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Fiscal Cliff Could Affect Food Safety; Nelson Mandela in the Hospital; Hugo Chavez Announces His Cancer is Back

Aired December 9, 2012 - 08:00   ET



SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): From CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

The cancer is back. Venezuela's president says he is sick again, but this time, Hugo Chavez makes a shocking admission, leaving his country on edge.

Plus --

OFFICER JOHN ARGUMANIZ, IRVING, TEXAS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Our officers on scene felt as if alcohol was a contributing factor.

HENDRICKS: A Dallas Cowboy is dead, his teammate under arrest after late night drinking and driving leads to a fatal car crash.

And they still call them sinners. But is the Mormon Church easing its stance on gays? See their online outreach that's turning some heads.


HENDRICKS: Good Sunday morning to you. I'm Susan Hendricks, in today for Randi Kaye. It's 8:00 in the East Coast, 5:00 out west. Thanks so much for starting your morning with us. Great to see you.

We start this hour with supports, a devastating story here. We're getting more details of a second NFL tragedy in as many weeks. Dallas Cowboy linebacker Jerry Brown has been killed in a car accident. Brown was riding in a car driven by teammate and friend Josh Brent, the Cowboys starting nose tackle.

Police think alcohol was involved, and he says after hitting a curb at a high speed, their car traveled nearly 900 feet.

Here is Officer John Argumaniz from the Irving Police Department in Texas. Take a listen.


ARGUMANIZ: Our officers on scene felt as if alcohol was a contributing factor in the accident. So, Mr. Price Brent was asked to perform some field sobriety tests. After he performed those field sobriety tests or based on his performance in those tests, along with our officers observations, and the conversations they had with him, he was placed under arrest for driving while intoxicated.


HENDRICKS: Brent has been arrested on suspicion of intoxication manslaughter, a second degree felony charge, meaning the 24-year-old could face a sentence of anywhere from two to 20 years.

An update now to last week's NFL tragedy. New video released by the Kansas City police show Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher hours before he apparently killed his girlfriend and then himself.

The first dash cam video you see here shows police talking to Belcher after they him sleeping in his car. He was not arrested, and Belcher told police he was going to an apartment to the see a woman. Listen to what police told him.


OFFICER 1: You live right here? (INAUDIBLE) Then you need to just go upstairs, dude.

OFFICER 2: OK, that's going to be your best bet.

OFFICER 1: We're trying to cut you a break here.


HENDRICKS: And take a look here, second dash cam video from five hours later, officers responding to a second Belcher 911 call. At this point, Belcher had apparently already killed the mother of his child and shot himself at the Chiefs' Kansas City practice facility, in front of his coaches.

Listen now to the officers learning who is behind the violence. Here it is.


OFFICER: We have a confirmed shooting, it is, I believe, Belcher, plays for the Chiefs. We have confirmed that, so --


HENDRICKS: Well, Egypt's president says he has heard the people, and is giving up most of the power he took in a recent decree, but opponents of Mohamed Morsi call the switch a farce. Opposition leaders say they plan more protests because Morsi's decision is not retroactive, meaning the actions he took since the original decree will stand.

Among them, the draft constitution he approved. He has referendum on it next week, even though opponents say Morsi has cut them out of the process. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says his cancer has returned and needs immediate surgery. The recently reelected president has been undergoing treatment in Cuba, where doctors in Havana removed the cancerous tumor. His doctor recently detected more malignant cells, which means more surgery and an uncertain presidency.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann is joining us by phone from Havana. He's there in person. There he is.

Patrick, this announcement has a sense of urgency to it. How bad is his health? What do you know?

We having some difficulty? All right, we just lost him. We're going to get back with Patrick as soon as we can get that signal back.

Meanwhile, we are following this -- when you hear the term fiscal cliff, we know you've heard, you probably think about higher taxes, right? But could it also have an impact on what we eat? The details and a report from Washington.

But, first, a very good morning to Washington, D.C. Started out a little bit of a foggy start on this Sunday, December 9th.

Great shot. Good morning to you from Washington.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On Thursday, Washington's state's new laws legalizing marijuana and gay marriage both went into effect. So, either way, great news for people who make cakes.



HENDRICKS: From "SNL" to MTV -- this is no laughing matter for West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. He is tanking on MTV over a new reality show. It's called "Buck Wild," and was shot in West Virginia. Manchin said it plays to ugly, inaccurate stereotypes about the people of his state. He wants the network to cancel the show, which is set to air early next year.

The 12 episodes of "Buck Wild" show cast members drinking beer, swearing, fighting, and using the bed of a pickup truck as a swimming pool. MTV has no comment.

The White House now has an official presence on Pinterest. For those who don't know, it's a virtual pin board sharing site. You can find everything there, from pictures, to information, to help explain key issues. The first family says it wants to make the people's house open and accessible to the public, this is one way they're doing it.

The White House already has it's own Twitter and Facebook accounts as well. Most of us know by now the fiscal cliff is looming. If lawmakers don't come up with a deal, our taxes will go up and dramatic spending cuts will affect agencies across the board, and that includes the Food and Drug Administration, the agency in charge of keeping what we eat safe.

Our Emily Schmidt explains what it could all mean for your food.


EMILY SCHMIDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Susan, the federal government says Americans spend about a trillion dollars a year on food. There are two agencies responsible for food safety. Under sequestration, the job is the same, with less funding to make it happen.

(voice-over): Preparing for the holidays at the Paul and Tressa Bennett's house is a reminder of something else just around the corner, a fiscal cliff deadline that's personal here.

TRESSA BENNETT, MOTHER: I just can't imagine funding being cut at this point. It would be tragic.

SCHMIDT: Tressa is worried mandatory budget cuts would hurt food safety inspection. That's mattered to her since her twins were born in 1999.

BENNETT: Chloe was in the hospital from two weeks, Luke for three.

SCHMIDT: She and her babies got listeria poisoning for meat she ate while pregnant.

The Centers for Disease Control says contaminated food sickens about 48 million people a year, 3,000 people died. So the FDA and the USDA's Foot Safety and Inspection Service are charged with protecting the food supply.

An 8.2 percent budget cut translates to a combined $157 million. There's no word exactly what cuts would mean to inspector staffing.

CHRIS WALDORF, CONSUMER FEDERATION OF AMERICA: Both FDA and USDA are already stretched pretty thin then when it comes to the inspection activities and the food safety work they do. They really need increased resources, and not fewer resources.

DEAN CLANCY, FREEDOMWORKS: Agencies always say they're stretched.

SCHMIDT: Dean Clancy is with FreedomWorks, an organization that promotes smaller government and said the cuts leave nothing to fear.

CLANCY: Arguing that getting spending under control endangers public health and safety is a really irresponsible scare tactic, especially when you realize that these aren't real cuts, these are reductions from anticipated increases in spending. WALDORF: To cut the budget for the work that these agencies do is going to significantly impact them today. It's going to significantly impact them tomorrow.

BENNETT: You made that one, didn't you?


SCHMIDT: Tressa Bennett and her kids are now healthy and food safety advocates.

BENNETT: Remember, we all have to eat.

SCHMIDT: And they say nobody should fear what they eat.

(on camera): A company that tracks recalls says there were 414 last quarter, the highest level in at least last two years. Most of the recalls came from worries about food borne illness -- Susan.


HENDRICKS: Emily Schmidt, thank you. And Washington appreciates that.

Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president was just reelected this year. So why is Chavez already announcing who he wants to replace him? Details coming up.


HENDRICKS: Fifteen minutes past the hour, a beautiful shot there from New York.

It started out a little foggy, looks to be a beautiful morning there in New York. December 9th, Sunday morning.

We start with this: Italy's former playboy billionaire, prime minister is going to run for office again. Silvio Berlusconi resigned about a year ago at the height of Italy's debt crisis. Economist Mario Monti runs the caretaker government now, but says he will step down once the national budget is passed. Berlusconi's rumored return started months ago.

North Korea is delaying the planned launch of a long-range rocket. The government is not saying why. North Korea says the launch is designed to get a satellite into orbit.

The countries led by the U.S. called the project a cover for testing a ballistic missile, something the U.N. has forbidden the North from doing.

The Syrian rebels are taking an important step.


HENDRICKS: While the fighting there rages, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is getting ready to meet with a group of countries supporting the rebels. This would be Washington's first step to formally recognizing the opposition government, something France and Britain have already done. The Free Syrian Army is moving to unify it's command structure to make thorough is has a more educative fighting force.

This morning, former South African leader Nelson Mandela is in a hospital. South African President Jacob Zuma paid him a visit, and says there is no cause for alarm. The people around the world, they're worried about Mandela.

Nkepile Mabuse joins us now from South Africa with the very latest.

NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Susan, as you can imagine, South Africans are holding their collective breath. They're very worried about their beloved former president. People here in South Africa call him "Tata", which means father in one of the native languages. That is how much they adore him.

He is the man that helped bring democracy to this nation. But we're getting very little information about what is wrong with him.

As you said, the president visited Mr. Mandela. He came out of that hospital saying that Mr. Mandela is in good care and that he's comfortable. We're not being told what kind of tests are being run on Mr. Mandela.

Yesterday, when the news broke that he had been hospitalized, we're told that he went in for tests, and that it was in line, you know, with treatments that people, his age, 94, go through. But no more details today from the presidency.

President Jacob Zuma treats Mr. Mandela's health as a closely guarded secret. He is today again appealing to everybody to give his family privacy, Susan.

HENDRICKS: We're certainly hoping for the best.

What is the feeling there? Is there a sense of panic, or is everyone thinking, OK, Nelson Mandela is in his 90s, this is just testing, as you said?

MABUSE: You know, in an information vacuum, naturally people would panic. And also, they read a lot into things. For example, the president visiting the former president is worrying to a lot of South Africans. Why did he feel he needed to go and see him? We don't see this very often.

I mean, the last time he was here at number one military, which is where we suspect he is, we have not even been told which hospital in Pretoria. We're assuming it is here. Mr. Zuma didn't visit, and we were told this was a routine check up when he went into a Johannesburg hospital last year in January, and it actually emerged that he had a respiratory infection. In a 94-year-old, something small can be life-threatening. So even if it is insignificant, people want to hear the details of exactly what's wrong with Mr. Mandela -- Susan.

HENDRICKS: All right. Nkepile Mabuse, appreciate that live report. Thanks so much.

Now, to South America, where we've been telling you, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made news late Saturday, announcing that his cancer has come back. It's returned.

In emotional speech, he repeatedly kissed a cross, and broke out into song. He even named the man he wants to succeed him if something were to go wrong.

So could this be the end of the Chavez era in Venezuela? That's the big question.

So why go to Cuba for this operation, I guess is what we're asking?

Great to see you, Nadia, by the way. You're back with us.


HENDRICKS: So, is that something that you didn't expect?

But, first of all, him naming his successor, that kind of makes you wonder how bad is this?

BILCHIK: Well, what we know is he has cancer in the pelvic area, he does have malignant cells where tumors were previously removed, and we do know that he made the following statement about his fear about the operation.

He said, "An operation like this, an illness like this, always carries risk." He said, "If something were to happen that would incapacitate me," so that's not dead, just incapacitation, "Nicolas Maduro should not only finish my term as the constitution requires. You should also elect Nicolas Maduro to be president."

HENDRICKS: So, I think that stands out to people. He's had cancer before, in remission.


HENDRICKS: And now he is naming his successor. So, people are thinking, how serious is this?

Why go to Cuba for the operation? Did that stand out to you?

BILCHIK: Yes, and it's sort of unusual for a president to go to another country. So, for example, Lugo, the former president of Paraguay, went to Brazil.

But here, we have him going to Cuba, probably the best oncologist that he knows of. So, they have superior oxygen in Cuba. And that's one of the things that's supposed to assist him in rehabilitation.

But mainly, the reason he is going to Cuba, is for privacy.

HENDRICKS: And why is he such a strong critic of the U.S.? As most people know. Do the people there feel the same way?

BILCHIK: He is a very divisive president. So, there are many Chavezitas who do endorse his victory, all about anti-capitalism, bearing in mind that the U.S. is the symbol of capitalism, and there are many anti-Chavez oppositions. So we have a very divided country.

HENDRICKS: And he is suggesting, the V.P., his successor, naming him, do you think the attitude would change?

BILCHIK: Well, it's interesting, because Maduro was the United Nations ambassador from Venezuela. So, he lived in America for many years. So, does that change anything? It remains to be seen. But he's a firm advocate of Chavez. He's his greatest confidant, his vice president, and his foreign minister.

HENDRICKS: And he seemed to be getting emotional as he was kissing the cross, breaking out into song. Do you think it means he got news that he will announce down the road?

BILCHIK: Well, we have seen him this emotional before. You know, he was elected in October, and at that time, he said, he was in complete remission. But in April, he had a very moving ceremony where he kissed the cross and got very emotional and said he praised (INAUDIBLE).

So we have seen that before. But certainly there must be something that happened that he's heard that's going to involve surgery.

HENDRICKS: I thought that would be a given that the V.P. is his successor. Is he doing it more for his people in terms of saying, OK, if something does happen, this will be in my place?

BILCHIK: Well, definitely, he wants to make sure that should he be out for a period of time, that somebody who endorses him will be in palace. So we'll be watching his health and Mandela's very closely.

HENDRICKS: You're very right. Nadia Bilchik, great to see you again.

Now we want to go to Patrick Oppmann, who we have, joining us from Havana. Patrick, on the same topic, his announcement has the sense of urgency. What's the reaction in Cuba?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, it was shown here last night. And, you know, part of the reason is that Hugo Chavez is such a close, close ally, providing tens of thousands of barrels of oil each day to Cuba really keeps this country running. So, certainly, the population here, certainly the leaders keep a very close eye on Hugo Chavez's health. He's come here repeatedly now. Some people estimated that he spent more time in Cuba this year than in Venezuela, but we're thinking that Chavez could arrive as early as today to begin what he's calling his new battle against cancer. And he says as soon as he arrives, he will need to undergo surgery immediately.

HENDRICKS: And, Patrick, the treatment didn't work before. Is this kind of a last ditch effort, if you will?

OPPMANN: You know, you really sense from his announcement last night, that it was a different Hugo Chavez that we saw, naming his successor. A certain sense of fatalism, certain things that he said that were preparing the road that if he isn't able to continue, that at least his ideas, his people, will continue on after him.

But, this is someone who is obviously very ill. He said in October that he had gone there complete remission, and that was one of the factors for being reelected. Now, if he were to be incapacitated as Hugo Chavez termed it last night, his vice president, Nicolas Madura, would need to run for reelection within 30 days leaving power.

So there is nothing certain at all about who would succeed Hugo Chavez. A lot of uncertainty for Cuba, a lot of uncertainty for Venezuela, as Hugo Chavez plans to return here to be treated for this devastating illness.

HENDRICKS: Patrick, any reaction from Raul Castro on this?

OPPMANN: No, we have not heard from Cuban government officials. In the past, they respected Hugo Chavez's privacy, allowed him to make the announcements about his health. We expect Raul Castro to meet Hugo Chavez at the airport when he arrives if he arrives today. That's typically how they'd handle it here.

But you can virtually guarantee that Cuban officials are following the developments here minute by minute, because one of the things that made Hugo Chavez so influential throughout the region and throughout the world, is that he has really given away much of his country's oil wealth for securing Cuba, Nicaragua, throughout the region, and in a sense, that bought him credibility, power, and we just don't know if his successor would keep those kinds of generosity going and that's certainly a concern for officials here in Cuba.

HENDRICKS: All right. Patrick Oppmann, live in Havana, appreciate that. Thanks so much.

So, did you see it last night? A historic night for one college student -- why this year's Heisman winner is one for the record books.


HENDRICKS: Welcome back to CNN SUNDAY MORNING. Great to see you. I'm Susan Hendricks, in today for Randi Kaye.

Bottom of the hour now: here are some of the stories we're watching for you this hour. The Australia Radio Network behind the prank call about the duchess of Cambridge has just released the statement. It reads, in part this, "I can assure you we are taking immediate action and reviewing the broadcast and processes involved. The outcome was unforeseeable and very regrettable."

Now, statement comes in the wake of the suicide by the nurse who took a prank call from two deejays, and as a result, gave confidential information about the duchess' condition.

Yesterday, the hospital issued its own statement, saying in part, "The Immediate consequence of these premeditated and ill-considered actions was the humiliation of two dedicated and caring nurses. The longer term consequence has been reported around the world and is frankly tragic beyond words."

The nurse Jacintha Saldanha was survived by her husband and two children.

I want to tell you about some great news in sports. Did you see it history was made last night in New York.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And now, the 2012 winner of the Heisman Memorial Trophy is -- Johnny Manziel.


HENDRICKS: And there you have it, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel became the first freshman to ever win the Heisman trophy, college football's most prestigious award. Manziel scored 43 touchdowns this year in his 4,600 of total offense crushed the South Eastern record. Good for him.

And with a crushing right hand last night, Juan Marquez knocked out his arch rival Many Pacquiao in their much anticipated bout. Their three previous fights ended in close and somewhat controversial judgments. But Marquez ended the fight and (inaudible) fight of fashion. It hasn't been a great year for Pacquiao who lost his title to American Timothy Bradley in June.

Talking about the NFL some sad news we're getting details of a second NFL tragedy in as many weeks. Last week, a Kansas City Chief killed himself and his girlfriend, as you may know, and yesterday, a Dallas Cowboy died in a possible drunk driving accident. So what is going on with pro football? You may be asking. Mark McKay has more.


MARK MCCAY, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Jerry Brown Junior, a Dallas Cowboy's practice squad linebacker was skilled early Saturday in a one vehicle crash in Irving, Texas. The 25-year-old Brown was a passenger in a car driven by Cowboys teammate, Josh Brent. Police arrested and booked the 24-year-old Brent, a Dallas defensive lineman, into the Irving city jail on one count of intoxication manslaughter. JOHN ARGUMANIZ, IRVING POLICE DEPARTMENT: Our officers on scene felt as if alcohol was a contributing factor in the accident, so Mr. Price Brent was asked to perform some field sobriety tests. After he performed those field sobriety tests, based on his performance on those tests along with our officers' observations and the conversations that they had with him, he was placed under arrest for driving while intoxicated.

MCKAY: The Dallas Cowboys learned of the death of one teammate and the arrest of another, before they boarded a flight to Cincinnati where they'll play the Bangles on Sunday. Team owner Jerry Jones issued a statement that read "We are deeply saddened by the news of this accident and the passing of Jerry Brown. At this time our hearts and prayers and deepest sympathies are with the members of Jerry's family and all of those who knew him and loved him."

One week ago, the NFL was shaken by the death of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher who shot and killed his girlfriend and then traveled to the team's practice facility where he took his own life in front of team officials including Chief's Head coach Romeo Crennel.

ROMEO CRENNEL, KANSAS CITY CHIEF'S HEAD COACH: Jovan is a member of the family. What he did, we didn't like, we're not crazy about but he is still a member of our family. You know and -- and when you go out in society and things like this happen in society, because they do happen in society, you don't see people throwing the family members out the door, you know? They're still loved by their family members, but the act you don't like the act. And so you move on, you deal with it, and you don't have a choice you have to move on.

MCKAY: Because of the nature of the sport tears are sometimes shed in the NFL on the field. In back to back weeks, the league has been moved to tears by two separate, but no less tragic, off the field events.


HENDRICKS: And our thanks to Mark McKay for that.

Coming up the Mormon Church hasn't always been known for being gay-friendly, but a new Web site is aiming to change that.


HENDRICKS: The start of Hanukkah has special meaning for this man. He is 99 years old, he is a Holocaust survivor. Abe Weinrib is his name, he's asked to light the first candle on a 13-foot menorah in Columbus, Ohio last night. Weinrib who will turn 100 next week, by the way, survived the notorious Auschwitz death camps during World War II.

Hanukkah is the Jewish celebration of hope and miracles and lasts for eight days.

For today's "Faces of Faith" we are talking about Mormons and gays, two groups that don't normally go together. But this week, the Church of Latter Day Saints launched, a Web site devoted to what it calls same-sex attraction. Its goal here is to teach compassion and acceptance of gay family members and church members. This is a big step for the church but leaders insist sexual acts are reserved for only a married man and woman.

Now the site features Ty Mansfield, he says he was attracted to men for years but through his connection to Don he overcame it and is now a married man. He's married to a woman. He has a baby boy as you saw. Ty joins us now via Skype from Levitz, Texas. Also joining us from New York is Justin Utley, who is openly gay and a former member of the Mormon Church. It's good to see you both today guys.



HENDRICKS: Ty, I want to start with you. Some groups have criticized the church for its stance towards gays, we have spoken with church members who say that some Mormons disown gay family members. Do you think this Web site is enough to change that? Is it a step to change that?

MANSFIELD: It's a step, yes. The Web site is a step toward shifting a culture. And in the culture, there has been a lot of problematic cultural dynamics in the past. And so this is a step toward shifting a conversation you know hoping that more and more families will read what the leaders are saying and following that encouragement to just listen.

HENDRICKS: Is it about acceptance though, or kind of -- what is it really saying, what's the message? We accept you for who you are?

MANSFIELD: It's saying that we love you, ultimately and that wherever you are in your journey, in your life path, we want to walk this with you. If you left the church, like we love you and we want to be in relationship with you, your friends, your family, and we ultimately don't want that to change.

HENDRICKS: Justin, what's your reaction when you first heard about the Web site, saw the Web site? Is this enough?

UTLEY: No. No, clearly. And I was surprised and a little not surprised at the same time. We all know in the wake of Prop 8, $25 million was raised by the Mormon Church to combat same-sex marriage in California. They clearly took a black eye to that in the PR stance.

And now that that has made its way to the Supreme Court they're trying to do some collateral damage. They put out a Web site. But to me it's acknowledging the issue exists, but it's not doing enough to repair the bullying, to repair the gay suicide rate. Those types of things need some action behind the words. So they need to put the money where their mouth is on this one.

HENDRICKS: Ty, what do you say to Justin when you hear that?

MANSFIELD: I mean -- Ty and I know each other from our ex-gay therapy, actually. We attended the same ones.

UTLEY: With your family.

MANSFIELD: Yes, yes.

HENDRICKS: So Ty, when you hear from Justin, do you think that the therapy just worked for you, and if he goes through more therapy, it could work for him?

MANSFIELD: Well, for me it wasn't even a therapy -- I mean we attended a support group together, it wasn't necessarily a therapy. But it was --

UTLEY: It was therapy. It was referred a therapy through the church.

MANSFIELD: It was -- ok. Well, just to be clear as far as my own story, I wouldn't even say -- I mean I don't consider myself ex- gay, and I wouldn't even -- you used the term "overcome" in your introduction and that is not a term that I would use.

UTLEY: Do you still identify as a homosexual?

MANSFIELD: There's been a shift for me. But what has been more important for me has been the spiritual journey, and you know, my relationship with God and the focus of where I was -- the things that I talked about in the profile video is on the Web site. I mean that really is my journey. It's been a spiritual journey with God to understanding myself, understanding life --


HENDRICKS: So Ty, it seems as though --

MANSFIELD: And ultimately feeling like I can get to a place where I can marry and have a healthy marriage.

HENDRICKS: It seems as the church in a way is being more open to this. You have a son. If he came to you and said "I'm gay" what would be your reaction?

MANSFIELD: To listen, to understand his experience, how he feels about that. What his experience has been as far as how he felt about himself, how this has affected his -- his feelings about himself, his feelings about us as a family, his feelings with God, his feelings -- just his views. I mean my first reaction would be to want to listen to understand him or her, we have a daughter that's on the way as well, and to understand where he or she is coming from.

HENDRICKS: Justin, that seems to be a huge step, that if his son came to him and said I may be gay, that he would be open to listen to that instead of just being ostracized. What do you think of that?

UTLEY: Yes, absolutely. It is a big step as far as a personal choice is concerned. I know a lot of Mormons especially in Salt Lake City who actually marched in the gay pride this year in support of LGBT equality and even marriage is concerned. So they're kind of stepping outside of the church's realm of doctrine and policy, and going beyond and above that basically to what Christ taught is to love your neighbor as yourself.

So the doctrine is still contained to, you know, as a homosexual you can sit on the sideline, participate with some things. But if you wanted hold hands, flirt, date, fall in love, and marry your partner, we can't have you as a part of that. And that's the difference.

It's a personal choice for people. And I think more and more people in the church are finding that part outside the box, where they can think outside that policy, and say no, I love my child, I love my son, I love my daughter, I love my parents, and I support them in all of this, and I support their right to be married, and have equality in the workplace and things like that.

But the church's statements don't go that far. So with Ty, it's definitely a personal choice on how he addresses that with his son. And it's a good one.

HENDRICKS: I do want to put something. The site says quote, "From a public relations perspective, it would be easier for the church to simply accept homosexual behavior. That cannot do for God's law is not ours to change." Justin, so what is the church really saying? That we're kind; of open to this, but we're not changing any laws here, our true beliefs?

UTLEY: They're saying basically we're not calling you sexual deviants any more. We're not saying that you're going to unravel civilization as we know it. We'll acknowledge that you're there. We acknowledge that we may have said some things in the past that may have been hurtful, but now we're acknowledging that you exist, which is great. It's a small step in the right direction. But at this rate, these steps won't cumulatively become equality until, you know, another thousand years from now, which I don't have that kind of time.

HENDRICKS: It seems like it is a step though. Ty and Justin, appreciate you both coming on today. Thanks so much.

MANSFIELD: Thank you very much.

UTLEY: Thanks

HENDRICKS: For more stories on faith, be sure to check out our widely popular belief blog. That's

How about this? It is official, the Pope has a Twitter page. I'll tell you when he will start tweeting and where you can follow him.


HENDRICKS: The countdown is on, we're 23 days away from going over the fiscal cliff, and still no agreement reached between the Obama Administration and Congress. Candy Crowley joins me now from Washington. And Candy if the Republicans and the Democrats can't see eye to eye on this soon, will both sides work through the holidays -- a lot of people are wondering.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST: Well, they may not need to work through the holidays, and I mean that in the bad news kind of way. What has to happen, first, is that Speaker Boehner, a Republican, is going to have to make a deal with the President. Almost in some -- I mean I think it might be difficult to pass. I think they're going to have to do some rounding up of votes. But there's no sense in the House being in or the Senate being in if the Speaker or the President don't have a deal. So there will be that.

Now, it could take two, three, four days for them to pass -- for these bills to pass in the Senate the House. My sense of it is that the Speaker is not going to come out and announce some deal he can't pass.

So I think by the time the two of them get a deal, the Speaker is going to be pretty certain that between his membership, and Nancy Pelosi's membership, they can put together a coalition that will pass this thing in the Senate which is pretty dominated by Democrats. It is more of a foregone conclusion should they get a deal.

HENDRICKS: And Candy who is coming up on your show to talk about the fiscal cliff today?

CROWLEY: We actually have two Republicans, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Tom Cole of Oklahoma, both of whom have very different views and goes to the point we were just talking about. Suppose the Speaker gets a deal, and he can't get his folks to sign on -- it has happened before as we know in the grand deal that he and President Obama were putting together before the elections. So the question is how far can the Speaker go in compromise and before he begins to lose too many of the folks in his caucus?

And Blackburn and Cole have different ideas of what they would like to see in a final deal. So we'll have them talk about how short or long a leash the Speaker has vis a vis his Republican caucus.

And I also understand you have Christine Lagarde on?

CROWLEY: Yes, for the international -- she, you know, is head of IMF, and it's not -- in this global economy, nobody is in their economy alone and so the world is also watching these negotiations and the lack of a deal certainly could, she says, shake the markets, shake confidence, you know, across the globe. So this is a global village that is globally watching the U.S. fiscal cliff.

HENDRICKS: All right Candy. Appreciate it. Looking forward to that -- thanks so much.

CROWLEY: Thanks Susan, yes.

HENDRICKS: Keep it here for "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley; it starts in about ten minutes, 9:00 a.m. Eastern time right here on CNN.

All right now, time to get ready for the week ahead, it's a busy week.

Monday, coveted Nobel prizes will be awarded in Stockholm. If you have CNN International, tune in tomorrow morning for a special coverage of that.

Also this is a big day on Monday as well -- I practiced this, I really did -- FedEx's busiest day to get out those packages in time for the holidays. 300,000 employee will serve as helpers delivering nearly 20 million holiday packages.

And Tuesday, it's a big day for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she travels to Morocco. Three days of talks with governments from the region on how to end bloodshed in Syria. More than 40,000 Syrians have died in the 21-month conflict, including children, as you may know.

And Wednesday -- this is a big one -- the Pope is tweeting. Go on Twitter to catch the Pope's first tweet from his personal account. He will answer questions about faith as well. In less than a week, the Pope has managed to get nearly 600,000 followers -- popular guy, right.

And there we gone, on Friday, "Person of the Year", "Time" is naming them -- always exciting to see who is picked. Last year it was "The Protester" that was picked. "Time" is a sister company of CNN.

And finally on Saturday, Egyptians vote to approve or reject the new constitution -- a potentially pivotal moment for the nation. Catch the latest on this live right here on CNN.

There you have it, a busy week ahead.

It seems like whatever she does causes a stir. And now a tweet from Lady Gaga is causing a social media frenzy. We'll tell you about that.

But first take a look at your gas prices. The national average fell one penny today to $3.34. We'll take it -- right? Just in time for some Christmas shopping for you.

Stay with us.


HENDRICKS: Welcome back, the law legalizing same sex marriage took effect in Washington State on Thursday and officials are preparing for a flood of marriage applicants from couple's applications. Under Washington State law, couples must submit marriage certificates at least three days in advanced. As a result, hundreds of same-sex Washington weddings are expected today.

Lady Gaga is in Russia and her tweet to Russian Prime Minister Medvedev on Friday is quoting quite a stir. The singer wrote this, "Thank you, Prime Minister Medvedev for not standing by your party's anti-gay propaganda law and instead supporting my show and fans all over Russia."

In a recent interview Prime Minister Medvedev called a bill that would make it a crime to provide minors with information about homosexuality, quote, "unnecessary". Gaga's words have already been re-tweeted almost 5,000 times.


DANIEL CRAIG, ACTOR: I won't miss next time, Mr. Silva.

JAVIER BARDEM, ACTOR: Not bad. Not bad, James, for a physical wreck.

CRAIG: Why, thank you.


HENDRICKS: The new James Bond movie "Skyfall" is back at the top of the box office rankings. It pulled in $3.1 million on Friday but this is shaping up to be one of the slowest weekends for movie sales in over a decade. "Breaking Dawn Part 2" got bumped down to second place after three weeks at number one.

How about this -- Bo is back for the second year in a row. The Obama family dog, we're talking about, is front and center on the White House holiday card -- there he is. First Lady Michelle Obama personally selected a drawing by Iowa artist, Larassa Kabel for this year's greeting which is based on an earlier photo of Bo running across the snowy lawn. Kabel called the moment she got word from the White House, quote, "very surreal".

The relationship between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner can sometimes seem tense, even awkward, so SNL decided to try and explain it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In order to get the support of the Speaker, I agreed there would be no tax increases, I repeat, zero tax increases.

Now, why would I do that? I mean I won the election. I had the leverage, why give in? Well, simply put, I felt sorry for this man. Early this week, I found my way into the congressional cafeteria, and what do I see? John Boehner sitting by himself, all alone. Not a single member of his party willing to share his company. He didn't even have any milk to drink because, well, tell them why, John?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They had taken my milk and thrown it in the garbage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are supposed to be his friends and his colleges. Tell them what your so called friends put on your office desk?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a rubber snake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A rubber snake. And did it scare you?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was so heartbroken to hear this, I said look, how about this, John. If you agree to a one percent raise on the top two Americans, just two people, I will dissolve social security -- dissolve it. So we took it to the Republicans, and Congress, and what did they do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They invited me to a pizza party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And when they got there -- when you got there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a burned out warehouse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you go inside?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And was there any pizza?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then what happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They jumped out and pelted me with eggs.




HENDRICKS: How do they keep a straight face and not crack up? If you close your eyes, it sounds exactly like Obama.

Thanks so much for watching today, this Sunday. I'm Susan Hendricks. You can always continue the conversation with me on Twitter @Susan Hendricks.

"STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley is up next.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday.