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Negotiations Extended 24 Hours; Will Amazon Dash Change The Way We Shop? Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired April 1, 2015 - 16:30   ET



[16:33:56] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

The national lead now. In a surprising move, the governor of Arkansas revealed just hours ago that he would not sign a religious freedom bill that critics say could let businesses discriminate against gays and lesbians, if, say, a Christian conservative baker does not want to provide the wedding cake at a same-sex marriage.

Faced with growing backlash from the business community in his state and from his own son, Governor Asa Hutchinson sent the bill back to lawmakers. He says he wants it changed to more nearly closely match the more narrowly written federal law.

The move comes just one day after Indiana Governor Mike Pence called on lawmakers in his state to fix a similar bill, one that sparked boycotts of the Hoosier State, ranging from Washington State to the band Wilco.

CNN's Miguel Marquez is live in Indianapolis.

Miguel, the governor there says he did not know this would end up becoming a national debate, but, boy, it sure is one.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it is a huge national debate.

[16:35:00] I mean, look, the NCAA games start here on Saturday. This town is filling up. The NCAA has come out against it. The coaches for the teams that will be playing here have come out against it, Marriott, dozens of tech companies. It's had a massive effect here.

And we are sitting in this place right now because, behind those doors, the speaker of the House here and the leader of the Senate are going over language and whatever deal they come up with there will have national implications.


GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R), ARKANSAS: This is a bill that in ordinary times would not be controversial. But these are not ordinary times.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): In a closely watched decision, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson rejecting a religious freedom bill today that many saw as divisive.

HUTCHINSON: I asked that changes be made in the legislation.

MARQUEZ: Before the bill passed in the legislature, Hutchinson said he planned to sign it, but, today, he backtracked, asking state lawmakers to remake the bill to mirror existing federal law.

It's a move that could head off protests, concerns the measure would allow companies to refuse service to gay or lesbian patrons. Pressure on Hutchinson to veto the bill came from all sides.

From former Arkansas first lady Hillary Clinton, "Like Indiana law, Arkansas bill goes beyond protecting religion, would permit unfair discrimination against LGBT Americans. I urge governor to veto."

To the CEO of Wal-Mart, whose headquarters are in the state and who warned the proposed law "threatens to undermine the spirit of inclusion present throughout the state of Arkansas and does not reflect the values we proudly uphold."

Hutchinson's decision comes as Indiana's governor, Mike Pence, deals with the outcry over his own state's religious freedom law.

GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), INDIANA: Was I expecting this kind of backlash? Heavens no.

MARQUEZ: Pence stood by the law's intent, but says there was a perception problem that set off days of protest. He directed state lawmakers to offer their fix to the law by the end of this week.

But some in the state applaud Pence for signing the bill, like Walkerton, Indiana, pizzeria owner Crystal O'Connor, who says it's her right to follow her beliefs.

CRYSTAL O'CONNOR, MEMORIES PIZZA: If a gay couple was to come in, like say we wanted -- they wanted us to provide them pizzas for a wedding, we would have to say no.


MARQUEZ: Now, the question is, will they come up with a deal? They are just doing a little impromptu press update here. The Republicans here will go back into caucus. After spending two hours today talking about this, they will go back into caucus at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time to talk more.

The sides are very, very far apart right now, though, so it is hard to see how they get a deal. But we could know something by late tonight or early tomorrow morning -- Jake.

TAPPER: Miguel Marquez, thank you so much.

Defenders of the religious freedom bill insist this is not about discrimination against gays and lesbians; it's about the rights of religious people. What does that mean in practice? Joining me now to discuss this all is

Republican Arkansas State Senator Bart Hester. He is the sponsor of the state's religious freedom bill.

Senator, thanks for joining us.

I had thought that Governor Hutchinson had said he would sign your bill. What's your reaction to his saying it needs to now be changed to narrow it to more closely match the federal law?

BART HESTER (R), ARKANSAS STATE SENATOR: Well, I think the reaction is, it's not any different than the governor's handled all legislation that comes to his desk. He is very pragmatic. He's a very popular governor because he is pragmatic and fair. He's looked at this bill from all directions. He thinks there needs to be a couple of amendments, and I'm open to considering those.

TAPPER: Let's talk about what this bill would do. If there is a conservative Christian florist, would it allow that florist to deny serving, providing services, to a gay couple who wants flowers at their wedding?

HESTER: Well, I think that's two different questions, to me.

I think it does not allow for discrimination in any way. And it does not allow for a florist to discriminate against a gay couple looking for flowers. Now, what I think it does allow is for a florist that has a strongly held religious belief to be able to hold that belief close and not participate in the message of a homosexual wedding or ceremony.

I think the First Amendment is very close to all of our hearts in America. And it's part of the cornerstones of who we are.

TAPPER: See, this is what I don't understand with supporters of this type of legislation. Would it allow the florist to not give flowers to the same-sex couple or not?

You're saying almost two things. You're saying that there's no discrimination, but the Christian conservative doesn't have to participate in a ceremony they find objectionable. It's just one or the other. I'm just trying to figure out what it does. I'm not judging the legislation.

[16:40:03] HESTER: Sure.

No, I think, to be clear, it does not allow someone to discriminate. And I think they should absolutely serve a homosexual couple. It also lets them hold their personal religious beliefs close on a message. And that message would be they don't support the homosexual wedding. Again, I wouldn't ask a Nazi to -- or I meant -- I guess I wouldn't ask a Jewish baker to put a Nazi swastika on a cake. That wouldn't be fair either.

TAPPER: But how are they going to stay true to their conservative Christian beliefs and also not discriminate? This is what I don't get here. Are you saying that they can hold true

and not participate in an event that they don't find holy, that they think is objectionable or sinful, or are you saying that they have to? I'm confused.

HESTER: Well, it's not a confusing issue at all.

The First Amendment is not a confusion. We have the right to freedom of speech. We have the right to hold our strongly held religious beliefs close to us. I think there's a difference in serving someone. I don't think there's any portion of that that the government doesn't have compelling interest to have businesses serve individuals.

They cannot force that individual to participate in a ceremony that they don't believe in.

TAPPER: But -- so you're saying that the florists would have to provide flowers, for example, or caterers would have to provide food, but a wedding photographer who objects to same-sex marriage wouldn't have to participate in that? It's about the participation in the ceremony, as opposed to the providing of services?

HESTER: That's right. It's about the participation in the message.

And someone doesn't have to participate in the message of something if they don't want. And the Supreme Court has said a message can be an action. For instance, an unpopular thing is burning the American flag, which makes me ill, but that is an action that we have the right to do in America through free speech. There can be another unpopular decision for a Christian baker to not want to participate in the ceremony of a gay wedding.


HESTER: But this bill does nothing to promote or take away discrimination.

TAPPER: Is providing the cake participating in the message? That's the point. I think, to many conservative Christians, it is. Right?

HESTER: Well, I will tell you, that's for the individual to decide for themselves.


TAPPER: So it would allow for them to discriminate. That's what you're saying. It would allow -- if they feel that their participation in the ceremony, by providing pizza, by providing catering, by providing flowers, photographs, cake, whatever, that that is participating in the message, then they could refrain and refuse to serve the same-sex couple?


HESTER: I think you're right. I think they would not have to perform a message that they don't agree with through the freedom of speech. There are so many other issues you can go along with. What if

somebody told a Christian radio station they had to advertise with companies that they opposed? I don't think that's fair or right either.

TAPPER: All right. But my point is that your law would allow -- see, the thing is, there are two competing interests here, right?


TAPPER: There is the right of people to follow their faith in this country and there is also the right of people to not be discriminated against. And they are coming at a head here, to a degree.

HESTER: I agree.

TAPPER: And I feel like people who are supporting this law are kind of fudging whether or not standing up for the Christian conservatives allows them to discriminate against same-sex couples in a ceremony or an event that they don't sanction. It would permit discrimination, is what you're saying, in the name of their religious rights?

HESTER: No, I disagree. It says they cannot discriminate against an individual. They can discriminate against a message that they don't feel comfortable with their strongly held religious belief.

Hey, there's a reason this is the First Amendment, to be able to protect our right to religion. And this is all religions, people that -- I wouldn't ask an atheist baker to do -- with this Easter weekend coming, I wouldn't ask an atheist bakery to put "Jesus has risen" on a cake if he isn't comfortable with that. He has a strongly held...


HESTER: ... belief.

TAPPER: So, you would be totally fine with, let's say, a conservative Muslim baker saying there is no way we are ever going to provide cakes for Christians or Jews for anything having to do with a Christian or Jewish event because we think that that is forbidden? That's OK with you under this law?

HESTER: Well, under this law, we have the right to the First Amendment, a right to freedom of speech. And I believe in the First Amendment.

TAPPER: All right.

State Senator Bart Hester, thank you so much. We really appreciate it.

HESTER: Hey, thank you for having me, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up next: Is a deal with Iran slip-sliding away? After extending the deadline once, Secretary of State John Kerry now planning to extend it again. But can he get a deal? [16:45:00] Plus, at first glance, it looked like an April Fool's joke,

Amazon's latest gadget that lets you order items by just pushing a button in your home. But is this the future of online shopping?

That's ahead.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. In other world news, we have another edition of "Deal or No Deal." Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart gave themselves yet another 24 hour extension on the deadline they already missed, raising questions, of course, as to whether any deal is even possible.

This as House Speaker John Boehner arrives in Israel in a show of solidarity with freshly re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, blasting the current framework.

Let's go right to CNN's chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto live in Washington. Jim, foreign ministers from France, from Russia, China, they have all left the talks in Switzerland so where exactly do things stand?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are hearing now that the French foreign minister is on his way back, but we are going to have to redefine the word deadline considering the number of deadlines that have passed in the year and a half since this interim agreement was first signed.

[16:50:00] You have two extensions of several months and now two short ones of a day or so, but that could extend another day. Diplomats at the same time are also greatly shrinking expectations of what they will come away with and that's if they do come to agreement.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): With a deal in danger of disappearing, Secretary of State John Kerry and his fellow negotiators still searching for resolution in Switzerland. The nuclear talks now stretching not only the definition of deadline, but also of agreement with officials now hoping for a simple statement of goals rather than the hard commitments they originally intended. The White House placed the blame on Iran --

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: While the talks have been productive, we have not yet received the specific tangible commitments that the international community seeks.

SCIUTTO: Iran shifted it right back to the west.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I certainly hope that our colleagues will recognize the fact that this is a unique opportunity that will not be repeated and they need to take advantage of this opportunity. SCIUTTO: The fact it is extension has been the name of the game in these talks since the sides reached an interim agreement in November 2013. The talks were extended the following July, extended again that November and then on Tuesday and today, extended yet again, albeit just in 24 hour increments.

The deadline for a final agreement is June 30th. The biggest sticking point may simply be trust. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif leads the Iranian delegation, but the supreme leader holds the power.

The same supreme leader who presides over a country the U.S. accuses of supporting terrorism and who has helped cultivate a long deep history of anti-Americanism at home.

Like the death to America chants we witnessed on our last visit to Iran. That toughness may be reaping dividends at the negotiating table, where long time nuclear negotiator, Robert Einhorn says, Iran is driving the harder bargain.

ROBERT EINHORN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: The Iranians may have concluded that the U.S. team was under so much pressure to get a deal that the U.S. and its partners would make all the remaining concessions.


SCIUTTO: This interim deadline was originally intended by the U.S. and its western partners to be an early test of whether a broader agreement is possible and specifically whether Iran is willing to make concessions for that broader agreement. These delays could be, Jake, last minute posturing, but at a minimum they leave that question open.

TAPPER: Jim Sciutto, thank you so much.

In other world news, an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico turning into a fireball, this was the startling scene as smoke leaking out over the ocean after a fire turned into a full-on inferno. Mexico's state oil company, Pemex, says they do not know what sparked the blaze, but confirmed four people have been killed. Local emergency services say at least 45 others were hurt. Pemex dispatched eight fire boats to extinguish the flames.

Our Money Lead, how would you like to order a laundry detergent while you're doing the laundry? It could be as simple as pushing one button. We'll explain next.



TAPPER: Our Money Lead now, the cartoon "The Jetsons" helped us imagine a world where you could get anything you wanted at the push of a button. Well, in today's Money Lead, the future is pretty much here.

Amazon is announcing a new service so cool, a lot of people question whether it may have been an April Fool's Day joke. It's called Amazon Dash. It lets you reorder some of your favorite products with a simple push of a button.


TAPPER (voice-over): Too early for an "Elf" clip? No, because Christmas has come early for Amazon customers now that the company has introduced some shiny new buttons. It's called Amazon Dash.

ANNOUNCER: A simple way to reorder the important things you always run low on.

TAPPER: It's a Wi-Fi connected button you can stick anywhere in your house for a convenient push for product purchases. It's just the latest way the company is learning your habits and trying to hone its selling power.

ANNOUNCER: With prime shipping, you will get new products delivered to your door before you run out.

JASON TANZ, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "WIRED": What they're trying to do is change some pretty ingrained behavior in terms of how we shop.

TAPPER: Jason Tanz is editor-at-large for "Wired" and he says soon even something this convenient may come to seem archaic.

TANZ: I think the end point is you think something and it's delivered to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alexa, what do you do?

ALEXA: I can play music.

TAPPER: Amazon Echo announced months ago has Alexa, a device that lets you bypass the button and just ask for things out loud.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alexa, give me my flash news briefing.

ALEXA: Here's your flash briefing.

TAPPER: Frankly, it seems we humans may soon be out of the loop all together. Amazon's Dash replenishment service allows your internet connected devices to order their own refills and of course, it doesn't stop there.

TANZ: Walmart, Best Buy, other sort of physical retailers are getting into this space as well. It's not the case that Amazon has completely run away with this. There's still a lot of ground to cover.

TAPPER: As for Dash, more than a dozen brands have already signed up for this Christmas in April by Amazon. On coffee, on trash bags, on snacks, do not stall. Dash away, dash away, dash away all.

Don't forget delivering presents from the air was on Amazon's checklist two years ago. Now it seems it's gotten its wish. The FAA just granted the company an experimental Air Worthiness Certificate, which means Amazon can research how to hover over your every order.

Something it's already been testing in Canadian air space for months. This technology will only get more prevalent but not to worry. For those concerned about overexcited little button pushers in the house, Amazon limits customers to one order at a time.


TAPPER: Of course, some industry insiders say there's a down side to Amazon --