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911 Tape Details Toddler Shooting; Bleacher Report; 48 Years Since Selma; Winter Storm Warnings Affect 8 States

Aired March 24, 2013 - 06:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: From CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, this is EARLY START WEEKEND.

Ahead for you this morning, spring may be here, oh, so is the snow from Denver to Dayton. Seems like old man winter just is not going to let go. What in the world's going on here?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You killed an innocent human life and that I hope you die for it.


PAUL: She watched in horror as her infant was shot in the head, and now this Georgia mother has a message for her son's accused killers.

And someone, somewhere waking up filthy stinking rich this morning, people. We're talking $338 million rich.

It is Sunday, March 24th, mind you. Good morning. Rise and shine. I'm Christi Paul. So glad to have your company today.

I want to begin with you this morning talking about this weather, which just refuses to give in. Winter specifically, obviously. As we're in the fourth day of spring, this wicked winter storm is just shoving its way across the country. Snow, strong winds are forecast today from Kansas to Pennsylvania. St. Louis could get as much as eight inches of snow. And a mess of sleet is headed for Washington and New York. Just want to make sure you all have a heads up there. In the meantime, from Texas to Georgia, we're looking at strong winds, large hail and a threat of tornadoes, as well.

Take a look at Colorado, though, because they have been particularly slammed, as you can see. Those are flames, obviously, engulfing a semi truck that got caught in a whiteout. This was north of Denver. As many as 50 vehicles crashed or spun out along I-25. The interstate, along with at least 15 other highways across Colorado, were shut down yesterday.

And look at that. My goodness. Also want to show you a picture of I-70 in eastern Colorado. It has reopened, by the way, after authorities yesterday closed a 150-mile stretch when wind gusts got up to 50 miles an hour. I-70 in western Kansas, though, is still closed. And as this storm pushes east into Missouri and the Ohio Valley, flights in Denver are getting back on track. More than 200 had been canceled. But all of you folks in those areas, the Ohio Valley and whatnot, please, take good care whatever you're doing today. You may have to change some travel plans.

Severe storms also causing problems in the south, as I mentioned. We've got -- heavy rain flooded streets yesterday and some cars in Birmingham, Alabama. Even a mobile police command center got caught in rising water. The volatile storms are expected to keep packing a punch today, too. South Georgia and northern Florida are on alert for large hail, damaging winds, and as I said, possible tornadoes.

All right, I want to give you a new recordings of an eyewitness frantic 911 call that is shedding some new light on Thursday's deadly shooting of a toddler in Georgia. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It appears that her baby's been shot. I heard a shot --

DISPATCHER: OK. Listen to me, ma'am, is the baby breathing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. The baby's in a stroller.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just came out the door.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. She's trying to get the baby out now.

DISPATCHER: OK. Hold on. Did you hear any shots in the area where it happened?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, listen, the baby is shot. The baby has been shot. The baby is on the ground.

DISPATCHER: Ma'am, listen to me. We've got the people en route to you. I still have to ask you these questions. So did you hear any shots in the area?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I heard the shot.


PAUL: Seventeen-year-old De'Marquis Elkins and a 14-year-old boy, who police are not naming because of his age, are charged with first degree murder. Our Nick Valencia is in the small town of Brunswick.

Nick, I know you sat down yesterday with the baby's mom, Sherry West. I don't even know how she got in front of a camera. I mean, how was she with you? OK, I apologize. I think -- I think we're having some audio issues with Nick. I waited because I didn't know if maybe you could hear him and I couldn't based on our audio issues. But we're having an issue with that. We'll get back with Nick as soon as we get that problem taken care of for you.

So let me move on here to what's happening overseas right now. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Baghdad just a short time ago. This is a previously unannounced visit for him. He was in Israel with President Obama a couple days ago. Kerry's meeting with Iraqi leaders, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Remember, this past week marked the tenth anniversary of the start of the U.S. war in Iraq. We're going to have much more on this later in the show with a live report from Baghdad.

And for you new this morning, military officials have identified the Quantico Marine base gunman and both victims now. Nineteen-year-old Sara Castromata from Oakley, California, and 23-year-old Jacob Wooley from Guntown, Mississippi, both shot and killed last Thursday on the Marine Corp. base there in Quantico. Authorities believe 25-year-old Eusebio Lopez from Pacifica, California, shot both young Marines before killing himself. The shooting is still under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, by the way.

And New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is behind a new round of ads that are aimed at gun control. The ads are from the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns. They've actually bought $12 million worth of airtime for this ad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My dad taught me to hunt and I'll teach my kids. I've owned a gun all my life and I'll fight for my right to keep it. Background checks have nothing to do with taking guns away from anyone. Closing loopholes will stop criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from buying guns. That protects my right and my family.


PAUL: Now this effort, by the way, is the group's most expensive yet to influence the debate over gun control. Thursday, more than 100 demonstrations and special events are planned in support of universal background checks. Those ads start running in 13 states on Tuesday. So you may see more of them.

In Alabama, Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport officials are still investigating the horrific death of a 10-year-old Kansas boy. The airport's executive chairwoman released this statement yesterday.


GAYNELLE HENDRICKS, AIRPORT CHAIRWOMAN: I'd like to extend our heartfelt sympathy to the family of the child who passed following the accident Friday at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: So the accident she's referring to, WIAT reporting, a 300-pound flight display board, you know the ones you stand under and look at the arrivals and departures, it collapsed and killed the boy. Critically injured his mother as well. Again, that happened Friday. Birmingham's mayor released a statement after meeting with the boy's father yesterday expressing his concerns over the incident and again calling for a full investigation, which, as I just said, is underway.

All right, let's get you to southern Virginia now where officials are investigating what caused a CSX freight train to derail. The accident happened yesterday morning while the 64 car train was on its way to Kentucky. In all, 15 cars came off the tracks and four ended up in the river.

All right, if you live in New Jersey, look at your Powerball tickets, people. Saturday night's drawing revealed the winning ticket and it was sold in New Jersey. And, yes, you heard me right, ticket, as in one. One person, or at least one ticketholder, will take home the entire prize of $338 million. I don't know if it's one person. It could be a group of people. But it was that one ticket. Winning numbers, take a look again, 17, 29, 31, 52, 53 and 31. Good luck to you all out there.

A cruise ship that had mechanical problems last week has gone back out to sea. You're probably not surprised to know that some of these passengers were a little nervous getting onboard.

Plus, major March Madness upsets last night after the first top seed team bit the dust. Highlights and more after this.


PAUL: All right, want to show you some live pictures right now from the Vatican, where Pope Francis is celebrating Palm Sunday, of course. This is the day that kicks off holy week for Christians. Remember, Easter is next Sunday. It kind of came up quick on us this year. Today celebrates Jesus' return to Jerusalem before his death and resurrection a week later. When Benedict XVI resigned, the Vatican wanted to act quickly, of course, to replace him to insure that a new pope would be in place by this holiday.

So let's bring you back to the U.S. here. The Carnival Dream is back in service. Set off yesterday from Florida. Some passengers said, understandably, they were a little nervous to board the Carnival Dream cruise since it had generator problems in the Caribbean last week. Carnival says it did repair the faulty emergency generator. And when it had that problem, the cruise company paid to fly more than 4,000 passengers from the Caribbean to Orlando. So hopefully this will be some smooth sailing for all those folks.

Hey, I want to get back out to Nick Valencia. He's live in Brunswick, Georgia, this morning, where, of course, that toddler was shot right in front of her mother.

And, Nick, I know that you spoke with the mom in this case. I just -- I am so, I guess, impressed that she can even get in front of a camera at this point after seeing something like this. What did she say to you?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She's lost a lot of faith in humanity, Christi, and she's very paranoid about living here in Brunswick. She's afraid of retaliation. When we showed up at her house, she was in a lot of pain. She still has that bullet lodged in her thigh. We talked about a lot, but mostly about her son and what she'd miss most about him.


SHERRY WEST, MOTHER FO SLAIN TODDLER: I still think of my son walking over to me in the morning and putting his head on my lap and on my shoulder and me feeding him meals. And the fact that he was just learning to eat. And that he'll never say his first word.


VALENCIA: Christi, she'll probably take that grief to her grave.

PAUL: Oh, my goodness. Hey, Nick, thank you so much. We appreciate you bringing that to us.

And by the way, he's going to be with us again in the next hour. We'll talk more about those teenage suspects. One 17 and one 14 and exactly what's going on with that and the investigation. So, thank you, Nick.

Health expert and body building icon Joe Weider died of heart failure this weekend. He was 93 years old. He's a body builder himself. Helped changed how the world looks at fitness. Creating top fitness competitions such as Mr. Olympia and publishing magazines such as "Shape" "Men's Fitness," "Flex." Weider also brought an unnamed Australian to the United States. You know who that is, right, one Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and helped the future movie star break into the film business.

March Madness continued yesterday with another round full of upset. If your bracket wasn't busted yet, you're one of the lucky ones. Andy Scholes joining us now with the "Bleacher Report."

I know your bracket's a little messed up at this point, right?

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Yes, because mine's not doing so hot. And that's because this tournament so far has been upset city. In the second round, we saw a two and three seed go down. And then last night, our first number one seed bit the dust as Gonzaga lost to Wichita State. The Zags were considered by many the weakest of the top seeds in the tournament. And unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they were unable to prove their doubters wrong. Gonzaga lead this one by eight with about 12 minute to go, but the shockers behind a barrage of three pointers mounted a comeback to knock off the Bulldogs. With the loss, Gonzaga becomes just the fifth team to end the season atop the polls and then lose in the round of 32.


MARK FEW, GONZAGA HEAD COACH: It's a tough, tough, tough way to end a fabulous season. But, you know, Wichita State deserves a ton of credit.

ELIAS HARRIS, GONZAGA SENIOR: It's just over now and it's sad, you know. It hurts. But that's life, I guess.


SCHOLES: Well maybe the best game of the tournament so far took place last night between three seed Marquette and sixth seed Butler. This one went back and forth all night. Marquette up two with three seconds to go, but they turned the ball over right here giving Butler one last shot. But the Bulldogs, hey, they were unable to get a good look at the basket. This three would be no good. Golden Eagles hold on for the win to advance to the sweet 16 for the third straight year.

To see Twitter' reaction to this game and every game throughout the tournament, head over to

Well, after a rough second round, Tiger Woods came roaring back yesterday to take the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Tiger, who is looking for a record eighth win at bay (ph). Hail (ph) has a two-shot lead over three others heading into today's final round. If Tiger holds on to win, he will regain the world's number one ranking for the first time since October of 2010.

And, Christi, of course, his new FaceBook official girlfriend, Lindsey Vonn, she's at home recovering from an ACL injury. But who knows, maybe she'll show up if Tiger wins on the 18th green to give him a big congratulations.

PAUL: I know you'll be watching, Andy. Thank you so much.

During the summer marches of 1965, Tony Bennett and Harry Belafonte teamed up to fight hate and now they're looking back on that historic event and where society stands now.


PAUL: Well, the calendar say spring, but, people, look out your window. Does it look anything like that to you? Oh, my goodness. Look at that fierce storm that's making its way across the Midwest this morning, sending snow all the way from Denver to New York City. And there's a severe weather warning for the deep south as well, which could bring tornados and large hail. So depending on where you are, well, always be careful regardless. But hope you're in a good position today.

You know, 48 years ago this month, the nation reached a turning point in the civil rights movement. The third and decisive civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Well, CNN's Chris Cuomo sat down with Harry Belafonte and Tony Bennett to share memories about that movement.


HARRY BELAFONTE, SINGER/SOCIAL ACTIVIST: Selma was different. They were willing to kill, burn, bomb, destroy. So to ask artison (ph) people to go into Selma was a whole different game.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Harry Belafonte remembers the backdrop for a major flashpoint in the Civil Rights Movement, the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965. Fifty miles had to be covered. But the real obstacle was hate. Not long after, 600 marchers began on Sunday, March 7th. Police brutally beat them, driving them back to Selma.

CUOMO (on camera): When Bloody Sunday happened and then Dr. King decided to march again after it, what was the mood?

BELAFONTE: The mood was anger. The mood was rebellious. The question is, what do we do in the face of this kind of rage and this kind of mayhem. And the bottom line was that we will go back as often as necessary.

CUOMO (voice-over): Belafonte, enlisted by Dr. King to bring artists into the movement, convince the likes of Joan Baez, Paul Newman and Marlin Brando. But one of his first calls was to old friend and supporter Tony Bennett.

TONY BENNETT, SINGER: Well, I didn't want to do it, but then he told me what went down, what was going down, how some blacks were burned -- had gasoline thrown on them and they were burned. When I heard that, I said, I'll go with you.

CUOMO (on camera): And that black/white divide, white faces would see your face, what do you think they thought about you?

BELAFONTE: Thought you were a God damn traitor.

BENNETT: There was a spirit that we decided we're just going to march right through it, no matter what.

CUOMO (voice-over): After a federal court affirmed the right to march against the government and National Guard troops were ordered to protect marchers, protesters grew from 600 to 25,000. To rally the crowd, the artists came forth, but one problem.

BENNETT: We found out we didn't have a stage. And somebody came up with a funeral parlor. And how many caskets were there?

BELAFONTE: I think the number was about 50 to 80 caskets.

CUOMO (on camera): Fifty to 80 coffins?


CUOMO: How did you feel about that, that the stage was built on coffins?

BENNETT: Well, it was different.

CUOMO (voice-over): To say the least. Yet singing on top of coffins may be apt metaphor for the marches. And they succeeded. Later that August, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. LYNDON JOHNSON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: This purpose is not to divide, but to end divisions.

CUOMO: Change that Bennett could feel even in the place that scared him the most.

BENNETT: Many years later, I went back to Selma, just as an engagement, and I was pretty concerned about it. I wonder how I'm going to be treated. It changed. It changed that area. There were much more human, much more civilized about just accepting the good soul (ph). It made me feel like it worked. It really worked. That march worked.

CUOMO: But that work is unfinished says Belafonte and he wonders if today's black celebrities will take up the cause.

CUOMO (on camera): And you talked about the next generation or the current generation. And where's the new Harry Belafonte?

BELAFONTE: Never before in the history of this country has there ever been a pool of celebrities more numerous than we have today and never have the black people in this country been less spoken for by a community of celebrities that, in a snap of a finger, could say and do so much who've opted to do nothing.


BELAFONTE: They're so busy becoming heathenistic (ph) about the harvest and the material successes that they have receive the result of the success of that mission, but they have forgotten that there was ever a mission.

CUOMO (voice-over): His message is clear. The march is in the past, but the movement for fairness under law for all, for justice, must continue.

BELAFONTE: Civil rights is a constant. It's never of the past. It's with you all the time. Every society, every millennium, every decade is going to need its vigilant watchers of the democratic process.


PAUL: Boy, it's so moving to see some of those pictures, too, isn't it? And thank you to Chris Cuomo for the report there.

All right, from Kansas to Virginia, we're talking about this monster winter storm making its way across the nation and whether this moody march weather is headed your way.

Plus, their husbands fought in Afghanistan. They were seriously wounded. Now these military wives are getting a special treat for one magical night out.


PAUL: Well, it's half past the hour and aren't you up early on a Sunday morning? We're glad that you're keeping us company here, and I want to give a special shoutout to our troops who are watching on the American Forces Network. We so appreciate the work that you do and we think about it every day. We're grateful to you and your families. I'm Christi Paul and I want to talk about March, certainly living up to its reputation at this point of roaring in like a lion, or, in this case, we're hoping roaring out. Parts of eight states from Kansas to Virginia are under winter storm warnings today. We're tracking these Midwest snow storms as they make their way east, of course. So, if you're headed out today, be sure to check the road conditions first and airport for travel delays because there have been an awful lot of those. Fortunately, for Colorado the worst of this storm has come and gone, but good heaven at a tight. Folks there saw a near whiteout conditions yesterday. Look at what they were dealing with. Travel across the northern Colorado area was nearly impossible. For a lot of drivers on I-25. That's where our Casey Wian is bracing the beat of wind. Casey?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT; Christi, a nightmare for motorists in Colorado all day on Saturday. 150 mile section of Interstate 70 closed to the Kansas border for most of the day, also Interstate 25 closed in both directions in the area south and north of Denver. Massive pileups caused authorities to close the roads. We were right in the middle of that snow storm.


WIAN: We are at a rest stop off of Interstate 25 between Colorado Springs and Pueblo, Colorado. And we are in the middle of a very serious storm. You can see the flags over here just being whipped by the wind. The snow is blowing very dramatically, it really hurts your face just to be standing out here in the snow. Over here you can see or you can't see Interstate 25. Normally the speed limit on the interstate is 75 miles an hour. You can see as this vehicle goes by us. He's going much slower. You can also see on the other side of the Interstate, vehicles heading south at a very slow rate of speed, perhaps maybe 30 miles an hour or so. For the past 20 miles that we've been driving, we've seen a succession of accidents. Multi-car pileups, spinouts, traffic backed up for a half mile or so heading south because of the accidents. We couldn't even pull over to shoot pictures of what had happened because it was just too dangerous. A very, very serious winter-type storm has hit Colorado in early spring.


Incredibly, authorities report no fatalities despite all those pileups. The good news for Colorado, the weather is expected to clear up as the day progresses Sunday. Christi?

PAUL: Good heaven. Casey, thank you so much, we appreciate it. Casey Wian for you there.

Now, we've got president of the American Meteorological Society Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd joining me. So we can talk about -- now we should be talking about spring break right now.


PAUL: What the heck is going on in the world?

SHEPHERD: Yes, yeah, I wore my spring colors to try to trick the atmosphere into thinking it is spring. But you know, you know, we can get these winter storms in spring and March. We've seen them before, think back to 1993, the superstorm and the Storm of the Century, that was in March. But there are some strange things with the atmosphere, something called the arctic oscillation which is really affecting our winter right now and our spring.

PAUL: I know that you described it, as weather as a mood and climate as a personality. What do you mean by that?

SHEPHERD: Yeah, weather is really your mood and climate is your personality. You really can't say anything about the season, the climate based on what is happening today no more than you can say anything about my personality based on my mood today. So, you know, we are in spring right now, with the atmosphere, there hasn't been a magic switch, that has been flipped to say, OK, we need spring weather. This arctic oscillation and jet stream patterns that we're under because of this arctic oscillation is something like El Nino.


SHEPHERD: It's really affecting our weather, keeping us really cold in the eastern part of the United States right now, and it's really an important thing for us to understand as scientists.

PAUL: OK, so how does Greenland affect these winter storms?

SHEPHERD: Yeah, Greenland there is a big high pressure system sitting over Greenland right now. It's like a big, huge road block. And what is happening is because of this blocking pattern, cold air from the arctic is able to literally ooze down onto the United States. And I hate to use that term, but think about pouring pancake syrup on the top of the planet and this literally flowing down into the United States because of this blocking pattern over Greenland. And so, because of that pattern, we're remaining relatively cold here in the spring.

PAUL: What a great analogy.


PAUL: I mean I'm almost afraid to ask about what these patterns predict for summer?

SHEPHERD: Yeah, well, right now we're stuck in this pattern and it's because of this arctic oscillation. We don't really understand it, as well. We're seeing record-high pressure over Greenland, atmospheric pressure. If this breaks out of that pattern, we could start to see some changes in terms of our weather into summer. But it depends on whether we break out of this arctic oscillation. So, now the public has to learn arctic oscillation the way they know El Nino.

PAUL: Oh, my goodness, Dr. Jay Marshall Shepherd going to be around with us all morning here. Because we have a lot to talk about.


PAUL: Thank you so much.

SHEPHERD: Thank you.

PAUL: Good to have you here.

SHEPHERD: Vice President Joe Biden is going to hit the campaign trail to stump for comedian Stephen Colbert's sister. Elizabeth Colbert Busch -- yes, he goes by Colbert, she goes by Colbert is running for U.S. Congress in South Carolina as you may know. She won the Democratic primary last week. Well, Biden's people say, he'll head to South Carolina before the May 7th election. Colbert Busch faces a tough battle, though, because the district is heavily Republican.

In Washington, three army wives and Army fiancee, their men severely wounded a year ago in Afghanistan got a huge treat on Friday. Makeover, got a big night out on the town at a fashion show. And this was no regular fashion show, people. Everything. The hair stylist, the makeup, the gowns, the shoes, the limo driver, all of it donated.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, let's do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's about giving something to people. But we -- Their husbands devoted their whole lives to the military. (INAUDIBLE) to be pampered and taken care of.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just feel (INAUDIBLE) about everything came together and, you know, their outfits were provided, their shoes were provided and hair and makeup done. Just limousine provided, everything is amazing and all just for a few hours to (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like every women is beautiful in their own way. We (INAUDIBLE) just enhance their beauty, I love seeing people -- and then woman just happy like right after I do a makeover on them for convincing -- you know, like, wow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, this one here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our job is to dress ladies and make them look even more beautiful. We're doing it because we thought it was a special way and we'll help them

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone looks amazing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What woman doesn't love fashion? You know, it looks like the evening is going to be amazing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they did a really good job. And I'm not really seeing her like this on a day-to-day basis. So, you know what, this is just -- this can make my night probably (ph) some more better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife is so pretty, but she always is. So, I mean she went to the beauty shop, he's got beauting up, but she's always pretty. So -- but she looks phenomenal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Emily looks amazing. And I haven't seen her all day, it's been very nice to finally get a glance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think she looks fantastic, all the time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what our country is all about. Young men putting themselves in harm's way for our every day. That's what it's all about. I love ...


PAUL: And we so thank them for their service.

One of the husbands, by the way, a quadruple amputee was honored at the fashion show where the models, by the way were all active duty troops or veterans. It was organized by the non-profit Luke's Wings and, in case you're wondering, the women were able to keep the designer dresses and shoes.

Well, Passover celebrations begin tomorrow night for Jewish communities around the world. We're taking you inside the celebration and the symbolism of the Seder.


PAUL: Live pictures here of Pope Francis, in the popemobile obviously there. And what an image you're getting right now. And you're, basically seeing, obviously, the back of him. But getting seeing such a great view of what he sees as he travels through Vatican City, here waiving at people. Of course, they are celebrating Palm Sunday, an important holiday for Christians. This is, of course, the day that kicks off Holy Week. Remember, Easter is next Sunday and it came upon us pretty quickly but again, the pope and the popemobile waving really with very little protection, as we can see. Which is kind of a take away and a departure from what we have seen from the popes priors and the popes in recent years. Security has been much more defined than it seems to be here. And Nadia Bilchik is with me now. We were just talking about how different this must be for him to be anonymous just several weeks ago and now he is this man ...


PAUL: Worshipped, yes. Yes, so. What he must be feeling going into Easter this year. Would love to get your take on that. But, of course, celebrating all kind of holidays from Jerusalem to South Africa and the United States, we know that Jewish communities around the world are celebrating Passover tomorrow night with the Seder. So, to help explain the symbolism of the meal, CNN editorial producer Nadia Bilchik and she always brings such great props. So we really can get to understand this. So, let's start with the beginning of Passover and what's the symbolism? BILCHIK: So, Passover is the commemoration of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, and the Old Testament tells us that Moses repeatedly asked pharaoh to please let my people go and pharaoh wouldn't. So, God visited ten plaques upon the Egyptians in order to pressurize pharaoh and the tenth plague was the smiting or the killing of every first born son, but God passed over the Israelite children, the Israelite first born. Hence the name Passover.

PAUL: All right, excellent. So, as we celebrate Passover with the Seder, let's talk about the meal and the symbolism of all of this.

BILCHIK: And this is very symbolic meal. And on the -- we have the Seder plate. And one of the things we have is bitter herbs. Everything has tremendous symbolism and meaning. The bitter herbs symbolizes the bitterness of the experience, old flavor, and then you have the charoset, which is made up of apples and nuts, which is the cement of the bricks that the slaves were forced to build. And then we have the parsley over here commemorating spring, but you dip it in salt water which symbolizes the tears, the tears of slavery and then we have the shank bone, most important because it is the bone of the paschal lamb that was sacrificed and the blood of the paschal lamb that marked the Israelite homes so that God knew to pass over. We also call Passover, Pesach, which means paschal lamb. So, all kinds of things including matzah, which is very fragile and that shows the fragility of life amongst many other things, and the unleavened bread, no time for bread to rise when you are escaping from Egypt.

PAUL: Isn't that something? Thank you so much.

BILCHIK: Chag Sameah to our Jewish viewers.

PAUL: Chag Sameah?

BILCHIK: A happy and kosher Passover.

PAUL: To you. She says it better. So I'm just going to let her do it. Thank you, Nadia, so much. We appreciate it.

Moving on here, money, inheritance, death, kids, health benefits. You know, all of these things are affected by the Defense of Marriage Act. The Supreme Court is hearing arguments on Wednesday and we're going to introduce you to one couple. An Air Force member and a cop who have a lot riding on this decision.


PAUL: Good morning, Atlanta. It doesn't look like it yet, though, does it -- much like morning. See a live shot of downtown Atlanta there. Very soggy downtown. Heavy thunder and lightning overnight. And take a look at the radar. That's why. Heavy storms move in across the southeast today. Everybody kind of hunkered down there. Not only trying to get you ready for the day ahead with weather, but let's talk about the week ahead from outer space to cool new cars. It's time to get you ready. So, let's talk about Tuesday first of all. SpaceX Dragon capsules are going to splash down in the Pacific Ocean. It's filled with more than two tons of experiments and supplies from the International Space Station. Also on Tuesday, for the first time ever, the Supreme Court takes up the issue of same-sex marriage. They are hearing oral arguments on prop 8. Of course, California's ban on gay marriage. And then we also have David Petraeus, his first public appearance since resigning as director of the CIA. He stepped down, of course, after it was discovered he was having an affair. He is going to be speaking at a dinner honoring veterans and military active duty. So, move it here to Wednesday. Let's see what's happening. All eyes back on the Supreme Court at that point because they're hearing arguments on the Defense of Marriage Act. DOMA defines federal benefits, or denies, rather, federal benefits to same-sex couples legally married in their own state. And then Friday, all right, car enthusiasts get to New York. The big New York International Auto Show kicks off. The nine-day event features about 1,000 vehicles and will, of course, show off hot new cars and trucks from around the world and all the new technology that goes in them as well.

So, I know, we just told you about the Defense of Marriage Act up for debate on Wednesday as I said. Well, there are thousands of couples across the country that are going to be affected by the Supreme Court's decision. CNN's Joe Johns spoke to one of those couples. Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi, the Defense of Marriage Act has been the law of the land since 1996. And though its title may sound harmless enough, gay and lesbian Americans all over the country claim the law has caused enormous damage, by declaring that legally marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.


JOHNS: Jamelle Thomas and Karane Williams had been together four years before they got married last October. Don't let the wedding dresses fool you. Their lives are not all satin and pearls.

JAMELLE THOMAS, U.S. AIR FORCE RESERVES: Well, I'm an airman in the United States Air Force Reserves. And ...

KARANE WILLIAMS, METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICER: I am a police officer with the Metro (ph) Police Department here in D.C.

JOHNS: ... which makes this couple a case study in how America's married but unequal approach to same-sex relationships can play out.

THOMAS: As, you know, an airman, it's you get a constant reminder that you know, you're second class.

JOHNS: Jamel is a federal employee, but the federal Defense of Marriage Act bars recognition of same-sex marriage by the government. Which affects more than 1,000 federal benefits for spouses. Everything from filing taxes and receiving death benefits to who gets called as next of kin.

THOMAS: I had to list Karane as my sister just so that someone would call her in the event that, you know, I am killed or missing in action or I'm hurt on the job. She can't be my emergency contact, she can't receive my remains.

JOHNS: Karane, on the other hand, as a District of Columbia employee, gets the benefits of being married, because the local government in the nation's capital recognizes same sex marriage, but only nine states and the District of Columbia have taken that step. So, Corinne loses status as a spouse, just by crossing the Potomac River into Virginia.

WILLIAMS: Why do we have to be married locally, but federally, it's nothing. We're friends. We wear a ring symbolically. You know, so, it's ridiculous.

BILL CLINTON: What the bill does ...

JOHNS: And now the Defense of Marriage Act, also known as DOMA, first passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1996 is being challenged at the Supreme Court.

AMY HOWE, SCOTUSBLOG.COM EDITOR: It's being asked to decide there as whether or not Congress can pass a law that treats same-sex couples who are already married under the laws of their state different from opposite sex couples.

JOHNS: Defenders of the law say Congress has as much right as the states to make its own definition of marriage.

AUSTIN NIMOCKS, ALLIANCE DEFENSE FUND: DOMA is important because Congress said it was important. I mean we sent our elected representatives to Washington, D.C., and they chose to say that marriage is one man and one woman for purposes of federal law.

JOHNS: And conservatives say the founding fathers never contemplated gay marriage.

CARRIE SEVERINO, JUDICIAL CRISIS NETWORK: Because it's clearly not what anyone understood as marriage at the time of the framing of the Constitution.

JOHNS: Still, same-sex families pay taxes and don't get the same benefits. And the issue with DOMA really gets complicated if they have children who are also excluded from benefits.

THOMAS: When we have kids, I would like them to be born in a post- DOMA United States.


JOHNS: Ironically, conservative legal advocates have said raising children is one of the biggest arguments in favor of preserving traditional marriage as between a man and a woman. The Supreme Court is likely to decide the DOMA case some time this June. Christi.

PAUL: All right. Joe Johns, thank you so very much. Here we are going to take you to Iraq next. We have the first visit by the new Secretary of State, John Kerry, who is making a trip there. What are they going to be talking about? Back in a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: We're going to kill you. That message from the Pakistani Taliban who have vowed to assassinate former president Pervez Musharraf. Now that he has returned. Musharraf, as you know, who's been in a self-imposed exile for five years since resigning, wants to lead his new party in this May's elections . Now as death threats aren't enough, but government plans to try him for treason. So, Musharraf himself admits the homecoming is quite, to quote him, "risky" he says.

Well, Secretary of State John Kerry making one more stop on his first trip overseas. An unannounced visit to Baghdad. He landed in Iraq just a short time ago, we know. Nick Paton Walsh has been traveling with the secretary, joins us now via phone from Iraq. Nick, I understand, Syria is going to be on the agenda. What else is John Kerry pressing for?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christi. On top of the agenda here, it is going to be a direct reproach from John Kerry to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to intervene in the issue of flights from Iran to Syria delivering weapons and fighters to assist the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The U.S. is convinced, they say, that almost 80 flights (ph) that are assisting Assad in fight. They want to be clear that Iraq should, if it wants to have a role in forming the future of Syria with the Syrian opposition, they should intervene and prevent the evidence, they say. They have it (INAUDIBLE) their side, they say that inspections done by Iraq aren't enough, and done too since July, and those have turned up humanitarian aid but the U.S. is convinced that those flights are actually carrying weapon supplies. This inaugural trip here for secretary of state very much bound up in issue of Syria, Christi.

PAUL: All right. Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much for the update, we appreciate it.

And thank you for kickstarting your morning with us here. We've got much more ahead for you on CNN "SUNDAY MORNING" which starts right now.