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Sonia Sotomayor and Abortion; Tasered to Death

Aired May 28, 2009 - 20:00   ET


ROLAND MARTIN, CNN ANCHOR: Folks, President Barack Obama is getting some pushback from the left tonight on choice of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court.

The problem, they are not really sure where she stands on abortion rights. She is not likely to tell them, and the president didn't ask. Could the future of Roe v. Wade hang in the balance?

That is one of the story we are talking about with CNN anchor and correspondent Erica Hill, national political correspondent Jessica Yellin, Lisa Bloom, "In Session" anchor and CNN legal analyst, and of course Steve Kornacki, columnist for "The New York Observer."

But, first, Jessica has been digging into Judge Sotomayor's record for us all day.

So, Jessica, what have you got?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Roland, pretty much everybody on both the left and the right assumed that President Obama's first Supreme Court nominee would support abortion rights.

But now there are questions about whether that is true of Sonia Sotomayor. She has never ruled on whether the Constitution protects the right to abortion, but she has written opinions on related cases. And some of those have abortion rights advocates jittery.

In 2002, for example, she sided with the Bush administration, finding the government can withhold foreign aid to groups that provide access to abortion overseas. She wrote -- quote -- "The Supreme Court has made clear that the government is free to favor the anti-abortion position over the pro-choice position and can do so with public funds."

Then, in 2007, in a case regarding asylum seekers who were fleeing China's forced-abortion policy, she wrote -- quote -- "The termination of a wanted pregnancy under a coercive population-control program can only be devastating to any couple, akin, no doubt, to the killing of a child."

Now, we should emphasize that none of this means that Judge Sotomayor would necessarily vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade. It reveals nothing about her true opinions about that decision. But presidents have been fooled before when they assumed they knew a nominee's view on abortions and were wrong, for example, that guy named David Souter, yes, the very justice who may well be replaced by Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

So when he was picked by the first President Bush, remember, he had made no rulings on abortion either. In fact, because of that, he was known as the stealth nominee, and then two years later he voted in favor of abortion rights, to the surprise of the White House that picked him.

Now, finally, in this case, it does look like so far Americans are happy -- fairly happy -- with President Obama's choice. In the latest Gallup poll -- here we go -- 47 percent rated Judge Sonia Sotomayor excellent or good, 33 percent called her fair or poor, 20 percent had no opinion.

That is a pretty high percentage with no opinion.


MARTIN: Absolutely.

All right, Jessica, thanks a bunch.

Folks, certainly a hot-button issue for those on the left, especially for advocates of a woman's right to choose to have a legal abortion. Among them is Nancy Northrup, president of the Center For Reproductive Rights.

Erica, Jessica, Lisa, and Steve are all here, Nancy as well.

Got to get right to you, Nancy.

Are you concerned at all where Judge Sotomayor stands on the issue of a woman's right to choose?

NANCY NORTHRUP, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: Well, my concern is with the protection of abortion rights under the Constitution in Roe vs. Wade.

We think it's important for any nominee when they're before the Senate to express their views on important constitutional cases. And that includes Roe vs. Wade.

MARTIN: But here is the issue. She would replace Souter. And, so, he comes off. If she rules on the other side, that could very well overturn Roe v. Wade.

NORTHRUP: And that's why it's important for any nominee to the Supreme Court to share with the American public, to share with the Senate, what's their view? Do they think it was a good constitutional case? Do they agree with the principles?

Do they understand what's at stake for women and why the court ruled then and how those principles should continue today? Because abortion rights have been under attack for 35 years, since Roe vs. Wade. We have got a shortage of doctors in America now. We have got burdensome regulations. We have got funding restrictions that make it hard for a lot of women to get access. MARTIN: Right.

NORTHRUP: It's important for American women. And we should know where any nominee stands.

LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Nancy, the problem is with Sonia Sotomayor and with all of the recent court nominees, there is this don't ask, don't tell policy regarding where they stand on abortion rights.

What can your organization do to get some response out of her now, at the confirmation hearings or at some point before she is voted upon?

NORTHRUP: Well, I think what is important is, and of course we are early in the process, is to be talking about how important these constitutional protections are, and how important the next Supreme Court justice is.

And it's not about is Roe vs. Wade overturned or not? It's about is this a nominee and someone who is potentially on the Supreme Court who is going to uphold any restriction on abortion? Because we have had those oppose and want to reverse Roe vs. Wade. We have strong supporters of the constitutional principles. And then we have had justices who are willing to uphold just about any restriction on access to abortion, except for overturning Roe vs. Wade itself.

STEVE KORNACKI, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK OBSERVER": Nancy, pardon me for being a little cynical here, but I feel like we have had this debate before 16 years ago, when Bill Clinton, a Democratic president, nominated a seemingly liberal woman to the Supreme Court named Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

And, as I recall, pro-choice groups at the time, despite the fact she had been a feminist lawyer in the 1970s, actually had some objections or concerns about her nomination, because she had actually given a speech months before her nomination in 1993 in which she pointedly criticized aspects of Roe, about the way it was decided, the basis for the decision, and stating the argument that abortion really should have been decided by voters and by the public and not so much the courts.

There was lot of concern about that. I haven't heard it since she went on the court 16 years ago.

NORTHRUP: Well, Justice Ginsburg always felt that the ruling in Roe vs. Wade should have been on equal protection and not due process.

But I think what is important is just that we should be talking about when we have got someone who is in front of the Senate sharing her judicial philosophy, sharing how she approaches cases, talking about what she thinks about well-established law, and Roe vs. Wade has been on the books for over 35 years. What is her view? What is her legal view about that case?

We need to know that. We should be way past the day of let's play hope for the best, you know?

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But for a lot of people looking at this, and, Jessica, I want to address this to you, it seems sort of impossible to think that the president would not nominate someone without knowing where she stands.

Why wouldn't he ask her that question as part of this process?

YELLIN: Well, look, they had a one-on-one meeting. It was private. And we don't know what was discussed.

When he says he didn't ask her about Roe v. Wade, that seems -- you know, that's believable. But there are other ways to ask where might you fall on this very issue by saying, do you believe in upholding precedent, previous cases, Roe vs. Wade?

HILL: Right.

YELLIN: Do you believe in privacy? There are ways to get at this issue without asking it explicitly. So, we don't know what the president actually knows.

MARTIN: About 10 seconds.

Nancy, real simple, are you going to push the White House on this issue? You have been dancing around this, let's be honest, saying, well, we should know it. Are you going to push this president on this issue?

NORTHRUP: We are certainly going to push the Senate, where it goes next, to make sure that they explore with this nominee where she stands on the important constitutional protections of Roe vs. Wade.


MARTIN: All right. Thanks a bunch, Nancy Northrup, president of the Center For Reproductive Rights. We certainly appreciate it.

NORTHRUP: Thank you.

MARTIN: Folks, you wouldn't think a memorial to victims of 9/11 would be controversial. But listen to this. The government wants to take hundreds of acres of privately-owned land to create a memorial near the Flight 93 crash site in Pennsylvania, and some homeowners are fighting back.


TIM LAMBERT, LANDOWNER: Eminent domain was sort of dropped on us at the last second here. And it feels like we never even had a chance to talk about some of the issues that we needed to address during negotiations.


MARTIN: So, how would you feel if it was your land the government wanted to take? We will have the story when we come back.


MARTIN: They're true American heroes. On September 11, 2001, the passengers and crew of Flight 93 fought back against the hijackers, giving their lives when the plane crashed in rural Pennsylvania, instead of hitting the hijackers' intended target in Washington, D.C.

Fittingly, the government plans to build a memorial on the crash site. But here's the problem. They are also planning to build a huge national park around it on land that already belongs to other people.

Here is how they will get the land. They will simply take it. And it's all perfectly legal.

Kate Bolduan is live in Washington with the story -- Kate.


Well, they are not fighting over just any land, as you mentioned. Some consider it sacred. Now, the government says it's simply run out of time, leaving landowners out of options.



JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: These are the first pictures we have in. This is from Somerset County, Pennsylvania.


BOLDUAN: Almost eight years later...

LAMBERT: We would find red and blue wire all over the place.

BOLDUAN: ... Tim Lambert is still finding debris from United Flight 93. The crash site is part of 160 acres he owns here in rural Pennsylvania.

LAMBERT: Our property line was -- those -- those trees bore the brunt of a lot of the explosion.

BOLDUAN: He and several other landowners are now in an emotional flight with the federal government over what some call sacred ground. It all comes down to something called eminent domain. While the government has the pay, it has the power to take private property for public use without an owner's consent.

LINDA MUSSER, LANDOWNER: We're country folks. We are all neighbors that don't care if the other neighbor is on their property. But I'm afraid the Park Service won't be that nice.

BOLDUAN: The land is needed to build a memorial to the 40 passengers and crew who died that fateful September day. LAMBERT: Eminent domain was sort of dropped on us at the last second here. And it feels like we never even had a chance to talk about some of the issues that we needed to address during negotiations.

BOLDUAN (on camera): The plan is to replace this temporary site with a permanent memorial to Flight 93. Those plans also call for an area covering 2,200 acres. To put that in perspective, that's some 1,700 football fields.

(voice-over): Randy and Linda Musser say they fear even three- quarters-of-a-mile away, their 62 acres of land are at risk sitting in the buffer zone surrounding the proposed design.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The concern for everybody that is in the park boundary is that -- is that now the government has the ability to say, well, here is what you can and can't do on your property. And if you don't agree with that, we are just going to take it.

BOLDUAN: With a 10-year anniversary deadline looming, the National Park Service says this is a last resort because property owners resisted the government's offers.

STEVE WHITESELL, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE: We have held off using it until we got here to really at the last, at the very last stage of this, where we have no other choice.

BOLDUAN: Flight 93 family members, like Patrick White, who lost his cousin Joey Nacke defend the government's move.

PATRICK WHITE, FAMILIES OF FLIGHT 93: No one's ever questioned that there's a public purpose to these lands. Their purpose became public the minute that those private citizens' lives and remains became part of those lands.

BOLDUAN: None of the landowners dispute that. They are struggling with how to put a price tag on heritage. Tim Lambert's land has been in the family since the Depression.

LAMBERT: People lost their lives here. And this is their final resting place. That is one thing I always keep in mind when I come here and I'm walking through these woods.

BOLDUAN: And that is one point the government, the families and the landowners all agree on.


MARTIN: Hey, Kate, is there a timeline for when we expect these filings to come down?

BOLDUAN: Well, Roland, soon. It could come as soon as tomorrow. These need to be filed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh.

The National Park Service in the letters they sent to some of the landowners said that they want the process going by the end of this month. But the Justice Department itself isn't working with any hard and fast deadlines. So, that very possibly could slip into next week.

MARTIN: So, why does all this seem so last-minute?

BOLDUAN: Well, it's funny. The National Park Service says they have been actively trying to negotiate these properties and these offers since 2003, but when it comes to the very crucial parcels of land that we are talking about, this memorial, they say they have been unsuccessful here.

If you talk to the landowners, though, like Tim Lambert, he says, you know what? They have -- he really hasn't even gotten a concrete offer for his land. Maybe a little he said/she said, but the big push, Roland, is getting the construction started and finished by the 10-year anniversary, and that is where the big push is coming from.

MARTIN: All right, Kate Bolduan, thanks a bunch. We appreciate it.


MARTIN: Our panel is back again, Erica Hill, Jessica Yellin, Lisa Bloom, and Steve Kornacki from "The New York Observer."

And joining us from Florida is Patrick White, vice president of Families of Flight 93. Now, we heard from him a moment ago in Kate's story.

Now, Patrick, I know there is a slight delay where you are. But we want to show a couple of maps here. The crash site in Shanksville was six acres. The planned memorial site is 2,200 acres.

Now, here is the map here of -- we are showing right now of the Pentagon. And that's -- this site here, where the -- where the plane struck the Pentagon, is about 6 percent of Washington, D.C., if you talk about 2,200 acres.

If we go to the map here of ground zero in Manhattan, same site, Lower Manhattan, it could take up 15 percent of Manhattan.

So, I have got to ask you, why does this memorial have to be this large?

WHITE: Well, I think the simple answer to your question certainly is that, in comparison to the metro D.C. and New York City areas, which are highly urbanized, this is rural land.

It's land that previously was strip-mined in coal production and deep mines as well. But the real reason has more to do with being able to stay off the local roads. There is a haul road from the coal companies that comes in off the only major highway, US-30, the Lincoln Highway. And that will be used for access from that highway into the approximately more than a mile distant actual impact site, where a visitors center and the sacred ground will be located.

(CROSSTALK) MARTIN: Hey, Patrick, I understand the point that you make about being a highly urban area. But the reality is, look, I'm from Texas, and you can say rural land is also more important to people because it's their land.

But I have got to ask you this question. If you own land in this area, how would you feel if the government came in and said, we are taking this land because we want to build this 2,200-acre national park, if it was your land?

WHITE: Well, in fact, it's only 1,500 acres that will ever be anything built on. So, the 2,200-acre figure has something to do with a series of viewshed or buffer easements around the core resource.

That issue aside, how I feel, I think I understand fairly well how those landowners feel. I have talked with them. I have had dinner with some. I have stayed at their places overnight. So, we have a history of a positive working relationship.

I can't tell you I know exactly how they feel, nor do I believe they know exactly how the family members feel who lost their loved ones. But we need to come to some conclusion on the matter. And I think that's what happened is, the federal government, using its constitutional and statutory power, is doing the best it can to find a point where the value of those lands can be honestly determined.

HILL: Patrick, if it does turn out this -- this agreement that comes to pass may not be as large as -- as the 2,200 or even 1,500 acres, is there is a part of this memorial that -- that is the most important to you, one thing that you would absolutely hold on to, to make sure your cousin Joey and those others who were lost on September 11 on Flight 93 are remembered properly?

WHITE: It is these very lands.

In fact, there's approximately 20 acres with four landowners that are really the subject of the condemnation actions that I think we are talking about here today. So, some of the figures are a -- a little overstated. But I think the issues are nonetheless that important.

And when families have holdings of land in generations after generation, it's fair to say that there is an expectation and a value assigned to those lands that perhaps money does not adequately compensate them for. But it's fair to say also that we have tried working with them every step of the way, both the families and on other properties, the National Park Service, as well.

KORNACKI: Patrick, if I could ask you, though, about the process, because there are some stories here. For instance, there is a man who is a Lutheran minister, and he has a cottage, a little cottage where he and his wife wanted to retire. That cottage is going to be taken away.

He has indicated he was willing to have that happen, but what upsets him is, he was never consulted, he says. He never talked to. All this talk from the government, from the Park Service about, we were consulted, he says that didn't happen.

Can you understand -- would you say the process has been fair? I know you have a difference on the outcome, but would you say the process has been fair to these people?

MARTIN: Patrick, about 20 seconds. Your response, please.

WHITE: Well, we -- we have an arrangement under a letter of intent with the National Park Service to acquire certain properties. And Reverend Hoover's is one of them.

And we have been in active dialogue and discussion with him and his attorney and have met a number of times to talk about it. The hard part here is, we have never really received anyone telling us what they would sell their property for. So, it's been a bit challenging, to say the least.


WHITE: But I'm sure we will be able to get it done.

MARTIN: Patrick White, vice president of families of Flight 93, we certainly appreciate it. Thanks a lot.

WHITE: Thank you for having me.

MARTIN: The police call it a tragedy, but a mother in Michigan has another word for it.


RENEA MITCHELL, MOTHER: Murder. It's murder. Why did they use a Taser on a kid that hadn't did anything?


MARTIN: How so-called non-lethal force led to a deadly encounter -- coming up.


MARTIN: Ah, a little Jamie Foxx there, "Blame It."

All right, Lisa likes that.

Folks, plenty of people struggle with their faith, but perhaps no one more publicly than Father Alberto Cutie. He is the hugely popular TV priest seen in tabloid pictures bare-chested, embracing a woman on the beach, when he's supposed to be celibate.

Now Father Cutie is leaving the Catholic Church to become an Episcopal priest. If only you could see the faces of Erica and Jessica right now.



HILL: The photos keeps shocking, even a second and third time around.

MARTIN: Yes. Yes. Oh my...


MARTIN: Of course he announced today this whole issue in terms of him leaving the church. And guess what? The woman in those pictures was at his side.


REV. ALBERTO CUTIE, JOINING EPISCOPAL CHURCH: My personal struggle should in no way tarnish the many faithful brother priests who are celibate and are faithful to the commitment that they made.


MARTIN: More of that a little bit later. The panel, of course, both of you were like, oh, my God. Look at those pictures. Go ahead and put the pictures up again, so they can see them.


MARTIN: See, now they're speechless.


MARTIN: The photos are going to leave you speechless.

All right, folks...

HILL: We are saving it for later.

MARTIN: Absolutely.

All right, folks, again, we will do that story in a moment. See you in a bit.


MARTIN: Over the last seven years in the U.S., Amnesty International has documented at least 350 death by Taser, the supposedly non-lethal electric shock weapon used by law enforcement around the world.

We are taking a closer look at one of those deaths tonight, a 16- year-old learning-disabled boy Tasered last month after running from police in suburban Detroit. The cops say it was justified. The boy's family says it was murder.

CNN's Special Investigations Unit has been digging into the case.

And Abbie Boudreau joins us with the disturbing report. So, Abbie, exactly what in the heck happened?

ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT: Well, it depends who you ask, Roland.

The police commissioner has his version. The family has a much different story. But the one thing we know for sure is that we have a 16-year-old boy who died after being Tasered by police. And now, once again, the use of Tasers is being called into question.


BOUDREAU: So, this is -- this is where it happened.

(voice-over): What happened inside this house has changed Renea Mitchell's life forever.

RENEA MITCHELL, MOTHER: I'm actually still in shock. I'm still in shock, just to know he's not coming home. To do what they done, they killed someone. They had no reason to Tase him.

BOUDREAU: This is where Robert Mitchell spent the final moments of his short life. The 16-year-old died after police in this Detroit suburb shot him once with a Taser gun, giving him a 50,000-volt shock of electricity.

Mitchell was chased here as he ran from several policemen after a traffic stop. Renea Mitchell is Robert's mother.

MITCHELL: Why would you want to electrocute anybody's kid? Those things shouldn't be used on people's kids.

BOUDREAU: Last month, Robert Mitchell was riding in a car here on Detroit's Eight Mile Road, immortalized by rapper Eminem. The car Mitchell was riding in was driven by his cousin Chris Davis.

But the car they were in had an expired license plate. Police came up behind them, turned on their flashing lights, and began to pull them over. Before the car even stopped, Mitchell jumped out and ran.

CHRIS DAVIS, COUSIN: He jumped out and started running. I told him not to, but he was real scared. He was petrified. He hopped out the car and started running.

BOUDREAU: Mitchell wasn't wanted for any crime and had no criminal record, but he did have a learning disability. And his mother believes he ran because he was afraid of police.

Officers ran after Mitchell for nearly two blocks, ending up on this street, where Mitchell ran into this abandoned house. Police say, there, inside, Mitchell resisted arrest.

WILLIAM DWYER, WARREN POLICE COMMISSIONER: Once he entered the vacant home, then they had to finally make a decision because of resisting arrest. They used their Taser. BOUDREAU (on camera): The police officers would not have used the Taser if he wasn't resisting arrest?

DWYER: Absolutely. I mean, if he would have -- they ordered him several times, you know, that he was, you know, not to resist, and he continued to resist.

BOUDREAU: But this kid was a smaller kid, 5'2'', 110, 115 pounds. Why couldn't they just overpower him? He was a small teenage boy, no weapon on him.

DWYER: Well, you know, the public sometimes doesn't understand that officers make split-second decisions. They don't have time to group up and say, well, here is the strategy we are going to use in this particular case.

BOUDREAU (voice-over): Police consider Tasers a non-lethal use of force, though Amnesty International recently reported that more than 350 people have been killed by Tasers since 2001 in the U.S. That now includes Robert Mitchell.

His mother is still trying to make sense out of her son's death.

MITCHELL: Shooting a kid with a Taser is not an accident, because Tasers don't have their own brain. The trigger cannot move unless somebody pull it.

BOUDREAU (on camera): So, what would you call this?

MITCHELL: Murder. It's murder. Why did they use a Taser on a kid that hadn't did anything? Why?

BOUDREAU (voice-over): Robert Mitchell was buried a week after his death. The Mitchell family is now suing the Warren police force and also the city of Warren. An investigation by the police internal affairs department determined the use of the Taser was justified. And the officers involved are now back at work.

MITCHELL: My son is in heaven. I'm mad now. Ain't no time to be crying and faking the (INAUDIBLE). I'm mad. Something needs to be done and somebody needs to take care of them. They shouldn't be working right now.

They can kill somebody's kid. And not anybody's kid. They killed my kid.


BOUDREAU: The mayor of Warren is now looking into Mitchell's death and questioning how and when tasers should be used. The police commissioner emphasized many, many times that this death is a tragedy. And he feels, he tells us that he feels badly about this whole situation, of course.

Robert Mitchell is actually the third U.S. teen in the past several months to die after being tasered by police. We're still waiting on the medical examiner's report to find out Mitchell's official cause of death -- Roland.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN ANCHOR: Abbie, when you talked to the police commissioner, he said he believed this story could have had a different outcome. How?

BOUDREAU: Yes, he did say that. He said if the boy didn't run, none of this really would have happened. There would have been no reason for police to chase him into that house and whatever happened in that house would never have happened. This young boy would be alive today.

But what was interesting was I talked to the mom and she said about a week before this actually happened, that she and her son were watching TV and there was some sort of police show and the son actually said to his mom, if I was ever approached by police officers, I would run.

And the mom said, do not run. That's the last thing you need to do. You've done nothing wrong. You've never been in any sort of trouble, don't run. And he ran. And she said, you know, the reason he ran was that she feels as though he was scared. And there's a lot of kids, she says, that are scared in that neighborhood of police officers in that area.

LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR OF TRUTV'S "IN SESSION": Yes. And, Abbie, the taser issue is clearly very disturbing, but it seems to me you're putting your finger on the root problem here.

This is a law-abiding kid with a deep fear of police. There are many communities that have a deep fear of law enforcement. What's being done in that community to address that underlying problem?

BOUDREAU: You know, we talked to the police commissioner about this. And I said, you know, the mom says that this child was afraid. He said we haven't heard about that problem here.

So it's so hard, and we also talked to the mayor. He said, I'm not sure what you're talking about. So, you know, it's really hard to know what's being done about it when only some people are acknowledging whether or not this really is a problem.

We talked to many people in that area. A lot of the young people we talked to did have this sort of fear. Now, a lot of those people had something to do with this situation so that might tell you something. Of course, we didn't talk to everybody. The police say they don't -- they just don't know exactly what we're talking about.

MARTIN: Abbie Boudreau, we certainly appreciate it. Thanks a lot.

BOUDREAU: Thank you.

MARTIN: Folks, check this out. Levi is back. Levi Johnston, the father of Governor Sarah Palin's first grandchild is on the cover of "GQ" magazine posing in full hunting gear with a shotgun on his shoulder. Oh, yes, we'll chat about it later.


MARTIN: Jessica, she likes Maxwell.

A quick programming note, Campbell Brown is coming back on Monday. She will be right back here in this time slot. And, of course, she's ready to go. So I hope you'll be watching.

What song is that? I couldn't make that song out.

BLOOM: No one knows.

MARTIN: OK, I'm just checking.

All right. Right now, Erica Hill here with "The Briefing."

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have some late developments for you on the situation in North Korea. Senior administration officials tell CNN a high-level U.S. delegation is headed to Asia to consult with America's allies on a response to this week's nuclear test and short-range missile launches. Now U.S. and South Korean military forces are now on high alert in the region.

Five people are dead, dozens of homes destroyed after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Honduras early this morning. Half an hour later, a 4.8 magnitude aftershock caused damage. It's also been reported in Belize.

With General Motors steering toward bankruptcy, a new deal for major bondholders today. They agreed to accept 10 percent of the company and the rights to buy another 15 percent at a low price, and in return the bondholders agree not to fight the government's plans to restructure GM.

American journalist Roxana Saberi is talking about her four- months in an Iranian prison talking today to NPR News.


ROXANA SABERI, AMERICAN JOURNALIST IMPRISONED IN IRAN (via telephone): The first two days I was interrogated for several hours from morning until evening, blindfolded, facing a wall by up to four men and threatened, as I said, that I would be put in prison for 10 to 20 years or more, or even face execution.


HILL: And Saberi also says she falsely confessed to being a spy out of fear her family would otherwise never find out what happened to her.

And it turns out the pressure of sudden fame just might be getting to YouTube singing sensation Susan Boyle. The finalist for "Britain's Got Talent" had a little meltdown in a London hotel dropping a few F-bombs (ph) as she cursed out some guests, even some cops before (INAUDIBLE). Her spokesperson claims Boyle lost her cool when a couple of journalists harassed her.


BLOOM: Say it isn't so (ph).

HILL: I know.


BLOOM: Journalists, sometimes they're asking for it. They are tough.

HILL: The finals are Saturday, though. The finals are Saturday.

There's so much more information than I ever needed.

MARTIN: That's a real woman.

HILL: Anyway, the finals is Saturday. I hope it doesn't hurt her.

MARTIN: All right, folks, that's a real woman. I'm sorry. Go, Susan.

All right, folks, the foreclosure crisis is a nightmare for some people, but for others it's a dream come true. Just ahead, the positive side of the story and this is something you probably never thought about.


MARTIN: All right, folks, now, "Money and Main Street," our look at how the economic headlines are affecting every day Americans. Tonight's story hits very close to home literally. It's all about what foreclosures are doing to homeowners in this country.

Right now, 12 percent of homeowners are currently behind on their mortgage payments or in foreclosure. But the nightmare of a foreclosed home has turned into one family's American dream. Our own Susan Candiotti found one New Yorker who came up a winner in a foreclosure auction. Now, he and his family are moving into their dream home.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's moving day and Victor Guavares could hardly believe it. He finally is a homeowner and what a journey.

CNN was there last March when Guavares, after saving and renting for 12 years, sweated it out at a New York foreclosure auction, hoping to gain on someone else's pain. Amid ear-splitting auctioneers, he nervously battled other bidders to snatch his bargain-basement home that last sold for more than $500,000 last fall. It sold for $230,000, but that was just the start. He had to plunk down five grand just to bid and another $7,000 cash in fees to go to the next step.

In April before Guavares could get a mortgage, an inspector first had to certify the house was up to code. It passed. Few weeks later, it's closing date. Guavares officially owns a home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's gratifying for us to help you.


CANDIOTTI (on camera): This is the new place, huh?

(voice-over): After some fever-pitched renovation including new floors and much more.

GUAVARES: We opened this up, and I got a new banister and a new post.

CANDIOTTI: Victor Guavares moved his family into their new home.

GUAVARES: What I had to do when I moved in was make it my own. And that's what we did.

CANDIOTTI: It's a work in progress. So far, they spent $20,000 fixing it up. But Guavares says he's still coming out ahead.

GUAVARES: I got a good deal on the house. I got a great deal on the house. My mortgage is $300 less than what I paid rent.


CANDIOTTI: 8-year-old son Devon now has his own room with a window overlooking his backyard and no downstairs neighbors.

D. GUAVARES: I'd say this is my house.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): This is my house.

That made you feel, what?

D. GUAVARES: Strong.


GUAVARES: The last three months has been an incredible ride.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): But buying a foreclosed home at auction takes preparation.

GUAVARES: So definitely research the property that you're into. Be prepared to dole out a buyer's premium and bring earplugs.

CANDIOTTI: Yes, earplugs. The family already is planning backyard barbecues. (on camera): What are you going to have?

GUAVARES: Hot dogs, Italian sausages, hamburgers, steaks.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): And a lifetime of memories.

GUAVARES: I don't look at it like it's my home. It's their home. It's for them.

CANDIOTTI: Their future.

GUAVARES: Their future.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): For one Queens family, a new adventure owning its first home. For a neighborhood, perhaps a sign of better things to come in an area still smarting from a high number of foreclosures.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Queens, New York.


MARTIN: Folks, remember you can see a new "Money and Main Street" report right here every Thursday night. And we're on top of the other big economic story, the rise and fall of the American auto industry. Don't miss "How the Wheels Came Off" with Ali Velshi and Christine Romans tomorrow night at 8:00 Eastern.

And Governor Sarah Palin may have hoped she's seen the last of Levi Johnston. She's like, young man go away.

Well, Bristol Palin's former fiance and our baby daddy is back in the picture. We've got the story in tonight's "Political Daily Briefing."


HILL: You were a head banger (INAUDIBLE) back in the day.

MARTIN: Oh, no, no, no. Trust me, brought it to (INAUDIBLE) I'm sorry.

All right.


MARTIN: I only have (INAUDIBLE) and Michael Jackson.

All right. Time now for our "Political Daily Briefing." Jessica Yellin tops the "PDB" with a historic and dramatic meeting at the White House today -- Jessica.

YELLIN: That's right, Roland. President Obama has strong words for Israel today during an Oval Office meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Take a listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm confident that if Israel looks long term, looks at its long-term strategic interests, that it will recognize that a two-state solution is in the interest of the Israeli people, as well as the Palestinians.


YELLIN: A pointed remark given that you'll remember President Obama met last week with Israel's prime minister who refused to publicly support a two-state solution. Of course, the Middle East will remain at the top of the president's agenda. Next week, he's off to Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Former President Bush is coming out of hiding. Actually, right now, he's speaking to an economic club in Michigan. And then tomorrow, he will have a joint appearance in Toronto with, get this, former President Bill Clinton. You know, despite their policy differences, the two men do get along well.

We are not expecting President Bush to deliver the same kinds of fiery attacks we've been hearing from former Vice President Cheney. Bush has said that President Obama deserves his silence. Let's see if he continues to feel that way.

And here's the story we've all been waiting for. The Palin family drama continues. Bristol's baby daddy speaks yet again. Levi Johnston --

MARTIN: Is he hot? Is he hot?

YELLIN: No comment. He is illegal.

BLOOM: He's 18, for God's sake.

YELLIN: Levi Johnston is not just talking to "GQ." He is posing for them as well. Not really sure how to describe this, but he says will move on. He is holding his beautiful son Tripp who is now five months. And dad Levi is spilling the beans on what he sees when he visits the Palin house.

He says, "just go in over there and Todd and Sarah sitting there staring at me just doesn't do it for me. Todd never says anything, really. Sarah, I don't know. She's a politician. She knows how to throw in a fake smile and look happy."

HILL: Ouch.


YELLIN: That's a quote. Levi also is saying he and Bristol are still in love.

HILL: Did anybody tell Bristol?

YELLIN: This is just the story that never ends. And I don't think this is the end.

MARTIN: I'm really not waiting for that issue to come out. All right.

HILL: We can put an end to it if we wanted.

MARTIN: All right, folks, coming at the top of the hour, Larry King talks with music legend Lionel Richie and his famous daughter Nicole. It's their first interview together in six years only on "LARRY KING LIVE."

All right. The Catholic priest who was caught in a Miami Beach romance now says he's jumping ship to become an Episcopalian. Check him out.


REV. ALBERTO CUTIE, JOINING EPISCOPAL CHURCH: Those who would only understand that I would never want to hurt anyone deliberately, especially my family, my friends, and the church community.



MARTIN: All right. (INAUDIBLE) iPod tune.

There's news tonight in the story of the celebrity priest caught in a compromising position with a woman. The pictures were splashed all over a Spanish language magazine earlier this month. Today, Father Alberto Cutie announced he will marry the woman and they both left the Roman Catholic church to join the Episcopal church. Listen to this from Father Cutie's news conference this afternoon.


REV. ALBERTO CUTIE, JOINING EPISCOPAL CHURCH: I will always love and hold dear the Roman Catholic Church and all its members who are committed to their faith and have enriched my life.

I have decided to become part of this new spiritual family, the Episcopal church, one within many in the umbrella of Christianity. As I have been saying and writing for years from my work and communications, instead of focusing on our differences, let's work together so that all may come to believe in a loving and good God, even in the midst of this changing world.


MARTIN: So love does conquer all, but it's not exactly happily ever after for the Roman Catholic Church.

Erica, Jessica, Lisa and Steve are back along with the Reverend Jim Martin, a Catholic priest and culture editor of America magazine "The National Catholic Weekly."

All right, Reverend Martin, first off, your thoughts on today's events, Father Cutie leaving the church?

REV. JIM MARTIN, CATHOLIC PRIEST: Well, I mean, it's a tragedy for the Catholic Church. We lose a really articulate spokesperson. I mean, I wish him well. You know, he couldn't live his vow of celibacy. And, you know, I hope it goes well for him, but it is a loss for the Catholic Church.

STEVE KORNACKI, COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK OBSERVER": Can I ask you, it seems to me there's sort of a double standard here. And correct me if I'm wrong on this, but the Catholic Church starting with the Second Vatican Council which allowed married eastern Orthodox priests into the church and then in the '80s, '90s and this decade has allowed married Anglican, Episcopalian and Lutheran ministers into the church.

J. MARTIN: Right.

KORNACKI: It allowed them to keep their marriages.


KORNACKI: So if this were happening the other way around, it would be OK.

J. MARTIN: Yes, it would be. I mean, the idea is when people are already married as you were saying since the Second Vatican Council meet, eastern right (ph) Lutheran churches, we don't want them to get divorced. So when they join the church as priests, they keep their wives basically.


J. MARTIN: It's very --

KORNACKI: We say they can be close to God, but Reverend Cutie, Father Cutie can't be?

J. MARTIN: No, no. The church isn't saying -- the church isn't saying that, you know, celibacy is their tradition. It's been their tradition for a thousand years. And, I mean, it's a rule now and I don't think it's going to be changing. But I think the idea is that people who are already married, you don't want them to break up their marriages.

BLOOM: Father Jim, then, to the bigger issue because most other religions do allow clergy to marry and have relationships.

J. MARTIN: Right. Right.

BLOOM: Is there any possibility of the church changing in light of what happened here? And what seems to continue to happen really a drain of people entering the priesthood.

J. MARTIN: Yes. I mean, I think that's the better question. You know, what happens when you have parishes without priests? I mean, that's the bigger question.

I don't think Father Cutie is going to influence what the Vatican thinks.

BLOOM: He's just one person.

J. MARTIN: Right, right. But I mean, I know bishops are talking about it. I don't think that's going to happen any time soon, but it is something that's on the table. People are discussing it. Cardinal Egan brought it up of New York right before he left his archbishop post in New York.

HILL: You mentioned, too, that obviously Father Cutie is one person. But as you said, it is a loss for the Catholic Church.

J. MARTIN: Right.

HILL: He has a huge following in south Florida.

J. MARTIN: Right.

HILL: But I found it interesting, the archdiocese of Miami came out earlier today and said this is a "setback for ecumenical relations between us." Meaning, the Episcopal church and the Catholic Church, that doesn't seem like for lack of a better term a very Christian thing to say.

J. MARTIN: Well, I mean, I guess they're disappointed and I guess they see the person. It would be like if someone left the show for another show, that would be so unnatural. I mean, God forbid, right? God forbid, right.

MARTIN: I would say, hey.

BLOOM: Now I understand what you're saying.

J. MARTIN: But I think it's natural for people to be disappointed. But I think, you know, most Catholics wish him well. I think what's going to be interesting to see is if the parishioners follow him to the new church. That's going to be very interesting.

HILL: A lot of people wondering about that. Would that be harmful to the Catholic Church any way, do you think?

J. MARTIN: Well, I mean, any time that someone leaves the faith of the church you're disappointed. But, you know, people have to follow their own lives. And I don't know what the parishioners are going to do. I would think most of them are going to stay because they're, you know, they're life-long Catholics, not because of Father Cutie, but who knows?

KORNACKI: The -- just quickly I guess the roots of the celibacy, you know, sort of rules of the Catholic Church...

J. MARTIN: Right.

KORNACKI: It's justified now by saying people have to be close to God. The relationship should be one-on-one with God. But as I understand it, historically, the roots of this are much more earthly than that.

J. MARTIN: Yes. The justification is a little different. The justification is the tradition has always been for the last thousand years. I mean, as you point out, the first thousand years people like St. Peter were married, right? And we had married priests. But it's not only a question of initially property in the Middle Ages, but it's also really trying to follow Jesus. I mean, the idea is that Jesus was celibate, you know, for better or worse and we try to follow him by living that way.

BLOOM: Isn't it difficult to live entirely celibate all of your life?

J. MARTIN: Yes, it is, you know, at times. But, you know, I look at it also as, you know, a great deal of freedom. It's not just a negative, it's really a positive. You're freed up for service. You can spend more time with people. You know, it's right for some people, but not for everybody. I think that's what's to keep in mind.

MARTIN: Folks, hold tight one second. The show doesn't end here. When we come back, I want to talk about what's next for Father Cutie. What will be his life like with his new church?


MARTIN: All right, folks, we're talking about Father Alberto Cutie, the Roman Catholic priest caught snuggling with a woman on a beach and who's now become an Episcopalian priest.

All right, panel, so it's pretty interesting in terms him making this move.

Father, you brought about folks leaving the church. So you don't think it's really going to happen, though?

J. MARTIN: I doubt. I mean, the Catholics in his parish have been Catholics their whole life. I don't think they're going to leave for him. But, you know, he's pretty charismatic so I'm curious how tempting it will be for people to follow him to the Episcopal church.

YELLIN: We know it's a good day for the one woman, the fiancee. We learned her name today, Ruhama Buni Canellis. She's 35 years old and I guess she got her man.

MARTIN: All right.

HILL: And she was there today, as well.

MARTIN: Absolutely. We'll be watching the story.

Hey, folks, look, this is the end of our run here. Of course, Campbell Brown, she comes back on Monday. So looking forward to it.

I want to thank, of course, all the folks. We've got a lot of great staffers. Of course, our wild and crazy crew who have done a great job. Give them a shout out. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

And, of course, Ali Velshi, Christine Romans have got the show -- Lisa, the show tomorrow night.


MARTIN: "How the Wheels Fell Off." Or come on --

BLOOM: Yes, yes.

HILL: "How the Wheels Feels Off."

BLOOM: There it is.

HILL: "How the Wheels Fell Off."

YELLIN: And, Roland, we want to thank you.

BLOOM: "How the Wheels Fell Off"

YELLIN: Roland, thank you. It's been a pleasure working for you.

HILL: And honored.

YELLIN: We are wearing an ascot...

HILL: And a pocket square (ph).

YELLIN: A pocket square (ph) in your honor.

MARTIN: Oh, the pocket squares.

HILL: He comes in for a meeting in an ascot.


MARTIN: I'm not willing to dress. I'm a brother who likes to look nice.

BLOOM: You bring it sartorially every day, Roland Martin.

MARTIN: All right, folks, coming up next, "LARRY KING LIVE" talks to Lionel Richie and his daughter Nicole. Their first interview together in six years.

What do we say, folks?

ALL: Holla.