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Previous Rape Allegations Come to Light in Duke Case; Bush Meets with President of Azerbaijan; No Good News from Iran on Nuclear Compliance; West Point Cadets Riot Over Drug Search; Latino Teen Savagely Attacked in Houston
Aired April 28, 2006 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, HOST: Hello and good afternoon from the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
New developments in the Duke rape investigation at this hour, but first, let's check in with Tony Harris in the heart of CNN's new media operations.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, Fred. I am live from the newest edition to our global headquarters here in Atlanta. You're taking a look at the new media operations center here in Atlanta, the latest giant leap in technology for CNN. We will kick the tires, and we will symbolically thrown out the old videotape a little later in the hour, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Look forward to that. Thanks so much, Tony.
To North Carolina. A woman describes a brutal attack and rape. Three male suspects. Sounds on the surface like the Duke lacrosse case? Well, it is the same accuser, but these charges are from 10 years ago. Are they relevant today? Those are the questions, and we look to CNN's Amanda Rosseter for some of the answers -- Amanda.
AMANDA ROSSETER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. A very interesting development here, Fredricka. This is coming out of Creedmoor, North Carolina. That's a town about 15 miles up in Durham.
The accuser in the Duke lacrosse case filed a report with police there about 10 years ago, saying that 13 years ago, she was sexually assaulted and beaten by three men in an unspecified location in Creedmoor. Now, although she identified all three men, she never wrote out a chronology, a chronological report, as the police requested. They say they have no file of it, if she ever pursued it.
And now Creedmoor police say that if the pursuer doesn't pursue it, that's that. This from the police chief there this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF TED POLLARD, CREEDMOOR, NORTH CAROLINA, POLICE DEPARTMENT: The accuser is the witness to the event. Trying to locate physical evidence four years old, not knowing the exact location where the offense took place. It was a very typical investigation, but the accuser -- the accuser alleged (ph) not to pursue it, then that definitely puts a different light on it, also.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROSSETER: Now, following that from the Creedmoor P.D. this morning, D.A. from Durham, Mike Nifong, came out and read a written statement. Fredricka, he didn't take any questions about this, but he wanted to talk about the North Carolina rape shield law and what bearing, if any, the latest developments -- developments out of Creedmoor would have on the Duke case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE NIFONG, DURHAM COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: For either side in such a case may offer such evidence at trial, that side must first request the court conduct an in camera hearing to determine the relevance of such evidence and the circumstances under which it may be offered. In short, the jury that decides this case may or may not hear the evidence, in quotations, reported by the Associated Press.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROSSETER: And then he went on to say that, although the facts in this case are not yet known, and he encouraged everyone, including the media, to take a big step back and let the system work here -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And meantime, what are the rumblings around town there about the potential politics in all of this, Amanda, especially since election is Tuesday, the D.A. being up for reelection?
ROSSETER: That's right. There has been a lot of concern and criticism about D.A. Mike Fong -- Mike Nifong and the way that he's handled this case from the very beginning. Re-election, as you mentioned, does come up. This -- the election, rather, is this next Tuesday. So we'll see what the court of public opinion is on him from that -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right, Amanda Rosseter, thanks so much from Durham.
Well, they say politics makes strange bedfellows. So does oil. President Bush met this morning with the president of Azerbaijan. That former Soviet republic has been the site of alleged human rights abuses, but it's also a big oil producer.
With the average U.S. price of gasoline approaching $3 a gallon, that's a fact the administration just simply cannot ignore.
CNN White House correspondent Ed Henry joins us with us more from there.
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Fredricka. That's right, President Bush also cannot ignore the fact that Azerbaijan is such a close neighbor of Iran. President Bush today reaching out to the president, Aliyev, of Azerbaijan, who has indicated he would not allow his nation to be used as a base for any potential military conflict between the U.S. and Iran.
A very sensitive subject today, especially since the IAEA has released this report, declaring that Iran has defied U.N. demands to end its nuclear enrichment program.
President Bush said at the tail end of this meeting with the president of Azerbaijan that, in fact, it is still his desire to solve this problem with Iran diplomatically and peacefully.
Then the president headed to the Rose Garden to tout some good economic numbers that were released today by the Commerce Department. And he turned it over and basically turned it into a press conference of over a half hour. Questions mostly dominated by Iran.
Take a listen to president, reacting to that IAEA report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The IAEA statement is an important statement. It reminds the nations of the world that there is an ongoing diplomatic effort to convince the Iranians to give up their nuclear weapons ambitions.
It reminds -- should remind the Iranians that the world is united and concerned about their desire to have, not only a nuclear weapon, but the capacity to make a nuclear weapon or the knowledge to make a nuclear weapon. All of which we're working hard to convince them not to try to achieve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: The president was pressed, though, on the fact that, given this continued defiance by Iran, are the U.S.'s diplomatic options, are they dwindling at this point? The president insisted, in his words, diplomacy is only beginning. One option, of course, to eventually go to the United Nations and pursue sanctions against Iran -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right, Ed Henry from the White House. Thank you so much.
HENRY: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Meantime, the heat on Iran cranked up another notch. Today the deadline day for a compliance report on Iran's nuclear program. CNN's Liz Niesloss is at the United Nations with more -- Liz.
LIZ NIESLOSS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fredricka. Deadline day and no good news. Not surprisingly say diplomats from the IAEA, a negative report. And that means that the Security Council has to decide how to ratchet you want pressure to the Iran.
Here's what the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: The IAEA report shows that Iran has accelerated its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, although of course the report doesn't make any conclusions in that regard.
I think we can say now the United States is ready to take action in the Security Council, to move to a resolution. Our feeling being that it should be a Chapter 7 resolution, making mandatory for Iran the existing requirements of the IAEA resolutions, and particularly the resolution the board passed in February.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NIESLOSS: Now Chapter 7 is diplomatic lingo here, according to the U.N. charter. That means that Iran must comply or the Security Council can decide further actions.
Now that could mean further down the road, Fredricka. Sanctions or always potentially military action, though I have to caution that is not being discussed in that case. But that is a wait, the implication that Chapter 7 has. A Chinese ambassador to the United Nations says not so fast.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WANG GUANGYA, CHINESE AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: I think the feelings of almost all the members, including all the major powers is that this is an important issue. And all we want is to work for a diplomatic solution. I think that's because this region is already complicated. There are a lot of problems in the region, and we should not do anything that would cause the situation more complicated. Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NIESLOSS: Now there is no disagreement among the Security Council members that Iran must comply with the demands of the U.N. Atomic Energy Agency. They have to answer all these open questions. And they should, in the meantime, stop enriching uranium. The problem, though, is getting 15 nations to agree -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And so what would be the time line for any kind of an agreement or action?
NIESLOSS: Well -- well, at this point we are getting some hints of what the diplomatic calendar will look like. On Tuesday, in Paris, there will be a meeting of what's called the political directors. And that is when they will really start chewing over any potential resolution, a resolution that already, the British say, they are going to write with Germany and with the French. And they are shaping out their thoughts at the moment.
And then on May 9, we will have the U.S. secretary of state here in New York and foreign ministers. So that will really tell the timetable. Shortly after that we should see a resolution -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right, Liz Niesloss, thank you so much from the U.N.
A new recording of the national anthem is designed to honor immigrant but not everyone is applauding.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: That is the Spanish edition of the "Star-Spangled Banner", and it's sparking a vigorous response on all sides of immigration debate.
We want to hear from you. What do you think of a Spanish version of the national anthem? E-mail us at LiveFrom@CNN.com. We'll read some of your messages and hear some comments from both sides of this issue later on, on LIVE FROM.
Horror in Houston, but was it hate? A Latino teenager struggles to survive an unspeakable beating in this backyard. Two white teens are charged, and you'll hear the latest when LIVE FROM continues.
WHITFIELD: It's a place renowned for tough standards and even tougher discipline, but we're hearing reports from West Point of an angry, even fiery demonstration by cadets over a drug search.
CNN's Barbara Starr is following the story from the Pentagon -- Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, we are just learning the details of what occurred last Wednesday night at U.S. military academy at West Point.
You know, college final season is coming up at universities around the country. And the academy spokesman says that the cadets were just blowing off a little steam. This is some file footage, not of the actual incident. But apparently, there was what the duty officer who wrote up an incident report says was a riot.
Cadets becoming upset after there was a search of their barracks for drugs. No drugs were found. But later that evening, about 400 cadets gathered, and according to the incident report obtained by CNN, quote, "Hundreds of cadets were hollering obscenities out of their windows. Some were throwing objects." We learned that some of those were lit on fire. "Many cadets were running through the area, standing around in gang-like elements."
Now apparently, according to the incident report, the cadets were even shouting expletives during the playing of "Taps" later in the evening before lights out was called.
The military police, the fire department were called to the scene. But basically they stood off to the side. There were no injuries. Apparently, the most serious thing was a minor injury by a flying jar of peanut butter, we are told.
But nonetheless, the cadets becoming upset about this drug search. Hundreds of them gathering. And the academy spokesman tells CNN it was just cadet shenanigans, but clearly the incident report that was filed that night by the academy indicates it may have been a bit more serious -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And so, Barbara, now what kind of disciplinary actions are being considered?
STARR: Well, the academy says that none of the cadets are being held for -- up to disciplinary action, but the sort of informal speculation is the next morning at formation, there was probably pretty much a bit of yelling at the cadets about their behavior that night, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Barbara Starr from Pentagon, thanks so much.
WHITFIELD: Well, this is a horrifying case. A 16-year-old savagely beaten, dumped in a backyard and left there to suffer, nearly die, for 10 hours. It happened at a party at this house in a suburb of Houston. Two white teens have been charged, the victim Hispanic.
CNN's Ed Lavandera filed this report for "PAULA ZAHN NOW".
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): During a late- night party Saturday, a fight erupted inside this suburban Houston home. Investigators say David Tuck and Keith Turner unleashed a brutal assault on a 16-year-old boy after he tried to kiss a younger girl.
Prosecutors say both suspects dragged the victim into the backyard, kicked him in the head with steel-toed boots and then sodomized him with a two-inch thick PVC pipe.
MIKE TRENT, PROSECUTOR: They also poured bleach on him, and the victim is in pretty bad shape right now, critical condition and it's unclear at all whether he's going to survive.
LAVANDERA: Authorities say no one at the party called an ambulance until 10 hours after the attack. The 16-year-old was left fighting for his life all night.
Neighbors who saw the boy taken away by paramedics were shocked.
NANCY BENAVIDES, NEIGHBORHOOD RESIDENT: He was severely beaten. It was just -- oh my goodness, I couldn't believe it. His face was severely swollen, lips everything. He just was -- blood everywhere.
LAVANDERA: Tuck and Turner have been charged with aggravated sexual assault, but if the victim dies, authorities say the charges will be upgraded to capital murder.
David Tuck made a brief court appearance, but his attorney said he was invoking his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. Keith Turner has not been to court yet, and it's still not clear if he has an attorney.
But plenty of people are talking in the town of Spring, the Houston suburb where the attack happened. They're especially stunned by the details the attack might have been racially motivated. Investigators say the suspects yelled racial epithets as they beat the Hispanic victim.
Many in this neighborhood say the two suspects were troubled and angry. Classmates and neighbors of David Tuck's say he had a history of using racial slurs.
DAVID COOK, NEIGHBORHOOD RESIDENT: When we were at his house, there was all sorts of stuff, like, he'd have swastikas painted on the fence in his backyard. It was just real white-trashy sort of stuff. And he'd be all sort of "Heil Hitler" crap.
LAVANDERA: Timothy Borque doesn't think Keith Turner is racist. He says the 18-year-old often hung with minority students, but he does say Turner acted like a wannabe gangster.
TIMOTHY BORQUE, SPRING, TEXAS, RESIDENT: He's a (expletive deleted). He's just a wannabe. A little bitty kind of short white dude. Who thinks he's all that.
LAVANDERA (on camera): The 16-year-old victim is described as a popular football player at his high school, but right now family and friends are praying for his recovery. He remains in critical condition and is unconscious.
Ed Lavandera, CNN, Houston.
WHITFIELD: And watch "PAULA ZAHN NOW" each weeknight at 8 Eastern, 5 Pacific right here on CNN.
Another day, another oil company announces its profits. We're live from the New York Stock Exchange coming up next.
The news keeps coming and we'll keep bringing it to you. More of LIVE FROM next.
WHITFIELD: So what you're listening to right now is the Spanish version of the U.S. national anthem. We want to hear from you, via e- mail. So please send us your responses on what you think of a Spanish version national anthem. LiveFrom@CNN.com.
Well, first it was Conoco, then Exxon. Today Chevron is chiming in. The nation's second largest oil company reporting billions of dollars in profits. J.J. Ramberg joins me live from the New York Stock Exchange with more on that.
WHITFIELD: Let's go straight to the newsroom and check in with Tony Harris with two developing stories.
HARRIS: Two. That's right, Fred.
We are getting word of what federal and Virginia state law enforcement are calling a credible Columbine-type threat at William and Mary College. That's in William -- Williamsburg, Virginia.
Security is high on campus after the campus received several threats of violence concerning the last day of classes. Today is the last day of classes at the college.
The school's president, Gene Nichol, sent an e-mail message last night to more than 8,000 students, faculty and staff. Nichol says the school had received several e-mail messages containing threats about the annual celebration of the last day of classes. The e-mails were local in nature and not believed to be a terrorist threat, but state and federal law enforcement officials are taking the threats very seriously.
And this, Fred, former Olympic gold medalist -- listen to this -- Tim Montgomery has been arrested today in connection with a multimillion dollar bank fraud and money laundering scheme.
Authorities say Montgomery and his gold medalist track coach Steven Riddick and 11 people were indicted. They are charged with participating in a conspiracy to defraud banks by depositing about $5 million in stolen, altered or counterfeit checks.
You'll remember that Montgomery's world record time of 9.78 seconds in the 100 meters -- that was set in September of 2002 -- was expunged from track & field history because of drug doping.
Sprinter Marion Jones, is his girlfriend. And she, as you know, has been linked to the steroids scandals surrounding BALCO lab.
So this just in to CNN that Olympic -- former Olympic gold medalist Tim Montgomery has been arrested in connection with a multimillion dollar drug bank fraud, bank fraud and money laundering scheme.
We'll keep an eye on both of these developing stories for you, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Sad allegations.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Tony.
Well, back at it at the federal courthouse, in Alexandria, Virginia, that is. Jurors deliberating for a fourth day the fate of admitted al Qaeda terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui.
CNN justice correspondent Kelli Arena is there.
And Kelli, let's start with today. I understand the judge had a meeting with the jurors. What was that about?
KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, she did. It turns out that one of jurors while home yesterday looked up the word "aggravating" on the Internet.
As you know, jurors are trying to weigh aggravating factors versus mitigating factors in deciding whether Zacarias Moussaoui should be put to death or sentenced to life in prison.
Well, the judge called those jurors into the chamber and said, look, this could sort of indicate that you were doing independent research. You're not allowed to do that, you know. Let's not have that happen again.
She was confident, though, that it wasn't interfering at all with the deliberations or swaying anybody one way or other, and so she allowed them to continue deliberating but that is what happened today. So no independent investigations allowed.
WHITFIELD: OK, meantime yesterday, they did not deliberate because one the jurors wasn't feeling well. So back together again today after that setback. So is there any kind of feeling as to where we go from here now?
ARENA: Well, you know, since they asked for this definition of aggravating, there's been a lot of sort of back and forth here. You know, could it mean they're at very beginning, where going through the aggravating factors that the government laid out? Or could they be at end of process? Which is, they're really trying to weigh aggravating factors versus mitigating factors. And you know, there's nothing -- there's no value given, there's no points given to any of those factors. It really is truly up to this jury's discretion. If one mitigating factor, they feel, outweighs all of aggravating factors, they can sentence Moussaoui to life in prison.
So the general peeling here, and among some of the lawyers that I have spoken to, is they could possibly be at that weighing stage, which would be the final stage before they make a decision.
WHITFIELD: All right, meantime, Kelli, as we near possibly the end of deliberations, I understand some security modifications around there. Like what?
ARENA: There sure have. This has always been lots of security around here. Very strict protocol, getting in and out of courthouse and being around the courthouse. But in the past few days as law enforcement has become aware that we could be getting a verdict soon, they have upped the manpower here, pretty dramatically and visibly. You have -- there are literally -- there's law enforcement officials on every corner here for blocks outside the courthouse. Our camera's going to show you just the amount of law enforcement presence that is very visible.
I've been speaking with the people that are here and they say that there's no credible or specific intelligence that they've received, that, you know, has caused this increase in manpower about; it's just that, look, this is a very high profile trial. You never know what somebody could try to do. Somebody could think that they could make a statement. It doesn't have to be terrorism or al Qaeda relate; it could just be somebody who's trying to wage a protest. So they just want to make sure that things go as smoothly as possible.
You've seen the video of Moussaoui as he is escorted out of courthouse by, you know, by police escort. You never know which SUV he's in. Unbelievable security, and only getting tighter as the days move on.
WHITFIELD: All right, Kelli Arena, thank you so much, from Alexandria.
ARENA: You're welcome, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: A new recording of the national anthem is adding fuel to the fiery debate over immigration.
A Spanish "Star Spangled Banner?" Are you OK with that? We want to hear from you. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
WHITFIELD: So everybody complains about gas prices, but have you given up your minivan for mass transit, swapped your SUV perhaps for a scooter? Well, don't feel bad, your representatives in Congress haven't either.
CNN's Bob Franken investigated for AMERICAN MORNING.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATL. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When the Federal Reserve chairman speaks, everyone listens, even when he states the obvious.
BEN BERNANKE, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE: Rising energy prices pose a risk to both economic activity and inflation. FRANKEN: Those rising energy prices are fueled in part by ever- rising energy uses. The Fed chairman, for instance, is transported around town in the standard dignitary Cadillac limo, figure around 16 miles to the gallon. According to published reports, he sold his Toyota Sienna Minivan when he took the job. That got 21 miles per gallon.
The spike in energy prices has brought a spike in energy-related media events.
REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: We've passed legislation time and time again with Democrats blocking it, but that was history. Now this is the future. And we need to move forward.
FRANKEN: But when House Speaker Dennis Hastert joined fellow Republicans at his news conference, he traveled there in an SUV. It gets approximately 15 miles to the gallon.
Congressional leaders are driven around in SUVs. The same goes for Democratic leaders, like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. When some of her fellow Democrats engaged in their own finger-pointing, the reporters had a snarky question, how had they gotten there?
REP. RAHM EMANUEL (D), ILLINOIS: Taurus -- Ford Taurus. A little two door -- four-door. It's a Ford Taurus.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Hey, we got you.
SCHUMER: Every one of us drove -- drove fuel-efficient cars here.
EMANUEL: Right here? Wait a second. Hold on. Hold on.
No. No. I ain't doing this. You want to play that game?
Chicago CTA card, public transportation. Washington, D.C., public transportation. Any time you want, anywhere you want to go.
FRANKEN: Maybe so, but the fact is, the parking lots for members of Congress around the Capitol look like "Gas-Guzzlers Are Us," which look like parking lots just about everywhere else in this country.
When it comes to oil consumption in the United States, we might remember a saying from the old "Pogo" cartoon: We have met the enemy, and he is us.
Bob Franken, CNN, Washington.
WHITFIELD: Tank full while at empty? We're hearing horror stories about the cost of filling up. It depends on what you drive, of course, like you saw in the piece. For now, here is a "Fact Check." (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
WHITFIELD: It's not yet on the road, but the 2007 Dodge Ram 3500 will boast the largest standard fuel tank, 52 gallons. Assuming the driver arrived at the pump with a gallon left in the tank, and assuming a gas cost of $2.90 a gallon, about the national average, filling that truck will cost $148, nearly 150 bucks for a fill-up.
Another big investment? Filling the 2006 Hummer H2. The H2's fuel capacity is 32 gallons, good for a $90 stop for gas.
Not much less for the Cadillac Escalade ESV, 87 bucks to fill the Caddy.
Toyota's ever-popular Camry holds 19 gallons. The cost to fill up the Camry? About $52.
And the Honda Accord, at today's national average of $2.90 a gallon, costs $46 to fill.
Those who drive the Ford Focus stop for gas more often, but are paying less per trip. The Focus costs a little less than $40 to fill. Its tank holds 14 gallons.
WHITFIELD: So what can the average driver do to cut back on your gas budget? I'll talk to the man behind a popular Web site, GasBuddy.com. That's later on LIVE FROM. The news keeps coming, and we'll keep bringing it to you.
WHITFIELD: The "Star Spangled Banner," synonymous with America, right? It sung at our most solemn events and grand celebrations. Well, now immigration rights advocates have recorded a new version of the national anthem in Spanish. Critics are outraged, and some immigration supporters worry the recording could spark a backlash.
We get more now from Ines Ferre CNN Espanol.
INES FERRE, CNN ESPANOL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's one of the most recognizable tunes in America, an icon of America.
FERRE: The "Star Spangled Banner," the national anthem, the famous words written almost 200 years ago by Francis Scott Key.
FERRE: Now a version with new lyrics in Spanish is called "Nuestro Himno," our anthem.
FERRE: Adam Kidron is the British music executive behind the idea.
ADAM KIDRON, MUSIC EXECUTIVE: I was watching CNN and I was watching the debate about the undocumented immigrants. And it felt weird to me that there was no -- I wanted to find a song that everybody could sing, because that's what we do, that would express unity and solidarity with the undocumented immigrants.
FERRE: The recording features Latin artists like Gloria Trevi and Voz a Voz, and American star Wyclef Jean all singing in Spanish.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's American dream. You know, everybody in this country came from somewhere else and they came and they work hard and they build a family and that is the American dream.
FERRE: Lyrics in the first stanza are relatively faithful to the English, but the second stanza takes a little more liberty with one phrase saying in Spanish, "we are equals, we are brothers."
WHITFIELD: All right, and that story coming from CNN Ines Ferre of CNN Espanol. We apologize for the audio difficulties. It is not your television set.
Well, more now on the new Spanish version of the "Star Spangled Banner." It has provoked as fiery a debate as the talks over immigration in this country in and of itself.
With me now from New York is Blanquita Cullum. She hosts a radio talk show, and Nico Jones is in Los Angeles. He's a morning show host at KXOL Radio. Good to see both of you.
BLANQUITA CULLUM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Thank you very much.
NICO JONES, HOST, KXOL RADIO: Hello.
WHITFIELD: All right. We have been encouraging people to send in their e-mails to give us an idea of what they think about a Spanish version national anthem. And quite frankly, we can't keep up with the response that we've been able to get. But we did pull a couple.
One -- this is from Ram in Florida, who says, "We already have a national anthem. We do not need another. If this continues, soon there will be a version of national anthem Swahili, a Hindi, a German and so on and so on."
And then in -- Larry writes, "As an American and a veteran of the Marine Corps, I think that the playing of a Spanish version our national anthem is totally wrong and should be banned from public radio and television stations.
And Matthew writes, in support of what you just heard that piece, "It doesn't matter to me what language our national anthem is sung in. It is still our nation's anthem and I would still well up with pride. We are a nation of multiple cultures. That's what makes America great."
And so, Nico, I want to go straight to you, because you apparently did play this Spanish version of the national anthem on the air. What kind of response did you get?
JONES: The response was quite divided. We had both points of view from Latinos and non-Latinos. Latino 96.3 here in Los Angeles is a radio station that a lot of Latinos listen to. We had Latinos that both felt it was a disrespect. People in our building that served in the U.S. Marine Corps felt it was a disrespect. We also had Latinos that said, you know what, it's the words of the national anthem that actually means something. And the words are there and we are here as a country of immigrants. So it was pretty divided this morning.
WHITFIELD: So is it your feeling or was it the feeling of most your listeners that perhaps, you know, this is a song that acknowledges a pretty significant portion of this population in this country? And for that reason alone or perhaps in part for that reason, that's why it has significance?
JONES: Yes. That's exactly the reason that it has significance to a lot of our listeners. And, you know, a couple of the listeners were saying, well, this is exactly why men and women fight and give their lives for this great country that we live in, is to be able to have the freedom of expression. And that point was a point that a couple listeners brought up that we had on the air this morning here in L.A.
CLANCY: OK, Blanquita, what is your take on this song, this tune, this way?
CULLUM: Let me tell you, first of all, I had a mother -- my mother is now deceased, but my mother was a Mexican citizen. I grew up near the borders. You knew, I grew up with my grandmother living in -- not too far from Nico. She lived in Tijuana. But I'll tell you, with the issue of immigration right now as serious as it is and me really actually being for guest workers -- I'm pro-immigration -- I think it's pretty stupid.
And let me tell you why. Because at a time when you are trying to show the American people, who question the Mexican-Americans or Mexicans who are in this country working in the United States, where their loyalties are, one of the demonstrations, out of respect, is learning the national anthem, learning the Pledge of Allegiance.
Now here's the other thing. Take it the other way. Do you really think that Vicente Fox or the country of Mexico would be supportive of singing the Mexican national anthem in English? I don't think so. And having family who are dual citizens -- heck, you can't even vote in a Mexican election. If the situation is reversed, come on, here. Let's get with it.
The problem right now is putting the issue of immigration on the table. And let's try to show those people who are here who have spent many years here, and the way that they are trying to be real players, and real players on the table need to get on the ball and start learning English and speaking the English language, especially the pledge of allegiance and singing the national anthem. I really -- I think that the debate's too serious to take it lightly.
WHITFIELD: And you think, in part, it really is splintering what is at issue?
WHITFIELD: With immigration as a whole.
CULLUM: Yes, it's more than just the freedom. It's an issue of respect here. It's not freedom of expression. Clearly everyone wants freedom of expression. I think that's a very cavalier kind of an excuse.
JONES: Well, I mean, Jim Hendrix did his own version of the national anthem.
CULLUM: And so did...
JONES: And he got a lot of...
CULLUM: And so did Roseanne Barr. She did it. And he burned his guitar and Roseanne Barr grabbed her crotch. But they're American citizens, and we're not dealing with immigration with them. Let's get smart here, OK?
JONES: And here's -- and you are exactly right, Blanquita, and actually, I think I agree with you on the issue that we have to be smart about this issue, and we have to be intelligent. And just like immigrants that were demonstrating, and all of a sudden all over the news, you saw people holding up the Mexican flags.
CULLUM: Yes, right.
JONES: Now, I was at the march. And I think that the media was portraying not a true representation of what was really there. There were a lot of American flags.
CULLUM: Yes, but you know in California, Nico, there are a lot of people that say bring us back to Aztlan, which is so stupid because in Aztlan, they'd be taking out your bleeding heart and sacrificing it to death, OK? People come from the United States from Mexico because they look at this as the land of opportunity.
CULLUM: It's a shame we cannot get the Mexican government to help the middle class of their people, and really try to make it a stronger economy and have a really significant partnership with Mexico.
WHITFIELD: And Blanquita and Nico, I want to talk to you about those things, from the economy, these planned boycotts, as well as the protest, and other kinds of consequences that have come from this raging debate.
But first let's listen to a byte coming from President Bush coming earlier today, who was asked quite pointedly about his point of view on this new version of the national anthem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English, and I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And so Blanquita, let me begin with you. How concerned are you that, as you mentioned, this is sort of splintering perhaps what is a very serious topic of immigration as a whole, and proposals of making some changes here now with this anthem. How concerned are you about other consequences that have now come from other things such as the recent marches and a planned boycott and marches and demonstrations this coming Monday, as well?
CULLUM: Look, this country is great because we allow the freedom of speech. I've been everywhere around world recently, in places like Cambodia and in Venezuela and places where the freedom of speech is limited. I'm not worried about this. This country does great with protests.
What I'm worried about is a misconception of who many of these Latins who are here in this country -- they are not the enemy. We need to define a better way to work with people that come from Latin American. On the other hand, I really believe that Mexico is not doing its part. Mexico needs to be able to do a better job at developing a middle class. Look...
WHITFIELD: So then, when it comes down to these proposals which talk about fences and the language of either amnesty versus earned citizenship, where are you on that?
CULLUM: Well, I don't believe in fences, OK? I believe we have to have better border control, and I don't want to see a concern, I think, like many people have of others, of Mexicans, people coming from the Middle Eastern countries that may pose a threat and try to pass off as Latins.
I think we also have to have a situation where we can have a guest worker program that people can return back to their country. And clearly, there are many people that wait in line for a very long time to come here. But there's never been a real good debate with Mexico. Why is Mexico not doing a better job in trying to create a middle class? Look... WHITFIELD: And so...
CULLUM: Let me just point out one thing. If you go to Mexico, for example -- and many of your viewers have gone -- you can't flush your toilet. You can't get a glass of water. Why can't Vicente Fox create projects like WPA projects that we have to help its own citizens?
WHITFIELD: All right, well I know this is far from the end of this kind of discussion. And Blanquita Cullum and Nico Jones, we're going to have to try to bring you back, because we are out of time right now. But thanks so much for sharing in this dialogue.
JONES: Thank you for having us.
CULLUM: Hasta la promixa vez!
JONES: Blanquita, bye-bye.
WHITFIELD: Bye-bye. Adios.
All right, the news keeps coming. We'll keep bringing it to you. More LIVE FROM next.
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