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Christie Considering Medical Marijuana Bill; First Lady Like a Single Mother; Market Watch; New Filner Accuser Comes Forward; Michelle Obama Turning 50; New Wave of Violence Erupts in Egypt; Life- Threatening Infection Detailed

Aired August 16, 2013 - 13:00   ET



GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: These are complicated issues and I know --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're very simple issues.

CHRISTIE: Listen, I know you think it's simple and it's not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But we've had - we've had this - have you -

CHRISTIE: I know - I know you think it's simple and it's not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please don't let my daughter die, governor.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: That was part of a heated debate between one father and the New Jersey governor, Chris Christie. He's been considering a medical marijuana bill that one father says could save his daughter. We're waiting to see whether Governor Christie will respond to the plea. He's supposed to respond today.

And accuser number 16 points the finger at the San Diego mayor, Bob Filner.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He came up to me without any warning when I was outside going home and hugged me and kissed me and I was appalled.


BLITZER: So, will this push him to step down?

Then, the first lady, Michelle Obama, sticking by her comment that she's like a, quote, "single mother."

This is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Suzanne Malveaux is off today.

We're keeping an eye right now on the market as we head into the weekend. Let's take a quick look at the big board right now. Markets appear to be limping along, a day after plunging more than 200 points on Thursday. One analyst says traders are still a bit shell shocked now. Right now, you see the Dow down 22 points. We'll continue to watch the Dow Jones and see what's going on in the markets.

But let's get to a major decision facing the New Jersey governor Chris Christie. The governor says he will announce today, could be any moment, whether or not he will sign a medical marijuana bill passed by the New Jersey State Assembly nearly two months ago. The measure would make a certain form of the drug available to children. Bryan Wilson, the father of a little girl who suffers from severe epileptic seizures confronted the governor during a campaign stop telling him, quote, "please don't let my daughter die." The governor told the father, it's a complicated issue.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our Chief Medical Correspondent, is joining us now from the CNN Center. Sanjay, why is this so complicated? The state passed the measure overwhelmingly. Polls show strong support for medical marijuana. What are the concerns?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think in this particular case, it probably mainly revolves around the fact that Vivian, Bryan Wilson's daughter, is a child, is a young child, five years old. So, I think that this is one of those -- one of those situations where, you know, when you look at the science and look at the impact of medications, you want to look at studies specifically. And finding studies on adults is hard, finding them on children is even harder.

And, you know, with this particular situation, you don't have the -- I think, the overwhelming big studies, you know, the FDA clinical trials and this sort of thing. And you're also talking about a specific strain of marijuana. People think of marijuana as being one thing but it's really many different strains including strains that are high in CBD, which is the medical medicinal part and low in THC.

And so, there's many different facets in this. They also very specifically want to have this approved as an edible because it's hard -- obviously, it's hard on a young child smoking this or even vaporizing this. In the documentary, we talked about having it available as an oil or a tincture that could be taken, you know, just underneath the tongue. So, there are -- there are different facets. And I'm sure that that -- those are some of the issues that are being weighed here.

BLITZER: I watched, like millions of other people, Sanjay, your excellent one-hour documentary entitled "Weed" in which you came around and now -- and you now believe that there is a useful purpose for medical marijuana. One chunk of that -- of that documentary. You went to Israel and spoke to Israeli doctors who have -- who were skeptical themselves but, like you, they have now come around including giving some medical marijuana for kids who need it. Explain what you discovered there.

GUPTA: Well, first of all, you know, if you look at the research in Israel, it's quite extraordinary and it's been going on for some time. Raphael Mechoulam is one of the -- he's in his probably late 70s, early 80s now but he was one of the first people to isolate THC, the -- one of the psycho active components of marijuana. So, they have a long history of looking at this. But, yes, even within hospitals, Wolf, they're doing this research.

So, as I mentioned, it's very difficult to do research in the United States for lots of different reasons, not the least of which, you know, this is a federally illegal substance that we're talking about. But you're -- you have these trials going on in hospitals. They are looking at it for all sorts of different conditions, including for children and specifically for seizure disorders. So, they -- there's some really remarkable science that's coming out of Israel.

BLITZER: Would you recommend that if the father doesn't get the wish from Governor Christie today, maybe they should go to Israel and take their little girl there and see what they can do?

GUPTA: Well, you know, Bryan Wilson who I spoke to, I mean, he's thinking about, you know, possible moving -- he could move to Colorado or a state where it is legalized medicinally in this country. And that's something he's considered.

And let me tell you something else, Charlotte, the little girl from the documentary, think about this. She is getting her medicine in Colorado but she cannot leave the state. She is essentially a prisoner in her own state because of the way these federal laws work. So, it's a very tough situation but Bryan talked about -- Bryan Wilson talked about moving.

BLITZER: Yes. Well, he might be desperate. He may have no choice. Sanjay, thanks very much. We're awaiting the governor's decision. As soon as he makes that decision, we'll let our viewers know. And on this important note, if you missed it, this is your opportunity. You can see Sanjay's special entitled "WEED." It will air once again tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern. I highly, highly recommend you do that -- just that. 10:00 p.m. Eastern tonight right here on CNN. Thank you.

GUPTA: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: The mayor of San Diego, Bob Filner, the list of women is growing. Women who say the mayor groped them, kissed them, made sexual advances, on the sometimes day after day. The mayor himself right now, MIA. He has left the behavior therapy program and so far we haven't been able to see him or get him on the phone.

But today, we do know the identity of the latest woman who says the Mayor Filner would not let her work in peace. CNN's Kyung Lah is in San Diego.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Walking slowly, assisted by a cane, 67-year-old great grandmother, Peggy Shannon, says Mayor Bob Filner repeatedly harassed her for months on the job. Stopping by her desk at the senior citizens service center in the lobby of city hall. She alleges he once grabbed and kissed her on the lips and even told her, think I can go eight hours in one night?

PEGGY SHANNON: Mayor Filner, I am a mother a grandmother and a great grandmother. I have three sons, four grandsons and two great grandsons. As our mayor, you should be, but are not, a role model for any of them.

LAH: Shannon is the 16th woman to publically accuse the mayor of sexual harassment but the first senior citizen.

(on camera): A great grandmother doesn't surprise you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this point, nothing would surprise us.

(voice-over): San Diego city attorney, Jan Goldsmith, has been leading an internal investigation on Filner. Pressure is building to find way to oust a mayor who doesn't want to budge. Goldsmith says he may have found a way. Laid out in his memo to the city council, the city's charter has a little used section about firing city officers for unauthorized use of city money. CNN obtained the mayor's credit card statement showing charges at a San Diego hotel, restaurants that are, indeed, says the city attorney, personal expenses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody that's so brazen and abusive and personal often, often that translates into the same type of conduct in financial affairs.


BLITZER: Our Kyung Lah is joining us now from San Diego. What's more damning against Filner, Kyung, the women who say he was sexually inappropriate or this investigation of his finances?

LAH: Well, they're equally important. They're equally damning. But here is the difference. The city attorney actually believes in, as far as the expenditures, those credit card charges, that's in black and white. And he feels, under the city charter, he can move rapidly and quickly. And this, Wolf, may be the ticket to get the mayor out quickly. But remember, there is also this recall effort underway.

BLITZER: Kyung Lah in San Diego watching this story. Thank you. We'll keep our eye on it of course.

Turning 50 can be a big deal. Fifty has been called the youth of old age or the new 30. The first of the United States, Michelle Obama, is marking the milestone this year. CNN's Athena Jones is here to tell us what's new with the first lady. So, what did you discover?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, "Parade" is putting out a wide ranging interview this Sunday. We had a chance to look at some excerpts. The first lady talked about her Let's Move campaign against childhood obesity, also about not putting too much pressure on her teenage daughter, Malia, when it comes to deciding where she's going to go to college. And she spoke about how, for young children, having an African-American in the White House expands their scope of opportunity in their minds. But when it comes to turning 50 and what she'll do in January. Here's what she said. She said, I have never felt more confident in myself and more clear of who I am as a woman. But I am constantly thinking about my own health and making sure that I'm eating right and getting exercise and watching the aches and pains. I want to be this really fly 90-year-old. And for those who don't know, it's good to be fly.

She was also asked if she could see a woman president in her lifetime? And she said, I think this country is ready for it. It's just a question of who is the best person out there.

Now, she was specifically asked whether former first lady and former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, could get the job? She declined to answer that saying that the first lady hadn't announced anything. She doesn't want to get ahead of her on that -- Wolf.

BLITZER: She took a lot of flak for saying that at times, she felt like a single mother. Is she sticking by that comment in this new magazine interview?

JONES: She is. She says that she knows that her husband, the president, has huge responsibility as his job. She gives him credit. She says that she knows the girls' schedules. She knows who their friends are. But when it comes to making phone calls, for instance, to decide which dance classes they'll take next season, he's not involved in doing that. And so, that was -- that was how she addressed that point -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Athena Jones, thank you.

JONES: Thank you.

BLITZER: Coming up, a new warning in Florida. Watch out for the brain-eating ameba. Stand by for that. And why the state issued the warning after another kid contracted the parasite. That's coming up.

Then, Oprah Winfrey on her new movie, "The Butler" and why she thinks race was factor in the Trayvon Martin case.


OPRAH WINFREY, ACTRESS: A lot of people, if they think they're not using the N word themselves, they actually physically are not using the N word themselves and do not have harbored ill will towards black people that it's not racist. But to me, it's ridiculous to look at that case and not to think that race was involved.


BLITZER: And protecting your pup from getting injured in car accident may be more difficult than you think. How pet safety belts may not keep your little dog safe. This is the CNN NEWSROOM.


BLITZER: A curfew has now just gone into effect in Cairo. The Egyptian military is directly warning it will deal firmly is says with anyone who breaks it. A new wave of violence erupted in the Egyptian capital today.

The sound of gunfire echoed in the air as security forces battle supporters of the ousted President Mohamed Morsy. Pro-Morsy demonstrators claimed this, a Friday of anger, their words. They filled the streets after Friday prayers in defiance of an emergency order that limits public gathering. CNN's Reza Sayah, is in Cairo right now and he's joining us. Reza, what's the latest? What's going down on the streets as this new curfew goes into effect?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it looks like the curfew has been effective in calming things down. But this was another violent and bloody day where more Egyptians were injured and more Egyptians were killed. And it's becoming increasingly clear that this country is sliding deeper and deeper into turmoil and uncertainty. And what's even more worrisome is that there's absolutely no indication that anybody has a solution for this conflict.

There are reports that dozens of people have been killed and injured. Those numbers are likely to go up. We can tell you that our crew, we witnessed between 40 and 50 people who were injured. They appear to be unarmed and they appear to have been shot at least some of them. What makes reporting these clashes so difficult is the fact that it's virtually impossible to figure out who starts these gun fights.

We have authorities and police accusing the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of the ousted president and protestors are firing first. Protestors say, "No, it's security forces who fire first." Whoever starts these fights, the response by security forces is usually ferocious. And over the past couple of weeks, a prominent human rights group have accused security forces here of using here of using excessive force. And based on what we saw today, it looks like that's what happened again with security forces.

This was all part of the day called "Day of Rage" in response to the Wednesday crack down that killed hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters. This was there way of saying, "We're not done fighting. That we're still standing," but as soon as they came out within an hour or two, there were clashes with security forces. So this is where this country stands, Wolf, in a conflict that has absolutely no indication of being resolved anytime soon with both sides taking on a war-like mentality, an us against them attitude.

BLITZER: What's been the reaction over the past 24 hours to President Obama's statement yesterday? Very carefully calibrated statement cancelling Joint U.S.-Egyptian military exercises scheduled for next month. But at the same time, keeping in place $1.5 billion a year in military and economic assistance from U.S. tax payers to Egypt. How are the folks in Cairo reacting to the President of the United States, Reza?

REZA SAYAH: Wolf, I think for the most part, both sides in this conflict have been dismissive of President Obama's comments yesterday in his condemnation if Mr. Obama would come out and cut ties with Egypt. If he would cut off the $1.5 billion in aid, that would have been a different story. But of course he didn't do that, he cancelled the Joint Military Exercises and again, for the most part, they've dismissed his comments. You're hearing more and more from supporters of this military-backed interim government that they don't want anyone interfering with what is an internal matter.

They don't even like the international media covering this event. They say that this is a matter for our military and our security forces but clearly, they haven't found a solution yet to end their conflict.

BLITZER: Reza Sayah, stay safe over there, we'll stay in touch. Reza's on the ground force at Cairo.

The National Security Agency and the President both have steadily rejected charges that secrete surveillance program sometimes violate American's privacy, but there maybe something to those accusations after all. The Washington Post reporting the results of an internal NSA investigation that found nearly 3,000 cases of broken rules, privacy rules in just one year.

Today, Senator Patrick Leahy who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee promised to hold a hearing on these revelations reported by the Washington Post made available to the Washington Post by the NSA leaker, Edward Snowden.

Nearly three months ago, a deadly tornado tore through Moore, Oklahoma, destroying an elementary school. Now the school is opening its doors once again, we'll have details.


DANA BASH: I'm Dana Bash, and this is CNN.

BLITZER: All over the country, children are heading back to school, but Friday marks a special day and a new beginning in Moore, Oklahoma. Students there are returning to classes for the first time since a tornado devastated the town three months ago. 24 people were killed including seven elementary school students. The twister completely demolished two schools and damaged several others. New buildings are set to open this time next year.

The story is incredible and it's getting a lot of attention online. We are now getting a warning, a warning from officials in Florida about a rare but brain-eating infection that can picked up from places like rivers and lakes. This is -- another child has been infected. Here's are some images of Zachary Reyna before he was hospitalized. More about his condition in a moment.

But first, this report from our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: High water temperatures, low water levels, the ideal breeding ground for this brain-eating amoeba. Health officials in Florida now issuing a warning to be weary when swimming, jumping or diving in fresh water with these conditions. It's rare but the amoebas can go up the nose and into the brain causing parasitic meningitis.

12-year-old Zachary Reyna is battling the disease at Miami Children's Hospital after contracting it while kneeboarding in fresh water near his home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's fight (ph) and he's strong. He's really, really strong.

COHEN: On Facebook, his brothers says, "Zachary had surgery to remove pressure from his brain." At a vigil Tuesday, tears of support from Zachary's baseball teammates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody need to keep on praying and stay positive.

COHEN: Nearly everyone who gets this infection dies. In the past 50 years, only three people have survived. Most recently, 12-year-old Kali Hardig who's out of a coma and now in fair condition at Arkansas Children's Hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That I'm going to get to take Kali home Sunday is amazing.

COHEN: Doctors credit her amazing survival in part to this experimental anti-amoeba drug. The Centers for Disease Control has sent the drug to Miami to treat Zachary. And just his friends and family prayed Kali Hardig would be the third person to survive this horrible infection, Zachary supporters hope he'll be next.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He can be number four. So, that's what we're hoping. We're hoping for him to be number four.


BLITZER: Of course, we are. Elizabeth's joining us now from the CNN Center in Atlanta. How are the two children doing, Elizabeth?

COHEN: Wolf, I'm sorry to say that based on some Facebook postings, from Zachary's family, things do not look like they're going very well in Florida. I'll read to you what his parents wrote, he wrote, "We are still in the storm and it seems to be getting worse." And then his brother posted, "It shouldn't have to be like this. As a big brother, I still have so many thing to show him about life."

But I am happy to say that Kali seems to be doing quite well. As a matter of fact, she was recently able to write some words on a white board. She's able to communicate, she's able to sit up on her own. And she's able to stand with assistance for brief periods of time. So here, I think that's says, "Kali Hardig love daddy." So he is able to write now.

And as we sit in our peace (ph), Wolf, it's just so amazing that she live because so few people do lives through this infection.

BLITZER: Well, let's hope for the best for both of these kids.

COHEN: That's right.

WOLF BLITZER: All right, Elizabeth, thank you.

COHEN: Thanks.

BLITZER: Oprah Winfrey sits now with our Anderson Cooper and opens about her new film, "The Butler" and the subject of race in America. The interview, that's next.


BLITZER: Family and friends of DiMaggio kidnapping survivor, Hannah Anderson are rallying around the teenager. Just a few days after she was rescued from her captor's Idaho campsite, Anderson appeared public attending a fundraiser in her home state of California.

The media were invited to the event but we're not allowed inside while she was there. Anderson's friends say on the outside, she does appear to be doing well. But they also say it's clear, she's not herself.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's like acting strong for everyone. And I think that's more of just like for her appearance. But I could tell that there's something inside of there that's upset, like when we're all like having a good time. And once everyone stops laughing, she kind of gets like this serious look on her face. And...


BLITZER: Anderson Cooper, by the way, takes a closer look at the crime. Now, the rescue is Saturday night, 6:30 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, 6:30 p.m. Eastern.