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Rick Santorum Wins 3 States in 1 Night; Social Issues Back in Play in Presidential Race; Many More Dead In Syria Today; U.S. Tries To Limit Lawsuits By Troops; Syrian Government Guns Down Civilians; Appeals Court Rejects Prop 8; Two Men Work To Preserve MLK Landmark
Aired February 8, 2012 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: And hello, everyone, I'm Randi Kaye. It's 1:00, we've got a busy hour ahead, so let's get straight to the news.
Hours after his dramatic sweep of three Republican contests in a single night, Rick Santorum says he's the guy with momentum. And that's not all. Santorum, seen here speaking with clergy this morning in Texas, says he took in a quarter of a million dollars in fresh contributions overnight. By CNN's estimate, he also picked up 23 all- important GOP delegates. It takes 1,144 to clench the nomination, and Mitt Romney is still in front with 115. Newt Gingrich has 38, by our count. Santorum now has 34, Ron Paul, you see it there, has 20.
Dozens more Syrians are reported dead today in a city under siege from its own government. This is Homs, where anti-government activists say mortar fires from unseen attackers is almost constant. One resident says, we cannot count the dead any more, they want to finish us. I'll have more on this 11-month conflict and the choices facing Washington in the west in our next segment just moments from now.
The White House and Congress are all too eager to support U.S. troops, but at the same time, the U.S. government might be able to further limit their legal rights. For more than 60 years, federal law has essentially barred military service members from suing the U.S. for medical mass practice because of an injury or death on active duty.
But government according to reports, government lawyers are trying to expand that, arguing the U.S. should be protected from malpractice lawsuits involving military families. We're going to dig much deeper into what this could mean for troops and their families, and that's coming up in just about 20 minutes.
In Washington state, new developments in the story of a man who blew up his house with his kids inside. The social worker who took the two boys to visit their father, Josh Powell, clearly felt something was wrong. Listen to her 911 call.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Something really weird is happening. The kids went into the house and the parent, the biological parent whose name is Josh Powell will not let me in the door. What should I do?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KAYE: Minutes later, the house exploded. Her 911 conversations were part of many released by the sheriff's department detailing the moments leading up to the death. Powell left a voice mail for his family earlier saying, quote, "I'm not able to live without my sons and I'm not able to go on any more. I'm sorry to everyone I've hurt. Good-bye." Police believe the explosion was pre-planned, part of a murder, suicide. Josh Powell was a suspect in the 2009 disappearance of his wife, Susan Cox-Powell.
T.V. host Ellen DeGeneres is saluting J.C. Penney for keeping her on the payroll. The group One Million Moms is calling on shoppers to boycott the retail chain for hiring DeGeneres, who's gay, as its spokeswoman. DeGeneres says Penney's is sticking with her and in a segment from the show that airs today, she sticks it to One Million Moms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELLEN DEGENERES: Normally, I try not to pay attention to my haters, but this time I'd like to talk bit because my haters are my motivators. I would like to read just a few comments from the Million Moms Facebook page, this is on their page. And not that there's anyone counting, but for a group that calls themselves a million moms, they only have 40,000 members on their page. So, they're rounding to the nearest million and I get that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: One Million Moms is an offshoot of the American Family Association.
The European Aviation Safety Agency has ordered all airbus A380 airplanes to be checked for cracks in the wings. Qantas airways rounded one of its passenger jets after discovering 36 small fractures. The cracks were discovered after the aircraft hit severe turbulence during a long flight. But the Australian carrier said they are not related to the turbulence, they blame manufacturing issues. The new order doesn't mean planes must be grounded, but they might be checked within a given time frame.
Prosecutors say former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky should stay indoors during his house arrest, because neighbors have expressed grave concern about seeing him outside his house which borders an elementary school playground. Sandusky's has been under house arrest since December, accused of abusing young boys over a 15- year period. Prosecutors also oppose Sandusky's request to see his grandchildren, arguing his home is not safe for children. A hearing is set for Friday.
Men, women and children being slaughtered. In Syria, it seems all humanity is dissolving as the government attacks its own people. Why isn't the international community putting a stop to this? And what the U.S. do to help? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KAYE: A relentless onslaught against desperate residents of Homs continues for the fourth straight day. Opposition groups say at least 60 people have been killed in Homs today alone in what's described as one of the heaviest bombardments so far. Activists say government forces backed by tanks, rockets and mortars are murdering civilians in their homes. The dead included 20 members of three families in Homs, according to a Syrian human rights group.
Civilians have also died today elsewhere in the country. Syrian president Bashar al Assad blames the uprising on what he calls terrorists groups. Virtually no one anywhere buys that. You may find some of the images we are about to show you disturbing. This little boy is just one of the thousands of civilians killed since the revolt against Assad erupted nearly one year ago. Most world leaders have expressed outrage over the senseless killing.
Just yesterday, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights summed up the feeling of many saying she is, quote, "appalled by the Syrian government's willful assault on Homs and what appears to be indiscriminate attack on civilian areas." The U.N. Estimates 6,000 people have died since the start of that uprising.
President Assad rarely allows foreign journalists to enter the country to see for themselves what's happening. CNN and other news organizations must rely in part on Syrian opposition members who risk their lives to tell us about the carnage. Here, one activist makes a desperate plea for international action against Assad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at these houses. These are civilian houses. This is the clinic, a doctor's clinic. The home (ph) of civilians. We're asking for humanity to help us. We're asking for the U.N. To help us. We're asking for the Arab League to help us, anyone. Anyone with any kind of humanity in their heart, do something about this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: The Obama administration just might be inching closer to providing some kind of help for the Syrian anti-government opposition. Senior administration officials tell CNN that the Pentagon and U.S. central command has started a preliminary internal review of possible military options, in the event President Obama calls for them. And they're giving Assad a very blunt warning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Your days are numbered and it is time and past time for you to transfer power responsibly and peacefully. The longer you hang on, the more damage you do to yourself, your family, your interests, and indeed, your country.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KAYE: Echoing those tough words, Senator John McCain said says Assad's killing of the Syrian people must stop.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think we have a contact group to join the coalition, and also we should start considering all oppositions, including arming the opposition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: For the latest on the uprising in Syria, be sure to stay with CNN. Our reporters in the region are doing all they can to keep you informed to what's going on there.
California's ban on gay marriage has been ruled unconstitutional. It was an emotional day for so many in the gay rights community.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today's decision is important to that young me that never dreamt that I would wake up in a country where I could marry the person that I love.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: And now he's closer to making that dream come true. We'll talk with Paul Katami and his partner, Jeff Zarrillo, straight after the break.
And when little Max's Jablonski's 16-year-old brother got paralyzed in a hockey game, he decided to do something to cheer him up. So, the little boy from Minneapolis wrote to former NHL star, Wayne Gretzky, for help. What he didn't expect was 32 NHL jerseys delivered to his brother's hospital room and a phone call from Gretzky himself. That and gifts and support from everywhere are helping Jack Jablonski get through this very difficult time. So, we'd like to say, Max, for loving your brother so much and Wayne Gretzky for making Jack's Jablonski's day, you guys are today's Rock Stars.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Welcome back. It's been 24 hours almost to the minute since the federal appeals court struck down California's Proposition 8 and gave supporters of same-sex marriage their biggest legal victory yet. The court ruled, and I quote, "Proposition 8 serves no purpose and has no effect other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California and to officially reclassify their relationships as inferior to those as opposite-sex couples." Now, it's still unclear whether Prop 8 supporters will appeal and to whom, but my guests today in Facetime are ready.
Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo are among the plaintiffs in the anti-Prop 8 lawsuit. They join me now from Los Angeles. Hi, guys, nice to have you on the show.
UNIDENTIFLED MALE: Hi, Randi.
KAYE: So, I understand that this is -- this is certainly big news in California. Are there some wedding plans now in the works for the two of you or do you see this as another round in vary long fight?
PAUL KATAMI, PLAINTIFF IN PROP 8 LAWSUITE: Well, you know, there's always wedding plans after a decade of being together with someone that you love. So, we are definitely looking forward to the day where we can actually be fully recognized in our state and in our country. So, yes, we're constantly planning.
KAYE: You've waited -- you've waited all this time. So Jeff, why not -- why didn't you go and get married maybe in another state that allows it?
JEFF ZARRILLO, PLAINTIFF IN PROP 8 LAWSUIT: Well, we're Californians. Paul was born and raised in San Francisco. I've been here for over a third of my life. We work here. We have friends here. We want to be married in the state that we are living in. You know, we don't want to have to go to another state. We live in the United States of America where all 50 states should treat their citizens equally.
KAYE: A lot of this big news coming out of California is because of the two of you, along with another couple, who filed this lawsuit to make this change happen. Are you considered heroes by those who support same-sex marriage? What are you hearing from people?
KATAMI: What's great about this whole process is the educational aspect of it. What we set out to do was just what we feel is right. So there's really no ego about it. I mean Chris and Sandy have a family and we have jobs and we go back to our regular, everyday lives. I'm going to work right after this interview. So it's all about the educational aspect. It's about getting our stories out there. It's about showing everyone that if we have equal rights, it doesn't negatively affect anyone, it only benefits our lives and our community. So it's a matter of just making sure that we're out there telling the truth.
KAYE: Jeff, why was this so important to you?
ZARRILLO: Well, you know, we're Americans. You know, and I love this man that's sitting next to me. I want to be able to marry him. My parents have been married for 43 years. I have both sets of my grandparents were married for over 50 years. Marriage has global recognition. I want to be able to walk around and tell everybody or introduce this person next to me as my husband. That's important. Love and commitment is important.
KAYE: And, Jeff, I also want to ask you -- and actually both of you -- about some of the backlash. Because your side has really made progress through the court system, while the gay marriage ban was actually passed by voters. And some of those say that, you know what, it's the voters voices that need to be heard, not the courts. So, Paul, what do you say to those people? KATAMI: You know, we believe in the democratic process. We absolutely do. And as gay Americans, we appreciate our freedoms, we appreciate our liberties. But the one thing that we honestly believe is that those liberties and freedoms should never be put up to a vote. So our rights should never be subjected to the whim of a political campaign. They should never have to be lobbied for or voted on. So they are our inalienable right and they should be ours. And, you know, good people can come to separate conclusions and still respect the fact that in our country, that our freedoms protect everyone. And when you strip away a right from minorities through a ballot initiate, it is unconstitutional. Those rights are ours.
ZARRILLO: And I would just add, Randi, that it's important -- the courts are there to protect us. We have the ballot initiative process. But when the majority infringes the rights of the minority, that's what the courts are there for. The courts must step in and relieve that oppression.
KAYE: And do you expect that this is the end of it or you think it will go up to the higher court now?
ZARRILLO: Well, we're not lawyers, and obviously the ball is in the court of the opponents right now. But if they do decide to go to the Supreme Court, we're confident that they will reach the same conclusion. We are 2-0 so far. We've won in the district court and we've won in the court of appeals and that says a lot.
KATAMI: And it doesn't make sense to think that you can live in one state with a set of rules and a set of rights and then move to another and not have those same set of rights. So we hope that this will have a more national impact. You know, we want this for California. We need it as a nation.
KAYE: And when you talk about the national impact, I really want to ask you about the impact come 2012 in the election because all the GOP candidates -- this was in "The Huffington Post" today -- all the GOP except Ron Paul support a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Rick Santorum has actually said that he would actually nullify all existing same-sex marriages. So are you concerned at all, Paul, about the election later this year?
KATAMI: Well, you know, I'm going to though this one to Jeff. I think he's a really great guy (ph) answer for this one.
KAYE: OK, Jeff, you take it.
ZARRILLO: You know, I would just say, you know, I've said this all along, I would love to invite Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, come to my house. Sit down with me. Sit down and have dinner with me. Let's have a conversation. Look at my loving home. I want them to look me in the eye and tell me that I don't deserve the same rights. I would them to be able to look Spencer Perry and Eliott Perry in the eye after listening to Spencer on stage yesterday and tell him that his family is not equal.
KATAMI: And what's unfortunate is, when the responses come out, and they're somewhat uneducated. I mean the ruling just came out and so to be educated on the facts and if you were to sit down and understand these rights and our Constitution, I think that that's a more responsible way to have this discussion, have a responsible debate versus trying to strip away the rights of a minority just because you have a bias against them.
KAYE: Well, I think because this is CNN, I think technically you guys just invited Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney to your home for dinner.
ZARRILLO: Come on in. Come on over.
KAYE: So if they respond, we'll be there as well. And, we'll bring the meal.
KAYE: Thanks, guys. Paul Katami, Jeff Zarrillo. Thank you very much.
ZARRILLO: Thanks, Randi.
KATAMI: Thank you.
KAYE: Well, if you get sick and something goes wrong at the hospital, you have the right to sue. The military men and women serving our country don't necessarily have those same rights. How the government may be trying to further restrict their legal rights.
KAYE: You're still actively serving your country in the military. Then you, your wife, husband or child gets sick. You rush them to a military hospital. But instead of getting better, they get worse. Or worse still, you find yourself attending their funeral. And what if you think the doctors are to blame? Most of us have the right to sue formal malpractice. But did you know U.S. troops are blocked from doing that in most cases? It's been that way for decades. And according to the "Military Times," government lawyers are now pushing to restrict lawsuits involving their spouses and children as well. This is a story that we think is "Under Covered."
"Military Times" reporter Andrew Tilghman has done extensive reporting on this. He joins us live from D.C. to break this all down for us.
Andrew, nice to have you here. Let's take a step back. This goes back to a landmark 1950 Supreme Court ruling that helped establish what's known as the Feres Doctrine. That means that military men and women cannot sue the U.S. for medical malpractice due to any injuries or deaths while on active duty. But civilians are allowed.
Now, this was originally meant to protect the government from liability in connection to military service. But really, Andrew, what did that ruling do beyond that?
ANDREW TILGHMAN, STAFF WRITER, "MILITARY TIMES": Well, this law was originally intended to apply very narrowly to combat related situations. And to a lot of people, that makes sense. I mean you can't have a battle commander worried about getting sued as he's making split second decisions in combat.
But the ruling in the Supreme Court in 1950 significantly expanded that. It stemmed from a case of an Army soldier. He died when the housing barracks burned down. His family sued. Said the Army was negligent because they had allowed the barracks to burn down. And the court says basically that that was unacceptable. That the military should be protected from a whole range of lawsuits. And the way this comes up most often is in medical malpractice cases.
KAYE: And let's talk about what's happening in Florida because government lawyers now in Florida are looking to expand this and block their families and their children even from bringing a suit as well. So my question is, what if their spouses or their children are civilians?
TILGHMAN: Well, according to the U.S. attorney in Florida, that shouldn't matter. Now, there's been a long tradition of military service members themselves not being able to sue the government. But, for years, the Defense Department and the Department of Justice have settled malpractice claims on behalf of spouses and children and retirees. In fact, just last year, there was a case in Kentucky when a soldier got a settlement of about $2 million when his -- when he accused the Defense Department of not diagnosing his wife with cancer.
But the U.S. attorney in Florida is now making this argument, which would really expand that exemption, not just service members, but to their families as well.
KAYE: We reached out to the Justice Department about this and they pointed us to a statement that they gave you. So let me read that to our viewers. "The Feres bar is unique in that entitlement to the defense is determined by the status of the plaintiff rather than the status or function of the defendant. As a general rule, the touchstone for the defense is whether the plaintiff is a member of the armed services and whether the injuries arose out of or were incident to that service." So he's basically saying here that the Feres doctrine applies to these cases.
TILGHMAN: Yes, he is. And I found that statement very striking at the time because, as I said, for the past several years, even as recently as last summer, the Department of Justice has settled cases that seem to run counter to that. So, I don't know, I'm interested to know whether this is a policy that the Department of Justice is planning on pursuing in all sorts of jurisdictions or if it's just limited to Florida. So far DOJ hasn't really said much about that.
KAYE: At the end of the day, military hospitals certainly have more legal protection and less accountability really than civilian hospitals. I mean isn't that what's happening here? I mean how do military hospitals compare even to civilian hospitals?
TILGHMAN: Yes, I think that's a really good point. And that's what underlies this in many ways. A lot of critics say that the military actually provides inferior medical care in some cases because their doctors and their hospitals don't have the same exposure to lawsuits. You know, I mean, there's some people that suggest that the risk of -- and threat of lawsuits on the civilian side makes those health care professionals much more careful and that if this law was to now expand, that would only exaggerate that -- what you might call an accountability gap.
KAYE: Andrew Tilghman, your reporting has really been exceptional on this. We appreciate you coming on the show. Thank you.
KAYE: It was a sweep for Rick Santorum last night and he says this about the GOP front-runner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mitt Romney is not the best choice to go up against Barack Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: But is Rick Santorum the guy? That's "Fair Game," next.
But first, our political junky question. Only three times in history has an incumbent Democratic president lost in the general election. Martin Van Buren was one. So, who were the other two. Be the first to tweet me the right answer @randikayecnn and I'll give you a shout-out.
KAYE: Before the break, I asked you which three incumbent Democratic presidents lost in the general election. I gave you a gift by telling you Martin van Buren was one. The others? Jimmy Carter and Grover Cleveland. Cleveland came back and won the third time. He was the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms but you probably knew that because you're all so smart. And a big congratulations to Rodney Wilson who sent in the correct answer.
Rick Santorum wins three states in one night. Those victories in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri are "Fair Game."
Let's talk about it with Republican analyst, Lenny McAllister, who is in Chicago today, and Democratic strategist, Maria Cardona, in Washington.
First, I want you both to listen to Rick Santorum this morning on CNN. He says voters realize that he, not Mitt Romney, is the true conservatives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM, (R), FORMER PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Governor Romney, Mr. Outsider, was for the government takeover of industry and was for the government takeover of the Wall Street bailout and was for a government takeover of industry and energy with a cap and trade. So Mr. Private Sector was Mr. Big Government when he was out there running from the private sector.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Lenny, what is the impact, do you think, of Santorum's sweep?
LENNY MCALISTER, REPUBLICAN ANALYST: Well, the impact of the Santorum sweep is this, regardless of how much Romney money you have, if you generate a little bit of enthusiasm within the conservative base, it's not going to do you much good.
What Santorum is going after is some of the same arguments that Michele Bachmann laid against Perry early in this campaign. You can talk about private sector all you want. But if your record does not reflect you being a conservative at a time when conservative wasn't as popular as it is now, maybe you're not the guy to win the nomination. And Rick Santorum, with these wins, highlighted once again that the conservative base has a glass ceiling as how much they're going to get enthusiastic and behind Mitt Romney.
KAYE: Maria, what do you think?
MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I agree with most of what Lenny said. Look, this is a real problem for Mitt Romney. His losses last night completely underscored the fact that not only the social conservatives don't like him, but if you look at Independent polls, after poll after poll, he is losing Independent voters.
And the more that he talks, the more that he opens up his mouth, the more Americans realize they don't like this guy. They don't trust him. They don't know where he stands, for the exact same reasons Rick Santorum was talking about in the clip right now, because he's been on the opposite size of the same issue so many times in his political career. And when people want to elect a president for GOP for their nominee, they want somebody that they can trust. Mitt Romney is not somebody that voters can trust.
KAYE: Let's talk about what is happening with Romney. Every time he has a victory, he seems to stumble and then the campaign goes backwards.
He has the money, he has the organization, so what's the problem, Lenny?
MCALLISTER: The problem is he doesn't excite anybody. He is not an inspirational leader. I've said this previously and taken criticism for this. If you look at Herman Cain's private record and getting into politics, and you look at Mitt Romney's private record and getting into politics, they are almost the exact same figure plus one gubernatorial term.
Mitt Romney doesn't inspire people even the way Herman Cain did. Rick Santorum is now coming up as that underdog scrappy guy that has the family issues that people can relate to that people are willing to rally behind. When you're talking about this sterile establishment candidate versus the underdog, in these times where the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street movement have been to prevalent in an American imagination, Santorum is going to be successful. It's a reason why Newt Gingrich also had such success in South Carolina. The same type of reason
KAYE: Maria, Lenny says that Mitt Romney doesn't excite people. Does Rick Santorum excite people?
CARDONA: Well, certainly, the folks that have listened to him in these past couple of contests that he won, they are excited about him. And I go back to the fact that he is actually speaking to the issues that the conservative base cares about. And he is also somebody who has never really flip-flopped on an issue. And I think this is critical when you are looking at the support from voters. I mean, if you look at Mitt Romney, and even just recently, he was hammering the president for his decision on the -- on the Catholic Churches and giving all women health care and access to health care.
You know what? Mitt Romney passed the exact same provision when he was governor in Massachusetts. And not only that, he's now railing against contraception. Guess what? He has invested and is making a ton of money off of manufacturing companies who make contraceptive medicines for women. So these are the kinds of things that, when voters look are his record and they listen to his rhetoric, it doesn't match up. He will say anything and do anything to get elected and that's not the kind of leader that Americans are looking for.
KAYE: Let's talk about what's on the table now. It seems like all of a sudden we're talking about social issues. Just recently, the Planned Parenthood and Susan G. Komen Foundation. We have the court ruling on gay marriage, which is creating a stir among people.
Are social issues back in play, Lenny, or is it still the economy the number one issue this election year?
MCALLISTER: Well, the economy is the number-one issue, but if you're trying to excite a base, you need two things as a Democrat. Number one, you need a wishy-washy Republican on the other side to run against. They got that in Romney and the establishment is pushing that. But the other side is that social issues that conservatives are going to get behind and you can create that straw man to run against.
That's why this Planned Parenthood issue is a big deal, this situation with the Catholic Church and contraception is a big deal because it's going to excite the liberal base and get them right back behind President Obama. And what have you seen over the last two weeks? People getting excited. You see Independents shifting away from Republicans. And now all of a sudden, the Republican, Mitt Romney, and President Obama, when it comes to Independents, are tied in the polls. And now all of a sudden President Obama, who has been struggling, is now five and six points up nationally against Romney.
KAYE: Maria, 10 seconds there, just 10.
CARDONA: I think it will be the economic issues. And the reason why the Democrats are very excited about President Obama is because he's focused on economic issues, on creating jobs, on economic growth, on all of the things that the GOP candidates have failed to focus on.
KAYE: All right. You did it. I think in about 10 seconds. Maria Cardona, Lenny McAllister, thank you so much.
That is "Fair Game."
CARDONA: Thank you, Randi.
MCALLISTER: Thank you. God bless.
KAYE: There are museums and exhibits about the civil rights movement. But what about the places where history was made? Why it's taken decades to preserve civil rights landmarks?
KAYE: Two men, coming together at the height of the civil rights movement. Two men, Mark Levy and Roscoe Jones, risked their lives to help young African-Americans during those often bloody and deadly days. They gathered at Meridian Fielder and Brooks Drugstore to talk strategy and council young black students. Today, these two men have come together again in a bid to preserve that drugstore and help keep Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream alive.
They're joining me now.
Let me start -- welcome to both of you, first of all.
Let me start with you, Mr. Levy.
How did you and Roscoe Jones meet?
MARK LEVY, WORKING TO KEEP MLK HISTORICAL LANDMARK: We met in 1964 at the Freedom School. I was the director of Freedom School in Meridian and he was the leader of a high school student group there. Then we reconnected just about a year ago in Meridian.
KAYE: So give me a few of the details about this project.
LEVY: Well, there had been attempts in Mississippi to do voter registration and desegregation efforts in the 60s and they ran into a brick wall. And the civil rights groups decided to invite people from the north to come help out with the local movement and help bring the national spotlight on what people were trying to accomplish in Mississippi. That's how that part of it started.
KAYE: Mr. Jones, tell me about your role in the project and why you call Meridian a mecca for civil rights activities.
ROSCOE JONES, WORKING TO KEEP MLK HISTORICAL LANDMARK: Well, in Meridian, we were the office there under Mickey Swarner and Rita -- came in 1964 and all the activities for this area centered around Meridian. That's why I call it the mecca. The only thing that Philadelphia was really involved in was the death of the three civil rights workers. We were the source of sending people out to establish groups.
KAYE: And why is this project so important to you? Can you talk about that a bit?
JONES: Yes. It's very important to me because, first of all, Meridian has been a forgotten place in terms of east Mississippi and the history of the civil rights movement in this area. Because of our role, as I said it earlier, in that we sent out workers in the outlying area. People have forgotten about Meridian. The Cobalt (ph) Building was the first building that we entered into as an office space.
All the other buildings since that time that were associated with the civil rights movement have been destroyed in some form of fashion, and that's the only building that's still left. When I came back home six years ago and saw this building sitting there, I said to myself, we have to do something, we have to preserve something.
KAYE: What kind of help are you getting, Mark, from the state in terms of restoration that's need?
LEVY: The building was deemed this time last year as a valuable building to be preserved. Then, on top of that, there was an application for a grand to preserve the roof and do the initial preservation of the building. So the state granted $210,000 or $220,000 grants to stabilize the building. So far, that's been the support of the state. There are community groups, individuals, local people in the town that see this as an important step forward in sort of preserving the downtown and preserving the history. So there has been some state support, and a number of people from the community also supporting it.
KAYE: Roscoe, this really is all about supporting and preserving history. What do you remember about that time and what do you want people today as this site is restored to know?
JONES: Well, what I remember is that, as a young person involved in the movement, then trained by Mickey Swarner and later Mark's leadership at our Freedom School, that's what I took a big part in -- was the Freedom School part of that, seeing all of the young people get together. We had something like 300 and some odd people who were enrolled, voluntarily enrolled in a Freedom School, the largest in the state of Mississippi.
And we later had our convention here in Meridian. What I want people to understand about that, and young people, especially, is that there is a past that goes along with the future. And we took responsibility. Young people, at that time, we took responsibility. We were the leaders. We were the ones who put our lives on the line. We had a commitment. I want to see young people understand that, respect that, and realize that, hey, we can do something and we can do something positive for our community.
KAYE: I think what you guys are doing is great.
Roscoe Jones, Mark Levy, really nice to have you here. Thank you.
LEVY: Thank you. JONES: Thank you.
KAYE: Shark attacks in the U.S. are down, but shark deaths worldwide are going up. Are humans a bigger threat? That story, next.
But first, Sunday's Super Bowl was a hard-fought game and most players know the mantra, win or lose, it's a team effort. But Tom Brady's super-model wife didn't see it that way. Listen to Gisele Bundchen rip into a Giants fan.
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GISELE BUNDCHEN, MODEL & WIFE OF TOM BRADY: My husband can not (EXPLETIVE DELETED) throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time?
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KAYE: Even the Giants are coming to the defense of their rivals. Giants running back, Brandon Jacobs, told reporters, quote, "She just needs to continue to stay cute and shut up." His words, not ours. But still, Gisele, we would like to see you doing their job for one day. Sounds like you're the one who dropped the ball. We're putting it out there. Your 15 minutes are up.
KAYE: Time now to check stories making news at "Street Level."
The University of Florida reports that shark attacks were down last year but fatal attacks were way up elsewhere in the world. 75 attacks occurred worldwide, close to the decade average. But the number of double attacks compares to 2010.
If you live in Charlotte, North Carolina, you may be surprised to hear this. Documents show numerous flights out of Charlotte-Douglas Airport are taking off without life rafts. This safety device is one of the reasons some of the passengers are still alive. Remember the one that landed in the Hudson River, it was on its way to Charlotte from New York. But they let some planes go without rafts because there are other safety measures in place. Hotel employees are receiving a personal panic button. They're hoping it will help them feel more secure while they're in a guest's room. The issue was highlighted after a hotel housekeeper accused former International Monetary Fund chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, of sexually assaulting her. The devices will be distributed to employees within a year.
Staying in New York, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly's son will not be charged with rape. A New York woman accused Greg Kelly, a local television anchor, or raping her. But after a two-week investigation, police say her story didn't quite add up. The Manhattan district attorney's office said the accusation does not fit their definition of sexual assault crimes, so no criminal charges are appropriate.
We've been following the story of a gay man being viciously beaten by a gang of men shouting anti-gay slurs in Atlanta.
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KAYE: The attack caught on tape happened as the teen walked out of a small grocery store. According to affiliate SBTV, the man can be heard yelling derogatory terms about the teen's sexual orientation.
Today, the victim, 20-year-old Brandon White spoke out.
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BRANDON WHITE, BEATEN FOR SEXUAL ORIENTATION: I feel like if I can walk to the store, if a straight person walks to the store, and I have a problem, I should be able to do the same thing. I shouldn't have to worry about whether or not I should have to look over my shoulder or is this person going to attack me, or is that person going to attack me for just being a gay male.
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KAYE: FBI agents are investigating the case to determine if it meets criteria for prosecution under the federal hate crimes statute.
Let's head south to downtown Los Angeles where we're learning new details, stunning details, in fact, from Miramonte Elementary. The school is the center of two child abuse sex cases. Our affiliate, KTLA, is reporting a student is now implying a third teacher could have been involved in helping with the sexual abuse.
A 10-year-old student says a female teacher allegedly singled out little girls for one of the accused teachers, Mark Berndt. You may remember Berndt was arrested last week accused of taking bondage pictures of kids, allegedly feeding some of them his bodily fluids. The alleged victim told KTLA the female teacher sent her students to Berndt's classroom to, quote, "get cookies on a regular basis during class." According to KTLA, those cookies reportedly were coated with Berndt's semen. An attorney representing several of Berndt's alleged victims says he's given that teacher's name and information to law enforcement.
Rick Santorum picks up three wins in three states. It could make a difference in November. Find out where Rick Santorum is headed next and his new strategy to snag some more delegates. But first our "Political Junkie" question. In the 2008 presidential election, which state picked a winner by fewer than 4,000 votes? Be the first to tweet the answer to Randikaye@CNN, and if you're right, I'll give you a big shout out.
KAYE: Before the break, I asked which state picked a winner by fewer than 4,000 votes. The answer is Missouri. John McCain won by 3,903 votes. Congrats to D.J. Walter who sent in the correct answer. Nicely done.
The political world is trying to access the impact of the swing- state sweep. We're joined by Peter Hamby in Washington with some insight on this one.
So, Peter, Santorum won three states but not just any three states. These are states that will matter come November, right?
PETER HAMBY, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER: Yes, he tries to articulate an argument against Newt Gingrich that I'm the guy other than Mitt Romney who can win. He can say, hey, I won the swing states. I won Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri. These are the states that will matter this fall. That's important because Gingrich won South Carolina and he's sort of making a push in Super Tuesday to win these southern states. He's being cast as sort of a regional candidate at this point, so you can tell voters -- Rick Santorum can tell voters, I won in three swing states.
KAYE: Let's say what his schedule actually says about his strategy.
HAMBY: I spoke to a Santorum spokesman, and he said, quote, "We're going to go hard core in Michigan and Ohio." Those are two states, obviously manufacturing states. Cutting manufacturing is a big part of Gingrich's plan. He's also looking to Maine and Texas votes in April, and Washington State, which holds caucuses on March 3rd. Why do all these states matter? What do they have in common for Santorum? He has to pick his battles. He doesn't have a lot of money like Mitt Romney, and you saw him sort of pick his battles with several states where he can win proportionately. He can still try to get some delegates here and there because the states delegate proportionally -- Randi.
KAYE: And where is Mitt Romney heading?
HAMBY: He's in Georgia. That's Newt Gingrich's back yard. Romney's calculation is we can put this guy to bed if we win Georgia. If Newt Gingrich loses Georgia, his argument is very tough to make. The Romney campaign has laid a lot of groundwork in Georgia over the past several years, so they think they can maybe pull out a victory there on Super Tuesday. But Gingrich will also be heading home to Georgia and protecting his home turf next week -- Randi?
KAYE: Yes, it sounds like that. Gingrich keeps saying we'll sew it up in the south. We'll see. Thank you, Peter Hamby. Appreciate that.
Thank you everyone for watching. I want to hear what you think. You can continue the conversation with me on line, as always on Facebook or Twitter @randikayeCNN
CNN NEWSROOM continues right now with Brooke Baldwin.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Randi Kaye, nice to see you. I'll take it from here.