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Custody Hearing Resumes in Texas Polygamist Ranch Case; Pope Benedict XVI Addresses United Nations
Aired April 18, 2008 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MELISSA LONG, CNN ANCHOR: Pope Benedict XVI only the third pope to address the U.N. General Assembly, and his day just gets busier as he reaches out to the Jewish community.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: And time, well, it's just about up in Texas. A judge tells lawyers in the monster polygamous ranch custody case to wrap things up.
Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, live here at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.
LONG: And hello. I'm Melissa Long, in today for Kyra Phillips.
It will be all wrapped up by this afternoon -- that surprising announcement today from the judge hearing arguments around the custody of 416 children taken from that polygamist compound in Texas.
CNN's Susan Roesgen is in San Angelo, Texas.
SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a real clash of cultures inside that courtroom. You have got the lawyers in their business suits with their briefcases. Then have you the media with their laptops and their cameras.
And then you have the women, the mothers from the Yearning For Zion ranch, who are showing up in their pioneer dresses, their long dresses, looking as if they have just stepped off of a stagecoach, circa 1870.
Those mothers want their children back. Of the more than 400 children that have been taken into state custody, 130 are under the age of four. And the lawyers are arguing that those children certainly should be allowed to go back to their mothers, that they are not in any imminent danger of sexual abuse.
Here's the lawyer for one of the children, a child who is just 1- year-old.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm very concerned about us grouping all of these children together. My child has one mother, one father, one situation that may not relate to all of the other children. I think that's one of the problems with grouping all of these things together.
ROESGEN: However, the lead investigator for Child Protective Services here in Texas says that in any situation where one child is possibly abused, the state always takes all children ought of that environment. And the state very much wants to keep all those children in protective custody.
Susan Roesgen, CNN, San Angelo, Texas.
LEMON: We're about two hours away from Pope Benedict XVI's next stop in America, Park East Synagogue in Manhattan. Never before -- never before has any pope visited any synagogue outside Europe. And it's happened only twice in Europe.
Earlier, as you could have seen live here on CNN, the pontiff spoke on a truly global stage. He reminded the U.N. General Assembly of its ultimate responsibility, to safeguard human rights.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POPE BENEDICT XVI, LEADER OF CATHOLIC CHURCH: My presence at this assembly is a sign of esteem for the United Nations. And it is intended to express a hope that the organization will increasingly serve as a sign of unity between states and an instrument of service to the entire human family.
It also demonstrates the willingness of the Catholic Church to offer a proper contribution to building international relations in a way that allows every person and every people to feel they can make a difference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, as we mentioned, popes in synagogues are a rare sight, but meetings with the popes are old hat for the rabbi who will be hosting the pope, Pope Benedict, here. OK, I may be exaggerating a little bit, but the guy has met popes before.
We get a preview and some background now from CNN's Mary Snow. She joins us now, with the U.N. firmly behind her.
A very interesting trip so far, Mary, for this pope.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really has been, Don.
And, you know, you mention Rabbi Arthur Schneier is the rabbi at the Park East Synagogue who has invited the pope to his synagogue later this afternoon. We're about 20 blocks away, an historic visit by a pontiff.
And Rabbi Schneier actually met with Pope Benedict earlier today while he was here at the U.N. It was a very brief meeting, but, of course, so much anticipation about this afternoon's visit. It will be short, lasting about 20 minutes.
And, you know, this is a very personal story for Rabbi Schneier as well. I spoke with him recently. And he ha to escape the Nazis. He was in Budapest, Hungary. His family -- he lost family members in the Holocaust. And Pope Benedict was forced to join the Hitler Youth when he was a teenager in Germany.
So, the rabbi really talking about the history there and the fact that these two men were shaped by World War II. Rabbi Schneier saying that this meeting is unique because it really sends out a message of goodwill.
Here's what he told us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RABBI ARTHUR SCHNEIER, PARK EAST SYNAGOGUE: We live in a time when religious solidarity, religious leaders really have to be the role models for cooperation, for coexistence, for mutual acceptance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SNOW: Rabbi Schneier saying he will not let the past paralyze him and that his motto is live and let live.
Also, you know, Don, there have been some tensions recently between members of the Jewish faith and Pope Benedict, because the pope in recent months revived a Latin prayer that called for the conversion of Jews.
Now, yesterday, he reached out to about 50 Jewish leaders in Washington, D.C. -- I spoke with one of them who attended that meeting -- saying that he felt the pope is doing work to repair the damage done by that prayer. There was a lot of anger over it. And he says what really will be symbolic today is this visit to the synagogue -- Don.
LEMON: Really will be. OK, thank you very much for that, Mary Snow, joining us from the U.N.
Let's talk now about African-Americans. They make up a pretty small percentage of the U.S. Catholic population, but they're far from invisible. In a few minutes, we will talk with a Catholic nun and theologian Jamie Phelps about the role, the impact, and the future of African-Americans in the Church of Rome.
LONG: People waking up today to shattered bricks on the street corners, a collapsed porch, rattled nerves, understandably, pretty much the extent of it after a 5.2-magnitude earthquake rocks the Midwest. Now, the people are still shaking because of the aftershocks, including one that measured 4.5.
Now, the good news, only minor injuries have been reported. The quake was centered in southern Illinois near the Indiana border, but it was felt as far away as Iowa and south into northern Georgia.
Meteorologist Chad Myers to check in on this meteorological interesting study for him today.
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: There you go. LONG: Looking at -- this is the first time in, what, some 40 years that they have had one this strong?
MYERS: Yes, long time.
The last one was 2002, and it was a 5.0. So, this was a little bit bigger than that. We talked a lot this morning about the New Madrid fault and the Wabash fault area, all part of what is known as the Ozark Dome, kind of a higher here through the Ozarks, mainly in Missouri, but also in Arkansas. Two separate areas, and this earthquake was actually in the Wabash Valley fault area.
Kind of give you a little bit of closer look at it. The New Madrid fault area, there's the town of New Madrid there. A few faults here. There's the New Madrid North, New Madrid West, and then the Reelfoot right here. You may know the lake Reelfoot Lake, caused by the earthquake earlier on, and then the Blytheville arch.
Well, father to the north, not really attached to this, but up into the same kind of shake zone, the Wabash Island fault, the Wabash Valley system. And there was the quake right there.
Now, I'm going to kind of go back out here and kind of feel those pictures that we were seeing of that facade that fell off the building, that was Louisville. That's 100-something miles away. And we just found out from our USGS seismologist we just talked to that they felt this earthquake in Ontario, Ontario, California. So, here we go.
MYERS: And this is what they felt at the University of Memphis. This is their shake map, their helicorder, of the University of Memphis. The shaking happened right there, 4:37 a.m. local time. And it shook again down here with a couple of those aftershocks.
We try to look at these. This is not a real line going back and forth. This is obviously just the digital presentation of what happened there, but there's the big shake right there in Memphis this morning. We will watch it for you. We will watch the Wabash Valley to see if there are any more shakes, because there have been a few aftershocks at about 4.5, but that's not 5.2 for sure.
LONG: Wow. Feeling it in Ontario, feeling it in the Northern Georgia mountains. Amazing if it would have been stronger.
MYERS: Exactly. And that's what happened when we talk about the New Madrid fault, part of the same kind of system. When the New Madrid fault shook back in the 1800s, the bells on the churches in Boston rang. Now, that's a lot of shaking.
LONG: Oh, absolutely.
MYERS: Because this is one big area of fault. This is one big piece of crust, so when the fault rings, so to speak, it goes out like a bell. It just keeps going. Where, in California, there are so many faults, when the shaking gets to a fault, it kind of -- we call it attenuates, or it gets a little bit slower, a little bit lower, and you don't get as much shaking in as big of an area in California like you do here in the East.
LONG: That shaking really reverberating around the country this morning.
LONG: Well, Chad, as you know, we're always thankful when our I- Reporters send in their pictures from whether-related stories, like Stephanie Kellerman.
She says she was sleeping in her 100-year-old home in Louisville, Kentucky, when the understandably shaking woke her up. She is an I- Reporter, sent us these pictures of a building near her home, a building minus some bricks today.
In her house, she says the plaster fell from the ceilings and a few windows were knocked loose. And the quake really rattled her cats. I'm a cat lover, and I can totally see that happening.
LEMON: Rattled probably more than her cats.
LEMON: Meantime, President Bushes chooses a new leader to oversee America's troubled housing industry. Steve Preston, well, he is President Bush's nominee to take over as secretary of housing and urban development.
If he's confirmed, Preston will replace Alphonso Jackson, who announced his resignation last month. Jackson faces a criminal investigation amid allegations he steered contracts to political allies. Steve Preston has led this Small Business Administration for almost two years.
LONG: Barack Obama has been taking some heat for past ties to a 1960s radical. But how close were they? And does it matter to you? Does it matter to the voters? We are going to take a look.
LEMON: OK, the next -- the answer to this question is very carefully. What's the best way to capture an alligator? Well, watch what happens when some college kids try to find the answer to that.
LEMON: Pope Benedict XVI's current visit to the United States is a joyous occasion for most, most of America's 70 million Catholics. About three million American Catholics are black.
Now, Sister Jamie T. Phelps is the director of the Institute For Black Catholic Studies. She is joining me from Xavier University in Louisiana, the only Black Catholic institution of higher learning in the United States. She joins me from New Orleans.
Thank you very much for joining us.
I have got to ask you this really quickly. How is Xavier doing after the hurricane?
SISTER JAMIE T. PHELPS, PROFESSOR OF SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY, XAVIER UNIVERSITY: Under the leadership of Dr. Francis, we're coming back very strongly. We opened January after the hurricane, as the president promised. And the faculty and students, doing sacrificial offering, were able to get back on track, and they had their first full summer last summer, and we're back on track.
LEMON: OK. Very good. We're glad to see that you're back on track.
Let's talk now, because we're talking about African-American Catholics. The pope is here, obviously. And many people have been paying attention to him. In your estimation, do you think, as far as his relationship with African-Americans and black America, what have you seen, what have you noticed or observed from his visit here?
PHELPS: Well, I think he's certainly aware that there are African-American Catholics here, even in terms of -- let's talk about the preparation. African-American Catholics, black Catholics were involved in that. I know I have a colleague in New York that was involved. I have colleagues in Washington, D.C., that were involved.
I'm a member of the board of the National Black Catholic Congress, which is comprised of leadership of all the national black Catholic organizations. And all of us had tickets to come. And, so, we were taken care of in that way.
LEMON: This is surprising to me, after I started looking at the statistics, racial composition of U.S. Catholicism. Whites make up 65 percent. Hispanics, 29 percent, really is the fastest-growing group of Catholics here. Blacks, two percent, Asians two percent, other, two percent.
Growing up in Louisiana, going to Catholic schools, I'm surprised by that, because there were many, many black Catholics. I'm surprised that Catholics only -- blacks only make up two percent of Catholics. Is there a problem with inclusion here or...
LEMON: Are you working to change that?
PHELPS: Let me say this.
There's a problem with statistics. We have not -- no national group has done a statistical survey of black Catholics in the United States since the late '80s. The last group that did was the Josephite Fathers from Washington, D.C.
And in fact my institute is in dialogue currently with one of the research groups to begin that kind of research, so we can document just who we are numerically, but also who we are attitudinally. We're part of the general sampling. But when they do a general sampling of Catholics, it's not really sufficient to reflect the broadness and the diversity of black Catholic...
LEMON: So, do you think that what we have up on the screen now, more than three million African-Americans are Catholic, or more than...
LEMON: Is that correct, do you believe?
PHELPS: We always guesstimate between 2.5 and three million, but we really don't have solid numbers here.
PHELPS: And we have certainly had a -- first of all, black Catholics include not just what I call a homegrown African-American, but it includes the immigration of Africans from the continent, immigrations from the Caribbean and Latin America.
PHELPS: So, I suspect that our numbers may be larger than is documented. But we don't know.
LEMON: OK. You're the director of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies.
Do you think -- and what I was trying to get at in my question earlier, do you think that black Catholics feel the same tie towards the pope as maybe Hispanics and whites or others?
PHELPS: Well, black Catholics, like Hispanics and whites, have a variety of attitudes.
I deal with a lot of people from different cultures. And, so, there are some of my white Catholic friends who would not be paying attention to this, but there will be others who would be glued to the TV. And I think that same kind of variety of responses would be true of black Catholics.
Some would be very much, as myself, tuned in, looking at, listening to see what Pope Benedict XVI has to say to us.
LEMON: OK. And, Sister Jamie, I want to ask you this. If you had a message, especially now that the pope is here, to black Catholics or African-American Catholics, however you want to say it, what would that message be? PHELPS: To black Catholics?
PHELPS: Simply what I say to them all the time. We are black Catholics, so we need to just exercise our subjectivity as black Catholics.
In fact, the whole black Catholic movement from -- the whole black Catholic movement from the 19th century has challenged black Catholics to assume their subjectivity.
PHELPS: We simply need to put ourselves forward, be trained in theology, education, and do what we are called to do to participate in the evangelizing and social justice mission of the church.
LEMON: Sister Jamie T. Phelps joining us from Xavier University in New Orleans, thank you, and have a great weekend.
PHELPS: You're welcome.
LONG: Well, unfortunately, if you planned on filling up today vs. last night, gas prices went through the roof overnight. We are going to look at what it will cost to fill up the tank today.
And, oh, the many uses of duct tape. Remember that prom dress a few years ago? Well, how about this use, keeping a gator's mouth shut while it leaves the swamp? I'm sure the animal rights activists will have a field day with this story, too.
LEMON: Oh, boy.
LONG: Coming up.
LEMON: Well, you probably should have filled your tank up last night or maybe the day before that or the day before that,because gas prices, issue number one, and up again today. The AAA reports -- and that should be AAA, not the -- AAA reports the nationwide average for a gallon of regular -- take a deep breath now -- $3.44, just over that.
Premium is $3.79. And some of you already pay four bucks a gallon. Judging by some folks we talked to at the pumps earlier this morning, you're learning to make do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE SMOAK, CONSUMER: Changes in my life to conserve by making trips, making extra trips on my way to and from work, filling up, and not keeping extra things in my trunk. I'm trying to manage the gas prices by doing that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Does it hurt when you go to the gas pump?
LONG: Absolutely. And I so wish I would have gone last night. I drove right by, saying, oh, I will do it tomorrow.
LEMON: Oh, well.
Well, here's what the government predicts. We will be paying four bucks a gallon by summer.
LONG: And, unfortunately, some people in California already are.
LEMON: At just 28-years-old, Brandy Howl worried that each day could be her last. That is, until she underwent surge that changed her life.
And our Dr. Sanjay Gupta has more in this week's "Fit Nation."
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just two years ago, Brandy Howell refused to look in the mirror. She hated being in pictures and often she wouldn't even leave the house. She was more than 400 pounds, unhappy and truly believed her days were numbered.
BRANDY HOWELL, LOST 247 POUNDS: I was 28, 29-years-old at the time. And I felt like every day was going to be my last. I had high blood pressure. I was border line diabetic.
GUPTA: Concerned about her health and her morbid obesity, her doctors strongly recommended she would have gastric bypass surgery.
HOWELL: I was nervous but I was more scared of dying from a heart attack at a young age or not waking up because I had sleep apnea in the middle of the night than going in for surgery.
GUPTA: After two months of planning, testing, counseling and doctor's visits, Brandy had surgery at Hurley Medical Center in Michigan.
HOWELL: And absolutely, the best decision I have ever made without question.
GUPTA: Now, two years later, and more than 200 pounds lighter, Brandy says she's a new person, but she still has difficult days.
HOWELL: I have some days where I feel miserable and I feel fat. It is almost like phantom fat pains, I guess. I feel horrible. And I have to stop and pull out clothes that I used to wear, look at them, crawl into them, and realize somebody else can crawl into them too and put myself back in that place mentally.
GUPTA: Brandy says her journey was long, but it has taught her to be confident and enjoy life.
HOWELL: I want to go bungee jumping. I mean, I want to water ski, I want to roller blade, and horseback-riding, something I have always wanted to do and I never could. My name is Brandy Howell and I have lost approximately 247 pounds.
GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.
LONG: It is 3:30 in the afternoon Eastern time.
Here's a look at some of the stories we're working on for you in the CNN NEWSROOM.
It rattled skyscrapers in Chicago and homes in Cincinnati. They felt it in Milwaukee, St. Louis and Atlanta. A 5.2 magnitude Earthquake early in morning centered in Southern Illinois. No reports of major injuries or serious damage.
Day two of hearings into alleged child abuse at that compound in Texas. A psychiatrist testifying that children there cannot protect themselves because they're taught that disobeying orders leads to internal damnation -- eternal.
And Thailand is the latest stop in the frequently troubled Olympic Torch trek. Thailand's prime minister is urging his people to avoid the anti-Chinese protests that have greeted the Torch at some of the other stops.
LEMON: Well, we've been talking a lot about the pope's outspoken regret and condemnation of child sex abuse at the hands of Catholic priests. Well, yesterday, he held a private, unannounced meeting in Washington with five sex abuse survivors from Boston. Now, "The New York Times" reports the pope issued the invitations at the strong urging of Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley.
This morning, two of the invitees spoke to CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAITH JOHNSTON, SEX ABUSE SURVIVOR: I had so much I wanted to say. And then I got up to him and I just started -- I just burst into tears. But I think my tears spoke louder than words. And when I think in that moment, I almost felt like that 14, 15-year-old faith -- the victim, Faith. And then he -- the pope just started talking to me just so kindly, so lovingly, congratulating me about my upcoming wedding.
OLAN HORNE, SEX ABUSE SURVIVOR: I talked to him about my hate toward the church. I talked of my hate toward the administrations and the bishops and all that needed to be done. And I asked him to forgive me for having such hate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how did he respond? HORNE: He was amazed. He just couldn't believe it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, not all survivors or their advocates are as gratified by the pope's attention. The group called SNAP, well, they want action, not just words, including punishment for bishops who covered up sex crimes, they say. SNAP held a news conference a short time ago at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's tempting to say this crisis is over. It's tempting to say well, the Holy Father, you know, has cured everything. But it's not true. Children are still at risk. Children are still being abused today. And so we're saying let's be prudent. Let's take every precaution we can to make sure the kids are safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: In a series of public comments, Pope Benedict has called child sex abuse by Catholic clergy "gravely immoral" for which he feels "deeply ashamed."
And we'll follow the pontiff throughout the weekend. And you might want to mark this down. We'll bring you live coverage of the papal mass at Yankee Stadium. That's Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
LONG: Today, Barack Obama picked up a few more big name endorsements, including former Clinton administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich. He's praising Hillary Clinton's policy proposals, but he says he likes Obama's policy views even more. He also says Obama offers the chance to "transcend the barriers of class, race and nationality that have divided us."
Now, Bill Richardson, another former Clinton cabinet member, has also endorsed Obama.
The Obama campaign also has announced that two former Democratic senators known for their centrist views are endorsing Obama. It's Georgia's Sam Nunn and Oklahoma's David Boren, that will advise Obama on national security issues.
And a quick programming reminder, as well. Robert Reich will be talking about his decision to endorse Senator Obama today in "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer. "THE SITUATION ROOM" gets started in 25 minutes rather at 4:00 Eastern on CNN.
LEMON: That should be very interesting.
Now, topping our Political Ticker, we've already seen what Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama earned in 2007. Well, let's kick off the Friday Political Ticker with a peek at Republican John McCain's tax returns. McCain brought in more than $258,000 last year and he paid more than $84,000 in taxes. He gave $282,000 to charities, which included $177,000 from book royalties.
Senator McCain and his wife file separate tax returns. Cindy McCain's net worth? Well, thanks to her family's beer distribution company, it's estimated at more than $100 million.
Looking ahead to Tuesday's Pennsylvania Democratic primary, Barack Obama is making several stops around the state today, with town halls in Erie and Williamsport and a nighttime rally planned in Philadelphia.
Hillary Clinton had town hall meeting this morning in Radner, Pennsylvania. She's also preparing for the May 6th North Carolina primary, with an event scheduled tonight in Winston-Salem.
OK. "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central was the place to be last night for current and former Democratic candidates. Senators Clinton and Obama both made appearances. Clinton played up her problem solver image and Obama even benefited, you might say, from her technical expertise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How are you feeding this, through the router or the ox bus on the switcher?
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST: It's an ox.
CLINTON: Try toggling, toling the input.
Senator Obama, won't Senator Clinton be happy that she fixed our screen?
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm sure she will, Steven. I'm sure she will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LONG: That was fun.
LEMON: I saw that live. It was -- I -- it was just funny.
LONG: It's funny the second time for you, too.
LEMON: Yes. It's funny.
Former Democratic candidate John Edwards also joined in on the fun. He reportedly spoke with Clinton back stage, but he offered no hints about a potential endorsement for either Clinton or Obama.
LONG: It's amazing the demanding schedules that the candidates keep -- up early in the morning and up late at night on that show.
LEMON: And even the ones who are not -- not even candidates anymore, right?
Well, take a look at this golf ball-sized hail slamming into the Dallas/Forth Worth area overnight. And last night, the hail denting cars, breaking some windows. The winds were fierce -- about 60 miles an hour. But perhaps the most frightening part of the storm just west of Fort Worth. The National Weather Service says a tornado was reported on the ground for seven minutes. But there were no reports of damage or of injuries.
LEMON: Let's hope there's nothing like that in the near future for any of us.
It's Friday, Chad, and we're counting on you for a very sunny and mild weekend.
MYERS: For you, if you're staying in Atlanta, that will be Sunday.
LEMON: Sunday. So just...
MYERS: You want to -- you get 50/50.
LEMON: So just stay in bed all day on Saturday.
MYERS: Well, you know what? All sunshine and no rain makes a desert. And we were a desert last year. So let's try to break that for a while.
LEMON: Thank you, Chad.
LONG: Barack Obama is taking some heat for past ties to a 1960s radical. But how close were they, really? And does it matter to you? Does it matter to the voters? We're going to take a look coming up.
LONG: Barack Obama has recently had to defend his ties to several people he has crossed paths with over the years in Chicago. The latest, a 1960s radical who is now a college professor. How well did they really know each other and will it even matter to you? Does it matter to the voters?
CNN's Randi Kaye takes a look.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The candidates came to talk issues. But suddenly the conversation took a radical left turn. Senator Barack Obama was asked about his relationship with this man -- once a member of the 1960s anti-government, anti-Vietnam War group Weather Underground. WILLIAM AYERS, FORMER WEATHER UNDERGROUND MEMBER: The point was to draw screaming attention to the fact that our government was murdering 2,000 people a day.
KAYE: William Ayers and the others claimed responsibility for about a dozen bombings and Chicago's Days of Rage anti-war protests. He and his future wife, also part of the group, were indicted. The charges were later dropped after misconduct by prosecutors.
So just how cozy is Obama's relationship with the man critics call a terrorist?
OBAMA: The notion that somehow, as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was eight-years-old, somehow reflects on me and my values doesn't make much sense.
KAYE: Keeping them honest, that's not the whole story. In 1995, Obama held a campaign event at Ayer's home. Later, the two served together for three years on a charities board. And in 2001, Ayers donated $200 to Obama's state senate reelection campaign. It does not appear he's donated since.
CASS SUNSTEIN, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO: The relationship between Obama and Ayers is so distant and weak, that to turn this into an electoral issue is theater of the absurd.
KAYE: Cass Sunstein advises the Obama campaign and knows Ayers.
SUNSTEIN: Obama is as firmly opposed to terrorism as anyone in American politics.
KAYE: Seeing an opening, Hillary Clinton cited something Ayers told "The New York Times": "I don't regret setting bombs and I feel we didn't do enough."
Keeping her honest, the Clintons have their own connection to Weather Underground.
OBAMA: President Clinton pardoned or commuted the sentences of two members of the Weather Underground, which I think is a slightly more significant act than me serving on a board with somebody for actions that he did 40 years ago.
KAYE: In 2001, then President Bill Clinton commuted sentences for two members jailed on weapons and terror-related charges. Political expert Larry Sabato doesn't expect any of this will have much traction with primary voters. But he bets the McCain campaign is already preparing an ad against Obama.
LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: The ad will simply say, while John McCain was rotting away under terrible conditions in the Hanoi Hilton, serving his country, demonstrating his patriotism, Barack Obama's friend, William Ayers, was planting bombs and preaching radicalism. Is that the kind of president you want?
KAYE: Sabato suggests he take his hits and move on and hope voters will do the same.
LONG: Randi Kaye joins us now live from New York -- and, Randi, William Ayers, were you able to reach him for a comment on this piece, on this story?
KAYE: Actually, Melissa, he didn't return our calls yesterday. But today he did respond to the criticism on his very personal blog, trying to clarify some of his statements. He writes, in part: "I'm sometimes asked if I regret anything I did to oppose the war in Vietnam. And I say no, I don't regret anything I did to try to stop the slaughter of millions of human beings by my own government. Sometimes, I add, I don't know I did enough."
He says that is often glossed over and interpreted as he has no regrets for setting bombs and thinks there should be more bombings.
As far as him being called a terrorist by critics, he writes on that blog: "The U.S. bombings of Vietnam for a decade were acts of terrorism. Terrorism is never justifiable, even in a just cause. I've never advocated terrorism, never participated in it, never defended it. The U.S. government, by contrast, does it routinely and defends the use of it in its own cause consistently."
At the end of his blog, though, he seems to offer some hope for the future, writing: "A better world is both possible and necessary. We need to bring our imaginations together and forge an unbreakable human alliance. We need to unite to transform and save ourselves, as we fight to change the world and save humanity."
Now, I do want to note, there is absolutely no mention of Senator Barack Obama on the blog or any relationship mentioned with him at all.
LONG: No relationship mentioned on the blog. So many people, though, studying that possible connection. And what are political experts saying, that they don't expect this to hurt Obama, or they do expect it to?
KAYE: Well, the relationship, it appears, was so distant. And the political expert we spoke with says that, really, all of the candidates face this unfair criticism all the time and that at the end of the primary season, really, they've been through so many states already, and most people really already have their minds made up. So he didn't expect that this would register much with them at all.
LONG: Randi Kaye live in New York. Randi, thank you so much.
KAYE: Thank you.
LONG: And we look forward to hearing more about this story.
A quick reminder, an in depth look, also, at Hillary Clinton, among the features on tonight's "A.C. 360." Inside her journey to 2008 -- check it out, tonight at 10:00 Eastern, right here on CNN. LEMON: All right, Melissa, looking for a really slick ride? What do you think?
LONG: It depends on the price. What are you talking about?
LEMON: What about a Ferrari? What about a Ferrari?
LONG: I can't afford that.
LEMON: You might be able to afford this one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has the same taillights, the same fenders. Also, the exhaust is the same. Very well, well done.
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LEMON: Real or fake? You be the judge.
LEMON: How do you tell a fake from a real one? We hear about watches and all these handbags, like fake Rolex watches, Prada bags, Louis Vuitton luggage, and now, a fake Ferrari? I don't know if that's possible.
Here's CNN's Alessio Vinci.
ALESSIO VINCI, CNN ROME BUREAU CHIEF: So these are -- these are the photos of the fake Ferraris. What do you think of it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The glass.
VINCI (voice-over): At first glance and from a distance, even an expert could be fooled.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A very good replica. It has the same taillights, the same fenders. Also, the exhaust is the same. Very well, well done.
VINCI: Well done but downright fake and available to buyers on the Internet at a fraction of the cost of a real Ferrari, that would set you back about $130,000. The fake runs closer to $30,000.
There are replicas that have impressed even Italian police, who say they recently broke up a ring of rogue mechanics able to shape fiberglass and turn a Toyota or a Pontiac into what could look like an authentic dream car.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Also, the siding is very well made.
VINCI: And take a look at the result. If you are not a Ferrari expert, the fake and real Ferrari may look just the same -- at least from the outside.
(on camera): What about the inside?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The interior, too, are different.
VINCI (voice-over): But a closer inspection of the dashboard, the steering wheel, the gearshift and the brakes reveals substantial differences.
(on camera): Now, what can -- can you tell which car is this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know.
VINCI: But it's not a Ferrari?
KLUZER: No, no, not a Ferrari.
VINCI (voice-over): Ferrari says the phenomenon of copying their cars is still small and their brand isn't really suffering.
DAVID KLUZER, FERRARI BRAND MANAGEMENT: What is scaring us is that we may have people driving around those -- let's call them cars -- that nothing that have to do with our cars. And so they do not have the technology, the safety features of our cars.
VINCI: But as with every knockoff, the secret is in the detail. And when it comes to a Ferrari, the detail is under the hood.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the biggest difference is the engine.
VINCI (on camera): The engine, the engine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The engine is the biggest difference.
VINCI: This look may look like a real Ferrari -- it's red, it's slick, it looks like a million bucks. But there is something about a real Ferrari that simply cannot be copied. Take a look -- or rather, listen up.
(voice-over): Now that's the sound of authenticity.
Alessio Vinci, CNN, Rome.
LEMON: It sounds good, doesn't it?
LONG: Ever dashing Alessio Vinci looking dashing in that vehicle, as well.
Now interesting video here. What's the best way to capture an alligator? Well, watch this video. What some college kids did to try to find the answer.
LEMON: Speaking of dashing, I would be dashing away from that.
LEMON: Wow! Look. The markets up on a Friday.
LEMON: Yes. Whoo-hoo, as they say. All right, the closing bell and a wrap of the action on Wall Street is straight ahead.
LONG: Well, sometimes you've just got to have a gator? I don't know about that. Take a look at what some security cameras caught near Daytona Beach, Florida. Some college kids armed with duct tape and a couple of palm leaves allegedly trying to gator nap a baby gator from a miniature golf course. They ran off when police saw them. Yes, they were caught up with later and arrested.
And a woman in Tyler, Texas thought she saw a gator walking. Yes, her eyes were not fooling her. Thankfully, professionals wrestled up the reptile before anybody got caught -- got hurt, I should say, or caught in the mouth of that gator. They had plenty of duct tape on hand, as well.
LEMON: Oh my gosh. Duct tape -- duct tape will fix anything.
LONG: The closing bell is about to ring on Wall Street. It's been quite a productive day for many people.
LEMON: Yes. Susan Lisovicz is standing by with a final look at the trading day. And we saw the Dow is up on a Friday.
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LONG: Let's go to "THE SITUATION ROOM" now with Wolf Blitzer.