Return to Transcripts main page
Gay Marriage is Focus of Church Sermons; Marisa Alexander Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison
Aired May 13, 2012 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: It is the top of the hour. You are in the NEWSROOM.
President Obama's decision to support guy marriage is a focus of church sermons all across the country on this mother's day. An African-American church and congregations are divided over the issue. Some Obama supporters now say they won't vote for the president. Others are rallying behind him. And the message is, pastors are delivering today, are equally as diverse.
CNN's Athena Jones has been listening to what pastors has been saying and she's joining us now from Washington -- Athena.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fredricka.
As you know, as you mentioned, there's been a whole lot of variety in the speeches, and in talking to ordinary churchgoers as well. But I want to play some very interesting comments from two pastors who disagree on this matter.
One is Pastor Emmett Burns from Baltimore, a church in Baltimore. The other is pastor from here in D.C., Reverend Wallace Charles Smith. Let's listen what they had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO LIP)
REVEREND WALLACE CHARLES SMITH, PASTOR, SHILOH BAPTIST CHURCH: Will this hurt the African-American community support for the president in the upcoming election? Well, I would hope not. Amen.
SMITH: We've got some larger challenges that we've got to struggle with.
REVEREND EMMETT BURNS, PASTOR, BALTIMORE: People I know, people come up to me, are saying that they don't support this. They don't like this. They're disappointed with the president. And they plan to stay home. I don't plan to vote for Romney for sure. And right now I plan to stay home.
(END VIDEO CLIP) JONES: So some pretty explosive sounds and certainly got a lot of people's attention. You got a lot of people's attention and raise some eyebrows.
But, you know, Fredricka. You're hearing people say that we're going to stay behind. And even if we disagree with the president, a lot of whether it's a pastor or congregants and members of the congregation at these churches saying that while they may not agree with the president, they'll stick behind him. They are going absolutely, one woman said, she will absolutely continue to support him. Here you have this Pastor Burns has taken a completely different approach. And a completely different reaction.
WHITFIELD: Well, yes. It is shocking to hear those words coming out of a pastor's mouth. But then, as I listen to it again, is the pastor saying that others, members of his congregation, are saying that they will stay home, it's not that he necessarily would stay home because he doesn't like what the president's position is?
JONES: Well, the understanding is that he's talking about what he would do, and he was talking about what people are telling him to do. He's not preaching. He made it a point of saying, I'm not telling you what to think, as he said to his congregation.
So, this is just where he stands. And something I should mention is that Pastor Burns is also a legislator there in Maryland. And just last in March, Governor O'Malley there signed a bill into law that would make same-sex marriages legal in Maryland starting next year - starting in January of next year.
And Pastor Burns is leaning one of the petition drive to try to make sure that that issue gets up for a public vote for the ballot in November.
So, really interesting how reaction we're seeing from the folks around here.
WHITFIELD: Interesting, and still shocking. Because you look at the historical perspective here, and how religious leaders were very much involved in the civil rights movements. And in the struggle for the right to vote.
And to hear someone of cloth talk about not going to the polls, not voting, not electing to take part in November's election on this very issue, on one issue, is pretty extraordinary.
JONES: It certainly is interesting. But I should mention, too, when you talk to congregants, and we have people out. I've spoken to people, producers in New York, in Baltimore, in Atlanta, you know. And here, you see talking to people leaving church, going to church, a lot of people either have said they support what the president said or at least respect him for taking a stand. They say that what he's done is courageous. Others say I don't necessarily support him, but I'll still back him. Let's listen to a little bit of what we gathered.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When he said that when my children have asked me, and have friends who are like that, that was it for me. I think he made the right stand. It was a moral judgment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt very hurt and disappointed, surprised. I did not know that he would do that. I did not think he would.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt that he is supporting just human rights, not just representing a specific population.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does change the way I feel about him, because I don't think he had that view when he first came in office.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Prior to that time, I didn't know whether I would support him or not. So I'm not saying I do, and I'm not saying I don't.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I support the president. I just disagree with him on the issue of gay marriage per se. I think it's between a man and a woman.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm kind of in the middle of the fence right now. I just really don't know how I'm going to proceed in November.
JONES: And it's that kind of uncertainty that can't possibly make the White House feel too good. Of course, there's been a lot of outreach on this. The president knew there was division on this. It's been clear from the polling. And I - you know, we talked about this being a generational issue, the president has it well, about how the president's daughters helped lead him to this point of view.
But I was out yesterday nearby in the D.C. suburbs and spoke with a young black couple who would see the other generation that might be more readily accepting of same-sex marriage and they, too, were a little bit on the fence. It's a really interesting issue. And I mean, we really going to have to see how many people do decide to stay home, or how many people are going to continue to support him.
WHITFIELD: And so, this issue will continue to resonate, and it's getting a little bit of help from the magazine covers this week. Let's take a look together, Athena, "Newsweek" showing the president, and then the headline there saying the first gay president, with a rainbow halo around his head, over his head.
And then the "New Yorker" showing the White House with the rainbow columns there. So, likely to continue to illicit a lot of conversations, whether it be around the kitchen tables, or the water coolers.
JONES: Absolutely. Or in churches, as we saw. It's one of those things, we know it's political. The big question is, what kind of impact is it going to have? And again, I think it's really hard for us to predict. You know, it's interesting, because a lot of people said this was a calculated move from the White House. And this and that.
But, the bottom line is, it's not a one slam dunk either way. Certainly the president has gotten support on those covers and sort of hailed by certain communities. But then it's brought up some questions in others. So it certainly made for an interesting discussion these last several days and it will continue, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Yes. All right.
Athena Jones. Thanks so much in Washington, appreciate that.
WHITFIELD: All right. Yahoo's embattled CEO is out. A new guy is set to take over the web company. Scott Thompson got into trouble after it was learned that he embellished his academic credentials. He had been on the job only four months. Yahoo announced today, Ross Levinsohn is the company's new CEO effective immediately.
And overseas now, we're getting reports out of Syria today, fresh rounds of gunfire, while the number of U.N. monitors increases in Syria, opposition groups claim more than 20 people have been killed just today. Information is limited because most foreign journalists are not allowed to enter Syria.
But CNN's Ivan Watson did manage to get in, and I asked him what he saw there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is no sign in sight that the population is willing to give up this rebellion. You have people proudly flying the flag of the opposition. We met rebels that are -- look to be better armed than we've seen in months past. They have better uniforms than they've had in the past. They seem to be better mobilized as well, and preparing what appears to be for what they think may be the next phase in the fighting there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And Monday night Anderson Cooper reports live from the Syrian region. Watch "ac 360" live from the Syrian border with jerky, CNN. Monday night 8:00 Eastern time.
All right. Back in the U.S. big events for President Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney this week.
Josh Levs is here with the look of what's ahead this week.
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Coming up, what you and Athena were talking about, coming off President Obama's announcement he supports same-sex marriage. He will attend a fund-raiser Monday in New York that will include some prominent figures in the gay and lesbian communities. That event will be hosted by singer Ricky Martin, who is currently on Broadway.
On Tuesday, meanwhile, the president plans to sit down for an interview with the women of ABC's "the View."
On Friday, change of pace for the president. He will be at Camp David. That was the meeting of the G8, the world's richest nations. That was originally going to take place in Chicago. But it was moved to Camp David. G8 meetings is often attract very large protests.
Mitt Romney meanwhile, has a fund-raiser in Chicago on Tuesday. He also has several this week on Wednesday and Thursday in Florida. He will be visiting Miami, Coral Gables, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Boca Raton. Florida is always a key swing state, it is expected to see huge sums of money in TV advertising, heading up to the election in November.
And think of it as what some call veep watch, or VP watch. Senator Marco Rubio from Florida, possible vice presidential pick for Mitt Romney, will be speaking to the GOP silver elephant dinner on Saturday. That's in Columbia, South Carolina.
For details on this, and more, check out CNN.com's ahead of the curve. It's all linked up for you at my pages on facebook and twitter, joshlevsnn.
And now, Fred, coming up in 20 minutes. I'm going to tell you about something big happening this week for the first time in 18 years. What it is, and how to see it, we'll have that at the bottom of the hour.
WHITFIELD: All right. Look forward to that. Thanks so much, Josh.
LEVS: You got it, Fred,
WHITFIELD: All right. The crime, too terrible to describe. It's not just what was done to 49 bodies, it's why. That has a whole lot of questions unraveling there in Mexico's drug war.
WHITFIELD: A Florida mom is spending mother's day in jail, sentenced to 20 years. Marisa Alexander says she fired a shot in the wall to escape from her abusive husband. She said he had read text messages that she had written to her ex-husband. She says he got angry and tried to strangle her. Alexander was charged under the state's 10/20 life law. A conviction for aggravated assault, where a firearm has been discharged. Instead of the standard ground law, as her lawyer had hoped, I asked Kevin Cobbin earlier today why this happened.
KEVIN COBBIN, MARISSA ALEXANDER'S ATTORNEY: Stand your ground must have protected her from day one. When the police got to the home, they should not have arrested her because of the history they saw documented on their own police computer. They could see there was a history of domestic violence. They can see there was an active injunction. But they arrested her on the spot.
We believe that stand your ground should have protected her at the hearing we had, and that there shouldn't have been a trial would be the court applied the law incorrectly. The problem with the stand your ground law being interpreted, one way by one court, another way by another court. It's being applied differently all across Florida. And the people that are supposed to be protecting Like Marisa Alexander is failing.
WHITFIELD: Did you try to make the argument that she was being overcharged? It's an argument that one U.S. congresswoman has tried to make.
COBBIN: We believe she should never have been charged in the first place. We believe based upon the facts and circumstances, she clearly fits the definition of someone who had rights under the stand your ground protection, under self-defense protection and never been charged in the first place.
WHITFIELD: Well, now what? What is the recourse? Apparently prosecutors did approach you all, and did offer a plea deal for three years in prison. You opted to go and proceed with the trial. Now she has a conviction and has been sentenced to a mandatory 20 years, a mandatory minimum of 20 years with the aggravated assault charge, and conviction, when a firearm is discharged.
COBBIN: In Florida, the 10/20 life statute said the court has no discretion. The court did heard all the fact and probably could have made a more just ruling. The legislators have taken that out of their hands and that's improper. We believe that's wrong. Because they never intended for this to be to work out under the advantage of that law.
But more importantly, another state attorney has argued they offered her three years. Let me clear this up. This case was negotiated for over a year. Trying to come up with a just position, understanding all the circumstances, that she was a battered woman. And on all the history. It was not until that Friday afternoon before trial when the victim's own son came forward and said he had lied to protect his father and that my client was telling the truth. That's the only time the state attorney offered us three years. And that offer was only open for that short brief time that afternoon. At 5:00, that offer was gone.
WHITFIELD: Mr. Cobbin said they will appeal.
A disturbing finding on a highway that links Mexico to Texas. Mexican officials found the mutilated bodies of at least 49 people. Nearby, a message left on a wall referring to one of Mexico's drug cartels.
Rafael Romo is CNN's Senior Latin American affairs editor with me now. What's the explanation behind? What happened here? Is this a result of some drug cartel wars?
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Apparently this is a result of a turf war between two of the most powerful drug cartels in Mexico. One called Los Zetas and the other one, Gulf Cartel who are fighting for that territory because it's crucial as a transit point for drugs into the United States.
Now, 49 bodies. This is one of the worst massacres in Mexico. There was one of 72 bodies last year in the same area. But the level of brutality and the way the bodies were found there, with a message right next to the body, indicates that this is a different level.
Now, just a couple of hours ago, there was a press conference, and one of the officials in charge of the investigation says that the -- those responsible for this went to great lengths to make sure that police had a very hard time trying to identify the bodies. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JORGE DOMENE, NUEVO LEON PUBLIC AFFAIRS (through translator): In every single case, and in order to complicate the identification process, the victims were missing their head and they also had their upper and lower extremities mutilated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMO: And now, Fred, Americans who live in southeastern Texas are very familiar, of course, with McAllen, Raynosa on the Mexican side of the border. This happened 80 miles west-southwest of Raynosa, about 20 miles south of the city of Monterey which is the third largest city in Mexico.
So as you can imagine, a lot of people are very concerned. Not because of just what happened, but also where it happened.
WHITFIELD: So, I realize it's difficult for authorities to identify the bodies, but is it the feeling that these 49 people were working for one of those cartels, or are these people who are just arbitrarily, you know, selected. And a message is being sent to a cartel?
ROMO: Authorities say there are two possibilities. One is the one you mentioned, that they might have been involved, one way or another, with either one of these two cartels.
The other possibility, which is something that happened last year, is that they were migrants from central America on their way to United States. In that part of Mexico, which some people refer to as the Bermuda triangle of Mexico. They're very vulnerable and they fall prey to robberies and attacks by organized crime and that maybe a possibility authority said.
WHITFIELD: God. That is so horrible.
All right. Thanks so much.
Rafael, keep us posted on any developments of that investigation.
ROMO: Sure. WHITFIELD: All right. American veterans come home from the front lines to fight another battle. Getting a job. Army veteran and "dancing with the stars" champ, J.R. Martinez joins me to talk about that.
WHITFIELD: After serving our country overseas, many U.S. service members are facing another huge challenge. Finding work at home. One vet, sergeant Christopher Wiley, said he was making $50,000 before he was deployed. Now he's delivering pizzas and working for tips.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERGEANT CHRISTOPHER WILEY, 877TH ENGINEER COMPANY: And now, the jobs are out there. The thing is, there are so many people looking. There might be 20 jobs open in one place. And there you go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.
WILEY: Have a great night. You have 2,000 people have applied for it. Those aren't good odds. It's almost like playing the lottery. You get the good job, just to tell us so.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's running out of savings. And time.
WILEY: With this job now, plus the savings, it will last us for a couple more months at least. Three months is the maximum. If I haven't found a job in three months, then, I'm going back to Afghanistan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Sergeant Wiley's story is featured in a CNN special "voters in America, vets wanted." I discussed the employment issue with J.R. Martinez, an Iraq war veteran who narrates this special. He said some employers need to change their perceptions of war vets.
J.R. MARTINEZ, IRAQ VETERAN: There's four letters that have been brought to a lot of people's attention that is great. Because people are aware of it, which is PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder.
However, you know, with people knowing about that, people understand the stigma, and the symptoms that come with that. So, they classify every single veteran, every single family that they're going to have PTSD, that they're these walking ticking time bombs, so to speak, that they're not reliable anymore, that they're not leaders, that they can't do this, they can't do that. They don't have the qualities which is completely not true.
I mean, a lot of these individuals, all they want is opportunities. And to get the opportunity, they will be resilient and they will overcome and they will find ways to make it work. A lot of times when it comes to these vets, because the military is the only life they've known, when you look on a piece of paper as a resume, you don't see, you know, the college or university or worked for this person or work for that person, you see military language, military training.
A lot of times the civilian world doesn't exactly understand and know how that translates into what they can do for the company. But if we help them understand what exactly that job can do for a bank of America, or CNN, or anybody in the civilian world, or a college or a hospital, then it's something that you give these guys an opportunity to be necessarily in their comfort zone. And using the training they received in the military to now do that in the civilian world.
So, it's something that we need to pay attention to as a nation. I know the economy and jobs is a big issue for everybody. All we're pretty much is saying, listen, these vets, you know, they served for our country. They have sacrificed so much going overseas, leaving their families. Let's give them an opportunity. Let's give them an opportunity to be in the interview process and allow them to learn, help them package al their stuff together that a lot of us, we get that kind of training in the civilian world. We don't.
WHITFIELD: Is this a view into sort of some of the innovations, or approaches to those who have, for instance, PTSD, and how their needs are being addressed, or how they are at least being recognized?
MARTINEZ: Yes, absolutely. I mean, because there is - I mean, especially with this documentary. We're covering National Guardsmen in Georgia, and these individuals came home, and you know, and it's -- they go away. And a lot of companies don't want to hire them because they feel the PTSD factor. Or they also feel like well, they may redeploy in six months or a year, so, you know, I'm going to fill the position now.
However, in six months, they're leaving potentially. And, you know, I have to refill the position. And people focus on that kind of thing versus saying, you know what, let me give them an opportunity while they're home. So, I think this documentary really focuses on, you know what I'm saying, Listen. These guys - you are going to see a lot of, you know, unfortunate stories, you know, that have somewhat of a bittersweet ending to the documentary where these individuals have struggled and struggled ever since they came home and served their country proudly and it's difficult for them to even get an interviews.
And the interviews that they are getting are interviews that are way below what they are qualified to do able to low their pay grade. And I get it. Everybody in this country is now having to take a step down in a lot of ways to build right back up and build this country up to what it used to be, and more.
However, when it comes to our service members, let's give them a little bit more of an opportunity to stay where they are. Because that's all they want. They want to be respected and feel like what they do on a daily basis contributes is bigger than themselves and it contributes. It makes them feel good about themselves. (END VIDEOTAPE)
WHITFIELD: And you can watch J.R.'s special "voters in America: vets wanted," that's tonight 8:00 eastern time right here on CNN.
WHITFIELD: All right. Lebron James just wrapped up his third league MVP award. I'll tell you why this one is going to come with a little asterisk.
WHITFIELD: A rare day in baseball. And Lebron James hits another milestone. It's time for the best stories in sports.
NPR Sports correspondent Mike Pesca is joining us now from New York. Good to see you, Mike.
MIKE PESCA, NPR SORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hi.
WHITFIELD: What exactly did MLB's Josh Hamilton do that is so rare?
PESCA: Four home runs in one game which is the sort of feat that at first you say, wow. Then maybe at second glance well, maybe a lot of luck was involved. But when you really look at the history and see that there were only 16 guys to do it, an guys like Lou Gehrig and Mike Schmidt did it, you realize how big a feat it is.
Because if you hit a fast ball for a home run, you are not going to see another fast ball. And then if you hit a curve ball for a homerun, you are not going to see another good pitch. And Hamilton was hitting balls that would have been balls, he hit curveballs and sliders and sinkers. And anything they threw at this guy, he's hit 18 home runs now. He has only played 34 that his 35th game tonight. Only one other player in major league history has ever hit and 18 home runs after 34 games, and that guy wasn't named Ruth or Barry Bonds. So he's having an amazing, amazing year.
WHITFIELD: I'm impressed.
OK. Lebron James. We should be impressed by this, too. Three MLB player of the year. How is he keep doing this?
PESCA: He's great. He's the best. He deserves it. Now, if you want to say, but he hasn't won a championship, remember, the MVP award is this regular season, MVP, the regular season most valuable player. There's no argument you can make that Lebron James wasn't the best regular season player.
That is the guy who all his career, it's going to have hanging over his head until he wins a championship that he's never won a big one. And I think that's unfair. And I think that's readopt him. But, that's what happens. If you're an icon, and the eye is on the sphere, which Lebron James is, people will always say, if you've never won the champion, what's it all amount to?
So, I think in a month and a half Lebron will win a championship and then his doubters will probably start on, but yes, he hasn't won two championships. I mean, if you look at the list of MVP multiple MVP winners, those guys have all won championships. And Wilt Chamberlain was criticized for greatest wilt lost, hey, you are not a winner. Your team didn't beat Bill Russell until he finally got that one championship.
Lebron needs it. And not to silence his critics, at least to show that he is the most multi-dimensional player in the game. Any question of fault under pressure is unfair.
WHITFIELD: And he looks good in a suit. So hey, if you wear it --
PESCA: He fills out a uniform, fills out a suit. Multi-threat.
WHITFIELD: Most of his predecessors had won a championship before they actually got the title. So that's the difference for Lebron.
PESCA: Yes, before they got the third one. Michael Jordan won an MVP before a championship.
WHITFIELD: Hey, don't hang it out there. So before you go, let's talk a little hockey now. You know, a couple of teams doing well in the play-offs. We're talking about phoenix and Los Angeles. You know, a couple of the hottest cities that have hockey teams. What's going on here?
PESCA: Yes. Phoenix, the average low in may is 60 degrees. In Los Angeles it's 57. Two cities incapable of producing ice in this month. Phoenix is - you know, Los Angeles just snuck into the play-offs, and they really shouldn't be there.
But phoenix is the craziest story of sports. It's totally underrated. They're a team in bankruptcy. They were desperate to find a buyer. The league has owned them for three years in a row. Do you know that when they practiced, they had to hustle off the rink because kids' ice parties are built in - they scheduled to be in the same ice rink.
Yes. This really is like that movie major leaguer, or the bad news bears. No real underdog story in sports. We are talking about multi- millionaire Athlete with all the resources and facilities.
Not Phoenix and they are still be underdog even though they're the third seed in the west. And Los Angeles is the eighth. People are still doubting the coyotes will win. They're shocking the hockey world and somehow filling the arena. They were last in the league n attendance this year. That's been selling out in the play-offs.
WHITFIELD: I've only been to one hockey game. I need to get hip and,. You know, get back into the game and check out another.
PESCA: Was it in Phoenix?
WHITFIELD: No. It was in Washington, D.C., capital capitals, thank you very much. Long time ago though. But, you know, I need to get in the swing of things again and check out a new hockey game. Thanks so much, Mike Pesca. PESCA: You're welcome.
WHITFIELD: Always good to see you, thanks so much.
All right. Getting you ready for some big events in the week ahead, including details on the first solar eclipse, visible from the United States in more than a dozen years.
WHITFIELD: Hundreds of people lined up for free whooping cough vaccinations this weekend in Washington state. So far this year, whooping cough has killed ten children there. And health officials are calling the state's outbreak an epidemic. More than 1,000 cases of whooping cough have been reported in Washington so far this year. And that's ten times the usual amount.
And right now, fire crews in Northern Arizona are battling three wildfires. One fire came so close to press cot, that residents were forced to flee. But have since been allowed to return to their homes. Another fire which is spreading across 2,000 acres can be seen from Phoenix.
And "the avengers" have been busy saving the world. And now, they are saving Hollywood as well. (VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
WHITFIELD: The movie posted another huge weekend at the box office. The total worldwide gross is expected to pass $1 billion today. It probably isn't a surprise that the studio is planning on making a sequel already.
All right. Other big stories that you'll are hearing a lot about next week. This week, in fact. Here's Josh Levs.
LEVS: Yes. they are all coming up. That's right. Ratko Mladic, Fred. We are starting there. he is the former Bosnian Serb military leader will be in the Hague this week at the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. This is the end of many, many, many years. He faces genocide charges. The highest profile Yugoslav war crimes suspect is accused of responsibility for the killing of nearly 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995. The largest mass slaughter in Europe since world war II.
He was captured a year ago, and that was after 15 years in hiding. However, his attorneys are actually pushing for a delay in the trial now. They want the presiding judge disqualified. They are arguing that he is biased.
Also ahead this week. Check this out. The first solar eclipse visible from the United States in 18 years. It will be one week from today. NASA has this cool video out about how it works. It's called an annular eclipse. The thin outer ring of the sun will not be covered. The moon's shadow will begin in East Asia and cross the pacific and end in the western U.S. So, some folks from around the world will be flocking to California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona. But, NASA says, by the way, keep this in mind, an annular eclipse is not safe to watch without taking special precautions. Lots of information up for you about all this and more at my page, joshlevscnn on facebook and twitter.
And to stay on top of what's happening every week, be sure and check out CNN.com's ahead of the curve.
So Fred, next weekend, I'll be talking to you about that eclipse there and take a look what it look like.
WHITFIELD: Can't wait to see it. All right. Thanks so much, josh.
LEVS: You got it.
WHITFIELD: Good weekend ahead for us.
All right. We know dinosaurs disappeared from the earth suddenly. Well, now a new report has unique insight as to why this actually happened. We'll tell you what it is.
WHITFIELD: All right. We just want to clear the air. Did dinosaurs -- I don't know if I'll be able to do this? Did dinosaur gas cause global warming? Some of the latest resources say yes. Jacqui, I'm in trouble. I can't do it. It's just too funny.
JERAS: The thing we do for our children, right? Because my kids have been giggling about this all week.
WHITFIELD: My kids, too.
JERAS: It is. it is a kind of one of those stories that make you a giggle a little bit. But British scientists and researchers say it is the real deal. You know, this year so far has been one of the warmest on record. But it was actually warmer than this back in the time of dinosaurs. And British researchers are saying it's because, yes, flatulence from dinosaurs.
WHITFIELD: What are they eating?
JERAS: They eat plants, right? So because of things in their stomach, along with the plant that produces methane, very much like cows do today. That's how they did this calculation. They based it of what methane emissions are, so to speak, from cows in a year. And they're saying that dinosaurs would have put out 520 million tons of methane a year.
JERAS: -- which would then in turn raise the global temperature by about 18 degrees.
WHITFIELD: Wow, I can see how --
JERAS: 18 degrees more.
WHITFIELD: That's incredible. I can see how that changed the dynamics considerably.
JERAS: I know. Thank goodness for the asteroid.
WHITFIELD: My goodness, yes. OK. Let's pass on this subject now.
JERAS: How about to other warm things.
WHITFIELD: That's right. How is the weather looking this week?
JERAS: We're talking tropic.
WHITFIELD: We are talking tropic already?
WHITFIELD: We're thinking of tropical weather?
JERAS: We are thinking of the eastern pacific, actually, in particular, because we're only two days away from the start of the eastern pacific hurricane season. Already, things are starting to get brewing. Take a look at this.
So, here's Mexico, here's the eastern pacific. And this is the area we're monitoring for possible tropical development. There's a 50/50 shot that this thing in the next 24 to 48 hours could be our first named tropical system in the eastern pacific.
Now, once we get into Tuesday, it looks like conditions aren't going to be quite as favorable. So, if it doesn't get going here in the next day or so, I think it will be out of there.
Now, we're also watching things in the Atlantic. Atlantic hurricane season doesn't start until June 1. But, you know, and things don't always go by the exact calendar, now do they. We don't think this system way out in the middle of the open waters by the Azores. We don't think it is going to develop into anything. But something to watch.
On average, we'll see 11, six and two in terms of named storms hurricanes. And major hurricanes in the Atlantic and in the pacific we'll see 15-16, 8 to 9 hurricanes, four of which should become major hurricanes. And this year, Fredricka, most climatologists and tropical meteorologist are expecting this to be a slightly lesser than normal system which would be good news.
WHITFIELD: Yes. I like that idea. I know. I know. I'm so potentially distracted.
Thanks so much, Jacqui. Appreciate that.
JERAS: Sure. WHITFIELD: All right. So, on talk shows and in churches across the country today, people are talking about President Obama's support for same-sex marriage. We will tell you what they are saying and whether the president's position could cost him votes.
WHITFIELD: Colorado lawmakers will convene in a special session to reconsider a civil union's bill. The measure would legalize the unions. It was shelved after a last-minute filibuster Wednesday. The governor ordered the special session as saying he wants a fair and open debate on the bill.
CNN's Candy Crowley asked the governor to address some concerns about that measure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Some of the critics say that civil unions is the step right before gay marriage. Do you agree with that?
GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), COLORADO: Well, in Colorado, we have, as you pointed out at the top of the show, we have an amendment on a constitution that said that bans same-sex marriage. So clearly, we're very focused on civil unions. And again, we don't want to tell any church who they should or should not marry. We want to make sure that every citizen -- I spent, you know, almost 20 years in the restaurant business. And you work side by side with all different kinds of people, right? And you learn that they are -- they work just as hard, make the same sacrifices. They deserve the same rights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And the question of those rights for gay people generated a lot of debate on the Sunday morning talk shows. Here are the highlights.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: What do you say to Democrats who worry this is going to cost him votes in a very close presidential race?
REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MINNESOTA: I can't think there are many people who said, OK, I'm going to vote for Obama, even though he said that the defense marriage act is unconstitutional and he said gay people can serve in the military. But, if he says marriage echoes too far. I literally don't think anybody's vote was changing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Is that analysis right?
REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Social conservatives and people around the country that agree marriage is a unique definition, an explanation of historical and religious union between a man and a woman, for those people, and if that's their issue, this is a clear choice. Mitt Romney is the person who believes marriage is between a man and a woman.
GREGORY DAVID, HOST, MEET THE PRESS: Did the bank break any laws? Did it violate any accounting rules, or S.E.C. rules?
JAMIE DIMON, CEO, JPMORGAN CHASE: We've had audit, legal, risk, complaints, and our best people looking at all that. We know we were sloppy. We know we were stupid. We know there was bad judgment. We don't know if any of that's true yet. Of course regulations look at something like this. That's their job, so we are totally open to regulators, and they will come to their own conclusions. But we intend to fix it, learn from it and be a better company when it's done.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nevada, Rhode Islands, White House --
CROWLEY: Nobody wants to do anything big because they think the other might get the advantage. And you're going to do it all in the lame duck, or try to maybe kick it then. Why stay in Washington?
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: Senator Reid has said we will not take up and pass a budget in the Senate. And you're right, there's no good reason for us to be here if we're not going to make some of these tough decisions, cast tough votes. That's what we get paid for, that's what we should do.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: I think it may have started with the Republican leader McConnell saying our job is to make sure Obama is a one-term president. And so we had more filibusters than ever in the history of the United States Senate. We just cannot take up anything constructive. The American voters have the last word in November. Do they want to continue this kind of obstructionism, or do they want to see something different.
WHITFIELD: For some towns in Kansas, it could be the biggest change to their way of life in a century. What could happen that would cut them off from the rest of America.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks to a rail line that has been in place since the 1800s, folks in garden city, Kansas, can literally hop on Amtrak southwest chief at their local station and knocked it off.
Again, until they hit downtown Los Angeles. And that train comes through every day of the year including holidays, but that could be about to change. Amtrak has because of freight maintenance, and the changing needs of the freight companies that owns the truck this route and many others could shift south.
Bob Greene is a CNN contributor and bestselling author.
Hey, Bob. Good to see you.
BOB GREENE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Hi, Fredricka. WHITFIELD: Are you saying this is a much more than just about the shifting of a couple of trains. It is really going to impact lives in a big way.
GREENE: In Garden City, Kansas, from the time the town was founded in the late 1800s, there has always been a passenger train coming through that town. And as you mentioned, you can get on the train and cross the country and knock it off until you are in Los Angeles.
But the important thing is that the country has come to call on Garden City every day for its history. People traveling across the country stop, however briefly in the heart of Garden City. And that means something. If this does stop after 150 years, it changes the nature of what the town is. We thought it was worth talking about.
WHITFIELD: And you see, this is kind of a microcosm of, you know, others small towns in America where, you know, whether train stop through or maybe they got one gas station and people stop through as they, you know, traverse the country?
GREENE: Well, when the country would still young, the trains that would go from one small town to another, and of course the major cities, it was just marvelous thread that connected the country, that made America feel calescent and whole.
And even now, there is something about the train that are traveling. At ground level, it goes through the neighborhood. It's like just like look in the America's backyard when you travel through the country, block by block.
You know, when you are traveling by long distance train you don't get on to a number, you get on to the empire builder. You get on to the city of New Orleans or you get on to the southwest chief bound for Garden City and points beyond. And if they lose that, they lose part of what has made the town the town.
WHITFIELD: Let's hope it does not become a loss.
Bob Greene, thanks so much. I always loved riding on the train. I guess I got a chance to really be exposing to these kids growing up going on the northeastern, you know, the whole northeast corridor back in Fort New York, Connecticut, Washington D.C., and I love riding Amtrak.
All right. Thanks so much.
GREENE: It's the most fun way to see the country. Thank you, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: It is a lot of fun. I love that.
All right. Bob Greene, appreciate that.
All right. We have got - of course, you can read Bob's columns and other great opinions on the issues that shape your world in cnnopinion.com. Don't want to miss that. All right. Don Lemon straight ahead with more of the NEWSROOM.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST, NEWSROOM: I love traveling by trains. You are out in the northeast border, you think of D.C. or New York. I used to take the train because by the time you drive to the airport or take a taxi, you may have well just take the train.
WHITFIELD: Yes. And you literally are going in people's backyards sometimes. I like that.
LEMON: We are talking about something serious. And you know, when people said at least you have your health man. It was a sad story. A flesh-eating bacteria slowly eating away at a young woman's body. Her name is Amy Culpin (ph), Fred.
But friends and family say one word describes her and that is fighter.
This rare disease has already eaten away at her leg and is now working its way through parts of her abdomen now. So, how is she going to contact with inspector, you would think she is in a foreign country but not really. She was in her own backyard on a homemade zip line right, in a small town in Georgia. I'm going to be talking to her father who has been writing blogs on this and chronicling her battle with this flesh eating disease.
WHITFIELD: Still unclear, was it that lake water? Still unclear. Whether or, you know, the first place that she got that first aid treatment, who knows. It is such a mystery and it is so frightening.
LEMON: I saw you earlier talking to Athena about this. When I saw it come out earlier, I said oh boy. This is going cause conflict. Have you seen that? And it says the first gay president. A lot of people are taking that literally and I think Newsweek, we know people used to joke and say that President Clinton was the first black president because he was so familiar with African-American culture and that sort of thing. I'm wondering how this particular cover is going play.
I'm going to talk to the Reverend Joseph Larry (ph) about that and what happened to the search today.
WHITFIELD: Yes. and the caption gets attention just like we saw earlier with "Time" magazine with, you know, --
WHITFIELD: With, you know, Mom enough. I mean, sometimes the word aren't necessarily intended to be taken literally, but that put provokes the conversation and that's what gets you inside the covers of the magazine but we showed it.
LEMON: (INAUDIBLE), all right. Mine, too.
WHITFIELD: Thanks, Don. Appreciate that.
LEMON: Thanks, Fred. WHITFIELD: All right. A legendary bass guitarist has died. His name is Duck Dunn, and he played with some of the greats of rock and roll. Dunn played base with Booker T & the MGs. He was also a member of the famed Blues Brothers and was in the original 1980s film of the same name. He performed on recordings with Eric Clapton and Neil Young.
Dunn died in Tokyo. He was 70-years-old. He is him playing the instrumental Green Onions.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
WHITFIELD: Now, that is beautiful and a very familiar tune. Everyone recalls that. Duck Dunn. You will be missed.
All right. That is going to do it for me. I'm Fredrick Whitfield. Much more straight ahead with my colleague, Don Lemon. More in the NEWSROOM.
LEMON: All right. See you, Fred.