: So some degree, yes. There are always going to be inexpensive cruises in the western Caribbean to the Bahamas. Certainly in a time like this when they're worried that people might be leery about cruising, area -- leery about cruising, they're giving great prices so people say you can't not cruise because of the prices.

HENDRICKS: Some packages may look like a deal but they're not really. How do you tell the difference?

BRAMBLETT: Well, I would say that one thing that's not a great deal is the inside cabin. That's always the lead price, the big price and splashy numbers that they put up on the ads. For just five percent, 10 percent, 15 percent more money, you get a sea view. When you're cruising, you really want the sea view. You can look for scams or things that are bait and switch on the cruise message boards, Cruise Critic and I would say that the real things that aren't bargains is everything besides the cabin. The cruise lines do not make money on selling you the cabin, which is why they're cheap. They make money on everything else that happens once you leave the cabin. So when you buy your alcohol at the bar or at the restaurant, when you gamble, the house always wins when you gamble on the ship.

There are ways to get around that. You can, of course, buy wine packages with your meals, which is less than buying bottles when you do drinking in port at ports of call. At restaurants, a lot of cruise lines offering a la carte restaurant or for an upgrade you can eat at a higher class of restaurants, which brings the class system to cruising. You can just stick to the buffet. Shore excursions is another big moneymaker for the cruise lines. You can go to independent shore excursion booking companies like Port Campus and and will allow you to book a tour with fellow cruise passengers and pay 40 percent less on the same bus. There's a high markup the cruise lines take.

HENDRICKS: When you actually book the cruise, there may be fine print people never read. What kind of rights are people giving away when they do sign the contracts?

BRAMBLETT: You are signing away many rights. It's many pages long, many pages of fine print. The reason -- I know people are starting to sue Carnival over the Triumph incident, they're not going to get much headway in court unless there is physical injury done. It's hard to prove the emotional distress, which they undoubtedly went through over the five days. But when you sign that right of passage, the cruise line pretty much covers itself legally. They are required to refund your money, that's about it. I know they're giving people $500 as well and credits for a future cruise should they want to cruise again.

HENDRICKS: Do you think that the debacle with Carnival will kind of permanently damage the cruise industry or do you think people soon forget what happened in the past?

BRAMBLETT: I think people soon forget. This happened time and again. It happened in Carnival in 2010 with the Splendor, this time off the Mexican coast and Pacific Ocean. Their profits were up 11 percent that year over 2009. They had the Costa Concordia. Costa is a Carnival cruise line. And 32 people died on the Costa Concordia. It was the biggest news story for days. The ship is still off the coast of Tuscany listing. Yet they took a dent, yes, in profits, but they made only $1.5 billion last year versus $1.9 billion the year before. So the cruise industry is still on track to grow about eight percent a year as it's been doing since the "Love Boat" came out on TV.

HENDRICKS: They're chugging along thanks to Captain Stubing. Reed, thank you very much.

To the asteroid that narrowly missed earth, though maybe not so close. It was actually around 17,000 miles away. This is what it looked like through a high-powered telescope. The 2012DA-14 is about half the size of a football field.

And speaking of space rocks, we're going to have more. Stay with us.


HENDRICKS: Check this out on the right-hand side of the screen. A small fireball lit up the sky over San Francisco last night. As experts have said, they see meteors this close quite often, but they usually just drop over the ocean. Scary, though, right?

Taking a look at some of the top business stories of the week, Wal- Mart's stock took a nosedive Friday after an internal e-mail published by "Bloomberg News" quoted an executive saying February sales were "a total disaster." The news came around 2:30 p.m. Shortly after that, the stock for the world's largest retailer plummeted before making a slight recovery.

Tiffany is suing Costco -- accusing the discount retailer of selling knock off Tiffany engagement rings. Tiffany says Costco falsely marketed diamond rings as being real Tiffany jewels. The high end jeweler says it wants triple the profits Costco made off the rings plus $2 million for every Tiffany style model that it sold.

Carmaker Tesla is sparring with "The New York Times" over a negative review of the super charger stations. A "Times" reviewer took a road trip in a model s and stopped to recharge at super charging stations. According to the review, he ended up having the car towed because he ran out of power after recharging. Tesla CEO disputes the claim saying the reviewer drove too fast, draining the battery.

This morning, we are honoring the first CNN hero of 2013. He's a veteran who knows the meaning of the word sacrifice. Yet when his hometown came together to thank him for his service, he decided to pay it forward. Today, his organization Purple Heart Homes is helping dozens of disabled veterans get the welcome home they deserve. Meet Dale Beatty.


DALE BEATTY, CNN HERO: I'm a combat wounded Iraq veteran. As I was recovering at Walter reed, my community approached me and said they wanted to help build a home for my return. People would come and work on my project just because they respected the sacrifice that I had gone through. All veterans have been taught to be responsible for the guy to your left and the guy to your right. Other veterans haven't had it as easy as I have. I sat down with my battle buddy John. We decided to level the playing field.

I'm Dale Beatty. It is now my mission to help other veterans get the support and homes they deserve from their communities.

There's thousands of veterans right here in our midst. People don't realize the need that's out there. Purple Heart Homes can help any service-connected disabled veteran regardless of their age or war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the young man why we're all here today.


BEATTY: Just getting the community engaged to get a rent or foreclosed home remodeled or entire house built from the ground up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had narrow doorways that I couldn't get through. I had to crawl in on my hands and knees. To have them build a whole new bathroom was unbelievable.

BEATTY: We want to make their life easier, safer, just better. And their emotions are being rehabbed, as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did three tours in Vietnam. For 35 years, no one cared. Purple Heart Homes said "welcome home." It's great to be home after 40 years.

BEATTY: Regardless of when you serve, we're all the same. They just need to know that somebody does care about them.


HENDRICKS: Dale Beatty is certainly a hero.

I want to take you to Washington, D.C. -- do we have that? Beautiful shot of the capitol on this Saturday morning. Good morning to you.

Has the Senate hit a new low with the Chuck Hagel confirmation fight? That's what we're talking about. Maria Cardona and Amy Holmes will be along to hash that one out.


HENDRICKS: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Susan Hendricks in today for Randi Kaye. Bottom of the hour now. Five stories we're watching for you this morning.

First, a nurse is suing a Michigan hospital because it followed a man's request to have no African-Americans involved in his child's medical care. Tanya Battle says the Hurley medical center put a note saying "No African-American nurses per dad's request" on the child's medical chart, and then reassigned her away from the child's care. The hospital has not responded to CNN's request for comment.

Number two, and check this out on the right-hand side of the screen. A small fireball over San Francisco caught on tape. Astronomers say they think it was a meteor and they also say they don't think it's in any way connected it the asteroid, just another coincidence.

Number three, more details on the death of renegade cop Christopher Dorner. According to initial autopsy reports, the 33-year-old died from a single gunshot wound to the head that was likely self-inflicted after Tuesday's standoff with police. Dorner is blamed for killing four people and injuring at least three others as parts of a vendetta against his former comrades. Number four, the bail hearing for Olympic track star Oscar Pistorius has been pushed back until Tuesday. Until then he will be in a South African jail. The double amputee known as "Blade Runner" is charged with murdering his model girlfriend on Valentine's Day. His agent says Pistorius denies the allegations.

Number five, Jesse Jackson Jr. now admits that he used campaign funds for personal expenses. Prosecutors say the former Congressman took as much as $750,000 out of his war chest and used it to buy things like this -- a $43,000 Rolex, more than $5,000 in furs bought in Beverly Hills, and a couple of Michael Jackson hats for around $4,000 each.

It is time now to jump into politics with the top stories from the week. We start with the fight over Chuck Hagel, and a fight it was. Senate Republicans, most notably John McCain, have effectively blocked his confirmation at least for now. They are demanding more information from president Obama on the attack in Benghazi. Joining me as they do every week on CNN, Democratic strategist Maria Cardona and Amy Holmes, anchor for "Real News" on "The Blaze." Maria, I'll start with you.


HENDRICKS: Talk about a testy confirmation hearing. Is this just the latest part of some playground, or do you think there's more to this?

CARDONA: I think it is absolutely the latest in partisan politics, Susan. And I think it doesn't bode well for the Republicans. They already have a perception from the American people that this is the party of no, the party of obstruction the party that just wants to deny President Obama whatever it is that he is asking for. And they haven't really offered anything positive for the American people to support them on. And I think this is just the latest in that.

And you see it from their own words. They said, look, this is just a hold, we're not going to -- we just need him to wait for a little bit. We want more from the administration on Benghazi. That's a little ridiculous because Hagel had absolutely nothing to do with Benghazi. And all of the questions on Benghazi have been asked and answered. So I don't think it bodes well for the Republicans. They need to be careful on this.

HENDRICKS: Sounds like an attorney, asked and answered. Move on. Amy, Republicans said this will spill over to the confirmation of John Brennan at CIA. Do you think this is really about Benghazi, the holdup here?

AMY HOLMES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, all of the questions were not asked or answered in the White House, they wrote a letter to senators answering questions just this week, months after Benghazi.

But, you know, I know that Democrats want to blame Republicans for Chuck Hagel bumbling and stumbling across the finish line. I happen to agree with columnists like Dana Milbank that the president should have a cabinet that reflects his world views. I agree with that. So if like Chuck Hagel you believe at that ayatollah and Ahmadinejad were credibly elected and you missed the 2009 election riots, well, then Hagel's your guy. If you believe there's an international Jewish lobby that is intimidating congressmen and is controlling the U.S. state department, Hagel's your guy. And interestingly, everybody thinks he's going to get confirmed, which would just prove that his last conspiracy is false. He was wrong once again. I think these are perfectly legitimate questions to be raising about the next secretary of defense.

CARDONA: And they're questions that were asked and answered. And they're a little ridiculous to keep harping on those.

HENDRICKS: I think that Hagel would agree with you.

We're switching gears, turning to the campaign. President Obama faced this criticism over plans to help more people go to college. So now the president is focused on preschool and Thursday unveiled his new early education plan. Amy, I'll talk to but this first. How does this new government-funded plan if over with conservatives? It's tough to argue, right?

HOLMES: Well, no, because it's a question of whether or not it's the federal government's role to be involved in education or a state function. A lot of conservatives believe it's a state function. In fact, education is only funded by the federal government by about seven percent.

I think in a way the president could get buy in on his pre-k plan is if he were to suggest as a school choice program. If parents had vouchers they send their child to any pre-k program of their choosing, I think you might see conservatives backing that.

HENDRICKS: Yes. The argument may be that the funding is not going in the correct place and maybe won't help as many kids as planned. Maria, what's your take?

CARDONA: Here's the issue with what Amy just said. First of all, it is what the president proposed is a partnership with the states where the states would be in control of this. So that's exactly what he's talking about.

And secondly, Republicans love to talk about vouchers. And I think Dems would be all supportive of vouchers if vouchers actually paid everything that would be needed for low-income families. And where would that money be coming from? That's something that Republicans don't answer either.

So I think to really focus on vouchers in place of universal pre-k for four-year-olds where studies have shown for every dollar that you spend on education in the early years, you make up for it by more than $7 later on, that is the kind of vision that America needs right now. And, again, Republicans are being shortsighted. And when you have the majority of parents who understand that this is something that is going to be good for their kids to get good jobs later on, I think, again, it bodes bad for the Republicans to be blocking something like this. HOLMES: In point of fact, Bobby Jindal, Republican governor of la lark has a very extensive voucher program for his families and students in his state. So conservatives clearly are pro-education. George Bush, he worked with Ted Kennedy when he was president to pass education reform. I think it's unfair to suggest that Republicans don't care about America's schoolchildren. That's just not true.

HENDRICKS: Two different takes on one topic. I want to switch from dollars and schools to pennies. The president also made news when he called the penny obsolete. Is this end of the penny? That's the heartbreaking question. Maria, what do you think?


CARDONA: I hope not. I am one of those people who are emotionally connected to the penny as I remember when I was little and gathering all my pennies and putting them in the piggy bank. And my children are doing the same now and actually learning a lot of math counting pennies.

But you know what, it -- it's also the kind of thing where you really have to look at the efficiency. And if it is the case that it costs more to actually mint a penny than what the penny is worth, then maybe it's time that we kind of cut that cord with the emotional connection with that little round bronze penny.

HENDRICKS: More than two cents to mint it.


HENDRICKS: Amy, what do you think about this? I guess the argument is that you can't really -- you can't use the penny in many machines and you can't show up, I don't know, to pay your mortgage with a bag of pennies. Do you think we should keep it?

HOLMES: I just used pennies the other day at my local deli. He gave me change. I want to keep the penny and keep baseball and apple pie and moms. I think it's totally American.

HENDRICKS: So do I on. On that note, we all agree on something. Thank you. Appreciate your time.

CARDONA: Thank you very much.

HENDRICKS: Another sports hero is in trouble. How about this one -- Oscar Pistorius is in jail facing murder charges. We're going to talk to two men who know him well and get their reactions to the shocking crime.


HENDRICKS: Welcome back. Singers Chris Brown and Drake are facing off in court over a nightclub brawl in New York City. TMZ is reporting brown and drake have filed lawsuits against each other in connection with a fight at New York City's WIP nightclub last June. Model Romaine Julian has allegedly filed a suit against both singers along with the nightclub for injuries he says he sustained during the fight. Neither Brown nor Drake is accepting responsibility for it. They want a judge to decide who will pay if Julian wins his lawsuit.

Olympic hero Oscar Pistorius is behind bars this morning. Next week, a judge will decide if he gets bail. He is facing a murder charge in the death of his girlfriend. Earlier, I spoke to two men who know him extremely well, one, a documentary filmmaker, Steven Barber, the other, Blake Leeper, a fellow Paralympic sprinter who has been called "America's Blade Runner." And I asked about his relationship with Oscar Pistorius, a man he considers a mentor.


BLAKE LEEPER, PARALYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: I've met Oscar three years ago and I've been alongside him throughout the years. He's almost been a mentor to me, a big brother. We both have the same birth defect, missing both our legs. It's almost like camaraderie. He gave me insight on so much stuff. When I hear him in his capacity, really, I was in shock.

HENDRICKS: Did he divulge any information about his personal life to you?

LEEPER: I never talked to him about his girlfriend. I remember mentioning it briefly in London. That's about it. He never went into much detail about her or the relationship or anything like that.

HENDRICKS: Steve, when you interviewed Pistorius for your document on the Paralympics, you know the challenges he went through. Did you see a different side to him, maybe a short temper?

STEVEN C. BARBER, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: No, I first met him in Beijing in 2008. And he's the nicest, the most affable guy. We're shooting a movie called "The Invincibles." we started five years ago. And you know, he spent three to four to five years with every journalist. I can't remember meeting anybody nicer or kinder which is why this is just so bizarre when we first heard about it, two, three days ago. So, yes -- honestly, the nicest guy I've met.

HENDRICKS: We keep hearing that, Steven. How did you feel when you first heard the news?

BARBER: You know, it's become surreal. I'm thinking it's a hoax. There's just -- it doesn't make sense. How this guy could fall from Grace so quickly after, you know, rising so fast, it's bizarre. I've been fortunate to, you know, hang out and meet and spend time with Blake Leaper, who is the American blade runner. And I just know that he was his mentor, and that Blake is going to, you know, carry this, you know, torch and this legacy that Oscar has started because, you know, Blake is going to be the first American to run in the Olympic Games. So it's really exciting for Blake. We just wish that light had been able to shine on him in a different way.

HENDRICKS: Blake, are you so accomplished, as well. Blake, if you could talk to Oscar, what would you say to him during this time? LEEPER: I would say that I'm praying for him, praying for both families, that we all face hard times, and try to keep his head up. And god has a plan for all of us. And as long as he keeps his head up, I'm praying for both sides and stay fighting. Stay fighting.


HENDRICKS: And our thanks to both Blake Leaper and Steven Barber for their take on this.

An American pro-soccer player says he's tired of hiding who he really, his emotional revelation next.

But first, an MS diagnosis can certainly be terrifying, and it affected country music star Clay Walker. CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta caught up with Walker and learned how the musician overcame his fear.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Clay Walker began his life trying to overcome modest roots and make it on the big stage. Years later he was a bona fide country music star. Almost as soon as he made it big, that dream started to fall apart.

CLAY WALKER, MUSICIAN: My hands, trying to play the guitar, I couldn't hold a guitar pick in my hand. I was devastated. I knew that something of wrong neurologically.

GUPTA: That neural logical problem was multiple sclerosis. According to the first doctor he visited, his life was effectively over.

WALKER: He said that I would be in a wheelchair in four years and that I would be dead in eight.

GUPTA: Walker spent years huddled with family and gripped by fear. Then he made an emotional turn. He wanted to share information about his disease with his fans. He first hunted for an expert about his particular disease called relapsing remitting MS. Then Walker made a holistic change to his life, a new diet, exercise, spirituality.

WALKER: I'm country music artist clay Walker, and I live every day with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis.

GUPTA: He regularly educates others with MS about finding a regimen that works for them, and so far, he says, he has avoided a relapse for 16 years.

WALKER: I was told that I was going to die. Once you conquer the fear of the disease, it's kind of liberating.





HENDRICKS: That makes you want to sing along. That Gatorade commercial brings back memories, right? Michael Jordan turns 50 tomorrow. And there's no doubt many basketball players still want to be like Mike, the six-time NBA champ. He has a lot to be thankful for at 50 like his popular shoe. Most call them J's. He also stays busy as owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. Where did he go to college? The fine institution that is UNC Chapel Hill.

American soccer player Robby Rogers has made an emotional revelation in a blog post called "The Next Chapter." The 25-year-old said he is gay and he is retiring. He said he had afraid to be show who he really was in the past 25 years because he feared he would be judged and rejected. But now says it is time to discover who he is away from the game that he loves. He played with the U.S. national team before transferring to England's League United. There are no current major league soccer players who are openly gay.

It's all-star weekend in Houston. One star is shining bright. Joe Carter is here with this morning's "Bleacher Report." Joe?

JOE CARTER, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Susan. One guy heading into the all-star break is LeBron James. This week he had six straight of at least 30 points while hitting at least 60 percent of his shots. Unfortunately that streak did end Thursday night. And this week, we sat down with LeBron to talk about his place in history among Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, those types of guys, and about his hot week. Here's part of that interview.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most of us don't know what it's like to be shooting with that kind of accurate. Can you compare it to anything in regular life that the rest of us could know how you feel now looking at that?

LEBRON JAMES, NBA PLAYER: Well, I guess I will say, you know, the way I've been shooting the ball, it feels like you're on a beach and you have a tennis ball, and no matter where you throw it's going to land in the water. Now I haven't shot at 100 percent yet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want to. You were close one night.

JAMES: I was close. I missed a lay-up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That bothers you?

JAMES: After the fact. During the game I didn't know, after the fact I was like, 13-14, you blew a lay-up.


CARTER: LeBron James got the fresh cut for the interviewer with Rachel Nichols. You can see the whole thing as they sit down. We'll run it tomorrow on CNN and HLN.

So much for a conservative start in NASCAR. Just 10 minutes into the first practice session of the season we have our first wreck. Matt Kenseth is to blame. Those involved have damaged cars. That means they have to race their backup cars next Sunday in the biggest race of the season, which of course is the Daytona 500.

Let's finish with a hook and a slice on ice. Ain't no snow going to stop these Minnesotans from playing golf. Looks like fun. For the past 12 years these guys have worn heavy coats and played 18 holes worth of golf on top of a frozen lake. It's a one of a kind charity event where they used just about anything to hit the golf ball.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I used a hockey stick. I saw a kayak paddle, golf club, a tennis racket. I shot something from the National Guard like a ball out of a cannon thing.


CARTER: All right, for all of your up-to-the-minute sports headlines and entertaining stories, go to So instead of the beer cart girl on that course, I'm sure it's like the guy serving hot toddies or something.

HENDRICKS: Maybe ice-cycles. They're easier to get. Looks like fun. Joe, thank you.

CARTER: You bet.

HENDRICKS: Speaking of, here's a hazard you will only find at golf courses in Australia. It's warm, but kangaroos, a heard, decided to get in on the action during the first round of play at the Australian women's open. Check them out. The animals have apparently been all over the course this week. They are attracted to the lush, cooler conditions at that golf course. Remember, it's summertime in Australia.

One more animal story, but this one is a little more adorable than disruptive. Look at this cute guy. He's taking the internet by storm.


HENDRICKS: A sea turtle in Japan is swimming happily ever after now after being fit with a new pair of prosthetic flippers. Scientists think this 25-year-old loggerhead lost her front legs in a shark attack several years ago. Biologists have spent the last four years trying to build her a replacement pair. It worked. This was their 27th attempt to give the turtle new limbs. And they were the perfect fit. They are attached to a vest that slips over her head.

And how about this for adorable. Born without the use of his hind legs, this piglet has become an internet sensation.



HENDRICKS: It doesn't get cuter. A quick-thinking vet made him a wheelchair from a set of toys. He's been wheeling and dealing ever since. His name, Chris P. Bacon. For more on his story, go to I'm loving that.

A new video on YouTube showcases an apparent security flaw in the iPhone 5. According to the video, iPhone passwords can be hacked giving the owner to make calls, tinker with your contact list. This technique involves using another phone to call the targeted phone, and then playing with the power button. No comment so far from Apple.

A Montana TV station says hackers broke into their emergency alert system this week and aired a warning that the dead are rising from their graves and attacking the living. Listen here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Civil authorities in your area have reported that the bodies of the dead are rising from their graves and attacking the living. Follow the messages on screen that will be updated as information becomes available.


HENDRICKS: A local paper, "The Great Falls Tribune," says a handful of confused people called police to see whether or not it was true. The emergency alert aired in afternoon programming on KRTV. The station says it's now trying to figure out how that happened.

There is a lot more ahead in the next hour of CNN Saturday Morning, which starts right now.