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CNN NEWSROOM

Manning Wants to Be Called "Chelsea"; Kidnapped Teen's First Interview; Syria Denies Chemical Weapons Claims; Slain Aussie's Girlfriend Speaks Out; Kids Back in Class After School Shooting; Former Egyptian President Leaves Prison; Most, Least Respected Brands Revealed; Report: 50,000 Stray Dogs Roam Detroit; Obama Arrives in Buffalo, New York

Aired August 22, 2013 - 10:00   ET

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


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CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, Bradley Manning bombshell. The soldier sentenced to 35 years in prison now says he wants to live life as a woman.

Plus --

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would say my $51,777 -- I owe $148,251.69.

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COSTELLO: Students in crisis -- their loans is front and center today; the President promising help.

Thirty-two days, 18 accusers and one very pitiful fall from office. San Diego Mayor Bob Filner finally strikes a deal.

Plus, 50,000 stray dogs roaming the streets of Detroit and just four city workers trying to round them all up. The second hour of NEWSROOM starts now.

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COSTELLO: Good morning. Thanks for being with me. I'm Carol Costello.

A bombshell from convicted Army Private Bradley Manning, in a statement to the "Today" show, the Wikileaks source says he wants to live the rest of his life as a woman named Chelsea. Manning's gender identity crisis was revealed during the sentencing phase of his trial when the military released this picture that Manning sent to a psychologist showing Manning wearing a wig and makeup. Well, Manning wants hormone therapy for gender reassignment, and that's something Fort Leavenworth, the army base where Manning is being held does not provide.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAVID COOMBS, MANNING'S ATTORNEY: Well, I don't know about the sex reassignment surgery that Chelsea hasn't indicated that would be her desire. But as far as a hormone therapy, yes, I'm hoping Fort Leavenworth would do the right thing and provide that. If Fort Leavenworth does not then I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure they are forced to do so.

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COSTELLO: Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence joins us with more. Good morning.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. Yes. It does not appear that Fort Leavenworth will do that. It looks like David Coombs is going to have to either sue the army or petition on medical grounds to get Bradley Manning transferred to a federal prison where perhaps he could get that therapy because due to army and DOD regulations, Fort Leavenworth is not going to give that hormone therapy much less sex reassignment surgery -- Carol.

COSTELLO: If he did get this treatment, this hormone replacement therapy, who would pay for it?

LAWRENCE: It would be the government. It would be the taxpayers. That's the way it is for any prisoner. Basically, if you're a prisoner, the state or the government is responsible for your medical care because you can't fund your own medical care. There have been some rulings in the past where federal courts have struck down laws in which some states try to prohibit these taxpayer-funded hormone therapy regimens.

Again, some of the courts have struck those down saying you can't do that. And some prisoners have been receiving hormone therapy. Sexual reassignment surgery is still relatively new. That also has been looked on somewhat favorably by some of the courts, but it's still in the process of appeal. But, again, bottom line, he's -- this is not going to happen at Fort Leavenworth. It's an all-male prison.

I just got off the phone with some officials just a few minutes ago who said, look, right now, and he is still in the body of a man, and placement at Leavenworth based on gender, and right now there is just no provision for this. He's going to have to go outside the system to make this happen.

COSTELLO: All right, Chris Lawrence reporting live from the Pentagon this morning. Also this morning we're hearing from Hannah Anderson in her first interview since being freed from her kidnapper in the Idaho wilderness. Hannah says she wants to defuse whispers over some curious details that have emerged. They include the cell phone records showing she and her kidnapper, James DiMaggio, trading 13 messages on the day she vanished. Here's what Hannah told NBC's "Today" show.

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HANNAH ANDERSON, KIDNAPPING SURVIVOR: The phone calls weren't phone calls. They were texts because he was picking me up from cheer camp and he didn't know the address or, like, where I was so, I had to tell him the address and tell him that I was going to be in the gym and not in front of the school, just so he knew where to come get me.

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COSTELLO: Hannah has been mostly out of the public's view as she mourns her mother and little brother. Police say DiMaggio killed them in the hours leading up to her kidnapping. Hannah says she keeps in touch with friends just as other teenagers do using social media.

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ANDERSON: I connect with them through Facebook and Instagram. It just helps me grieve, like, post pictures and to show how I'm feeling and I'm a teenager. I'm going to go on it.

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COSTELLO: CNN's Stephanie Elam live in San Diego this morning with more. Good morning.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. When you take a listen to what Hannah is saying, there are a lot of people who have a lot of questions about what's happening. We still haven't learned a lot of those details, but we do know that the memorial service for her mother and her 8-year-old brother is going to be held on Saturday. That's what the family wants everyone to be focused on.

But at the same time, we've heard that the sister of Jim DiMaggio, one sister would like to see a DNA test done to find out if he was actually the father of Hannah and also of Ethan. That has gotten the family very upset. Take a listen to Hannah's great uncle. This is her maternal grandmother's brother. Listen to what he had to say.

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DAVID BRAUN, TINA ANDERSON'S UNCLE: What I would tell the DiMaggio family, I'd tell them to shut up. With their accusations and their implications until after the funeral, until after my precious Tina and precious Ethan are buried. The family members that your family murdered, that's what I'd tell them.

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ELAM: And I spent some time with Hannah's grandparents yesterday, and they say right now the focus really needs to be on remembering Tina and remembering Ethan and that if you take a look at a picture of Brett Anderson, the father of Ethan and Hannah, there's no doubt that those two children are, in fact, his. But they are just very upset that this is happening, but they say right now it's just, to use their word, ridiculous -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Stephanie Elam reporting live for us this morning.

The images out of Syria are hard to watch. The suspicions are even harder to fathom. Could a regime desperately clinging to power really unleash chemical weapons on civilian neighborhoods? Rebel groups now say more than 1,300 people have died, many of them children. Again, a warning, the video is graphic, disturbing, and some of you might want to look away.

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COSTELLO (voice-over): Children, some no older than 6 or 7, gasping, foaming at the mouth, many others dead, their pale bodies lying side by side in makeshift hospitals. CNN cannot independently verify these online videos, but opposition leaders in Syria outraged say there is little doubt about what killed these children -- poison gas.

GEORGE SABRA, PRESIDENT, SYRIAN NATIONAL COUNCIL: Stop the murder of people and suffocating of Syrian children with the poisonous gas.

COSTELLO: The United States and its allies are calling on the United Nations to investigate. U.N. inspectors are already in Syria looking into an earlier alleged attack that killed dozens. But these newest videos for all their dramatic impact, fall short of proving a chemical attack. If the Syrian government did use chemical weapons on its own people, it could trigger U.S. involvement that President Obama threatened a year ago nearly to the day.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.

COSTELLO: In June, the White House concluded that line had been crossed and it would give rebels military aid. But some members of Congress say the administration has failed to act decisively and it's time to step up.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Where does this stop? When does the United States, with very little cost, stand up for these people and stop this horrific -- you can't look at those pictures without being deeply moved. Are we going to just let that go on?

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COSTELLO: Also this morning, Israel says its intelligence assessments have concluded that chemical weapons were, indeed, used. France's foreign minister says if those claims are proved true, force should be used to punish Syria. But he also stressed that ground troops would not be an option.

The girlfriend of slain Australian Christopher Lane tells CNN she never would have expected what police are calling an indiscriminate shooting to happen at her quiet Oklahoma town.

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SARAH HARPER, CHRIS LANE'S GIRLFRIEND: We don't have anything like this ever happen here. We're a pretty boring town, really. I mean, there's the same -- everybody loves the Friday night football games and just doing the everyday life. And most everybody always runs that street, walks that street. My neighbors have been on it early in the day. It's amazing that something could happen like that in the middle of the day, a popular area of town.

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COSTELLO: Two teenagers are charged with first-degree murder and a third with related crimes. Police say the third suspect said the teens were, quote, "bored so they decided to kill somebody."

Children are back in class this morning two days after a school shooting. Well, it wasn't a school shooting and thank goodness for that, but it certainly terrified the community in Decatur, Georgia. Police identified the suspect as 20-year-old Michael Brandon Hill. They say he entered the school with an assault rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition. He could face assault weapons charges. No one was injured in the shooting.

The former dictator Hosni Mubarak has now been moved out of a prison to a military hospital. He will remain under house arrest, but there's a lot of controversy surrounding this. So let's head to Egypt right now, to Nick Paton Walsh to tell us more. Good morning.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Remarkable scenes we have just seen on Egyptian television, a helicopter which apparently was carrying former dictator Hosni Mubarak away from the prison from where he's languished for months away now to a military hospital on the outskirts. He's not free. He is still in custody, but he's under house arrest now in a hospital, an infirmed elderly man, but still a man despised by many Egyptians for decades in which he held the country under authoritarian rule.

Let's point out, too, a key figure in what's being called the Arab spring, the last two and a half years of dissent and tumult that this region has been thrown into. He was the first big authoritarian heads to rule. Remarkable scenes of this helicopter taking off after prosecutors said the decision yesterday by courts that he should be freed really were technicality. To see a helicopter land and whisk him away, we would have expected perhaps a year ago to see Egyptians up in arms at this man seemingly having his condition significantly improve.

What's remarkable is the protesters we saw were holding up pictures in support of Hosni Mubarak, holding up pictures in support of Hosni Mubarak, holding portraits of him, a woman throwing candy at the crown in celebration in many ways, 20, 30 men running up an enormous Egyptian flag trying to block off the view of the cameras assembled outside the jail. Almost all we've seen is celebration.

That isn't necessarily to say that there aren't hundreds if not thousands or millions of Egyptians angry at the fact he may now be in better circumstance, even though he still faces a retrial for the incitement of violence against protesters back in 2011. But we haven't seen people protesting this, probably because the military and the interim government have calculated that people are tired of violence, tired of unrest after the brutality, cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood opposition movements in the past week, and maybe just want to see life get back to normal.

What's also remarkable, too, there is this massive swing back to times past. Hosni Mubarak, a figure which was loathed enough, people willing to give their lives to depose him, has now been released and really, the first significant act of this new interim administration apart from cracking down on protests here in the center of Cairo.

COSTELLO: Nick Paton Walsh reporting live in Cairo, Egypt this morning. We'll be right back.

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COSTELLO: Some of the most famous brand names in America.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A sip of Coca-Cola is a sip of -- and no two are alike. Just like snowflakes.

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COSTELLO: Of course, that was for Coca-Cola. Now one of the country's most popular airlines.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to the new Delta.

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COSTELLO: From looking at those ads, you can tell how Coca-Cola ended up tied for the title of this year's most respected brand with Delta way at the other end of the spectrum. It's true. Joining me from New York is CNN business anchor Christine Romans. This survey surprised me, really.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Did it?

COSTELLO: Yes.

ROMANS: I mean, consumer staples, things that make you feel good, that you touch every day, make you feel happy, have good brand recognition, and things that you sit on the tarmac to wait at the gate for don't?

COSTELLO: There's a reason Delta's nickname don't ever leave the airport.

ROMANS: Look, the top brands, Pepsi Co and Coca Cola, they tied actually for first place. Hershey's, Harley-Davidson and Bayer, the aspirin company rounded out the top five core brands. It was surprised that Pepsi actually tied with Coke, Carol, because Coke usually wins this thing. The survey says Pepsi is the number one snack food maker in the world. That helps the brand resonate even more with consumers. One of the few non-staple brands in that top ten best brand recognition, Harley-Davidson, Harley has really figured it out, how to present a lifestyle brand that juices up its brand score. The only thing you can't eat on that list. Let's look at the least respected brands. The top five least respected, Delta, Philip Morris, H&R Block -- I mean, taxes, come on, right, Denny's and Big Lots.

Corporate brand said Delta at the top of the least respected list is still improving its favorability rating, have a lot of ground to make up, but it is improving that position, working really hard on its brand, as all these companies are. Brand recognition is something that companies spend a lot of time and money on. No surprise Philip Morris, of course a tobacco company, and tobacco is something in this country that's had an image and brand problem for some time now. No surprise Philip Morris on that list.

COSTELLO: Fascinating. Thanks, Christine. We appreciate it.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

COSTELLO: The 50,000 stray dogs are roaming the streets of Detroit, nesting in abandoned homes, threatening pedestrians and at times attacking. The bankrupt city only has four animal control officers responsible for covering 139 square miles. The shelters are overflowing with strays and the animals are suffering in the streets. A problem highlighted in videos like this.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are 50,000 dogs running loose in this city. People move out, they leave their dogs behind. When it gets cold, they turn them loose. They've taken over abandoned houses, factories, businesses, and the streets. The city doesn't want people to know there's a stray dog problem, but there is a big problem.

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COSTELLO: It is a big problem. Joining us now is Harry Ward. He is the head of Animal Control in Detroit, one of only three animal shelters in the entire city. Good morning, Harry.

HARRY WARD, SHELTER ADMINISTRATOR, CITY OF DETROIT ANIMAL CONTROL: Good morning.

COSTELLO: Do you just feel overwhelmed?

WARD: Well, you could feel overwhelmed if you look at the big picture, but you do the best you can each day and you have your triumphs embedded in a lot of tragedy and you move forward.

COSTELLO: What is your day like?

WARD: Our day is like any other law enforcement or reactionary safety unit in the city of Detroit. We have citizens who call us and plead for help, and we do our very best to meet their needs. It's an effort to juggle it, but you stay active in it and you can meet the need. COSTELLO: It must be heartbreaking for you, too, seeing these dogs with no homes, some of them starving, some of them scared.

WARD: It is tremendously heartbreaking. And every day you maintain your perspective on what that is and do your best for the animals that you come into contact with.

COSTELLO: And what happens to most of these animals that you take into custody?

WARD: The vast majority of dogs that are impounded in the city of Detroit are dogs that are so poorly socialized or have been so abused that they are not an animal that would fit easily into any adoptive home, so those dogs would have to be euthanized. There are limited numbers of adoptive homes and we have to make sure that the dogs that end up in them are going to be a good fit. It's an unfortunate fact.

COSTELLO: I am sure that many people who are watching you and hearing what you're saying, they want to do something to help. How can people help you?

WARD: Well, what people can do -- and there is always a crying need for this in the city of Detroit -- some people want to count stray dogs. There are a lot of efforts. If you go into our neighborhoods and help people spay or neuter or properly give veterinary care to their dogs, if you're a group with money or volunteers, if you go door to door and educate people about where they can get low-cost rabies vaccination and provide money for low-cost spays and neuters, that's what people can do. That would be the best thing.

COSTELLO: I know the Humane Society has been helping. Do you need people to volunteer to help you do your job?

WARD: What we need, actually, is for people to continue to support the city government and the city of Detroit, continue to pay their taxes so that all the city departments along with mine can be adequately funded. We are trying to meet the need with four animal control officers that are doing an incredible job. If the city continues to claw its way back to economic health and we have a full staff, then we will be all right. So what am I asking people to do? Obey the law and invest in the city of Detroit and all the departments will flourish and safety will increase.

COSTELLO: We thank you for all your hard work. Harry Ward, head of Animal Control for the city of Detroit, thank you so much for sharing this morning.

WARD: You're very welcome. Thank you.

COSTELLO: Let's put up that graphic one more time so people can -- there it is. Sorry about that, Scotty. I asked for that a little fast. Here's how you can help. Detroitdogrescue.com. They need money, they need volunteers. Anything that you can do, michiganhumane.org is another organization you can send money and perhaps volunteer for that organization to get some of those stray dogs off the streets of Detroit. Thanks, Scotty. Still to come in the NEWSROOM, President Obama back on the road. Live pictures right now from Buffalo where Air Force One has just landed. The president's goal today, easing the financial burden of college.

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COSTELLO: All right, let's head back to Buffalo right now. You can see the president's plane has landed. President Obama is kicking off a two-state campaign-style bus tour, his focus, making college more affordable for the middle class. He's going to outline a plan. Our White House correspondent Dan Lothian joins me now. So, Dan, what do we expect the president to say?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Carol, the president has been talking lately about shaking things up in the higher education system so, today we'll see a step in that direction. One of the things that the president is expected to highlight and has been getting a lot of attention this morning is this proposal to rate colleges and universities, put together a scorecard, if you will. This would be something designed by the Department of Education that would look at things such as what is a school doing to help those from disadvantaged backgrounds or how are they improving their performance.

We're told by the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, this is not something that would require congressional approval, but they would come up with a scale based on hearings, public hearings, listening to students, to teachers, to administrators, to state officials before they come up with that scorecard. In addition to that, those universities that do perform well, the president wants to reward them, and so by 2018 he wants to have in place a system whereby federal grants to universities will depend on how a university performs. That no doubt will be quite controversial.

So the president will be laying out a number of things including trying to help young people deal with a mountain of college debt. To that end, one of the things the president is proposing is capping the amount of a loan repayment at 10 percent of monthly income of that student. Just to kind of help them deal with the burden of paying off their loans. You know, the president has always talked about how he and the first lady were dealing with college loans, thousands of dollars in college loans, until just a short time ago when he started writing all those books and had a lot of money coming in.

This is something that he's been sharing his personal story with as he tries to make some changes. Will all of this be embraced, probably not. The president himself in the letter to a White House mailing list said that he did not expect that all of these items on his list would be popular.

In fact, a short time ago, speaking with reporters on Air Force One, Arne Duncan said he expected to get mixed reaction from some of these universities out there, but nonetheless they believe that this is the way to go in terms of improving performance and making higher education more affordable -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Dan Lothian reporting live for us this morning. As I said, President Obama will give his speech around 11:15 Eastern Time. CNN of course will cover it live. Also Chris Cuomo will meet up with the president later today as he hits the road for that bus tour. Chris' exclusive interview tomorrow on CNN. We'll be right back.

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