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Murder of Yale Student Still a Mystery; Congress Considers Sanctioning Rep. Wilson; Patrick Swayze Dies; Fight Over Afghan Troop Levels; Mayor Cory Booker and Actor Forest Whitaker Release Documentary About Newark; Kennedy's Memoirs to Be Published; New York Considers Ban on Outside Smoking
Aired September 15, 2009 - 07:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And that brings us around to the top of the hour. Thanks for joining us on this Tuesday, the 15th of September. I'm John Roberts.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kiran Chetry. Here's what's on the agenda this morning. The big stories we'll be breaking down for you in the next 15 minutes.
Students at Yale University on alert this morning. Police say that the body found hidden inside of a medical research lab building is that of missing grad student Annie Le. Now the search is on for new clues, a suspect, and a motive.
ROBERTS: He shouted "You lie" to President Obama during his health care speech last week and in a few hours, the House will vote on whether or not to sanction Congressman Joe Wilson. Is a sanction measure likely to pass? And what could that mean for the South Carolina Republican? We're live from Capitol Hill, coming right up.
CHETRY: Also, President Obama's strategy for the war in Afghanistan, growing more complicated. A powerful voice in the president's own party, Senator Russ Feingold, is against sending more troops there. In a moment, we're going to be talking with the senator about why he's against the idea and what other options there are for America.
First, though, police at Yale University moving quickly to calm fears on campus after missing grad student Annie Le's body was found stuffed inside the wall of a campus building. Police say the killer - the killing was not a random crime. So who killed Annie Le and why?
Our Mary Snow is live in New Haven, Connecticut. Mary, are you learning anything new this morning from investigators on what they're finding?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are being very tight lipped this morning, Kiran, but all signs are indicating that police are narrowing in on a suspect, but, officially, a spokesman only saying that a suspect is not in custody yet. This, of course, as you mentioned, there's been fear on this campus. And students here at Yale are remembering a student they really didn't know in life, but they're mourning her death.
NATALIE POWERS, ANNIE LE'S FORMER ROOMMATE: She was always kind, generous, honest, and -- oh, caring, and the list just keeps going.
SNOW (voice-over): Natalie Powers speaking out for the first time about her roommate, Annie Le. Yale students held a vigil just hours after authorities confirmed their worst fears. The body found Sunday lodged inside a basement wall at a Yale research facility was Le, a 24-year-old Ph.D. student who stood at 4'11" and weighed 90 pounds.
POWERS: And she was tougher than you'd think by just looking at her. That this horrible tragedy happened at all is incomprehensible, but that it happened to her, I think, is infinitely more so.
SNOW: As one professor put it, there's the sense there's a murderer among us, and Yale's president tried to assure students.
RICHARD LEVIN, YALE UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT: We're doing all we can to ensure your security across the campus.
SNOW: The president of Yale said there were a limited number of people in the basement that day and they were known to authorities. To get inside the building, students tell us, I.D.s like this need to be swiped.
SUMAYYA AHMAD, YALE MEDICAL SCHOOL STUDENT: Obviously, this person probably had access to the building. So, it makes you very wary of people that you're around and work with.
SNOW: But Annie Le herself wrote an article for a university magazine in February on how not to become a crime statistic in New Haven. Adding to the anxiety on campus, Yale officials say the building where Le's body was found is a newer one and had top-notch security. More than 70 cameras were trained on the building and its surroundings. Officials also say they have images of her as she walked several blocks from another building to the lab where she was killed.
But a Yale official says there were no cameras in the area where her body was found, and that has shaken some fellow graduate students.
YAN HUA, YALE RESEARCH SCIENTIST: I think most of us work very hard here. We work at night and also the weekends, also. So there are not too many people around.
SNOW: And, Kiran, what students say is, especially frightening is the fact that access is really restricted to the area where Annie Le's body was found. And trying to calm the anxiety here yesterday, the president of Yale told students that there was -- in his words -- an abundance of evidence, and he said that he was confident that the culprit would be arrested, but he did not provide a timetable -- Kiran?
CHETRY: All right. Maybe we'll find out a little more about this today. Mary Snow for us this morning -- thank you.
ROBERTS: Also developing this morning, a terror investigation under way in New York City. FBI agents and New York City police launched a series of raids early Monday morning. They were tracking a man who had traveled from the Midwest to New York City; the dramatic action coming just hours before President Obama's visit.
But New York Senator Chuck Schumer said there was nothing imminent in terms of an attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: One, there were some rumors that the terrorist act was imminent. That is not true. Second, there was some speculation that the raids were related to President Obama's visit to New York, because they occurred at the same time. That is not true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: FBI agents did confiscate a few boxes. Several people were also questioned, but they were later released.
To a developing story now on Capitol Hill -- in just a few hour's time, the House will vote on a so-called resolution of disapproval for South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson. The reason -- you might remember this from last week...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are also those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms -- the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.
REP. JOE WILSON (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You lie!
OBAMA: It's not true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Let's bring in our congressional correspondent, Brianna Keilar, now.
Brianna, we're keeping an eye on this one today, because it just might get contentious.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we're really expecting, John, before the House votes on this resolution of disapproval, Republicans and Democrats will have a chance to say their piece, and we're really expecting this to be a partisan showdown.
KEILAR (voice-over): Congressman Joe Wilson on the House floor Monday.
WILSON: Mr. Speaker, during the August recess, I was honored to host the largest congressional town halls in the history of South Carolina.
KEILAR: It wasn't what Democrats wanted to hear. They want Wilson to apologize for shouting "You lie!" as President Obama addressed Congress last week.
OBAMA: The reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.
WILSON: You lie!
OBAMA: It's not true.
KEILAR: Wilson said Sunday, he's done saying sorry.
WILSON: I called immediately, I did apologize, but I believe one apology is sufficient.
KEILAR: Now, Democratic leaders want to slap him on the wrists. One leadership aide saying, "Failure to respond would mean consent for that kind of conduct. In the absence of an apology, the House must act to admonish his behavior."
The typically reserved southerner has become a hero of sorts to those who oppose the Democrat's health care plan. A campaign aide says Wilson has raked in at least $1 million for his re-election. Cameras caught him signing the infamous photo of his outburst, and tea party protesters cheered him on.
WILLIAM GREENE, RIGHTMARCH.COM: I thank God for Congressman Wilson that had the courage to say "You lie!"
KEILAR: Fellow Republicans are circulating a letter in support of Wilson and defending him on the House floor.
REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: So I stand with Joe Wilson. Let's get on with the business of this House. Let's start running this country instead of doing cheap political points.
KEILAR: House Democratic leaders met last night, decided to have this vote today, though we're not expecting it to be until the afternoon. First thing, Democrats are going to be talking with their entire caucus in the House before they go ahead for this vote.
And, John, we know that each side is expected to have 30 minutes of debate. We're still waiting to see exactly who, which individual members are going to have that opportunity to say their piece.
ROBERTS: I'm sure that that debate will be pretty fascinating to watch.
KEILAR: It will be.
ROBERTS: Brianna Keilar for us -- thanks, Brianna. Appreciate it.
CHETRY: Well, rapper Kanye West admitting to Jay Leno what much of America already knew that his outburst at the MTV Video Music Awards show during Taylor Swift's acceptance speech was a big mistake.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KANYE WEST, RAPPER: My entire life, I've only wanted to give and do something that I felt was right, and I immediately knew in this situation that it was wrong, and it wasn't a spectacle or just -- you know, it's actually someone's emotions, you know, that I stepped on, and it was very -- it was just -- it was rude, period. And, you know, I would like to able to apologize to her in person and, you know, I'm going to.
JAY LENO, TV HOST: So, when did you know you were wrong? Was it afterwards, as you were doing it? When did it strike you, uh-oh?
WEST: Like, as soon as I gave the mic back to her and then she didn't keep going.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: All right. Well, there you go. He's scratching his head -- a lot of people are, too, actually. He's had a string of outbursts in the past. He told Leno, though, that he thinks he needs to take some time off to analyze how he's going to improve.
ROBERTS: Well, you think that he would know it was wrong the second he got out of his seat and said, I think I'll go up there and I'll take the microphone from her and...
CHETRY: Yes. Well, he's paying for it. You know, he's been just slammed on all the blogs and pretty much everything else.
But moving on. Some sad news yesterday. Word that Patrick Swayze lost his battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 57. We're going to take a look back at his life, what kind of person he was behind the movie roles, and also, some of his most memorable roles on the silver screen.
Nine and a half minutes past the hour.
CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." It's 12 minutes now past the hour.
The tributes are pouring in for actor Patrick Swayze, who lost his two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was known for his smooth moves in "Dirty Dancing." That really shot him to fame. But behind the scenes, Patrick Swayze had another passion.
ROBERTS: As flowers were laid on his Hollywood Walk of Fame star last night, our Anderson Cooper looks behind the dancing superstar to the real man.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is the way many of us first came to know Patrick Swayze. The year was 1987. The film was "Dirty Dancing."
Swayze played dance instructor Johnny Castle. His moves captured America's attention. Dancing is something that Swayze said was always part of who he was.
PATRICK SWAYZE, ACTOR: My mother's a choreographer, so I sort of had no choice in it. I came out of the womb dancing.
COOPER: His dancing may have been dirty, but the movie made him a star. Swayze even composed and sang a hit song from the film.
COOPER: He'd already appeared in a dozen films before "Dirty Dancing," movies like "Red Dawn" and Francis Ford Coppola's "The Outsiders."
COOPER: "Dirty Dancing," however, made him a household name. He later felt he was too associated with the film.
SWAYZE: There was a period -- it was like, God, am I ever going to get out of this dance dude thing. That's the reason -- that's part of the reason why I've gone off and done so many different, you know, types of characters.
COOPER: Among those characters were brawlers in "Road House" and "Next of Kin"; the thrill-seeking bank robber in "Point Break"; and a drag queen in "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar."
Swayze hit it big again in 1990 romantic thriller "Ghost."
COOPER: He played a murder victim whose ghost returns, a part that showcased his ability to play masculine characters with a sensitive side.
By the late 1990s, Swayze was getting fewer blockbuster roles. He began to spend more time on his horse ranch in southern California.
SWAYZE: My animals really tell me whether I'm buying the hype or not, or whether I'm really 100 percent myself.
COOPER: He also continued to dance, making a film on the subject with his wife.
In March 2008, the world learned that Patrick Swayze was ill, suffering from pancreatic cancer. A year before his diagnosis, he struck a philosophical note as he reflected on his journey through Hollywood.
SWAYZE: You know, a career goes up. I think I'm on the fifth refocusing of Patrick Swayze's career. You know, it's like -- the part of the ride and the growth is the up and down. It can be just as hard to live through the ups as it can be to live through the downs.
COOPER: Patrick Swayze lived a life of ups and downs, onscreen and off. He died at the age of 57.
Anderson Cooper, CNN, New York.
CHETRY: It's really sad. He wanted to live long enough for them to find a cure for pancreatic cancer.
ROBERTS: It is. You know, and the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, it's just -- it's so terrible, because I think that after five years, 95 percent of people do not survive. So, the odds certainly were stacked against him. A terrible shame, he's such a great guy.
CHETRY: He was, and he continued to act and he continued to, you know, try to live as normal a life as possible up until the last few, you know, weeks.
ROBERTS: He'll be sadly missed. Certainly will.
It's 15 minutes after the hour. We're talking about the potential for more troops in Afghanistan. Senator Russ Feingold -- he's got a different idea about what we should be doing with American troops in that country and he's going to join us, coming up next, to tell us what that is.
Stay with us.
ROBERTS: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning."
President Obama, right now, caught in the middle of a battle within his own party. It's over sending more troops to Afghanistan. Not all Democrats are keen on the idea of putting more boots on the ground there.
Democratic Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin is one of the voices against the increase. He joins us this morning from Capitol Hill.
Senator, it's great to see you. As we know, General Stanley McChrystal may, in fact, ask the president for more troops on the ground in Afghanistan. Quoting from you, you said that "our military presence there is driving our enemies together and may well be counterproductive."
If the president asks for more troops, will you back him?
SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D), WISCONSIN: Well, regrettably, I'm not going to be able to unless some different arguments are made. Because I wasn't even persuaded that it was the right move earlier this year to increase the troops to 21,000 more than we had when the Bush administration ended. You know, we had 30,000 troops there at the end of 2008. My understanding is: now, it's over 60,000 and growing.
And the question is, what exactly are we accomplishing by building up troops? I agree with the president's policy that we ought to integrate the policy of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The people that attacked us, though, the leaders are in Pakistan.
So I'm not at all sure this isn't counterproductive. I think it's possible -- and others have confirmed this concern -- that we are actually, potentially driving these extremists into Pakistan, which frankly, is a much more dangerous place.
So, that's my concern about the policy, and I'm very interested in hearing some kind of an idea, about what kind of a timetable -- a flexible timetable the American people and the Afghan people would be offered as to when we would be bringing our troop level down, rather than continuing to build it up.
ROBERTS: That's a rather unusual position, Senator, for a member of the president's own party to take, that if the president asks for more troops or wants to put more troops, that he wouldn't have the solidarity of his own party.
FEINGOLD: Well, it's not really that unusual. I maybe have been the one that helped kick off this conversation when I was in Appleton, Wisconsin, a month ago. But since then, Senator Carl Levin has indicated that he's not going to support more troops unless certain circumstances are agreed to. And yesterday, Chairman Dianne Feinstein of the intelligence committee, on which I served, said exactly that.
So, this is not a situation where I'm the only one saying this. In fact, there's a growing chorus in the Senate, in the House. In the house, Congressman Jim McGovern, a Democrat, has talked about it as well.
So, we are friends of the president. We think the president is doing a much better job in this area than the previous president. But we owe him the advice that the Senate and the House are supposed to provide on foreign policy.
And it's essential. We lost over 45 Americans in July and over 50, probably, in August. This is something the American people have to have explained to them.
ROBERTS: You're suggesting a flexible timetable under which U.S. troops would be removed from Afghanistan. And the question that many people might raise is: could that cede parts of Afghanistan back to Taliban control and then they invite al Qaeda back in, and the United States is back to square one in Afghanistan? I know this is something that the president himself is concerned might happen.
FEINGOLD: Well, you can draw that scenario, or you can look what's happening right now. Significant areas of Afghanistan are already under the control of Taliban. We may be losing ground there, and many people believe that continuing an occupation or something that's seen as an occupation, continuing to build up foreign troops in Afghanistan is the exact formula to increase support for the Taliban.
So I think this is counterproductive. We need to continue to go after al Qaeda, wherever they are. Whether it's Pakistan or Afghanistan or Southeast Asia or Somalia -- as we did in the last few days. But the idea of having a constant troop buildup in a place where it will only cause more resentment, I think, is a very ill- thought out policy.
ROBERTS: You wrote an editorial that was published in "The Wall Street Journal" in which you seem to have little faith in the potential for the Afghanistan government. You say, quote, "Even if we invest billions more dollars annually for the next 10 years and sacrifice hundreds more American lives, we are unlikely to get a credible government capable of governing all Afghan territory."
The suggestion there is that stability across Afghanistan is just -- it's a lost cause.
FEINGOLD: Well, that's a concern that we have to look at. We have to look at the priorities of the American people. Our priorities, of course, are domestic, and internationally, it's getting al Qaeda. If we can help Afghan people and their government succeed, we should. But we shouldn't do it in a way that drains our resources in a way that makes it impossible for us to be effective against those that attacked us on 9/11.
FEINGOLD: And I think that's a policy that has to be very limited and certainly should not involve increasing troops without a clear vision of what they're really doing.
ROBERTS: Senator, we've got a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll out this morning on people's thoughts about Afghanistan. Those who favor the war in Afghanistan, now just 39 percent -- that's down from 53 percent in April; those who oppose, up to 58 percent now.
How long can this administration continue to pursue the war in Afghanistan without some sort of dramatic improvement when you look at public opinion numbers like that?
FEINGOLD: Well, they can't. And it just shows at the beginning of the interview, the whole point here is that it's not my view -- it's the view of the majority of the American people. A very clear majority don't want us to just keep pouring more and more troops into there.
And so that's the view I'm representing and that's the view that I hope the view the administration will listen to. I believe they will. I believe they're responsible and want to make sure we do this right. But I think they need to listen to the concerns of the American people -- which are very, very strong.
ROBERTS: Senator Russ Feingold, good to talk to you this morning. Thanks for stopping by.
FEINGOLD: Good to talk to you. Thanks.
ROBERTS: All right. Kiran?
CHETRY: All right. Well, still ahead, Newark, New Jersey. It's Mayor Corey Booker and famous actor Forest Whitaker chronicled a fight to raise the city out of nearly a half century of violence, poverty, and corruption. They'll be joining us live with a preview of the new documentary executive-produced by Forest Whitaker, "Brick City."
It's 23 minutes past the hour.
CHETRY: It's 25 minutes past the hour.
A little -- a lot of buzz here in the studio. We have Newark Mayor Corey Booker as well as Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker. They're going to be joining us in just a moment to talk about a new documentary.
ROBERTS: You'll forgive me, I mean -- you know, I like Corey Booker, but I've met him a couple of times, I never met Forest Whitaker. So, I'm very excited this morning.
CHETRY: We are. They're right over there. We're going to talk to them about this great documentary in just a moment.
CHETRY: But meanwhile, it's been nearly a year -- it's been actually a year since Lehman Brothers went bust and many say that that really signaled the beginning of the end when it comes to our financial fortunes.
ROBERTS: Right. Absolutely. It was the economic shot heard around the world. And this morning, we're asking, what really went wrong at Lehman? Have we learned anything from it and the financial collapse that followed?
Our Carol Costello live in Washington this morning with the latest on our "Banks Gone Bust" series.
Good morning, Carol.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.
Today, one year ago, all hell broke lose on Wall Street. Lehman went bankrupt, the stock market plunged 500 points, banks all over the world teetered on collapse, and historians are still debating on whether the government did the right thing. The bigger question, though, for our economy is why Lehman tanked and if anyone learned anything from its demise.
COSTELLO (voice-over): Lehman Brothers, a company that was too big to fail, but did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How's the mood in there tonight?
COSTELLO: And while much of Main street cried finally justice, 25,000 Lehman employees lost their jobs -- for some, their life savings.
LAWRENCE MCDONALD, FMR. LEHMAN BROTHERS VICE PRESIDENT: I felt like Muhammad Ali had hit me and I've got the referee up above and he's five, six, you know, seven.
COSTELLO: It was a knockout punch for Lawrence McDonald. Once a vice president at Lehman, he's written a book, "A Colossal Failure of Common Sense," an insider's view of the collapse.
(on camera): When you see this, it must be really strange, because you've lived it.
MCDONALD: Lived it up and down.
COSTELLO (voice-over): I met McDonald at the Museum of American Finance, where a time line of Lehman's ruin is now history.
(on camera): In your mind, what brought Lehman Brothers down?
MCDONALD: The best talent Lehman had was silenced. I mean, there were people that were calling out warnings, there were people that wanted us out of subprime in 2006, and one by one by one they were silenced.
COSTELLO (voice-over): As in fired, but mostly ignored. McDonald blames Lehman's CEO, Richard Fuld, for that. He says Fuld was so out of touch, they called him the "invisible man."
MCDONALD: When Richard Fuld would arrive through the backdoor at Lehman Brothers, there were only 16 1/2 feet where he was actually exposed to the troops. And that elevator would take him right up to the -- to the -- you know, to his chateau.
COSTELLO (on camera): Well, why was it? Did he not want to like mingle with the common people? I mean, what was his problem?
MCDONALD: It was a deep, dark secret. He didn't want to be exposed for all he didn't understand.
RICHARD FULD, FMR. LEHMAN BROTHERS CEO: With the benefit of hindsight, would I have done things differently? Yes, I would have.
COSTELLO (voice-over): Fuld testified before Congress a month after Lehman went bust, blaming in part a crisis of confidence in the marketplace and an abuse of short-selling for the firm's demise.
(on camera): Was it partially his fault that the government didn't help Lehman Brothers?
MCDONALD: Henry Paulson was very, very annoyed that after they saved Bear Stearns, that Richard Fuld and other executives on the street were still taking risks. They didn't take it seriously enough. And I think, at the end of the day, that might have hurt us when it came to that weekend in September.
COSTELLO (voice-over): CNN tried to contact Fuld, but he's not called us back. But two weeks ago, he told "Reuters" that McDonald's book is way off base, calling it "absolutely slanderous," and adding, "You know, 'Dick never left his office.' Well, I left my office, I left my office plenty."
MCDONALD: They hurt a lot of people. And when I look at the Lehman stock chart, now and forever, I'll always think of how it affected me and people I cared about.
COSTELLO (on camera): Do you think it's changed a lot of people on Wall Street in similar ways?
MCDONALD: I think so. I mean, I think that a lot of people have been humbled. A lot of these arrogant leaders around the street have been humbled. And that's probably a good thing.
COSTELLO: Really? Because people in Middle America don't think so. And it's just the same as it always was. You get rich and I get squashed.
MCDONALD: You definitely have some of that. But on the other side of the coin, you definitely have some people that are humbled.
COSTELLO: McDonald hopes the government will follow through with tougher regulations, something it's said they are going to do, but has not.
On a human level, there are thousands of Lehman employees who can't find a job, and still miss Lehman, a company they loved. In the meantime, the former CEO, Mr. Fuld, is now running his own financial consulting business -- John?
ROBERTS: Carol Costello for us this morning. Carol, fascinating story. Thanks so much.
And tomorrow in our "Banks Gone Bust" series, they just got in on the ground floor and thought that it was a dream job and then it all crashed down around them. Our Christine Romans looks at the younger workers who were just starting out at Lehman when it collapsed. Where are they now? That's tomorrow here on the "Most News in the Morning.
And we're crossing the half hour. Checking our top stories.
This just into CNN: Vice President Joe Biden has touched down in Baghdad on a surprise trip to Iraq. He's going to be meeting with the Iraqi leadership as well as U.S. troops there. The vice president left last night on the secret mission, didn't even tell the press where they were going at 7:00 p.m. last night from Andrews Air Force Base.
The Iraqi journalist, by the way, who threw his shoes at then- President Bush was released from prison this morning. Muntadhar al Zaidi's stunning act of protest last December made him a hero in much of the Arab world. He served nine months of a one-year sentence for assaulting a foreign head of state.
Sparks flying during an emergency belly landing in Berlin. Authorities say a jet had to slide to a stop. Take a look at that. How would you like to be on board that aircraft? Slid to a stop after getting a signal that its main landing gear wasn't working.
There were 73 passengers and five crew members on board, including a top German diplomat. We're told that one passenger suffered a minor injury and a crew member was taken to the hospital for evaluation.
But, wow, stunning landing there on the belly of the plane.
And President Obama on a mission this morning. For a second day, he's addressing the health of the U.S. economy. In just a few hours, he'll travel to a General Motors plant in Ohio that is rehiring now thanks in part of cash for clunkers program.
The president will then travel to Pittsburgh, where he'll speak at the AFL-CIO convention -- Kiran?
CHETRY: John, thanks. It's 32 minutes past the hour now.
When Cory Booker took over as mayor of Newark, New Jersey in 2006 there was a lot of great hope that with his enthusiasm and new ideas that he could help turn around a city that has been plagued for decades by poverty, a high murder rate, and high unemployment.
At only 40 years old, his efforts to change the crime-stricken and corrupt city haven't gone without notice. In fact, he's teamed up with academy award winning actor Forest Whitaker for a five-part documentary, "Brick City." here's a look.
MAYOR CORY BOOKER, (D) NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: They say our police department is the best police department in the nation, but it is not enough for our citizens. We can stop this now!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: This film airing on Sundance Channel was executive produced, again, by Forest Whitaker, and he joins me now along with Mayor Cory Booker. Thanks to both of you, quite an honor and a pleasure to have you guys with us this morning.
BOOKER: Nice to be here.
CHETRY: Forest, let me start with you. When we talk about Newark, New Jersey, by the numbers, it's a pretty depressing place, you could say. How did you get involved in this, and why was this a passion project for you?
FOREST WHITAKER, ACADEMY AWARD WINNING ACTOR: I think it was because when I understood what Cory was trying to do inside the city, which is revitalize the city, I thought it could stand as an example for the country if we could watch it and see the people as they started to rebuild and change their lives.
And luckily, through the passion that's happened with Cory and with the others, the city has started to really awaken itself to new possibilities. I'm really excited about it.
CHETRY: It is interesting, because there are many who said this is a lost cause. You know, through the years, people have given up, in any way.
And you said, no, no, no, we don't have to do it this way. And you agreed to allow cameras in there to try to capture some of this. Not all of it is positive, right? There's been setbacks as well. What was it like for you deciding, you know what, let's chronicle this?
BOOKER: Well, the film doesn't look at the whole city. It misses a lot of the joy, the economic development. We're the second fastest growing city behind Boston. Businesses are coming back and things are flourishing. But it looks at crime only.
And we think that's such an important story within Newark. We want to face up to what we're doing. And we've now had historic reductions. We're down over 42 percent in shooting. And the one year they captured was when we had a lot of reductions.
And it's not because of who's the mayor, it's not because of the great police director, which we do have. It really is a story of great people in the community pulling together and saying enough is enough. Not only am I going to help other people, but I'm going to actually help to transform myself in the process. WHITAKER: I think what's really powerful about it is you get to really see the internal strength of the people and the hope that's there. You get to watch the simple miracles of life that go on as people continue to strive and move forward and enjoy the beauty of the city as well.
BOOKER: Yes, absolutely.
CHETRY: And that's the interesting thing. That's why it's called "Brick City," right? It's really an allusion to the resilience of the people who live there. It's a population that's what, about 85 percent African-American and Hispanic?
BOOKER: Yes, yes, 85 percent African-American and Hispanic. It has a deep, long tradition in jazz and the arts. And you see people sort of trying to reclaim the best of the bricks and get rid of the stereotypes that often plague our city reputationally.
And we see that now as we build dorms and people from New York move in. And one of the biggest challenges we have is letting people know about the good that's happening there. And we hope that the movie shows we're making good progress on tough issues.
WHITAKER: It's funny, because inside of the documentary, you see a resident like screaming, "Why aren't you over there shooting the great stuff over here and over here?" We did get a chance to shoot some parts of the city, but he was pointing out to us, I think, the powerful beauty of the city, which is, I think, in every city in this country, because for me, this stands strong statement of what can happen all over this nation.
CHETRY: Right, so there's probably 50 other cities in the United States that you could also say are brick cities that you could take a look at and compare.
And really, what you were able to do with this documentary -- I had a chance to see at least some parts of it -- it really is gripping that you sort of show, especially in the beginning, just walking the people through what there is to see. And it actually shows you jogging through some of the places where murders have taken place.
Let's take a look at it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOOKER: I had just gotten word of another murder in the city. People were saying things were my fault.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He caused the problem!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This city is on fire. It's saturated with death.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: There you see some of it. As you said, you focused on the crime element of it. What do you think the biggest challenge, Mayor Booker, is of turning Newark around and helping reduce crime?
BOOKER: You put your finger on. And Forest is from South Central and he knows this is not a Newark issue, it's not a Chicago issue. It's an America issue. And I think our country needs to believe in itself again and stop this sense of resignation we have to the problems, but really say, we can do something about this.
And it's very debilitating when you have communities at each other's throat or people pointing fingers of blame instead of everybody accepting responsibility.
And the beauty of the film, you really see people starting to step up and say, I can do something about it, I feel empowered. And it's a result of that that we start to gain tremendous momentum in the year 2008 when we had that dramatic reduction of shootings and murders.
CHETRY: Is it safe to say that it really is drugs and the drug trade that ended up taking such a toll on Newark?
WHITAKER: I think that with drugs follows a lot of crime. It is spoken about inside of the documentary as well. Cory speaks about it to the Newark police.
But, again, I think this empowerment issue what is really the cure for me, which is like the people themselves starting to realize that they actually have a choice and a saying what they can do in the environment they live in and the world that they want to have happen.
And I think when you have somebody in the center who really has a message, and most people feel like they can follow that, but then find their own voice, that's what to me the show starts to show, shows the voice of the people, people deciding that I'm going to live a good and decent life.
BOOKER: And that's the history of our country. In the most difficult circumstances, we are a nation that never gave up on itself and still believe that no matter how harsh the reality around you, we can carve out a greater and bolder and richer America.
In so in this day and age, we are the children of people who never gave up, we have to show that as well.
And I think the story of Newark over the next five years is going to be a story that shocks the country and sees that in places where people have presumptions or stereotypes, that places like that are going to flourish in their eyes and hopefully restore, in my hope, a lot of the hope of America.
CHETRY: Well, hopefully in part, by this documentary and you two shining a light on it. Great stuff. Again, it's called "Brick City," and airing on Sundance. It's five parts.
And really, great to have you with us, Forest Whitaker as well as Mayor Cory Booker. Thanks for your time.
BOOKER: Thanks for having us on.
ROBERTS: Senator Ted Kennedy's new bio is out this week. It includes some very, very interesting passages from his life. And coming up after the break, we'll speak with two of his sons, Ted Kennedy Jr. and Patrick Kennedy about Senator Ted Kennedy's life and his legacy. Stay with us.
CHETRY: It's 42 minutes past the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.
You know, we all watched the emotional goodbye the Kennedy family with their friends and the rest of America saying their final farewells to Senator Edward Kennedy after his death on August 26th.
ROBERTS: Now for the first time we get to hear about some of the most personal moments on Ted Kennedy and his views on all he experienced in own words in a memoir, "True Compass," which hits bookstores this week.
I had an opportunity to talk about Ted Kennedy with two of the most important people in his life, his sons, Edward Kennedy Jr. and Patrick Kennedy. Here's more of that interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: He made a video last spring, the publisher of the book, interviewing him, in which he talked about a moment that he had with his father, Joe, talking about what you need to do with your life. It's probably a conversation that a lot of parents or every parent should have with their children.
Let's just rerun the clock here, re-rack the clock and show what he said about that. Let's take a listen.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: I had a sit-down with my dad. He said, now, Teddy, you have to make up your mind whether you want to have a constructive and positive attitude and influence on your time.
And if you're not interested in a purposeful, useful, constructive life, I just want you to know, I have other children that are out there that intend to have a purposeful and constructive life.
ROBERTS: That's some pretty tough love, there, saying "If you're not planning to do it, well, I have plenty of other children who are."
But by any measure, he had a purposeful and constructive life, but he did struggle through the course of his life as well. As you said, Patrick, he was a human being. REP. PATRICK KENNEDY, (D) RHODE ISLAND: But we were so lucky. My brother and sister and I were so lucky to have a father. When we think about our cousins not growing up with a father, we had a real person.
And, you know, he made himself available to my cousins as well and became a father to them, but he was a real person.
ROBERTS: Ted, you're the older brother. Did it trouble you to see how he struggled at points in his life?
TED KENNEDY JR, SON OF SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY: We always felt like we were the center of his world. And even though, you know, growing up, you know, he was flying to Geneva for arms control, and flying to, you know, refugee camps all over the world, we learned how to share him, you know. And we knew that we had to share him with other people.
But we always knew where his heart belonged, and that is with us. And when I was 12 years old, and I lost my leg to cancer, you know, and he was there every single step of the way, you know, with me by my bedside for the two years of the experimental chemotherapy.
It was, you know, I'm sure it was something every parent would do. But he, that was his number one priority.
ROBERTS: You could see how that affected him, where after losing his two brothers, and then you developed cancer and he said, oh, god, please, not Teddy Jr.
TED KENNEDY JR: Yes. Well, you know what? It made us a lot closer.
ROBERTS: So many dark moments in his life that were not of his doing, but then there was the incident in 1969 at Chappaquiddick, which he writes about in the book.
He doesn't really add any more level of detail to what happened, but he certainly talks about it emotionally and from a personal responsibility aspect, in which he says, quote, "That night on Chappaquiddick Island ended in a horrible tragedy that haunts me every day of my life.
I had suffered sudden and violent loss far too many times, but this night was different. This night I was responsible. It was an accident, but I was responsible."
He goes on in the book to say how sorry he is to the parents of Mary Jo Kopechne of that happened. You were seven at the time. I don't know if you really realized the event. Patrick, I think you were one at the time. But over the years, how heavily did that weigh on him?
PATRICK KENNEDY: Well, I think, you know, as he says in the book, it's something that he had to live with his whole life. It was something that he felt sorry for and sorry about his whole life. If he could have undone that moment, he would have done anything to undo that moment.
But I think it's what we do with these things that really show our true character. And I think what my dad showed is that he couldn't bring her back, but he could dedicate his life and rededicate himself to being the best person, the best senator that he could be.
And I think that he did that. And that was part of, you know, his life story. And so I think he was truly sorry for what had happened, and that he's -- but he more than made up for what happened that day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: And you can read an excerpt of Senator Kennedy's memoir "True Compass." Just go to our blog at CNN.com/amfix.
CHETRY: You also say there was an interview with him as well, right, that's a part of that?
ROBERTS: We played a little bit of that there.
And we talked to the two Kennedy brothers, and they said that they were really surprised at the outpouring of grief and respect, the number of people in that lined the route when the motorcade made its way from Hyannis Port to Boston, the number of people who came out for the funeral and all of the memorials, the burial and all that.
They said they didn't realize that that many people felt so fondly about their father. I said, what do you miss?
CHETRY: Right. Well, it was a great job that they were willing to sit down and talk about it like that, because it can't be easy.
ROBERTS: It really is a fascinating book and well worth reading.
CHETRY: We'll take a quick break.
When we come back, we're going to talk about whether or not banning smoking outside -- that's something that's getting a little bit of buzz in New York City -- is a really -- is a reality. Is it something that they would actually be able to do, and what's been the reaction from some New Yorkers? We're going to find out.
It's 47 minutes past the hour.
CHETRY: Good morning, Miami. Right now it's cloudy, 85 degrees. A little bit later, isolated thunderstorms and 90 degrees. But, boy, you can see the clouds in the air there. A little bit of sun trying to peak through for Miami.
(WEATHER BREAK) ROBERTS: So it was some time ago that New York City banned smoking inside restaurants. California's done the same thing. Many other cities have done the same thing as well. And is it not the best thing that's ever happened?
CHETRY: Actually, I attribute it to helping me kick the habit. When it's freezing cold, it's January, you don't want to go outside and smoke, you quit real fast.
ROBERTS: So now, in some places, they're thinking about banning smoking outside. New York City is among them. Might they ban smoking in Central Park? We'll find out what the chances of that are coming right up. It's 52 minutes after the hour.
ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.
America's nonsmoking section getting bigger and bigger, and it's moving outside. You can't smoke on in beaches in California, you can't smoke in any park at all in San Francisco.
CHETRY: And the movement seems blowing east, you could say. There's a new plan to stub out smoking entirely in New York's historic Central Park.
But wouldn't that be tough to enforce? And what are New Yorkers saying about it? Jason Carroll is here with more on the outside smoking.
But you're talking with two ex-smokers, and when you're an ex- smoker...
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ex? I thought you meant...
CHETRY: We're exes.
ROBERTS: Poor Jason.
CARROLL: What do I do to deserve this? When we talked about this before, I asked you if you were smokers, you said no.
CHETRY: We can't stand cigarette smoke because we quit. That's what happened.
CARROLL: I see, I see. We'll get to the bottom of this later after this is all over.
Well, if you're a smoker out there, imagine not being able to take a break and light up in places like Central Park or Coney Island. Well, some New York city health officials, if they get their way, smoking in outdoor public places like city parks and beaches will be banned.
The city's health commissioner says thanks to a six-year-old smoking ban in bars and restaurants, the number of adult smokers in the city has been cut by 300,000.
The commissioner wants to cut that number even more, and says that new outdoor ban is part of a larger effort to improve the health of all New Yorkers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. THOMAS FARLEY, NEW YORK CITY HEALTH COMMISSIONER: We don't think our children should have to be watching someone smoke. That could be done through policy with the Parks Department. It could be done by city ordinance. We just like the general idea, and we want to promote that idea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: The health commissioner also says the city hopes to raise taxes on cigarettes and limit tobacco advertising. In typical fashion, New Yorkers had plenty to say about the proposed ban.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not a smoker, I can't stand cigarettes, but I don't think that -- I think that's kind of an abuse of power, to me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's very hard to prevent that in outdoor spaces. But, yes, I mean, it's great.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They've already raised up the taxes on cigarette. If it's outside, I don't feel like it's none of his business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: City health officials say they do not know whether they will pursue the outdoor ban through a new law or through a change in parks' policy.
And as to when all this might happen, when asked about a timeline, officials offered no details.
You know, this is all in an effort to improve the overall health of New Yorkers. The health commissioner also says -- I'm just going to ignore -- the health commissioner also says what he wants to do is get people eating better and working out a lot more. It's part of the larger effort to try to get people if better shape.
ROBERTS: Sorry, shouldn't have whacked with you with the paper.
CARROLL: Maybe he should take up smoking again.
(LAUGHTER) CHETRY: Maybe it will calm him down.
CARROLL: Yes, help calm him down just a little bit.
ROBERTS: You know what they say, there's nothing worse than a reformed smoker.
CARROLL: But it is better for your health.
ROBERTS: Definitely. No kidding.
CHETRY: Jason, thank you.
CARROLL: You're welcome.
ROBERTS: All right, we got 58 minutes after the hour.
CHETRY: Well, Serena Williams caused a major stir for her angry rant at the U.S. Open. Tomorrow she's going to be joining us live. She apologized for it and said, you know, she's passionate and she's sincere and she's sincerely sorry.
ROBERTS: She's got a new book coming out called "On the Line," and we'll be talking to her about that and all sorts kinds of things tomorrow.
By the way, continue our conversation on today's stories. Go to our blog at CNN.com/amfix.
And that's going to wrap it up for us. Thanks so much for joining us. We'll see you again bright and early tomorrow.
CHETRY: In the meantime, the news continues with "CNN NEWSROOM" and Heidi Collins.