Return to Transcripts main page
CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS
Obama's Gaffe; Homeless Student Bound For Harvard; Bullying in Florida
Aired June 9, 2012 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: From CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING.
DOUG O'NEILL, TRAINER, "I'LL HAVE ANOTHER": It is very disappointing.
KAYE (voice-over): A Triple Crown shocker before any horse even reaches the Belmont starting gate. "I'll Have Another" is out and will never run again. We'll tell you why.
Also, there's a federal investigation under way and it's targeting the highest levels of government. The FBI and the Department of Justice now looking into three cases of state secrets possibly leaked to the public. We have new details.
RICHARD DIENER, UNEMPLOYED SINCE 2010: It's been frustrating. It's been frustrating because I've never had a problem finding work before.
KAYE: Five million -- that's the number of Americans who have been out of work for more than six months. We put long-term unemployment in focus this morning. For millions, jobless benefits are running out. We have some tips on how you can get back to work.
DAWN LOGGINS, BURNS HIGH SENIOR STUDENT: I never expected my parents to just, like, leave.
KAYE: It's hard to get into Harvard, harder to do it on a scholarship. But imagine if you did it without parents, money or even a home. That's Dawn Loggins' story. I spoke to her one-on-one and you will not believe what she has to say.
KAYE: Good morning, everyone. I'm Randi Kaye. It is 9:00 a.m. on the East Coast; 6:00 a.m. on the West. Thanks for waking up with us.
We start with a guarantee from Attorney-General Eric Holder that his new lead investigators will get to the bottom of the leaked secrets scandal. President Obama says this White House has zero tolerance for leaks and promises that anyone guilty will suffer consequences.
Leaked information has included classified details of a cyber attack aimed at Iran and classified information on the U.S. drone program.
A ruling on 9/11 could have a huge impact on how more than $4 billion in medical fund is spent. It comes down to a possible decision on cancers and whether they were caused by the toxic fumes that rose from the World Trade Center after those attacks. Nick Valencia is joining me now. He's been looking into this.
So, first of all, what kind of cancers are we talking about here? A lot of them, right?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN ASSIGNMENT EDITOR: We're talking about a lot, about 50 different types of cancer, and this is big news for people that have been trying to say they got cancer from the toxic fumes around the smoldering rubble of the twin towers.
KAYE: So there's a set amount of money but this could increase the pool of people who could get coverage and benefit.
VALENCIA: And that's the big - that's the big caveat here. How much are they going to get? Are they going to get a hefty compensation? Are they going to get free treatment? If you add more people to this pool, $4.5 billion this 9/11 health fund for victims who say they got sick because of the toxic fumes, it might take away from others.
KAYE: And how many people are we talking about here and who are they?
VALENCIA: We're talking about hundreds, we're talking about thousands - potentially thousands of people. The interesting part of the story, Randi, is that it could affect people that were just passing by the 9/11 towers, people that were just passing by the World Trade Center, residents in the area, first responders, medics. It's a large swath of people.
KAYE: So it could have been just someone visiting New York, a sightseer, you're saying -
VALENCIA: That's right.
KAYE: It doesn't have to be somebody who ran into the towers who tried to save someone.
VALENCIA: That's right. It could be a passer by, someone who was just passing by as the attack happened.
KAYE: And this is a recommendation, right?
VALENCIA: This is a recommendation, it's not a final ruling. They need to go through public comments, more research, it could take weeks maybe even up to months before this is implemented, if it's implemented at all. This is not a guarantee as you mentioned.
KAYE: All right. Nick Valencia. Thank you for that. Appreciate it.
Federal marshals now offering $5,000 for information on fugitive murder suspect wanted in Alabama. Deander Marque Lee is considered armed and dangerous. He's wanted in connection with the shooting deaths of nine-year-old twins and their 73-year-old babysitter.
We won't have a triple crown winner again this year now that "I'll Have Another" has dropped out of today's Belmont Stakes. The track veterinarian noticed the beginning of tendinitis. The horse will retire instead of running again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J. PAUL REDDAM, OWNER "I'LL HAVE ANOTHER": Horseracing is a very tough game. And horses are very delicate creatures and things can happen to them and unfortunately, fate decided today it was the day for "I'll Have Another" to end his career.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: So we'll have to wait another year for a possible triple crown.
Some are calling it a presidential sized gaffe. While making remarks about the U.S. economy, President Obama said it was one sector is showing strong signs of improvement. But his Republican rival Mitt Romney disagreed.
CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser has the story.
PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Good morning, Randi, call it a war of words over the state of the economy. It started with President Barack Obama's comments at the White House yesterday morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The truth of the matter is that as I said we have created 4.3 million jobs, over the last 27 months. Over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine. Where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy had to do with state and local government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEINHAUSER: Mitt Romney quickly responded to the president's description of the private sector as doing fine.
The Republican challenger firing away at a campaign event in Iowa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For the president of the United States to stand up and say the private sector is doing fine is going to go down in history. It's an extraordinary miscalculation and misunderstanding by a president who is out of touch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEINHAUSER: A few hours later, a clarification from the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: It is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEINHAUSER: Why does any of this matter? Here's why, polls including ours indicate that Americans continue to say by far that the economy is the most important problem facing the country. And nearly seven in 10 in our CNN-ORC survey rate the economic conditions right now as poor. And they're split on which candidate will better jump-start the economy. 31 percent say things will get better if Romney wins in November, 28 percent say the economy will improve if the president is re-elected. We've got five more months until election day which means five more months of battling over the economy. Randi.
KAYE: And we're all looking forward to that. Thank you, Paul.
A straight A student, member of National Honor Society, a 2110 on the SAT and she did it all while being homeless. Martin Savidge has the inspiring story of 18-year-old Dawn Loggins.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: While other teens still sleep, Dawn Loggins is in the hallways, classroom and bathrooms of Burns High School where she's a senior and janitor.
Each morning she cleans the rooms where she'll later return to learn.
Then comes seven hours of advanced placement classes and honors classes. Then two more hours of dumping trash and picking up after her classmates.
DAWN LOGGINS, BURNS HIGH SENIOR STUDENT: I don't mind cleaning because if you have to wade through trash to get to your desk, you're not going to have an environment that encourages learning.
SAVIDGE: Finally, she tackles homework until 2:00 a.m.. Besides being dedicated, school officials knew something else about Dawn, life at home wasn't exactly perfect. There were the eviction notices. The family moved a lot. Burns High was Dawn's fourth school since eight grade. When she asked about candles. Her boss realized the teen was living in a house with no electricity.
JUNIE BARNETT, BURNS HIGH SCHOOL CUSTODIAN SUPERVISOR: She came to me and she said, "I need something to be able to do my home work by." And I said "OK, we'll get you some candles. We'll take care of that."
SAVIDGE: There was also no water.
LOGGINS: I would get water jugs and fill them off at the park, using the spigots at the bathroom and we could use that to like flush the toilet and cook with and things like that.
SAVIDGE: It got worse. Last year, when Dawn tried calling home from summer school in Raleigh, the phone was disconnected. Her mother and stepfather had moved again, this time leaving her behind.
LOGGINS: I never expected my parents to just like leave.
SAVIDGE (on camera): You were homeless.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Dawn would crash a few stays on a couch here or a night or two on the floor there, but still cleaning and still keeping up her grades.
LOGGINS: I think what motivates me is the fact that when I was younger, I was able to look at all the bad choices, the neglect and the drug abuse and I was having to ask myself, am I going buy food this month or am I going to pay rent?
SAVIDGE (on camera): What's make the story so amazing isn't just Dawn Loggins, it's what the school and it's what the community did. You see the moment that it was realized that Dawn was abandoned and homeless, she should have been turned over to the state, the Department of Social Services. That didn't happen. That didn't happen on purpose.
ROBYN PUTNAM, BURN HIGH GUIDANCE COUNSELOR: We took it upon ourselves to become her village.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): So teachers and staffers made sure that she was clothe and fed and had a place to live.
SHERYL KOLTON, BURNS MIDDLE SCHOOL BUS DRIVER: People are nice though. WE have good people in our (INAUDIBLE). It's a nice community.
SAVIDGE: And it didn't end there. That same village was now out to get her to college and not just any college, Harvard.
History teacher Larry Gardner wrote the recommendation letter and simply told Dawn's story.
LARRY GARDNER, BURNS HIGH HISTORY TEACHER: This young lady has unlike most of us known hunger, she's known abuse and neglect. She has known homelessness and filth, yet she's risen above it all to become such an outstanding young lady.
SAVIDGE: Months passed, acceptance letters arrive from state schools but nothing from Cambridge. Then one day, a thin envelope with a Harvard seal arrived.
GARDNER: I'm delighted to report that the admissions committee has asked me to inform you that you will be admitted to the Harvard College class of 2016.
KAYE: Amazing. What's next for the teen who had gone from homeless to Harvard. My one on one interview with Dawn Loggins right after the break.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KAYE: Now is a great time to call your child into the room to hear Dawn Loggin's inspirational story. Dawn is a straight A student, member of the National Honors Society, scored a 2110 on her SAT and is heading to Harvard. And oh, yes, did I mention that she was homeless and cleaned toilets in high school? I sat down with the 18-year-old who is defying all the odds and asked her what it was like to graduate.
LOGGINS: When I walked across the stage to get my diploma and everyone stood up and started cheering, I had a hard time. It was very hard to keep from crying because it was overwhelming.
KAYE: Where are you living these days? Are you still homeless?
LOGGINS: I'm living with Sheryl and Norm. Sheryl is a custodian at the Middle School and she's let me stay there to continue my education and to continue working and things like that.
KAYE: And what about between breaks at Harvard, where will you live?
LOGGINS: It depends. I feel like I will come back and visit Sheryl and Norm, but I'll also see my other family members. I don't know where exactly I'll be because things in my family change so frequently. So I'll just have to see when the time comes.
KAYE: What is your advice to other teens?
LOGGINS: I have two pieces of advice to other students. The first one is your situations don't define you. You can take any classes you want to and you can succeed. If you try hard, you can do anything. And I encourage people in poor situations to talk to someone at school, to talk to a guidance counselor or to talk to an administrator, a teacher. Because the school system can help. The school system has means to help out students in bad situations. And for other students, I encourage them to take advantage of all the opportunities that they're given. If you have the opportunity to participate, the opportunity to be in clubs, be in sports, take it.
KAYE: And if you would like to help Dawn, contributions can be sent to Burns High School, Dawn Loggins fund, that's 307 East Stagecoach trail. That's in Lawndale, North Carolina 28090. She's an incredible young woman.
And while they may not be homeless, millions of Americans are jobless. Unemployment benefits are ending this month for tens of thousands of people who have been out of work long-term. Here are the numbers, the latest labor report shows 12.7 millions Americans unemployed, of those more than five million have been out of work for at least six months around. The average is actually around about 40 weeks. Then there are the 99ers, people who have exhausted all unemployment benefits, regular and emergency. This month 70,000 jobless Americans across two dozen states will lose their benefits since long term unemployment insurance across two dozen states will lose their benefits since long- term unemployment insurance is being phased out by the end of the year and the question remains whether Congress will take up the issue of extending benefits before election day.
A Florida teen survives a suicide attempt after being bullied at the school. But should the school be held accountable for his injuries? We'll get some answers next.
But first, each week Dr. Sanjay Gupta profiles innovators from all walks of life on "The Next List." And this week he introduces you to the youngest person in the world to build a nuclear fusion reactor. Meet 18-year-old Taylor Wilson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAYLOR WILSON: Science is something cool. To tell you the truth, science is cooler than just about anything else in the world. Getting to go in for your job every day and blow things up? What kid wouldn't want that. It's an incredibly exciting thing to do. You have this license to pursue the problems that you have always thought about and do things that are really cool that no other career path offers you.
If you look at this country and what we have accomplished in the last 100 years, it's all come down to science.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Tune in tomorrow or set your DVR for 2:00 p.m. Eastern to watch "The Next List."
KAYE: If you watch my show from week to week, then you'll know that bullying is something I'm extremely passionate about and something that I would very much like to see stopped. Here's a story out of Florida that really moved me. It raised some very important questions about whose responsibility it is to prevent bullying in school.
17-year-old Zachary Gray was bullied at his school near Tampa. His parents say things got so bad that he hanged himself in a shed behind the family's is home. But Zachary's mother found him and he survived. He suffered major brain damage and today is severely paralyzed.
Joining me now is Zachary's mother Lyn Gray and her attorney, Robin Allweiss. Thank you both for being here this morning.
As I said, this is a topic that I think certainly needs a lot more coverage. So Lynn, let me ask you first, first of all, I'm so sorry to hear what's happened to your son, I'm sure this is so difficult for you. But did you know that your son was being bullied?
LYNN GRAY, MOTHER OF ZACHARY GRAY: No. I didn't.
KAYE: You had no idea? There was no change in his behavior at home which we hear a lot about, you know, when you talk to these kids and these families? GRAY: No, a lot of times kids don't tell their parents.
KAYE: And now that you do know that he was being bullied in school, any idea how long it was going on? How long it was happening?
GRAY: From what we understand, for a long time.
KAYE: A year? A few months?
GRAY: At least a year.
KAYE: Yes Robin, let me ask you, Florida has been an anti-bullying state. It has a state law that requires schools to report bullying to parents. In fact, the statute (INAUDIBLE) says the school district must have a procedure for providing immediate notification to the parents of a victim of bullying or harassment. Did the school ever alert the parents to the bullying?
ROBIN ALLWEISS, GRAY'S FAMILY ATTORNEY: No absolutely. They did not. As a matter of fact, the parents did not know. And they did inquire at that time, a few months later after it happened sent e-mails and letters to the superintendent and to Pasco County schools to do an investigation because they wanted to have answers. And the only thing that was available was a newspaper article right after it happened that Zachary had been bullied.
KAYE: And we reached out to Zachary's school district and they told us that there was never a report made to the school either through the students, or family members or even staff members regarding taunting, or teasing or bullying. But as far as you know, Lynn, did your son, now - have you learned anything if he ever complained to a teacher?
GRAY: Yes, he did. He went to a teacher.
KAYE: And do you know what he told that teacher.
GRAY: And told the teacher.
Yes, he told the teacher that he was being called fag, gay, queer, man bobs, all kinds of hateful stuff like that every day in the hallway.
KAYE: And that teacher required by state law, Robin, should have been aware of this and then told the family, correct?
ALLWEISS: Well, absolutely. The law states that once anyone in the school system has any realization that there's bullying, even if they witness it, that they are to report to the principal who then reports to the parents. And apparently there were teachers that were aware of this. And from what I have learned from the family, that they were aware of it. Actually, a few days after Zachary was in the hospital, a few teachers approached the Gray family and said that they were aware that Zachary told them he was being bullied. And by law it's mandated that they need to notify the parents. If the parents had known, they could have intervened and done something about it.
KAYE: Lynn, I'm sure the last thing you want to do here is point fingers but I'm curious as to who you hold accountable here?
GRAY: I just want answers for my son. I want the school to stop doing this. And take accountable and stop this stuff. It's ridiculous. They're not taking any blame for anything. And they knew about it. I want these kids protected. We couldn't protect ours, but maybe we can protect somebody else's child. And somebody else from going through the stuff that we're going through.
KAYE: Yes, I'm sure that that is a goal for a lot of people in a lot of school districts across the country. There are state laws, but the question is are they being enforced and what is going to be done in the end to help a lot of these kids and a lot of these families. Lynn Gray, Robin Allweiss, thank you both for your time.
ALLWEISS: Thank you.
GRAY: Thank you.
KAYE: And I would like to know what you think about bullying. I'd like you to tweet me now or any time, you can use the hashtag #bullyingstopshere and you can me at Twitter @randikayeCNN.
KAYE: Breaking news here on CNN. You're looking at live pictures, this is shelling taking place right now in Homs in Syria. Homs has been the epicenter of this anti-government uprising that has been going on now for 15 months. At least 30 people were killed in southern Syria today, according to the opposition groups. We've also seen some fighting in the capital of Damascus.
Let's listen in here for just a moment to this live shelling.
You see some smoke there and hear some of that shelling there. We have our Arwa Damon on the line with us. She is in Beirut, Lebanon. But Arwa, you have actually been to Homs.
Can you tell us - give us some perspective on where this is and what's happening here?
ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yes, well this is actually the neighborhood of (INAUDIBLE) in Homs and it has actually been a stronghold of the opposition for quite some time now. There's a (INAUDIBLE) between this neighborhood and one just next to it that's controlled by government forces that (INAUDIBLE) pretty intense clashes over the last few weeks.
And now we have these activist pacing this live feed showing the bombardment by government forces, or so they alleged and you can keep hearing the echoing of the gun fire in the background. Homs, as you were saying, has been one of the most molested cities in the entire capital and these are images that are incredibly dramatic showing the violence that most certainly does continued.
KAYE: Arwa Damon for us, with the latest there from Beirut. Once again, that's live shelling. We're going to continue to watch this because, obviously, the leader there in Syria, Bashar al Assad is not complying with this brokered peace agreement that has not gone into effect, obviously.
We'll have much more on this at 10:00 a.m. Eastern time. "YOUR BOTTOM LINE" starts right now.