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CNN NEWSROOM

New Fighting, More Deaths; GOP Candidates Court CPAC Vote; Egypt's Year Without Mubarak; Startups Drive Economy; Valentine's Day Smartphone Apps; Drug Tests to Get Welfare; Ex-UVA Athlete Accused of Murder; Scott Strode: Staying Sober Through Sports; Interview with Debbie Allen

Aired February 11, 2012 - 15:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. It is Saturday, February 11th. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

In Syria today, the seventh straight day that residents in the City of Homs have been under assault. We're also told that Syrian tanks and troops are surrounding the city. At least 30 people are reported killed across the country today.

Saudi Arabia has drafted a formal condemnation of Syria saying the government there is violating its citizens' human rights and the U.S. Ambassador to Syria directly blames the Syrian military for killing hundreds of people over the past week.

Here now is Ivan Watson.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Residents of the besieged Syrian City of Homs awoke once again at dawn on Saturday morning to another day of sustained bombardment from the Syrian military. That is routine. A deadly routine they have lived for for the better part of a week, a routine that has killed hundreds of people and wounded hundreds of more at the hands according to the U.S. Ambassador to Syria of the Syrian military.

Take a listen to what Ambassador Robert Ford had to say to CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Friday night.

ROBERT FORD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SYRIA: We know who is shelling Homs and it is not the armed opposition groups. It's the government. And that's why I wanted that picture put on our Facebook account so that people could see there is the artillery and that's what's firing at Homs right now. The armed opposition has rifles, it has machine guns, it even has a few rocket propelled grenades, but it doesn't have artillery. Only one side in this has artillery.

WATSON: The Syrian government has consistently argued since the beginning of this uprising nearly 11 months ago that it is fighting armed terrorists linked to al Qaeda. That is how they have termed it to be what started as peaceful protests around the country. Increasingly we are seeing signs that the opposition is resorting to the use of arms to fight back against the Syrian Security Forces. One Syrian opposition group claimed -

(on camera): responsibility for killing 10 Syrian soldiers in the Northern Province of Idlib as the result of an improvised explosive device and an ambush. Those are some of the tactics and weapons we saw in neighboring Iraq during the bloody U.S. occupation of that country.

Now, Turkey has made an announcement, the Turkish foreign minister visiting Washington that it is going to start a process, going to apply to the United Nations at its headquarters in Geneva to try to find some way to start sending humanitarian aid to Syria.

The potential obstacles to trying to send aid in would be significant and would probably require the permission of the Syrian regime itself, which is accused of encircling cities like Homs and preventing fresh supplies of food and basic medicines.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Istanbul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: And CNN presents a special program tonight, it focuses on the center of the Syrian uprising. It's called "Homs, City under siege." Watch it tonight at 10:30 Eastern Time right here on CNN.

Iran's president is promising a major announcement about his country's nuclear program in the next few days. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made the comment at a rally marking the 33rd anniversary of Iran's Islamic revolution. He did not mention specifics, only that Iran has made several major nuclear achievements.

Back in the U.S. now, the University of California San Francisco has agreed to perform a life saving kidney transplant on an undocumented immigrant following a massive online campaign.

Jesus Navarro had been denied the surgery because of his immigration status. Change.org gathered more than 130,000 petition signatures on Navarro's behalf. The petition drive was launched by a former kidney recipient.

And at this hour, a memorial service is ending for two children killed by their father last Sunday in a house explosion. Hundreds of people are in Tacoma, Washington remembering the 7- and 5-year-old brothers Charlie and Braden Powell.

Their father Josh Powell in the video you saw earlier had lost custody of the children just days before the explosion. He was also the only person under investigation in Utah for his wife Susan's disappearance in 2009.

In Atlanta now, a rally today near the site of a vicious beating. Three men could be seen shouting anti-gay slur, punching and kicking 20-year-old Brandon White. You can see that happening on surveillance video last week. That video was then circulated online. One of the three suspects has been arrested. Eighteen-year-old Christopher Cain is charged with aggravated assault and robbery.

All right. Right now in the nation's capital, one of the most influential conservative groups in this country is gathering. And next hour, the members of CPAC will announce which Republican they support for president.

CNN's Mark Preston joins us live now from the CPAC conference. So Mark, as this has been going on for days now, which candidate seems to be getting the most buzz there?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, I've got to tell you. It's got to be Rick Santorum, Fred. And for the reason alone that he has the momentum at his back. Some very big wins for him this past week in Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota. He's trying to position himself as the alternative to Mitt Romney.

Now, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich all addressed the conference yesterday. And Santorum got a very good reception here.

Mitt Romney might have stirred up a little bit of controversy by using this word when he was describing himself as a conservative. He called himself a severe conservative when he was the governor of Massachusetts and in some ways that has kind of put off conservatives that have attended this conference.

Newt Gingrich focused all of his fire power, though, Fred, on President Obama, criticizing him.

So we should know in the next hour, hour and a half who's going to win this straw poll and I have to tell you, the audience behind me, thousands of people are waiting to hear from Sarah Palin who's going to speak at 4:30 here.

WHITFIELD: OK. Well before Sarah - Sarah Palin speaks, the straw poll, how does that work exactly and why is it that many of the candidates, maybe three out of the four candidates, are feeling like it's an important, you know, victory to be had if they were to win the straw poll?

PRESTON: Well, you know, what's interesting is that the four candidates in the race right now, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul being the fourth candidate, Ron Paul has decided not to play here at CPAC. And what's interesting about that is that he has won the straw poll the last two years and he's won it because he has been able to draw a lot of young voters to come here to the CPAC conference and to vote for him.

But instead, Ron Paul is focusing all his attention on the Maine caucuses which will be of course we'll have the results of those tonight. But for here, it means different things to different people.

For Rick Santorum it could - if he were to win tonight, it could show that he continues to have conservatives flocking to his candidacy. If Mitt Romney would win, perhaps that would show that conservatives are starting to rally around his candidacy. There's been some questions on whether Mitt Romney, Fred, can actually get conservatives to come to his side.

And for Newt Gingrich, who we see in his campaign die, come back to life, die, come back to life, perhaps a win today could help bring his campaign back, which right now Rick Santorum seems to be dominating that conservative side of it.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And real quick, Mark, before I let you go, you took some pictures of kind of, you know, a little behind the scenes activity and explain what this one means, this particular photo.

PRESTON: Yes. Let's just get a quick look at this. And I think that this image right here on the screen just shows you really where we are in the state of the race.

Rick Santorum - one of his campaign workers had a booth downstairs in the hotel room - in the hotel hallway and if you can see right there it shows that he is hiring. Seriously. And it just goes to show that Rick Santorum at this point is starting to get the money, he's raised $3 million in the last 72 hours to try on build a campaign infrastructure. Fred, up to this point he's only had a handful of campaign workers. Amazing.

WHITFIELD: Wow. On average, a million a day. That is pretty impressive. All right, thanks so much, Mark Preston. Keep us posted.

OK. So right now Mitt Romney is doing something that he has not done in this election cycle. He is visiting caucus sites in Maine on voting day. Republicans have been caucusing in Maine for weeks how. Well, tonight they will pick their winner. Both Romney and Ron Paul are in Maine today hoping to break their losing streaks.

CNN's coverage of the Maine caucuses begins at 5:30 Eastern Time with a special edition of "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer. Stay with us as we bring you all of the results this evening.

And then join us every Sunday afternoon 4:00 Eastern Time when we dedicate an entire hour to the presidential contenders in this 2012 election. Tomorrow, we'll be talking to the Jackie Cushman, she's the daughter of Newt Gingrich and we'll be talking about how her dad is planning his comeback and why he feels like he can keep going strong at least through Super Tuesday.

All right. It's exactly one year since Hosni Mubarak fell from power in Egypt. I'll talk to a young Egyptian woman who helped push him out, next.

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WHITFIELD: One year ago today, Hosni Mubarak stepped down as president of Egypt. His resignation followed 17 days of massive protests around the country but mostly in Cairo.

With me now live from Cairo, Gigi Ibrahim, she's a journalist and blogger who took part in the historic protests that forced Mubarak from power. All right, Gigi, good to see you.

This is the one year mark and there have been some planned gatherings for this one year anniversary. In large part, do people feel like this is the Egypt they were hoping to see one year after Hosni Mubarak left power?

GIGI IBRAHIM, ACTIVIST AND BLOGGER: Well, today, a year after we're planning for a general strike, actually the start of it was today with the involvement of the student unions and tens of school that took part in this - in this wave of strike that is to come and we're hoping that it will spill over to many working sectors, too.

Because, I mean, many - many people in the media don't know what actually toppled Mubarak were the three days of those - the last three days of those 17 days when large numbers of workers in different sectors went on strike demanding for the toppling of - demanding (INAUDIBLE) of Mubarak, which actually what made Mubarak step down.

So a year after, nothing has changed. We've been facing, you know, the same regime if not worse. The staff is Mubarak generals who are trying to trash (ph) the revolution and we're continuing our revolution with these strikes, with demonstrating, with sitting in with occupying, with going on strike and using these weapons to topple the regime as a whole.

WHITFIELD: So, Gigi, was the expectation that military rule would be gone by now?

IBRAHIM: I mean, a year ago I knew even that it wouldn't be over in 18 days. No revolution is over in 18 days or even 18 months or six years for a revolution to go on and proceed. And I - and I believe like what we have now is Mubarak generals, the head - the leaders of this regime, but the regime is still well intact and we're going to continue on -

WHITFIELD: And to what extent do you continue on? What does that mean, the gatherings in the streets similar to what we saw in Tahrir Square, or how do you see the strategy changing?

IBRAHIM: The strategy, I mean, it's not just Tahrir like I said before. What toppled Mubarak was not just Tahrir and people gathering in square. This is absolutely an important tool that we have used, but also workers and students and farmers taking part in striking and using the power to bring down this regime is what's going to settle this revolution once and for all.

And we're going to continue to push for that and obviously that it's working because many of those who are calling for these strikes and this kind of civil disobedience are being cracked down upon and many activists have been arrested including Sameh Naguib (ph) and right now in Mahalla, Kamal al-Fayumi is a labor union - a labor leader in Mahalla took part in 2008 is now arrested, you know, and being accused of trying to, you know, agitate for this strike.

So obviously this is the strategy that - it is the most anticipated strategy we're using. WHITFIELD: OK. Gigi Ibrahim, thanks so much for joining us from Cairo with that perspective.

And next hour, a former White House National Security staff member, Michelle Dunn, will be joining me. I'll be talking to her about Egypt's progress or a lack thereof depending on what point of view and then what could be done to stop the violence in Syria, what would be the breaking point there. That's in the 4:00 Eastern Hour of the NEWSROOM.

A former University of Virginia lacrosse player accused of killing his ex-girlfriend breaks down during his murder trial after watching a videotape. Our "Legal Guys" weigh in on this case straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Is expanding America's focus on research and development the key to economic growth?

CNN's Ali Velshi breaks it down in this week's "Fortune Brainstorm."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: If you still believe that bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. is key it our economic recovery, you're probably watching this program on a black and white TV. Most bets today are on American innovation or something else.

Vivek Wadhwa is the director of research at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering and Vice President of Academics and Innovation at Singularity University. Peter Diamandis is one of the founders of Singularity University. He's also the founder and chairman of the X Prize Foundation.

Gentlemen, welcome to the show.

Vivek, let's start with you. You say small prize-oriented competitions are the key to economic growth rather than large government funded labs. Explain what you meant.

VIVEK WADHWA, TECHNOLOGY ENTREPRENEUR: Well, look at the way we've been reacting to the economic downturn and the lack of innovation. We talk about big bailouts. We talk about big investments. I mean look at what happened at Solyndra. Half a billion dollars. Everybody - we're talking about national big schemes.

Look at where the innovation comes from. It comes from small businesses, from entrepreneurs, from innovators who want to change the world.

What we need to do is to empower those innovators to take the ideas that they have, take exponentially advancing technologies. I'll let Peter explain what that means. And now put together new solutions that change the world. PETER DIAMANDIS, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, X PRIZE FOUNDATION: Vivek's right on the money here. You know, our friends at the Kaufman Foundation proved that statistically all new job growth overtime comes from startups.

You know, start ups are a small group of extraordinarily passionate individuals who are committed to making their dreams happen and most importantly, they're willing to take risks. They're willing to try something which is a crazy idea and I'm fond of saying the day before something is really a breakthrough is a crazy idea.

VELSHI: Vivek, Peter, thanks very much for the great conversation. I'm Ali Velshi with this week's "Fortune Brainstorm."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: All right-y. And Valentine's Day is this Tuesday. Instead of sending a generic text message or making a phone call, how about spicing things up with some smartphone apps.

Syndicated technology columnist and our tech guru Marc Saltzman joining us now via Skype from Toronto with some ideas.

OK, Marc, let's start with free Valentine's Day 2012 app by MagicSolver.com.

MARC SALTZMAN, SYNDICATED TECHNOLOGY WRITER: Sure. So this app is one of my favorites for those who want to get in the mood this Valentine's Day. Because not only is it free to gift it to someone on their iPhone or iPad as you see here, but for 14 days in a row, they're going to get another free app that they can download that's been handpicked.

WHITFIELD: Oh, that's a lot of love.

SALTZMAN: -- by the (INAUDIBLE) at MagicSolver. So that can be games. It can be romantic recipes, there's a Jamie Oliver's recipes collection. There's music, different kinds of apps that should appeal to your sweetheart.

And, again, there's one a day. You cannot download one more than that. So it's kind of fun to have two week's worth of free apps downloaded. Plus, there are some extra little mini games that unlocks more music and more wallpaper to decorate your iPhone or iPad. So that's a good one from folks at MagicSolver. It's called 2012 Valentine's Day.

WHITFIELD: Oh, that's cute. A little surprise every day.

All right, so for Android owners, you have one called "Be My Valentine" Live Wallpaper?

SALTZMAN: That's right.

WHITFIELD: OK.

SALTZMAN: So Live Wallpaper refers to animated wallpaper that's behind your icons on your Android smartphone app.

WHITFIELD: Oh, yes.

SALTZMAN: So unlike the iPad or iPhone, there is the ability of that motion there and inter-activity. So this "Be My Valentine" Live Wallpaper is free and you get 30 different designs in the background.

So, for example, this one as you can see here on this Samsung Galaxy Note, which is half phone, half tablet, by the way, coming out Tuesday on Valentine's Day, you can tap little hearts and it will reveal something like a poem or something that you can - you know, fun like a link to music and other neat things that you can get for free for your lover who is on an Android device or for your Android lover. It's a good one for those who aren't on an iPad or iPhones. It's a good one there.

WHITFIELD: Also sweet. Marc, you're giving me a cavity. It's so sweet.

So, next, the new cards app from Apple lets you create and mail beautifully crafted greeting cards, maybe unlike any you've ever seen before.

SALTZMAN: Well, I'll go so far to say that it definitely fuses the old world with the new world. You use this free cards app on your iPhone or iPod Touch and you create the message.

So you can import your photos, create the message, and then you can print - and then you send it through Apple, they send it for you including postage in an envelope to someone in the U.S. or elsewhere. And they get a letter press card, a beautiful 4 by 6 creation that you made yourself. Maybe hard to see on a web camera, but you get the idea.

It's not just for Valentine's Day and you probably miss it because it does take a couple days for someone to get it domestically, but it's nice to have all year-round. It's free to download and then again only $3 to send something within the U.S. and $5 internationally and that does include postage.

So just a nice way - for those who still like something tangible -

WHITFIELD: Yes.

SALTZMAN: -- and, Fred, I think you're from that school.

WHITFIELD: I am indeed.

SALTZMAN: You like to hold the real card in your hand.

WHITFIELD: To have the real thing.

SALTZMAN: That's right. But you get to write it and create it on the iPad or iPhone, rather.

WHITFIELD: OK. And then there's Zagat, an app for multiple devices. SALTZMAN: Right. So Zagat, of course, it's the digital version of the popular restaurant directory. So it's $9.99 for the year and you get access for more than 30,000 reviews of restaurants and ratings. And you can read the menus within the app. There are a lot of exclusives like that.

There's GPS directions to your app - sorry - to the restaurant rather. You can make reservations. So that's something I think is nice for not just for Tuesday, for Valentine's Day, when I'll be taking my wife out for Italian, but when you want to find the right restaurant, right?

So Zagat is of course, you know, a go-to resource for that. But it's good all year round as well. So that's the digital version of the Zagat Directory, and that's available by the way for all platforms, even BlackBerry and Windows phone as well.

WHITFIELD: Oh, that's great. Keep the love going 365, all year round.

SALTZMAN: You know it.

WHITFIELD: Keep the chocolates and good food coming. All right. Thanks so much, Marc.

SALTZMAN: Thanks. Happy Valentine's.

And for more high tech ideas and reviews, just go to CNN.com/Tech and look for the gaming and gadgets tab or follow Marc Saltzman on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

All right. Long time award-winning entertainer Debbie Allen has done it all from dancing to directing. The best in the entertainment industry is drawn to the iconic Ms. Allen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: You mentioned Mariah Carey, and you have a great relationship. You talked about you being very maternal in a lot of ways and you were kind of like her mom.

DEBBIE ALLEN, AWARD-WINNING ENTERTAINER: I'm another mom for her, yes, I am. I keep people close. When I work with people and we have a good time together -

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Straight ahead, "Face to Face" with Debbie Allen. It still pains her to talk about the loss of close friend and one of her best dance students Michael Jackson. "Face to Face" with Debbie Allen, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right. Checking today's top stories. The besieged Syrian Town of Homs is enduring a seventh straight day of bombardment. Opposition activists say hundreds of people have been killed there in the past week. The death toll from violence across the area today has climbed to at least 30.

On Monday, the U.N. General Assembly will consider a resolution condemning President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown.

And after hearing from all of the Republican candidates over the past few days, next hour, conservative activists at CPAC will announce who they want to run for president. We'll bring that to you live, 4:15 Eastern Time.

And the U.S. Navy bestows a major honor on former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords naming a warship after her. The USS Gabrielle Giffords will be close to shore combat ship. The Navy almost never names ships after people who are still alive and even more rarely after women. The Navy Secretary says the name Gabrielle Giffords is synonymous with courage.

In Pennsylvania, there's a new pilot program underway to make sure convicted drug felons get welfare - who are getting welfare are not using drugs. Supporters of the program say it's one way to make sure public assistance isn't being wasted.

CNN National Correspondent Susan Candiotti joins us now to talk more about this program.

Susan, so not everyone, however, is thrilled about this idea?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. Not everyone. Some feel that it's just an attempt to blame drug addicts for their disease.

Now, supporters of this program say that by testing those with prior felonies, they're making sure taxpayer money goes to those who are most deserving.

So, starting with just one county, Schuylkill - that's east of Harrisburg - those drug felons will face random drug tests. If they fail, they get another crack at treatment, but a third strike means no more welfare checks forever.

Now, one state senator says it's exactly what his constituents want.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STATE SENATOR DAVID ARGALL (R), PENNSYLVANIA: The last thing they want to do with their tax dollars is to pay for welfare benefits for people to buy their own illegal drugs. I mean, to them that's - that's just crazy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: Now, a law in Florida that called for drug test for anyone on welfare was stopped by the courts, ruling it amounted to an illegal search. But Pennsylvania thinks its law will be harder if not impossible to challenge because it targets only drug felons, Fred.

WHITFIELD: So what do advocates for the poor and community outreach programs think about all of this?

CANDIOTTI: Well Fred, some are not impressed. They argue that these random tests for drug felons who want to get welfare stigmatize the poor and could strip them of a lifeline. If they fall off the wagon, recovery can be a very long struggle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALAN JENNINGS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMUNITY ACTION COMMITTEE: There's not a lot of evidence that says large numbers of people on welfare are - are using drugs. This is - this is a mean spirited harassment of poor people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: And that was Alan Jennings with the Community Action Committee. He says if Pennsylvania is going to test people convicted of drugs in exchange for public assistance, well the government ought to force anyone getting public money. He mentioned the bankers who got bailouts, or those taking a deduction on their mortgages - Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Susan Candiotti, thanks so much for that update, out of New York.

All right, "The Rock's" new movie "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" is out this weekend, and a CNN iReporter sent in his review.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: George Huguely, the Virginia lacrosse player accused of killing his girlfriend, broke down in court as interrogation tapes were played at his trial.

Prosecutors have to prove premeditation at his first degree murder trial. I asked our legal guys, civil rights attorney Avery Friedman and criminal defense attorney Richard Herman, if there is evidence of prior intent.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, there's certainly some evidence of intent, Fredricka, because what has surfaced is some of the prior statements made by George Huguely and some of the evidence that goes to his violent nature, similar acts, so to speak.

But I think in the first week of trial, as riveting as this trial has been, what we have seen is an individual who clearly had alcoholism issues. Some of the evidence that surfaced was that the day of the event, on May 2, 2010, there's some evidence that George Huguely V actually had 20 drinks before the incident. Even testimony from his lacrosse players, his friends, that talked about his alcoholism.

I don't think, even at this point, even before we've heard the defense, that we have the necessary intent for first-degree murder.

WHITFIELD: And so, you know, Richard, then that would - if you agree with that, then we're talking about, you know, manslaughter there, because there is evidence showing that he admits to kicking in Yeardley Love's door, that he grabbed her, but he says he didn't choke her, and he says when he left, she was on the bed.

But it was news to him and you saw that in that videotape and you heard it in the audio tape that he was surprised that she was found dead.

RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, that's very nice to be surprised, and you shouldn't - you should not be surprised that I do not agree with Avery.

Fred, the door was not kicked in, he punched a hole through her bedroom door, which was locked. I think that pretty much goes to intent right there. He stole her laptop computer, which had on it the e-mail that "I should have killed you," which he sent to her a couple of days earlier. She had bruises, a black eye. She was beaten almost to a pulp.

This guy is an animal. This is a horrific crime. The jury is not going to buy the intoxication defense, which, by the way, is a defense in Virginia -

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: And you can catch our legal guys every Saturday at noon Eastern time.

A former addict is now helping others get a healthy high. Meet the first CNN Hero of 2012 when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: She is multitalented - directing, dancing, acting and coaching some of the greatest entertainers. "Face to Face" with iconic entertainer Debbie Allen.

She opens up about all of that. She also reveals the pain in losing close friend and one of her best dance students of all time, King of Pop Michael Jackson. That's straight ahead.

But first, we're honoring the first CNN Hero of 2012, an every day person changing the world. He is Scott Strode.

After beating his addiction to drugs and alcohol, he's using sports to help others stay sober while experiencing a healthy high.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCOTT STRODE, COMMUNITY CRUSADER: I get on my bike and go ride up in the mountains. It really just brings peace, and in my drug and alcohol use, it was the opposite.

I got into it pretty young. By the time I was 15, I was using pretty serious drugs.

When I got sober, I lost my group of friends because they were still out drinking and using.

I got into boxing, triathlon, climbing. I had this new group of friends. So I have completely redefined myself, so I thought how can we give this to other people?

I'm Scott Strode, and I want to help people find a better life being sober.

Welcome to Friday night climbing. It's good to see all of you here.

Phoenix Multisport offers about 50 events a week. All the programs are free to anybody who has 48 hours sober.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looking good, Jack.

STRODE: You see that you're capable of whatever you put your mind to. We have this common connection, so it's easy to make new friends.

We do bike rides, hiking, triathlon training, strength training. It really is just a new community of folks to hang out with.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm an example of hitting rock bottom. I had a heroin overdose. They had to jump-start me with the paddles.

STRODE: Roll it over. Drill it in there. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Going out biking and going boxing, hitting the bag really fills the void. Phoenix is the best support crew I can imagine having.

STRODE: We're having fun and we're proud of being sober. So come out and go climbing with us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: All right, do you know someone who is making a difference in the lives of others? Go to CNNHeroes.com now and tell us all about them. Your words just might change the life of someone working everyday to help others. Nominate a 2012 CNN Hero today.

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Coming up tonight on CNN at 5:00 P.M. Eastern, laid to rest, the sons of missing mom Susan Powell. Their father, Josh Powell, the lone suspect in her disappearance, accused of killing himself and his sons by blowing up their home. There are signs this could have been prevented.

That and more when you join us tonight at 5:00 P.M. Eastern.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right, hard to believe pop star Michael Jackson ever felt he needed a dance instructor. But, when he did, he turned to Debbie Allen. Choreographer, director, composer and actress, "Face to Face" Ms. Allen says Michael Jackson was like family.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEBBIE ALLEN, ACTRESS/DIRECTOR: Michael Jackson is a phenomenon. I say is. He will always be. It's never was. He will always be. And our relationship was totally based on dance.

He came here many, many, many nights, many days, and right there in my dance studio trained in new techniques. He wanted to learn how to tap dance. He actually had an idea of doing a production with Savion Glover, that we had -

WHITFIELD: Because he really admired him?

ALLEN: He really admired him. He admired Fred, too.

What is so great about Michael, never ever settled for what his ability was at the moment. It always had to go further. He trained and practiced everything that he already knew everyday. Just a perfectionist. And so smart. Soft spoken, but a - a tiger.

WHITFIELD: So, is that something that's missing in a lot of artists of today?

ALLEN: I think what's missing today is we don't have enough of that development. When I think about the record business and I think about the music business and how young people just put a video up on YouTube or - and they could jump out there. But who's there developing them?

Michael appreciated people that were real around him. I mean, he had a lot - too many - a lot of people, but I think he was attracted to me because I was always very real with him.

WHITFIELD: Do you think there were too many people in his life who were willing to say yes all the time and - and not be real like you were able to be with him?

ALLEN: Michael loved people, and he loved young people. I took a lot of people up to Neverland, a lot of kids. The first thing - place we went was to his room to see everything, and it was great.

But Michael had a lot of hurt in his life. A lot of hurt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: CNN can now confirm from the - from the L.A. coroner that Michael Jackson is dead.

WHITFIELD: What was that news like, then, for you, to hear that he had died?

ALLEN: I was devastated, and I called - I remember calling Berry Gordy's office to confirm it because nobody - you know, if you weren't in - right in there, in the middle of his rehearsal, you might not know.

And I remember calling Diana Ross, and - oh, it just was like something we couldn't believe was true. And it was so painful and it was so hurtful.

And we were rehearsing that day. We were rehearsing for a spring recital, and I had to - I couldn't keep it from the kids because Twitter and everything is out there, so I had to tell them. And oh, my God, I had more than - all these hundreds of kids just weeping and crying. And - and then we said OK, pull it together. We're dancing for Michael now, and that helped us, you know, get through the hurt for ourselves.

And, of course, I immediately thought about his mother, because his mother, Katherine, has always been so wonderful and always been there for him. I knew this was going to be really hard, and it was just hard for everyone.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: And Debbie Allen says it continues to be hard for all of those who knew him personally.

So, next hour, Debbie Allen "Face to Face." She says breaking in to the entertainment business is not easy. Staying in it, even harder. "Face to Face," she reveals her keys to getting and staying there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right, drivers in Northern Indiana had to put up with whiteout conditions because of blinding snow there.

The weather service issued a lake-effect snow warning overnight. Up to a foot of snow fell in parts of Northwestern Indiana, making for some pretty dangerous conditions there. The storm also caused hundreds of flight cancellations and delays at Chicago's two major airports.

Let's check in with our Jacqui Jeras. So, where is the storm heading next?

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, eastward. It's up and down the East Coast, and we're still getting some very heavy snow across the Great Lakes at this hour.

There's a live picture of our nation's capital, and if you look real close you can see some of those big, fat flakes which are flying through as the squall moves through at this hour. Not really going to get much, though, for accumulation in Washington, D.C., but kind of pretty to look at -

WHITFIELD: Yes, it's pretty.

JERAS: -- in the weekend, isn't it?

Yes, and, you know, you can't see a whole lot in some of these snow bands, Fredricka. They have been extremely heavy, and that's as that cold air pulls in on the back side of this low. It's getting a lot of enhancement off the lakes. We've had a lot of accidents and a lot of trouble around the Cleveland area, as well as Akron, Ohio, where visibility has been down to nothing.

Now, one of the reasons why some of these snow bands have been enhanced so much is the Great Lakes are still wide open. I have a couple of satellite images that are just really cool I want to show you from NOAA. This one is Lake Michigan right here. There you can see the thumb from the state of Wisconsin, and there you can see some of the ice in the bay in that area.

Now, a picture of Lake Erie. You know, Lake Erie it is the shallowest of all the Great Lakes, and this time of year normally it's frozen over.

Take a look at this. That's it. This is all that we're seeing right now for ice on Lake Erie. So you get that cold air blowing over the warmer lakes, and that makes the snow bands much heavier.

Now, it's really cold on the backside of this low, too. In fact, temperatures feeling much more indicative of where they should be for this time of year, in fact even a little cooler than average by about 10 to 15 degrees here across the plains into the east for today. Low temperatures tonight, you know, because of the wind are going to be feeling a little bit colder than some of these numbers that you see on the map.

And I might also want to mention in some places like Florida, Orlando, you had Disney World, wind chill advisory for tonight -

WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness.

JERAS: -- is going to be feeling -

WHITFIELD: I need to borrow a jacket.

(CROSSTALK)

JERAS: -- the 20s out there. Yes, you really do need jackets.

The rest of the country pretty quiet. We're watching a new storm moving into the southwest, and that will affect the Rockies for tomorrow.

WHITFIELD: Yes. OK.

All right, you a big fan of Dwayne Johnson, "The Rock?"

JERAS: Yes. I kind of like him. I don't like the wrestler part of it, but I like the action part of it.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Well, you're going to be - he's done a little bit more wrestling, you know, as of recent, too. But right now he's concentrating on the movie-going thing, or being in a movie, I should say.

JERAS: I like him in movies.

WHITFIELD: Yes. "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" is out this weekend, and a CNN iReporter actually sent in, Jacqui, this review.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRETT MARTIN, IREPORTER: A good old fashioned action adventure film opens in theaters this week, and it should be a hit with the entire family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Does our movie reviewer agree? Find out, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right, this weekend's movies feature huge flying bumblebees and a CIA agent gone rogue. Are these flicks worth your money?

Our movie critic, Matt Atchity from Rottentomatoes.com is here to give us his grade, joining us from Los Angeles, all dolled up. How you doing?

MATT ATCHITY, EDITOR IN CHIEF, ROTTENTOMATOES.COM: I'm doing well.

WHITFIELD: OK, let's talk about "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" first, this with Dwayne Johnson or "The Rock." What's it got cooking?

ATCHITY: "The Rock," yes. Dwayne Johnson plays the stepdad to a boy played by Josh Hutcherson. This is a sequel to the popular "Journey to the Center of the Earth" from a couple of years back. This isn't really essential. You don't have to have seen the first one, but it is the same kid character.

Dwayne's his stepdad and they're trying to bond and they end up going on this adventure to the mysterious island that turns out Jules Verne novel was based in reality, according to the movie.

WHITFIELD: All right, let's look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Woah. This island, it shrunk us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sean, this is a giant?

DWAYNE JOHNSON, WRESTLER/ACTOR: Sean, what does Verne say about this?

WHITFIELD (voice-over): Oh, that music has a very "Jurassic Park"- like thing to it.

OK, so was this kind of a kids' movie, or not?

ATCHITY (voice-over): It's definitely a kids movie.

WHITFIELD: OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ATCHITY: You know, I know your CNN iReporter says that this is a movie for the whole family. It's really a movie for the kids. I can't say that I enjoyed this, nor did any of the other parents that were at the screening I was at.

WHITFIELD: Oh, really?

ATCHITY: But the kids loved it. The kids thought it was awesome.

So this is a movie that you'll have to take your children to, but you're going to have to sit through it.

The movie is full of really kind of bizarre sequences. For instance, there is this five-minute bit with "The Rock" flexing his pectoral muscles, and characters are bouncing berries off it. And at the end of that sequence you think, did that really just happen? It's kind of silly (ph).

WHITFIELD: Yes, and apparently he really did do that.

So what's your grade on this one?

ATCHITY: And apparently he really did.

WHITFIELD: Your grade on the pecs as well as the whole movie?

ATCHITY: The grade is mostly disappointing. I give it a - I give it a D.

WHITFIELD: A D. Oh. But an A on the pecs, right?

ATCHITY: I give it a D. Not terrible - well, you know, depends on what you're into.

WHITFIELD: OK. I'll say A.

All right, so the next movie is "Safe House." Let's see a clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD (voice-over): OK, and another side of Denzel Washington. In this one he's kind of ruthless, huh? So he's a CIA agent gone rogue?

ATCHITY (voice-over): He is kind of ruthless. We get to see - we get to see him play this villainous character who's - you know, it's kind of shades of grey, actually. He's good sometimes, he's bad sometimes.

It's a nice change for him. I love seeing Denzel play a guy that you're not really sure if you're supposed to like or not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ATCHITY: Ryan Reynolds is pretty good in this. He plays - you know, Ryan Reynolds is a junior CIA agent who is tasked with kind of keeping Denzel Washington in custody. Meanwhile, people are breaking down the doors of the safe house and they're on the run. Ryan Reynolds doesn't know who he can trust.

The movie takes a lot of twists and turns. The action sequences are top notch. The clip we saw is from a chase scene that's easily one of the most exciting car chase scenes that I think I've seen in about -

WHITFIELD: So, a good grade?

ATCHITY: -- four or five years.

WHITFIELD: You like?

ATCHITY: A decent grade. I give it a C because the story, really, at times you kind of don't really catch what's going on. It gets - it gets a little too confusing, and that's where I have to kind of take away some points.

But overall, if you're a fan of these guys, it's worth seeing.

WHITFIELD: Yes, all right. A "C" and "D" from those A-plus actors. Denzel Washington and Dwayne Johnson "The Rock." All right. You win some, you lose some.

ATCHITY: Exactly.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much. Matt Atchity, appreciate that. Check out all of Matt's grades and reviews by going to rottentomatoes.com.