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Politics Of Chris Christie; Flash Flood Threat In The South; Idaho Fire Threatens 5,000 Homes; Compromise Is Not A Dirty Word; Forever 21 May Lay Off Workers; Princess Diana Death Claim Accuses Military; Prince William Speaks to CNN; Governor Christie Works to Ban Conversion Therapy

Aired August 19, 2013 - 13:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: How his moves are impacting the GOP across the country.

Then the clothing company, Forever 21, reportedly cutting employee hours and blaming Obama Care for it.

And bear attacks on the rise. How seven people were mauled in four days. Why this is happening.

This is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Suzanne Malveaux. We are keeping a close eye on the massive wildfire. It is rolling across Idaho Sun Valley. Look at these pictures. You've got thousands of people in the path of this fire. They're being told, get out of their homes, get out fast. A hundred thousand acres of forest is already charred. But in the Southeast, very different story. That is where you're going to see heavy rains swamping parts of the Florida panhandle and areas along the Gulf Coast. Now, the rains are even saturating areas as far north as the Carolinas where some roads, you see there, under two feet of water this weekend.

I want to bring in Chad Meyers to talk about all the severe weather. And Dan Simon, he is in Hailey, Idaho. Chad, I want to start off with you here. I mean, this is crazy, right? I mean, this is absolutely insane to see this extreme weather throughout the country. And you're looking at the Florida panhandle in particular where it just doesn't seem to let up.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, if you had a weekend vacation in Panama City last weekend, a couple days ago, you just -- you just -- you didn't have a very good time. Ten inches of rain in Panama City, almost -- just in about 48 hours from Friday night through Sunday night. It just never stopped raining here. And I just got a couple new things from NOAA. Just to give you an idea that not only Florida, but anywhere from San Juan, Puerto, Rico, wettest; Asheville, North Carolina; Macon, Georgia, wettest; Greenville, South Carolina, same; Philadelphia, Reno (ph). These are the wettest six months ever on record for these cities down across the east and in the southeast.

So -- and the rain continues. We have this stationary front, like a stationary bike that just will not move because it doesn't have any wheels. This stationary front won't move so where it has been raining, it continues to rain. And it's not going to change today and it's not going to change tomorrow.

And over the weekend, we had a little tropical connection, too, that storm could have been something in the Gulf of Mexico that never developed, did push its moisture up into the stationary front making more rainfall. And it would be great to spread this around. It has been so hot and dry in the west where the fires are and to the southeast just flooding. The pictures of the weekend flooding were more that I've seen in a long, long time spread out over at least five states -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right, Chas. And I know all about that. You and I have been kind of drowning in Atlanta. Days and days, weeks and weeks of this rain.

Also keeping a close eye, of course, we are talking about a massive wildfire. This is rolling across Idaho Sun Valley. The numbers are absolutely staggering. A hundred thousand acres already burned. You've got some 5,000 homes are in the potential path. Now, that also includes some of these very nice homes of the rich and famous. Actors Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis both have houses there. And, of course, it is also home to the Sun Valley Resort.

I want to bring in Dan Simon who is actually there in Hailey, Idaho with the very latest. What are you seeing here? Is there any let up at all?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, Suzanne. First of all, speaking of that Sun Valley Resort, you know how they have those snow guns there to produce snow when there's not enough of it, well those are being put to good use in the summer. They're dousing that area to try to ward off any potential embers that could come that way.

In the meantime, I'm here at the base camp. We have 1,200 firefighters battling this blaze. It is a vast operation. You have a lot of aircraft as well, helicopters dousing water. You have the big D.C. 10 jumbo jet dumping retardant, hopefully that will make a difference. Whenever you talk about wildfires though, you always have to talk about the wind. It's starting to pick up a little bit today. It was calmer earlier. That's not going to be good news. Hopefully it will die down later on this afternoon. And as you said, Suzanne, of course, the fire officials definitely want to try to save, you know, these very affluent areas.

As you mentioned, a lot of celebrities have homes here. Right now, about 2,200 homes are under this mandatory evacuation order. There is a shelter that has been set up at a local high school. We were there just a little while ago. At this point, just a few dozen of those folks there. But as we said, fire crews taking this very seriously. At this point, not much, Suzanne, in the way of damage. Just a few out buildings really that have burned. But fire crews, of course, taking this seriously. We'll send it back to you.

MALVEAUX: All right, Dan, thank you. We appreciate it. We hope them, we wish them the very best. They're just starting to try and deal with that fire. This we are paying close attention to. We're talking about medical marijuana, a ban on gay conversion therapy. Where these are not exactly issues that you would expect a Republican politician to put all of his focus on here. But those are just a few of these issues that the governor -- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has tackled just in the last couple of days. Christie, he is a possible contender in the 2016 presidential race. And a recent poll showed him leading the pack of potential Republican candidates. Today, Christie says his party needs to learn to compromise.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: We can stick to our principles and still come together to compromise. Compromise is not a dirty word. It's the way this country was built. And we need to get things done for the people that elect us.


MALVEAUX: I want to bring in our CNN Legal Political Editor Mark Preston. Mark, good to see you as always here. You know, this is not atypical of Christie to really kind of get into the controversial hot button issues here. Part of it is his style and part of it is politics. So, what's behind this do you think?

MARK PRESTON, CNN LEGAL POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, you know, Suzanne, let's add the issue of guns to the whole mix as well. You know, Governor Christie has weighed in on several very controversial pieces of legislation just the past few days up in New Jersey. Today, he signed the bill that would ban gay conversion therapy for minors. Children under the age of 18 would not be subjected to that anymore.

On Friday, he vetoed a gun bill that would prevent long range 50 caliber rifles from being used in the state of New Jersey which was welcomed by gun rights advocates. But a few weeks earlier, Suzanne, he also passed or signed some legislation into law that would make guns stricter. And, of course, medical marijuana which was a very hot topic last week, he seemed to split the hairs on that. And he agreed to sign that legislation as long as there was some changes to it and the medical marijuana would only be made available to youngsters, not to people over the age of 18.

So, Chris Christie weighing in on these very difficult issues in the dead of summer -- we should say, in the dead of summer right now. But there are long-term implications about how this would affect his run for president if he decides to go for it in 2016.

MALVEAUX: Sure. So, Mark, I mean, obviously this would play differently in New Jersey than it would play on a national field. What do we think is the overall impact in the Republican Party itself? Are these divisions going to be exploited here? Are they going to try to deal with some of these issues going into 2016?

PRESTON: Well, Chris Christie, certainly out of all the people that are being (INAUDIBLE) about as possible candidates right now, he's blazing his own path. As we just heard, he talked about compromise right there. And, you know, that's not something you often here from Republicans, let alone Democrats who might be thinking about running for president. You're correct in saying that he represents a blue state of New Jersey. He does a lot of things that would be out of step with the Republican Party.

In some ways, he's differentiating himself from candidates who might be running or thinking of running for president in 2016. Now, this could hurt him, Suzanne, in states such as Iowa and South Carolina which play a very important role in helping to choose the Republican nominee. Social conservatives really control the process to get the nomination in those states. But he could do well in states such as New Hampshire or Florida. Chris Christie is a politician we haven't seen often, certainly one who is being seriously considered as a serious candidate to run for president.

MALVEAUX: And what about his ability to make money -- raise money?

PRESTON: Very good. And, in fact, back in 2012, you know, there was very deep pocketed Republicans who were not very content with the field of candidates that were running, includes Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum. They tried to convince Chris Christie to run and he took a pass. If he decides to run, he will certainly have the money to do so. And let's not forget, New Jersey is right next to New York which is really an epicenter of political money. So, Chris Christie would have the money if he'd choose to do so.

MALVEAUX: All right, Mark. We'll be following you closely. Thanks. We appreciate it.

PRESTON: Thanks.

MALVEAUX: For more on this, check out our political ticker on

And this, a memo leaked online. It says that the Forever 21 clothing chain is now getting ready to lay off about one percent of its work force.

I want to bring in Zain Asher from the New York Stock Exchange to tell our viewers about this. Now, we understand we have not been able to independently verify this memo. But there is a lot of concern and a lot of people talking about this on social media.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. So, what you have is a situation whereby Forever 21 is cutting hours and benefits. There is a memo, this is it right here that reportedly was leaked on Facebook. I want to read to you some of what people are saying. They're saying, cuts benefits and finding loopholes to put more money in your pocket is not right. And other people are saying that your first priority should be the people that work for you and not your profit.

So, the retailer is essentially reducing the hours of some of its full-time workers, making sure that the maximum hours will be about 29.45 hours. That means that they will be part time which means that they will be losing health benefits. So, the memo said that it is going to be auditing -- Forever 21 is going to be auditing shopping levels -- needs and it's going to be reviewing its spending budget as well.

But there is, of course, some speculation, Suzanne, and this is, of course, because of Obama Care. We know that in 2015, big business -- big businesses are going to be having to provide full-time workers with health insurance. So, this may be Forever 21 sort of trying to get around that. The retailer did respond on Facebook, saying that it's only going to be affecting one percent of its employees. And we did reach out to them for comment but we have not heard back -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Zain, do we think this is just the beginning, potentially, of a trend with a lot of businesses?

ASHER: You know, it does look that way. I mean, we are seeing it from some industries especially the restaurant industry among franchises because workers hours can easily be shifted in restaurants. We know that the CEO of Fat Burger said earlier this year that his employees are going to be working less than 30 hours a week. He's been very vocal in terms of his criticism of Obama Care saying that it does hurt small businesses. So, this sort of shifts to part-time. It's also a bigger trend you've seen since the recession. It's not necessarily just because of Obama Care. You know, we are dealing with a weaker economy and also a lack of demand as well -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right, Zain Asher. Thank you, Zain, appreciate it.

Coming up, she died in car accident back in 1997 but was it really an accident? The latest claim, Princess Diana was murdered. Why police are taking another look at their investigation. This, as we hear from her son, Prince William who is experiencing fatherhood for the first time.


He's a little bit of a rascal, we'll put it that way. So, yes, it reminds me of my brother or me when I was younger. I'm not sure.

MALVEAUX: Our CNN interview with Prince William.

And Lindsay Lohan known for her run-ins with the law. But now she's coming clean about her addiction and rehabilitation. The Oprah interview straight ahead. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.


MALVEAUX: He is an Olympic track star. Double amputee (ph) known as the blade runner. Well, today, prosecutors indicted Oscar Pistorius on charges of premeditated murder for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steencamp. Ironically, today, would have been her Steencamp's 30th birthday. Pistorius insists he accidentally shot and killed Steencamp in his home on Valentine's Day after he mistook her for an intruder. But prosecutors say it was planned and premeditated. Pistorius is scheduled to go on trial March 3rd. The list of potential prosecution witnesses include more than a hundred people. And there is now a new theory in the death of Princess Diana. It is sparking a lot of buzz among royal watchers. A lot of question for the police as well. London authorities are now looking into the claim that the British military might have had something to do with the car crash that killed Diana, her boyfriend and their driver 16 years ago in Paris.

Erin McLaughlin reports that police are not reopening this case but they are reviewing this new claim.


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: New questions launched by a shocking new allegation claiming British special forces were behind the deaths of Princess Diana and her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed. It's the latest conspiracy theory about Diana's death, coming almost 16 years after that horrific middle of the night car crash. A high speed paparazzi chase through a tunnel in Paris with a deadly end.

Scotland Yard put out a statement saying it is, quote, "scoping new information, assessing its relevance and credibility." According to the British newspaper, "The Sunday People", the claim surfaced in a seven-page letter written by the estranged in-laws of an unidentified special forces sniper. In a handwritten letter, they alleged their former son-in-law boasted that the British SAS was behind the deaths.

MARK SAUNDERS, ROYAL ANALYST: People don't believe someone as loved as Princess Diana can just die in a road accident. It just isn't enough. They want more.

MCLAUGHLIN: Scotland Yard has made it clear for the moment the new claims will will not reopen the investigation which concluded that Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed were killed by the gross negligence of their driver, and of the paparazzi chasing them that night. Buckingham Palace is not commenting, but those who know the royal family have been quick to dismiss the claim.

DICKIE ARBITER, FORMER ROYAL FAMILY PRESS SECRETARY: There's not a lot they can do about it. There will always be people coming up with conspiracy theories, and the best they can do is get on with their lives in a normal way.


MALVEAUX: Erin is joining us from London. So, Erin, this is the part I don't understand here, because the British military, they knew this for a couple of years, right? So, why is this just coming to light now?

MCLAUGHLIN: That's right. According to the British newspaper, "The Sunday People," military officials were aware of some of this information since 2011. It came out in a court-martialing of this yet-to-be-named sniper's former roommate. The former roommate was being court-martialed on weapons related charges. The sniper in question was a witness in that court-martialing. However, police here at Scotland Yard simply not commenting on that reporting at this time. They are being very tight-lipped about all of this. So, police leaving a lot of questions unanswered as they're assessing this information.

MALVEAUX: Thank you. Appreciate it. This as her son Prince William is starting his own family, as we know. Coming up, we'll hear from Prince William. What he says about being a dad. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.


MALVEAUX: The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, has given his first interview since the birth of his son, George. Well now William, who's second in line to the British throne, sat down with our CNN royal correspondent, Max Foster, for a personal interview with the future king. Topic number one, being a dad.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The prince says baby George is already quite a character.

PRINCE WILLIAM, DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE: Well, yes, he's a little bit of a rascal, we'll put it that way. So he either reminds me of my brother or me when I was younger. I'm not sure. But he's doing very well at the moment. He does like to keep having his nappy changed. And --

FOSTER (on camera): You did the first nappy, of course?

PRINCE WILLIAM: I did the first nappy, yes, exactly.

FOSTER: The badge of honor.

PRINCE WILLIAM: It was a badge of honor, actually. I wasn't allowed to get away with that. I had every midwife staring at me going, you do it, you do it. He's a little -- he's growing quite quickly, actually, but he's a little fighter. He kind of wiggles around quite a lot and he doesn't want to get to sleep (ph) that much, which is a little bit of a problem, but he's --

FOSTER: So you're up a lot at night. You're pretty tired.

PRINCE WILLIAM: A little bit, yes. Not as much as Catherine, but, you know, she's -- she's doing a fantastic job.

FOSTER: How is she, OK?

PRINCE WILLIAM: Yes, she's very well. For me, Catherine and our little George are my priorities, and Lupo. And so --

FOSTER: I was going to ask you about Lupo.


FOSTER: How's Lupo coping?

PRINCE WILLIAM: He's coping all right, actually. I mean as a lot of people know who've got dogs and bringing a newborn back, they take a little bit of time to adapt. There's some -- no, he's been all right so far. He's been slobbering sort of around the house a bit. So he's a -- he's perfectly happy.

FOSTER: And how are you about going back to work?

PRINCE WILLIAM: Well, as a few fathers might know, I'm actually quite looking forward to going back to work.

FOSTER: Get some sleep.

PRINCE WILLIAM: Get some sleep, exactly, yes. So I'm just hoping the first few shifts I go back I don't have any night jobs.


MALVEAUX: Not going to get too much sleep there. You can see the complete interview in about a half hour or so, right here in NEWSROOM at 2:00 eastern.

To this gay couples getting married in New Zealand. Same-sex marriage took affect today. New Zealand is the fourteenth country to legalize same-sex marriage. The parliament voted for it in April. Nine of countries that allow same-sex marriage are all in Europe. The Netherlands was the real trail blazer being the first to do so 12 years ago.

This while Governor Chris Christie signs a bill to ban, to stop therapists from trying to convert gay people in New Jersey. Coming up, we're going to hear from one man who went through the so-called conversion therapy.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you think that you were born gay?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I do think who you are is who you are.



MALVEAUX: The race to recall the Mayor of San Diego is off and running; 16 women have accused Mayor Bob Filner of inappropriate behavior. It was last month he admitted he had quote, "failed to fully respect the women who work with me and with me." That's what he said, and that he was embarrassed by his actions. Yesterday, volunteers began collecting signatures to try and remove Filner from office. They say they're going to be out in full force until they get the required signatures.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will work every hour, every day until you step down from office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll be at sporting events, we're going to be at street fairs, art shows, you name it. We will be out there. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Petitioners need more than 101,000 signatures by September 26.

Journalis Glenn Greenwald says that authorities who took his partner into custody at London's Heathrow Airport are going to, quote, "regret what they did." Greenwald, as you recall, he is the reporter who broke the story about secret NSA surveillance programs in "The Guardian" newspaper using information leaked from American contractor Edward Snowden. Greenwald's partner. David Miranda (ph), who you see here on the left, well he was detained and questioned for nearly nine hours last night. While passing through the London airport this was on his way home to Brazil where he and Greenwald live. Police say he was held under an anti-terrorism law. Greenwald says he knows a lot of secrets about the espionage system in England as well and he also now plans to reveal those secrets.

Now more from the fallout from Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case. Now, this first lawsuit begain at Penn State. You might recall where Sandusky, he was an assistant football coach. This has been settled. That's from a lawyer for a man known only as victim number. This victim says Sandusky assaulted him while in the shower at Penn State. He might testify at the trial of three former Penn State officials accused of covering up Sandusky's crimes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The incident which involved my client could have and should have been directly stopped had the appropriate reporting taken place. My client actually may end up a witness in that trial subpoenaed just as he testified live and in person, of course, in the Sandusky trial and again at the sentencing hearing.


MALVEAUX: So, the settlement terms, they are bound by confidentiality agreement, but the lawyer says that the compensation in his words fair and adequate. Penn State facing another 30 other lawsuits. This is all related to Sandusky. The university told us today that it is now making progress on multiple settlements.

A couple of hours ago New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a law is that stops therapists from trying to turn young gay people straight. Critics have argued it's especially damaging to minors. Poppy Harlow talks to a young man who went through that therapy for five years. Just as a caution, some of the topics in the report might not be suitable for younger viewers.


HARLOW: Do you think you were born gay?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I do think who you are is who you are. HARLOW: At 25, Matthew Shurka says he final he feels like himself but it's been a painful road. He questioned his sexuality at 16 so his parents put him in so-called conversion therapy. Therapy, they were told, could make him straight.

MATTHEW SHURKA, UNDERWENT CONVERSION THERAPY: I said to myself, if I could have the same feelings for a woman that I have for a man, then why not?

HARLOW: He saw four therapists in five years, and wrote about it in his journal.

SHURKA: I come up to the point where I'm really beginning to change.

HARLOW: But he didn't change. His feelings for men remained.