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Smugglers Get Inventive Crossing the Border; Jackie Robinson's Son Discusses African-Americans & Baseball; The New Tax Plan; Tax Tips for 2008 Taxes; The New Border Czar's Responsibilities, Problems; Afghani Romeo & Juliet Executions
Aired April 15, 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: Also, there's nothing that's not -- well, they're nothing if not creative. That's for sure. We're talking about the smugglers. And coming up with all sorts of inventive ways that the we've been talking about to get drugs into the U.S. from Mexico. They're even using school kids.
And that's where our CNN's Deborah Feyerick has been researching.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When you see the Mexico-U.S. border for the first time, it's easy to understand why drug cartels are obsessed with it. It's so close, houses in Tijuana virtually touch the border fence opposite San Diego. MIKE UNZUETA, U.S. IMMIGRATION & CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: Their bottom line is to make money and they're going to do whatever it is that they can to ensure that that happens. So they become very, very creative in the ways that they'll smuggle.
FEYERICK: Drug traffickers are throwing everything they've got at getting drugs into the U.S. They're smuggled over land in things like cables, toys, and holiday candles, or smuggled underground in sophisticated tunnels, some 100 discovered since 1990, along the more than 2,000-mile border. And on the water, where Captain Vincent DeLaurentis and his crew on the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton recently spent three months searching for drugs inbound to Mexico.
CAPTAIN VINCENT DELAURENTIS, COAST GUARD CUTTER HAMILTON: Every time we get a seizure, we put a new sticker up.
FEYERICK: Though they did not see any of the cartels' new high- tech semi-submersibles, they did capture six of the new hard to detect boats that travel mostly at night.
DELAURENTIS: And we seized six go-fast vessels that were carrying upwards of 15 tons of contraband.
FEYERICK: Port director Oscar Preciado oversees the San Ysidro crossing.
(on camera): How many cars do you find drugs in on any given day?
OSCAR PRECIADO, U.S. CUSTOMS & BORDER PROTECTION: Oh, we find between five and ten loads a day, from 50 pounds to 500 pounds of marijuana. They can be methamphetamine. It can be cocaine. It can be heroin.
FEYERICK (voice-over): Recent seizures include marijuana in tires and heroin in phony tanks, some with secret levers.
PRECIADO: They'll put it anywhere they can. And they're very creative in creating their own compartments too.
FEYERICK: With border security tighter than ever, Preciado says drug traffickers are now paying kids as young as 14 to smuggle dope, mostly marijuana.
PRECIADO: A lot of these are school kids. They've been crossing through here for years.
FEYERICK (on camera): So they may even recognize some of the border agents.
PRECIADO: Oh, yes, of course.
FEYERICK (voice-over): And with billions at stake, officials say cartels will try anything.
CAPT. TOM FARRIS, U.S. COAST GUARD: We can't catch the drugs, and what we want to do is make them spend more resources in order to get the drugs across the border.
FEYERICK (on camera): The quantity of drugs seized by federal agents is staggering. Still, as one official told us, only the cartels know for sure how much is actually making it into the U.S.
Deborah Feyerick, CNN, on the U.S.-Mexico border.
PHILLIPS: All right. As we are listening to Deborah's piece right there, Janet Napolitano, head of Homeland Security, just announced her new selection for border czar, a brand new position within the Obama administration.
Alan Bersin is the man that she named. We're going to talk more about him, his background, and what she expects from him as he moves forward in this new position.
Now, we saw how well the Navy handled the Somali pirates, right? Well, could our military take out the Mexican drug traffickers in our back yard with the same success? The Mexican government tried it in Juarez, and it seems to be making a difference.
We're going to push this idea forward, next hour, with General Russel Honore.
Well, the new White House announcing a new position to tackle an old problem. A border czar, whose focus, in large part, will be on the drug violence spilling over from Mexico. The guy's going to have a pretty stressful job.
Kate Bolduan at the White House.
We just heard it announced, Kate. Alan Bersin is his name. He's got an interesting resume, to say the least.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He does. He does. So, Alan Bersin is now the border czar for the Obama administration.
Alan, he's a former Justice Department official, and we're told he held a very similar position under the Clinton administration. It was under a different title, Southwest Border Representative. And as you said, this is a man who has a big job ahead of him.
He's going to be in charge of advising Secretary Napolitano on just how to take on things like illegal immigration. But even a big point today, how to take on the drug cartels and the drug-related violence that has just exploded on the Mexican border. We know the administration has promised additional aid to the borders, sending hundreds of federal agents, as well as crime-fighting equipment, and now it's up to this guy to take it on -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right. Well, very interesting. This is all happening on the eve of President Obama's trip to Mexico, and talking about all this action that he wants to take against drug cartels.
What can you tell us about this trip and the conversation between the president and Calderon?
BOLDUAN: Yes, exactly. So, the president will be heading down to Mexico to meet with President Felipe Calderon tomorrow, and you can definitely anticipate and expect that this drug-related violence will be issue number one between the two men.
One thing that we also have learned today in the White House briefing that ended just a few minutes ago, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announcing that they're putting -- it's a special designation. They're basically putting three Mexican organizations on an international suspected drug kingpin list, and the way it was described is it's a way that the administration and the Treasury Department, specifically, can try to take on from this side of the border, take on these drug cartels by trying to cut off financial aid to them.
Listen here from Robert Gibbs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Today's action underscores the U.S. government's support for President Calderon's courageous attack on the cartels and our attempt to attack the financial underpinnings of Mexico's cartels believed to generate billions of dollars annually. With today's actions, the Department of Treasury will be permitted over the months and years ahead to block or seize any assets, accounts or securities under U.S. jurisdiction of those belonging to these cartels or who act on their behalf. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: So you see there from Robert Gibbs, the White House really trying to say we're joining in the fight trying to take on this drug-related violence and these drug cartels that have so much power there on the border. The White House basically trying to say, you know, decrease violence, decrease their power by cutting off their money supply. So, another aspect of -- another something to talk about tomorrow.
PHILLIPS: Plenty to talk about it. Look forward to it.
Kate Bolduan, thanks so much.
Well, take a look at these new pictures off the coast of Kenya today. You're seeing the French navy going after pirates.
They took 11 of them into custody and seized their mother ship. That's the bigger boat loaded with supplies.
The pirates had attacked a Liberian ship last night. They used a little skiff to harass the ship. A French helicopter helped fight them off.
The U.S. Navy is escorting another U.S. cargo ship to Kenya. Somalis pirates hit the Liberty Sun with grenades and gunfire, but the crew barricaded themselves in the engine room, sent out a distress signal, and put the Sun through some evasive maneuvers.
The pirates were gone by the time military help arrived. One pirate who didn't take part said his comrades are targeting American ships and sailors now, payback for the Maersk Alabama incident that left three pirates dead.
And speaking of the Alabama, the crew gets back to the U.S. tonight, but they'll have to wait to see their rescued captain. Richard Phillips still on board the USS Bainbridge. It's going to be late delivering him to Kenya. The Navy destroyer was diverted to help out the Liberty Sun.
Now the real deal on your taxes, and a very tight deadline. Sure, we've had months to figure out what we owe Uncle Sam or what he owes us, but now mere hours remain to file that 1040 or face the wrath of the IRS.
President Obama admits that April 15th is nobody's favorite day, but he points out the stimulus act means less tax taken from the paychecks of the vast majority of wage earners. And that's just the beginning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK H. OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need to simplify a monstrous tax code that is far too complicated for most Americans to understand, but just complicated enough for the insiders who know how to game the system. So, I've already started by asking Paul Volcker and my Economic Recovery Board to do a thorough review of how to simplify our tax code, and to report back to me by the end of this year.
It's going to take time to undo the damage of years of carve-outs and loopholes, but I want every American to know that we will rewrite the tax codes that have put your interests over any special interests. We'll make it easier, quicker, and less expensive for you to file returns so that April 15th is not a date that is approached with dread every year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Well, dread is just one of the sentiments stirring up tea parties from coast to coast. They're patterned, of course, on the legendary protest in Boston back in 1773. But now TEA stands for Tax Enough Already, and protesters are steamed about bailouts, too.
CNN's Susan Roesgen getting a taste of that Chicago-style tea. Does that come with a pizza as well, too, Susan?
SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Kyra, this is a party for Obama bashers. I have to say that this is not entirely representative of everybody in America.
This was organized by three different conservative groups. And if you look at some of the signs, Kyra -- let me introduce you to this guy.
Would you come over here with me, please?
You know, what is this supposed to mean? What do you mean by that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I mean, he's a fascist. The pirates...
ROESGEN: Wait. Why do you say he's a fascist? He's the president of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is a fascist.
ROESGEN: Do you realize how offensive that is?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he's a fascist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he is.
ROESGEN: In what way can you say that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because the real pirates are in the White House and the Senate and in the Congress. We need one-term limits for all these elected politicians.
ROESGEN: Why be so hard on the president of the United States, though, with such an offensive message? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he is. He's a fascist.
ROESGEN: OK. So we've got a fascist -- all right.
Let's see, "Drop the Taxes." "Drop Socialism."
OK. Let's see.
You're here with your 2-year-old and you're already in debt. Why are you here today, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I hear a president say that he believed in what Lincoln stood for. Lincoln's primary thing was he believed that people had the right to liberty and they had the right...
ROESGEN: Sir, what does this have to do with taxes? What does this have to do with your taxes?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me finish speaking.
ROESGEN: Do you realize that you're eligible for a $400 credit?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me finish my point. Lincoln believed that people had the right to share in the fruits of their own labor and that government should not take it. And we have clearly gotten to that point.
ROESGEN: Wait. Did you know that the state of Lincoln gets $50 billion out of these stimulus? That's $50 billion for this state, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma'am, I...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you stop this, sir? Hold on.
ROESGEN: OK. Well, Kyra, we'll move on over here. I think you get the general tenor of this.
It's anti-government, anti-CNN, since this is highly promoted by the right wing conservative network, Fox. And since I can't really hear much more and I think this is not really family viewing, I'll toss it back to you -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right. I know Susan Roesgen is having a hard time hearing me, but wow, that is a prime example of what we're following across the country there.
Susan pointed out everything plain and clear of what she's dealing with. And we will -- we'll pursue that. That was interesting. That was a little something we probably didn't expect to see live. But you can obviously see the tensions rising there, and both sides, conservative and liberal -- that side much more conservative there with the protests. Well, if we haven't covered everything that you need to know about last-minute tax filing, just ask. Here's our address: email@example.com.
Stay with us. Gerri Willis back at the bottom of the hour with some answers.
And they're rich, famous and in trouble with the tax man. Freaked out by your IRS bill? Well, you should see theirs.
PHILLIPS: Well, Michigan is turning to battery power in a bit of -- well, in a bid to push itself out of the recession. Governor Jennifer Granholm has awarded tax credits to four companies that make batteries for electric and hybrid cars.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), MICHIGAN: Michigan will be the place where the electric vehicle and the batteries that power those vehicles will be researched, developed, produced, manufactured, assembled.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN FREDLINE, PRESIDENT, UAW LOCAL 602: People understand manufacturing. And whether it's manufacturing vehicles, or components for vehicles, we get how a manufacturing plant runs. So, the more manufacturing opportunities that we have, the more people that we can place in those jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Well, the governor's move could create more than 6,000 jobs and help secure federal stimulus dollars for more energy projects.
Well, it's Tax Day, and if you've been energy efficient, you may get some money back from Uncle Sam.
CNNMoney.com's Poppy Harlow has our "Energy Fix" from New York.
POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kyra.
I can't exactly put solar panels on my apartment, so I could not write any of this off on my taxes, but people have been writing us all day on CNNMoney.com telling us how they're saving energy -- saving on their taxes through their energy improvements. But here's one question that came to us from Shelly in Florida. Shelly wrote, "Can I take off energy efficient upgrades to my home? I was told that I cannot do it this year, but we had our doors and windows replaced with energy efficient hurricane impact doors and windows. Some in '08 and some in '09. Help."
Well, Shelly, the advice that you got was right.
Here's how it breaks down, folks.
If you installed energy efficient windows or doors or insulation this year, you can't get the tax credits. But take a look here. If you do it next year, or in 2010, you can get up to a $1,500 tax break.
And for those bigger spenders out there, right, if you want to put solar panels on your roof, I guess, in California, it will cost you. It's about $30,000 in average. If you did it in 2008, you can only get $2,000 back.
Kyra, if you do it this year or next year, you can get $9,000 back. That is, of course, thanks to the stimulus bill. People getting more back for being more energy efficient.
PHILLIPS: What about for energy efficient vehicles?
HARLOW: Yes. This is kind of tricky.
There's a $3,400 tax credit for hybrids, but that full credit is only available for the first 60,000 hybrids that Toyota or Honda or Chevy -- or Chrysler sells, right? And then they run out.
So go to fueleconomy.gov if you're thinking of buying a hybrid, and check out the kind you want to buy. If you buy a Honda Insight, if you bought a hybrid Insight in 2006, 2007, you get a pretty hefty tax break. If you bought it in the first half of last year, your tax break gets cut in half.
And if you buy one this year, Kyra, they've hit the limit, so you don't even get the tax breaks. And we called some of the dealers and, Kyra, they told us, we don't really bring it up when we're selling the cars. So what you want to do is ask the dealer, hey, is the tax break still available? Because it might not be, and then it won't even pay in the end. I guess it will pay on fuel efficiency, but it's not going to pay in terms of your taxes.
PHILLIPS: All right. Thanks so much, Poppy.
PHILLIPS: Well, showing your green side on the clothes that you wear. Check out this eco-suit made entirely from 50 recycled plastic bottles melted and woven into polyester fibers. The fabric is machine washable and it's also biodegradable. The suit actually costs 80 bucks.
Well, this is for any of you that have ever put your dreams on hold. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
When you stood there with that cheeky grin and said, "I want to be like Elaine Paige," everyone was laughing at you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Well, they're not laughing now. A look at the stunning performance that's gone viral on the Internet and bringing new hope for faded dreams around the world.
PHILLIPS: Well, the new White House announcing a new position to tackle a very old problem, a border czar whose focus in large part will be on the drug violence spilling over from Mexico.
Alan Bersin joins us now live from El Paso, Texas. The head of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, just named him to this new position.
Sir, it's a pleasure to have you.
ALAN BERSIN, U.S. BORDER CZAR: Nice to be here, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Well, I'll tell you what, I grew up in San Diego, I know how you can be incredibly tough on crime. We'll get to that in just a second.
But first, I want to ask you -- you know what you're up against. You know how bad the violence is, the drugs, the guns, all the loopholes, the porous border.
What is going to be your number one priority when you wake up in the morning and head in to your first day of work?
BERSIN: The secretary has appointed me as assistant secretary for International Affairs and her special representative for border affairs. And she's been very specific that she wants the initiatives that have been designed by Homeland Security to strengthen border security, to be well implemented, and to be coordinated across the border from San Diego to Brownsville, but in a way that takes into account local circumstances.
But first and foremost for the secretary, it's about stopping illegal contraband coming north, controlling illegal immigration, to support all the efforts to stop drugs coming into this country. And added to that now is to increasingly cooperate with Mexico to stop the exportation, the exiting of the United States of illegal guns, and cash generated through narcotics transactions. So, it's a magical opportunity, north and south, to actually strengthen security for both sides of the border.
PHILLIPS: And let me just get straight to the point. I mean, you obviously have a very diverse resume, an interesting background. But tell me, you know, what can someone who was the head of the school district, someone who is a leader within the airport authority, offer our country with regard to a brutal drug -- brutal drug cartels that are killing people every day, kidnapping them, recruiting young American kids, and bringing drugs back and forth, and weapons as well?
BERSIN: Well, you do know, Kyra, from San Diego that the before serving in those capacities, I was the United States attorney in San Diego and Imperial counties for five years, and also the first special representative during the Clinton administration for Attorney General Janet Reno. So, these are issues that I've lived with, being from the border, and they're issues that I've worked on. And I understand, both as a father and as a former prosecutor, how important it is that we actually deal with this problem, and deal with it more effectively and more efficiently.
The Arellano Felix cartel is a drug-trafficking organization that was dominant in San Diego in the early 1990s, and has been far weakened as a result of the efforts of law enforcement personnel and prosecutors over a sustained period of time. So, the additional educational capacity, being an educator, and now being familiar with the airport authority and its security needs, I think just adds to a foundation that takes very seriously these problems. And I've had good experience in dealing with them.
PHILLIPS: Sir, and while I have you, I really want to ask you about the military's involvement. We've never really been able to get a straight answer on this. But if you look at Juarez, Mexico, and the president called in all the police officers, in addition to members of the military, to go in there and take down the drug cartels, they actually saw a tremendous difference. They saw how it brought down the violence, brought down the issue of drugs and killings in that area.
Would you ever consider saying to the president, let's bypass Posse Comitatus, let's waive that, let's let the military come in and show some force, and show that we're not going to let anybody come into our country and cause the type of violence and harm that they have done? Would you ever consider that?
BERSIN: I think that the Posse Comitatus has served this country well historically. And the situation, actually, here in places like El Paso, San Diego is not -- we haven't seen the spillover violence. And the efforts that are being made -- Secretary Napolitano announced today, for example, in El Paso -- is intended to support local and state law enforcement working with federal law enforcement to see to it that that situation never arises.
What's going on in Mexico, across the border in Juarez, requires that we support the government of Mexico in its very valiant, courageous effort to both stem violence and also deal with the drug trafficking organizations. But we should be very careful in terms of this side of the border, to, A, misstate what we face in terms of the security threat, and we should always be careful to be operating within a very sound, constitutional tradition that served us well.
PHILLIPS: Alan Bersin, the new border czar here in the United States of America. Just appointed by Janet Napolitano. Sir, I appreciate your time today.
BERSIN: Not at all. Thank you.
PHILLIPS: Well, we all saw how well the Navy handled the Somali pirates. Could our military take out the Mexican drug traffickers in our own back yard with the same kind of success? Well, the Mexican government tried it in Juarez and it seems to be making a difference.
I just asked Alan Bersin, the new border czar, that exact question. We're going to push this idea forward with General Russel Honore and see what he thinks about military on the border.
PHILLIPS: Well, it was a turning point in American sports and a move that helped forever transform racial relations in the U.S. On this day, 62 years ago, Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier. He wore number 42 on his Brooklyn Dodgers uniform.
Well, today, every player in the big leagues will wear number 42 as a show of unified support for this historic occasion.
Joining us now, Jackie Robinson's son, David Robinson, who's at the New York Mets new ballpark, Citi Field.
Great to see you, David.
DAVID ROBINSON, JACKIE ROBINSON'S SON: It's nice to be with you.
PHILLIPS: So, tell me, how did your dad feel about his achievement of breaking baseball's color barrier? What did he talk to you about with regard to that? What did he tell you?
ROBINSON: Well, he was a man of great strength, but few words. And all that he projected to us was really in his actions more than his words. And with him, strength, courage, compassion, a quiet love that he projected for his family. That's what he brought to the game and to the American society, I believe.
PHILLIPS: Wow. Well, we often hear today that fewer African- American are interested in playing baseball in the major leagues. And we actually did a story on this last year. And it's because athletes say that the major leagues don't pay as much and that they're getting more money playing football or basketball.
What do you think about that? And what do you think your father would think about that?
ROBINSON: Well, my father's integration into Major League Baseball was a step in integration into the overall American society. The fact that we're not as well represented in baseball as we might like to be, we are represented in American politics, in American business, in American civil organizations. So the degree of integration -- excuse me - the degree of integration that we've had in the society has been, on a broad plane, progressive. We still have a long way to go. And so I think my father would still be pleased and would view it in a broader sense than just baseball.
PHILLIPS: Well, and I think a lot of people may say, David, and correct me if I'm wrong, your father was in it for the love of the game. His heart was in the sport and what it meant and how it made him feel. You know, it didn't seem that his priority was, you know, making millions of dollars. He just wanted to play what he loved to do.
ROBINSON: Well, actually, I think his major interest was seeing that he could take his life and his talents and make it a change vehicle for American society. I think he loved baseball, but we spent more time after his retirement watching golf as opposed to baseball. So, it's a -- it's a great game, but what he was -- what he was involved in was changing the human dynamics of American society as opposed to - and being here today in this rotunda, it's a chance to have that initiative of changing American society through values like courage and integrity.
That's being -- that's being captured here today on a permanent basis, as -- as is the foundation's work, the Jackie Robinson Foundation. Creating students who are the living legacy of his values and of his efforts in today's society to carry on throughout the Jackie Robinson Foundation is a scholarship-giving body, but it's a body that doesn't just give dollars, it gives mentoring. It develops students who are not just interested, as you were saying earlier, in the financial transaction...
ROBINSON: ... but in changing society and giving back.
PHILLIPS: Which is exactly what your father would want. And boy, would I love to sit in on a conversation between him and Barack Obama.
David Robinson, so great to see you, and congratulations on the rotunda. It's there in honor of your father. Thanks for your time today.
ROBINSON: OK, thank you.
PHILLIPS: Well, former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry heads to court tomorrow, federal prosecutors want to revoke his probation for not paying back taxes.
When it comes to tax dodgers, some of the biggest are pretty well known. California has put out a new list of top tax evaders. Some of the names you know pretty well.
Here's our Dan Simon.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Burt Reynolds is on it. So is singer Dionne Warwick, Sinbad too. They made California's list of the 250 most delinquent taxpayers. The list is published annually by law. Lawmakers thought it would motivate people to settle up, but does it really work?
BRENDA VOGT, CA FRANCHISEE TAX COURT: Actually it has. We've collected over $14 million this year based on this current list and our activities in letting people know that they are going to be potentially on the list.
SIMON: But unless they're celebrities, chances are you would not recognize the rest of the names.
Who ranks number one? His name Winson T. Lee, a self-described investor and owner of apartments. According to the state, he owes nearly $10 million. He lives in this house outside of San Francisco. No one came to the door. And he wasn't at this apartment complex either that he owns. But, to our surprise, Lee was OK talking to us when I reached him on the phone.
(on camera): When you saw that you were number one on the list, what did you think?
WINSON T. LEE, OWES BACK TAXES (via telephone): I was embarrassed.
SIMON (voice-over): Lee admitted to us that he hasn't filed any tax returns for the last 10 to 15 years. He says he knows he's wrong and likened it to some kind of illness.
LEE: I think my illness is the inability to deal with this, you know, the tax season every year. And to deal with the amount of paper that - that people wanted me to go through in order to prepare their tax returns.
SIMON: He says that now he's trying to make amends, though he disputes the amount California says he owes. The state says it doesn't comment on specific cases, but that California taxpayers each year fail to pay around $6.5 billion. That would more than pay the annual salaries for every high schoolteacher in the state.
If you think that figure is large, the IRS says its unpaid taxes for the last several years total about $300 billion. That would cover half of the entire U.S. defense budget. And experts say unpaid taxes will increase because of the recession.
PROF. CHUCK SWENSON, USC MARSHALL SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: That gap's going to get bigger in tough times as people go from private sector where they're losing their jobs to self-employment where it's much easier to evade taxes.
SIMON: As for those celebs we mentioned, a rep for Dionne Warwick told us she's addressed the situation and has worked out a payment arrangement. Burt Reynolds spokesman said the actor has paid all his taxes and says the actor should be removed. And Sinbad, his rep just said no comment.
(on camera): Now to get your name off of this list, you either need to pay in full, reach some sort of compromise with the state, or file for bankruptcy. Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.
PHILLIPS: Well, thanks to e-filing, it's never been easier to make that annual IRS deadline. So far, more than 77 million of us have filed our returns online, but it's never been harder for many taxpayers to pay. The real deal, says the IRS, is to file your 1040, no matter what, by midnight tonight. If you can't send in what you owe, call now and say so. Don't wait for the government to reach out to you.
Time now for us to reach out to CNN's Gerri Willis who has been reading your last-minute questions and feeling your pain - Gerri.
GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Yes, there's a lot of pain out there, Kyra. You know we've been getting tons of e-mails from viewers about tax day, but I want you to see this iReport.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELISSA FAZU, CNN IREPORTER: At the last minute, we got this tax form from our bank that foreclosed on this beautiful property that we had in Lake Las Vegas. It was worth $1 million, and they appraised it and it came back at $400,000. So they want to do a debt forgiveness to us for $600,000. Does that mean I have to pay taxes on that $600,000 because it was an investment property?
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIS: I got to tell you, you know, you may very well be on the hook for those taxes.
Look, currently, if you were foreclosed on or particularly if you do a short sale on that property, the amount that the bank forgives on your loan, well, it's not taxed. That's what Congress said on a primary home. But since this is a second home for you, those rules don't apply.
However, there are some situations where you won't be liable for the taxes. For example, if you declare bankruptcy or if you have a real financial issue, your liabilities exceed your assets. What you really need to do is check with a tax professional.
But I hate to give you the bad news, there's a good chance you're going to owe a whole lot of taxes.
PHILLIPS: All right. So, are we not doing other e-mails?
WILLIS: We have lots more.
PHILLIPS: Can I have direction what we're doing here?
WILLIS: Let me -- I got it right in front of me.
PHILLIPS: Sorry, Gerri, yes, we've got one more question. The issue is time Gerri, I apologize. We're going to go ahead and take one more e-mail question here from James.
"I'm interested in the tax credit. I'm a first-time home buyer. Does the home have to be purchased before I apply for tax credit? Can I apply for tax credit now and get a home by the deadline of December '09?"
WILLIS: Well, James, you have to purchase your home first according to the IRS before you take the credit. You can file your taxes now and then file an amended return after you bought your home or you can just claim the tax credit next year. For more info on the first-time home buyer tax credit you want to go to federalhousingtaxcredit.com.
But I want to tell you, the window for getting this credit, you have to buy your house between April 9, 2008 last year and December 31, 2009, the end of this year. A first-time home buyer is a home buyer who has not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase. So it's pretty wide open there.
Kyra, back to you. I know you're pressed on time today.
PHILLIPS: Well, apparently we have time now. So here we go. Gerri, hang in there with me, my friend.
Here's Chris' question, "Is it advisable to file an extension instead of sending in the return? I owe but I can't pay."
We actually kind of answered this already, but go ahead.
WILLIS: Right. Well, you know, look, if you get an extension, you still have to pay the IRS. An extension will only extend the time you have to file your taxes. Go to irs.gov. This website has a "what if" section that addresses problems about your inability to pay your taxes - Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Also, when I interviewed the IRS commissioner yesterday, he said, whatever you do, file. If you can't pay, we'll help you do it. We'll figure something out.
But if you don't file, you're going to be in even bigger trouble, right? Because all the fees add up.
OK, Dennis asks this, "My wife and I will owe about $9,000 in taxes, but we only have $5,000 in savings. Can you tell me what our best plan of action would be?".
WILLIS: So many people in this situation, Dennis.
First go ahead and file, even if you owe the money. Now remember what Kyra just said, if you don't have the cash on hand, you can set up a repayment plan or you can just call the IRS directly at 1-800- TAX-1040. Tell them you have intention to pay, you're filing today, but you're having a hard time making those payments. They are going to help you out.
That's what they're doing this year. It's a brand new program. The IRS commissioner has been everywhere talking about it, on our air and elsewhere, you can get some help this year. There is some forgiveness. 1-800-TAX-1040.
PHILLIPS: All right, Gerri Willis, thanks for hanging in there with us.
WILLIS: No problem.
PHILLIPS: It's been a crazy day.
WILLIS: It has been and it's going to be crazy for a lot of people tonight, let me tell you.
PHILLIPS: The curse of tax day, yes. All right, thanks Gerri.
We can't say it often enough, if you get in over your head, turn to irs.gov or call 1-800-TAX-1040.
All right. Well, Pasha Stocking is looking for a job in a big way. A billboard-sized way. The single mother of three lost her job, so she rented a billboard as a way to hunt for something new. Well, we're going to try and help her sell her skills with our "30-Second Pitch."
Pasha Stocking joining us now from Rocky Hill, Connecticut.
Pasha, good to see you.
PASHA STOCKING, JOB SEEKER: Hi, how are you?
PHILLIPS: Tell me what happened. What type of work were you doing and how did you find out you lost your job?
STOCKING: I was working for a company called Pam Tan Associates and I was a director of sales and marketing there and just due to some budget issues, I had to be let go. You know, so that was upsetting, but you know...
PHILLIPS: And did you even see it coming?
STOCKING: A little bit, I did, yes.
PHILLIPS: OK. So, did you start preparing?
STOCKING: I did. I was starting to look for jobs before I was, you know, definitely told. It was talked about before, but once it, you know, it happened, I had been looking previous before that.
PHILLIPS: All right, so you came up with this idea of a billboard. Tell me how you came up with the idea and how much it cost.
STOCKING: Well, I'm not going to say that. But...
PHILLIPS: It costs a lot of money.
STOCKING: Not what the papers are saying, not $7,000. Definitely not $7,000.
PHILLIPS: OK, all right.
STOCKING: But a man by the name of Mark Huerer actually did something similar. And I contacted him and asked him about his journey and what he did. And he gave me a lot of good advice and really encouraged me to go ahead and proceed with the billboard, and that's what I did.
PHILLIPS: So, how do you weed out the legitimate responses versus maybe some crazies out there because, you know, you're a beautiful, single woman here...
STOCKING: Thank you.
PHILLIPS: ... you never know, how are you being careful with the response you've been getting?
STOCKING: I'm reading every single e-mail and I get so many -- so much e-mail every day. And I'm just weeding out the ones that I really am interested in and putting it to the side and researching the companies. And then I'm, you know, hopefully going to give them a call to set up an interview.
PHILLIPS: All right, well Pasha, this definitely won't cost $7,000. Are you ready for your 30-second pitch?
PHILLIPS: All right, we're going to start the clock, go ahead.
STOCKING: I'm a driven, dedicated, loyal worker. I love to work. I have good marketing skills, as you can see in my marketing skills now with the billboard. And I just - I'm really looking for a decent job so I can support my children and myself, and I'm really hoping that, you know, if you are interested in me, you'll go to hirepasha.com.
PHILLIPS: And look at that. You came not only under 30 seconds, which actually works out perfectly, because Otis (ph), our sound guy, was so enthralled with your beauty, he forgot to start the clock. You could have had an extra 20 seconds, Pasha -- thanks Otis (ph).
Let us know what happens. There's your e-mail, check out her resume and let us know what happens Pasha. We want to follow up with you all right.
STOCKING: OK, no problem.
PHILLIPS: Stay creative.
STOCKING: Thank you.
PHILLIPS: Well, he didn't shoot, he only had a ladder. But that's all this tough customer needed to whack the heck out of a convenience store crook. All of it, of course, caught on tape. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
PHILLIPS: All right. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton actually meeting with the prime minister of Haiti just made some comments moments ago about piracy.
Let's go ahead and take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The United States does not make concessions or ransom payments to pirates. What we will do is, first, send an envoy to attend the international Somali peacekeeping and development meeting scheduled in Brussels. The solution to Somali piracy includes Somali capacity to police their own territory. Our envoy will work with other partners to help the Somalis assist us in cracking down on pirate bases and in decreasing incentives for young Somali men to engage in piracy.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: All right, well, the U.S. now has a new border czar. A new position to address drug violence seeping up from Mexico and you heard him here just a few minutes ago.
Let's go ahead and bring in General Russell Honore to talk about this new job.
I guess right off the bat, let me ask you, what did you hear from the new border czar? Or what did you not hear from the border czar? I mean, you used to command men and women that were on the front there, on the border, serving time to help the issues there. What are your concerns?
LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE, U.S. ARMY (RET.) : Well, you know, it certainly highlights the importance of the issue, the border.
But is it to highlight the importance or it is to fix something that's broken? Meaning the interagency along the border isn't working. And the relationship with the ambassador in Mexico, who's our senior appointed diplomat in Mexico. So, I'm not quite sure what we have. Is it to highlight the importance of the issue or is it to fix the interagency process?
Don't you wish the rest of government kind of worked like the U.S. military? We've got an operation. We've got General Odierno in Baghdad, we've got General McKiernan over in Afghanistan, go find who's in charge of the U.S. border to bring all the interagency together and coordinate with the government.
So, I'm sure this might be out of some sense of frustration, who's in charge there. Well, you would think it would be the border patrol chief. Very capable and able person. What he'll tell you, give me the resources and we can clamp it down.
But you cannot keep putting more leadership in. Who's in the chain of command? If his job is to go there and take charge and can direct budgets, has the authority to negotiate with the Mexican government and to set policy, then we might have something. Otherwise, this could be a disruption to the established chain of command.
PHILLIPS: Well, and if you look at the background -- or the history of other czars, we can talk about, OK, were they effective or not? And a lot of people are saying OK it's just more bureaucracy, red tape, another talking head, what the heck can this guy do. So, of course, we remain wide open here, with open eyes looking to see what he can and can't do.
But you know, you brought up something interesting about military. If we look at what happened off the coast of Somalia, I mean, it's not the military's job. The rules of engagement say you don't intervene on civilian scenarios. And for Navy SEALs to come in and these snipers to take out these pirates for a civilian that was being held hostage, does that set a precedent to where the military might be put into position? It's kind of a gray area, it's not their job. But now that it's happened once, can it happen again?
Well, military involvement with the drug cartels, you've said it before, the military knows how to take down the bad guys. Boy, they could show a lesson to those drug cartels. Is this the answer? Should the president sign a waiver and say forget Posse Comitatus, bring in the military, let's get rid of this?
HONORE: You know we have a JTF up north that operates in support of the border patrol...
PHILLIPS: Joint task force.
HONORE: Joint task force north. I think there's a possibility to use more of the surveillance and technology that the military has that might help to determine where the crossing points are. And they have been, in the past, used in that support. We could probably use more of that technology or pass the capability of that technology on to the Department of Homeland Security who has the mission along with border patrol to secure that border.
But we've got to understand that on this border with Mexico, the military, the military relationship with Mexico is not what it is with the rest of South America and Latin America. Our SOUTHCOM commander deals with all Latin American countries, but we have an agreement with Mexico that the SOUTHCOM which is stationed in San Antonio, Mexico, is not a part of its area of operation.
PHILLIPS: Now, why is that? Because if you see - yes, you're laughing, because I've seen those guys in the Army, in the helicopters and working in the, you know, the heat of the night taking down the drug lords in Colombia or wherever, you know? Why not Mexico? I mean, it's...
HONORE: We have some diplomatic agreements that U.S. military would not have a direct relationship with the Mexican military like we have in Latin America or in South America, working with our allies in France. And that in itself is not something talked about in public very often, but now you know...
PHILLIPS: But of course, we're talking about it.
HONORE: But we've got to resolve this. These are one of our -- these are our neighbors. Many of the people that live in this country come from Mexico, so we've got to resolve the 800-pound gorilla in the room is immigration. And until we solve that, where people are allowed to come and work and raise their families, that same contraband line that bring people in, bring guns in and take guns back and bring drugs in.
But that's the 800-pound gorilla. Until Congress and the people in Washington solve how we're going to really stop this border or are we going to have sanctuary cities in the United States or not? I mean, that all contributes to the job of law enforcement.
I hope that I'm speaking for every sheriff and county Mountie out there that's trying to fight this day in and day out. That is a problem. It's the 800-pound gorilla in the room because it has allowed an opportunity for people to make their lives better and made a contribution to the country. But that is the same pipeline that that drug flow is being distributed. And now we live here in Atlanta, one of the centers of drug distribution in the country, yet it's not being discussed in the state or at the local level what they're going to do about it.
PHILLIPS: We have more to talk about. General Russel Honore, always appreciate seeing you. Always gets heated on that last question.
I also want to plug your book. It's out. "Survival: How a Culture of Preparedness Can Save You and Your Family."
You're going to be on "AMERICAN MORNING" on Friday, you'll be with me next week, I believe. We look forward to talking about your new book. Thanks, General.
HONORE: Happy Tax Day.
PHILLIPS: Yes, real happy. We're going to take a quick break, we'll be right back.
PHILLIPS: It's a Romeo and Juliet story that is way beyond tragic. Disbelief and horrifying are the words here. Two young Afghans executed for trying to elope.
Here's CNN's Atia Abawi.
ATIA ABAWI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A young man and a young woman were executed by the Taliban in the southwestern region of Afghanistan in a province called Nimruz. The couple wanted to elope when the girl ran away from home, escaping an arranged marriage planned by her parents. The Taliban caught wind, captured the couple and invited the entire village of Kashud (ph) in the district, a district of Nimruz, to witness the execution.
The couple, they were shot to death. This is very reminiscent of the brutal Taliban regime that had taken hold of the country from 1996 to 2001. Making the country a safe haven for terrorist groups such as al Qaeda, who then planned the September 11th attacks.
Although Nimruz borders both Pakistan and Iran, it hasn't had the same attention as the volatile southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar. And this incident proves that the Taliban still have reign in remote villages in Afghanistan, still have those shadow governments, particularly in the southern and eastern regions of Afghanistan.
Atia Abawi, CNN, Kabul.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
PHILLIPS: That does it for us. We'll see you back here tomorrow. Rick Sanchez picks it up from here.