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CNN NEWSROOM

Parents of Jena 6 Meet with Congressional Leaders; Michael Vick Could Face More Dog Fighting Charges; Shakeup on Warren Jeffs Jury; Trash Truck Accident Causes Road, Train Closings near Philadelphia; Bill O'Reilly Stirs Controversy With Comments on Soul Food Restaurant

Aired September 25, 2007 - 14:00   ET

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


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bush is worse.
MOOS: The spittle was flying even during the president's speech.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is your government providing aid to terrorists?

MOOS: He kept wiping his mouth.

At least folks were saying his name right.

(on camera) How do you pronounce the president of Iran's name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ahmadinejad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ahmadinejad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ahmadinejad.

MOOS (voice-over): OK, not everyone got it right.

(on camera) How do you pronounce the president of Iran's name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Carlos Santana.

MOOS (voice-over): Actually, even Henry Kissinger is still getting it wrong.

HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Ahmenijad (ph).

MOOS: Pronunciation was better than when we tested it a year or so ago.

Some of the signs at Columbia were hard to decipher: "Putting the purr in Persian"?

(on camera) "Two robots in every garage."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every garage.

MOOS: Every garage?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

MOOS (voice-over): And even when the message was friendly, an Islamic fundamentalist probably wouldn't approve of its placement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No war on Iran!

MOOS: Welcome to America.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Live to D.C. It started in Jena, Louisiana. Now it's gone to the Hill. The parents of Jena 6 defendant Mychal Bell, Melissa Bell right there, side by side with John Conyers, the Reverend Al Sharpton, other members of the House Judiciary Committee.

We're expecting to get comments now. They want congressional hearings on what they say is a racist justice system in Jena, Louisiana. Let's listen in.

REP. JOHN CONYERS (D), MICHIGAN: Ladies and gentlemen -- ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your courtesy of waiting for us.

We've had a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus with the leaders of the Jena 6, the Jena movement. We've had a number of people that have been working in this, and we have the parents here.

We've been trying to put together an understanding of how we can present this to the American people to show that these kinds of indignities and injustices will not be tolerated and will be dealt with most effectively.

Our concerns are moving all parts of this country out of the circumstances of segregation, discrimination, and injustice in our legal system, which has been obviously the focus of the problems that remain.

Our first responsibility is to get young Mychal Bell out of prison, and this will be explained shortly, and then we want to work on how we move the Department of Justice, the criminal justice system, and people all over this country that want something to happen that will at least atone for the miscarriages of justice that have occurred in Jena, Louisiana.

I'm proud to present to you for brief remarks Reverend Al Sharpton, Reverend Martin Luther King III and other members of Congress who have been with me.

Dr. Sharpton.

REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: First, let me say that it is a strange and frightening irony that, as we celebrate 50 years after Little Rock, that we are still dealing with the question of injustice in this country when it comes to matters of race.

The good news is that, because of Martin Luther King Jr. and Fannie Lou Hamer and others, that people of color are in positions of power in the Congress, so that when we come for federal intervention in the south this time, we can come to people that understand what that intervention means.

Make no mistake about it: Mychal Bell is being held as a prisoner, in my judgment, of those reactionary forces that still use the criminal justice system based on the color of one's skin rather than the merit of the law.

He is being held today, even though his conviction is overturned. He's been given no bond or bail on a juvenile charge. It appears on the surface illegal to hold someone under those circumstances.

We've asked Mr. Conyers, as chair of the judiciary committee, and Miss Kilpatrick, as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, to look into how the federal government can intervene immediately on that.

Tomorrow at 4 p.m., Martin Luther King III, Dr. William Franklin Richardson, who chairs our National Action Network, and I will meet with the governor of Louisiana on that same -- same issue, because nothing short of his immediate release...

PHILLIPS: What started in Jena, Louisiana, is now right there in Washington, D.C., on the Capitol Hill. Probably did not expect that it would go this far a year ago when we started investigating what had happened in this small southern town.

Now the parents of what has been dubbed the Jena 6, the parents right behind Reverend Al Sharpton there, the parents of Mychal Bell, he's one of the Jena 6, along with Reverend Al Sharpton. They've been meeting with members of the House Judiciary Committee now.

We're hearing comments from them on how that went. They're calling for congressional hearings on what they call a racial justice system in Jena, Louisiana, and federal intervention for Mychal Bell's release.

We're actually going to talk with Congressman Maxine Waters. She is there. She's going to speak to us live, coming up in just a little bit.

And then, right next to that, happening also in D.C., the Jena 6 case has not only stirred up issues about unequal justice, but Bill Cosby is talking personal responsibility, teens at risk, favorite topics for him. He's going to be speaking this hour at this Cradle to Prison Pipeline Summit in Washington. We're monitoring it. We'll bring you his comments live, as well.

LEMON: We're also monitoring -- monitoring another situation coming out of Washington, D.C., at least our reporter there is checking on it. Michael Vick, the suspended Atlanta falcons quarterback, has been indicted on more charges related to dog fighting, this time by the commonwealth of Virginia.

CNN's Brianna Keilar is in Washington with all those details -- Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, a grand jury from Surry County, Virginia, has handed down an indictment against Michael Vick. Two charges.

The first says Vick, along with other people, did torture, inflict injury or pain on an animal by beating, killing, or causing that animal to fight another animal.

And the second indictment or the second charge alleges that Vick, along with others, promoted dog fighting.

Prosecutors from Surry County, Virginia, which is where Vick has admitted to his involvement in a dog fighting operation, also asked a grand jury to consider a third Bill of indictment for eight counts of killing a dog, but the jury did not return an indictment on that request.

So based on the evidence that investigators presented to the grand jury, they must not have believed that there was a basis to indict Vick on killing dogs.

And this is what Surry County prosecutor Gerald Poindexter had to say following this news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GERALD POINDEXTER, SURRY COUNTY PROSECUTOR: I'm sure that whatever the grand jury took careful consideration, and they made a decision that we can live with.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you surprised that you didn't get the other eight counts? Indictments for the other counts?

POINDEXTER: Somewhat. But I'm satisfied.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Also a local attorney, a defense attorney not associated with this case but very familiar with this court, said he was also surprised there wasn't a full indictment. He said that he normally perceives the grand jury to be a rubber stamp for the prosecution.

So these two indictments, again. These are local charges. They are in addition to the federal dog fighting charge Vick pleaded guilty to last month. And that plea deal comes with a suggested sentence of 12 to 18 months.

But these new charges could mean more jail time for Vick and also could further squash any chance he has of ever playing in the NFL again, Don.

LEMON: And also something that's bigger than that outside of the career, him being in jail. How much jail time again can he face?

KEILAR: Well, if he is convicted, prosecutors are telling us that Vick would face a maximum sentence of five years for each charge. Again, these are felony charges. So ten years total, but again that is worse-case scenario.

LEMON: All right. CNN's Brianna Keilar with the update on Michael Vick. Thank you.

PHILLIPS: A shake-up today on the jury considering the case against polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs. One of the jurors has been replaced by an alternate and now deliberations have started all over again.

The latest from CNN national correspondent Gary Tuchman. He is in St. George, Utah -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, it's a very big development, because last night the jury came in, told the judge, "We are very close to a verdict in this case against the polygamist leader. We just want to sleep on it."

So we all expected early this morning there would be a verdict in this case that's been going on for a long time. The whole case. The trial has been lasting two weeks, but the case has been going on a long time since Warren Jeffs was on the FBI's ten most wanted list.

But then this morning we got the word from the court information officer that there had been a, quote unquote, "event" with one of the jurors. She wouldn't elaborate, so helpfully, I added, "A seismic event," hoping to provoke some conversation. It didn't provoke the conversation. We still don't know what kind of event.

It appears there was some kind of impropriety or some kind of behavior that shouldn't have been allowed in the jury room. And that female juror was excused from the jury. Another female alternate was added. So there are five men and three women on the jury.

But the judge has told the jury they have to start all over. So after two days and 13 hours...

PHILLIPS: Gary, I apologize. We'll get back to you. We want to go back to the Hill. Melissa Bell, the mother of Mychal Bell, speaking now on the Hill.

MELISSA BELL, MOTHER OF MYCHAL BELL: And I would appreciate it and I appreciate Reverend Sharpton coming. And I appreciate all of you all coming, and I appreciate all these people that's standing behind me, supporting me. And I call on all of you to come to Jena and help us out. Thank you.

SHARPTON: Marcus Jones, the father.

MARCUS JONES, FATHER OF MYCHAL BELL: First of all, I want to thank -- first of all, I want to thank the Congress for meeting with us today. As everybody is aware that my son, Mychal Bell, is being held illegally in jail right now.

And I want to thank everybody, all the members of the caucus, for taking time out of their schedule for to listen and for to meet with me and Melissa today. Thank you.

CONYERS: I'd like now to present Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, chairperson of the Congressional Black Caucus. PHILLIPS: I wanted you to be able to hear, quickly there, from Mychal Bell's parent there on the Hill, as you can see with Reverend Al Sharpton. Also John Conyers, a number of politicians actually there on the Hill.

They were meeting with members of the House Judiciary Committee. They are calling for congressional hearings into what they say is a racist justice system in Jena, Louisiana.

Also, they're asking for federal intervention for Mychal Bell's release. They want to see if they can push to get him out of jail as this trial moves forward, now it's been moved into juvenile court.

We're going to talk with Congresswoman -- Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who actually told us about this a week ago, that this was going to start. We're monitoring it. We're going to hear from her live as soon as this wraps up.

LEMON: Well, they smiled. They shook hands. But a meeting today between President Bush and Iraq's prime minister comes amid new and growing tension.

Let's get straight to White House correspondent Elaine Quijano -- Elaine.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, to you, Don.

Well, that meeting came after, of course, the president's speech in New York today before the United Nations General Assembly. And in it the president mostly steered clear of Iraq. He only made really briefing -- brief mention, rather, of Iran, labeling it a brutal regime.

Instead, in that address, the president tried to emphasize the positive, including the U.S.'s efforts to combat things like illiteracy, malaria and other diseases.

But later he did sit down with Iraq's prime minister, Nouri Al- Maliki. The two leaders talked about the need for Iraqis to pass laws, including a law, for instance, to share oil revenue in order to pave the way for political reconciliation in that country.

Now, some of President Bush's critics argue that only the Iraqis themselves can decide whether or not they want to come together, and that no amount of U.S. forces can make that happen.

Nevertheless, today President Bush insisted that the prime minister and other Iraqi leaders do have the political will to come together and reconcile, but the president also acknowledged not everyone appears to be on board.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some politicians may be trying to block the law to gain special advantage, and these parties have got to understand that it's in the interests of Iraq to get good law passed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUIJANO: Now, today's meeting took place against a backdrop of some tensions between the United States and the Iraqi government over the Blackwater USA incident that left 11 Iraqi civilians dead.

It's now being investigated. But President Bush said last week that it was evident innocent lives had been taken.

Now, apparently, this did come up today, but talks between the State Department, specifically Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Prime Minister Maliki are ongoing about the issue -- Don.

LEMON: All right. Elaine Quijano, thank you for your report.

PHILLIPS: Questionable comments lead to an animated phone call. We're going to get more from our Rick Sanchez about his conversation with FOX News host Bill O'Reilly.

LEMON: And Jena, Louisiana, is in the national spotlight. Many who live there aren't all that happy about it.

PHILLIPS: And he dodges danger all the time on "24", but Kiefer Sutherland can't avoid trouble in Hollywood. The latest on his early morning arrest.

You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Chad Myers, what's happening in Memphis, Tennessee?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, kind of in and around Memphis, Tennessee, having a frequency outage here for communications between the airplanes. And we rarely see a big hole on Flight Explorer like this, where no planes are allowed to go through. And sometimes we do, but that's because there's just a major severe weather event somewhere, and the planes can't fly through it.

But yes, there's rain around Memphis, but this is not the problem. It's actually the planes are not being allowed to fly through that air space. They are not being allowed to fly anywhere from about Paducah all the way back to Fort Smith and all the way down to Memphis and into -- into Mississippi.

So if you're flaying to any one of these destinations, well, your plane is not being allowed to take off. And if you're flaying, let's say, from Charlotte to Las Vegas, you have to fly around this big hole because of the communication problem here.

So there will be some slowdowns here across the entire country because of a -- kind of a hole in the doughnut here of all the planes -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. We'll keep tracking it. MYERS: All right.

PHILLIPS: Appreciate it, Chad.

LEMON: All right. Let's go from the air now and the sky to the ground: the roads and the rails. T.J. Holmes with an update.

What's happening in Pennsylvania, T.J.?

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Talking about a slowdown in the air, we've got, certainly, got a slowdown on the ground here in Pennsylvania, a little outside of Philadelphia. This is the mess that caused it.

I-95 shut down northbound. Also a major part of the Amtrak's Northwest -- Northeast, rather, Corridor trains have been stopped, as well as for the Philadelphia area commuter trains because of this accident.

A trash truck actually ran into that rail you see there, then started dumping fiery trash down onto the tracks, caused just a fiery mess. And they're going to be working to clean this up for a while.

The update we have here for you is that at least one lane of Interstate 95 has been opened. Now, that's something, and it's better than nothing, but it's still going to be quite a headache for commuters there for quite some time.

Don't know if they're going to be able to get this cleaned up. They have all those lanes up and running again by rush hour, which is just a few hears away from now.

But don't know the condition of the driver, exactly what was going on to cause this crash. But that's the -- that's the aftermath. That's the scene.

But the update, at least one -- one lane has reopened of Interstate 95. But right now, the tracks there, that Northeast Corridor, a very busy corridor, has not been opened just yet. Those trains not running. We'll keep an eye on it for you, Don.

LEMON: Yes, from D.C. all the way up to Boston.

HOLMES: Yes.

LEMON: Everybody uses that. All right. T.J., thank you. We'll check back with you.

OK. Let's talk now about Bill O'Reilly and Al Sharpton. They go out for some soul food. Sounds like the start of a bad joke, huh? Well, really, though, they did.

They went to the legendary Sylvia's in Harlem not too long ago, and the FOX News host's restaurant review afterwards has many people stewing. It's not that he didn't like the place. Quite the contrary. In fact, take a listen for yourself. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O'REILLY, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL'S "THE O'REILLY FACTOR": You know, when Sharpton and I walked in, it was like a big commotion and everything, but everybody was very nice.

And I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship. It was the same. And that's really what this society is all about now here in the USA. There's no difference. There's no difference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, now O'Reilly says Media Matters, the left leaning watchdog that spotlighted his comments, is doing a hatchet job on him.

Our Rick Sanchez spoke to Bill O'Reilly last night about all this. And Rick joins us now from New York.

Rick, I understand you spoke with him in your show last night. You described the conversation as animated. He is a very spirited guy. Tell me about that.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I did what any journalist is going to do. I would want this done in my case. If I said something that was questionable and someone was going to do a story on it, I'd want somebody to give me a phone call personally.

So I put a phone call in to Bill, but unfortunately, at the time that I called him in the late afternoon he was on the air. So I talked to his assistant, and I talked to his publicist, and I left a message. And I said, "Hey, Bill, call me back. Because we want to do this story."

Because you know what's interesting about this story, Don?

LEMON: What, what?

SANCHEZ: What's interesting about this story is that it's the kind of story that, when you -- at first glance, you don't see it as questionable...

LEMON: Right.

SANCHEZ: ... especially if you're not an African-American.

LEMON: Right, right.

SANCHEZ: So you're looking at -- here's a guy who's trying to give a compliment, but what he said has maybe offended some people. So people had reached out to us, and that's what we do at 8 p.m. here on CNN. It's called "OUT IN THE OPEN". We bring things out in the open that make people hold a mirror to themselves and sometimes wonder about things like this. So that's why I called him. LEMON: Yes. And here's where I don't -- where I'm not getting from this, because you live in -- you're in New York City. I've lived in New York City. As a matter of fact we worked together there.

O'Reilly lives in New York City, one of the most diverse places on earth. And you would think why is he shocked that an African- American restaurant people aren't, you know, acting out of context?

SANCHEZ: That's -- that's the question. Let me read it again to you and to the viewers.

"I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and other -- and other restaurants in New York City. I mean the people there, they were exactly acting the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship."

He goes on to say, "I think black Americans are starting to think for themselves."

Here's the point.

LEMON: Yes.

SANCHEZ: And this is what we talked about last night when I had Roland Martin on. What's wrong with a white guy doing social commentary on somebody else's race? And on the one hand he's brave enough to do it; on the other hand he's trying to be real honest about it.

LEMON: And he's trying -- it's meant to be a compliment.

SANCHEZ: It's meant to be a compliment.

LEMON: But it's not a compliment.

SANCHEZ: As a matter of fact, every African-American that I've talked to since this -- and my God, have I gotten a bevy of phone calls on this -- inside and outside the business, people are actually offended.

They say -- they call this, and you would know. They call this a subtle type of racism. It's not the hit you over the head with a hammer type. It's the velvet glove type.

LEMON: Yes.

SANCHEZ: And that's what I tried to talk to Bill about. He called back yesterday, and we got on the phone. And he didn't want any part of it. He said, "Hey, Rick, look," I mean, he was screaming the entire conversation.

LEMON: Really?

SANCHEZ: Yes. He was not happy with me.

I said, "Hey, I'm a huge fan, Bill, and I've been watching you to are years. And by the way just finished reading a book about you."

He just wanted to let me know, he said, look -- to be fair now, this is what he says. He said, this is totally -- it was a totally benign conversation. There was absolutely no racist intent.

And I agree with him, by the way. I don't think there was.

And he goes on to say that, look, we didn't get any complaints at my radio station, but you know, obviously, you know, that may have to do with his audience, as well.

LEMON: You know, and the reason that we do this, and we talked about it. It's been in the news a lot lately, especially when you talk about Imus. And in the beginning Imus didn't get that much controversy until people started to hear those comments. Right? And they started to bubble to the surface.

But hear is the thing also. He was speaking with another commentator who was on FOX, and they started talking about rap music. And he said, "You know, in the restaurant I didn't hear anybody saying, you know, 'I want some MF-er this or that.' And so it wasn't like" -- why aren't people finding this a little bit odd?

SANCHEZ: I see what you're saying is -- and this is an interesting point that you're raising is, is his expectation as a white American is that any time he goes into a black establishment he should be surprised that people don't have their underwear sticking out of their pants and they're not running around cursing, which -- well, let's quote him directly, to be fair. Let's say what he said. Let's not say what we think he said.

LEMON: Right.

SANCHEZ: Here we go. "There wasn't one person in Sylvia's" -- this is a direct quote -- "who was screaming, 'MF-er, I want more iced tea.' You know what I mean? Everybody was like -- it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense that people were sitting there and they were ordering and just having fun."

So what -- what my African-American friends and associates have told me since we aired this story last night is that they were insulted that a man of his experience and his age would, for the first time, realize that there are groups of African-Americans who gather in places in America and have civilized meetings. And that's what they say. You know...

LEMON: And...

SANCHEZ: And that's why this makes it an interesting conversation. This is the kind of conversation all Americans should have because, you know, look, let's be honest. We all have an uncle who comes to parties at our house, invited either by our mom or our dad, who will occasionally say things like this.

LEMON: Yes. SANCHEZ: And they don't -- they may not have a negative bone in their body, but when they say it, it takes that double take when you're walking away and you go, did he just say that?

LEMON: Yes, yes. And, you know, the weird thing is listening to all of this and talking to people, not that I'm in defense of rap or hip-hop or what have you, but everything from the culture does not have to be associated with that. We don't associate everything from white culture with rockers -- you know what I mean? -- and bad behavior there. So that is a little bizarre to some folks that we found.

And I do have to tell you, Rick, we got a statement from FOX News. And here's what it says. It says, "This is nothing more than left-wing outlets stirring up false racism accusations for ratings. It's sad."

I've known you for a number of years. You're a straight shooter.

SANCHEZ: Yes, yes.

LEMON: We'll be watching you tonight, 8 p.m., "OUT IN THE OPEN".

SANCHEZ: And like I said, that's the reason we put the call out. And we told -- I told Bill yesterday on the phone and I told him again during our show last night at 8 p.m., and I'll say it again tonight, the invitation is extended. If he wants to come on and talk about this directly, love to have you, Bill.

LEMON: Absolutely. And you know, we'll take a call from him right here in the CNN NEWSROOM today. And we'll call you back, Rick Sanchez.

Thank you, sir.

SANCHEZ: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: All right.

PHILLIPS: Will there be federal action in the Jena 6 case? House members met with Mychal Bell's parents today. Coming up, we're going to hear all about it with Congresswoman Maxine Waters.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We've been telling you about the fighting, the situation going on in Myanmar. And we've just learned, this is according to the Associated Press, that Myanmar's ruling junta socked a curfew on the country's main city of Yangon. It's effective today.

They declared the entire city a military restricted area after days of mass street protests there.

Again, they are saying the military is restricted military area there. A curfew happening in Myanmar, in the capital city. We're going to continue to update you on the story and bring it to you, any updates right here in the CNN NEWSROOM -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Thousands of protesters flooded the small town of Jena, Louisiana, last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: We want to make sure that the message goes across America, no matter how small the town, no matter how little the hamlet, that you cannot get away with a justice system that would send high school students to prison for years for high school fighting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Congresswoman Maxine Waters was talking about the Jena 6 and the Louisiana justice system. She and other activists called for the release of Mychal Bell, one of the six black teens accused of beating up a white boy.

Today Bell's parents traveled from Jena to Washington. They and the Reverend Al Sharpton met with members of the House Judiciary Committee. Their goal, federal action. Congresswoman Walters is a member of the judiciary committee. She joins us live from Washington. She, of course, is there, as well.

Congresswoman, good to see you again. Let's start with Mychal Bell. What did you tell the committee?

WATERS: Well, we had a meeting with the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. John Conyers, and we talked about strategy. The lawyers have to lay out what has been taking place. The members of the Congressional Black Caucus were updated. We shared information about Mychal Bell and what we all knew. The mother talked about the fact that her son has been in jail for 10 months.

The lawyers helped us to understand that the Third District Court of Appeals threw out the charge, as an adult, for this so-called crime. And now he's in limbo. He's languishing in jail. He's not charged as an adult. He can't be. That's illegal now. He's not been charged as a juvenile. He's already done 10 months. We want him out. And we have to develop a strategy to get him out.

PHILLIPS: And Congresswoman, just to be able to play devil's advocate for a minute, critics are saying why all this attention for Mychal Bell. He had four prior convictions, he had a battery charge, for socking a teenage girl in the jaw. Why is he being made out to be such a martyr and all this attention, when really the issue should be on a larger scale with regard to racism within the system, and not so much focus on Mychal Bell.

WATERS: Well, it's all of that. As a matter of fact, Mychal Bell is not being tried for any past problems that he's had. He is in jail now because he was charged as an adult supposedly for a fight that took place between a white and some other African-Americans. So we're not into what happened in the past. We're talking about what happened in Jena. What happened when some white kids hung a noose across a tree. What happened when black kids were told that under that tree they could not sit. It was off limits. We're talking about whether or not the criminal justice system is working properly in Jena. That's what we're talking about.

PHILLIPS: And let's talk more about that criminal justice system. Let's talk about the D.A., Reed Waters. I asked you last week about investigating him, his background, his history, his history as a prosecutor. Do you feel -- and have you been able to investigate -- and will you investigate his actions as a prosecutor as in trying blacks tougher than whites?

WATERS: Well, what we will do is we will have a hearing. We will have a number of witnesses. He will be one of those that I'm sure the Judiciary chairman will call. When they call him, of course, they will have found out everything that they could find out, so that we could ask questions of him, about his past actions, about the way that he's handled this case.

For example, with he know that he said to the black kids, early on, with a stroke of a pen he could ruin their lives. We know that he's holding Mychal Bell without charge. We know that he's taken certain kind of actions that appear to be extremely harsh and uncalled for. So certainly we would be asking him questions about all of that.

PHILLIPS: What about the judge? Judge J.P. Moffrey (ph), is he being left off the hook here, or are you checking into him as well?

WATERS: No, he's not being left off the hook. As a matter of fact, when our Judiciary Committee decides to hold a hearing and to investigate, everything comes into play. We need the facts. We need to know who the judge is. We need to know why he made that decision. We need to know everything about the D.A. We need to know everything about all the children that were involved. We need the facts. And where will those facts take us, that's where we will go.

PHILLIPS: I want to ask you finally about prosecuting hate crimes. And this is something that I have been really trying to wrap my hands around. That's going back to more than a year ago. These three white boys who hung the nooses, the FBI investigated, they found evidence of a hate crime. They turned it over to Don Washington, the U.S. attorney. He decided not to prosecute. He said, hey, they're juveniles, they didn't have a rap sheet.

But still, Maxine Waters, but hung three nooses from a tree in 2007. What can you do? What can be done about prosecuting hate crime?

WATERS: Well, first of all, I think the U.S. attorney is dead wrong. I think probably he's afraid of his own shadow. His interpretation of that incident is absolutely incorrect. And so it does not hold water. And we are not going to stop with that interpretation. The nooses were hung across the tree.

They're trying to say that there was some distance between the time that that happened, and the time that the fight took place between the black and the whites. None of that makes good sense. We know that there was discrimination and racism on campus. These kids told the black kids, you cannot sit under this tree. It is off limits for you.

The children were very respectful. The black kids went to the administration. They said, may we sit under the tree? The administration said you can sit wherever you want. They sat under the tree, and the next day the nooses appeared. And don't forget, while we were in Jena some white kids on pickup trucks put nooses on their trucks and drove past some of those people who were there to protest what had been happening. So we've got some problems with racism in Jena.

PHILLIPS: And it cannot be forgotten there's a KKK and a hate crime presence in that area, and a lot of people looking to you and other politicians there on the Hill to do something about that as well.

Congress Maxine Waters, sure appreciate your time.

WATERS: You're welcome. Thank you.

LEMON: Empty boat, missing crew, two men in a life raft. The FBI looks to solve a mystery at sea.

And Chad Meyers with an eye on the sky. Technical problems affecting thousands of flights, and it's not just limited to Memphis how. He'll update us in just a moment. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We're keeping an eye on the sky. Technical problems? Thousands of flights?

What is going on, Chad?

CHAD MEYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, thousands of flights in the air, absolutely. Look at all these planes. And there's just the problem. There's a big hole in the middle of the country where no planes are flying. A couple of small little Piper Cubs and little planes out there, but these big planes are not being allowed to fly.

And here are the airways. Here is where they should be flying, back and forth here. But there's a big hole in this. I'm going to show you one plane. We're going to take all these other planes off, and all the planes coming out of Atlanta. Here is a plane that was going from Atlanta to Oklahoma City. It's a CRJ. It's a regional jet. And it's suppose be to be there in about 15 minutes, and probably will be.

The ASA plane flight 705. Well, hey, from Atlanta to Oklahoma City is a straight line. This is not a straight line. It has to fly around a big hole. That hole is centered right over Memphis, and all the other planes are backing up. And we're getting some pretty significant airport delays, 75 minutes, hour, hour and a half. Some of these delays are going to get longer. The closer you are to that hole, the bigger your delays will be, Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, and so on and so on, because they have to fly around the hole in the data.

LEMON: Man, oh, man. Oh, man.

MEYERS: It's a frequency problem. They'll get it fixed.

LEMON: OK, Chad, we'll check back with you.

PHILLIPS: Actor and author Bill Cosby never holds back, and never minces any words. He's speaking right now at the Cradle to Prison Pipeline Summit in Washington, D.C. Waiting to hear if he says anything about the Jena 6 case. Because, as you know, that's stirred up a lot of issues talking about going beyond unequal justice.

But he has been talking about black fathers in prison, they should be with their kids, not serving time. And also rap music and how it degrades women. He's hitting a number of topics. We're monitoring it. We'll bring you more.

LEMON: Empty boat, missing crew. Two men in a life raft. The FBI looks to solve a mystery at sea. We'll check into it in the CNN NEWSROOM coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: On strike, with a lot on the line. The longer United Autoworkers walk the picket lines the more it could cost General Motors. We're talking about billions of dollars in lost production and sales; 73,000 workers walked off the job yesterday, shutting down 80 plants, and parts centers in 30 states. The nationwide strike against GM in 1970 lasted more than two months. Some workers aren't keen on the strike of any length, while others say it has to be done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll hang tight. We'll man the hall, and stand tight and hopefully the American people will agree. And say, you know, it's time to, you know, pony up and let's get this thing done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think about it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I'm not really happy about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody wants to do this. Nobody wants to do this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I figured they would have had it all worked out, would have had it settled by this time. I didn't think there were that many hang ups. I guess a lot of it, most everybody around here, we just want job security. We want to know we've got a future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's tough. You know, the whole situation is tough. But you can't think about today. You got to think about tomorrow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Negotiators for both sides are said to be back at the bargaining table. But no word on how close or how far apart they might be.

LEMON: The nation's second deepest lake, the sight of an inspiration goal today. Meet a swimmer who is defying the odds as the NEWSROOM takes a dip right into the deep end when we come back.

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: I'm Brooke Anderson in New York. Another celebrity has been charged with driving under the influence. I'm going to tell you who got busted, up next in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: It was supposed to be an overnight trip out of Miami. How did the boat turn up empty and way off course? And why were the feds already looking for one of the passengers found on a life raft? The biggest question, where are the four crew members of the Joe Cool? Susan Candiotti has more now in Miami.

Susan, what did you find out?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kyra.

Well, it is a real life mystery at sea. You have the abandoned boat, you have two people rescued from a life raft, and you have those four missing crew members, the captain and his young wife, the disappearance of two young children and two of their mates. So, what happened out there?

Not long ago, the Coast Guard towed back that boat to the Miami Beach Coast Guard station. It was discovered more than 150 miles off course, abandoned, described as a mess inside. The boat disappeared after two men hired a charter. A customer turns out to be an Arkansas fugitive by the name of Kirby Archer, wanted for allegedly stealing more than $92,000 in cash from a Wal-Mart last January.

Archer is the one, we are told, who hired the boat, paid $4,000 in cash for it to the captain and crew. The boat went missing. Now the crew has vanished, and the family is worried sick.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF BRANAM, UNCLE OF MISSING BOATER: I look at it like I lost my family, and I can only speculate. I don't know what happened. I really don't. You know, I work with these people every day. And now they're missing, and they found these two guys in a life raft, on our life raft, that was on our -- you know, the boat. And I just -- I can't imagine what happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: What happened, good question. Kirby and his companion were both escorted from the U.S. Coast Guard cutter. They are now being questioned by the FBI. Kirby Archer will be held until they figure out what to do with him. Certainly being held on that outstanding warrant out of Arkansas for now. Back to you, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. We'll keep tracking it. Susan Candiotti, thanks so much.

LEMON: It's not a hard concept. If you have a few drinks, you shouldn't drive. But it doesn't seem to be catching on in Hollywood. Entertainment Correspondent Brooke Anderson is with us to tell us about the latest celebrity who got in trouble behind the wheel.

Hi, Brooke.

ANDERSON: Hey there, Don. You know, it's unfortunately, getting almost commonplace for a celebrity to be arrested for driving under the influence in Los Angeles. And now Emmy-award winning Kiefer Sutherland is the latest star to be charged with DUI.

The actor spent part of last night at this fall launch party thrown by FOX, which is the network that airs his hit show "24." Then shortly after 1:00 a.m. this morning the Los Angeles police say that Sutherland made an illegal U-turn in West Hollywood. After an officer pulled him over, authorities say Sutherland failed a field sobriety test, and was taken into custody, right in this interaction, actually.

He was charged with a misdemeanor DUI, booked, and released on $25,000 bail. Sutherland is scheduled to appear in court on October 16th, and now TMZ.com is just reporting that Sutherland is on probation from a previous DUI arrest.

If that is the case, Don, he could be facing some serious consequences here.

LEMON: Yeah. And honestly one of my buddy's here favorites. Is the crush over?

PHILLIPS: Yeah, I'm very disappointed. If he needs some help, you just let me know, Brooke. I'll help get him through the whole situation.

ANDERSON: I will let you know. He seems like a really nice guy.

PHILLIPS: I know.

ANDERSON: But a tough 24 hours for him.

PHILLIPS: He's talented. He's got kids, you know.

LEMON: But he shouldn't be drinking and driving.

PHILLIPS: He should be drinking 7-Up. End of story.

(CROSS TALK)

LEMON: No sipping on, you know what.

ANDERSON: A virgin daiquiri or something.

LEMON: Yeah, absolutely. But there was another star who had some trouble on the roads over the weekend. Is that right, Brooke?

ANDERSON: That's right. George Clooney and girlfriend Sara Larson got into a motorcycle accident on Friday, but that is not slowing Clooney down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: We're not, you know, invalids on this. We didn't get really, you know, I broke a rib and she broke her toes. But I still had to go to work today. If you go to work, you have to show up. This is part of the film, I wanted to be here for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Clooney was at the premiere for his new movie, "Michael Clayton," which will open in October. And the work he's referring to is the filming in New York for his film, "Burn After Reading" with Brad Pitt.

All right, on Friday, Clooney was driving a rented Harley in New Jersey when he was hit by a turning car. The driver of the car has told reporters that he feels that Clooney was at fault, and that he plans to take -- he does not plan, rather, to take the star to court.

And you know a cracked rib may not sound like much, but I'm sure it can be very painful, Don. And as you saw there, Clooney had a smile on his face. He was in grate spirits.

LEMON: And Kyra wants to offer comfort to him, as well.

ANDERSON: I'm sure she does.

PHILLIPS: No, no, no.

LEMON: Anyway, just joking. No lawsuit for Clooney but we have another courtroom battle to talk about, yeah?

ANDERSON: We do indeed, Larry Birkhead, who is the father of Anna Nicole Smith's daughter, Dannielynn, is being sued by his former attorney for defamation, fraud, and breach of contract. Debra Opri says, quote, "I have had enough," and claims Birkhead tried to destroy her reputation. In a quote, "a malicious and relentless media campaign".

Opri asserts Birkhead falsely claimed she was a source for the new Rita Cosby book, "Blond Ambition." That book contains explosive allegations about Birkhead. Opri represented him in the battle he waged to prove that he was the father of Baby Dannielynn.

Now, the two had a very acrimonious split and are currently fighting in court over legal bills from that case.

All right, moving now to "Showbiz Tonight". Coming up tonight inside the mind of Britney. Why does Britney Spears act the way she does? Does she even realize how out of control she seems? Or does she even care? A special report on TV's most provocative entertainment news show, that is "Showbiz Tonight," 11 Eastern and Pacific on Headline Prime.

LEMON: And do you remember, sadly, during the O.J. trial everyone started making shows "O.J. Today", "O.J. Trial". We should get a show about Britney, "Britney Today". There should be just like 30 minutes every day of just Britney news.

ANDERSON: Oh, boy. Maybe not.

LEMON: Yeah.

ANDERSON: Hopefully not.

LEMON: Not so much, right? We'll be watching though. Thank you.

ANDERSON: Thanks.

PHILLIPS: The nation's second deepest lake, site of an inspiration goal today. Meet a swimmer who is defying the odds as the NEWSROOM takes a dip in the deep end.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: She defied expectations all her life, now 29-year-old Karen Gaffney is doing it again. She's swimming across Lake Tahoe to raise money and awareness for Downs Syndrome. Gaffney was born with Downs Syndrome. She attended regular school and college, and became an accomplished athlete. Gaffney swam the English Channel in 2001 and San Francisco Bay several times.

Today's 12-mile swim is expected to take nine hours. Gaffney is in a wet suit to protect her from the cold. The water is about 65 degrees, when she got out this morning.

PHILLIPS: Well, 14 letters, the clue is generic proposal. It begins with will and ends with me. It appeared in Sunday's "Boston Globe" magazine crossword puzzle and was written for one puzzle lover in particular. When Jennie Bass figured out the answer, "Will you marry me?", it all made sense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNIE BASS, NEWLY ENGAGED: It took me a while because, you know, reading through it, and there are all these incredible coincidental clues in it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Well, Jennie's boyfriend, Eric, had asked the puzzle maker to personalize a crossword for him. A Jen-Eric proposal, get it? Generic? The husband and wife puzzle creators agreed. Oh, there's the ring. Very pretty. Once Jennie solved it, Eric got on one knee and Jennie said yes. Thank, God. The next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

LEMON: Michael Vick was charged with and pleaded guilty to, and may go to prison for dog fighting. But that was federal. Now comes the Commonwealth of Virginia with new charges that could bring a lot more trouble. We will get a live report.

PHILLIPS: The Joe Cool" sailed into some kind of trouble somewhere south of Bimini. Now the feds want to know what an Arkansas fugitive and his fellow fisherman know about four missing crew members.

Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

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