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CNN NEWSROOM

ISIS Leader Allegedly Surfaces in New Video; Arthur Weakens to a Post-Tropical Cyclone; New Immigrants Transferred to California; No Bond for Father in Hot Car Death; Fake Pot From U.S. Fund Terrorism; Ending the School to Prison Pipeline; America's Most Spectacular Places

Aired July 5, 2014 - 13:00   ET

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


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Hello, again, I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Here are the top stories we're following in the CNN NEWSROOM.

The notorious leader of the militant group, ISIS, has reportedly shown up in Iraq. What we know about him and what this means for the crisis in that country is next.

Plus, angry protests in California as busloads of undocumented immigrants were set to arrive. We have the latest on where those immigrants ended up and how Washington is now responding.

And stunning allegations surrounding the tragic death of a little boy left in a hot car. It's quickly turned from what appeared to be a terrible accident to a disturbing legal case. What was revealed this week that made jaws drop, straight ahead.

All right. We begin with that new video that CNN is tracking. Images have surfaced of a man believed to be the secretive leader of the ISIS forces in Iraq. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi appears to be leading a sermon at a mosque in the city of Mosul. A city that was captured last month by insurgents.

We understand that U.S. officials are also examining that video for its authenticity.

Joining me right now is CNN military analyst, Lt. Col. Rick Francona and senior international correspondent Arwa Damon in Baghdad.

So, Arwa, let me begin with you. What do we know about how this video surfaced and what was meant from the message of that sermon?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this video was circulated on Twitter by an official ISIS account. The video identifies the man as being Caliph Ibrahim. That is how Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi is now known ever since the organization announced the creation of the caliphate that extends from Diyala in Iraq all the way to Aleppo in Syria.

In the video, the man is seen bearded with a black turban, a black dress. He is addressing the worshippers. Interestingly, you'll notice in the video that the first row of worshippers is blurred. That is because, according to an eyewitness, those were direct members of his entourage.

In this sermon, he is saying that the month of Ramadan is a month of jihad and it is the time to be fighting the enemies and the unbelievers. Towards the end of his sermon, he again emphasizes that point, saying you should take up jihad to please god and fight in his name. This most certainly came as a great surprise to many people who were gathered at that mosque.

This is the first Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, a time when the mosque would have been very full. One of the eyewitnesses that CNN spokes to. A woman said that she was on the second floor, the mezzanine level that is where the women are, describing how she was quivering in fear, crying because of the armed men that were inside the mosque because at that moment, she realized who was the individual who was addressing them.

It was only interestingly during the sermon identified as being your new amir, the cell phone network inside Mosul also according to this eyewitness and others, had been cut off for the better part of the day. And the other worshippers were kept inside the mosque for an hour after al-Baghdadi and his entourage left.

All that being said, we cannot independently confirm that this video is authentic or that the man portrayed in it is in fact Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi himself, but either way, this is clearly at this stage, the face that ISIS wants the world to see as their new self-declared amir.

WHITFIELD: And so, Arwa, is it believed that part of the significance of this video being released, you know, his possible appearance at this time coinciding with the start of Ramadan?

DAMON: It could be that, Fredricka, but it also could be because a few days ago, the Iraqi government had claimed that he had been either killed or wounded in battle and this could be the way to send out a very bold message that he is alive and well. But also, that ISIS has such confidence in its own control over this vast terrain that they believe that he can be seen in public.

According to this eyewitness, again, he arrived in an entourage of a number of the vehicles, black SUVs, tinted windows, men screaming -- a number of armed men with him as well, so this is clearly a man who at this stage, does believe in the firm grip ISIS has not only over Mosul, but also over vast stretches of terrain not just in Iraq but extending all the way to Syria as well -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Arwa Damon, thank you so much.

Let's bring in Lieutenant Colonel Francona here.

WHITFIELD: So, Colonel, if it is indeed the case that this leader of ISIS is there in country in Iraq, in any way do you see that changing, altering any U.S. strategy, any effort to try to target him, even though we hear from the president, the commander-in-chief, that there would be no ground troops there being engaged in battle, that doesn't necessarily mean or does it not, that there might be some sort of U.S. arsenal that could be involved in targeting somebody like him? LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, he would be a

primary target. Of course, you need great intelligence to do that. And as Arwa said, you know, he takes great security precautions. She said the keyword there. Confident. He's so confident in his control over this area, that he feels he can show up in Mosul. This is really I think disturbing on a lot of fronts because he has no fear at all of showing up here.

I think this is a major step as he is letting the faithful know that he's there and he's in charge. If we could get him, we probably would try, but I don't think we're there yet. I think the president has not authorized anything more than what we're doing. But if these targets present themselves, I think we need to be ready to strike.

WHITFIELD: And so, this ISIS leader, possibly even sending that message that, you know, I don't believe that the Iraqi army or the Iraqi, you know, forces are at all a threat to him or to ISIS and certainly not any of the multinational, you know, forces that have committed.

FRANCONA: That's a really good point. You know, if you look at where the Iraqi army is, they're trying to come up with Tigris Valley. They're all the way up to Tikrit and they're still -- they're bogged down in Tikrit. But it doesn't seem like they can get up there. And as General Dempsey said, he doesn't believe that the Iraqi army has the capability to eject ISIS without outside help.

So there's no reason for Baghdadi or Khalid Ibrahim as he's calling himself now, you know, not to show himself in Mosul. He regards Mosul as his territory now.

WHITFIELD: Do you think -- I mean, is it your feeling, would it be your gut feeling that he would stay there in Mosul at least in country in Iraq for a period of time or that he's just simply, you know, descended into the city for this video opportunity and has probably moved out.

FRANCONA: I think that's the case. I think he came in here, he made a statement, he made his appearance known. They put out this -- the video. These guys are masters of social media. And then he'll go back to Syria. I think he probably feels more comfortable up in what he has declared his temporary capital, and that's the city of al-Raka up in Syria, so he's probably safer in Syria than he is in Iraq.

WHITFIELD: All right. Lt. Col. Rick Francona, thanks so much. And Arwa Damon, also. Appreciate that.

All right. It was the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, Arthur. Well, it's getting its second downgrade now. Once a category 2 hurricane, it is now a post tropical cyclone, but the storm is still threatening those in its newest path. Winds as high as 65 miles an hour and drenching rain have been forecast for Maine and parts of eastern Canada.

CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis is tracking the storm for us and is standing by. But first, let's go to CNN's Alexandra Field, who is out on Jones Beach where it's so picturesque and gorgeous. Hard to believe that people were worried about -- the storm, but folks are out there in full force, aren't they?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It really is just that perfect beach day, Fred, and I think a lot of people were sort of thinking that they wouldn't get this opportunity this weekend. They were really concerned it was going to be a washout look. All of it turned out for the best here. We know that this storm obviously made landfall in North Carolina. The good thing here is that the impact wasn't as severe as many had anticipated it would be and the aftermath is that we've got a beautiful beach day like this out here at Jones Beach.

You can see behind me just thousands of people who have been out here all morning long, really just trying to get this sunshine. This is obviously the biggest travel week of the summer, so concerns about Arthur were throwing off a lot of people's plans, but you can see the people have made up time, they're getting back to the beach now.

Here's the issue, though. Even though Arthur has cleared out of here, there is still a big concern from the National Weather Service about rip currents. We spoke to the life guards who came out here to Jones Beach this morning. They said that was their primary concern. They say that the conditions here are actually pretty good. Very calm. A lot of people are getting in the water now, but up and down the coast in the aftermath of a hurricane, there is the possibility for that rip current.

That narrow current that pulls outward from the beach. It's a really strong force. It can pull even the strongest swimmers under. Life guards here say that when rip currents are at play, they tend to rescue 17 to 20 people a day, 80 percent of their water rescues at this beach are generated by rip currents, so this is something that everyone getting in the water needs to be mindful of. Look out for those flags, look out for any warnings that are here, but otherwise, Fred, really nice day to get out and enjoy the beach.

WHITFIELD: Glad folks are enjoying it. But potentially it's a very dangerous day for those lifeguards on duty. Hopefully folks don't get caught up in those currents. All right. Thanks so much, Alexandra.

OK. So it may have been weekend, but yes, there are still potential threats along the way.

Karen Maginnis with us now. So, Karen, help us out. How?

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Fred, now I know that you're a little jealous of Alexandra's location.

WHITFIELD: I'm a lot jealous.

(LAUGHTER)

I want to be at the beach right now.

MAGINNIS: Yes. Well, if you stay just a few more seconds, I'll show you something really interesting.

WHITFIELD: OK.

MAGINNIS: All right. This is all that is left of Arthur. It is a post tropical cyclone. It used to be a category 2 hurricane, but now it's just kind of still battering a little bit northern sections of Maine, down east and into New Brunswick. Pretty much Nova Scotia has been holding their own pretty well even though earlier today they were reporting winds of around 60 miles an hour.

All right. Look at this coastline. Looks pretty good. And this is what I want to show you, Fred. This is the outer banks.

WHITFIELD: Take me there.

MAGINNIS: This is the outer banks. And they jumped the camera around. obxcams.com. And you can kind of see that there's kind of a pretty stiff surf there but a few minutes ago, we were watching people and someone was flying a kite. It's still breezy, but the temperature there --

WHITFIELD: Yes.

MAGINNIS: -- is upper 70s, low 80s, for the most part. And --

WHITFIELD: But they're not in the water. Because they know that's still dangerous.

MAGINNIS: And that is key. Yes.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

MAGINNIS: I mean, you can visualize this. I grew up at the beach and when we see something like this, we knew that there was the undertow.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

MAGINNIS: The undertowed as we used to say and this very dangerous situation. But you just kind of swim parallel to the shore and eventually that will bring you in.

WHITFIELD: Right.

MAGINNIS: But yes, let's go ahead and show you what's happening in our forecast.

WHITFIELD: It's pretty.

MAGINNIS: I thought you would enjoy that.

WHITFIELD: Yes. I did.

MAGINNIS: When I was looking at that, I was actually feeling the breeze.

(LAUGHTER) MAGINNIS: There is a breeze there. But across the southeast, temperatures have -- yes, it's still pretty warm. Out west, we've got 90s everywhere. It's just blazing hot. So -- and even as we go into tomorrow after you've enjoyed your July 4th holiday, what was left of it, we're safe, 36 hours ago, that hurricane came on shore as a category 2 and now we were just showing you people at the beach. It was -- it's incredible to take a look at.

WHITFIELD: It really is.

MAGINNIS: Yes.

WHITFIELD: OK. Well, I'm glad folks are able to actually be at the beach even if they can't get in the water or they've got to be careful about being at the water.

MAGINNIS: Right.

WHITFIELD: Sometimes just being there just makes you feel good, right?

MAGINNIS: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

WHITFIELD: All right, Karen. Thanks so much.

MAGINNIS: OK.

WHITFIELD: I like that undertowed. Watch out for that undertowed.

All right. And then there's the contrast of that this 4th of July weekend. A rather stormy moment so to speak as a nation of immigrants gets caught in the middle of an immigration crisis right on the border. A second flight of undocumented immigrants arrived in Southern California Friday from Texas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're Americans, too. They're not here --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're breaking the law.

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: And this was the storm that I speak of. Protesters gathering again Friday in Murrieta, California, where they actually blocked, physically blocked three busloads of immigrants earlier in the week and then this time, the buses steered clear of that area and instead, headed to a facility in nearby San Diego.

Sunlen Serfaty joins us now from the White House. And the White House, you know, knows that this is on the horizon. There is only going to be more conflict and more people talking about it and putting pressure on this administration and others to do something, address it in some way.

What do we understand is on the agenda for the president and the White House later on this week -- next week?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what's interesting, Fred, first and foremost, is he's been issued a challenge, I guess you could say, from Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry, who's invited President Obama to the border next week to see this influx of immigrants firsthand.

Now the president will already be in Texas next week for fundraisers, Austin and Dallas on Wednesday and Thursday, and the White House responded to this challenge from Perry saying that the White House and the president is already -- are already very attuned to the challenges of the border. So to speak, he doesn't have to visit the border firsthand to know those problems.

But I should point out that it's not just Republican, Fred. It's Democrats as well. Two congressional Democrats from the most southern congressional districts in Texas have also asked President Obama to come firsthand and visit the border while he's there, but again, the White House says no plans to have a sideline from his fundraising trip.

I should note that yesterday at the White House, there was a powerful event here, a naturalization ceremony for 25 new American citizens that President Obama watched and while he was there, he spoke broadly about immigration reform. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we want to keep attracting the best and the brightest from beyond our shores, we're going to have to fix our immigration system, which is broken, and pass commonsense immigration reform.

We shouldn't be making it harder for the best and the brightest to come here and create jobs here and grow our economy. We should be making it easier.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SERFATY: It will be interesting, Fred, this week to see if that political pressure grows and continues to mount on President Obama before his trip to Texas. Back to you.

WHITFIELD: All right, it will be interesting indeed. Sunlen Serfaty at the White House, thanks so much.

SERFATY: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: The father is sitting in jail accused of leaving his child to die in a hot car. A hearing this week was simply shocking. What's now come out of the search warrants, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: It was a court hearing that simply stunned everybody this week. A father accused of intentionally leaving his 22-month-old child in a hot car all day long. That little boy, Cooper, died last month in Georgia and at a hearing this week, police revealed what Harris, the father, was doing while his son was in the car.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you uncover anything and what he was doing during that day while his child was out in the car?

DET. PHIL STODDARD, COB COUNTRY, GEORGIA POLICE: Yes. The most common term would be sexting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. Justin Ross Harris there facing murder trials involving the death of his son and that that you just heard from that police officer was allegedly with six different women. That texting. Then details about Harris' Internet history, things like child free Web sites and warnings about animals dying in hot cars. And in one jaw-dropping moment, what Harris' wife Leanna apparently said to him after the police interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did his wife ever say anything to him about what he said to police?

STODDARD: She asked him -- she had him sit down and he starts going through this and she looks at him, she's like, well, did you say too much?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, Nick Valencia has been following this story.

So, Nick, you got a look at the search warrant in the case. What was revealed?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All of this looks really bad, doesn't it, on both parents? Not just Justin Ross Harris but also Leanna Harris.

We got new search warrants yesterday and in that sort of lays out the same narrative that prosecutors laid out at this probable cause and bond hearing. We got a little bit more about Harris finances. We know that he had accrued a $4,000 credit card debt. His wife was upset about his spending. He'd recently taken over his family's finances and she was upset about how -- how he was managing those finances. He also, Fred, started a business on the side. He was into a small

business. We don't know quite what it was, but he was trying to make some money on the side, and then there was this nugget of information buried very deep in those search warrants. Eight all together. It says, through the investigation, Harris had made comments to family members regarding a life insurance policy that he has on Cooper and what they need to do in order to file for it.

Two life insurance policies. One standard, we get a life insurance policy here at Turner through an employer. The other, though, they took this out in November 2012, a $25,000 policy. Prosecutors framing it perhaps as motive. That he wanted to get this money, that's why he killed this child.

His friends, and we talked about this last week, adamant that a man like this, this moral fiber, they say, a Christian man, they say, would never do something like this. Prosecutors are looking at it with much more malicious intent, something way more sinister than this. We're still waiting on the full toxicology report. Perhaps that points to motive on the baby and as well as a full autopsy -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: And then, you know, we heard from that police officer who talked about the sexting, the relationships, the exchange of photos between he and other women.

VALENCIA: Six other women.

WHITFIELD: On the same day.

VALENCIA: Yes.

WHITFIELD: In some cases, some of those behavior on the same this child was, you know, dying in the car. And there was an objection on that, the relevance of it. And, you know, the supporting response was it speaks to motivation.

VALENCIA: We also saw Detective Stoddard backtrack a little bit, too, when the defense attorney Maddox Killgore questioned him about financial turmoil in the family. What proof do you have? Were there creditors calling? Were they getting letters to the house? And he took it a step back a little bit. We did see Stoddard a little bit more animated while prosecutors were questioning him during that hearing.

A lot of that stuff that came out in the probable cause hearing will not be allowed in the regular hearing. They're trying to prove that motive, right, in that probable cause hearing. They're trying to prove intent. Probable cause that he has this first-degree --, this murder charge leveled against him.

WHITFIELD: So a lot of this will not end up in the trial, but at the same time, one has to wonder whether the prosecution was holding back anything, saving it for trial or is it incumbent upon the prosecution to reveal everything at this point? VALENCIA: Sure, I mean, they must have something more because on the

surface -- I've spoken to defense attorneys. We've had attorneys on our air. It's clear that this -- you know, that this has something more for them. They've got to have something more than this other than a few Internet searches that the defense attorney even said, you know, you have no proof that he was -- my client was the one that searched these things that you're talking about.

So a lot is going to come out. This is a very case -- nuance case, complicated case.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

VALENCIA: A lot of people very interested in this.

WHITFIELD: There was a -- I think universally people believe that was a very troubling hearing. Very revealing.

VALENCIA: Just wow.

WHITFIELD: Yes. It was -- it was quite extraordinary.

VALENCIA: Yes.

WHITFIELD: All right. Nick Valencia, thanks so much.

VALENCIA: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: Keep us posted on the next step in all this.

VALENCIA: Yes.

WHITFIELD: And by the way, he is being held without bond.

VALENCIA: That's right.

WHITFIELD: He continues to be held without bond. All right. Thanks so much.

VALENCIA: You got it.

WHITFIELD: All right. Meantime, police now are raiding convenience stores for synthetic drugs. Not because they're illegal, but because they just might be fuelling terrorist operations in the Middle East? That's next in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: For law enforcement officials, tracking down terrorists sometimes means following the money and that hunt has recently led authorities to some unlikely places and products.

Our Deborah Feyerick has more now on the connection between synthetic drugs sold in the U.S. and terrorism -- Deb.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fred, federal authorities are concerned that the next source of terrorist funding could come from a very unlikely place. Convenience stores right here in the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FEYERICK (voice-over): You're not supposed to ingest these, but people do anyway. Synthetic drugs known on the street as fake pot. Small pockets sold with names like Scooby Snacks, Crazy Clown, Spice.

DEREK MALTZ, SPECIAL OPERATIONS, DEA: It's not really synthetic pot. It's synthetic poison.

FEYERICK: For the last year, federal drug agents have been raiding gas stations mini-marts across America. Not because the synthetic drugs are necessarily illegal, but because the money officials believe is going overseas to fund terrorism.

MALTZ: We have seized over $100 million worth of assets. We have arrested hundreds of individuals all around the United States. We have seized guns all over the place.

FEYERICK: Usually sold as herbs not for consumption, the synthetic drugs are made in China with the proceeds suspected by the DEA of going to global criminal organizations.

Derek Maltz heads Special Operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

MALTZ: If a mini mart is operating in our country and they're sending $40 million, $50 million, $60 million back, we're very concerned about that.

FEYERICK: Tens of millions of dollars. The bulk of the money, according to the DEA, going to places like Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.

MALTZ: As state sponsorship has declined, terrorism fueled by criminal activity is on the rise.

FEYERICK: While the DEA acknowledges there's no actual smoking gun tying synthetic drug money from the U.S. to terrorists, Maltz says the existing evidence paints a clear picture.

MALTZ: The terrorists need money to finance their operations. They need money for logistics, for recruiting, for training. You cannot do that with American Express and Visa. You need a suitcase of cash.

FEYERICK: Synthetic drugs aside, the global drug trade produces plenty of that. According to the U.N. some $300 billion and counting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FEYERICK: Synthetic drug use appears to be soaring in the U.S. Accounting for more than 11,000 emergency room visits in 2010 and about half those patients, they were teenagers -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Deborah Feyerick, thanks so much. Next, a disturbing look inside our nation's schools. Are children as

young as preschool being put on a fast track to prison? It starts with suspensions. And black boys are suspended three times more often than white boys.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Mortgage rates picked up this week. Here's a look at the current rates.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right. Bottom of the hour now. Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Here are the top stories crossing the CNN news desk right now.

Quarterfinals continuing at the World Cup. Right now, Argentina leads Belgium 1-0 in the second half. At 4:00 this afternoon, it'll be the Netherlands taking on Costa Rica. Germany and Brazil move to the semifinals with wins Friday, but Brazil lost star forward Neymar for the rest of tournament when he was kneed in the back. You can see right there. Suffering a broken vertebrae.

A U.S. Marine's pregnant wife is missing. 19-year-old Erin Corwin was last seen leaving 29 Palms Marine Base in California a week ago today. She was on her way to Joshua Tree National Park at the time. Her car has since been found. And deputies are not ruling out foul play. Her mother flew out to California to help in the search for her daughter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LORI HEAVILIN, MISSING WOMAN'S MOTHER: I mean, my gut was just tore up. They tore up. And it's just like -- you feel like you're walking a nightmare.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Corwin is three months pregnant and lives with her husband on the marine base in California.

And the royal family was on hand to kick off the Super Bowl of bicycle racing today. This year, the Tour de France will actually get started or did get started in England. It's not unusual for the race to pass through neighboring countries. In fact, two years ago, the tour began in Belgium. The 21-stage race finishes in Paris on July 27th.

The school to prison pipeline is very real. That's not a claim from a super liberal think tank, it's a takeaway from the secretary of education.

Our Sara Sidner looks at the numbers and how folks are trying to change things.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you rhyme? So if I say cat -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the hat.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four-year-old JJ and his 3-year-old brother Gelo are doing what children their age do. Running and playing one minute, pushing the next.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop.

SIDNER: When they act up at home, they are disciplined.

TUNETTE POWELL, MOM: I think that they're typical 4- and 3-year-olds.

SIDNER: But at school --

POWELL: He's been suspended about five times.

SIDNER (on camera): At 3?

POWELL: At 3. And I can't make this up. I wish I was. He hit one of the teachers on the arm and they sent him home. And they said that they considered that hitting to be a danger to the staff.

SIDNER (voice-over): The most recent report says 7500 children nationwide were suspended at least once from public preschool. Yes, preschool. The alarming numbers reported by the Department of Education also say black students are being suspended and expelled at a rate three times greater than white kids across all grades.

ARNE DUNCAN, EDUCATION SECRETARY: We know there is a correlation between doing out of school suspensions and expulsions and ultimately locking kids up. Too many children in the communities, the school to prison pipeline is real and the fact that it starts as young as 4 again simply isn't good enough.

SIDNER: In Los Angeles, America's second largest school district, Superintendent John Daisy finds the trend disturbing.

(On camera): Why are these numbers playing out this way?

JOHN DAISY, SUPERINTENDENT, LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT: I think they're the same bias as there in society. So I don't think this -- I think this is a reflection of the growth we have yet to do in this country around these issues.

SIDNER (voice-over): What shocked him? The reason. The majority of suspensions in his district were for something called willful defiance.

DAISY: It was things like failure to do homework. Failure to bring your notebook to class. And that's not willful defiance. That's adolescence.

SIDNER: A year ago, the district became the first in the nation to remove willful defiance as a reason for suspensions and the numbers have dropped ever since. Three years ago, there were 19,000 suspensions. This year 8,000. The teacher's union never took a stance on the issue, with some teachers saying willful defiance has been abused and others saying it takes an important disciplinary tool away from their classrooms.

POWELL: I teach my kids all the time, education is your passport.

SIDNER: Tunette Powell learned that the hard way. Long before her sons were born, she was labeled a troublemaker. As the daughter of a drug addicted father, she struggled in school and life.

POWELL: I was expelled from school when I was 3 years old. In preschool. And when I first got the phone call about JJ, I immediately thought back to that. You know, at a young age, I was told that I was a bad kid in school.

SIDNER: Tunette proved them wrong. Eventually got her college degree, wrote a book, and became an accomplished public speaker. Even giving a TED talk.

The Powells have worked hard to make a good life for their children.

POWELL: My biggest fear is that they'll be labeled and that they'll believe it.

SIDNER: Every day, she fights to inspire her boys. More of a preschool to premed mentality. Than preschool to prison.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Omaha.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: So what are the inequities in our schools? Are degrees of punishment dictated by race and really what's next from studies that reveal this kind of information?

Joining me right now is Professor Shaun Harper, executive director with the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education.

Good to see you. He's joining us from Philadelphia.

So, Professor, do you know --

Good to see you.

WHITFIELD: -- of any school districts that are making a concerted effort to diversify its teaching staff and to help address the disparity in suspensions and expulsions since we, you know, learned in this piece that a big problem is, you know, you've got white teachers and mostly white female teachers who are disproportionately suspending black males.

SHAUN HARPER, EXEC. DIR., CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF RACE AND EQUITY IN EDUCATION: So I think that it's great that what we heard in the piece from Los Angeles about the doing away with the willful defiance clause. I think that's one really good step.

Another district that is doing great work, I recently read in the Macon Telegraph about a school in Forsythe, Georgia, that is making positive steps toward reculturing the school around discipline.

That particular story talked about a young man who had been suspended from school five times, but yet the school did this amazing turnaround with this culture and that particular young man actually graduated from high school.

WHITFIELD: So when you hear educators say that suspension is a disciplinary tool, is it your view that it is either, A, overused or is it that, B, you know, suspension or expulsions, that's not discipline, but instead, it's destructive. I mean, how do you address those two issues?

HARPER: Absolutely. So suspension for sure does very little to bolster student achievement and to help improve things like graduation rates and so on, so one reason why students, for example, are often suspended from school is for truancy. Well, suspending a kid for not coming to school is certainly not going to help him or her do better academically, right?

So oftentimes, suspension is used as a punishment as opposed to a teachable moment, as opposed to an opportunity for restorative justice and for getting kids to think more critically and more reflectively about appropriate behaviors in their schools.

WHITFIELD: And then on the issue of race, if an issue is a shortage of nonwhite female teachers, then what? If anything is done in the interim to help schools come up with improved policies to discourage black boys from being targeted or, you know, disproportionately disciplined or perhaps a concerted effort to further diversify the pool of teachers.

HARPER: Fredricka, as you noted earlier, the overwhelming majority of K-12 teachers are white, and most of them are white women, so I think what we have here is both an opportunity. Sure, we absolutely need more teachers of color, but we need teachers of color who don't come into schools with the same sort of deficit criminalized notions of black kids that we know that some white teachers do.

So we definitely need that. But we also need some serious intervention and professional development for the over 80 percent of white teachers who do things to criminalize black boys, who enter the teaching profession with undisrupted, unchecked biases about who black students are, black boys and girls, right?

So CNN excluded, of course, but when we think about media representations of black folks, they're usually not positive, so white teachers enter schools of education and oftentimes leave schools of education and enter the workforce with undisrupted, unchecked assumptions about who black people are, the communities from which we come and so on, and those kinds of things lead to the kinds of disproportionality that we see in discipline, referrals to principal's offices, suspensions and so on.

WHITFIELD: All right. Professor Shaun Harper, appreciate you. Thanks so much.

HARPER: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, coming up. Need a -- a place, rather, to visit in the U.S. of A? I know it's the holiday weekend, but people already started to think about their other summer vacation destinations and beyond. Maybe Labor Day. We'll show you some of the most spectacular places in the USA. Fifty spots in 50 states, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: San Bernardino County, California, experienced three earthquakes within one minute of each other the other day and the U.S. Geological Survey says a 4.8 quake was reported in running spring, then a minute later, a 4.6 earthquake was reported near Big Lake and then a minute later, a smaller quake near Big Bear Lake measuring 2.7. And it all happened around 1:00 Eastern. The quakes triggered a rock slide, but no injuries have been reported.

All right. With millions of Americans on vacation this holiday weekend, we thought it would be timely to help you find some of the most spectacular places in the United States that you may want to visit later on this summer perhaps or even by Labor Day, who knows. It's your choice.

Our friends at CNN.com have put together a magnificent photo gallery that you can scroll through to see 50 spots in 50 states, breathtaking stuff. And there's information on how you can actually celebrate the awe, the beauty and the uniqueness of each location in the beautiful U.S. of A.

Brandon Greggs is a senior producer at CNN.com who helped develop this travel package. It is extraordinary and he's been to 48 states. So he's speaking from experience when sharing all these incredible places.

So we're only going to do a handful of them because, you know, there's so much.

BRANDON GREGGS, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER, CNN.COM: Sure.

WHITFIELD: From which to choose. So let's begin in California. And we're talking about these magnificent trees that really becomes a focal point of this destination.

GREGGS: Yes, the Redwoods, several hours north of San Francisco, are just this majestic place where the trees are hundreds of feet high. They're up to 2,000 years old. Some of them are so wide. They're as wide as a house. There are some that have tunnels. You can actually drive your car through them.

WHITFIELD: Gosh. Yes.

GREGGS: And we focused on a place called Avenue of the Giants, where you can drive through this narrow highway in the middle of the Redwoods, no shoulders, no guardrails, the trees are right up against the road and it's unlike any other highway you'll ever drive. WHITFIELD: Wow. Very peaceful. That's on my list. I would like to

see the Redwood Forest at some point, as well. And so Florida, this I have done. The Everglades and being amongst the gators, but what's unique about this is the whole diving notion. That I haven't done. I'm not interested in that one, but tell me.

(LAUGHTER)

That's for the true daredevil.

GREGGS: Well, the Everglades are the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi.

WHITFIELD: A big old river.

GREGGS: It's a big old river and a marshland and full of birds, and snakes, and panthers and of course lots of gators.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

GREGGS: And there are not a lot of places where you can see alligators in the wild.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

GREGGS: But we found one called Shark Valley, where you can go, you can take a tram tour. You can walk on a 15-mile loop. You can ride a bike.

WHITFIELD: I've done the airbuses. I mean, the airboats.

GREGGS: Right.

WHITFIELD: Around there.

GREGGS: Which is another great option.

WHITFIELD: Yes. So scary.

GREGGS: But there are gators everywhere and you can see them in their natural habitat.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

GREGGS: You can get pretty close to them and still feel safe. You're up a little bit above the marsh, so you're not going to --

WHITFIELD: Oh my gosh.

GREGGS: You know, you'll be OK.

WHITFIELD: Yes. I was -- it's pretty scary, though, but it's exciting. And then there's New Jersey, the Garden State, and you're helping us to look at the Garden State really very intimately. And, you know, this picture really speaks to that motto. GREGGS: Well, you know, people think of New Jersey and you think of

maybe the opening of the "Sopranos" where Tony Soprano was driving through this sort of industrial landscape with refineries.

We picked a very different part of the state that's up in the northeastern corner along the Pennsylvania border. The Delaware River. Cuts through there and it's called the Delaware Water Gap. There are beautiful, gorgeous, hiking, waterfalls.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

GREGGS: The Appalachian Trail runs through there for about 27 miles. So there's lots to do.

WHITFIELD: Nice and then go back out west now. South Dakota and then Utah, which is just really one of my favorite states. I just love that place, too.

GREGGS: South Dakota, we picked Badlands National Park, which a lot of people don't go to. It's about an hour, hour and a half east of Mt. Rushmore so a lot of folks just kind of skip it. But it's right off the interstate. You can pull over. And there are lookouts where you can look down on this sort of -- it looks like another planet. There are no trees.

WHITFIELD: Kind of got a Grand Canyon kind of look to it.

GREGGS: These little miniature ridges and mountains and rock formations.

WHITFIELD: Beautiful.

GREGGS: And if the kids are restless from being in the car, they could get out and run around. It's like a big, natural playground.

WHITFIELD: My goodness. Well, beautiful stuff. Thank you so much, Brandon. Thanks for taking us.

Can we get a quick shot of Utah real quick, quick, quick? Before we go? There you go.

GREGGS: That's Lion National Park.

WHITFIELD: And gorgeous. And peaceful. Lovely. All right. Well, hey, lots of food for thoughts there as we try to make our summer travel plans or maybe even the fall.

Hey, year round, we got to, you know, appreciate the United States.

GREGGS: That's right. There's a lot of beauty here.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And what a way to celebrate the independence, the birthday of this beautiful nation.

Thanks so much, Brandon.

GREGGS: Thank you. Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still to come we'll talk women's final at Wimbledon. It featured the first Canadian ever. Oh, to take the crown there. And it was also over very quickly.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right. From Wimbledon, there's a new queen of the grass courts today. Christina McFarlane is in London for us.

So oh, tell us more about Eugenie Bouchard making history today for O' Canada.

CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fredricka. It's been a truly thrilling women's final here today with two very different finalists. Petra Kvitova who won the title here back in 2011, she's had to go through some really tricky matches over the past fortnight. She defeated Venus Williams back in the third round here and she was up against the young 20-year-old Canadian Eugenie Bouchard who was after her first-ever grand slam win but it wasn't to be for her today because Petra Kvitova just blew through her this afternoon in straight sets, 6-3, 6-0 in what was in fact the fastest ever Wimbledon finals to have been held here since Martina Navratilova won 31 years ago.

But, you know, it's quite fitting in fact because Navratilova is in fact the huge idol of Kvitova and a big inspiration to her growing up. And Martina was actually on the court here today to watch Kvitova win her second title.

I spoke to Kvitova just a short while ago and she told me that it felt like magic out there on the court for her today and she just couldn't believe some of the shots she was making. And I'll tell you, we couldn't believe it either. It really was a very quick and very powerful final for her today.

WHITFIELD: Well, fantastic. So, you know, not to, you know, take away from the shine of this moment for Eugenie, but I've got to ask you about Serena because, you know, Serena and Venus are also queens of that court many times over. But earlier in the week, Serena had quite the health scare. Is there any update on, you know, her situation, why she got dizzy or light-headed and was, you know, kind of missing, you know, in the timing of her swing?

MACFARLANE: Yes. Well, as you know, earlier this week, we heard that she was suffering from a viral infection. There's been a lot of speculation in the past couple of days but no one has actually come out and confirmed if anything different has happened since then, if anything has moved on.

Actually Martina Navratilova has come out and said that she thinks it wasn't just a viral infection given the way that Serena was behaving on court. But lots of questions being asked as to why Serena was even allowed to go out and play given her condition. We know that she is now home and she's still (INAUDIBLE) but we are not entirely certain if -- and there's been no word from the Williams camp just yet if her condition has worsened or if it is indeed just still a viral infection.

So some concern but she has said that she looks forward to being back here at Wimbledon next year. So we hope very much to see the world number one back and fighting fit.

WHITFIELD: Absolutely. We are all wishing her the best and a full recovery.

Thank you so much, Christina MacFarlane there. Appreciate it.

And we will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right. On this holiday weekend, we take a look at one of the most famous speeches in American history. It was July 4th, 1939, that Lou Gehrig delivered his emotional farewell speech at Yankees Stadium. Gehrig was forced to retire because he had ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Major League Baseball is remembering the day with this video of Gehrig's speech given by today's big league first basemen. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the past two weeks --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the past two weeks --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the past two weeks --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have been reading about the bad break I got.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yet today I consider myself --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I consider myself --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have been in ballparks for 17 years and I've never received anything but kindness --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And encouragement from you fans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you look around, wouldn't you consider it a privilege to associate yourself with such a fine looking man as standing (INAUDIBLE) in this ballpark today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at these grand man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which of you wouldn't consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure, I'm lucky. Who wouldn't consider it an honor to have known Jacob Rupert?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Also, the builder of baseball's greatest empire, Ed Barrow?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To have spent six years with that wonderful fellow, Miller Huggins?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The best manager in baseball today --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe McCarthy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure, I'm lucky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the New York giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift, that's something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies that's something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter, that's something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you can have an education and build your body --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a blessing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed, that's the finest I know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I have got an awful lot to live for.

LOU GEHRIG: That I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for. Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Gosh, still powerful. That was July Fourth 1939. Lou Gehrig died in 1941. He was just a few days shy of his 38th birthday.