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School Buss Attackers Speak; Great Expectations; CNN Hero Teresa Goines; Panda Power; Behind the Scenes with Twin Pandas

Aired August 30, 2013 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Discipline their child after such a vicious act?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I told him, I said you want to act like a criminal, we're going to treat you like as a criminal, you know? If we watch TV, you watch what we watch on television. I said, that's how they do it in jail, so that's how we're going to do it at home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And interesting here, Miller says that she actually think her grandson and the other two teens should have been incarcerated for a few weeks so that they knew what that was like. But the prosecution maintains that giving a stricter punishment would have done more harm than good.

Now, as for that 13-year-old victim, we spoke to his grandmother and she tells us that he's doing better. He's attending a new school now, but he is still too afraid to get on a school bus.

Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I think it's interesting to hear from the parents. People wanted that. Maybe it would have been a better instruction and situation for the parent to be prosecuted for the behavior of the kids as opposed to just writing it off to television.

Also, we still haven't really heard from the school. You know, we always see these incidents as they're bullying and what are we going to do as a reaction, what's the policy, what do we teach our kids? And nothing. So it will wind up all being about what these kids and how they get prosecuted by the system. Clearly the answer to stopping these situations isn't by dealing with the kids themselves because you need a bigger message to go, but at least we see how this one winds up.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: But it is important, also, to not only - those kids have to be punished, but also to curtail that kind of behavior. And those three kids, their lives don't have to be ruined from this.

CUOMO: Right.

PEREIRA: They can turn things around. And it's important to make sure that they get the help they need.

CUOMO: And how do you do that. You can't do it just by punishing them.

PEREIRA: No.

CUOMO: But a bigger policy, a learning moment. I mean that's what all the bullying campaigns are about.

PEREIRA: Making amends.

CUOMO: It would be nice to see it here.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.

PEREIRA: Yes.

CUOMO: You know?

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Pamela.

CUOMO: All right, so let's come back to you because you have the five things that we need to know.

PEREIRA: Yes.

CUOMO: Please tell the rest of us.

PEREIRA: All right, let's start at number one here.

Today, the Obama administration will release intelligence backing up the U.S. claim that Syria's Assad regime was behind a chemical weapons attack outside Damascus. This as the British parliament votes no on am military intervention in Syria.

Firefighters are making progress in their battle with the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park. Officials say about one-third of that blaze is contained. They expect to have it fully contained in two or three weeks.

We're learning more about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. "The Washington Post" reporting forensic intelligence agents confirmed the al Qaeda leader's identity eight hours after he was killed by using DNA from his corpse.

There will be no federal challenge to state laws legalizing marijuana. Attorney General Eric Holder says recent measures in Colorado and Washington state will stand. The laws allows recreational use of the drugs by adults.

And the darling of this year's U.S. Open, at number five, 17-year-old Victoria Duval has been eliminated. The young American losing her second round match to Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova in straight sets. We're still cheering her on. She's got a great career ahead of her.

You know, we're always updating the five things to know. So go to newdaycnn.com for the very latest.

All right, we want to change directions a little bit and talk about something that a lot of eyes are on in our nation, the achievement gap. We're talking about the difference between black and white students on proficiency tests. Statistics show, and they are staggering, that black children lag behind white children in every major city in the United States. And it's the center of CNN's next "Black in America" special. And that brings a special lady to our set today. Soledad O'Brien reporting in great expectations. A "Black in America" special that airs tonight, 10:00 p.m.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CEO, STARFISH MEDIA GROUP: 10:00 p.m.

PEREIRA: A great NEW DAY welcome to you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Thank you so much.

PEREIRA: So good to have you here.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I like your digs. Looks nice. Thank you so much.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Yes, you know, I think it's fair to say that the next front in civil rights is education. And when you look at students, usually students who are poor are getting bad educations and that achievement gap is actually massive in most major cities between black students and white students. So we took a look in this documentary at one particular little boy. His name is Lavon Longstreet (ph). He's seven years old. He's already been in four schools and he still can't read. Here's what it looks like.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Have you ever read this book? It's called "Duck on a Bike." Looks like it's about a duck on a bike. That's kind of silly. You ready?

LAVON LONGSTREET: Uh-huh.

O'BRIEN: Do you want me to use my finger? It was -- do you recognize that word?

LONGSTREET: Fast --

O'BRIEN: It was fun. We do some math together? Is that all right? Two plus two equals -

LONGSTREET: Two.

O'BRIEN: How many Lavons are there, do you think?

ERIC MAHMOOD (ph): For Minneapolis, 70 percent of African-Americans that are taking the state assessment, they're actually failing. I mean that kind of gives you an idea of the number of Lavons that are out there.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O'BRIEN: So that gentleman, his name is Eric Mahmood. He's created a charter school and gotten permission to create more. But his strategy is different. Longer school day, longer school year, afrocentric (ph) culture. The school is 99 percent black. And, also, they test constantly, every single day, every single week, all the time. And there are people who are very critical of that. They call it drill and kill. Here's what one critic had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we don't need are more tests and charter schools that do drill and kill.

O'BRIEN: What does drill and kill mean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It basically means an emphasis and a focus on memorization, representation. It does not make you a critical thinker. It does not evoke any level of creativity.

MAHMOOD: We definitely drill, we don't kill here. I believe that that's a negative connotation that they associated with working hard. I mean, our teachers work hard, our students work hard and they call it drill and kill.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: So, it's controversial. A lot of people fighting over the success of his school. Of course, if he's successful, he's able to create more of them and it's something that's really been a big issue.

PEREIRA: But they've got to agree on the fact that it's 70 percent. Something's got to be done. At least that one piece of common ground.

O'BRIEN: It's a huge problem, right? The building's on fire, right?

PEREIRA: Right.

BOLDUAN: Right.

O'BRIEN: Clearly. And it's not just Minneapolis. It's across the country. You have this massive achievement gap in a population that's only growing. Black and brown students are the fastest growing demographic.

BOLDUAN: So the people who are critical of the way this one school does it -

O'BRIEN: Right.

BOLDUAN: Then what do they suggest as the alternative?

O'BRIEN: Well -

BOLDUAN: Because that's a very good point, something's got to be done. You can't just criticize someone who's trying to something. O'BRIEN: There is a challenge, right, between, do you invest those limited dollars in a charter school, like Mr. Mahmoud's models, or do you invest it in the public schools that are actually serving more black and brown students. At the end of the day, right, it's a zero sum game. If you remove money from this and you give it to that, you abandon some students in public schools. So it's a pretty fierce debate about what should the future of education be, especially among kids who are poor in that fastest growing demographic.

CUOMO: Is he doing better than the traditional public schools?

O'BRIEN: He does -- his achievement rates in proficiency tests are around 87 percent. The school next door, the elementary school that's literally next door, is around 12 percent, right. So -

CUOMO: So your answer's yes.

O'BRIEN: Hugely better. And he's also beating the white students' average, as well. So he has closed the achievement gap. But --

CUOMO: So how much do you think the push back on is the -- what do they call it, drill and kill or whatever that hyperbole is? How much of it do you think that is just competitive awareness -

O'BRIEN: I think -

CUOMO: That he's doing well so let's try and balance out why he's doing well?

O'BRIEN: Well, I think it's a little bit of that. I think, at the end of the day, everybody who's a teacher in education in Minneapolis wants all students to achieve. But the question becomes, if you have just one school that's doing well, is that the model to invest in and do you then leave the bulk of the students are not in his school. But most of the students are not in his school. They're in other schools. Do you invest in that and leave the others behind or do you say, we believe in public education. It's the reason, you know, in this country that we've decided to make citizens who are knowledgeable, we should invest in that and make that better. It's a good debate.

BOLDUAN: This is a good debate.

PEREIRA: This is going to be a fantastic special.

O'BRIEN: Yes, It's a good (INAUDIBLE).

PEREIRA: I cannot wait to see it.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Soledad.

PEREIRA: We should let you know, you can catch the latest installment of "Black in America: Great Expectations," tonight right here on CNN at 10:00 p.m. Cannot wait to see this.

Soledad, so great to have you with us.

BOLDUAN: It's great to see you.

O'BRIEN: A great pleasure. Thank you. Likewise.

BOLDUAN: Congratulations, Soledad. That's great.

O'BRIEN: Thank you. Thank you.

PEREIRA: And a happy birthday to some special people somewhere. Your nine-year-olds somewhere.

O'BRIEN: My boys are in the building. Yes.

PEREIRA: Good to see you, Soledad.

BOLDUAN: All right, now to a story of a woman working to make life better in San Francisco. Did you know more than 40 percent of young people released from California's juvenile justice system end up back behind bars within one year. But this CNN hero said that is not OK, clearly not, and is giving at-risk youth the skills they need to do better.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I always get into trouble. I was selling drugs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once I had a record, I felt like I wasn't going to be able to get a job. All right, well, I'll just go back to doing what I used to do.

TERESA GOINES, COMMUNITY CRUSADER: You guys are the ones that know better than anybody, you're the ones that have to change.

I worked as a juvenile corrections officer. Often the young people would get out, ready to start a new life. We put them back in the exact same environment and they would come back to jail. Witnessing that over and over, I could not do something about it.

I'm Teresa Goines. I started the "Old School Cafe," a supper club run by at-risk youth that gives them the skills and the opportunity to change their lives.

Tayoni's (ph) going to start off serving.

Our program provides four months of hands-on training. If they complete that successfully, they get a chance to apply for an employee position.

We're excited to have you on the team and really proud of you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We do the hiring and we do the firing. We do reviews.

You know what it means to have a sense of urgency?

GOINES: I want them to keep rising up in leadership, in management.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I used to just make (INAUDIBLE) and grilled cheese. And now I'm cooking everything on the menu.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of opportunities. I know this will help me stay out of trouble.

GOINES: The core of it is giving them hope.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to be my own boss.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to be an entrepreneur.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to be successful.

GOINES: Once that light goes on, whatever they do, they're on their way to fly.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO: All right.

BOLDUAN: Good stuff (ph).

CUOMO: It's always good to hear people trying to make a difference with problems that are all around us.

Coming up on NEW DAY, more - man, one of the cutest stories I think you'll ever see. Look at him.

BOLDUAN: Oh, (INAUDIBLE).

CUOMO: They tell the stories with their little faces. A close-up look at the pride of the Zoo Atlanta when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Adorable. You don't really need to say much for this segment. Welcome back to NEW DAY. Time now for the cute and cuddly report. Not talking about Chris, talking about pandas. Those two little guys made quite an impression when they were born last month. The only surviving twin pandas in the U.S. and they are growing and growing fast. This morning, we're taking a look inside the nursery where they're being raised. And Alina Machado's at Zoo Atlanta with much more on this.

You got a very special look, Alina.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We really did, Kate.

Right now we're inside the panda exhibit at the zoo and we've been hanging out all morning with Xi Lan, this guy over here. We want to show him to you. He is the cubs' older brother. One of them. And by the way, it is his fifth birthday today.

Now, most people who come to the zoo don't get to look at the cubs and the mom up close. Their only glimpse, really, is through Panda Cam -- this monitor up here that's inside the panda exhibit. We, however, got a very close look yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. KATE LEACH, ZOO ATLANTA: This is Panda B. This is Cub B, yes.

MACHADO (voice-over): Meet the twin panda brothers causing sheer panda-monium at the Atlanta zoo.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it's possible, they get cuter every time I see them.

MACHADO: We suited up to go inside the panda nursery.

MACHADO (on camera): All right. I think I'm all set.

MACHADO (voice-over): To see how the only set of surviving twin pandas born in the U.S. is doing.

LEACH: They are really on track with the other cubs that we've had here.

MACHADO: Every week doctors give each cub a thorough check up.

MACHADO (on camera): What are you doing now? Checking their eyes?

LEACH: Checking eyes. Looking at their gums. And no teeth yet. Not for a little while.

MACHADO (voice-over): Each little guy is measured and weighed. Doctors even listen to the heart and lungs. Today, we're told everything looks and sounds great.

MACHADO (on camera): Is he kind of purrring?

LEACH: A little bit of a purr grunt, yes.

MACHADO (voice-over): Each cub weighs about 4 pounds. Their progress is considerable. They were about as big as a stick of butter when they were born. To get from here to where they are today, staff have been helping their mom, Lun Lun, care for them. While one panda sleeps in an incubator, the other spends some time with mom. Zoo staff swaps them out every four hours.

MACHADO (on camera): Sounds exhausting.

LEACH: It's been exhausting, but with this much cuteness, yes, you can't begrudge any of the long hours at all.

MACHADO: It keeps you going?

LEACH: Absolutely.

MACHADO (voice-over): The Atlanta zoo is one of four in the U.S. with pandas.

REBECCA SNYDER, ZOO ATLANTA CURATOR OF ANIMALS: Even though they're born here, they still belong to China.

MACHADO: The zoo says they pay to have the animals on loan.

SNYDER: So having them here helps us to raise the money to conserve them in China.

MACHADO: And China is where the twins will end up in a few years. Until then, they'll be in the care of doting doctors and staffers.

LEACH: A has a little bit thinner ban over here on what we call the saddle, compared to B. Oh, my goodness.

MACHADO: Who can't get over these sweet little faces.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MACHADO: Now back out here live.

Xi Lan has been munching on bamboo ever since we got here. He, by the way, is an adult panda. And adult panda's typically eat anywhere between 20 and 30 pounds of bamboo.

Now, as for the cubs, it will be a while before you can actually see them here at the exhibits. We're also told they will be named when they reach the 100-day mark. That's in line with Chinese tradition. For now they will be known as Panda A and Panda B.

BOLDUAN: They have a whole lot of catching up to do. They are four pounds now and they've got a lot of eating to do to catch up with them. That's so cute.

All right, Alina, thank you so much. It's very fun assignment this Friday.

CUOMO: And it does seem as though we have another double stuff edition of "The Good Stuff" as we have the panda and now this.

BOLDUAN: How did we pull this off?

CUOMO: In today's edition, here is the message. Sometimes the best gifts are things you didn't ask for. Three years ago San Diego dad Michael Johnson got a pretty lavish Christmas list from his son Alec, so he decided to do something a little different. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL JOHNSON: When we saw the list, we realized he was starting to get a little bit excessive.

ALEC JOHNSON, STARTED KID'S CHARITY FOR HOMELESS: I asked for iPad -- an iPad and iPhone and like a MacBook.

M. JOHNSON: So yes we really needed to do something.

JOHNSON: Are you ready for a burrito?

We decided to go downtown and deliver food to the homeless. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My parents made me go with him because my Christmas list was a little bit off the charts, too. It started me off with just me and Alec and then all our friends asked. So we let them in so it was just us seven boys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The plan was pretty much to go through Christmastime. You know that was going to originally be it. The first week we started, I knew that was not going to happen. I knew that there was not going to be a stopping of what we had started.

You didn't get burritos?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Generosity can spread faster than any virus. And as the weeks went by the friends actually known as the Burrito Boys became hooked on a feeling of doing good for others. More people got the message, more people joined up, their efforts blossomed into Hunger to Help, a charity that passes out hundreds of burritos, clothes and other essentials to the homeless every Sunday. Ok. Since those Christmas lists, Hunger to Help has passed out nearly 40,000 burritos.

BOLDUAN: Wow.

CUOMO: Ok. That is a gift that not even Santa could give.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: That's awesome.

BOLDUAN: Started with a Christmas list full of iPads and iPhones I love that.

PEREIRA: We get overwhelmed by just the awfulness of humanity, but this kind of thing just gives you hope that we care about one another more than --

CUOMO: And you know what, it is every parent's lament. Oh my goodness they just think it's about what they get.

PEREIRA: Too much.

CUOMO: Don't they understand the gift isn't what they give and I've never seen it work otherwise where a child or an adult when they are exposed to what that dynamic is of giving to others doesn't feel as if they don't get more.

PEREIRA: Oh yes.

CUOMO: Than they actually give no matter how much --

BOLDUAN: What's actually special about it, is not that one -- not the one boy.

CUOMO: Right.

BOLDUAN: It spread to all of his friends, which is just spectacular. That's great. PEREIRA: The Burrito Boys.

CUOMO: Giving is cool. We love this. It comes from you give us more, please.

Tweet us, Facebook, #goodstuff or go to our Web site. Give us the ideas so we can keep telling you the good news. And think on it while we take a break here at NEW DAY.

When we come back a question, have you driven a Ford lately? Was before you answer was it one wrapped in bacon? The car company --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Oh how did you find my car?

CUOMO: Well that's what JB says, JB's NEW DAY "Award of the Day" is just about that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Do you think you'll be all moved in by Monday, or no.

PEREIRA: Oh, I hope so.

CUOMO: Give a new meaning to Labor Day.

BOLDUAN: You're doing it all yourself.

CUOMO: You and Michael (ph).

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Let's give you a quick look at our "Top Stories". The Obama administration releasing intelligence today that it says backs up the assessment that the Syrian government poisoned its own people. A senior administration official says the chemical weapons attack happened outside Damascus.

Thirty-two percent containment now reported on California's rim fire which has burned through nearly 200,000 acres in and around Yosemite National Park. U.S. Forest Service expects the suborn wildfire to burn for at least a few more weeks.

And a truce in the war on drugs. The Justice Department says it will not challenge state law legalizing recreational marijuana use. Instead it plans on focusing on keeping marijuana away from children.

Those are your headlines, guys.

CUOMO: All right thanks for the headlines. How about a little trip to the couch? Do you think? It's time for the NEW DAY "Award of the Day." And we must off to the couch before it begins.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Try to time the sit.

PEREIRA: I love this song.

CUOMO: Try to time this sit. Ok, that time of the morning. That time of the week and Friday strong with John Berman in D.C. where all great men reside with his NEW DAY "Award of the Day Award". There he is, looking well. What do you have for us, my handsome friend?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's great to see you this Friday. Many of you will be celebrating the long Labor Day weekend this weekend. Not all of us, but many of you. But I digress.

There is an even more important holiday for some of us. It's tomorrow, tomorrow is International Bacon Day. I have my stocking up by the fireplace and I'm hoping the bacon fairy put some strips under my pillow.

There is another way to celebrate, though. Ford, that's right, the car company Ford is offering a chance for their drivers to wrap their cars in bacon. Sort of. They're offering these vinyl decals for 2014 Ford Fiestas -- bacon decals. It isn't really a Fiesta if there's not bacon, right? Prices start at $78 bucks plus insulation. You know, let's be honest, it's fairly expensive. That's pretty good bacon. $30 per bacon -- that's a pretty good bacon.

BOLDUAN: The total cost of the car.

BERMAN: You have to get the car first and then the decals.

I think it is a powerful statement, nevertheless. So, Ford does win the most lickable car award. Right?

CUOMO: very good.

BERMAN: Because it's bacon, get it. I do foresee some problems. You want people to like your car, but not bite it. Right?

BOLDUAN: I foresee more accidents, an accident rate with that car.

BERMAN: Oh, bacon.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I've never licked bacon, either.

BOLDUAN: Well -- yet another thing --

BERMAN: You haven't lived. You haven't lived, Chris Cuomo.

CUOMO: All right. Hard wrap -- they're saying hard wrap. JB, we've got to hard wrap you buddy.

BOLDUAN: We'll talk to you later John.

BERMAN: In bacon.

CUOMO: Yes, in bacon.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: "NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins now.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Have a great Labor Day weekend. Thanks so much. Bye.

"NEWSROOM" starts now.

Happening now in the "NEWSROOM" -- abandoning Obama and the solo strike.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are many precedents for the President to be able to act without authorization.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: A coalition crumbles and allies ditch America.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President is going to have to make his case.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do believe we have to do something.

COSTELLO: Will the U.S. go it alone?