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New Allegations of Financial Misconduct Leveled at San Diego Mayor; Violence Continues in Egypt; New Jersey Considering Limited Legalization of Medical Marijuana; Flooding Threatens Parts of U.S.; Cities May Employ Drones for Law Enforcement; Actresses for New Netflix Series Interviewed
Aired August 17, 2013 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Egypt erupts into full-blown chaos and the world watches in horror. The question now, what can the U.S. do about it.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: They just keep on coming. Now a great grandmother says she, too, was harassed by San Diego's mayor.
PEGGY SHANNON, SAN DIEGO CITY HALL EMPLOYEE: He came up to me without any warning when I was outside going home and hugged me and kissed me.
KEILAR: With the recall efforts starting in 24 hours, how much longer can Bob Filner hang onto his job?
SAVIDGE: And it's Netflix biggest hit yet and it's got everyone talking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't carry a size 13.
KEILAR: We get the scoop behind "Orange is the New Black" with two of the show's breakout stars.
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KEILAR: Good morning, everyone, I'm Brianna Keilar.
SAVIDGE: And I'm Martin Savidge. It is 10:00 on the east coast. That makes it 7:00 on the west. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
First this hour, breaking news, and it is out of Egypt. Gunfire has been ringing out in a mosque at the heart of Cairo. Supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsy are holed up inside a mosque and security forces are right outside. And we are hearing that someone at that mosque fired at security forces. They returned fire toward the mosque minaret.
This is all unfolding as Egypt braces for a fourth straight day of clashes and protests and unrest. The Egyptian government says that 173 people have died, that was on Friday, and more than 1,300 were wounded. So let us bring in Frederik Pleitgen in Cairo. Fred, with he know it's been very chaotic and fast moving, but what is the latest on the situation at the mosque?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest on the situation, Martin, is there's still apparently about 150 pro- Morsy crowd people inside that mosque. Of course they're very much afraid to come out because the mosque is being besieged by a mob of government supporters as well as the security forces and you had that shooting incident you were talking about where it was five people who went on top of the minaret and one of them opened fire on the security forces. They then returned fire.
It really was a chaotic situation that was going on there. We saw people taking cover. We saw the security forces fire at the minaret. It seems as though that sort of quieted down somewhat, however the siege continues. Seeing those pictures on TV, seeing them and witnessing them, the people here in Egypt see this is further fueling the flames of what's been going on as this country moves closer and closer to descending into chaos. The past couple days have been very violent in this country. As you said, 173 were killed on Friday. However, in total since Wednesday more than 700 people have been killed, and that's according to official accounts. Some people put the death toll much higher, Martin.
SAVIDGE: Any middle ground here? Is there any way for either the Muslim Brotherhood or the Egyptian government to strike some kind of resolution?
PLEITGEN: Absolutely not at this point in time. I mean, one of the things we have to keep in mind with the violence going on, it's just made the sides even more entrenched. There's a pro-Morsy side who said they won the parliamentary and presidential elections and they feel Mohamed Morsy should still be in power. And so they feel like they have legitimacy here in this country.
On the other hand, you have the military and their supporters who said Mohamed Morsy was in power. He didn't deliver. There were massive protests here in this country and that's why they took the action that they did, and so they are the ones who should be in power. And these sides are just going at it and neither side is backing down. Both sides are saying they're going to keep holding protests. The military is saying it's going to stand firm and if any official buildings are attacked, they are going to return live fire against the people who are attacking them.
The banner on the Egyptian state TV right now reads "Egypt fighting terrorism." As long as the government labels the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters as terrorists, there clearly will not be any middle ground for any negotiations. So neither side is making any sort of effort at this point in time, Martin, to try to get everything under control to find some middle ground in spite of the fact that, of course, especially the U.S. is trying to get these two sides to get back to the table, Martin.
SAVIDGE: Frederik Pleitgen in Cairo for us this morning. Thank you.
KEILAR: President Obama has condemned the violence in Egypt, but U.S. aid to Egypt's military continues to trickle in. Our White House correspondent Dan Lothian is in Martha's Vineyard where the first family is on vacation. So Dan, why did President Obama decide to take this step this week? He canceled joint military exercises between the U.S. and the Egyptian military.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, he did, Brianna. And the main reason is because of the escalating violence on the ground in Egypt which you have just been talking about. The president condemning that violence, condemning the actions of the interim military government there and the security forces.
But also there's been this sort of level of frustration within the Obama administration at the slow pace of the transition from this military interim government to a democratically elected civilian government. The Obama administration, at least officials within the administration, had been discussing this as an option. In fact, back in June at the time that the administration decided to delay the delivery of those F-16s, it was brought up as an option to pull out of these biannual exercises known as Bright Star. But it was only on Wednesday after the president huddled with his national security team on the phone and also meeting with his national security adviser that the president decided to pull out of those joint exercises.
So it was this situation on the ground but also pressure in Washington. Key Republicans like Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham had recently been to Egypt with the blessing of the White House, came back, had some critical comments about the administration, pushing for tougher action. Both senators releasing a statement saying in part that we cannot be complicity in the mass slaughter of civilians, and then tough words for the Obama White House saying, quote, "The failure of the Obama administration to use our influence to shape events in this critical part of the world has only diminished our credibility, limited our influence, and constrained our policy options." So this was all driven by the actions on the ground but also the pressure coming from Washington.
KEILAR: Dan Lothian on Martha's Vineyard. Thank you, Dan.
SAVIDGE: Now to Idaho. Fresh hot shot teams are rolling into the resort area around Sun Valley. A wildfire has scorched 100 square miles. It's still growing. Authorities ordered 1,600 families to evacuate. "USA Today" reports one home has burned to the ground and a second has been damaged.
KEILAR: From fire to heavy rain, the possibility of flash flooding.
SAVIDGE: Let's bring in meteorologist Jennifer Delgado at the CNN Severe Weather Center.
JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, guys. Another wet weekend across parts of the southeast. Looking at the radar, the rain is coming down and heavy at times across parts of Florida as well as into Georgia just to the south of Atlanta. In fact let's show you a live shot of Atlanta, and hopefully we have the windshield pipers on our camera because it is wet out there, Briana, as well as Martin, you can see. It's going to be a soggy weekend ahead for some locations. We're talking the possibility of maybe even six inches of rain. Back over to our graphics here. As we talk a bit more about the rain that's going to be happening today, it's going to be coming down in some of these locations. We're talking about a flooding threat. That's why we have a lot of flood watches in place.
But look what's in the area in red. This is where we're talking about the possibility of six or more inches of rainfall. That's why we're so concerned about the panhandle of Florida as well as even to areas, including the very tip of Louisiana. Here are some of the watches out there. We have the saturated ground anywhere in green. We'll see a lot of these watches in effect until tomorrow.
And we're still following the tropics. We have an area of low pressure right in the gulf coast -- I should say the Gulf of Mexico. You can see all the convection and thunderstorms to the northeast of that. Well, it's not very well organized, but it still has a 40 percent chance of development. We'll continue to follow that.
And, of course, as we follow over the west, we are following the fires burning across parts of Idaho, and it looks like we have red flag warnings in place today. That means wind gusts up to 30 miles per hour. Weather is certainly not cooperating across that region.
But in the northeast it's real nice out there, guys, temperatures running 10 to 15 degrees below average and lots of sunshine in place. Back over to you two.
SAVIDGE: Jennifer, thank you very much.
The search for a missing teen growing desperate today in Virginia, 17- year-old Alexis Murphy has been missing now for two weeks. Despite helicopters, canine units, and the FBI searching crews scouring the state, investigators have no idea where she is or if she's even alive. Alexis was spotted here on a surveillance camera at this central Virginia gas station. Randy Taylor is the man who has been arrested and is accused of abducting her. Taylor admits to being with Alexis inside his camper the day she went missing, but he said she left with another man, a drug dealer. I spoke to Alexis' mother and she has this message for the alleged abductor.
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LAURA MURPHY, MISSING TEEN'S MOTHER: From a mother to a father, I would like to just sit there with him one-on-one and ask him where my daughter is at because he do know where she at. He was the last one with her. And like I said, his story has too many holes in it, and it just don't make sense. It don't make sense at all. Now we want him to see the hurt in my eyes.
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SAVIDGE: Investigators are asking anyone who may know about the disappearance to call this number, 434-263-7050.
KEILAR: Taking a turn now, aliens, UFOs, and secret military testing, it sounds like a scene out of a sci-fi movie, but for conspiracy theorists and UFO enthusiasts, Area 51 has long been a topic of fascination. Now new declassified documents reveal what many of us already knew, it does indeed exist. And the CIA has released a report, including a map of the region confirming the site's location. If you were hoping for alien spacecraft, though, don't get too excited. The CIA says Area 51 was a testing site for the government's cold war surveillance programs. What a letdown.
SAVIDGE: You think they'd let it all out at once? Over time.
KEILAR: Next in the CNN NEWSROOM, New Jersey's governor, he makes a decision on medical marijuana for sick kids.
And a message for the mayor who refuses to resign. I wonder if he saw it. I'm talking with the San Diego journalist about Mayor Bob Filner's big troubles.
KEILAR: A group of San Diego voters plans to start a recall drive tomorrow. They want Mayor Bob Filner out of office. He refuses to quit despite 16 women now who paint a picture of mayor Filner as a serial sexual harasser, the latest, a 67-year-old grandmother who works at city hall.
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SHANNON: He came up to me without any warning when I was outside going home, and hugged me and kissed me. And I was appalled. I was shocked, and it's not something that I thought that the mayor would ever do.
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KEILAR: All right, let's go ahead and bring in Trent Seibert, he's an investigative reporter for "The San Diego Union Tribune." Thanks for being with us. Tell us a little bit about what Peggy Shannon is alleging here. She said the mayor kissed her on the lips. What else is she saying happened?
TRENT SEIBERT, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, "THE SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE": We're hearing the same story over and over again with this mayor. We have over a dozen -- we have almost lost count, quite frankly, of the sheer amount of women that have come forth with allegations about this mayor.
And it's the same M.O. every time. We have a mayor who is either groping is the allegation or the sloppy kisses. It's -- frankly, it's bizarre, and it's never ending. It just doesn't seem to stop. I'm afraid to go home at night because a new woman might come forward with new allegations.
KEILAR: I know, it does seem like the number just keeps ticking up and up. We've heard of the Filner headlock. There seems to be this M.O. And so there's this pattern that's being painted, allegations of sexual harassment, but now also allegations of financial misconduct. Can you tell us about that and also how that may affect --
SEIBERT: Yes, absolutely. I think that the sexual harassment allegations have been the most titillating, they've captured the national headlines. But underlying all that have been a couple of financial improprieties we've been digging into that may actually be more harmful in a criminal sense potentially. The mayor has had some real problems with his credit card, for example. He went on a spending spree it looks like, racking up thousands of dollars in charges, not all related to the city. So many charges, and he didn't apparently have the receipts for these charges, the credit card actually canceled his credit card because it was at one point four months in arrears.
He says he'll pay that back and we'll see if he does. There's also some improprieties as it relates to a relationship that it looks like the mayor orchestrated a deal between a developer here in San Diego and the city. It looks like the FBI is asking questions about that. You know, these are allegations that might end up driving him from office before the sexual harassment allegations do.
KEILAR: And tell us a little bit about tomorrow because he is refusing to leave, there is this recall effort. What's going on?
SEIBERT: Well, there's the recall starting in earnest tomorrow. There's going to be a parade. Just to let you know the kind of media frenzy that will be there, celebrity attorney Gloria Allred is also going to be a part of this "Drive Bob Filner from Office" parade that's going to be in downtown San Diego. The folks that want to recall the mayor are starting to collect signatures.
It's an odd duck in San Diego how to recall an elected official. You've got to collect more than 100,000 signatures in the course of a month. It's a pretty tough nut to crack, and we'll see if that can happen. We'll obviously be following that. And, again, we're going to be continuing to ask questions and we're going to continue to follow what -- any criminal charges that might come from these sexual harassment charges, too.
KEILAR: Certainly. Trent, I want to show you some video, sky-writers and a couple of deejays who made their message clear. So you've got the popular consciousness, you have deejays weighing in. You have the mayor's allies on city council recently saying you need to go. Senator Barbara Boxer, open letter, you need to go. Even Hooters has banned Filner. How long can he really hang on here?
SEIBERT: You're asking the same questions that we are. If it were me and anyone else, I think I would have fled this office long ago, but he's hanging in there and he's staying. I mean, it really has become a national sort of punch line anymore with this mayor. I mean, the only person happy that mayor Filner is in office I think is Anthony Weiner.
KEILAR: I was going to say is Mayor Filner, but you may have a point there, Anthony Weiner, he certainly is drawing some of the attention. Thank you for your local perspective. We really appreciate it.
SEIBERT: Thanks a lot.
SAVIDGE: New Jersey's governor says he doesn't want his state to become Colorado or California. This after a father pleads with Chris Christie to allow medical marijuana for children. The man says it could save his daughter's life. Christie's response is next.
SAVIDGE: A man born with a disability has beaten the odds to hit one out of the park. Syracuse Chiefs announcer Jason Benetti couldn't play baseball as a kid.
KEILAR: But as our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports in this week's "Human Factor," that never kept him out of the game.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's Wednesday night at the ballpark in Syracuse, New York, and the Syracuse Chiefs, they're taking a beating from the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders. Jason Benetti is up in the press box calling the game. Benetti has been the voice of the Chiefs now for four years and he has a loyal following, although few would recognize him off the field. When they do meet him, they're usually surprised.
JASON BENETTI, SYRACUSE CHIEFS ANNOUNCER: I like that people are surprised.
GUPTA: Benetti has a mild form of cerebral palsy that causes him to walk with a slight lump. He's had it since he was a toddler and has lived with the stares and glares that come with being different. That's also why he thinks he initially gravitated to radio work.
BENETTI: But of course I wanted to do it because I was not on camera.
GUPTA: Benetti learned meeting people gave him strength. He's wicked part. He has a journalism degree and a law degree. He realizes his condition is something to be proud of, not something to hide.
BENETTI: Murphy's throw is there, got him.
GUPTA: And he now does play by play on television as well.
BENETTI: If my look is an vision for somebody on television, great. I'm going to change your mind.
GUPTA: But life is not just about sports. He knows he can make a difference, especially when it comes to inspiring young people with disabilities. This month he hosted a group of campers from CHAT, an organization that helps children who cannot speak use advanced technology to communicate. He gets great satisfaction watching the kids make a connection. BENETTI: All you do is tell us what happened, and there you go. It's fantastic. I love seeing the light bulb go off for people because many light bulbs have gone off for me.
GUPTA: An adjunct professor at SU, Benetti would eventually like to write more and live by the water. But for now life is full of locker rooms, player interviews, and books of stats.
BENETTI: Mesa is safe!
GUPTA: And for Benetti, he'd have it no other way. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.
SAVIDGE: New Jersey governor Chris Christie is signaling that he is willing to allow medical marijuana for children but only with some conditions. The issue gained traction this week when a father of a sick child confronted the Republican governor in front of the media. Alina Cho is following this story in New York. Alina, the kind of restrictions, what are they that the governor is talking about here?
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Martin, you will recall just this week that this father said to the governor at a campaign stop, essentially please don't let my daughter die, governor, and that got a lot of people's attention. So the governor has acted. Basically Governor Christie has sent this bill back to the state legislature. He says he will sign it if, and only if, number one, edible forms of marijuana would be given, but only to minors, not adults, not older children, just minors.
Number two, he also wants to keep in place this requirement for parents that they have a note from a pediatrician, a psychiatrist, and a qualifying doctor who would give a prescription out. Some people believe that's too strict a requirement. In fact, here is what little Vivian's father told our Wolf Blitzer on "AC 360" last night.
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BRIAN WILSON, SAYS DAUGHTER NEEDS MEDICAL MARIJUANA: It makes a lot of headache and heartache for patients to go around shopping around for doctors who understand anything about medical marijuana to get them to sign up for this. So for parents who are already going through a lot of trouble just with what their children's ailments are, they now have to go through this extra stuff that you don't have to go through for any other medical condition or for any other medication.
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CHO: Governor Christie also supports removing this three-strain limit on the kinds of marijuana that can be prescribed. That means that little Vivian, the one with the severe seizures, would be able to get this edible oil-based strain of marijuana she needs. Many people have heard her story. Two-year-old Vivian, she has a rare form of epilepsy. It causes these severe seizures that can last up to an hour. She is on a special diet. She has special medication, but her parents believe and other parents believe that the only thing that this will control is a special form of medical marijuana.
The bottom line, Marty, is that this is a victory for this family. If the state legislature goes along with Governor Christie's suggestions, little Vivian and other children just like her will be able to get the medical marijuana they need in the form that they need. So a victory for these parents.
CHO: Back to you.
SAVIDGE: Thanks Alina, very much. Now the question, is medical marijuana harmful for helpful. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta cuts through the smoke on America's green rush, the highs and the lows of weed. See you tonight at CNN at 8:00 eastern and pacific.
KEILAR: Acting the opposite of real life, that is what Alicia Reiner does in her know role in "Orange is the New Black." She's be joining us live later this hour.
But first, keeping your town safe, drones over your neighborhood? Our Chris Lawrence has this controversy when we come back.
KEILAR: Hey, everyone. Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. It's 31 minutes after the hour. I'm Brianna Keilar.
SAVIDGE: It's the bottom of the hour.
KEILAR: It is the bottom. Near the bottom, a minute after.
KEILAR: I'm Martin Savidge. Here are five stories we're watching this morning. And it begins with number one, a massive nationwide sweep by federal agents who have pulled in 263 gang members. According to U.S. immigration and customs enforcement agency, among those arrested were 158 members of the notorious MS-13 street gang who officials call, quote, "One of the most dangerous transitional criminal gangs in the world today." Massive amounts of drugs and cash were also seized.
KEILAR: Now three more suspects have been arrested around an alleged rape inside a Vanderbilt University dorm. One of them, Chris Boyd, is a standout wide receiver on the school's football team. He faces an accessory after the fact charge. The two others who have been charged are charged with tampering with evidence. None are charged with rape, though.
SAVIDGE: Number three, it's like a sequel to carmageddon. People are calling it the "orange jam" or own "clog work orange." Four miles of one of the busiest highways will be closed in Orange County, California. We're talking about the 405. Crews are demolishing a bridge. It reopens tomorrow afternoon.
KEILAR: Orange County.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Alex Rodriguez.
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KEILAR: You hear that. Number four, maybe you're not surprised. No love for a-rod in Boston. A sellout crowd there of hostile Sox fans. They yelled, they screamed, they taunted the embattled Yankee last night in his first game of the season at Fenway. On the field a-rod had a couple of singles and the Yanks did go on to win the game 10-3.
SAVIDGE: And then there's this, a parking meter repair man headed to prison after stealing more than $200,000 in coins. It happened in Buffalo, New York. Authorities caught James Bagaroso on surveillance tape stuffing the coins into his bags and pockets. Because he retired from the city before his conviction, Bagaroso can still draw his public pension.
SAVIDGE: He bought his car with quarters.
KEILAR: How about if they give to it to him in quarters, here is your pension in dimes.
OK, so imagine your local police department deploying unmanned drones to fly overhead in your community. It sounds kind of crazy, right?
SAVIDGE: It could be a reality sooner than you think. From Texas to Ohio, more and more police departments are looking at the possibility of drone capabilities to improve their local surveillance programs. CNN's Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence explains. Chris?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna and Martin, we've all been so focused on big government, like the NSA. But the future is really your local cops and sheriffs having the power to keep almost constant watch over your neighborhood.
LAWRENCE: A thermal camera so sensitive it detects the footprints of somebody who just walked across a carpet, new digital systems that may store millions of hours of real-time video.
JOHN LEIPPER, 2D3 TECHNOLOGIES: You can start to build up a wealth of information.
LAWRENCE: But as Americans worry about the federal government's secret surveillance program, there's a wave of local capability just on the horizon from cameras to drones. GRETCHEN WEST, ASSOCIATION FOR UNARMED VEHICLE SYSTEMS INTERNATIONAL: There's a lot of law enforcement agencies and firefighting agencies that are looking to use the technology.
LAWRENCE: Well over 1,000 local agencies have applied for drone permits across the country, from police departments in Miami-Dade and Houston, Texas, to the Ohio department of transportation.
JAY STANLEY, ACLU: We're looking at a future where police departments could deploy dozens or even hundreds of these flying robotic video cameras over an entire neighborhood or city.
LAWRENCE: Giga-pixel cameras can already do constant surveillance on 25 square mile areas. Those could soon be married to drones so inexpensive even small towns could afford them.
How is this any different from a police car following behind me or an officer standing outside my house?
STANLEY: There's a police officer who can see you, you can see them. What you don't know is if there's a camera up in the clouds following you everywhere you go.
LAWRENCE: Even those who support the technology say there have to be ways for the public to hold their local government accountable.
GREG MCNEAL, PEPPERDINE LAW SCHOOL: Which police officer was operating the system? Where was the camera pointed when the drone was flying? What was it looking at? Where was it located?
LAWRENCE: Right now the FAA is writing the rules on which domestic drones can fly and where, but some cities are already getting a jump. Charlottesville, Virginia, passed the first anti-drone law earlier this year and similar legislation is being considered in 13 other states. Brianna, Martin?
KEILAR: Thank you, Chris.
Now, one woman's story of being sent to prison is getting rave reviews, including its portrayal of a transgender woman.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you really think I will be killing myself. Listen, doc, I need my dosage. I have given five years, $80,000 and my freedom for this.
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KEILAR: It is all part of the new Netflix series "Orange is the New Black." And two stars of this hit show will be joining me next live.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KEILAR: "Orange is the New Black," it sounds like fashion advice but it's actually the name of one of this summer's most talked about series on Netflix. Based on a memoir by author Piper Kerman, "Orange is the New Black" is helping to shed the new live on the not so glamorous life inside a women's prison.
The dark comedy gives viewers an up close and personal look at Kerman's real-life experience behind bars. And the show's main character is a suburban bred woman who finds herself locked up for smuggling money a decade earlier for her drug-dealing girlfriend. Death threats, prison politics, corrupt prison guards force Chapman to learn the rules of prison quickly and rely on her fellow female inmates in order to get by.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You need some of these. I made my own, couture. Commissary don't carry a size 13.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is that duct tape?
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KEILAR: The series is getting praise for its strong depiction of women in a very unusual set of circumstances. Laverne Cox plays Sofia, a transgender inmate who serves as the prison hairdresser, and Alysia Reiner stars as a powerhouse prison administrator who stands out in the boys club of prison guards. They're both joining me live from New York. Thanks to both of you for being here.
Laverne, I want to go to you first. Your character, Sofia, is a former firefighter who undergoes a sex change before she's locked up for credit card fraud. She clashes early on with one of the guards when she makes a request for more estrogen pills.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to see a doctor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't go to the clinic unless it's an emergency.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is an emergency.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but we don't see it that way. Was there something else?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I'd like to report an emergency.
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KEILAR: Very dark comedy, very entertaining. Laverne, as a real life transgender actress and you've talked about how so many people have talked about you breaking the transgender glass ceiling, what is it like to play Sofia, and what kind of struggles of yours do you kind of bring to the screen here?
LAVERNE COX, PLAYS SOPHIA IN "ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK": I am just so grateful as an actor to be able to play a role that's so multidimensional, that's so profoundly human. As a trans-woman of color, I have been so inspired by all the trans folks all over the country and actually all over the world who have reached out to me saying they have seen themselves in Sofia's story, and I'm so proud to be a vessel for this message.
KEILAR: And you certainly have humanized it. I think that's really one of the hallmarks of this show, which is just, I imagine for both of you, fantastic that it has become a bigger hit than you ever could have imagined. Alysia, you play this prison administrator named Natalie Figueroa. Let's take a look at a quick clip of you.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you have any concerns specifically regarding your needs as women, please come to me. I will handle them personally.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had a question actually.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today I'm only here as a formality.
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KEILAR: So your character stars alongside a corrupt group of male guards, and despite your character's abrasive personality, she kind of comes off as one of the more likable characters on the show. That's sort of the interesting dichotomy here. Why do you think viewers like Fig as much as they do?
ALYSIA REINER, ACTRESS, "ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK": I think they like fig because she's like the other women on the show, a real -- a strong woman and a complex woman, and not the typical woman you see on television, and that's really surprising and wonderful. You know, we have a really amazing, diverse cast of characters here who are not what you normally see, and I think people are loving that.
KEILAR: So Laverne, I think to you, this is sort of -- this role that you're playing is groundbreaking, and you mention the reaction that you've gotten from the transgender community and also, I imagine, just viewers in general. Have you been surprised by how this dark comedy, by how this show has really just, I guess really taken off and a lot of people have said, it's not like I'm even watching it, it's like I'm experiencing it. What is your reaction to that?
COX: I think it's a testament to the brilliant writing. It's a testament to Ginger Cohen and it's a testament really to what it means to tell really profoundly human, complicated, multilayered stories that when you really do that, folks can relate to these characters, people who they wouldn't normally think they would relate to and have empathy with in a really human way. I think that is really the strength of our show and the strength of our wonderful creators.
KEILAR: And I'm always so curious about kind of the homework that goes into something like this. In the show you see a lot of socio, economic, and racial tensions between the prisoners. There's also a sense of camaraderie that I think may be expected if you think about what prison life would be like. To you first, Alysia, how did you prepare for your role?
REINER: My first thing is I read the memoir and loved it and was totally smitten by Piper. And then I actually watched a lot of locked up, billions behind bars, particularly being an administrator. And I was lucky enough to visit a prison and do some interview views with people who worked in administration and some education.
KEILAR: And what about you Laverne?
COX: I actually had been preparing to interview that trans-woman in prison in Minnesota named Ceci McDonald for a show called "In the Life" which lost its funding. So I had been reading and researching about her case and trans-people specifically in prison. There's a beautiful documentary called "Cruel and Unusual" that deals specifically with a lot of issues trans-people face in prisons.
KEILAR: And certainly it is a unique experience, and you certainly bring your own unique experience to that that I think comes across as very genuine.
Alysia, I'm going to finish with you here. Just if you can talk a little bit about sort of in your experience on the show, what kinds of problems you think exist in the U.S. corrections system. We're kind of seeing some of them come out in the series, in particular just talk about some of the ones that you think the show has sort of exposed and perhaps needs some change.
REINER: Well, you know, I will say for me this week has been extraordinary because watching what Piper did with her op-ed and how she really changed things, and that's what I'm so excited to be a part of this show for is we're really getting to change things. For those of you who don't know, Piper wrote an op-ed to "The New York Times" about the prison she was at in Danbury and the fact it's closing or changing and that these women are being moved to Alabama, and that has been halted.
And I'm outrageously excited about that because, you know, yes, there is -- the administration on our show is not shown in the most flattering light, and that might be based on some truth. And it's really wonderful when entertainment can also help change and make the world a better place.
KEILAR: And it is just a fascinating, authentic show and also as you're certainly continuing to put Netflix on the map following their success with "House of Cards," and also putting both of you guys on the map as well. Laverne Cox, Alysia Reiner, thank you so much for joining us this morning.
REINER: Thank you so much for having us.
COX: Thank you so much.
SAVIDGE: Still to come, Prince William, he's going to back to work. Did he have a job? And he's talking exclusively to CNN as his new role as a father.
But first, what happens to those millions of little shampoo bottles we leave in hotel rooms? Something pretty fantastic.
SAVIDGE: A hotel's trash, it can be a homeless charity's treasure if a CNN hero gets involved. Thanks to one man's "ah-ha" moment, tons of stuff that would have ended up in Chicago landfills is helping thousands of people live better lives.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Housekeeping.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On a day-to-day basis there are tons of items that are thrown away. It's shocking to understand how much hotels have in excess. I was doing a lot of volunteering, and I saw how desperately in need people were for all those types of things, and I thought to myself, I could be that connection, that matchmaker.
My name is Justin Canugan, and I collect donations around Chicago for charities that don't have the money or the man power to do it on their own.
We get a multitude of items donated. A full barrel of shampoo, conditioner, lotion for you. But hygiene is 365, we need every single day of the year.
There's a lot of great stuff.
We partner with over 40 hotels. We work with dozens of companies. Fantastic. That's just a lot of showers right there. They're going to love this.
The excess from corporations is great because there's always an overage or a damaged product that is still good.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a double impact here. We're being environmentally responsible and people in Chicago are really benefiting from this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many of these could you use?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two or three if you have them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Men and women struggling with poverty have as much personal dignity as anyone else. Anything they can do to keep themselves looking good and feeling good is important. It's a very simple concept but it's very labor intensive. But it's fun for me. And if I can improve people's lives, it's a double bonus.
SAVIDGE: Great idea. Well, we need your help to find more inspiring people like Justin. Please go to CNNheroes.com to nominate someone you know who is making a difference and deserves to be recognized.
KEILAR: Before you leave this morning, we are showing you some new babies from the zoo. So stay with us.
SAVIDGE: One of the world's most famous dads, Britain's Prince William, is headed back to work this week. He took some time off following the birth of his son. You might have heard about it, Prince George. But before going back to his job at the Royal Air Force, he sat down with CNN's Max Foster to talk about his new baby, his wife, Catherine, and his most important title, dad.
KEILAR: You can see parts of this interview right here on NEW DAY this Monday morning and on a one-hour special tomorrow night at 10:00 p.m.
SAVIDGE: That should be pretty cool. Some incredible video to show you this morning. We love to blow things up, and we did. It was just an hour ago -- actually a couple, that the century old building imploded in Dayton, Ohio. Look at that.
KEILAR: This is the Schwinn building and part of the old Dayton Daily News building that were demolished this morning in order to make way for a new student housing building.
SAVIDGE: The Schwinn building. We end the hour with a standoff that you have got to see. It is kitty cat standoff, two felines staring each other down like there is no one else in the room.
KEILAR: It's a real battle of the wills here. Which is going to dare to blink and how is it going to end? Oh, yes, that's about what you would expect.
SAVIDGE: I was so surprised by that.
KEILAR: I know, slap. And this is a very cute, touching moment at the zoo in Taipei as the adorable giant, not to giant, giant panda cub, the first to be born in Taiwan, meets her mother for first time since her birth.
SAVIDGE: These are the newest images of the cub who was born last month at the zoo. Caretakers have been watching her around the clock and it will be another couple months before the public can likewise see her.
And thanks for starting your morning with us. There is much more ahead in the next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM.
KEILAR: We're going to it over now to our colleague, Fredricka Whitfield.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Brianna, and Martin, have a great day. Good to see you.