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Compensation for Carnival Cruise Passengers; Posting Violent Videos; Drones: Heroes?

Aired February 14, 2013 - 10:30   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our new half hour show, "Talk Back". Three hot topics, great guests and your comments.

First up: How should the cruise passengers be compensated? Four days of agony, of onion sandwiches, sewage running down the walls and it's hot, so hot, passengers are being forced to sleep on deck.

Of course, we're talking about the Carnival ship, Triumph. The trauma is not over yet. The disabled cruise ship delayed again, expected to pull into port between 7:30 and 8:00 tonight.

Here's what Carnival is offering its stranded passengers: discounts on future cruises. Yes, right. A full refund and, get this, $500. The mother of a 10-year-old passenger, livid.


MARY PORET, MOTHER OF 12-YEAR-OLD CRUISE PASSENGER: I cannot imagine that the horror that they have had to deal with, with no food, lines to go to the bathroom, seeing urine and feces sloshing in the hall, sleeping on the floor, nothing to eat, people fighting over food -- $500?


COSTELLO: Carnival's CEO says his company obviously didn't deliver on its promise and that would be to provide a great vacation experience. But we second that.

So the Talk Back question today: How should cruise passengers be compensated? or tweet me @CarolCNN. But I pose that question first to Pete Dominick.

PETE DOMINICK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, SIRIUS XM: Well I'm no lawyer, Carol, but I would imagine that there's going to be some kind of a class-action lawsuit. These things happen in America. We're a very litigious society and a lot of people are going to want a lot more than just a free cruise or a free photo of the family on the deck.

But, you know, I don't want to minimize the pain and suffering and I have never had to live through anything like this, but no one died. It was a horrific, horrific experience but welcome -- I mean, these people were, you know, seen what the rest of the third world now has to experience and I'm sure they're going to be compensated and I'm sure they're going to get a little bit more than $500, but do we want to put this company out of business?


COSTELLO: Are you saying this a lesson to them? It's a good lesson and they should, like, pay attention to others less fortunate because of this experience?

DOMINICK: Well, that's what it was for me when my power went out after the hurricane. I had to stand in line for ice. It was a little humiliating but it was also, it was a lesson. I take lessons out of everything in life even the most adverse situations.


COSTELLO: OK, so all of the other panelists are looking incredulous. Amy? Really?

AMY KREMER, CHAIRWOMAN, TEA PARTY EXPRESS: I mean, he -- I just think it's ridiculous. And then they closed down all the bars. I mean, they are making them suffer even more. Look --

DOMINICK: Oh, I didn't know that. I didn't know that.

KREMER: Yes. And -- but the thing is, from my understanding, this isn't the first time this ship has had this problem. You know, they need to take care of these people. It would be a good PR move for them.

But, you know, they need to -- they're going to have to have counseling, I'm sure it was so traumatic for many of them, they should cover medical costs, they should give them free cruises for life because most of them will probably never go on another cruise.

And you know, but at the end of the day, I think Pete is probably right, that it's going to end up in the courts.

COSTELLO: Well, you know, but it says on your ticket, Ana, that you can't sue them for these reasons. They can't sue. I mean they could try. But I don't think they'll have any luck with that.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it says a lot of things on those tickets. You sign away your life when you buy a cruise ship ticket. I would say to them, keep your refunds, keep your discounts, keep your cruises for life, give me some money. I want a staycation or I want go on a vacation where there is an exit strategy.

My recommendation to these people is go somewhere where you are in control, not when somebody else is in control. But it's also -- let me tell you, Carol, I'll tell you what I think is agony. Talking about this issue anymore, hearing about this issue anymore. Every time I hear about this ship I just want to reach for a bottle of Lysol and start wiping everything I own. I mean, it is really a -- it's painful for the people in the ship, but it is painful for the people outside that ship having to listen to this.

So I'm thinking Carnival is going to have to give all of us something.

COSTELLO: Well, the other thing, Roland, is Carnival -- Carnival says they'll finally get to shore sometime around 8:00 Eastern tonight. And just talk about agony. And then when the -- when the passengers come ashore, Carnival is offering them a bus ride to New Orleans, which is like a two-hour drive. It's crazy.

MARTIN: OK. I have two words: Royal Caribbean. I'm sure they are saying, "Hey, please take our -- take our cruise because we don't break down." Look -- look, if you're Carnival, the biggest problem that you have here is that you're compounding the problem. If you're walking down hallways sloshing through water and feces and then they have fights over food, folks sleeping on deck, now you're talking about sunburns, look, Pete, I get you on this whole deal with power goes out.

I'm born and raised in Houston, I've lived through hurricanes, tornadoes, but when you're talking about day after day, you can't do anything, this is a vacation for many people.

Let's also be honest, at lot of Americans out there, don't have much money, they got one shot, and so if you're Carnival you say full refund, and we're giving you extra money and we're giving you a free cruise.

DOMINICK: But they are giving that. And, by the way, Roland just got a free cruise from - Roland, just got a free cruise from Royal Caribbean, congratulations.

MARTIN: Well, actually I'm -- first of all, I'm already a Royal Caribbean platinum member. So watch yourself.

DOMINICK: Here we go.

COSTELLO: OK, Amy -- you wanted to say something?

KREMER: No, I mean, I just -- $500? Are you kidding me? That is nothing. $500 wouldn't even begin to cover the costs of psychiatric treatment for those that are going to need it. I'm sure some will need it.

MARTIN: Have them call Pete.

KREMER: So yes, $500 is nothing.


NAVARRO: I mean, come on, guys. Psychiatric treatment? It's not like they're on a train headed to Treblinka (ph), OK? They're on a cruise ship, they're going to make it back. Nobody is dying. So let's all -- let's not overdramatize this thing.

MARTIN: Right. We all don't live in Miami, Ana. That's why.

NAVARRO: Yes, we've got palm trees.

COSTELLO: OK, what are our Facebook friends saying about this topic? "How should the cruise passengers be compensated?"

This from Matthew, "The CEO should give up his salary for the year and have the money split among the passengers. If that's not enough, cut the whole board's pay."

This from Bryan, "$25,000 per passenger." There are 4,000 passengers. "Plus a free ten-day vacation that does not include a cruise."

Keep the conversation going: or tweet me @CarolCNN.

Next question: engaging in a violent crime and then posting it online for all the world to see. Talk Back question: Should there be penalties for posting violent videos?


COSTELLO: On to our second Talk Back question: Should there be penalties for posting violent videos?

Take a look. This video disturbing as it is has sparked a lot of buzz online.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now. Take everything off.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're moving too slow, man.



COSTELLO: This is even the worst of it. It shows a New Jersey man forced to strip naked, sprayed with water and then whipped with a belt over a $20 debt. The video was posted on a hip-hop site. Seriously? Tell me, what is hip about this?


MAYOR CORY BOOKER (D), NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: This is not who we are. We are Newark, New Jersey. We do not tolerate this level of cruelty, of callous disregard for the dignity of humanity.


COSTELLO: Yet some might argue this video actually says a lot about who we are. It is as one local councilman says, "A documentation of our dysfunction."

Talk Back question: Should there be penalties for posting violent videos on-line?

Here to talk back, CNN political analyst Roland Martin; Sirius XM radio host and comedian Pete Domnick, funny guy; CNN contributor and Republican strategist Ana Navarro; and Tea Party Express chairwoman Amy Kremer.

So before we get to our initial question, I mean, does this video say something about who we are in America, Ana?

NAVARRO: Yes. It says there are some pretty stupid people in America. I don't think it says anything about America in general. Certainly it is not symbolic of Americans. It's not symbolic of American values. It's not symbolic of, you know, the values that we all share the American dream. None of that.

Are there stupid people in America? Sure, there are. Are there mean people? Sure, there are. Are there sick people? Sure, there are. But, you know, it's not symbolic of our entire society. I just don't accept that.

COSTELLO: But someone could just --


MARTIN: Yes, it is.

COSTELLO: Go ahead, Roland.

MARTIN: Yes, it is. How can we --

COSTELLO: I don't know --

MARTIN: -- first of all, how can we stand here talk about that we have the freedom in this country to express ourselves any way possible, we can write things, we can post things, without censoring these things that actually is American.

Now, you're right, they're stupid, they're crazy. It's outlandish. But what makes us unique is that we can do this. Plus, this is a nation that has created all kind of video shows, "America's Funniest Videos," you got all of these shows other kinds of shows out there who are using videos to play things along those lines, that's what we do.


DOMINICK: Yes, but --

MARTIN: Here's a great thing: we can now arrest the people because we actually have a thing called evidence.


(CROSSTALK) COSTELLO: But -- go ahead, Amy.

KREMER: You know, I agree, I agree with Roland. I mean, it is about our First Amendment right. But we have caught criminals because of this. But I don't think the person that posted it should be in trouble for that. We see more violent things in video games and in news clips about war torn areas going on.

I mean social media has changed our lives, changed our lives. We just saw Israel when they launched rockets, you know, across the border, it was -- we knew about it on Twitter before anything else. So it has changed our lives. But people shouldn't get in trouble for posting this.


COSTELLO: But -- but still, I would just interject that if you post this awful thing instead of turning it over to the police, that's some -- that does say something vile about you, doesn't it, Pete?


DOMINICK: It does. I mean, certainly Ana is right, it doesn't represent the best of us. It represents the worst of us. And I would argue that we have a much more violent culture, especially with the amount of wealth that we have in this country, but it also talks -- it speaks to the issue of gangs and gang violence and poverty in this country as well. We should as a society denounce that type of practice, posting that type of videos, and that type of behavior. God forbid it got so popular that it could create ad revenue.

But I mean, I disagree it's not video games. They are not real. It's not "America's Funniest Home Videos"; it's not even "Jackass". They were doing that for themselves. This is violence and it's crime. And as Roland said, it's also evidence and this is illegal. Violence is illegal and these guys are stupid to have posted it because they're going to go to jail.

There might be an issue for prosecutors to look into a cyber crime issue and maybe we should have more laws against that. But I'm always in defense of free speech, especially the speech for which I hate.

MARTIN: Can I say one thing, Carol?


MARTIN: Carol, I think, other than you, I think I'm the only journalist on the panel. I've been a journalist 21 years. Guess what? We're in the business of television, of video. How many times have we actually -- and now follow me here, how many times have we run video, look at the Rodney King video, had we not seen that? Look at other video that the gentleman who was run over by a truck in Mississippi, based upon security cameras.

What I'm simply saying is we have other examples where you have seen criminal activity take place in videos and, without the video, we would not know anything about it.


COSTELLO: Well -- but here's what I'm -- here's what I'm saying though, here's what I'm saying, if I'm taking -- if I'm taking video of these people stripping this man naked, and then beating him and then I say, oh, this is such cool video, I'm going to post it online, I actually do think there should be some sort of penalty for that.

NAVARRO: And I agree with you, Carol, because what's important here is the intent. In some of these instances that Roland just cited, it's true, having the stuff come out was helpful to the prosecution, was used as evidence, and it was the purpose of putting it out.


COSTELLO: And it also didn't tell the whole story, right?

DOMINICK: This is a freedom -- this is a freedom, it was a private Web site. It's a freedom of speech issue, Carol.

NAVARRO: There is not absolute freedom --


COSTELLO: No, no, that's not what I'm saying.

NAVARRO: It's not absolute freedom. You can't scream "Fire!" in a theater. You can't post, for example --


DOMINICK: You can -- but yes, but when you film yourself --

NAVARRO: You can't -- you can't --

COSTELLO: Wait, wait. One at a time. Ana?

NAVARRO: You know what, let me tell you something. It's illegal, for example, to film yourself having intercourse with a minor and post it. That would be illegal and --

DOMINICK: It's illegal to film yourself -- it's illegal and, right, and those people go to jail. It's illegal --


NAVARRO: So there's no absolute right.


DOMINICK: It's illegal to commit a crime.

COSTELLO: One at a time.

DOMINICK: The question -- the question is: Should we be able to post it? It's illegal to commit a crime. If you are an accessory and you are filming that crime, whether it be a rape --


MARTIN: There you go.

DOMINICK: -- or an assault like this, you're going to go to jail. Law enforcement, by the way, appreciates it when you film your own crimes.

COSTELLO: Amy, wanted to say something?

KREMER: Yes. No, I mean it is used as evidence and, you know, but I think that we should be able to post things. And, you know, I mean who's going to come in and start monitoring everything on social media? I mean, the Internet police? I don't want to go there. But it does show that there are stupid and mean people.

You remember the girls fighting and the parents watching and -- I mean it's horrible, but I don't think you can paint all of our society that way because it's simply not true. We do see worse things on TV.

COSTELLO: OK. What do our Facebook friends say? Well, the Talk Back question again: Should there be penalties for posting violent videos?

This from Stephen, "No. Post them so that we know and then we can go find the perpetrators and bring them to justice. If these idiots didn't post they would most likely not be going to jail."

This from Kelsey, "It's disgusting how mean and cruel people are. This crap shouldn't be posted anywhere for people to see and people shouldn't be sick enough to videotape it or even to do these things."

Keep the conversation going. or tweet me @Carolcnn.

Next question after a break: a remote controlled machine, a drone, turned war hero? Talk Back: Is drone warfare worthy of a medal for heroism?


COSTELLO: Final Talk Back question of the day: Is drone warfare worthy of a medal for heroism?

The drone, a remote controlled killing machine, now a hero? Eligible for a Distinguished Warfare Medal? That medal will outrank the Bronze Star, which is awarded for heroic acts performed under fire in physical combat.


LEON PANETTA, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The work that they do, the contribution they make, does contribute to the success of combat operations, particularly when they remove the enemy from the field of battle.


COOPER: OK, so the operators or the pilots of these unmanned drones will get the medal. Still, what a strange time to suggest such an honor. The drone program is controversial. Republican Senator Rand Paul says he'll block the nomination of the CIA director to find out if one of those so-called hero drones can take out an American on U.S. soil.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: What I want to hear from John Brennan before I agree to let his nomination go forward is that, no, CIA or the Department of Defense cannot kill someone in America without, you know, any kind of judicial proceeding.


COSTELLO: Yes, drones did take out Anwar al Awlaki, the terrorist who inspired the underwear bomber over Detroit. Still, military analyst Spider Marks tells me, "Although the military does have medals for both achievement and valor, there is no need for this new medal. Drones are simply new weapons available for use."

Talk Back question for you: Is drone warfare worthy of a medal for heroism? I will direct the first response to Amy.

KREMER: Carol, I say no. That's absolutely ridiculous. It's like you said, you know, these medals are for distinguished service and no reason that the people that are controlling these drones that are sitting in air conditioned rooms should get these medals for anything heroic because they're not risking life and limb for this country. They're sitting in an air conditioned room controlling them. So, no, that's absolutely ridiculous. It should -- those medals should be saved for our true heroes.

COSTELLO: And, Ana, why introduce this idea right now? I mean, because drones are pretty controversial at the moment.

NAVARRO: Well, because they like controversy, apparently, you know. If you take a look at some of the nominations that they've put up, if take a look at some of the memos that have been leaked in the last few days, I think controversy is something they seek.

I'll tell you this, Carol, I would sure like a drone to come over to my house and take care of the raccoon that's been ruing my landscaping. Look, we absolutely cannot compare, you know, people that lose life, lose limb, risk life, save others on the field, to a drone.

That being said, drones are important. I have no issue with drones and I think that if they can help, they're part of modern warfare. Sometimes it's difficult for us to assimilate the progress in modern warfare and the different things that get introduced, but you know, I think we're going to get used to it. We're living in a horrible, brave new world, where very bad things happen. If they can help save lives, great. COSTELLO: But we don't even know -- it's not clear to me who decides who to kill overseas if they're a terrorist with a drone. That's not even clear to me. It seems like impossible for me to believe that some medal might be awarded to a program where there's no transparency. Roland?

MARTIN: Yes. Well, look, I mean first of all, we should have opened this segment with the "Dad's Band" song "Joystick", because that's what you have. You have somebody who's sitting in a room with a joystick deciding, OK, should I press the button? Press the button. Cool, I'll press the button.

So when you talk about skill, when you talk about training or whatever, I mean you can say as part of it -- I will say this. I disagree with Amy. These folks are a part of our military. I do believe that you can provide some type of recognition for their work, but there's no way in the world --

KREMER: Not a medal.

MARTIN: Hold on. There's no way -- fine. A certificate, whatever. But there's no way in the world you should be able to have this medal be over a Bronze Star when you talk about heroism out there in the battlefield where you are risking your life in extraordinary work. There's no comparison.

I think the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the President, they should say, "Secretary Panetta, we appreciate this, we're going to alter this suggestion, not put it above a Bronze Star."

COSTELLO: Pete, go ahead.

DOMINICK: You know, Carol, CNN does a great program called "CNN HEROES" and in this country and in the world I think we generally award heroism to ordinary people who do extraordinary things. Not to mention, obviously, first responders like firefighters, but nurses, hospice workers, teachers, social workers, these are people who do heroic things every day.

I have a lot of friends who play a lot of video games. You might as well start pinning medals on their chests because that's what this is. There is some danger for these drone pilot because if their names were publicly revealed they could be targeted by al Qaeda and other militants, but they really are sitting in a room playing a video game. They are often taking lives and often times those are women and children who are innocent.

And by the way, you didn't mention Anwar al-Awlaki was an American, and the Predator drone, by the way, hellfire missile also killed an American -- his son, 16-year-old son was also killed by a Predator drone. This is a very controversial practice. Some could argue it's state-sponsored terrorism. Some could argue it's a great national security technique. We do know it's very controversial across the political spectrum.

I can't believe I agree with Rand Paul, but I absolutely do. You know, these guys when they get done playing video games they go home, by the way, to their families and have dinner.

COSTELLO: A part of me says, wouldn't it be great if we could just -- if we had to fight in a war, that we would just use military hardware to fight the war in remote locations and there would be no men and women on the actual physical battlefield?

MARTIN: We're doing it. We're doing it.

COSTELLO: We are moving toward that day.

DOMINICK: We're doing it in Pakistan and Yemen and in Somalia, these drones. We are doing that all the time right now as we speak.


MARTIN: One thing -- talk to the drone people out there. Hey, I love you, so just keep those away from my house. Just, you know, just letting you all know.

COSTELLO: That might be impossible.

What do our Facebook -- we have to wrap this up. We have to get in our Facebook friends, because I always like to get what they think. I'll ask the question again: Is drone warfare worthy of a medal for heroism?

This from Jhohanni, "I believe the medal should be ranked number ten or something. It shouldn't surpass medals that recognize people who sacrifice their lives."

This from Jacob, "No, drones can't be brave. Nor can the one controlling it be brave; if a drone gets shot down, oh, well, send another drone. Drone warfare helps but medals are not needed."

Keep the conversation going:, tweet me @CarolCNN. Top stories after a quick break.


COSTELLO: 58 minutes past the hour. Time to check our top stories. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday that Republicans are planning to block the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense. An aide said Democrats don't yet have the 60 votes to break a GOP filibuster on the nomination. That would leave the nomination in limbo as the Senate heads into a week-long recess.

Two people taken hostage by Christopher Dorner are describing what it was like to be kidnapped by the ex-cop. Jim and Karen Reynolds say Dorner kept them bound and gagged Tuesday inside their home.


J. REYNOLDS: Once he got us bound then he went out to the bathroom real quick which is real close and came back with a couple wash cloths, stuck to one in each of our mouths.

KAREN REYNOLDS: He came in with like a cord and tied it.

J. REYNOLDS: Couple extension cords.

K. REYNOLDS: Tied it around.

Put a pillow case over our head first.

And then tied the cord through the mouth around the back and tied it tight.


COSTELLO: Dorner stole their car and left. The Reynolds were able to free themselves and called 911.

In Arizona, federal agents shut down a cross-border drug smuggling tunnel. The 68-foot drug tunnel was hand dug and ran from the front yard of a home in Mexico to a parking lot in Arizona. Police seized 1,200 pounds of marijuana and arrested two men.

And new government information shows use of the morning after pill is on the rise. From 2006 to 2010, 11 percent of sexually active women ages 15 to 44 said they used the emergency contraceptive. That's more than double its reported use from 2002. The study did not cite a reason for the increase.

I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining us today. CNN NEWSROOM continues right now with Ashleigh Banfield.