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Carnival: Toilets, Power Restored; Michelle Obama Graces "Vogue" Cover; Obama Wraps Congressional Outreach; First Full Day Of Pope's Reign; Dolan Talks About Francis' Potential; Pope Won't Change On Sex Issues; Shooting Suspect Dead After Gunfight; Pilot Lights Caused Fatal Explosion; Samsung Unveiling New Galaxy Phone; Commander Warns Of Insider Attacks

Aired March 14, 2013 - 10:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, vacation hell, another Carnival cruise in trouble, overflowing toilets, busted generators. No, here we go again.

It didn't take the new pope long to start making waves. Why he toasted the cardinals by asking for their forgiveness.

Also a skydiver slams into the ground, his chute not fully open and guess what, he survives.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I completely lucked out. I mean, you know, God watches out for idiots and puppy dogs. He just let me live and walk away.


COSTELLO: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Good morning. Thank you for being with me. I'm Carol Costello. This hour it's deja vu all over again. Remember last month's cruise from hell, a crippled ship with no power, overflowing toilets and unbearable cabins?

One month to the day after that ship was towed into Alabama port. We are hearing new horror stories. Passengers are telling CNN, they are stranded aboard another crippled ship also belonging to Carnival Cruiseline.

This one is called the Carnival "Dream." It's docked at St. Maarten. Well, that may sound better. Passengers say they aren't being allowed off and have been trapped aboard the ship for hours.

Gregg Stark is on the Carnival "Dream." He joins us by phone. Hi, Greg.


COSTELLO: Thank you for being with us. Tell us what conditions are like now. STARK: Currently on the ship, the toilets and the elevators are currently working. However, we have been provided -- not been provided an update since 11:00 last evening as to what's going on. And they are still not letting us off the ship at this time.

They have done two separate tests of the elevators and the toilets where they have had to shut them down for several hours. Last evening when they did it, the toilets were overflowing, down in the common areas, on the main floors.

COSTELLO: How long have you been cooped up on board the ship?

STARK: We were originally planning to depart from St. Maarten at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time yesterday. We have not moved since that time. We are slated to be back into Florida around 8:00 a.m. on Saturday morning.

COSTELLO: So I will ask you the question. After you watched in vivid detail about what happened to the Carnival Triumph, why did you choose to take another Carnival cruise?

STARK: Well, I think we figured the ship is newer. They are going to be more cautious and that things happen. But something like this should not be a recurring issue. We scheduled it prior to that event happening.

COSTELLO: I'm going to read you a statement from Carnival Cruise that CNN managed to get a hold of. This is what Carnival is saying right now. Quote, "At no time did the ship lose power, but there were interruptions to elevators and toilets for a few hours last night. However, at this time all hotel systems are functioning normally and have been functional since approximately 12:30 a.m. Eastern Time." Does that fit in with what you told me?

STARK: I would say that's fairly accurate statement, yes. They were -- they did go down to guest services last evening. They actually didn't have a supervisor on duty until we had a crowd of people that would not bring a supervisor up. They finally called one cop that was off duty.

When I spoke to him, he was completely clueless regarding the toilets overflowing on the ship. We offered to walk him around and show him them. He declined that, but he was not aware of it. Even though everybody was going into the bathrooms and they were overflowing.

Asking, you know, the guest service where is to go and people that were manning the guest services station didn't really have any answers for us.

COSTELLO: My last question, is the bar open?

STARK: Yes. The bar is open.

COSTELLO: Thank God for that.

STARK: No free drinks, however, as of yet. COSTELLO: Those will be coming your way soon. Gregg, thank you very much. We'll keep following your story. I hope you get off the ship soon.

In Washington, President Obama wraps up his three-day visit to Capitol Hill today by meeting with lawmakers not in the majority. He's working to change the perception inside the halls of Congress hoping that can score necessary points to help get his budget plan passed.

At the same time, the first lady is sharing her view of her husband. In an interview with "Vogue" magazine titled "Leading by Example," Michelle Obama was asked if the president's mellow nature gets interpreted as aloof. This is how she answered that question.

Quote, "I don't know what people expect to see in the president. Maybe they want him to yell and scream at somebody at some point. Sometimes I would like him to do that. But that's not how he deals with stress and I think that's something we want in our leaders."

Dan Lothian is at the White House this morning. Good morning, Dan.


COSTELLO: Yesterday though the president got a standing ovation from House Republicans. John Boehner had some flattering words for the president. In an op-ed this morning, John Boehner had some not so flattering words for the president.

LOTHIAN: That's right. I mean, look, what you are seeing here is a shift. The president, as you pointed out, the first lady says a lot of lawmakers out there thought the president was aloof, that he hasn't spent the kind of time needed to develop relationships with Republicans over the years.

Instead, has waged sort of this campaign-style strategy where he hits the road in order to put pressure on lawmakers to bend to some of his proposals. We have seen now the shift in recent weeks where the president is sitting down, having face-to-face meetings with Republicans.

Having dinner or lunch and having this ongoing dialogue. So Republicans are looking at this and saying they are cautiously optimistic that this is all headed in a new direction.

We heard the president from the president last night talk about this shift about the outreach and he was talking to supporters and donors as part of the grassroots "Organization For Action." The president specifically addressed what everyone has been talking about the charm offensive.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You know, over the last several weeks, the press here in Washington has been reporting about Obama's charm offensive. Well, the truth of the matter is all I have been doing is calling up folks and trying to see if we can break through some of the gobbled-gook of our politics here.


LOTHIAN: So the president heads to the Hill. He will be meeting with Senate Republicans and House Democrats. We should know it's not just the outreach to Republicans, but also Democrats as well. Some of them frustrated that they have not had the time with president that they would like.

Now getting a chance to sit down, talk to the president face to face, and everyone hopeful that they can hammer out some compromise on the tough fiscal issues.

COSTELLO: Well, I'm sure all of America hopes so. Dan Lothian reporting live from the White House this morning.

In just about two hours, Pope Francis will celebrate his first mass as the leader of the Catholic Church. Here he is a couple of hours ago visiting the Basilica of Santa Maria Majora in Rome. CNN's Miguel Marquez is there, too. Good morning, Miguel.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. After he visited the basilica this morning, one of the oldest in Rome, he checked out of his hotel he checked into when he got into Argentina. He went there himself, collected his bags and checked out.

Clearly setting the stage, this is the guy who wants to set the stage that in the Jesuit tradition, life will be simpler under Pope Francis. Last night in front of a crowd of 150,000 he wore an iron cross rather than gold or something jewelled.

This is a guy who at dinner last night after he ate with cardinals, told them, well, in selecting me, may God forgive you for what you have done. You get a sense this is a funny guy.

Chris Cuomo got more of a sense of what he's like from Cardinal Timothy Dolan in an interview today.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: What do you think Pope Francis can do that will give a sense of renewal to the church?

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN, NEW YORK: You got it, Chris, because the Catholic Church is ever ancient, ever new. It's a beautiful blend. You know, sometimes we look to our church as a grandmother. Sometimes we look to her as a young bride.

So there's got to be the combination of things, immutable and things that are timely. He'll do it well. All we can do is look at his track record, OK, an amazingly simple and sincere transparent man, a man who deeply loves the poor, a man who is theologically well grounded in the timeless doctrine of the church, and a man who knows how to govern.

Now we are going to begin to see those things. I think there may be a touch of simplicity, sincerity, openness. I think he's going to tend to the central government of the church universal, which we all said, you have been reporting it well, probably needs tending to, right?

What government doesn't? As we look to D.C., we Americans are saying there needs to be some changes there. I think we'll see that stuff.

CUOMO: Do you think that's the prospect for him as a reformer more than on the social liberal agenda level of what's he going to do about women? What's he doing about celibacy, gay marriage? Do you think he would move the church on those?

DOLAN: No. I don't think he will do that. As you know, he can't really tamper with what's called the deposit of faith which he gratefully inherits. Now it is his job to pass on faithfully to the next generation. So he can't change any of the substance, but, boy, can he ever change the way that's presented?

I think he's shrewd enough because he's been a pastor in a huge diocese to say, you know what, I love the traditional teachings of the church. I'm as loyal to them as the day is long. But I'm also recognizing that a lot of them aren't going over.

Now, I can't change them. I don't want to change them because they come to us from the Lord as part of revelation. But we better work on a more tantalizing attractive, compelling way to present them. I think he'll do that brilliantly.


MARQUEZ: Now on Saturday, Pope Francis meets with the press for the first time and we'll be very interested to see if he actually takes questions. Carol, back to you.

COSTELLO: Well indeed. Miguel Marquez reporting live from the Vatican this morning.

While some people are thrilled about the prospect of Francis bringing reform to the church, the pope is also expected to face some controversy, especially among progressive Catholics wanting social change.

Francis opposes same sex marriage and adoption by gay parents. He was an outspoken critique of his government's program to distribute free contraception and no one expects to soften the Catholic Church's opposition to abortion.

Joining us now from Washington is James Salt, the executive director of Catholics United and in New York, Herndon Graddick, the president of GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

James, I want to start with you because your organization is excited about the prospect of Pope Francis. Tell me why.

JAMES SALT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CATHOLICS UNITED: Well, you know, with Pope Francis, social justice Catholics are celebrating because we now have a pope who is reading the same bible that we are. When we read the gospel Jesus' overriding concern is for the poor. We know Pope Francis will elevate the voice of the poor in his pontificate and that's why we are excited.

COSTELLO: All of that is great for Catholics around the world because that truly defines what Catholicism is. But you heard Cardinal Dolan say Pope Francis is not likely to change anything about the power of women in the church, about contraception, about gays being welcomed and loved in the Catholic Church. Aren't those things important, too, when you want to attract a younger congregation?

SALT: Yes. Certainly the church needs to bring its teachings on sexually into the 21st Century. I will be the first to say that I'm praying for that today. But let's take comfort that he's older and may respect a bygone era. The church needs to desperately bring itself into the modern era. I think by speaking on behalf of the needs of the poor, Pope Francis can reorient the priorities of the church back to what matters.

COSTELLO: I want to read what you wrote about when you heard that Pope Francis was the pope. You said, quote, "In his life, Jesus condemned gays zero times. In Pope Benedict's short time of the papacy he made a priority of condemning gay people routinely.

This in spite of the fact that the Catholic hierarchy has been in collusion to cover up the widespread abuse of children within its care, we hope this pope will trade in his red shoes for a pair of sandals and spend a lot less time condemning and a lot more time foot washing.

So obviously you're not expecting the pope to change. Cardinal Dolan also said something interesting. He said, you know, what you said was, in essence, true, but Pope Francis can change the tone of his message to be more welcoming, to perhaps gay congregants.

HERNDON GRADDICK, PRESIDENT, GLAAD: I think he can absolutely change the content of what he's saying. I don't think the bible supports the rejection of gay people. I think the new pope has compared gay marriage to being in league with the devil. I don't see it anywhere in the bible.

I question whether the pope, when he was spending his time in Argentina during the dirty war and hundreds, if not tens of thousands of people were murdered, where was he when that was going on and what type of vocal opposition was he putting to that?

Because what I find is perhaps not every time, but often when popes like the previous pope we had and the new pope that we have had come into public they speak vocally against gay people in spite of the fact Jesus did that exactly zero times.

So I wonder when you've got one finger pointed at other people you've got four pointed at yourself. What I would be interested in is a complete cleaning of the house and the Vatican who, as everyone knows, has spent decades covering up the widespread abuse of children within its care. We have an organization that rejects the leadership of women which is totally out of step with the rest of the world or at least the rest of the civilized world. So I wonder what it is, what it's going to take for the Catholic Church to really realize that they are completely out of step with the rest of America and the rest of their congregants.

If you look at the statistics, more Catholics report gay marriage than the rest of the United States. I feel like, you know, more of the same is not a good thing.

COSTELLO: All right, thanks to you both. The pope hasn't started the job yet. He may have some surprises. Who knows? Thanks for being with us. We appreciate it.

One of the biggest concerns in Afghanistan, insider attacks, U.S. and coalition troops targeted by members of the Afghan military. Now the top NATO commander is issuing a warning.


COSTELLO: It's 19 minutes past the hour. Time to check our top stories, New York State Police say a 64-year-old shooting suspect is dead after a shoot out with police. Police stormed the abandoned building where Curt Myers was hiding and exchanged fire. Myers is accused of killing four people in the small upstate community of Herkamer County, that's about 80 miles from Albany.

Pilot lights in a Kansas City restaurant kitchen are blamed for a natural gas explosion last month. One person was killed in the blast. Authorities say vapors had built up after a contractor hit a natural gas line. The restaurant had been warned about a possible gas leak. Employees blew out candles and stove lights, but they didn't turn out the pilot light.

Samsung preparing to take Apple's iPhone head on, the company releasing its new flagship phone later today at New York's Radio City Music Hall. The company has been hyping the latest release with teasers on Twitter and even a flash mob in Times Square.

The commander of the NATO-led security force in Afghanistan is now warning top commanders of possible rising tensions between NATO forces and the Afghan military. CNN confirms General Joseph Dunford sent an e-mail citing recent statements by warns, quote, "Karzai's remarks could be a catalyst for some to lash out against our forces. He may also issue orders to put our forces at risk.

Retired Army General James "Spider" Marks joins me via Skype. Good morning.

JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, U.S. ARMY GENERAL (RETIRED): Hi, Carol. How are you this morning?

COSTELLO: I'm good. Thank you for joining us. So this isn't a formal threat advisory, but it certainly sounds serious. How much more risk do U.S. troops face now? MARKS: It's very serious. General Dunford clearly has to communicate with his force and immediate leaders. Certainly e-mail isn't a very effective way to do it. You know you're transparent when you do that.

So this isn't a threat advisory or his team getting together saying in a specific area we have to have indicators that there is an enhanced vulnerability based on x, y or z. What this tells you is that the linkages between strategy, what President Karzai said to Secretary Hagel and how that affects tactics has always grown closer and closer.

You have the president of a country where we are a guest indicating he's got trouble with our president. So the senior U.S. NATO commander is indicating, we have to stay vigilant. The mission continues. No changes to the mission.

We just need to be able to lean forward. I think at the very lowest levels, Carol, that means the composition of patrols, some of the missions might change and you might have exclusive afghan units and fewer afghan and U.S. units intermixed.

COSTELLO: Just to remind people what Hamid Karzai said, in essence, he said that the U.S. troops were colluding with the Taliban, right?

MARKS: Kind of incredible that he would say that upon the visit of the secretary of defense, which is really rubbing his nose in it. Joe Dunford is absolutely spot on to do this saying, looks, guys. Don't worry about what happens at the senior levels. But it does have an effect on you. So stay focused. Do the right thing.

COSTELLO: Retired Army General Spider Marks. Thank you so much for being with us this morning.

MARKS: Thanks, Carol.

COSTELLO: Talk back question for you today. What kind of spiritual leader will draw people back to organized religion? or tweet me @carolcnn.


COSTELLO: Now is your chance to talk back on one of the big stories of the day. The question for you this morning, what kind of spiritual leader will draw people back to organized religion?

Catholics are hoping Pope Francis, revered to devotion to the poor will bring more people, especially young people back to the church.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to come to church. I work a couple of blocks down. I had to come and thank God that we have this pope. That, you know, we are not alone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's exciting for the Catholic Church especially in America to have a South American cardinal named pope is good for anyone, you know? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Especially a man of the people, raised poor, rode buses. They made a wise choice.


COSTELLO: In his first public appearance, Pope Francis alluded to the need for a big tent.


POPE FRANCIS (through translator): Let us begin this journey together with the people, this journey for the Roman Catholic Church. It is a friendship of love, of trust and faith. Let us pray always for one another. Let us pray for the whole world because let us have a big brotherhood.


COSTELLO: Still, attracting new followers is not just a problem for the Catholic Church but for all faith. In a new study, 20 percent of Americans say they have no religious affiliation. That's the highest number since the 1930s.

One researcher told the Huffington Post it has a lot to do with the role of religion in politics. That people identify and link organized religion with anti-gay attitudes, sexual conservatism and a whole range of those kinds of social, cultural values. This is blowback.

Yet, even with the excitement and a new kind of man was elected pope. A Jesuit who rejects the trappings of wealth is that enough. Pope Francis still opposes contraception, a more role for women in the church and same sex marriage things that many Americans especially young Americans favor. Talk back today.

What kind of spiritual leader will draw people back to organized religion? or tweet me @carolcnn.