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Britain Targets Extremist Groups; Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown; Colorado's New Frontier Marijuana; Regulating Colorado's Pot Industry; Beef Prices Heat Up; Robbie Rogers Makes Sports History

Aired May 27, 2013 - 09:30   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Carol Costello. Stories we're watching right now in the NEWSROOM at 30 minutes past the hour. The police chief of Bardstown Kentucky is promising to avenge the shooting death of one of his officers.

Authorities believe Jason Ellis was ambush on his way home from work early Saturday morning. Ellis was shot multiple times after getting out of his cruiser to remove debris from the road.

Angelina Jolie's aunt has died of breast cancer. That's according to E! News. This is just two weeks after the actress wrote about her own decision to undergo a double mastectomy. Like Angelina, Angelina's Aunt Debbie Martin carried the same faulty BRC aging, BRAC gene that's linked to breast and ovarian cancer. Martin was the sister of Jolie's mother who died of ovarian cancer in 2007. Martin was just 61 years old.

The civil war in Syria takes center stage today as Secretary of State John Kerry meets privately with husband Russian counterpart. The meeting of the two diplomats will focus on a peace conference that could be held in Geneva a few weeks from now.

Just days after the gruesome killing of a British soldier in London, a move by Britain to clamp down on extremist groups. A task force headed by Prime Minister David Cameron will target Islamic extremists. Anger has surged across Britain since the soldier was stabbed and slashed with knives and a meat cleaver. The suspects are link to radical Islamic groups.

Our senior international correspondent Matthew Chance is outside the prime minister's office in Prime Minister's office in London. Matthew, give us an update.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Carol, very much. That's right, the investigation into that killing is still very much under way. Police say they are still conducting that forensic examinations of the scene and that the evidence that they collect, there's number of arrests have been made. As well as nine have now been arrested including the two murder suspects in connection with that killing of Lee Rigby. The drummer from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. And latest developments, as well, the British government says that it is going to form a new task force aimed at examining exactly what the causes are of extremism in Britain. They said they're going to look at extremism in general, various -- in its various forms. But they also acknowledge that in practice, the major threat faced by Britain from extremists at the moment is from Islamic extremism.

So that's something they're going to be looking at. They can get what kind of legislation if any may be needed to try and prevent this kind of horrific killing from happening again or at least mitigating the chances of something like that happening again. So a lot of debate going on in Britain politically, a lot of anger, as well, simmering on the streets just a short distance from here, Carol.

There is a protest under way by the English Defense League which is a far right extremist group, one of a number of protests they've been organizing over the course of the past several days since the killing of Lee Rigby. There is a counter demonstration, as well, some anti- fascist group calling for them to get off the streets as well. And so this killing really has brought tensions and emotions really simmering to the surface in Britain.

COSTELLO: All right. Matthew Chance reporting live for us from London.

Still ahead in the NEWSROOM, how to implement the sale of recreational marijuana. It's what the state of Colorado is trying to figure out. While the federal government still calls it a crime.


COSTELLO: Of course today is Memorial Day. A time when the nation pauses to remember those who died while serving our country. At 11:00 Eastern, President Obama will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Also on hand, one of the most elite groups of the U.S. army, the handpicked soldiers who stand sentry over the tomb and all that it symbolizes.


SPEC. NATE CHARTER, TOMB SENTINEL: It's an honor being able to work in Arlington Cemetery. There are some days where you just down like, like, hair raising on the back of your neck feeling that it's just right, that it is just perfect, you wouldn't want to work anywhere else for the rest of your life. Everyone worked on each other's uniforms even.

To have somebody else around you taping you off, making sure there's no lint, debris or anything in there. May not look as good or may not look uniform to the other soldiers on the plaza. The reason why some of us may have certain things going out the door is because it's just worth for us during training to kind of calm us town before we go out the door.

One of those things just give you motivation. It'd be like hey, I want to crush this guard thing. He's guard thing is going to be amazing.

Yes. They started to heat in the place and then with the beam so bright it bounced off and hit you back. It just feels like the temperatures even warming than it is. If you're in your regular clothes.

I do not think it was every going to be, guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers: We realize that that freedom isn't free. It really is and you have thousands of soldiers that die for our country.

I don't look at it as just three unknown soldiers that I'm guarding. I'm guarding the 300,000 plus soldiers that have their life for this country.



COSTELLO: It is one big idea to help cash strapped states. If people want pot, sell to them legally. That's what Colorado is getting ready to do. Last year voters there approved a ballot to allow pot to be sold legally for personal use in retail stores. Lawmakers are working overtime to figure out how this industry is going to work.

CNN is putting Colorado on the spotlight as it nears the deadline for when the pot boom really begins.

Here is Jim Spellman with more.


JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Like many small businessmen, Shaun Gindi has employees, a warehouse, retail stores, and his fair share of headaches.

SHAUN GINDI, COMPASSIONATE PAIN MANAGEMENT: I make this business work paycheck to paycheck.

SPELLMAN: But his product is anything but usual. Gindi grows and sells marijuana.

GINDI: So this is what a flower room looks like.

SPELLMAN: He grow the cannabis in this warehouse in Denver and has two medical marijuana dispensaries in the suburbs.

GINDI: I have about 20 people working for me. They do anything from growers to trimming, to working as caregivers in the stores.

SPELLMAN: So far his business has been limited to medical marijuana, selling only to Colorado residents with the doctor's recommendation and state-issued red card. But last year voters passed amendments 64 legalizing recreational use of marijuana.

The state is still working out regulations ahead of January 2014 when recreational marijuana stores are expected to open. Dispensaries like Gindi's are expected to be able to convert and sell to anyone over 21 but there are several catches.

(On camera): This is still against federal law. That must create an unbelievable amount of stress for you.

GINDI: Yes, it does. I'm talking to you right now. There is a voice in the back of my head that there is an innate nervousness to being in this business.

SPELLMAN (voice-over): A bill in Congress would bar the federal government from going after people in states that have legalized marijuana. But it's unclear if the bill has a chance of becoming law.

(On camera): Are you afraid that all that you've built here will be taken away from you?

GINDI: Yes. I can't even keep my face straight right now saying that. That's such a real fear.

SPELLMAN (voice-over): Dave Laptegaard runs the warehouse.

(On camera): I want to learn more about exactly how you grow marijuana on essentially an indoor farm. So where does it start?


SPELLMAN (voice-over): With cuttings known as clones.

LAPTEGAARD: Get a little gel on there.

SPELLMAN: That go into these tanks for about two weeks and then to this room for about five weeks under stimulated sunlight and a CO2 rich environment.

(On camera): Each of these plants gets its own bar code?

LAPTEGAARD: That's right. Every single plant when it comes out of the corner, once it gets into here, it's coded individually. And we're able to trace that plant from this stage all the way to the end product.

SPELLMAN (voice-over): Then the light is cut back to simulate the shorter days of autumn, triggering the plants to flower, and finally it's off to be trimmed and dry.

The entire process is regulated by the state. After a criminal background check employees are issued a Colorado Marijuana Worker ID Card. Every time is moved the employee logs it using this software; a fingerprint scanner tracks the employees at every turn.

NATE LAPTEGAARD, COMPASSIONATE PAIN MANAGEMENT: There is no scar face here, there is no AK-47s, there's none of that stuff. We have inspectors from the state in here all the time.

SPELLMAN: Even though Gindi pays sales and income tax, marijuana is still against federal law so expenses cannot be deducted from federal taxes and FDIC-backed banks won't take their money.

SHAUN GINDI, COMPASSIONATE PAIN MANAGEMENT: There is nothing glamorous about this business. It's a struggle trying to operate without a bank account, trying to run a business without being able to take deductions.

SPELLMAN: At his dispensary, Gindi operates in a highly competitive marketplace. About 500 medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado compete for the business of the 108,000 people on the medical marijuana registry.

(on camera): Have they become more connoisseurs about their marijuana?

LEAH, BUDTENDER: Definitely, definitely, you don't ever see quote/unquote "swag" anymore. It's all chronic, all hydroponic.

SPELLMAN: Competition has driven prices down to half of what they were just three years ago creating razor-thin margins. But could that change when more people even pot tourist from out of state are able to legally buy weed? Gindi isn't so sure.

GINDI: There is a risk that comes along with it.

SPELLMAN: That might push the federal government into acting where they were comfortable not acting with medical marijuana.

GINDI: Right. And I have to make that choice, man.

SPELLMAN: These marijuana pioneers will probably never convince all of their critics that pot should be legal but the see themselves as the good guys.

LAPTEGAARD: Every single person that comes here that works for me when they clock in, they put their finger on a -- on a sensor and they know they're committing a federal crime. So every single person that works at the industry are all here for one reason and one reason only, it's because we believe that marijuana prohibition is immoral and that we have to do something about that.


COSTELLO: Jim Spellman joins us from Denver now. So, Jim Is Colorado any closer to figuring out how its new state laws will work with federal laws which of course still outlaw marijuana?

SPELLMAN: No. In a word no -- last fall right after this passed after voters voted for Amendment 64, Governor John Hickenlooper here had a phone call with Attorney General Eric Holder and then wrote him a letter asking for some sort of clarity on this. They still have not heard back. That was November when they made that phone call.

So there is still a lot of confusion around that. There is this bill in -- in Congress that has support from both parties, but it's really unclear whether this has legs, whether politically there is anything in it for people from states that do not have medical marijuana for those representatives and senators to vote for it. So a big question mark there.

Meantime, though, legislators here have been busy, they have come up with this framework, they've passed the bills they need to pass for this to start. It's going to be next January when we're going to see the first retail operations. We expect Governor -- Governor Hickenlooper to sign those bills tomorrow morning -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right. Jim Spellman reporting live from Denver this morning.

Getting burned by burger prices? We'll tell you just how pricey your beef could get as we head into the summer grilling season. That's next in the NEWSROOM.


COSTELLO: Checking our "Top Stories" at 50 minutes past the hour.

The 18th person has died from the corona virus in Saudi Arabia, the latest victim an 81 year old woman. The illness is similar to SARS. It can cause coughing, fever and pneumonia. The virus showed up last year in Saudi Arabia. It has killed almost two dozen people around the world.

Parents of a 15-year-old Chinese tourist are apologizing after their son defaced an Egyptian temple. The young vandal carved Ding Jinhao was here into a wall of a 3,500-year-old Luxor temple. The Chinese media reported that the local Egyptian staff have tried to remove the graffiti but so far they have not been able to.

It's been a blockbuster Memorial Day weekend at the box office. One of the biggest ever the top dozen films raked in more than $250 million from Friday through yesterday. Topping the list, "Fast and Furious 6"; it pulled in close to $100 million. Coming in 2nd with "The Hangover part 3"; it pulled in just $42 million and that is much, much, less than expected.

Memorial Day marks the unofficial starts of the summer season, and as you get ready to fire up the grill, those flames aren't the only thing headed higher. Beef prices are on the rise.

Our personal finance and business correspondent Zain Asher in New York to tell us about it. Good morning, Zain.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE/BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hey Carol, well wholesale of beef prices jumped $2.11 a pound last week actually by the way breaking a record. That means big jump in prices at the grocery store so for example ground beef prices are about 3.5 percent higher today than they were Memorial Day last year. And on average the retail prices are about $5.25 a pound.

And as you can see, it's been a steep climb higher over the last two years. Now here's why, we are dealing with drought in states that produce cattle and that is cutting hay and corn production. Of course not good news for prices; Memorial Day weekend, Carol, synonymous with cookouts in the sun, typically the third biggest day of the year for beef sales, by the way, after July 4th and Labor Day, but these high prices could actually force people to turn to alternatives like chicken and pork. Pork prices relatively stable; chicken prices a little bit higher compared to last year. But either way both are still cheaper than beef -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Turkey burgers, I vote for turkey burger.

ASHER: I know exactly, right? Turkey burger any one?

COSTELLO: Veggie burgers I don't know about. I don't think they could replace beef but -- but I like your spirit.

Tell us about gas prices are they at least on the way down?

ASHER: Well, they have been climbing this month. They have been relatively stable over the past year. The national average for a gallon of regular is $3.50 this Memorial Day weekend. But a year ago it was $3.65. Now if your local gas prices are much more expensive than that, then chances are you live in the Midwest. The Midwest right now, Carol, seeing very high gas price: Minnesota, $4.05; North Dakota, $4.13 a gallon.

The reason is refineries in those areas have had to close temporarily for maintenance causing gas prices to jump dramatically. Gas prices in those states, by the way, are even higher than California, which is typically the state with the most expensive gas -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Wow, thanks so much. Zain Asher reporting live for us this morning.

Tony Kanaan finally gets a swig of milk at the brick yard, Indianapolis 500 highlights and more in "Bleacher Report".


COSTELLO: The Boston Marathon bombings robbed many runners of their chance to cross the finish line. But on Sunday, the Indianapolis 500 gave them a second chance.

Andy Scholes is here with the "Bleacher Report". Good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, "BLEACHER REPORT": Hey, good morning, Carol. The officials at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway wanted to help those runners who didn't get a chance to finish the race after the bombings. So they invited the non-finishers from Indiana and surrounding states to come to the track and finish the marathon before yesterday's Indianapolis 500.

About 35 people took the Speedway up on their offer. They ran a half mile stretch from Turn 4 to the finish line as the crowd of more than 250,000 chanted "USA" -- a great moment for all of those guys.

But once the race got going, it was a good one. There was a record 68 lead changes. With three laps to go, Tony Kanaan would take the lead. And shortly after that, Dario Franchitti would crash and that would be it. Kanaan takes the checkered flag under (inaudible) and to finally get his first win at the Indy 500.

It was a bizarre afternoon for everyone involved at the Coca-Cola 600 yesterday in Charlotte. A TV cable above the track snapped during the race and Kyle Busch, he ran right into it. His car was damaged along with a few others. During the 27 minutes -- look at this, Busch couldn't get his phone to take some pictures of his car. Now ten fans were also injured by the cable but luckily, no one was seriously hurt.

The Eastern Conference Finals continued last night in Indy with Game Three between the Heat and Pacers. Miami scored a franchise playoff record 70 points in the 1st half. They cruised to an 18-point win to take a 2-1 lead in the series. Lebron James led the way for the Heat with 22 points. The Heat have now won 23 of their last 24 road games. Game four of the series is tomorrow night.

Last night in L.A., 26-year-old Robbie Rodgers made MLS history. He became the first openly gay athlete in the U.S. to compete in a professional. Rodgers had retired from pro soccer back in February when he announced that he was gay. But after a few months, Rodgers decided to make a comeback and he says he hopes he can be a role model for gay teens.

Carol, as you can see right there, he was welcomed back to the -- the first game with the Galaxy but he was welcomed with open arms and got a pretty nice ovation when he wins the game in the 2nd half.

COSTELLO: That just makes you feel so good. Thanks so much, Andy.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts now.