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CNN NEWSROOM

President Obama More Upbeat on Economy; Ann Nicole Smith Associates Face Prescription Drug Fraud Charges; Down on Their Luck; Six Flags on Financial Roller Coaster; Geithner at G-20 Finance Officials Meeting; Mexican Drug Cartels Hire U.S. Kids; Where are the $100,000+ Jobs?

Aired March 13, 2009 - 11:01   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, hello there, everybody.

You have been listening in to Lawrence Summers, the director the president's National Economics Council, talking about the economic situation, how the U.S. got into it, and how the Obama administration plans to get us out of it.

We'll have a lot more to come on exactly what he was talking about the past several minutes, and we'll continue to monitor what he's talking about there. Expected to take some questions at the Brookings Institute there in Washington, D.C.

But meanwhile, it is Friday the 13th, March the 13th. This is the second of three of these Friday the 13ths we're going to see in 2009, but have no fear, things may be looking up. It might not be such a bad day, folks.

But we do have a surprising report indicating that consumer sentiment looking up. That's a good thing on this Friday the 13th. Well, are shoppers getting their mojo back?

Also, six-figure jobs for executives and professionals. We'll click on the ladders at dot-com.

And, also prescription drug abuse and the death of Anna Nicole Smith. The state of California bringing criminal charges now.

Hello, everybody. Good morning to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes, sitting in for my dear friend Tony Harris.

And you are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And we do want to bring with issue number one, and you know it, know it well by this time, the economy. All of a sudden, our financial funk replaced with a little bit of spunk, maybe. Stocks are working on a day four rally. Yes, we've been seeing this for several days now. The president's tone sounding a little more hopeful as well.

The University of Michigan's monthly index of consumer sentiment inched up a bit in early March. That is a bit of a surprise. Excuse me -- that might be a big surprise. Most analysts expected it to fall to a low not seen since 1980. Also, the Federal Reserve says American households lost $11 trillion in wealth last year. That is a terrible number. Almost half of those losses took place from October through December. Again, a record loss for a single quarter.

President Obama's top lieutenants on the economy are front and center today. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, you see there on the left, he's at a summit of the world's wealthiest nations in London, the G-20, as it's called. Also, Larry Summers, who you just heard speaking here live, that's the president's chief economic adviser, and he's making a rare speech in Washington, D.C.

We want to turn now to the White House. Suzanne Malveaux keeping an eye on all things about this economy.

So, tell us -- like we said, we don't see Larry Summers that much. A long speech there, taking him a while to deliver it, but some very important stuff he is getting at in there.

What is he getting at today?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, T.J. And he's going to be taking some questions from the audience. So we'll be monitoring that. But essentially, he is laying out the economic conditions, how we got to this point.

He talked about fear, he talked about greed and excess, and the need to actually move beyond that. He's obviously part of a key part of the economic time.

One of the main points he makes, I'm going to read it here, because I think this really summarizes it well, and it really is the tone of the administration. He says, "I'm confident that with the strong and sound policies that the president has put forward, and the passage of time, we will restore economic growth and regain financial stability, and find opportunity in this moment of crisis to assure that our future prosperity rests on a sound and sustainable foundation."

T.J., what we're hearing from in administration is, give this time, give this stimulus package some time to work, be patient.

I want you to take a listen to what he said just moments ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUMMERS: I am confident that with the strong and sound policies the president has put forward, and the passage of time, we will restore economic growth, regain financial stability, and find opportunity in this moment of crisis to assure that or future prosperity rests on a sound and sustainable foundation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: So you heard what I just quoted there, T.J. Emphasis here. But what of the main things that he also said, too, in terms of priority is he said, "The single most important priority about bringing economic recovery and sharing an economic expansion is unlike its predecessors, is fundamentally sound, not driven by financial excess." And that is another one of the themes here, that they're going to be holding people accountable.

They're going to go state officials -- how are you spending this money, where is it going? They are going to be holding the government, the federal government, accountable. And also, they're going to go to taxpayers and say, look, you can actually look and find and see what is happening here in the months ahead.

This is obviously trying to get some confidence from the market, but saying that they, too, are taking some responsibility -- T.J.

HOLMES: All right. And just here quickly, what's the sense there at the White House again of how the president is doing, and the administration, as far as continuing to sell this package and his plans? Even though he already won, got his package through the stimulus, essentially, in Congress, but still he feels the need to sell it. Do they think they are getting through to the American people yet?

MALVEAUX: Well, it's hard to say. I mean, you obviously have seen the markets the last couple of days, that there's been some sort of rally. They're very -- they're actually optimistic and encouraged by that, but they are looking at a situation that is pretty dire. They've said that before.

But they believe that if the president does speak in a more optimistic way, that things will turn around. But you do see these pictures of the president with business leaders yesterday on the same page. You saw the president, with the vice president, giving a stern warning to some of those state officials about how they're going to be spending their money. This is a public relations campaign that is very important to this administration, and they realize they still have a tough sell -- T.J.

HOLMES: All right. Suzanne Malveaux for us at the White House.

As always, we do appreciate you.

And want to let our viewers know that President Obama will be making brief remarks on the economy after his meeting with Paul Volcker. That's next hour. We will bring you the president's remarks when we get them at 12:45 Eastern Time. That will happen right here in the NEWSROOM.

Of course, all eyes all ways on the market these days. What is happening there? It's Friday the 13th. That sounds pretty ominous, but Susan Lisovicz, this could be a good day on Wall Street.

You've got some news here for us, but also it could be another day of another rally. And we could have a nice weekend we could go into, feeling a little better, at least, maybe. (STOCK MARKET REPORT)

HOLMES: Want to turn back now to the housing crisis and charges of racial discrimination in lending.

NAACP accusing Wells Fargo and HSBC of forcing African-American into bad loans. A civil rights group now has filed class action lawsuits against the banks today. The (INAUDIBLE) Council says black homebuyers were 3.5 times more likely to receive subprime loans. Also, black applicants were six times more likely to get subprime loans during refinancing.

Now, he says discrimination occurred even when credit scores, income and down payments were equal to those of white homebuyers. HSBC says it does not comment on litigation, but stands by its lending practices. No response just yet from Wells Fargo.

We will get into this a whole lot more, all these allegations, next hour when we talk to the head of the NAACP. President Ben Jealous will be live here with us in the NEWSROOM.

Amtrak getting some cash to maybe help it get back on track. The rail company getting a piece of stimulus pie. It's being served up next hour by Vice President Joe Biden -- $1.3 billion -- your dollars, by the way. The railway lost a billion dollars last year.

Amtrak is a major commuter carriers, especially on the Northeast Corridor. Top three destinations: New York, Washington and Philadelphia.

Other commuter rail lines use Amtrak's infrastructure. Overall, almost 30 million rode Amtrak rails last year. It's an average of about 78,000 folks per day.

Let's take you to a picture we saw a couple of hours ago. The vice president, a busy day he's having, but this is what he did earlier. He swore in the latest member of the president's cabinet.

Oh, look at that moment! That's Hilda Solis there, the new labor secretary. You see both of the fellows there. That's her husband and the vice president, both going for a cheek to give her a kiss there. A cute little moment, but a funny moment.

Solis is a former congresswoman from the Los Angeles area.

Well, death of a centerfold. Charges in the Anna Nicole Smith overdose case two years after her death.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(WEATHER REPORT)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Well, listen to this here. Ten children from an Arkansas daycare center poisoned accidentally. The youngsters were taken to Children's Hospital there in Little Rock. This happened yesterday afternoon. One remains hospitalized this morning. They were apparently given windshield wiper fluid to drink instead of Kool- Aid. A doctor says a daycare staffer actually put the fluid in refrigerator after returning from the store. State welfare officials plan to visit the daycare center today.

Well, three people facing charges today, two years after a drug overdose killed Hollywood starlet Anna Nicole Smith.

CNN's Ted Rowlands following the story for us out in Los Angeles.

And Ted, a lot of people may be surprised that this is coming up a couple years later, and certainly one of the people who has been arrested was one of the major players in all that scandal that was taking place around there.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. If you remember back, T.J., the guy that was at Anna Nicole's side the whole time while she was alive, sort of during her rise, and then was there during that custody battle after her death, Howard Stern, he is one of the people that has been arrested and charged in this case.

It has been two years, but the attorney general, if you remember way back then, after they found all of this prescription medicine in that hotel room in Florida, the attorney general in California came out and said we're going to investigate this, we're going to look at the doctors who prescribed these pill, and it if warranted, we're going to charge these individuals. Two years later, here we are.

And here is the attorney general, Jerry Brown, of California.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JERRY BROWN, CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, the scenario is using false names and getting prescriptions for thousands of pills without medical necessity, and making them available to Anna Nicole Smith, who obviously was addicted. And all of that violates the law of California.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROWLANDS: Multiple felony counts against not only Howard Stern, but two physicians. One of those physicians turned himself in here in southern California last night. His name is Dr. Sandeep Kapoor. The other physician is a psychiatrist, Christine Eroshevich. She is expected, according to the attorney general's office, to turn herself in on Monday.

Howard Stern turned himself in, as well, last night. Stern and the doctor are out on $20,000 bail this morning.

We should make it clear that the charges do not say that any of these people intentionally tried to kill Anna Nicole Smith, just that it was extreme negligence and they were providing excessively these prescription medications to a known addict. HOLMES: And again, in their defense, they are saying at least the reason there were different names on that, it was for privacy reasons.

ROWLANDS: Right. One of the allegations is that they forged these prescriptions and used another name during this -- Melanie Chase (ph) was the name, I believe -- or Michelle Chase (ph). And according to one of the doctors that's charged through the lawyer, they said, well, yes, we used a fake name because it was a celebrity, and that's something that we did to protect her identity, and we were just treating her for depression, we didn't do anything wrong.

We'll see what a jury determines once this goes to court.

HOLMES: All right. Ted Rowlands for us in L.A.

Buddy, appreciate you, as always.

And as we heard from Jerry Brown, the California attorney general, just a moment ago there with Ted, we will hear from him again. More about the case, more about the charges, later today. His comments live in the NEWSROOM.

I believe Don Lemon is sitting in for Kyra Phillips today. That's 1:00 Eastern, 10:00 Pacific Time.

Well, would you want to take on Hulk Hogan? Yes, that guy? You know who I'm talking about.

Well, he's having a bit of an ugly divorce, and it got a little uglier, but not necessarily in the courtroom. Outside of the courtroom.

Hulk versus his wife's divorce attorney. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAYMOND RAFOOL, LAWYER: Hey. Whoa, whoa, whoa.

Hey, listen to me, Mr. Bollea. Mr. Bollea, are you going to wrestle with me here? Are you going to come across the cameras?

Then be quiet. Be quiet. Be quiet. Be quite.

You had your time to talk. You're done.

TERRY "HULK HOGAN" BOLLEA, WRESTLER: It's a free world.

RAFOOL: You're done. No, it's not a free world. There's called professionalism. There's called ethics. OK?

You know what? You're an actor. You're acting now.

If you had morals, why did you set up all these companies to try to ditch it? What's moral about that? Now, ,let me tell you something, you are the person that has caused this issue. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: The attorney manned up there a little bit, didn't he, against Hulk Hogan? But in all fairness, Hulk Hogan was on crutches at the time, and he is recovering from back surgery. But you heard Bollea there -- that's Terry Bollea. It's Hulk Hogan's real name.

Well, we'll be talking about your money and your lifestyle up next. Gerri Willis, there she is.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Hey.

HOLMES: She's going to be along to answer your questions, and we promise you it will not get as ugly as it did with Hulk Hogan...

WILLIS: No way.

HOLMES: ... and that attorney.

Gerri, see you in just a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: All right. Let's turn to your questions today, your e- mail questions on this Friday.

Let's bring in our Personal Finance Editor Gerri Willis.

Gerri, always good to see you from New York.

WILLIS: Good to see you, T.J.

HOLMES: Let's get right into it here with this first question. It's from Sandy, who says, "I'm a 62-year-old college graduate. I was in the same industry for 30 years. Is there any program to retrain me?"

"We are in danger of losing everything we've worked for all our lives. I'm not a quitter. I just want to work."

WILLIS: Well, you've got to respect that kind of work ethic.

Well, Sandy, one place for to you go to, AARP has a Web site for you, aarp.org/realrelief. Now, AARP, which is an organization for older folks, has training assistance programs and employment programs to help older people navigate this difficult workforce.

Now, the site also has an assessment test where you can identify what options or careers best fit your skill set. And remember that some community colleges allow older folks to take classes, or at least sit in on classes, for little or no charge, so you should really check that out, because they also know about the jobs in your area that are most plentiful.

HOLMES: All right.

Well, let's head to the next question from Greg here in Illinois.

And it says, "After 10 years of marriage, my wife wants a divorce. I finally saw some of our credit card debt and it's over $50,000. She opened several accounts and put me as an authorized user. I had absolutely no idea. Is there any way to protect myself?"

That sounds like quite the quinky dink he's got himself in, Gerri.

WILLIS: Fifty thousand dollars in credit card debt you didn't know you had? OK.

Well, let's start with facts first. OK. If you're just an authorized user of the cards, then you're not liable for the debt. And you can have those items removed from your credit reports. That's something you'll definitely want to do.

However, if she had co-signed for the card -- if you had co- signed for the cards, or applied jointly for the cards, you could be on the hook for the debt. But the more important point here is, how can you know what kind of debt -- you have to know what kind of debt your spouse is in.

If your spouse has $50,000 of hidden debt, your problems are bigger than the $50,000; right? It just boggles my mind that you could wake up one morning and realize, oh, honey, guess what?

HOLMES: Well, I guess hence the divorce there. But like you said, if he's just an authorized user, that stuff is still on your credit report, but you might not be responsible for paying it off. Did I hear that right?

WILLIS: Yes, exactly.

HOLMES: OK.

WILLIS: And it's a wake-up call for married folks out there. You need to know what kind of debt your spouse has and know everything about their finances.

And of course, please send me your e-mails to gerri@cnn.com. We answer them right here every Friday.

T.J., great to see you.

HOLMES: All right. Good to see you. And I'm sure this conversation prompted a lot of conversations between spouses this weekend.

Gerri...

WILLIS: I hope so.

HOLMES: All right. Thank you so much. See you again soon.

WILLIS: All right. HOLMES: Well, as the most serious credit crisis in decades rocks your finances, CNNMoney.com has some advice, has some answers. You can check out our special report, "America's Money Crisis." That's at CNNMoney.com.

Eighty percent of a firefighter's job is not fighting fires, but responding to medical emergencies. And this week's "CNN Hero" took years of experience here in the U.S. Left his job, moved to Guatemala to train firefighters in emergency care. His sacrifice helped make the difference between life and death for a lot of folks.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Heroes.

PAUL EMBLETON, COMMUNITY CRUSADER: In Guatemala, the firefighters are usually the first ones on the site of the emergency. They didn't have ambulances. They only had pickup trucks.

It was difficult for me to watch these patients being transported with no medical care. I witnessed several people die. It inspired me to do something.

I'm Paul Embleton, founder of the BRAVE Foundation. We provide equipment and training to the volunteer firefighters in Guatemala to help make their jobs easier.

I first came to Guatemala in 1996. I was working as a paramedic in the United States, and I rode with a firefighter. They asked me if I could provide training and assist in developing this free hospital care program. And I said, of course.

We took the U.S. EMT curriculum and we had it translated into Spanish. Now we have 14 training programs throughout the country of Guatemala.

DAVID ALVAREZ, FIRE CHIEF: Paul wants to make everything happen. These make a big difference for our people in Guatemala.

EMBLETON: I'm really proud of what the firemen have accomplished here. These firefighters are the true heroes.

ANNOUNCER: Tell us about your hero at CNN.com/heroes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Actually have good news for you on this Friday the 13th about the economy. First I want to tell that you that the president meeting with the chairman of his Recovery Advisory Board. At the top of the hour, we expect live remarks from the president, who is certainly sounding more upbeat about the economy.

Also, the president's top in-house economist, Larry Summers, sounded a bit cautious, but also hopeful in his remarks he made this morning. You saw some of those live right here on CNN.

But some of the good news. The University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment took a bit of a surprising jump today. Many analysts expected it to drop to a low that hasn't been seen to 1980. That wasn't the case. Actually ticked up a bit. So, maybe people out there are feeling a little better.

Well, one of the nation's biggest amusement park operators not feeling so good. On a bit of a financial roller coaster of their own, Six Flags, we're talking about here, in danger of filing for bankruptcy. All this comes as the Dow attempts to rally for the fourth straight day.

Susan Lisovicz, there's some good news in that lead-into you, but bad news for Six Flags.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. You know, but Six Flags' problems, T.J., preceded the recession. So, you can just imagine how tough it is once the recession hits.

But in any case, let's talk about some good news. Investor confidence has been good the last few days. The Dow gained 9.5 percent. We were seeing some signs of life in the banking sector. Citigroup says it didn't need more government money, comes a day after BofA said the same thing. Citi shares gaining once again.

And the Dow? Well, it's turned south, but just modestly so. The Nasdaq Composite, meanwhile, is down seven points.

Six Flags shares, however, down 20 percent. They're trading at 15 cents and, yes, this amusement park says it may be forced to file Chapter 11 -T.J.

HOLMES: They're holding on for dear life it seems. But they're not the only one. Seems like there are probably a lot of companies out there who are just holding on by the hair of their chiny, chin- chin right now.

LISOVICZ: That's right. I haven't put it quite that way, but that's right. I mean, it's a scary story, T.J. You know, it's essential to see banks turn around when you have a struggling company like Six Flags because Six Flags, one of the problems is it's drowning in debt. It has a big payment to shareholders due this summer. It actually gained in revenue, so it actually saw an increase in customers, but it still has a lot of debt payments and it really needs to work it out with financial companies. Yet another reason why they're so important to the overall recovery -T.J.

HOLMES: All right. The Dow down ten points, so still maybe a little flat. Long day still ahead of us, so we will see what happens there.

Susan, we always appreciate you. Thank you so much.

LISOVICZ: Thank you, T.J. HOLMES: And preparing to tackle the global financial crisis, the Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner. He arrived just a few minutes ago at a meeting of the world's top financial ministers and central bankers. The G-20 conference taking place near London.

Our Jim Boulden is there, joins us now live.

All right. What are we going to get out of this thing? Are we going to see a bunch of smart guys sitting around talking or are they going decide on something to put some things in place?

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, T.J., they meet a lot and sometimes these meetings come and go, we never hear much about it. But the markets are really looking for something specific here.

Look, the U.S. wants the rest of the world to continue to stimulate their economies, to pump money into the economies, pump money to in companies, and to try to get - grow their way out of the economic recession. Well, Germany and France say, no, hold on. We put a little bit of money into it, but we don't want to increase our debt anymore. They want to see some tough action on regulation. They want to regulate banks more. They want to have a global regulator to stop have this from happening again.

So a little bit of a difference there. And we should be hearing more tomorrow about which side might actually come on top on this. And it is a huge issue and very important because later, earlier next month, we will have President Obama and other world leaders gathering to sort of pick up from where these finance ministers leave off and to make tough decisions on where we go from here.

HOLMES: All right, Jim Boulden for us. Like you said, sometimes these meetings come and go. We'll see if this one comes and goes. Hopefully something comes out of it. Jim Boulden for us. We appreciate you keeping an eye on things for us here.

We have a "90 Second Prescription" we want to bring to our folks now. The issue here is how to get America, you know, working again. We asked economists and experts to give us their prescription for the jobless problem in 90 seconds or less.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK WILLIAMS, FINANCE PROFESSOR, BOSTON UNIVERSITY: My solution to the job crisis is straightforward.

We need to focus on the colleges and universities across the United States and to the youth that are going through these great universities. In particular, we have a lot of very ambitious people, bright, young, with lots of energy, that have great business ideas of creating the new companies of the future. So as a result, we need to tap that. In various universities we're finding incubators being created for new jobs. For the who is going to be the future Bill Gates or the Steve Jobs. And that's where we need government intervention. We need the government to provide funding so we can incubate, create these new jobs.

What we know is, new jobs are created not by big, russ-bell companies, but by entrepreneurial companies started by the students of today. Once we get that link, the government funding of these incubators at great universities across the United States, then we have solved, in part, the job problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: All right a little information we want to pass along that we're just getting is that Barbara Bush, the former first lady, has been released from the hospital. As we know, she had been in the hospital, had been in intensive care as well, after she had open heart surgery. Had reported some shortness of breath, so had to be taken in for that surgery. She has been recovering, but we understand now the 83-year-old former first lady has been released from the hospital. So we wanted to pass that along. Certainly wish her well and a speedy recovery. Hope she's up and around in no time.

Also, want to pass this along to you. First in line and thrilled with her prize. What was it? The first of many tickets sold. We'll explain what the tickets were, but here's a hint. She moonwalks after she got her tickets.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Well the U.S. could deploy troops along the border with Mexico, but would only as a last resort. That's according to a top homeland security official testifying before a House panel. He says, deadly violence from Mexican drug cartels is now the biggest organized crime threat to the U.S., but a plan to militarize the border would take effect only if government agencies become overwhelmed.

Police say they are sleeper cells just waiting for the phone call to strike. Not taking about Islamic terrorists here. Talking about American teenagers hired as hit men for the Mexican drug cartels. Their targets could be living in your neighborhood.

CNN's Ed Lavendera with the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVENDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Moises (ph) Garcia had just finished a family lunch in Texas. Garcia helped his pregnant wife and 3-year-old boy into their white Lexus.

LORI GARCIA, SON KILLED: This guy just came out of the car, just started shooting.

LAVENDERA: Garcia was a wanted man. He had a $10,000 bounty on his head. Garcia's wife was shot in the chest. She and her son survived, but her husband was dead.

GARCIA: Happen so fast, he didn't have a chance of anything.

LAVENDERA: Garcia's murder, at first, looked like an isolated gangland-style killing, but there were more. Seven murder in a year long stretch. There was something more sinister brewing. Then Noe Flores was killed, an innocent victim in a case of mistaken identity. Investigators found fingerprints on this cigarette box in the shooter's get-away car. The chilling truth unraveled, the clue led police to Gabrielle Cardona and Rosalio Reta, American teenagers working as Mexican drug cartel hit men in the United States.

ROBERT GARCIA, LOREDO, TEXAS POLICE: They were very good at what they did, they were professional at what they did.

LAVENDERA: Assassins is what they were. How Gabriel Cardona and Rosalio Reta evolved from average teenagers into hit men is laid out in court records and these police interrogation videos obtained by CNN.

In this tape, Reta happily details how he carried out his first cartel assassination at the age of 13.

"I loved doing it, killing that first person. I loved it, I thought I was Superman," said Reta.

Detective Robert Garcia is the man sitting across the table from Reta.

R. GARCIA: One thing you wonder all the time, what made him be this way.

LAVENDERA (on camera): Like many Americans, these teenagers started hitting the cantinas and bars just across the border in Mexico. And that's where investigators say the cartel was waiting to recruit them.

(voice-over): These kids were easy targets for the cartel. The two started living the high life. They got tattoos honoring "Santa Muerte," the Grim Reaper-like saint honored by drug traffickers. Cardona had eyeballs tattooed on his eyelids and markings covered Reta's face.

(on camera): Cardona and Reta should have been in school here, but instead, investigators say they dropped out and joined the cartel's payroll. They drove around town in a $70,000 Mercedes. They were paid $500 a week as a retainer to sit and wait for the call to kill. Then, they could make up to $50,000 for a hit.

(voice-over): Prosecutors say they were hit men for the Zetas, a group of former Mexican special military forces that do the dirty work for the notorious Gulf Cartel.

URIEL DRUKER, ASSISTANT D.A., WEBB COUNTY, TEXAS: They actually, you know, enjoy it and laugh about it and compete, you know, discussing their exploits about conducting these activities. R. GARCIA: It told us that they're already here. They're already - they're sleeper cells. They're already here in the U.S. Not just in Loredo. I mean, they're out throughout the U.S.

LAVENDERA: In Cardona's interrogation, he tells detectives the Zetas are moving their operations deeper into the U.S. Cardona says he knows of hits carried out in Houston and Dallas.

Cardona and Reta are in prison serving long terms for murder. But before they were arrested, federal authorities recorded a phone call between the two young men. Cardona brags about killing 14-year- old Inez Villareal, the innocent cousin of a Cardona enemy who is also murdered. Cardona laughs about torturing both. Making "guiso" or stew out of their bodies in large metal drums. Villareal and his cousin have never been found.

Before the call ends, Cardona says...

GABRIEL CARDONA, CARTEL HITMAN: (SPEAKING SPANISH)

LAVANDERA: "There are three left to kill, there are three left."

It's a reminder the cartel's work never ends as they recruit the next generation of killers.

Ed Lavendera, CNN, Laredo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: And we will take you on a virtual tour - a virtual border patrol, rather. That's coming up next hour. You can find out how suburban stay-at-home moms and other everyday people are helping officials watch the U.S./Mexican border.

Also stay with us here, because if you are looking for a job - doesn't sound good to have one that pays a hundred thousand dollars or more? Shoot for the stars. Six-figure salary a click away. We'll show you how to get there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: All right, we're going to keep it, we're going to scrap it, we're going to tweak it. What do you think Washington should do about America's health care system? Let's take a trip. Always amazed at how fast this photographer walks all the way down to CNN.com, but we're going to check in with the CNN iReport desk. The operation today being run by Katie Hawkins-Gaar.

Hello there, Katie. What are people sounding off about?

KATIE HAWKINS-GAAR, CNN.COM PRODUCER: Hi, there. People are talking about health care, it's a hot topic. And so we decide to ask our reporters for their point of view and whether or not they could afford it. We got a lot of responses, but one really stood out to us. This video is from Monica Toups. She's a single mom living in Jacksonville, Florida. Let's listen to what she had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MONICA TOUPS, CNN IREPORTER: I've never in my working, adult life had health insurance. I've always worked for small businesses who cannot afford to offer me health insurance. And private health insurance, if I was to go get it on my own, would cover almost a third of what I make monthly. So, it's not something as a single mom that I can do affordably. I'm lucky enough to live in Florida, a state that provides health insurance to children of working families. And you're not denied. Sometimes do you have to pay a co-pay, but that's fine if it means that my kids can go to the doctor, go to the hospital.

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HAWKINS-GAAR: So that sounds like a really tough situation. And Monica is certainly somebody - says she could benefit from universal health care.

But not everybody agrees that this is the answer. We have one iReporter from Canada who said that he doesn't think it's the right thing to do.

Let's listen to his video.

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JIMMY DEOL, CNN IREPORTER: Remember something here, that's from my experience. The accessibility of health care for everyone does not necessarily mean everyone can actually have health care. What that means is the scarcity of resources. That is one of the problems with socialized medicine, especially in Canada, it's true. Eighty-six percent of Canadians have a family doctor; 14 percent don't.

JIM MORRISON, CNN IREPORTER: You know, I'm getting really tired of all the fear mongering and name calling of "socialized medicine." What does that even mean anymore? Seriously. If by socialized you mean that society bears the costs of health care, whether it's through individuals' work or our government through our taxes, we already have that. In fact, we already pay more than any other nation on the planet on a per capita and total basis for our health care. But yet, we have 46 to 50 million Americans with nothing. No health care whatsoever.

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HAWKINS-GAAR: So that's the other side of the arguments.

It's got a lot of people talking and we want to hear more. So iReporters can go to ireport.com/desk to share their opinions.

HOLMES: And our iReporters, as we know, certainly have their opinions.

Katie, thank you so much. Good to see you. We want to turn now to another segment. It's going to be the most popular segment of the day, not just because Nicole Lapin is the one bringing the segment to us, but you're going to tell folks how they can find jobs worth $100,000 or more.

NICOLE LAPIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You like that?

HOLMES: I like that a lot. I'm going to be paying attention to this segment like no other.

LAPIN: Pay attention right now. Because, when folks are looking for jobs, T.J., some are dreaming, and dreaming big. Because we all know about the monster.coms of the world, the CareerBuilders of the world. We are digging a little bit deeper, T.J., to get the resources online that can really help you with your job hunt, no matter what salary you want.

Theladders.com is really a gold mine if you're looking for that higher-end job. And the chief marketing officer, Robert Turtledove, joins us live from New York.

Now Robert, let's just thrown it out there right now. It costs about 30 bucks a month to join this site, but who are you seeing join the site these days? Is it the executives who are trying to get back into the game or is it the folks who are already applying for jobs out there anyway, and they're like, hey, why not, let's just try for a high-end job?

ROBERT TURTLEDOVE, THELADDERS.COM: Hi, Nicole.

It's a good question. I think, obviously, the economy's left everyone unscathed. So we're definitely seeing people who are already at the 100k-plus level signing up to TheLadders.com in droves. I think they're either checking out what their next options might be. Many are still employed, some are unemployed. What we know for sure is that everyone of them is qualified and experienced and is making $100,000. And it's a place that they can go and look with less clutter and less noise around them. As you said, the mass boards have done a good job catering to the broad markets, but we focus on the 100k segment.

LAPIN: And a lot of people want to climb that proverbial ladder. What would you say, Robert, to the naysayers out there who said, if you had a VP, if you had a CEO job, head hunters are going to find you. Are employers really using your site to find employees these days?

TURTLEDOVE: Very much so. One of the things we see happen, Nicole, especially in today's economy, for a recruiter and headhunter, if they post a job, they may get 1,000 or 2,000 applicants, the vast majority of which are not qualified, if they're posting it on the regular sites. When they post that position or search at TheLadders, they narrow their field of candidates down to the qualified few. That's efficient, it's productive, and the candidates that they see make sense for those positions. So, it's very effective for them. And likewise, for the job seeker who's paying the annual fee of the $30, they get to see the right merchandise and the right produce. They're not having to filter through the haystack to find the needle.

HOLMES: Sure, but you have a lot of people who are just thankful to have a job these days. But you're saying, know your worth out there when you're negotiating your salary. But that's sometimes easier said than done to do that.

TURTLEDOVE: Very much so. You know, I think that career management is almost a little bit of the new health care. That you should be proactively paying attention. Twenty, 30 years ago, people weren't looking at cholesterol or blood pressure. Your career is almost as important as your health and you need to be sensitive to what's going on in your marketplace, what's going on in your career, what jobs are out there. And you have to pay more attention to this. This is not something that these days can be a passive endeavor.

HOLMES: Indeed, Robert Turtledove from TheLadders.com.

So T.J., a lot of resources out there for salaries. You can really get up to date, because it's something that a lot of folks simply don't talk about. Nobody talks about their salaries, but you can find them online.

HOLMES: That was interesting the way he put it. It's just as important as your health, you need to treat it that way.

LAPIN: Know your worth.

HOLMES: All right. Nicole, always a pleasure. Thank you so much, kind Ma'am.

Well, let's see. Michael Jackson, he is still singing, apparently. Fans camping out all night for tickets to his London concert series.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Woo!

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HOLMES: Well, she was the first to get her ticket. The series of concerts kicks off July 8th. Tickets went on sale to the general public this morning. First fans in line, you can see, pretty excited about it. How much did they have to pay for these tickets? Well, general admission selling for about $105.00. VIP tickets going for about $1,100.00.

You know, you can't ever go wrong with "Billy Jean." You just can't. Jackson's "Thriller," with that hit, "Billy Jean," on it, best-selling album of all time. But he has rarely been seen in recent years. Get your tickets.