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Tornados Devastates Southern States; Pentagon Investigating Recent Killing of American Soldiers and a Contractor in Afghanistan; CNN Hero Provides Wheelchairs For Those in Need; Conservatives Hold Forum Event Where Presidential Hopefuls Gather to Speak; Analysts Debate President's Releasing of Long Form Birth Certificate; Court Reinstates NFL Lockout; Divorce Rates Increase As Economy Recovers

Aired April 30, 2011 - 10:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everybody. From the CNN Center, this is your CNN Saturday morning.

I'm T.J. Holmes. It's Saturday, April 30th. Thank you for spending just a part of your weekend here with us.

It is 10:00 a.m. in our world headquarters in Atlanta but 9:00 a.m. in Alabama as the death toll from this week's tornado outbreak went up overnight. It's now the second deadliest in history. We'll show you remarkable new images of the storm's path.

Also, another court twist in the NFL lockout. The lockout is actually back on. Are we going to have pro football or not, people?

Also, the economy is picking back up. There are a number of indicators. One such indicator, more people are getting divorced. We're going to be getting some answers about this from a divorce attorney who will join me here in studio.

But we need to start in the south. Six states battered by storms. And right now the death toll stands at 342. That went up overnight, went up, again, just a few hours ago. But Alabama, no doubt the hardest hit state. More than 250 people died there.

Deaths also reported in a number of other states, like we said, six in all, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, Virginia, and Arkansas all in addition to Alabama.

Meanwhile, we have hundreds of people unaccounted for in Alabama. Emergency officials stress, though, it doesn't mean these people have necessarily perished. It could just be a consequence of there being power out and they have left the area. Maybe just people aren't able to connect with each other.

Still, coming up in a few minutes, we'll hear from one of those people, or some of those people in Rainsville, Alabama. Some of them are trying to rebuild. What you see on your screen is a check from the Rainsville, Alabama, bank. It was found, though, 150 miles away in Tennessee carried there by the winds of this tornado.

CNN's Tom Foreman helps put the destruction in context with startling before and after looks in Alabama. Watch this.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have a brand-new image from geo-eye of what happened. Let me give you some reference, first. Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, up into Virginia, huge, huge swath we're talking about.

If we move in here to Tuscaloosa, the area we have been talking about so much, right through here where these yellow dots are. This is just stunning because you can actually see the track of the tornado. You can't always see it. Watch as I fade it in here. This is what it looks like. That brown line all the way through there is a cut made by a tornado right through Tuscaloosa. Look at the damage from that.

I want to take you in and show you a few details from this. If we move in here, this is a lake in one part of town here. This is what it looks like in normal times, nice and clean and around the edges. A measure of the damage if you just look at the amount of debris that gathers in this lake after the storm, look at this, an inland area like this.

Let's move up here to the wood square shopping center, a popular place here. I'll tell you, university is not far off here. Many, many students and faculty members and all live out in these areas and come out around these areas all the time. It's a very popular shopping center. Come and look at this. This is the shopping center before the storm hit, and look at what happened afterward. Just unbelievable devastation in that area.


HOLMES: Tom Foreman for that.

Oftentimes in disasters, maybe an earthquake, you hear about an epicenter or a ground zero. Well, for this event, some are calling Tuscaloosa just that. Reynolds Wolf is there for us this morning.

Reynolds, put it in perspective of why some might consider Tuscaloosa just such a place, the epicenter or ground zero for all of this?

REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, I tell you right now, this is one of the places that has definitely been hardest hit. Keep in mind smaller pockets and other places around the southeast that have also been hit very, very hard. You mention Rainsville, Alabama. Places like Webster's Chapel that have just been hammered by the system. This is no different at all.

Just to give you our bearings. The last time we spoke with you, T.J., we were on the other side of this building. We were talking about a Krispy Kreme business that had been hammered by the storm. We're actually going to speak to the owner next hour. He's over there and now we're on the back half of the storm. We'll show you that the damage here is relatively the same. You know what is weird, when you get out and you're covering a story like this, it could be deeply personal for a lot of the people. We always ask for permission. Sometimes, though, you can try to stay on public property and moving past the live truck.

And sometimes you don't have to ask. Sometimes you know not to. In fact, you look at this house and it says, "Keep out. I will shoot you." Yes, you really don't need a whole lot of clues there to know that some places you just need to stay away from.

Something else that is very good about this. If you happen to look at the right-hand side where you see something painted in bright red spray paint that is the day it was actually examined by officials and they came in and took a look at it. On the right-hand side there is a zero, which means zero people in the building and another zero, zero fatalities.

Then on the other side you have the "T" which is the sign of the person that came through and examined that building. Thankfully in this area, we're seeing several buildings that had those similar markings. You see a couple buildings over here. All of them have very similar markings. It's a fine, fine thing to see.

The problem is, again, you have 200 people and lost lives in the state of Alabama alone. We expect the number to increase eve over the next several days. T.J.?

HOLMES: Reynolds, that is interesting, fascinating to see what was written on the side of that home, that just a homeowner and people trying to, you know, keep people away that is trying to go through their homes. Are you seeing a lot of that?

WOLF: You know, to tell you the truth, there has not been a single bit of looting that we've seen at all. One thing that we have not seen one bit, one thing we have seen in this community is just the opposite, people reaching out and helping others. We've seen people come through here and different businesses and different individuals handing out food and handing out water and just trying to give people hugs and bottle of water here and there and pat on the back, anything.

It really has been a community coming together. But occasionally you'll have some that will express themselves in different way and everyone is coping with this in a different manner and that's fine.

HOLMES: That's a good way to put it, Reynolds. Again, overwhelmingly no doubt, just 100 percent of what you're seeing right there, everybody trying to help each other out. Good to see you, as always. You're working out there and that is your home state, as well. We appreciate you, buddy. We'll talk to you soon.

WOLF: Absolutely.

HOLMES: A lot of people out there ask and I'm getting tweets from folks trying to figure out how they can help out the tornado victims in the south. You can visit our "Impact your World" page at I will tweet that out to you right now, as well @tjholmes on Twitter.

Meanwhile, new military offensive in Afghanistan not being launched by NATO troops. It's being launched by the Taliban. In a statement the Taliban saying the spring offensive will target troops and Afghan security forces focusing on military bases and convoys. In response, though, the international force has increased measures to protect troops.

Now, a solemn morning at Dover Air Force base. Look at the scene. The body of an American soldier killed in Afghanistan coming home. A dignified transfer is what it is called. That was just one of several troops killed in Afghanistan this week.

CNN's Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence is with me now. Chris, this is always such a solemn moment to see that. Always, in some way, you know, so glad to see them coming home, don't like to see them coming home like that. But they take these ceremonies so seriously and pay attention to every detail to make sure it's just right.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: T.J., I think, especially in this case with these particular deaths, there's always an investigation going on into exactly how it could happen. Let's take you back. There were eight, eight American troops and an American contractor who were all killed in or around a room at an afghan air force base there in Kabul.

What happened was the coalition is still trying to figure out exactly, but Afghan officer or someone wearing the uniform of an Afghan officer opened fire, apparently, with two guns and gunned down the eight troops and the American contractor.

Now, the latest word that we're getting from that report is that the man who shot them was severely wounded in that room. He managed to get out of the room, but he died shortly thereafter. But the big questions, obviously, are going to be how did one man overtake eight troops armed with their weapons and another American, as well?

Let's take you -- we have some pictures of some of those who were the victims of this attack. One is Major Philip Ambard. Another is Major Jeffrey Osborn. The third is Major David Brodeur. And there was also Captain Nathan Nylander and Captain Charles Ransom. They were seven commissioner officers killed in this attack. There was also a female master sergeant who was killed and the big question is how was one man with two guns able to overpower eight American troops?

HOLMES: Who, as you say, were armed there at the time.

One other thing here, we just reported about the Taliban talking about a new spring offensive that they're having. Is there any response from the Pentagon to this? We know some things are being done differently to protect troops in Afghanistan.

LAWRENCE: That's right. The Pentagon says they have beefed up security there. They also are calling this propaganda. They say in a report just released that the Taliban's momentum has been stopped, that their morale has been lowered and this is sort of propaganda to make it seem like they're, you know, more powerful than they really are.

But facts on the ground show Taliban have been able to launch spectacular attacks in the last month. They tumbled into the Kandahar jail and freed nearly 500 prisoners. Many of them insurgents and they launched an attack on the police headquarters down in Kandahar. They have shown. So they're still able to mount some very powerful attacks.

HOLMES: Chris Lawrence, we appreciate you, as always. Thanks so much.

LAWRENCE: You're welcome.

HOLMES: I want to turn to Pope John Paul II. He is moving this weekend one step closer to sainthood. He will be beatified at a ceremony at the Vatican that will happen tomorrow and be. He will then become the blessed John Paul. Sainthood would be next step. They would have to confer a second miracle in his name. And 300,000 people are expected for the event tomorrow. CNN's coverage begins at 4:00 a.m. eastern tomorrow morning.

Also, if you did not see enough of these two yesterday, here's more. Buckingham Palace sharing the official photo from the royal wedding, these pictures taken after they returned from Westminster Abbey. The new duke and duchess of Cambridge are here posing with family and posing with some of the pageboys and bridesmaids.

Just ahead, one part of the country on alert for, of all things, blizzard conditions. We will have the very latest on that from our Bonnie Schneider in the severe weather center. It's 12 minutes past the hour.


HOLMES: It's quarter past the hour now on this CNN Saturday morning. May is tomorrow, Bonnie Schneider. But we're talking about blizzard conditions today. Did I have this right or did one of my writers, wouldn't be the first time they had it wrong on the script.

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We are looking at, unfortunately, blowing and drifting snow in North Dakota. It is snowing now and it's going to keep snowing and because of that with the winds picking up this afternoon and tonight, we're looking at a whiteout situation.

You can see the snow just barreling down parts of western North Dakota and into parts of Montana. Now, this blizzard warning will be in effect through early tomorrow morning. We will see temperatures warm up, but before that happens, up to nine inches of snow in parts of the northern plain states, even into the first early morning of May.

Well, unfortunately, another thing that happens this time of year, flooding. We're seeing that across much of the Midwest. There are pictures from Indiana to show you that a lot of the roads are covered with water. These are aerial shots and, unfortunately, the rivers are already at flood stage in many locations. It's going to be a kind of watch and wait situation. A stationary front working its way across much of the Midwest and that will help to kick up more rain today and tomorrow.

Another interesting vantage point from the tornado outbreak is one taken from 22,000 miles above the earth. I'm talking about NASA satellite pictures. As we put this into motion, we're looking at incredible pictures from outer space that shows we can pick out the cloud heights as well as the intensity of the storm.

We mention that tomorrow is May 1st. Here's what's happening in May. Unfortunately, tornadoes get more frequent in the month of May. A lot of activity in the month of April. As you can see on this graphic, the most tornadoes do occur in the month of May and then April and July are after that.

So, unfortunately, T.J., I would love to say things will get better. This weekend the weather is calm and we have thunderstorms in the south, nothing severe. But as we go into May we'll be monitoring the possibility of more severe weather.

HOLMES: Just lie to me and tell me it's going to be better. It's OK.

SCHNEIDER: It's going to be better.


HOLMES: Thank you, Bonnie. We will check in with you, again.

A governor is rejecting federal money for his state that many say could help women in his state. A lot of people say it has everything to do with him wanting to run for president. In one minute I'll tell you who it is.


HOLMES: It's 18 minutes past the hour now. Indiana's governor, Mitch Daniels, said he will sign a deal to cut most money from Planned Parenthood. He says Indiana women will have access to basic health services, but not abortion.

Indiana will be the first state to enact a law like this. Daniels, by all accounts, is considering a presidential run. And Planned Parenthood says he's playing politics with women's health. They do plan to file a lawsuit.

The White House, meanwhile, praising a court ruling that would allow the Obama administration to resume funding embryonic stem cell research. Yesterday's two to one appellate court decision lifts an injunction imposed last year by a federal judge. The National Institutes of Health has invested more than $500 million on a long list of projects involving human embryo embryonic stem cells. A big weekend for potential presidential candidates. Several GOP hopefuls attended a major conservative event in New Hampshire last night. Some of them back there today for an event built as "Freedom Forum." CNN deputy political director Paul Steinhauser joins me now from Washington. Good morning to you, kind sir. We hear Tea Party, New Hampshire -- that stuff always plays during an election.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: The counter is starting to get pretty crowded, T.J. This event just started a few moments ago. As you mentioned, the first in the nation "Freedom Forum." It's live pictures of it just getting under way and tea party-type organization and a similar event out in Iowa. At this one today, you'll have Michele Bachmann the congresswoman from Minnesota who is a favorite and, also, today you're going to have Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum and all three, of course, thinking about running for the White House.

T.J., no surprise here. The Tea Party had a lot of influence last year in the primaries on the Republican side. They will have a lot of influence in choosing the next Republican nominee.

HOLMES: I've got a second question I'm going to ask, but I'll skip over it because I like the third question, that question being, president Obama, Donald Trump expected in the same room tonight. What's going to happen?

STEINHAUSER: Yes, we're talking about the White House correspondents dinner tonight, an annual event right here in Washington. The president will be there and speak, as always. And I know we'll have a lot of coverage of that tonight and tomorrow on CNN.

But also there, Donald Trump. He is the guest of the "Washington Post." And we all know that the real estate mogul is talking about possibly running for the White House and he will announce either way by June. T.J., he's been very vocal about this president with not a lot of good things to say.

And Donald Trump is very busy lately. He was in New Hampshire earlier this week. He was in Nevada and two very important states. Donald Trump has been really going after this president. And we know, T.J., Donald Trump is really good at getting in front of cameras and he does it again tonight.

HOLMES: He is not going to heckle the president, is he?


STEINHAUSER: We'll find out, stay tuned.

HOLMES: Between the heckling and the birth certificates and the f-bombs he was dropping out in Las Vegas, man. Are you going tonight?


HOLMES: All right, man, I will be sending you messages. You keep me posted tonight. Good to see you, as always. You may have noticed that Paul looked a little stressed there. There was a reason for that. A recent study found 70 percent of people say work is their main cause of stress. put together a list of the most stressful jobs out there. And this is why I say he was a bit stressed. At number five, newscasters, some of the most stressed out folks out there. Better believe it.

Number four, though, photojournalists, the folks we have to work with in this business. The third on the list is corporate executives, senior corporate executives. But we have got nothing on the top two, which I'll tell you in one minute and 15 seconds.


HOLMES: It's 24 minutes past the hour. Here now we were showing you the list of jobs that are most stressful out there, at least according to Newscasters were the most stressed out, at least number five on the list, followed by photojournalists and executives.

The number two spot, those public relations officers, you know, those speaks people out there. Number one most stressed out job out there, the commercial airline pilot, the very last person in the world you would want stressed out.

Well, recycling isn't just cans and cardboard. One man is grabbing something a surprising number of people throw away to help people with disabilities. Richard St. Denis is this week's CNN hero.


RICHARD ST. DENIS, CNN HERO: People with disabilities who can't get around have no options. Their world is the four walls of their house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really hard for me to go very far with my crutches.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via translator): It makes me really sad to see my son this way. He is 19.

DENIS: When someone has a disability, the whole family has to pitch in to help them. If they don't have the money the care they provide for them is the very basic care.

My name is Richard St. Denis. I take wheelchairs to people in Mexico who can't afford them, but really need them.

In 1976, I broke my back skiing and severed my spinal cord. I see what happened to me as an opportunity to help other people with disabilities. We collect used wheelchairs from the United States to help us distribute the wheelchairs and. A lot of people with disabilities work with us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the chair we have for him is perfect.

DENIS: We teach them how to use it. Mobility means being independent and more active.

Someone said, "Richard, I want to thank you for giving up your legs so we could have a better quality of life." When I see them happy, seeing their self-confidence, I know people's lives are getting better.


HOLMES: Since 2008, Richard and his world access project have provided wheelchairs and other mobility aides to hundreds of people with disabilities in rural Mexico. Remember every one of this year's CNN heroes are chosen by people you tell us about. You can still nominate somebody you know who is making a difference in the community. Go to


HOLMES: All right, we're at the bottom of the hour here on this CNN Saturday morning. Welcome back to you, I'm T.J. Holmes. Glad you could spend part of your weekend here with us.

We DO need to keep you updated on what's happening to our friends in the south. People ARE cleaning up from the powerful storms that hit the south on Wednesday. Now 33 people were killed in Tennessee. We have focused so much and rightly so, as well, on the community of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where they lost 45 people at last count in that particular community, but there are so many other smaller communities that have been wiped out and lost people, as well.

CNN's Susan Candiotti is in one such place in Tennessee. Susan set the scene for us and tell us where you are and what type of community this is.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a rural community, just outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee, T.J., population only about 3,000. But they suffered nine fatalities of the 34 that were reported statewide. As you indicated, this twister showed very little mercy and there were a lot of close calls.

For example, the story of Brian Poe and his 15-year-old son, Tanner. We met them, they live in a mobile home or used to, it was obliterated near the top of a hill. When they got word that the twister was bearing down on them at speeds of almost 200 miles per hour, they decided to get the heck out of there and to seek cover, so they jumped into a ditch and held on for dear life.


BRIAN POE, SURVIVED TORNADO IN DITCH: I was laying on the couch watching TV about asleep. And my neighbor called me and he was in college and told me that it's coming. Get out of the trailer, it's coming. We kind of walked out and then I heard it coming.

So we took off running. I said, Tanner, I guess the safest place for us to be is over in that ditch. That's the only thing I could think of. I had to save him. CANDIOTTI (on camera): You ran out here by this pole?

TANNER POE, SURVIVED TORNADO IN DITCH: We were laying up there, right in there. Me and dad were hugging each other laying face down. The tree fell on us and the wind pulled it off of us and when it happened I looked up and I saw everything.

BRIAN POE: We went up here on the hill to see if I could find my nephew or any of them, which they was gone. I knew it. I mean, I knew they was gone. They found his body back over here in the field and Adam down here by the railroad tracks, Brenda back over by where the car is, and her mother right down here in this ditch right here.


CANDIOTTI: So, Brian Poe and his teenage son, Tanner, survived, but lost four relatives who lived in a mobile home just a short distance from theirs. The Poes are now homeless. You heard him say, he has no insurance and no idea where he's going to go and what he's going to do. That's the story you're hearing a lot from the people who were affected the worst by this tornado.

We're here at a staging area, T.J., where police and social service agencies are trying to get some help to some people, trying to point them in the right direction for now. And it looks like a long road ahead. You heard it time and again, that's what's happening in communities like these. T.J.?

HOLMES: Susan Candiotti for us in one of those smaller communities. We're keeping an eye on the smaller ones and the larger ones. Susan, we appreciate you.

And to our viewers, you've been asking, you want to find out how you can help more and help these tornado victims, go to "Impact your World." That's our Web site at

Well, it was a bit of a political bombshell this week, threw a lot of people off after Donald Trump sparked the new frenzy after the birth certificate, the White House released it to surprised reporters. Almost as surprising, the president came out to talk about it himself.


BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I know that there's going to be a segment of people for which no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest. But I'm speaking to the vast majority of the American people as well as to the press. We do not have time for this kind of silliness.


HOLMES: All right, let me bring in our friends here on CNN Saturday and Sunday morning, Democratic strategist Maria Cardona joining me from Ft. Lauderdale today, and also Republican analyst Lenny McAllister in Chicago. Good morning, guys. We start with that and I came into you guys with that. I ask you all every week, what was your political headline? Was that it, Maria?

MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: For me it was there is a complete void of credible GOP candidates running in 2012. Donald Trump jumps in and taking the mantle and takes the lead in the polls -- a Democrat's dream come true.

HOLMES: You must be the most loyal Democrat I know. Lenny, what was your political headline of the week?

LENNY MCALLISTER, REPUBLICAN ANALYST: Confidence in certificate, convenience in timing.

HOLMES: "Convenience in timing." I will pick up with you right there. How surprised were you, literally. Some of the folks in the room, Lenny, the reporters were surprised by this. Were you surprised he did it. Were you saying this was a little late? What was your take?

MCALLISTER: My take is this. When the report the same day comes out and says, the economy slowed down from 3.1 percent growth of the GDP to 1.8 percent, when inflation is going up, when we're fearful that the job market go down and there may be a possibility that we start going back in the wrong direction with this economy, low and behold, here comes the birth certificate. It's very convenient.

HOLMES: You tell me the president did this to detract us all?

MCALLISTER: T.J., it's a beautiful distraction. If the economy continues to slow down like this, and by the way, Ben Bernanke says we may see 1.8 percent, 1.9 percent growth of the GDP for a little while. That is not good news for an incumbent president going into reelection that needs to get African-Americans back onboard and unemployment is still over eight percent.

HOLMES: Maria, it wouldn't be the first time a politician did this. I mean, is there some credence to his theory there?

CARDONA: No, absolutely not. Actually the reason he did this because from a political standpoint this was an issue, T.J., that was working beautifully from the Democrats. From a strategic standpoint, he didn't need to do this and they could use this to point to Donald Trump and other birthers as complete sideshows.

HOLMES: Why not let it play out?

CARDONA: He chose, to Lenny's point, he chose to take it off of the table for anybody who might have just an inkling of, well, where is that birth certificate? Here it is. Let's get on to real issues.

John Boehner himself said the issue of where this was born had been settled for a very long time. They, the Republicans, were also dying to get this off of the table. It is now off the table and let's get to the real solutions -- budget, deficits, jobs. Republicans have done nothing to create jobs. Let's get to that issue.

HOLMES: As we know, a lot of people to some, but maybe the president hoping the majority who are in the middle at least, some of the independents, not so far on the side of this issue, hopefully it will be done with them, but still are some out there questioning this birth certificate, unfortunately.

But, Maria, why did the president - it's one thing to just release it. Why not just do that? Why did he have to come out and in some ways, some would tell you, elevate Donald Trump, but also this issue? He came out into the press room to talk about it. Was that necessary and a good move, Maria?

CARDONA: Well, I actually do think it was a good move because in a way, T.J., think about it, he completely, he completely proved that Donald Trump and the birthers and the extreme right wing of the Republican party is exactly what he said, a carnival show. They're at the extreme. They are absolutely making no sense. He basically was an in your face to Donald Trump. Here it is. Let's get to the issues that America really, really cares about. That is something that Donald Trump cannot compete with.

HOLMES: It sounds like, Lenny, the president, what else did you say? Did you think it was a good move, as well. Was it necessary to come out and speak on this and really just end it?

MCALLISTER: Here's the thing, if it was that good of a good move, why not do it in 2012, cut off the birthers at their knees and save your majority in the House of Representatives and save more seats in the Senate. If it were that good of a political move, why not do it --

HOLMES: You're saying they lost because of this issue?

MCALLISTER: What I'm saying is, if you're trying to stop the birther movement -- why not stop the birther movement 12 months ago before they gained all this momentum? Politically speaking, you cut them off then, you focus attention back on what you're trying to do and you try to save seats in 2010. This issue came out in 2011 as he's on the ticket for reelection and all these economic parameters are starting to look very bad for an incumbent president going into 2012.

CARDONA: This issue, this issue has been an issue, and you know this very well, Lenny, since 2008. The birthers, there is going to be nothing to shut them up. This, I guarantee you, will not be enough. What it will do is underscore that they are completely out of the main stream of America, that Donald Trump is their leader and they have absolutely no credibility.

And the GOP has no other credible candidates because he's now leading in the polls, Donald Trump. That is not a good, that is not a good thing for the Republican Party right now.

MCALLISTER: No, it's not. But if that's the case, Maria, why give them three years momentum. Why would you allow your opponent three years of momentum if you have this sitting there already? The reason why is because you hold this back as an ace card until you absolutely need to distract the American people away from the fact that the economy is not improving the way you said it would.

And now that you're at the top of the ticket, you need something to deviate people's attention away and it GDP is slowing down and the jobs may not come back the way we need it to, inflation is going up, and the gas prices are headed towards $5 a gallon. Those are very bad things for an incumbent president and this is a good distraction to get away from those issues.

CARDONA: And that's something that Republicans have no credibility on whatsoever.

HOLMES: I had about four other topics, and I knew we wouldn't get to them once we got to this one. It's always something to talk about with you guys. Lenny, Maria, good to see you, as always. Hopefully the last weekend we talk about this. Thank you so much.

CARDONA: Thank you, T.J.

HOLMES: Well, when some of us went to sleep last night the NFL lockout had been lifted. It was done. It was over. Prospect for NFL season looking pretty and then we wake up this morning and we learn that the f NFL is, once again, closed for business. We have more dim prospects for football in the fall. But they'll get it worked out, right?


HOLMES: Like a bad relationship, this NFL lockout is on again, off again, and back on again right now. A federal appeals court has reversed an earlier ruling and the announcement coming at the same time the league has been holding its annual draft. And Ray D'Alessio our good friend on the commercial break, you worry me because you don't sound too confident now that we're going to get something done.

RAY D'ALESSIO, HLN SPORTS HOST: I'm cautiously optimistic.

HOLMES: Cautiously optimistic.

D'ALESSIO: Remember, this is just a temporary stay. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday could roll around and the court decides, OK, we could lift the lockout or continue it another month, two months.

HOLMES: Take us back a little bit. The lockout was lifted earlier this week.

D'ALESSIO: It was lifted earlier this week and then teams resume normal business duties on Friday, talking to players, players coming in and getting their playbooks and players getting treatments or rehabbing those off-season injuries.

Then this appellate court down in St. Louis does the temporary stay and the lockout is put back in place and these guys can no longer show up to the facilities. Think about those first-round picks able to get in there on Friday and get their playbooks and meet with coaches and get a brief rundown, now go home and study this playbook. The players taken in the second round and beyond this weekend, they won't get playbooks. They are locked out. They can't talk to coaches and no negotiation of contracts. It's an absolute mess.

HOLMES: Do we have any negotiations that are planned between the league and the players' association at this point?

D'ALESSIO: Not right now. The next, the session May 14th coming up then. I believe it is. And these guys just need to get in a room. You put it best, lawyers need to stay out of it. Owners, players and get face-to-face and work this thing out. A lot of players say it will happen.

HOLMES: Running out of time, ray. Running out of time. Good to see you.

D'ALESSIO: Good to see you.

HOLMES: As always, thanks so much.

For some, this financial recovery means they could finally do something they've been putting off -- get a divorce.


HOLMES: All right, it's 12 minutes until the top of the hour.

Here is a sign that the economy is getting better, an unexpected sign you didn't think about. Divorce rates in the U.S. are on the rise. It's explained here. In 2000 before the recession, of course, way back before the recession, the divorce rate was 4.0. When hard times started in 2007 the breakup rate dropped to 3.6 percent here. But then last year it fell a bit more, a bit more to 3.5. That was the divorce rate then. So, fewer and fewer people are getting divorced.

But now as the economy gets better, we're learning now, we're starting to see a surge in divorce filings. I'm going to bring in matrimonial attorney -- that sounds so much better than divorce attorney -- Elizabeth Lindsay, here to explain this to me. Explain to me just the basics. Why is it when the economy gets better people are OK to get divorced?

ELIZABETH LINDSAY, MATRIMONIAL ATTORNEY: When the economy gets better, people feel more financially secure. So they can make some of the tough decisions that have to be made about dividing up their assets and income. And the recent decline in the economy made people very nervous about their job security and their house and retirement assets.

HOLMES: How would you describe what you're seeing? I read some articles that say a surge. How would you describe as far as an uptick in people wanting to come in and get a divorce now?

LINDSAY: The uptick is really happening I think for several reasons. One is I think that people who were in a financial crisis during the last several years who didn't have the money to divorce. So, now, that they see some security they feel like they can go forward. Then, there are people who this financial stress has really impacted their marriages and that's yet another reason.

HOLMES: And a big part of it over the past several years, we know the housing downturn was a big part. So people used to fight over the house. I want the house, you want the house. Are they literally saying now, you take it, you take it.

LINDSAY: You better believe it. You've got this huge mortgage and you can't refinance it, you can't sell it. There is no money to bring to close. So people are really having a tough time. Courts are having a hard time deciding whether it's a liability or an asset to have that house.

HOLMES: How is it being dealt with if neither one of them wants it?

LINDSAY: If neither one of them wants it parties are forced into a tough situation. If there is not money to close, they are stuck to maintain it until they can do it or work out with the bank foreclosure or bankruptcy.

HOLMES: You say some people are waiting to get divorced, trying to ride out the economic recession. Is this a case where couples are deciding together, hey, we can't do this right now, so we have to tolerate each other a little longer until things get better or maybe one spouse who has in the back of their mind, OK, I'll wait for things to get better and then I'm out of here.

LINDSAY: I think there's both. People who are realistic know that selling a house in this market is not a good way to go and they're going to lose a lot of their equity.

HOLMES: My goodness. Now, I think it's unfortunate, you've been in this business quite a while, is it always a bellwether. For the most part you can tell when things are getting better in the economy then you are getting more business, quite frankly, in your office.

LINDSAY: I think it's probably a little bit of both. When the economy is bad and the money was keeping couples together, they start coming in when the money is gone. When the money is there, they feel they can afford to get divorced and it certainly makes it easier so they come in then, as well.

This recent last couple of years was really unusual for us because I do think that everybody started to clamp down and started to survive before they could really start evaluating their relationships and going forward.

HOLMES: No one would want to give advice and say, come on in and get divorced, but, quite frankly, is now a good time?

LINDSAY: Well, it could be a good time if you're worried about support obligations. If your income is down there is less money to go for alimony and child support. HOLMES: You learn something new every day. It seems, really, kind of depressing, to put in these terms. But another one of those indicators that things are getting better. Thank you so much, Ms. Lindsay.

LINDSAY: Nice to see you.

HOLMES: Sorry we have to meet like this. Still, thank you for taking the time out.

LINDSAY: My pleasure. Thank you.

HOLMES: A lot of people talked about whether or not they could afford the divorce right now. Well, can you afford gas? It's $5 a gallon in some parts of the country. Look at that. Would you believe, folks, this might actually get worse.


HOLMES: Getting close to the top of the hour. Some of the stories making headlines, $5 gasoline is a reality in Stanford, Connecticut. Yesterday gas hit $5.19 for the premium stuff. Mid- grade was about $5.09.

Also the annual Cinco de Mayo parade and festival in San Jose, California were both canceled. Festival organizers blame the high cost of permits and security. The city there requires organizers to hire police for security.


HOLMES: Summer travel, well, the season is here. CNN's Rob Marciano reports in this edition of "On the Go" that a little planning can go a long way and could save you a lot of money.


ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Traveling during the summer can be pricy, but you can score hot deals with careful planning.

MARK ORWOLL, "TRAVEL AND LEISURE": One of the ways you can reduce the cost of your airfare is by timing when you purchase your ticket. Generally speaking, the sweet spot is about three to four months before your departure date. Another thing you can do to keep your airfare at its lowest is to travel on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday.

MARCIANO: Stay flexible on where you go and get more bang for your buck.

ORWOLL: If you have no particular inkling on where to go, let the deals drive you. Southwest from the U.S. from Scottsdale, Arizona to Las Vegas, triple-digit temperatures, yes, but that's when you get to see a lot of the four and five-star mega-luxury resorts drop their rates by 50 percent or even 70 percent. Mexico is dealing with an image issue that will keep, I think, a nice cap on prices over the summer.

MARCIANO: Buying a vacation package may save you money, but confirm what's included.

GABE SAGUE, TRAVELCOP: A lot of these extras, taxes and fees sometimes are not in that advertised price. The trick with these vacation prices is knowing exactly what you're getting and what you're not getting when you book a vacation package.