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Winds Dying Down Good News For California's Firefighters; Judge In Atlanta Cheating Case Lifts Gag Order; Tamerlan Tsarnaev's Final Resting Spot Still Undetermined
Aired May 4, 2013 - 15:00 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. It's 3:00 p.m. on the East Coast, noon out West. Welcome to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
Here are the top stories that we're following for you this hour.
Firefighters who have been battling a raging wildfire are getting a much-needed break. The winds are dying down in California. We have an update from fire crews on their efforts today.
And a huge case of teachers accused of cheating on standardized tests in Atlanta let shaking the public school system. Now a judge has lifted a gag order in the case, and two teachers talk to us exclusively.
And "Iron Man 3" will likely be unstoppable at the box office this weekend. It's already earned a whopping $68.5 million since Thursday night. We are tracking it.
First, to Afghanistan. Five U.S. troops are dead after a roadside bomb exploded. The blast happened in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for that attack.
And today could make a turning point in a huge wildfire in southern California. Winds are calming down, giving fire crews there the help they need. Take a look at this picture taken from space earlier this week. You can see all of the smoke coming off the California coast right there. Flames got out of control fast thanks to the strong winds there. But now today, they are dying down.
Paul Vercammen is live in Newberry Park.
So Paul, give us an update. Still, lots of smoldering behind you, but how threatening are these fires now?
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not as threatening. In fact, they have basically said to us that the fire is not growing. Twenty-eight thousand acres burned, but if you look behind me, there's your indicator that things are on the positive side. All that smoke is extremely white, meaning it's not burning fuel. When that smoke is dark, you know it's just absolutely sort of burning up the country side. And you can look for a pretty wide expanse here.
All along this line, we are seeing these smoldering spots, and a lot of firefighters around there ready to go ahead and douse these flames, or burning stumps or whatever crops up. But right now, no active flame here. They do and you can probably hear it, they have a helicopter up. And that can address any of the issues. But right now it's going very well.
We're going to get a live update. Dan Horton, if you can come in here, please. This is lieutenant with the Ventura county fire department.
First off, we're hearing a four-letter word that people like, rain. And the mere chance, 20 percent, very slight, that that portends good things for you as they discuss rain for tomorrow. Tell us about that.
CAPT. DAN HORTON, VENTURA COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: Well, it certainly does. Three days ago when the fire started, we had the Santa Ana wind conditions, we had the hot, dry winds coming out of the northeast. It made the firefighter extremely difficult for us.
And we are kind of -- we are looking at favorable conditions now. The temperatures are decreasing. We are getting the wind off the ocean now, that normal on shore flow that we usually get. There is a chance of rain on Sunday. It's a 20 percent chance. You know, it's pretty slight. But what that's going to do, it's going to help us and give us a leg up on the fire. It's going to make the conditions better for us to get that containment light bills around it.
Still a lot of work to be done, a lot of hard, manual labor that's going to need to happen out there. We have almost 1,900 firefighters on the ground right now. They are going to be working extremely hard the next couple days the try to get this fire contained.
VERCAMMEN: You talked about that difficult work. And from what we saw on Thursday when we were in the middle of the firestorm, your crews were extremely aggressive with backfires. Explain that strategy to us.
HORTON: Well, it's a tactic that we will use as the situations -- the conditions have to be just right for us to do that. But it kind of allows us to fight the fire on our terms. So, if we do have a fire that's burning toward homes or a road and we want to kind of stop that from coming down real quick, we can burn out that fuel and create a dispensable space and kind of eliminate the problem. Again, it's kind of fighting fire on our terms.
VERCAMMEN: Great. I thank you so much for taking time out. Probably, the statistic that the firefighters here in Ventura County are most proud of and the statistic the homeowners are so grateful for, they did not have any houses burn down. Yes, 15 houses were damaged or scorched, but they didn't lose any homes in this fire.
WHITFIELD: No total losses. That is good news.
All right, thanks so much. Paul Vercammen.
All right, they call the Kentucky derby the most exciting two minutes in sports. This year, it could make racing history. The race features a black jockey, a female, and a man who came out of retirement to race again at the age of 50.
Joe Carter joins us live now from Churchill downs.
Boy, there's a lot of potential there and all that, despite the fact that you've got a wet track.
JOE CARTER, HLN SPORTS: Oh, Fredricka, it is wet! Now, you remember last year, Fred, when you and I talked, I was here at the Kentucky derby, it was hot, it was humid, we were talking about the fashion.
That's all gone away. People are hiding from the rain. They're bundled up because it's actually really cold here and it's been raining since about 8:00 Eastern Time. The track is very sloppy. We just saw a race not too long ago go off, and I can tell you that the jockeys and the horses are full of mud. They've had the tractors out here all day long grading this thing, trying to keep it in somewhat good condition, but this sport and like a lot of sports in this country will go off in the rain. So we should see a race at 6:24-ish Eastern Time today, Fredricka.
Obviously, there is severe weather in the area. They will race at that time. But it doesn't look like there's going to be any severe weather, just a lot of rain, Fredricka
WHITFIELD: Wow. So Joe, you know, as I look at the track behind you, I mean, I'm no expert, but just from my naked eye, I'm seeing puddles. And we are talking, you know, about these horses are still going to have to run this race. Is there ever a point where it becomes too dangerous, where the mud is either too thick, the depth of that water is just too deep?
CARTER: You know, we've heard no, and that's because they do keep good conditions of the track in terms of the way they grade it and the way that it was engineered, the way it was designed. It's designed at a slight slope, so when it rains the rain will continuously run away from the inside of the track. And if you ever watched horse racing, most of the horses run along the rail, so, the innermost part of the track.
So, when you talk about the dangers of that the horses face, obviously in these conditions, there's always going to be an element of danger, but no, there's not a big fear in any of the horses or jockeys being hurt because of the way they designed the track and because these horses obviously are preparing themselves for making adjustments in the race, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: OK, very good. You taught me something there. I appreciate that. Joe, you knew the answer because, you know, they just came to me.
CARTER: This is what I'm here for.
WHITFIELD: Very good. All right, have fun out there at the Churchill downs. We will check back with you. OK, 6:20 star time.
All right, the other big story out of the derby is, of course, that enhanced security, certainly, no surprise, not after the Boston bombings. Race-goers will get screened by electronic wands and see more officers on patrol.
Here now is Pamela Brown.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, more than 160,000 people expected to turn out today here at Churchill downs to watch the run for the roses. And officials have been scrambling the past few weeks for the new security measures in to place in the wake of the Boston bombings.
Now, after 9/11, security was tightened here for derby weekend, and now officials cracking down even more, banning coolers, dance and purses larger than a foot. There's increased wanding at the entrances. And local stadium federal authorities are out in full force with 100 more here today than normal.
Also, additional bomb sniffing dogs were brought in just for this weekend. This is the largest sporting event since Boston, but it seems people aren't letting fear of another terrorist attack hold them back.
We spoke to the president of Churchill downs Kevin Flannery. He says the public is also playing a big role in keeping everyone safe here today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN FLANNERY, PRESIDENT, CHURCHILL DOWNS: So the first thing you do after an event like that is you just get everybody back together and you say what's the plan? Do we need to make any adjustments? And you make sure that you let everybody know that if you see something, say something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Even with these new security measures in place, the lines are moving pretty quickly at the entrances here at Churchill downs because authorities aren't having to spend the extra time searching big bags and coolers. One bit of frustration we're seeing out here amongst spectators is the fact that they can't bring umbrellas in. That's been a measure that's been in place here for several years. But so far, nothing's really dampening spirits out here today at Churchill downs -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much, Pam Brown.
All right, new evidence surfaces in the Boston bombing investigation. While a controversy over the burial of suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev continues. That's straight ahead.
And the lawyers are done talking. Now Jodi Arias' fate is in the hand of the jury. The latest from the courthouse, next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: New evidence in the Boston bombing investigation has been recovered from one suspect's home. A source says investigators have found explosive residue in the small apartment Tamerlan Tsarnaev shared with his wife and young child in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The source says residue turned up on the kitchen table, the kitchen sink and the bathtub.
The man who owns the funeral home where Tsarnaev's body is being held has released details on the suspect's death. He says the death certificate shows Tsarnaev died of gunshot wounds and blunt trauma to the head and torso. Meantime, finding a burial site for Tsarnaev is proving to be rather difficult.
Brian Todd has that.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He is causing emotional turmoil even in death. Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body, finally claimed by his uncle and sisters, drew protesters to one funeral home and that home only had him for a few hours.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Send him back to Russia.
TODD: The director of the funeral home in Worcester, Massachusetts, which currently has the body, says he has had trouble finding a cemetery that will take Tsarnaev's for burial. A family spokeswoman says the body won't be taken to Russia, that he'll be buried somewhere in the general Boston area.
We went around Boston and Cambridge, asking people how they felt about that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's too sad for words. It's too sad. He shouldn't be here. He should never have come. If he had never come, none of this would have happened. He had every advantage he could have here. He shouldn't be buried here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't really care where he's buried. To me, he's dead already, how much more can you punish him. I just, to me, it's too petty.
TODD: The issue of how to bury Tsarnaev is also hugely controversial, especially within Boston's Muslim community.
As the leaders here at the Islamic society in Boston mosque here in Cambridge where the brothers sometimes prayed, they want nothing to do with the funeral. They're not involved with it and they no longer even want to talk about it. As one official told me, they understand the Tsarnaev family's pain, but they're quote "utterly devastated by this entire experience."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The prophet of Islam is the prophet of mercy.
TODD: After the midday prayers at the Yusof Mosgue, I asked this Imam Ibrahim Rahim why so many top Imams, including him, won't preside over Tamerlan Tsarnaev's funeral.
IMAM IBRAHIM RAHIM, YUSOF MOSQUE: Addressing his concerns over the concerns over the entire commonwealth of Massachusetts, it just doesn't balance out. So we don't touch it to be respectful in regard for all the sentiments that are out there.
TODD: So in place of traditional burial with an imam, Rahim says, he would advise the family to have a relative or another layperson preside. Do it privately with the traditional rights of washing the body, shrouding it, praying, placing him in the ground.
Do you think he should be buried in Massachusetts or in the United States even?
RAHIM: You know, I don't know what his nation status is. But if he's not from here, then, as an American speaking, not an imam, I think he probably should go back to his nation to be buried. But that's not up to me.
TODD: Aside from the questions of how and where Tamerlan Tsarnaev is buried, there's also a continuing question of when. The family spokeswoman says relatives won't bury the suspected bomber until an independent autopsy is conducted.
Brian Todd, CNN. Boston.
WHITFIELD: Twelve of the 264 people injured in the Boston terror attack are still recovering at Boston area hospitals. Some good news from hospital officials, none of the patients remain in critical condition.
In Arizona, the lawyers are done talking, and now the jury is deciding whether or not Jodi Arias planned the killing of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander. When jurors return Monday, they'll have a lot to go over, including more than 600 exhibit s and Arias own testimony.
Ted Rowlands reports.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jodi Arias was the defense star witness, spending 18 days on the stand, trying to save herself from a possible conviction and death sentence.
JODI ARIAS, DEFENDANT IN TRAVIS ALEXANDER'S MURDER: I really thought he had intentions to kill me.
ROWLANDS: Arias insists it was self-defense when she killed her boyfriend, Travis Alexander in June of 2008, saying he attacked her after she accidentally dropped his new camera, while she was taking these photos of him in the shower.
ARIAS: He lifted me up as he was screaming that I was a stupid idiot, and he body slammed me again on the tile. JUAN MARTINEZ, PROSECUTOR: You needed to go get that knife at that point, correct?
ROWLANDS: Despite days of grueling cross-examination --
MARTINEZ: You never told us he had a knife, did you?
ARIAS: No, I wasn't asked.
ROWLANDS: During the testimony, Arias never seemed to deviate from her version of what happened, rattling off specific dates and details of her life. The one thing Jodi Arias claims she can't remember is the actual killing of Travis Alexander.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any memories of slashing Mr. Alexander's throat?
ROWLANDS: Some of the toughest questions came from jurors who were allowed to submit them to the judge.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is it that you have no memory of stabbing Travis?
ARIAS: I can't really explain why my mind did what it did.
ROWLANDS: Since her arrest more than four years ago, Arias has told three different versions of what happened. First, claiming she wasn't even there.
ARIAS: I wasn't there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You need to be honest with me, Jodi.
ARIAS: I was not at Travis' house.
ROWLANDS: After police confronted her with evidence proving she was there, Arias told police she and Alexander were victims of a home invasion robbery.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After all the lies you have told, why should we believe you now?
ARIAS: Lying isn't typically something I just do.
ROWLANDS: The defense case also featured the x-rated details of Arias' sex life. Jurors saw nude photos and even saw a phone sex recording between her and Alexander.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You cannot say I don't work that booty.
ROWLANDS: The defense used two expert witnesses. A psycho therapist testified that she believed that Arias was a victim of domestic abuse and the psychologist testified that the holes in Arias' memory were likely because of PTSD. ARIAS: When I sort of came out of the fog, I realized oh crap, something bad had happened.
ROWLANDS: Ted Rowlands, CNN. Phoenix.
WHITFIELD: Teachers accused of cheating on their students' standardized tests are finally getting a chance to tell their side of the story. Wait until you hear their story. The first thing they said about the charges against them, quote "we are completely innocent."
WHITFIELD: Dozens of educators pled not guilty in connection with a cheating scandal that has gripped the Atlanta public school system. Teachers and administrators were in court yesterday. They are facing charges like racketeering, theft, and making false statements. That's after a state investigation said educators cheated on standardized tests, erasing wrong answers ors or prompting students to give the right answer.
Yesterday the judge lifted the gag order in the case and two teachers told me exclusively their story for the first time since being indicted, I asked them what they think about the charges.
ANGELA WILLIAMSON, FORMER ATLANTA PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER: I'm completely innocent, completely innocent.
STARLETTE MITCHELL, FORMER ATLANTA PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER: I am completely innocent of those charges that have been brought against me.
WHITFIELD: So when some 34-people are accused, including the superintendent, of manipulating these standardized tests, meaning they were either helping some of the students to cheat allegedly, or perhaps pass some students when perhaps they need a little bit more education, did you hear of any kind of conspiracy or any kind of corroborated effort such as that taking place within the school system before these charges came down?
MITCHELL: Nothing as far as a conspiracy around these charges. I do know that teaching did take place in Atlanta public school systems every day. We did teach. We love the children. Did anything that you could for those children to make sure they are successful in life given the circumstances in which they face daily in the environment in which they come from. So as an educator, you did everything that you co-to make sure that these children could be successful in life. As far as conspiring to cheat in Atlanta public school system, no.
WHITFIELD: If their scores were low or if their reading wasn't proficient enough, to what extent would you or another teacher help beef up those test results or help them move on to the next level even if they weren't really proficient enough? Would that happen?
MITCHELL: I can't go into and say what you do to beef up the test scores, but I would say as an educator, what you would do is put in extra time with those students after school, before school, during class sections, differentiating instructions, whatever it takes to help get that child to the next level. But as far as beefing up test scores, I have no knowledge.
WHITFIELD: Was there ever any discussion that there were teachers that were cheating on behalf of the students?
WILLIAMSON: I never heard it. I never heard it.
WHITFIELD: So these accusations kind of came out of the blue?
WILLIAMSON: I don't know where. Up in the clouds.
WHITFIELD: When the two of you were both accused, what was your initial reaction?
MITCHELL: I was shocked. When I saw the indictment, I was very shocked to see my name in an indictment of such. I didn't expect it. And I must say since this indictment has been brought to us, it has caused a lot of sorrow.
WILLIAMSON: It's hard. I'm struggling. I'm still struggling. And to have to continue to fight to defend my name, my good teaching reputation that I once had, it seems like all of that has been stolen from me.
WHITFIELD: Have you been able to work?
MITCHELL: No, have not been able to work.
WHITFIELD: Not in the field of education.
WHITFIELD: Were there ever any raises or bonuses that either one of you received that you thought were associated with certain students excelling or being advanced to the next grade, or as a result of great test scores overall?
WILLIAMSON: I will tell you this. I'm not a paycheck teacher. I believe in teaching students. And my paycheck is to make sure that the student gets what they need. So I didn't look forward to no bonuses. It didn't matter if I got a bonus or not. My goal was to make sure that the students were taught.
WHITFIELD: But did the bonuses happen?
WILLIAMSON: They happened, but everybody got bonuses.
MITCHELL: Bonus money was given if you made your targets. But I've only received $3,000 in bonus money, and that was printed in the media, in the newspaper. It was a total of $3,000 from 2006 to 2010. That's not enough bonus money to make you commit such crimes as such as they have us alleged as committing.
WHITFIELD: So, do you think this experience says something about standardized testing overall, that in your view, standardized testing is not good at all for students?
MITCHELL: I'm not going to say it's not good at all. But I don't think it needs to be used as the sole indicator of what a child knows, because it's only one form of measurement. And it takes multiple measurements the truly measure the knowledge of a child.
WILLIAMSON: Not just the standardized tests.
WHITFIELD: And these teachers are expected back in court May 16th.
All right, a dad who lost his son to leukemia has found a unique way to help hundreds of other kids win their fight against the disease. His group drives thousands of miles a year to get kids to their cancer treatment, and he is this week's CNN hero.
RICHARD NARES, CNN HERO: It's paralyzing when you hear those words "your child has cancer." I know what those families are going through. It's extremely difficult. My son, he was diagnosed with cancer. It was such a horrifying time. We were fortunate we had rides to the hospital. Many families don't have that support.
We found out that many of them were missing appointments. My name is Richard Nares. No child should miss their cancer treatment due to lack of transportation.
Here we go. All right.
We give over 2,000 rides a year. Our furthest cancer patient is 120 miles away. Riding with Emilio, place him foreign cars of their treatment. We get them here in a nice, clean environment and on time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We live here. It's everyday treatment. We want to fight. We are in this together. It's all I care right now, my daughter's life.
NARES: When you're fighting for your child's life, nothing else matters.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They pick us up in the morning and give us a ride back. Their help is every step of the way.
NARES: Seventy 70 percent of our families are Spanish speaking. Having a bilingual staff is extremely important. I feel like it's my obligation to help them navigate the system. Take good care of yourself.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
NARES: Someone that's been there. Even though he's passed away almost 13 years, he's the main force of this, and I feel that I'm the right person to help.
WHITFIELD: Incredible. So to learn more about Richard's work or to nominate someone who is doing their part to make the world a better place, go to CNNheroes.com.
WHITFIELD: Let's take a look at some of the stories that are trending online. CNN was the first to report that U.S. officials believe Israeli aircraft conducted an air strike in Syria. U.S. and Western intelligence agencies are reviewing classified data showing Israel most likely conducted a strike Thursday or Friday.
Actress Reese Witherspoon's arrest video has gone viral. It shows her interfering with a Georgia state trooper who pulled her husband over for drunk driving. She later called her words and actions that night embarrassing. Next hour, we'll talk to a PR person about whether her image has been harmed.
And a solar-powered airplane is traveling across the country without using a drop of fuel. It landed in Phoenix this morning after take-ff from San Francisco in the first flight of its journey. The Solar Impulse is considered the world's most advanced sun-powered plane.
This week, Anthony Bourdain takes us to Canada and shows us how to survive the cold and enjoy the food.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST: There's no place like Montreal. It is uniquely wonderful in its own way. They insist on speaking French. It does get cold here. Any visiting chef here crawls out of town bloated and begging for mercy. But they do things differently here.
Millions of people come and visit this place all the time, but it feels strangely unspoiled and unexploited. It's always a surprise. If anything truly original is happening in gastronomy right now in North America. A food culture that's doing things in a completely unique and original way, that nobody else is doing. The chefs in Montreal are really, really making a mark.
But I suggest before you come here that you train for the experience and cut yourself some down time for recovery afterwards. So come prepared.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: Come with an appetite. Yum. All right, you can see Anthony Bourdain's entire trip to Canada tomorrow night right here on CNN at 9:00 Eastern time. (INAUDIBLE) Anthony Bourdain PARTS UNKNOWN, Sunday night.
WHITFIELD: Colorado's voters may have legalized the use of recreational marijuana, but you won't be able to buy it in retail shops until next year. Some users don't want to wait, and they're already growing their own legally. Jim Spellman reports.
JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chloe Velano, a longtime marijuana advocate, voted along with 55 percent of Colorado voters to legalize pot in last year's election.
CHLOE VELANO, MARIJUANA ADVOCATE: Rudy Velano.
SPELLMAN: Rudy had a little pot leaf collar.
VELANO: It's hemp.
SPELLMAN: It's made out of hemp.
What do you like about - about smoking cannabis?
VELANO: I just like the way it makes me feel, like as far as pain.
Did you like the blueberry or no?
SPELLMAN: But Colorado is in a sort of holding pattern. State law allows possession of small amounts of marijuana, and it's available in dispensaries for medical marijuana patients. But it won't be sold in retail stores until next year. It is, however, now legal to grow your own cannabis, and that is exactly what Chloe is doing.
Let's see your grow.
VELANO: Okay. Let's go.
SPELLMAN: So, this is not a big apartment, you're still able to grow marijuana in here?
VELANO: Yes. You have to make sure that you can control the smell.
SPELLMAN: Even here in your bedroom in this apartment, you can grow marijuana?
VELANO: Yes. I mean, this huge tent is full of 12 plants.
SPELLMAN: Let's have a look. Wow. You're growing these 12 marijuana plants right here in your one-bedroom apartment in Denver. VELANO: Yes, sir.
SPELLMAN: Chloe works as a consultant for the medical marijuana industry. And as a medical marijuana patient, Chloe is allowed to grow up to 12 plants. Non-patients can grow six.
VELANO: I'm definitely what I would call a cannabis connoisseur. So as a patient, and as somebody who enjoys the plant, I definitely know good cannabis, and I grow some of the best cannabis.
SPELLMAN: People like Chloe are flocking to the Grow Store, where they help people set up and maintain home marijuana grows. General manager Ted Smith says it's not just new growers, but a different kind of grower.
What are the new demographics?
TED SMITH, GENERAL MANAGER, THE GROW STORE: We have a lot of married couples. We have a lot of 40 and up, 50 and up, and 60 and up individuals coming in.
SPELLMAN: Some enjoy growing as a hobby. Some grow for the sake of discretion. Everything happening in the privacy of their own homes. And others just want to grow the highest grade weed they can.
SMITH: Today's culture, they want absolutely the finest quality product with the least of, you know, inconsistencies.
SPELLMAN: For between $150 and $500, The Grow Store will set the grower up with the equipment needed to grow about a pound of marijuana every 12 weeks. It's illegal to grow cannabis outdoors in the view of others, so growers need a light source, ventilation, maybe an air filter to keep the smell away from the neighbors, soil and nutrients for the soil. Some of materials are the same used to grow more conventional plants, but some of these products have a distinctly stoner vibe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this product is called Cushy Cush. And it's a blossom booster.
SPELLMAN: Growing marijuana in your basement or bedroom may be legal, but it's not exactly easy.
SMITH: I tell our customers if you're just getting into the fray, if you will, that they will be MacGyver within six months, because you will have so many different hurdles that you never considered.
SPELLMAN: Chloe Velano said her MacGyver marijuana grow is worth it. She hopes her cannabis consulting business will continue to grow. And even when retail stores open, she says she'll keep growing and smoking her own homegrown weed.
So, is it comforting to wake up every morning in your bed looking at your marijuana plants?
VELANO: It's awesome. We go to bed together, we wake up together. SPELLMAN: Jim Spellman, CNN, Denver.
WHITFIELD: All right. So, voters said yes to legalizing pot in Colorado. Now lawmakers are finessing legislation to help determine who can grow it, where it can be sold, and how it might be taxed. There's a whole lot of activity in the legislature to resolve all of this before the end of this legislative session, which is next week. Assistant majority leader of the Colorado house of representatives, Dan Pabon, joins me now from Denver. Good to see you, Representative.
REP. DAN PABON, ASSISTANT MAJORITY LEADER, COLORADO STATE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Nice to be with you this afternoon.
WHITFIELD: So you authored the bill known as 1317. What are the proposals to regulate growing and selling pot that you have crafted?
PABON: Well, we did three things when we crafted this proposal. We wanted to make sure that we protected the public safety and that we kept this out of the hands of kids, criminals, and cartels.
So what does that mean? It means that these are going to be private businesses where you're going to have to show a 21 and up I.D. to enter. You're going to -- the product is going to be in childproof packaging with labeling and potency retirements. It's a very robust regulatory environment we're having to purchase this starting January 1, 2014.
WHITFIELD: So in January 2014, does it mean conceivably that someone can walk into a store where they might be able to find, you know, bubble gum or coffee, and then there will be a designated area for pot as well?
PABON: No. The stores that we're thinking about are only going to be allowed to sell marijuana-type products that can't be confused with marijuana. So, this is going to be a very separate store. This isn't going to be a 7-Eleven or something easily accessible to children. And those who don't want to be exposed to this, you're going to have to go into a private facility to purchase any type of quantity of product.
WHITFIELD: OK. And then there's the issue of taxes. Is this about revenue for the state to enjoy as well from the sale of any kind of cannabis-based products, right? How will you determine the taxing, whether there will be state taxes, whether there will be excise taxes, what?
PABON: Well, in Colorado, we have to ask the voters to levy any tax on any product. So we're going to take a ballot initiative to the voters in the fall that asks them to give us permission to levy an up to 15 percent excise tax and up to 15 percent special sales tax. This is going to be used to make sure that we have the law enforcement in place, the public safety protections we have in place, the education about this product to our children. Those in middle school and high school who now may have some sense that this is now a legal product, and that they should be using this, that's simply not going to be the case. We're going to make sure they're educated about that.
WHITFIELD: OK, so while it might be a legal product in this state of Colorado because you put it to the voters and the legislature is now crafting that legislation, marijuana, growing it is still illegal under federal law. So how do you see the two kind of coinciding? Do you think this law that you're trying to craft will really ever make it to fruition?
PABON: Well, the feds have told us before under our medical marijuana dispensaries that they have certain guardrails they want in place. They want to make sure that these dispensaries are a thousand feet from a school or a church or anywhere that children can be. And we're going to be maintaining that as we move into the recreational area.
We want to make sure that this doesn't cross interstate lines, that this product doesn't move to other parts of the country. And so that's why we are putting these robust regulatory measures in place because if that's not the case, we do expect federal involvement.
WHITFIELD: OK. Colorado representative Dan Pabon, thanks so much. I'm sure we'll be talking to you again as we get closer to that January 2014 date.
PABON: It's been a pleasure to be with you today.
WHITFIELD: All right, thanks for your time.
All right, perhaps you're thinking about the movies? Well, what about Iron Man 3? Gray Drake will be along to give us an idea of whether she thinks it's worth your buck.
WHITFIELD: If you're heading to the movies this weekend, you might want to check out Iron Man 3. A lot of people around the world already have. The movie has already earned more than $300 million at the international box office. Yesterday during the movie's North American premiere, it racked in an estimated $68.5 million. Whew!
Here to talk about it is our own movie critic, Gray Drake. She's got her own arc reactor and everything. You're that much of a big Iron Man 3 fan. Gray Drake from rottentomatoes.com. And there it is. The Arc Reactor. And it works!
All right, something tells me you are a fan of Iron Man 3.
GRAY DRAKE, ROTTENTOMATOES.COM: I know. I know it's hard for you to tell these things. I try to keep these things a secret. I love the Iron Man movies. I think Robert Downey Jr. was born to play these parts. And me personally, I felt a little jilted by Iron Man 2. I wasn't a huge fan. Even though on our Rotten Tomatoes tomato meter, it's still fresh. It's was not fresh in my heart.
WHITFIELD: Oh, that was the one with Mickey Rourke in it, right? I thought that was kind of funky and fresh. No?
DRAKE: Those are two words I could use to describe it in certain places, sure.
DRAKE: But we've been waiting a long time. Now, we got a taste of RBJ in Avengers. And we know how that turned out. It was fantastic. So Iron Man 3 is out in theaters now. And we're back to focusing on Tony Stark. And guess what?
WHITFIELD: And you were happier. Okay. This is a big old Tony Stark love fest. So you actually had a chance to sit down with some of the Iron Man 3 stars including Gwyneth Paltrow. You asked her about putting on the famous Iron Man suit. And this is what she had to say about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GWYNETH PALTROW, ACTRESS: It's not so bad. The boys complained about the suit a lot. By the way, I was so freaked out to put it on because everybody was dying in it and like having post traumatic stress and meditating and like who knows what. I was like, oh, my God. I was like, this is nothing.
DRAKE: Because you know what they don't have? Abs like Gwyneth Paltrow.
PALTROW: They can't hold up the suit like I can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Oh, so modest. It can't be all that bad. My little boy was Iron Man one Halloween. He didn't complain about the way the suit felt.
But anyway, more about your interview with Gwyneth. She's now, what, the most beautiful woman in the world according to the star magazines.
DRAKE: Yes. I think it was "People" magazine, yes.
WHITFIELD: "People." Thank you very much. What else did she reveal?
DRAKE: And I support that completely. I walk in the room and I was a little bit nervous. She's an Academy Award winner. I didn't know how it was going to go. But I'll tell you what, it's really obvious that everyone involved in this movie really likes it because Gwyneth was just so excited to talk about anything. I got away with a lot in that interview. And she was just more than happy to play. She talked some trash about the guys. She also expressed a lot of affection for Pepper Potts, her character.
WHITFIELD: Aw, well of course, she plays it well. She better like her character.
DRAKE: Exactly. And I also confirmed my suspicions that Gwyneth Paltrow does smell like a rainbow. WHITFIELD: Aw, isn't that fresh and nice and sweet? I'm sure she appreciates that. All right, Gray Drake. Thanks so much for bringing that to us. Appreciate it. And now we'll all run to the theaters to check out Iron Man 3.
WHITFIELD: Per your recommendation. All right, thanks Gray.
All right. A former drug addict turned yoga king. His inspiring story next.
WHITFIELD: A former drug addict turns his life around and takes the advice of a rock star. Sanjay Gupta has his story.
VINNIE MARINO, YOGA INSTRUCTOR: Upward dog, press your hands, open your chests.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: He's been called the unlikely yoga king of L.A. Vinnie Marino, a 54-year-old recovering drug addict regularly fill this room with die-hard devotes of his unique style of yoga.
MARINO: Now, as the hands are pressing -
I think what happens with my class and probably any class is a community is built around the class.
GUPTA: But Vinnie's purpose-driven life wasn't always so grounded.
MARINO: I started stealing alcohol from my mother -- you know, from the bar in her Tupperware containers. Then I started sniffing glue and smoking pot. Started doing pills. Started doing psychedelics, ended up shooting cocaine and heroin.
GUPTA: Growing up in the 1970s in New York City, drugs were everywhere. Marino said he couldn't get enough of the high life.
MARINO: But it was a psychic thing where I was like, you know what? No matter how much I do, I will come down.
GUPTA: After saint in rehab and another nine months using, Marino finally got clean and immersed himself in yoga.
MARINO: It just physically felt great because my body and all of our bodies hold stress and yoga, like the poses and breathing opened me up. And it just felt right.
GUPTA: Marino found more inspiration when a mutual friend introduced him to Grace Slick, lead singer of Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship.
MARINO: Grace always reminded me to do what you love. I was like, I don't know what to do with myself. She said, teach yoga. And I said, all right. The opposite for me was going to take a teacher training program. And I was like, well, I don't have the money for that. And she said, I'll pay for it.
GUPTA: Today Marino gets he gets the same rush from yoga as he used to get from drugs.
MARINO: I think even the search with drugs is a search for connection and joy. I think yoga is a healthy way to get there. It's more work. You don't just like, take something and, boom. You have to have a consistent practice.
GUPTA: Practicing proper posture and proper breathing helps bring focus and calm to the mind. Namaste.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.