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L.A. Youth Squad; Soccer Team Restrains Naked Man; Reclaiming the Dream; Obama Overseas
Aired July 19, 2008 - 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: Barack Obama makes good on a promise. Touching down on foreign soil, first Kuwait where U.S. troops gave him a rousing welcome, then to Afghanistan, but not everyone there is as happy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They take whatever we have in our country out of here.
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WHITFIELD: That Afghan native isn't the only one talking, so is John McCain back on American soil.
Plus, the in-flight show no one expected.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the middle of the flight, we had a guy just pop out of the bathroom all naked.
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WHITFIELD: What did he say? Naked. We'll take a look at the weather map and get back to that airline story in a moment, but right now, let's talk about weather. Why it just became the next big thing. We're covering all the stories across the globe this hour in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Good afternoon, I'm Fredricka Whitfield, lots to tell you about this hour. But we begin with Senator Barack Obama trying to beef up his foreign policy credentials. He landed at Bagram air base in Afghanistan nearly 12 hours ago. It is Obama's first visit to this troubled country and the second stop on a tour billed as a fact finding trip. Here now is CNN's Reza Sayah from Kabul, Afghanistan.
REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For the first time ever, U.S. presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama comes to Afghanistan. The senator arrived late Saturday morning Kabul time along with a congressional delegation after a brief visit to Bagram air base just north of Kabul. It was off to Jalabad air base in eastern Afghanistan, that's where the congressional delegation sat down and met with U.S. troops from their states and Senator Barack Obama met with the provincial governor of Nangahar Province, his first meeting this weekend with an Afghan official. Senator Obama's visit shrouded in secrecy because of security concerns. But on Saturday we did observe in the skies of Kabul, two Chinook helicopters escorted by two Blackhawk choppers and two apache choppers, a clear indication that a VIP was in town. Senator Obama with plans to stay until Sunday according to a U.S. government official in Kabul, also planning to visit Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday. In recent weeks Obama describing Afghanistan as the central front in the war on terror, many analysts agree he could ill afford not to visit Afghanistan right before the elections. And many say this was crucial in changing the perception back in the states that Barack Obama is weak on national security, weak on foreign policy. Reza Sayah, CNN, Kabul.
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WHITFIELD: Been there, done that. Senator John McCain has been to Afghanistan before and he's making political hay about Obama's trip. McCain is criticizing Obama for formulating his foreign policy prior to his visit but McCain's Afghan policy could be called a work in progress as well. Here now is CNN's Jonathan Mann.
JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John McCain was in Afghanistan before Barack Obama. Back in 2006 five years after the fall of the Taliban regime, U.S. and NATO forces were facing a determined Taliban insurgency. Back then McCain said Afghanistan needed more troops though not necessarily American ones. He called for more NATO forces. Now as the Taliban gained in strength, U.S. casualties climbed and Obama calls for a bigger U.S. troop presence, McCain is highlighting his own new proposals, calling for more troops with specific numbers, up to 15,000.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our commanders on the ground in Afghanistan say that they need at least three additional brigades. Thanks to the success of the surge these forces are becoming available and our commanders in Afghanistan must get them.
MANN: But the McCain campaign says NATO troops should still be among those new reinforcements. McCain is also calling for other new commitments to the country. A bigger Afghan army doubled in size to about 160,000. More outside aid to fund it and more nonmilitary aid as well. A White House czar on the Afghanistan war and a special envoy to focus on U.S. diplomacy in the region.
MCCAIN: I know how to win wars. If I'm elected president I'll turn around the war in Afghanistan just as we have turned around the war in Iraq with a comprehensive strategy for victory. I know how to do that.
MANN (on camera): John McCain has been a supporter of the Bush administration's surge in Iraq and he says it is working. He would apply his lessons to Afghanistan. Obama says Iraq has been a dangerous distraction from Afghanistan but McCain disagrees. He's convinced the U.S. can prevail in both places. Back to you.
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WHITFIELD: Just to underscore just how volatile Afghanistan has become it was just last Sunday when nine U.S. troops were killed during a battle there in Afghanistan. Well, now we have just received audio interviews of two of the U.S. soldiers who actual survived that battle. The tapes are from the website Stars and Stripes newspaper, a military newspaper, Stars and Stripes. We want you to take a listen right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- we're trying to suppress them so we were almost (INAUDIBLE) ourselves. With everything they're just continuous and everything. We're trying to overcome, overpower them with our fire superior or at least I had gone through 600 rounds. I had gone down behind a wall and I switched drums (INAUDIBLE), I was like hey, looks like we're getting shot southwest, something like that, I said I'll get that direction. This one somehow snuck trough into our position and got me in the wrist, I went straight to the ground. I had never been shot, never broken a bone before in my life. I'm one of the luckier ones. I can't (INAUDIBLE). Sure I was wounded and I got my purple heart but there's these guys like Stafford and some of these guys, those are the ones that have been really hold down the position.
SPC. TYLER STAFFORD: Blown out of that little bunker and I know Sergeant Pitts was in there, I got blown out. Was just kind of hazed there for a second, I thought I was on fire, so I kind of rolled around a little bit. I kind of came to and kind of looked for a second. And I remember seeing Zwilling, he was sitting there. He had this kind of stunned look and that's when a grenade hit right beside me. An they hit us from lots of positions. They had us suppressed pretty good. Phillips got a grenade, he looked at me and was like I'm going to help you, I'm going to kill these guys. So he pulled the pin out of the grenade and right as he threw it, an RPG came in and either hit the sandbag wall because he was real close to the sandbag wall, he was sitting on his knees, kind of hunkered over, and he hit it right beside him or right behind him, I saw an explosion and I dug my head into the tail of the RPG came and smacked me in the helmet. I kind of looked up and as the dust cleared I could see Phillips was slumped over, his chest was on his knees and his hands down by his side. I just kind of called out to him three or four times, he didn't respond, he didn't move. But I remember hearing the PL's voice, I remember there was a bunch of gun fire, I remember Rainey yelling out, he's right behind the sand bag and the PL was yelling at him, too. Then there was a whole bunch of gunfire. I couldn't see any of this. And Sergeant Gobble(ph) got up and popped off a couple of rounds, a couple seconds, he picked his head back up and came back down, he's like, they're dead.
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WHITFIELD: And again, you were seeing images of the nine U.S. soldiers who died in that battle last Sunday in Afghanistan while you were also hearing the voices of two U.S. troops that actually survived. The voices being that of Sergeant Jacob Walker and Specialist Tyler Stafford. The interviews that you can listen to in its entirety from the website of the military's Stars and Stripes newspaper. Meantime straight ahead, we're going to have our senior political analyst Bill Schneider along to talk about the politics of foreign policy.
WHITFIELD: No definite answers in Geneva today on a plan of incentives aimed at halting Iran's nuclear program. Talks between Iran and the European Union ended with Tehran refusing to suspend its uranium enrichment. But as chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour explains, for the first time ever a U.S. official did attend the meeting.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): In a major policy reversal, the Bush administration sent a top official to nuclear talks with Iran. In a historic Geneva state room, U.S. undersecretary of state William Burns faced the head of Iran's supreme National Security Council Sayeed Jalili. Surrounded by European, Chinese and Russian officials, Burns came not to negotiate but to hear Iran's response to their joint plan to break the nuclear deadlock and to demonstrate U.S. commitment firsthand. Before the meeting, there was smiles and handshakes but no comment from Jalili or EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana. Their bottom lines may in fact be very different. For the U.S., EU, Russia and China, Iran must accept their formula for a six week freeze on any additional uranium enrichment in return for a six-week freeze on any additional sanctions. Iranian sources tell us they want to feel out the atmosphere and see whether America's unprecedented presence means an end to what they call the climate of threat and disrespect.
(On camera): Even before the talks began in the building behind me, Iranian officials told CNN they stick by their right to continue their nuclear program. But at the same time, they're focusing on long term development, such as the political and economic package under offer as well as eventual diplomatic links with the United States.
(Voice-over): After a working lunch, Solana and Jalili rejoined their diplomatic colleagues and continued talking, secluded again behind these windows. After a couple of hours, they faced the press. For the six world powers, Iran's response again fell short, it was neither a yes nor a no.
JAVIER SOLANA, EU FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF: I'm not look for a perfect adjective to (INAUDIBLE). Let me put it that way, it was constructive but didn't get us still the answer we're looking for.
AMANPOUR: Iran said it was still trying to explore long-term proposals.
SAEED JALILI, IRAN CHIEF NUCLEAR NEGOTIATOR: When it comes to the package which we submitted some time ago is a strategic one rather than a tactical one. Therefore this approach will be a long-term approach, rather than serving our immediate interests.
AMANPOUR: European officials say Iran did not engage on their freeze for freeze proposal but they will give Tehran a couple more weeks to present its final answer. If t he answer is still inconclusive, Europe, the U.S. and their partners here say their message is clear, there will be no more meetings or talks about talks and Iran could slide back under a cycle of sanctions and isolation. Christiane Amanpour, CNN, at the Geneva talks.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
WHITFIELD: So is this a White House about face? Having a U.S. diplomat in the same room where there is a representative of Iran? Let's check in with our senior political analyst Bill Schneider. So is it?
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well they wouldn't say it's a full scale flip-flop, it's sort of a flippy floppy. They didn't actually talk or negotiate. They had a representative there, but he did meet with Iranian representatives and that very much looks like a prelude to negotiations. So it's a step very clearly in that direction and I would say a reversal of U.S. policy and that's not the only thing. In its dealings with Iraq, the White House has said that it has spoken to the prime minister of Iraq about setting a time horizon for meeting aspirational goals about the turning over security authority to the Iraqis. That sounds like they're moving, inching along there towards talking about the "t" word. A timetable.
WHITFIELD: That's remarkable, and that's in addition to what we understand to be kind of a mistake the White House made releasing a statement a little prematurely to some media outlets that perhaps the prime minister of Iraq Nuri al Maliki actually said if this is indeed true, said that he prefers the policy of candidate Barack Obama of a withdrawal.
SCHNEIDER: If this is confirmed it is a pretty sensational statement. It was printed in (INAUDIBLE), which is a German news magazine and interviewed the prime minister of Iraq. And in it, by the way, this was released inadvertently by the White House to the White House press corps, they didn't intend to send that e-mail out. But in it, the Iraqi prime minister said, quote, "U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months, that's Barack Obama's time line for withdrawal. That, we think, would be the right time frame for withdrawal with the possibility of slight changes." When asked whether he preferred Obama's approach to that or John McCain, Maliki, the prime minister said, whoever is thinking about the shorter term is closer to reality. That's very dramatic.
WHITFIELD: That is very dramatic. I'm still hanging on the other statement that you learned as well that the White House is talking about troop withdrawal, talking about a plan when for very long, President Bush was adamant against any kind of timetable being set, particularly because it may provoke some advantage for any terrorist activity or any rogue leaders or groups to take advantage of that country by knowing about a timetable. SCHNEIDER: Well, they don't use the word timetable, they talk about a time horizon and they don't talk about withdrawal, they talk about meeting aspirational goals for reducing U.S. forces in Iraq. So the White House would say, well we're not setting a timetable, we're not talking about 16 months, but they're certainly inching in that direction.
WHITFIELD: Time horizon. Ok so how do these two presidential candidates either seize upon this, I guess take the baton, if you will, from this point forward, how do they proceed?
SCHNEIDER: Well, Barack Obama is certainly going to use this interview if it is confirmed from Maliki, to say, look, the Iraqi government is talking about my timetable as being realistic and reasonable and if they're on board with this, then the only one who doesn't seem to be on board, well, two people, would be the Bush administration, which is even talking about time horizons, and Senator McCain who won't talk about timetables at all. So you can bet that Barack Obama will seize upon this as soon as the comment is verified.
WHITFIELD: Oh and that's interesting. Just coming full circle on this whole discussion, we started out talking about Iran and what it means for the White House. In the meantime, these two presidential candidates clearly have some views on how the U.S. should proceed with either diplomacy or without diplomacy as it pertains to Iran. It has been Senator Obama's contention that talks would not be ruled out. And now we have a representative of the Bush administration witness to talks.
SCHNEIDER: That's right. Senator Obama is going to argue quite forcefully that the administration seems to be moving in his direction, not in Senator McCain's direction, towards talking about at least a time horizon for reducing U.S. troops towards direct contact between the United States and Iran. So he's going to say they're moving towards where I am. And in fact, another comment made by Maliki is very revealing, according to (INAUDIBLE), the prime minister said the Americans have found it difficult to agree on a concrete timetable for exiting because it seems like an admission of defeat for them, but it isn't, Maliki said, very important.
WHITFIELD: That's very important. All right, Bill Schneider, thanks so much for breaking it all down, all incredible and pretty pivotal bits of information there, appreciate it.
WHITFIELD: Meantime, let's talk a little bit more about John McCain, he is certainly keeping up the pressure on Obama while Senator Obama is out of the country. McCain was on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" last night having a little fun. But at the same time, he did praise Obama for visiting Afghanistan, but got in a little dig as well.
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SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm glad he's going. I think it's important that he sit down with General Petraeus and go to Afghanistan where he's never been before and see the situation because I think the situation is very tough in Afghanistan as well. Yeah, I'm glad that he's going, I'll be interested in hearing his conclusions when he returns. I'm a little disappointed that he gave a policy statement before he left, you usually do that after you learn from your trip.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: O'Brien and McCain also discussed a possible made for TV movie that will be made about the McCain campaign and his life. All right take a look at this. Can we take a look at it? Yeah, right here. Beautiful dancing. So what does it take to create this kind of symphony on stage? I'm going to be talking to a woman behind all these moves.
WHITFIELD: It's the 50th anniversary of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. I know you've seen their production that's come through your town somewhere at sometime during the year. Well we are really honored to have with us the choreographer, the artistic director, Judith Jamison. We know you know her name, you've probably seen the commercials as well. We're so glad that you're here.
JUDITH JAMISON: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Here because the National Black Arts festival is also helping to recognize and celebrate you as well as the dance theatre.
JAMISON: Do you see this?
WHITFIELD: You are glowing.
JAMISON: I haven't stopped smiling since I got off the plane. Stephanie Julie(ph) runs the national black arts festival, it's a fabulous festival. They're celebrating their 20th anniversary, while the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
WHITFIELD: Fifty years, I can't believe it.
JAMISON: Isn't that unbelievable.
WHITFIELD: Yeah, for decades, you have been the choreographer and the creative director.
JAMISON: It was 15 years of it, but 20 years will be next year that I've been artistic director. It's kind of bittersweet because Mr. Ailey had the vision.
WHITFIELD: But he tapped you.
JAMISON: He had the vision. You know the celebration of our artistic experience, our cultural experience of the African-American and also of the country, the modern dance edition of our country and also to be aware we are not dancing in a vacuum, we have to bring people along with us. So we're accessible and that we're very, very much in line with what it is to understand that art is a part of your life, it's not something on the sidelines. It should be an integral part of your life. We welcome everyone into our loving arms of dance. But that we have been around for this long and that in our celebration of the 50th anniversary, I have designed a Barbie doll.
WHITFIELD: Which is a hit.
JAMISON: It's coming out. The Hallmark cards are out right now.
WHITFIELD: I mentioned it's a hit because you really touched on something in your book a while back where you talked about the dancer. The dancer isn't just a petite and mostly associated with a young white girl was a dancer.
WHITFIELD: And you said you know what? Let's broaden the look on what the dancer is. You're exemplifying that and then helping to bring along all these other dancers, hence now the doll as well helping to educate that there are beautiful dancers in all shapes and colors.
JAMISON: Well, thank God I had people like Katherine Dunham before me and Donald McHale and Talley Feedie(ph) and Pearl (INAUDIBLE). All of these are pioneers of modern dance came before us to say people of color should be seen on stage and our beauty and our culture and our intelligence should be seen and they were the fore runners and Mr. Ailey. And thank God for their vision and that I could carry it on.
WHITFIELD: Are you going to miss being the creative director? What is it, 2011, I'm hearing, when you have made a decision to step down? Is that true?
JAMISON: It's true, but let's call it a lateral move. We're planning ahead. This is a three-year plan, I'm not moving anywhere until 2011. And it's plan and I have a wonderful board of directors. Joan Wild (ph) is the head of my board. She is phenomenal. And between Joan Wild, Masaumi Chia, (ph) who is my associate artistic director and all of the wonderful people that I work for, Sharon Lutton (ph), my executive director, we all work together. We have three-year plan and I will choose who this person will be and they will be righteous and right and continue the integrity of this company.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, we're just going to pause it just for now because I'm telling you, she is exuberant isn't she? Her energy just simply contagious. So, I know you want to know what her secret to life is. You don't want to miss it, next hour.
Meantime we also tell you about something else that we've got our eyes on, an L.A. flight was diverted and the passengers helped out. That story coming up.
WHITFIELD: A group of 80 teens and young adults doing their part to take back L.A.'s most dangerous steets. They're called the "Youth Squad." and they're part of a plan to reduce gang violence. Kara Finnstrom us to the streets.
KARA FINNSTROM, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): We found them recruiting on Los Angeles' most violent streets. Streets thrust into the national spotlight by a rash of murders year. Streets where the LAPD is now cracking down on gangs, but knows arrests alone won't solve the problem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's to reduce gang violence in our community.
FINNSTROM: But its youth are not recruiting for gangs, they're working to free their neighborhoods from fear.
DETRAIL YOUNG, YOUTH SQUAD: But just don't have no name on them. And you know, anything can you know, happen.
FINNSTROM: Detrail Young is a part of Youth Squad, 80 kids handpicked by city leaders. Helping secure a reenergize community parks, organizing positive events like skateboarding, tennis and African drumming. Hosting it all during the night hours when violence is usually highest. And using their street credibility convince neighbors it's safe to come.
JEFF CARR, YOUTH SQUAD CREATOR: The kids that some people might perceive to be problem kids who have some connection or association with the gangs, sometimes just because they live in that particular neighborhood.
FINNSTROM: Jeff Carr was tap by L.A.'s mayors to lead the city's gang intervention program and created the Youth Squad.
CARR: My belf is if you invest in those kids and you help them cast a vision for how things could change, they actually can be a part of the solution.
YOUNG: I believe I can do it. Yeah, I believe can do it.
FINNSTROM: Twenty-year-old Detrail says his father is in prison for selling drugs, so his mom appointed him man of the house. He's one of six children and also has a wife and a baby on the way.
JOY EVANS, MOTHER OF YOUTH SQUAD MEMBER: He made himself a few mistakes, you know, but once he got his life on the straight and narrow, he chose to do it the right way.
FINNSTROM: Detrail is getting paid and getting leadership training. Jeff Carr believes this summer could be pivotal in Detrail's life and in the lives of those he touches. Detrail's clearest success so far just happens to be with his brother.
ANTWANN WATTS, YOUTH SQUAD MEMBER: Everybody called me this nickname, that's my wrestling name, it's called "Bruiser."
FINNSTROM: Antwann Watts has autism, everyone here is familiarith his love of wrestling and WWF belt that rarely leaves his shoulder. The fact he's even here is astonishing. His mother says, last year when Antwann didn't respond to a gang member's questions he was shot four times. Antwann healed physically, but autism had already made it difficult for him to connect emotionally and suddenly Antwann refused to leave home.
EVANS: Started regressing something terrible, he did.
FINNSTROM: But when his big brother started talking about the Youth Squad and police patrols in he park, something changed.
WATTS: I help my brother upere at the park, just like making me safe like 24 hours a day.
EVANS: The first day I was really emotional and I had to get away from him because he was like, "they're going to murder me, mom." But that's I yearn for, you know, to see them happy. You know, not having look over they shoulder or worry about if somebody going to come up and you know, do a drive by.
FINNSTROM: And that's the hope, that creating islands of safety in L.A.'s entrenched gang territory can help breakdown the fear one family at a time.
Kara Finnstrom for CNN, Los Angeles.
WHITFIELD: Very far south of that area, a sub carrying nearly six tons of cocaine has been seized off Mexico's coast in a daring operation. Mexican forces jumped aboard and gained control before the crew could sink it. The raid came about just after U.S. authorities shared intelligence with Mexico. Officials say Columbian drug cartels are starting to use more submersibles to try to evade radar detection.
And soccer players became impromptu air marshals yesterday after a man on their flight stripped down and he also tried to open an emergency exit causing pilots to make a pretty hasty emergency stop, more now from Chip Yost of CNN affiliate, KTLA.
CHIP YOST, KTLA REPORTER: The passengers on this Boston to Los Angeles flight have quite the story to tell.
EVAN CALLAGHAN, PASSENGER: So, in the middle of the flight we had a guy just pop out of the bathroom all naked.
YOST: On a normal trip the would be enough for a 12-year-old, but Evan can also tell his friends he was on a flight with a professional sockering team, members of the New England Revolution were on their way to Los Angeles for a game a naked man walked right by the general manager's seat.
CRAIG TORNBERG, GEN MGR NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION: I went over to the guy and I said: you're going to get your clothes back on. I probably said a few choice words on it, but go back into the bathroom and get your clothes on.
CALLAGHAN: And then so the flight attendants had people get him to go back and change back into his clothes and so, they thought they had that settled, then couple of seconds after he jumped up and tried to get out the emergency door.
YOST: Again the soccer team's general manager and some of his employees were close by.
TRONBERG: I just grabbed at him and pushed him and then all of a sudden Mike got him and Gwinn (ph) got up and you know, our assistant coach and everybody just kind of converged and we threw him back into his seat.
YOST: Flight attendants provided some plastic handcuff-like devices to restrain him and the flight made an unscheduled landing in Oklahoma City where naked man was arrested.
GILLIAN CALLAGHAN, PASSENGER: At one point he was saying: "Did I do something wrong? I'm so sorry." So, the guy was actually not a scary guy, he just was a upset guy.
YOST: During the rest of the flight, players signed autographs and likely gained a few more fans.
MIMI LEAVITT, PASSENGER: A half a dozen irate men surrounded him quickly. And he wasn't going to do anything dangerous. Really nice to see volunteers acting so quickly.
YOST: And if you're worried about how this might the team's game Sunday against Chivas USA. Well, don't.
YOST (on camera): Is this going to screw up your game planning?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, we don't do game planning, so we're fine.
WHITFIELD: OK, well good thing everyone is able to smile with it. That was Chip Yost reporting there from our affiliate KTLA.
Meantime, you know about a lot of American banks that been closing and perhaps you're worried about your money, whether it's unsured. Well, our Josh Levs has been taking questions and he's got answer, too.
JOSH LEVS, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, well look at the ominous question behind me, that's what we're going to be taking a look at, here. You know, you have heard that the FDIC can likely protect your money. You might now know there are some things it cannot protect including your safe deposit box.
WHITFIELD: All right, so it didn't take a DNA test, but it turns out Barbie's sisters are Bratz. A federal jury found that the man who designed the popular Bratz dolls actually came up with idea when he worked at Mattel, which is the company that makes Barbie. The copy right infringement ruling could mean millions of dollars in back royalties could go to Mattel. MGA entertainment launched the Bratz line 2001.
Oil prices take a dive. Crude fell for the fourth straight day yesterday settling at $128.88 a barrel. That's more than $16 lower than Tuesdays close and the biggest weekly drop ever. Well, analysts point to a boost in oil and gas supplies and speculation that dialogue between the U.S. and Iran may be improving, even though there was dialog, it was more like a witness to the dialogue.
Meantime, Zimbabwe's economic crisis is deepening. The govern is introducing a new, get this $100 billion dollar bill. With out of control inflation there, the country's currency is losing value faster than people can actually spend it. Even the new $100 billion note is pretty worthless. It is equal to about one U.S. dollar and couldn't even buy Zimbabweans a loaf of bread. It is almost $15, there.
All right, the collapse of several U.S. banks this year, including California's lender, IndyMac, well, that has many of us concerned about the safety of our money. How worried should we be? And is the cash in our bank accounts, all of it that is, protected? We're here with Josh Levs.
And I know the answer already to the all-of-it part, no. All of it is not protected.
LEVS: Exactly. And you know what's happened, Fred, I mean, in the last several days the term FDIC has suddenly been on the air hundreds of times. And I want to do right now is take a couple of minutes here, break down the basics, what people can know in order to understand what's going on a with your money and things that you might have in the bank that might not be protected.
So, here's the basic idea. Bank deposit are insured by the government. And you know, as I'm saying, we've been hearing a lot about this. But, what is the FDIC and what does it protect exactly? Here are some basics. Let's start with the history, here.
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was created in 1933 to restore confidence in the banking system during the Great Depression. You know, obviously at the time thousands of banks were failing, people were losing their savings. And the FDIC promises replace individual deposits up to $100,000 if a bank fails.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOVENZI, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, FDIC: If your accounts are under $100,000, you have absolutely nothing to worry about. And there are ways to structure your accounts so you can get much more than $100,000 coverage, fully insured in any individual institution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVS: And Fred, I was looking at the totals there, the FDIC says it's basically guaranteeing $3 trillion in deposits in the U.S. Our folks at CNN MONEY in this article behind me, thought they point out that total U.S. deposits in this country are around $7 trillion.
So, let's break down what is insured. You got checking accounts, savings accounts, and CDs. But then you have the things that are not insured and some of this might surprise you. You've got mutual funds, annuities, stocks, bonds and treasury bills. Those are generally not covered the FDIC, nor are contents of a safe deposit box.
So, let's go to the screen behind me. The big touch screen Web (INAUDIBLE) just two Web pages I want to show you, encourage you to go to. This, first of all, SIPC, Securities Investor Protection Corporation. Let me step out of the way. I printed out the summary, here, it's a nongovernment entity. They replace missing stocks or other securities in customer accounts held by their members up to $500,000.
One more thing I want to show you here, this is from the FDIC's Web site about safety deposit boxes. They say if the FDIC cannot find a buyer for the bank that you use, it arranges for to you remove the contents of your box. But ultimately that comes down to your responsibility. You have get to get there, you have to take everything out.
If you want more information on this, I encourage you to go to cnnmoney.com. One more thing it keep in mind here, they do not protect against criminal losses, also, like robberies or embezzlement, those are covered by a separate kind of insurance that banks can buy. So, customers should, really, check with their banks about what kinds of insurance those banks have in order to protect, you know, from the kinds of things we're seeing on the screen, right now.
WHITFIELD: I think, for me, the most surprising would be that safe deposit boxes are not insured. And certainly, I think, after a lot of people hear that, maybe they'll be a little bit more reticent about actually putting things in it because don't you think most people think that that would be insured? You're putting our values at the bank because you don't think it's safer anywhere else?
LEVS: Well look, yes there's that. There's the expectation that a lot of people think that's the safest place to be and then you can -- the more you look into this, the more surprised you can be. They you actually might not have the bank's insurance on what's in there. You might need to have your own private insurance, protect your property in general, even if there's some sort of theft. That too, but also just think about the pragmatism, here.
I mean, you've got sometimes these huge lines of people waiting to get into the bank wanting to take their money out when they hear there might be a bank failure, then add to that the time it takes to wait and get inside one at a time, to your safe deposit box. It just adds to the concern, it can add to the rush. That's why I'm really encouraging people, you know, pay tention to what we're saying here, and take a look at these Web sites so you're really educated when it comes time, if it every comes a time for this kind of a failure to hit you.
WHITFIELD: Yeah, and I have a feeling that folks have not been that uneasy about banking since, as you mentioned, the Depression when the FDIC actually came about and why it came about, because people have felt so comfortable with their banks. But now knowing that there are 90 banks in America that are on this kind of watch list. We still don't know the names of those banks, folks are a little uneasy, understandably.
LEVS: Yeah, you know, I was just trying to look at the watch list, and you're right, I mean, the government publishes around the number that there is on the watch list, but they don't say what the banks are, exactly what the problems are.
Since we have one more second, if you want to check your bank, bankrate.com. Got to bankrate.com, you'll see a place right there. You can get a general sense from this private group of how think your bank's health is doing.
WHITFIELD: OK, very good advice, Josh. Thanks so much. And I know, Josh, the way you are, you kind of watch the monitors all the time when things come in from overseas or domestically. Well, I know you took look at this as it happened.
This kind of the lighter side of the presidential campaign and the lighter side of military service abroad. Three pointer, right there. Barack Obama, why? When? Where? We'll explain.
WHITFIELD: Well, you've seen the promotions and you know that our Soledad O'Brien is about to present a special CNN documentary, "Black in America." But, before next week's landmark report, we're presenting an important forum with some key voices for the African-American community. CNN and "Essence," "Reclaiming the Dream," airs tonight at 8:00 Eastern. Here's a look.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Do you think the rap of black -- disappearing black fathers, which a phrase I've heard a lot -- is it an unfair rap? Is it because the media picks up on that and just hammers that every single day? Or is it a fair rap?
JULIANNE MALVEAUX, PRES, BENNETT COLLEGE FOR WOMEN: Well, some at level it's real and some level it is media. I remember when Bill Moyers had that disappeatng black families series. Well, a family is still a family whether the father is there or not. But you want the father there. I mean, I want to be clear. The ideal situation is to have both parents, but in the lack of the ideal, my resistance to some of this conversation is about I always want us to surround every child. I'm not a mom. But I call myself another mother, because I have God children, I have nephews.
O'BRIEN: You just give them back at the end of the day.
MALVEAUX: I get to give them back. Every child deserves to be nurtured. The fact that the mother or father has mad a mistake should not have an effect on the material conditions of the child.
BISHOP T.D. JAKES, FOUNDER, THE POTTER'S HOUSE: I totally agree with you, but I think the problem has gone to the other extreme. It's going beyond just accepting the mother who has had a child out of wedlock, to applauding her for having a child out of wedlock.
It's gone too far. This has really gone too far. You've got girls today -- when I grew up, girls did want to get pregnant out of wedlock. You have girls today who walk up to guy and say, "I want to have your baby." You know? And that's absolute madness.
O'BRIEN: Well, what's changed, I mean, what has changed from the '60s where we see this massive leap in the numbers? What has changed?
ED GORDON, JOURNALIST: We keep looking for a comex answer to that question, what has changed. Expectation has changed. It's exactly what the Bishop suggested. I'm from Detroit. When I grew up -- and I hate to sound like your parents -- but when I grew up...
When a girl got pregnant, she all of a sudden moved down South. She went South. What happed to Chista? She down South. We knew what that meant. We knew exactly, because mama was not going to be embarrassed to watch Christa grow with all of her -- I'm not saying that's the right thing to do, but there was a certain expectation and we have allowed those expectations to drop.
HILL HARPER, ACTOR/AUTHOR: But, it really, to me, starts with self- esteem and self-worth. Unless -- all the issues we're going to talk about on the program are future-based ideas, education, financial literacy, health, HIV/AIDS, those are future-based ideas. If you don't believe that you're actually worthy of a future, then that falls on deaf ears. So, it doesn't matter. And so, we have young women today that aren't even African-American making pregnancy pacts. It's about trying to figure out a way to make yourself -- to feel better. And unless we -- and that's what -- my whole thing is we got to deal with self-esteem and self-worth, first.
WHITFIELD: You don't want to miss that tonight. And here's something you don't always see when a congressional delegation heads overseas visit or U.S. troops or in this case, a presidential contender doing that. Senator Barack Obama visiting the U.S. troops Kuwait, this is the place, almost like rock star status. You see the applause, there and a lot of hoopin' and hollering. And then he's encouraged to get right there on the hard court. He's passed the basketball and right there, three-pointer, jump shot, easy as pie. And it was funny because before he took that shot he says, OK, this is my first shot. I don't know if I'm going to make it. And then just like that, he does. And of course, you heard the crowd behind him. He use to play basketball in high school, so he had little practice on the hard court.
There he is with troops, again. Right now he's in Afghanistan. But, these are the lighter moments before he left Kuwait and off to Afghanistan. And more ahead in this next hour about his trip to Afghanistan and what his competitor, the Republican, John McCain has to say about Barack Obama overseas.
Straight ahead, also, we're going to keep you up to date on a new named tropical storm, Cristobal and much more my conversation with Judith Jamison of Alvin Ailey Dance Theater in our next hour, right after this.