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Alabama Rampage; Preventing Pork

Aired March 11, 2009 - 20:00   ET



All day today, we have had reporters gathering new detailed about that one-man murder spree down in Alabama last night.

Bullet point number one: We have learned much about the man who killed 11, including his family and himself. He had been out of work less than a week, but apparently he had not been fired. A deputy sheriff, whose wife and daughter appear to have been random victims, is asking what so many are asking today.


JOSH MYERS, VICTIMS' RELATIVE: I just don't understand why anything like this would happen. I don't know what to say.


BROWN: We're going to have the late-breaking details for you coming up in just a moment.

Bullet point number two tonight, we want to know just what's going on with your money when it comes to getting our country moving again. Today, President Obama signed a bill that spends $410 billion to keep the government functioning through September.

And he did it, even though it contains nearly $8 billion worth of politically-toxic earmarks, spending programs, or pork, that you remember President Obama campaigned to stop. So the president tried to turn the message around to his advantage, using the very announcement to try and turn a negative into a positive.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... omnibus bill because it's necessary for the ongoing functions of government and we have a lot more work to do. We can't have Congress bogged down at this critical juncture in our economic recovery. But I also view this as a departure point for more far-reaching change.

In my discussions with Congress, we have talked about the need for further reforms to ensure that the budget process inspires trust and confidence, instead of cynicism. So I believe as we move forward, we can come together around principles that prevent the abuse of earmarks.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: Is he serious? Why does he think Congress is suddenly going to walk away from some pet projects? We will look at that and the new fight the president faces over your money.

And bullet point number three tonight: the governor who is saying no to federal help. South Carolina has the second highest unemployment rate in the nation. So, why wouldn't the state's chief executive want to take stimulus funding that could create new jobs and fund programs? We're taking a NO BIAS, NO BULL look at what is really going on there.

And bullet point number four: We have some new developments to tell you about in the Chris Brown scandal. As you know, he's been charged with a brutal assault on his girlfriend, pop star Rihanna. Well, now he's decided to bail out of a kid's award program. We are "Cutting Through The Bull," because I want you to remember who was perfectly willing to let him look good on national TV, despite those shocking photos after Rihanna was so badly beaten.

But, first, we want to move to tonight's new developments in the south Alabama murder spree. We are learning more about the man who killed 10 people before turning a gun on himself. His name was Michael McLendon.

Investigators say they are still trying to figure out what set him off. It is the deadliest attack by a single gunman in Alabama's history, terror that spread across two counties on the southern end of the state, among the victims, the killer's own mother and uncle.

I want you to listen to a sheriff's deputy in Geneva County. He was one responding to the call for help, only to learn that, nearby, the killer had come upon his family.


MYERS: I was on duty. I was in a different area of the county. I was heading this way.

We got notified on the radio that a trooper was chasing a suspect that had fired shots. I went to Geneva to Reliable to assist. While on the scene at Reliable, I called a friend, and he come and checked on my family, and he told me to get home.

And I came home and found my wife and my daughter had been killed. I cried so much yesterday, I don't have a tear left in me. I -- it still seems like I should be able to walk in the house, and my wife should be there and my baby girl should be in there climbing on me.

I mean, I'm never in my life going to be able to fully understand it. I mean, I'm just going to have to take it one day at a time.


BROWN: Our Sean Callebs has been in Geneva, Alabama, all day reporting out new details. And, Sean, at this point, do we have any idea what triggered this?

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Listening to Deputy Myers talk, it was simply painful to watch. I think everybody's hearts go out to him.

And people here really want to know why this happened. What set McLendon off? We talked to a local district attorney here in Geneva County. And he said, look, the one person who knows why this happened is dead, so the simple answer is, we may never know what set this gunman off.

We know they're looking at a couple of obvious things, one, where he took his own life, at Reliable Metals. He was let go from that factory, that plant a couple of years ago. Was this a disgruntled employee? At this point, Campbell, we have no indication that that was the case.

Secondly, could this have been possibly triggered by some kind of domestic dispute? Again at this point, we have no information on that either. So, authorities right now say they are simply baffled.

We talked to a mayor who has known McLendon since he was a youngster playing T-ball. And the mayor told us, look, if you had come to me yesterday and said, Michael McLendon, 28-year-old, was capable of something like this, Campbell, he would have told us absolutely nonsense.

BROWN: And, Sean, there was a hero in all of this I want to tell people about. Listen to a little more from the sheriff's deputy.


MYERS: The suspect drove up, fired shots. I don't know what happened from there. I do know that another one of my neighbors, Ms. Alina Knowles, did save my baby girl. She ran up on the porch and got my baby girl and took her to safety.


BROWN: What -- what do we know about what happened, what he was referencing there, Sean?

CALLEBS: That took a lot of courage, to give you the proximity, where seven people lost their lives in the town of Samson, houses basically right next to each other, right across the street.

We know that Alina Knowles looked out the window after she heard the gunfire. She saw McLendon walk into the house of his relatives, where he had taken a number of lives. She somehow summoned the courage to run out of her house, dart across the lawn, even with the gunman with automatic weapons, had the presence of mind to scoop up that child from the blood-soaked porch and carry that 3-month-old infant to safety.

Listen to what she says.


ALINA KNOWLES, RESCUED SHOT CHILD: I ran over there to see if there were any survivors, heard the baby, picked her up, came between the two vehicles of theirs, saw him coming up the road, and ducked, so he wouldn't see me as he was coming up this way.

I ducked, was still ducking and moving around their van, keeping -- trying to keep him from seeing me with that baby.


CALLEBS: Just a horrific day here in these two southeastern counties, but just a tremendous amount of courage from that young girl. You can see the trauma, the stress on her face. This is something that this community is not going to shake -- Campbell.

BROWN: Really amazing that she did that. Sean Callebs for us with the very latest details tonight -- Sean, thanks so much.

BROWN: We heard from a lot of you last night about when we talked about "Cutting Through The Bull" about Nickelodeon, Chris Brown, about the brutal attack on singer Rihanna. Tonight, there are some new developments and possibly more reason to be outraged.

Also, when we come back, this:


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Now, I know a little bit about the role that Michelle Obama is filling now.




BROWN: Two of the most powerful women in Washington get together -- why the first lady and someone who knows that role very well managed to upstage even the president.


BROWN: As always, we are "Cutting Through The Bull."

And there's news tonight in the case of Chris Brown. As you know, he's charged with assaulting his girlfriend, pop star Rihanna. Today, Brown finally realized, no doubt with the help of his publicist, that it would be inappropriate to keep his name in consideration for the Kids Choice Award program being held later this month on the Nickelodeon cable network.

Brown has a lot to answer when he goes before the -- the judge to face felony charges. But Nickelodeon in my view also has a lot to answer for now, given its fairly cowardly response.

As we told you last night, the channel refused to take Brown out of the running, saying that he was nominated by kids months ago, and it's for the kids to decide, never mind the fact that he stands accused of a heinous crime against an innocent woman, and never mind the fact a national audience of kids could naturally assume his nomination and possible win must mean everything is somehow OK.

It's a position that Nick stuck by, even as we and others received an avalanche of comments from people blasting the decision. Only after Brown himself chose to withdraw did the network release a meager statement, saying it agrees with his decision.

So, where were you when it counted, Nickelodeon? Why is it that even Chris Brown had the common sense to do what you were apparently afraid to? Don't forget, families let their kids watch channels like Nick because of an implied trust. You have a moral responsibility to react better and to react faster next time the real world and entertainment clash.

We're going to talk more about domestic violence, about the Chris Brown case, sharing a whole lot of your e-mail and I-Reports later in the show.

We will be right back.


BROWN: We're following the money tonight.

For months, we have been hearing that many of our nation's banks are on life support and need a big infusion of government cash if our economy is to recover.

But now some of those banks are saying, thanks, but no thanks. They're either trying to send the money back, seriously, or refusing to take the very bailout they begged for in the first place. So, what is happening?

Let's bring our chief business correspondent, Ali Velshi, in right now.

Ali, what gives? First, they tell us they desperately need the money. Now the banks want to give it back.


Right about when this TARP, which is the bailout, the $700 billion bailout, was announced, some rules were put into place, and companies that wanted to take advantage of that money had to do so by applying to the government. There was a deadline for that.

So, a lot of banks applied for it. In fact, some companies that weren't even banks applied for the money just to be able to get the loan. They became banks. They would buy out banks. Anyway, a few of these banks, three in particular, have filed papers with the Treasury to give back the money that they borrowed or that they took as preferred investments from the Treasury.

Now, these three banks, Iberia Bank, TCF Bank, and Signature Bank, they only amount to about $572 million. I say only, because we have been talking in billions and trillions. They have applied to give it back. Treasury has 30 days to look it over and accept the money back.

Now, here's the bigger issue. These are the ones that have officially applied. Take a look at these ones which have public said that that they're interested in giving back the money.

J.P. Morgan Chase, $25 billion in money from the government, Goldman Sachs, $10 billion, PNC, $7.6 billion, US Bancorp, $6.6 billion. That's $50 billion. Why do these ones want to give it back? Because they feel that the rules that the Treasury imposed upon banks that took money from the government are too stringent.

They feel, for instance, some of those rules on executive compensation won't allow them to attract the people that they want to attract to run their businesses. So, they are interested in giving this money back.

BROWN: So, there is actually a silver lining in all this, right?

VELSHI: Yes, I think there are probably two silver linings.

One is, clearly, all of the nation's banks are not in the dire straits that we all thought they were. That's good news. And, by the way, some of the big ones, like Citigroup, announcing this week that they will probably have a profit in the first three months of 2009.

BROWN: Right.

VELSHI: The other silver lining is, Campbell, we have been talking about rules. It seems like the rules work. The government said, we will give you some money, but you have got to employ some rules, including rules on executive compensation.

Companies that don't want the rules, fine. Run on your own. Don't use taxpayer money.


VELSHI: And I think that's good. The rules this time are showing that at least they worked.

BROWN: All right.

VELSHI: There's some change in the system, which I think is good.

BROWN: Ali Velshi for us tonight -- Ali, thanks. Well, those banks aren't the only ones turning down money from Washington, too. The governor of South Carolina is saying no also. And many people are wondering why.

Just today, we learned South Carolina's unemployment rate is now at 10.4 percent. That's the second highest in the nation and the highest that state has seen in more than a quarter-century.

National political correspondent Jessica Yellin spoke to Governor Mark Sanford today. She's following the money for us in Columbia, South Carolina.

So, what is he thinking, Jessica, turning down all that money?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I know, Campbell. You would think that, given the state's unemployment rate, the governor would want as much stimulus money he could get.

But, no, he says he's standing up for fiscal discipline. And, so, he's become the only governor in the nation to say that he wants to reject or redirect all of the stimulus money at his discretion. That adds up to about $700 million.

His overall point is that the U.S. has to stop spending money it doesn't have. And he's even making some pretty extreme comparisons. He says that the U.S. is headed for a Third World-style economy if we don't make some changes, and he compares the U.S. even to Zimbabwe. That's a country where the fiscal crisis is so extreme, that, last year, their inflation rate was 11.2 million percent.

Let's listen to the governor.


GOV. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: What you're doing is, you're buying into the notion of, if we just print some more money that we don't have, send it to different states, we will create jobs. If that's the case, then why isn't Zimbabwe a rich place? Why isn't Zimbabwe just an incredibly prosperous place? Because they're printing money they don't have to send it around their different -- I don't know the towns in Zimbabwe, but that same logic is being applied there, with little effect.


YELLIN: Back here in South Carolina, the constitution allows -- or the rules now allow the state legislature to override the governor's decision. Eventually, they could hold a vote and decide to take back that stimulus money -- Campbell.

BROWN: And, Jessica, I know there's a racial component to this. The governor is taking some heat from some very powerful African- American lawmakers, isn't he?

YELLIN: Yes. That's right, because a lot of the poorest communities in this state are African-American neighborhoods. And one of the leading lawmakers, Representative James Clyburn, has said rejecting this money is really a slap in their face. The suggestion, bottom line, is that the governor doesn't want to take money that helps black communities.

Now, other critics are saying, look, this is just his attempt to position himself as a fiscal conservative and get national attention, so that he could run for president in 2012. I asked him today if he plans to run, and he says he's not ruling anything out or anything in. He does reject both of those criticisms, starkly. He insists that this is just about holding down the debt, standing up for fiscal discipline -- Campbell.

BROWN: All right, Jessica Yellin tonight for us -- Jessica, thanks.

And we should mention that tomorrow Jessica is talking to the South Carolina student who wrote to President Obama, asking him for help for her dilapidated 112-year-old school. You will remember she attended the president's speech, when he promised that help was on the way. So, what would she tell her governor, who now won't take the money?

That's tomorrow, NO BIAS, NO BULL.

And I want to make sure you know about a special week of unprecedented worldwide reporting. This is starting Monday. For five days, CNN is going to focus on the money meltdown that is changing your life. We are the only news network that would take on a story this big.

Just who can lead us out of this crisis? What do all the numbers really mean? Where are the jobs? "Road to Rescue: The CNN Survival Guide" is all next week right here on the networks of CNN.

Now, nobody expected it would be easy for President Obama. And now it feels like everyone is asking how many hundreds of billions of dollars can we really afford to spend to get the nation back on track? And that question, of course, is red meat for those looking to block the president as he gets ready for his next big battle. We have got the details coming up.


BROWN: This morning, President Obama signed a $410 billion spending bill. It keeps the government running, but it also includes more than 8,000 of those politically-toxic items known as earmarks, money designated or earmarked to be spent on lawmakers' pet projects. The president called the bill -- quote -- "imperfect," but he said he had to sign it.

Take a listen.


OBAMA: Yesterday, Congress sent me the final part of last year's budget, a piece of legislation that rolls nine bills required to keep the government running into one, a piece of legislation that addresses the immediate concerns of the American people by making needed investments in line with our urgent national priorities.

That's what nearly 99 percent of this legislation does, the nearly 99 percent that you probably haven't heard much about.

What you likely have heard about is that this bill does include earmarks.

Now, let me be clear. Done right, earmarks have -- have given legislators the opportunity to direct federal money to worthy projects that benefit people in their districts, and that's why I have opposed their outright elimination.

And I also find it ironic that some of those who rail most loudly against this bill because of earmarks actually inserted earmarks of their own and will tout them in their own states and their own districts.

But the fact is that on occasion earmarks have been used as a vehicle for waste and fraud and abuse. Projects have been inserted at the 11th hour without review, and sometimes without merit, in order to satisfy the political or personal agendas of a given legislator, rather than the public interest.


BROWN: Now, the president is taking some heat for signing the bill, but was he painted into a corner politically?

Here to talk about that, senior political analyst Gloria Borger, Republican strategist Alex Castellanos, and NPR contributor John Ridley, all joining us tonight.

Welcome, everybody.


BROWN: Gloria, Politico calling the president's earmark speech -- quote -- "Reform-lite: Obama goes soft on pork" -- a fairly harsh assessment there.

Is it fair?

BORGER: Yes, I think it is fair, actually, Campbell.

He's very different from the way he was during the campaign. Remember, candidate Obama railed against all earmarks. He didn't say there are good earmarks, there are bad earmarks. He just said they were all bad.

And what we heard today from him was clearly President Obama making some compromises, deciding politically that this was not the fight he wanted to have with his own Democrats. And, yes, we all understand that almost half of the earmarks in this bill were also Republican.

But the reform that he proposed, Campbell, doesn't go as far as a lot of reformers, including Senator John McCain, would like. It still allows those who propose earmarks to bypass congressional committees, so not quite the candidate.

BROWN: John, Gloria mentioned Senator McCain. And, today, Senator McCain said -- quote -- "The president could have resolved this issue in one statement -- no more unauthorized pork barrel projects -- and pledged to use his veto pen to stop them. This is an opportunity missed" -- end quote.

I mean, why -- I heard the president make his explanation there, but do you think he should have reconsidered and just banned all earmarks?

JOHN RIDLEY, COMMENTATOR, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Well, I don't think he should have banned all earmarks. As he said, there are some earmarks that actually do very good.

And I do agree with Gloria that, look, he could have gone further. He did lay out five different points for the future, what he's going to do. But an opportunity missed, I think it's also an opportunity missed for the Republicans.

Let's remember, talking again about Senator Obama vs. President Obama, last fiscal year, Senator Obama did not seek any earmarks whatsoever for the state of Illinois. These Republicans who are also against this could have backed off and said, look, we don't want the earmarks either. If they're really going to showboat, then actually do it. Stand up for what they believe. Show some fiscal responsibility. They didn't do that either.

So, again, you have Mitch McConnell stomping around Capitol Hill saying, I don't like this, but he's getting about $76 million within -- in earmarks, so, again, they could show some responsibility and they could take this opportunity as well.

BROWN: Alex, how much do voters even care about earmarks? They get a lot of attention, granted. We give them a lot of attention, but they do account for less than 1 percent of spending. This is mostly about symbolism, isn't it?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: It's a lot about symbolism, Campbell. I think you're exactly right about that.

But some symbols are important. And some symbols actually represent real things. You know, $8 billion, nearly $8 billion that we have here, that's the size of an average state budget. Florida's deficit this year, for example, is $2.5 billion.

If congressmen had to break into a taxpayer's home and actually take this much money from people, they wouldn't be nearly as popular, if they had to take the crutches away from Tiny Tim.

(LAUGHTER) CASTELLANOS: So, it does represent real money, but it does also tell you that -- how broken Washington is.

Taxpayers see this as -- it's hard to understand for any of us, I think, adding another couple of zeros to a number. But when you see real money going out for real pork, taxpayers go, so, that's what they're doing in Washington.

And Republicans lost last time because we became the party of irresponsibility, on Wall Street, spending too much in Washington. With this, I think taxpayers are getting the message: Well, wait a minute. Are the Democrats becoming the party of fiscal irresponsibility in Washington? Are they spending too much?

BROWN: But it's a little hypocritical, though, Alex, of Republicans to be making this argument, given what you just said.

CASTELLANOS: I'm not -- you know, I'm not sure it's hypocritical to say, we screwed up. Republicans just were wrong, and voters told us we were wrong.

BORGER: But they're not saying that, Alex.

CASTELLANOS: And, by the way, a lot of Republicans -- a lot of Republicans said this over the last eight years, publicly and privately.


CASTELLANOS: So, the Democratic argument is, Republicans drank too much at the bar. They made a mess. Look what they left us with. That's terrible. Now, let's all go to the bar and drink even more.


BORGER: But, Alex, the thing is, we didn't hear Republicans in fighting against this spending bill volunteer to remove their own earmarks from this measure.

CASTELLANOS: And they should.

BORGER: Right. They didn't.


CASTELLANOS: And they should. And some did, by the way.

But you know who didn't? A lot of the senators, Republican senators, on the Appropriations Committee, because it turns out that money can buy you love and it can buy you pork in your own state.

BORGER: And reelection.

CASTELLANOS: So, the Beatles are wrong.

BORGER: And reelection. CASTELLANOS: That's right.


BROWN: All right, John, quick point from you. Do you have a -- you get the last word.

RIDLEY: Again, I was just going to add the same thing that Gloria said.

Look, they could have stepped away from this. Alex did mention some of these guys on the Appropriations Committee took the money. So, again, I think it was a missed opportunity probably all the way around for everybody in Congress.


CASTELLANOS: Let's just remember, the Democrats control the White House, the Congress and the Senate. Republicans aren't exactly in charge here. The Democrats could have killed this if they wanted to.


BORGER: They remind us by voting no on everything. So...


RIDLEY: But they do control themselves. And, again, Senator Obama did not take the money last year. Republicans could have done the same thing.

BROWN: All right, guys, got to end it there.

Alex, Gloria, John, appreciate your time. Thanks, everybody.



BROWN: They weren't exactly best of friends during the campaign, but first lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were all smiles today at the State Department, a moment that a lot of people are talking about. We will have that.

And Bill Clinton, the special guest tonight on "LARRY KING LIVE," he tells our Dr. Sanjay Gupta why he agrees with President Obama and thinks health care is a key part of getting the economy back on track.


BROWN: He tells our Dr. Sanjay Gupta why he agrees with President Obama and thinks health care is a key part of getting the economy back on track.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BROWN: President Obama signed an executive order today creating a White House panel to advise him on issues facing women and girls. Listen to what he said.


OBAMA: Today, women make up a growing share of our workforce and the majority of students in our colleges and our law schools. Women are breaking barriers in every field from science and business to athletics and the armed forces. Women are serving at the highest levels of my administration. And we have Madam Speaker presiding over our House of Representatives.


I had the privilege of participating in a historic campaign with a historic candidate who we now have the privilege of calling Madam Secretary.


BROWN: And he was referring, of course, to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton there. She and First Lady Michelle Obama were the headliners at the day's other big event. For that we go to our "Political Daily Briefing." Randi Kaye here with more on that -- Randi.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Campbell. The president of the United States isn't upstaged very often but today, the mark key event in Washington, D.C. wasn't centered around him but around his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, and his former rival, current secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. They were both center stage at the State Department's awards for Women of Courage.


CLINTON: It is my great pleasure and honor to introduce the first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me thank Secretary Clinton. I love saying that, for that kind introduction. I have said this before, but the woman who is running this department, this big huge effort has always been such a committed person, friend, supporter to me. We are honored and thrilled to have her serving in this role.


BROWN: You wouldn't know it listening to them, but they actually weren't there to honor each other, but rather to award these other women. But these two women have had, boy, an extraordinary couple of months.

KAYE: They sure have. If you take just first, let's take a look at Michelle Obama. First Lady Michelle Obama besides transitioning her daughters, Sasha and Malia, into life at the White House and, of course, new schools, she's used her more traditional first lady duties to focus on what's shaping up to be one of her favorite causes, healthy eating, whether at a White House event or on a recent trip to a soup kitchen with a focus on fresh, healthy food.


M. OBAMA: Collect some fruits and vegetables. Bring by some good healthy food. You know, we want to make sure that our guests here and across this country are eating nutritious items.


KAYE: The first lady has also visited a slew of cabinet agencies where she's taking advantage of all of the attention on her to pitch her husband's plans to get the economy back on track. Now, another major item on Mrs. Obama's agenda is helping military families. And tomorrow she will use her first official trip outside of Washington to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to focus on support available to soldiers' families.

BROWN: We're going to be watching that. And talking about traveling with so much of the focus here at home, on the economy for the Obamas, that's allowed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to kind of have the world stage to herself.

KAYE: Oh, yes. She owns it out there. She certainly does. And she is making the most of it, already taking two major overseas trips.

She's met with the Russians, the Indonesians, Palestinians and Israelis. She's using her considerable political skills and probably maybe a few old connections trying to rebuild America's image abroad. But is this part of what Secretary Clinton had in mind when she talked about a new strategy of smart power or part of her stagecraft as secretary of state?

Last weekend during a trip to Turkey, she appeared on that country's version of "The View," part of a charm offensive, if you will, in a country where just two years ago only nine percent of people had a positive view of the United States. Secretary Clinton ended up taking some questions that had absolutely nothing to do with her foreign policy and the country's foreign policy but a lot to do with her husband, the former president.


CLINTON: When was the last time I fell in love, it was so long ago with my husband, I'm trying to remember. We go to the movies. We talk and play games together, card games and board games. We go for long walks. I try to do that every chance I can with my husband.


KAYE: When was the last time you were in love? Wow. They thought the press in the U.S. is tough.

The joining of Mrs. Obama with the secretary of state creates a visual symbol, our experts tell us, that is enormously powerful. Just the coming together of these two women creates a very positive image for women around the world.

BROWN: We will see if we see more of them together on the world stage.

KAYE: I think we will. They seem to really enjoy each other's company out there today.

BROWN: We shall see. Randi Kaye for us tonight. Randi, thanks.

An incredible story to tell you about from Niagara Falls tonight. A man survives a 180-foot plunge over the falls and 40 minutes in the freezing water. We're going to show you his amazing rescue and tell you how he survived.


BROWN: We have been "Cutting Through the Bull" on the Rihanna/Chris Brown case and there are new developments to tell you about tonight. First, though, some other stories you need to know about. Joe Johns joining us with "The Briefing" -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Campbell, the teenager who went on a shooting rampage at his former high school in Germany this morning apparently targeted girls. Eleven of the 15 people killed by 17-year- old Tim Kretschmer were women or girls. He fled the school in a hijacked car and died in a shootout with police.

This grainy amateur cell phone video was obtained by "The Associated Press." It shows the gunman walking around near cars parked on a street. At one point, he seems to be getting down on the ground. The moment when police believed he killed himself has been edited out of the amateur video.

German authorities are also charging a retired Ohio autoworker with more than 29,000 counts of accessory to murder for his time as a guard at a Nazi death camp. John Demjanjuk suspected of being the notorious war criminal "Ivan the Terrible" is accused of participating in the murders at a camp in Poland in 1943. Germany is seeking to extradite the 88-year-old man who lives near Cleveland and says he is innocent.

NASA won't be launching the space shuttle "Discovery" tonight. The launch was postponed after a small leak was found in the external fuel tank. Shuttle managers hope to try it again Sunday.

An unidentified naked man survived a 180-foot plunge over Niagara Falls this afternoon. Tourists saw the man go over the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side. And yes, some of them did have cameras. The man was in the frigid water for about 40 minutes before he was rescued by firefighters and a helicopter pilot.

And Bristol Palin's wedding is off. Sarah Palin's 18-year-old daughter had said she would marry the father of her infant son, Tripp. But 19-year-old Levi Johnston tells "The Associated Press" the two broke up "quite a while ago." And that has been a very long-running saga there, Campbell.

BROWN: Yes, indeed. Joe Johns for us tonight with all the latest headlines. Joe, thanks very much.

Boy hits girl, girl refuses to dump boy. A sad but sadly familiar story made a whole lot worse by the fact that both the accused and his alleged victim are idolized by kids all over the country, Chris Brown and Rihanna.

You had been writing and calling. A lot of talk about this. A lot of reaction from you. We're going to share that with you in a moment.


BROWN: "LARRY KING LIVE" is just minutes away now. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is filling in for Larry tonight, and he's talking to former president, Bill Clinton, about health care and the economy.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Should we be focusing on the economy for now? Health care is important, education is important, energy is important, but how does that help the economy? How do you sell that?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, first, I believe that health care and education and energy are all economic issues. It's difficult to see how America can be a preeminent country in the 21st century without an affordable high quality health care system, without doing a better job in K-12 education and doing a better job of getting more people into college and out of college, and without becoming more energy independent through clean energy and greater efficiency.

And if we do the right things, then education will give us more of the right kind of jobs. Energy will generate millions of jobs, and health care will both make us a healthier, stronger, more productive country and free up money that we would otherwise be wasting on health care to invest in our children's futures.


BROWN: Sanjay, of course, with me now. And, Sanjay, I know you covered a lot of ground in this interview.


BROWN: You also, though, made a personal observation about the former president, didn't you?

GUPTA: Yes, you know, it's interesting. As a doctor, I had some questions about his health and we started talking about that. And I noticed something about his behavior that I decided to ask him about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GUPTA: You know one thing I've noticed even when I was talking to you, and we've talked about this before, when you point with your finger --

B. CLINTON: Sometimes it shakes. See, it's a little shaky, no shake here.

GUPTA: Is that --

B. CLINTON: I've been tested for it. I don't have Parkinson's.

GUPTA: You don't have it.

B. CLINTON: No. The doctors tell me that as people age, they become more vulnerable, for example, to having these muscles, like if I write a lot...


B. CLINTON: ... or play video games or, you know, just do anything like that, anything with a lot of my fingers, and these things -- these tighten up. Or if I'm tired, if I'm working hard, it will cause your hands to shake. So that, see, that's pretty calm -- a little bit of shake, not much -- none over here.

And some days they both shake, some days none of them do. And I was quite concerned about it because if I had Parkinson's, I wanted to know so I can prepare.

GUPTA: Right.

B. CLINTON: And I had it tested and the doctor says no. He says it's just a normal aging phenomenon.


BROWN: We shall see and hear more from President Clinton, of course, with Sanjay tonight. And, Sanjay, just to let the audience know, of course, you'll be with us in for Larry King at the top of the hour. We'll see you then.

GUPTA: Looking forward to it. Sort of a health summit of our own, Campbell.

BROWN: Absolutely. We'll see you then.

GUPTA: All right, thanks.

BROWN: We learned today that Chris Brown is dropping out of the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, but that's not likely to calm the storm over his alleged attack on his girlfriend, Rihanna. Hundreds of you e-mailed us and send in iReports with your very strong feelings on this case.

We're putting your questions to the experts. Hear what they have to say when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: More now on the case of pop star Rihanna and singer Chris Brown. Today, Brown withdrew his nominations for two of Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards.

You heard from me on this earlier. Now, we're going to hear from our panel: Jane Velez-Mitchell, host of HLN's nightly program "Issues," who has been covering the case; Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist who teaches at New York Presbyterian Hospital, and CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, all joining me right now.

Gail, let me start with you on this. I want to read some of the e-mails. We've gotten a ton about this.

This is from Melissa down in Virginia. And she says: "I e-mailed Nickelodeon as a concerned mother of three daughters ages 15, 13 and 7. And as much as my girls love their programming, they need to see their mother take a stand against domestic violence." And I believe what she's referencing here is Nickelodeon's decision to let him go ahead and participate in this contest until he withdrew his name here.

This, a teachable moment for many parents, right?


BROWN: I'm assuming. What should they be saying to their kids about this?

SALTZ: I applaud this mother. She is doing exactly what I hope every mother to some degree is doing, teaching her children this is not acceptable behavior. It's actually, unfortunately, not unusual behavior.

You need to be concerned about this. We all need to be educated about this. Here are the signs to look for. Here is who you should talk to if you ever find yourself in this situation, but don't be a helpless victim and don't condone other people being a helpless victim.

BROWN: Jane, another point that was made in a lot of the e-mails received is like this one from John down in Georgia. And he says, "You and the rest of the media are convicting Chris Brown before you even have any facts. What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, AUTHOR, "SECRETS CAN BE MURDER: Nonsense. Nonsense. Absolute nonsense.

Look, the fact is he didn't issue a plea but he has issued essentially an apology. He has said that he feels really bad about what transpired, that he's going to meet with his pastor, and hope to become a better person. There are reports he's gone to anger management classes. He has not done all of that for nothing.

I actually think the media has done a tremendous job in expanding this story beyond just Chris Brown to the whole issue of domestic violence. And one of the reasons I think is happening is because so many more women are in positions of power to speak about it.

There's you. There's Ellen. There's Oprah. There's the women on "The View."

I've been talking about it on "Issues." So we as women are standing up and saying, hey, we've got a voice now and enough. We're going to put up with domestic violence as business as usual. And I think we should just take this and keep moving with it and start a movement where we stand up as women and say enough with violence against women in America.

BROWN: But to the point of him being convicted by the media, is Jane right? I mean, he, you know, has essentially apologized.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know, celebrities always say they get convicted by the media and they often wind up getting acquitted when they actually go to trial. So I don't feel a great deal of sympathy.

But in the theme of public education, I think there's been a really interesting issue here on the legal side. Because a lot of people say, well, how can they convict him if she doesn't want to testify? Well, the Los Angeles County.

BROWN: And it looks like they're back together and she may not testify.

TOOBIN: That looks -- and she may not want to testify.

BROWN: Right.

TOOBIN: The Los Angeles County district attorney's office, like a lot of the more progressive district attorney's offices in the country, has a no drop policy. And that means even if the woman doesn't want to testify, the victim does not want to testify, they will still prosecute the case.

Now, it's harder to get a conviction, but what they are saying is we are not going to let perpetrators intimidate women out of testifying, and we are going to view domestic violence as not just a crime against one person but against the whole society. And so I think that kind of policy and, you know, broadly portrayed, you know, it tells people that, you know, attitudes are changing on this subject.

BROWN: Do you agree with that, Gail?

SALTZ: Absolutely. I mean, look, this is unfortunately been a really hidden problem because many women are in the situation, many girls, dating violence is really remarkably common. Like 25 percent of girls will report some sort of abuse in their relationship. So it's been in the closet. And this is a real opportunity, and I think the legal system justifies that it needs to come out of the closet and needs to be talked about.

BROWN: Let me ask you quickly, though, because a lot of people have also said in e-mails that he has many problems, he grew up in a violent home.


BROWN: You know, he needs therapy of his own. But abuse is a very vicious cycle.

SALTZ: It is a vicious cycle.

BROWN: Does therapy work with someone like a Chris Brown type?

SALTZ: So here's the issue. Watching abuse as a child will absolutely cause -- can cause many people to go on and repeat that cycle. It's called identification with the aggressor. It's your way of feeling empowered.

When you feel like a small child who's weak and helpless, so you do go on to abuse. Now that explains it, but it doesn't take away the responsibility. So you're still responsible to go in and get treatment.

And does it work? It absolutely can work. Does it work for everybody? No, it doesn't. You have to have someone who truly wants to do the work.

BROWN: Wants to change. Right.

SALTZ: And has the capacity for change. And I've got to be honest with you, Campbell, not everyone has the capacity for change.

BROWN: All right, guys, stand by. We're going to take a quick break. But I know some of you think that race plays a part in this case. Is Chris Brown getting a raw deal because he's black? We're going to put that question to the panel when we come back.


BROWN: We are back with our panel talking about Chris Brown and Rihanna, and the message it sends to kids, whether race is a factor in the public outcry.

We've got Jane Velez-Mitchell, Dr. Gail Saltz and Jeffrey Toobin with us once again.

And, Jeff, several people have written in and said they believe this would be a different story if Chris Brown were white.

Sheila in Virginia writes: "Why can't it be "Chris needs education and anger management and help versus lock that black kid up and get him off the streets'?" Could this potentially be like the O.J. Simpson case where it breaks down along racial lines?

TOOBIN: I don't see that at all. By the way, the victim here is black here too. So the idea that this is somehow everybody is out to get a black kid. You know, Martin Luther King did not die so that Chris Brown could beat the hell out of his girlfriend. I just think this is a phony issue and has nothing to do with this case. BROWN: Do you, Jane, agree? Do you think race has an effect on the way we view incidents like this?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Not at all. I think it's really more about the fact that he's a celebrity. Let's face it. Oprah, who is certainly one of the most powerful African-Americans in the world, issued the strongest warning to Rihanna, saying, if a man hits he will hit again. So I really do think this breaks down much more along gender lines. And again, I feel it's a great opportunity for women to come together to fight domestic violence and violence against them in general.

TOOBIN: By the way, I'm not so sure that the gender lines are all that simple. When I was a prosecutor, the rape prosecutors I always talked to said that women were tougher jurors to get convictions on than men.

SALTZ: That is true.

TOOBIN: That women tend to blame the victim sometimes more than men. So I'm not sure the lines are all that clear.


SALTZ: You're going to be hearing that in e-mails because women often envy other women, particularly ones of certain status and they like to see them come down. So sometimes, there are going to be women who are going to say she must have done -- I've been hearing e-mails, she must have done something to ask for this, to deserve this, which, of course, is not the case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But again, I do see a very healthy movement here of women who are healthy, who are not being abused, standing up.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Women like you, and saying, hey, we're going to talk about this. We're not going to just sit around and accept this as something that just has to happen, and imagine if we turned on the TV and we saw women perpetrators every day to the extent that we see male perpetrators. How long do you think the guys would put up with that? For five minutes, right? We'd all be on Prozac.

SALTZ: We're not saying that he should be thrown in jail. We're saying he should get treatment, that he should be helped and get treatment. It shouldn't be --


TOOBIN: Well, excuse me -- excuse me. I am saying he deserves jail.

SALTZ: OK. He should have both.

TOOBIN: (INAUDIBLE) committed these felonies against this woman, see you. You know, not for the rest of his life.

SALTZ: Right.

TOOBIN: But, you know, this is a crime. It's a felony.

SALTZ: But either way he shouldn't be with her. That's the point. They shouldn't be together because the incidence of repeating is so high, and the incidence that would be the worst is so high.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Doctor, you talk about a teachable moment. This is a potential turning point for America. We can say, hey, we want to move away from violence and we can show kids that it's just not cool. And we use this as an example.

BROWN: And you need more women who are actually victims being willing to come forward and talk about this as well and not just --

SALTZ: And if she would do that, it would help them to do that too.

BROWN: A fair point. We got to end it there.

Jeff, Gail, Jane, thank you all. Appreciate it, guys.

That it is for us tonight. Sanjay Gupta filling in for "LARRY KING LIVE" and it starts right now.