Return to Transcripts main page


High School Skit Draws Fire; Accused Hit-and-Run Father Captured

Aired October 30, 2009 - 15:00   ET



RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Big development in the case of a beautiful young woman from Iraq -- why is her dad accused of running her over? Was she acting too American for his liking? He has just been caught.

Is this hotel owner who suggested his employees change their names a bigot or a victim?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shorter the better, easier to understand.

SANCHEZ: Is this really a case of discrimination? Are these students mocking blacks by wearing blackface or are they simply wearing dark knight masks in a skit? Are you offended? You decide on your national conversation for Friday, October 30, 2009.


SANCHEZ: And hello again, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez. This is the next generation of news. This is a conversation. It's not a speech. And it's your turn to get involved. And you know what? This is going to be one of the most interesting newscasts that we have brought you in a long time, for a couple of reasons.

First, there is a major development on a story that has me asking, what in the world was this man thinking? I probably would be right if I said you're going to have the same question as well if you stay with us here. Take a look at this young woman. She's 20 years old. And she was doing what young women that age do.

I mean, she was born in Iraq, but, since coming to America, she's been acting like, in many ways -- boy, here is a shocker -- like an American young woman. And, for that, it appears her father, say police, tried to kill her with his car, tried to run her over.

This is the man the police have been looking for. They thought that he had left the country at one point. It turns out he was captured just a short time ago in Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, far from Phoenix, Arizona, where the alleged crime occurred. His name is Faleh Almaleki. He's 48 years old.

And CNN's David Mattingly has been all over this story. And he's joining us now.

David, thanks for being here. DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You , Rick.

Noor Almaleki had been having a lot of problems with her family, this from her family. It's been going on for some time. And the day that he ran over her in an Arizona parking lot, police said this, that he had -- that she had become too Westernized for her father and that she was not living according to the traditional Iraqi values.

That was quoted from their press release. Since that time, we have heard from the brother. Now, this is Almaleki' son...


MATTINGLY: ... who says that his sister, Noor, was married to a man in Iraq and had been living abroad. She came back to the United States and she had been having a relationship with another boyfriend here and had actually been living with that boyfriend. That was a huge source of disrespect, according to her father.

SANCHEZ: Because she was married in Iraq, has a husband there, but since she's been here, she's been seeing another man?

MATTINGLY: That's right.

SANCHEZ: And her father essentially took sides with the husband in Iraq, rather than her?

MATTINGLY: The father viewed this as a huge source of disrespect to him and their values. He didn't like what was going on. And this argument, this ongoing animosity in the home had just boiled over into that parking lot...


SANCHEZ: That's amazing. Let's do this. You mentioned her brother. Apparently, we have got some sound from him. Let's go to the brother's sound real quick and then we will talk about what he says on the backside. Let's all listen to this together now.


PETER-ALI ALMALEKI, BROTHER OF VICTIM: The last two years, she's been going out of her way being disrespectful. And the person that -- the boy that's supposedly her boyfriend right now, I don't like him.


SANCHEZ: You know, it's one thing to advise your child, your daughter. You and I do it with your kids. The question is, what would make the father crazed enough to do what police are accusing him of doing, of actually wanting to mow her over with his car?

MATTINGLY: We have seen these kinds of stories before. In some cases, it's called an honor killing. We haven't heard the family using that term yet, if that's actually going to apply to this. But we do know that the father was very upset with his daughter, upset enough to attack her with -- allegedly attack her with his car in that parking lot. And he also ran over another woman in the parking lot that day who was with his daughter, and that was the mother of the girl's boyfriend.

SANCHEZ: The condition of the daughter at this point?

MATTINGLY: She's not doing well. She has been in a coma ever since this happened. She's still in the hospital. She's unconscious. She had to go through spinal surgery, but at this point, she's not been awake. She has not been able to talk.

SANCHEZ: Was the father trying to leave the country?

MATTINGLY: We don't know that. He was picked by U.S. Marshals in the Atlanta Airport. That's the busiest airport in the world. He could have been trying to go anywhere in the world, anywhere in the country.

But we don't know that yet because the U.S. Marshals aren't saying where he was planning to go.

SANCHEZ: I imagine he's going to be extradited back to Arizona, where the charges were filed. What are they charging him with?

MATTINGLY: They're waiting for him in Arizona. We talked to the prosecutors there. They can't talk about what they are actually going to charge him with, but police say that they're seeking two counts of aggravated assault.

SANCHEZ: That's it? He tried to run over his daughter with a car. Aggravated assault? Isn't that attempted murder?

MATTINGLY: That could be just the start. We have to wait until we find out what the grand jury said and what the prosecutors are going to say once he's back on the ground in Arizona.

SANCHEZ: David Mattingly, good stuff. It's really a fascinating story. My thanks. Stay on it for us, if you would.

How does a football game between two Catholic schools turn into an ugly controversy with, I mean, severe racial overtones? There are a couple of photos that I want you to see. And the photos, when I show them to you, they may or they may not offend you. That's why this is a controversy.

They show some students that are performing a skit just before this football game at a pep rally, you know, when you have a pep rally and you try to get -- say things about the other team and how you're going to kill them and beat them and all that stuff and make fun of them.

Well, these guys say they were dressed as dark knights. But some people are saying, no, you were wearing blackface, and that's racist. Is it really? I want you to look at this video. I want you to look at these photos I'm going to show you in just a little bit. And I want you to help me get through this. I want to know what you think. Twitter me. MySpace me. Facebook me, because this is a really an important conversation, I think. And there's a lot of this going around these days.

Also, cameras capture the horrific moments of a car rescue. This is unbelievable. Believe it or not, the car begins sinking in the background of a news reporter's live shot. And he was doing a live shot about safety when driving over deep puddles. Unbelievable.

You have got to see how this one plays out.

And, remember, we're going to have the after-show today, and we're going to be joined by some of the folks who are coming here to be a part of our -- what do we call this, Angie? I forgot. The Twitter tour? Inside the conversation. We will be right back.


SANCHEZ: Unbelievable. We were just telling you that story about Mr. Almaleki, the guy who was apparently accused of aggravated assault on his daughter by trying to mow her over with his car. And David Mattingly was here. And I asked him about what this guy's intentions were, what the possible motive was, and why they found him at Hartsfield International Airport. Was he trying to leave the try?

He's just gotten some fresh information -- from who, David?

MATTINGLY: This is from the Peoria, Arizona, Police Department, the investigative agency who's handling this case. It turns out he did leave the country.

According to this release that just came out, Almaleki drove after incident, drove to Mexico, where he abandoned his vehicle in Nogales, Mexico, where officials there later located and seized the vehicle.


MATTINGLY: The suspect then hopped on a plane in Mexico City, flew to London, from Mexico City to London. You still with me here?

SANCHEZ: Even though -- now, remember, put this is perspective. There was a BOLO out for him. All the authorities had been advised to look out for him at airports. Police officers all over the country were looking for him. And this guy drives to Mexico, flies to London? How did he end up back in Atlanta?

MATTINGLY: Well, when authorities in London saw him get off the plane, they turned him around, sent him back to the United States, where the federal marshal were waiting for him in Atlanta.

So, he made a clean getaway, got all the way to London, where officials there stopped him, and sent him back to the United States. Well, the bottom line is now, he's in custody. He's going to be heading back to Arizona, where he's going to be facing these charges.

SANCHEZ: It makes you wonder, though, what kind of security we have if somebody who is on a BOLO, on a be on the lookout all over the country, is able to make these kinds of twists and turns and get all over the place like that.

MATTINGLY: Well, he did drive to Mexico. He did fly out of Mexico City, so it wasn't like he was flying out of a U.S. airport.


MATTINGLY: Maybe the word just didn't travel quickly enough.

SANCHEZ: Yes. All right. Thanks a lot. Great update, great information. Curiouser and curiouser, as Yogi Berra would say.

We all know that blackface is offensive. And if you don't know that, then maybe you should. But let me ask you something. When is blackface not really blackface? You decide.

Ready? Let's show it. Roger? Last Friday in New Orleans, there was a football pep rally and students there were putting on a skit. They were in costume while putting on this skit. Because they were playing a team called the Purple Knights, they dressed as black knights, they say, like the dark knight in "Batman," the dark night, not black night.

And they wore masks. Shrouds, actually, what they called them. They were trying to spoof the other team, which is what you do at pep rallies. You know, we're going to kill them, go, team, go, that kind of stuff. Well, not really,. At least it didn't go over that way.

This thing has gotten really ugly. Newspapers in New Orleans are writing about it. Alumni are all up in arms. And principals of both schools are now apologizing. Talk about ramped-up.


JOHN DEVLIN, PRESIDENT, BROTHER MARTIN HIGH SCHOOL: They were not properly monitored or supervised by us before the pep rally took place.

REV. JOHN RAPHAEL, PRINCIPAL, SAINT AUGUSTINE HIGH SCHOOL: The connection between that and traditional blackface is a reasonable connection to make, since they were white students portraying students at an African-American school.


SANCHEZ: Actually, one of the students who was in that skit was black himself.

CNN's Sean Callebs is all over this story.

Sean, I'm not sure. I'm wondering if this is more of a sensitivity thing than it is an actual racial thing. But tell us how this thing got so blown up all of a sudden.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that it's probably a bit of both, Rick, to bluntly point it out.

But it's interesting because it's getting -- now, think about it. It's a week later and the national media is only just now -- really, local media just got hold of this yesterday. And why didn't this become a bigger issue earlier? Well, it's because the leader of both schools kind of had some calm heads in there. They talked. The principle at Saint Augustine, which, of course, is the Purple Knights, he found out about this before the student body did.

He saw it on the Web site. At that school, they have a closed- circuit TV. He told the students about it and said, look, this is going on. I you guys to understand this. This is bone-headed, but I don't think there is anything racially -- I don't think that this was an ugly racial incident. That's not what they were trying to do.

So, John Devlin, the principal at Brother Martin, as well as Father Raphael, got together. They talked about this and said, look, this wasn't good. There was some insensitivities in this. This is what they call a teachable moment. Putting on a mask, shroud, blackface, whatever you want to call it, may mean something to 16-, 17-, 18-year-olds in this day and age. It means something entirely different to people our generation, Rick, and even to the older generation.


CALLEBS: So, they're trying to get these kids together.

SANCHEZ: I'm glad you mentioned that, because I think maybe what's most differently about this story is it's the old fogies who are really up. It is the alumni. It's people who were not there and who have nothing to do with the school.

The kids seem to be fine with this. What does that tell us, Sean?

CALLEBS: Well, they call -- this is a big small town. These kids know each other away from school. True, one school is predominantly black, one is predominantly white. But they have interaction away from things.

The alumni is upset. And there's no question that apologies needed to be made over this. But is it something that they can't move beyond quickly? Well, the administrators from both say, yes, we want to do is get kids from both schools, and we want to have more interaction.

We want people to understand, look, this may not be cool. You don't understand. One thing Father Raphael told me I thought was interesting, he got a group of black students together and said OK, if we were going to slam a white school, what sort of stereotypes would you throw out? So, they talked about that to understand where this may be coming from. And in Father Raphael's words, it's not like they came over and burned a cross on our lawn. So, we want to move beyond this. We want to kind of address this and say, look, there are blind spots; there are things kids should know about, things they can do, and things they shouldn't do.

SANCHEZ: I have got to tell you -- all right, Sean, thanks so much.

I'm interested in what a lot of folks think about this story. So, we're going to do a couple of things here. First of all, I'm going to check the tweets, MySpace and Facebook to see what you think. As I look at this strategy, I'm just wondering if you can't just take these kids at their word.

They put on costumes, costumes. They were trying to be the dark knight. And the dark knight wears a dark costume. Is that blackface? Really?

Charlton McIlwain is an associate processor of media, culture, and communication at NYU.

I want to hold you for the break. But, if you could, just to tease us to see where you're going with this, do you disagree with me? Do you think that this is really racist in intent?


I disagree with your characterization of it. I don't think necessarily that it was racist in intent. In fact, I don't think intent really has much to do with the real problem here.

SANCHEZ: So, do you agree that it's really a whole lot about nothing?

MCILWAIN: No, I wouldn't agree with that.

SANCHEZ: Then stop there. Stop there, because that's what I want to see you amplify, if you could.

Let's have an intelligent discussion about this. And I'm going to look forward to it. Folks, stay right there. We're going to be right back.

Kill the tease.


SANCHEZ: We didn't just want anybody for this segment. We wanted somebody who is really smart and ready to talk about this. So we got Charlton McIlwain. He's an associate professor of media, culture, and communication at NYU.

And I got a nice smile out of him there.

MCILWAIN: Thanks for the flattery.


SANCHEZ: All right, Professor, let's go through this together.

First thing we should do is, let's put up that picture again. This is a pep rally that's causing a lot of controversy. It was two Catholic schools that are about to play a football game. One of the schools was predominantly white. One of the schools was predominantly black.

The school that was predominantly white put on a skit during their pep rally where they were poking fun at the other school, the team, as this goes on all the time, obviously. Anybody who's ever been to a pep rally has seen this.

But they chose to wear costumes that they made up. And the costumes, they said, were, if we take them at their word, their costumes were the dark knight from the "Batman" movie, I suppose. And they're spoofing dark knight, because the other team I think is called the Purple Knights.

So, there you go. That's the background. Some people are looking at this and saying because they were wearing a dark shroud over their face, that it had racial overtones. I say it may be that some of those people are -- may be a little oversensitive when they look at this.

You, Professor, say I may be wrong. Tell me why I'm wrong.


I don't think people are being oversensitive. The fact is that you have blackface going on here. You have whites who are impersonating African-Americans, and doing so in this particular way of covering their faces in a black shroud, and doing it primarily for the amusement of whites there at the school.

But the real issue here is not the sense of...

SANCHEZ: Well, but let me stop you there, because if you go by that argument...


SANCHEZ: ... then no costume that involves any dark color or blackface is appropriate then. If I wanted my kid to be -- I don't know -- I'm trying to think of a costume where you would wear a dark face, you know, one of the Batman characters or Spider-Man, for example, and you give him that dark face and you put the green around it, is my son making fun of black people?

MCILWAIN: Well, I think the question about appropriateness is really not the important question.

The question is, is there a reasonable possibility that this could offend? And I think the real tragedy here is not so much that the students did the skit and did it the way that they did. It was that somewhere in their drafting of the skit, in their performance of the skit, they seemingly never asked themselves the question could this be offensive, and I think that's the real tragedy.


So -- but you and I agree that there's no reason to believe that these kids went into this trying to make fun of black people when they chose that uniform -- or that costume? Pardon me.

MCILWAIN: Right. I don't know these kids. I don't know what their intentions are.

But I think, given the history of blackface, given the history of race in this country, I think that it is unquestionable, and I don't think that we can say people are being insensitive when they look at that and say this is just another instance of blackface, another instance of whites playing out some form of racial stereotypes that, intentionally or not, has a negative effect.


SANCHEZ: I will give you that. And you know what? And I think that's an interesting and smart response and one that maybe we can all learn from.

But isn't it interesting, though -- and let me give you the last word on this -- isn't it interesting that the young people in this case were basically unaffected by it? There's no evidence that any one of them went to the principal or anybody in that audience was offended or anybody complained about it. It wasn't until the older folks, the alumni association, saw the picture -- they were appalled.

Doesn't that tell you what it tells me, that maybe we're kind of moving toward finally a future where stuff like this won't have to be reported by CNN?

MCILWAIN: No, I think it's quite opposite. I think a room full of whites mostly that looked and said there's nothing wrong here and didn't question that, I think there's something problematic about that.

I'm not saying that it's wrong. And obviously we might point to the one black student that was in the skit, but I don't think that gets people off the hook.


MCILWAIN: So, I'm not saying that we would -- this is a matter of you can't talk about this, you can't do certain things, we should censor and squelch, but not to have the discussion before and after I think is the real tragedy of it.

SANCHEZ: I'm looking for a glass that's half-full, and you're still seeing it as half-empty. I guess that's the... (LAUGHTER)


MCILWAIN: Look, Rick, as long as we're talking about it and discussing it, I think it's optimistic.


SANCHEZ: I get that. And I think a lot of folks probably enjoyed this conversation as well. And I'm glad we're looking at it from both ways.

Professor, it's a delight having you on, sir. We will get you back.

MCILWAIN: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: All right.

MCILWAIN: Bye-bye.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't feel like I should change my name now, because we're free. This is America.


SANCHEZ: OK. If your employer asked you to change your name to sound more American or Anglicized, would you do it? A hotel owner who made that suggestion is being called all but a bigot. Is he a bigot?


SANCHEZ: Boy, we got a lot of response on this. Let's go right to our Twitter board, if we possibly can.

Let's start with Ralph down here. "Rick -- Rick, you're way off base. It is clearly blackface. Would you appreciate a Latino team mocked as Chihuahuas?"

"People just need to stop overreacting and just get on with their lives. Who's it going to hurt? No one. That's who."

"When the Wayan brothers do white face, they make millions and not get harassed."

That's interesting.

"Don't you think we're all at the point where a high school skit should not be reported on CNN? I like you, but really."


"I bought that mask before. It's supposed to give you the Grim Reaper effect. People need to be less sensitive."

And, finally, "Not to keep tweeting, but, come on, enough. Not all intent is bad. How can you see blackface beforehand if the intent is fun?"

Boy, we got a lot of different reactions. Obviously, we have got a talker on our hands here. We will keep looking at it.

In the meantime, we're going to be coming back in just a little bit with this. File this one under the dumb robber's handbook. A man paints his face with a permanent marker to try and make it more difficult for police to catch him and for people to know who he is, while he's accused of breaking into a place and trying to rob it. And guess what? His accomplice, he's got an even more interesting disguise. That's just ahead.

Also, a mother and a child trapped in their SUV, and this -- as this one goes under. The video's amazing. The entire terrifying incident and the rescue attempt is captured because there was a reporter there who was doing a live shot. And guess what he was reporting on? How dangerous it is to drive through deep puddles on the roadways.

Yes, can't make this stuff up, folks. I will be right back.


SANCHEZ: Maybe that's why we do this show. Maybe that's why we call this the national conversation, because from time to time we get perspectives that I never thought that I would hear or get.

I want to show you something now. Let me prepare you for this. This is going to surprise you. You ready? Let's go to the Twitter board if we possibly can.

And you're going to see that moments ago when we did that story with David Mattingly about a man who was accused of trying to run over his daughter with his car because he thought she was becoming too westernized, this man has just tweeted us and said that he agrees with the father. At least that's how I'm reading this.

"As a Muslim father he as the right to do what he did to his daughter. Daughters are not raised to dishonor their family."

Just leave that up for a minute. Go back to that. Let's take that in for a minute. I mean that's pretty remarkable, isn't it? Maybe it isn't. It depends on what your perspective is and what your background is. But I think from our cultural standpoint as Americans, you can't help but look at that and go, really?

Let's move on. You may know this controversy, it involves a guy named Larry Whitten. Whitten bought a hotel in Taos, New Mexico, and he has some business practices that some find unusual.

But are they bigoted? He told his employees to speak English when they're around him, and he suggested to telephone operators and receptionists that they make their names easier to announce and anglicized, like Martin become Martin, at his suggestion.

Since this story made news, Mr. Whitten has taken quite a beating from the media and from LULAC, who has been picketing his establishment. Watch.


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, JOURNALIST: Did you or did you not tell someone whose name was Martin so say that his name was Martin or similar changes?

LARRY WHITTEN, OWNER, WHITTEN INN: Yes, ma'am, I was answering your question of why --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but just answer that question, though. Did you ask him to change his name and anglicize their name?

WHITTEN: Yes, I asked Martin to change it to Martin to better understand it over the telephone.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You can't understand Martin? You realize that the vast majority of the people that live in this community are Latino. How do you treat the customers when they come in? Do you ask them to change their name?

If I come in with the name Jane Velez-Mitchell, would you ask me to change it?

WHITTEN: No ma'am.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That's ludicrous, sir.


SANCHEZ: She gives him quite a tongue lashing, as you may have seen.

Yesterday I raised questions about this story being perhaps more nuanced than it's been portrayed on television. And we immediately got a call from the League of United Latin American Citizens, which is, by the way, an organization that I have worked with for years. It's one of the more respected civil rights organizations in the United States.

And we're glad to have Pablo Martinez here from LULAC. He's the New Mexico state director.

Pablo, how are you, sir?


SANCHEZ: I'm doing fine.

And here's my problem with this story, and maybe you can edify me. The problem I have with the story is, it's hard to get into this man Whitten's heart.

Maybe you know what his intent is, but if you take him at face value and he says I'm just trying to have a successful business, I'm not trying to insult anyone and I'm not telling anyone what they have to do, but I made some suggestions that I thought would make my business more prosperous. Is there anything wrong with him doing that, really?

MARTINEZ: The biggest concern that I have is that he came into a state where he doesn't respect our state constitution. New Mexico is bilingual. We respect English and Spanish with perfect equality. And he was very insensitive to the community.

And the majority of his patronage would be Latino, and if he doesn't respect -- now he's singing a different tune. He didn't have that same attitude two months ago when we tried to negotiate with him.

SANCHEZ: Tell me this, because this is what I want to know. Was he forcing people to -- would he come up to people, for example, and say, from now on your name is not Martin, your name is Martin and that's just the way it's going to be.

Or would he say, hey, Martin, do me a favor. Would you mind if when you answer the phone you use Martin than Martin, because it's easier for people calling from Australia to deal with a name that's more recognizable to them? Because same request, but handled differently, they're two completely different things, as you know, right?

MARTINEZ: Correct, but that's not what he did. He's saying now with his attorney present that that's what he did. But that's not what he did. He --

SANCHEZ: He was bullheaded? You're saying he was bullheaded, forced people to do this and then fired them if they didn't do it?

MARTINEZ: That is correct. We had the Department of Labor ask him, and he told the Labor Department he doesn't have to respect New Mexico labor law. He's the owner and he can do whatever he wants.

SANCHEZ: What about the part about speaking Spanish? I understand, because, again, if an employer says, look, do me a favor this is a place of business. If we have got a lot of Americans or people from Australia, try and speak English around them so they're more comfortable, don't talk Spanish amongst yourselves.

That makes sense to me. I don't have any problem with that. Obviously if two Hispanic people are in the back and doing some work in the kitchen and they talk to themselves, that shouldn't matter.

So which one of those was he asking for?

MARTINEZ: He was asking for them to completely not speak Spanish with him in his presence or anywhere at any time.

And what's ludicrous is that most of these individuals, they are from -- they're not even immigrants. These are new Mexicans who have been here for generations and generations. And again, Spanish is treated with perfect equality, and they don't even speak Spanish.

SANCHEZ: I speak as much Spanish during the day as I do English. When I'm speaking to my friends who speak Spanish, I speak Spanish. When I'm on television, I speak English. There's nothing wrong with that.

But it would be offensive to speak Spanish in front of a bunch of people who don't speak English. So we agree with that, right?

MARTINEZ: Absolutely, right. We don't -- that's not what we're arguing. We're arguing about the name change and his approach to the whole matter from the inception. He's just been very -- his attitude has been very egregious in this whole situation. LULAC and the Hispanic community cannot support business that do not respect our consumer base.

SANCHEZ: It's his right to be a bad businessman who uses principles that don't work and turn people in that community away. And it's your right as a civil rights organization to come in there and protest his bad business practices if you find them offensive, right?

MARTINEZ: That is correct, and that is why we have asked the Hispanic community not to patronize his business inside the state of New Mexico or outside the state. We just can't support that type of business that is not friendly to our employees as well as to our community.

SANCHEZ: Final thing -- when I listen to him on the interviews that he did here on CNN and in other places, he did not sound to me like an unreasonable man. And you're say here now that --

MARTINEZ: That's because he had an attorney present.


SANCHEZ: But you're saying he was unreasonable. He was acting in a way that you found to be almost, what, I don't want to put words in your mouth. Was he bigoted?

MARTINEZ: In my opinion, yes, because when -- he did not have that same tone when he talked to us initially. As a matter of fact, he's even sent employees to harass protesters outside and done some very reprehensible activities with those individuals.

SANCHEZ: And he said the people protesting are people with your organization and not people who work for him. Is he right when he says that?

MARTINEZ: No, that's not true. He had several former employees that were fired. It's not just LULAC, we have several other Hispanic organizations that agree with us. And we have two chapters in that Taos that have mobilized the community, and we support them.

SANCHEZ: That's your right. Pablo, very nice, we appreciate you coming on.

Just to be fair, to let our viewers know, we have had Mr. Whitten on our air several times now. Yesterday we got a call from LULAC and they wanted to have their viewpoint represented as well.

If Mr. Whitten believed that his point of view has not been represented or if Mr. Martinez has not raised points that are valid, he is more than welcome to come back and express his perspective because we know that a lot of people around this country are following this controversy.

Once again, Pablo Martinez with LULAC, New Mexico state director, thank you for being was.

MARTINEZ: Thank you, sir.

SANCHEZ: When you think of most Cubans living in Miami, you think of Castro-hating refugees who want us to have no relations with Cuba. Guess what? That may not be so true anymore. I got a poll that may just turn old thinking on its head.



GUPTA: Ladonna Redman is on a mission. We met her two years ago right in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago. It's the last place you'd expect to find a garden. That's exactly what she showed me?

GUPTA (on camera): What are we growing in here?

LADONNA REDMAN, URBAN FOOD ACTIVIST: Any number of things. Those are collared greens on the far aisle there.

GUPTA (voice-over): Redman led an effort to start what she calls urban farm sites. Why? Because no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't find any fresh produce in the neighborhood.

REDMAN: If you wanted to, you could buy illegal drugs. You could get access to a variety of illegal drugs. If you wanted to buy a gun, you could buy a gun in this community. But if you did want to buy an organic tomato in this community, you wouldn't be able to buy one.

GUPTA: With few grocery stores nearby, most people do their shopping at convenience stores like this one, except they're full of chips, sugary drinks, and candy.

And according to a new study from the "Journal of Pediatrics," shopping at these convenience stores is part of what's making our kids fat. Researchers talked to more than 800 kids outside convenience store and found that on average they were eating 356 empty calories at every stop.

But in lower income minority communities like this one, where high blood pressure diabetes and obesity run rampant, Redman says we can't afford ignore the issue.

REDMAN: There has to be an insistence that healthy living and a healthy lifestyle is a must.

GUPTA: So now two years after we first met her, Ladonna is adding "store owner" to her list of professions.

REDMAN: We really try to bring healthy lifestyles to the hip-hop generation.

GUPTA: All in the hope that she can change the tide in the ever growing storm of obesity.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporting.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back, I'm Rick Sanchez in the World Headquarters of CNN. A quick tweet. Can we get a quick tweet in there, Rob (ph)? Let's do it. Move into that. Zoom in, BobbyBell says, "Hey, Rick, let's change your name to Rick Smith. You know, it looks better. What do you think? Get my point?"

No, I don't get your point, BobbyBell, you know why? I did change my name. I would like to start this newscast every day with this. Hello again, everybody, I'm Ricardo Leon Sanchez de Reynaldo (ph), bringing you the news. I changed it to Rick. A little easier. One perspective.

What's the worst disguise that you could ever use when robbing an apartment? You could tattoo your name on your forehead, right? That would be pretty stupid. Or you could get a magic marker and try to disguise yourself so that nobody would know you're robbing an apartment. Happy Halloween and happy "Fotos del Dia."

Iowa, check out these geniuses, I know I'm going to get a sharpie and then I'm going to draw a Batman mask and that way, they won't know it's me, and they would think it's Batman. And maybe nobody would notice that I'm trying to rob the place. His accused partner in crime also apparently used the sharpie. Look at that one. He was much more elusive, though. He drew this guys that nobody could recognize, just a bunch of lines and circles all over his face. Yes, that will work, they won't catch me. Both were caught, both were busted, both were charged with attempted burglary. If there was a charge for stupidity, men, these guys would have had the book thrown at them. You know, what's worse, they used permanent marker and they're now in a jail for a long time. Yes.

Little Rock, Arkansas, reporter is doing a live shot when suddenly a car drives into a really, really deep puddle. A really, really, really deep puddle. Watch what happens as everybody goes nuts and starts trying to dive in to save the people in the car.

But look what's happening, that car is literally rolling in deeper and deeper and now guys, you can see this person's running out there. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: The flooded area, seeing nothing and then literally right after we start talking, somebody decides they're going to risk it. And now you see all of these people are running into the water trying to figure out what's going on with this truck.

It's just been literally a matter of ...


SANCHEZ: Oh, my god a story about what could have been a story suddenly became a real story. Here's the irony, the reporter was doing a live shot in a dangers in driving over puddles. Can you say good timing?

Suddenly, we're in suburban Atlanta, a small plane takes off this afternoon, it's heading to Tennessee and then promptly falls out of the sky right into this subdivision. And look at these pictures the house is hit and it is, we're sorry to say, a total loss.

And those are "Las Fotos del Dia." And these are two presidents, sort of, Mr. Zelaya meet Mr. Micheletti. Mr. Micheletti meet Mr. Zelaya. You think they were talking to themselves. You're not going to believe this folks. The story that we have been all over started with a coup and then a de facto president. There may be a solution, they may have figured out who gets to be El Presidente. We'll be right back. Stay with us.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back. No one else bothered to follow this story. We did. And I can report to you that today that an explosive political crisis in Central America seems to be nearing an end. There's a deal today in Honduras for a peaceful return to power of deposed president Manuel Zelaya and where it would have him serve his final three months of his term. You can remember that Zelaya was ousted last summer, June 28th to be precise. He was flown from one country in his pajamas and he was replaced by the de facto president Roberto Micheletti.

There are those who say the Zelaya was violating the country's constitution by seeking another term in office. And there are also those who say that he was way to close Venezuela Hugo. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez becoming a bit of a lefty and not a communist.

By the way, the Obama administration denounced the coup from the start, never wavered in demanding Zelaya's return and dispatched diplomats to broker a deal that finally came together overnight. Here's what the deal calls for. Zelaya will not run in the upcoming presidential election. Neither will Micheletti. That election is set for November 29th, and guess who could become the country's president until that time? The guy in the middle there, Zelaya. Zelaya, the guy who was ousted. He would not be allowed though, to have control of the military, and the deal still has to be approved by Honduras' congress. And there's this. Ten years ago in Miami, you never heard talk about lifting the Cuban embargo and if you did often it involved a fist fight. Things are changing. We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez. The U.N. is condemning a U.S. policy on Cuba. The United Nations, think about that. This is time now for a segment we call "connexion."

One hundred ninety U.N. ambassadors voted Wednesday to officially condemn the American embargo against Cuba. Every nation except three voted for it. They said drop, it drop it now, but the world body doesn't seem to be interested in Cubans who live in America or what their perspective is, and let me tell you something. There's a very important perspective there. As a Cuban-born Miami and I can tell you that dropping the embargo has been the origin of many fist fights in little Havana.

I've seen them. Now today a surprising attitude adjustment may be taking place in the homes and cafes of Little Havana. Will it cause the United States government though to follow suit? Remember, we've had this rule in place for so long. Is this the beginning of a change? Here's our Latin affairs editor Rafael Romo. He's reporting -- he's standing next to me right now, but that's because he just got back from reporting in Miami. Let's watch his report.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been here 47 years.

RAFAEL ROMO, SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): Like many Cuban-Americans in Miami who dropped by Cafe Versailles every morning for their Cuban coffee. Who was a strong supporter of the embargo against Cuba, but he recognizes it has fallen short of its intended purpose.

JESUS INGUANZO, CUBAN EXILE: The embargo obviously has not done what we've wanted it to do which is to stop every -- every facet of Cuba in a totalitarian regime.


ROMO: The embargo has been a highly volatile issue in south Florida since it was implemented in 1962. Ninoska Perez-Castellon has been the voice of exiled Cubans against the Del Castro for many years. She says the u.n. vote to condemn the embargo is puzzling.

NINOSKA PEREZ-CASTELLON, CUBAN LIBERTY COUNCIL: When the human rights commission at the United Nations has condemned Cuba for 15 consecutive years with proof of violations of human rights, no action has been taken, so you wonder what -- what is this all about?

ROMO (on camera): For decades, there was never any question on what side of the issue Cuban-Americans were in this neighborhood in Miami known as Little Havana. But a recent poll shows the traditional support for the embargo may be eroding.

(voice-over) The poll shows Cuban Americans are split right down the middle with 43% against keeping the embargo and 42% supporting it.

FERNAND AMANDI, BENDIXEN AND ASSOCIATES: And many also have realized that had if nothing else it becomes a shield for Fidel Castro to hide behind. They see it's probably time and maybe time to look at a new policy.

ROMO: Artist Elena Freyre is among those who think the embargo is outdated.

ELENA FREYRE, FDN. IN NORMALIZATION OF U.S./CUBA RELATIONS: You know the definition of insanity is to do something over and over and over again and blithely expect a different result. We're not going to get a different result. It's not working. It's time to change it.

ROMO: At her gallery in Miami, she proudly displays works of art by Cuban artists living on the island, something that would have been unthinkable just a decade ago. Her son Eduardo is part of the new more moderate generation.

EDUARDO FREYRE, MIAMI RESIDENT/SON OF ELENA FREYRE: It is done nothing except give the government of Cuba a sort of bogeyman to point to. Something goes wrong, and you can say, uh, well, you know, I'm trying but it's the embargo.

ROMO: That's an argument you're not likely to hear among the older generation of Cuban-Americans at Cafe Versailles.

Oh, I don't think that anything that you do to relieve the Cuban government at any time is correct until they do a number of things that are good for the Cuban people.

ROMO: A generational divide in Little Havana. Rafael Romo, CNN, Miami.

SANCHEZ: A lot of Americans would look at this and say, you know, if most Americans think it's time for Rafael, for us to rethink the Cuba policy and now we're seeing maybe 50% of the Cubans in Miami even say that, is it time for the u.s. to start considering that policy, the Obama administration?

ROMO (on camera): It's very difficult to really take a position on this, but I was listening to this gentleman that I talked to, and he was telling me, listen. I left Cuba when I was 11. I never got a chance to see my country, to grow up in my country, and now they are asking me to -- to just change my position.


ROMO: Over 47 years.


ROMO: Very difficult for him.

SANCHEZ: Like what we were talking about earlier. For older people they can't get it. For younger people, yes, what's the big deal, right?

ROMO: Younger people, especially those who participated in the poll tends to be more pragmatic. They say, well, you know, there hasn't been any change. Let's try something different.

SANCHEZ: And much less monolithic as well. Stay here. We're going to go now to your tweets on We're going to the web show. Meantime, here is my friend and yours, Wolf Blitzer.