Return to Transcripts main page


Carnival's Woes Keep Mounting; Obama Talks Clean Energy Plan; Tracking The Dow; "Black Death" Skeletons Found?

Aired March 15, 2013 - 14:30   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: We have this just in to CNN that we're going to tell you the death penalty, one step closer to being banned in Maryland, the state's general assembly voting for the bill, which now heads to the governor's desk. Maryland will become the 18th state to outlaw capital punishment. It has been eight years since the state executed an inmate. We'll follow up on that.

From the Triumph to the Dream, one PR fiasco after another for Carnival, can the cruise line, can they repair their image? My next guest is going to lay out the wrongs that Carnival needs to right just ahead.


LEMON: More trouble today for Carnival Cruiselines. The company can't seem to catch a break lately. No fewer than four of its floating hotels have experienced problems during their cruises in the past month.

Carnival Legend was on the last leg of a week-long voyage when it began having problems that slowed its speed. Carnival Elation had to be towed last weekend because of a malfunction in its steering and Carnival Dream has been stuck in St. Maarten after losing power earlier in the week.

All 4,000 Dream passengers are being flown back to the U.S. on Carnival's dime. Not exactly the dream vacation they had envisioned when they set sail. Carnival's stock price took a big hit in the wake of last month's fiasco.

When the Carnival Triumph was crippled for four days in the Gulf of Mexico after a fire in the engine room knocked out power. Latest problems have not helped either.

Tom Donahue is the senior vice president of Porter Novelli, which is he is the global public relations agency. It helps companies like Carnival when they get some bad press. First off, thank you for joining us. How bad is it?

TOM DONAHUE, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, PORTER NOVELLI: Well, Don, I think it is bad, but it doesn't necessarily have to be permanent. They do have to generate some more goodwill. They had generator problems of the mechanical kind. Now they need to generate some goodwill. LEMON: Yes. Goodwill, what do they do to recover? Goodwill will help their stock prices and get people back on their ships and interested in going back on a cruise?

DONAHUE: Yes, I think it's too early to tell what kind of impact it will have on their booking around the cruiseline industry generally. But it does happen in airlines, in cruise ships, where these are large, complicated vessels and aircraft, and when something goes wrong, the preeminent obligation is to communicate with the passengers.

LEMON: Do you believe the problem really is -- I mean, these are mechanical problems and they probably happen all the time. But all eyes are on Carnival because of what happened with Triumph. But do you think that these are problems that happen all the time and they need to communicate better, that's it?

DONAHUE: Yes. I think that's part of it. I think operationally I have to assume that they're doing the right thing. I know they're reviewing their fleet right now to see if they have the right backup systems, the right redundancies, and the right protocol.

But in terms of communications, what we heard consistently through all of these events were passengers complaining about the infrequency of communication. So as long as they address that problem and they're making the right operational decisions, they should come out of this OK.

LEMON: Thank you, sir. Cut it short now because of this man, the president of the United States. We appreciate it, Tom.

The president of the United States speaking now in Illinois, just outside of Chicago, at the Argon National Laboratory, talking energy, clean energy, let's listen.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: -- turn them into a business. So think about this. Just a few years ago, the American auto industry was flat lining. Today, thanks in part to discoveries made right here at Argon, some of the most high tech fuel efficient, pretty spiffy cars in the world are once again designed, engineered and built here in the United States.

And that's why we have to keep investing in scientific research. So I need to -- we have to maintain our edge because the work you're doing today will end up in the products that we make and sell tomorrow. You're helping to secure our energy future.

And if we do it well, then that's going to help us avoid some of the perils of climate change, will leave a healthier planet for our kids, but to do it we got to make sure we're making the right choices in Washington.

Just the other day, Dr. Isaacs and directors of two of our other national laboratories wrote about the effects of the so-called sequester. These across the board budget cuts put in place two weeks ago. And specifically the effects it will have on America's scientific research. And one of the reasons I was opposed to these cuts is because they don't distinguish between wasteful programs and vital investments. They don't trim the fat. They cut into muscle and into bone.

Like research and development being done right here, that not only gives a great place for young researchers to come and apply their trades, but also ends up creating all kinds of spin-offs that create good jobs and good wages. So Dr. Isaac said these cuts will force them to stop any new project that is coming down the line.

I'm quoting him now, he says, "This sudden halt on new starts will freeze American science in place while the rest of the world races forward and it will knock a generation of young scientists off their stride, ultimately costing billions of -- billions of dollars in missed future opportunities."

Essentially, because of "The Sequester," we're looking at two years where we don't start new research. And at a time when, you know, every month you're -- you got it replace your smartphone because something new has come up, imagine what that means when China and Germany and Japan are all continuing to plump up their basic research and we're just sitting there doing nothing.

We can't afford to miss these opportunities while the rest of the world races forward. We have to seize these opportunities. I want next great job creating breakthroughs, whether it is in energy, or Nano technology or, you know, bioengineering, I want those breakthroughs to be right here in the United States of America, creating American jobs and maintaining our technological lead.

So -- I want to be clear, these cuts will harm, not help our economy. That's why I'm reaching out to Republicans and Democrats to come together around a balanced approach, a smart, phased in approach to deficit reduction, that includes smart spending cuts and entitlement reforms and new revenue and that won't hurt our middle class or slow economic growth.

And if we do that, then we can move beyond governing from crisis to crisis to crisis and we keep our focus on policies that actually create jobs and grow our economy and move forward to face all the other challenges we face from fixing our broken immigration system, to educating our kids, to keeping them safe from gun violence.

And few pieces of business are more important for us than getting our energy future right. So here at Argon, and other labs around the country, scientists are working on getting us where we need to get ten years from now, 20 years from now.

Today, what most Americans feel first when it comes to energy prices or energy issues are prices that they pay at the pump. And over the past few weeks, we saw, we went through another spike in gas prices, people are nodding here, they weren't happy about it, the problem is this happens every year, happened last year, the year before that. And it is a serious blow to family budgets that feels like you're getting hit with a new tax coming right out of your pocket, and every time it happens, politicians, they dust off their three-point plans for $2 gas, but nothing happened and then we go through the same cycle again.

But here's the thing, over the past four years we haven't just talked about it. We actually started to do something about it. We have worked with auto companies to put in place the toughest fuel economy standards in our history. What that means is by the middle of the next decade, our cars will go twice as far on a gallon of gas.

And the standards that we set are part of what's driving some of the amazing scientists and engineers who are working here at Argon labs. We have set some achievable but ambitious goals. So in the middle next decade, we'll expect you'll fill up half as often, which means you spend half as much.

And over the life of a new car, an average family will save over $8,000 at the pump. That's worth applauding. That's big news. In fact, the new report issued today shows that America is becoming a global leader in advanced vehicles. You walk into any dealership today, and you'll see twice as many hybrids to choose from as there were five years ago.

You'll see seven times as many cars that can go 40 miles a gallon or more. And as costs go down, sales are going up. Last year, General Motors sold more hybrid vehicle than ever before, Ford is selling some of the most fuel efficient cars so quickly that dealers are having a tough time keeping up with the demand.

So by investing in our energy security, we're helping our businesses succeed and creating good middle class jobs here in America.

LEMON: President Obama at Argon National Laboratory, talking about energy. Actually, you know, he's talking about giving more details on energy trust that he spoke about in the "State of the Union," that sets aside $2 billion a year for programs that support public and private research for cost effective technologies.

You heard him talk about saving money at the pump, that's what argon laboratories does research that does that. Saving you $81 or $8,000 over the course of a year in energy and in gas and that's what that does. President speaking, if he makes any news out of that, we'll bring it to you here on CNN.

Calling all sports fans in the meantime and market watchers as well, talk about on a roll, two impressive winning streaks to tell you about. One of which could impact your wallet, and that is next.


LEMON: Wall Street's hot streak might end this afternoon after 10 consecutive days of gains. Alison Kosik live at the New York Stock Exchange. Alison, it was fun while it lasted. ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It was. That hot streak you're talking about has cooled off. You know what? There is about an hour to go before the closing bell. It could still turn around. It's doubtful, but I'd say prepare to say goodbye to the Dow's winning streak.

But it is a nice run. The Dow set a new record 10 days in a row. And even as we see all that red smattering on the screen there, we continue watching for the S&P 500 to hit its all time record high of 1565.

You know, even though it is in the red today, it's still within striking distance of it and if the S&P 500 hits its record, that would be a bigger deal than the Dow hitting all those records.

Because the S&P 500 is just that, it is 500 stocks. So it is more representative, Don, of the health of the stock market than the Dow, which is only 30 stocks. Also, mutual funds, you'll be able to notice it is moving higher, even though it is a little lower.

Have looked at your portfolio lately? The S&P 500 is up more than 9 percent for the year. That should feel pretty good.

LEMON: Yes. I'm happy. A lot of people are as well watching this. Thank you, Alison Kosik. Appreciate it.

Speaking of winning streaks, also streaking, Lebron's team going for 21 in a row tonight. The Miami Heat looking to keep the winning streak going against the Milwaukee Bucks.

An astounding discovery in London to tell you about, scientists unearth skeletons that may be from a massive pandemic that killed millions of people. We'll take you to that cite and that's next.


LEMON: The remains of 14 skeletons have been found buried in London. The remains are believed to have been buried during a plague that happened hundreds of years ago. Isa Soares is tracking the story.


ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is your typical London square, pretty unassuming, behind me, we have a hospital. On the other side of the square, we have a primary school, a couple of residential houses there, and also a few shops.

If you look over my right shoulder, you'll see a construction site. This is no ordinary construction site. Here, they have unearthed some very interesting and peculiar findings.

(voice-over): Two and a half meters below ground level, 14 well preserved skeletons were uncovered here. Bodies of evidence believed to be victims of the "black death."

(on camera): The skeletons have been moved for testing, but the ground is still marked for the carefully laid out graves. Jay was one of the archaeologists that found this. Jay, how do you know that these skeletons were caused by the "black death?"

JAY CARVEY, PROJECT ARCHAEOLOGIST, CROSSRAIL: Well, we have historical documents from the 16th Century, which discuss the laying out of this burial ground. So we're fairly certain within this area there is a burial ground from the mid14th century and that it was a "Black Death" emergency burial ground.

SOARES (voice-over): In the 1300s, the "black death" killed between 20 million and 30 million people in Europe. No human to human transmission, however, has been recorded in the past 60 years.

(on camera): How scary is it for people here? Do they think is it contagious?

CARVEY: No, they don't. We have professional archaeological team working here and many of them have experience with other areas as well. The particular "black death" plague doesn't survive in the soil. It was something that was spread between, you know, living beings only. So there is no risk.

SOARES: This is a tiny square. This is quite a large square. How much further are you going to go to check out -- to find other bodies? Do you think there will be other skeletons here?

CARVEY: Yes. I mean, we won't be doing any more specific research in association with the project because our -- is to deal with anything that will be affected with the construction.

SOARES: What is your gut feeling, there are more?

CARVEY: Yes, I should think so. I would be very surprised if there weren't.

SOARES: How many more skeletons will be found, now that remains to be seen. Isa Soares, CNN, London.


LEMON: Up next, a major announcement from the Pentagon, apparently North Korea's threats are bothering a lot of folks. The military is beefing up defense on the west coast. Jake Tapper joins me next.



TOM FORMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The appearance of the Spanish speaking pope from across the Atlantic electrified the crowd in Italy and lit up U.S. shores too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Full of joy and happy, very happy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we say in Latin America, viva papa. FOREMAN: Over the past few decades, American Catholic churches like this one in D.C. have undergone a profound transformation. The number of Hispanic members has been soaring, pushed by immigration and births that they now account for one out of every three Catholics here.

GREG SMITH, PEW RESEARCH CENTER: It is a number that is likely to continue to rise because Latino Catholics tend to be younger than Catholics as a whole, fully one half of all Catholics under the age of 40 today are Hispanics.

FOREMAN: While many white Catholics have been slipping away from the church amid sexual abuse scandals, debates over abortion rights and the role of women, Hispanic arrivals have more than made up for the losses. So much so that Catholics still compromise about a quarter of the country, just as they have for decades.

(on camera): Mind you that shift in demographics has dramatically changed the religious map. Once a largely north eastern and mid western faith, Catholicism is now growing fastest in the south and the west.

(voice-over): The new pope has a ready audience, coast to coast, in this country.

ANJALAI SHAHANI, CATHOLIC: So the fact that he can speak our language is very significant. I think he can get the message to us more effectively.

FOREMAN: And what they share may be more than Spanish. It is the language of change. Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


LEMON: As conservatives chat about their future, a prominent Republican reverses his stance on gay marriage while another is accused of patronizing a female senator.

Michael Moore predicts crime scene pictures from the Newtown massacre will one day be released. Why he says this would change America.

Plus --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Finally going to get it done. Yes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you so much.


LEMON: He was taken away from the foster parents who raised him because of spanking. Today, all that changes.

And a new study suggests when it comes to balancing life, men can't have it all either. My panel faces off.