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CNN Saturday Morning News

Renovation Nation; Storm Sends Homes into Atlantic; White House on Charm Offensive; MMM Fighter Comes Out as Transgender

Aired March 09, 2013 - 09:30   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Brianna Keilar, in for Randi Kaye.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell, 9:30 on the East Coast, 6:30 out West. Thanks for starting your day with us.

We start this morning with good news for the Northeast. Good news.

You know that violent winter storm? It's moving out into the Atlantic. But not before causing all kinds of problems for residents who already have seen lots of snow this year.


BLACKWELL (voice-over): The late winter storm dumped more than a few headaches on parts of New England but it wasn't just snow. Look at this: a house blown off its foundation on Massachusetts' Plum Island. High tide brought extremely high waves to the coastline and that caused flooding.

This CNN iReport was sent to us from Nantucket Island.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're here two hours after high tide. Again, all of Lower Easy Street is flooded.

BLACKWELL: To the North, the story was snow, lots of it. More than a foot fell in some areas. Travel was almost impossible and thousands of people lost power.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm done with the snow. After the last one, it really beats you up.

BLACKWELL: Some people use the storm as an opportunity to make some money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll probably make like $300, $400 today.

BLACKWELL: But the majority of people seem to have had enough of winter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm done with it. I've had enough. Ready for spring.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a fair weather boy. I like 90-degree weather.


BLACKWELL: Well, it's supposed to warm up, but not to 90 degrees. After all, the Northeast is going to get a nice weekend. The sun expected to make an appearance and temperatures in Boston and New York are expected to creep into the 50s by Monday.

KEILAR: I'll take it. That's an improvement. And as the weather improves, yay, air travel in the Northeast is getting back to normal. That winter storm canceled almost 700 flights across the region. Other flights arrived at Newark an average of four hours late. That is not a fun day.

New York's LaGuardia and Logan Airport in Boston also had significant delays.

Now, we are following breaking news out of Cleveland where a dump truck is hanging off of a pedestrian bridge.

BLACKWELL: Yes, take a look. According to Cleveland police, the dump truck was pulling a trailer along Interstate 90, hit the bridge, which flipped the truck over.

Now, police have shut down I-90 in both directions. They still have to clear this accident. They tell us that there are no injuries.

Delta Airlines is pushing back against a new rule that lets passengers carry small pocket knives on airplanes. CEO Richard Anderson says lifting the knife ban, which was in place after 9/11, is not worth the risk. Those are his words.

Meanwhile, the president of a second flight attendants union says the change, quote, "makes no sense." Federal authority say the new rule aligns the U.S. with international standards. This takes effect April 25th.

KEILAR: A surprise jump in the number of Americans hired last month sent the unemployment rate falling to its lowest level since 2008, 236,000 Americans got jobs according to the latest report. That brought the jobless rate down to 7.7 percent. Two of the bright spots in the report construction hiring and jobs in health care.

Now, the White House is cheering the uptick in job numbers as you can imagine but it is also warning it could be short lived.

BLACKWELL: Yes, neither Democrats nor Republicans seem to be declaring surrender on the forced budget cuts. And now, the president is on the charm offensive.

CNN national political correspondent Jim Acosta is at the White House.

Jim, good morning.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Brianna and Victor, after those positive jobs numbers came out, White House officials certainly have a spring in their step, but they are well aware there are plenty of obstacles that still exist that could trip up this recovery.

(voice-over): After the latest jobs report found the nation's unemployment rate had dipped to levels not seen before President Obama took office, the White House wanted to know one thing. Where were all of the questions about the good news?

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: I suspect if the jobs news had been different, it would taken less than four people to ask me about them. But that's the nature of our work, I think, here.

ACOSTA: But the Obama administration warns, do not get too excited. This report does not account for the automatic budget cuts that just took effect.

EARNEST: Democrats and Republicans agree that the sequester is going to have a negative impact on job creation.

ACOSTA: Which makes President Obama's latest outreach to Republicans all the more important, a charm offensive that just so happened to coincide with a secret dinner the first couple had with Bill and Hillary Clinton a week ago. The Clintons have their own history of brinksmanship with the GOP in the '90s.

(on camera): Did former President Clinton mention that as his advice to the current president, that perhaps an outreach might be a good thing?

EARNEST: Well, I can confirm the dinner for you. They enjoyed the meal and they enjoyed the conversation. In terms of the president's bipartisan outreach to rank-and-file members of Congress, that's actually something that started before that dinner.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Whenever it started, one Republican urged the president to keep it up.

JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: This is a change we should encourage, whether it's motivated for all sorts of reasons we don't understand or not.

ACOSTA: But more budget drama could be on the horizon. Republican Senator Marco Rubio told a conservative radio host he may not sign on to the latest temporary spending bill aimed at keeping the government running.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: About a year-and-a-half ago I voted for the first continuing resolution. And then I announced this is the continuing resolution, the last stopgap measure that I'm going to vote for. I will vote from here on, on something serious. And so far, we haven't seen that.


ACOSTA: Asked whether that means Rubio might filibuster the bill, a spokesman told CNN, "We're reviewing our legislative options."

Back at the White House, where officials say the automatic cuts are forcing them to cancel all public tours starting this weekend, visitors are losing their patience.

TERESA KABAT, WHITE HOUSE VISITOR: I just think it's not fair, because it's supposed to be government for the people. And by taking away the tours, they are not letting them see the government.

ACOSTA (on camera): The White House is conducting some business in secret these days, holding meetings on subjects ranging from Israel to energy that officials won't talk about until well after they happen.

The Obama administration is evolving in its second term, but it's doing so cautiously and quietly -- Brianna and Victor.


BLACKWELL: Jim Acosta reporting for us at the White House, thank you, sir.

KEILAR: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says today's bombing attack in the Afghan capital demonstrates it's a war zone. Nine people were killed, 14 others were wounded in a suicide bombing at the Afghan defense ministry in Kabul.

The attack happened just hours after Hagel arrived in Afghanistan. He was at a briefing a mile from the blast and was not injured. The Taliban claimed responsibility and says the blast is a message for Hagel.

BLACKWELL: The Vatican says the election to pick the next leader of the Catholic church begins Tuesday. One hundred fifteen cardinals will start this closed door process with a mass and then enter the Sistine chapel and stay there until a new pope is chosen. A few hours ago, crews finished installing a special chimney at the top of the Sistine Chapel and we'll know when the cardinals have decided on the next pope when white smoke comes out of that chimney.

KEILAR: Venezuela has a new leader for now anyways. Vice President Nicolas Maduro has been sworn in as acting president following the death of Hugo Chavez. The leftist icon died Tuesday after battling cancer. Venezuelans will vote for a new president in 30 days.

BLACKWELL: Fighting as a woman but born a man. Is it fair? We'll put that question to one of the opponents of a transgender MMA fighter.


KEILAR: Last hour, we told but a controversial story from the world of mixed martial arts. Take a look at this knockout that's at the center of this debate.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They both are back up on their feet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good throws and reversals by both fighters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These girls are getting right into it.

Fox gives her a knee -- that's it. Fallon Fox. Holy cow!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. What a beautiful knee. Beautiful tie clinch right to the chin.


KEILAR: That was featherweight Fallon Fox kneeing Erica Newsome in the head to advance in Florida's championship fighting alliance's women's tournament last Saturday. If you're a fan of MMA, you have seen knockouts like this before. But what makes this one different, the thing is that Fox is competing as a woman but was born a man.

Fallon kept her history private until breaking the story to "Sports Illustrated's" Loretta Hunt this week, explaining how back in 2006 she went through gender reassignment surgery. Fallon's last opponent who you saw in that video, Ericka Newsome, joining me now, along with her agent Matthew Hambleton. I'm also joined by Loretta Hunt.

But, first, Ericka, I want to -- you know, you did just get kneed to the chin just seven days ago.

First up, how are you doing? That looked pretty brutal.

ERICKA NEWSOME, MMA FIGHTER: I feel fine. I feel great.

KEILAR: You feel fine. I know if you're an MMA fighter, you're pretty tough.

But I wonder what you think in the wake of this. At the time of the fight, you didn't know that Fallon Fox was born a man. Now you know.

Do you think it was unfair that you didn't know that at the time?

NEWSOME: Unfair I didn't know but it didn't matter that she fought me.

KEILAR: You don't think it matters? You don't think this is something that should have been disclosed?

NEWSOME: I feel that it should have been disclosed to me ahead of time.

KEILAR: Why do you think that's important for you or any other opponent of Fox's to know?

NEWSOME: So we are aware and able to be better prepared for the situation.

KEILAR: You think -- what do you think you need to be better prepared for?

NEWSOME: Well just knowing that, you know -- help me here.

MATTHEW HAMBLETON, ERICKA NEWSOME'S AGENT: She's trying to say knowing what you're getting into, you know? Not having any disclosure of something of that nature, you know, approximate it puts a lot of stress after the fight obviously as this story is breaking.

But, you know, it's something that the managers know they should disclose in which they didn't.

KEILAR: And, Loretta, you have done a lot of stories on MMA fights. This isn't a new issue but it is to MMA. This isn't a new issue for athletics. The International Olympic Committee has tackled this issue. The NCAA has put in place standards for exactly how transgender athletes can compete.

What is the situation for the MMA? Are there any standards?

LORETTA HUNT, WRITER, SPORTSILLUSTRATED.COM: There actually are guidelines, recommended guidelines that were produced last July by the associate of boxing commissions.

So state commissions can take these guidelines and adopt them into their own set of rules. At the moment, Fallon is active. She's an active licensee in Florida. They haven't frozen her license.

However, I believe when she is presented again and she does have a fight lined up there, I believe they will probably ask to have these transgender policies put into place so she can be tested adequately to make sure the health and safety of both fighters is set.

KEILAR: Do you think other fighters who find themselves in Ericka's position, do you think they're going to agree to go in the ring with Fallon?

HUNT: It remains to be seen. I think it was a shock in the first couple of days because we've never had a transgender an athlete come out in mixed martial arts. So, I think, at first, there was hesitation. Although fighters like UFC fighter Liz Carmouche came out yesterday and said I would have no problem fighting Fallon. So, I think it's just a new concept.

I think as information is being disseminated, I suspect and I hope that other female athletes will want to fight Fallon because she's a worthy opponent.

KEILAR: The issue here is people wondering, critics, they wonder if there's an advantage, of course, that Fallon Fox having been born a man, even though she's had gender assignment surgery and gone through hormone replacement, that she has advantage for being a man. For instance, the IOC put in place a policy that says if you have gone through the surgery, if you'd had a couple years of hormone replacement therapy, they actually feel that you erase the advantage.

Do you think we'll se something maybe like that being clearer or accepted among the community, Loretta?

HUNT: Absolutely. The ABC guidelines which are already set, they're the recommended guidelines that any athletic commission can start to incorporate into their own guidelines is very similar to what you just stated with IOC.

In fact, in mixed martial arts, you don't have to get surgery. That's not a requirement. However, the two years of hormone therapy, whether it comes after the surgery or it's just on its own, that must be done and you must be tested throughout the two years by a board certified endocrinologist or an internist, and those papers must be submitted to the athletic commission for review.

KEILAR: And to you, Ericka and Matthew, will you appeal this loss to get it off your record or if not, would you take on Fallon Fox again?

HAMBLETON: Oh, definitely. Definitely. We would love a rematch.

Actually, we are appealing with the athletic commission not on that basis. The basis because if you do watch the fight from multiple angles, you're going see she takes a grazed knee to the chin but she took no real damage. She didn't get knocked out. She didn't go to sleep. She didn't go catatonic.

She hit the floor because the Muay Thai clinch slipped made her slip and she slipped upon impact. It looked like the knee rocked her, but she popped right back up and if you noticed, the referee looks at Fallon and looks at Newsome and looks at Fallon and looks at Newsome and waves off the fight.

But she walks away before even confirming the fight is over. These are professional athletes. They get paid to get hit and take a beating. Just because they're female, you can't take one little clip and say, OK, you know, the fight is over.

If you ask Ericka, she'll tell you, I mean, were you in any time damaged? Did you get hurt? Did you get knocked out?


HAMBLETON: No. So, you know, they should have let the fight go. She should have thrown at least one to two more shots to confirm it.

So, on that particular basis, that's one of the things we're going to appeal with as well as not having it disclosed.

KEILAR: Well, we'll be looking for that to see what the decision is and also if there is a rematch that would be of course very interesting. Erica Newsome, Matthew Hamilton, Loretta Hunt -- thanks for joining us.

HUNT: Thank you for having me.

BLACKWELL: Another close encounter relatively speaking. An asteroid skimming by earth this morning. We'll tell you just how close just ahead.


BLACKWELL: For the more than 400,000 children living in foster care, the small things that can make a big difference in their life are often just out of reach. This week's CNN hero is trying to help change one wish at a time. Meet Danielle Gletow.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have been in and out of foster care for most of my life. When you move from place to place, you don't really get the same connections that your peers have. You get very insecure. You don't think that people really care about your desires and wishes.

DANIELLE GLETOW, CHAMPIONING CHILDREN: When I became a foster parent, I realized a lot of these children decide that it's not worth wishing anymore because it isn't going to happen. People have made promises to them that they haven't kept.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want to take any of the babies?



GLETOW: Everything is brand new. I thought, how do we give them the feeling that people are out there that care about you, even if you have never met them?

My name Danielle Gletow, and I have helped to make wishes come true for thousands of foster children all over the country. Anybody, anywhere, anytime can look at hundreds of wishes from children in foster care.

Working on auditioning for a play, and he needs the radio in order to practice with his audition C.D.

Wishes are as unique as the children who make them, and so personal.

Isn't that beautiful?


GLETOW: These small things make an enormous difference in the life of a child. It's really just a kid being a kid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wish was for a suit so that I could attend a family member's funeral. It meant a lot that someone took the time and they knew that was important.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This looks awesome.

GLETOW: When a child's wish is granted, we are assuring them their voices are being heard.

UNIDENTIFIED KID: I love you, Evie (ph).

GLETOW: That there is this big world out there that just wants to wrap their arms around them and protect them. And we need to all step up and do that.



BLACKWELL: There is a big party going on in Austin, Texas. Thousands of people are there for this year's South by Southwest festival.

KEILAR: It is a meeting of the minds where music, film, and technology come together.

Our entertainment correspondent Nischelle Turner is there to follow all the action this weekend.

Nischelle, this is a bit of a star-studded event, right?

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Oh, absolutely. And, by the way, because this is such a party here at South by Southwest, the weather's getting yucky, so I moved into the party bus. That's where I'm talking to you guys from this morning.

Now, we talked last hour about Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, and Olivia Wilde, their new movie, "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" -- well, that's not the end of the stars here at South by Southwest.

I love that when Fergie announced her pregnancy, her and Josh Duhamel's pregnancy, she tweeted, "Josh, me, and baby makes three." All three were on the red carpet. Fergie made a surprise appearance at Josh Duhamel's movie premiere, his new movie premiere, "Scenic Route." everybody went wild when they saw her. This of the first time we'd seen her since the pregnancy announcement.

She didn't talk to the media about anything, especially not being pregnant. But Josh Duhamel did. Take a listen.


JOSH DUHAMEL, ACTOR: It is -- it is more exciting than I expected it would be. You know, the little thing's not even here yet. We're over the moon about it. You know, we're trying to get as ready as we can be. And, you know, it's something we're both proud and excited about.


TURNER: By the way, if you saw the fella in the video before doing this, the photo bombing fellow, that's Dan Fogler. He is the star, the other star of the movie with Josh Duhamel. This is about two friends stuck in the desert that go into deep conversations, then tragedy strikes.

By the way, Josh Duhamel has a Mohawk for "Scenic Route." And the director said he got so into it he gave 12 members of the crew Mohawks for the immigration. Everybody was -- for the film. Everybody was hawked up.

And, by the way, I'm told that Josh Duhamel is like -- you'll see him like you've never seen him before in this movie, that it's super, super interest.

Back to you guys.

KEILAR: Interesting. They'll make a good-looking baby, I think.


KEILAR: Nischelle Turner, thanks for that.

TURNER: Yes, indeed.

BLACKWELL: Hey, everybody, don't forget to spring forward before you head to bed tonight. Not literally spring forward.

You know what I'm talking about. Set your clock one hour ready. It's Daylight Saving Time. We'll lose an hour tomorrow morning. But it's Sunday, so you get to sleep in.

Hey, this has been a good morning. We've had a quart of soda each.

KEILAR: That's right.

BLACKWELL: That was fun.

KEILAR: We're like coming off our sugar high. We're crashing. Ooh.

BLACKWELL: I'm going to cut out. But there's a lot going on. Great morning with you. Learn to stretch.

KEILAR: Yes. Thank you. Thank you for the stretching intervention, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Yes, I had to jump in.

KEILAR: Always a pleasure.

Next hour of CNN SATURDAY MORNING starts now.