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High School Quarterback Mourned; Freed Prisoner Returning to U.S.; Trial in Shocking Home Invasion; Alcohol Vs. Pot; Hip Hop Psychology
Aired September 18, 2010 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Right now on CNN: A murder so gruesome that it may be too much for the jury to handle, and if the police has handled it differently, might some of those involved still be alive? A live update tonight on one of the most brutal home invasions you've heard about.
Which is worse for you, alcohol or pot? Before you answer that, you may want to hear what we found out just weeks before California votes on legalizing pot.
The free world may rest on the president's shoulders. But the job of the first lady -- well, it may be tougher. The current first lady denies she is complaining about the job. But if she did, she wouldn't be the first.
LEMON: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for joining us.
A real-live tragedy played out as a Texas high school football game under the Friday night lights. The quarterback of the West Orange- Stark High School collapsed just moments after throwing his second touchdown of that game. Reginald Garrett was rushed to a hospital but died a short time later.
High school football is practically a religion in Texas and Garrett was a star on his team. A hospital supervisor spoke with CNN this morning. The town's reaction shows just how much they cared about this young man.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN COURTNEY, SUPERVISOR, BAPTIST HOSPITAL OF SOUTHEAST TEXAS (via telephone): When he arrived about 8:30, 8:35, he wasn't pronounced until about 9:40, 9:45. His family was all there, of course. And it was very devastating and lots of crying.
And -- but then shortly after the game ended, the -- my parking lot completely filled with people. The waiting room was full, the parking lot was full, there was cheerleaders, there was band members -- all the coaches were there. It was just -- the entire community, like the entire football stadium came to the hospital to check on him.
We were trying our best to give them good news and comfort them, but it was -- it was impossible.
They were in the parking lot gathered in groups. They were singing hymns. They were praying. It was just a very touching scene. Hundreds of people showed up in support of this young man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Dan Hooks has coached football in Texas for 48 years, the past 34 at West Orange-Stark High. He was Reginald Garrett's coach and he joins us now by phone.
Coach, thank you for being so brave to come on, OK?
DAN HOOKS, HEAD COACH, WEST ORANGE STARK H.S. (via telephone): Thank you.
LEMON: Our condolences to you and your team and everyone in your town. How are the players taking Reginald's death?
HOOKS: It's devastating. It's just hard to talk about it. They were all crying and falling out, you know?
Well, you couldn't say anything to comfort them. I mean, what are you going to say? You know, you lost a 17-year-old child and nobody knew what the circumstances were or nothing. It's really bad.
LEMON: Tell us what kind of -- what kind of guy Reginald was?
HOOKS: Oh, he was a great kid. He was -- he was a great student, good kid, leader of his team. Teammates respected him.
And, you know, it's just a great loss to the family, to the community and the coaching staff. It's just got us all in the tank.
LEMON: Have you had a chance to speak to the family?
HOOKS: Yes, I've talked to -- I talked to his mother. His father -- I didn't get to talk to his father. But we're trying to get things arranged, you know, and worked out with the school and everything. And we're going to have a meeting tomorrow with administration just to see what direction we're going to go.
LEMON: You know what, coach? This is a story that really every community can relate to. There's a high school -- there's a junior high school and a high school not far from my home. And I can hear the football games. And you know the camaraderie of high school games especially, but every community can relate to this story.
HOOKS: Sure. Reggie was like my boy.
And I -- you know, I didn't know what to do. I just stood there -- it's like you're seeing a bad -- you know, something bad play out but you don't really -- it's not real, it's surreal. That's the way it was on that sideline for about, you know, a long time.
And then when we got the word that he was -- had officially died, the community just -- I mean, it erupted. And like the lady said, there was a parking lot at the hospital. It was full of people. And people supporting the family. And we're just going to have to regroup and press on.
LEMON: Hey, coach, I want to ask you about this. It's been reported that Reginald had a history of seizures. Was there anything to suggest last night that this was about to happen?
HOOKS: No. You know, and I can't document that. Somebody says his mother said it. But I didn't question her about that.
But he's always -- I mean, he hasn't missed a day of school, I don't guess, ever, since I've known him in the seventh grade. And he had no history of anything, you know -- at least he hasn't shown any signs of any seizures or anything, you know? It was just a sudden thing and it caught everybody off guard.
LEMON: And, coach, as we -- as we look at this video, you see the other team kneeling, everyone, as you said, was caught off guard by that. I have to ask you -- you got a game coming up next weekend. Has a decision been made yet about whether you'll play it?
HOOKS: It will be made tomorrow by the administration and the coaches, and we'll meet and see. It's going to be kind of difficult probably because we're going to be going to a funeral next week and all the other things that go along with it. So, we haven't made the decision. But if I was to say, I would probably say we weren't going to.
LEMON: All right. Dan Hooks was Reginald Garrett's coach -- thank you, sir. And best of luck. Our thoughts and prayers are not only with you but with the entire community, OK?
HOOKS: Thank you.
LEMON: Thank you.
We're going to turn now to news overseas. We're talking about the Pope.
It was a day of prayers and protests on the Pope's third day in the United Kingdom. Thousands showed their support for Pope Benedict XVI who led mass this morning at Westminster Cathedral. During the service, and for the first time during this visit, the leader of the Catholic Church addressed victims of sexual abuse by the clergy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POPE BENEDICT XVI, CATHOLIC CHURCH: Here too, I think of the immense suffering caused by the abuse of the children, especially within the church and by her ministers. Above all, I express by deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes, along with my hope that the power of Christ's grace, his sacrifice of reconciliation, will bring deep healing and peace to their lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: I want to tell you, the Pope also met privately with five abuse victims from the U.K. That's according to the Catholic Communications Network.
The expression of sorrow did not impress thousands of protesters, though, who also rallied today outside the cathedral. They oppose the Catholic Church's stand on gays, women, women priest, birth control and what they consider the failure to rid the church of abusive priests.
A deadly election day in Afghanistan -- the country was racked by Taliban attacks that killed at least 11 people. Still, election officials say more than 3.5 million people, 40 percent of the eligible voters, cast ballots for 249 parliamentary seats. Counting is expected to take about a month, and even then, the outcome might be in dispute. The election commission is already flooded with complaints of irregularities and accusations of fraud. Taliban attacks kept 20 polling places from even opening.
And just ahead here on CNN --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have their faces covered. She is petrified. I didn't -- she wasn't going to call the police. But I came to my office and I did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Is she still --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: This is a fascinating and terrifying story. The chilling audio of a bank teller's call to 911 after a woman tells her that two men are holding her family hostage. What happened moments later is really unthinkable. In fact, the details that being played out in the court was gruesome the judge had to call a recess. You'll hear it all coming up.
Plus, the first lady's conversation with the French first lady. Did she really have bad things to say about life in the White House?
And don't just sit there, be part of the conversation, part of our show. Send us a message on Twitter or Facebook. Check out our blog at CNN.com/Don. And you can check us out on Foursquare.
LEMON: An American woman is on her way home after spending more than a year captive in Iran. Sarah Shourd today left Oman where she was staying following her release on Tuesday. Shourd is one of three American hikers detained by Iran after they allegedly crossed over the border from Iraq in July of 2009.
CNN's Nic Robertson is in Abu Dhabi following all of this for us.
Nic, how did she look and sound before leaving Oman? NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, she looked quite relaxed. Four days ago, she was overseen smiling when she arrived greeting her mother. But now, she seemed more relaxed and a little more at ease. She appeared she's had her cut hair a little, that she'd caught a little bit of sun. She described some of the sightseeing she's done while she's been in Oman, she'd been to the Grand Mosque, described it as a very peaceful place.
But, really, what came across from her -- again, in a carefully worded statement, no questions allowed to be asked by the media who were there -- what came across her was somebody who was perhaps torn with leaving this big effort to get her fiance and her friend released. She said Oman would always be somewhere that she associated with freedom.
LEMON: And, as you said, her fiance and another friend still in prison. So, did she talk anymore about them?
ROBERTSON: She did. She said it would be wonderful if she could take her fiance, Shane Bauer, and her friend, Josh Fattal, to see the Grand Mosque when they're released. She'd love to come back to Oman, she said, when that happens.
But she said something else that was sort of a telltale giveaway that she is torn because when she thanked the Sultan of Oman, when she thanked the U.S. ambassador and his wife for helping support her on this visit, she said it was an unfortunately brief visit and really gave the impression that she'd like to stay and try to be involved in that diplomacy or whatever it will to get her fiance and friend released.
But, again, she really made a strong point to the Omani people as well that they should pray for Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer.
LEMON: All right. Thank you very much, Nic Robertson. We appreciate it -- reporting from Abu Dhabi.
You know, after five months and millions of gallons of oil -- is a ruptured oil well at the bottom of the Gulf finally going to be sealed? That story is straight ahead.
Bermuda braces for the impact of a powerful storm as Mexico bears the brunt of another. Who else will be affected by the storm? Jacqui Jeras joins us next.
LEMON: We want to check your top stories on CNN.
Expectations are high that BP's Macondo oil well is finally dead. Official word may not come for a day or so. Cement is pumped deep into the well today -- was pumped deep into the well today from this drilling rig, a procedure known as bottom kill. Pressure testing is set to begin later tonight. That will confirm whether the plug is holding. Once national incident commander, Thad Allen, announces the well is dead, crews will pack up and abandon the site. The last boat is expected to leave the area in about a week.
Governor Bob McDonnell has brought the state of Virginia one step closer to expecting a woman -- to executing a woman for the first time in almost a century. The governor rejected a clemency request for Teresa Lewis. Attorneys say the 41-year-old grandmother is borderline mentally retarded.
She told CNN she's sorry and wishes she could undo her crime.
Lewis is set to receive a lethal injection on Thursday. She plotted the murder of her husband and stepson in 2002. The two triggermen received life without parole.
New York state police say there are at least six fatalities at the scene of a vehicle accident on Interstate 87 in Woodbury, New York. The accident involved a church van carrying 14 people and a tractor trailer. Emergency workers are still trying to confirm the identities of the victims. It's not known how many people were injured.
So, while Karl fizzles out over Texas and Mexico, Bermuda is preparing for the arrival of a massive storm. Jacqui Jeras joins us now from the CNN hurricane headquarters. It's going to be hurricane headquarters for quite a while now.
JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Definitely is. (INAUDIBLE).
Can't hear me?
LEMON: We're having trouble hearing Jacqui. Jacqui, got the mike on?
JERAS: Can you hear me now?
LEMON: We can hear -- yes, there you go. We can hear you. I'm looking over at Jacqui. We can hear you now, Jacqui.
JERAS: All right. Good.
Let's show you what's going on here with Igor. This is a category two storm, winds 100 miles per hour. So, it's weakened just a little bit today, but there will be some slight fluctuations in intensity over the next 24 hours.
Take a look at how huge this storm is. This thing is almost 700 miles across, believe it or not. And so, they're starting to feel the impact now of those tropical-force winds. Take a look at the radar picture. There you can see -- here's the island -- there are you can see some of the outer bands starting to make their way onshore. People have been preparing for this all day.
Take a look at a couple of pictures that we have to show you. This is from Mike Allers (ph), one of our weather producers. And there you can see some of those big waves and some people trying to kite surf in that. The next picture will show you some of the hotel workers who have been adjusting the lamps, and taking things down and preparing for those winds as they continue to kick up. And then people are also filling up sandbags to protect from any of that flood threat as well.
So, as the tropical storm force winds arrive, it's going to be a long lashing, more than 24 to 48 hours of that. Hurricane force winds are arriving just about a day from now and landfall late tomorrow and into Monday morning. So, this is going to be an incredible storm for Bermuda. We're feeling wave from this along the East Coast of the U.S.
And we also have, Don, by the way, a little tropical disturbance here into the western Gulf of Mexico. This is not related to Karl, but bringing some very heavy rain across parts of Texas.
LEMON: I'm kidding. I had to have a little fun with you. Did you see me? Well, you didn't. Thank you, Jacqui.
JERAS: Did you see what I did back?
LEMON: Thanks, Jacqui. Thank you very much.
You know, First Lady Michelle Obama denies reports that she doesn't like life in the White House. But she wouldn't be the first lady -- the first woman who hated the job. I'll explain.
LEMON: It's time for a "CNN Equals Politics" update. And we're keeping an eye on the latest headlines on CNN.com Political Ticker.
And here's what's crossing right now:
Indiana Congressman Mike Pence wins the annual straw poll at the Values Voters Conference in Washington. It is considered an early test of possible 2012 candidates, presidential candidates, among socially conservative voters. Mike Huckabee came in second, followed by Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin.
The back story gets weirder for Tea Party darling and surprise Republican nominee for Senate in Delaware, Christine O'Donnell. She admitted dabbling in witchcraft and going on a date to a satanic altar in a 1999 clip from "Politically Incorrect." Host Bill Maher showed it last night on his newer program, HBO's "Real Time," and says he'll air more clips until she comes on.
Senator Jim DeMint tells CNN that if the GOP wins control of Congress, it must keep its promises to voters or the party is dead. The South Carolina Republican is calling on his party to unite around common causes. But DeMint has angered some in the GOP by supporting Christine O'Donnell over establishment candidate Mike Castle in the Delaware Senate race.
Candy Crowley will have DeMint's full interview on tomorrow's CNN "STATE OF THE UNION."
And for the latest political news, make sure you go to CNNPolitics.com.
And at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, a couple of comedians this week announcing their own march on Washington. We'll take a look at the influence of outsiders, what they have on the election this season.
All right. Let's turn to the first lady -- Michelle Obama has denied it. But a new book in France details an incident that makes you -- well, think the White House is the last place the first lady might want to be.
In "Carla and the Ambitious," the writer said some witnesses overheard Carla Bruni, the wife of the French president, asking Michelle Obama how life at the White House is. This is a quote, "Hell," the books say Mrs. Obama replied, going on to say she hated it.
The French embassy denies the exchange ever took place.
But the story makes you wonder about the frustrations of first ladies. It turns out many wives of a president, they dislike their job. That's according to Quinnipiac associate professor, Lisa Burns. She is the author of "First Ladies and the Fourth Estate: Press Framing of Presidential Wives."
Professor Burns, it seems like, you know, it would be a good job. You get the best seats at the restaurants, gifts, public adoration. What's the problem? No privacy, right?
PROF. LISA BURNS, QUINNIPIAC UNIVERSITY: No privacy, everything you do is on the most public of public stages. You have constant, not only media scrutiny, but a lot of media criticism. You have no control over your schedule. You are trying to raise a family in the White House, like the Obamas are.
So, it's one of the toughest jobs out there, and it's also a job that none of these women signed up for.
LEMON: Well, and the thing, many of these women, very smart women. They come in -- you know, they become first ladies after they've had their own careers and they can't do it once they're in office. They expect to -- you know, first ladies to have softer issues, they can't have tougher issues and they can't deal with things bigger and tougher issues that they dealt with when they were civilians.
BURNS: That's true. A lot of first ladies are expected to advocate for a cause as long as it's a cause that isn't too controversial. They're expected to support their husbands, campaign on behalf of their husband's programs, but they can't ever say anything that would publicly show them disagreeing with their husband's stances.
BURNS: So, It really can be a suffocating position.
LEMON: So, Lisa, I understand, the first first lady hated the job?
BURNS: Yes, she did. If Michelle Obama had said this, it wouldn't be surprising. Martha Washington compared it to being a state prisoner.
BURNS: Abigail Adams also said she was afraid that -- she wasn't sure what she should say because she was worried that she might say something that would hurt her husband. In the 20th century, we've had several first ladies who haven't liked the job.
LEMON: Didn't Jackie Kennedy have something to say about the press? Like she didn't really like the press? What did she call the press?
BURNS: Yes, she did. You know what? She called the press, "harpies," which are these, sort of, nasty mythological creatures that hound you to death. And she hated the constant attention.
So, when we think of Jackie Kennedy now, we think of her in photographs. And she really didn't like all of that press attention, especially for her young children.
LEMON: So, who else? Do we have other first ladies who didn't like the position?
BURNS: You know, probably the one who disliked it the most was Bess Truman. She never wanted her husband to be vice president, let alone president. And she spent a lot of time at her home in Independence, Missouri.
There was a famous incident where she was doing a christening of a ship and she went to break the bottle and they forgot to score the bottle ahead of time. So she's banging it and banging and banging and it just won't break. And she was humiliated.
She told her husband, "I'm not doing another public appearance." She made a few after that, but very few.
LEMON: Lisa Burns, thank you very much. We appreciate it.
Well, not surprising if she did, in fact, say that she didn't like the job, right?
LEMON: All right.
BURNS: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: All right. Thank you very much. But she says, she denies it. And again, the French -- the office in France also denies it as well.
Next: a grisly home invasion that many say could have been prevented.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a lady who is in our bank right now who says that her husband and children are being held at their house. The people are in a car outside the bank. She is getting $15,000.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, that's a call that may have saved their lives. The police took 30 minutes to respond. What took police so long? We're investigating -- next.
LEMON: Jurors in Connecticut are getting a break this weekend from one of the most gruesome murder trials in recent memory. A Connecticut family, their home invaded, only one made it out alive.
And as our Susan Candiotti reports, the details are just as shocking now as when it all happened more than three years ago.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jennifer Hawke-Petit, nervously asking a teller to withdraw ransom money to save her family. She had no way of knowing she'd be dead within an hour. An employee calls 911 -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a lady who is in our bank right now who says that her husband and children are being held at their house. The people are in the car outside the bank. She is getting $15,000 to bring out to them, but if the police are told they will kill the children and the husband.
CANDIOTTI (on camera): The 911 call to police was made by the manager inside that bank branch. She told police she saw Mrs. Petit being driven away by someone else going in that direction.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She said they've been very nice and she knows they'll leave after they get the money.
CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Suspects Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes did leave but only police say after allegedly strangling and raping Mrs. Hawke-Petit and tying up 11-year-old Mikaela and 17-year- old Haley. Husband Michael Petit was beaten and tied up in the basement before the house was set on fire. He escaped. The only survivor.
Nagging questions remain about whether police could have stormed the house and saved the family.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is tempting to at least raise questions about the behavior of the police because they were there and didn't enter while the victims were still alive.
CANDIOTTI: A radio log shows patrols notified at 9:26 a.m. about 20 minutes later, a call to set up a perimeter before phoning the house. Ten more minutes pass and the suspects bolt. The house is on fire. Police call for an ambulance and fire truck more than a half hour after the first call. Security expert Tom Ruskin defends Cheshire's small 49-man force.
But in hindsight says -
TOM RUSKIN, SECURITY EXPERT: You have to take the house immediately. If you knew what you knew today what was going on then, first officers probably as quickly as they could would have taken that house.
CANDIOTTI (on camera): We wanted to ask police about what they did that day and why they did it. But because of a court-imposed gag order, they told us they couldn't answer our questions, except to say this - that they were competent in what they did and followed their protocols.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very emotional.
CANDIOTTI (voice-over): During trial this week, Dr. Petit took the stand and jurors looked at crime scene photos of the burned remains of his wife and two daughters.
MICHAEL CHRISTIAN, "IN SESSION" PRODUCER: One juror was crying openly, a female. A male juror I saw wipe a tear away at one point. And even the jurors who weren't crying were extremely somber.
CANDIOTTI: The attorney for Steven Hayes admits his client's role in the crime in hopes of escaping the death penalty. There's no escaping what happened at this memorial garden where a family's house once stood or questions about whether two alleged killers could have been stopped sooner.
Susan Candiotti, CNN, Cheshire, Connecticut.
LEMON: And both suspects in the Petit murders are convicted felons who were on parole at the time. So why did the board release men who might be capable of such a brutal time? Connecticut Representative Mike Lawlor is the co-chair of the state judiciary committee and a professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven. Mike, thanks for joining us. You know this case from front to back. Were you outraged when you first learned that these men were on parole?
MIKE LAWLOR, CO-CHAIR, CONNECTICUT JUDICIARY CMTE.: Well, it's not just that they were on parole. It's the fact that there was information that the parole board and the Department of Corrections should have had that would have changed the decision-making here. You know this is a classic case of the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing.
Since that time, there's been a lot of changes. But in retrospect, it's clear that things would have happened differently had the system worked as designed.
LEMON: So that's when you say one hand not knowing what the other was doing. Is that how the parole board saw fit to release them?
LAWLOE: Well, these two guys, the younger guy is the more dangerous guy, the clearly - the potential future predator. He had been identified by many people in the system - for example, the sentencing judge in his case said, this guy is a potential killer down the road. But that information never got to the Department of Corrections.
LEMON: So how could it not get to the Department of Corrections? What went on that it didn't go there?
LAWLOR: Well, it turns out Connecticut has this antiquated information system for police and prosecutors and parole officials and they relied on photo copies and the U.S. mail. When many other states do this electronically. And I think in this day and age, that's just not acceptable.
So in the three years since the tragedy, the governor, the legislature up here, have made these kinds of changes. So in the future, this won't happen. But clearly in retrospect, this was probably preventible.
LEMON: Can you talk about some of the changes, Mr. Lawlor?
LAWLOR: Well, there's a lot of changes. Number one, a state-of-the- art information system so everybody has what they need in order to make the decisions. But beyond that, we've tried to focus in on repeat violent offenders. We've updated our 15-year-old three strikes and you're out law to focus on these violent home invasion- type situations.
We've made it clear that is a violent crime and people who are doing time for this aren't eligible for parole until they've done at least 85 percent of their time. But more importantly, we try -
LEMON: Go ahead. I'm sorry. I thought you were finished with your thought. Continue.
LAWLOR: No, the most important thing is we want to give the front- line officials the tools they need to identify the needle in the haystack. Which offender out of the thousands and thousands that come through the system is a potential future murderer like this guy?
There are warning signals. In this case, they were there. They just weren't available. They couldn't be seen by the people who needed to have them. So I think the information breakdown is probably the single biggest cause here. And we've taken important steps to change that.
LEMON: Do these men deserve the death penalty?
LAWLOR: Well, they clearly deserve it. Whether or not they're going to get it is an open question. There's a lot of controversy up here about whether or not to abolish the death penalty. But for now, that's the most serious penalty we have and clearly, in my opinion, at least, these guys deserve whatever is the most serious penalty. LEMON: Connecticut representative Mike Lawlor is also the co-chair of the state judicial committee and a professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven. Thank you.
LAWLOR: OK, Don.
LEMON: Just ahead here on CNN, over 100 police locked in a standoff for nearly 24 hours. I'll tell you how this ended straight ahead.
Plus, marijuana could soon be legal in California. And you're not going to believe who's upset about it. Well, the alcohol industry. I'll tell you why. Makes sense, doesn't?
LEMON: Checking your top stories right now.
Pope Benedict today expressed, "deep sorrow to victims of clergy sex abuse." He made the comments during a mass he held inside London's Westminster Cathedral. The Pontiff also met privately with five abuse victims. In the meantime, thousands protested against the Catholic leader opposing the church's stand on gays and birth control, among other issues.
Deputies in West Odessa, Texas, have arrested a man who forced them into a standoff that lasted nearly 24 hours. It started late Friday when the gunman shot two deputies and a civilian, who are expected to survive. The "Odessa American" reports suspect Victor White set fire to his home, which was surrounded by officers. He's now in a hospital with burn injuries.
And in California, where medical marijuana is legal, people are enjoying drug-infused desserts like banana (INAUDIBLE) foster. A pot dispensary has figured out a way to put marijuana into ice cream. The dispensary owner says a pint of the stuff is the same as smoking as eight joints. Wow, it's only available to patients with official cards permitting them to use marijuana as medicine.
And the push to legalize pot has an interesting new adversary. California beer and beverage distributors. The trade association just contributed $10,000 to stop Proposition 19 from happening. Proposition 19 would make smoking and possessing marijuana legal under California state law.
Voters will decide in November, on November 2nd, to pass it or not to pass it. But this raises a question - is marijuana really worse than alcohol or vice versa? What's going on? Let's talk about it with Roger Salazar. He is from the Public Safety First, that is a group that received the $10,000 from the California Beverage and Beer distributors. The distributors declined our invitation to come on the program.
We also have with us Mason Tvert, from Safer or Safer Alternatives for Enjoyable Receration, part of the coalition to pass Prop 19. Thanks to both of you gentlemen for joining us here tonight on CNN. So Mason, when you heard about this beer group's contribution, what was your reaction?
MASON TVERT, EXEC. DIR., SAFER: Well, well, listen, every objective study on marijuana has concluded it's a far safer substance than alcohol. And clearly what we're seeing here is that the alcohol industry is trying to prevent competition. They realized that marijuana is the next most popular recreational drug after alcohol. And they want to ensure the booze keeps flowing and the pot does not.
It's really unfortunate because what they're doing is they're driving Californians to drink when they might otherwise make a rational, safer choice to use a less harmful substance.
LEMON: OK. Roger, so why do California beer and beverage distributors give Public Safety First $10,000? Did members tell you?
ROGER SALAZAR, PUBLIC SAFETY FIRST: Well, listen, I think Mason is making a little bit of a jump here. Let's keep in mind the beer and beverage distributors are the folks who deliver beer and beverage products. The truck driver, the forklift drivers, you know, the warehouse workers. You know, these are folks who have traffic safety and employee safety issues, first and foremost.
The fact is, under Prop 19, there are no - you're allowed - you're not allowed to smoke marijuana while you're driving but there's nothing that says you can't smoke marijuana right before you get behind the wheel. So that's a safety concern. They're also concerned from the employer side about testing.
You know, under this initiative, it creates a protected class for marijuana smokers and basically says you cannot test for marijuana and/or fire a worker unless you can prove actual job impairment. Those are some new legal thresholds -
LEMON: Hang on. Aren't those the same rules as alcohol? I don't see any different that you said about alcohol.
SALAZAR: No, because what you do under prop 19 is it creates - the Prop 19 says you cannot discriminate against people who are participating in or who are using this product under this new law. So basically it creates an extra protection for marijuana use which doesn't exist for alcohol users.
LEMON: Here's the thing. Once the law goes into effect, if it does, if Californians vote and say "yes" to marijuana being able to use marijuana legally, then some sort of standard would have to be put in place like alcohol for when you're doing the breathalyzer or what have you. So what's the difference? I don't understand. It seems like the point is moot because it hasn't happened yet.
SALAZAR: It's not moot though because that doesn't exist. Again, under this initiative, it specifically omits any definition of what constitutes under the influence of marijuana. There is no definition under here. So you'd have to create something new. And again what this initiative has done is basically leaves it up to 536 different local and county jurisdictions to create their own separate rules. So you essentially have utter chaos trying to figure out exactly how you enforce any of the rules that are set up.
LEMON: All right. Sir, go ahead and respond to what he said.
TVERT: Well, yes, we got - with all due respect to this gentleman. He is a political consultant being paid by the booze industry to protect their turf. And you know, I respect the fact that he's involved in this fight. But you know, this group is calling itself Public Safety First. Why on earth would they prefer to keep alcohol as the only legal drug in the mix here?
And, you know, Don, you make a great point. Marijuana, driving is going to be illegal. It's goingn to be illegal to use marijuana while you're on the job. Employers continue to fire people but what this gentleman's job here is to raise doubt and to scare people and you know, again, he's being paid by the alcohol industry.
So we really need to consider where this information is coming from. And we also need to consider the fact that this gentleman mentions all the jobs that are created by the alcohol industry. These are all jobs that can be created by the marijuana industry as well. And at the same time, we're giving Californians the ability to use a substance like marijuana that doesn't contribute to domestic violence and sexual assault and overdose tests and all the other problems that alcohol contributes to.
LEMON: I'm not saying - that either one that it should be legalized or what have you. But as someone who's come from a family where there is alcoholism, I think that, you know, if you abuse any one of them, they are bad. Everything in moderation, everything in moderation. All right. Thank you, guys. Appreciate you joining us on CNN.
TVERT: No problem. Thank you.
SALAZAR: Thanks for having us.
LEMON: What do graffiti, rap music and psychology have in common? I'll explain. Next.
LEMON: Graffiti, rap music, hip-hop dance, spoken word, it's not just urban pop culture anymore, these could be the latest new tools in the mental profession. The concept is called hip-hop psychology. And it was the focus of a three-day workshop this week at Vanderbilt University. The theory is that young people with emotional issues might respond better to treatment if it's in a cool context that they can relate to like hip-hop.
The creators of hip-hop psychology are two Vanderbilt graduates now working on masters degrees in New York City. One of them is Lauren Gardner who choreographed this project at Vanderbilt in 2007.
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LEMON: And my next guest now. They're like shaking their heads as they're watching this video, hip-hop psychology co-founders Lauren Gardner and Debanshu Roychoudhury are back in New York after their three-day symposium at Vanderbilt University. Thanks for joining us.
All right. So, listen, Lauren, you've been researching this concept of hip-hop psychology for a long time now. How did you come up with it?
LAUREN GARDNER, CO-FOUNDER HIP HOP PSYCHOLOGY: Well, actually, I just started researching and probably the past two years. We started with the American Psychological Association abstract in 2009 that we actually submitted and presented. But the process has definitely been a long time coming. With a very thorough experience growing up as artists, we essentially realized that hip-hop had been powerfully expressive for ourselves in terms of therapy and so we wanted to really share that with other people in a very clinical and therapeutic concept.
LEMON: Besides just listening and enjoying, this may be the best use for hip-hop that I have heard of since hip-hop was founded. What were you hoping to accomplish this week at Vanderbilt and are people receptive to this idea?
DEBANSHU ROYCHOUDRHURY, CO-FOUNDER, HIP HOP PSYCHOLOGY: I think what we were trying to accomplish was to start conversations and to engage in dialogues and people have been receptive and we have gotten a lot of positive feedback and if we haven't been positive feedback, it's been very constructive feedback. And we want that. We want to add to the dialogue. Remember, this is the first time, we're talking about this.
I mean, now, hip hop and therapy has been talked about in the literature before, but what we're trying to do is really talk about it in a formal setting.
LEMON: All right. Debanshu, let's see you in action at Vandi.
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ROYCHOUDRHURY: ... conflict the permutations, the mantras, fractions and factions of the elements, from elementary to secondary, we have been secluded by race and class, in this race for cash, where fractions and factions of our human race clash. It's uncool for the youth, treat other youth but hip hop is the common denominator.
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LEMON: OK. Here's the thing, I mean, it sounds good, but it is unconventional in the sense that it's not Freudian, right? You're not laying on a couch and what have you and you know, listening to someone with a note pad and it's $75 an hour. Then by just what Debanshu is doing there, how is that going to accomplish anything? Both of you can respond to that, you first, Lauren. GARDNER: Well, actually the thing is that we're actually very firmly based in traditional science. And I mean, clearly we're in masters programs now and pursuing our Ph.D.s in psychology. So we actually use that very traditional science and meet that with our artistic background and our whole idea behind hip hop psychology is to create an authentic experience for clients through which they can connect to their own personal life experience through which they can actually evoke and they can feel and express their own emotions and ultimately create some sort of artistic piece that actually is very expressive and authentic to themselves.
LEMON: OK. Go ahead, Debanshu.
GARDNER: And to begin to communicate it that way, rather than just through other methods.
ROYCHOUDRHURY: Yes, and I think, you know, we don't even get into the conversation of which is better or which is worse, that's not what we're here to talk about.
LEMON: No, what I'm asking you is how it works, that's not what I want you to debate. I'm asking you how it works, because usually you lay on a couch and you tell your problems and someone will ask you a question that they think it's going to wake up something, awaken something from your long lost childhood and it's going to help you. So I'm really asking you more about the process.
ROYCHOUDRHURY: I think it's about emotional expression and what we're here to do is really to create another option and to really enhance a clinician's toolbox and add other tools to their toolbox. So we're really here to create more options amongst the options that already exist.
LEMON: OK. I don't think you're getting my question. What happens? Like, when you'er talking about psychology and therapy when it comes to this, like what is it - if I came and I said, you know what I need some hip-hop psychology, what's the process if I come to you? How does it work?
GARDNER: Well, it would probably actually work in different ways depending on whether you're working with an individual, a group or an actual community. So for instance if you're working with an individual, there's several different tactics that one could use to engage, but essentially, you're going to want to first create some sort of experience using hip-hop has a medium.
LEMON: So it is interactive, it's not just you sitting and listening?
LEMON: That's what I was trying to get at.
GARDNER: All right. Thank you, Lauren.
LEMON: Listen, we got to run. Lauren Gardner and Debanshu Roychoudrhury, really appreciate it. Have a great evening, guys. Good luck.
GARDNER: Thank you very much, Don.
ROYCHOUDRHURY: Appreciate it a lot. Thank you very much.
LEMON: Hey, listen, if you're going to wrestle a 900-pound gator, you better be pretty big and pretty strong. Guess again.
LEMON: All right. Check out now some news you missed. A 13-foot gator, nothing to mess with, but no one in Massachusetts told a woman, a Massachusetts woman who came to the swamp of South Carolina to bag one. She hooked into the 900-pound animal with a fishing rod. Epic battle there. Never mind the gator outweighed her by nearly eight times and could have swallowed her whole. She plans to have the carcass stuffed probably because no one would believe it otherwise. Pictures probably would suffice though.
A bizzare twist in Colorado, a wildfire there that wiped out 166 homes near Boulder, around Labor Day. Investigators say it started in a fire pit in someone's yard. Our affiliate KUSA reports that the pit belongs to a 20-year-old veteran of the area's volunteer fire department. KUSA says the man did a legal controlled burn several days earlier to get rid of the brush on his property.
I'm Don Lemon, see back her at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. "LATINO IN AMERICA" begins right now.