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Obama to Return 5 Percent of His Salary; Snoop Lion Releases "No Guns" Video; Final Four Teams Arrive in Atlanta

Aired April 4, 2013 - 09:30   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Thank you for being with me. I'm Carol Costello. Stories we're watching in the NEWSROOM at 32 minutes past the hour. We are watching Wall Street reaction to worse than expected jobless reports. Jobless claims rose by 28,000 from a week ago. The government's monthly jobs reports due out tomorrow. Ringing the bell, by the way, executives from Atlantic Trust and Barclays.

"The Washington Post" reports many cancer clinics are turning away thousands of Medicare patients because of the government's forced spending cuts. Doctors in the reports say reduced funding makes it impossible, impossible to cover expensive chemotherapy drugs and keep their clinics open. Medicare patients will have to go to hospitals for cancer treatment.

Soon Walgreens won't just be filling your prescriptions, they'll be writing them. The drugstore chain says it can now diagnose and treat patients for chronic illnesses like asthma and diabetes. Walgreens says it has nurse practitioners and physician assistance on staff as part as expanded healthcare services at 300 clinics in 18 states.

Oh, to politics now. Chuck Hagel is doing it. So is President Obama. I'm talking about giving back part of their salaries to show they feel the financial pain of federal employees who are going to be furloughed. The president is giving back 5 percent or almost $20,000 he makes $400,000 a year. Chuck Hagel will give back 14 days pay, or what the "Washington Post" says amounts to a little more than $10,000.

Critics accused the president, though, of making a largely symbolic move, but Democrats would say that the president is going a lot farther than some in Congress. This is now Nancy Pelosi addressed the issue just two months ago during talks about those forced spending cuts.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: Most of my colleagues are the bread winners in their families. A pay cut to me doesn't mean as much. I mean, I don't think we should do it. I think we should respect the work we do. I think it's necessary for us to have the dignity of the job that we have rewarded.


COSTELLO: That's right. It would be beneath their dignity to take a cut.


Maria Cardona, a CNN contributor and Democratic strategist, joins me now along with Will Cain, also a CNN contributor and analyst for "The Blaze."

Welcome to both of you.



COSTELLO: Good morning. OK. So the president's gesture, he's giving back 5 percent of his salary because he wants federal employees who probably will be furloughed because of sequestration to know that he feels their pain. Symbolic gesture or sincere, Will Cain?

CAIN: You start with me. That's a shame. I want see who Maria is going to say is right, Nancy Pelosi or Barack Obama. It's going to be a tough choice, Maria.


Look, it's tempting to say this is just so dumb. It's so dumb on a trillion-dollar federal deficit. We're talking about cutting $17,000 from the president's pay. But look, I understand. It's not about addressing the deficit. It's admittedly symbolic, it's admittedly a gesture of what solidarity with federal workers.

In the end, here's the deal. It's not dumb. Because what it is is a brilliant Machiavellian political maneuver to have people -- I don't know what Maria is going to say, but that people come out and say, this is so nice of President Obama to stand with the people and then to have people like me come out and go, that is so silly, it's like you can almost get behind the scenes of the White House machinations, political machinations and just see exactly how this work to play out in the public.

COSTELLO: Respond to that one, Maria.


CARDONA: Were you in the White House, Will? Wow.

CAIN: Right?

CARDONA: No, look. This is -- this is a sincere gesture by the president. Is it going to fix our budget problems? Of course not. But that's not the point. The point for this president to do this is to underscore what he has said from the very beginning which is, we're all in this together.

And look, Roosevelt said that the White House is not immune from shared sacrifice and this is the point that the president is trying to make. And when you have cancer patients on Medicare like you just reported, Carol, being turned back and not getting their treatments because of the sequester, when you have the elderly going hungry because Meals on Wheels does not have the money to continue, when you have children not being able to participate in Head Start programs, these are the things that matter to the American people and that's the point that will allow this president to make.

So you have Republicans making fun of his gesture, admittedly Will did not, but the RNC has. It's not a joke.


COSTELLO: Wait, wait, wait. Wait, wait, wait. The Republican National Committee, Maria mentioned it, so I'd like to read to you their comments.


COSTELLO: This is their statement. "Mr. Obama giving back 5 percent of his salary to Treasury and then he'll hop on Air Force One and take a $180,000 per hour ride to a fundraiser with the same fat cat millionaires and billionaires he campaigned against."

So, you know -- I mean, it is a valid point, right?

CAIN: There you go. I think so. I think that it kind of undercuts a little bit of the -- I don't know, high-handed praise that Maria just handed the president that he was -- look, a guy that makes $400,000 a year is cutting back on, what, $17,000? It's almost -- I mean, you could make the argument, this is kind of offensive to compare that to cancer patients receiving reduced government contributions to their medical illness coverage, that the president is going to cut that amount from his $400,000 salary, and then hop on a plane and then go fundraise, come on.

This is -- how is this --

CARDONA: But -- but here --

CAIN: How is this some grand gesture?

CARDONA: Well, but here is -- here is the point that of course the RNC doesn't make. That when the president goes on those campaign fundraisers, they are not paid for by you and I, they're paid for by the campaign. And so that does not come out of the money that taxpayers actually pay. So, again, let's focus on the gesture, the gesture is we are all in this together, and the RNC can poke fun at this, can make jokes about this all they want.

But you know who's not laughing? All of those kids, all of those elderly, all of those cancer patients who are not being treated because of the sequester. And what are Republicans doing --


COSTELLO: You know what, though -- you know what, Maria? You could say that all you want, Maria. You can say that all you want. But I think -- I posted this on my Facebook page and you should read the comments. Because most people think none of them should be paid. They are so angry at the president, at Congress, at everybody, they don't think anyone deserves a dime of taxpayer money.

CAIN: You know what --

CARDONA: And you know what, Carol? All of those people should absolutely make their voices heard to Congress because who are the people who don't want to compromise? It's not the president and it's not Democrats.

COSTELLO: Will, last word.

CAIN: I was just going to say, look, I understand that people get upset about Congress' salaries. But if you really want to resolve this problem, these symbolic gestures to pay cuts aren't something that does it. I mean, you want something arbitrary and -- reduce power by 5 percent, fewer executive orders. Fewer immigration proposals put through the executive branch exclusively and not the democratic process. Reduce power, not salaries. By the way, the president got what he wanted. We just had a little food fight about this symbolic gesture.


CARDONA: How about let's --

COSTELLO: All right. We've got to wrap it up here.

Maria Cardona, Will Cain, thank you.

CARDONA: Brining in -- bringing in Republicans together with Democrats.

COSTELLO: Thanks for joining us.

CARDONA: Thanks, Carol.

COSTELLO: We appreciate it.

Just ahead, the multiplatinum artist Snoop Dogg who's actually now known as Snoop Lion. He releases a new video that puts him squarely at the center of the nation's debate over gun violence.


COSTELLO: He changed his name to Snoop Lion and embraced a new reggae style.

Now the artist formally known as Snoop Dogg has released this brand new video that couldn't be more at odds with his old gangster rapper persona.

Here is A.J. Hammer from New York to explain to us what this new video is all about. A.J. HAMMER, ANCHOR, SHOWBIZ TONIGHT: Carol, it's a really powerful video from Snoop, singing with his daughter on the track, and as you see, they cut the video up with clips from shootings in the U.S. and around the world. Let's watch a bit more of it.

Obviously some really strong images there. And if you're looking at this and wondering yes, why is the former Snoop Dogg singing a mostly reggae track about guns, well, snoop, the gangster rapper, the man who was acquitted of murder, says he has changed his ways.

Snoop Dogg embraced the Rastafarian lifestyle after he took a trip to Jamaica. That's when he changed his name to Snoop Lion and there's been a lot of skepticism in the music business and among his fans about this change.

But Snoop says he has evolved as he's gotten older and he feels his music should reflect those changes. After all when you think about it he broke on to the music with his album "Doggy Style" back in 1993. So that's some 20 years ago, he's certainly a changed guy. And he's been pushing a gun control message as Snoop Lion.

Listen to what he told Piers Morgan about that last month.


SNOOP LION, RAPPER: It affected me to where I wanted to say something, I wanted to make some music to try to help the next person who was thinking about loading a gun, going to a school and then shooting, maybe helping him put that gun down and think about what he was doing or what she was doing before they did that.


HAMMER: Yes he's always struck me Carol as a very thoughtful person, and I think that Snoop speaking out and singing about this issue does have the potential to really make a difference in how some people think about it.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I hope so. A.J. Hammer, many thanks.

Hold the phones. Facebook is making a big announcement today. The social network giant wants to change the way you get in touch of all of those Facebook friends.


COSTELLO: At 48 minutes past the hour, time to check our "Top Stories."

Three people survived when their SUV crashed through a guard rail on a bridge and falls at least 30 feet onto a parking lot below. In happened in Atlanta. Investigators says -- tells CNN affiliate WSB someone may have had a medical emergency just before the crash.

Facebook has something up its sleeve. Today the social network giant will show off its latest creation in California. There are reports Facebook will unveil an android phone with a new operating system that better connects users to all the different platforms Facebook offers.

And weeks after a Canadian company pulled several lines of its popular yoga pants off store shelves the company is announcing a management change. The chief product officer of Lululemon is stepping down. The company could lose close to $70 million in the recall because the fabric for those pants was way too sheer.

ExxonMobil says it will pay all the costs relating to an oil spill in an Arkansas neighborhood. On Friday, up to 5,000 barrels of heavy crude leaked from a ruptured underground pipeline, 22 homes had to be evacuated.

All right, your "Talk Back" question for the day. "Are universities responsible if students can't find jobs?"

This from Ryan, "No. You chose to get a degree in basket weaving, not the University."

This from Wesley, "Yes private and public universities spend so much advertising and marketing -- if you advertise it, then people should be able to get it."

This from Wally, "Absolutely not. Schools only provide the education, but they can't guarantee a job or that the student won't face stiff competition. What happened to individual responsibility?"

And this from Jim, "For what those universities are charging they should at least offer a money-back guarantee."

Keep the conversation going or tweet me @carolCNN.

Kevin Ware says he's doing just fine. Yes the same guy who had a bone sticking out of his leg just a few days ago. The Louisville guard sits down with Rachel Nichols to talk about the injury and the special phone call he got in the hospital.


COSTELLO: College basketball's final four teams are in Atlanta preparing for Saturday's semi-final games. But the player getting the most attention right now won't be suiting up. Louisville guard Kevin Ware arrived with his teammates. He -- Ware faces of course a long rehab after shattering his leg in Sunday's tournament game against Duke.

Before leaving Louisville for Atlanta he sat down with Rachel Nichols to talk about the injury that's changed his life.


RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: First of all, tell us about the leg. How much pain are you in? What do you feel like right now?

KEVIN WARE, LOUISVILLE GUARD: I'm actually fine really. It might hurt here and there, just the actual part where the bone came out. But I've been fine. I've been trying to walk as much as I can, you know.

NICHOLS: I just want you to listen to what you just said, "you know, the part where the bone came out." I mean this is surreal. Can you describe for me what it was like when this happened to you? What you first thought and then take me through that moment.

WARE: I guess I landed completely wrong. And I honestly felt like hurt like, thought it was a cord that went across. But it turned out to be my knee, you know and the Coach P just kind of gave me one of those looks like somebody just saw a ghost or something like that. And I'm looking at him like confused. So I looked down at my leg and I'm -- it's kind of like my arm. And I see my snicker arm but my leg is like this. So I just go into automatic shock.

NICHOLS: I mean did you realize that was your bone sticking out of your leg?

NICHOLS: I did, but my first instinct was I can't start crying. I can't do this right now. So I'm just thinking in my head, what can I do? So I'm just yelling as soon as I looked I was praying, I'm just telling them, hey, you all got to win this game like I don't care which I do. We got to win this game. I'm going to be good. I'm going to be ok.

NICHOLS: Now have you seen a picture of this? Have you seen any video of this?

WARE: I've seen the picture and I've seen it and like quick glance of it and I just turn away from it because I feel like me trying to get back on the basketball court, that would just stop me from getting where I need to be. I don't want to see the video, I don't plan on ever seeing the video honestly --


NICHOLS: You don't really think 20 years from now one day you want to see what everybody's talking about.

WARE: Never, I honestly never want to see the video.

NICHOLS: And your coach Rick Pitino came straight from the game.

WARE: Straight from the game.

NICHOLS: And he brought the trophy.

WARE: And I honestly don't even remember, I was just on so much medication, you know, and I saw the pictures of them putting the trophy by my side and me sleeping with it. And I was -- I was very proud.

NICHOLS: And you got phone calls from everyone.

WARE: From everyone.

NICHOLS: But the First Lady, Michelle Obama called you. WARE: Yes.

NICHOLS: And Rick Pitino says you're now the coolest guy he knows. He said, your coach said, the President calling you ok fine. Well he calls sports people but Michelle Obama?

WARE: Yes I'm sad because I honestly don't even remember speaking to her. But that's what they were telling that she called.

NICHOLS: Please call him back.

WARE: Please, please call again. I really would appreciate it. Because it's a once in a lifetime thing. And I know the President kind of picked us to lose to Indiana in his bracket. But I'll forgive him. When I speak to him in the White House, I'll forgive him.


COSTELLO: Ware's reference to speaking to the President in the White House. Well that's his confidence that Louisville will indeed win the national title and like other sports champion get a White House invite. Good for him.

And Michelle Obama, call him back.

The next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM, after a quick break.


COSTELLO: Happening now in the NEWSROOM: North Korea warning the moment of explosion is near. A U.S. official says the North could launch a ballistic missile in a few days or weeks. So the United States now moving a missile defense system to Guam.

A newly-elected sheriff gunned down in broad daylight while eating his lunch. Now West Virginia police are trying to figure out why he was targeted.

Rutgers basketball coach is gone but the scandal continues. Now more accusations and a push to get the university president to step down.