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Same-Sex Marriages Recognized by Feds; Closed-Door Meeting on Syria; Watch Your Texting in New Jersey; Boy Buried by Sand Dune Thanks Rescuers

Aired August 29, 2013 - 14:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: It is a busy one. The news continues to come in here. Another breaking story for you, the U.S. Treasury Department and the IRS now saying that all legal same-sex marriages will be recognized for federal tax purposes so this ruling applies, whether a couple lives in a state where same-sex marriage is legal or if they don't. So it's huge, huge news there coming from the Treasury Department and the IRS when it comes to same-sex marriages recognized for federal tax purposes. As soon as we get more information, we'll pass it along to you here on CNN.

Meantime, happening right now, a closed door meeting of the U.N. Security Council on the response to a chemical attack on Syria. CNN has learned this meeting is at the request of Russia. Diplomats from Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States are there right now. Meantime, the U.S. intelligence on Syria is in. And it shows the movement of chemical weapons in the lead up to a deadly sarin gas attack in the outskirts of Damascus.

A senior U.S. official telling CNN it was, quote, "not a rogue element of Assad's regime behind this attack." And there's no evidence to show it was an attack from the rebel side. Right now U.N. chemical weapons inspectors, they are still there in country, still inside Syria. There they are wearing the gas masks, collecting blood samples.

They are expected to leave on Saturday and report its findings sometime after that, all of this happening as a debate in the U.K. parliament today on whether to act militarily and it got pretty fiery. Take a look for yourself.


ANGUS ROBERTSON, BRITISH PARLIAMENT MP: The U.K. government expected that we should vote for a blank check that would have allowed U.K. military action before U.N. weapons inspectors concluded their investigations and before their detailed evidence was provided to the United Nations or, indeed, members of this House. Having been misled on reasons for war in Iraq, the least the U.K. government could have done is provide detail evidence and, frankly, they have not.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: Here in the U.S., there will be no debate. White House officials today merely briefing members of Congress about the possible plan of action that happens in just about three and a half hours from now Eastern Time. One of the many voices urging caution today on Syria is syndicated columnist David Sirota. He joins us live from Denver. David, nice to see you as always.

We're going to get to your reservations about this here in just a minute. I just want to show a series of famous or maybe we should say infamous photographs. Let me begin here. This is the U.N. Security Council. This was February 3rd, 2003. Here he was. Secretary of State Collin Powell presenting what he said was evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction including nerve agents and poison gas.

As we all now know, those American claims proved false. I'm just wondering to you, David, does that history from ten years ago, does that handicap President Obama? Does it raise the bar for him in terms of convincing the world that Syria has, in fact, used these chemical weapons?

DAVID SIROTA, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Absolutely. I think it does raise the bar and I think President Obama in a recent interview actually acknowledged that, saying that essentially to the American public that this is not going to become, at least from his perspective, another Iraq. Now, whether you trust him or not, when it comes to military intervention, it's clear that the White House has Iraq and really America's collective memory of Iraq on its mind.

I think that's OK. I think the bar being set high to prove to the world that military intervention is legitimate, that should be the expectation here whether we went through Iraq or not. We have a right to know what U.S. national interests are at stake and whether military intervention really will create positive outcomes in terms of the humanitarian crisis in Syria because there is a humanitarian crisis there.

BALDWIN: It is. When it comes to Iraq, certainly in the collective memory and then you have Congress, as we mentioned, that conference call happening at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Both parties really demanding that the president bring them in on this, perhaps actually seeking congressional approval. I just want to play some quick sound. This is a dissenting is voice on that, no less a Republican here. Take a listen.


REPRESENTATIVE PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Let me make it clear, I believe the president can take this action without authorization from the Congress. I believe as commander in chief he has the right to take this action. It's in his interest to consult with the leadership in the House and Senate, but I don't believe he has to.


BALDWIN: How important do you think it is, David Sirota, that the president get that mark of approval, get that congressional authorization before striking?

SIROTA: It's absolutely 100 percent critical. And Barack Obama of 2008 understood that it was critical when he gave an interview to the "Boston Globe" in which he said that as president, he does not have the authority, he would not have the right under the U.S. constitution to bomb a country when that country doesn't pose an imminent threat to the United States. Congressional approval is really essentially the approval of the American public. That's why the precepts in the constitution mandate that Congress has a say over this. Congress gets to declare war. That's effectively garnering consent of the public. If the president goes forward without that consent of the public --

BALDWIN: Which we know he can do.

SIROTA: He can. He can. But there are constitutional questions and there are certainly questions about why did he get elected in 2008 saying that he couldn't. And then turn around and if he does this, then essentially ignore his own words.

BALDWIN: It's a point to be made. David Sirota, thank you very much, David.

Coming up, in most states it's illegal to text while you're behind the wheel. But one state is hoping to make it illegal to even send a text message to someone else who is behind the wheel. That's right. You could be punished for sending a text to someone who is driving. We're going to break down that story, legally speaking, coming up next.


BALDWIN: So we all know you're not supposed to be doing this, right, when you're driving your car. But did you know that you could get in trouble if you are doing that to someone who is behind the wheel? This could happen. We're talking about New Jersey if the driver crashes. Here's the back story.

A couple there got hit by a car and sued the driver and his girlfriend who was texting with him. An appeals court ruled if a texter knows somebody is driving, that texter can be held liable. The girl in this case was let off the hook because she said she had no idea her boyfriend was driving at the time. But this whole idea of punishing texters got huge reactions in New Jersey.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's completely absurd. Just because I know you're driving doesn't mean, you know, it really doesn't mean they know you're looking at it. So they can just be texting you something they're expecting you to read in the future.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wouldn't text anyone. I don't answer my phone when I'm driving. I don't think they should either. Your life and other people's lives are important.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: OK, let me bring in our legal panel because this is something that got us fired up this morning. You have Criminal Defense Attorneys Faith Jenkins and Danny Cevallos joining me. Faith, let me just begin with you. Let me just begin with this, how could you actually prove, let's say you're driving. I'm texting you. How can I prove or know that you're driving in the first place?

FAITH JENKINS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think in order for you to say someone is liable under this law you'd need an admission from the person saying, I knew they were driving. I knew they could possibly be distracted and I sent them a text message anyway. That's what has to happen here. You have to have actual knowledge the person will read the text message while they're driving.

Then it has to be reasonable, foreseeable that they could be distracted and possibly get in an accident. But the key here, it is still prudent. It is up to the driver to make prudent decisions about what to do when they receive a text message. The teenager in this case wasn't held liable because the judge said she had no way of knowing if this guy didn't pull over to the side of the road to read a text message or decide to read it later.

BALDWIN: Danny, let me come to you in a second. Let me make sure we get in Chris Christie. He's commenting on this, governor of New Jersey. He said drivers are responsible. He told a radio station, quote, "You have the obligation to keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel and pay attention to what you are doing." What do you think? Is it effective at all in punishing the texter, not just the driver?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Here's what you need to know. The court here didn't say that as a matter of law, all people who text drivers are somehow responsible. It actually says quite the contrary. It took a specific set of facts and said, if you have knowledge that someone is driving, you may be held liable. But consider that that same court decided to hold not liable a teenager who was texting her boyfriend up to 100 times a day.

The requirement is that they have that specific knowledge that they are somehow interfering with the person driving. That's a high standard. Just because it's possible does not follow that it is now probable that it will happen. Remember, this is a civil case. This is not a criminal matter. This is not a law enacted by legislature. This is a court's opinion that in theory it is possible to hold someone liable if they have that knowledge. It is a novel legal theory of liability.

BALDWIN: It's novel, but at the same time, it definitely got me thinking this morning. It would be so great to have some kind of knowledge if I were texting someone and I don't know, if their name popped a certain color in my phone, I would know they were driving and I shouldn't be texting them. It's things to think about. Faith Jenkins and Danny Cevallos, thank you very much.

Coming up next, this incredible story of survival, a 6-year-old boy trapped under 11 feet of sand for nearly three hours. You see him. He was pulled out alive. His parents are calling it a miracle. What does little Nathan here have to say about this? That's next.


BALDWIN: The 6-year-old Nathan Woessner may have one of the most miraculous survival stories you have ever heard. What happened to him is he got trapped underneath 11 feet of sand for hours when he was visiting an Indiana sand dune. And he is clearly alive today because of a couple of men and women who did not give up digging for him. Now he and his parents are finally meeting them to say thank you. George Howell has the emotional reunion.


FAITH WOESSNER, MOTHER: You like all them people clapping for you? That was pretty cool.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When you consider exactly what Nathan Woessner went through, you understand why this moment was so important.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was everyone's miracle.

HOWELL: Finally meeting face to face the men and women who searched tirelessly and saved him, trapped beneath 11 feet of sand.

WOESSNER: We will always be so grateful for what you did and you will always be our heroes.

HOWELL: His mother calls it simply a miracle.

WOESSNER: I believe that God did hold him. I believe he was right here, you know, in God's hands and that God's hands held him and gave him air and comforted him and ultimately kept him safe until they found him.

HOWELL: The dramatic rescue played out July 12th at the Indiana Dunes National Lake Shore.


UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: There's a kid that fell in a hole on Mt. Baldy.

UNIDENTIFIED DISPATCHER: We have everybody on the way.

HOWELL: Nathan stepped on to a sink hole at the top of a sand dune known as Mt. Baldy. Officer Greg Radiger was first to arrive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was hard to dig in the sand. It was collapsing on top of us. It was one step forward and ten steps back with the sand.

HOWELL: About three hours later they finally found him.

(on camera): There was one point where people thought he was dead.

OFFICER GREG RADIGER, MICHIGAN, ILLINOIS CITY POLICE: I was one of them. When we pulled young Nathan out of the hole, it was only a body. An hour later my friend called me, he goes, Greg, he's alive. He's in the hospital. He's alive. I had no idea. It was amazing. It's a blessing from God.

HOWELL: It's a lot to take in for this sometimes shy 6-year-old.

WOESSNER: You like being a superstar? Yes? Why?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Because I get presents.

HOWELL: Even his parents have trouble finding the right words.

GREG WOESSNER, FATHER: I don't know that we could ever express what, you know, feelings or emotions or the love we have for everyone that was there, had a role to play in this because, you know, thank you just doesn't seem like enough.

HOWELL: George Howell, CNN, Michigan City, Indiana.


BALDWIN: It's incredible. Coming up, what do President Obama, Miley Cyrus and Alec Baldwin have in common? We'll tell you, next.


BALDWIN: Right now in Washington, President Obama is getting ready to brief Congress on his plans for possible action against Syria as this debate heats up. Are the questions of Iraq fair? Is the bar higher now for the U.S. to justify an attack? We'll discuss that coming up next.

Speaking of the president, he is in one of the top five videos of the day on Roll it. You are clicking on the president's interview with PBS in which he makes an admission.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: First of all, I have not made a decision. I have gotten options from our military.


BALDWIN: Number four, red worms found in the tap water. This is in a town in Oklahoma. That can be an inch long. One expert says it's not uncommon, actually, in the southeast.

Number three, if attention is what Miley Cyrus wanted, well, she's the big winner online. Her twerking showcased on MTV still getting clicks four days later.

The top two videos on CNN, they involve a celebrity scuffle and a dance move, those after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BALDWIN: And we're back. Here are's top two videos of the day. Number two, a celebrity scuffle and the celeb actually has the same last name as mine, Baldwin. New daddy Alec Baldwin not a fan of the paparazzi. New photos appear to show Baldwin tangling with a photographer on the streets of New York City. Both Baldwin and the photographer called 911. Neither wants to press charges.

Now the number one video, actually from our own Jeanne Moos, smocking the twerking phenomenon.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twerking merits a scientific explanation. There is pregnant twerking even grandmas twerking. Leno is broadcasting fake sightings of Miley twerking.


BALDWIN: Moos even dug out a months old clip from our own Christine Romans trying to figure out how to twerk.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Twerking, you ask? I have no idea. That's twerking. My grandmother watches this show. Can we just take that down?

MOOS: Here's a phrase we haven't heard Miley Cyrus utter.


BALDWIN: Twerking, make it go away! Let's move on. Today's "Human Factor," it's about a young man who didn't let hearing loss interfere with his love of music. Here is Dr. Sanjay Gupta.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Deejay Robbie Wilde, he lives in a world of rhythm and base. He just can't hear it. Severe ear infections as a child left Wilde completely deaf in his right ear and 80 percent deaf in his left.

ROBBIE WILDE, "THAT DEAF DJ": My mom was crying when the doctors said it. Me being the one with the hearing loss, you know, I went up to my mom. I'm like, mom, it's OK. I'm going to be all right. I promise you. You'll see. I'll be fine.

GUPTA: Although hearing is the most important sense in a deejay's life, Wilde was still determined to make it. He went to deejay school to learn the art of turntablism and he relies on a computer to see the music. Red is a kick from the base. Blue, that's a snare. Greens are vocal.

WILDE: I don't want you to see me as a deaf deejay or deaf kid trying to deejay. I want you to see me as a great deejay that happens to be deaf. I don't want sympathy. I don't want let's give him a gig because he's hearing impaired.

GUPTA: Wilde's skills got him noticed by HP and also earned him a spot in a commercial rusting him on the world's stage.

WILDE: It doesn't matter that I can't hear the music.

GUPTA: Besides, Wilde says, some things are just better left unheard.

WILDE: You know, there are a lot of sounds out in the world you don't want to hear. I like it muffled. I like who I am. I'm proud of who I am.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta.