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CNN NEWSROOM

President Bush Attends Easter Sunday Services at Fort Hood; Rescue at Sea; Jesus Sells

Aired April 8, 2007 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then when we saw all the crew with life vests on, we knew something was really not good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Home to tell their tale. Dramatic new video of that cruise ship sinking in the Aegean Sea.

And check out what Easter Sunday looked like in Cleveland. What's responsible for April's big chill? Details straight ahead.

Plus, two men on a mission make it from Miami to Manhattan -- in kayaks? Find out why in 45 minutes.

Hello and welcome to the CNN NEWSROOM. It's Sunday, April 8th.

I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

As Christians around the world celebrate the holy day of Easter, many of Iraq's Christian churches were uncommonly full. That despite a wave of violence on the even of the 4th anniversary of the fall of Baghdad. Today the military announced the deaths of 10 more American troops, including six who died today in various attacks.

Tonight a curfew takes effect in Baghdad. And in Shiite parts of the city, with Iraqi flags flying, a renegade Muslim cleric challenges Iraqi police and forces to help drive the U.S. military out. All this as a military spokesman was asked again today whether the U.S. troop surge is working.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, SPOKESMAN, MULTINATIONAL FORCE, IRAQ: We are making progress, but it is still going to take some time. Again, the last of the five reinforcing brigades will not arrive until the end of May. So by the first of June all the forces will be in place that are part of this plan that the prime minister has put forth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: In Texas today, President Bush attended Easter Sunday services with troops at Fort Hood, where many have been deployed to Iraq.

With that part of the story, CNN's Ed Henry near the Bush Crawford ranch -- Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Fred.

That's right. You know, we had a rare snowfall yesterday. The first time it snowed in April in Crawford, Texas, in over three decades.

Today a little bit warmer. And the president, as you noted, venturing out with his wife. The first lady was there, along with his parents and his mother-in-law, going over to Fort Hood, the Army base where they attended Easter Sunday services. After that service, the president came out with the first lady, made some brief remarks talking about the sacrifice of U.S. troops.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had a chance to reflect on the great sacrifice that our military and their families are making. I prayed for their safety. I prayed for their strength and comfort. And I prayed for peace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: Now, a far more diplomatic version of the message the president was putting out yesterday in the Saturday radio address. He really hammered Democrats, charging that they are jeopardizing the safety of U.S. troops by essentially holding up this war funding bill right now with some strings, some provisions, calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Today the Democratic chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee insisted Democrats will not cut off funding for the war, but he also said that they will continue to try to force the president's hand.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), ARMED SERVICES CHAIRMAN: Well, we're going to fund the troops. That's not going to be the issue. The question is, what -- how can we put pressure on the president to put pressure on the Iraqi leaders to reach a political settlement? And we are going to continue to look for that formula.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: But that contradicts a bit what Democratic Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, who, as you know, this week came out and said he does want to cut off funding for the war in Iraq, at least most of it by early 2008. Democrats feeling muscular in their new majority, they're really trying to stand up to the president, change his policy on Iraq. The big question now is whether or not they will in fact be overstepping a bit, whether they'll pay a political price.

That's what the White House is counting on, that if perhaps the Democrats overreach here, it will backfire on them -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: And Ed, meantime, after the president has Easter dinner at Crawford tonight, tomorrow it's off to Yuma, Arizona. Why? HENRY: That's right. He's going to be doing an immigration event. He wants to go back to the domestic agenda. That's a pillar of his agenda, but it's one that's having some trouble right now.

As you know, in mid May, the U.S. Senate will be debating this very emotional issue. Ironically, the president's plan has a better chance now that Democrats are running the Hill because they are in agreement with him on the idea of both border security and a guest worker program. But as you know, the president facing some stiff opposition from conservatives in his own party. He's hoping to try to turn them around starting with this event tomorrow in Arizona -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Ed Henry, in Crawford, Texas.

Thanks so much.

And in about an hour from now in the NEWSROOM we'll get an update on how the surge in Iraq is working from the perspective of CNN's Michael Ware, reporting from Baghdad.

Well, now that ill-fated cruise ship and the hundreds of passengers who got off safely before it sank off Greece. Most on board were Americans, and many now returning with harrowing tales of survival.

Their story from CNN's Veronica de la Cruz.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The last moments of the Sea Diamond as it capsizes close to the Greek island of Santorini early on Friday morning. Arriving home in New York, some of the cruise liner's passengers talk about their sudden end to their vacation and their lucky escape.

MARYANN SALERNO, PASSENGER: I was lost from all my friends, 38 of them. I was by myself on the ship the whole time.

DE LA CRUZ: Some had praise for the way the emergency was handled.

MARY HENDERSON, PASSENGER: The crew was wonderful. They were absolutely wonderful.

DE LA CRUZ: Others spoke of confusion.

DAVID WEAVER, PASSENGER: They were trying to get the life boats down, which was a chore, and then they had to get the mechanics there to get them rolling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were not prepared. No, the staff was not prepared for an emergency like this.

DE LA CRUZ: Some passengers could even smile about the experience.

BARBARA NEIL, PASSENGER: Then when we saw all the crew with life vests on, we knew something was really not good.

DE LA CRUZ: Passengers lost everything they had taken on vacation when the ship went down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is my luggage!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We all brought jewelry and everything, and it's all down there. We don't care at this point.

DE LA CRUZ: Several did bring home video of their dramatic escape. All came home with the same thought.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are home safe to talk about it now. That's what matters.

DE LA CRUZ: Back in Greece, the captain and five other senior crew members of the Sea Diamond have been charged with negligence. His ship lies at the bottom of Santorini's volcanic lagoon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Reports out of Greece say the captain blamed currents in an interview with prosecutors.

A remote sea probe is to resume a search Tuesday for two missing passengers, a French father and his 16-year-old daughter.

In New Castle, Indiana, Easter Sunday service took place in a middle school auditorium. Parishioners of St. Anne's Catholic Church filled the school after a fire swept through the sanctuary yesterday.

The 83-year-old church was heavily damaged. Estimates hover around $1.5 million. Fire investigators are treating the blaze as a possible criminal case. Church members are thankful that no one was seriously hurt in the blaze as they reflect on the spirit of the holiday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SISTER SHIRLEY GERTH, ST. ANNE CATHOLIC CHURCH: We are an Easter people. We will sing our hallelujahs. A new life will come about as a result of this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(WEATHER REPORT)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: And here's a winning equation. Take "The Passion of the Christ," then add the love of money, and what do you get? It's what many of us have known for quite some time -- Jesus sells.

Our faith and values correspondent, Delia Gallager, reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN FAITH AND VALUES CORRESPONDENT (voice over): "Jesus" was once a docudrama...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, "JESUS": Bring it forth, bread from the earth.

GALLAGER: ... that didn't bring much bread to the creators back in 1979.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, "THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST": Action.

GALLAGHER: But behold today's Jesus. The Christian son of God has become a darling of the marketplace. For even a movie in Aramaic, "Passion of the Christ" grossed $371 million and was a box office hit worldwide.

PAUL LAUER, MOTIVE MARKETING: Forty two percent of the population goes to church on Sunday. And they're everywhere. It's every age, every gender, every ethnicity.

GALLAGHER: It's not just Jesus selling these days; it's his mother, his icons, and his spirit.

JERRY JENKINS, THE "LEFT BEHIND" SERIES: It's due to a spiritual hunger. And people are looking for something beyond themselves. And, you know, our biggest fear is that this is just a short window and that people, you know, in New York or Hollywood will say, you know, Jesus sells right now. But as soon as it levels out, we'll move on to something else.

GALLAGHER: Not all retailers out there are in it for the love of God, though. Some see the almighty as way to the almighty dollar. The Association for Christian Retail estimates that their members sell $4.2 billion of products each year.

RANDALL BALMER, PROF. OF RELIGION, BARNARD COLLEGE: I'm not sure if we take the whole package of Jesus' teachings that Jesus himself would have been comfortable with that commercialism.

GALLAGHER: Many Christian retailers say that the difference between profiting from a prophet and simply spreading his good word can sometimes be close.

BILL ANDERSON, CHRISTIAN BOOKSELLERS ASSN.: We live in a capitalistic society and this is really driven by an open marketplace. And today's American consumer is a pretty tough judge and jury when it comes to what they're willing to lay their money down for. A Christian-logoed golf ball, or a golf ball with a message might be something that a golfer shares his faith, uses to share his faith on the golf course.

GALLAGHER: International groups like Campus Crusade for Christ, which created the "Jesus" docudrama say marketing products is just one form of funding. They have $560 million in revenue this year, mostly from members.

JIM GREEN THE JESUS FILM PROJECT: Our goal is to simply make the story and life of Jesus available to everyone in the world in his or her own language, near to where they live. So our goal is not to make money.

GALLAGHER: The "Jesus" docudrama didn't make millions back in 1979. But it's reached three billion viewers worldwide in languages as diverse as Dari, Bianju (ph) and Dutch, teaching its makers that marketing is just one modern solution to an age-old problem, how to speak to the faithful in a language they can understand.

Delia Gallagher, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: And don't miss this fascinating series, "After Jesus: The First Christians". A look at the challenges, struggles and revolution that became Christianity. That's tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

And then it's a CNN special report: "What Would Jesus Really Do?" Ministers debate how Jesus might solve problems facing the world today. That's at 9:00 Eastern here on CNN.

So, we're all inundated with reports about American kids eating too much.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was so far beyond being picky. It was -- it was psychological, physical.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So, how about children not eating enough because of fear? It's very real for many families across the country. A look at the treatments involved.

And pets are members of the family, right? So what happens when military families are ordered to move? Some answers later in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

WHITFIELD: Well, I imagine many of you are sit downing with your family today to enjoy an Easter meal together, but for thousands of parents, eating with their kids is only a dream because their children suffer from severe feeding disorders. It's the complete opposite of what we've all been hearing about childhood obesity, kids eating too much.

Well, CNN's Allan Chernoff has the story of one 10-year-old boy and his struggle to eat.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SR. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Eight weeks ago, Patrick Kay was afraid to eat nearly all foods. This is Patrick now, after two months of feeding therapy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's unbelievable. CHERNOFF: It's nothing less than a miracle for Patrick's parents, Anne and Tim. For the first time in their son's life, he's getting all the nutrition he needs by eating.

TIM KAY, PATRICK'S FATHER: We're pinching ourselves. We just can't believe it.

CHERNOFF: Patrick's lifeline was a feeding tube that delivered liquid nutrition directly to his stomach. He would wear a backpack holding a pump to keep formula flowing all day.

Patrick was born with an esophagus that didn't connect to his stomach and a small intestine that wouldn't properly digest nutrients. Scars on his stomach are reminders of surgeries during his first days of life that corrected the problems, but Patrick still wouldn't eat.

Developmentally, he was normal. Yet, even after entering grade school, Patrick would eat only morsels of a select few foods like chicken nuggets.

T. KAY: It was so far beyond being picky. It was -- it was psychological, physical.

CHERNOFF: Two months ago, Patrick and his mom traveled from their home near Detroit to Baltimore's Kennedy Krieger Institute, which has the nation's foremost program for pediatric feeding disorders.

(on camera): Most parents might assume that eating is instinctive. But it's not. It's actually a learned process. And here at the feeding rooms of the Kennedy Krieger Institute, therapists teach children how to eat by rewarding them for every bite they take.

(voice over): The typical patient here is a toddler who may get rewarded with a toy for taking a bite.

Patrick earned time on a Playstation.

BRIAN DUDLEY, FEEDING THERAPIST: We said, well, we're going to give you 20 minutes of play on your Playstation if you just take one bite of green bean or one bite of carrot.

CHERNOFF: The incentive worked. One bite eventually led to a full meal.

DR. CHARLES GULOTTA, DIR., PEDIATRIC FEEDING PROGRAM: And what our program ends up trying to do is getting the child basically to trust food again and recognize that food is a good thing and not a bad thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who's turn is it?

CHERNOFF: Kennedy Krieger believes three percent of all toddlers who are otherwise normal have a feeding disorder, either refusing to eat or selecting from an extremely limited menu.

Behavioral psychologist Charles Gulotta says the cause of a feeding disorder can be a complex combination of early physical trauma and severe acid reflux, making it painful to eat, which in turn can lead to a psychological block. A child will see eating as something to fear.

GULOTTA: You actually have a child that winds up learning that food is not a good thing, is not a pleasurable thing. It's actually a painful experience.

CHERNOFF: Now, at age 10, Patrick has learned eating isn't all that bad.

PATRICK KAY, KENNEDY KRIEGER PATIENT: I like oranges, apples, peaches, green beans.

CHERNOFF: If Patrick keeps eating properly, doctors will soon remove his feeding tube. That's another big incentive for baseball player Patrick, because that will allow him to slide head first into second base. One of his little league dreams.

Allan Chernoff, CNN, Baltimore.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: So, when mom or dad goes off to war, it's always hard on their kids. Now producers of the children's television standby, "Sesame Street," are helping parents explain military duty to kids.

Tomorrow, PBS is re-airing a program first shown in December. It's called "When Parents are Deployed". The president of Sesame Workshop says he's pleased with the public reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARY KNELL, PRESIDENT, SESAME WORKSHOP: There's been a huge response to this show. I would say there's nothing I've worked on at "Sesame Street" that's been more appreciated than this program by our military service and people connected with them.

And the response has been overwhelming. We distributed 400,000 DVD kits through the military OneSource program and through our own Web site. And now this program, which is really aimed at a broader population, was such a hit in December, that the PBS stations decided to bring it back and show it once again this week.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: And for more information on the free DVD kits Mr. Knell was just talking about, you can log on to sesameworkshop.org.

Making money off their capture. New rules are announced for those British sailors and marines taken and freed by Iran.

And it's not "The Amazing Race," but it has been an amazing trip so far up America's Atlantic coast. I'll talk to two activists about their kayak beach-walk adventure.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Find out why these men say they have no choice but to live under a bridge.

And when soldiers are sent off to war what happens to their pets? We'll tell you what's being done.

Welcome back to THE NEWSROOM. I'm Fredericka Whitfield.

Remanisant of day-to-day life now in Iraq, this is Afghanistan. Two separate roadside bombs detonated with deadly accuracy in southern Afghanistan today. Seven NATO soldiers were killed, three others were hurt. NATO forces have taken over a former Taliban strong hold in the region. Before these incidents took place today, I spoke to Lieutenant Colonel Maria Carl NATO's new offensive in the area.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. COL. MARIA CARL, SAF SPOKESWOMAN: To create security conditions necessary in that northern Helmand (INAUDIBLE) area for reconstruction and developing projects to ensue.

WHITFIELD: So if part of the objective there, as part of the operation Achilles is to move out the Taliban, do you feel as though really what you are doing is relocating them? That you are not necessarily flushing them out, eliminating them, but they're simply relocating to another area, which will later be a trouble spot?

CARL: Actually, I wouldn't characterize it that way. In fact, in the recent operations under Achilles and the maneuver that happened this week, we captured or killed several tier-one Taliban. Tier one is the term used for the hardcore, highly motivated Taliban. We captured and killed about several dozen other enemy combatants as well. It's not that they are relocating. This particular area is a very rugged mountainous area. The Taliban that are there have been able to establish a presence, not so much because they're so strong, but more because there has not been much government presence there before.

So as we move in under Operations Achilles, we capture or kill, in some cases, the enemy as we make the area secure.

WHITFIELD: Talking about security and the plan of rebuilding, part of the plan is to hand over security to Afghan security. How soon might we expect that? What's the time table that you and your forces are expecting?

CARL: Well, we continue to make steady progress in the northern Helmand Province. This particular maneuver that happened earlier this week is a good example of where we are looking to turn over control of that city center now to government of Afghanistan. And so we're making --

WHITFIELD: Within days, weeks, and months?

CARL: I probably wouldn't say exactly, but I know that definitely something we're doing just incrementally as we move forward. This is an ongoing operation. This district area was one part of this overall Operation Achilles movement. It's by no means finished yet. Over the next few days we'll be able to reduce the enemy's ability to destabilize the government or destabilize that part of the region.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: That was Lieutenant Colonel Maria Carl spokeswoman for International Security Assistance Force, ISAP operating in Afghanistan.

Now to Britain where the 15 sailors and marines held by Iran are accepting bids for their stories. Service personnel are not usually allowed to enter into financial agreements with media organizations, but apparently there is such a huge interest in their ordeal. Military officials are allowing it. All totaled, the group could earn nearly $500,000. Meanwhile more details about the interrogation tactics used by Iran.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEAN HARRIS, BRITISH ROYAL MARINE: I wouldn't say I was being forced to say things that they wanted to hear. It's more of a case of just asking the question that they wanted to know the answer to. And if you didn't, they just tried and sort of trick you then into thinking your friend said it. You would be better off saying it, as well. That's the only trickery they tried to use.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Showing their support for coalition forces in Iraq, the boys of summer. It was military night at last night's Padres-Rockies game. The San Diego players dressed in camouflage. The biggest salute of the game came from Adrian Gonzalez he smashed a one-out double at the bottom of the ninth. The Padres beat the Denver team 3-2.

Well turning now for deploying troops to leave families and friends behind what happens when there is a pet involved? Tough choices. Among them, putting the animal down. Gary Nurenberg tells us about the efforts to give families another option.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AEYNE ANNE DIZICKSA, U.S. ARMY RESERVE: I'll always be so grateful for everything all you did I have my family back. I have my family back.

GARY NURENBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT 9voice over): Army reservist Aeyne Anne Dizicksa was deployed abroad in 2005 with little time to find homes for her pets like Sweet Magnolia.

DIZICKSA: Eight days, all I kept thinking is my cats, my cats, and my dogs.

NURENBERG: For American troops with no one to care for pets left behind; it is a problem that began getting attention during the first Iraq War Desert Storm in 1991. STEVE ALBIN, NETPETS.ORG: During that period of time, a minimum of 25,000 pets of the military was put to sleep.

NURENBERG: With no options years ago, Dizicksa had to put three of her beloved cats to sleep.

DIZICKSA: I had that done. It ripped me apart.

ALBIN: In order to serve and protect our country, we wind up -- they wind up having to put their pet to sleep.

NURENBERG: Because that didn't seem right to Steve Albin, he founded the NETPETS.org military pets foster project.

ALBIN: It has actually become my life because we successfully fostered well over 9,400 pets for the military so far.

NURENBERG: A similar project, Operation Noble Foster put Dizicksa in touch with Susie Hagrelius who fostered Sweet Magnolia while Dizicksa was abroad.

SUSAN HAGRELIUS, PET FOSTER MOM: I know I would never make it. This would be -- I would be the worst one in the world. It's something that I can do to help out military people and help out our country.

NURENBERG: The problem is, it was hard to give Sweet Magnolia back when Dizicksa came home.

DIZICKSA: Tears are streaming down our face and crying, I missed you. I was still like I don't care how much you are crying; I'm taking my kitty back. I'm getting my dog back. Mine.

NURENBERG: But seriously --

DIZICKSA: I'll never be more grateful for anything in my life.

ALBIN: Till we say good-bye.

NURENBERG: Good-bye, Julie.

Gary Nurenberg, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Now we also know a lot of you out there are still confused about the pet food recall affecting even more households. We posted information on our Website. Check it out at CNN.com/petfoodrecall. We are listing the recalled products on the ticker running across the bottom of your screen.

Paroled from jail, but are they then sentenced to homelessness?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the state sex offender Website, each man's address is listed as the Julia Tunnel Causeway.

WHITFIELD: That doesn't sound right, does it? Well CNN's John Zarrella reports straight ahead in THE NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Here's what's happening right now in the news. U.S. military reports six soldiers were killed today in Iraq, three died in a roadside bombing. Three more died in weapons fire, one south of Baghdad and two more in neighboring Iraqi provinces. The U.S. death toll in Iraq now stands at 3,280. In Afghanistan, the International Security force reports seven NATO troops were killed in separate bomb attacks. Six of the seven casualties were Canadian.

Their slogan is always low prices, but some customers are always willing to pay, like this guy. This is surveillance tape from the Wal- Mart in Florida. Police say this man walked up to the jewelry counter, asked to see a diamond ring, grabbed it and then split. Once he made it past the jewelry counter, he kind of speed walked to his car. Got in and then actually got away.

In Texas, a high-speed chase ends with an infant killed and her mother under arrest. Police near Ft. Worth are still trying to figure out why the mother fled and wouldn't stop. Chris Hall of CNN affiliate WFAA reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS HALL, WFAA: Some time around 5:30, police say Amy Rizzo started driving this SUV so dangerously in Summerville County that other drivers called 911. The chase was on. Rizzo raced east.

TROOPER EARL GILLUM, TEXAS PUBLIC SAFETY DEPT: The Claver Police Department used the spike system to take out of tires on the SUV.

HALL: But she kept going, ripping what was left of the tires to shreds.

GILLUM: With speeds over 100 miles per hour up to 110 miles per hour.

HALL: It ended here in Alberano.

GILLUM: She started weaving back and forth, struck the center median.

HALL: The SUV flipped. A baby was thrown from it. That's when this trooper says everyone realized that Rizzo's infant daughter had been inside the entire time. Medics tried to save her, fly her to a Ft. Worth hospital but doctors there pronounced her dead. She was just 9- months-old.

Chris Hall, Channel 8 News.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: And this tragedy out of Jacksonville, Florida. Where they are still trying to determine just how many animals perished in this fire at the local humane society. The shelter said dozens died, including almost all the cats. The blaze broke out early yesterday and destroyed the shelter's main building. A few firefighters were injured while trying to rescue these trapped animals. The cause of the fire still under investigation.

No one wants them in their neighborhood. Why convicted sex offenders are living under a bridge in South Florida. CNN's John Zarrella investigates.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The noise never stops, day or night. The sound of cars traveling the causeway linking Miami to Miami Beach. Beneath that mass of concrete and steel leave a handful of homeless men. Kevin Morales has been here three weeks. At night he sleeps in a recliner perched at the top of the embankment.

KEVIN MORALES, REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER: You can even hear the mice behind you picking away at your bags.

ZARRELLA: But there's something the people in those cars above don't know about Morales and the others. All four of these men are convicted felons, sex offenders who committed crimes against children. They are here, Morals says, because they have no place else to live.

MORALES: I went and gave a down payment to hold the apartment. Needless to say the following day I get the bad news from my probation officer that I'm not allowed to live there because the building had a pool where children may congregate.

ZARRELLA: Laws in both Miami and Miami Beach prohibit sex offenders from living within 2500 feet of schools, playgrounds and anywhere children congregate. With nowhere to put these men, the Department of Corrections first placed them under a highway off ramp in Miami. That location was near, of all places, a center for sexually abused children. So corrections officers moved them here on the state's sex offender Website, each man's address is listed as the Julia Tunnel Causeway. State correction officials say they know it's not ideal, but they had no choice.

BRUCE GRANT, FLORIDA DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS: The real question is, do we really want people wandering around without a place to live? Without a country? Without a location to be? Because the increasing restrictions push them further and further out.

ZARRELLA: At least here, Bruce Grant says, they are all in one place and can easily be monitored. Nearly every morning at 5:00 a.m. with his flashlight in hand, Benito Casale comes by. Casale is their probation officer responsible for making sure they are here complying with the conditions of their parole. So far, he says, they all have. A couple of hundred yards from where Kevin Morales lives under that bridge, right over here behind these bushes lives another registered sex offender Renien Montamoras (ph), he's been here since last August.

RENIEN MATAMORAS (ph): This is aluminum.

ZARRELLA: Matamoras (ph) he makes about $200 a month selling the aluminum. He sleeps in a tent and has a makeshift kitchen complete with rats. For the foreseeable future, this is his existence.

MATAMORAS (ph): I don't know what I can do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I worry about public safety.

ZARRELLA: We asked the State Senator Dave Aronberg to meet us at the bridge. Aronberg is sponsoring legislation that would set a uniform standard that would keep offenders 1,500 feet from where children gather, and it requires all offenders to wear electronic monitoring devices. He believes forcing men to live this way is asking for trouble.

DAVE ARONBERG, FLORIDA STATE SENATE: They're desperate and they are angry. Who do they hang around but other sex offenders and feed off each other's anger.

ZARRELLA: For Kevin Morales, going back to jail might be a blessing.

MORALES: If homeless life is what I have to look forward to? I'm better off in there. There's nothing out here for me.

ZARRELLA: None of these men know where they will go after this. What they all do know is that few people have any sympathy for their polite.

John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Well how about this, how would you like to take a 1600- mile walk and kayaking along the beach? Coming up next, a couple of men were doing just that. I'll ask them why.

JACQUE JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I'm Jacqui Jeras in the CNN Weather Center with today's allergy report, we have seen significant improvements across parts of the south in the last couple of days. But still plenty of red on the map. We are looking at problems with oak and birch in the southeast. Across parts of the southwest here, problems with ash, cedar and juniper and much better conditions across much of the upper Midwest where the pollen count is very low or nonexistent.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Two men on a serious mission, Stein Kretsinger and Robert Weinman are padding kayaks and walking 1600 miles from Miami to New York. They're making the remarkable journey to raise environmental awareness and to get people to protect the beaches and the ocean, to respect the elements. Stein Kretsinger and Robert Weinman are taking a break from their journey to tell us more about it. You guys have moved inland before resuming your trek and paddle tomorrow from Cumberland Island. In full disclosure, turns out we have someone in common I didn't know before today. You are the brother of my neighbors, Alex and Katrina. That's so cool.

Let's talk about this trek. It sounds like fun to walk, to paddle 1600 miles along the coast, but maybe in July. Maybe not in this cool spring. This isn't about fun for you guys. You are really taking on serious business, right?

STEIN KRETSINGER, CO-CREATOR, BEACH WALK PROJECT: That's right. That is right. Just in terms of the weather, we started in February in Miami where it is actually spring like. As we move north, the warm weather will move with us. We'll end up in New York in June.

WHITFIELD: So it's gotten brutal, Robert, to imagine you guys walking and then kayaking, somehow you've got to carry this kayak when you decided to walk. Are you paddling ten miles and then you are walking five?

ROBERT WEINMAN, CO-CREATOR, BEACH WALK PROJECT: Yeah. We're paddling a large portion of it. Then we get on the beach and the main reason for getting on the beach, one, is to bravely get out rough weather, but also to really connect with people on the beach. We have fliers we hand out and we talk about the environment and what we're doing. That's one of the major goals of the program.

WHITFIELD: So it really is, bottom line, is to convey what you are seeing or witnessing along the coastline. Tell me all about it. What are you seeing? Are the beaches in good condition or are we as humans abusing them?

KRETSINGER: I think that's a great question. We aren't scientists, so I think what we are doing is supporting scientists who study it. We have noticed a couple of things that are disturbing. First thing is all the trash we see. We noticed a lot of trash, particularly paddling in the water and walking on the beach. That's been disturbing. Then we've also noticed a lot of erosion problems where people are building too close to the edge of the beach. The beach is a dynamic barrier island that moves, many feet in and many feet out. There are buildings we've seen that are moving into the ocean.

WHITFIELD: People love being at the beach. They love the elements, but they don't realize that their love of the beach may really be to the detriment of the beach because of this building you are seeing.

WEINMAN: Actually, I know we have some images of some of that erosion. Stein and I have a survey. What do you think is the most appropriate structure to build on the beach?

WHITFIELD: Should I go with a boardwalk type structure?

WEINMAN: We decided on sand castles.

WHITFIELD: OK. That makes perfect sense. Great sense. I love it.

KRETSINGER: We've seen some beautiful sand castles. Those are the ones we really respect. You see a 20-story condo about 20 feet from the low tide mark; you realize that's not a healthy situation.

WHITFIELD: Show me a little bit about the kind of equipment you had to take along with you as you tried to navigate the shores. When you envision, of course you couldn't bring in the kayak, but everyone gets an idea of what that's all about. It's remarkable to know you guys aren't using any other help along the coastline to pull yourself. You are pulling it all.

KRETSINGER: It's all legs and arms.

WHITFIELD: So what have you got?

KRETSINGER: For the kayaks, we have here our handy paddle. These paddles were generously donated by one of our sponsor's old town, as were the boats. You'll notice that paddles, we do this paddle motion.

WHITFIELD: So are you both paddling at the same time? Or is one paddling the other resting? How do you alternate?

WEINMAN: We have separate kayaks to prevent that from happening.

WHITFIELD: Pulling your own weight.

KRETSINGER: Hopefully each one pulls his own weight. The paddling works very well when the seas aren't too rough and the wind is not too strong in our face.

WHITFIELD: Speaking of pulling weight, the wheels here to pull the kayak.

WEINMAN: These are great, these are extremely light. They are provided by a company called Roll-Ease. They are made for pulling along a kayak. They fit on top of the kayak when we are paddling. They are a wonderful thing. One of our most humorous elements here is with a kayak if you do roll over, you want to keep the water out, and so we are men who wear skirts.

WHITFIELD: In touch with both your feminine and your masculine side. You are 1/4 way through before you make your way to New York and along the way you are teaching folks what the objective is all about. If people want to hear more, Beachwalkproject.com. I'm glad you decided to come inland and talk with us. Stein Kretsinger and Robert Weinman, good luck and enjoy the journey. Thanks for teaching us about appreciating the environment.

KRETSINGER: Thank you.

WEINMAN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Straight ahead on CNN, who would ban the Easter Bunny? Details of a culture clash coming up in THE NEWSROOM

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: New trouble for U.S. troops in Iraq. A radical Shiite cleric issues new orders to his followers. Details straight ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're home safe to talk about it. That's what matters.

WHITFIELD: New details and new dramatic video of a cruise ship sinking in the Aegean Sea. Find out what passengers are saying now.

And the battle over the bunny. Why this Easter symbol is stirring up a lot of controversy among some Christians.

Hello, I'm Fredericka Whitfield, it is April 8th. You are in THE NEWSROOM.

This Easter Sunday, tragic word coming out of Baghdad. The U.S. military announced the deaths of ten more American troops, including six who died today in various attacks. Also today, bombs killed at least 21civilians, including 17 in the town of Mahmoudiya.

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