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Tornadoes in Oklahoma; Memorial Day Weekend; Gas Prices Soar; Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama Battle it Out in Puerto Rico
Aired May 24, 2008 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, weather is the top story, again, a second stormy night for the central plains, in particular. Take a look at what plowed through west central Kansas. The town of Protection took a direct hit from a tornado. A few injuries are reported, but we are seeing a lot of damage to farm buildings and power lines, as you see right there. The storms also brought dramatic lightning and it really lit up Ness City, Kansas, overnight.
Well, even more storms pounded northern Oklahoma, as well. This funnel cloud was spotted just outside of Fort Supply. Several homes were damaged and roads were washed out, but no one, thankfully, was hurt there, either. Of immediate concern, however, all of the downed trees and powerlines that are blocking roads in the area making it really difficult for all of those first responders and folks to pick things up and get to those locations.
Reynolds Wolf is in the Weather Center. Boy, we have all gotten really familiar with what happens as a result of severe storms, especially tornadoes, this has been a incredible season.
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It really has been. What's so weird about this is, over the last 24 to 48 hours we have seen a lot of these storms form over the same place. That's pretty unusual, Fredricka. What normally happens, you have an outbreak with these storms, and it sometimes has a calming effect on the atmosphere. Not the case that we have seen recently.
Now, today, we're going to see still a focus of that severe weather in many of the same areas back in parts of the central and northern plains. Anyone who's going out on their holiday travels and making their way along parts of I-70 is going to run into some very, very heavy rainfall.
WOLF: We'll, of course, keep you up to speed on the latest in terms of your weather, your travel conditions. And more than anything, remember the reason for this holiday, for the men and women who have given their lives to keep this country free.
Let's send it back to you.
WHITFIELD: Great reminder, all right, thanks so much, Reynolds Wolf.
WOLF: Absolutely. Talk to you soon.
WHITFIELD: Appreciate it.
Well, it is indeed a long, long way from the winter snows of Iowa and New Hampshire, the marathon race for the Democratic presidential nomination race is passing through sunny Puerto Rico, today, and that's where we find our sunny Suzanne Malveaux in San Juan. I couldn't resist.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I am quite sunny, today. I'm very sunny. I love to cover the story here, in Puerto Rico. I want to show you this, Barack Obama is at the University of Puerto Rico, that's where he is campaigning, this is one of the signs (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE), that is -- I don't know if you know Spanish, but it is "yes, we can" in Spanish, and he addressed a group of veterans, here. Obviously he has been working hard since the beginning of April or so, they've got ads --television ads out. He's been talking about ways of improving the economy and, of course, bringing U.S. troops home.
Hillary Clinton, Senator Clinton will be here later in the afternoon herself, and she has also been really trying to push forward to win over support saying that her universal healthcare plan will apply to people here in Puerto Rico, that that's very important to them, as well. So, these are the kinds of issues that people are talking about.
Now, we heard Barack Obama earlier this afternoon addressing the issue of veterans, particularly in important in this Memorial Day holiday, the holiday weekend, talking about the need to reach out to them and also to bring U.S. Troops home. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But we must never forget that honoring our fighting men and women requires more than just paying tribute to them on Memorial Day. It requires having civilian leadership that is serving our troops as well as they are serving us, and that means leadership that shows good judgment about when to deploy them, because it didn't serve our troops well to go to war in Iraq without asking the tough questions first or to send them to fight without the support to defend themselves and secure the peace.
It did not serve our troops well to launch a war based more on ideology and politics than on any urgent threat to our nation. That is why I opposed the Iraq war from the start.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: So, Fred, I guess the big question is really, why does Puerto Rico matter? It is next Sunday, the primary, there are 55 delegates up for grabs and the people here, U.S. citizens, of course, and they are able to vote in the primary, but not the general election, cannot vote for president. So, what happens next Sunday really makes a difference in terms of how this race moves forward. Barack Obama is not considered to be the favorite here and it is Hillary Clinton, because she has done well with Hispanic voters before.
There are about four million people who live here in Puerto Rico, but also about the same number of Puerto Ricans that live on the mainland, a lot of those folks she represents in the state of New York, so she is expected to do well and she is going to try to make that pitch once again, that she will go ahead to gain in those pledged delegates and she'll also gain in the popular vote, certainly hoping to use that case to the superdelegates that she is, in fact, the candidate that is getting stronger. Barack Obama, simply trying to wrap this thing up -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Democratic Puerto Rico Suzanne Malveaux thanks so much in San Juan.
Well, just two weeks ago, Cindy McCain said she would not release her tax information. Well, that is then. The wife of Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, has now released her 2006 tax returns. They indicate she paid $6 million that year, and paid $1.7 million in taxes. Cindy McCain is the heiress of a large Arizona beer distributorship. Well, she and husband file separate tax returns, by the way.
Well, John McCain threw an Evangelical preacher overboard this week, but Texas Evangelist, John Hagee, is not sinking quietly.
Here now is CNN's Brian Todd.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Frustrated by perceived distortions in the media, an embattled church leader uses his own airwaves to strikes back at critics.
PASTOR JOHN HAGEE, JOHN HAGEE MINISTRIES: To hear people who know nothing about me or my life's work, claim that I somehow excuse the Holocaust is simply untrue and heartbreaking.
TODD: But Pastor John Hagee does not apologize or back away from the controversial remarks that lead John McCain to reject his endorsement. A sermon in the 1990s in which Hagee said Adolf Hitler was sent by God to push the Jews out of Europe.
HAGEE: Why did it happen? Because God said that my top priority for the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land of Israel.
TODD: Following inquiries from CNN about Hagee's sermon, McCain rejected his enforcement, which the pastor then withdrew, Hagee's defense is combative.
HAGEE: To assert that I, in any way, condoned the holocaust or monster, Adolf Hitler, is the vicious of lies.
TODD: Hagee said his sermon was merely an effort to explain how God could let the Holocaust to take place. And a popular San Antonia rabbi, who's also a close friend, supported him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) interpreted a biblical verse in a way not very different from several legitimate Jewish authorities.
TODD: When we asked a representative for Hagee if there was any resentment toward McCain, she said she wouldn't go that far, but she said, don't expect Hagee to get back into the political game any time soon. And observers say the fallout may affect other Republicans seeking the support of Evangelicals.
I think this is going to send a pretty strong message to a lot of Evangelical leaders who they need a support of, and I think they would be hesitant to make an endorsement thinking that everything they've taught on, everything they've said would be scrutinized.
TODD (on camera): That feeling may be mutual mutual. One political analyst told us, this is the year when candidates may decide that endorsements and surrogate of any kind just are not worth it, that they can lose you more votes than they can get for you.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
WHITFIELD: And of course, CNN is your home for politics and we'll have much more on the campaign later on today on BALLOT BOWL. BALLOT BOWL begins at 3:00 p.m. Eastern,12:00 Noon Pacific, right here on CNN.
All right, the cost of gas goes up, so as the saying goes, something must come down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some '07s were worth $50,000-$60,000 just three-four months ago, and they're in the high $30s now. It's amazing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Ouch, gas and the SUV. A look at the future of the car industry, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Baby, we're proud of you and we miss you (INAUDIBLE) everyday. You're our hero. I love him and I am proud of him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Bad news for airline passengers as the summer travel season gets underway. Several airlines have announced yet another round of fare hikes to offset the rising cost of jet fuel. United, American and Delta have all announced increases of up to $60 for round trips. Earlier this week, American Airlines also announced it would start charging fees for all checked baggage including a $15 fee for the very first bag.
Well, you have to keep a sense of humor about today's stratospheric fuel prices. Regular and mid-grade will run you in the high threes at this Missouri gas station. But premium, "LOL" it says, text shorthand for laugh out loud. Laughing apparently gets you more in smiles per gallon, they say.
All well, for some people traveling this Memorial Day weekend, gas prices are no laughing matter. According to today's update from the AAA Motor Club, the national average price of a gallon of regular gas has jumped above $3.90 for the first time ever. Kara Finnstrom joins us now from Anaheim, California, a state where it is hard, Kara, to live there without some dependency on a vehicle.
KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And just in time for this busy holiday weekend, Fredricka, gas prices here in California, the average gas (SIC) for self-serve has topped $4 a gallon. Just behind me, here, you can see it is $4.06 at this gas station and across the street, it's going for $4.09 and while California certainly does not want to be a leader when it comes to gas prices, it appears that the rest of the nation is going to follow suit.
Analysts predicting that within the next several days that national average will also top $4 a gallon. You might think that all of this might deter travel. It has somewhat, but we just got a survey from the AAA which suggests that while the number of Americans who expect to travel 15 miles or more away from their home this weekend has dropped from last year. It's dropped by about one percent.
So, these highways are still going to be very busy. Some of the means by which people are cutting their travel budgets this year is that they're actually just spending less money on food and on lodging and on souvenirs. But they're still hitting the roadways.
And earlier today, we caught up with a couple from Canada, a newlywed couple that is going to distance and paying handsomely for it. They're chugging along a trailer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, it'll be, yeah, it is going to be...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Probably about 900 on the way home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn't be surprised if we get $2,000 to come down here and go back home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a lot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're just over the border, too, so, yeah, that's a big... UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a lot. It is a good chunk of change from our fund.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, for a holiday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FINNSTROM: And some of the RVs take diesel, Fredricka, that has topped $5 a gallon, here in Anaheim area. The couple we spoke with says that they realize it may have been cheaper to fly, but they are bringing along the dog and they say they just want the adventure of a road trip.
WHITFIELD: Great. And they don't want to pack their dog in cargo, even that will cost you more now, too, along with all those airline changes. So in general though, Kara, are folks in general there saying that there driving less or are they just living with it?
FINNSTROM: From the folks we spoke with today, a lot of them are actually from out of the country or coming from other parts of the country, they are just kind of watching where they spend their other dollars. They know there's nothing they can do about the price of fuel, and they're just sucking it up, but we also spoke with some locals here today who say this will affect how they live. One man who says he's going to start riding his bike to work because what he and his wife pay combined for gas each month is half of their mortgage.
WHITFIELD: Oh, my gosh, that is extraordinary, and that really has become the case for a lot of people across the country. Kara Finnstrom, thanks so much, from Anaheim, California.
Well, of course, with gas prices so high, consumers are choosing fuel economy over their SUVs, but as Chris Lawrence reports, people are finding it's not so easy nowadays to get rid of those gas guzzlers.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It has been weeks since David Lobby (ph) put his truck on the market.
DAVID LOBBY, SELLING SUV: Nobody's offered what I want.
LAWRENCE: He wants out so he can buy a small car, but gas prices have sent SUV and truck sales plummeting.
LOBBY: I get a lot of calls people are looking for a better price.
LAWRENCE: So what's flying off of the lot now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chevy Impalas, Malibu's, Fords, you know cars that didn't weren't that popular before.
LAWRENCE: Call it revenge of the nerds, but when comparing new to used, remember this, last year the government adopted a new mileage formula to correct the exaggerated claims made from the old economy cars when they were first sold. Still, that hasn't stopped the run on four cylinder cars.
(on camera): What do people say when they bring in SUVs like this Excursion and say, hey, this is what my truck is worth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they find out what you think their truck is worth, they think you are trying to rip them off or something. Some '07s were worth $50,000-$60,000 just three-four months ago, and they're in the high $30s now. It's amazing.
LAWRENCE (voice over): Some owners now owe $20,000 on a truck that's only worth 12,000. They are upside-down just like a bad mortgage and think that buying a small car is saving them.
JACK NERAD, KELLEY BLUE BOOK EDITOR: What they might be doing is to spend thousands of dollars to save hundreds.
LAWRENCE "Kelley Blue Book" editor, Jack Nerad says if the numbers are working against you, don't sell your big truck.
NERAD: Because if you make a trade, you're most often going to spend more to make that move than you would just sucking it up and paying the extra gasoline prices.
LAWRENCE (on camera): Some officials at "Kelley Blue Book" say we've really reached a tipping point, and the day of SUVs and trucks dominating the market, that is done.
Chris Lawrence, CNN, Los Angeles.
WHITFIELD: All right. Well, how about this? Imagine being debt free forever? It is possible. Find out how in YOUR MONEY, that's at 1:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.
Well, some members of a polygamist sect in Texas are celebrating today. Twelve children from three of the sects' families reunited after an appeals court ruled that the seizure of more than 400 children from this sect was unjustified, but the 12 remain under state supervision while the state child protective services appeals that newest decision. The other children apparently will be kept in foster care for the time being and we, of course, have the legal guys with us today. Later on this hour, they will debate this custody tug-of-war.
And on this Memorial Day weekend, the nation's top soldier honors the fallen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADM. MICHAEL MULLEN, CHMN JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: It's a time of stark reality for this price we're paying, and I is most importantly to pay my respects to those personally who sacrificed so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: Ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, his tribute and his vision for helping wounded troops.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) Retired Tech Sergeant Roger Staats, he was proud of his whole family. He was a family man and served in Vietnam, but he had a hero's sendoff when we said goodbye. We know that you are our hero, too, and we have an angel on each shoulder. He was my best friend. I love you, daddy, and I miss you so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: In Iraq, attacks in the former insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, now. The U.S. military says that seven American Marines and two Iraqi policemen were wounded by a roadside bomb, yesterday. A civilian interpreter, with them, was also killed. In a second attack four Iraqi policemen were wounded in a suicide bombing outside of police headquarters.
To date, more than 4500 U.S. troops have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And care for the thousands wounded has improved but the nation's top military officer believes much more can be done to help our veterans.
CNN's Barbara Starr reports.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, has a Memorial Day message. More needs to be done for wounded troops and families of those who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
MULLEN: I believe we, as a country, owe them a debt that almost can't be repaid it is so significant.
STARR: Mullen has a vision, one he will tell the next president, a public and private partnership of lifetime support for the wounded, their families and families of those who have died.
MULLEN: I don't think we are there, yet. I mean, we have improved dramatically the medical care, the aftercare, which a great deal which surfaced out of the Walter Reed exposure last year, but we still, in many ways, I think are in the nascent stages of this.
STARR: It's a commitment Mullen knows will cost billions. His personal commitment is unshaken.
This is Section 60 at art Arlington National Cemetery where those who died in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried and family and friends mourn. Mullen now makes private visits here alone wearing civilian clothes.
MULLEN: It's a time of stark reality for the price we are paying and it is most importantly, to pay my respects to those personally who sacrificed so much and to those families who also have sacrificed because of this loss.
STARR (on camera): How hard is it for you to do that?
MULLEN: It is emotionally, it is very difficult to do that, but it's not hard for me to go. I feel that a part of who I am, of who I am personally, as well as my responsibility in my -- as a senior member of the military.
STARR: You are almost saying it is something that you have to do.
MULLEN: I certainly personally feel I have to do it.
STARR (voice over): Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
WHITFIELD: Zimbabwe opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, returned home today to face President Mugabe in next month's election runoff. Well, he had been out of the country for several weeks in the fears by his party of a plot to assassinate him. Well, he flew in from South Africa under heavy security and Tsvangirai says he beat Mugabe in the first round of presidential elections in March, but after a long delay, the Zimbabwe electoral commission ruled that neither candidate actually won a necessary majority of the votes, so a runoff vote is now set for June 27.
Tales of a monster tornado and what went right when the roof was ripped off of this building and everything outside was torn apart. We'll go back to Windsor, Colorado.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is my brother, David Kirkpatrick, and what I miss about him most is his humor. He was such a funny kid, and you know, he was quiet, but anything he said, anything that came out of his mouth, it was always funny. He always had something to tell you and he was only 20, and we miss him so much and we miss him more and more everyday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Right now, here's what is happening across the world in the NEWSROOM. Barack Obama is campaigning in Puerto Rico, right now. Hillary Clinton arrives later on today. The territory offers 55 Democratic delegates in its primary, June 1st.
And farmers among those getting a look at the damage across Kansas today. More than a dozen tornadoes have ripped across the state in the last 24 hours.
And four shy of 600, that's how many homes are damaged in Windsor, Colorado. A monster tornado plowed through there on Thursday, and some areas are still off limits because of gas leaks and downed powerlines.
Reporter Adam Chodak with affiliate KUSA revisits one business that proved a safe haven for the town's youngest of citizens.
ADAM CHODAK, KUSA REPORTER (voice-over): It's odd how some of the most chaotic days can start with such calm.
BETTY MARTINEZ, DAY CARE TEACHER: We went out, it was a little gray.
CHODAK: Betty Martinez and her day care class had just stepped outside.
MARTINEZ: We didn't even have like two minutes before our director, he said get everybody into the gym. You could hear the cracks. The kids were screaming by this point. We started singing, we started doing the story, we kept them calm. And we literally, all the teachers laid on the kids in order to protect them.
There was trees, there was debris that was coming inside the gym. in order to come in into the gym. You know, just basically told them, I promise I won't let go. I have you, I won't let go. And that's pretty much what all the teachers were talking and telling the children in order to keep them calm.
CHODAK: And then, it was over, the storm, not the danger. Filling the broken building was the smell of gas. That's when Martinez and the other teachers started to direct kids outside, past what minutes before had been a playground and over to the bank.
MARTINEZ: As I was leaving in there, I slipped on the glass that was all there and cut it open.
CHODAK: She says she'll be OK, and thanks to Martinez and all the other teachers, so will all the children.
MARTINEZ: But the building held together pretty good. And I think that was the work of God. I really do. And he knew those kids were there.
WHITFIELD: Wow, some really scary moments, but thank goodness for the kids there and some real quick thinking.
Reynolds Wolf is in the severe weather center.
WOLF: Time is everything.
WHITFIELD: Oh boy -- I know!
WOLF: You know, I mean, that's always the good reason to have a plan in place long before ...
WHITFIELD: Yes, and they did drills all the time ...
WHITFIELD: ...but really little did they expect that a tornado would really come through and they'd have to actually put the plan in place, but that's how it goes.
WHITFIELD: Be prepared.
WOLF: I mean, it's very hard to make a right decision when you're terrified ...
WOLF: ...but because they had a plan in place, they acted immediately and they saved a lot of lives.
WHITFIELD: Yes, good example.
WOLF: You know what we're seeing today there ...
WOLF: ...is a much better situation.
WHITFIELD: All right, this presidential election has already charted new ground on both race and gender, so could party lines be next?
Senior political analyst Bill Schneider wonders, what if?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Both likely nominees promote their ability to reach across party lines.
OBAMA: It's not just going to be enough to have Democrats, we've got to reach out to Republicans. We got to reach out to Independents.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will ask Democrats to serve in my administration.
SCHNEIDER: Could either of them pick a running mate from the other party? Barack Obama would have to find an anti-war Republican, like Chuck Hagel, who is conveniently retiring from the Senate this year.
SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: We're bogged down in a deep hole in Iraq. And we're going to have to get out of that hole.
SCHNEIDER: John McCain would have to find a pro-war Democrat. Joe Lieberman calls himself an Independent Democrat.
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: You got to put the future of the country, I believe, over party interests, and that's why I'm supporting the candidate John McCain.
SCHNEIDER: A bipartisan ticket, neat idea, huh? We asked an expert on the presidency.
STEPHEN HESS, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: It's one of those ideas that gets floated by people who either haven't thought it through or people who just have too much time on their hands.
SCHNEIDER: The candidates might agree on Iraq, but differ on other issues like abortion. That could split the convention which has to vote on the nominee, and think of all the trouble it could cause in the campaign.
HESS: They run as a team and it turns out that there are dozens of dozens other things that they disagree on and in which the opposition shows that they disagree on.
SCHNEIDER: It's asking for trouble, and that's the one thing you don't need in a running mate.
(on camera): Since 1804 when presidents and vice presidents started getting elected as a ticket, has a major party presidential candidate ever named a running mate from the other party? Yes, once. The ticket won, too, but it was not a good experience.
When Republican President Abraham Lincoln ran for re-election in 1864, he chose a pro-union Southern Democrat, Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, as his running mate. Lincoln was murdered, Johnson became president and got impeached by the Republican Congress. Not a happy precedent.
Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.
WHITFIELD: And perhaps you're looking for more on the presidential race. Well, join us for the CNN "BALLOT BOWL." It kicks off at 3:00 p.m. Eastern, 12:00 Pacific, right here on CNN, your home for politics.
All right, children of polygamy, they're at the center of a heated custody battle in Texas. And now, a break in the case. Our legal guys are standing by and ready to delve right in. Avery Friedman and Richard Herman join us right after this.
VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you think traveling is already hectic, fasten your seat belt.
BEN MUTZABAUGH, USATODAY.COM: This summer probably will be bad for air travelers. And we're going to see a lot of people in airports, we're going to see some very full flights. And that means once there's a problem, these problems are going to ripple out across the country.
DE LA CRUZ: But try to keep your cool even when things don't go according to your itinerary.
MUTZABAUGH: First of all, try to pack your patience. I know it's a cliche, but really expect the worst and hope for the best. No matter how frustrated you are, be polite and courteous with whoever is helping you. It might make them a little more likely and able to help you.
DE LA CRUZ: And timing might be everything.
MUTZABAUGH: Take a morning flight. Airports tend to be a little less crowded in the morning. Consider what other airlines fly your routes. For example, Delta is partners with Continental and Northwest.
DE LA CRUZ: Experts also suggest booking non-stop flights and avoiding connections in places prone to severe weather conditions, like Dallas or Atlanta.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOICE OF UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My brother Daniel, was in the military for a combined total of eight years. He was a sergeant with the U.S. Army. My brother was a very loyal person to his friends, to his family, to other soldiers. Everybody trusted him. I know that he's in a better place. They say God only takes the best, and I totally believe that, because my brother was the best.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Reunion in Texas, 12 children from a polygamist sect will now live with their mothers under state supervision. Child Protective Services wants the Texas Supreme Court to keep the other children, more than 400 of them, in foster care.
A lower court ruled the state had no proof of abuse, and no legal grounds to remove the children. Child Protective Services says it took the action after finding what it says was a quote, unquote "pervasive pattern of sexual abuse that put every child at the polygamist ranch at risk."
So, one court rules, the kids go here, another says the state has no right to take the kids. Let's see what our legal guys have to say about all this. Avery Friedman is a civil rights attorney and law professor, good to see you.
AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Hi, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And Richard Herman is a New York criminal defense attorney and law professor. Good to see you as well.
RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Hi, Fred.
WHITFIELD: OK, well, this is interesting, guys, because initially the sentiment was OK, potentially underaged young girls who were becoming mothers and wives. These young ladies were in protective custody and then suddenly, there were no charges after that early April raid. Then, became suspicion of is this really a case?
So Richard, what happened? Is this a case, and if not, how in the world did the raid end up leading to taking these children into protective custody in the first place?
HERMAN: What a great question, Fred. And that's really -- let's just step back for a moment. I'm calling it a prank call came in.
HERMAN: Based on that prank call -- because we don't even know who the caller is.
HERMAN: So, based on that and CPS, Child Protective Services, belief system as to how this group operates, they went ahead, went to a judge, lied in affidavits ...
HERMAN: ...got an order to go in, they removed ...
WHITFIELD: Do we know that, they lied in affidavits?
FRIEDMAN: No, they didn't lie, come on.
HERMAN: They lied, I'm telling you, CPS lied. They had no evidence whatsoever of anything they put in their moving papers, got a judge to issue an order. 468 children were removed. What did they remove them ...
WHITFIELD: Because there would have had to be more in this order ...
FRIEDMAN: That's right.
WHITFIELD: ...to the judge to say someone called in, we can't locate this person. There has to be more in order for the judge to say OK, carry the raid. HERMAN: Fred, it wasn't -- it was not on a case-by-case basis, it was global. It was the group, and based on that, they removed 468 children. Of that, only five were underage and pregnant and some were 16-years-old and in Texas, you can be married at 16 with parental consent.
FRIEDMAN: Well, it's ...
HERMAN: It's outrageous what happened. The appellant court (ph) should be applauded.
FRIEDMAN: No, oh my goodness.
FRIEDMAN: Are we looking at the same case here? Look, I mean, what happened on Thursday, Fredricka, was as confusing as what happened initially.
First of all, Child Protective Services arranges to remove 440 children, and then on Thursday, the Court of Appeals says, ship them all back to Yearning for Zion. You know what, you really need a Solomon, a judge who can take a look at this case.
WHITFIELD: But then, there's still going to be supervision.
FRIEDMAN: Oh, of course.
WHITFIELD: So, it's not like the Appellant Court said, OK, we have no suspicion or there's no grounds to even suspect that these kids could potentially be in harm's way. We do still want supervision, why?
FRIEDMAN: Because ...
WHITFIELD: Why would they do that?
FRIEDMAN: First of all, this was a mandamus action. In other words, it was an extraordinary writ, Fredricka, taken right in the middle of all these hearings that are going on, doing DNA testing, getting testimony. This case is only at the beginning right now. And again, the reason I say you need a Solomon-like judge is to make sure that the moms and the children are together out of Yearning for Zion so that this case can proceed.
I predict that what the State Supreme Court is going to do, Fredricka, is find the middle ground: protect the children, keep them with their mothers, especially the little ones and permit the trial court's to continue to develop the case.
HERMAN: Based on these fact pattern, every one of these children are going to be returned to their parents. The state utterly failed to prove their case. Child Protective -- there's a three-prong test under the Texas Family Court Act. They failed on each prong for this drastic emergency relief ...
FRIEDMAN: No, that's ...
HERMAN: ...to run in -- the emergency nature of this case, to remove all those kids. They had nothing to support that.
FRIEDMAN: They had a Child Protective Services testimony about the pervasive nature of what's going on at ...
HERMAN: It's fictitious.
FRIEDMAN: ...Yearning for Zion ...
HERMAN: It's outrageous testimony.
FRIEDMAN: ...and that created an emergency circumstance. This ...
HERMAN: By some -- by some prank phone call, Avery. Come on.
FRIEDMAN: That's what started it, but the court considered evidence from Child Protective Services, people working with the families here.
HERMAN: They didn't have the evidence.
FRIEDMAN: So, I'm telling you, the Supreme Court is not going to let these children go back to Yearning for Zion.
WHITFIELD: Yes. So, this is far from over. I know we're going to be talking about this one again.
HERMAN: What a well-reasoned decision. There's no way it's going to be overturned.
FRIEDMAN: Oh, absolutely not.
WHITFIELD: OK, well, there's another case that I know is not going to get you as fired up, but it involves the Democrats, Florida and Michigan, but Florida in particular because ...
FRIEDMAN: I'm fired up.
WHITFIELD: Are you? OK.
WHITFIELD: The Democratic Party says we want this to be a legal case, a court -- a case we take to court. Can you do this on these grounds when wasn't it the Democratic Party which said, we're not going to allow the Florida delegates to count because they moved up the date on the primary. Avery, is this a case of legal argument or is this one that's strictly politically-driven?
FRIEDMAN: Ah, Professor Whitfield, there we go.
What happened here is this is a political case couched in Constitutional sheep's clothing. The fact is for 30 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has not permitted this kind of case to go forward among other things in what's kind of silly about this is you have three plaintiffs, including a state legislator, who is alleging -- and don't even know what race they are, asserting that they are bringing a suit to protect disenfranchised minorities.
FRIEDMAN: I studied the complaint, all 33 pages, I don't understand it. This case will be dismissed.
WHITFIELD: Really, Richard?
HERMAN: Constitutional sheep clothing. I love that, Avery. That's great.
FRIEDMAN: Doing the best I can, pal.
HERMAN: Avery is right on ...
WHITFIELD: Well, you guys always coin really cute, clever phrases.
HERMAN: Fred, Avery is right on. This case is going to be thrown out. There's no basis for it. The Democratic Party has the right to decide how they want to select their candidate and if you violate those rules and hold your primary when you shouldn't against their rules and regulations, there's going to be consequences. This case is going nowhere.
WHITFIELD: Wow, OK. Oh, OK, so we begin with a little, you know, huh, huh, huh (ph), and we're ending with a little hhmmm (ph). How's that?
FRIEDMAN: Exactly right.
WHITFIELD: OK, very good. All right, Avery, Richard, thanks so much. Always good to see you.
HERMAN: Have a good weekend.
FRIEDMAN: See you soon, take care.
WHITFIELD: Have a great weekend. Thank you.
OK, this affects just about everybody and boy, does it get under everyone's skin. The price of gas, that's got you down, doesn't it? Well, coming up, the search for cheaper oil could be coming to a backyard closer to you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VOICE OF UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Dave, and on behalf of my four brothers and sister, I want to salute our brother, Corporal Richard J. Nelson, who died in a roadside bombing on April 14th, 2008. I salute Rick for his courage to join the military and become a marine in time of war. I salute him for his honorable life that he lived, the respect he showed people. That we love you Rick, we think about you everyday and we'll see you again some day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: With the price of gas going in one direction, could that add fuel to the push for more exploration here at home?
CNN's Carrie Lee looks at some resources that have been ignored until now.
CARRIE LEE, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Independent drillers like Houston's Tecton Energy believes the United States is sitting on vast droves of untapped oil, and with crude prices setting new records everyday, there's plenty of incentive to find it.
BILL DIRKS, TECTON ENERGY: In the Rocky Mountains in the U.S. and in the same Rocky Mountains in Canada, there are vast tracts of land that literally haven't had a well drilled on them yet.
LEE: Yet, where modern day wildcatters like Dirks see opportunity, critics say the majors don't explore enough.
TYSON SLOCUM, PUBLIC CITIZEN: Companies like an ExxonMobile or a Chevron Texaco are more interested in spending their money on short- term things that are going to provide a big shareholder value, things like buying back their stock or increasing dividend payments to their shareholders.
LEE: The industry says it wants to do more, but the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge remains out of bounds and major offshore exploration is banned because of political and environmental concerns.
ANDY RADFORD, AMERICAN PETROLEUM INSTITUTE: If we had access to these areas, you could expect an increase in the number of wells that are drilled and an increase in the resources that would become available to the market.
LEE: Domestic exploration has risen every year since 2002, but it's still far below 1980 levels when oil prices last peaked.
DIRKS: In 1981, we literally had teams of people scratching almost every square inch of surface in the onshore United States looking for opportunities to drill wildcat. We don't do that as an industry anymore.
LEE: Sixty-four percent of the oil consumed by Americans comes from foreign sources. That's up from 43 percent two decades ago. And with some predicting that crude will top $200 a barrel, supporters of increased exploration say we can't wait any longer to boost domestic supply.
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: The American public is looking at the price that they're paying at the pump, they're looking at the impact on their pocketbook, and they're saying, what is Congress doing to make a difference when it comes to increased domestic production?
LEE: Carrie Lee, CNN, New York.
WHITFIELD: Your money is issue No. 1 here at CNN, so we keep tracking everything that affects your bottom line each weekday at noon. Join us for "ISSUE #1" only on CNN.
A Memorial Day giveaway puts a new spin on an old favorite. We've all heard of bobbleheads, right? Well, how about bobblefeet? Find out what's behind this fancy footwork next in the CNN NEWSROOM.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVE LEMON (ph): My name is Dave Lemon. I'm here for a reunion of the 55th strategic reconnaissance wing. And I'd like to pay tribute Larry Haines (ph), who was a brother of my best friend who served in -- as a marine in Kason (ph) and was killed there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: A politician's public humiliation is now a box office draw. A Minor League baseball team has been handing out collectible bobblefoots, but the giveaway is striking out with some fans.
We get more now from Jeffrey DeMars of affiliate KARE in Minnesota.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Behind home plate ...
JEFFREY DEMARS, KARE REPORTER (voice-over): In their latest attempt to fill the stands, the St. Paul Saints may have gone a little too far for some folks. In celebration of National Tap Dance Day on May 25th, the Saints will give away 2,500 bobblefeet.
DEREK SHARRER, SAINTS GENERAL MANAGER: The phones definitely lit up after this hit the wire, I guess.
DEMARS: The bobblefoot which appears remarkably similar to a man with a wide stance sitting in a stall with an uncanny ability to tap his foot may have earned the Saints execs a ninth inning two-out grand slam homerun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does it remind me of? He reminds me of that senator from -- what is it, Oregon?
DEMARS: That's strike one, but they're close.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Idaho.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Idaho, yes.
DEMARS: The bobblefoot is designed complete with a sales ad on the stall.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For a good time, call --
DEMARS: The number connects you to the ticket office where they've sold hundreds of seats for the bobblefoot's Sunday night premiere.
SHARRER: Certainly, you can look at the bobblefoot doll and you make the connection, but when folks sit in the ballpark that night, it's going to be about the same family fun that you have any other time you come to a Saints' game.
DEMARS: Family fun.
(on camera): The bobblefoot does lead to that lingering question of what to tell the kids.
(voice-over): At a Golden Valley playground ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going to the bathroom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Going to the bathroom.
DEMARS: The feet that dangle from a box is a hit and sparks more parental creativity than any controversy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It looks like a walking locker.
DEMARS (on camera): But what is it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, somebody taking a time-out.
DEMARS (voice-over): Jeffrey DeMars ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In privacy.
DEMARS: ...KARE 11 news.
WHITFIELD: All right, a look at the top stories in a moment. "YOUR MONEY" is next. Here now is a preview.