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Boy Scouts Could Change Minds on Homosexual Leaders; Spain Asks E.U. for Bank Bailout; Actress, Singer Mandy Moore Inspires Girl Scouts.
Aired June 9, 2012 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN: We have some new developments right now on the European financial crisis. Spain has now formally asked the European Union for help in bailing out its banking system. No set amount was given for the bailout, but a report from the International Monetary Fund said the country will need at least $50 billion to get back on its feet. President Obama expressed concerns this week that the European crisis could threaten the U.S. economy and the recovery, but we'll be taking you to Spain in a few minutes for a perspective from there with a live report.
All right, now to Syria.
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WHITFIELD: Rebel forces and the Syrian military battled it out in the city of Homs today. Explosions and gunfire could be heard most of the morning. There are also reports of increased anti-government activity in the capital of Damascus, and dozens have been killed around the country. The opposition also said doctors are being detained to prevent them from treating the wounded.
The child sex abuse trial of former Penn State assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, starts Monday. Eight of the 12 jurors have some connection to Penn State. But that doesn't necessarily guarantee sympathy. Legal experts say the jurors may blame him for tarnishing the university's image. Sandusky faces 52 counts of sexually abusing 10 boys. He has pleaded not guilty.
A series of flashlight bombings prompt police to put up these billboards in Phoenix, Arizona. They warn people not to touch big, yellow flashlights. The bombs have been rigged so that when you turn on the flashlight, it explodes. Five people have been hurt in the three bombings. Officials have ruled out any connection to terrorism.
Sports racing fans who were looking toward history being made today at the Belmont Stakes will have to wait at least another year. I'll Have Another, the winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, won't have another. The colt was scratched from the race after developing tendinitis. He'll be honored in a televised retirement ceremony today before the race. And we have a winner in the women's French Open. Maria Sharapova beats Sarah Irani (ph) for the victory and completes a career grand slam. The Russian star becomes the tenth woman in history to do this. Sharapova will now have the number-one ranking in the world. Congrats to her.
And for years, the Boy Scouts of America has been strongly opposed to allowing gays and lesbians to participate in the group's programs. But now, after a national petition, which generated nearly 300,000 signatures, the Scouts may be changing their minds, sort of.
Here's CNN's George Howell.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Boy Scouts' ban on openly gay and lesbian members became a national conversation after people came together to support this ousted den leader.
JENNIFER TYRELL, FORMER TIGER CUB LEADER: My biggest concern is that the children will think I abandoned them because they don't understand.
HOWELL: Jennifer Tyrell was dismissed as den leader because she is openly gay. She said it started when she filled in as treasurer and soon started noticing financial inconsistencies within the local chapter. She said she started asking questions, but shortly thereafter, she was told by the leadership she had to resign due to the policy on gays and lesbians.
BOB DRURY, BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA EXECUTIVE: The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to develop character and leadership skills and the youth of today to become the leaders of tomorrow. And anything that distracts from that mission distracts from what our program is.
TYRELL: I don't want the kids to think this is OK because it's not.
HOWELL: The decision ultimately led to Tyrell removing her 7-year-old son from the Scouts. But since her leadership role in mid-April, her story has generated nearly 300,000 signatures on a petition through change.org. It also sparked the creation of a new group, Scouts for Equality. Co-founder, Zack Wahls, who has same-sex parents, traveled to the Boy Scouts' national convention in Orlando to meet with members and deliver the petition.
ZACK WAHLS, SCOUT WITH SAME-SEX PARENTS: I'm unwilling to discard the entire organization just like I'm unwilling to disregard the country because of one single policy.
HOWELL: This statement from the Boy Scouts of America makes the point, quote, "We do not have an agenda on this matter. And the Boy Scouts membership policy is not meant to be a blanket statement on any group of people or a social commentary," end quote.
But recently, the group indicated it would consider a resolution, filed by one of its members in April, asking that local units be allowed to determine their own standards. A spokesperson said the decision to consider the resolution was not influenced by any of the petitions and does not signal an imminent change of the policy. It's simply part of the process for careful and respectful review, but Tyrell is optimistic.
TYRELL: They're making a huge stride. Let's not take that away from them. Along with President Obama, they're evolving and hopefully they'll get there.
HOWELL: An issue that has been debated before within the Boy Scouts, brought back to the forefront by a former member pushing for change.
George Howell, CNN, Atlanta.
WHITFIELD: Let's get back to Spain now and its economic crisis. As I mentioned a moment ago, the country has asked formerly the European Union for a bailout for its banks. An International Monetary Fund report Friday said Spain will need at least $50 billion to get its footing back.
Nina Dos Santos is in Madrid and has been following the developments.
Nina, what exactly is Spain asking for? We have heard the $50 billion mark, but is that what Spain wants?
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the key issue, Spain technically hasn't asked for anything. That is what came out of this conference call that E.U. finance ministers, of the 17 countries that use the Euro as their common money, agreed to. Spain was basically going to ask within the next few weeks or so, but only once they had the final independent audit that they have commissioned of their banking system publishes. So that means they won't just have the figure, round about $50 billion you're talking about. They'll have their own independent figures.
What we do know is the Eurozone finance ministers have agreed on a maximum ceiling, which works out as being 100 billion Euros or $125 billion. That's what they can also spend if and when Spain eventually finds out how much money it needs to ask for.
WHITFIELD: And so, Nina, Spain is already endured some austerity measures. Could it be as deep, could it be to the same degree as what Greece experienced?
SANTOS: Yes. We must distinguish very, very clearly here, Fredricka, that what we're talking about here is not the kind of country bailout that places like Portugal, Greece and also Ireland got, because with those obviously came terms and conditions that meant that they had to cut spending, increase taxation. Also for austerity, et cetera. What Spain is asking for here is a bailout of its banking sector, not a bailout of the government per se. This government has been in charge since December and already it's passed a number of degrees, tried to free up the labor market, if you like. They're already proceeding with austerity. They're already on target with that. But the problem is they haven't realized the banking problems they have and the full cost of them. That's what we'll find out soon.
WHITFIELD: Nina Dos Santos, thanks so much.
Back in this country, actress and singer, Mandy Moore, is launching a program that celebrates real women as positive role models for girls. Today, she inspires thousands of Girl Scouts with her message as they celebrate their 100th anniversary.
WHITFIELD: The legal guys are here, Richard and Avery. We have some pretty fascinating cases this week as usual, including, this time a lawsuit by two African-American men against the ABC "The Bachelor."
Richard, will this get a date in court?
RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & LAW PROFESSOR: Fred, they have to show a pattern and practice of racial discrimination and profiling. And if they can, will the defense being, hey, listen, it's scripted entertainment, it's protected by the First Amendment. Let's see what happens.
WHITFIELD: Avery, it's a racial discrimination suit. Do you see it happening?
AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY & LAW PROFESSOR: Well, on both shows, if they can show a limited number of African-Americans, does that mean the producers have violated the Civil Rights Act? We have the answer for you coming up.
WHITFIELD: We look forward to that.
Legal guys, just moments away.
WHITFIELD: A man who pled guilty to causing a fatal DUI crash is now suing the families of his victims for his pain and suffering.
Let's bring in our legal guys. Avery Freidman, a civil rights attorney and law professor, joining us from Cleveland.
Good to see you.
And Richard Herman --
AVERY: Hi, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: -- a New York criminal defense attorney and law professor, joining us from Las Vegas.
Good to see you as well.
HERMAN: Thanks, Fred.
WHITFIELD: This is an extraordinary case. I'm wondering if this is kind of precedence setting.
Avery, you first.
We're talking about Christmas 2007, this accident takes place. Linda and Ray McWilliams and Dennis and George Vassie (ph) are all in a vehicle together. They were rear ended by David Belniack (Ph). No one is disputing the facts there. They all died either immediately or over time. Belniack (ph) pled guilty to speeding, the DUI. Got 12 years in prison. Now, he's suing the estate for pain and suffering.
Is this precedence setting? Avery?
AVERY FRIEDMAN, ATTORNEY: I don't -- I don't think it is. It's a disturbing case, obviously, Fredricka. But it involved a felon convicted of certain crimes who is now bringing a civil action. And he's introducing his case with a reconstruction, accident reconstruction expert, trying to say that it was the victim's fault.
Let me tell you something, Belniack (ph) has been on the stand. We heard from him yesterday. And the truth is that his credibility has crumbled all over the place. He's not going to be able to show this. Technically, he can assert the case, but he doesn't have the evidence. And that's why this is so extraordinary. If he's been convicted of the crime --
WHITFIELD: And pled guilty.
FRIEDMAN: -- why should he have the right to bring it?
And so, Richard --
FRIEDMAN: I beg your pardon?
WHITFIELD: He pled guilty.
WHITFIELD: Yes, OK.
So, Richard, he is alleging that the driver, McWilliams, should not have been at a stop because he alleged it was a green light and, thereby, it was the driver who was negligent. Five years later, though -- Avery says he probably won't be able to prove it. But if you're going to make the claim in a civil suit, doesn't it mean you have to try to prove it? How would he do that?
HERMAN: Yes. He has to make the claim as a counterclaim in response to the plaintiff's case against him civilly. But the judge in the case in the Sunshine State must be hitting the moonshine --
(LAUGHTER) -- because I can't, for the life of me, see how this case is continuing, why a motion to dismiss this counterclaim was not made and granted by this judge, who is inept for not granting it. This man pled guilty to criminal manslaughter. He was going 86 miles an hour when he hit the plaintiffs in this case. He drove the plaintiff's vehicle 40 feet from a dead stop with that impact. He was whacked out on drugs and alcohol. He has a prior history of killing someone while driving a vehicle. This is an absolute outrageous lawsuit here. It does not belong in the court. There is no offset. There's no counterclaim here. This guy pled guilty criminally. The burden of proof criminally is much higher than in a civil case. It's over and out.
Avery, you should agree because this is over and out the case. This should not be happening.
FRIEDMAN: He should lose the case, but he has the right to his day in court. He's going to lose the case --
FRIEDMAN: That's the distinction between civil and criminal. And he's going to lose it --
FRIEDMAN: -- he's going to lose.
WHITFIELD: We're going see that outcome and then see if you two agree or disagree continually on that.
FRIEDMAN: OK. All right.
WHITFIELD: We'll find out.
Meantime, let's talk about another case. Maybe you're in agreement on this one. This involved the popular show, "Bachelor", "Bachelorette." Two young men by the name of Nathaniel Claybrooks (ph) and Christopher Johnson (ph), are suing Warner Horizon Television, the makers of the "Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" shows, for racial discrimination. Their attorney is arguing that this is a case of exclusion in society and that, based on the selection of the candidates, beauty is based on being white, given the fact that there are no people of color who end up being the bachelor or bachelorette.
So, Richard, does this kind of have the makings of a strong case that might evolve into a pretty healthy class-action suit?
HERMAN: Fred, these are two good-looking guys. I don't know what they're doing trying to get involved with this type of lawsuit or this program to begin with. This program is ridiculous. And for them to seek to get on based on racial profiling or discrimination for an entertainment series, which is clearly protected by the First Amendment, this case is going nowhere, Fred. WHITFIELD: Yes?
HERMAN: This is a waste of time, a waste of effort, and a waste of court. They're going to be dismissed very quickly.
WHITFIELD: So, Avery, you know, these two young men are claiming that there are a host of other people who will be able to contend and claim that they were left out as well, and that this is an issue of exclusion and not inclusion. Do you see it differently than Richard?
FRIEDMAN: Yes, I totally disagree. Let me tell you why. The suit is brought under the Civil Rights Act of 1870, which is a proper basis for a claim like this. 23 seasons, 10 years, Fredricka, there's never been anyone black that has even made the cut. These guys got cut, I think, the second round. And I think the position of the show is that we really can't find any qualified black people to be candidates. At least that's what the plaintiffs are contemning. That's an outraging defense. And I think First Amendment does not apply when it comes to racially segregating a show. The case stands. It's going to rise or fall on the facts, Fredricka.
FRIEDMAN: But at this point, it's properly pled, and it belongs in the federal court, not in Tennessee. There's going to be a motion to transfer it to Los Angeles.
Well, Warner Horizon Television did issue this statement saying, quote, "This complaint is baseless and without merit. In fact, we have had various participants of color throughout the series' history. And the producers have been publicly vocal about seeking diverse candidates for both programs. As always, we continue to seek out participants of color for both "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette."
So we'll see how it evolves and if it does become a class-action suit that is spawned from these two.
You can catch our legal guys every Saturday, noon and 4:00 eastern time.
Meantime, live pictures right now of an air drop there in Colorado, in Larimer County, because there's a significant wildfire underway right now. About 200 acres on fire in the forest that is both private and U.S. Forest Service land. We understand there have been three dozen homes that have been evacuated in that area we know that while the air drops are taking place. We also have been hearing from sources there that crews have been on the ground trying to traverse this terrain by trying to get ahead of the fire. It is a dangerous situation. This is just north of Denver in Larimer County. And, of course, the fire was spotted early this morning at about 6:00 a.m. It has grown. And we will continue to watch the developments there as they try to contain it, best they can. They're in Larimer County. Live pictures there of Colorado.
WHITFIELD: Dr. Sanjay Gupta is celebrating "Robot Week" on his show, "The Next List." Tomorrow, he profiles Taylor Wilson, the youngest person in the world to build a nuclear fusion reactor.
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TAYLOR WILSON, BUILT NUCLEAR FUSION REACTOR: Science is something cool. To tell you the truth, science is cooler than just about anything else in the world. Getting to go into your job every day and blow things up.
WILSON: What kid wouldn't want that?
It's an incredibly exciting thing to do. You have this license to pursue the problems that you've always thought about and do things that are really cool that no other career path offers you.
If you look at the country and what we have accomplished in the last 100 years, it all comes down to science.
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WHITFIELD: All right, tune in Sunday to watch "The Next List," or set your DVR for 2:00 eastern time.
Then tomorrow, 2:30 eastern time, five American military veterans are joining me live. They're planning on climbing North America's tallest mountain. What's even more amazing is that all of them were wounded in wars and one of them lost both his legs. And you'll hear from them tomorrow, 2:30 eastern time.
Actress and singer, Mandy Moore, is launching a program that celebrates real women as positive role models for girls. Today, she inspires thousands of Girl Scouts with her message as they celebrate Girl Scouts' 100th anniversary. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: This weekend, Dove is launching a program to celebrate real women as positive role models for little girls, calling them real women who should be famous. Today, actress/singer, Mandy Moore, will feature four women featured in the ad at the Girl Scouts' Rock the Mall event in Washington.
Earlier, I spoke with Mandy about her role in this campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MANDY MOORE, ACTRESS & SINGER: I'm psyched to be able to speak to 250,000 Girl Scouts who are on the Mall today for the Rock the Mall event, and just sort of highlighting the importance of role models, specifically in girls' lives, and widening the definition and broadening the definition and maybe offering an alternative point of view as to what and who a role model could and should be.
WHITFIELD: I was a Camp Fire Girl, a brownie, a Girl Scout as well. The real beauty of all those programs is it does instill in a young girl at an early age to be self confident and to be self sufficient. So I want, with that audience there, they already kind of have that message of loving themselves and coming up with a mission for themselves. What kind of message do you want to convey to them, do you think they're not getting?
MOORE: Well, obviously, they're Girl Scouts, so they definitely do have that message instilled in them. But maybe, just reminding them and sort of offering the idea that beauty can be a source of confidence and not anxiety. And also I'm going to be introducing a batch of real women, role models that Dove believes should be famous. One's a mathematician, one's an inventor, the other is the first Latino women to receive a PhD in science. They're women from all walks of life who are incredibly accomplishes. I think it's important for them to women that could be in their community that are tangible, who they can interact with in their own lives, that they can put on a pedestal and highlight and look to for advice and guidance in life. Hopefully, they'll be able to get that message today, too.
WHITFIELD: What are your impressions when you look out on the Mall and see the hundreds of thousands of young ladies? What strikes you about what you're seeing in them?
MOORE: It is -- it is -- the energy is palpable. It's contagious. Everyone is so excited to be here.
I just think back to my days of being a Girl Scout, and how excited I would have been to have an opportunity to come to Washington, D.C., with troops from all across the country. I mean, it's just the spirit is contagious.
WHITFIELD: That's going to do it for me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Much more of the CNN NEWSROOM continues at the top of the hour with Don Lemon.
Right now, time for "SANJAY GUPTA, M.D."