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Deadly 7.8 Magnitude Quake Rattles Nepal; Freddie Gray Protests Will "Shut Down City"; Bruce Jenner: "I Am A Woman"; Fears Chile Volcano Will Erupt Again; Donations Spark Questions for Clinton; Aired 8-9a ET

Aired April 25, 2015 - 08:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: New video now of a powerful earthquake in Nepal, close to 700 now dead and strong aftershocks are still rocking that region.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Major demonstrations as civil groups from across the country descend on Baltimore. They want answers and the Baltimore police are telling everyone to please be patient.

PAUL: Plus, Bruce Jenner going public, his secret life as a woman now front and center. How his tailored message brings hope to a lot of people struggling with the same issue.

It's 8:00 straight up right now. We're so grateful to have you with us. We do begin with breaking news this morning. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you. This massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake in the Himalayan country of Nepal is just growing in terms of the death toll. Officials now say it's at 688.

So within the last hour and a half, we've gone from 150 to 597 to 688. The quake struck an area near the capital, Kathmandu where we understand about 181 people are dead. The quake also started avalanches on Mt. Everest.

Listen to a mountain climber. Argen (inaudible), somebody we spoke to just a little bit ago.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we moved out of the tents and we could definitely see a lot of ice and rock coming down. A couple avalanches in the nearby regions and 15 or 20 minutes after that, the aftershock was the one which actually did damage on this particular mountain.


BLACKWELL: There have been at least 15 aftershocks of 4.5 magnitude or greater and the tremors from this quake, they were felt as far away as New Delhi in neighboring India.

So let's bring in CNN's India bureau chief, Ravi Agrawal from New Delhi. Ravi, I understand he's on the phone. Did you feel this quake because we know that Sumnima Udas, she felt it? Did you feel it?

RAVI AGRAWAL, CNN INDIA BUREAU CHIEF (via telephone): I did. Now, just to be clear, I'm in Calcutta, which in West Bengal, which is closer to Nepal than New Delhi is. Now, here in Calcutta, the tremor was very intense. Just as background, I have lived in Calcutta to many years of my life, that was many years ago, but you know, I have never felt those kinds of tremors here in Calcutta. So, the street that I was on at the time, I was at a cafe.

And, you know, that building and many other buildings nearby on one of the city's main streets began to shake. People who were there inside the cafe ran outside. The streets were full of people who were panicked, worried.

Now, of course, I should add that there were no damages to buildings here in Calcutta, but we felt the tremors. But, of course o, the real story was in Nepal where, as we now know, you know, as many as 600 or more have been killed already. And we're expecting that death toll to rise.

PAUL: So, Ravi, what are you learning about how easily or how difficult it is to get to some of these people and possibly people that are trapped under crumpled buildings?

AGRAWAL: It's going to be very difficult. You know, obviously, Nepali officials are going to be the first to try to get to people. You know, just to explain, you know, within Kathmandu itself, which was not the epicenter.

Within Kathmandu buildings are very, very tightly packed. This is an incredibly dense part of Nepal so you know, it's hard to get around over there. The epicenter further away is going to be even harder to reach people over there.

And then we also heard reports of the earthquake triggering an avalanche around Mt. Everest, very difficult to reach people there on a good day let alone on a day like today so, Nepali officials struggling to reach people. The death toll is rising.

India has promised help, but, again, as we are finding out, it is very hard to reach places in Nepal right now. Kathmandu Airport is not operational. So getting there is going to be very hard for any international aid organizations that are going to want to help. This is going to be a tough one.

BLACKWELL: All right, Ravi Agrawal joining us from Calcutta. Again, the death toll now near 700 and the reports are that 181 of the people killed, including that death toll, of course, are in the capital city of Kathmandu. We'll of course continue to cover the breaking new there's from Nepal.

PAUL: So we want to talk, too, about what is happening in Baltimore because police there are making a huge admission regarding the death of Freddie Gray. He was not given medical treatment early enough and he was not placed in a seat belt in the van. [08:05:10] That's what police are saying. They are admitting to that so anger is growing now. We know in just a few hours protesters are going to hit the streets of Baltimore today and they are vowing to, quote, "shut down the city."

CNN's Joe Johns has been following the story. He is there and, Joe, I know there is also this new video, surveillance video that police have released. What did we learn from that?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we've learned in a general sense, Christi, is that police procedures and policies apparently were not followed. We know that the police are still looking for any other video that might be out there.

You know, the city of Baltimore has hundreds of these surveillance cameras placed strategically all over the city and we're learning just a little bit more about what those cameras recorded on the day Freddie Gray was taken into custody.


JOHNS (voice-over): New video from Baltimore police showing different angles on the arrest and transportation of Freddie Gray, the camera views released on the police department's YouTube page.

COMMISSIONER ANTHONY BATTS, BALTIMORE POLICE: The video footage of every CCTV camera that may have caught even a single moment of the incident is under review.

JOHNS: One clip shows Gray interacting with police. Minutes later, the same camera shows the arrest scene with the police transport van. From another camera, a police van is seen stopped and another prisoner loaded. The footage is from hundreds of surveillance cameras in the area, as police try to piece together the video timeline.

BATTS: We're refining our investigation and we're getting closer and the picture is getting sharper and sharper as we move forward.

JOHNS: But the surveillance video released is not as sharp as the video that was shot by eyewitnesses on April 12th showing Gray's arrest. Less than an hour after he was detained officers transporting him called for a medic. Gray subsequently slipped into a coma, dying a week after his initial arrest. The surveillance video comes as police admit mistakes were made.

BATTS: We know he was not buckled in the transportation wagon, as he should have been. No excuses for that, period. We know our police employees failed to get him medical attention in a timely manner multiple times.

JOHNS: And in the strongest language yet, Baltimore police talking about possible charges against officers for the death of the 25-year- old.

BATTS: If someone harmed Freddie Gray, we are going to have to prosecute them. So, giving too much information out to you on the front here now may jeopardize that prosecution.


JOHNS: So, against that backdrop we're preparing here now in the city of Baltimore for another demonstration, a big demonstration and a march through the city, they'll all gather here this evening in this park right in the shadow of city hall.

There are concerns about people coming from out of town, concerns that there might be trouble. However, you have to say on balance there have been demonstrations in the city of Baltimore all week and for the most part, those demonstrations have been peaceful -- Christi.

PAUL: Yes, very good to point out. Joe Johns, we appreciate it, as always. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: We have with us this morning, Defense Attorney Scott Bolden. He is joining us from Chicago. Scott, good to have you this morning.

I want to go straight to that comment or admission, we say, from the Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, in which he says that we know how police employees failed to get him medical attention in a timely manner multiple times and the also admission of not being buckled in. How significant is that from your perspective?

A. SCOTT BOLDEN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Two things, it's significant because the police are being transparent and they're not picking sides one way or the other, that the police want exactly what the protesters want, justice.

Secondly, it dozen get us to the criminal investigation or the results, but it certainly is contributory negligent that the police procedures were not followed.

Now that doesn't mean that anyone is going to be criminally libel, it means that there is probably some negligence there and there will ultimately a civil lawsuit.

Each step of this investigation is going to reveal more and so this is not dispositive of what happened, but it's persuasive evidence that where there is smoke, there is fire.

BLACKWELL: Obviously, an important revelation from the commissioner there, but some protesters say that it's taking too long to get basic information here, 12, 13 days after the initial arrest.

What is your degree of comfort with the information that's come out and the speed at which it's come out? Are you comfortable with what's being released now?

BOLDEN: Well, these investigations are complicated and you want to get it right. While the public wants it right away, it's not social media or the internet where you get immediate responses, immediate observations of what's occurring and immediate evaluation. So, I think the police and the mayor of Baltimore have done an outstanding job, not only being transparent, sharing information as they get it.

[08:10:09] But the information that they're sharing, they have to be sure and doubly sure that what they say has actually occurred or what they say is solid evidence that's not going to change. Otherwise, they'll have some credibility issues.

So, I think they've done a great job. They learned a lot from the Ferguson investigation and we'll just have to see. May 1st is a reasonable date and that's when we'll get the definitive answers on what happened to Freddie Gray.

BLACKWELL: We know the Justice Department is looking into this case and they kind of launched this investigation soon after and we saw Gray died from his injuries.

Do you believe, based on what we know thus far, of course, that there is civil rights violation here, if what we know is true from the police commissioner that they just didn't get him medical attention, which is enough and they didn't buckle him in.

BOLDEN: Well, the civil rights investigation will look at the basis for those two things not occurring, the buckling in, as well as the medical attention. So, we'll have to see. So, we're early on in this investigation.

What's significant about DOJ getting involved early is that, one, they want to be part of the broader investigation. Two, they want to preserve evidence and, three, they want to look at exactly, in realtime, what the state and the city investigators are looking at.

And, so, we'll have to see whether his race or class or some other protection he was entitled to under his civil rights were violated because the act itself may have been race neutral. Here you have five of the six police officers talking.

You have this mystery of what happened in the van. It stopped two or three times and the basis for that or the reason why the police did what they did or didn't do what they were supposed to do is significant. We'll have to see.

BLACKWELL: And of course, we hope to learn more about what happened during that time that Freddie Gray was in police custody throughout the next several days. Scott Bolden joining us from Chicago, thank you so much.

BOLDEN: Thank you for having me.

PAUL: Well, Bruce Jenner tells all. The former Olympian revealing he is becoming a woman. How is reality TV family responded to his journey?

BLACKWELL: Plus, a volcano in Chile rumbles to life after 40 years, its spewed ash six miles into the air in some areas. This ash is 23 inches deep. Are some residents ignoring evacuation orders?

PAUL: Apparently, it's cash not issues proving to be a stumbling block for Hillary Clinton, some say. How she's responding to critics who say donations were made to her family's foundation in exchange for political favors.



PAUL: It's being hailed as a landmark moment for the LGBT community. Bruce Jenner sitting down with Diane Sawyer telling the world, quote, "I am a woman." Jenner told Sawyer that he has the soul of a female and it's time to start telling the truth. Dan Simon is following the story. Good morning to you, Dan.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi and Victor, this was a riveting two-hour special with Jenner very open about the struggle saying he has been lying his entire life. Even at the height of his fame on that gold medal podium, he said he wasn't being his authentic self.


BRUCE JENNER: My brain is much more female than it is male. It's hard for people to understand that, but that's what my soul is.

SIMON (voice-over): Bruce Jenner, the Olympic gold medalist turned reality star, confirming the tabloid speculation that he's transitioning from a man to a woman speaking openly to Diane Sawyer in a highly publicized ABC special.

DIANE SAWYER, ABC: Are you a woman?

JENNER: Yes, for all intents and purposes, I am a woman. People look at me differently. They see you as a macho male. But the heart and soul of everything that I do in life, it is part of me, that female side is part of me. That's who I am.

SIMON: Jenner firmly dismissing skeptics that this is some sort of a stunt to promote another reality show documenting his change. He said he knew he was different at 8 years old when he began trying on his mother's dresses.

JENNER: Are you telling me I'm going to go through a complete gender change, OK, and go through everything you need to do that for the show -- sorry, Diane, it ain't happening, OK? We're doing this for publicity -- yes, right.

SIMON: The 65-year-old who has been married three times said his former spouses knew about his issues. Sawyer is asking the obvious question.

SAWYER: Are you gay?

JENNER: No, I am not gay. I am as far as I know I'm heterosexual.

SAWYER: You don't know. You mean as far as you know?

JENNER: As far as I know, I've never been with a guy. I've always been married, raising kids.

SAWYER: And you could desire a woman every bit as much?

JENNER: Yes, yes.

SIMON: For children of the '70s and '80s, Bruce Jenner was the guy on the Wheaties box, the greatest athlete on the planet. For millennials, he's been more reality star as the male presence of "Keeping up with the Kardashians." He joked that a secret was the one story that truly matters.

JENNER: The entire run, I kept thinking to myself, my god, this whole thing, the one real true story and the family was the one I was hiding, and nobody knew about it. The one thing that could really make a difference in people's lives was right here in my soul. And I could not tell that story.

SIMON: He says he hasn't decided whether to do a sex change. For now, it's been cosmetic surgery combined with female hormones. Jenner says his children, ten of them between his biological and stepchildren have largely been supportive, several appearing by his side.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just held his hand and I cried with him and I just told him how proud of him I was and how inspired I was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first thing I thought was just like, it finally makes sense.

SIMON: As for why go through this change now when most his age are looking forward to a less stressful, less dramatic life --

JENNER: I couldn't take the walls constantly closing in on me. If I die, which I could be diagnosed next week with cancer and boom, be gone. I'd be so mad at myself that I didn't explore that side of me, you know? I didn't want that to happen.


[08:20:07] SIMON: Now with this transformation, Jenner is now certainly the most famous transgender person on the planet and he says he wants to be an inspiration to others going through similar identity issues. He wants to change the world by speaking openly about his transformation -- Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: All right, Dan, thank you so much. So you just heard there Bruce Jenner telling Diane Sawyer and the world that he is a woman. You are going to hear how the LGBT community is now reacting to that announcement and to the interview.

Plus, a giant awakened after 40 years, the Calbuco Volcano has erupted twice in one week. Why there is fear now it could happen, again?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLACKWELL: In Chile, authorities are warning thousands of people, who live near an erupting volcano, listen, don't go home yet because the volcano has been quiet for decades, but has erupted twice this week and there are fears it's going to rumble again.

CNN international correspondent, Shasta Darlington, is near the scene there in Chile. Shasta, tell us more about where you are and what you're seeing.

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, you can see right over my shoulder, the big concern here, that's Calbuco and it is still pumping out these huge plumes of ash and gas. This is not a violent eruption and not quieted down either. You can see it's unstable.

We are inside the so-called exclusion zone, the area that has been evacuated around the volcano. More than 4,000 people have been taken out, but we are in here today. We came in yesterday along with a bunch of residents that are being allowed back in for the first time.

And it was just fascinating being with them because on the one hand, they're terrified that there could be another eruption, but they were also seeing the damage from those first two for the very first time.

They were shoveling the ash off the roofs. They were trying to get their animals out of here, their cows, their horses, even the salmon from the fisheries and the rivers. This is tough work.

[08:25:12] Let me tell you why. I want you to look over here. I am standing on a pile of ash and this isn't soft, fluffy stuff. This is more like gravel. So, when you've got 20 inches of this on your roof, you're really going to be worried that it could cave in any minute.

So this is a lot of work that they're trying to do to save their property and, yet, they have to get out of here by nightfall because they're concerned another eruption could be on its way -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: I'm so glad you showed us that ash because what I envisioned was not something that thick and heavy and coarse. You say people have to get out of there by nightfall. How many people are trying to get back in? Is there this rush of people to try to determine what is left after this activity?

DARLINGTON: That's exactly right. You know, in the first, the first 24 hours they evacuated 4,400 people from this area and then yesterday they started evacuating another 2,000. But everyone tries to get back in when they're allowed.

Even if just for a few hours so that they can get that gravely ash off their roofs before it caves in. They had to leave all these animals behind. This is a rural area. These people depend on their cows and their sheep so they're coming back in to try to salvage what they can.

Again, one of the more interesting things we've seen are these huge trucks with tanks of water. They're going to the salmon fisheries and loading up the salmon and trying to get them out of here. The ash is blanketing the rivers around here.

And, again, another big blow like the ones we've seen and this is so destructive for the region. We might not see them returning, recovering any time soon. So, this is a real, there's a real sense of urgency here. And, again, just really people really worried with this smoking going on right behind me, no signs of letting up -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, Shasta Darlington reporting for us there from Chile. Shasta, thank you.

PAUL: Well, she is the lone Democratic candidate for the time being. So, of course, the spotlight is bright on Hillary Clinton, but there are questions this morning about her family foundation. Did it accept cash for favors while she was secretary of state? Our political panel has a lot to say about this.


[08:30:51] PAUL: So glad to see you at 30 minutes past the hour here.

First e-mails, now controversial donations are overshadowing Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Reports in the "New York Times" and elsewhere say the Clintons took large, undisclosed donations from foreign groups for their foundation. And now there are questions about whether the donors got favorable treatment from the State Department.

Want to get more now from CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Hillary Clinton was hoping to wind down the second week of her presidential campaign like this.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These have to be America's fights and the world's fights.

ZELENY: But a different fight is now consuming her campaign -- a controversy showing no signs of going away.

The Clinton Foundation and its foreign donations are drawing headlines and raising questions. Did contributions come with strings attached? The U.S. government approved the sale of uranium mines to a Russian company that donated $2.35 million to a Clinton charity.

Should President Clinton's speaking fees be scrutinized? A Russian bank promoting the uranium deal paid $500,000 for a speech. Part of what the "Washington Post" calls $26 million in speeches from foundation donors.

Why are the Clinton family charities amending tax returns? Some foreign donations were not properly reported. Clinton allies dispute the allegations some of which are from a new conservative book "Clinton Cash". Chelsea Clinton defended the foundation's humanitarian work.

CHELSEA CLINTON, CLINTON FOUNDATION: We will be even more transparent. We'll disclose donors at a quarterly basis.

ZELENY: But concerns were first raised six years ago during Clinton's confirmation hearings as secretary of state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Clinton Foundation exists as a temptation for any foreign entity or government that believes it could curry favor through a donation.

CLINTON: There is not an inherent conflict of interest in any of my husband's work at all.

ZELENY: She pledged to disclose all foreign contributions. But that $2.35 million Russian donation was not. It was discovered by a "New York Times" investigation. All this has created a political firestorm.

Mitt Romney offering one of the most blistering assessments.

MITT ROMNEY, FORMER GOP PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I was stunned by it. I mean it looks like bribery.

ZELENY: The Clinton campaign said she had nothing to do with approving that uranium sale at the State Department.

But there's also criticism from the left. "The New York Times" editorial page said today "Accusations will only fester if straight forward answers are not answered to the public."


ZELENY: Now, Hillary Clinton addressed this earlier this week when I was with her in New Hampshire. She called it a distraction by Republicans. A campaign aide said there are no immediate plans to have her answer more questions. But if this didn't already have something of a familiar ring to it an e-mail went out on Friday to Clinton supporters saying "If we don't fight back now, we send a signal to our opponents that will shrivel in the face of whatever will follow."

And then you could donate money to her campaign -- Victor.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: All right, Jeff, thank you so much. Let's talk about this.

We have Lisa Boothe, a Republican strategist; also Maria Cardona, former adviser to Hillary Clinton also CNN political commentator. Good morning to both of you.


BLACKWELL: Maria, I want to start with you. Not just only this "Clinton Cash" book in the reporting alone, but what is the damage if there is any from its role in a continuing narrative about the Clintons and fair or not skirting rules to get to some political angle?

CARDONA: There is really no real impact, Victor, here, other than this makes Hillary haters' heads absolutely explode which is what we're seeing across the board. These allegations are purely that. The book that it is based on is a book by an author who is a right wing author. His credibility has come into question. He has had to retract several pieces of reporting.

It is a complete hatchet job. And look, again, the only impact this will have it's political crack for those people who already do not like Hillary Clinton. I think that rational thinking, independent voters and her supporters will look at this as yet another attempt to knock her down.

[08:35:04] This is somebody who has been vetted for decades in the public eye and, frankly, what it says to me is that if this is the only thing that Republicans are going to hang their hat on in terms of going after her, this and Benghazi, frankly, they're admitting that they have absolutely no substance with which to go head-to-head with her, toe-to-toe in the battlefield of ideas.

Voters are looking to hear from candidates on what it is they're going to do for them. Republicans are not talking about it. Hillary is talking about it. I think that is going to really do her a lot of good.

BLACKWELL: Lisa, she says that it is political crack for the Hillary haters and no real impact here. What do you say?

LISA BOOTHE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, it's absolutely impactful. We're seeing the effects of it because she's losing ground in key battleground states where she's losing to one or more GOP candidate. And also what we're also finding out is 54 percent of Americans no longer trust Hillary Clinton, it's absolutely having a negative impact on her.

Look, Hillary Clinton's biggest problems is these self-inflicted wounds. Every week we're hearing about a new scandal, whether it's here e-mails or whether it's the Clinton Foundation. And these recent reports are very damaging.

As Mitt Romney pointed out it does look like bribery, it does look like some sort of pay to play, you know, scheme that is going on here. The reality is that perception is damaging. That's what Hillary Clinton is facing right now.

We found out that, you know, as secretary of state Hillary Clinton had to reject or approve this deal that, you know, would jeopardize or of national security significance because it would give Russia control of American uranium. And we're finding out that the individual --

CARDONA: Ok. First of all --

BOOTHE: -- that would profit the most from that deal donated significantly to the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Foundation failed to report those donors on their tax forms. CARDONA: First of all, clearly, Republican talking points because

even the reports --

BOOTHE: Well, it's also coming from the left. The left ads -- Maria.

CARDONA: Even reporters, even reporters who have been written, who have written about this say that there is no evidence of a connection and Hillary Clinton had nothing to do with approving that deal. The donor, actually, of that completely, completely --

BLACKWELL: Let her finish her point. I'll come back to you Lisa. Let her finish her point.

CARDONA: The donor who reportedly gave the donation to the Clinton Foundation completely divested of this company way before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state.

And on Mitt Romney's comment, oh, my goodness. Come on. Let's see. The head of Bain Capital a corporate raider who closed companies, ruined peoples' lives, kicked people out of work versus the Clinton Foundation who, yes, has donations in the millions and millions of dollars but literally saves peoples' lives every single day. I'll go head-to-head with that every single week.

BLACKWELL: Go ahead Lisa.

BOOTHE: Well look, Mitt Romney is not running. And when you're explaining you're losing and that's what Hillary Clinton has been forced to do because the reality of the matter is this does look bad and perception is reality and it's catching up with her in the polls. And that's what we've seen. We've seen her losing ground in key battleground states. We've also seen a new poll that shows that 50 percent of Americans do not trust Hillary Clinton.

So the problem that you're going to face Maria and the problem that Democrats are facing is the fact that Americans no longer trust Hillary Clinton.

BLACKWELL: All right. We have to wrap it there.

CARDONA: She still beats every single Republican candidate and that's why they're trying to throw everything at her.

BLACKWELL: Maria, Lisa -- I always enjoy it. Thank you so much.

CARDONA: Thank you Victor.

BOOTHE: Thank you Victor.

BLACKWELL: Good to have both of you.

PAUL: Maria has been gone a couple of weeks and she just wanted to get a little more in there. We know.

BLACKWELL: She's revved up.

BOOTHE: Yes, I know.

BLACKWELL: Thank you.

PAUL: Thanks, ladies.

BLACKWELL: All right, so, we'll see if this latest Clinton controversy becomes fodder tonight at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. You know CNN will be there. We are covering it there from Washington. We'll have that for you tonight. Coverage starts at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Don't miss it.

PAUL: And reaction coming in on Bruce Jenner's journey. How gay and lesbian groups are responding to the former Olympic gold medalist's decision to start the transition into womanhood.


[08:42:36] 42 minutes past the hour and there is a buzz this morning about Bruce Jenner telling the world that he is a woman and that he can no longer, as he put it, live a lie. But for a lot of people, there are still questions about what does that mean for his sexuality? Listen to this.


DIANE SAWYER, ABC ANCHOR: You understand that people are baffled, confounded. I mean apart from the people who are just --


SAWYER: Yes. Are you gay?

JENNER: No, I'm not gay. I am not gay. I am as far as I know heterosexual.

SAWYER: You don't know?

JENNER: This is not --

SAWYER: What do you mean as far as you know?

JENNER: AS far as I know. I've never been with a guy, I've always been married, you know, raising kids.

SAWYER: Right. You can desire a woman every bit as much.

JENNER: Yes, yes.


PAUL: So, we're following this story with CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter who is joining us now. There is so much nuance in this story and still so much confusion, I think, that is coming out for people.

It's a good lesson, no doubt about it and good conversation starter. How are LGBT advocacy groups reacting first of all?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: You're right that there is confusion, Christi. I've had to learn here as a journalist about the right way to talk about these issues. There's a real separation between sexuality, sexual orientation and gender identity. That's what Bruce Jenner was speaking about in the interview. Bruce Jenner spoke as he for most of the interview. But at some points referred to himself as she and as her.

At the moment he has indicated to the media that he prefers to be called he but that will change in the coming months and maybe Bruce Jenner will adopt a new first name, as well. So these are sensitive issues and very educational, I think, for so many people watching this interview last night and this conversation this morning.

Let's put up on the screen what the president of GLADD said. GLADD is one of the leading groups that advocates for gay and lesbian and transgendered Americans and the president last night said, today millions of people learned that someone they know is transgender. That's so important because according to GLADD polling only eight percent of Americans say they know someone who is transgender.

So the idea that a celebrity, someone like a household name like Bruce Jenner is now educating people about this is really crucial.

Let me show you one more comment. This is from Maura Kiesling -- the National Center for Transgender Equality executive director. Mara said, "Stories like Jenner's help change the narrative about who transgender people are. Millions of Americans now have a bridge to understanding the truth behind the struggles of being transgender in 2015 in America."

[08:45:06] And we have a commentary from that person online on

PAUL: Ok, looking forward to reading that.

We're also wondering what kind of reaction are we seeing from the tabloid media who we should have very famously or infamously we might want to say stalked Jenner.

STELTER: Yes. And some people believe exacerbated these issues and made Jenner want to come and speak more publicly sooner than maybe he intended to. We remember seeing the paparazzi pictures months ago, the magazine covers of speculation about whether Jenner was indeed transitioning to become a woman.

We're seeing a very restrained entertainment media this morning. And a lot of restraint on the part of the tabloid press, perhaps because some of the paparazzi look so bad in the special last night. For the most part we're seeing the same kind of sensitivity, what we would hope to see; the same kind of sensitivity that Bruce Jenner deserves to see in this moment.

This is really a moment for the main streaming of something that is still mysterious to a lot of people and I do think we're going to have a lot of conversations all weekend about something like this. You know, to me Christi, it's a reminder of the convening power of television and the enduring power of television to frame a conversation and start conversations all across the country.

PAUL: Amen -- all right. Hey Brian Stelter, good to have you this morning -- thank you.

STELTER: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Well, an increase in microchips heading for Italy is prompting ongoing and aggressive rescue efforts. Our Ben Wedemen joined up with an Italian migrant patrol team and will show you their technology and how they're keeping up with this surge.


MATTHEW SCHWAB, BLOOM THAT: The flower industry has been in need of a revolution since it started. I mean I remember sending my mom flowers when I was 10 years old. The customer service and experience hasn't changed since then.

I'm Matthew Schwab, co-founder of Bloom That. We deliver our flowers within 90 minutes. Early on we knew that we needed to be on your mobile phone. Customers will open the app. We have an IOS app and or they can go to our Web site. And they'll see upwards of eight bouquets.

Being saturated with too many choices actually turned us off as a consumer. We really wanted to keep the choices scaled down. Often in the city we deliver our flowers via bicycle. We started the business in San Francisco and delivering in Los Angeles.

My co-founders and I all went to school together. Us being in long term relationships, us having problems in the flower support I really kind of spurred this idea. Early January 2013, we're still working out of my (inaudible) out of David's apartment -- I-Man.

We are like well let's try Valentine's Day. So we went and bought maybe 500 or a thousand and we threw up some Facebook ads. We saw through the hundred bouquets that we had and maybe "60 Minutes". Flowers seem like this very lost art. I'm almost like getting handwritten notes.

We're really allowing two people to connect in a world that is otherwise so connected online but offline, we really don't interact with each other.

So being able in a sense something in the moment, it's really what we wanted to establish.



[08:51:35] BLACKWELL: Nine minutes until the top of the hour. The arrival of migrants in Italy is now a daily occurrence, but so are the rescue operations. Consider this, just last night the Italian coast guard and local fishermen rescued passengers from several boats carrying migrants.

PAUL: It happened off the coast of Livia and a total of 308 people we know were rescued in three separate incidents.

Our Ben Wedemen joined the Italian air force migrant patrol to see to see these day-to-day operations and how they're handling the surge of migrant vessels.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We observed a dinghy with people onboard. Lt. Salvatore Police Calls out on the plane's radio, giving its coordinate. It's about 15 meters long with 150 people onboard.

He's part of the crew of an Italian finance police surveillance plane on patrol in the Mediterranean. Down below the Italian Coast Guard ship Gregoretti steams toward the scene. This group of migrants is lucky. They've been rescued by what is a very active and wide-ranging rescue effort. We're only about 45 miles off the Libyan Coast.

Within minutes, a smaller boat dispatched from the Gregoretti arrives. The plane's high-powered cameras capturing the moment when it sidles up to the dinghy. Lt. Polisi has done this more times than he can count. In his 28 years with the finance police. But he still can't get used to seeing these dinghies get crammed with migrants bobbing in the water.

We can't leave people at sea like that he says. We would feel guilty if somehow they disappeared from our screens. As long as we can see them -- we're like guardian angels. Those are human lives down there.

This plane flies out of the Italian island of Lampadoosa every day. Lampadoosa is Italy's southern most territorial, just 70 miles from the north African coast.

Lieutenant Colonel Tomaso Santilo is the pilot.

LT. COL. TOMASO SANTILO, PILOT: In this situation we have been lucky because likely coast guard was in the area. It was approximately ten miles distance from the target we intercepted.

WEDEMAN: Reporter: target is how they describe whatever they're looking for. This plane has no weaponry. During the flight, they also came across a half-submerged fishing boat and a partially deflated rubber dinghy full of fuel tanks, but no people. One group of migrants was lucky today. Perhaps others weren't. Ben Wedemen, CNN, over the Mediterranean.


PAUL: And for more on how you can help those affected by the ship wrecks in the Mediterranean just check out

And thank you for doing so. We'll be right back.


[08:58:41] BLACKWELL: Coming up to the top of the hour, let's take a look at stories developing now.

PAUL: Yes, the last three men accused in the hazing death of a Florida A&M University drum major has been convicted. A jury found him guilty of manslaughter and hazing with the result of death. They're going to be sentenced in June. Robert champion died in November of 2011 after he was beaten on a bus during a hazing ritual that happened after a football game.

You know, most people are upset when they get a parking ticket, imagine this, getting a parking ticket when your car is trapped inside a crime scene. This happened to a woman in Maryland during the shooting earlier this month at the U.S. Census bureau. Her car was trapped. She couldn't get to it. Needless to say, she's ticked off. She tells our affiliate WJLJ she deserves an apology.

BLACKWELL: Somebody will take care of that, I'm sure.

Look at this, three pit crew members are now being treated for burns after this. A massive fire, this is at Richmond International Raceway in Virginia. Brendan Gon's race car had burst into flames while at a pit. This was last night doing stop during the Toyota care 250.

All right. That's it for us. We'll see you back here at the top of the hour, 10:00 eastern in the CNN NEWSROOM.

PEREZ: Absolutely. We hope you make great memories today. But don't go anywhere. Because "SMERCONISH" is coming at you now.