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Oil Spill Threatens Four U.S. States; Arizona's Immigration Controversy

Aired April 26, 2010 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now: urgent efforts to contain the oil escaping into the Gulf of Mexico. It's gushing from the well under that sunken drilling rig, and a massive slick now threatens the U.S. coastline. We're getting new information.

Protests are growing right now over Arizona's tough new immigration law. Police reject racial profiling concerns, but the mayor of Phoenix fears the law will tear his city and his state apart. I will speak about it this hour with the mayor, Phil Gordon.

And killer tornadoes carve a trail of terror across the Deep South. At least a dozen people are dead. We will hear from one survivor who took refuge in his church, praying for a miracle as the building collapsed around him.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

But, first, this developing story just coming in. The U.S. launched an invasion to capture him, tried him, sentenced him to prison, and has continued to hold him since his prison term ended back in 2007. Now the former Panamanian dictator, Manuel Noriega, is being shipped off to France.

Brian Todd is working this story for us.

He's aboard an Air France jetliner right now in Miami about to take off for France.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he was just escorted to that Air France jet bound for France, bound for Paris. We're told that he is scheduled to land in Paris at 8:10 a.m. Paris time Tuesday morning.

In France, he will face trial on money laundering charges. Noriega's attorneys are absolutely furious with this. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed his extradition order this afternoon. Here's a quote from a spokesman for Western Hemisphere affairs at the State Department -- quote -- "I can confirm that Secretary of State Clinton signed his surrender warrant. He lost his appeals, and this was the last step, which enables him to go to France." Noriega has already been convicted in absentia on money laundering charges in France. But we're told the French government will reopen the case.

Noriega's attorney, Frank Rubino, said this -- quote -- "I am angry. I think it's pretty low and disrespectful that they didn't have the common courtesy to tell us that they were going to transfer him."

Now, Noriega's attorneys had petitioned the State Department to send him back to Panama, Wolf, but obviously this afternoon Secretary Clinton said, nope, he's going to France.


BLITZER: He's wanted for murder in Panama, right?

TODD: You would think that he wouldn't want to go back there, but he does, because his attorneys say that's because it's his home. And also there's a new law in Panama that says if you're 75 years old or over, that you can essentially serve your sentence at home under house arrest pretty much.

He is older than 75 and his attorneys have not equated their desire to go back with that law, but it's clearly implied there.

BLITZER: So, he's going -- he's -- we have got a live picture. There it is right there of that Air France jetliner, 747, about to take off from Miami to Paris.

TODD: Right.

BLITZER: We will watch that plane. He's aboard that plane right now.

TODD: He is.

BLITZER: He's not going to Panama. He's heading to France.

TODD: He's heading to France, where he will be retried, apparently. They are going to reopen his case. Money laundering is going to probably carry a pretty stiff sentence for him.

He wanted to go back to Panama because he wanted to spend time with his grandson, who he has gotten to know a little bit, but this is clearly a blow to him and his defense team.

BLITZER: Yes. And Secretary of State, as you say, Hillary Clinton signed that extradition order. This is a regular commercial flight, a regularly scheduled flight from Miami to Paris. He is aboard. And we will see. I wonder if he is sitting in first, business or coach.


TODD: It probably doesn't matter much to him at this point. BLITZER: He's going to France. All right, thanks very much, Brian, for that.

They're called warrior transition units, aimed at helping troops overcome the physical and psychological trauma suffered in war zones. But now some of these Army units are coming under very sharp criticism, with serious allegations of drinking, drugs and abuse.

Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has been digging into this story for us.

Barbara, it's shocking what we have been hearing. But tell us what you're learning.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I have been to several of these transition units and talked to the wounded troops who are there.

Some of them like these special units, like being with other wounded, ill, or injured troops. Some of them don't like it. They feel very isolated. It was a story in "The New York Times" earlier today talking about the unit at Fort Carson, Colorado, that made some very serious allegations of illegal drugs, drinking, of soldiers shunted away, living quietly in despair in these units.

The Army says absolutely not, that there's constant care being given to these wounded, and they brought out three generals today to make their defense. Have a listen.


LT. GEN. ERIC SCHOOMAKER, U.S. ARMY SURGEON GENERAL: But I think added to that is the problem that probably 50 percent of all our warriors in transition have some behavioral health challenge, some psychological problem that they're trying to overcome.

Many have brought that in to uniform, quite frankly. We know from the triannual survey of health behaviors of soldiers, airmen, Marines, that anonymous surveys have taught us that 30 to 40 percent of our people bring into uniform some rather significant behavioral health problems.


STARR: So the Army surgeon general making a very peculiar case there, Wolf, saying that there aren't problems in these warrior transition units, adamantly saying the troops are being well-looked- after, but that in fact 30 to 40 percent of the troops who come into the U.S. Army have behavioral health issues. That's what the data shows.

So, you know, where you stand is where you sit. Some of the troops say they're being treated well. Others have a lot of objections.

BLITZER: And so I assume there's going to be a more thorough review over at the Pentagon to make sure that these -- some of these allegations of abuse or drug use or whatever, that, if they are going on, that they stop.

STARR: Well, they are going to take another look at it, they say. But they also have a pretty good handle on what takes place. At Fort Carson, Colorado alone, in that wounded warrior unit, in the last two-and-a-half years, Wolf, some 90 cases almost of illegal drug use on that on that unit, in the wounded warrior care unit.

And what do they mean by illegal drugs? Heroin, marijuana and prescription drug abuse, using prescription drugs that you were not supposed to have. It's a big problem.

BLITZER: It is a huge problem, indeed. All right, Barbara Starr, thanks very much.

All right, the vote has now been completed on the U.S. Senate floor, and the Democrats fall short. They wanted to go forward and get Wall Street reform legislation moving, has not happened today.

Jessica Yellin is working the story for us.

Jessica, not a huge surprise, but a serious disappointment for the Democrats.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a disappointment, Wolf. They thought there's a chance they could have gotten one Republican as of last week, but today they knew they wouldn't get this threshold met.

This is a political tactic by the Democrats to try to put pressure on Republicans to negotiate and make a deal, because they think the more times they are forced take a no-vote on a popular Wall Street reform bill, the more pressure Republicans will be under.

And expect Democrats to bring this bill up in two days, forcing Republicans to vote no again.

BLITZER: So the Democrats think that even though they lost on this vote, they didn't have the 60 votes they need to break a filibuster, they're going to gain politically, because they say it will embarrass the Republicans, who they say will be seen as siding with Wall Street?

YELLIN: Exactly. It's a loss on the legislation for today, but a political win long-term. They can say once Republicans voted against Wall Street reform, and two, there are private negotiations going on right now between Democrat Chris Dodd and Republican Richard Shelby, and they think this no-vote by Republicans will pressure the Republican -- the party to come to an agreement in those private negotiations.

BLITZER: All 41 Republicans in the Senate were united. They voted against the Democrats, but the Democrats were not completely united. YELLIN: A very surprising move. One Democrat, Ben Nelson, voted no. He voted with the Republicans. Now, why would one Democrat break away?

Well, he publicly told one of our producers it's because he's worried about Main Street and the effect of the bill on Main Street. But we should point out that he was pushing very hard for one of his constituents, Warren Buffett. Warren Buffett had asked for a special exception to be made in some of the language, so that Warren Buffett's business wouldn't be hurt too broadly by some of the changes.

That did not prevail, and so one can only wonder if that factored into this Democrat Ben Nelson's decision to vote against the legislation this time.

BLITZER: The oracle of Omaha. That would be Nebraska, the state that Ben Nelson represents in the United States' Senate.

YELLIN: Right.

BLITZER: There are, though, talks continuing between the chairman of this banking committee, Chris Dodd, the ranking Republican, Richard Shelby, even as they disagree today.

YELLIN: Absolutely. And both sides say they're relatively close to a deal. There is enormous confidence that a deal will be reached, a bill will be passed eventually. The question is, how many votes between now and then?

BLITZER: And it -- but it could take a while.

YELLIN: It could take weeks.


YELLIN: Well, it could take to the middle of next week, end of next week. We're just not sure. It depends how much pressure the Republicans feel under to negotiate, to come to a compromise, or if some of them start to get fidgety, and Mitch McConnell, their leader, can't control them, and they decide to bolt. So far, no bolters. So far, they're sticking to those negotiations.

BLITZER: So far, you've got to give Mitch McConnell credit, the Republican leader. He is holding all 41 Republicans together.


YELLIN: Enormously effective, yes.

BLITZER: Yes. All right, thanks very much, Jessica -- Jessica Yellin reporting. Thanks, also, for filling in for me last week.

YELLIN: It was my pleasure.

BLITZER: Good. You did an excellent job.

YELLIN: I tapped in to my inner Wolf. They told me to try.

BLITZER: Just want you to be Jessica Yellin.


YELLIN: OK. Thanks. OK.

BLITZER: Just let Jessica be Jessica. Isn't that the advice I gave you?

YELLIN: That is the advice you gave me.


BLITZER: Jessica Yellin doing an excellent job reporting and anchoring.

YELLIN: Thank you, Wolf. Thank you.

BLITZER: Thank you.

All right, take a look at this.

This is the Air France jetliner. It's just taken off from Miami International Airport, heading to Paris. Aboard this 747, Manuel Noriega, the former Panamanian dictator, Manuel Noriega heading to France, where he's already been convicted of money laundering charges.

His attorneys had wanted him to be sent back to Panama. That is not happening. Manuel Noriega leaving the United States after 20 years in jail, heading to France right now.

Jack Cafferty will have "The Cafferty File" in a moment.

Also, uproar in Arizona over that tough new law targeting illegal immigrants. The mayor of Phoenix standing by live. He will join us to explain why he wants to sue his own state.

Plus, a tornado victim's gripping story of survival. We will take you live to the disaster zone.


BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is joining us with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: It is springtime and the signs of economic recovery are springing up everywhere, from the nation's ports to the shopping malls to the factories to car dealerships.

One longshoreman on the docks in Portland, Oregon, told "The New York Times" -- quote -- "Things are looking up." Well, there may be something to what he says. Consumer spending, which makes up about two-thirds of the U.S. economy, was up 4 percent during the first quarter, more than double what was expected. Americans are shopping again. They're buying furniture and cars and electronics. One retail analyst says on his weekly mall check, he is seeing a lot of women age 25 to 45 shopping again, buying. And that's a sign of a recovery.

Last month, retail sales were up 9 percent, new home sales an astronomical 27 percent. The question, though, is, how strong will the recovery be? It appears a lot of the improvement in the economy is as a result of the $800 billion government stimulus program. And once that money is used up, it's unclear how much consumers will be able to keep spending.

Another big factor, of course, is jobs. When are they coming back? March saw the biggest surge in hiring in over two years, but the economy has lost eight million jobs since the start of the recession, and the national unemployment rate is still almost 10 percent.

A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows 19 percent of those surveyed say the economy is starting to recover, and that's up significantly from January -- 46 percent say the economy has stabilized -- 34 percent say it's still in a downturn.

Statistics and poll numbers are one thing. Your personal situation, that's another.

Here's the question. Is your recession over? Go to Post a comment on my blog.

BLITZER: For millions of people, it certainly is not, Jack, unemployment still hovering around 10 percent.

Jack Cafferty will be back.

Meanwhile, 42,000 gallons of oil a day escaping into the Gulf of Mexico right now. The oil is leaking from the well beneath that sunken oil rig. It's already formed a slick measuring hundreds of square miles. And as the oil moves towards the coast, it's threatening marshes, beaches and wildlife in four states.

Brian Todd is looking into this for us -- Brian.

TODD: Wolf, this is a massive and very urgent containment effort in the Gulf. There's new information that the Coast Guard has just put out on the spill.

And here to discuss it is David Kennedy. He's head of the National Ocean Service for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, NOAA. He once directed NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration, which dealt with oil spills.

David, thank you very much for joining us.


The latest information that we had, as of today and yesterday, was that the square mileage of this spill, right about here in the Gulf, was a little less than 1,900 square miles in kind of loose sheens of oil. But the more contained and more I guess concentrated area was about 600 square miles, which is the size of Houston, Texas.

Is that a concern at this point, because things may have changed that might have shrunk this a little bit?

KENNEDY: What we're seeing now is a shift to the west and north. And essentially what that means is, from this source, you have an elongated spill because of winds from the south and the east. But now as you have that wind shift, you're going to get a compacting, especially of the sheens.

The very light sheens are going to be pushed back toward the source. And so the actual look and feel and size, although it may be -- looked compacted, you still have the same amount of oil out there. It's just changed shape because of the weather conditions.

TODD: Let's talk about their options for containing here. They have got preparations under way for a relief well that's coming in. They also have -- what's going on right now, they have got submersibles, four down here by the blowout preventer, and they want to start to mitigate that by I guess drilling down here and activating the blowout preventer right here with these submersibles.

How does that work?

KENNEDY: Essentially, what they're trying to do is pinch the pipe to shut off the flow. And, for whatever reason, given maybe the kind of accident it was, the preventer didn't immediately kick in, so that's what they're trying to activate now, go back and activate it.

TODD: And the idea that they're working on, if that doesn't work, to bring in another rig, to drill a relief well down here, how does that work? They have to come down diagonally into the pipe. And that takes a little longer, does it not?

KENNEDY: It does. And I'm not an operations guy. More, the environmental issues are mine.

But if this were to be the route that they have to go -- and I think we -- this has publicly been stated -- they're looking at weeks, certainly, if not longer, to drill that well.

TODD: We want to take a look now at the potential wildlife that is affected by this. You have got sperm whales, whale sharks, tortoises in the area. Porpoises are said to crisscross into these waters. You've got crabbing season, shrimp and oyster season that is just starting in this area. They have actually already spotted sperm whales during this process of trying to contain the slick.

How much of an environmental concern is it for marine wildlife? KENNEDY: Some of the things you have here, the crabs and the oysters, are more near shore, so right now those potentially are not so much impacted.

But, certainly, depending on the length of the spill and where it moves, as it gets closer to shore, there is a whole suite of additional things that you probably would have to add here that potentially can be impacted.

TODD: David, thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate your expertise.

BP, the company that operated the rig, has dispatched a fleet of over 30 vessels to help contain and clean the slick. And efforts are under way on shore to deal with any potential landfall.

Now, it appears the slick will remain at sea for at least the next couple of days, although that could change if the wind shifts and there are other weather changes -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, thanks very much.

So, far the 42,000 gallons of oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico each day pales in comparison to some other famous oil spills. The Amoco Cadiz ran aground off the coast of France in 1978, spilling its entire cargo of nearly 69 million gallons.

In the 1991 Gulf War, the Iraqi army destroyed tankers and wells, releasing at least 241 million gallons of oil into the Arabian Gulf, considered the largest spill ever. A deepwater well called Ixtoc I blew out off the coast of Mexico in June 1979, spilling about 140 million gallons of oil.

And all of those are much larger than perhaps the most famous spill, the Exxon Valdez, which ran aground in the Prince William Sound area of Alaska in March 1989, spilling 11 million gallons.

Arizona's tough new immigration law sparking growing protest. Police chief say fears of racial profiling are unfounded, but we will hear from the mayor of Phoenix, who fears the law will tear his city and state apart.

Plus, we will also hear from a man who took shelter in his church and prayed for a miracle as a killer tornado knocked the building down around him. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: A massive, massive cleanup effort is under way right now, and stunned survivors are taking stock after killer tornadoes carved a trail of terror and death across the Deep South.

Our meteorologist Reynolds Wolf is on the ground for us.

Reynolds, the pictures are horrible, but tell us what you're seeing up close. REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I will tell you what we're seeing, Wolf. Take a look at this. This is all that remains of Hillcrest Baptist Church here in Yazoo City, Louisiana. As you take a look, it's all just a twisted pile of metal, of wood, of insulation, and memories.

It is certainly just one of the nearly 700 buildings that have been destroyed in the region. But within this rubble comes a story of survival and faith.


WOLF (voice-over): This pile of rubble is all that remains of the Baptist church where Dale Thrasher has worshipped for the past 12 years.

DALE THRASHER, CHURCH MEMBER: We had a two-story building here with a sanctuary in the middle, classrooms above, offices down the hall here.

WOLF: Thrasher was working alone inside on a men's group project, when his wife called to warn of the coming fury. Moments later, his world went dark.

THRASHER: It was just like a huge giant cloud on the ground, swirling, black rain, wind.

WOLF: Thrasher ran for cover in the sanctuary, got under a table, and then prayed for a miracle.

THRASHER: At the time, the windows started blowing out. You could hear the blast. The building started shaking and collapsed around.

WOLF: And then it was over.

THRASHER: I looked up, and rain was hitting me in the face, and the clouds were still there, but that storm was gone, and I knew the building was gone.

WOLF: Thrasher walked away with a scratch on his thumb and elbow, but also a stronger faith.

THRASHER: He is sovereign, and he knows what's best, and I leave it there.


THRASHER: I'm just praising that I'm safe and able to talk to you today.

WOLF: And a new appreciation for Mother Nature.

THRASHER: Generally, storms don't scare me. They might in the future. But the lord blessed me through this one, and I hope he doesn't bring me through another one. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF: Unfortunately, Wolf, they can't let their guard down just yet. And Mississippi certainly no stranger to rough weather, and this happens to be severe weather season. And keep in mind that hurricane season is right around the corner. And with Mississippi bordering part of the Gulf of Mexico and possibly a very active tropical season, it could be a busy time this summer or fall and maybe even into the winter.


WOLF: That's the latest. Wolf, let's send it back to you.

BLITZER: All right, Reynolds. Our hearts go out to all those folks in Mississippi and elsewhere. Thanks very much.

Police chiefs in Arizona, at least some of them, are dismissing concerns about racial profiling. But the mayor of Phoenix sides with protesters against the strong new immigration law.

And Senator Lindsey Graham is angry at Democrats. Does that put climate change legislation in peril?

Plus, the renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking says aliens -- aliens -- are out there.


BLITZER: Police at Arizona's state capitol found refried beans smeared on the door in the shape of a swastika. It's a protest over the tough new immigration law which gives police some far-reaching authority to question and detain anyone suspected of being illegal.

But police chiefs are dismissing concerns about racial profiling.

CNN's Casey Wian has details.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Protesters outside Arizona's state capitol are angry over a new requiring local police to help enforce federal immigration law.

JOSE ACOSTA, PROTESTER: People are going to be stopped just because of the color of their skin. And it ain't right. Are they going to be looking for Europeans as well, or is it just the brown people?

WIAN (on camera): What do you have to say to those concerns?

CHIEF JOE MARTINEZ, KEARNY, ARIZONA POLICE: They're really -- they're really unfounded. The Arizona law enforcement community is made up of many Hispanics. We've never had a policy of racial profiling. Fact -- in fact, quite the contrary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our law enforcement people...

WIAN (voice-over): At a town hall meeting, police chiefs criticized opponents of the law and the news media for spreading fear and disinformation.

CHIEF DON DANIELS, CASA GRANDE, ARIZONA POLICE: As a law enforcement officer, I'd like to say that -- that, trust us. We will do what we're expected and paid to do. We have no interest in violating the law that -- that has been brought to us.

WIAN: Arizona's U.S. senator, John McCain, also attended. He did not take a position on the law, but says he understands why it passed -- rising violence and crime associated with illegal immigrant and drug smuggling.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: And I believe that they acted out of frustration because the federal government has not complied with its constitutional responsibilities.

WIAN: For those who believe their constitutional rights may be violated, one police chief urged them to report any problems to authorities.

CHIEF JERALD MONAHAN, APACHE JUNCTION, ARIZONA POLICE: There's a huge historical context for individuals that perceive they're treated a certain way by local law enforcement. For those individuals, that's real. And we in law enforcement have to understand that when we interact with them.

WIAN: Arizona police chiefs say crimes related to immigration are stretching their budgets and manpower to the breaking point. They hope controversy over the new law will pressure the federal government to take action.

Casey Wian, CNN, Phoenix, Arizona.


The mayor of the capital and the largest city in Arizona, Phoenix, is opposed to this new immigration law.

Democrat Phil Gordon says the law will tear his city and his state apart. He wants to file suit against the state to block it.

Mayor Gordon is joining us now.

Thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: Tell our viewers what's wrong with police officers going out and questioning those they suspect of being illegal immigrants.

GORDON: Well, first, let me say that for years, I've been going to Congress to testify to get more resources for our police and border police and DEA and ATF, calling on the government -- first President Bush and now President Obama -- to secure our border. And that is because it has been draining our police officers to go after the violent criminals, both those that are here legally and citizens and those that aren't, that are smuggling drugs and people and committing such heinous crimes against everyone.

But the problem is that we're stretched so thin, that our officers aren't trained for that. They signed up to be officers to go after criminals that are committing violent crimes, not to go into kitchens or hotels or into restaurants and question somebody on -- by the way, suspicion -- not -- so it's a new standard on a criminal crime that isn't even defined, which means...

BLITZER: It's defined as reasonable suspicion, right?

GORDON: Yes, but what -- yes, exactly.

But what is reasonable suspicion?

BLITZER: Well -- well, let me ask you this, because the governor, Governor Brewer, says they're going to train law enforcement, including police officers in Phoenix, to get it right, to do this without racial profiling.

GORDON: Well, it's a hollow statement. Number one, that in and of itself shows that the law is unconstitutional on its face. Two, the -- the rules that she's talking about are voluntary rules that every 30,000 police officers in the state are supposed to go back, come off the street and go through training. That, by the way, any citizen in the state can then sue any agency, except the state, which exempted itself and the state police, which is interesting -- from saying that no, that's not correct. It's $5,000 a day fine and attorneys' fees.

It is so broad, so undefined and the first time that we have a criminal law that has a standard of reasonable suspicion as opposed to doubt or beyond -- it -- it -- and it also reverses the burden of innocence -- the proof of innocence from the...

BLITZER: Well...

GORDON: -- citizen of the state. And -- and then, we're talking, also, about citizens and residents, Hispanics that have fought for this country, people that don't have a driver's license in the state of Arizona, seniors that don't drive...

BLITZER: All right...

GORDON: -- anymore or children that don't qualify, this is nothing more than a political year statement that doesn't make us more secure. In fact, it makes us less safe because now people won't come to the police...

BLITZER: Well...

GORDON: -- point out the drug dealers. BLITZER: -- but I just want to be clear. You think that police officers in Phoenix simply aren't going to be able to go ahead and pick up people or question people without racial profiling?

Is that what you're saying?

GORDON: Well, already the sheriff and his agency are under criminal investigation because of racial profiling. There are hundreds of individuals that are now suing American citizens that have been detained for hours -- 12 hours, 15 hours. Now we're going to say that everyone has to prove they're an American citizen?

It's not that it's not going after individuals. The city of Phoenix police have arrested all but...

BLITZER: All right...

GORDON: -- 1,900 people out of 33,000 that the sheriff claims are illegal. It's about taking officers off the street to go do immigration work. Individuals now that are supposedly committing a crime when the federal government says it's not.

And guess what?

Again, the state is exempt. And all that's going to happen is we pay the sheriff to jail them for a month and then they're deported and they come...

BLITZER: They don't...

GORDON: -- back across.

BLITZER: They don't just -- one -- one correction. They don't have to prove they're American citizens, they just have to prove that they're here legally. They could be legal residents (INAUDIBLE)...

GORDON: And there's only -- there's only two types of proof. One is the passport.

And how many people, including yourself or I, carry a passport when we drive?

Or two is the equivalent of or an Arizona driver's license. Forty states don't have the picture I.D. Or the verification...

BLITZER: How worried...

GORDON: -- on it.

BLITZER: How worried are you, Mayor -- and I think you're deeply worried -- that conventions are going to stop coming to Arizona, to Phoenix. You and I met at the NBA All Star Game not last year, the year before. And Phoenix did an excellent job welcoming in thousands of folks. But I suspect there are some conventions who are going to have second thoughts about coming to Arizona right now. GORDON: Convention, tourist business groups have already gotten dozens of calls. We're pleading not to boycott Phoenix or the state because of the actions of this, that the law doesn't go into effect for at least 90 days. There will be court challenges. I'm confident that the federal courts will enjoin it, at least until it's determined there's a constitutional and how to enforce it so that officers don't get sued by civil rights -- individuals alleging civil rights violations or any resident -- any citizen in the state can sue any government, except the state, for any violations that say they haven't enforced it far enough.

BLITZER: When are you going to file your lawsuit?

GORDON: Well, I'[m hoping the city council will authorize us tomorrow. But if not, then I'll, as the mayor, I will file a suit to protect our community and to keep it safer.

And also, by the way, Wolf, San Francisco Board of Supervisors today voted to boycott Arizona and -- events. So it's -- it's starting and it's not right or fair...

BLITZER: What...

GORDON: -- to those that need the help -- our citizens, our -- the poor, the seniors.

BLITZER: One final question. Those refried beans in the shape of a swastika at the state capital in Phoenix today, I don't know if you saw the pictures, but it was pretty horrendous.

What was behind that?

GORDON: You know, first of all, the police don't know who put it on. There's allegations on both sides that each other's side did it. We have anarchists here now coming in and we also have extreme militia and hate groups, neo-Nazi groups coming in to try to ferment dis -- to, you know, violence and breaking the peace. And I know that I've been, on my own house, picketed by neo-Nazi signs and stuff.

So this is -- and, by the way, you mentioned I'm a Democrat. I've supported Republicans and Democrats. We're non-partisan here. This is about a hateful bill that is targeted to Hispanics, citizens as well as residents. There's already a history of racial profiling, from Chandler that -- when Attorney General Grant Woods was attorney general, where the city violated. There is already racial profiling and lawsuits against the sheriff and the Justice Department investigating criminally now.

BLITZER: All right...

GORDON: So it's -- it -- it -- let's just take time out.

BLITZER: All right.

GORDON: I asked the governor not to sign it and send it back and fix the constitutional issues. BLITZER: Mayor, good luck over there.

GORDON: Thank you.

BLITZER: You've got your hands full right now.

We'll be watching.

Mayor Gordon of Phoenix.

We're watching this story unfold, the ramifications very, very significant.

Thanks very much.

GORDON: Thank you.

BLITZER: Senate Democrats lose their only Republican ally on a climate change bill.


What happened?

And what's about to happen?

CNN's John King is standing by.

Plus, the alien threat from beyond our Earth -- one of the world's most famous scientists is now speaking out.


BLITZER: President Obama has just released a statement saying he's deeply, deeply disappointed that Senate Republicans blocked his initiative on -- on Wall Street reform: "I'm deeply disappointed that Senate Republicans voted to bloc against allowing a public debate on Wall Street reform to begin. Some of these senators may believe that this obstruction is a good political strategy." But the president goes on to say, "it is not and others" -- he goes on and on and on and we're not going to read the whole thing -- but to make a point, John King the president says, you know, they're going to continue to fight. The Democrats think that even though they lost, politically, they can win.

JOHN KING, HOST, "JOHN KING USA": Exactly. They think in this particular vote, losing is winning.

And how much do they think that, Wolf?

To the degree that they may reschedule another vote, even if they think that the same re -- there will be exactly the same result.

If you talk to anyone involved in this behind-the-scenes, they think give them two days, some say, four or six days; others say they will actually work out their differences. Republicans think there are too many loopholes in the financial reform legislation that will still allow bailouts -- still will put taxpayers on the hook. They think they will work it out within a week, at most. But in the meantime, you might see Democrats push for more of these votes, because they think they can cast the Republicans as somehow defending Wall Street. The Republicans say they will take the heat as long as they get a better bill in the end.

BLITZER: Another development today. Last week, we thought that this morning there would be a huge news conference. Lindsey Graham would be there, John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and they'd announce climate change legislation.

It didn't happen.

You had a chance to speak to Senator Graham.

KING: I did. And this is another example -- another victim of the mistrustful climate we have here in Washington right now. Senator Graham, Republican of South Carolina, insists he had a promise from the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, that climate change and energy legislation -- that he has worked with those Democrat and Independents you just mentioned, Kerry and Lieberman, on, would come up after financial reform.

And he says he had another promise, that immigration reform would not be dealt with this year, because the politics of that are so dicey.

Senator Reid's office says no such promises were made, that it came up in conversations, but no such promises were made.

And now Harry Reid has said maybe we'll do immigration reform next, maybe we'll do climate legislation next. What Senator Graham has said is forget it, I'm going to back off. I won't be part of this deal.

What it does now is it endangers not only the climate legislation, but it creates a very toxic political environment should the Democrats come forward, as Leader Reid has promised and the president has encouraged, with an immigration bill.

So the bottom line is -- we knew this anyway. But the closer we get, Wolf, from spring toward the November elections, it is a very toxic and mistrustful political environment. And a lot of Democrats privately say they don't want to take a lot of these tough votes anyway. So they're not so unhappy that this has blown up.

BLITZER: You have Senator Lieberman coming up on "JOHN KING USA".

KING: I sure do. We'll talk to him about that and other -- other -- this dicey not so great climate here at the moment.

BLITZER: Not so great.

KING: Not so great. BLITZER: How about if we say awful?

KING: Well, it's a good political environment. That's one of the big doubts -- do you like politics?

But this one has gone a little bit over.

BLITZER: We'll be watching, right at the top of the hour, "JOHN KING USA".

One of the world's most respected scientists says there probably are aliens out there in the universe and they might be dangerous. We have details of his warning.


BLITZER: Let's get right back to Lisa.

She's monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

What is going on -- Lisa?

SYLVESTER: Hi there, Wolf.

Well, a Senate subcommittee plans to hammer Goldman Sachs' executives, including CEO Lloyd Blankfein, who's scheduled to testify tomorrow. Senator Karl Levin says Goldman made billions by betting against the housing market, or, in other words, shorting the mortgage market, while still selling to his clients these mortgage related products that it didn't even believe in. Blankfein, in testimony, will deny that, testifying, quote: "The fact is we were not consistently or significantly net shorting the market in residential mortgage-related products in 2007 and 2008. Our performance in our residential mortgage Republican related business confirms this." And he adds that the company actually lost $1.2 billion from the residential housing market.

Now, Blankfein will also tell lawmakers tomorrow, quote: "We have to do a better job of striking the balance between what an informed client believes is important to his or her investing goals and what the public believes is overly complex and risky."

Several seen in this back and forth between Goldman and the committee, Goldman clearly trying to reshape public opinion. And all of this even before the hearing has started.

In other news, British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking claims aliens are out there, but it could be too dangerous for us to interact with them. In a new documentary, Hawking likens a visit from alien life forms to that of Christopher Columbus arriving in America, which, he says, quote, "Didn't turn out well for Native Americans." Hawking adds advanced life forms may be looking to conquer and colonize -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, that's fascinating stuff. Let's see what happens.

Thanks very much, Lisa, for that.

Jack Cafferty is coming up with your e-mail.

And outraged women set out to cause earthquakes in a most unusual way.

CNN's Jeanne Moos is on the story.


BLITZER: Let's get right back to Jack for The Cafferty File -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour, is your recession over?

Michelle in Warsaw, Indiana: "Mine's just getting into full swing. My unemployment benefits have run out. There are no jobs. The rent is overdue. I'll be cutting my Internet and cable. I've already lost my phone. Soon I will be homeless. I still love my country, but I'm not proud of what our government has done."

Mirsad writes: "Yes. I was unemployed for over a year. A month ago, I was offered four jobs. I took one, of course. But those other three have gone to other people, which to me indicates things are looking up."

Sarah writes from North Carolina: "No. I'm still unemployed. I can't find work anywhere. The over 50 population is going to continue to be extremely affected by this. The hires will be the twentysomethings."

Joe writes: "Until I'm able to buy things I can't afford, then my recession will be over. Until then, I have to watch what I spend and plan ahead. That's not the American way that I was taught."

Sher writes: "I'm underemployed, working part-time without health benefits from my job. However, I'm making more per hour than a lot of people working full-time and I'm grateful. I am part of that statistic you cited -- a woman in the 25 to 48 range -- who signed a contract this past weekend to buy a car. However, I used up my life savings to do this, since my 15-year-old car finally gave out on me. I'm not in a personal recession, but I have a lot of student debt. And I'm forced to manage my money carefully."

Greg in Oregon: "I live a hundred miles plus from that Portland dock worker you quoted. I find his enthusiasm remarkable. We have one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. Our state is nearly broke. Our resident truckers still sit idle and yet the docks are busy. I live in Deschutes County and the unemployment rate here is over 12 percent. I think our dock worker has been consuming water out of the Willamette River."

And David writes from Alexandria, Virginia: "It's 85 percent over. Another 15 percent and my IRA will be back to where it was before we found our regulators asleep at the switch while Wall Street was steeling the switch."

If you want to read more about this, you'll find it on my blog at

BLITZER: Thanks, Jack.

Good to be back.

Good to be speaking with you. And we'll do it again tomorrow.

CAFFERTY: All right.

BLITZER: John King goes one-on-one with the Independent Democratic senator, Joe Lieberman. That's right at the top of the hour on "JOHN KING USA".

Plus, get this -- cleavage and quakes. CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a Moost Unusual look.


BLITZER: Here's a look at some Hot Shots coming in from our friends at the Associated Press.

In Louisville, jockeys take their horses out for early morning exercise in preparation for this weekend's Kentucky Derby.

In Baghdad, students dress up in costumes while celebrating their graduation from college.

In India, a girl lies on a traditional bed while a large buffalo looks on.

And in Bhutan, a young monk stares out the window of a monastery.

Hot Shots -- pictures worth a thousand words.

A most unusual aftershock from a controversial sermon by an Iranian cleric, who blamed women for earthquakes.

Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Exposing cleavage in the name of science?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't have cleavage, though. So I think I'm going to duct tape.


MOOS: There's a name for this behavior.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Boobquake. Boobquake. Boobquake.


MOOS: Little did an Iranian cleric know how his words would rattle some women when he suggested that women who dress provocatively tempt people into promiscuity, which increases earthquakes?

Which brings us to Perdue University student and self-described nerdy geek, Jennifer McCreight.

(on camera): What would you estimate the magnitude of your cleavage to be today?

JENNIFER MCCREIGHT, BOOBQUAKE FOUNDER: Maybe like a seven or something.

MOOS (voice-over): Jennifer dreamed up Boobquake on her blog as a joke, declaring Monday Boobquake Day.


MOOS: From Purdue to Washington, DC, women showed a bit more decolletage than usual.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're out here showing that if dressing immodestly caused earthquakes, we wanted to see some evidence.

MOOS: Jennifer is compiling data.

(on camera): So you'll be checking for seismic activity related to the showing of cleavage?

MCCREIGHT: Yes, we'll compare it with past seismic activity. Hopefully, we don't destroy the world.

MOOS (voice-over): It seems like they might.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Boom in Iran. Boom in South Africa.


MOOS: We in the press sure treated it like Earth shaking news -- outnumbering the actual Boobquakers. A handful of Jennifer's friends surrounded her in a show of support during our Skype interview.

(on camera): Can you see me?

I'm -- I'm feeling overdressed.


MOOS (voice-over): There were Boobquake t-shirts: "Did the Earth move for you?," "I survived Boobquake 2010." There was a song.


MOOS: Talk about getting rocked.

(on camera): Breaking news -- an earthquake struck Taiwan Monday morning. It had a magnitude of 6.5. It caused buildings to sway, but no major damage. This is not a joke. There really was an earthquake Monday in Taiwan.

(voice-over): But was this responsible for the seismic activity?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, some boys have told me I rocked their world, but I don't think so.

BLITZER: But just to be safe, beware what you wear.




MOOS: No, thank you.

And watch where you point that Web cam.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: Remember, you can always follow what's going on here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

I'm on Twitter. You can get my Tweets at -- wolfblitzercnn, that is all one word.

Thanks very much for watching.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"JOHN KING USA" starts right now.

KING: Thanks, Wolf.

More heated rhetoric in the immigration debate today in Arizona and also right here in the nation's capital.

Also, what was to be a big partisan announcement about climate change canceled.

Guess why?

More partisan politics.