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CNN SUNDAY MORNING
Chavez's Gesture Turns Book Into Best Seller; Venezuela May Seek To Reinstall Envoy to U.S.; Father's Troubles Emerge in Investigation of Family's Murder; Five Houston Children Dead in Swamped Car; Sites Offer Information on Earth Day Activities
Aired April 19, 2009 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, from the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. Six o'clock here in Atlanta. Hello to you all. I'm T.J.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, good morning, everybody. Hello. I'm Betty Nguyen. It is Sunday, April 19. Thanks for starting your day with us.
HOLMES: All right. So how -- what's the best way to get your book on the best-seller list.
NGUYEN: I don't know. Maybe give it to President Obama?
HOLMES: Yes, and do it in front of the world.
The cameras were rolling, of course. This moment we saw at the Summit of the Americas. Hugo Chavez handing President Obama that book. And now that book has shot up on Amazon's best-seller list. We'll tell you what that book is, who is the author. Get a closer look at this book that's now making headlines.
NGUYEN: Plus, who is the mystery donor? Bill Gates? Warren Buffett? Oprah Winfey (ph) -- Winfrey? The Donald? I mean, I don't know.
HOLMES: The usual suspects, yes.
NGUYEN: Yes, nine universities get surprise checks in the mail totaling $45 million. Any ideas who you think that donor is? Hit us up on Twitter, Facebook and firstname.lastname@example.org. We have no idea who it is, and I guess..
HOLMES: No clue.
NGUYEN: ...the -- the one rule for getting this money, this mystery donor said, "don't try to find out who I am."
Well, those universities don't have to, but we're going to try this morning. Let us know what you think.
HOLMES: All right. We're going to take a look at some of the top stories here first of all though.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, he is actually thinking about sending his ambassador back to Washington. The two countries expelled each other's ambassadors last year. It could be a shift now in the attitudes after this weekend's Summit of Americas (sic). And you're looking at the pictures we just saw yesterday of the president shaking hands with Hugo Chavez.
Now, Chavez says he has already got somebody in mind for his ambassador.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUGO CHAVEZ, PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA (through translator): I have spoken with Roy Chatter (ph), the current ambassador of Venezuela to the Organization of American States. And I have designated him to be the candidate to the embassy of the United States. Now we are only waiting for Washington to authorize him, so he can assume his new position.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Now, we do know, of course, that President Obama and President Chavez met down there at the Summit of Americas (sic). Well, President Chavez also met Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Went up to her, they had a quick little chat, and they talked about bringing the ambassadors back for both countries.
Senator Clinton's spokesperson -- excuse me, Secretary of State Clinton's spokesperson released a statement saying, "This is a positive development that will help advance U.S. interests. And the State Department will now work to further this shared goal."
NGUYEN: Maryland police are looking for answers. They say a father stabbed his wife and three young children to death in their home in Middletown, and then shot and killed himself.
CNN's Don Lemon talked with the country sheriff.
CHARLES JENKINS, SHERIFF, FREDERICK COUNTY, MARYLAND: At this point, we're still looking at all the evidence we've been able to recover. There were at least five separate notes found throughout the house, so right now, investigators are analyzing everything in those notes.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Do it -- so we don't know about a motive? We don't know what was behind this, right?
JENKINS: There is some indication in at least one of the notes that there could have been some psychological issues with Mr. Woods.
NGUYEN: Officials also say the couple had money problems and may have been in debt. They'd recently moved to the area from Florida.
HOLMES: Turn to Texas now, where five children are dead after the car they were riding in veered off the road and went into a flooded creek. Police say the driver lost control when he tried to answer a cell phone.
The children, ages 1, 3, 4, 6 and 7.
Kevin Quinn now from our CNN affiliate KTRK following the investigation that could result in charges for the driver.
KEVIN QUINN, KTRK CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For three hours, crews searched the water just off Greens Bayou, looking for a Lincoln Continental with five children inside.
Frantic relatives could do nothing but stand by, watch and pray.
TYWANNA HARRIS, VICTIM'S RELATIVES: Why did they -- was out? I have no idea why. I really don't know. I didn't get that information, why they was out. But it was really, really bad today. And they should have just stayed home.
QUINN: Authorities say the car was eastbound on Greens Road, east of Aldeen Westfield (ph), around 5:00, when it lost control and careened into the water.
RICK PATTISON, ASSISTANT CHIEF, HOUSTON FIRE DEPARTMENT: Two adult males were able to get out of the vehicle One 10-year-old female was also able to exit the vehicle.
QUINN: The water moved so swiftly that crews felt it necessary to search more than a mile downstream. Authorities say the car was found instead not far from where it plunged into the water.
At the scene, police say the driver, who was one of those who escaped, showed signs of intoxication. He has been taken into custody on suspicion of driving under the influence.
HARRIS: It's a tragedy. I mean, we is so heartbroken. And it -- we just really, really heartbroken. I mean, I just can't say anything. I -- I -- I mean, I'm at a loss for words.
HOLMES: Police did say that the driver failed a field sobriety test.
Again, that was Kevin Quinn, our affiliate reporter there.
Officials say heavy rainstorms that have hammered Texas this weekend may have also played a role in that accident.
NGUYEN: Well, President Obama wraps up his four-day trip to Latin America today.
HOLMES: And leaders of 34 nations there attending the Summit of the Americas. But two in particular have been stealing the spotlight, of course. Maybe you could say one has been stealing the spotlight.
But we're talking about President Obama and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has been putting on quite a show.
NGUYEN: Yes, he has.
But as Suzanne Malveaux tells us from Trinidad and Tobago, there is more at stake at this summit than the relationship between our two countries.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Call it the diplomatic book club. Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez reaches out to President Obama with a handshake and a paperback.
When asked a little later, Obama responds in good humor.
BARACK H. OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You know, I though it was one of Chavez's books. I was going to give him one of mine.
MALVEAUX: In front of a clamoring international press, the exchange stole the show. The book, "The Open Veins of Latin America," documents centuries of American and European exploitation of the region.
QUESTION: Is the president going to read his new book?
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think it's Spanish, so that might be a tad on the difficult side.
MALVEAUX: And U.S. officials say it will take much more than pleasantries to change relations.
JEFFREY DAVIDOW, WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR: A shake and a smile does not constitute a -- a new relationship.
We have a strained relationship with -- with Venezuela. I think what we have to do is rebuild the civil relationship.
MALVEAUX: Chavez, who once called President Bush "the devil," has been one of the U.S.' fiercest critics, most notably on Cuba. Like Chavez, many Latin American leaders here are openly pressing Mr. Obama to bring Cuba back into the fold, normalize relations and lift the trade embargo.
Mr. Obama said he was encouraged by Cuban President Raul Castro's offer for talks, but also wanted to see action on democratic reforms.
OBAMA: I think we're making progress at the summit.
MALVEAUX: U.S. officials caution that decades of tension with the communist regime will take a good deal of time to change.
MIKE HAMMER, SPOKESMAN, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: We'll just have to see what happens in the next few days and weeks in terms of how the Castro government decides to proceed.
MALVEAUX (on camera): Notably, one of President Obama's top economic advisers is on this trip, Larry Summers. And Summers tells us that the No. 1 priority for all Latin American leaders is the success of the U.S. economy, because it has such a huge impact on their ability to export their goods and to employ their people.
Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, Trinidad.
NGUYEN: All right. So let's tell you a little bit about the author of that book that President Chavez gave to President Obama.
You wouldn't confuse Eduardo Galliano with John Grisham, but in the hours after the gift was exchanged, his book, "Open Veins of Latin American" -- that's it title -- it soared onto Amazon's best-seller list.
HOLMES: Yes, it was down at, like, 60,000 -- I didn't even know they kept numbers -- but it was way down at the bottom somewhere.
NGUYEN: Way down there.
HOLMES: But it's up in the I believe top 20, at least, now.
But Galliano is a left-leaning author from Uruguay. And he's in his 60s now. You see him there. He wrote this book in the early 1970s, and he covers 500 years history. It's a critical account of European and U.S. involvement in Latin America. And I'm sure after people see that right there, they'll go out and buy it and it'll move further up that best-seller list.
Well, the president's going to be heading back home today. Maybe he'll do a little reading of that book on the plane, on Air Force One. However, it's in Spanish, and I don't know how his Spanish is.
He's going to be leaving Trinidad and Tobago at 1:00 Eastern time this afternoon; Air Force One scheduled to touch down at home five hours later.
Then tomorrow, the president holds his first full Cabinet meeting. He'll be asking department heads for ideas on where to trim their budgets. Also, Congress coming back to work after a two-week- long spring break.
NGUYEN: Well, if you're on break and you're headed out today, you may face a little severe weather out there.
Reynolds Wolf is tracking it all for us. Good morning.
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning.
You know, this time it's moving into part of the Southeast, where in Alabama, back into Mississippi, perhaps even in Louisiana, Arkansas and Georgia could see some rough weather today. Heavy rain, large hail, damaging winds and perhaps even some tornadoes. We're going to talk about that coming up in just a few moments.
HOLMES: All right, Reynolds. We will see you shortly.
Also, we're talking Earth Day today. Josh Levs looking at the for us.
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning to you.
You know, this right here, the Web site, earthday.net, this is where events all over the world are being planned. Will a billion people really be involved? I'm going to show you the events right near you.
NGUYEN: And that is?
HOLMES: That's U2, right?
NGUYEN: Very good, T.J.
HOLMES: What's the name of the song though?
NGUYEN: Oh shoot, I forgot it. "Vertigo." That's -- woah, we just heard it.
HOLMES: "Vertigo," OK.
NGUYEN: All right. You know, we were talking about U2 and Bono, a big -- a big supporter of helping the Earth, and Earth Day just three days away. It takes place on Wednesday, and organizers are -- expect it to be massive, and not just right here in the United States.
HOLMES: Yes, events happening all over the world. Something planned over the Internet as well.
Josh Levs here to show us earthday.net.
LEVS: Yes, good morning to you guys.
It's actually a really good Web site. I've been exploring it a little bit to find some of the -- the best parts to show you.
Let's zoom right in, because if you're interested in taking part, they're saying virtually one out of every seven people or more in the world are going to take part in it. Earthday.net, you can't miss it.
Now when you get there, it allows you to find, by location, what's closest to you. So for example -- you know, it's early East Coast time. Some people are up. I typed in New York here, and it gives you a ton of responses right there.
Check out this list of events, when you just look at some of the highlighted events all over the world. They start off with Jordan, and then they just start telling you about things all over -- literally, all over the world, including hundreds of them in different parts of the United States.
Now the reason for this is essentially the same: They expect a ton of people to take part. In fact, yesterday, Betty got a chance to speak with the head of earthday.net, and she told us why she expects such a big turnout.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATHLEEN ROGERS, PRESIDENT, EARTHDAY.NET: I noticed a huge upsurge in people who want to take an environmental action as part of their commitment to the Earth, and at least a billion people are participating in Earth Day. So we decided to accommodate them and help them find a way to register their inclination and effort to protect the Earth.
And I think they are sort of in the vanguard, ahead of the governments in terms of protecting the world from climate change. So we're happy to see it and accommodate them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVS: But earthday.net is actually also designed as an educational tool in a lot of other ways. I want to show you one more thing before back to Betty and T.J.
Check this out: You can determine your own carbon footprint. They have this thing where you set up an avatar. So, choose a hair color, skin color, shirt color, pants color. You just kind of, like, set up this person who represents you. Then it traces you through your day. What do you eat? What do you do? Where do you go? And ultimately, it helps you come up with what they believe to be your carbon footprint, how are you affecting the environment. Just a chance to learn a little bit about your personal impact on the world, Betty.
NGUYEN: Well, what if you want to learn a little bit about how they can participate in Earth Day, and what's out there? What are some things they can join on Earth Day to really make a difference? Where can they go for that?
LEVS: Yes, we're actually hooking people up right here, at cnn.com.
LEVS: Let me show you something before we go here. Right here, cnn.com/impact -- "Impact Your World." A great system we have set up.
And what they do here -- throughout the year, this hooks you up with different charitable organizations. Well right now, we're hooking up with Earth Day. So when you get to the main page, cnn.com/impact, we take you to Earth Day, and we will hook you up right here with literally dozens -- it just keeps going. This is the just the beginning of the list of organizations that have events planned for Earth Day or are doing environmental programs that you can help out with.
So go to cnn.com/impact, and you can join in that way -- Betty.
NGUYEN: Sounds terrific. Thank you. I'll be going there myself.
HOLMES: All right, Betty. Got some severe weather over here to talk about with my man, Reynolds. We got some -- what -- what do we got today? We talking flooding?
WOLF: Same thing.
You know, is -- is this like deja vu that every single time...
HOLMES: Every weekend...
WOLF: I know.
HOLMES: ...we talk about this stuff.
WOLF: It's like, 'Hey, T.J. Let's talk about severe weather again.'
WOLF: That's what happens. I mean, it just -- it just seems to be that way. And -- and yesterday, we were talking about the -- the potential of some flooding in parts of Houston, and it happened. Galveston, same deal.
What we could see is more of this action unfold in parts of Louisiana, perhaps even Arkansas.
Take a look at this video, T.J. I mean, this just shows the -- the heavy rainfall that came down and did so at a really short period of time.
WOLF: Poor-drainage areas on parts of the I-10 corridor, and you see it stack up, people wading through it. The water expected to recede as we make our way through the rest of the day. But it is...
HOLMES: But it's moving towards some of us.
WOLF: It is moving. It's going to be moving eventually into places like Alabama. Later on tonight, into Georgia. So some places that are desperate for the rain are going to get it. Other places that are thinking, 'Hey, that's enough.' T.J., can you do me a favor man and move that chair? I got that -- I'm sorry, some...
WOLF: Pardon me (INAUDIBLE)
HOLMES: No worries. Anything else I can get for you, Reynolds?
WOLF: Cappuccino, maybe a (INAUDIBLE)
HOLMES: I'll be right back.
WOLF: I know you will.
HOLMES: All right.
WOLF: Got to love that guy.
All right. Here's what we've got: Some scattered showers and a few storms that are popping up in places like Kansas City. But the real action is going to take place farther along the Gulf. Thankfully, places like Houston, Beaumont, back into Crowley, they're in the clear. But if we follow this line of storms, right now, New Orleans and the French Quarter, you got the rain coming down. If you're inside and you look out, you're going to see the rain coming down in sheets.
But I'm telling you, these showers are going to move right through. And in just about a minute or so, you're going to see them begin to improve in parts of, say, the western half of the city. Eastern half of the city, you don't have the heavy rain yet. That's going to be coming through I'd say in about 20 minutes. But then once it passes through, we're going to see more development take place later on today.
Same components we had yesterday in parts of Texas are going to be in other parts of the Southeast. The moisture coming in from the Gulf. This area of low pressure, this frontal boundary, is going to move through, and that's going to give us some lift (ph), being the real catalyst, giving us a chance for those storms.
Tornadoes are possible, but the biggest threat is going to be the wind; possibility of large hail; and of course, some flash flooding in those low-lying areas. Where you have the Alabama and Tom Bigby rivers feeding into places like Mobile, the water could get very high. So keep that in mind.
For your temperatures today, 73 in Dallas; 67 in Nashville; 95 in Phoenix, out by Sky Harbor Airport; 79 in -- in San Francisco; 78 in Portland; 68 in D.C. In New York, it's going to be about 57, but enjoy the little bit of sunshine you're going to get, because as we make our way into the late afternoon hours and into tomorrow, the rain is going to move in. And as we wrap it up, I got to tell you, New York, you're going to have a pretty rainy week. Not flooding, but still, some pretty decent showers as we make our way through the next week.
That is a look at your forecast. I'm going to enjoy the cappuccino or whatever it was that T.J. brought for me. But let's send it back -- no wait, there it is. It's right in front of him, on his cup (ph). (INAUDIBLE)
NGUYEN: Have you seen this mug? This thing is gigantic.
NGUYEN: I mean, hold -- hold this up. I mean, look at this. It's almost as big as my head.
WOLF: Betty, that's a trough.
WOLF: That's -- that's not a mug. No question.
NGUYEN: All right.
WOLF: Talk to you guys soon.
NGUYEN: Good luck with that, T.J.
NGUYEN: See you later, Reynolds.
HOLMES: All right. We're going to continue to talk about weather here, including the story we were talking about a little earlier here, out of -- out of Texas, kind of a horrible story here. Don't know if it's weather related or not really. Police say it could have been a little weather related, but also it could have a lot to do with the driver here.
We're talking about a story where five children were actually killed in accident down there. But again, weather might not be the cause there.
NGUYEN: Yes, they're kind of scratching their heads on that one, trying to figure it out.
Plus, Main Street is really feeling the impact of this current economic crisis. So could small businesses bring towns back to thriving communities? We're going to delve into that.
NGUYEN: That's true, the best things in life often for free, right?
NGUYEN: Except when, say, you're trying to go to college and you need a little extra scholarship money. Well that has actually paid off in a big way for a lot of universities.
HOLMES: A free education is great.
HOLMES: And some colleges, of course, have been struggling...
HOLMES: ...students been struggling in tough economic times.
So we told you about this yesterday, but this story will continue for awhile.
NGUYEN: That's right.
HOLMES: Forty-five million dollars...
NGUYEN: Uh huh.
HOLMES: ...handed out by an anonymous donor to nine universities.
HOLMES: Now the -- this comes with a -- a -- a little deal here.
HOLMES: You cannot -- not only not know who the donor is, the schools have to agree not to even try to find out who the donor is.
NGUYEN: Yes, the schools have to agree to it, but we kind of want to figure out...
HOLMES: We're curious.
NGUYEN: ....who this person is. So we've posted this on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Just so you know, $45 million, those gifts range from $8 million to one individual university, to $1.5 million. So that's a lot of money to go around to nine universities.
And let me just bring this up on my Twitter page, because we've asked the question, and want to get your responses. A lot of people are saying -- I guess you would call them "the usual suspects." I got one here from Carlos that says, "One, it could be Bill Gates. Two, Steve Jobs from Apple. Three, Oprah Winfrey. Four, Bill Cosby. Five, Warren Buffett. Or six" -- this is interesting -- "Bernie Madoff." I -- I guess he's suggesting he's trying to get rid of some of that cash. (LAUGHTER)
HOLMES: I got Bernie Madoff as well, but one on my Twitter page I want to share from rashadj1 is the name, there at the bottom. And he is saying, "Maybe it came from some jilted housewife giving away hubby's money before his secretary can get it."
HOLMES: That's an idea as well.
But people just getting kind of creative with these. By all means, send -- send them in, and if we can figure out who this person is, or if that person is listening and would like -- you know what? We won't say your name either. You can just call in; we'd love to talk to you.
HOLMES: We swear, we will not divulge who you are. But we'd love to get you in and talk to you...
NGUYEN: About why you did it.
HOLMES: About why you did it.
HOLMES: It'd be great. So we'll put that out there, or you can hit us on Twitter or Facebook. Either way, we'll take your call.
NGUYEN: All right. So CNN brings together money and Main Street, where we see the real impact of the current economic climate on real Americans. And small towns across the country -- well, they are suffering, and the success of small-business owners could be the key to the recovery.
HOLMES: Yes, we want to CNN's Poppy Harlow now. She explains how one man's move to bring a cheese factory to upstate New York could make a big difference to a community struggling with nearly 10 percent unemployment.
POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Cuba County, New York, an entrepreneur with an affinity for cheese could be just the stimulus that its struggling towns need.
LARRY ROSENBAUM, SARATOGA CHEESE CORP.: This is the beginning of a trend of bringing back manufacturing industry to New York state.
HARLOW: For 10 years, Larry Rosenbaum has been dreaming of a cheese factory, churning out kosher and halal feta and brie to the tune of 30 million pounds a year. (on camera): What is the demand? And is it just in the U.S., or is it around the world?
ROSENBAUM: Well, actually, in the United States, the kosher- cheese market is -- the type of cheese that's being made is -is not a high-quality cheese.
HARLOW (voice-over): Drawing from local farms and using green technology, Saratoga Cheese Corp. hopes not only to make cheese, but also help surrounding industries.
DALE HEMMINGER, HERNDALE FARMS: It's a real important thing that we're getting another market for our product.
HARLOW: Dairy farmer Dale Hemminger was skeptical of Larry's plan at first.
HEMMINGER: I was a little concerned. I really admire the research they've done.
HARLOW (on camera): As soon as 2010, this barren cornfield on the outskirts of town could be home to a $40 million, 64,000 square- foot cheese factory. And with the cheese will come the jobs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are 75 people that will be employed at the factory.
HARLOW (voice-over): But Larry's dream is still $10 million short. He says he's raised $30 million, but can't break ground until he reaches $40 million.
As for the final slice of funding, Larry says both a dairy company and a private equity firm have expressed interest.
ROSENBAUM: We're not going to quit until we make it.
HARLOW: With 75 jobs at the factory, 150 construction jobs and an estimated $140 million in local revenue waiting in the balance, a lot is riding on Larry's shoulders.
Poppy Harlow, CNN, Auburn, New York.
NGUYEN: Well, Larry and his family have invested $1 million of their own money in this project, which is 10 years in the making. And we're going to stay in touch with Larry and let you know how they do it.
And you can see more "Money & Main Street" every Thursday morning on CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING."
HOLMES: Well, a lot of the most influential black Americans can be found in Washington, the most influential maybe occupying the White House right now. But it also, according to one magazine -- some of those influential black folks are here at CNN. NGUYEN: Yes, they are indeed.
Plus, video games for your health?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: A look at how some of those games are really helping wounded veterans.
HOLMES: Good morning and welcome back to the CNN SUNDAY MORNING, everybody. I'm T.J. Holmes.
NGUYEN: Good morning, T.J.
HOLMES: Good morning (INAUDIBLE).
NGUYEN: How you doing?
HOLMES: I'm all right this morning. You're OK?
NGUYEN: Yes, it's good day.
Good morning, everybody. Thanks for joining us. I'm Betty Nguyen.
HOLMES: All right.
Well, first up here. Can you believe it has been 10 years? The anniversary is tomorrow of the Columbine killing. That is when 12 students were killed at that high school in Littleton, Colorado. Shootings prompted stronger security measures at schools across the country. As for the Columbine survivors, some of them have written a book. One has a new movie coming out as well. We'll be talking with Andrew Robinson (ph) coming your way in about 45 minutes.
Also the suspect in the murder of a pregnant Marine expected to appear in court tomorrow. Mexico extradited Marine Corporal Cesar Laurean to North Carolina Friday night. He's accused of killing Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach, back in 2007, then fleeing to Mexico. She was eight months pregnant. Police found her charred remains in his backyard.
In Texas, five children dead after their car veered off the road and was swept into a flooded creek. The children, ages, one, three, four, six and seven. The driver and another person in the car escaped. Police say the driver lost control when he tried to answer a cell phone, but also say the driver failed a field sobriety test, and that the weather may have also played a role.
NGUYEN: And speaking of the weather. We have a lot to tell you about today. Massive storms have just hammered Texas all weekend long. Just outside of Houston, another person was killed after his car got stuck in a flooded overpass, or underpass, I should say.
A cycling race to raise money for multiple sclerosis research has been rained out twice this weekend already. The rain has been just non-stop. In two counties, it broke records yesterday. And there are also reports of hail the size of ping pong balls. That will do a little damage. And a flash flood outside of San Antonio as well as a tornado near Waco.
Now, I grew up in Texas, so I know about severe weather. But my goodness, Reynolds, they have really taken the brunt of it this weekend.
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, because you live in Texas you also know that, especially in the Austin area, if you drew a line from Houston to Austin and back up to, say, Dallas, the ground is very hard in Texas.
WOLF: Especially back out towards Austin, because you have a lot of limestone. Limestone does not absorb water very well.
NGUYEN: The flooding can be horrific.
WOLF: Precisely. So what happens, when the water hits, it just kind of runs off. It all kind of pushes out, and the water has to go somewhere. So it finds its way into culverts and streams or dry riverbeds, and then the water goes up exponentially. When people get caught in that, it's bad news. Those cars --
NGUYEN: The problem is a lot of people don't know how deep that water is.
NGUYEN: And they try to cross the roadways and then they get carried away.
WOLF: Yeah, because the water picks up sediment, picks up all kinds of dirt and dust and whatnot. It's really dark. You can't see through it. It's not transparent. And people drive into it thinking they are safe, the cars get picked up, carried away. And then it's bad news. It only takes about a foot or so of water to actually pick up some of these vehicles. And once they move down stream, it's a death trap.
NGUYEN: That's remarkable.
WOLF: It really is. And what we are seeing, Betty, is more that occurred today, not in Texas. Texas should get a break today. And there are still some flood watches that are in effect and warnings in effect for parts of Texas, but the thing is they are not going to see any additional rainfall. The threat should end as we make our way later in the day.
(WEATHER FORECAST) HOLMES: The president wrapping up his four-day trip to Latin America later today. He'll leave Trinidad and Tobago at 1 o'clock Eastern this afternoon. Air Force One scheduled to touch down at home five hours later. Then tomorrow the president holds his first full Cabinet meeting. He'll ask department heads for ideas on where to trim their budgets.
Also, Congress comes back to work after a two-week long spring break.
NGUYEN: They are among the most powerful in Washington. President Barack Obama's Cabinet, the diverse administration, but an administration with undoubtedly the highest number of African- Americans. And they are "Ebony" magazine's "Power 150". The most- influential African-Americans in the country. CNN's Don Lemon talked with the magazine's editor Byron Monroe.
BYRON MONROE, EDITOR, "EBONY" MAGAZINE: If there was one most power African-American on the list it would be President Barack Obama.
DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And you are talking about the inner circle here, right?
MUNROE: Absolutely. With him, he has brought in a great team to lead the country and to really lead his administration both on the Cabinet and key advisory roles. Somebody like Valerie Jarrett, who was with him here in Chicago and now is his senior advisor in D.C., Eric Holder, the attorney general, Doctor Susan Rice, who has been at the center of some of the biggest news happening recently, whether it is North Korea, or the issues in Iran. And Lisa Jackson, at EPA - there is a host of folks, Desiree Rogers, who has been making a lot of changes in the White House and was behind that very successful Easter Egg Roll last weekend.
LEMON: And I'm sure she had something to do with the dog as well. Because all the members of the press were gathered out there.
Hey, two things I want to talk to you about real quickly. We had some breaking news so we have to move on. It's a great day in the White House, and you are talking about the press corps, is that what you are talking about?
MUNROE: Yeah, it was really important for us to show that this year there are more African-Americans covering the White House than ever before. Including your own Dan Lothian and Suzanne Malveaux. And, you know, we have our Kevin Chappell (ph), who has been in Washington covering it for "Ebony" and "Jet". And covering the White House, going there to the daily briefings, asking Robert Gibbs the tough questions, is really something that has -- there have been African-Americans covering the White House for years and decades. We go back to the '50s with Simi (ph) and Booker (ph) but only now is there enough of a critical mass where we can see more than 20 black faces throughout the White House press corp.
NGUYEN: Our own Don Lemon and Soledad O'Brien did make the list of the magazine's power 150 as well as CNN Contributors Donna Brazile and Roland Martin.
The only thing that I would say, they left out a few people, including my good friend, right here, T.J., Holmes.
HOLMES: I'm not one of the most powerful black people in this building right now.
NGUYEN: Get out of here. Yes you are.
HOLMES: What are you talking about?
NGUYEN: Your words hold a lot of weight, T.J.
HOLMES: Yeah, they're just heavy words. That's all.
HOLMES: Well, congratulations to them. That's a good thing for our Suzanne Malveaux.
NGUYEN: Right. Sitting there, right in front.
HOLMES: Yeah, of that press corps, there.
NGUYEN: We'll talk to her a little bit more, later. And of course, we're going to have to rib her a little bit about that.
It's a great honor, though. Good for them.
OK, so a story out of Erie, Pennsylvania, sparking a whole lot of outrage.
HOLMES: Oh, yeah.
NGUYEN: Here it is. An off-duty police officer is caught on camera, in a bar, mocking a man that who he watched die.
HOLMES: All right. You will have to listen to this. We will be playing a lot of this throughout the morning. But we're just going to show you a quick clip here. This is pretty graphic, because this cop is in a bar joking, as he was telling other people, other patrons, in the bar about this investigation, and about him showing up to the scene, seeing a man after being shot in the head and he is mocking the man and also the man's mother.
Take a quick listen here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COUSINS III: The mom arrives on the scene, the lift the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) bag off the face and she says, Yeah, that's him. That's my son!".
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: All right. That's just a clip. This is an eight-minute long video that has been on YouTube, and it has been there for several days now. It sparked a lot of outrage and protest in the Erie community. The NAACP now has gotten involved. They will be joining us, this morning, live, to talk about the case.
The NAACP President Ben Jealous, and also the mother of that murder victim, who he was mocking in the video, is going to join us as well to see what they would like to see done now. And a lot has to do with sensitivity training and what not. Nothing criminal, a lot of people are saying that he did there. But my goodness.
NGUYEN: Some people are saying, look, he was in a bar. He was drunk. You know, he didn't know he was being filmed or videotaped. I don't know if that was a camera phone or what. But there is a lot of talk about that case, no doubt.
All right. Well, also President Obama is, as we said, wrapping up his four-day trip to Latin America today. We'll be live from Trinidad with a look at what he's accomplished there. Of course, we'll be talking to our Suzanne Malveaux, who we saw that picture of there.
NGUYEN: Cant' wait for that.
OK, and you know the Nintendo Wii, right? Well, it is doing more than just entertaining. It is actually helping the disabled through physical therapy. We will show you how that works.
NGUYEN: So it's not just the kids that love the Wii. We kind of like them a little bit too, don't we?
HOLMES: Not going to lie. You remember, when it first came out, you had one downstairs. The guy brought it in.
NGUYEN: Playing tennis. It was so fun.
HOLMES: And you got to use it first before a lot of people did. Looked at it then as all fun and games.
HOLMES: But over the years now, it is now being used for other reasons, and it is also being used to help the disable. It's helping some veterans right here in Atlanta.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES (voice over): They arrived one after another, America's retired warriors, veterans from World War II, Korea and the Vietnam war. They all want to see one of their own take on the boss in a showdown of sorts. Atlanta's Veteran Affairs administrator James Clark oversees the medical care and rehabilitation of more than 70,000 veterans, but today he's taking on the challenge of this 76-year-old resident in a bowling match. But why?
JAMES CLARK, DIR., ATLANTA V.A. MEDICAL CENTER: It brings life to those who have lost their limbs. It has brought a quality to their life that they could never have done before this technology.
HOLMES: The technology is Wii. Yes, that one, Nintendo Wii. And Wii games are now being used by therapists everywhere.
CHAUNCEY ROZIER, V.A. RECREATIONAL THERAPIST: Around the world, recreation therapists have gotten onboard with knowing that a Wii game is one of the greatest therapeutic activities, right now, that is going on in community living centers.
HOLMES: The boss warms up for his game.
CLARK: This is going to be a long gauge, ladies and gentlemen.
HOLMES: Uh, yeah? Did you see the challenger? Mizanuel Phillips he has bowled seven perfect games, that's 300 points, all strikes, in every frame.
CLARK: Hey, champ. Give me five? All right. Nice pick up there, Champ.
MIZANUEL PHILLIPS, DISABLED VETERAN: Thank you. Right now we're running neck and neck.
CLARK: Oh! You got robbed.
HOLMES: Mr. Phillips game is a little off. The big crowd, the TV cameras, the photographers all has him a bit nervous.
HOLMES: And another perfect throw. And another.
CLARK: Where is that towel? I think I need that towel.
Oh, bow to the champion.
HOLMES: After a slow start, Phillips threw seven strikes in a row to win, 221 to 138.
CLARK: So how do you throw a perfect game with a hand that shakes?
PHILLIPS: I control it in my upper body. Relax the body. Relax the mind.
CLARK: As you have just seen, you can take a veteran who has lost both of his limbs, who is confined to a wheelchair, get up to the line and bowl a beautiful game. HOLMES: With his victory comes a steak dinner for all 90 residents of the Eagle's Nest Community Center. And now there's a new boss in town.
NGUYEN: Love that.
HOLMES: Isn't that awesome? Yeah, but you get a kick out of it. It's therapeutic. We know they have those Wii Fit, the boards, so people can use them for a workout.
NGUYEN: Right. That's a workout.
HOLMES: Yes, professional athletes use those things now for some workouts. But you saw him shaking there, Mizanuel. He doesn't have Parkinson's he says. It is really unexplained why that shaking happens. But he can control it well enough.
NGUYEN: Like he says, relax the body, relax the mind. And boy, did he bowl a game! Tore it up.
We want to talk about this, as well. This is another good story to bring to you. A mystery donor, or donors, gave $45 million to nine universities with the only rule being you can't try to find out who I am. OK? That's what the universities have to abide by. But this morning, just for fun, we decided to ask you. Who do you think those donors, or donor, may be. And we have gotten a lot of real interesting responses. Let me go to my Twitter page first off.
And this 212 says, "What do the schools have in common? Religion? Student population? The answer is in the ideological similarities.
NGUYEN: That's a good question there.
HOLMES: We need to look into that a little more.
And we put out a plea a little while ago, if that person is listening, you call in to us this morning.
NGUYEN: Call us up.
HOLMES: We will not say who you are. I think I might have figured out who it is.
HOLMES: And he actually sent me a message on my Facebook page.
HOLMES: And his name?
HOLMES: Roy Benjamin. He said it's me, T.J. I just cleaned out some of my drawers at home.
NGUYEN: Right, oh boy. All right. Give us a call, Roy, we'll check you out.
HOLMES: It's Roy.
NGUYEN: All right. Keep them coming, though. We want to know what you think this morning. Hit us up on Facebook, Twitter, Weekends@CNN.com.
In the meantime, though, how about a city that has zero waste, none, not at all?
HOLMES: I don't know about that.
NGUYEN: Is it a dream just for the future? Well, it might be able to happen sooner than you think.
HOLMES: Also, charges that could land him in prison for years, for life? Ah, nothing! The former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has a new job offer.
HOLMES: On television. A look at which network is ready to scoop him up for -what else? A reality show.
NGUYEN: Another reality show. Do we need another one of those?
HOLMES: Of course.
NGUYEN: Earth Day, not happening right now, but on Wednesday. It's coming up very quickly. Do you know this? Americans generate 200 million tons of trash each year. And that, of course, ends up filling up landfills. Cities, of course, are the biggest offenders. And Atlanta, no exception.
HOLMES: However, some downtown hotels and restaurants trying to clean up their act. Their goal, zero waste sent to the landfill. CNN Photojournalist William Walker shows us how this is being done.
HOLLY ELMORE, GREEN FOODSERVICE ALLIANCE: We are in Downtown Atlanta the home of the Zero Waste Zone. The food service industry produces thousands of tons daily of products that goes to the landfills. Zero Waste means taking all of the waste currently going to landfills and recycling it. We are focusing first on the food service industry.
We are here at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, in the main kitchen. Our wastes are paper, cardboard, aluminum, tin pans, glass, plastics and food waste. We have always done the basics, but lately we have been looking for ways to capture food waste and our oil. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think there is a better solution towards helping people move to a fully 100 percent recyclable avenue versus just (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
We are a food waste composting operation. We take food waste. Blend it with wood waste and yard waste to make a high-quality compost, that we sell back to the agricultural market.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are we planting?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These are Sun Marazano Peas (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The more diversity you have in compost, the more beneficial, bugs, bacteria, fungi you attract.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are at a plant now. We are offloading these used cooking oil and we're sending it down into our plant.
ROB DEL BUENO, REFUEL BIODIESEL: This is our finished product. This is actually 100 percent biodiesel. And this is the stuff that can be used directly in a vehicle, or blended with petroleum diesel to be used in a vehicle. So this is the finished product.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a retail pump in Atlanta. And it's commercially available.
ELMORE: The realistic goal for the Zero Waste Zone in the near future is for it to expand across the nation.
Landfills are going to be used less and less. Potato peelings can then turn into compost that then comes back in the form of food for you.
HOLMES: All right. And meanwhile, this is a new website we will show you here. It's called Poodwaddle.com. And it shows a World Activity Clock. It constantly updates things that are going on around the world, a lot of environmental issues. The world population, deaths, births, illnesses. All kinds of things. You see the population? Apparently three kids were just born as I was speaking.
NGUYEN: That's pretty neat.
HOLMES: But it just keeps count. It keeps count.
NGUYEN: And the deaths, too, keep going up unfortunately.
HOLMES: It keeps count of things like that. But you can check that out, Poodwaddle.com.
NGUYEN: There is a plethora of information out there, especially if you are wanting to recycle and be good stewards of the planet. I took a trip to Greensburg, earlier this week, Greensburg, Kansas, that is. And there is a dealership, a John Deere dealership, where they take the oil from their big tractors, recycle it so it heats the flooring in the building. It's really pretty amazing to see what people are doing to really recycle and make sure that the stuff we would usually throw away is put to good use.
HOLMES: We are going to see some of that, is it next weekend?
NGUYEN: Coming up next weekend.
HOLMES: Next weekend.
NGUYEN: It's the second anniversary since that deadly tornado that killed 11 people there.
HOLMES: Also this morning, we will talk about the Republican Party. A fairly prominent Republican steps up and says the party needs to change its stance on gay marriage. We will be talking to our deputy political director about that.
NGUYEN: That's good stuff.
And I am going to interview a filmmaker who survived Columbine 10 years ago, tomorrow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard that Michael Vick -- remember him? Michael Vick? I heard that when he gets released from prison, he will get his own reality show. They are calling it "Last Collie Standing".
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: That is wrong.
HOLMES: Oh, brother.
NGUYEN: OK, apparently there are not enough reality shows on the television these days.
HOLMES: As you heard, we are at least getting one more possibly. Michael Vick, yes the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback, he is pitching this idea of his own reality show. That comes to us from "The Hollywood Reporter." This would follow Vick's life, after prison, show how he's trying to make up for that dog fighting past. Now, Vick is set to get out of federal prison this summer. He has a lot of bills to pay once he's free. As we know, he lost just about everything.
NGUYEN: Just in case you don't have enough Rod Blagojevich in your life, NBC has confirmed that the former Illinois governor will star in "I Am A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!" That's the name of it and it is going to be airing this summer if it's OK with a federal judge. The impeached former governor would have to spend some time in Costa Rica shooting the show and it's not clear if the court will let him travel that far before his corruption trial.
And a lot of people have been weighing in on this. I want to go to my Facebook page right now.
And Marcus Taylor says this about these reality shows. "They keep coming up with new ones so people must be watching. So, I guess, there is an audience out there for these shows." But he says, "We have become a nation of Peeping Toms. I'm glad I have a life."
But you know what, people will watch. But the question is, how long will they watch?
HOLMES: But you know, that's why they keep making reality shows.
HOLMES: For one, they're fairly inexpensive to do. You don't have to pay the talent. But also, folks watch them.
NGUYEN: We need a reality show.
HOLMES: You have been talking about that for a year.
NGUYEN: We've talked about it a little bit. I don't think TV is ready for that just yet.
NGUYEN: We are going to need a lot of editing. You don't want to go into our lives.
HOLMES: In the meantime, let's do what we do well, on TV.
NGUYEN: Yes. Let's do that.
HOLMES: The news.
The next hour of CNN SUNDAY MORNING, right now.
NGUYEN: From the CNN Center in Atlanta, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. Good morning everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen. It's 7:00 a.m., 6:00 a.m. where it is flooding in Houston. And 5:00 a.m. where they are digging out of snow in Denver. We will get you the weather in just a moment.
HOLMES: And hello to you all, I'm T.J. Holmes. On this April 19, glad you could start your day right here with us.
NGUYEN: All right. Well, President Obama is ending his four-day trip to Latin America today. And he offered a spirit of cooperation and worked to ease friction between the U.S., Cuba, and Venezuela. He's set to give closing remarks in Trinidad just before noon.
HOLMES: Also, the daughter of John McCain says there is a war within the Republican Party. So, who's doing the fighting? Meghan McCain lets the Grand Old Party has it (ph). NGUYEN: In Oklahoma City, remembering the homegrown terror attack that shocked the nation. It was April 19th, 1995, when Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 people.
In Waco, Texas, marking the 13th anniversary of the deadly raid on the Branch Davidian compound that left 76 people dead. Federal agents assaulted that compound in a 51-day standoff with cult members led by David Koresh.
HOLMES: Now, in Texas, five children dead after the car they were riding veered off the road and went into a creek, a flooded creek. Police say the driver lost control when he tried to answer a cell phone. Children ages one, three, four and seven.
We turn to Washington, D.C. now and Congress reconvenes tomorrow. Lawmakers will begin hearings on energy and a global warming bill. And the president also plans to focus on cutting wasteful spending. And in his weekly radio and Web address, the president says when he gets back to work at the White House, he'll start looking at ways to trim the budget.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: And this Monday, in my first full cabinet meeting, I will ask all of my department and agency heads for specific proposals for cutting their budgets. Already, members of my cabinet have begun to trim back unnecessary expenditures. Secretary Napolitano, for example, is ending consulting contracts to create new seals and logos, that have caused the Department of Homeland Security $3 million since 2003. In the largest department, Secretary Gates has launched a historic project to reform defense contracting procedures and eliminate hundreds of billions of dollars in wasteful spending and cost overruns.
And I commend senators McCain and Levin, a Republican and a Democrat, who have teamed up to lead this effort in Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: President Obama is due to arrive back in Washington tonight after he wraps up that four-day Latin American trip. And our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux, has been traveling with the president. She is there in Trinidad. She is standing by for us.
And we will get to her. Well, we're going to get to her now? I think I hear -- no, she's not ready yet. She's there. She's standing by, though. She's just waiting for us to give her the go.
NGUYEN: We are working on it.
HOLMES: And we'll go live to her in just a moment.
But first, same-sex marriage. That's an issue that gays and the GOP don't really see eye to eye on. That could be a problem if you are gay and in the GOP like the group the Log Cabin Republicans. The group is holding a conference in Washington this weekend. They've invited some names that might think surprising at first, like the daughter of the last Republican candidate for president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEGHAN MCCAIN, DAUGHTER OF SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: I feel too many Republicans want to cling to the pass successes. There are those who think we can win the White House and Congress back by being more conservative. Worst, there are those who think we can win by changing nothing at all about what our party has become.
I think we are just seeing a war between -- I think we're seeing a war brewing in the Republican Party right now. But it's not between us and the Democrats. It's not between us and liberals. It's between the future and the past. I believe most people are ready to move on to that future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Our deputy political director, Paul Steinhauser, joins us now to talk about -- Paul, what seems to always be a hot and pivotal issue about to become hot and pivotal again. This weekend, Log Cabin Republicans are holding a special conference on gay marriage. I guess, what is coming out of this conference now?
PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, a big headline, T.J., a really big headline from Steve Schmidt. This is the guy who ran John McCain's presidential campaign last year. He was the campaign manager.
And he came in front of cameras and in front of this conference, and said, "You know what, Republicans, conservatives, it is time to accept and push for gay marriage, and let it be legal." And that is a big deal because, you know, Republicans, social Republicans and social conservatives especially, have a big problem with legalizing gay marriage.
Americans seem to be split on the issue. But, you know what, Steve Schmidt said, there's two reasons. First of all, Republicans are known as a party of live and let live, the party of less government. So, he was saying, you know what, if we don't want to get in peoples' lives, so, why are we telling gay people they cannot legally marry.
And the other thing, T.J., that he brought up, which is very important, he said, "Listen, Republican coalition seems to be shrinking. We did not do so well with younger voters, voters who are more accepting of gay marriage. This, politically, will help us if we stop, you know, fighting gay marriage," T.J.
HOLMES: Yes, maybe a political calculation there. But is the broader Republican Party showing any signs that they are set to really embrace this idea?
STEINHAUSER: Not yet. This is -- this is Steve Schmidt talking, and this is Steve Schmidt's -- coming from his mouth, this is not coming from the party. And you're right, there's a lot of social conservatives in the party who definitely will not see eye to eye on what Steve Schmidt is saying in calling for legalizing gay marriage.
HOLMES: All right. Is there going to be -- this is happening right now, at least this discussion we're having and talking about, it's happening within the Republican Party. But is there going to be a room here -- I don't want to say a political opportunity necessarily -- but still, will the president, Democrats need to get into this -- will they be forced into this debate as well?
STEINHAUSER: You know, the president -- I would assume would probably rather stay away from this debate. It's pretty divisive. Americans seem split on whether gay marriage should be legalized or not. Right now, you know, in New York State, there is a push now by the governor to legalize gay marriage there. Four other states recognize gay marriage as legal. But I don't think this is going to become a big federal issue anytime soon, T.J.
HOLMES: All right. Paul Steinhauser, a friend of our show here on CNN, our deputy political director -- sir, always good to see you, we'll see you again soon.
NGUYEN: And White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux is traveling with the president. She joins us now live from Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago.
HOLMES: Suzanne, hello to you, again. Of course, all the talk has been about the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, and President Obama, all their exchanges. But there were some other work being done there as well. But still, give us a little behind the scenes. How much was going on? How much chatter was there behind the scenes about this meeting between these two presidents?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: T.J., you could really look at this as the anatomy of a day's hunt (ph). You have day one -- what are these two leaders going to do? Everybody is paying close attention.
Well, it was President Obama who walked over to Hugo Chavez to shake his hand, essentially, a sign that he wants to shake off the past. Chavez, in return, says, "With the same hand, I greeted Bush, I want to be your friend." And this is from the same guy who called President Bush "the devil." So, everybody kind of piques their interest what's going to happen with these two.
And day two, the cameras are waiting, the reporters are waiting. And Chavez saw an opening here. He got up. He went over to President Obama and gave him this book. It was called "The Open Veins of Latin American." It was really about U.S. and European exploitation of the region, but nevertheless, seen as a gesture, a sign of goodwill.
And then later in the day, he goes over, Hugo Chavez, walks over to Hillary Clinton, secretary of state, and reminisces about the good old days, in his point of view, of Bill Clinton and how things were with Venezuela back then, says kind of in a casual way. It would be nice to have our ambassadors back in each other's respective countries. And then he goes out, makes a statement to the press.
That's when it became really kind of more of a formal, a big deal. And then, that's when it was confirmed, that yes, he is, at least, making signs, some overtures that he wants to see the Venezuelan ambassador back in the United States, and perhaps, an American ambassador back in Venezuela.
So, obviously, there is something that is happening here, T.J.
NGUYEN: Yes, that is a huge sign between the two countries. Any idea if that will -- really will fall through? I mean, will see that happen maybe sometime soon with the ambassadors?
MALVEAUX: You know, it's interesting because I talked to aides here, officials here who saw this unfold. And they've said, "Look, you know, this is significant, because it is a gesture. But it could just be antics." You know, this could change. In two weeks, you could have Hugo Chavez trashing the Obama administration.
But for now, it seems like it is an overture. They're going to take Chavez at his word. And perhaps, it's going to be something that is different.
The one thing that they say here is that a lot of these Latin American leaders, by and large, really want to see a relationship with President Obama and the administration, very popular. President Obama is more popular in Venezuela than Hugo Chavez. So, they want to take an opportunity -- advantage of this opportunity while there seems to be at least an interest in the United States. Very different than what we saw with President Bush.
NGUYEN: That is interesting, the popularity. Yes.
HOLMES: And speaking of taking advantage of an opportunity here, Suzanne, we have an opportunity, and we are going to take an advantage of it right now.
NGUYEN: Full advantage of it.
HOLMES: Yes. Because we have you here, you have that worried look on your face. Don't worry. Here's -- all right, Suzanne. Well, we are showing a picture ...
MALVEAUX: Right. Always, T.J., I never know what's coming up with you.
HOLMES: Well, we are showing a picture to our viewers. I'm not sure if you have seen it. But it is of Black Americans who are covering the White House. The black press corps, if you will, at the White House -- and front and center is a Suzanne Malveaux, with her arms crossed and looked like she is about to take on anybody. But this is, of course, part of their series about 150 most influential black Americans.
NGUYEN: Yes, "Power 150." And you are one of them, Suzanne.
HOLMES: But tell us about that real quickly if you can -- that picture in the White House press corp.
MALVEAUX: Sure. You know what I love about that photo is, actually, they have people there behind the scenes, as well as in front of the camera. You know, you guys always get to see me, obviously. They put me front and center like I'm the dean or something.
MALVEAUX: But you know, you see in that picture. You got Jacko Riggs (ph), who was there, one of our photographers. He's behind this camera right now. He's actually taking this picture and bringing it to us. Well, you get a chance to actually see him in that photo.
So, there was quite a large group of us now more than under the Bush administration. So, it's nice to see, you know, people getting recognition.
HOLMES: Well, good to see you.
HOLMES: And a great picture. And we'll see you when you get back home. Thank you so much, Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: I'll sign it for you, T.J.
HOLMES: You know I was going to ask. Thank you.
NGUYEN: And we won't be putting it up on eBay. All right. Thank you, Suzanne.
Well, 10 years ago, Columbine wasn't a household word synonymous with school shootings. But on April 20th, 1999, all of that changed. Here's what one of the survivors is doing to commemorate the anniversary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A fire drill during lunch?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a senior prank, one of your buddies. OK, grab your stuff, let's go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: A writer and director Andrew Robinson joins us to talk about Columbine.
NGUYEN: Tomorrow marks 10 years on the day since the Columbine massacre. Those classmates are all in the 20s. The memories of the 10 victims live on. And Andrew Robinson knows that firsthand, he was a senior on the day of the shooting, and he is now a filmmaker. And this is how he is dealing with April 20th, 1999.
(MOVIE CLIP PLAYED)
NGUYEN: Director and writer, Andrew Robinson, joins us now from Nashville, at the film festival there this morning.
And let me ask you this. First of all, we do appreciate you joining us. But you were sitting in a computer lab when the shootings took place, a senior in high school. Looking back now 10 years later, what strikes your memory the most about that day?
ANDREW ROBINSON, DIRECTOR/WRITER: Just the confusion of it all. Just the panic, the confusion, and the fact that, you know, there was just, it was so big. And it's -- it kind of took over and changed the entire community -- and in the days that followed, you know, the country and the world.
NGUYEN: Yes, it did. This is your first feature-length film. It's called "April Showers." I understand that's mainly based on your experience on that day. And I want our viewers to take another look at just a little portion of your film. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just another glorious day here at (INAUDIBLE) high school. Every day is a glorious, this is high school. (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED TEACHER: Everyone open your books to page 21. Who wants to tell me, where does Romeo and Juliet take place?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A fire drill during lunch?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a senior prank, one of your buddies. OK, grab your stuff, let's go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: It is just so powerful looking at these images. Let me ask you this, what is the purpose of your film 10 years later? What message are you trying to send with this?
ROBINSON: Well, I really wanted to focus on, you know, the survivors of events like this. And while it's based, you know -- while it's based on Columbine or my experiences from that event, you know, it's not the Columbine movie, because as we've seen, these things continue to happen. And, you know, all too often, the cameras kind of get focused on the how and the why of the day, and we don't really know much or pay too close of attention all the time about, you know, the countless people that do survive these things and have gone through it.
And, you know, like in the instance of Columbine, you know, several of my friends and myself included, as well as hundreds of other students were left kind of trying to figure out, you know, what to do. And here we are 10 years later, and, you know, kind of -- we're, you know -- certain outlets are starting to do the kind of "where are they now" piece.
But what they experienced in the week after and the months and even into the years afterwards, with the post-traumatic dress and depression, and, you know, dealing with issues of faith and, you know, guilt and things like that -- those aren't really topics that get talked about. And this film attempts to shed, you know, some light on that for the general public to kind of be able to see further into the aftermath of things like this versus the event itself.
NGUYEN: You know, something you said that I found interesting. You talked about the media spotlight. And I believe you told "The L.A. Times" this, that the camera lens became similar to guns in a way, out to get us, it made it hard for some people to get closure. Did it make it hard for you to find closure?
ROBINSON: Yes, I mean, everyone deals with these types of things in their own way. And I dealt with -- I dealt with my grief and issues very privately. But I was present for a lot of my friends who were grieving and I tried to be there for them. And, you know, could see -- I could see the toll that some of the media and things were having on them.
NGUYEN: But, Andrew, let me ask you this: 10 years later, you are now turning the media spotlight back on it with your new film. Do you see the irony in that?
ROBINSON: Oh, I do. I do. In many ways, you know, I don't -- I don't look at the media as a bad thing. And I don't slight them in any way, shape or form for what happened, you know, 10 years ago. It was all, you know, something new and something of that scale hadn't really happened. And so, you know, everyone was trying to do their job and do it to the best of their ability.
Coming to it 10 years later and using the media in order to promote this film, if it generates awareness and gets it -- gets it out there for people to see to become not so much, you know, enthralled back into Columbine story but aware of -- you know, for young people and teens especially, to be able to see something like this and apply what they see and what the characters go through and look at that through the lens of their own life, you know ...
NGUYEN: It's a learning tool, then.
ROBINSON: Yes, if using them -- if using the media to do that, and then helps, then great.
NGUYEN: All right. Andrew Robinson, it is really a powerful film. And the proceeds, a lot of them, will be going to local schools. So, it's obviously doing another good thing as well besides just making people aware.
NGUYEN: Thank you so much for your time today, and best of luck with your film.
ROBINSON: Thank you very much.
NGUYEN: "April Showers" opens in limited release on Friday. The movie will be available for downloading beginning May 5th on iTunes, and for streaming at indieflix.com. As I mentioned, a portion of the proceeds will go to charity.
We'll be right back.
NGUYEN: We are talking a lot about Earth Day because it's coming up on Wednesday. And cities all over the world will be holding events about the environment.
HOLMES: And one thing organizers have been calling for is greener cars. They've been talking about those for some time it seems, eco-friendlier cars. Josh Levs joining us with a look at it.
People have been talking about this for a long time, Josh.
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
HOLMES: Is this a possibility?
LEVS: I am so happy about this, because we have good news to bring people about the car market. This is really great stuff. We started looking into this, and I got to talk with an expert. I asked him -- is it truly green car really close?
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DERON LOVAAS, NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL: We are actually very close. Plug-in hybrid vehicles that can run on electricity and therefore help get us off oil, and help jump-start the economy by going into technology that we can manufacture domestically are a big part of the future.
LEVS: So, let's break it down, because when people think about green cars, they think electric. There are theories that you could have a car that runs on water, vegetable oil, ethanol. What is the future? What's the best hope at this point?
LOVAAS: Imagine that you are able to get into your car, and it's what is called a flex fuel plug-in hybrid vehicle. And that means that it can run on a variety of fuels, including ethanol in liquid form, and it can run on electricity, which means you squeeze more and more miles per gallon of gasoline that you use. LEVS: So, the idea is a combination of ethanol and electric car?
LOVAAS: That's right. That's right.
LEVS: And ethanol, we've heard them in the past. There have been some problems with ethanol. For example, the plants that turnout the ethanol were actually causing pollution. And some people weren't sure it's even any better than gasoline. Is ethanol moving in a direction in which it will be truly green?
LOVAAS: Yes. Thanks to actually a new energy law that Congress passed in 2007, ethanol is headed in the right direction.
LEVS: How many years are we from having a car that is, in this sense, truly green? How many years?
LOVAAS: Well, we're only a few years away. That's the good news. Actually, Ford has already come out with an Escape flex-fuel pluggable hybrid. And the Prius is going to be pluggable as well. And you have the Chevy Volt out there as well. These cars are going to be in the show rooms in just a few years.
I think both domestic and foreign carmakers are going to be out at the forefront, because, I think everyone has seen the writing on the wall. You know, it's not just like -- it's just not prove like mine; it's most of the American public and it's also the carmakers. They realize that this is the future. And to be competitive and to keep generating jobs and to stay solvent, actually, they need to invest a lot more in cleaner and more efficient technology.
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LEVS: And I'll tell you, there's really excitement about this. I just put a link to that video up on my Facebook page, it's Josh Levs CNN. We're already hearing back from people saying, I want to buy this as soon as they're out.
I'll show you how you can find out. We'll zoom in real quickly. This is the one Web site to tell you about right now. "Move American Beyond Oil," it's part of the NRDC. It's BeyondOil.nrdc.org.
And, you know, for Earth Day, we have all sorts of programs coming up. All you got to do is go to CNN.com/Impact. We hook you up with dozens of organizations no matter what part of environment interests you, CNN.com/Impact, guys. Getting a lot of traffic, we expect it to get a lot more leading up to Wednesday, Earth Day.
NGUYEN: All kinds of information there on how to help. Thank you, Josh.
LEVS: Yes. You got it. Thanks.
HOLMES: Well, there's a YouTube video that's getting a lot of attention now, because it has a police officer in it. And he's in trouble right now because there are comments he's making in this YouTube video about a murder victim, and he is laughing and joking and telling a story about it.
NGUYEN: You got to see that.
And we are going to be talking with a couple leaders, one with the NAACP. Also, the mother of the person who was killed, correct?
HOLMES: Of the victim. He says -- I mean, it's just about eight minutes. But he is in trouble on -- he's been on leave now with pay.
But still, this is a story that's going to have a lot of people talking. So, you want to stick around for that. They'll join us live.
But after the break, we are going to be heading over to "HOUSE CALL" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Don't go anywhere.