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CNN Sunday Morning

Biden Blasts Russia, Irks Kremlin; Obama Plays Up Small- Business Health-Care Pain; Applause, Cheers for Palin at Picnics; Politicians' Suspect Statements Put to the Truth Test

Aired July 26, 2009 - 06:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello there, everybody. From the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING for July 26. I'm T.J. Holmes.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello there. I'm Brooke Baldwin, sitting in for Betty Nguyen again this morning. It is 6 a.m. here in Atlanta; 5 a.m. in Chicago; 3 a.m. in Phoenix. And we appreciate you starting your Sunday with us.

HOLMES: We always say the time in Chicago because the - our executive producer in charge of this show...

BALDWIN: We were just having a whole conversation. That's her shout out to her...

HOLMES: She's from Chicago.


HOLMES: ...OK? She's from Chicago. There you go, all right?

BALDWIN: Hi, Tanisha's (ph) family in Chicago.

HOLMES: All right. Well - well, the vice president - what do you think I'm going to say next? Yes, he has said something that many people say maybe he should not have said. He said something about Russia this time, and political advisers say it could cause some serious damage to the U.S.-Russian relationship.

Now, the White House doing a bit of damage control this morning. We'll have more on the story and removing the foot from the mouth, coming up.

BALDWIN: Also, he is the meanest (ph) thing on the golf course. He was the captain of his golf team and an amazing athlete, really, overall. But a boating trip with his family four years ago turned tragic.


JORDAN THOMAS, LOST LEGS IN BOATING ACCIDENT: I looked down and my black fins (ph) were gone, and all I saw was just red, just everywhere.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: Jordan Thomas, who lost his legs, but he managed to survive. Now, he is fighting for better health care for families who can't afford it. We will tell his story.

But first, let's take a look at some of the stories developing overnight.

First want to take you and tell you about some of these demonstrations across six continents, 100 cities. We're talking Tokyo, Los Angeles, Berlin, France, New York, Washington, Seoul. People - look at this, in the rain, pouring into the streets, demanding the release of hundreds of Iranians arrested during protests over last month's disputed presidential elections.

Many of them you see there wearing the color of green. That is symbolic of the opposition movement in Iran. United for Iran and several human-rights groups have organized a demonstrations, including groups like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders.

HOLMES: Well, just about everybody could use a day off. Many of you enjoying your day off today. So are the astronauts in space.

Yesterday, 13 astronauts on the International Space Station took a bit of a break after a week filled with some tough spacewalks. One more planned for tomorrow. Then on Tuesday, seven of the astronauts will leave the station aboard the space shuttle Endeavor.

BALDWIN: The Obama administration opening its first major talks with China this week. The president will be kicking off a summit of sorts with the Chinese president with some remarks starting tomorrow. And then on Tuesday, he will be tackling health care, answering some questions from AARP members during a tele-town-hall meeting.

The president keeps the push going on Wednesday with health-care events in both North Carolina and Virginia.

HOLMES: Well, like we said, the vice president, he's Joe Biden. He's wrapping up a trip overseas. He went to Georgia, went to Ukraine. But his candor is what makes - what's making the biggest news, and that's usually not a good ting.

BALDWIN: Yes, his talk is getting us talking this morning.

In an interview with "The Wall Street Journal," the vice president is abandoning the typical diplomatic niceties, we'll say...


BALDWIN: ...making several comments about the Russian government that no one else in the Obama administration seems to be saying - at least not saying publicly.


BALDWIN: Here is some of the comments that he's made, saying "They have a shrinking population base." Goes on to say, "They have a withering economy. They have a banking sector and structure that is not likely to be able to withstand the next 15 years." Goes on to say, "They are in a situation where the world is changing before them and they're clinging to something in that past that's not sustainable."

Well, you can believe the Russian government is a little perplexed by some of these comments. Interfax and "The New York Times" is reporting that the chief foreign-policy adviser to Russia's president is saying - quote - "If some members of Obama's team and government do not like this atmosphere, why don't they say so? If they disagree with the course of their president, we just need to know this."

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs issuing a statement in reaction, saying, "Working together to advance security and prosperity for the American and Russian people is the focus of our effort to reset relations. The president and vice president believe Russia will work with us not out of weakness, but out of national interest."

CNN's Don Lemon asked political analyst David Gergen last night about some of the remarks made on behalf of the vice president.


DAVID GERGEN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (by phone): It's damaging to international relations because the United States wants to and needs Russia to help us with Iran, to help us with North Korea, to help on energy issues. They're - on nuclear proliferation. There's a whole series of things - while it's true that Russia is a weakened country, it is - it's still an important - it's been important for the Obama administration to reset that relationship.

And what's central to the Russians is to be treated with respect.


BALDWIN: A senior adviser to the president is on John King's "STATE OF THE UNION" coming up later this morning, and perhaps he'll be talking to John, commenting further on the vice president's remarks.

HOLMES: All right. Let's turn to the governor of Alaska. She can only have that title for a little while longer. Sarah Palin leaving office today.

BALDWIN: That she is.

HOLMES: She had a little party to say again. She had a picnic in Anchorage, this one was yesterday. She's seen in some of this video. You see her kind of in the middle - there she is. She was serving up some food and chatting with everybody. But she will officially hand over her duties as governor to Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell later today.

We had him live on this show a couple weekends back, when she made the announcement. He's already announced he's going to be running for his term. So...

BALDWIN: But he's officially said he doesn't have national aspirations...

HOLMES: He does not.

BALDWIN: least thus far, right?

HOLMES: That's what he says.

BALDWIN: Right. We saw moving trucks, saw some pictures of the moving truck there - there it is, in Juneau, outside of her mansion. She is leaving more than a year before the end of her gubernatorial term.

HOLMES: Now, we have a question for you this morning: What do you think she should do next? I posted that question already this morning, Brooke, asking people what they think. Most of them are not being that nice about it. So I will ask you all to please...

BALDWIN: Be nice.

HOLMES: all seriousness, I'm asking, what should she do? A lot of people think she should maybe just stay at home with her kids and be her mom. Some say maybe she should get back into the political game at some point.

But please, send in your comments, Twitter, Facebook and also on our blog,

Meanwhile, the president, he's been doing his push for health- care reform this weekend with a pitch for small-business owners.

BALDWIN: But the president says they currently pay 18 percent more for health insurance than larger businesses. So he talked about it in his weekly radio and Internet address. He is outlining his proposal to level the playing field. And he's basically urging lawmakers to act quickly to help relieve the small-business burden.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Under the reform plans in Congress, small businesses will be able to purchase health insurance through an insurance exchange, a marketplace where they compare the price, quality and services of a wide variety of plans, many of which will provide better coverage at lower costs than the plans they have now.

They can then pick the one that works best for them and their employees. Small business that choose to insure their employees will also receive a tax credit to help them pay for it. If a small business chooses not to provide coverage, its employees can purchase high- quality, affordable coverage through the insurance exchange on their own.

Low-income workers, folks who are more likely to be working at small businesses, will qualify for a subsidy to help them cover the costs. And no matter how you get your insurance, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny you coverage because of a pre- existing condition.


HOLMES: Now, the president's plan includes proposals he believes could improve coverage for the 13 million-plus employees. A lot of questions here, and I guess the biggest is: can this really work?

BALDWIN: Can it work?

CNN's Kate Bolduan spoke with several small-business owners in the Washington, D.C., to get some of their perspective.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Obama, in his weekly address, is pitching to small businesses across the country, saying they will only benefit from health-care reform.

OBAMA: These are the mom-and-pop stores and restaurants, beauty shops and construction companies that support families and sustain communities. Right now, they are getting crushed by skyrocketing health care costs.

BOLDUAN: We talked to two small-business owners who face similar challenges every day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good afternoon. Guernsey Office Products.

BOLDUAN: David Guernsey employs 170 people at Guernsey Office Products in Virginia.

BRIAN ENGLAND, OWNER, BRITISH AMERICAN AUTO CARE, INC: Did the - ABS (ph) think it will work out good.



BOLDUAN: Brian England has 18 employees at his Maryland auto- repair shop. Both small businesses that provide health insurance to their workers, but both admit it's getting harder and harder to keep up.

DAVID GUERNSEY, PRES., GUERNSEY OFFICE PRODUCTS: Top line's not going up. Gross profit's not going up. Expenses in terms of health care will go up. And that affects the bottom line.

ENGLAND: The pay is the No. 1 expense, obviously, to running a business. Next is rent. And then next is health care. So it's third in line, a very large third.

BOLDUAN: These men and their employees are keeping close watch on Washington and the health-care debate. One idea England supports: requiring employers to provide coverage. He says it would help level the playing field for him against competitors.

ENGLAND: Every year it gets worse, because the rates go up, more employers stop providing the complete coverage, and then that makes a big problem for the ones that are left.

BOLDUAN: But Guernsey fears that expanded coverage could come with an expanded price small businesses simply can't afford.

GUERNSEY: If the requirement were such that the kind of coverage we offered were dramatically different, dramatically more comprehensive, and the cost accordingly would go up significantly, that would then be a problem.

BOLDUAN: Instead, Guernsey hopes small businesses will be allowed to pool their coverage to help drive down prices.

(on camera): President Obama supports allowing small businesses to buy coverage through an insurance exchange, where he says they could shop for different, cheaper plans for their employees.

Now, Wednesday, Mr. Obama heads to North Carolina and Virginia to continue selling the White House reform efforts.

Kate Bolduan, CNN, the White House.


BALDWIN: Coming up a little later this morning on "STATE OF THE UNION," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in an exclusive interview with John King. They'll be talking health-care reform, the state of the economy and also the controversy in Cambridge, Massachusetts, involving Harvard Professor Skip Gates.

John King hosting "STATE OF THE UNION" starting at 9 a.m. Eastern this morning.

Well, something is brewing in Massachusetts...

HOLMES: OK (ph).

BALDWIN: ...and one woman is spilling the beans - spilling the beans on - and she hopes to cash in.

HOLMES: You said brewing, I thought it might have actually been beer. But I guess you're talking coffee.

BALDWIN: Oh, coffee.

HOLMES: Reynolds is a fan of both. Good morning to you, sir. How are you?

BALDWIN: Hey, Reynolds. REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, how right you are, sir, in equal amounts, and at any time of the day. That's always - always a true statement.



HOLMES: We had a music issue there (INAUDIBLE)

BALDWIN: I know. I was, like, fixing my own (INAUDIBLE) box.

HOLMES: Wait, that's not up - what was supposed to be playing?

BALDWIN: I don't know.


HOLMES: Oh well.

WOLF: I don't know.

HOLMES: We don't know.

WOLF: We'll - we'll - we'll never know. Rolling Stones I think. Some...


WOLF: Mick Jagger would not have been proud.



HOLMES: We've got...

BALDWIN: Soap-box derby time.

HOLMES: Yes, we - this is always fun to watch, and people take this seriously. Let's go ahead and show you this video here.

But this was in Akron, Ohio.

BALDWIN: There we go.

HOLMES: Weather didn't cooperate too well, did it there, Reynolds?

WOLF: Well, you know, you don't even have (ph) to have great weather. Basically, what you need is gravity, you need four wheels and a vehicle and a crash helmet it appears.

And, you know, it's an emotional time. It's for - for parents and kids to get together and make these great box - soap-box racers, and they go right down the hill. And it's been something that they've been doing not just for a few years...

BALDWIN: For years.

WOLF: ...but for a long time.

BALDWIN: In Akron.

WOLF: Yes, it's a huge tradition.

One of many great events that are going to take place this weekend. Another one, kind of a - a yummy or stinky, whatever flavor you choose - that would be in Gilroy, California, the Garlic Festival taking place.

HOLMES: I've been to this thing several times.

BALDWIN: Have you?

WOLF: Good times, isn't it?

HOLMES: It goes crazy over there in Gilroy. They're known as the "Garlic capital of the world," just south of the San Jose.

BALDWIN: Do you leave with your clothes just kind of smelling?

HOLMES: You smell - if you drive through Gilroy, you're going to come out stinking.

WOLF: Garlic ice cream also a big thing there.

HOLMES: Yes, they have that...


WOLF: And - and get this: the Lumberjack World Championships in Hayward, Wisconsin, which anyone would love to pick up an ax for that thing.

And then Annie Oakley Days in Greenville, Ohio. So in Ohio, you've got two things, the soap-box derby, then you can go over to the Annie Oakley thing and just have a great old time.

Cardboard Boat Race World Championships - didn't know there was a world championship - in Heber Springs, Arkansas.

And the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame induction in Cooperstown, New York. That is a great thing.

By the way, among today's inductees will be Ricky Henderson. You see him right there. He actually moves much faster than that.


WOLF: Right there.

HOLMES: He's the all-time leader. BALDWIN: Frozen in time.

HOLMES: Right?


WOLF: All-time leader. All-time leader. And should be a shoo-in for the Hall. Let's - it would be great to see it happy. Hopefully, Dale Murphy and maybe even Joe Jackson one day will be inducted. We shall see.

But he looks - it looks good.

HOLMES: You want to plug anybody else for the...


WOLF: I'm going to - I'm going to hold off on yours. We'll - we'll get on that one later on.


BALDWIN: Let's get a little bit of a reality check here this morning on what's happening with all the billions of dollars that are supposed to be rescuing our economy.

HOLMES: All right. Josh Levs taking a look for us.

Good morning to you, Josh.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you guys.

We're hearing that there are half-truths from the left and the right. That's according to a Web site that does some serious checking of this. We're going to tell you about the alleged billions of dollars in tax relief. And also we're going to tell you about some street signs you may see out there on highways, and how much they're costing you.


BALDWIN: There is an old saying, and I'm sure you think this every time you come to work and sit in this chair...

HOLMES: Oh yes, I do. Yes.

BALDWIN: ....friend. The saying goes, "Do something you love and you'll never work a day in your life."

HOLMES: You know, I do. I love what I'm doing.

BALDWIN: We're lucky.

HOLMES: But we're still at work right now. All right (ph).

(LAUGHTER) CNN's Stephanie Elam found a woman whose passion for coffee has given her a new daily grind.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lucy Valena is hooked on coffee.

LUCY VALENA, OWNER, VOLTAGE COFFEE: I had my first shot of espresso when I was 14. And it pretty -- was pretty amazing for me.

ELAM: With the dream of opening a coffee house, Valena went to Seattle to learn at the aprons of the best.

VALENA: I just saw this barista pour that Rosetta, and I said I'm not leaving this town until I learn how to do that.

ELAM: Valena returned to Boston, and last fall launched Voltage Coffee, a mobile espresso catering company.

Her corporate headquarters...

VALENA: This is where all the magic happens, yes.

ELAM: Valena knew her business acumen could use a jolt. So with the help of a few aides...

VALENA: I wrote my - my business plan with all of these "Business Plan Writing for Dummies" and all these things.

ELAM: Valena then took her plan to the Small Business Administration and was directed to a ACCION USA, a company specializing in micro loans. It had just begun a partnership with Samuel Adams to help small food-and-beverage businesses get funding and free advice.

JIM KOCH, FOUNDER, SAMUEL ADAMS: I love Lucy's dedication to the quality of her product. And I'm a big believer that, you know, a great product and the patience that an entrepreneur brings to that can carry a long way if you have a helping hand.

ELAM: Valena started Voltage with her $2,000 and the $4,000 loan she got through the Sam Adams Brewing the American Dream Program.

VALENA: So it covered the espresso machine, the grinders, my table, the membership costs, licensing and my costs for a few months with the commercial-kitchen facility that I used.

ELAM: Now she's focused on a storefront. But she has to incorporate, find a space, and get a loan.

VALENA: I need to convince someone to give me 180,000 grand. That's a good chunk of change.

ELAM: Despite the economy, Valena remains undaunted.

VALENA: I'm just going to keep working at it. I'm not letting up. I'm not letting up, Boston.


VALENA: I don't care.


ELAM: Stephanie Elam, CNN, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.


BALDWIN: And you can catch a new "Money & Main St." this Thursday morning on "AMERICAN MORNING." That starts at 6 a.m. Eastern time.



BALDWIN: Love that look on your face.


BALDWIN: Priceless.

The nation's economic-stimulus package - billions of dollars and countless claims.

HOLMES: Yes, a lot of claims out there. How many of them are true. We're going to take a look at the truthfulness of some of the things being said out there with CNN's Josh Levs, with our reality check.


LEVS: Hey, guys.

All right. So trillions, billions or millions. It seems like there must be all this recovery money flying around, because lawmakers keep talking about it that way, even if it feels like it hasn't hit you yet.

But along with this money are also a lot of claims, which we need to break down. So we're bringing in Bill Adair from

Hey, Bill.

BILL ADAIR, POLITIFACT.COM: Thanks for having me, Josh.

LEVS: All right. Thank you.

Let's start off with this: you were looking at a claim from President Obama now that talks about $43 billion. What's that about?

ADAIR: Well, this is a claim he's made many times, as he talks about the economic stimulus. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: It's delivered $43 billion in tax relief to American working families and businesses.


ADAIR: Well, we looked into that and found that that there's some - some fuzzy math in that.

The $43 billion includes some money that was used for the fix for the alternative-minimum tax. And of course, the - the AMT, as it's called, is a tax that was set up in the 60s to try to limit the - put some restrictions on the wealthy. But it has gradually spread to affect the middle class. So every year, Congress puts a fix in so that it doesn't spread into the middle class.

Well, Obama's counting at - in the $43 billion. And - and we decided, in talking to some experts, that that's not correct to do that, that that's really exaggerating the impact of the stimulus.

We ended up giving this a "Half True" on our Truth-O-Meter. He's right about the other parts that make up the $43 billion. But the $8 billion from the AMT fix we felt he wasn't. So...

LEVS: All right.

ADAIR ..."Half True" for this one.

LEVS: And speaking of "Half True," you've got another "Half True." This is on the other side now. And you're looking at one claim from a Republican.

This is Senator Bennett, who talks about some road signs out there. Tell us about this.

ADAIR: Bennett is correct that the Obama administration has encouraged states to put up these signs. But - but the Obama administration has not required them, and the other part of Bennett's claim that they have spent millions to do this, may or may not be true. We - we haven't been able to get a good accounting of how much money has been spent on signs.

It may be in the millions. It may not. We're not sure. So we gave this one a "Half True." So...

LEVS: Well, look, those are just two of the latest. You guys always have a steady supply, which is one reason we love at every day and checking out your ratings.

Bill Adair, thank you so much.

ADAIR: Thanks, Josh.

LEVS: All right, guys. Back to you.


HOLMES: All right. And what should the former vice-presidential contender Sarah Palin do now that she's no longer governor? She's leaving office today. That is what we're asking you on Facebook and Twitter this morning.

Send us your comments. We'll be sharing some of them.

BALDWIN: And a show of solidarity for Iranians in rallies around the globe. Why some cities were seeing green as part of the greater message for global action.


HOLMES: Well, hello again, everybody. Welcome back to this CNN SUNDAY MORNING. I am T.J. Holmes.

BALDWIN: Good morning. I'm Brooke Baldwin sitting in for Betty Nguyen.

Let's talk Tuesday and decision day here. The Senate Judiciary Committee expected to vote on Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Some Republicans on the panel there, backing the nominee, but Senator Jeff Sessions, he is the senior Republican on the panel, says he's not revealing yet how he will vote. He also says he remains troubled by some of her responses at the confirmation hearings. But with Democrats controlling the Senate Sotomayor appears heading for confirmation by the full Senate.

HOLMES: Everybody needs a day off. What would you be doing on your day off? Maybe today. What are you doing? Maybe playing a little golf? A little outing? A cookout? Not exactly that option when you're in space. But they did get a day off; 13 astronauts on the International Space Station had a day off on Saturday, just hung out a bit, I guess. They had a tough week. A lot of space walks. Another spacewalk coming up tomorrow. Then the Shuttle Endeavour planning to come home on Tuesday with seven astronauts aboard.




BALDWIN: Looking at the scene there, that is Los Angeles. Yesterday hundreds rallying against alleged human violations, human rights violations, in Iran. Here in the United States demonstrations also took place in New York, Washington, San Francisco, happening really, globally, a hundred cities demonstrating on the streets.

HOLMES: They are showing support for people in Iran. But a lot of those demonstrators also wan the release of hundreds of people arrested during the protests over Iran's disputed presidential election.

BALDWIN Yes, take a look at these pictures; people very passionate about the issue, pouring into the streets in Paris, London, Tokyo, Berlin. Our own Reza Sayah is at one of those demonstrations. And he reports this morning on the "Global Day of Action".


REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A river of green in Times Square, New York. Protesters draped in the official color of Iran's opposition movement condemning the Iranian government for hundred of arrests and an often brutal crackdown since June's election.

MARGARET SETTERHOLM, PROTESTOR: When people are being oppressed the world is being oppressed, and we have to stand together.

SAYAH: The rally in New York part of what organizers called a Global Day of Action. Similar rallies in nearly 100 cities. In Washington, D.C. thousands gathered at the offices of the U.N. then marched to the White House. In London hundred headed for the Iranian embassy.

PARVIZ SHAH, PROTESTOR: Enough is enough. How many people have to sacrifice? How many people are dying in my country?

SAYAH: In Amsterdam an appearance by Iranian human rights lawyer and Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi.

At a rally in Berlin the cousin of Sohrab Aarabi, a 19-year-old protester whose body was finally delivered to his mother after he had been missing for weeks.

SAHAND ZAMINI, SOHRAB AARABI'S COUSIN: His death is a national tragedy in Iran as well as I think a tragedy worldwide. 19-year-old boy getting shot because of his opinion.

SAYAH: In New York the green-clad crowd marched to the U.N. headquarters where protesters called on the U.N. and international community to do more.

KEN ROTH, EXEC. DIR., HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Out of sight is not out of mind. Iran cannot succeed in closing off this country. And that, in fact, through this outrage being expressed around the world we hope to mobilize governments to put pressure on Tehran to respect the will of the Iranian people.

SAYAH (On camera): Many of these people at this gathering are convinced the June 12th elections in Iran were rigged. Many are against the regime itself, but their focus today, they say, is to free the hundreds of detainees arrested by Iranian authorities after the elections.

(Voice over): On Saturday a few small protests inside Iran, too. In a major square in downtown Tehran cars honked and crowds chanted for freedom. More than six weeks after the disputed vote Iran's opposition movement is not only active and defiant but it's message is still heard across the world. Reza Sayah, CNN, New York.


HOLMES: We'll turn to the week in politics now; a lot coming up this week. You know you'll hear about health care reform again this week, but you will also be hearing about Sonia Sotomayor. Could be a big week for her. Let's turn to our deputy political director, and friend of our show here on CNN SUNDAY MORNING, Paul Steinhauser.

Good to see you, kind sir.

Let's start with Sotomayor. What does she have on tap this week?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Tuesday, T.J., that's when the Senate Judiciary Committee is back in session and we expect they will vote this time. They were going to vote last week, but the Republicans asked for a week's delay. As Brooke was mentioning, Democrats have a majority on the committee, there are 12 Democrats, seven Republicans. You would expect she would pass in committee then it would go to the full Senate.

And, T.J., the full Senate says it will vote before they break before their long summer recess by early August. And that's what President Obama had asked for, that the full Senate vote on Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation to the Supreme Court before they break. And it looks like that will happen. Already, five Republicans have said they will vote for Sonia Sotomayor when the full Senate votes later this week.

HOLMES: So, it looks likes she will know she's getting the job by -- in the next couple of weeks, before they take off. So there's that. It seems the president wanted a quick one. It seems like he's getting it.

Let's turn to health care. Nothing quick happening on health care at all this week. The president talking about it every single day it seems. That will continue, I assume, this coming week.

STEINHAUSER: Yes, we heard him yesterday on his radio and Internet address. And you'll hear him a lot this upcoming week as well.

Tuesday, the same day the Senate committee meets on Sotomayor, the president will partake in a teleconference and town hall on health care with the AARP. And he'll be taking questions from members of the audience there. That's not it all, at all. He gets out of town. He goes down Wednesday, to North Carolina, and then Virginia. Town halls in both states on Wednesday, both on health care. You'll hear a lot from this president this week on health care.

And lest we forget, remember, North Carolina, Virginia, two states with big elections this year and next year. Of course, they are battleground states, as well.

HOLMES: And the president, maybe the Republicans I guess smell blood, or at least see some vulnerability on behalf of the president, or at least maybe some weakness here with the public kind of falling behind in support of the health care reform plan. Do they have the best ideas or the best messenger even right - messenger for who are they going to put out there to go after the president and battle him on health care reform?

STEINHAUSER: One of those messengers is Michael Steele, he is the chairman of the Republican National Committee. He's been very outspoken. We have heard a lot from Michael Steele the last couple of weeks, against the president's health care reforms. And you'll hear more from Michael Steele this week. Because out in San Diego, on Friday, he'll be the big speaker at the Republican National Committee's summer meetings and you would expect, he would bring health care up.

The day before, by the way, Tim Pawlenty, he's the governor of Minnesota and he's somebody who is thought of as maybe a possible contender for the Republican presidential nomination, 2012; he'll be speaking there as well, T.J.

HOLMES: OK, thought of, as maybe, a possible -yeah.

STEINHAUSER: Am I couching it a little bit?

HOLMES: Just a tad.



HOLMES: Appreciate you as always, Paul. We'll be talking to you again this morning. We'll see you shortly, buddy.


HOLMES: This morning on "State Of The Union", which comes up at 9 o'clock Eastern Time, right after us, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in an exclusive interview. It is her first Sunday show since President Obama's inauguration. We'll discuss health care reform, state of the economy, the Professor Gates controversy is going to be in there, as well, our John King hosting "State Of The Union", starting, again, 9 o'clock Eastern Time -Brooke.

BALDWIN: T. J., Vice President Joe Biden can be, shall we say, a bit candid when he speaks. What he said that has Russian officials asking for a clarification.

And watch out if you are watering your lawn in Texas. You could be breaking the law. Live pictures from Houston this morning, people waking up, and police patrolling some of those streets as one major resource is running out.


HOLMES: All right. Over here, hanging with my man, Reynolds, we're talking about Texas, extreme weather because we're talking about extreme heat this time around.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. HOLMES: We have a live picture. Some of the worst heat, some of the most extreme heat, I should say. Beautiful here picture this morning. But drought stricken and some folks are saying you can water your lawns right now.

WOLF: Yes, rough times in Texas. The thing is though, and we were talking about this during the break, this is the time of the year that is supposed to be dry in Texas. They usually get most of their rainfall in winter and in the springtime. What happened is that Texas really missed out on getting that beneficial rainfall in February, in March, in April and May. And now we're hitting the dry time of the season. So, there's this tremendous deficit. That's the big issue.

Now, I'll remind you, last year -- and before I say that, let me put this into play. I'm not saying that we want a hurricane or tropical storm to hit the state, but last year when we had two tropical systems hit Texas there was no word of drought, at all, whatsoever.

HOLMES: So, in some way that was helpful in some regard.

WOLF: No question.

HOLMES: Destructive, but still helpful.

WOLF: No question.

Let me show you again this great shot we have of Austin. This is actually a beautiful thing to see. Do you know that it is actually a few feet taller hand the U.S. Capitol? It is a beautiful thing to see. If you go out there it's almost like a light tan in color, because it's made -


WOLF: I lived in Austin for three years.

HOLMES: Oh, that's right.

WOLF: Yes, it's funny the things you learn. You learn how to go to places like the Salt Lake, you know how to eat great barbecue. That's a barbecue place south of Austin. You understand TexMex, always good times there in Austin.


HOLMES: Well, the once-vibrant black town heads into the history books. But does anyone care? Hobson City disappears. We went to a tiny Alabama town to find out why it matters and who is trying to save it.

BALDWIN: And a horrifying boating accident cost Jordan, here, both of his legs at the age of 16. Now determined to help other kids without insurance, he is making a difference. And coming up, we will tell you how.



BALDWIN: What a wonderful world. What a better world thanks to one young man you're about to meet here. We're talking about the battle for health care reform. Mind-boggling numbers and bitterly partisan politics, but for one teenager, the issue became very personal when he suffered a horrific accident in Florida.

Jordan Thomas, he lost both of his legs and then subsequently found a new mission in life. Here's his story.


BALDWIN (voice over): Jordan Thomas plays a serious golf game. It's par for the course for this talented athlete who spent his childhood excelling at sports, even on family vacations Jordan would show off his fishing skills. But four years ago, in the Florida Keys, the family's annual boating trip went terribly wrong.

Just hours after these photos were taken, Jordan jumped into the ocean to test the waters.

JORDAN THOMAS, DOUBLE AMPUTEE: The wake pushed me behind the boat and I remember just hearing --being underneath the boat, and hearing the motor go. And just -- I knew immediately what had happened. I looked down and my black fins (ph) were gone. And I saw was just red, just everywhere.

BALDWIN: The boat's propellers slashing Jordan's legs. His parents, both doctors, had to act fast. They were five miles from shore.

DR. VIC THOMAS, JORDAN'S FATHER: He had a lot of bleeding, of course. We had to work quickly to control that. And, uh --

BALDWIN (On camera): So perhaps if you didn't have that experience, as doctors, knowing how to stop the bleeding, or lessen the bleeding, perhaps you would have lost him?

V. THOMAS: Yeah. I think so.

J. THOMAS: In an instant I was a bilateral double amputee.

BALDWIN: Jordan spent the next two weeks in a Miami hospital undergoing multiple surgeries. But while recovering he visited a wing where children who had also lost limbs were being treated, but their families couldn't afford expensive prosthetics.

J. THOMAS: I found out that a lot of insurance companies put a $5,000 cap on your legs. And, like I said, mine are $22,000. So, 17,000 grand, what do you do?

BALDWIN At only age 16 with his family's help he started the Jordan Thomas Foundation, helping disadvantaged kids get the prosthetics they need. J. THOMAS: I decided I wanted to make something positive out of this negative, horrible, horrible event.

BALDWIN: The foundation has since raised $350,000 which pays for prosthetics for three children. One of them six-year-old Noah Parton. Doctors had to amputate Noah's right leg when he was just three weeks old because of a condition stemming from a heart defect. His parents' primary insurance funded his first prosthetic leg, but had no knee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just a standard leg, it doesn't do anything.

BALDWIN (On camera): So, it doesn't bend?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It don't do nothin'.

BALDWIN (voice over): That became difficult as Noah learned to walk. And since Noah was a growing boy, he needed more frequent upgrades that insurance just didn't cover.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If the time limit isn't enough between like when he needs none fit to another one, they don't want to pay for it.

BALDWIN: So, Jordan's foundation did.

(On camera): Do you like the knee?


BALDWIN: How does it work? Just like that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. You can do this. Watch.


(On camera): This issue has garnered national attention. In May, New Jersey Congressman Robert Andrews introduced the Prosthetics and Orthotics Parity Bill.

REP. ROBERT ANDREWS, (D) NEW JERSEY: What I think they ought to cover is the same percentage of the cost that they would for a knee operation, or heart operation. If you got a deductible of $500, and they pay the rest, that's what they should do for a prosthetic device.

BALDWIN: As for Jordan, the only time you'll hear him mention the word handicap is on the golf course. These days, through his foundation, he is driving home the message that anything is possible.

J. THOMAS: Helping these kids and seeing that, it just motivates you to -you just want to get more money from people and you want to help more people. And you just have that insatiable desire to keep helping people. It's a good thing.


BALDWIN: Pretty impressive 20-year-old. HOLMES: That's amazing.

BALDWIN: You don't often hear about 20-year olds, or at the time, 16, doing things like that. He's definitely getting a little bit of attention here. He won this past spring the International Youth & Philanthropy Award. And then next month he's going to Minneapolis to get the National Courage Award. Stiff competition, being 20, beating out Michael J. Fox, Mohammed Ali. And I'm just thrilled to be able to tell the story. Just one of those people you walk away from and just say wow.

HOLMES: He looks like a heck of a golfer.

BALDWIN: He is a heck of a golfer, indeed. That's one of the ways they are raising money for this foundation for these kids. I think they're looking for a fourth person now, but they are having this massive golf tournament in Chattanooga, coming up this fall. He enjoys it. He loves getting out there. He's not letting this slow him down.

HOLMES: That's great he turned his experience -horrible experience, into something that is helping. Even that little kid --

BALDWIN: So, cute, Noah!

HOLMES: The knee bends. You know, something that simple.

BALDWIN: It is something we take for granted, a knee, an ankle. It's just -it's great.

HOLMES: Looking forward to the follow up.

BALDWIN: Good deal.

HOLMES: From that young man.

BALDWIN: Well, let's talk about the vice president's explosive and critical comments about Russia's past, present and future.

HOLMES: He said something a lot of people think maybe he shouldn't have said. We'll be talking about that this morning.

Also, Sarah Palin, she is leaving the governor's mansion today. How can she, maybe, re-launch a political career? What do you think she should do? Send us your comments on FaceBook, Twitter and on our blogs.


BALDWIN: Hobson City, Alabama, it's a tiny town of mostly African-Americans, but what makes the city so special is the fact that it was founded by blacks more than 100 years ago.

HOLMES: However, now, it's headed for the history books. As part of our "What Matters" series CNN's Tony Harris visited Hobson City to meet those trying to save it. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TONY HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Images of a town time has truly forgotten. Every where, boarded up homes and business, broken windows along the street renamed Martin Luther King Drive, a much different picture than when residents say Hobson City, Alabama, was a great place to call home for blacks in the segregated South.

DR. DAVID SATCHER, FMR. U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: They had a black mayor, black sheriff, and all of that. And for many of us, that was very interesting coming from the environment that we came from.

HARRIS: One of America's black surgeon generals, Doctor David Satcher, graduated from a high school in Hobson City.

SATCHER: It played a very key role during that period of segregation to see leadership, to see black leadership.

HARRIS: This two-mile long sliver of land an hour east of Birmingham was founded by blacks, for blacks in 1899. An historically significant accomplishment in a state like Alabama, with its notorious racial history.

It became a city when blacks were kicked out of the neighboring town because the black vote turned an election. Even segregationist Governor George Wallace showed up to a groundbreaking of the town during a failed re-election bid.

HARRIS (On camera): Is the idea of Hobson City, the first black city in Alabama, does that mean more to you, your generation, than it does to the young people we're watching just a few minutes ago playing?

ERIC STRINGER, GREW UP IN HOBSON CITY: Absolutely. We grew up in the '60s with the civil rights struggle, so we know that -- we know the sacrifices that our families made so that we can live the way we live now.

HARRIS (voice over): Today, where there were once dozens of black-owned businesses, there are only three; this small print shop; a barber shop, and a gas station/convenience store.

WILLIE ATKINSON, HOBSON CITY RESIDENT: Half the city was at - Iverson (ph) Park had a baseball park. Pavilions where they danced, and you could stand around on the outside, and look on the inside.

HARRIS: Now all that is long gone. The decay has been decades in the making. This empty shell of a building is what's left of Hobson City's fire department. There is no police department, drug dealing is rampant.

(On camera): You don't have a police force, do you?

MAYOR ALBERTA MCCRORY, HOBSON CITY, ALABAMA: We don't have a police force.

HARRIS: Is it a problem? Do you -is crime a problem?

MCCRORY: It is. Crime is a serious problem in this community.

HARRIS (voice over): What killed Hobson City? The town leaders say, ironically, it may have been the civil rights movement. Desegregation meant freedom to shop and living anywhere, so many blacks left Hobson City behind.

(On camera): You think desegregation ...

MCCRORY: I think --

HARRIS: ... killed Hobson City?

MCCRORY: I think it did. In fact, it's not just Hobson City, but I look at other African-American communities, where you had your grocery stores, that really provided for the people in the community.

HARRIS (voice over): Eric Stringer and Bernard Snow are determined to restore Hobson City to some of it past luster. They founded the Hobson City Community & Economic Development Corporation.

HARRIS (On camera): You could have let it go.


HARRIS: You could have allowed it to be absorbed by Anniston, or --.



HARRIS: Or absorbed by Oxford.

STRINGER: Nobody wants it.


HARRIS: That was never an option?


HARRIS: Nobody wants it?

STRINGER: Nobody wants it.

SNOW: Look, from my perspective I didn't want anybody else to write Hobson City's history or legacy.

STRINGER: Just need some little successes.

HARRIS (voice over): Last month their group drew up a plan to bring a tax base and draw new residents back into the community. The group has applied for state and federal grants. While they await a response, they are reaching out to foundations and planning fundraisers. Their vision?

STRINGER: It's a business community that has a revenue tax base. There's a rich history that we just don't want it to fade off the page.

HARRIS: Tony Harris, CNN, Hobson City, Alabama.


BALDWIN: How about all those old pictures. The fact that it was founded by blacks and now it is just three businesses.

HOLMES: And it looks like it's going away. They're trying to -

BALDWIN: It does.

HOLMES: It's good to see them trying to save it. But the mayor, there, was making a point you hear many people make. That when desegregation -yes, it's a wonderful thing -however it did require blacks to stop doing what they were doing, which is supporting their own businesses, supporting each other, and pooling the money in all one area. A lot of people say that's what happened to Auburn Avenue, historic area, here, in Atlanta.

BALDWIN: In Atlanta.

HOLMES: Which was a vibrant, vibrant place at one time.

BALDWIN: It looses a sense of community.

HOLMES: When things opened up, you goes elsewhere for other opportunities. That should be a good thing but sometimes that community is lost.

BALDWIN: Great story, Tony Harris, there.

HOLMES: From Tony, yes.

BALDWIN: You can learn more about Eric and Bernard's efforts to save Hobson City, and how you can help. Just going to the web site at the bottom of your screen. It is


HOLMES: And from the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING for July the 26th. Hello to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes.

BALDWIN: Hi. Good morning. I'm Brooke Baldwin, in for Betty Nguyen this Sunday. It is 7:00 a.m. here in Atlanta; 6:00 a.m. in Hayward, Wisconsin -- big news there.


BALDWIN: You don't want to miss this. Lumberjack championship is going on in Wisconsin. And 4:00 a.m., you've been here, in Garlic Festival, Gilroy, California -- got to love some garlic. Thanks for starting your day with us.

Much for a serious topic here, garlic aside, what won't he say? Vice President Joe Biden is spouting out some pretty candid comments about Russia. Political advisors say it could cause serious damage to the U.S.-Russian relationship.

HOLMES: Now, the White House is doing a bit of damage control this weekend. We'll have more on that story coming up again. It's not the first time we've seen him say some things that maybe he wished he could have taken back.

BALDWIN: A lot of people reacting.

HOLMES: A lot of people.

BALDWIN: We'll get to the comments -- reactionary comments.

HOLMES: Yes. And a lot are going to be reacting to this -- when you don't want people in New York, may put up a "keep out" sign, you might put up a sign that said "beware of dog."

Look at the sign. We saw out there. But a woman put up a sign that says "Keep Out Hispanics." There it is. "Hispanics keep out." We'll have this story for you in just a moment, and also let you know where in the country it's happening.

Should people be able to post signs on their property telling whoever they want to tell stay away? And please, I know you're going to have some comments. You want to be sounding off on this one. You know where to find us -- on Facebook, Twitter, you can send us iReports, also, our blogs, and

BALDWIN: First here is a look at some of the stories we are following for you this Sunday morning.

Deposed Honduras President Manuela Zelaya is expected in Washington on Tuesday to continue talking with State Department officials aimed at returning him to office. But just yesterday, Zelaya returned to a border crossing in Nicaragua. Troops say they did not arrest him because he stayed in a neutral zone. Zelaya is accused of treason and abuse of power.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is heading to the Middle East a little later this morning, and his first stop is Israel where he will reiterate the administration's opposition to Iran's developing nuclear weapons. The defense secretary will also visit Amman, Jordan for talks with King Abdullah.

And the Obama administration opening its very first major talks with China this week. The president will be kicking off the event with some remarks tomorrow; and then Tuesday, will take some health care questions from AARP members during a tele-town hall meeting, and then the president will be pushing this message Wednesday, traveling to both North Carolina and Virginia, talking health care.

HOLMES: Now, the Alaska governor, Sarah Palin, leaves office today. She will be former governor when she wakes up tomorrow. She -- as you're seeing here -- was at a farewell picnic. This was for -- in her honor yesterday in Anchorage. She also had another picnic on Saturday. You see her serving up some food, doing her thing. You know, used to be one of the folks, chiming (ph) it up with people there.

Palin will officially hand over her duties as governor to the Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell later today. Again, this is coming a year before her term actually ends.

For more on Governor Palin's next move and a lot of people are speculating about what she might do next, let's bring in a friend of our show here on CNN SATURDAY and SUNDAY MORNING and our deputy political director, Paul Steinhauser.

First, just how did this process work? Does she essentially load her stuff in U-haul and hand the keys over to the other guy and get out of there? How does it work?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: She's already been packing up the governor's residence in Juneau, Alaska. But 12 hours from right now, T.J., 7:00 Eastern up in Fairbanks, as you mentioned, there's going to be a picnic there and she's going to make comments and officially hand over power to Sean Parnell. He's a fellow Republican, so the governorship in Alaska stays in Republican hands. And as you mention, this comes, yes, a long time before her term actually ends, her first term as governor of Alaska.

HOLMES: All right. And she's been playing it pretty close to the chest, at least what she wants to do next. She's been pretty vague, I want to support other candidates who are like-minded, I want to do this for the party, I want to move this forward and help the country.

OK. What is it? Do we have any specifics on what she's going to do now?

STEINHAUSER: No -- I can't even speak English -- no specifics.


STEINHAUSER: I knew I could say that. And she stayed mum this weekend, both at the Wasilla event and the Anchorage event yesterday. She wouldn't take questions from reporters. Her spokeswoman says there is no -- I can't speak English today -- master plan.

But she will -- a couple of things we do know -- she will be writing a book, which is interesting. And as you mentioned, T.J., she says wants to go out there and still fight for the causes that are important for her. And she says she wants to go across the country and campaign for candidates whose issues and ideas she agrees with.

Now, you're going to see her two weeks from now in Simi Valley, California, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. She's going to be -- she's expected to speak to a Republican woman's group there and that is considered sacred ground for conservatives.

So, you put all this together and you've got speculation that maybe, the former vice presidential Republican nominee would -- going to want to run for the top spot herself in 2012.

HOLMES: Well, I certainly have at least two follow up questions but your English is not so good this morning.


HOLMES: So, I'm going to just let you go. Thanks, Paul Steinhauser. Good to see you, buddy. Just giving you a hard time as always. Appreciate you.

Well, we want to hear from you this morning as well. What should Sarah Palin do next? You could talk to us on Twitter, Facebook or our blogs,

Also this morning on "STATE OF THE UNION," the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, in an exclusive interview. She will discuss health care reform, the state of the economy, and Professor Gates controversy. She'll be talking to our John King about that. "STATE OF THE UNION" with John King starting at 9:00 Eastern Time.


BALDWIN: And perhaps, John King will be talking about this story as well here. Vice President Joe Biden wrapping up a trip overseas to both Georgia and the Ukraine, but it's his candor that's what's topping news this morning. In an interview with "The Wall Street Journal," the vice president has abandoned the typical diplomatic niceties and he's saying a few things about the Russian government no one else in the Obama administration has been saying at least publicly.

Take a look at some of the comments here, have a couple of quotes. He said, "They have a shrinking population base, they have a withering economy, they have a banking sector and structure that is not likely to be able to withstand the next 15 years. They're in a situation where the world is changing before them and they're clinging to something in the past that is not sustainable."

So, what is the Russian government is saying? They're a bit perplexed by some of these comments. Interfax and "The New York Times" is reporting this -- that the chief foreign policy advisor to Russia's president is saying, quote, "If some members of Obama's team in government do not like this atmosphere, why don't they say so? If they disagree with the course of their president, we just need to know this."

The White House, as you can imagine, reacting as well. Spokesman Robert Gates is issuing this statement. Take a look. "Working together to advance security and prosperity for the American and Russian people is the focus of our effort to reset relations. The president and vice president believe Russia will work with us, not out of weakness, but out of national interests."

HOLMES: All right. Oftentimes, you see all kind of signs outside of people's homes to tell people to stay away. Sometimes, it says "beware of dogs," some might say "keep off grass." Even -- I was even working in Arkansas once and saw a sign that says "trespassers will be shot, survivors will be shot again." No kidding. I actually saw that.

BALDWIN: Serious?

HOLMES: Seriously. People use all kind of signs to keep people away. But never one like this, that says "Hispanics Keep Out." That might shock you.

BALDWIN: That's a first.

HOLMES: Yes. But some people not shocked to see it any more at least in one particular town in Texas. They have been seeing it there for a while.

Janet St. James from our affiliate, WFAA, reports.


JANET ST. JAMES, WFAA REPORTER (voice-over): Sign reads "Hispanics Keep Out." It's posted for all to see above the door of this home in the small Tarrant County town of Azle. Folks here pretty much mind their own business, but this message is hard to ignore.

DAHLIA SCARBRO, NEIGHBOR: It does offend people. It is something that, you know, is offensive, but, you know, it's his property.

ST. JAMES: These neighbors are among those who would like to see the sign taken down and then they've wondered for months why anyone would post it in a mixed race neighborhood. They agreed to accompany us to find out.

(on camera): We're here because of the sign that's posted on the roof of the house.


ST. JAMES: Some people are upset about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, I don't care. I'm upset about them coming over here illegally, too.

ST. JAMES: This 72-year-old woman who declined to share her name shared instead with us her desire to be left alone by certain people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is our privilege as an American to protect our property.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is our property.

ST. JAMES: Don't you think it would be OK just to post a sign that just said "keep out to everybody" and not just target one particular race?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. I don't want to keep out everybody.


Police say the sign violates no laws and, like it or not, is an expression of freedom of speech.

(voice-over): An expression the mayor says is not shared by most in town. There have been no official complaints to authorities in Azle. Neighbors say they are practicing tolerance.

Janet St. James, Channel 8 News.


HOLMES: Tolerance -- tolerance of her. But she obviously not too tolerant of her neighbors in a lot of ways.

Amazing story -- amazing that nobody has even complained to the police like that. They're being really very tolerant.

BALDWIN: I have a feeling, after the story aired down in Dallas, there will be actions taken. But again, First Amendment right to property...

HOLMES: Say what you want to say.


HOLMES: Nothing illegal being done.

BALDWIN: Nothing illegal.

HOLMES: No doubt.

Well, what do you think about it, illegal or not? Whew. Send us your comments. Facebook, Twitter and you know where to find us, on the blog as well -- by all means. We're curious to hear what people think about that.

BALDWIN: It used to be an old fort, and now, it's the last line of defense for American troops in Afghanistan. We'll take you to the front lines.

HOLMES: All right. Our Reynolds Wolf is keeping an eye on -- we were talking about extreme heat earlier, now, some possible storms.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, absolutely. You know, we're really watching two parts of the country. One would be in the Deep South; the other would be in the northeast, where just yesterday, in New York they had some storms. We have some video to share with you very quickly. A lot of storm damage, straight line winds knocking over some power lines, some trees. We're going to show you what they can anticipate later today.

That's coming up in a few moments, right here on CNN SUNDAY MORNING.



WOLF: One of T.J.'s favorite songs, I think. That, he's up there with his John Denver collection.

BALDWIN: He is -- he is hiding and...


WOLF: Yes.

HOLMES: No. I do.

BALDWIN: Is it tough -- listen to him.

HOLMES: I do love Maroon 5.

BALDWIN: I love that song.

HOLMES: Yes, I love Maroon 5.

BALDWIN: It's a perfect Sunday morning song.

Good morning. If you're just joining us, it's pretty busy day. Hey, T.J.

WOLF: We're ripping up T.J.


BALDWIN: It's a pretty busy weather weekend talking kind of drought situation in Texas and storms in the northeast.

WOLF: It really is feast or famine.


WOLF: You know, really, I mean, Texas really has been desperate for rainfall. They haven't seen much all this year. Other parts of country like parts of the northeast, they have plenty of rain.


WOLF: And just yesterday, Brooke, take a look at this video, they had some storms developed, caused all these damage in terms of, well, trees being ripped down, some power lines. Keep watching this video. I was telling you during the break, we're going to see a shot of a rainbow. It looks pretty good here. You see the damage of trees. That's not good. Power outages are never a good thing either. There you go.

BALDWIN: There's the rainbow.

WOLF: Is that it? Yes.



WOLF: Pink rainbow, you saw it for a few seconds and that's, I guess, some...

BALDWIN: That's all we get.

WOLF: That's basically what we get.

And we got one minute to show you what's going to happen around the rest of the nation. We could see more of that action unfolding on parts of the northeast. Reason why is because this frontal boundary is going to come right through this area, a very humid air, that combine you're your daytime heating is going to be the catalyst that could give you some thunder boomers.

Is there the chance you could deal with more storm damage? Well, yes, absolutely. And even parts of the southeast, we can see it develop in the Tennessee Valley. Late afternoon, we could hear a rumble of thunder in places like Arkansas.

Now, back in Texas, it's very hot. It's been that way for the last couple days. In parts of the Pacific northwest, it usually doesn't get that warm, but that is going to be the case not only for today but for the next couple of days, we have currently an excessive heat watches in effect all the way through parts of, say, down into Portland, back along the Columbia River Basin.

Temperatures are anywhere from 95 to 102 through Wednesday. So, certainly, a big mess there. Now, in terms of your temperatures in Texas, mainly into the 90s, 75 in Denver, 89 in Atlanta -- as we wrap things up, New York, and Boston mainly into the 80s.

All right. That is the latest on your forecast. Let's send it back to you, guys, at the news desk.

HOLMES: All right. We appreciate that quick look.

BALDWIN: Thanks, Reynolds.

WOLF: Thanks, guys.

HOLMES: Thanks, Reynolds.

Now, U.S. Marines have been battling the Taliban for control of southern Afghanistan's rural area. One group of marines is holding an ancient castle attacked over the years, with everything from arrows to air shots.

BALDWIN: We sent our own Ivan Watson there. He has this exclusive look at how a fledgling struggling local government is coming together behind the ancient mud walls.


IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is a timeless quality to Afghanistan. Sometimes, you really feel like you're going back in time when you visit here and now more than ever, because we're walking on the ramparts of a century's old Afghan fortress. A mud and brick fortress complete with what look like arrow loops of some sort.

And the remarkable thing about this structure is that the U.S. Marines, a modern fighting force are using this as a military base. They are protecting themselves behind these walls from insurgents who have been operating out in the fields and the canals and gullies out there.

The insurgents have fired rocket-propelled grenades at this location. They fired small arms as well. And they've lobbed deadly mortars into this castle.

We had a loud night in the castle last night because the marines were hunting for a suspected insurgent mortar team out in the fields beyond the walls. And to help the patrols out there, they were firing illumination rounds from mortar tubes, that was deafening.

Anyway, the work that's being done here is so important because there's an experiment underway. Within the walls of the castle are the beginnings of a fledgling district government, with representatives from the ministry of health and education, as well as Afghan national police officers and Afghan national army soldiers, and they are part of the ticket for an exit of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. It's got to grow up here, this local government, in an area that was until just a few weeks ago controlled by the Taliban.

And that makes the work that these men are doing right here in this guard tower so important. They are protecting this experiment in establishing an Afghan government from the insurgents in the field just out there.

PFC. RICHARD REED, U.S. MARINE CORPS: The day before yesterday, we had a couple of mortar rounds hit right outside the post and also inside the castle.

WATSON: And have you had to retaliate? Have you actually seen any of the fighters?

REED: Yes. We had a man suspected of being the fort observer for them right outside here, probably about 1,200 meters.

CPL. ADAM TRANTHAM, U.S. MARINE CORPS: My job here is to help the delta company with their indirect fire. So, I have a part in help to deter these mortars that they have been firing at us, sir. We came up here and spotted their fort observer. We returned fire. And, hopefully, we deterred them.

WATSON: Make no mistake. This is incredibly, difficult, dangerous work.

And the marines who have been here with the delta company of the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion have not had an easy time over the past two weeks. Three of their comrades have been killed in two separate incidents during what has been the bloodiest month yet of this eight year war in Afghanistan, the U.S. has had record losses this month as have NATO forces. This is the season for fighting, summer in Afghanistan, and the summer is far from over.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Khan Neshin in southern Afghanistan.


BALDWIN: A retired school teacher getting call she never imagined.

HOLMES: Yes. Someone discovered a painting she made at the age of 15. Josh Levs has the story.

Good morning, again, Josh.


JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, guys. And you never know how you might impact other people and the story of this woman, 88-year-old, who never became a professional artist is a perfect example.



BALDWIN: (INAUDIBLE) who just yawning.

HOLMES: That wasn't a yawn.

BALDWIN: Wake up, son. Wake up.

HOLMES: That wasn't a yawn.

BALDWIN: The year was 1936, a teenage girl put together this simple painting.

HOLMES: All right. Go from then to now, the painting is discovered and so is the artist. Josh Levs with the story.

Hello, Josh.

LEVS: Hey, good morning to you, guys. This is so nice. This is one of the greatest stories we're getting from affiliates. This one came to us from KHOU. It's about the de La Fuente family in Houston, moved into a house, found this old painting in the attic and loved it. It became part of their family. And something they really treasure. They wanted to track down the artist; it took them years.

Take a look at what happened.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER (voice-over): Last night, Ione Quinker, her son and grandson finally arrived.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does that bring you back a lot of memories?


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And listen carefully to this question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you happy that it's in the...

QUINKER: Oh, absolutely. I'm thrilled. I think it's wonderful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To people here, you're a famous artist.

QUINKER: Oh, my. Oh, come on.


LEVS: And in the end, she decided to let them hold on to that painting. They say that that's become their family dog, that it really means a lot to them.

You know, she's a retired school teacher. This is a woman who didn't know that she had any paintings out there that really mattered to people. But, in fact, it plays a major role in their lives. They said they love it in there home. They are going to keep it.

All right. Let me also tell you, before I go here, about a couple of other great stories we're getting from our affiliates. One from Arkansas -- I don't know if T.J. has a special connection. I thought you might like this.

We got this video, cardboard boat race. Take a look at this. You're going to enjoy this one. This has happened over the weekend. Apparently, it's an annual tradition. And it's growing and growing. And thousands of people are now turning out for that.

Now, I was just reading that they have several different categories and you get trophies and you're only allowed to use cardboard and decorations. I love it.

BALDWIN: How are they keeping the cardboard floating on the water?

LEVS: Yes, I was reading about that. Apparently, there are ways of structuring it that you can actually make that work. But the rule -- and they have a couple of experts who are willing to work with our people. And our affiliate right there, KATV...

BALDWIN: Have their own boat?

LEVS: ... has began doing it. Yes, but the dynamics of making cardboard buoyant, I don't know. Maybe Reynolds has been, I don't know about that.

HOLMES: Don't try to understand it, guys. It's Arkansas ingenuity, you'll never get.

LEVS: Yes.


HOLMES: We got our own thing going on there.

BALDWIN: Arkansasian.

HOLMES: Arkansan.

LEVS: Is that what it is?

HOLMES: Oh, boy.

BALDWIN: Oh, goodness.

LEVS: You learn something every day. Arkansans.

HOLMES: Arkansans.

LEVS: Wow. How did I not know that?


LEVS: Any way, check it out at You can see that plus some really cool video and photos of the latest stuff we got. Pay a visit. There you go, guys.

BALDWIN: Thanks.

HOLMES: Josh, thank you.

LEVS: Arkansans.

BALDWIN: Stellar Arkansan you are.

HOLMES: Well, we've been talking about CNN "Black in America 2." Apparently, we need to do an Arkansan in America. Some of us don't know of our fellow citizens.

But "Black in America 2," one of the main issues in the black community, single ladies and why these single ladies aren't married ladies. BALDWIN: Coming up on this morning's "Faces of Faith," one prominent minister, he's talking about marriage and also divorce, and how the church can actually help strengthen the family unit. That's coming up in our 8:00 hour.



BALDWIN: We're almost out of time, but we told you a couple of minutes ago about this story in Texas and this woman, this WFAA reporter knocks on the door, there's this big sign on her house that says "Hispanics keep out." It's a debate, First Amendment rights, freedom of speech, it's her property yet she is profiling this one race on this sign.

HOLMES: And she even said, the reporter asked, "Why not just say everybody keep out?" And she said, "No, I just want them to keep out," essentially.

We asked you to comment on that and anything else. But we got some in already. We only aired that story a couple of minutes ago. We've been getting a few things in.

I'll start with the Twitter page at the top there. It says, "She's exercising her rights, but it's plain ignorance and bigotry. Hopefully, no vigilante actions will take place."

One under that is saying, "She is ignorant. A large group of Latinos should set up camp in front of her home. The road is not her property."

And one more here from Diane Sherman who kind of summed it up best on the Facebook page, saying, "You got to believe in a person's right, albeit insensitive to stand their ground and express her opinion even when contrary to others. It's what America is all about."

Now, that makes a good point. America is just not about us all living in harmony but our rights to express ourselves no matter if that opinion is contrary to somebody else is even offensive to somebody else. So, the beauty of the country but, sometimes, there is some ugliness that comes with that as well.

BALDWIN: Yes. Absolutely. It's an interesting story. We hope you keep talking about it and twittering about it. We're curious to see what other people out there say.

HOLMES: All right.

BALDWIN: We will be back at the top of the hour, but CNN SUNDAY MORNING continues in 30 minutes.

But first, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

HOLMES: "HOUSE CALL" starts right now.