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CNN Saturday Morning News

Pastor Criticizes Mitt Romney on His Mormonism; New Recommendations For Men on Prostate Screenings; 10 Years of War in Afghanistan; Occupy Wall Street Gains Steam; Setback in NBA Discussions

Aired October 08, 2011 - 08:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Good Saturday morning.

Faith is now being talked about once again in the race for the White House. A mega church pastor says Mitt Romney belongs to a cult. But calling Mormonism a cult is actually nothing new. We'll explain and get into this controversy.

Also new this morning, the first two weeks of the NBA season looks like they are going to be cancelled after owners issued an ultimatum to the players.

Also, men. We've been told for years to get screened for prostate cancer. Now an influential panel is about to recommend that we do just the opposite. What? We have a doctor on hand to answer the many questions I know you have.

This is your CNN SATURDAY MORNING, 8:00 a.m. here in Atlanta, 7:00 a.m. in Fayetteville, Arkansas. 5:00 in Los Angeles. Wherever you may be, we are glad you are right here with us.

And let's start with that Texas pastor, shall we? Creating a bit of a stir at that conservative values voter summit in Washington. He's a Rick Perry supporter and he's encouraging Republicans not to nominate Mitt Romney because of Romney's Mormon beliefs.

Our Jim Acosta caught up with this pastor and asked him what do you say to those voters who think Mormonism shouldn't be an issue.


REV. ROBERT JEFFRESS, SENIOR PASTOR, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF DALLAS: The Southern Baptist Convention, which is the largest Protestant denomination in the world has officially labeled Mormonism as a cult.

I think that Romney is a good, moral man, but I think those of us who are born-again followers of Christ should always prefer a competent Christian to a competent non-Christian, like Mitt Romney.


HOLMES: And our Jim Acosta who was talking to the pastor there joins me now from the values voters summit in DC.

Jim, can we start with giving our viewers some perspective about who Pastor Jeffress is? This isn't just some guy.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, he has a very large mega church in downtown Dallas, First Baptist Church of Dallas. He's part of the Southern Baptist Convention, which is a very large group of evangelical Christians, millions of evangelical Christians, so they're an important part of the Republican Party. And, you know, we were trying to get to the bottom of why Pastor Jeffress said this, when he said it. Just to walk us back a little bit and explain how all this unfolded, T.J., Dr. Jeffress gave the introductory remarks for Rick Perry yesterday here at the value voters summit.

And it was after that speech that Pastor Jeffress came out and talked to reporters and reporters peppered him with questions about some comments that he made during those introductory remarks, that he basically said that voters should go with a true Christian in his mind and Rick Perry, rather than somebody who is just a decent person.

He was sort of really -- he was really sort of alluding to Mitt Romney there and reporters asked him about it and that's when he started to say that in his view, Mormonism is a cult and that Republicans are better off voting for somebody like Rick Perry who is a Protestant Christian.

So we asked him about all of this during an interview yesterday on "The Situation Room" and Pastor Jeffress stuck to his guns. He said, look, there are many evangelical Republicans who are going to go into the voting booth and they may tell pollsters that they're going to vote for Mitt Romney, but they may not do that when they pull the curtain behind them.

This is another test for Mitt Romney in this campaign. He thought he put all of this to rest, T.J. back in 2008 and this question of his faith has come up again. The Romney campaign did not put out a statement last night. They had no comment on this.

Rick Perry, who is campaigning out in Iowa, he was asked about it. And he said that, no, he does not believe Mormonism is a cult.

And there are some questions as to why -- as to how Pastor Jeffress got to be in this role of introducing Rick Perry. The Perry campaign initially said that the pastor was picked by the organizers to introduce Governor Perry at this event.

We then talked to the Family Research Council, which is sponsoring this event. They said, yes, we picked this pastor, but we ran it past the Perry campaign and they said it was OK. And this pastor's views on Mormonism have been known for a very long time.

So there's a lot of information there, T.J. I tried to get it all out there. It's a subject that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Faith in an election year, it's not something that people want to talk about, but evangelical Christian Republicans say this is very important to them.

HOLMES: Jim Acosta for us in DC. We're going to be checking in with Jim throughout the morning. Thank you so much.

And again, as he just alluded to and we have been saying this morning, not the first time that we have heard someone refer to Mormonism as a cult, certainly not the first time Romney has heard it, not the first time he has come under attack for his religious beliefs. He went through the same thing four years ago, similar criticism when he ran for the Republican presidential nomination then, even ran into some uncomfortable moments on the campaign trail, just trying to introduce himself to voters.

Do you remember this?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm one person who will not vote for a Mormon.

ROMNEY: Oh, is that right? Can I shake your hand anyway?



HOLMES: Again, a lot of this has to do -- people don't know a whole lot about Mormonism.

So the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was actually founded by a farmer named Joseph Smith in the early 1800s. He says an angel guided him to a hill in New York State. There, church doctrine says that Smith found golden tablets detailing how Christ visited an ancient civilization in the Americas. Those tablets are the basis for the book of Mormon.

Smith claimed he saw God and Christ in the flesh on a hill in Palmyra, New York. His followers fled persecution there in New York eventually, heading out west and settling what became Utah. Presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are considered prophets and apostles of God. Mormons believe in Christ and God and consider themselves Christians.

Pastor Jeffress is backing Governor Perry. He says he would not want Republicans to nominate Romney because of his Mormon faith.

So a recent CNN/WMUR poll undercuts the premise there maybe. Take a look at how likely Republican primary voters answered the question of, do you think the country is ready to elect a Mormon president. Sixty- one said yes, 25 percent no. The poll was conducted from September 26th to this past Thursday, has a sampling error of plus or minus 6 percentage points.

While we're hearing fresh from the president this morning, he is pushing once again hard for his jobs bill in his weekly address. He's accusing the Republicans of creating political gridlock.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is not the time for the usual games or political gridlock in Washington. So any senator out there who is thinking about voting against this jobs bill needs to explain why they would oppose something that we know would improve our economic situation.

If the Republicans in Congress think they have a better plan for creating jobs right now, they should prove it. Because one of the same independent economists who looked at our plan just said that their ideas, quote, wouldn't mean much for the economy in the near- term.


HOLMES: And South Dakota's Republican senator John Thune, he had a response. He knocked down the president's jobs plan in the GOP weekly address. Listen.


SEN. JOHN THUNE (R) SOUTH DAKOTA: President Obama's policies are damaging our economy and his appropriated solutions are not serious. It's nothing but a rehash of the same failed ideas he has already tried, combined with a huge tax increase. This is a cynical political ploy that's designed not to create jobs for struggling Americans, but to save the president's own job.


HOLMES: Thune went on to say that fewer government regulations and tax reform will get more Americans working and the economy moving in the right direction.

Seven minutes past the hour. Let's turn to the story out of Kansas City and the search for a missing 10-month-old goes on, has intensified, even. FBI agents searched a local landfill Friday for Lisa Irwin. Deborah Bradley, the baby's mother, says police told her she failed a voluntary lie detector test.

Police also say that both parents have stopped talking to detectives. They say that's not true, though, at least the parents say that and they're doing everything possible to find their baby.


DEBORAH BRADLEY, MOTHER OF MISSING GIRL: She's everything. She's our little girl. She has completed our family and she means everything to my boys. And we -- we need her home. I can't -- I can't be without her.


HOLMES: The parents say they last saw Lisa Irwin Monday night when they put her to bed.

We'll turn to some other news and this is what we are getting overnight. That looks like the NBA season is not going to start on time. In fact, it looks like the first two weeks are going to be cancelled.

ESPN reporting that sources telling them that the NBA Players' Association and owners could not agree on conditions for a meeting this weekend. You're hearing me right. They couldn't even agree on how to meet to talk about a deal.

So the NBA commissioner says if negotiations to end the lockout can't be made by Monday, if no room or no movement can be made, he'll cancel the first two weeks of the season that is set to begin November 1st.

A spokesman for the NBA issued a statement saying, we told the union today that we were willing to meet as early as Sunday. We also advised them that we were unwilling to move above the 50/50 split of revenues that were discussed between the parties on Tuesday, but that we wanted to meet with them to discuss the remaining issues. The union declined.

Meanwhile, some WNBA news. The season wrapped up last night. The Lynx of Minnesota, the 2011 NBA champions. Minnesota beat the Atlanta Dreams, 78-67 to complete a sweep, Minnesota's first WNBA title. Second time in a row Atlanta has been swept in the finals. Nine minutes past the hour now and Reynolds, there's always next year.

REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's true. There's one thing worse than not actually -- getting swept and that is not making it at all. At least they got the two years in a row, so they got that going for them.

It has been an interesting year. It's been a very tough year in parts of Texas where they have had very little rainfall, big issues with drought. But now we're seeing things change dramatically, possibly some flash flooding through parts of the state, especially in Amarillo and Lubbock, but maybe a little bit more than what they might need in some places. We're going to talk about that coming up, plus a look at your travel weather forecast.

Let's pitch it back to you T.J.

HOLMES: Reynolds, thank you. We'll talk to you again here shortly.

Ten minutes past the hour now. Take a look at your screen. We have all seen race car crashes. This one might look typical in a lot of ways. But there is something going on right there that is a little different and that is this morning's hero we're going to introduce you to. Stick around for that.

Also, we want to say a big happy birthday to the Reverend Joseph Lowry turned 90 years old this week. And you wouldn't believe some of the gifts he's been getting.

Stay with us. We're back in 60 seconds.


HOLMES: Eleven minutes past the hour. Now as we look at some of the stories making news cross-country.

We start in Ohio where several sheriffs' departments near the city of Steubenville confirm they are investigating a string of home invasions targeting people of the Amish faith. The attacks are allegedly carried out by other Amish. Investigators believe this is some sort of feud and accusations that the culprits are cutting off the beards and hair of others to demean them.

Also in California, Federal attorneys warn state-monitored medical marijuana dispensaries, they'll be watching them very closely. Prosecutors say they will be cracking down on those store fronts that consider pot for profit operations. California and 15 other states have legalized medical marijuana in direct conflict with Federal law.

And also in California, Apple Co-Founder Steve Jobs was laid to rest Friday in a small, private service near Palo Alto. The 56-year-old tech visionary had been battling pancreatic cancer for several years. Jobs was 56 years old.

Civil rights leader icon, really, man known as the dean of the civil rights movement, Reverend Joseph Lowry just turned 90 years old. But the celebration is going to continue throughout this entire weekend. CNN's Soledad O'Brien taking part in Sunday's presentation of his words, our gift. That's a musical and theatrical experience celebrating Dr. Lowry's life and work. You may recall late last month, Delta Airlines gave him a heck of a gift, named a plane in his honor.

And later this morning, we get to have Reverend Lowery in studio here with us live to talk about how it feels to be 90 years old. We'll also get into presidential politics and also why he says there needs to be a civil rights movement led by me. You heard that correctly. We'll get into that with Reverend Lowery. He joins us in the 10:00 hour talking about his birthday here live in studio.

Also, beneficial rain expected today in Texas and Oklahoma. But it may be too much of a good thing and way too late, according to our Reynolds Wolf. He'll have the details after the break.

Also this morning, somebody I want to introduce you to who saved the man who was in that burning car. Stay with us on this CNN SATURDAY MORNING.


HOLMES: Quarter past the hour now and Kip Hughes. You know Kip, right? You're about to know Kip Hughes, because of something he did. The story starts with this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seven years of announcing, that is the worst one I have ever seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOLMES: You hear the announcer pretty worked up. And this is what he is worked up about. This crash took just place moments before you heard that announcement. And this is at a stock car race, the stock car nationals in Oklahoma. You see one of the stock cars there gets on its side. It's on fire there. Several people tried to get in there and pull the driver out and they're not able to.

And then, here comes another guy, Kip Hughes, the aforementioned. He's the one in the helmet. And he pulls and tugs and keeps pulling -- keeps pulling until he's able to get the driver out. Flames were apparently hitting his helmet while all of this was going on.

Hughes said he stopped his car, jumped into action and while all this was going on, his mind was on something that happened 20 years ago.


KIP HUGHES, OKLAHOMA STOCK CAR RACER: You know, I was a little boy in the stands, whatever -- you know, the wreck happened with my father. And you know, I know that that guy had family in the stands, just like everybody else did that was there. And I just wanted to make sure that, you know, nothing happened bad -- they didn't have to go through what my family had to go through.


HOLMES: Now, the driver that Kip Hughes rescued had burns to his back, had had some back pain but apparently he's doing OK. Kip Hughes is the defending champion of that particular event, but some fascinating video. And it's amazing to see these stories. You just don't know what people -- where they get it. They just jump into action. What comes over them? And they just jump into action and do things like that. Put themselves at risk.

WOLF: It's unbelievable. We can bandy around the term hero all of the time. And you know, there are really very few heroes. The true definition of a hero is someone who goes and helps someone else in a very dangerous situation with no regard for their own personal safety and I think this fits the bill. This is amazing. He didn't have to do this. Just went in there, where he had seriously a potentially explosive situation is just insane. And he said that the original driver in the accident had minor burns?

HOLMES: Minor burns on his hand actually and he had a little back pain. But other than that, he's going to be OK.

WOLF: Wow. Unbelievable.

HOLMES: Unbelievable.


HOLMES: Reynolds, thank you, so much. We're 19 minutes past the hour now. And Michael Jackson's final moments. Jurors are hearing what his personal doctor said happened in a tape recording.


DR. CONRAD MURRAY, MICHAEL JACKSON PERSONAL PHYSICIAN: I continued the CPR and mouth to mouth resuscitation until the paramedics came. They hooked him up to the pulse dosimeter. He was not breathing.


HOLMES: We'll have more of what the police interview with Dr. Conrad Murray revealed. That's next. Also, this.


MARLON JACKSON: It's almost starting over again from day one.


HOLMES: That's Marlon Jackson talking about a concert in Michael Jackson's honor that's taking place today. Also painful, because it's divided the Jackson family. Some are calling it inappropriate. We'll tell you why, after the break.


HOLMES: We're at 23 minutes past the hour on this CNN SATURDAY MORNING. And Michael Jackson begged for his, quote, milk? That apparently the pop star's nickname for Propofol. That is just one detail that emerged as jurors listened to Michael Jackson's doctor recount Jackson's final hours.

Our Ted Rowlands with the latest from LA.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): T.J., the Murray trial ended the week with riveting testimony from Conrad Murray via an audio tape that jury listened as Murray talked to investigators and this was done just two days after Michael Jackson died.

He talked about the fact that when he came onboard to take care of Michael Jackson, he found out he'd be giving him Propofol on a daily basis. He said each and every night he put Michael Jackson to sleep using Propofol, except, he said, for the three days leading up to Jackson's death, he said he was trying to wean him off of Propofol and that was the only time that he didn't give it to him.

Listen carefully as Murray tells investigators what happened during those crucial minutes where Jackson was unresponsive.

DR. CONRAD MURRAY, MICHAEL JACKSON PERSONAL PHYSICIAN: And I came back to his bedside and was stunned in the sense that he wasn't breathing. Immediately, I checked for a pulse and I was able to get a thready pulse at the femoral region. His body was warm. There was no change in color.

I then lifted his leg, which can give you an auto transfusion and then I continued to do CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until paramedics came. And the paramedics came. They called UCLA. They hooked him up to the pulse oximeter. He was not breathing.

ROWLANDS: The headline from this audio, of course, is that Murray never mentions any of the telephone calls that we've already heard in court. Phone calls to his girlfriends and to his office staff during those critical periods. It's something that the defense will have to grapple with in closing arguments.

Looking forward to next week, what we're looking at is Monday is a dark day. There's no court at all. And on Tuesday, we'll hear the tail end of this audio tape. It's about a two-hour long tape. We got through about an hour and 40 minutes. So we'll finish that up. And then it will be cross-examination time of the detective that's on the stand - T.J.


HOLMES: Thanks to our Ted Rowlands.

Meanwhile, the memorial concert for Michael Jackson today in Britain has divided the Jackson family. It has the support of Jackson's mother, as well as his brothers, Tito, Marlin and Jackie. They're all going to perform together. Latoya Jackson also scheduled to perform. But Jermaine and Randy Jackson, they are staying away, calling the concert inappropriate because of the timing. They say it shouldn't be going on while the manslaughter trial of Dr. Conrad Murray is going on in LA.


TITO JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON'S BROTHER: We have such a large family, that we have half of the family still attending the trial while this part of the family is going to pay tribute to Michael. I was there completely every day last week and after this show is over, I will be back and when I need a break, I have to take a day or two off, because it's very difficult sitting through that whole thing.

MARLON JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON'S BROTHER: I think there's no such thing as the timing is appropriate for it. Because what we're doing is, we are remembering the brighter side of other brother. And that's a memory that we hold inside of us, a joyful moment for us. And so that's the way I look at it. I mean, I respect all of the people who are not participating. I respect their decision. They have the right.


HOLMES: The concert has been dogged by poor ticket sales and also several some big-name acts including the Black-Eyed Peas have pulled out.

As we get closer to the bottom of the hour, do you remember? Of course you'll remember this announcement from President Bush.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good afternoon. On my orders, the United States' military has begun strikes against al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.


HOLMES: The bombing started and a decade-long war followed. The toll now on U.S. troops. That's still to come this morning.

Also ahead, the "Occupy Wall Street" protest spreading to a number of other cities. You might still have the question, exactly who are these people and exactly what do they want? Well, I have three of them here with me in studio and they'll tell you for themselves.

Stay with me.


HOLMES: And we're at the bottom of the hour now in the CNN SATURDAY MORNING. Welcome back to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes. I'm glad you can spend part of your weekend here with us.

Some of the stories that are making headlines this morning.

Police in Kansas City still searching for that missing 10-month-old baby; Baby Lisa, people are starting to call her, Lisa Irwin. FBI agents help local police search a landfill for the second time on Friday.

Deborah Bradley is the baby's mother. She says police told her she failed a voluntary lie detector test. Investigators are saying both parents have stopped cooperating with police. Parents, though, say that is not true.

And the GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, his faith coming under fire from a conservative Baptist preacher who is suggesting Romney's ties to the Mormon Church may turn off Evangelical voters. And Pastor Robert Jeffers of Dallas goes even further saying Mormonism is a cult and that Romney is not a Christian. Jeffers made the comments when talking to reporters at the Values Voter Summit in Washington.

And congratulations to the Minnesota Lynx, this year's WNBA champions, first NBA title, WNBA title in Minnesota's franchise history. They swept the Atlanta dream last night to clinch that title. It's the second time in row Atlanta has been swept in the finals.

Well, like I mentioned we are just past the bottom of the hour now.

And we are now entering a second decade of war in Afghanistan. Ten years ago, it all began with this announcement from President Bush.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good afternoon. On my orders, the United States' military has begun strikes against al Qaeda terrorist training camps, and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: This was the scene as the first bombs fell on Afghanistan. And since then 2,700 NATO service members have been killed; 1,000 of them -- excuse me -- 1,780 of them Americans. Our Nick Payton Walsh traveled to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan where it all began.

Nick joins me now from Kabul. And you're getting a better understanding of the toll now Nick, after these ten years.


Ten years is for many people quite hard to understand, to recall what you were doing that long ago. But for many American soldiers, it's been a case of multiple tours; three, four, five tours here, and in Iraq. And we got a glimpse of Bagram some of the emotional exhaustion that's caused.


WALSH (voice-over): It began when they landed in Bagram and here it goes on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our father, who art in heaven --

WALSH: Ten years of jet fuel, faith and now fatigue. Here, you can see what it takes to carry on through this decade's wars. Lieutenant Colonel Eric Albertson is Chaplain to thousands, but in his several months here, affected by the very few.

LT. COL. ERIC ALBERTSON, U.S. ARMY: A number of our soldiers that are on their third, fourth, or in some cases their fifth tour. There is a fatigue factor. Emotionally drained, physically tired. We've had instances where soldiers have taken their own lives here. And that's -- that's tragic. We have had about six or seven since I've been here.

When someone takes their own life, there's almost a sense of, you know, you've reached out to me for everything else. Why didn't you reach out to me for this?

WALSH: The ripples of a suicide reach far. Master Sergeant Guadaloupe Stratman is in this war so her three sons won't be. Her three tours marred by the recent loss of a friend in Iraq.

MASTER SGT. GUADALOUPE STRATMAN, U.S. ARMY: It was actually -- she -- she overdosed. And like, she was younger than me. So I didn't -- I thought she had a lot to live for. I don't know why it happened. I wasn't necessarily talking with her frequently at that time. But it -- it hurt me a lot. And -- how? Because I knew her. I knew what some of her dreams were. And now show she didn't get -- get to live those dreams. It's like it ended.

WALSH: This was a dirt road a decade ago, now its home to one in nine of America's troops in Afghanistan. (on camera): When the Americans landed here ten years ago, it was on this Russian-made runway and now they've been here nearly a year longer than the Soviets.

(voice-over): The cost to the Soviets, huge. The total cost to America, still unknown, although signs of sadness and change are everywhere. The prison here now gone. It's Afghan prisoners elsewhere. Soon, troops will leave for good, but it will carry away with them the scars of here and Iraq.

LT. COL. JAMES DAVELL, U.S. ARMY: What I do every year is I call the family, either the spouse or the parents of the individual that has been associated with me that was lost in combat. And then I also call a very close friend of mine that was injured, severely injured, on the day that that occurred. Like I said, I make three calls a year -- actually, four. I'm sorry, four calls a year, to family members. And I wouldn't say it makes me feel good or bad. I just think it's something that I need to do.

WALSH: The closing stages of a war longer than anything America has ever coped with before.


WALSH: I should point out, despite the obviously emotional exhaustion, the challenges the insurgency presents, and also frankly, the collapse in some domestic support for this conflict, you still see from these American soldiers, great enthusiasm and energy for the task ahead -- T.J.

HOLMES: Nick, on that point, the former Coalition Commander, Stanley McChrystal said last week that the job is only 50 percent done to this point. You just talked about enthusiasm and excitement for the mission there. But -- did you find anyone who agrees with McChrystal's assessment?

WALSH: I think it's difficult for many of the troops here. They know that support for this and finance for this war is plummeting back home in the United States. General McChrystal known for his candor, as you recall. He lost his job for him and his team being too candid in the "Rolling Stone Magazine." And his assessment would suggest that frankly after the last 10 years only half of the job is being done. Perhaps just another ten years could be necessary to complete America's goals.

Soldiers here are going to find that also hard to hear. Particularly given that even when the surge starts to withdraw at the end of next year, there's still be 68,000 Americans here -- T.J.

HOLMES: All right, Nick Payton Walsh for us in Kabul this morning. Thank you.

And the toll of war tough for both the U.S. troops and their families but you can impact your world. You can help them out. Go to\impact your world and find out you can help military families, learn how to honor those killed in action, or ways to help their families survive. Take a look.

Also, you've been seeing these protests pop up all around the country. They are fed up with the big banks, fed up with Wall Street.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- percent and so are you. We are the 99 percent.


HOLMES: The "Occupy Wall Street" protests, popping up all over the country. A lot of people still have questions. Exactly who are these folks, and exactly what do they want? Well, three of them are here to answer those questions for you. You'll hear from them next.

Stay with me on this CNN SATURDAY MORNING.


HOLMES: All right. About 42 minutes past the hour now.

And they are fed up with corporate greed, bank bailouts, unemployment situation. You know the name by now. The "Occupy Wall Street" protesters. The movement started in New York's financial district, near the stock exchange. But after more than three weeks now, the protests are spreading all over the country.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me what democracy looks like.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what democracy looks like.


HOLMES: Now, many of them, clearly by some of the pictures we have been seeing in the protest are young people. Many of them say they're unemployed, all of them not exactly happy with the situation in the country on Wall Street, maybe in Washington, as well. Take a look where protests have been going on for the past several weeks now from the Northeast to the West Coast. We're talking about a dozen states here; even protests in Atlanta, on Friday.

A lot of people, still, though, have questions about the movement. Still asking exactly who these folks are, and exactly what they want.

So instead of us trying to explain it to you, we'll let them do it. I've got two -- three -- three of the protesters here with me this morning. Jim Nichols is with me. He's in the middle there. Also have John Reynolds on the end to his right, and then Crystal Rutenberg all here with me participated in the "Occupy Atlanta Protest."

So I'm going to do first is hear from each of you in your situation. Crystal, I'll start with you, 26 years old. Is that right? And tell me what you do for a living right now? Are you employed? CRYSTAL RUTENBERG, ORGANIZER, OCCUPY ATLANTA: No, I'm not employed. I'm currently going to school at the Cordon Bleu. I'm 26 years old, I'm an army veteran.

HOLMES: All right.

RUTENBERG: So -- and right now I'm working with the logistics group.

HOLMES: All right. Let me turn now to Jim, 31 years old.


HOLMES: And what do you do right now?

NICHOLS: I load trucks for UPS and I'm also an undergraduate getting a degree at Georgia State.

HOLMES: All right. And John on the end, 25 years old, tell us what you do.

JOHN REYNOLDS, OCCUPY ATLANTA PROTESTER: I'm a photo journalist, media maker, musician and a technologist.

HOLMES: Ok. Now, it sounds like you all clearly have things going on that you're juggling in your lives. But Crystal, let me start with you. What got you out in the streets?

RUTENBERG: My friend from -- I was part of the "We are the Change, Atlanta." And he found out about the Occupy Atlanta group general assembly. And we actually went to the second meeting and that's how I got involved with Occupy Atlanta.

HOLMES: That's how you got involved. But I guess tell me, and gentlemen please either of you can jump in. What is it that actually motivated you? You heard about it, maybe wanted to go check it out. But what is it that made you want to go out in the streets to say whatever it is you're wanting to say right now?

NICHOLS: I think -- this is something that's resonating across the country. Is social and economic inequality has hit a tipping point. And people are hungry for getting involved and trying to do something to change it.

When nine out of ten races in politics is won by the candidate with the most money. When one in four kids in Georgia now are in poverty; that's a 21 percent increase since the recession started.

People are struggling. It's almost like a -- I want the American Dream back movement.

HOLMES: John, what do you do to change it, though? Your voice -- you've got our attention. We've got you here. We've been covering the protests. Now what?

JOHN REYNOLDS, OCCUPY ATLANTA PARTICIPANT: I think the first step is acknowledgment. I mean, people coming together in unity, acknowledging these issues and saying we have to be more progressive, more ingenuity -- about coming up with solutions.

HOLMES: Is it all right -- because some people say you all -- I say you all, the protesters are all over the place. And you're not talking to every protest group in the country right now. But you say you don't have a list of almost specific demands or even solutions. What do you respond to those people who think you should have a solution in hand versus just maybe complaining about a system. Anybody answer.

JIM NICHOLS, OCCUPY ATLANTA PARTICIPANT: I think that any time you have inequalities that resonate in a grass roots movement that's resonating from the bottom, the democratic process is messy. And it's different groups coming together.

People -- I've been talking to people who have never been involved in politics before, who are just learning how to organize. You want to go out and organize your neighborhoods.

I've talked to a woman who wants to occupy her school board. And I asked her what that meant. And she said, I'm inviting my school board member to my house. I'm going to invite my neighbors over. That's -- that's what occupy is about; that's when people are standing up and getting involved.

HOLMES: All right. We're at 46 past the hour. I'm going to come back with them after the break. And a question I want to ask them is what actually will it take for the protests to stop? What would it take for you all to actually go home, if you will?

Quick break. I'm back with some of the Occupy Atlanta folks. Stay with me.


HOLMES: As we get -- 10 to the top of the hour, back now with some of the Occupy Atlanta folks from the protesters, part of the whole Occupy Wall Street movement that's been spreading across the country. And as I said, I was going to ask a question about what would it take? And this is a question for you, Crystal. What would it take for you to stop going out in the streets to protest and go home?

CRYSTAL RUTENBERG, ORGANIZER, OCCUPY ATLANTA: Well, the system to be fixed. We, the people, want our voices.

HOLMES: See, a lot of people have this question. You want the system fixed. But what is that system going to look like? I mean, that's a very general statement there. But a lot of people have that question. What is a fixed system?

REYNOLDS: I'll speak to that. I don't think anyone can have an answer for what a fixed system is. We only have -- as humans, we have ideals to aspire to. We have something to rise to the occasion.

And that's what we're trying to do. Instead of being apathetic, instead of sitting at home, instead of moaning and complaining about the problems at hand; we're saying we're going to come together, we're going to talk about it, because it's that bad. And it's time we come together and unite and make our voices heard. Until our voices are so loud that everyone hears us and we cannot be ignored.

HOLMES: You hear the voices -- but I guess let me come back to you here, Jim -- we hear the voices, but how do you put that into action in such a way that you see what -- you want to sit down with lawmakers. Do you want a meeting at the White House? Do you want -- what is it that would look like that progress?

NICHOLS: People are going to, as they get involved in this movement, find their own place. They're going to network with friends, neighbors. They're going to get involved in their union. They're going to get involved in different groups.

And it's from these social relations that are building from this discontent that, you know, some of these people will end up running for office. Some of these people will end up, you know, finding avenues that they're able to articulate their voice and feel like they are being heard.

HOLMES: You expect them to continue to grow?

REYNOLDS: Definitely.

HOLMES: We're just getting started, you think?


REYNOLDS: If New York is any example, and the occupations that are sprouting up all over the United States, Boston, Philly, D.C., L.A., San Francisco, Portland.

RUTENBERG: Minnesota.

REYNOLDS: This is the beginning. People -- yes.

HOLMES: Last couple of things here, the last few seconds I have here. Are you offended by some of the ways you're being characterized? Initially -- banjo-playing, pot-smoking hippies and things like that. I mean clearly it's not in the group I'm seeing here. But still is some of that stuff offensive to you that you're being classified that way?

REYNOLDS: I'm not offended, nor am I surprised. I mean it's typically the role that television and the media at large play is a misrepresentation of the public, of the facts, of what's happening. And that's why we have independent media to fulfill the role of being an honest lens for the people.

There are live streams online going 24/7 where you can witness actual events and see that there are smart people, there are families, there are all types coming out.


HOLMES: Well, that's why we had you here. That's why we had you here, to do the talking on your own.

And with the majority leader, Eric Cantor referred this week to protesters as mobs. Now, you already knew what I was about to say. What was your reaction to hearing --

NICHOLS: That's the same old nonsense that comes from people like Cantor. I think that this -- when people try to scoff at any kind of social movement, they're not understanding. They're not involved in what's actually going on, on the ground. On the ground, people who oftentimes have never been involved in the process. Oftentimes don't know a whole lot about the issues are finally asking questions, are finally getting inspired to get involved, and be inspired to participate in the process.

And any time that people that are supposed to be sitting back and only being spectators are actually stepping up to the plate and being participants, that scares some people.

HOLMES: All right. Guys -- Crystal, Jim, John; I appreciate you all coming in. And really, wanted to give you all an opportunity to -- I wanted to -- we did. We wanted to make sure -- we got three in here, not just one, because there are so many voices. But if we got three more people, they would have different answers from you all as well.

But still thank you for taking time out. Good luck out there.

REYNOLDS: Thank you.

RUTENBERG: Thank you.

REYNOLDS: Come to Woodruff Park. Join us.

HOLMES: All right. You heard it here.

REYNOLDS: All of you, come.

HOLMES: Cut his mic. No, I'm kidding, man. Thank you for coming here this morning.

We're about six minutes to the top of the hour now.

And have you heard, the NBA, the first two weeks of it, appears going to have to be cancelled. Players and owners still have not reached a deal. In fact, they can't even agree on how to meet this weekend.

Quick break. We're right back.


HOLMES: All right. About five minutes to the top of the hour.

It looks like we will not be having NBA basketball for the first two weeks of the season. ESPN reporting that sources telling them that the NBA players association and owners could not agree on conditions for a meeting this weekend. Yes, they couldn't even agree on a meeting to talk about a deal. So the NBA commissioner says if negotiations can't be made, and a deal can't be reached by Monday, he'll have to cancel the first two weeks of the season. So it looks like that is imminent.

Spokesman for the NBA issued a statement saying, "We told the union that we were willing to meet as early as Sunday. We also advised them we were unwilling to move above the 50/50 split of revenues that was discussed between the parties on Tuesday. But that we wanted to meet with them to discuss the many remaining open issues. The union declined."

There you have it, folks. That is it. The players and owners keep going back and forth, but people who depend on them for a paycheck are now caught in the middle. We are talking about people like the vendors, the restaurant owners, anyone who makes a living off the NBA season is about to start losing money.


MIKE LEBURG, EXEC. VP, MCCORMICK AND SCHMIDT'S: It's always a disappointment. Any time that we can't fill seats at Philips Arena or The Dome or anywhere else. So it's certainly an issue.

AARON BUGGS, ASST. GEN MANAGER, STATS RESTAURANT: We always try to make sure we have a good showing of conventioneers to come to the restaurant. But as far as filling the void for Philips Arena, there is pretty much nothing that we can do. I mean our hands are pretty much tied when it comes to that.


HOLMES: All right. Our friend from HLN sports Joe Carter here with me now. People might not understand -- 50/50 sounds like a good deal.


HOLMES: Not to the players.

CARTER: No, and not to the owners. I mean the owners basically want three more percent in this deal, that's basketball-related income is what they're looking for. And with each percent comes $40 million. So if you add that up, 3 percent, it's about $120 million. If you multiply that by let's say a collective bargaining agreement, that would be ten years long, much like the NFL just signed, you're looking at about $1.2 billion that they're off on right now, that they're disagreeing.

The owners say we want $1.2 billion more, the players saying we $1.2 billion more. Where 50/50 may sound close, they're nowhere near close. You can't come to an agreement if you can't sit down and talk about it.

Right now, they're not talking and they don't plan to talk any time soon and if an agreement doesn't get made by -- if they don't start talking by Monday, we're going to start seeing games get cancelled. And that's almost imminent. HOLMES: All right. So the 50/50, that's a lot closer than they were, but still a long way apart it appears. But baseball fans are happy, even if basketball fans aren't right now.


CARTER: Good baseball last night, good for the St. Louis Cardinals. They're going against the big, bad Phillies, you know the best record in baseball, 102 wins; best pitching staff out there; the favorite to win it all in Vegas. That doesn't matter now because their season is over.

Chris Carpenter was incredible last night. Starting pitcher for the Cardinals -- he was absolutely brilliant, did complete game shutout and now a team that looked dead in the water back in August is now one series win away from going to the World Series. So, good for Cardinals.

Wondering who they're going to play? There was another decisive Game 5 last night in Milwaukee.

HOLMES: This is the one I got stuck. I could not go to bed. I had to watch this.

CARTER: This was great, Niger Morgan, the hero last night, bottom of the tenth, drove in the winning run, the walk-off run. Milwaukee has had their struggles over the year. They haven't won a close season series in 29 years but it's certainly a great time to be a Wisconsin fan.

Yes, man. You've got the Brewers that are hot right now. You've got the Packers that are undefeated. You've got the Badgers that are undefeated. If you're a Wisconsin sports fan right now, you're very excited.

HOLMES: All right. Joe Carter with a good look at sports.

We are getting close to the top of the hour. Reynolds Wolf is here with me.

WOLF: What's up guys? What's happening?

CARTER: Not a Wisconsin fan.


CARTER: You like what the badgers are doing, right?

WOLF: I like the Badgers, good mascot, great look, good fight song. How can you not --

Normally this is the time of morning where we actually go into our football forecast. We're not doing that right now. We're actually doing a bit of congratulations for this man right here.

HOLMES: All right. WOLF: In fact, we want to show you this beautiful screen we have. Yes, that's right. We're here to offer congratulations to --

HOLMES: Oh, my goodness. What is he talking about?

WOLF: You are one of the most influential guys on the planet. You, in fact, rank number 42 on "The Root" List for 2011. Pretty nice. I just thought you might want to --

CARTER: And the only man on television that makes sitting in a little small couch so cool. You make it look so easy.

HOLMES: Took years, man. Took years.

WOLF: So I always think it was greatness. But now to be part of a list, I mean, you have to feel just honored by this.

HOLMES: I'm trying to move up.

CARTER: A little bit?

HOLMES: I have like eight people that work at CNN ahead of me. So I'm working on getting at them. I'm working my way up. Last year I was around 526. So it's been a good year for me. Coming up to 42.

WOLF: Absolutely. Well, dude, you made the list. It's good. Congratulations again. We already knew you were great, but this is kind of a great reaffirmation.

HOLMES: Quick break. I'm going to continue -

WOLF: He's turning red. Look at him.

HOLMES: -- I'll continue my influence on the other side of this break. Stay with us.

WOLF: Crimson, man. Unbelievable.