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Kerry in China to Try to Calm North Korea; Florida Police Officer Fired
Aired April 14, 2013 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. You're in the "CNN Newsroom." Diffusing a potentially explosive situation, the U.S. reaches out to a crucial ally in an effort to calm North Korea.
And, everything changed in a split second. Why police say one person intentionally lit a man and his car on fire.
And a central Florida police officer is fired for possessing several so-called Trayvon Martin shooting targets.
Efforts are in full swing to diffuse a potentially explosive situation in North Korea. U.S. secretary of state John Kerry met with U.S. allies, China and Japan, this weekend. The north's neighbors are urging the country to stop the provocations.
Athena Jones is live for us now from Washington. So what are some of the key points coming out of Kerry's trip so far?
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Fredricka. Well, the key point here is that everyone that Secretary Kerry has spoken with and met with during these last few days -- the South Koreans, the Chinese, the Japanese - everyone wants to see this situation with North Korea resolved peacefully. Let's listen to a little bit of what Secretary Kerry had to say upon arriving in Japan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I think we have to be careful and thoughtful and, frankly, not lay out publicly all the options but work privately and quietly at the highest levels of government in order to try to take steps to bring about a peaceful resolution. And I want to emphasize to everybody that that is the outcome that we want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: And you know, Secretary Kerry has said that everything is still on the table but what they want to see is a peaceful outcome and that the U.S. and its partners are standing ready in good faith to resolve this. He's also stressed that North Korea has to be ready to come to the table to talk about negotiating an end to its nuclear program. North Korea will not be accepted as a nuclear power, Kerry has said. Fred. WHITFIELD: And Athena, while Kerry was meeting with the Chinese, any promises being made by that country which could be very influential to North Korea?
JONES: Well, that's certainly what the U.S. thinks. The U.S. sees China as North Korea's main ally as having, you know, outsized influence on their young leader, Jim Jong Un. And after his meetings in China, Secretary Kerry had some good words. He said that both the U.S. and China were committed to resolving this peacefully. Both the U.S. and China were calling on North Korea to stop any more provocative measures that could further destabilize the region. And both countries want to see a denuclearization of the Korean peninsula which is perhaps the biggest sign there, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. And what does the White House think potentially North Korea could do next?
JONES: Well, you know, that's everybody's guess. White House officials say that they're continuing to closely monitor the situation. Right now we haven't seen or heard any new threats coming from North Korea but that could change at any moment, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Athena Jones at the White House, thanks so much.
WHITFIELD: All right. Next - a daring escape from a French prison, and now a manhunt. It happened in a style you probably thought only existed in the movies. French police are now looking for (INAUDIBLE). The modern day gangster fashioned himself after criminal characters in Hollywood movies like Robert de Niro in "Heat." At a certain time he actually wore a mask like De Niro's character while robbing an armored truck in the past.
Well, this weekend Fayed (ph) allegedly held five people, including four guards, at gunpoint before blasting the prison doors open with explosives.
On to Florida now where a Port Canaveral police sergeant has been fired for owning shooting targets that are meant to resemble slain teenager Trayvon Martin. Martin was the teen who was shot and killed last year by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. CNN affiliate WESH reports Sergeant Ron King brought the targets to a gun range earlier this month, and then offered them to other officers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN WALSH, CANAVERAL PORT AUTHORITY: He offered one of our other officers a target that was the profile of Trayvon Martin, the officer rejected that and told him to - that he should put those back in his car and shouldn't even possess something like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Fired officer Ron King went on YouTube to defend himself. He says the Martin targets were a "no-shoot training aid."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON KING, FORMER PORT CANAVERAL POLICE OFFICER: The target was something that I viewed as an example of a no-shoot situation. While others have used it as a novelty, I view it as a tool for scenario- based firearms training. Although today targets have never been used, I did possess the targets for those training reasons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: The police department calls King's behavior unacceptable.
A 63-year-old man sitting in his SUV was set on fire in Long Beach, California. A man threw flammable liquid into his car making it burst into flames as you see there. The driver is hospitalized and in critical condition with severe burns. The 39-year-old suspect was arrested and is being booked on attempted murder charges. Neighbors describe him as a transient who was known to act strangely.
On to New York now - a man is free 38 years after being jailed for murder. A judge said he didn't get a fair trial back in the 1970s. David Bryant was convicted of murdering an eight-year-old girl. The judge's order released Bryant but did not clear him of the conviction.
Now to Augusta, Georgia and the final round of the Masters. As it turns out the two stroke penalty Tiger Woods got Saturday morning could cause him a shot at the fifth green jacket.
CNN's sports anchor Rachel Nichols is covering all the action at the Augusta National Golf Club. All right. So we're getting down to the wire. I saw umbrellas out there on the greens as well. How might that impact, you know, kind of the closing of this tournament?
RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Well, Fred, they're still playing now. So that's the good news for the Masters tournament. Rain doesn't stop these guys until it gets really heavy. Then that's when they clear the courses. Certainly if there's thunder and lightning but it certainly does affect the game. When it rains a lot, that means that fairways get a little bit more slick, the hazards get a little bit more hazardous. Although the good news for golfers is that the ball sticks a little bit more and their shots go to the green. So definitely affects strategy, definitely affects what we may see a fewer lower scores for guys who know how to play rain well.
But what everybody at the tournament is crossing their fingers about is that it doesn't stop play. There's four times that the Masters has had to moved its final Sunday to being well, a final Monday. But that's not good for business so they're hoping that doesn't happen today.
WHITFIELD: And so it is down to the wire right now. A familiar name, Cabrera, was in the lead - or tied for it. Is he still? NICHOLS: You know, it is interesting. So many people are watching Woods right now because he's - on the last three holes has been undergoing really - just flailing I guess is the best way to put it. I was searching for a nice word but I don't think there is a nice word, Fred. He's gotten two bogeys. Really his game is falling apart. Here's a guy who came into the day saying, "Hey, if I'm within six, even on the back nine, I think I'm going to be OK." But he just doesn't look like he's playing like he has his "A" game there. That's really going to be something that's going to haunt him for the next couple of months because he was going into this tournament feeling as if he was primed to finally win his first major in five years.
That means his next opportunity would be the U.S. Open. Maybe a little poetic book ending. Because hey his last major win was at a U.S. Open in very dramatic fashion. But unless he pulls out a miracle today where we're going to be maybe be looking to the next major to see if Tiger can get that one.
WHITFIELD: And who looks like they'll maybe able to clinch it over the next couple of hours if it is fair enough to take a stab at that?
NICHOLS: Well, Cabrera obviously is having a good round. And he's won before he's actually been in the final pairing three of the last five years. So he's always a good bet. But there's also three Australians of the six golfers who are making up the final three pairings. So that's something to watch as well. No Australian has ever won this tournament which is pretty amazing considering all of the success Australians have had in golf over the years. They've got British non-open titles but can't seem to win here.
Certainly a classic meltdown that golf fans remember in 1996, Greg Norman. So those three Australians are carrying the flag today and if you're watching the rest of the day and Tiger Woods maybe falling down the leader board and you want someone to root for, you can root for a whole country maybe by rooting for one of those three guys because they're certainly trying to carry the flag today.
WHITFIELD: Yes, you reminded us of the shark. Hard to believe that he never got a chance to take a bite out of the Masters. All right. Rachel Nichols, thank you so much. Appreciate it. There in Augusta.
All right. Packing heat. State to state. Why one senator in New York says new measures could put people and police in a whole lot of danger.
And he did what? Justin Bieber. What he left behind at one sacred site that has critics simply shaking their heads.
And Anderson Cooper sits down with Anthony Bourdain. And that's one part of a - yes, I know it's unrecognizable but it's actually a part of a chicken. It sounds fairly safe but you can see Anderson's expression. We'll have to explain the rest.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: U.S. secretary of state John Kerry heads back to the U.S. tomorrow after a trip around Asia. He has been focused mostly on the North Korean crisis but he had time in Tokyo today to check out the sights and meet with the locals there. He took a picture with this little guy, as you see. He got a big hug - big hug in return. Secretary Kerry also met with Japanese students who designed a solar car. Kerry also stopped in China and South Korea.
All right. Back in the U.S., New York has become the latest battleground in the ongoing gun debate. Today a state senator - senior senator, Chuck Schumer, blasted an amendment to gun legislation. The proposal would override New York's tough conceal and carry restrictions. It would force communities nationwide to permit people from other states to carry hidden and loaded handguns in public.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Right now, you - in New York, there are great limits on when you can carry and where you can carry and how you can carry. All those would be undone. And our police officers would have no way of knowing when somebody has a bulge in their pocket whether that's a law-abiding citizen who actually has a permit to do it, or it's a criminal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: The other big issue facing the country and the Congress is immigration reform. The so-called gang of eight senators have a proposal they'll announce this week. Candy Crowley, anchor of "State of the Union" is here. So Candy, can you talked with two of those senators today, Marco Rubio and John McCain. Let's listen to their plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think my other seven colleagues have done a great job. I am guardedly optimistic that we will see finally the end of this long, long trek that a lot of us have been on for many years.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: And you're going to have to be in the system at least ten years plus - plus - all these enforcement things happen before we give you access to apply for the legal immigration system. And since we're not awarding anybody anything. All we're doing is giving people the opportunity to eventually earn access to our new, improved and modernized legal immigration system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So Candy, what's the time frame here?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN "STATE OF THE UNION" ANCHOR: Well, the time frame for citizenship, they'll tell you, will be at least 13 years because there's various steps. The timetable for a green card, which would allow someone to work in the country legally while paying taxes, et cetera, would be 10 years, at least. Let me tell you what I think the sticking point will be with this. It does appear - we'll have to wait until we see the details - but it does appear that there is some sort of provisional card that undocumented workers can get prior to that. I think that will, to conservatives who don't want anything that looks as though people are getting ahead of the line - a provisional card that allows you to stay legally in the U.S. regardless of whether it is a green card or regardless of whether it is U.S. citizenship - still to them sounds like granting a legalization process before you've done - you've tightened security and reinforced the border. So I think that might be a sticking problem, particularly among Republicans in the House.
WHITFIELD: So does it appear as though this plan is in concert with what the White House, what President Obama, has already expressed he wants? He already has an executive order in place making it permissible for some people to stay here as a result of having been in the country for so long. How different is this proposal from what the president wants?
CROWLEY: Well, the president's executive order dealt with children who were brought here by undocumented parents, who came here by no choice. So the president has already cleared the way for them to stay here legally. This is obviously much broader than that and it is anyone that has been here, at least under this plan, since before December of 2011. So in other words, anyone that came in last year obviously would not be able to apply for any sort of preliminary visa, whatever you want to call it.
I think the president has said - I know the president has said that he didn't want anything that set folks on a path to legalization that was tied to border security. Because he said that would - it sort of ties the fate of these undocumented workers to something they really have no control over. It does sound like that is happening. Now some of the Democrats on this committee have said - or this gang of eight have said that they think the White House will in fact accept this even he though the president has said that prior to it. It does seem the White House has backed off a little about that linkage.
WHITFIELD: Candy Crowley, host of "State of the Union," thanks so much.
And even the most powerful man on earth has to meet tomorrow's deadline. It is tax day tomorrow and we've got the details on just how much the Obamas paid.
Oh, you've been wondering about the sequel perhaps? Well, it's Psy's new single. Will it be as big as his last hit?
WHITFIELD: Tomorrow is the last day for filing your taxes so if you haven't done that already, it's time to fill out the paperwork. And if you have finished, well, you're not alone. At least 97 million taxpayers have filed by now and so far the average refund is a little over $2,700. That's about $40 less than the average refund last year.
President Obama has released his 2012 federal income tax returns. He and the first lady filed their taxes jointly. They reported an adjusted gross income of over $600,000. They paid about $112,000 in total tax and gave almost 25 percent of their adjusted gross income to 33 different charities.
So we find out this week how many new houses were being built in the U.S. in the month of March. It's a number that has been slowly building over the past few months. Scott Bleier is an investment strategist and founder of Create Capital. He's joining me now from New York. Good to see you, Scott.
SCOTT BLEIER, INVESTMENT STRATEGIST: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: OK. So let's say you are thinking of buying or selling your house. So how will this number help? Why do you need to know it?
BLEIER: Well, there's good news and bad news about housing. It is not so much this number. It is the trend of numbers. And certainly this year has seen the best start of the year for housing since the crash four years ago. Interesting rates are at basically zero percent for banks and very, very low for those who wish to obtain a mortgage going on now five years.
And the good news is that we've got a good start this year. The bad news is that housing remains very much a work in progress. The financial ramifications of the crash of the housing market, notably mortgage-backed securities and all the financial things that went on behind the scenes of the housing market, still remain as the Federal Reserve continues to try to help banks clean out their balance sheets by buying $40 billion a month of mortgage-backed securities. But if you're looking for a house and you're well qualified, this is a terrific time. Albeit, there are tight, tight markets in the major metropolitan areas and in those aspirational areas where people want to live.
WHITFIELD: So do you think the new houses, building, the numbers we're going to see this week are going to be impressively high or is it going to be about the same as we have experienced?
BLEIER: Well, I think we had a very strong start for the year. And though this is the time where housing should have its best time of year, spring, I think it is going to moderate and I think it is probably going to disappoint. There are a lot of anecdotal evidence out there that the U.S. economy is slowing. Not speeding up like some had hoped. But instead slowing. So I think that the numbers could be a disappointment.
WHITFIELD: OK. So then the beige book is coming out and this is the economic book the Federal Reserve uses to decide on interest rates. How might this trickle down to our mortgage rates, credit cards, things like that? BLEIER: Well, it is much more than just a decider of interest rates. Again, the Federal Reserve has had a zero percent interest rate policy now in its fifth year. So one beige book of a conversation that the Federal Reserve board governors had last month is not going to change that. What it is going to change is how long and how strong the fed is going to work to stimulate the economy.
And you know, the stock market made a new all-time high last week in the major market indices. And you wonder why, with relatively slow economy, with the rest of the world seemingly in that slow economy, the Federal Reserve continues to add lots of stimulus to the market, to ensure that new high, to try to put good money after bad and get the market going, to buy confidence and to build confidence. So I think last month you're going to see a lot of people talking about a moderating economy. I think that will continue going forward.
WHITFIELD: All right. Scott Bleier, thanks so much. Have a great week.
BLEIER: Thank you. You, too.
WHITFIELD: All right. It didn't take long for things to go from bad to worse in London.
Anti-Thatcher protesters squaring off with police.
And a public view of Jesse Jackson Jr. for the first time in two months following his guilty plea on corruption charges this weekend, on stage with his dad.
And many are having a hard time believing what Justin Bieber just left behind at the Ann Frank House in Amsterdam.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. A look at the top stories right now.
North Korea faces more calls from its neighbors to stop making threats. Today it comes from Japan after meetings with U.S. secretary of state John Kerry. Kerry has also made stops in South Korea and China since Friday. He's urging North Korea to stop the provocations and come to the negotiating table.
A man threw flammable liquid on a63-year-old man sitting in an SUV in Long Beach, California. The SUV burst into flames as you see there severely burning the victim. The suspect has been arrested and is being booked on attempted murder charges. No motive has been found.
Disgraced former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. made his first public appearance since pleading guilty to corruption two months ago. He sat with his father at a gathering of the Rainbow/Push Coalition. His attorney asked the crowd to request the judge for leniency in his case. Jackson Jr. has pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds. At the Masters they're in the final round and the race is on to get that coveted green jacket. Golf's number one player, Tiger Woods. However, his chances are fading at this hour. He is tied for 12th. Former champ Angel Cabrera from Argentina is still holding the lead.
Here's a look at what's trending right now. A Florida police sergeant has been fired for owning shooting targets that are meant to resemble slain teenager Trayvon Martin. Sergeant Ron King brought the targets to a gun range earlier this month, and then offered them to the other officers but he says the tarts were meant as a no-shoot training aid.
And possible singer Justin Bieber is being criticized for what he wrote in a guest book at the Ann Frank House in Amsterdam. After writing that he was inspired by his trip to the museum, he wrote, "Hopefully she would have been a belieber." Ann Frank was a victim of the Holocaust.
And a lot of people are getting a kick out of Kmart's new "Ship my pants" ad. It has gone viral with over 1 million views on youtube.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): Ship my pants. Right here? Ship my pants. You kidding me?
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): You can ship your pants right here.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): You hear that? I can ship my pants for free.
(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE): Wow. I just may ship your pants.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): Yes. Ship your pants. Philly you can ship your pants too.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): I can't wait to ship my pants, dad.
(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE): I just shipped my pants and it's very convenient.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): Very convenient.
(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE): I just shipped my drawers.
(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE): I've just shipped my nighty.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): I just shipped the bed.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): If you can't find what you're looking for in the store we'll find it at Kmart.com right now and ship it to you for free.
WHITFIELD: Clearly someone could not get enough of that one.
All right. On to Britain now. More demonstrations ahead of Wednesday's funeral for former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Hundred showed up to protest the political legacy of the woman known as the iron lady. Thatcher's conservative politics divided the country in the 1980s. Her public funeral will take place with full military honors.
"Saturday Night Live" didn't miss the chance to put its spin on Margaret Thatcher. They invented a punk rocker who actually supported her conservative views.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): What are your feelings on Miss Thatcher?
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): I like her. Really sweet face, really to make the hard choices, I respect that.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): I think she's a [Bleep].
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): Wait. That's the prime minister you're talking about. Be decent. Hey iron lady I want to kiss your iron fist. You crushed the Argentineans, you killed a few that won't be missed. Let's go for a drive.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): Well, I had the honor of being the prime minister's personal secretary and whenever she was down she'd listen to Ian Rubbish. His music meant the world to her. When she was pushed out of office in '91 she invited him for tea and, well, that was the happiest I'd ever seen her.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): I remember saying, she's just an awful person, what's her appeal, mate. He just looked at me and he said, she reminds me of my mom.
WHITFIELD: All right. So you hear this phrase all the time -- it tastes like chicken? Well, Anderson Cooper sits down with Anthony Bourdain and they eat chicken but Anderson is a little surprised to find out what part of the chicken they are eating.
And all dressed up for dinner. This guy eats like a king in this video which is now becoming a sensation.
WHITFIELD: A woman accused of stalking actor Hugh Jackman at a Manhattan gym has been arrested. The incident happened while the actor was working out yesterday morning. Jackman told police the woman pulled out an electronic razor and started following him with it. A trainer at the gym says the razor fell out of woman's hands when he stepped in between her and Jackman. Police arrested the woman as she left the gym and later charged her with stalking. The follow-up to "Gangham Style" is heating up online. That's the music video. A new single from South Korean pop sensation Psy. It is called "Gentle Man." And it already has over 20 million views on youtube. Psy performed the song in front of 50 thousand people at a concert in Seoul yesterday.
All right. In just a few hours Anthony Bourdain will take us to exotic global destinations on his new show right here on CNN, "Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown." CNN's Anderson Cooper sat down with Bourdain to find out what we might expect.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What's the idea of the show?
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST, PARTS UNKNOWN: Um, I guess it's not -- on its face it's not really that ambitious. It is to continue what I've been doing as long as I've been making television which is travel the world on my stomach.
COOPER: On your stomach.
BOURDAIN: Meet -- you know, look at the world at least initially from the point of view as somebody who cooked for a living for 30 years, who is interested not just in what's cooking but why people are cooking certain things, what is it about that culture that inspires or demands that they eat the things they eat. And most importantly who he's cooking, who's eating.
COOPER: When I'm traveling for work, I don't -- I almost want it avoid food because I'm so scared of getting sick and having anything happen that's going to interfere with --
BOURDAIN: Yes. The word on the street is that you hate food.
COOPER: I am not a big foodie, yes. That is true. Yes. If I could have a shake for every meal, that would be fine with me. But especially overseas and watching your shows I realize I'm missing out on an entire side of the places that I'm visiting because I'm not experimenting with the food.
BOURDAIN: People are telling you the story when they give you food. And if you don't accept the food, you are in many cultures, whether rural Arkansas or Vietnam, you're rejecting the people.
COOPER: Coming up on this weekend's show, you travel to Myanmar, country formerly known as Burma. That's a place I've been fascinated by. My first reporting assignment I snuck into Burma with the Corren (ph) rebels, hooked up with some students fighting the Burmese government back in 1991. But it has really opened up in the last couple of years. I haven't been there since. What's it like?
BOURDAIN: Well there's that the sense that I'm sure you felt even more intensely, wow, I'm seen some really incredibly beautiful things and nobody else has seen them. The temple complex is as impressive and yet very few people have seen it. It is an incredibly beautiful country. What I found remarkable about Myanmar, aside from its beauty, which is just spectacular -- I've been to a lot of places 20 years after the Soviets left, 30 years and people still shy away from the camera.
They still don't want to talk to you. They see a camera, its bad things. They close up at the approach of an outsider here. Myanmar, place where just about a year ago you were tossed in jail for consorting with foreigners, everybody was incredibly open. Oh, yes. This is the good stuff.
COOPER: What is it?
BOURDAIN: Yakatori. They're just delightful little bits of chicken. I don't know whether that's skin or not. That might be knuckly, if it's a little hard. You might want to go with -- oh, wow, they really hate you, man. I love this. Generally it is -- this should be the good actually. This is --
COOPER: We couldn't just get regular chicken?
BOURDAIN: This is boutique stuff. You have to come early or they run out. I totally recommend the skin. It is crunchy and delicious.
COOPER: It is like knuckles though.
BOURDAIN: That is actually chicken knuckles.
COOPER: Chicken knuckles.
BOURDAIN: Well, sort of the elbow.
COOPER: I grabbed this one because I thought this is regular chicken. I can eat this.
BOURDAIN: They do tongue here really well. I tell you, it's the backbone of every street fair in the world, deep fried food.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): That's right.
COOPER: What do you hope people take away from seeing you in Myanmar?
BOURDAIN: You know, I think just to the extent that you can -- people get a window into a big part of the world, a big culture that they were unaware of. I mean I'm pretty modest in my ambitions or expectations. I'm not an advocate or I'm not a journalist. I'm not an activist.
COOPER: You don't see yourself as a journalist? Because in a way, some of what you do is journalism.
BOURDAIN: I'm an enthusiastic learner. And the extent to which people can get a sense of who we're talking about when we talk about Myanmar, that's enough for me. I've seen them eat, I've seen them hang out, and I've seen them interact. There is value in that. That is some good [Bleep], my friends. (END VIDEOTAPE)
WHITFIELD: Sounds pretty appetizing. Anthony Bourdain "Parts Unknown," airs tonight right here on CNN at 9:00 Eastern Time and Pacific.
All right. So what happens when the president invites you to his dinner right there at the house and you're 45 minutes late? We'll see who was extremely apologetic to the commander in chief.
WHITFIELD: A U.S. Senator more than 45 minutes late for dinner with the president. But President Obama gave Senator Susan Collins a pass when he heard why. She was meeting with families who lost children in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. They were in Washington pushing for tougher gun laws. Senator Collins told Politico she felt rude being late to dinner but the president told her she made the right call.
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus says the party is sticking with its position against same-sex marriage. The RNC has approved two new resolutions reaffirming it does not support lesbians and gays getting married. The move was designed to quiet social conservatives who have hinted at withholding contributions to the GOP over this very issue.
The idea of rebranding is often thrown around as a marketing term but what if it is used by a religious group? Evangelicals in the U.S. may be doing just that to try to give themselves a new image. I'm joined now by John Blake who writes for CNN.com's Belief Blog.
All right. Good see you.
JOHN BLAKE, CNN.COM, WRITER/PRODUCER: Hi.
WHITFIELD: We've heard the word rebranding a lot lately particularly as it relates to the GOP. This time Evangelicals. What's going on?
BLAKE: Well, Evangelicals found themselves in a difficult situation, just like Republicans feel like after they lost last year's election. They wondered how are we going to reach all these young voters. Evangelicals trying to find out how are we going to reach this new generation. We are losing a generation of kids. You go to church, but once they reach in their 20s and they become adults, they just kind of drop out they never return to church.
WHITFIELD: So what's the plan? Is there a plan, a concerted effort to try to attract particularly young people?
BLAKE: Well just like the Republican Party, there's really not one plan but like 50. And people are debating. There are all these different plans. There's a lot of tremendous debate. There are a lot of books written about it. The plans tend to resolve around two kinds of approaches. One is kind of more of a cosmetic approach, we have to change the way we present our message, and we have to be less fixated on abortion, same-sex marriage, a broader discussion.
But then there are other people who say we have to go deeper than that, we have to change our message. We might have to revisit some of the devout teachings.
WHITFIELD: Has there been a concerted effort or real conversation about how they're going to reach many of these people they are trying to attract or feel they are losing?
BLAKE: Oh, yes, there's a lot of conversation about it. But I think they run into difficulty because part of being an Evangelical, is this is the truth, this is God's word. So if we change how we reach people we're changing our message. If we change our message we're not Evangelicals anymore. So there is a lot of debate about that.
WHITFIELD: Is it specific to certain geographic areas of the United States?
BLAKE: No, this is all over the country. I get a lot of religion books each week and I'm getting books from all over the nation and they all say the same thing, how can we reach all these young Evangelicals that are dropping out?
WHITFIELD: Is it a matter of radio, television, you know public service announcements, showing up at music festivals or places where people are gathering?
BLAKE: No, that's kind of like the cosmetic approach. Some pastors will feel if I look hip, if I have a goatee, if I come out on stage in jeans young people are going to show up in church. They know that's not going to work anymore. Because a lot of the young Evangelicals they are more concerned about other issues besides personal salvation.
They want to hear about climate warming. They want to hear about what are we going to do about poverty. What are we going to do about our friend who's a Buddhist who listen, somebody I really admire but you will say he's going to hell. I think they have to address those types of issues and not just the cosmetic approach.
WHITFIELD: And does it seem as though there are almost like committee meetings about you know, prioritizing these social issues that they know will appeal to a certain demographic that they are going to try and tackle or even a method in which they'll tackle it?
BLAKE: Yes, they're having all these meetings but I don't really know if the change is going to come within the Evangelical churches. That's one of the ironic things about churches. We like to think of churches as an institution that institutes change, a social change but often churches are often way behind. I don't think the change is going to come within the Evangelical church. I think there are figures and leaders that are kind of on the margins of the Evangelical church, I think they're the ones who are going to lead the change and say this is how you reach younger Evangelicals.
WHITFIELD: All right. Fascinating stuff. CNN.com, folks want to read more about your article. John Blake, good to see you. Thanks so much.
BLAKE: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. Many homes have the rule do not feed the dog from the dinner table. Other homes, well, that's a whole different story. Wait until you see this.
WHITFIELD: Everyone loves a good animal video. This one has the hallmark of a real classic. A dog wearing a dinner jacket sitting at a table and then having a blast.
Our Jeanne Moos takes a look.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Why make a sandwich when you can eat peanut butter straight out of the jar?
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): It's so funny!
MOOS: The dog's name is Odon. The guy laughing is the cameraman and the hands handling the spoon belong to Odin's owner. And if you think the cameraman's laughter is contagious, just imagine being there.
TREVIN SPENCER, CAMERAMAN: I was basically crying behind the camera laughing so hard.
MOOS: At least Trevin Spencer could see the action. His roommate and the dog's owner Ashland Parker was underneath the green jacket with her head covered.
SPENCER: She's kind of crouched down hiding behind Odin and her arms are reaching around Odin.
MOOS: The dog himself was wearing a white shirt and vest for this shoot at home in Spokane, Washington. So what inspires someone to make a dog in a suit eating peanut butter video? The answer is two dogs dining with much better manners. These two waited patiently for their dinner and actually used silverware to eat. Not to mention napkins. They even fed each other.
The video that inspired Ashland and Trevin was uploaded a little over two years ago when viewers cried faith. The masterminds put out another video revealing their technique. Ashland and Trevin decided to remake the doggie dining classic using peanut butter. And the rest is canine cinematic history. As one commentator posted, I'm watching a dog in a suit eating peanut butter. What am I doing with my life? And what did you do with the left over peanut butter?
SPENCER: It's actually back in the fridge.
MOOS: Waiting for Odin the German shepherd, when he wants seconds. Careful what you eat out of their fridge. Who cares peanut butter and jelly. We prefer peanut butter and German shepherd.
Jeanne Moos, CNN --
SPENCER: It's so funny!
MOOS: New York.
WHITFIELD: All right. After you get a little laugh, now some serious business. How easy is it to buy a gun these days? There is a big debate going on in Congress right now about stricter background checks on gun sales. Straight ahead our crew goes to several gun shows to see just how easy it is.