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July Jobs Report Shows Notable Changes; Drought Hurts Mighty Mississippi River; Gabby Douglas Grabs Gold Again; Experimental Town Filled with Chevy Volts; Out of Work Since Obama Took Office; Congress Revamps Insider Trading Law; Final Inspection for Tennessee Mosque; Heat Helps some Farmers; Irrigation Companies Benefit from Drought
Aired August 3, 2012 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Soledad. Hi, Soledad.
Happening now in the NEWSROOM, Gabby is gold. A 16-year-old capturing America's heart after one spectacular performance. A true Olympian in every sense. This morning, the journey, the struggle, and the emotion of her long road to London.
English only. A hearing on Congressman Steve King's controversial bill to make English the official language of the United States getting heated. A Democrat delivering his opening statements in Spanish. This morning, we'll talk about that.
Mississippi emergency. The mighty river at dangerously low levels this morning, barges grounded, at some parts of the 2500 mile lifeline, 50 feet below flood levels last year.
And culture clash. How did we get here? America's fight over same-sex marriage coming down to a fried chicken sandwich. Today, round two, a kiss-in at Chick-fil-A's nationwide. We'll talk to the organizer live in 30 minutes.
NEWSROOM starts right now.
And good morning to you. Happy, happy Friday. I'm Carol Costello. We begin this Friday morning with some better news about the nation's economy. The Labor Department says 163,000 jobs were created last month beating expectations of around 95,000. In the meantime, the unemployment rate edged higher to 8.3 percent. That's the headline.
But for more on this story behind the numbers, we want to bring in Christine Romans. She's in New York.
So tell us what these numbers mean, Christine.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a solid report. A solid report for July. But remember that June was revised downward. So 64,000 jobs created in June and then 163,000 created in July. This is the best month for jobs creation now in five months, Carol. So it's a little bit of energy in what had been a stalling labor market. Let's look at some of the notable changes within the jobs report. There was a drop in auto worker layoffs. Usually in the summertime you see some temporary auto worker layoffs. There might be some -- I would say some robust activity happening in autos because you're having fewer layoffs there.
We have 25,000 gained in manufacturing jobs, which is a surprise to some people, quite frankly, Carol, because, you know, we've got a slow in Europe and they were worried about manufacturing, but manufacturing held in there.
So did professional and business services, 49,000 jobs created there. Those can be higher paying jobs. And then 29,000 jobs in food services and drinking places and leisure showing a consumer, perhaps, that are still spending money this summer.
How did the major worker groups fair? The Labor Department says the Hispanic unemployment rate, Carol, fell, fell to 10.3 percent from 11 percent. That was the biggest move within worker groups. White unemployment about 7.4 percent, and the unemployment rate for blacks, almost twice that, 14.1 percent, so that's how the major worker groups break out.
Politically, though, Carol, those are the numbers. Politically as you know. Let's see. The -- 29 months of private sector job creation, that's likely what the White House will be focusing on. The Republicans, the Romney campaign, already focusing on the 42 months of unemployment above 8 percent. So there are numbers for both camps to sort of dig in on here -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Yes, I'm sure we'll hear much throughout the day from both camps on this jobs report.
COSTELLO: Christine Romans reporting live from New York.
The latest jobs data comes as the new "USA Today"/Gallup poll shows the majority of American, well, actually it's split half and half, 50 percent, think Mitt Romney would be better at creating jobs than President Obama. The president is expected to weigh in on the July report later this morning when he meets with middle class families and workers at the White House on the agenda pressing Congress to reach a compromise on extending the Bush-era tax cuts.
The White House says if there is no extension, taxes will go up on 98 percent of Americans in January. But there may not be too many lawmakers in Washington to actually hear the president's remarks. That's because Congress began its five-week August recess. Yes, it went on vacation as of yesterday.
The drought hurting many farmers' fields and now the nation's waterways. Take the Mississippi River. In some places, the river is 50 feet lower than last year's peak flood levels. In fact, the Mississippi had to be closed in two different spots because barges ran aground. The river bone dry in some spots. The shoreline up and down the Mississippi looks more like a beach.
Meteorologist Rob Marciano is joining me now.
So lower water levels could mean that the shipping industry -- could cost the shipping industry, what, $1 billion this year?
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and huge amounts of money when you think about the Mississippi as being the thoroughfare for how we transport goods really from north to south across the country. And such a huge difference this year from last year. We'll talk about that as well.
But what they're having to do, and like Carol mentioned, they've shut down -- this is the second time now they've had to shut down the barges here. And this one in Greenville, Mississippi. The river is so low that these barges have to unload some of their -- some of their gear. And for -- just to come up one inch, a typical barge has to unload 17 tons of stuff that they're carrying. And a typical load will be 15 barges. They're also shorting that load.
Well, a lot of these barges have to come up 12 inches. So a full feet of -- a full foot. So that is some serious weight that has to be unloaded with these -- with these barges.
All right, let's talk about the river itself. Here is a look at the drought. Yes, you bet. But first, let's look at what happened last year. Remember last year? We were in record floods. This is what the satellite picture looked like last year. There's Memphis, there's the river looking really wide, everything around there is looking really lush.
Here's what it looked like on July 4th. I mean you want to talk about some serious shrinkage there. So we've talked so much about farmers and water shortages, Carol, but what's going on in the Mississippi is certainly a huge deal for shipping and eventually everyone's pocketbook.
COSTELLO: So how much rain needs to fall to make the Mississippi flow again?
MARCIANO: Well, I mean, you know, feet of rain. This is -- I don't want to say unprecedented drought, but it's certainly a big, big drought. Here is what it looks like as far as the drought monitor is concerned. This has expanded somewhat. Missouri, for instance, 100 percent of the state is under some sort of drought. But what's alarming now is that 93 percent of it is considered to be under extreme drought.
Other states like Oklahoma, similar numbers. They're at 88 percent of it -- considered to be under extreme drought. So we have to do a lot of repair work here. This is the forecast for the next three months to answer your question. The only areas that we expect to see significant improvement is really across the desert southwest where you look for the drought only to get worse across a midsection of the country and that's certainly bad news for farmers. As far as what the farming outlook is looking like, we're talking about millions of acres that have been planted and for some cases like Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, the bread basket there, a large percentage of their crops considered to be a poor or in very poor condition and that's where the crop yields have been diminishing. And not just now, but more so next year as we've been talking about. That's where you're going to feel it as far as your prices at the grocery store -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Rob Marciano, thanks.
Just a couple of months ago, Gabby Douglas' coaches thought she lacked the concentration and confidence to be an Olympic medalist. And boy, did she prove them wrong. The 4'11" teenager with the winning smile captured the individual all-around event at last night's gymnastics competition. That follows her gold in the team event.
This rising star can count on two families, her parents in Virginia, and a family in Iowa that took her in for two years while she was training. A feature from Proctor & Gamble tells the story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Letting go of Gabrielle was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. But it's now one of the most rewarding things that I've ever got to experience in my life. Because there's no greater joy than for a parent to see their child reach their dream.
I've raised an Olympian. Wow. That's a powerful statement right there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: She's fun to watch. Gabby's mom is a single mother. She couldn't afford to send her child to Iowa for, you know, there's this great Olympic coach out there. So an Iowa family took in Gabby, they paid the rent so that Gabby could get the training she needed.
Zain Verjee is in London.
This is such a touching story.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: It's so incredible. I mean, under the brightest lights, under the greatest stage she shattered the glass ceiling. That's how one person summed it up here today.
It was really incredible. Did you see the performance, Carol? I mean she was totally cool, calm, collected, her performance was absolutely electric on the vault on the floor exercises. And all the -- and all the competition, actually, she was just really contained and just performed fabulously.
I can't come up with enough adjectives, OK? Her smile was really dazzling, too. And I think she's just won over so many people. So what is she doing today? She woke up tweeting talking a little bit about what it was like and she's doing the media rounds today, as well. Oprah sent her a little tweet saying, oh, my god, I'm so thrilled for Gabby, I'm crying, and Lady Gaga sent her tweets and millions of other fans. They're just so overjoyed. And it really is an incredible success story -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Well, just in reading some of her comments and, you know, she talks a lot about her own personality and her problems with concentration. She said she'd be practicing and she'd go, oh, is that a butterfly? How did it get in here? And then she go back -- it's like she couldn't keep her concentration on what she was doing. And it took her so long to do that.
COSTELLO: And she decided once she got to the Olympic Games, she was just going to go for it. And it doesn't sound like she had many nerves at all.
VERJEE: You know, one of the stories that I've read was when she got here, she kind of had a pain in her leg and she was really concerned about that. And then eventually her coach went up to her and said, listen, everyone here at the Olympics has pain, so just put that aside. Because if you don't do it now you're just never going to get another chance to do it. So really concentrate and forget about the pain, focus on the performance.
And especially on the bars and the vault, you know, she does it -- she performed amazingly. And anything that she was feeling or thinking was obviously out of her head as she just -- as she just made the performance of a lifetime.
COSTELLO: She did. And she did live up to her nickname, the flying squirrel.
COSTELLO: Zain Verjee, thanks so much.
VERJEE: Does she need a better one now?
COSTELLO: I know. She does need a better one.
VERJEE: A more glamorous one now?
COSTELLO: Thanks, Zain.
This is a town, sort of sounds like the movie "Pleasantville" or "The Truman Show." It's part of an experiment. Researchers using your tax dollars to study people in this town who drive the Chevy Volt.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COSTELLO: Just about 15 minutes past the hour, checking our top stories.
The jobs report out this morning shows hiring is up with 163,000 new jobs added in July. That is better than expected. But unemployment inched higher. Now at 8.3 percent, about 330,000 so- called discouraged workers were not counted because they quit looking for a job in the last four weeks.
At least 67 people have been killed in the Syrian city of Hama. Rebel groups call it a massacre caused by indiscriminate shelling by government troops. A 10-year-old is reportedly among the victims. The U.N. General Assembly meets later this morning to vote on a resolution condemning Syria's government.
In money news, get ready for tax-free back-to-school shopping. So far, 17 states announced sales tax breaks before September. Some experts say the tax break doesn't save you all that much money and it's more of a gimmick. It only applies to some items and it's on different dates in every state, of course.
Tropical storm Ernesto is expected to enter the Caribbean in a few hours. The National Hurricane Center says Ernesto could become a hurricane by Monday and pass near or south of Jamaica.
In sports, boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. is free, following his release from a Las Vegas, served two months for punching the mother of his children and, by the way, if you caught it, that's his friend, the rapper 50 Cent picking him up in the car.
And watch as this cheetah, this cheetah has broken a world record, this is at the Cincinnati zoo. The cheetah's name is Sarah. She ran 100 meters in 5.95 seconds, the fastest of any land animal on record. She reached the top speed of 61 miles per hour. Wow. She should be in the Olympics.
You could call it Chevy Voltville. It's a community just outside of Austin, Texas. And lots of people there, who live there, they own Chevy Volts. So, what better place to study energy conservation thanks in part to your tax dollars.
Researchers call it Pecan Street Incorporated. They're monitoring the people who live in Mueller, Texas, to see how they use clean energies, like solar power, wind power, electric cars and energy monitoring systems paid for with $10.4 million in federal stimulus money. This project runs for five years.
Some say the name of the town should be changed to Chevy Voltville because it is the highest concentration of G.M. Chevy Volts in the country. G.M., OnStar, the University of Texas, and Austin Energy are all partners in this research study.
Joining me now is the vice president of OnStar, Nick Pudar.
Thanks for joining us this morning.
NICK PUDAR, VICE PRESIDENT, ON STAR: It's a pleasure being with you, Carol. Thank you.
COSTELLO: First of all, tell us about Mueller, Texas.
PUDAR: Well, it's a great community where about 400 residents currently -- and it's growing -- are looking at advanced technologies and business models and how people use these technologies to be more energy efficient and also cost-efficient in this new emerging space.
COSTELLO: So 400 people live in this --
PUDAR: No, they've been --
COSTELLO: I'm sorry, 400 people live in this neighborhood in Mueller, Texas. Why are they so energy conscious?
PUDAR: You know, it's one of these things where they found themselves in this arena. And they're very focused on energy efficiency. And part of this project, the individuals have been given a chance to purchase electric vehicles. And of the 60 that have been purchased so far, 55 are Volts. They've taken a look at the various options out there and they like what the Volt does for them in terms of the no-compromise, no-range anxiety solution.
And for us the exciting part is the connectivity through OnStar to study more energy efficiency and charging control.
COSTELLO: So when you say they were giving an opportunity to buy an electric car. What made that so attractive for them?
PUDAR: Well, again, this community of people (AUDIO GAP) deal with this high concentration of volts and electric vehicles. We think as these technologies continue to improve over time, more people will see the benefit of such a vehicle. And here, we have a chance to study how in a concentrated geography, we can really manage energy efficiency, both from a community standpoint, from a neighborhood standpoint, but also the cost effectiveness of looking at the different kinds of technologies in the home.
So, if I can manage the charging of my vehicle in conjunction with my deep freezer, how do I store the solar energy off the roof in the storage facilities inside my home? There's a -- it's a great opportunity to study.
And these people, it's a real world situation. So we've taken these technologies that all of us have been looking at under the lamp and brought it into the real world.
COSTELLO: And just, you know, some people may wonder, you know, some of this is being paid for with federal tax dollars, federal stimulus money. Where exactly is that taxpayer money going to?
PUDAR: Well, it's really a large part of the overall research agenda that's part of the project. Now, there are many member companies who have joined in and we're all contributing money, as well in this space. And so, for us, you know, our purpose here is to look at the various tools that we've had with the connectivity that comes with the vehicle.
So, let's suppose, Carol, that both of our vehicles in this neighborhood are connected and it's a very hot day in Texas and the air-conditioning is putting a heavier tax on the system. My volt may only be at a 90 percent charge level and doesn't really need a whole lot, your Volt may be a 10 percent charge. So, using our smart connectivity, working with utilities and the electronic companies, we could actually turn off my Volt's charging and let yours continue because you need it more.
Now, there are a lot of other options and variations we can look at. Some of the other things we can do is help favor renewable energy so that charging can happen when renewable energy is in the grid. There's a lot of different things that we're exploring and studying here. So, it's a great opportunity for all of us.
COSTELLO: Nick, thank you so much for joining us this morning.
PUDAR: Thank you, Carol.
COSTELLO: Message to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Mitt Romney says it's time for you to put up or shut up. That's our talk back question for today.
And don't forget, if you're heading out the door, you can take us with you. Watch us any time on your mobile or computer, CNN.com/TV.
COSTELLO: Now is your chance to talk back on one of the big stories of the day. The question for you this morning: should Harry Reid put or shut up? It's war. Mitt Romney is fighting mad over Senator Harry Reid's tax bomb, about why Romney hasn't released more tax returns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: Word is out that he hasn't paid any taxes for 10 years. Let him prove that he has paid taxes, because he hasn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Reid says he was told this by a former Bain Capital investor, an unnamed investor. So, basically, Reid lobbed an unsubstantiated bomb and it's blowing up big time.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's time for Harry to put up or shut up. Harry is going to have to describe who it is he spoke with because, of course, that's totally and completely wrong.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COSTELLO: In fact, Romney suggested that Reid's super secret source was not from Bain at all but from the White House.
A Romney advisor accused Reid of McCarthy-like accusations.
As for Harry Reid? Well, you put up, he says. In a statement Thursday night, Reid called his source at Bain extremely credible, but he still didn't name him. He also said that Romney could resolve the matter by being more transparent.
But to John McCain, Harry, it's really all about you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: To accuse someone of doing something without a shred of proof that the allegation has any substances really is something I frankly don't understand. I think politics are tough and I enjoy the give and take. But I think Harry might have gone over the line here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: So, did Harry Reid cross the line? And if so, here's the question: Should Harry Reid put up or shut up?
Facebook.com/CarolCNN, Facebook.com/CarolCNN. Your comments later this hour.
COSTELLO: Just about 30 minutes past the hour. The July jobs report is out and we're getting a snap shot of the nation's economy.
The government says unemployment rose to 8.3 percent in July but 163,000 jobs were also added. As you might expect, the numbers have strong political implications.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney issuing a statement on today's report, saying in part, "Today's increase in the unemployment rate is a hammer blow to struggling middle class families. President Obama doesn't have a plan and believes the private sector is doing fine. Obviously, that's not the case. Middle class Americans deserve better and I believe America can do better."
For many voters, of course, deciding that President Obama deserves a second term, jobs are the single most important factor, that includes one California man who's been out of work for all of the president's first term.
He spoke with CNN's Kyung Lah about his experience and whether he thinks the president should be reelected.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The start of the day and the new full time job for Ernie Casillas. These first steps on the Los Angeles Airport tarmac have been nearly four years in the making.
(on camera): How long were you employed?
ERNIE CASILLAS, UNEMPLOYED FOR FOUR YEARS: I'm going on four years November 6.
LAH: Four years?
LAH: Barack Obama started his new job as president, as short time after Casillas lost his job making big bucks as a mortgage broker.
CNN met him as the subprime mortgage crisis wrecked havoc on the economy and his own career.
CASILLAS: Driving expensive cars, having expensive suit. Now, I'm just like everybody out of work. The humble suit.
LAH: He not only lost his job, but his home and his marriage. He moved in with his mother.
Casillas went to job fairs and networks, sending out hundreds of resumes. He started his own computer consulting company, but it never took off.
Increasingly desperate, he put this ad on Craigslist stating bluntly, "I need a job."
Last year, still unemployed, he hit downtown Los Angeles carrying a sign.
CASILLAS: I'm so tired of collecting unemployment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just think if there's a lot of us who are working here, we know we're not that far away.
LAH: Last week, he was at rock bottom.
CASILLAS: I have something to eat, didn't have much for gas. I looked on my car seat and I had $1.65.
That paid for the gas that took him to meet Anna Rosales and she gave him a job as a supervisor for her cleaning company newly contracted at LAX.
ANNA ROSALES, CEO, AVOR INC.: He deserves it. Everyone deserves to work. Have you ever been unemployed? Have you ever been able to pay a bill? There's a whole of Ernies out there.
LAH: As the next presidential election looms, with the economy as the defining issue, Casillas says political intentions may surprise you.
(on camera): Who are you going to vote for?
LAH: Why not vote for Mitt Romney?
CASILLAS: He -- I don't that he's with the people. He's a person that we for.
LAH: Casillas says Obama was distasteful and Romney deserves more time. He says his long jobless ordeal showed him there's no easy path out of unemployment and no quick fix for this country's sluggish economy.
LAH: And certainly -- that's certainly something that did surprise us, Carol, the fact that he says he will still vote for President Obama -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Well, he mentioned the word distasteful. So, is he voting for President Obama just because he's picking the lesser of two evils?
LAH: A little bit. I mean, that's absolutely the case there and that's something that certainly the Obama camp has got to pay attention to, that perhaps he's a lesser of two evils. If there are only two there, well, they certainly should take the lesser, Carol.
COSTELLO: I think so. Kyung Lah, thanks so much. And good luck to him.
It's a heart breaking story.
All right. Let's talk about insider trading now. It's an issue long associated with Wall Street. But a new insider trading law aimed at politicians in Washington had one major loophole.
Congress voted to close that loophole after exclusive reporting by CNN's senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash and producer Deirdre Walsh. We'll bring Dana in a moment.
But here's some background from her report that caused this big change.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The key to making sure lawmakers don't profit off secret information they learn on the job is based on a new rule. Financial transactions over $1,000 must be reported within 45 days.
ROBERT WALKER, GOVERNMENT ETHICS LAWYER: So that the public could have more real-time understanding of what their members and what senior staff and other high government officials were doing with their finances. What kinds of trades (AUDIO GAP)
BASH (on camera): -- lawmakers and their spouses and children. But over here on the House side, the Ethics Committee told its members something completely different. That spouses and children do not have to report their stock trades in a timely way.
SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, I'm obviously deeply concerned about that.
BASH (voice-over): All of this was news to the senators who sponsored the legislation. Needless to say, when we brought it to their attention, they were not happy.
BROWN: Let's say that I find out some information and I tell my wife and she goes and trades on it, what's the difference? I mean bottom line is we're supposed to have that level of transparency and not -- and have us be treated like every other member of the United States.
BASH (on camera): It specifically says that members of Congress do not have to have their spouse or their children file.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: I think it's wrong and I think it's unfortunate because the reality is the whole point of this legislation is that we should play by the exact same rules as every -- every other American citizen. And when all of America looks at Washington, they know it's broken.
COSTELLO: OK. So let's bring in Dana. She's on Capitol Hill this morning. The senators were from both parties, a Republican and a Democrat, and they managed to get the loophole closed. So how did they do it?
BASH: Well, Carol, it was really interesting, Deirdre and I knew this legislation ultimately was written in the office of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. So we, with the help with that lawyer there that you saw there in the piece and others, went through the legislation, saw there was something very technical that caused the spouses and children not to be included.
So we went to Eric Cantor's office at the time we reported this two weeks ago, told them about it, took a little while, maybe a day, and they said you know what? You're right. This is a problem. It is effectively a loophole.
And over the past couple of weeks they were working with Scott Brown and others to figure out how to close it and that's what they did. Right before they left town, they passed legislation to make clear that members' spouses and their children are going to have to report in a timely way to make sure they too are not benefitting from information that members learn on the job.
COSTELLO: OK. So bipartisan success with a little pressure from you and Deirdre. Thank you so much -- Dana Bash reporting live from Capitol Hill this morning.
Chick-fil-A back in the hot seat today, protesters' plans to kiss and tell. The fast food chain they've had enough with the stand against same-sex marriage.
We'll talk to the organizer behind today's national same-sex kiss-in day.
COSTELLO: It is kiss-in day at Chick-fil-A. Gay rights activists will be protesting in Chick-fil-As across the country. And likely more than one same-sex kiss will be exchanged.
The kissing comes two days after an unofficial appreciation day brought in record sales for the fast food chain. That effort in support of the company's president Dan Cathy who told the press that his company is very much supportive of the Biblical definition of the family unit.
Carly McGehee is the organizer of the kiss-in, and she joins us this morning from Dallas.
CARLY MCGEHEE, CHICK-FIL-A "KISS IN" ORGANIZER: Good morning.
COSTELLO: Thanks for being here. The Chick-fil-A appreciation day appears to have been a huge success.
Dan Cathy apparently told Pastor Rick Warren his restaurant set records. Will you do the same?
MCGEHEE: Absolutely. I hope to have as many people out there as Mr. Huckabee did.
COSTELLO: How many people have responded to your effort?
MCGEHEE: Well, on Facebook, we have this morning when I checked we had just a little over 13,500.
But then we also have, you know, friends that are coming, as well, people on Twitter, and other different events on Facebook, as well.
So we're hoping to see somewhere in the vicinity of 15,000 people show up today.
COSTELO: And that's all across the country, right?
MCGEHEE: Correct. Chick-fil-A has over 1,600 locations across the U.S. and we're hoping to have someone at every single location today.
COSTELLO: So you're staging this kiss-in, provocative, some say that's just pushing buttons that will turn some people off. So why stage a kiss-in? Why not just protest with signs the traditional way?
MCGEHEE: Yes, definitely. A lot of people have been saying, voicing their opinions about this kiss-in. And, you know, we have been -- we have been emphasizing that it's not just a kiss-in. Someone can go to hug, hold hands, but we want to show our love. We want to show that a polite kiss between someone of the same gender is just as good as a polite kiss between a heterosexual couple.
I like to liken it to a married couple sharing a light kiss over a romantic meal. It's the same thing. We're here and our love is just as good.
COSTELLO: So will people be going into the restaurants? Or will they be staying outside?
MCGEHEE: For the most part, we'll be staying outside near the sign. Some people are going to go into the Chick-fil-A restaurants and actually order food. Some people have decided to write gay money on their cash and pay that way.
As an overall overarching theme, we're telling people to take pictures outside by the sign.
COSTELLO: There are plenty of big companies that support same- sex marriage, Starbucks and JCPenney among them. Why bother with one company? Chick-fil-A?
MCGEHEE: It's not just the fact that they don't support LBGT rights. It's the fact that this company annually donates millions of dollars to anti-gay organizations such as Exodus International and the Family Research Council. These organizations then take this money to lobby the federal government to make being gay illegal, or to export gays all together or exodus international which is a gay conversion therapy camp or pray the gay away, which modern scientists have said not only is this wrong but it's harmful.
So it's OK if someone doesn't agree with us or doesn't believe in gay rights or gay marriage, but when you spend money to perpetuate hate, intolerance, and discrimination, that's what we have a problem with.
COSTELLO: Well, Chick-fil-A has commented about today's event. This is what chick-fil-a released, and I'm quoting here. "We understand from news reports this Friday may present yet another opportunity for us to serve with genuine hospitality, superior service, and great food."
Do you think Chick-fil-A is taking your protest seriously?
MCGEHEE: Well, they better. I mean, they -- they -- you know, naturally they don't probably don't want to comment too much on it because they've had a lot of bad P.R. in the past two weeks, a lot of which is surrounding my event. Fake Facebook profiles, the Jim Henson toy recall, the signs they put up.
But I think that they need to realize that, you know, the gay population is here. We have a voice, and we're not going anywhere until we have the same protections under the law to live and love and have committed loving same-sex relationships.
COSTELLO: Carly McGehee, thanks so much.
MCGEHEE: Thank you.
COSTELLO: A controversy over a mosque in Tennessee has people taking sides. Why this two-year battle may be coming to a close today.
COSTELLO: After a two-year battle, a Middle Tennessee mosque hope to get -- hopes to get its final inspection today. Construction of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has been the focus of vandalism, protest rallies and a lawsuit.
Last month a federal judge ruled the congregation has the right to worship. If inspectors give the thumbs up, the center could hold a prayer service as early as next Friday.
George Howell joins us with the latest. And this has been quite a battle.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has. And I spoke to a member of the board and planning committee this morning and he says, first of all, there is a feeling of excitement, you know. People are anxious to put two years of wrangling behind them and as he says look forward to a brighter future.
So Carol, what we know is that this building passed its electrical inspection yesterday and now the fire marshal will look at the fire alarm and sprinkler system and if that passes they will finally get their certificate of occupancy.
That means, you know, this has been a construction site Carol, you know since it's been built. So finally people can go into the mosque. But that's going to cause a problem, though, for some people. You get a sense of the division.
We picked two sound bites here. Just take a listen, we can talk about this on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK GAFFNEY, CENTER FOR SECURITY POLICY: Because it is a product of the Muslim Brotherhood, it is generally very inimical to the constitution of the United States, the -- I believe security interest of the United States, as well.
OSSAMA MOHAMED BAHLOUL, IMAM MURFREESBORO ISLAMIC CENTER: I owe the state to everyone even the people who is in the opposition, we love you all and we are your neighbor. And the concept of loving your neighbor is a concept existing in any religion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: That's really the feeling there, two years of division.
COSTELLO: Well, the question that comes to mind, I mean, is it a product of the Muslim Brotherhood?
HOWELL: Well, you know this -- it's a mosque. And keep in mind, Carol, this is a mosque that's been in this community. It's got a three-decade history in this community. So it's not new. We're just talking about an expansion here.
So the mosque has not ever had a problem in the community. They don't believe that there would be a problem with this expanding. But you have people in the community who say, look, this could bring hundreds of new Muslim families to the community and you get a sense there that there is a division.
There are people who moved into Murfreesboro who are ok with the idea of this mosque being there but there are also people who have been in the community for maybe all of their lives.
COSTELLO: So worship services could begin next Friday, right?
COSTELLO: So we'll be there watching.
HOWELL: Carol thanks.
COSTELLO: Yes. George Howell, thank you so much.
America's drought is ruining many crops and costing farmers millions of dollars. But it's also a huge moneymaker for others.
COSTELLO: "In Depth" now, the drought gripping more than half the United States is killing crops and hurting the bottom line of thousands of farmers. But the record heat is also a huge money maker for some people.
Here's CNN's Martin Savidge.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Peach County, Georgia, they are plucking the last peaches off of the trees. Peaches have been in Duke Lane's family for close to 100 years. He grows nearly 300 acres, selling to the likes of Public, Whole Foods, and Wal-Mart.
(on camera): How is the peach crop looking?
DUKE LANE, JR., LANE SOUTHERN ORCHARDS: Well, all things considered, I think -- I think peaches look real good. SAVIDGE: The peaches themselves may be smaller due to the drought, but the demand is still high, which is why wholesale prices are up by almost 50 percent over last year. And they taste better.
LANE: So we need peaches to ripen and we don't have the rains to come in here and take the sugar away, so that's -- that's a plus, is being able to have this fruit with the highest maximum amount of sugar, which is a good thing.
SAVIDGE: So if I understand you, then the less rain means that a peach like this could be smaller but it's going to be sweeter and tastier.
LANE: That's right.
SAVIDGE: Peach fans aren't the only ones smiling about the drought.
In nearby Marshallville, Georgia, there is something else growing in this farmer's field.
ELTON SHARP, SHARP IRRIGATION SYSTEM: Is that going good for you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.
SAVIDGE: a massive collection of pipes, spigots and sprayers that when finished will become a crop-sized sprinkling system. These rude Goldberg-looking contraptions rotate ever so slowly in a giant arc around a central pump tied to an underground well. Hence the name "pivots".
Elton Sharp has been selling pivots since the '70s. Recently, thanks to the drought, business has doubled.
SHARP: We have put in a lot of pivots in the last five years for people that never did have it before.
SAVIDGE: Systems like these can easily cost more than $100,000 each, not including the well, which could add another $80,000 or more depending on how deep they have to drill. And lately they have to drill deeper and deeper.
Even so, Jim Reid says these days farmers would have a better chance gambling in Las Vegas than betting on nature.
JIM REID, REID BOS. IRRIGATION: As the cost of the production has gone up, and the risk of the amount of money you had invested in an acre of land has increased, then the necessity of irrigation became greater.
SAVIDGE: -- which is why Reid has crews working close to 12 hours a day, six days a week just to keep up with demand. Thanks to the worst drought in half a century, whether it's peaches or pivots, both are finding business pretty sweet.
COSTELLO: Wow. Martin Savidge joins me now from Fort Valley, Georgia. How many farmers across the country use irrigation?
SAVIDGE: You know, Carol, not as many as you might think. In fact only about 27 percent of the farm land has irrigation of any kind. Part of that is it's very expensive, as we pointed out. The other part is access to water.
They've got a lot of here in Georgia underground but out West there's not a lot of water underground to be had. That's why you haven't seen as much irrigation. It could increase because some banks are now demanding before you get a loan, farmer, you're going to need irrigation. It's a growing business.
COSTELLO: Fascinating. Martin Savidge reporting live for us this morning.
Should Senator Harry Reid put up or shut up after comments he made about Mitt Romney's taxes? That's what we're asking you today. It's our "Talk Back" question.
COSTELLO: We asked you to talk back on one of the stories of the day. The question for you this morning, "Should Harry Reid put up or shut up?"
This from Heather, "Shut up, don't run your mouth without proof."
This from Gary, "After all the birther stuff, I think Romney's tax info is fair game. Why won't Romney just provide the returns and get the points if Reid's information is untrue?"
This from LaTique, "Romney needs to put up or shut up. Reid has a point. Let's hope it's not the truth but we will never know until Romney shows us."
This from Stephen, "Fair game. Sort of like Obama not being born in the USA. Remember that? Or the outright lies about the health care reform death panels."
And this from Delores, "Harry has crossed the line and he needs to shut up or put up. This is exactly why I am not a Democrat."
Keep the conversation going. Facebook.com/CarolCNN. More responses in the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM which starts right now.