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San Diego Mayor Faces Recall Push; Idaho Fire Threatens 5,000 Homes; Flash Flood Threat In the South; "Blade Runner" Charged With Murder; Japanese Volcano Erupts For 500th Time; Seattle Holds "Hempfest"; Brits Detain Partner Of Leaks Reporter; Manning Sentencing Might Come Today; Russians' Kiss May Be Protesting Law; New Jersey Gay Conversion Therapy; Four High School Football Deaths This Summer

Aired August 19, 2013 - 10:00   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM inferno in the West. A blaze the size of Denver tearing through Idaho, a resort town dangerous close to the flames.

Also, all eyes on San Diego -- rallies, petition drives, and Mayor Bob Filner due back at work tomorrow.

Plus this --


PRINCE WILLIAM, DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE: He's a little bit of a rascal, let's put it that way. So he kind of reminds me of my brother or me when I was younger.


COSTELLO: You heard right. Little Prince George is a rascal. His dad talks fatherhood, car seats, and nappy changes with CNN.

And Seattle police is trying out a new law enforcement tool -- 1,000 bags of Doritos. Wow, man. NEWSROOM starts now.


COSTELLO: Good morning. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Carol Costello reporting from Washington, D.C. this morning.

For weeks now, embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has escaped the public spotlight, but that could change tomorrow. On Tuesday Filner is expected to return to work at city hall. It will be his first day back since completing intense behavior therapy as more women have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment.


PEOPLE: Bob must go. Bob must go.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COSTELLO: Filner may not be on the job long. On Sunday, organizers began the task of collecting more than 101,000 signatures. If they accomplish that, they can force a recall election.


KATHRYN VAUGHN, FILNER ACCUSER: We will work every hour, every day until you step down from office!

DAVE MCCULLOCH, RECALL ORGANIZER: We're going to be at sporting events, street fairs, art shows. You name it, we will be out there.


COSTELLO: Kyung Lah joins us now. So Kyung, I guess it will be a big day tomorrow. Do you really think he'll return? I mean, I'm talking about the mayor here.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's hard to tell. Our city sources say he is expected back to work tomorrow. But Filner's last public statement was that he'd be back at work today. But the expectation, according to people inside city hall, is that he won't show up until tomorrow. But Carol, this story has changed every single day. The same breath that they say, he'll probably be back tomorrow, they say, we can't predict this guy. We don't know when he's going to return -- Carol.

COSTELLO: So we know the anti-Filner side has been quite vocal and I mean quite vocal. But today we're going to finally hear from those who actually support the mayor. How many of them are there in San Diego?

LAH: Yes. Well, they do exist. And they are a little hard to find. I haven't run into them in the last two weeks that I've been basically living in San Diego. I can tell you that there was one other pro- Filner support rally. This was last month. There were a few dozen people there. What we're expecting this time is -- we just don't know. We don't know how many are still willing to show up in public in support of this embattled mayor. I can tell you he does have a stronghold of support. Minority groups as well as labor unions are still throwing their support behind Filner, quiet though they may be -- Carol.

COSTELLO: So it will be interesting to see whether Mayor Filner shows up at the public support rallies. Who knows? Stranger thing have happened. Right now, we still don't know where the mayor is, right?

LAH: You know what, I don't know. There have been some reports -- I spoke it a source at city hall in San Diego City Hall who said there have been some sightings of the mayor at his downtown San Diego high rise apartment, some. We actually saw the mayor's SUV at city hall, but he wasn't there. So people have been chasing this SUV all over the city. I've been chasing the chief of staff all over the staff. She won't speak to us.

The mayor's office has been incredibly silent. They won't pick up the phone anymore and return phone calls. We don't know where he is and we simply cannot predict when he'll show up. What's important here to note, Carol, is he is what's called a strong mayor. He has an incredible amount of power in San Diego, the nation's eighth largest city. They say, you know, the city attorney says, trying to get rid of the mayor of San Diego is more difficult than trying to get rid of the president of the United States.

COSTELLO: Yes. They need, what, 101,000 signatures just to get a recall petition. It's just incredible. We're going to talk about that later. Kyung Lah, thank you very much. Coming up in a half- hour, I am going to talk to San Diego City Councilman Scott Sherman. He's already called for Filner to resign. We'll find out what the city will plan to do next to get the mayor out of your office. That's at 10:30 Eastern.

We're also keeping a close eye on the massive wildfire rolling across Idaho's Sun Valley. The numbers are staggering, 100,000 acres already burned. Some 5,000 homes are in the potential path, and that includes pricey spreads of the rich and famous. Actors Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis both have homes there.

CNN's Dan Simon is in Haley, Idaho. He has more for us. Good morning, Dan.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. We are at the base camp. This is a pretty vast operation. We've got 1,200 firefighters battling this blaze and we're told by officials that there is a potential for this fire to get even worse, as you said, 100,000 acres. As always is the case with wildfires, wind is such an important factor. But crews are optimistic that they might get help from Mother Nature today.

In terms of the fire-fighting effort, 1,200 firefighters, a lot of aircraft. You got the DC-10 dropping fire retardant. You got helicopters dropping water. Hopefully that will make a difference, as you said, this is an affluent area where many celebrities have homes. Obviously they want to do the best they can to protect some of these large homes.

At this point, Carol, we should tell you that the damage actually has been fairly minimal, just a few outbuildings basically that have burned down. The people feeling the brunt seem to be the local businesses. Obviously this is a tourist area, and a lot of the tourists have taken off, the local merchants definitely taking a big hit -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Wow. Dan Simon reporting live from Haley, Idaho.

Now let's head to the soggy south where flood watch flood watches dot the region. Record rainfalls have saturated the ground in the threat of more heavy rain looms. Indra Petersons sets the stage for what could be another miserable day.


INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): Heavy rain and high winds battered much of the southeast this weekend bringing flash floods and record rainfall. Check out what members of one church in Gulfport saw after their Sunday service, waist-deep water covering their car doors. A foot of rain fell in less than an hour. Business owners along Highway 49 found water rushing into their stores.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It didn't get that heavy during Katrina.

PETERSONS: These stranded motorists in Biloxi, Mississippi were caught off guard. The fire department rushed in to help dozens of stalled cars. A large swath of tropical moisture has drenched much of the region from the gulf coast to the Carolinas. In Miami Beach, an elderly couple was killed while swimming on Sunday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were in cardiac arrest when fire rescue arrived. We worked them all the way hospital of Mt. Sinai where they have been pronounced dead.

PETERSONS (voice-over): And they weren't alone. Miami Beach Ocean Rescue came to the aid of at least 50 swimmers caught in the rough surf.


PETERSONS: There we go, Carol. We're looking at the stream of moisture. We continually talk about it. You can actually see this is Friday, Saturday, even Sunday, the stream of moisture. It's that tropical moisture that combined with the station after front into the south. With that, you continue to see the heavy rainfall. We saw even ten inches of rain in places over the weekend.

Now we're going to be adding to that. I know it's tough news to hear. One to three inches possible in Tallahassee today, same thing even all the way up into the Carolinas. They're still dealing with the heavy rain and of course, the flash flood watches still in effect.

COSTELLO: I wanted you to say something positive at the end. I was waiting, but it didn't come.

PETERSONS: I wish. Maybe you'd like me more.

COSTELLO: I know. Right now not. Thank you, Indra. I appreciate and I do.

The Olympic athlete knows as the "Blade Runner" will go on trial next March charged with premeditated murder in the death of his girlfriend. Oscar Pistorius was indicted today in a South African courtroom with members of his family and friends of Reeva Steenkamp watching. Pistorius maintains he mistook Steenkamp for a home invader when he shot her. Today would have been Steenkamp's 30th birthday. If found guilty, Pistorius could face at least 25 years behind bars.

London police weighing the credibility of an allegation that British commandos murdered Princess Diana. They're quick to stress the Paris car crash investigation has not been reopened formally at least. The claim reportedly comes from the in-laws of a former British sniper. For the 500th time this year, a Japanese volcano has erupted. Visibility is poor in parts of South Eastern Japan because of the falling ash. Smoke from the volcano reached a height of more than 16,000 feet, and that would be the highest on record.

In Seattle, you could call it a haven for hemp. The three-day marijuana festival appropriately titled -- you guessed it -- hemp fest, been held for more than two decades. This year the pro-pot attendees had something specific to celebrate. The legalization of marijuana in Washington State and Colorado and they did it with a twist, Doritos. Shahid Arab of Seattle affiliate KING was there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy hemp fest!

SHAHID ARAB, KING REPORTER (voice-over): Pot is legal, and for pot heads it's party time. With so much to know about the state's new marijuana laws, Seattle police know the way to a stoner is their stomach.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Best munchy food, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Delicious! So good.


ARAB: It's called "Operation Orange Fingers."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Seattle cops are pretty cool.

ARAB: Some call it a publicity stunt.


ARAB: But police say the stickers on the bag are a quick guide of the dos and don'ts of the law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want people to take their product and use it in the privacy of their own residence and not on the street corners, not in the parks.

ARAB: And thus creates an environment where they're free to do what's typically frowned upon. In such a colorful crowd, Mike and Barbara Hughes seem to stick out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got in the wrong line. We're here anyway.

ARAB: There's nothing like this back home in Virginia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're a little more conservative there.

ARAB: But for how long? The focus is now on nationwide legalization.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of economic growth. There will be a lot of positive potential for our government to take in some money. BARBARA HUGHES, VISITOR: Reminds me a little of our era, the '60s so maybe history's repeating itself in some way.

ARAB: As for dealing Doritos with information, given the audience, not everyone may digest it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The trip for cheese.


COSTELLO: Thanks to Shahid Arab with affiliate KING in Seattle for that report. Thanks, dude.

Still to come -- I couldn't help it. Governor Chris Christie making history this hour, he is signing a law to outlaw gay conversion therapy in his state. Some argue he's going too far. We have all the details for you next.


COSTELLO: Checking our top stories at 13 minutes past the hour. Reporter Glen Greenwald, the man on the right, says he will now focus his attention on the spy system in England. He made the vow after his partner on the left was detained for nine hours at London's Heathrow Airport. Greenwald says the detention was payback for exposing Washington's secret surveillance program through intel leaker Edward Snowden.

A judge could announce Bradley Manning's sentence as early as today. The former army intelligence analyst faces up to 90 years in prison for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks. In a court document last week, the judge called manning's conduct wanton and reckless.

This picture created quite the buzz over the weekend. Two female Russian track stars shared a kiss on the podium after their relay team won an event at the World Athletic Championships in Moscow. The runners did not publicly talk about the kiss, but it may be a protest against Russia's new anti-gay law.

Now let's head to New Jersey which this hour will become the second state in the country to ban gay conversion therapy for minors. The controversial practice is opposed by major medical groups and some former patients say it could make them feel like failures.


MATHEW SHURKA, UNDERWENT CONVERSION THERAPY: They put me in this place of being uncomfortable with who I am. Every morning go to school and say I'm not going to be me today, that then destroy other areas of my life like academics, family, friends.


COSTELLO: But the promoters of the practice believe the therapy does work and banning it infringes on their rights. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREG QUINLAN, PARENTS AND FRIENDS OF EX-GAYS AND GAYS: Talk therapy is talk therapy. There's no danger in talking.


COSTELLO: Poppy Harlow is live in New York with much more on this story. Good morning, Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. We've been following this very closely. Earlier this summer, both the House and Senate in New Jersey passed this bill. It's been sitting on Christie's desk for quite a while. CNN has learned that later today the governor of New Jersey will sign this bill into law.

As you mentioned, gay conversion therapy, therapy to turn someone from being gay to straight, is highly controversial. The American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, and the World Health Organization have all come out opposing it. This was a fine line for Governor Christie to walk because as a Republican, a centrist Republican, he's said publicly that he's wary of telling parents how to raise their children and the government interfering in how parents do raise their children.

But I want to read you part of what the governor is expected today to say in his signing statement. And he writes in part, quote, "The American Psychological Association has found that efforts to change sexual orientation can pose critical health risks including but not limited to depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem, and suicidal thoughts."

He went on to say, "I believe that exposes children to these health risks route clear evidence of benefits that outweigh these serious risks is not appropriate." That is what we will hear from the governor later today. We reached out to the parents and friends of ex-gays. They e-mailed us saying in part it's going to hurt parents. It's going to hurt young people who are going to be denied the right to get the therapy that they choose -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Interesting because, of course, Chris Christie is a Republican, right. Many conservatives believe in this conversion therapy.

HARLOW: Right.

COSTELLO: Also, on another night, this bans licensed therapy from performing this gay conversion therapy on minors.

HARLOW: Right.

COSTELLO: But what about religious institutions?

HARLOW: So that's a great question. This only applies to licensed therapists. Churches, for example, that would like to practice this, talk to youth about this, they can do that. Anyone that is not a licensed therapist in New Jersey can do this. You know, one of the people that I talked to who's a therapist in New Jersey who says gay conversion therapy made me straight, that's what she told me, and she practices it, she said this is just going to drive the practice underground.

This is going to mean that people that aren't licensed professionals will be administering, if you will, this therapy. That is going to hurt patients. So that's the counterargument to this. You know, this is a very big step. Governor Chris Christie's always in the spotlight. And New Jersey's only the second state after California to pass a ban lake this.

And there is a counter-lawsuit against that in California now. It's upheld in the appellate court. This is really a milestone, I think. And what's going to be interesting is if Christie speaks publicly about it later today.

COSTELLO: I know you'll be there. Poppy Harlow live in New York this morning.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, new concerns about the safety of teens playing football, one expert says contact drills are harder on high schoolers than on the pros.


COSTELLO: Four high school football players have died this summer after collapsing on the field raising questions about the safety of the sport for young players. The latest incident happened this weekend. A Georgia high school football star died after making what appeared to be a routine tackle in a scrimmage. CNN's Pamela Brown has more for you.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, it was a preseason football game at a high school that went terribly wrong. The 16-year-old star player DeAntre Turman was killed after he made a routine tackle. It's the fourth high school football death so far just this month, raising questions about what's being done to protect teens from potentially catastrophic injuries.


BROWN (voice-over): DeAntre Turman was a promising high school athlete, named the top defensive back at Atlanta's MVP camp in June. He had already received a scholarship offer to play college football for the University of Kentucky.

GLENN FORD JR., CEO AND FOUNDER I-DARE-U: You know, he was a great kid to coach. He was a great kid to be around. He was one of those kids that definitely had potential to go, you know, to play division one ball.

BROWN: His life was cut short after making what appeared to be a routine tackle during a preseason football game on Friday night. One of his coaches, Glenn Ford, watched in horror from the sidelines.

FORD: The ball was dislodged, and his body just immediately -- immediately went limp.

BROWN: Turman, affectionately called Tretre by his inmates, died from injuries to his back and neck. He is the fourth teen to lose his life while playing high school football just this month, renewing questions about the safety of the sport especially for teens.

In California, 14-year-old Mitchell Cook died, collapsing on the field after warm ups during practice. He reportedly had a heart condition not believed to be life threatening. And in North Carolina and Utah, two teens also died after collapsing following morning practices.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The game can be practiced so many ways effectively without full contact during the week.

BROWN: Terry O'Neil, an advocate for safer football practices, says high school players are using techniques that are harder on their bodies than those used by NFL players.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These players are playing four or five full-speed, full-contact games a week. And nobody can survive that over the long term. The history is that it's rare that one catastrophic blow would cause death.


BROWN: Turman's coaches and teammates say the season must go on, and that's how DeAntre would have wanted it. A 2012 study by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injuries says 67 percent of the most injuries come as a direct result of tackling. Since 1977, 283 high school and college players have ended up with permanent spinal damage -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Pamela Brown reporting.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, it's been almost 30 days since the first woman accused San Diego's mayor of sexual harassment. Fifteen more women have come forward since. Bob Filner remains in office and tomorrow, he could be back at work despite more and more calls for his resignation.