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Patients Pay for Unproven Stem-Cell Treatments; Reverend Art Cribbs on Proposition 8; President Obama's Much Anticipated Speech to the Muslim World Happening Tomorrow

Aired June 3, 2009 - 13:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: CNN NEWSROOM continues right now with Kyra Phillips.

KYRA PHILLIPS, HOST: Tony, thanks.

Selling hope and earning big from people with nothing to lose. Pushing forward a question for you. How far would you go if your daughter were facing death and anyone, no matter who, where or how qualified, offered you hope?

Today the Saudi kingdom. Tomorrow, the whole Muslim world. President Obama prepares for a speech that could be a bridge over long-troubled waters.

And caught in the shock wave of bankruptcy protection. What happens to the guy who lost his legs after his Jeep crashed, rolled over and caught fire?

Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

So how far would you go to save someone you love who's terminally ill? Any chance is better than no chance, right? Well, some clinics overseas are selling that chance, suggesting that their stem-cell treatments can overturn death sentences. You can't get these treatments in the U.S., and there's a good reason. Could these doctors in white lab coats be selling snake oil?

But tell that to a family with nowhere else to turn and nothing to lose but money. Here's CNN's Drew Griffin from our special investigations unit.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We met 8-year-old Sierra Factor and her family amidst an emergency. The seriously-ill girl was being transferred to Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital in Orlando. Sierra has a genetic disease called spinal muscular atrophy, SMA. She also has kidney problems and a restrictive long disease. Since age 14 months, she's been in and out of hospitals.

SHAYLENE AKERY, SIERRA FACTOR'S MOTHER: There's no cure for her disease. All three of her diseases are terminal.

GRIFFIN: In August Shaylene Akery will take her daughter to a clinic outside Shanghai and pay $26,500 for six injections of what she believes will be embryonic stem cells. All she knows of the clinic is from this Web site,

AKERY: We really are kind of just walking into it blindfolded.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Boy, that's really scary.

AKERY: It's scary, but everybody says that they're so nice over there.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Testimonials on the Web site talk of amazing results but also lack any scientific proof. We asked the Chinese Web site for back up to the claims but haven't yet received a reply.

Sierra's father, divorced from her mother, says the testimonials are enough.

(on camera) We've done a lot research. Can I ask you where the evidence is that, in China, it's working?

A.J. FACTOR, SIERRA FACTOR'S DAD: On their Web site, and some of that stuff.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): How can it be true? That's just it. Experts on spinal muscular atrophy and the Food and Drug Administration say there's no evidence stem-cell treatment works. Stem cells show promise, say researchers, but results are years away.

Even so, Lucy Bruijn, head of scientific research for the ALS Association, says many with the debilitating ailment known as Lou Gehrig's Disease have gone to China, to Peru and to Mexico for just such treatment.

(on camera) When somebody, a doctor or anybody, says to a patient, "I have a stem-cell treatment for ALS that's going to make you better," it's just not true?

LUCY BRUIJN, ALS ASSOCIATION: No. It's definitely not true. And certainly, you hope that that's going to become from an ALS clinician who is very knowledgeable. And the likelihood is that they will say there are things being developed and in progress and it's very promising, but we don't have anything to offer you now.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): But that is not what this man is saying. Dr. Burt Feinerman, on his Web site, says he can treat Lou Gehrig's Disease. You might be surprised to learn what else he says he can treat, not here in the U.S. but at a clinic in Peru: Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, cancer, multiple sclerosis.

(on camera) These are very serious, incurable...


GRIFFIN: ... that you're treating? FEINERMAN: Yes. Formerly, the doctor would say, "Go home and write your will." We offer not hope, but we offer science and realistic expectations.

GRIFFIN: The International Society of Stem Cell Research says these experimental treatments do not work. And the only thing that should be done if you're a patient is to enter into them without paying for them. Because if you pay, you are most likely, as you said, being scammed.

FEINERMAN: I didn't say that.

GRIFFIN: You said 80 percent of the people in this business are scammers.

FEINERMAN: Well, that's true.

GRIFFIN: That seems like good odds you're going to get scammed.

FEINERMAN: I think that, when someone makes a decision about having stem cell treatments, that they should look at who are the players.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): We will look very carefully at this player, who says he is a self-proclaimed expert in stem-cell treatments.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Orlando, Florida.


PHILLIPS: Well, Drew delves deeper into this story on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" at 7 Eastern. And guess what he found out from that doctor in Peru? The guy has never trained in stem-cell research.

Well, you've got to wonder what the doctors in China are going to put into Sierra's body. Could a possible cure be as bad as the disease?

Let's bring in Dr. Darwin Prockop. He's the regenerative medicine director at Texas A&M. In other words, he's a stem-cell expert. He joins us via broadband.

And Dr. Prockop, you saw the piece. Do you think that hope is a dangerous thing in these cases? Maybe we should talk, in particular, about Sierra's case right here.

DR. DARWIN PROCKOP, REGENERATIVE MEDICINE DIRECTOR, TEXAS A&M: Well, if they're talking about getting therapy with embryonic stem cells, I think there's a great danger there. Because embryonic stem cells produce tumors, which are on their way to making cancers. So the great danger is you transfer a cancer to the patient with embryonic stem cells. Quite different from adult stem cells.

PHILLIPS: Wow. That's pretty frightening, if you think about it, because they could actually be hurting their child more than helping their child.

Let me ask you: are there any success stories that come out of these types of clinics overseas?

PROCKOP: Well, adult stem cells, the story is very different, because there is good animal data. The animal stem cells can work, because little danger of any harm. And they're actually being used in clinics in this country and abroad. And some clinics were doing this very well, carefully-controlled therapy.

PHILLIPS: So Dr. Prockop, how do you know what clinic, then, would be good for you or your child or what clinic is legit or not legit if you wanted to go overseas?

PROCKOP: If you go overseas there's a great danger. I can't speak for all of the units. There are Web sites for several years now of advertising stem cell therapies in all kinds of places: Bangkok, Puerto Rico. I cannot comment on what's going on there.

PHILLIPS: But with regard to what's happening here in the U.S., you know, where do you think we stand now? Is this still really far off or do you think we're getting closer?

PROCKOP: No, again, the distinction between embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells is critical. Thousands of patients already have been treated with adult stem cells and are being treated in major medical centers in the United States. That's the place to go.

PHILLIPS: Got it. Dr. Darwin Prockop, sure appreciate your insight, sir. Thanks so much.

Well, how about you? If you had a terminal illness, would you head overseas and pay a fortune for a treatment that might not work? Let me know at or on Twitter at CNN -- at KyraCNN. I want to get your reaction to this. Many of you have actually already weighed in. I appreciate it.

Curious1966 says, "It's depressing when those in desperate medical aid seek options that do not help them, instead take advantage of them.

And ColoradoFoothills says, "If the treatment I was undergoing was not working and offered no hope, yes, I would seek unproven international therapy."

Twicegirl28 had this reply: "I'm blessed not to be in that category, but I saw the Farrah documentary and thought how sad it is most ordinary Americans can't afford to go overseas."

Reaching out to the Muslim world now, President Obama is in Saudi Arabia this hour, where he's been holding talks with King Abdullah. Riyadh, the first stop on the president's overseas trip that also includes Egypt, Germany and France. A number of thorny problems were expected to be discussed as Mr. Obama and the Saudi king sat down for private talks. Among them, Arab-Israeli peace efforts, Iran's nuclear program, and rising prices in oil. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we'll be visiting Cairo tomorrow. I thought it was very important to come to the place where Islam began and to seek counsel and discuss with him many of the issues that we confront here in the Middle East.


PHILLIPS: Now, at the half hour, our Zain Verjee will look at what Muslims are hoping to hear as President Obama visits Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

And you can watch President Obama's much-anticipated speech to the Muslim world live tomorrow, 6 a.m. Eastern on CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING." And in case you don't catch the speech at 6, we'll be airing a large portion of it at 11 a.m. Eastern Time right here in the CNN NEWSROOM. We'll also devote the hour to reaction to that speech.

President Obama isn't getting glowing reviews in a new audiotape believed to be from Osama bin Laden. That tape, aired by the Arab=language TV network Al Jazeera, accuses the Obama administration of sowing new seeds of hatred and revenge against America in the Muslim world. It specifically mentions U.S. policy in Pakistan and that country's military campaign against the Taliban.

The remarks, if authentic, would be the al Qaeda leader's first assessment of President Obama's policies.

A surprise for Sonia Sotomayor. Back on Capitol Hill, pressing her case to join the Supreme Court, and one of her biggest critics appears to be trying to make amends for controversial remarks about the nominee. We're going to tell you what he's saying now.


PHILLIPS: Well, he's a talented, laid-off advertising manager, about to give the pitch of his life. Wesley Wade does today's 30- second pitch.


PHILLIPS: Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor looking skeptical Republicans right in the eye. She's telling them why she should sit on the nation's highest court.

Now this comes as former Republican House speaker, Newt Gingrich, is backing off from calling her a racist. Gingrich made that claim after reading a 2001 speech where Sotomayor said that someone like her, a Latina woman who grew up in public housing, would more often than not, reach a better judicial decision than a white man without a similar background.

Well, Gingrich says this in an op-ed now: "My initial reaction was strong and direct -- perhaps too strong and too direct. The sentiment struck me as racist, and I said so. Since then, some who want to have an open and honest consideration of Judge Sotomayor's fitness to serve on the nation's highest court have been critical of my word choice."

And Gingrich goes on to say, "With these critics who want to have an honest conversation, I agree. The word 'racist' should not have been applied to Judge Sotomayor as a person, even if her words themselves are unacceptable."

Republicans on the Hill are sighing with relief over Gingrich's 180. And here's what one actually had to say.


SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R-AL), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I'm very glad he backed off. I think that's unusual that commentators do that, and I think it was very good that he did. I think that will help us. I think that will help us have a real good discussion about the serious issues that the nation faces and that the court faces.


PHILLIPS: As far as we know, Sotomayor hasn't responded to Gingrich's latest statement.

Also on Capitol Hill, the nation's two bankrupt automakers, executives from General Motors and Chrysler, will face tough questions about plans to close hundreds of car dealerships. Lawmakers are concerned that thousands of people will be put out of work on short notice. Some lawmakers say that Chrysler may be treating its dealerships unfairly. Some have been given less than a month's notice that they will be shut down.

So we know that dealers and customers are going to feel these bankruptcies, but what the guy who lost his legs after his Jeep crashed, rolled over and caught fire? He says Chrysler is to blame, but thanks to Chapter 11, he may not get a chance to prove it in court. We're going to talk to him next hour.

Downsizing is forcing a lot of really talented people out of work now. And many of them have reached out to us here in the CNN NEWSROOM about participating in our 30-second pitch.

Well, we heard from Wesley Wade. He got in touch with us via Twitter to tell us about being laid off earlier this year. Before downsizing, he was a very successful marketing manager for an online advertising company. He joins me now from CNN's Time Warner Center in New York.

Thank you so much, Wesley, for reaching out to us.

WESLEY WADE, JOB SEEKER: Thank you for having me.

PHILLIPS: OK. Now, as I -- I've read your bio. I mean, you've got your master's at Columbia's J-school. You were on the dean's list. You graduated with honors. You speak Spanish. It seems amazing to me that you're out there interviewing but can't get through the process. What's going on?

WADE: It's been very, very difficult. Obviously, it's a critical time in the economy. So many people are applying, and I think my resume just isn't getting much visibility.

PHILLIPS: It just seems amazing. So when you got laid off from your advertising job, how did it happen? Did you see it coming? And how did they approach you?

WADE: Well, we knew that our company was going to be bought, and basically there was a merger. And they decreased the workforce by 10 percent. But we were assured that our jobs were safe. But they immediately made cuts within a few weeks.

PHILLIPS: And I know you're still 75 grand in debt, trying to pay off your school loans, right?

WADE: That's correct.

PHILLIPS: How are you getting by, day by day?

WADE: Well, thankfully, I've been, you know -- been able to defer these loans only for a few months. I'm currently on unemployment insurance, so I probably am in better straits than others, but it's still been difficult.

PHILLIPS: All right, my friend. Are you ready for your 30- second pitch?

WADE: Absolutely.

PHILLIPS: OK. We're going to go ahead and start the clock. Wesley Wade, go ahead.

WADE: I have a comprehensive background in the media industry, with experience in sales, marketing, journalism, and project management. I've gained much success over the years through my leadership skills, acute business sense, ability to build and manage major business relationships, keen analytical thinking, and communication skills. I'm currently looking for positions in consultive (ph) ad sales or media marketing and management in television or new media.

PHILLIPS: Wow, seven seconds to go. How about a pitch to CNN? You speak Spanish. You've got the cultural background. You've got the J-school degree.

WADE: Absolutely. I think I am a perfect fit for CNN or any major media outlet.

PHILLIPS: Well, I totally agree. All right. You're e-mail, Wesley Wade, will you keep in touch with us and let us know what happens?

WADE: Absolutely.

PHILLIPS: Fantastic. Appreciate it so much.

WADE: Thanks so much, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Well, if you want to be part of the 30- second pitch, you can get in touch with us, as well. Or you can just reach me through Twitter at KyraCNN, just like Wesley did.

A frightening new twist to the crash of Air France Flight 447. Investigators are not ruling out foul play. We're going to tell you why.


PHILLIP: CNN has just learned that foul play has not been ruled out in the crash of Air France Flight 447. Argentine military and police sources are now saying that Air France received a bomb threat on May 27 for a flight from Buenos Aires to Paris. Now, the officials say that the threat came from a man speaking Spanish. The plane was checked, but nothing was found.

Meantime, officials are saying that the flight data recorders may never be recovered from the wreckage of Flight 447. Both the Brazil navy and French officials expressed doubts because of the water depth in that crash area reaching several thousand feet.

More debris was spotted today, by the way, from the Air France jet, which crashed on early Monday on that flight from Rio to Paris with 228 people on board.


PAUL-LOUIS ARSLANIAN, FRENCH ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION BUREAU: It's impossible at the beginning of an investigation to say whether we will -- what we will find and when and to which extent the investigation will lead us. The only thing I can guarantee is that we will do what we can do to go as fast as possible and as deep as possible in the understanding of this accident, its causes and, hopefully, what can be done to improve safety.


PHILLIPS: Well, no bodies have been recovered from that crash. A French research vessel carrying a deep diving submersible is en route to the scene, along with several other ships.

Storm clouds gathering in the south now. There is a chance for some bad weather today, from Louisiana to the nation's capital. Chad Myers with us in the CNN weather center.

Hey, where's my boyfriend grant?



MYERS: It's Take Your Son to Work today.

PHILLIPS: Is he sitting over there on the desk?

MYERS: It's impromptu, but...

PHILLIPS: Hi, Grant.

MYERS: There.

PHILLIPS: For all our viewers that haven't met Grant, he is a stud. He's Mr. Personality. Let me tell you what.

MYERS: Yes, I don't have to tell him right now, "When you come to CNN, don't be shy." It's one thing I don't have to say. "Stop running" is another one. But I got that one.

PHILLIPS: Behave yourself.

MYERS: Exactly.


MYERS: We'll take rainfall. It's been a dry couple of weeks now across the southeast. Most of the southeast, Kyra -- I know you live here -- has been out of the drought for a while. When the rain shuts off, though, it shuts off, it seems like, for good. Ten or 11 days now without rainfall has made some of these areas look more like a desert.

PHILLIPS: Yes, we definitely need our water. That's for sure. All right. Can I check in with Grant a little later?

MYERS: Sure.

PHILLIPS: OK. Fabulous. I heard he's eating strawberries and carrots. I'm very impressed.

MYERS: Yes. And Cheetos now.

PHILLIPS: Oops. You better get back over there. Thanks, Chad.

MYERS: Sure.

PHILLIPS: President Obama reaches out to the Muslim world. He's in Saudi Arabia this hour, where he and king Abdullah have been meeting face to face. We're going to find out what tops the agenda and what Muslims are hoping to hear from the president.


PHILLIPS: America's relations with the Muslim world in the spotlight as President Obama visits the Middle East. First stop, Saudi Arabia. Mr. Obama and King Abdullah have been holding private talks. Arab/Israeli peace efforts, Iran's nuclear program, and rising oil prices all expected to dominate those conversations. Mr. Obama will be in Cairo tomorrow, where he's going to deliver a speech on U.S. relations with the world's one and a half billion Muslims. So what does he plan to say, and what are Muslims hoping to hear?

Here's CNN's Zain Verjee -- Zain.


ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, President Obama is really lowering expectations of his Cairo speech. He's saying that one speech is not going to solve all the problems in the Middle East.

What he is saying is that the west needs to educate itself better about Islam and that the two sides need to talk more.

(voice-over) America's next big ad campaign in the Muslim world: President Barack Obama's speech in Cairo. He's had a warm-up.

OBAMA: We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation.

VERJEE: And is now gearing up for the big moment. His message: the U.S. is not at war with the Islamic world. Some Muslims are excited about the speech.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like Obama a lot because he's diversified. He likes people from all cultures. So I hope that this visit to the Middle East would improve and change the situation.

VERJEE: Others skeptical.

EHAB JUHABI, PALESTINIAN: Nothing will be changed, because I think, you know, the Americans will -- would keep supporting the Israeli state forever.

VERJEE: Mr. Obama has already gained ground in the Muslim world because he's not George Bush. But Mamoun Fandy, a Mideast expert, says Muslims want more than just talk. They want action.

MAMOUN FANDY, INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES: That he's very serious about solving the Arab-Israeli problem and he is very serious about engaging the Muslim world on the basis of recognizing their equality.

VERJEE: According to many estimates, there are more than 1 billion Muslims in the world, and the vast majority are moderates who want to hear that they are part of the solution to world security.

ISMAIL YUSANTO, LEADER OF MUSLIM ORGANIZATION: We do not want anything from Obama except the realization of what he said: mutual respect, mutual understanding and mutual interest between West and Muslim world.

VERJEE: Fandy says on this trip, looks will matter. FANDY: Obama looks like half of the Muslims. His wife looks like probably half of the Egyptians and the Saudis, so he's a familiar face. It will be inspiring to the young Muslims who look like Obama that they can be global leaders.


VERJEE: President Obama says he wants to tell young Muslims that they need to leave a legacy of building up their countries and not destroying them -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Zain Verjee, thanks so much.

Well, you can watch President Obama's much anticipated speech to the Muslim world, live tomorrow 6:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING." And in case you don't catch the speech at 6:00, we're going to be airing a large portion of it at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time, right here in the newsroom. We're also going to devote the hour to reaction to his speech.

Due in court today, the four men accused of plotting to bomb two Bronx synagogues. They'll be arraigned a day after they were indicted on federal charges. The men are also accused of trying to get missiles to shoot down military planes. The FBI used an informant to set up a sting on the suspects last month. They could get up to life in prison.

He allegedly killed a soldier at an Arkansas recruiting station and court documents now show that this man, Abdulhakin Bledsoe may have been planning more. Now it turns out that Bledsoe was on the FBI's radar before this all happened.

Our David Mattingingly has the latest.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here's what we know -- 23 year old Abdulhakim Bledsoe, formerly of Tennessee, stands accused of killing an American soldier on American soil. He told police he would have killed more if he had the chance, according to court documents.

SCOTT DUNCAN, PULASKI CO. DEPUTY PROSECUTOR: He stated that he was a practicing Muslim mad at the United States Military because of what they had done to Muslims in the past.

MATTINGLY: Bledsoe is accused in a drive-by shooting at this Little Rock Army recruiting office, wielding an assault rifle that kill one soldier and wounded another.

Court documents say he told police he was moved to kill after watching a video on subversive activities. His attorney declined comment. A federal law enforcement source tells CNN, Bledsoe had already caught the attention of the FBI after an unexplained trip to Yemen, an al-Qaeda hub, and a magnet for Muslim extremists. Experts say that raises red flags. DAVEED GARTENSTEIN-ROSS, COUNTER TERRORISM EXPERT: He could have sought training or in weapons or other sorts of military tactics. A second thing that he could have done is linked up with established terrorist groups.

MATTINGLY: Police found three weapons including an assault rifle in his car and believe Bledsoe acted independently. Just days before the Little Rock shooting, the suspect was working out of this hotel and a family business driving tourists around in a sightseeing van. A neighbor says he had lived in this apartment just two months. She says his only visitors were his parents.

JACQLYN DILLARD, LITTLE ROCK NEIGHBOR: He wasn't loud. You know, like a normal 20-something year old.

MATTINGLY: Back in Memphis where he grew up as Carlos Bledsoe, a former neighbor remembers an easy going all-American type.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seemed like he was a good kid. You know, he was a happy go lucky kid. You seen him and he spoke to you and waved at you.


PHILLIPS: Well, Bledsoe pleaded not guilty in court yesterday. He's being held without bail.

You won't catch these teachers in the cafeteria lunch line today. About a dozen in Los Angeles, are on a hunger strike. For a week now, they've had nothing but water. They're actually protesting the decision to cut more than 2,000 jobs to make up for a budget deficit of hundreds of millions. They want to use federal stimulus money right now instead of next year.


MARTIN TERRONES, HUNGER STRIKER: They should be treating the education system like a bank. I mean, if we're going to bailout people when we didn't have any money in the first place, well let's treat it like a bank. And this is one investment that I'm willing to spend and pay for over the years, than something like wars, GM or any other corporations.


PHILLIPS: District officials say the job cuts are the only way to make up for that deficit.

And here's our go-to guy for the big medical stories. Of course, we're talking about our Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He's CNN chief medical correspondent. But, many of you may not know that Sanjay has a second, much more crucial job as a neurosurgeon.

Here's a rare look as he performed an operation that unexpectedly required a split second potentially live-saving decision.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Pretty early in the morning. Two big cases today. Two of the biggest cases we do in neurosurgery for the most part. A ruptured aneurysm and a sad story of a high school student that dove into a pool and broke his neck. He was supposed to graduate this weekend. So, we're going to see what we can do for him. Just got to find out where everybody is.

Are you on still three, or where are you guys? OK. See you in a few minutes.

Dr. Chabra (ph) is my resident. He's going to do cases with me today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's got some old stroke there, so --

GUPTA: This is I think, probably the biggest trauma center in the Southeast. We see more trauma here any given day, I think, than just about anywhere else.

As they were doing cases her last night, another team -- it's obviously 6:00 a.m. now, we're getting started with a new case and we'll operate until late into the evening tonight.

Six minute scrub, roughly.

Can I have some irrigation, please?

Everything now is three dimensional the base the his skull. And you're dealing with a sort of time bomb here because the aneurysm itself could rupture.

(INAUDIBLE). Come on, come on, come on, come on. I would have blood ready. Go ahead. We lost a fair amount there. OK, hang on. Let's just take a second, OK? And look around and see what we got.

Thanks, guys. Appreciate it.

99 percent of the operation goes exactly as you expect and then 1 percent can be a bit of an extravaganza. But, you know, the patient's going to be great. All the blood's out of her brain. Aneurysm is clipped. She's never going to have this problem again, so --


PHILLIPS: Well, a couple other things you might not know about Sanjay. He's also a Professor of Neurosurgery at Emory University's School of Medicine, right here in Atlanta. And he was also named a pop culture icon by "USA Today."

Well, you know, if you're going to make moon shine, you're supposed to do (INAUDIBLE) somewhere, hidden away Dukes of Hazard style. Don't be selling white lightning at your other business, yes, your day care business.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PHILLIPS: So, which does not belong? A) Preschoolers; B) Swing sets; C) Crayons; D) Moonshine?

Well, if you said, D, you're right. And when you see what all turned up in a North Carolina daycare, you'll say the same thing that we did this morning. What the -- ?

Here's Casey Roman from our affiliate WECT.


CASEY ROMAN, WECT REPORTER (voice-over): A stash of guns, ammo, gallons of alcohol, marijuana and moonshine all confiscated early Saturday morning from inside Johnny and Judy Wilson's home business.

KENNETH SIMMA, ALCOHOL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENT: People have a right to live in their residence and operate that business, obviously, but to have these type of items in their residence, with children around is very, very disturbing.

ROMAN (on camera): That's because this business was a daycare. And while the kids were playing outside, they were also selling illegal alcohol like moonshine inside.

(voice-over): At as much as $3 dollars an ounce, moonshine is an easy money maker. Alcohol law enforcement agents found more than $1500 inside. The couple has run Wilson Family Daycare for about four years and have been highly recommended by county officials.

MARGRETTE KEENAN, DUPLIN COUNTY SOCIAL WORK SUPERVISOR: Children were just crazy about Judy. So, we thought everything was going well.

ROMAN: That was until we told Duplin County Social Service officials about the bust.

KEENAN: We never imagined anything like this would happen, especially in our county.

ROMAN: Agents say they've also never seen anything like this.

SIMMA: Finding guns and money and drugs at a joint or illegal liquor establishment is commonplace but the fact it's a daycare -- an operating daycare licensed by the state of North Carolina, is the shocking thing.

ROMAN: The place that was empty when we arrived at 6:30 Log Cabin Road.

(on camera): Are there any children inside now?

(voice-over): There was no comment from Judy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no comment.

ROMAN: And not much from parents who defended their babysitter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't believe it and I still don't believe it. Not my Miss Judy.

ROMAN: With six misdemeanors between them including a felony, this may be one mistake that puts this daycare in a permanent time- out.


PHILLIPS: Well, that was Casey Roman from our affiliate WECT in Wilmington, North Carolina. But, hey, there's good news here. She says that the agents claim that the suspects did keep those weapons locked in a safe and out of the children's reach area. So, bravo.

Well, with another weekend just ahead. Will you be pushing the old lawn mower come Saturday? Well, you soon may never have to do it again. CNN's Sean Callebs has the story of a device that's on the cutting edge of discovery.


SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This summer the Lynch family wants to spend more time playing and less time working.

MITZI LYNCH, HOMEOWNER: It's actually nice not having to be outside doing yard work for hours on a Saturday afternoon.

CALLEBS: They're hoping this little robot can help.

LYNCH: My son decided to call it Mowy.

CALLEBS: Its real name is Automower, a battery operated and self-charging device that could give your lawn that freshly mowed look and you will never even break a sweat.

So, how does it work? Simply program the times you want it to start and stop. Then a wire lets Automower know where to cut and guides it back home when it needs re-charging.

GENT SIMMONS, PRODUCT MANAGER, HUSGVANA: It can operate day or night and rain, wind. It doesn't matter. Automower is designed to be out there whenever you need it out there regardless of weather conditions.

CALLEBS: And this gadget is just as green as the grass it clips. The Automower doesn't use gas or oil and gives off zero emissions. Plus --

SIMMONS: You don't have to have chemicals or fertilizers to put down. The grass decomposing actually acts as a natural fertilizer. I think that you're going to see more traditional mowers that'll have alternative fuels, more traditional mower that'll have battery technology. This is the way that the industry is trending.

Sean Callebs, CNN.


PHLILIPS: Well, he entered the shop as a would-be robber. He came out with a new religion. Sort of. The wonders of a shotgun.


Well, imagine you're moving to another country that won't let your sweetie in. That's the case here for same-sex couples. Now Vermont Senator Leahy's backing a bill that merges two of this country's most divisive issues -- gay rights and immigration reform.

He's chairing a hearing today on the Uniting American Families Act. It would American citizens and legal immigrants to seek legal residency for their permanent same-sex partners.

Supporters of same-sex marriage must find Dick Cheney a pretty strange bed fellow. The former vice president has long said that states should decide the issue for themselves. But, he surprised a lot of people this week when he waded back a little bit on the debate.


DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: Freedom means freedom for everyone. And as many of you know, one of daughters is gay and something that we've lived with for a long time in our family. I think people ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish. Any kind of arrangement they wish.


PHILLIPS: Well, Dick Cheney mentioning his daughter right there, a personal note that a California pastor's heard over and over and taken to heart.


REV. ART CRIBBS, SAN MARINO UNITED CHURCH OF GOD: I apologize on behalf of straight people across this state and this nation. And we ask that you pray for our repentance, for our behavior against our sisters and our brothers.


PHILLIPS: Well, that was the Reverend Art Cribbs a year ago, the day California Supreme Court ruled that gays and lesbians have the right to marry.

Well, how things have changed since then. So, Reverend Cribbs is taking a stand on Prop 8 refusing to perform any more weddings until the state actually lifts its ban on same-sex marriage.

Reverend Cribbs joins me live from Los Angeles.

Reverend, great to see you.

CRIBBS: Thank you very much, Kyra. Very good to be with you.

PHILLIPS: Well, tell me why you take such a strong stance on this? CRIBBS: It's because I have heard people crying. I have seen tear-filled eyes of persons who have been hurt because of who they are.

There's a verse in the Bible when God commissioned Moses to lead a liberation movement to free people from bondage, God said to Moses, "I know the suffering of my people, I have heard the cries of my people." And something happens when people say, I am hurt. I have heard people say, Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage, hurts me. Doesn't hurt my feelings, it hurts me.

And when someone says, I am hurt by this, we have to pay attention to it, just as God paid attention to people who were suffering when he told Moses, go back, free my people, and tell Pharaoh to let them go.

I am saying today, because I have heard people say this hurts me, I will not participate in any ceremony that discriminates against anyone because of who he or she is.

PHILLIPS: So, Reverend, let me ask you, do you have gay members in your church, and have they come to you and said, hey, appreciate this. We're going to hold off, because we're with you on this. Or, have you had gay members in your church say, oh, Reverend, we really want to get married, please tell me why you're doing this?

CRIBBS: We have people who are gay, people who are straight. We have people who are transgendered. We have all kinds of people.

The people of God are not only in our churches but in our families. We have neighbors, we have friends. And many people are trying to understand why would anyone put discriminatory language in a state constitution that by its very purpose is to protect the rights and civil liberties of persons. Why would we intentionally put language that hurt people into a state document?

So, yes, people in our church, people in our families, people in our communities -- and since this pronouncement about a week ago, I've heard from people across the United States who are very much concerned about a legal document in the state of California, that would intentionally hurt people, particularly after we have heard people say, this hurts me.

PHILLIPS: So, Reverend Cribbs, do you have anyone in your congregation that opposes this? The members that have said you know what, the Bible says homosexuality is a sin, why are you preaching this?

CRIBBS: You know, the Bible says a lot of things that we need to adhere to. The Bible tells us do not kill. The Bible tells us to take care of the poor. The Bible tells us to treat people the way we want to be treated.

And I would say to you, Kyra, I would say to anyone, do you want someone else to tell you who you can love? In this case, love has been put on trial. Love has been attacked. Love is God. Do we want to attack love? Do we want to say to someone, we don't know who you are, but we don't want you loving someone else? I don't think so. I do not even believe that in the state of California, the majority of the people in this state want to get involved in dictating who can love whom.

I'm really surprised, in fact, I am fascinated by this concept of magnetism. Out of more than 6 billion people in the world, how do people find each other, fall in love and commit themselves to being together? What's on trial in the state of California is love. fidelity, compassionate compassion and justice. And I will not participate any longer in any process, any ceremony, any act, that intentionally hurts people and intentionally discriminates against people.

We should not do that. I cannot --

PHILLIPS: Let me ask -- let me ask you this, do you -- tell me, I wonder if something else fuels your passion.

I mean, you have such a fascinating background. You were quoting Moses at the very beginning of this interview, and you've actually been described by members of your congregation as Moses, because you came from (INAUDIBLE) to an all-white congregation out there in California, known for being very conservative, known for being all white. You know what it's like to be a minority, you know what it's like to be singled out.

Is there a -- do you feel a connection here to the gay community when it comes to being singled out or discriminated against?

CRIBBS: Kyra, I know what it feels like to be rejected, of course. I know what it feels like to be hurt and have people act as if it doesn't matter. I know what it feels like to be turned away.

So, yes, I bring that with me. But I believe all of us knows what it feels like to have someone dismiss us as a human being, as a person. If we've never had that experience, God bless you, I hope you never do.

But anyone who has ever experienced rejection because of who you are. We do not determine the color of our eyes, the texture of our hair, the complexion of our skin, we do not determine our height, we do not determine if we're ambidextrous, left-handed. right-handed, we do not even determine where we are born, how we are born or to whom we are born. That is beyond our capacity to determine.

And I do not believe that one group of people can determine who can and should love someone else. That is beyond our capacity as human beings. We're capable of loving each other. We're capable of accepting each other, even if our religion would dictate to us you cannot do "X" or "Y", or you cannot marry under certain circumstances, if that's within your religion, keep it within your religion. Do not make it civil law.

Most people do not share your religion. Most people do not attend your mosque, your temple, your synagogue, your church or cathedral. Most people live their lives. And so in this matter of who can marry whom, it is my determination.

What can I do? I can say no to participating in acts that discriminate and hurt people. That's where I am. I hope others will not debate whether or not I will join Art Cribbs in this. But I hope others will think about, are we doing something that uplifts life, uplifts love, encourages fidelity, encourages love, encourages persons to commit to each other faithfully, or do we do acts that will actually hurt people?

In the state of California, I'm embarrassed that we have to have a discussion because an act was put on a ballot, and the majority of the people voted for it to hurt others.


CRIBBS: I don't think that was our intention, and I think we can do something about it. I'm hoping by 2010, I can return to doing something that I enjoy doing. I love to participate in weddings. I love to solemnize relationships. I hope we can do that again in the future.

PHILLIPS: I'll tell you what, Reverend Art Cribbs, it is hard to wrap you up. You are one dynamic individual. I want to not only come sit in your church, but I want to sit in on your Bible-study, Soul Food.

I tell you what, I thank you sir for your time today. And we're going to follow you all up -- or follow you all the way to 2010 because my guess is you'll be there pushing for it to be on the ballot.

Sir, thanks so much for your time.

CRIBBS: Thank you. And you're always welcomed at San Marino United Church of Christ.

PHILLIPS: You got it. Thanks, Reverend Cribbs.

CRIBBS: Thanks.