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Students and Teacher Invent School Shooting Safety Device; Sarandon Honored for Charity Work; Gallup Poll Shows Most Americans Favor Legalizing Marijuana; White House Director Fired For Vicious Tweets; FDA Warns Pet Treats Deadly; Coloradans Rebuild After Floods; Cordle Sentenced in YouTube Drunk Driving Confession Case

Aired October 23, 2013 - 15:30   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Got some news just in to us here at CNN out of Massachusetts. We have learned the Boston Red Sox will be honoring 24-year-old Colleen Ritzer tonight ahead of game one of the World Series at Fenway Park. I will be there for special coverage of the game tomorrow night, game two, when the city will be marking six months since those bombings.

We will be talking to several of the survivors and celebrities and some of the ball players. So, we will see you tomorrow from Boston.

All these cases, though, make the work of one class even more essential. The students have figured out a way to keep a shooter out of the classroom and it still allows the students to get out in case of a fire.

CNN's Zain Asher joins me with this story.

And so, Zain, what have they come up with?

ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brooke. I'm actually having trouble hearing you.

But the device is relatively simple to use. It's made of just two components. You can pick it up from any hardware store. But, as we have seen this week, high school shootings have just become so prevalent that kids, teenagers are now taking matters into their own hands.

Take a listen.



ASHER: It costs just $5 to make, weighs less than a pound, but students at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington, D.C., hope that this simple invention could protect more students during school shootings than metal detectors and bag checks.

MAHONEY: With active shooters being, unfortunately, so prevalent, we need to come up with other ways to secure buildings.

ASHER: Students and teachers here have been so shaken by recent school shootings --

MAHONEY: For me, the key shooting was in Columbine High School in Colorado where it was actually a mathematics teacher who was killed, and I teach mathematics here.

ASHER: -- that they've invented a locking device for doors.

DEONTE ANTRUM, STUDENT: Because it could happen in Connecticut, it could also happen here in D.C.

ASHER: Made up of a PVC pipe and a steel pin, the device can be fitted over a hydraulic door-closer if there's ever an intruder in the hallway, keeping the classroom firmly locked and preventing a gunman from gaining entry.

ANITA BERGER, PRINCIPAL: In lieu of trying to get all the school doors with deadbolt locks on them, I think this is a quick, practical way of doing it.

ASHER: Like in many schools across the country, classrooms here cannot be locked from the inside for fire safety reasons.

MAHONEY: I don't even have a handle on the inside of my door or any way to secure the inside of the door.

ASHER: At Sandy Hook Elementary School last December, one teacher had to lock her students in a bathroom to protect them from 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza.

ANJREYEV HARVEY, STUDENT: The recent shooting at another school where the shooter broke into the building and shot a lot of kids, it inspired us because it proved that the building is like -- the doors aren't that secure.

ASHER: Students here were recently awarded a $6,600 grant from Lemelson-MIT to develop a final version of their device.

MAHONEY: We're not ready for an IPO yet, but we anticipate having a really good prototype by this spring.

ASHER: And with this crude safety mechanism, they say they now have an extra barrier in place if they ever hear gunshots from the hallway.

BERGER: God forbid something happens, but my hope is that everyone is trained in how to use it, and that everyone has it where it is available to use.


ASHER: And I spoke to that teacher, John Mahoney, this morning. He shared some very good news with me.

He said that he was just contacted by a Denver law firm, out of the blue, offering to patent his device, free of charge. They hope to have a patent by next year.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Best of luck to the students.

Zain Asher, thank you very much.

Coming up, it is a new milestone for marijuana, a poll just revealed -- just released, I should say, reveals something new about the country's opinion on pot.

We will tell you about America's shifting opinion, and let you hear both sides of this debate.

But first, Academy Award-winner Susan Sarandon was recently honored for her commitment to ending world hunger, and CNN's Michaela Pereira has her story in today's "Impact Your World."


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": It is a day of celebration at a village in Cambodia.

Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon and her daughter have come to watch one of Heifer International's core programs in action.

SUSAN SARANDON, ACTRESS: Heifer International figured out a very efficient way to spend your money by having you sponsor an animal for a family that they then help for a year to make sure that they understand how to nurture that animal

And when that animal has offspring, they pass that on

The feeling of pride and satisfaction at being able to pass on something as valuable as that gift to another person is as important as filling their bellies.

PEREIRA: Heifer believes empowering women is the key to ending world hunger and poverty.

SARANDON: The families that I was fortunate enough to visit in Cambodia is certainly a testament to the power of women

They are the glue that bonds the community together.

It showed me just how much we can accomplish when, as women, we recognize our ability, our voice and the fact that we can pull together to create some kind of change.



BALDWIN: Ah, how quickly we as a culture can change our minds. For the first time ever a Gallup poll shows a majority of Americans favor legalizing marijuana by -- you can see the numbers. It's a pretty big gap.

In the poll just conducted, 58 percent answered, yes, legalize pot. Thirty-nine percent said no.

Now look at how suddenly opinion has turned around. This is pretty interesting here. Because you see the bottom line. That's the kind of lime-green line. That's the percentage favoring legalized pot.

You can see over the course of time, the X-axis is the years, the very end being 2013, suddenly spikes upward.

You see, again, 58 percent now favor legalization, including this recent convert.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think we have been terribly and systematically misled in this country for some time, and I was -- I did part of that misleading.


BALDWIN: I know a lot of folks believe we have hit the point of no return, that it's really just a matter of time until marijuana is legalized, nationwide.

But a lot of people are saying hang on, what are we doing here? Let's think this through.

Carla Lowe is one of those people. She is the founder of a group called Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana.

Representing the other side, we have Mason Tvert, communications director for The Marijuana Policy Project.

So, welcome to both of you. And, Mason, I'm going to give you the first question here.

The poll, I looked into this poll and I thought, my goodness, 58 percent pro-pot. What was your reaction?

MASON TVERT, THE MARIJUANA POLICY PROJECT: I think it's clear that most Americans are just fed up with marijuana prohibition.

It's been just as ineffective and wasteful and counterproductive as alcohol prohibition, and there's a much better way to go about it. And we have a great example with how we treat alcohol.

So we could do the same thing by regulating marijuana, by taxing it, and by really treating it similarly and allowing it for responsible adult use.

BALDWIN: Carla, I want you reaction, and just also, why do you think there has been this sudden uptick for pot legalization?

CARLA LOWE, FOUNDER, CITIZENS AGAINST LEGALIZING MARIJUANA: Thank you for inviting me to have this opportunity to share with you.

This is really kind of old news for us in California. A poll several years ago was done in California before Prop 19 was on the ballot, and at that time, voters said, sure, why not legalize pot?

That was before we had the opportunity to tell them what this drug really is, and to ask them to consider more potheads driving school buses, more potheads on the road, more pot shops in their neighborhoods, the cost, 10-to-one-, social cost when we legal -- when the social costs of using marijuana.

When people were informed, they wisely, soundly defeated Prop 19, and I think Americans will do the same, especially when they have your show and give us the opportunity to tell what this drug really is and in particular, what it's doing to our young people.

BALDWIN: As you point out, that was California and a couple years ago. The news really today, the peg is that this is nationwide, Gallup poll nationwide.

Let's imagine this. Again, here are the numbers. Carla, paint me a picture. If America were to legalize pot, what would it look like?

LOWE: We'd have more kids using. The kids who use has risen dramatically since we have had, quote, "medical marijuana." We know that for a fact.

We know a third of our kids are dropping out of high school. Those kids are not getting jobs. No employer is hiring a pothead.

We see more people having trouble hiring healthy people who can think and write and read. We know our kids' I.Q. is dropping from their use. We know our kids' brains are not developed until they're 25.

We know what marijuana is, today, highly potent, 20 to 30 times stronger than it was 30 years ago.

We know it's fat soluble, that means it stays in the body a long time, primarily in the brain and sex organs. It does not bode well for the future of America.

BALDWIN: You paint this one picture.

Mason, I want you to paint your version of the picture. Also, I have been counting the usage of the word pothead. I'm up to four or five from Carla.

I'm curious, does your side take offense to that?

TVERT: I take more offense to the absurd information that is being spread here by the other guest. It's a fact. Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol.

It's less toxic. It's less addictive. It poses far fewer health problems and unlike alcohol, marijuana doesn't contribute to violent and reckless behavior.

If the other guest is really concerned about people's health and well- being, I don't understand why she would prefer they use alcohol when they might otherwise use marijuana. I mean, you know, about half of all Americans have used marijuana, and the vast majority of them are productive, healthy people who, rather than having a drink after work, enjoy having a little marijuana.

They do it responsibly, and that shouldn't be a crime, so it's really just upsetting to see there are still some people with their heads buried in the sand who think marijuana is going to go away when, in fact, we could be actually controlling it, and instead of leaving it in an underground market, we could be regulating it and taxing it and knowing exactly who is selling it, where they're selling it, when they're selling it, and to whom they're selling it.

BALDWIN: Do you feel like you're fighting a losing battle?

LOWE: Absolutely not. When the people understand what this drug is, what it's doing -- we're not debating alcohol. When Prohibition was lifted, use of alcohol rose three times.

We're going to have three times, at least that, more potheads, and yes, the majority of Americans do not smoke pot.

This whole effort is be driven by multi- big billions of dollars from the drug cartels, people who would see the country brought to its knees by losing the opportunity for children to learn and to become productive citizens.

Voters are smarter than that.

BALDWIN: Carla Lowe and Mason Tvert, thanks, you two, very much, two different sides, two opinions here, on the legalization of marijuana.

Coming up, it's a story that got a lot of people talking today, one of President Obama's staffers, a national security guy, caught sending insulting tweets, and some of the targets of the tweets, government officials.

Coming up next, you will hear from the reporter who broke that story.

Plus, hundreds of dogs and cats killed over this mysterious outbreak involving treats.

We're "On the Case."


BALDWIN: Rogue Twitter-user inside the Obama administration on the loose for two years, now the mask has finally been lifted on the man behind the alias, "@natsecwonk."

Jofi Joseph, a director for the National Security Council, fired for his tweets.

So how bad were they? Let me read you a couple, and I'm quoting, "I'm a fan of Obama, but his continuing reliance and dependence upon a vacuous cipher like Valerie Jarrett concerns me." She's senior adviser to the president, by the way. How about this one? "Look, Darrell Issa is an ass, but he's onto something with the Hillary Clinton whitewash of accountability for Benghazi." Wow.

Joining me now, Jake Tapper, chief Washington correspondent, host of "THE LEAD."

That's not very nice language in those tweets. How did this all come undone for this guy?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I'm not exactly, 100 percent other than the fact that this was somebody who was being followed on Twitter by members of the administration and congressional staffers.

His -- he knew -- somebody who followed him, I should say, his tweets were often vicious, often cruel and mean, but on occasion, he had moments of insight, and he obviously knew a lot about what was going on inside the foreign policy world.

Right now, the White House is not talking about what exactly happened. I think the White House council's office, the lawyer in house, is involved in telling everybody to shut up and not talk to the press about this.

Josh Rogin from "Newsweek"/The Daily Beast, broke the story last night, and here's what he had to say.


JOSH ROGIN, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, THE DAILY BEAST: He had managed to alienate and insult so many people of so many stripes that eventually there became sort of this underground of community of people putting together evidence from his tweets and from the things that he said and the evidence that he did put forth, searching for him, and eventually someone in the administration cracked the code and fired him upon the spot.


TAPPER: What's interesting about this is that this is obviously -- just reading his tweets and talking to people who had dealt with Jofi Joseph, is this is obviously somebody who was smart, who had insights, who had very strong opinions.

But ultimately, Brooke, the hatred that was so evident in his tweets, which he claimed started out as a parody account, but I've been reading his tweets --

BALDWIN: The vitriol.

TAPPER: Twenty-two-hundred of them, and what you really see is jealousy, anger, accusations against colleagues, accusations against his bosses, his supervisors.

He had a choice word to say about President Obama that I cannot repeat on air, and these were the people that he supported. He was a Democrat, a former Biden staffer, a former staffer for Senator Casey.

And now I can't imagine he's going to be able to find work anytime soon. And he, apparently, shockingly, for somebody who worked for the National Security Council thought that he was going to be undetected.

And you would think in this day and age people would know, especially those who are privy to all the abilities of the U.S. government to figure out what's going on behind cloaked anonymity online --

BALDWIN: Got to know you're going to get caught.

TAPPER: -- how easy it is.

Yeah, you can get caught very easily.

BALDWIN: We will be looking for the interview with Josh from The Daily Beast and also hear that apology, right, that we're now getting from this guy, as well.

Jake Tapper -


BALDWIN: We'll see you. We'll see you in nine minutes. Thank you so much, sir --

TAPPER: Thank you.


A warning now, do you own a dog, a cat? A warning to pet owners, jerky treats could be hazardous to your pets' health.

The FDA says more than 3,000 dogs have been sickened by the treats since 2007, and more than 580 pets have died.

Most of the brands implicated originate in China, but despite extensive testing, the FDA still doesn't know what's causing it.

Homes destroyed, lives forever changed, people living in Colorado were ravaged by the flooding last month. But you know what? They're not giving up.

We're live with an update on the cleanup and the resiliency the people are showing.


BALDWIN: Weeks after last months deadly Colorado flooding, parts of the devastated areas remain in disarray, but some Coloradans refuse to give up on their neighborhoods.

Our CNN correspondent Ana Cabrera reports people in one town are holding tough, trying to rebuild.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When you drive through the town of Lyons, the devastation is undeniable, not a home in this neighborhood untouched.

Six weeks after the floods, parts of homes remain hanging and streets are still littered with crunched cars and mounds of muddy debris.

The sound of hard work cuts through this otherwise quiet community, rebuilding has begun.

JANET ORBACK, FLOOD VICTIM: Initially we said we're not coming back. We said we're done. You know, it's time to move on.

Then we come back and we're like, this is home opinion.

CABRERA: This has been Janet Orback's home for 43 years, now just a shell. Volunteers from Missouri helped them gut the place. It's now up to Janet and her husband to finish the job.

Where do you begin in terms of trying to get back to normal?

ORBACK: Well, right now this is normal.

CABRERA: Another new normal -- doctors commuting by helicopter. It's just 25 miles to the town of Estes Park, but right now driving isn't much of an option. Floodwaters washed away 85 percent of the highway through to the Big Thompson Canyon. Construction crews are working feverishly to make fixes.

MINDY CRANE, COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: In some areas, we lost complete sections of the roadway for several thousand feet.

CABRERA: Just dropped off?

CRANE: Yeah, just completely crumbled.

CABRERA: Four-hundred-eighty-five miles of state roads and bridges need repairs. The estimated price tag, half a billion dollars.

There has been a lot of progress, but clearly there's more work that needs to be done, and take a look, snow already on the ground, a constant reminder these crews are in a race against Mother Nature.

The governor says the goal is to have all roads accessible by December 1st.

GOVERNOR JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), COLORADO: This is an awful thing, nothing good about a natural disaster like this, and it's going to take a while, but we can't slow down, we can't back off. We have to go fast.

CABRERA: Nobody in Colorado is giving up.

ORBACK: A lot of bumps along the way and the good Lord blesses us and says, OK, let's move forward now, and away we go.


BALDWIN: Anna Cabrera, talk to me, though, about the issue of help, because these folks in Colorado, they need help from the government. Are they getting it?

CABRERA: And the flooding was just so widespread, Brooke, by all accounts, so far, so good, in that government response.

Governor John Hickenlooper has said all along that Colorado will rebuild stronger and better and that no community will be left behind, and so far that's exactly what's happening.

You know, the governor dipped into the state's emergency relief fund to keep the national guard working even during the government shutdown. FEMA has been on the ground the last six weeks since the flooding began.

We know that already more than $45 million has been approved to help those individual families and businesses with their recovery expenses.

And the people we've been talking to have been so appreciative of the government's response to this flood disaster, saying FEMA is doing a good job. Brooke?

BALDWIN: Anna Cabrera for us in Colorado. Stay on it. Thank you.

And Matthew Cordle confessed to killing a man with drinking and driving said he would take full responsibility. Today he learned what his actions this cost him.


MATTHEW CORDLE, CONFESSED DRUNK DRIVER: My name is Matthew Cordle, and on June 22nd, 2013, I hit and killed Vincent Canzanni.


BALDWIN: Weeks after so many watched that YouTube confession, he turned himself in to police, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and driving under the influence.

And just this morning, the 22-year-old was sentenced by an Ohio judge. He will spend six-and-a-half years in prison and have to pay a fine, and he will never be able to drive again.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. I'll see you back here this time tomorrow, live in Boston.

Now to my friend, Jake Tapper. "THE LEAD" starts right now.