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Obama on Syria; Celebrating MLK's Historic March; Filner to Step Down

Aired August 24, 2013 - 09:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, good morning, everyone. I am Brianna Keilar.

IVAN WATSON, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Ivan Watson. It's 9:00 on the East Coast, and 6:00 on the west. This is NEW DAY SATURDAY.

KEILAR: And new this morning, President Obama has called his national security team to the White House to weigh in options on Syria. Graphic images out of Syria appear to show the results of a chemical attack. These pictures show rows of bodies, and these pictures were supplied to the media by the Syrian opposition, we should say.

Now rebels contend the gas killed more than 1,000 people, including many kids. The president told our Chris Cuomo this week, if a gas attack is verified, then the civil war in Syria would "require America's attention."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation -


WATSON: Marchers are gathering in Washington this hour to remember a landmark moment in U.S. civil rights.

KEILAR: That is the historic march on Washington for jobs and freedom. On August 28th, 1963, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., urged an end to hatred and racism in his famous "I have a dream" speech, and one woman says she still weeps when she hears his words.

WATSON: CNN's Chris Lawrence joins us now from the National Mall. Chris, tell us about the route the marchers will take today?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ivan. It's going to basically retrace the steps of that original March in Washington with one big difference. It's going to go from here, at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial over to what is now the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. We're taking you now, it's a beautiful shot of the reflecting pool. Again, right outside the Lincoln Memorial, thousands of people already here this morning, and we have been walking around and speaking to people, asking them why you decided to come.

You came from New Jersey. Obviously you were not around in 1963, but you have seen the old black and white photos and heard the speech, and what does it mean for you to stand here today, 50 years later?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a an honor and a privilege to stand here 50 years later, in the exact place where Dr. King gave his "I have a dream" speech, hearing it and watching the video footage, and reading about it has been an inspiration to me all my life, and to just stand here is an honor and a privilege and to be able to go back, it's our obligation to go back home to carry on Dr. King's dream in our individual communities.

LAWRENCE: Thank you so much. You know, just couple minutes ago, we got a chance to speak with a woman who was actually here 50 years ago who gave us real perspective about what it was like then.


KATHLEEN JOHNSON, MARCH PARTICIPANT: It was wonderful. I mean, there was people, thousands, white, black, Indians, and it was so much - everybody was just so united. It was just wonderful. I just - to feel that adrenaline was worth it.

Obviously jobs were a big part of the issues then, and they are still today. A lot of people with signs that say jobs across the top, immigration, the rights for the gay and lesbian community, and voting rights and all of those issues, and people coming here to try and get that national focus as we look back 50 years ago.

Ivan, Brianna.

WATSON: Chris Lawrence at the National Mall, thank you.

New this morning, in one week San Diego won't have its current mayor anymore, and a lot of people think that will be an improvement.

KEILAR: That's right, Bob Filner agreed to step down on Friday so he can fight the allegations of sexual harassment on his own. But he is not going quietly.

WATSON: No. CNN's Casey Wian joins us from San Diego with more. Casey, Filner seems to think he is the victim in the soap opera.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He certainly does, Ivan. And he started out yesterday at the city council meeting where they were debating the settlement agreement where they had reached it in the middle of the week, and he apologized to the city and his supporters, and former fiance, and he apologized to the 18 women that came forward and claimed he engaged in the inappropriate sexually-charged conduct, but then he turned defiant saying he never sexually harassed anyone.


MAYOR RON FILNER, SAN DIEGO: The fight for control of the city has become, as I said, vicious and bloody. Unfortunately, on my own, and you all help cut off any support for that, I can't afford to continue this battle. Even though I know, if given due process, I would be vindicated.


WIAN: He went to a place then later that shocked a lot of people. He was with the freedom writers back during the civil rights era, and he said that he had faced down lynch mobs in his past and he compared his resignation and the events leading up to a lynch mob, and he criticized his political opponents, he criticized powerful business interests. He criticized the media basically saying it was all of those parties' fault for his departure from office. Ivan and Brianna.

WATSON: CNN's Casey Wian in San Diego, the former - soon-to-be former mayor playing the victim, here, huh?

KEILAR: Yes, certainly. Thanks, Casey.

Now, a wildfire raging in California's Yosemite National Park is threatening 4,500 structures this morning.

WATSON: This fire is so ferocious that it doubled in size in just a day, and its impact may be felt 200 miles away in San Francisco.

KEILAR: We will explain why that is in just a moment. But first now to CNN's Nick Valencia. He is outside of Yosemite National Park. Any headway overnight, Nick?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just a bit of headway, but to give you a sense how fast moving this wildfire has been. This is an area that's been chart out (ph) and heavily damaged from the rim fire, as they call it here, and it's fast-moving and it's unforgiving, and I don't know if it translates to our audience at home, but it's very soupy, these conditions here, smoke all around us right now, and just a short time ago we saw multiple fire crews rush up this highway here, presumably going towards fighting the flames. This has been as I mentioned very fast-moving, and just at five percent containment. That's up from two percent containment.

Fire officials are crediting the use of fixed wing aircrafts, but parts of this area, Brianna and Ivan, are still under evacuation warning, and orders are being given to residents here to get out before the fire moves towards them. We caught up - our affiliate caught up with one of those residents who was being evacuated yesterday.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's part of the gamble. You know, we are on the biggest corridor to Yosemite National Park, and with the pros comes cons because we're in an isolated area surrounded by wilderness. So it's part of the beauty and the charm and part of the downfall as well.


VALENCIA: And part of the fear is that this blaze is eating away at areas on the fringes of Yosemite National Park, and it's already encroached on the western boundary of Yosemite National Park. It's of course, a very popular tourist destination, already fire officials estimate this is three time the size, this fire, three times the size of the city of San Francisco. Ivan, Brianna.

WATSON: And that's - Nick, that's the wood smoke behind you from this blaze?

VALENCIA: That's right. That's right. We don't see flames right now, Ivan, but you could see this area was recently charred out, and I don't know if you can tell by looking at it here, we will have our cameraman pan, but this goes back a few hundred yards of just charred out trees, burned and very crispy at this point, and the fire is more towards Ptolemy County and it's being moved towards that way, and the winds have really played an aggressive role in this fire and moving it where it has.

Again, just five percent contained and 150,000 acres. And this is affecting even San Francisco. San Francisco gets about 85 percent - a majority of its water from out here, and some of those power generation stations have been affected and that's the reason why the governor of California declared a state of emergency for the city of San Francisco. That city is 200 miles away and already feeling the impact of this fire. Ivan, Brianna, back to you guys.

KEILAR: All right. Nick, keep us posted. We'll be checking in with you next hour.

Now let's check the weather for Yosemite in that area around the rim fire and how it may impact the fire fight there.

WATSON: CNN's meteorologist Alexandra Steele joins us.

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You guys, you know, it has really doubled in size since yesterday. And it's really a function of two factors, the winds which have been strong and erratic, and also the terrain, it's incredibly rugged and there are canyons and ridges, and in terms of the weather we call it the canyon effect.

What happens in those canyon, similar when you're walking in New York City between buildings when that air gets squeezed together, it gets squeezed and accelerates, and you will notice that when you are walking in the city, and it's a similar scenario, but the canyon effect which accelerates these winds that we're seeing here and exacerbating this fire.

So here are the current conditions. Right now it's 34, kind of the most benign we have seen. The wind speed is low and slow at three, but we have seen the wind gusts about 27 miles per hour yesterday, helping to spread this fire. And for the most part these winds are coming from the southwest, and when we talk about winds we talk about the direction from where they are coming. So a southwest wind blowing it all east. That's what brought it to Yosemite.

So here's a look at the miles per hour. This is sustained winds, 11, 12 through the afternoons. That's when we see those winds pick up and so gusts once again today will be in the 20s, but the problem, sometimes these winds have been erratic and kind disparate so coming out at different regions. So coming from the southwest at the same time coming from the north. So quiet conditions in terms of no chance for rain at all, and the irony, guys, is that there is this tropical storm, Evo, south and west of the Baja are going to bring flooding rain to south of that, Las Vegas and Phoenix which is not far north and west to kind of get in to tackle the fire.

KEILAR: All right. Alexandra, thank you so much for that. And just ahead, we'll be talking live with one of the women that accused San Diego mayor Bob Filner. She made her case before the city council.


LAURA FINK,: Today I stand shoulder to shoulder with the other women that have come forward asking for the mayor to resign. This call has been universal among the victims of his reprehensible act and represents a critical step forward towards justice for each of us.


KEILAR: Laura Fink on Filner's resignation and the deal that he cut.


KEILAR: Now that Bob Filner has resigned the mayor's office in San Diego, we want to talk to Laura Fink. She is one of the 18 women who accused Filner of sexual harassment. Laura, thank you so much for coming on to talk with us. We really appreciate it. And quickly, if you can remind us, because to be honest with 18 different accounts, there are so many different encounters, can you remind us of your encounter with Filner.

LAURA FINK, FILNER ACCUSER: My encounter was eight years ago, and Bob Filner told me to turn around while I was moving him from table to table at a fund raiser and when I did so, he proceeded to pat me on the behind, and say - a guests had said she has worked her behind off for you, and he told me to turn around and proceeded to pat me on the rear and say, "No, it's still there." I documented the incident and he asked for an apology and he not to do this to any other women and he gave me a very weak apology and told me that I just didn't understand.

KEILAR: All right. Well, certainly, a number of other women feel they were in at least similar situations to you, and it was interesting to hear the mayor speak yesterday. I am sure you already heard part of it, but let's take a listen and I want to get your response on the other side.


FILNER: to the women that I offended, I had no intention to be offensive. To violate any physical or emotional space. I was trying to establish personal relationships, but the combination of awkwardness and hubris I think led to behavior that many found offensive.

Again, as I have in the past, sincerely apologized to all of you, and I will try to make amends in any suitable manner.


KEILAR: Laura, what do you think of that?

FINK: Well, you know, it was striking to me how parallel his apology yesterday was to the apology that he gave me in 2005. He acknowledges the hubris and awkwardness, but he has been confronted about the behavior before, and I confronted him in an e-nail and detailed how it made me feel at the time, and explained to him - it's me - it's sidestepping the issue and again sort f telling us all that we don't really understand and that, you know, he has not really done anything wrong. So I am not sure that he fully comprehends the gravity of his actions.

KEILAR: So, Laura, San Diego is going to help with his legal defense and pay part of his legal bills. What do you think about that?

FINK: You know, it's a challenge. We had a 7-0 vote, bipartisan vote on the city council and I know that it was a tough decision for them to make, but faced with the prospect of the mayor remaining in office for six more months, it was a structural challenge for them. We don't have the impetus to remove him immediately, and so I think they had to make a tough call and I think they made the right one.

KEILAR: What would you say, Laura, to the mayor - well, for a few more days he is the mayor, and what would you say to him if you ran into him today?

FINK: You know, I think I said everything that I need to say to the mayor, and I hope that he takes time to reflect upon his actions and that he pursues a path of integrity from this point forward.

KEILAR: All right. Laura Fink, we really appreciate your reaction to this. Thank you.

FINK: Thank you so much, Brianna.

KEILAR: Ivan, over to you.

WATSON: Thanks, Brianna.

Former heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson, is back in the ring. Well, not quite in the ring, but he's pretty darn close to it. We will tell you about Tyson's newest gig in our bleacher report. And we are also monitoring the march on Washington. Jesse Jackson speaking this hour, and John Lewis coming up at 11:00 a.m.. You are looking at live pictures from the National Mall in Washington.


WATSON: Welcome back, everybody. More than eight years after walking away from the sport he dominated like no other, Mike Tyson is giving boxing another chance.

KEILAR: Yes but Iron Mike is not fighting. No, he is back but as a boxing promoter, one of the many new jobs that Tyson has these days, and Joe Carter has more on this in "The Bleacher Report." Hey, Joe. JOE CARTER, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey guys. How are you doing?

Yes, Mike Tyson of today really bears little resemblance to the one who was actually addicted to drugs and considering suicide, just five years ago. Tyson is clean today. He is a vegan and he is a successful businessman. His latest venture, Iron Mike Productions, and it kicked off last night with a nationally televised fight. In addition to being a promoter, Tyson will soon continue his one-man traveling stage show. He also has a six-part documentary airing soon on Fox as well.

And trimming the sporting on, the little leaguers from West Port, Connecticut. They are playing in today's U.S. championship game, after a thrilling come-from-behind game yesterday. They were actually trailing by seven runs until the fifth inning when they hit a game-tying home run from Chad Knight, and then in the seventh, it was Chad Knight once again - he won the game with a walk- off single. They play California later today. The winner will go on for the Little League World Series Championship game on Sunday.

This is a great story to end on. Cody Clark, he is a 31-year-old rookie, and he finally made it to the major leagues last night for the Astros, and he has been in the minors for 11 years. Now he struck out during his (INAUDIBLE). He was in as a pinch-hitter, but he said strike out or not, it was a dream come true. His wife was in the stands and his parents made the trip from Arkansas, and he hopes he can continue to play in the big leagues, guys, but it doesn't look too likely, but at least he got his one shot and certainly a great story of perseverance for Cody Clark.

KEILAR: And that was very cool. Joe Carter, thank you so much.

CARTER: You bet.

KEILAR: You are looking at some live pictures from the National Mall. This is the anniversary march on Washington. We are live from the mall and we have a report for you ahead.


WATSON: Welcome back. They are just teenagers, but already they survived war, genocide and even the loss of their families. Now some of these girls are beginning a new life in Chicago with a whole new set of problems.

KEILAR: But this week's CNN hero has made it her mission to help them. Meet (INAUDIBLE).


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My family came to America because we want a better life. We are 12 people in a family. When I got to Chicago, (INAUDIBLE). It's really hard. You know, I'm totally lost.

BLAIR BRETTSCHNEIDER, COMMUNITY WONDER: It's hard enough to be a teenage girl in the United States. So it's even harder to be a refugee.

My name is Blair Brettschneider, and I hope refugee girls find their place in America.

In my free time after work, I was tutoring different kids, and one girl was really struggling.

Hello. How is it going?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had to so more because I'm a girl - cook food for my family, go to laundry, take care of my brothers.

BRETTSCHNEIDER: We started to go on field trips and we talked about college and (INAUDIBLE).

Are you going to sign up for classes?


BRETTSCHNEIDER: One of our biggest goals together was for her to graduate high school and be on a path to go to college. And she did. I thought, this is really important, and I am sure there are other girls.

There are about 50 girls in our different programs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) I am so proud of you, you know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her mentorship programs matches girls in high school with women mentors who work with them once a week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to write an essay, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to write about my life.

BRETTSCHNEIDER: When you are walking down the street, they are just teenagers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to have my own salon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One day I am hoping to become a nurse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to be a teacher.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to be a doctor or a nurse.

BRETTSCHNEIDER: When I see all the girls can accomplish and everything that they can do, that's really why I did all of this.


KEILAR: We'll see you right back here at the top of the hour, but up next, 29-year-old Mark Zuckerberg's plans to connect the entire planet. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK FOUNDER: They're going to use it to decide what kind of government they want, get access to health care for the first time ever and connect with families hundreds of miles away that they haven't seen in decades.


WATSON: "YOUR MONEY" starts right now.