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Native Sons Opt Out of Peace Corps to Help Those in the U.S.; Community Leader Turns Criminal; Finding Employment in the Military
Aired March 4, 2009 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: How do we get out of the mess we're in? Maybe get out of the mortgage that you're in. We're pushing forward with housing crisis solutions. Here's a no-brainer for cutting government spending: Don't spend money you don't have to. We're getting a look at the president's plan to adjust Uncle Sam's allowance.
And when it comes to making money, is green the new black?
Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips live at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Foreclosures drive down home values, which hinders refinancing, which leads to more foreclosures. It's a vicious cycle of the housing crisis. It's a target of the government rescue plan that takes effect today. CNN's Gerri Willis has read the fine print.
Gerri, who stands to gain and how?
GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Right. Well, you know, we've been talking all day about President Obama's foreclosure prevention program. Guess what, it's open for business today. If you want to see the eligibility and the distinct guidelines, go to hud.gov. Look under the tab that says making home affordable. That is what the fed is calling this program,
The plan has two initiatives. The first is for people who are underwater in their mortgage, that means they owe more than the house is worth. Let's look at the details. If you are current on your mortgage, but can't refinance because home prices are falling in your area, this program is for you. Your loan must be held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Ask your lender for details. You have to have sufficient income to actually pay the new loan. So, you can't be unemployed.
What it does for you is it allows you to refinance into a loan with lower monthly payments, or avoid a rate reset. Now, truth be told, there's no principal reduction here, but you save money over the life of the loan because interest rates are lower.
The second initiative is to help lower monthly payments at homeowners at risk of losing their home. Maybe you lost your job, you're behind one or two or more payments. These are loan mods and they work by reducing interest rates. The new interest rate is in place for five years. And then it begins resetting higher. And for the first time, the issue of second mortgages is addressed by the government. This would eliminate secondary mortgage debt for borrowers. Now, you qualify if you're behind in your payments as we were saying. Now, this mortgage has to be your primary home. It can't be something you've invested in or a home that you're flipping.
Your monthly mortgage bill has to be more than 31 percent of your monthly gross income. Now, what it does, the lender may lower your interest rates and/or your principal balance through loan modification. That's estimated this program will help 3 million to 4 million homeowners avoid foreclosure.
So, two distinct programs, two different groups of people who are actually going to get help here. People who are underwater in their mortgages. You're still paying, and people who are really up against it. Maybe you've lost your job, you're behind on this loan already; lots of people out there who could get some help from this federal program.
PHILLIPS: All right. Gerri, thanks.
WILLIS: My pleasure.
PHILLIPS: We always, of course, want to hear from you. You can send us your questions about your mortgage, and the president's plan to make it more affordable. The address is email@example.com. Gerri Willis will come back and join us in just a few minutes with some answers.
Lost jobs are another big cause and effect of the economic meltdown. And today we have some grim new figures. The payroll processing company ADP says another 697,000 jobs were shed last month in the private sector. That's a huge increase from January. The report could be an omen of what to expect from the government jobs report which comes out on Friday.
So what do all the job cuts mean and how is Wall Street reacting? Susan Lisovicz from the New York Stock Exchange with the latest from there and, of course, the numbers.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kyra.
Well, the markets' handling it pretty well, but then again, the Dow has been down 11 out of the last 13 sessions. And it remains below 7,000. This new report on the private sector shows that the recession, the effects of the recession, are spreading. It's not just Fortune 500 companies that are downsizing. It's hitting small businesses, too.
And unlike the last two recessions, this one's hitting blue- collar workers heavily. As for what to expect from the more inclusive jobs report from the government on Friday, we're expecting the unemployment rate to rise to 7.9 percent. About 650,000 cuts expected.
Stocks, as you can see, bouncing off the 12-year lows. But fears still persist. You can see it play out in the oldest member of the Dow 30, General Electric, this is a company that makes everything from light bulbs to movies, but has heavy exposure to finances. And you're seeing GE shares down nearly 5 percent, trading under $7. This is a company that was trading over $27 in the last year.
Basically concerns about what's going to happen. Whether it's triple A, top of the line credit rating is going to be cut, because of its exposure to bad debt, concerns about that. Jeff Immelt the CEO says that this is a company that has survived, Kyra, nine recessions and the Great Depression, and it will survive this downturn, too - Kyra.
PHILLIPS: That's what we like to hear. Thanks, Susan.
LISOVICZ: You're welcome.
PHILLIPS: You want to save $40 billion a year? President Obama says we can, if the federal government gets serious about the way it does business with contractors and vendors. Today he promised new rules and new accountability for the fiscal year starting in October.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Over the last eight years, government spending on contracts has doubled to over half a trillion dollars. Far too often the spending is plagued by massive cost overruns, outright fraud in the absence of oversight and accountability. In some cases, contracts are awarded without competition. In others, contractors actually oversee other contractors. We are spending money on things that we don't need and we are paying more than we need to pay. And that's completely unacceptable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: The president says competition and careful oversight are the key to making government contracts work for taxpayers. The White House Office of Management and Budget will work with Cabinet departments and agency heads to rewrite the rules for spending your money. Mr. Obama cited a congressional audit that found almost $300 billion in cost overruns in 95 projects under way for the Pentagon.
Now, Senator John McCain may have lost the presidential race, but his fight against pet projects in huge government spending bills is going strong. The new $410 billion measure contains more than 8,000 of those so-called earmarks. McCain, Senator Russ Feingold and Congressman Paul Ryan are reintroducing a line item veto bill that would target earmarks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: We have consulted a broad array of constitutional authority, of people who are authorities on the Constitution, who tell us that this is indeed -- even though it's not exactly a line item veto, it's a rescission bill that is constitutional. So is it going to be hard to get this passed? Yes. But I believe that the American people voted for change last November. They want not only change in the executive branch, but they want a change in the legislative branch in the way that we do business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Here's some of those earmarks in the spending bill that makes McCain bristle; $238,000 for the Polynesian Voyaging Society in Hawaii; $300,000 for a world trade center in Montana; and $24,000 for abstinence programs in Pennsylvania.
Seize the moment. Work globally to dig out of the recession. That's the message from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He spoke today to a joint meeting of Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORDON BROWN, PRIME MINISTER, GREAT BRITAIN: An economic hurricane has swept the world creating a crisis of credit and crisis of confidence. History has brought us now to a point where change is essential. And we are summoned not just to manage our times, but to disarm (ph) them. Our task is to rebuild prosperity and security, in a wholly different economic world, where competition is no longer just local, but it's global. And where banks are no longer national, but they're international.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: In his speech, Prime Minister Brown had a special message for Senator Ed Kennedy. You can now call him Sir Edward. Brown says Queen Elizabeth made Kennedy a member of British nobility for many reasons, including helping to bring peace to Northern Ireland and expanding health care for Americans.
Kennedy, who as you probably know, is battling brain cancer. He wasn't on hand for Brown's speech to Congress, but in a written statement, Kennedy said he was deeply grateful for that honor.
All right. Let's head overseas. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today promised personal involvement in stalled Middle East peace process. It came during a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. Clinton says the Palestinian Authority is the only legitimate government of the Palestinian people. A spokesperson for Hamas, Abbas' rival, call Clinton's remark a slap in the face for those expecting a change in U.S. foreign policy.
Let's push the housing rescue plan forward and see how it can help you. Gerri Willis is going to help us connect the dots.
PHILLIPS: So, ask yourself, could you do what Robin Savage did? Our IReporter in San Juan Capistrano, California needed to save money so she ditched her cell phone. That's why she hasn't returned your calls. Anyway, here's Robin before she dumped it, and then having a little remorse after.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBIN SAVAGE, CNN IREPORTER: I'm so tired of the fees. And every month when I get my bill it's like opening up the envelope for the Academy Awards. You're like opening up, and you're like, oh, my gosh, wow. And I just -- every month it's like that.
It's complete torture. They say cigarettes are addictive? But I'm telling you, I think cell phones could be just as bad. After having been without my cell phone for a few days, people are e-mailing me like, why didn't you get my calls? Well, I don't have my cell phone anymore. So, but I'm going without a cell phone because I can't stand them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Behold the party recession -- threw the people at this party in San Francisco. All have something in common. They've all been laid off. Yep, it's a pink slip party and a way for job seekers to meet prospective employers, make contacts, get advice, or just find some kindred unemployed souls to talk to, and probably have a few cocktails.
Let's push ahead with the new housing rescue plan. Maybe it's just what you need. Personal Finance Editor Gerri Willis already getting some great questions for you about how the plan might help them.
Gerri, let's go ahead and get right to the first e-mail.
PHILLIPS: OK, here we go. This viewer wants to know, where can a person find out if they are qualified for the mortgage program where if someone is behind on their mortgage, for about 60 days, they can be eligible to pay $500 a month in order to catch up?
WILLIS: You know, this is a great question. It really comes out of a program we talked about earlier this week, from CitiMortgage. And that goes like this: If you lost your job in the last six months, or you're 60 days or more behind your mortgage, you can call CitiMortgage and you may qualify to pay 500 bucks on your mortgage for three months. However, you have to be a CitiMortgage holder. You can't be just anybody. Their number, 800-283-7918.
But looking at your details, I'm thinking you may be better off in the government's making home affordable program. You really need to check out HUD.gov to see if you're eligible for a modification. They could cut your mortgage rate for five years. So it's a longer-term program. And they give you some peace of mind for awhile.
PHILLIPS: All right. Drew wants to know if a person qualifies for the new programs, will a full home appraisal be required or will the lender just use an automated value program?
WILLIS: This is a really technical question. Drew, the short answer is, no. None of the old-fashioned appraisals, where you hire a guy, two weeks later he comes by, does the appraisal. It's not going to work that way. It is going to be automated. The two programs I'm hearing they're going to use, Asset Valuation Method and Broker Price Opinion.
Some of these are done on sight, many of them are not. There's not even a drive-by. It is all automated. So that's what you're looking at. The good news here, you won't have to pay that extra dough to have an appraiser come in.
PHILLIPS: All right. And Joan asks this, Gerri. A couple of months ago we tried to refinance but got declined because of a drop in our property value. And also we're just over the conventional mortgage limit, which makes our loan a jumbo loan. Will they refinance us now, even though ours is a jumbo loan?
WILLIS: Well, Joe, these programs are not for jumbo loan holders. Having said that, you may not know what the current jumbo loan level is; you may well be under it because it's been raised. It's currently at $729,750. That is up substantially over the last couple of years. The government keeps moving the line in the sand. That jumbo loan limit, it's just a line in the sand between conforming loans, which get special treatment, and jumbo loans which tend to be more expensive and are bigger loans.
So if you are not jumbo, you could qualify for this government program. Go to the website FHFA -I know -FHFA.gov. There's an actual listing of what these loan limits, these jumbo loan limits are across the country.
PHILLIPS: Here's what I love about you. You've always got a million websites to plug. The one you probably said the most in at least the last 48 hours is HUD.gov. So all of us said today, all right, let's go to HUD.gov. And let's talk about why is this such an essential website and why Gerri keeps mentioning it.
So, Gerri, I brought it up. There were a couple of things that stood out to me. But do you want to go ahead and point some things out before I show some things to our viewers?
WILLIS: Let me tell you, this is a great website, whether you're in trouble or not. If you're just a homeowner, it's a good website to go to. It tells you all about buying and selling, how to avoid foreclosure. There are great tips for understanding what it means to be a homeowner. You can see all kinds of great things here. Great advice.
And of course, the president's plans are here; all about these programs that we keep talking about. You know, the limits on who -- the guidelines they're trying to get the people into the program. It's really one-stop shopping here.
The other thing -
PHILLIPS: And -
WILLIS: Oh, let me mention this. PHILLIPS: OK.
WILLIS: Because you don't want to miss this. If you're looking for a counselor in your area, there's actually a page with a map where you can click on your state and find counselors in your state. So, HUD has counselors everywhere.
PHILLIPS: You know what, Gerri, this is why I love you, because we didn't even talk about this. And we're seeing eye to eye. That's what I was going over to, because there's a list of all these things you can click onto. Including information en Espanol, that is for all our Hispanic or Spanish-speaking viewers, which is great. It's not just in English, it's in Spanish, too.
But here it is, right here. Talk to a housing counselor. I didn't even know that that was available, and it was available for free. Oh, the address, I can't bring it up on the big screen, so I apologize. But you actually can click onto - not only that, you know what else caught my attention?
PHILLIPS: See if HUD owes you a refund on your FHA loan. There we go.
WILLIS: We're going to get some free money here.
PHILLIPS: Yeah, free money, free counseling. Heck, I wonder if they help you with other issues besides just housing.
WILLIS: Let me mention one other thing, though, as long as we're on this. Because I got an e-mail from somebody today who was listening to our programming and very interested in the specifics of this federal program. They went on the web to go to the HUD website, and ended up going to the wrong thing. Do not go to HUD.com. You're not going to find what you need. You want HUD.gov. That is the website for the Housing and Urban Development agency that runs all these programs that we're talking about.
These are the people in charge. That's who you're trying to get in touch with to find out whether you qualify for these programs, whether there's something in it for you, or even just maybe how you buy a foreclosure. There's all kinds of advice here, all kinds of good information to draw on. And it's really easy to navigate. Like you said, it's not just in one language. It's in at least two. So, you know, if you are Spanish speaking, this website is for you.
PHILLIPS: That's great. All right. Appreciate it, Gerri. Thanks so much.
WILLIS: My pleasure.
What would Gandhi do? He never clung to material possessions, so why are others profiting from the prophet's things?
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PHILLIPS: So, did you hear it whizzing by? Earth actually came uncomfortably close to a gigantic asteroid this week. NASA estimates it was as big as 154 feet in diameter. That's about the size of the one that slammed into Siberia a century ago. NASA says that Monday's incident was a close call. That asteroid, about 38,000 miles away when it whizzed by. That seems pretty far, but it's less than twice the distance from the Earth's surface as some telecommunications satellites will show.
Tell you what, the only thing I came close to with regard to an asteroid was the game we played as a kid. Do you remember Asteroid?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, zoom, zoom, zoom. And you have to hydrospace, shoot through hydrospace and you never know where you're going to come back.
PHILLIPS: It had the little ball. Remember that? Maybe that was Centipede. Sorry, I digress. So, what happened? Someone was asleep at the telescope?
MYERS: Five times closer than the moon! This 15-story building goes flying over Tahiti.
PHILLIPS: That's a perfect way to describe it.
MYERS: And they didn't see it coming until it was like, oh, boy, here it comes. There it goes.
PHILLIPS: So, what happened? How could they not see it coming?
MYERS: You know we find -they find 100 new ones every year. They just didn't find this thing coming. It's going to be back in 18 months, but it won't be that close next time.
PHILLIPS: OK, thank goodness.
MYERS: We're just running through this belt, you know? It's like -kind of scary.
PHILLIPS: All right.
MYERS: As the world turns.
PHILLIPS: As the world turns.
MYERS: So do the sands of the hourglass of our lives.
PHILLIPS: That your favorite soap opera?
MYERS: I don't know. I used to watch "General Hospital." I don't have time for that anymore with a four-year-old.
So, here's the Earth. How close was it.
(LAUGHTER) MYERS: It was, technically, measure from here to here, that's about 8,000 miles. So you add four of those or so. That's how close it was. But being the size of a 15-story building just kind of gives me the creeps a little bit that it was missed in the first place.
PHILLIPS: It's a controversial auction in New York. Selling items once owned by Gandhi. But the Indian government is trying to block the gavel from coming down. Why? CNN's Terence Burke has more.
TERENCE BURKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Mahatma Gandhi is one of history's iconic figures; the father of Indian independence, a nonviolent revolutionary and anti-materialist. Now, ironically, it's the sale of some of his few worldly possessions that's causing controversy.
At this New York auction house, Gandhi's pocket watch, bowl and plate, sandals and wire-rimmed spectacles go under the gavel this Thursday. The items are expected to fetch between $20,000 and $30,000.
JULIEN SCHAERER, ANTIQUORUM AUCTIONEERS: This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. And the people that want to acquire it, I think are basically will pay whatever it takes for them to get those objects.
BURKE: But India's parliament wants the auction halted. An Indian court issued an injunction claiming the items belong in India. Many Indians believe selling Gandhi's items for profit is outrageous.
VARSHA DAS, DIR., NATIONAL GHANDI MUSEUM: I feel very sad about it, because Gandhi, he, himself, never believed in private possessions. He gave away everything. He did not even have a home to live in.
BURKE: The Indian government has contacted the collector, American filmmaker James Otis, about buying the belongings before they go to auction. Otis is puzzled by the controversy and says he'll donate most of the proceeds to Gandhi's causes.
JAMES OTIS, GANDHI MEMORABILIA COLLECTOR: I'm hopeful that Gandhi's belongings, in this auction, will remind us all, especially Barack Obama, who actually has a picture of Gandhi in his office and has spoken very highly of him, that we can learn to solve our international conflicts without violence.
BURKE: The conflict over the possessions may have people seeing Gandhi in a new light.
RAMESH SUBRAHMANIAN, INDIAN CITIZEN: Gandhi means more to Indians than he means to the rest of the world. But I think his message is pretty universal. So, I'm really glad that this thing has generated the controversy.
BURKE: As Gandhi once said, honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress. Terence Burke, CNN, New York.
PHILLIPS: Wait your turn. Say please and thank you. And don't be jealous of others. Turns out everything you need to know about the stimulus, well, you learned in kindergarten.
PHILLIPS: You can't please everybody. You can't fund everything. And everybody can't be first. Cardinal rule of politics come into focus as the stimulus dollars begin to hit the heartland.
CNN Special Investigations Unit is following those dollars, and Drew Griffin pushes it forward.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We're headed to the nation's first project paid for by the nearly $800 billion stimulus bill. It's a bridge across the Osage River in Missouri.
Where's that? Fair to say that's part of the story.
(on camera): All right. Show me where we're going now. We're here, right?
(voice-over): Drive 40 miles south of Jefferson City, then take a left, 10 miles on a two-lane rural road, and we find your stimulus dollars at work -- a handful of truck drivers, a bulldozer, and a crumbling 75-year-old bridge near the tiny town of Tuscumbia, Missouri. It's about three hours from Missouri's second largest city, St. Louis, where the mayor is not happy about the bridge. He says stimulus money in his state is going to rural, far-flung projects almost forgotten until stimulus money started flowing from Washington.
MAYOR FRANCIS SLAY, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI: This is an insult to the people of St. Louis. It's a violation of federal law, and I think that they're doing -- they're spending this money contrary to the intent of Congress.
GRIFFIN (on camera): Of more than $4 billion in stimulus money coming to the state of Missouri, $600 million will be spent on transportation projects, and the mayor of St. Louis says most of that money should be spent in high unemployment areas like St. Louis, putting people back to work. But the Department of Transportation in this state will spend just $2 million in this city, only enough, says the mayor, to repave a road.
(voice-over): The Missouri Department of Transportation says $200 million will be spent around St. Louis and says the projects are on a "worst is first" priority.
The Osage River Bridge tops that list, even though it's difficult to find on a map.
David Cochran (ph), the project manager here, says there's no doubt it needs replacing.
(on camera): So they're getting a two-year jump -- whoa, there's a perfect example.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the stuff that will come down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That came down there.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Up the road, at the Red Oak Inn, owner Wes Horton says Missouri has been promising a new bridge for years. It's only the federal money, the Obama money, he says, that has suddenly got things going.
WES HORTON, OWNER, RED OAK INN: I think they ought to spend all their money on things like this instead of buying the bankers out.
GRIFFIN: There are will be 30 jobs here directly connected to this $8.5 million project. But like the Obama administration, Cochran says this one project will be a jobs multiplier: steel workers, concrete haulers, even the gas stations supplying fuel, an estimated 245 jobs created or saved from this one rural bridge.
Bunk, says university of Missouri economist, Michael Sykuta.
MICHAEL SYKUTA, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI ECONOMIST: There's been a lot of research done on the Great Depression. Most of that work and the general consensus of my economic report is that it didn't work. That there were a lot of people deployed, but it didn't create a net long-term growth in the economy.
GRIFFIN: St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay says the Osage River bridge project is just plain wrong in the middle of nowhere and nowhere on the road to recovery.
Drew Griffin, CNN, Tuscumbia, Missouri.
PHILLIPS: Well, Wilmington, Ohio, needs all the stimulus it can get. We've told you about the charity food deliveries that followed the pullout of the town's main employer. Unemployment in Clinton County now stands at 7.6 percent; that's up from five percent a year ago. Sounds like a job for the Peace Corps? Maybe not, but the town's plight did move two native sons who set out save the world, only to find their friends and neighbors need them more. Mark Rembert and Taylor Stuckert join me now live from Wilmington.
Good to see you guys.
MARK REMBERT, ENERGIZE LINTON COUNTY: Good to see you.
Thanks for having us.
All right, my pleasure. So, tell me what it was that happened. Was it the DHL layoffs that all of a sudden told you in your heart you need to come home and help? I mean, Mark, tell me how it happened for you.
Well, I actually came home because I was planning on leaving for the Peace Corps in February. Actually, I guess I would have left about a week ago, had I gone. But I wanted to come home and spend some time with my family and with the community, before I left for 27 months of service in Ecuador. And of course, that happened to coincide with what was going on with the community responding to DHL. So as I - when I got home and really began to get involved, I realized that there was a lot of need. And that, you know, really, my energy might be better served in Wilmington than in Ecuador.
PHILLIPS: And Taylor, you had already been in Bolivia, active within the Peace Corps. What moved you in your heart to come back? I mean you were already doing amazing things over there.
TAYLOR STUCKERT, ENERGIZE CLINTON COUNTY: Well, it really wasn't my choice. The Peace Corps actually evacuated from Bolivia in September. So because the program was closed by the United States government, I was actually back home. I was sent home because that was my home of address, and I sort of landed in this situation. So, I found myself in a situation that I wasn't expecting. I had intended, originally, to go back into the Peace Corps. And, you know, working with Mark, and talking it over, decided this would probably be the best decision to make.
PHILLIPS: Wow, even members of Peace Corps out of a job, but obviously different circumstances than what you're dealing with now.
All right, now you guys are back at home. Well, let me ask you this, Taylor, from the experience that you did have in the Peace Corps, was there anything you learned about that type of work that will parlay well into your native town?
STUCKERT: Absolutely. I mean, I think the most essential thing in Peace Corps work is integration into a community. Your first three months there, you're doing diagnostic of the community and analyzing how sort of the community fits together and how you fit within that community. So, with Mark and I both being from Wilmington, Ohio, we sort of know the community better than any community we could ever learn about. So we sort of fit into this situation perfectly, and the Peace Corps model fits well with us because of how integrated we are in the community that we're working.
PHILLIPS: Mark, so tell me specifically what you guys have started to do. What is the overall game plan here to help your town?
REMBERT: Sure. Well, I mean, really, what we're trying to do is develop a vision for how Wilmington and Clinton County can build a sustainable, economic future. And that - that involves a few different components in our minds. One, that's policy. So, one thing we've been advocating for from the beginning is establishing Clinton County as a green enterprise zone. And taking some of the movement that the economy is going towards, which is sort of energy efficiency, advanced energy technologies, and providing - and I guess, targeting specific incentives to Clinton County and other economically distressed communities across the state of Ohio. To really promote growth in those economically stressed communities.
We've also tried to develop a proposal that builds on the stimulus. We've really focused on weatherization. We found that weatherization has a proven track record of really generating a lot of economic activity through job creation, saving people money, buying supplies and services from local businesses. And - but we found that it was somewhat limited, based on the fact that currently weatherization is primarily an aid-based program. Focusing on people within 250 percent of the poverty line.
But we really wanted to maximize the economic benefits of weatherization. So we put forward a proposal which tries to, you know, really weatherize as many homes as possible. And in doing so, stimulating a lot of economic growth. And at the same time, you know, saving millions of dollars in energy costs for the residents of Clinton County.
PHILLIPS: So going green, saving money. And I know you've got a blog, too, energizecc.com - as in Energize Clinton County. People can follow your work. OK, guys, we want to track you. Since this is just you guys, have decided to turn down the Peace Corps, come back to your hometown, start this huge project, we're going to follow you. And we'd love to bring you back, say, in a month or so and - does that sound good? - and just see how your plan is going.
Just before I let you go, real quickly, how are you guys making money? Are you working?
STUCKERT: Well, you know, one of the things you learn in the Peace Corps is to learn to live on less than you're accustomed to. So, you know...
REMBERT: And really the reason we're here is because of the community, our families, our friends, our neighbors. They supported us.
PHILLIPS: So you have family support. That's great.
PHILLIPS: Nothing like living with mom and dad while you're changing the world. It's perfect. It makes sense.
All right, guys, Taylor, Mark, we'll be tracking you, OK? We'll talk to you in a couple weeks.
STUCKERT: All right.
PHILLIPS: Thank you, guys. Well, there could be a vampire in your house. Not the one that's out for blood, but sucking your wallet dry. We're going to tell you how to stop it. I'll bet you Mark and Taylor would agree with how we're going to forward on this. No stake required.
PHILLIPS: Vampire power. No, it's not the new horror movie, it's actually energy your electronics are using even when they're switched off. Poppy Harlow has our "Energy Fix" from New York.
I thought when I turned down my heat a couple of degrees I was really saving money all day. Am I wrong?
POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: Well, no, you're right, but you should also unplug everything that you can. That's what this is about, the vampire power, all of these electronics that drain the energy from your home. The EPA saying, so-called "vampire power" could cost U.S. households about $100.00 a year. A lot of the electronics, they suck energy right out of the wall even when they're not turned on. Set-top boxes, those are some of the biggest users of vampire power.
Allan Myer (ph), he's a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Conservatory, say it costs $40 a year on top of the bill you have just to keep your DVR plugged in whether or not it's on or off. Of course, if you unplug it, you lose all those shows. But there are Energy Star-rated, set-top boxes that use a lot less power.
On the flip side, Kyra, you're allowed to leave your cell phone charger plugged in the entire time, because that will only cost you about 50 cents a year to do that. So some suck more energy than others.
PHILLIPS: All right, so cell phone chargers aside, what can we do to cut down on vampire power use?
HARLOW: Some are obvious, some are not. Obviously, unplug things you're not using. There are other things you can do as well. Take a listen to this expert.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARC ALT, PRESIDENT MARC ALT & PARTNERS: Anywhere from 20 percent to 30 percent of energy use is actually simply wasted on vampire power. And so now that we're looking at trying to reduce our overall energy consumption and reduce our carbon emissions, that's a very easy kind of low-hanging fruit to look at. So there are a number of products now coming onto the market like smart power strips and other metering systems that really lets you get a much more clear picture of the energy you're using and actually let you have more control over how you use energy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Of course, these power strips help because you can use them for a lot of items at once. Your printer, computer, your speakers, all of that, for example. Think of unplugging things you don't use on a daily basis, anything in a guest room, a television, a lamp, you get the idea. And you should also know, if you decide to invest in an Energy Star product, it not only uses less energy when it's on, it uses less when it's on the standby mode so it can save you on a day-to-day basis. But don't let the vampires in your house, just unplug what you can.
PHILLIPS: OK. Don't you just hang garlic? Isn't that it?
HARLOW: Yes, that is exactly right.
PHILLIPS: OK, so it's a lot easier.
HARLOW: Smells, though.
PHILLIPS: Thank you, Poppy. Great advice.
Well, he was a God-fearing man and a man of conscience, but now one act of desperation, he's a changed man.
PHILLIPS: If you're looking for a job, an insurance company in New Jersey is probably going to be hiring. A group of ten employees striking it rich in last night's Mega Millions jackpot. They'll split 216 million bucks, less if they go with the cash option, of course.
And we told you yesterday about our office pool. Well, we had a winning ticket, too. Three bucks, baby. Hope you all appreciate we still showed up for work.
As always, "Team Sanchez" back there working hard for his money.
What you typing, Rick?
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: I'm typing a story that we're doing about what's going on with criticism of the Obama presidency in regards to earmarks and pork, and everything else. So we're going to try - cause there's a lot of arguments going on today . Claire McCaskill was on our show yesterday, and she came on and she was spitting bullets. She's was angry. She's saying, look, these republicans who have been complaining about these earmarks and all this pork, yada yada yada, these are the same guys that were going along with it during the Bush and Cheney years.
So we had Congressman Pence on yesterday. He said, no I was one of the republicans who wasn't going along with it during the Bush and Cheney years. So we're going to fact check him today.
And by the way, Claire McCaskill was on the floor about 10 or 15 minutes ago. She did do what she told us she was going to do. She started yelling at republicans. We're going to let you hear what's going on with that.
And then there's the question of Rush Limbaugh. Did the GOP fall for a trap that was set by the democrats, the White House, and i.e. Rahm Emanuel who's good at this Machiavellian kind of stuff, according to sources, in setting them up to sort of create this Rush Limbaugh, the leader of the GOP thing. It's a fascinating story. So we're going to delve into that as well. Just for you, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: I like how you wink at me. Could you do that again? Thank you, Rick. You're such a cheese ball.
All right, his family and attorney call it an act of desperation; police call it criminal. CNN's David Mattingly has the story of a pillar of the community suddenly gone bad.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He wore a mask, carried a loaded gun, took two women hostage and, police say, threatened to kill if he didn't get what he wanted. Authorities believe 43-year-old Bruce Windsor may have been planning for a year to hit this Greenville, South Carolina bank.
CHIEF TERRI WILFONG, GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA POLICE: He was very aggressive, very forceful, very demanding, very threatening at the time of the bank robbery.
MATTINGLY: It all came undone when he released the two hostages unharmed and gave up to police. But when they slapped the cuffs on him, officers were in for a big surprise.
WILFONG: I've been doing law enforcement for 29 years, and this is the first time I've ever seen a citizen in that, basically, is your average American citizen in the middle class family all of a sudden commit a crime such as this nature.
MATTINGLY: Bruce Windsor was a local businessman, a soccer coach, a loving father of four, with no criminal record. He was a respected deacon in his church, devoting time to Habitat for Humanity. Even building churches and orphanages in Brazil. His pastor, Ralph Carter, couldn't believe it when he got the call.
(on camera): At any time, did you see anything in his character that would suggest he could do something like this?
REV. RALPH CARTER, BRUSHY CREEK BAPTIST CHURCH: Not in the least. Not a single thing about him. He's just an extraordinary guy in every sense of the word.
MATTINGLY: At first, police say they couldn't believe it. This upstanding citizen acting like such a desperate criminal. How could something like this happen? Well, it didn't take investigators long to get their answer. Turns out, Bruce Windsor was a desperate man caught up in a bad economy.
(voice-over): Investigators say Windsor was in real estate and had apparently been in financial trouble for years. He had a home construction and finance business that went bankrupt in 2005. Court documents at the time show he owed more than $50,000 to contractors and suppliers. Before his arrest, Windsor had been trying to weather the economic storm working out of his home, buying and renting houses. But he allegedly told police he was still having financial trouble.
Stunned friends and family tearfully told the judge he must have snapped under the pressure.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It doesn't even register.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've never stolen anything in my life.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's never done anything.
MATTINGLY: But his bond was set at $1.5 million, and police are asking prosecutors to take a hard line. They want to send a clear message to anyone else feeling the bite of the recession.
WILFONG: We're going to prosecute him to the fullest because we want the public to know that this is not an answer. Robbing a bank is not an answer and he's going to definitely serve some time in the penitentiary for this.
MATTINGLY: Windsor's attorney did not respond to our calls for comment. If convicted, Windsor could go to prison for 30 years.
David Mattingly, CNN, Greenville, South Carolina.
PHILLIPS: Well, from the unemployment line to the battle line. Why more Americans are reporting for duty in the nation's military.
PHILLIPS: President Obama's adding another member to his team. The White House says it will name Craig Fugate to head FEMA. He's currently Florida's state emergency director, a post that he's held since 2001. He's been widely praised for his efforts steering Florida through numerous hurricanes in the past decade.
The economy is tanking, unemployment is rising, so where do you turn if you can't find a paycheck? More Americans are finding the answer in uniform.
CNN Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, explains.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the economy in shambles and unemployment on the rise, the Pentagon is finding many young people are making their way to the recruiting office. From 2005 to 2007, when violence in Iraq was at record levels, recruiters couldn't meet their goals and many troops were getting out of the service as fast as they could. Now it seems everybody wants in.
VICE ADMIRAL MARK FERGUSON, CHIEF OF NAVAL PERSONNEL: We see individuals reenlisting at greater than our required levels.
STARR: Already, the Army and Marine Corps have achieved a planned troop increase months ahead of schedule. But still there are problems.
CURTIS GILROY, U.S. DEFENSE DEPARTMENT: As the economy continues to dip and unemployment rises, recruiting should be somewhat less difficult. We know this. But the economy is not the only driver of our attention and our recruiting programs.
STARR: Recruiters still find parents are much less likely these days to encourage their children to join the military. These commercials are an effort to change that.
(VIDEO CLIP, U.S. ARMY RECRUITMENT ADVERTISEMENT)
STARR: But finding enough young Americans really able to serve remains a challenge. The Pentagon says much of today's youth is simply unqualified. Obesity, drug and alcohol problems, and lack of education means only 25 percent of Americans aged 17 to 24 are qualified for military service.
(on camera): So many are signing up for repeat tours of duty that the Pentagon is eliminating some of those signing bonuses. They're just simply no longer needed.
Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
PHILLIPS: That does it for us. We'll be back here tomorrow, 1:00 to 3:00. Right now Rick Sanchez takes it from here.