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White House Outlines Syria Intel; When Will The U.S. Strike?; Syria To U.S.: We Are Prepared; Concussion Settlement; Holiday Travel; Fueling Your Travel; Tightening Grip On Rim Fire; Same Tax Marriage; Report Sheds New Light On Bin Laden Raid; Bob Filner's Last Day; Fast Food Chains Hurt By Strike

Aired August 30, 2013 - 06:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): -- they were responsible for these weapons, that according to Congressman Eliot Engel who participated in the call. Though Obama officials insisted no decisions have been made on military action against Syria, CNN is also told they privately made clear to lawmakers that chemical weapons in Syria is such a threat the U.S. could engage with or without support from critical allies like Great Britain.

One key GOP Senator Bob Corker emerged from briefings Thursday announcing support for what he called surgical proportional military strikes, given the strong evidence of the Assad regime's continued use of chemical warfare. Democratic Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Menendez reaffirmed his support too saying a decisive and consequential U.S. response is justified and warranted. Others argued the president still has to come before Congress and the American people before he acts.

HOWARD "BUCK" MCKEON, REPUBLICAN U.S. CONGRESSMAN: It's up to the president to sell this to the American people.


BASH: Now this attempt to consult with members of Congress didn't leave everybody satisfied and that's really an understatement. Several Republicans said that what the administration said was far too vague especially when it comes to plans for military action. But Kate, there could be several reasons for that. One of which is that these members of Congress, of course, were back home in their districts, back home in their states and some on cell phones, so they were talking on an unsecured line. Anything that they were told had to be unclassified -- Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: It sounds like some lawmakers and some of members of the American public are going to need some more information before they're convinced. Dana, thanks so much from Capitol Hill this morning for us.

Now let's get more on that stunning political defeat in parliament for British Prime Minister David Cameron. The government there is saying no to any military action. CNN's Atika Shubert is in London for us this morning. So Atika, how significant is this decision by the British parliament?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very significant, it was a stunning defeat, 285 to 272, and check out the headlines. This is on every paper out here today, the key word being a humiliating defeat. Basically what this means is that Britain has been ruled out of taking any military action on Syria. Cameron has said he literately said, quote, "I get that," said he will respect lawmakers' decision and that means President Obama will be going it alone without the help of Britain.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thank you very much for that. It's interesting contrast there. OK, the U.K. they bring in the parliamentary body, they have a vote and it is voted down to take any action. Here, they are doing it by conference call, some people can hear, some people can't, it's declassified. Are we following it the right way?

So the question of why is now giving way to the question of when. Let's go to the Pentagon correspondent for us this morning, Barbara Starr, following that angle. What do we know, Barbara, in terms of particular timing here?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Chris, the U.S. Navy now has five destroyers equipped with Tomahawk missiles. Those unmanned cruise missiles off the coast in the Eastern Mediterranean. They could be ready to fire we are told within minutes of getting an order from the president. So this awaits a presidential order. It goes to the intelligence. They feel those intercepts definitely link it to the regime. A key question, was Bashar Al- Assad's hand on the button?

They say they are not going to talk about that. That's too classified to reveal at this point, but it doesn't matter, that they believe they have the firm evidence the regime was behind it, so it's simply awaits a decision by President Obama to do this. But our sources are also telling us there's something much deeper unfolding here even really beyond Syria at this point.

The use of chemical weapons, a historic atrocity and that the president feels the Obama administration feels they have to respond to this as bad as it is for Syria that this is an historic atrocity, you can't let it go unanswered. You can't let the world see the United States just sit by and have people killed by the use of chemical weapons -- Chris, Kate.

CUOMO: All right, thank you very much, Barbara. It's just interesting, last Thursday we weren't hearing that at all from the president of the United States. He was saying international law, the need for a coalition, let's be careful. We don't know what happened and what the right response is. Now all of a sudden it seems like you have to go and you have to attack.

BOLDUAN: And the only question that seems to remain is when and how.

CUOMO: A hard shift. BOLDUAN: So let's find out what's happening inside Syria this morning. CNN's Fred Pleitgen was the only western network reporter in the country this week when this crisis started to ramp up. He's now in Beirut. So Fred, what is the latest from there?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate. Well, it seems as though the Syrian regime is presenting their side of the story today. The Syrian defense minister came out in a call with the Iranian defense minister and said that the Syrians have evidence that it was the rebels who used chemical weapons on the battlefield. That's, of course, something that they've been saying for quite a while.

The U.S., of course, doesn't believe that, but what's going on today is that it's the final day of the weapons inspectors working on the ground and today they are actually in the government-held part of Damascus and they're visiting a military hospital there that allegedly has some of these victims from the government side of these chemical weapons attacks. They're talking to them, visiting that hospital and after that Saturday the weapons inspectors are going to leave the country.

Now the latest that I have from on the ground in Damascus, they say people are nervous about potential U.S. strikes. A lot of people are stocking up on food. Some people have brought their families and children to neighboring Lebanon. But by and large, people aren't fleeing in great numbers and they are just waiting to see what happens. Also apparently, Kate, a lot of military movement on the ground, the military moving hardware around possibility to try and avoid U.S. air strikes -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: And the latest we're hearing is the U.N. weapons inspectors expected to be pulled out possibly tomorrow. So we'll have to see what they find and what that means for any military action. Fred, thank you so much for bringing that to us from Beirut.

Coming up later in the next hour here on NEW DAY, we'll speak with retired Marine Corps General Anthony Zinny about the situation in Syria and also the possible options that the U.S. has for carrying out some sort of military strike.

CUOMO: We're going to stay on the story all morning because it matters, but there's other as well. We have news of a blockbuster settlement that may close the legal fight at least for now over head injuries in the NFL. The league is agreeing to pay $765 million to more than 4,500 former players and their families.

Let's bring in Andy Scholes with "The Bleacher Report" this morning to break it down for us. So Andy, do we believe that this a good settlement? How is it being received? What does it mean?

ANDY SCHOLES, "THE BLEACHER REPORT": Yes. Chris, it's good that they were able to get this deal done now because this case could have dragged out for years. By settling it right now, the dark cloud hanging over the league goes away and the players who have concussion- related injuries will get the help they need. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHOLES (voice-over): For years the NFL and its retired players have been at odds how to address head injuries that may have occurred on the field. Thursday the sides reached a landmark agreement that will end the fighting and put money towards medical exams, injury compensation, legal fees and medical research. Here's how the money will be allocated, $75 million for medical exams, $675 million in compensation for cognitive injuries, $10 million for research plus legal fees and other expenses related to the lawsuit.

JAMAL ANDERSON, FORMER NFL RUNNING BACK: I think it's a good day for thousands of football players who are dealing with different afflictions from playing the game of football.

SCHOLES: Numerous prominent players like hall of famer Tony Dorsett, Super Bowl winning quarterback Jim McMahon and the family of Junior Seau who committed suicide last year are all involved in this case. A major part of this settlement centered around clearing the NFL from having to admit any liability or that brain-related injuries were caused by football. Many consider that a huge win for the NFL and its owners.

PETER KING, SENIOR COLUMNIST, "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED": They're almost certainly going to be able to eliminate any future lawsuit from former players about head injuries.

SCHOLES: While $765 million seems like a big number, some think the players could have done better considering last year alone the NFL had a revenue of $9.2 billion.

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You also consider the potential risk the NFL had of going to trial on each of these individually complex claims. The potential exposure here was in the billions I think and that's a conservative estimate.

SCHOLES: The agreement is now in the hands of U.S. District Judge Anita Brody who must approve this deal. Former players can still voice their opposition.


SCHOLES: Now only players who have retired by the time the concussion settlement is approved will be eligible for compensation, but all retired players whether they were involved in the lawsuit or not can take a baseline test and Chris, it's those test results that will be used to determine the amount of money they will receive from this settlement now and in the future.

CUOMO: All right, Andy, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Have a great weekend, by the way.

SCHOLES: You, too.

CUOMO: Very confusing because when you don't know enough about what caused the concussion and what the damage is, when you can't prove it, you don't know how to value it and you also don't know how to use that science to stop it on the field so who knows.

BOLDUAN: It's one thing to have a settlement to pay it out, but it's that looking forward what does this mean for the game and how can we make it safer if we can.

CUOMO: That's right.

BOLDUAN: It's still the lingering question.

CUOMO: So we want to talk about this more so later on NEW DAY, we're going to have former NFL running back Clinton Porter, great for the Broncos and the Redskins. He is wearing his Redskins jersey. He is one of the players who sued the NFL over concussions. He knows the game and the toll concussions can take very well so we'll get his perspective.

BOLDUAN: Also one thing on everybody's mind today, Labor Day weekend, folks are hitting the road this Labor Day weekend. AAA says 34 million Americans will be traveling more than 50 miles from home, up more than 4 percent from last year. So we've got all these angles covered. Indra Petersons is here with your holiday forecast and of course, Christine Romans will be giving us the latest on gas prices. The thing you probably want to know most before getting behind the wheel.

Let's get straight to Indra though first. So what is the Labor Day weekend looking at? What's the forecast?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You can tell I'm already nervous to tell everyone. There's one place that will get better and that is the Midwest. These temperatures that are 15 to 20 degrees above normal are going to start to cool. Here is the difference between Saturday and Sunday. It's all thanks to a cold front, those temperatures dropping 15, even 20 degrees.

Unfortunately there's a cold front we're also going to be talking about showers and only gets worse as the weekend continues. Here is what it looks like today. As we go in through tomorrow the Ohio Valley you'll start to see some showers. There are two cold fronts so it gets worse as we go in through, yes, Saturday in through Sunday.

Notice we start to see the northeast and mid-Atlantic starting to go down in the southeast and Sunday into Monday is when it gets the toughest, we merge the two systems together to get just what everyone wants is rain right on labor day forecast. You're welcome.

BOLDUAN: Need to know it, though. Thanks so much, Indra. We'll check back in.

CUOMO: All right, Labor Day, obviously all about the working man and woman. Problem is that's who's going to be most affected by gas prices. So Christine, what do we know about the cost it will fill up to make the drives this weekend?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Again, what we know is that last year was the most expensive Labor Day ever for driving and this year it will be a lot better. You have about 20 cents lower the average price of gas compared with last year and that's why AAA says more people will be on the road, $3.83 last year so you're getting a little bit of a break this time around.

This is why the lower gas prices are why more are expected to be driving, 4.2 percent more will be headed out for the holiday and 29.2 million in a car, average distance about 594 miles. AAA also says the best time to leave for your weekend, en route by 1:00 p.m. yesterday, but gas prices will be better this weekend.

CUOMO: All right, so Indra Petersons failed us on the weather, Christine Romans gave us good news for business, now we'll roll it to Michaela and see if we can keep it positive, one each way. You will make the decision as to whether or not the news is good for the weekend.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Well, actually we do have some progress to report on the fire conditions out in California.

CUOMO: Good.

PEREIRA: Firefighters are seizing on the cooler conditions and calmer winds there to keep that rim fire from moving deeper into Yosemite National Park, of course, the favorite for the Labor Day weekend. And evacuation advisory now lifted in Northern California, fire crews are tightening their grip on that stubborn fire. It is at 32 percent containment, close to 200,000 acres have burned so far.

Straight or gay, the IRS now says they will recognize your marriage, a new policy allows any legally married couple to file joint tax returns even if they move to one of the 37 states that do not allow for gay marriage. The landmark decision striking down the defense of marriage act paved the way for this new policy, which civil rights groups are applauding.

A new report in "The Washington Post" offering more detail about the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. It says forensic intelligence agents working in Afghanistan confirmed his identity eight hours after he was killed using DNA from his corpse. That report also says U.S. in the dark about important parts of the world like Pakistan, North Korea and Russia. "The Post" information is based on data from NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

Well, today, Friday marking San Diego Mayor Bob Filner's final day in office at 5:00 this afternoon, City Council President Todd Gloria will take over as interim mayor and a special election is set for November 19th. Attorney Gloria Allred plans to celebrate Mayor Filner's last day, she represents several women who say they were sexually harassed by Filner.

New York we know is a tough place, but all it took was a pair of adorable kittens walking down the tracks to shutdown the subway. Service came to a halt for 90 minutes Thursday in Brooklyn as workers cut power to the tracks and went looking for these fugitive felines. The rail could be deadly to an unsuspecting cat. At first there was no luck finding the kittens, but they were found hours later and were taken to a local animal shelter. It would really anger commuters, but come on, look at that face.

CUOMO: Got to save the kittens. Good stuff.

BOLDUAN: And they did.

CUOMO: That's some good news. We'll take a break here on NEW DAY. When we come back the weekend coming up all about the working man and woman and yet look what's happening on the streets, fast food workers walk out over money. They're not the only ones pushing for higher wages. The question is will this day of action make a difference? We'll tell you about it.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead a popular pill getting a new warning this morning, bright red lettering on a bottle of extra strength Tylenol. Its maker says it's all about preventing overdoses. So what is the real danger here? We'll get into that coming up.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Though we are headed into a celebration of labor, it was a day on the picket lines for thousands of fast food workers. Organizers call it the biggest demonstration yet in a battle for higher wages.

The question is, will it do the trick? Could this moment be a tipping point in the broader battle over the minimum wage?

Let's bring back Christine Romans for the latest on this.

ROMANS: This is tens of thousands of people across the country. It was the biggest organization yet and folks who were protesting in the streets say this is just the beginning. They're going to keep talking and protesting until they get fair pay.



ROMANS (voice-over): Thousands of fast food workers in nearly 60 cities coast to coast walked off their jobs in a one day protest -- beating drums, blowing whistles and shouting for higher wages.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most of them are young adults with families, and they cannot afford to survive on $7.25.

ROMANS: Major national fast food chains including McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's hit hard by the strike. In New York City, a McDonald's jam-packed with fired up workers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like to see one of those big bosses come down from their offices and come and live our lives for at least one month.

ROMANS: In Chicago protesters swarmed this McDonald's trying to persuade fellow workers to join them in their fight to help them unionize and raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Currently, the average wage for fast food workers is $9 an hour, just over $18,500 a year -- well below the poverty line of $23,000 for a family of four.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The pay is stagnant. It's not going anywhere.

ROMANS: The fight to raise the minimum wage at a critical turning point in the nation's capital. The controversial living wage bill expected to be on the Washington, D.C., mayor's desk today. It requires big boxed retailers like Walmart to pay employees at least $12.50 an hour.

Organizers hope today's protests could be a turning point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We may look back at these strikes as moments when things change in America, when low wage workers finally said we want our fair share.


ROMANS: Now, that living wage bill could have backlash. Walmart says it will be forced to suspend plans to build three stores in the nation's capital if the bill is passed signed by the mayor, which, of course, that would have created lots of new jobs.

The National Restaurant Association tells us this: these jobs teach invaluable skills and a strong work ethic that are useful for workers throughout their professional careers. The facts show that the majority of workers who earn the minimum wage in the United States are not employed in the restaurant industry. In fact, restaurant jobs about fast food jobs about $9 an hour.

But stages of their professional career -- very key there -- with the job market so weak for many people this is their career right now. They are working in fast food at $9 for their career, average age of a fast food worker, 29 years old. It's not the high school kid you're thinking of.

These are kids trying to pay student loans or trying to feed a family. That's where things are different. The economy is just not providing a lot of opportunity for everybody, that's why there's so much focus on these jobs.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And they clearly feel their voices haven't been heard as they've been asking for this over and over again and that's why they have to protest, they have to strike.

ROMANS: Half the jobs created over the past three years have been part-time low wage jobs, half of them. So this is where we're creating jobs and in this part of the economy, these workers are not happy.

CUOMO: All right. Christine, thanks so much.

We're going to take a break. When we come back, going it alone, the U.S. may have to and now that Britain has voted against military intervention what does that mean for our plans on Syria. The president going to Congress -- they're asking for more information.

So, what are President Obama's options? What do we think is going to happen? We'll tell you in the political gut check.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead, a new warning about Tylenol. You take it for headaches and your aches and pains but its maker says you need to be careful, you can take too much. There are risks here. Elizabeth Cohen is going to have what you need to know, coming up.


ANNOUNCER: You're watching NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira.

CUOMO: That's good. We built this city, celebrating labor this weekend. I like that. I like that dramatic interplay. Very nice.

Welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Friday, August 30th.

Coming up in the show, is Tylenol dangerous? Its maker says here's a problem with people taking too much, so much so that they're taking the step of putting new warnings on some of the bottles. We will tell you the risks and what you need to know.

BOLDUAN: And what do you think is the most special way that you can ask the question, will you marry me? Well, one soldier had a long time to play out his perfect proposal and let's just say his girlfriend, really shock and surprise. It's our must-see moment. We'll show you how he pulled it off, coming up.

CUOMO: Very nice. A lot of news this morning. So let's get right to Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. All eyes on Syria right now. We'll give you the latest developments in a potential military strike against Syria. U.S. officials saying a unilateral response is a possibility after British lawmakers voted against military action. However, France saying it would be open to joining some sort of coalition if it included Arab League allies and wide European support.

At the U.N. a closed door Security Council meeting ended with no agreement on a Syria resolution.

Despite the efforts of 5,000 firefighters, that Rim Fire continues to burn in and around Yosemite National Park. It is a stubborn one.

Park officials say the flames have not approached Yosemite Valley. Of course, that's home to the park's most popular tourist areas. The fire has now consumed nearly 200,000 acres. Forty-five hundreds homes remain at risk, 32 percent containment is now reported for the sixth largest wildfire in California history.

Justice Department taking an historic step back in their war on drugs, telling prosecutors not to enforce federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized the use of marijuana. It gives residents of Colorado and Washington state the green light to possess, grow and buy marijuana for medicinal or recreational purpose. The two states passed measures last year legalizing personal marijuana use. Another indictment in the Boston marathon bombing, prosecutors charging this man, a friend of the surviving suspect, with no counts of lying to investigators. Police say 19-year-old Robel Phillipos was involved in removing a laptop and backpack from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's dorm room just days after the attack. But he initially hid that information from police. Phillipos could face up to eight years in federal prison on each of the two counts.

And too sexy for study hall? That's what one Florida school district now is saying about cheerleading uniforms. A new dress code this year says that those skirts must be at least mid thigh and shirts must be have sleeves. So, the outfits no longer comply.

Some of the girls aren't happy saying it's tradition to wear their uniforms to class on game day. Enforcement of the policy however is up to each school to decide for themselves.

CUOMO: I don't get it. So, the uniform's OK to wear on the field but not in the classroom?

PEREIRA: They don't want them to be worn.


PEREIRA: Yes, exactly, they want the skirts to come to a certain length and sleeves to be --

CUOMO: I'm all for it. As the father of daughters I want them in burlap sacks. But if it's OK on the field, I don't get the implication.

PEREIRA: It distracts --


BOLDUAN: -- from the educational process.

PEREIRA: They think it's a distraction in the classroom.

CUOMO: Yet they're designed to distract the players. I went to a high school where it was all boys. We had no cheerleaders. It's very distracting.

BOLDUAN: We're not only happened to (INAUDIBLE)

CUOMO: Here I was, deep.

BOLDUAN: Oh my goodness.

Let's turn to our political gut check -- all the stories you need to know coming straight out of Washington.

The administration is trying to make its case for military intervention in Syria, likely to release unclassified intelligence today. Will they convince not only congress but the American people?

We've got CNN's chief political analyst Gloria Borger here with all of the details for us this morning.

This is not only -- it's important on so many fronts for the administration, their foreign policy, their strategy and also politically here at home. After the conference call last night with members of Congress, there seem to have been a bit of a mixed reaction, the administration's goal was obviously to make the case, right, Gloria?

So, what do you make of the reaction from lawmakers?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, what the administration is trying to do is get a buy-in, right? Members are scattered all over the country, all around the world. They are not backing Congress. They're screaming for consultation as members of Congress very often do, including the president himself, when he was a member of Congress. Remember that, Kate?

So what they were trying to do was hold this huge conference call and as you know, because it's a conference call, it's not a secure line. You can't tell everybody everything but they wanted to share in a de- classified way what they could about their level of certainty about the chain of custody of these chemical weapons.