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Obama Honors Fallen Soldiers at Dover Air Force Base; Sources Say Obama Will Send Fewer Than 40,000 U.S. Troops in 2010; U.N. Lockdown in Kabul; Homegrown Radical Islamic Leader Killed in Shootout in Detroit; Study Shows Potential Savings Lost Due to Health Care Waste; Health Care Waste; Raiding the 401(k); Chopper Crashes Kill 14 Americans

Aired October 29, 2009 - 06:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome. It's Thursday, October 29th. Glad you're with us on this AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Kiran Chetry.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Alina Cho. John Roberts has the morning off. Here are the top stories we'll be telling you about in the next 15 minutes.

Seeing the realities of war, President Obama flying to Dover Air Force Base overnight to witness the return of 18 Americans killed in Afghanistan. This as new reports hint at what the strategy for that country might be going forward. We're going to be live at the White House and on the ground in Afghanistan.

CHETRY: An alleged radical Islamic leader goes down shooting during an FBI raid in Michigan. Court documents say he wanted to create a Muslim state in the United States and then he may be part of an extremist network born and bred right here in this country. We're live in Detroit with new details this morning.

CHO: And House Democratic leaders are set to unveil their version of health care reform today. It comes as a new study reveals billions of dollars in wasted spending in the current health care system. Our Allan Chernoff has our A.M. original reporting.

CHETRY: But first, on the same day that President Obama reportedly gets closer to making a decision on how many more troops to send to Afghanistan, he witnessed firsthand the sacrifices made by America's service members. Overnight, the president flew to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. That's where the bodies of 18 Americans killed in Afghanistan came home.

Our Dan Lothian is live at the White House this morning. And, Dan, certainly a solemn scene early this morning with the president making that trip to Dover Air Force Base.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It was indeed a solemn scene. In fact, the president, he left the White House here shortly before midnight wearing a dark tie and a dark long overcoat headed to not only receive the 18 bodies of those Americans killed overseas but also to meet with their family members and their loved ones. And most of the dignified transfers that the military refers to this solemn event happened off camera with the exception of the flag- draped remains of Army Sergeant Dale Griffin of Terre Haute, Indiana.

Six Army soldiers removed his remains as President Obama saluted the remains that were being removed off of the C-15 cargo plane. Fifteen of the dead were U.S. troops who were killed this week in Afghanistan, but three of the dead were DEA agents who were returning from a raid at a facility where it's believed that some insurgents were involved in drug trafficking. Those three DEA agents, we're told, Agent Chad Michael, Special Agent Michael Weston and also Agent Forrest Lehman (ph).

Now, this is the first time that a U.S. president has gone out to meet the remains of Americans returning at Dover since President Clinton did that in 1996. He went out there to meet the remains of his Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and also others who were killed in a plane accident.

CHETRY: All right. Dan Lothian for us this morning, thank you.

And one of the things that we talked about was some of these fighting men and women who lost their lives because of helicopter crashes that took place. Coming up in about 30 minutes, we're going to be taking a look at just why flying helicopters in Afghanistan can be so dangerous.

Our Elaine Quijano will tell us why U.S. troops are twice as likely to be killed in Afghanistan than in Iraq.

CHO: Also new this morning, the situation in Afghanistan is developing on several fronts right now. The White House could soon make a decision on sending more troops. In fact, sources tell "The Associated Press" President Obama will send a large number of U.S. forces to Afghanistan next year. The plan is already being dubbed McChrystal light. That's because the number is reportedly lower than the 40,000 troops recommended by General Stanley McChrystal.

And the city of Kabul is still trying to regroup after a deadly attack by the Taliban. Twelve people, including one American were killed in the attack against U.N. workers. The peacekeeping agencies put its people on lockdown there. Meanwhile, Afghanistan's presidential runoff election is nine days away.

Watching it all for us, our Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence. He's live from Kabul right now.

So, Chris, what exactly is the very latest on the security situation in Kabul right now?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Alina, President Hamid Karzai has now ordered the Afghan army and police to step up security around all international organizations not just the U.N. And CNN has now learned that the U.N. officials had a meeting here this morning and have now decided to tell all their nonessential personnel to pack their bags and leave the country temporarily.

Now this was done, we're told, to reduce the exposure, to lower their profile ahead of this election. Now that applies to all of their nonessential staff countrywide. Not just here in Kabul, but it does not apply to those working on the election. Those workers are considered essential. We're told this will not harm the preparations for the election and in fact, the U.N. did something somewhat similar before the first election, in which they gave vacation to a lot of their nonessential workers leading up to it -- Alina.

CHO: Chris Lawrence live for us in Kabul this morning. Chris, thank you.

CHETRY: Also developing this morning, the feds say that a radical Islamic leader is dead after a shootout with authorities at a Michigan warehouse. The man allegedly was on a mission to set up an Islamic state within the U.S.

Our Susan Candiotti is live for us this morning in Detroit with new details on what's happening. And again as we had said before, these are people who were raised in the United States, right, converted to Islam?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. That's right, Kiran. Good morning to you.

Prosecutors say that this is a group that called themselves "The Brotherhood" and its leader was urging its followers to pick up guns and do something. They described themselves as soldiers at war against the U.S. government and non-Muslims. And this two-year FBI investigation came to a head in a shootout yesterday.


CANDIOTTI (voice-over): FBI agents hit two locations trying to round up about a dozen men said to be heavily armed. Prosecutors say the ring leader, an imam, directed a local wing of a radical fundamentalist Islamic group bent on setting up a separatist state here in the U.S. Inside this warehouse, authorities say the alleged ringleader refused to surrender, fired his weapon. There was an exchange of gunfire and 53-year-old Luqman (ph) Abdullah also known as Christopher Thomas was killed, so was an FBI dog.

Authorities say Abdullah was the imam at a Detroit mosque where he preached an offensive jihad including violence against the government and law enforcement. A criminal complaint says he repeatedly told three confidential informants he would never be taken alive saying, "If they're coming to get me, I'll just strap a bomb on and blow up everybody."

The criminal complaint says the group had target practice in a mosque basement blowing holes in cement walls. But they're not arrested for any of that. They're charged with conspiracy to fence stolen goods, including laptops and TVs, illegal firearm sales, and tampering with motor vehicle I.D. numbers. An FBI complaint says they belong to a nationwide group called "Ummah," mostly African-Americans, some of whom converted to Islam while in prison.

"Ummah" is led by this man, Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (ph), formally known as H. Rap Brown, a '60s radical and former member of the Black Panthers, who once said violence was for blacks as American is cherry pie. He's currently serving a life sentence in Colorado's super max prison for killing two Georgia police officers.


CANDIOTTI: Now, Detroit area Muslim leaders reportedly say that they were called by the FBI as all of this was going down. And we're told that this investigation did not involve any terrorism charges, only charges of alleged criminal activity. Some of the Muslim leaders said they remembered this imam but not in this way. They remember him as a respected leader at least several years ago.

Some of the people involved in this arrest have been already appeared in court. More will appear in court tomorrow or rather later today. And we're also learning that, of course, the joint terrorism task force was involved in this investigation but, in fact, there are no terrorism charges, even though they are chilling details in this lengthy FBI affidavit. Back to you, Kiran.

CHETRY: All right, Susan. We'll get some new details probably later today on this one. Thank you.

CHO: We're following new developments this morning in a case that has a lot of people shaking their heads in disgust. Five people now under arrest, four of them charged with gang raping a 15-year-old girl in California after her high school homecoming dance.

Three of them are minors. What's worse, police say more than a dozen people witnessed the attack last Saturday night and did nothing about it. A friend of the victim says police and security officers at Richmond High School failed to keep the area safe.


KAMI BAKER, FRIEND OF RAPE VICTIM: At the dance, there were four officers, none of them patrolling the area. I looked outside of the gym and I saw 12 to 15 guys sitting there with no IDs. The officers, not only did they not check the IDs of those students or men sitting outside of our campus, but the security officers who are employed here did no job checking either. The assistant principal looked outside and actually saw those men and did nothing about it.


CHO: The victim was released from the hospital yesterday and just 20 minutes, we're going to take a closer look at this case with a CNN education contributor and a former prosecutor -- Kiran.

CHETRY: And we're also tracking the latest information on the swine flu outbreak. Schools across the country closing their doors at what seems like a record pace.

The Education Department is reporting now 351 schools closed just last week alone, and that impacted 126,000 students in 19 states. So far this year, more than 600 schools have been forced to shut down temporarily because of swine flu. CHO: There's something you don't see every day at a baseball game, but this is no ordinary baseball game. Take a look at this.

First Lady Michelle Obama was among the many dignitaries and celebrities on hand for game one of the World Series last night at Yankee Stadium. You didn't stay up late. You don't know this.

The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Yankees 6-1. Before the game, by the way, take a look at this shot. It's just bright. Jill Biden and Michelle Obama escorted Yankee legend Yogi Berra in this pre-game ceremony paying tribute to the nation's veterans. They presented an Iraqi war veteran with a baseball so he could throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Game two, by the way, is tonight at Yankee Stadium.

What an honor for that guy.

CHETRY: Oh, I know. It's wonderful. It was really nice to see Yogi Berra. He looks great.

CHO: He does look great.

CHETRY: I didn't get to stay up to watch the game either but the smell of, you know, Philly cheesesteaks was emanating throughout the household so I thought, OK, things are going well.

CHO: I know. Are you a Yankee fan, though?

CHETRY: I am -- I'm a Phillies fan.

CHO: I know that. I know.

CHETRY: How about you?

CHO: I'm a long-time Yankee fan.

CHETRY: Better luck tonight then.

CHO: Yes. I hope so.

CHETRY: Well, still ahead, hundreds of billions of dollars in potential health care savings all of it going to waste. Our Allan Chernoff has been tracking waste and fraud and he joins us with a real eye-opening piece coming up.

It's 10 1/2 minutes past the hour.


CHO: Testing it out.


CHO: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. In just a few hours, House Democratic leaders will unveil their long-awaited plan for health care reform. Their version of the bill has a more moderate public insurance option than Speaker Nancy Pelosi wanted, and it would extend health coverage to about 95 percent of Americans. Now one major issue that's still unresolved is final abortion language. Lawmakers say the bill could come up for a vote on the House floor next week. We'll wait and see if that happens.

As Congress debates health care reform, a new study reveals a shocking amount of waste, more than $700 billion worth.

CHETRY: And fraud accounts for some of that. But the biggest culprit by far is what's called unnecessary care. This is hundreds of billions of dollars spent each year on pills, medical exams, surgeries that really may be a complete waste. Our Allan Chernoff is digging deeper now in an A.M. original.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me take a look at you.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dr. Joseph Zebley, a family practitioner in Baltimore says patients are more pro-active than ever, telling him not just symptoms, but also test they believe they need. If he disagrees, Dr. Zebley says he may try to dissuade a patient but often fails.

DR. JOSEPH ZEBLEY, FAMILY PRACTITIONER: If the person is very demanding, I must admit that oftentimes we will exceed to their wishes knowing full well that it might be a futile study or futile test.

CHERNOFF: And an unnecessary expense. Multiply Dr. Zebley's experience by the 940,000 physicians in the U.S. and the cost of unneeded treatment, surgeries, office visits, prescriptions runs as high as $325 billion. According to Thomson Reuters Healthcare Analytics, it's the consequence doctors say of a society that's promotional, bombarding us with ads for pills and procedures and litigious with a threat of a malpractice suit hovers like a dark cloud above every physician, forcing them to practice defensive medicine.

ZEBLEY: In reality, the standard of care for American medicine tends to be set by ten people in a courtroom who say, this should have been done, because physicians all through a community will say, "Uh- oh! This physician was sued for not doing this," and therefore everyone starts doing the test.

CHERNOFF: For the 85 percent of Americans that do have health care insurance, "No" is not a word they're used to hearing. Patients generally don't incur most of the cost of each test, each prescription they receive. That often takes cost out of the health care treatment equation, leading to excessive spending, says the study's author.

ROBERT KELLEY, THOMSON REUTERS HEALTHCARE ANALYTICS: It may in fact be too easy to - to get services if you have health care coverage.

CHERNOFF: Add in fraud, inefficiency, especially from redundant paperwork, provider errors and lack of care coordination that leads to duplication of tests, and the Thomson Reuters study concludes Americans are wasting as much as $850 billion on health care spending. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CHERNOFF (on camera): And guess what? That is pretty close to the 10-year price tag for the version of health care reform that was approved in the Senate Finance Committee.

CHETRY: It is amazing, you know, that when you take a look at some of that, especially duplication of tests. We see that all the time. But there are some who might argue, you know, maybe more care equals better care.

CHERNOFF: That's the general impression that most people have. Scientific studies say no, that's not the case. A lot of people in - in places where there are many doctors, New York, LA, et cetera, they get plenty of care, they're not necessarily healthier than people in rural areas where they don't get as much medical treatment. That says a lot.

CHETRY: Life's - life's pretty stressful...

CHO: That's right.

CHETRY: ... in L.A. and Manhattan. But, yes, you're right. I mean, it just is astounding the amount of money that's spent on what...

CHERNOFF: According to these studies, we are overspending. We're spoiled, basically, with health care.

CHETRY: Allan Chernoff for us this morning. Thank you.

Still ahead, we are going to be talking about the growing trouble with unemployment benefits running out, people unable to find jobs within six months and people going to extremes, in many cases tapping their 401(k). That's the money they're supposed to be saving for retirement, but if you need it now, what do you do?

CHO: That's right.

CHETRY: Yes. Our Christine Romans will be looking at that for us in a moment.


CHETRY: All ready? It's not even Halloween.

CHO: Is it the red sweater?

CHETRY: I don't know what it is.

CHO: Let's take them off (ph)?

CHETRY: Yes. Christmas is around the corner. Holiday parties.

Well, welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Twenty minutes after the hour right now. It is the night that many co-workers like to forget: the holiday party. All that free booze! Some of us actually do forget. But this season, it looks like it may be BYOB. A new survey found that nearly 29 percent of companies are either nixing all together or watering down their holiday party, so unless you basically bring a case of your own Budweiser, you know, you're going to have a better chance of behaving. That's the upside (ph).

CHO: That would never happen here, though, because we would never cancel our holiday party.

CHETRY: No way. No way.

CHO: Never going to happen. Christine Romans here "Minding Your Business".

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: If you brought (ph) a six pack, what would you bring? Did Alina bring - do you drink beer? Have you ever tasted beer?

CHO: Oh, man! You know what? Did I ask for this? It's 6:20 in the morning. Did I ask for this?

ROMANS: I'm just saying! I mean, you seem like you're a nice white wine drinker.

CHO: I'm a nice white wine drinker, but I'm an Amstel Light drinker too.

CHETRY: Amstel Light? That's good.

ROMANS: I see.


CHETRY: OK. All right.

ROMANS: Let's see what (ph) the rest of us - what we're going to bring to the holiday party after this.

CHO: 401(k).

ROMANS: 401(k). I'm here to tell you about your 401(k). Look, ladies, people are tapping out their 401(k) savings, and this is something that is supposed to be a last resort. Now, I want to say this again - it should be a last resort. Only under very specific circumstances does it make sense for you to tap - to cash out, to raid your 401(k), and what we're finding, what Human Associates - Human Resources Consultancy found is that people, especially young people, are cashing out their 401(k) when they leave their job - especially young people.

Look at that second number on the screen: 60 percent of workers in their 20s cashing out their 401(k) when they leave their job. Why is this a bad idea? Because you're giving up free money. You're giving up money. Look at - For example, if you cashed out, say, $5,000 - say you're a young person, you don't have a lot of money in there - you don't think it's a lot of money. You want to just take that money. You need it to live on, maybe. You cash out the $5,000, you're only going to get $3,500 after taxes and penalties.

And this brings me to my "Romans Numeral" because this number shocks me - $75,000 is the "Romans Numeral" and it has to do with, gosh, the penalties if you - if you'd raid that 401(k) when you're young, what you're giving up.

CHO: Well, and that's what I was talking about with Kiran before the show, saying, you know, there are all of these penalties and she'd aptly brought up the point, if you need the cash, you need the cash, especially right now.

ROMANS: It should be the last resort. But it's - that $75,000 is decades worth of tax deferred savings. I mean, you're giving up $75,000.

CHETRY: So if you don't touch that $5,000 initially, it turns into $75,000.

ROMANS: Yes. Depending on how (INAUDIBLE) are. But Hewitt Associates there, their (INAUDIBLE) it was about (ph) $75,000 you're giving up, although...

CHO: So then what's the - what's the alternative then, if you need - you know what I mean?

ROMANS: Well, for some people - and like I say, for some people, it makes sense. I mean, if you can't eat, you know, it makes sense - it makes sense to do this, and there are always people who are trying to figure out how they can roll the money into a down payment on a house and then suddenly that's going to be a better -

Be very, very careful. This is your future. It is your future. And - and the people at Hewitt, they say - they say it's an alarmingly high number. The folks who consult them, they say that - it's just - it's a bad idea all around, so keep it in mind.

And you hope that - you know, you hope that there are other ways to avoid it, especially young people. If you can keep that little nest egg in there, keep it in there.

CHO: That's staggering - half of the people are doing it.

ROMANS: I know. I know. Well, a lot of people don't have any other (ph) choice, but...

CHO: Yes. Christine Romans, thanks.

CHETRY: All right. Still ahead, we're going to be talking about the two helicopters that crashed claiming 14 American lives in Afghanistan this week, and looking into why it is so dangerous, particularly in Afghanistan, flying helicopters. Twenty-three minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: Twenty-six and a half minutes past the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

It's been a deadly week for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, two helicopter crashes taking the lives of 14 Americans on Monday. And if you take a look at the numbers prior to this week of the 866 Americans who've been killed in the war in Afghanistan, 101 of them were killed in chopper crashes.

Elaine Quijano tells us why flying helicopters in a place like Afghanistan is such a deadly mix.


ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kiran and Alina, the U.S. Military depends on helicopters to move troops and equipment around Afghanistan, but flying helicopters in that country can be tricky and extremely risky.

QUIJANO (voice-over): For US helicopter pilots, this thick dust is just one of many punishing elements working against them in Afghanistan. Mountainous terrain, unpredictable weather, night missions and enemy fire can all prove treacherous.


QUIJANO: Army lieutenant colonel Brad Ninness served two combat tours in Afghanistan and knows firsthand the unforgiving conditions there.

NINNESS: Flying in the mountains is very difficult primarily because of the thin air. It requires more aircraft power. Your engines have to work a little bit harder to fly at altitudes that are normally higher than you see here in the United States.

QUIJANO: But defense officials say the threat of improvised explosive devices along Afghanistan's few paved roads, combined with the need to transport troops and cargo to remote outposts means relying heavily on the 245 military choppers the US now has in Afghanistan. Yet that comes with a significant cost. An analysis by the Brookings Institution found that helicopter crashes, both accidental and due to enemy fire, account for 12 percent of all US troop deaths in Afghanistan versus 5 percent in Iraq.

CAPT. BRIAN BLAKE, ARMY HELICOPTER PILOT: As a company commander, I felt confident every single one of my aviators and crew chiefs...

QUIJANO: Army chopper pilot Captain Brian Blake remembers a white knuckle moment in Afghanistan, the mission captured in this extraordinary photo as he gingerly balanced his Chinook's back two wheels against the side of a mountain.

BLAKE: As the (ph) 2,000 feet down, nothing, and completely trusting the guy on the back of the aircraft to keep me on the spot to get troops on or off the aircraft.

QUIJANO: Now, you think enemy fire would be the biggest concern when being ferried around by helicopter, but that's just not the case. The Brookings Institution found that a majority of death and helicopter crashes was caused by non-hostile factors - again, those treacherous conditions chopper pilots talked to us about, including weather and rough terrain -- Kiran, Alina.


CHETRY: Elaine Quijano for us. Thank you.

CHO: Just about half past the hour, and checking our top stories this Thursday morning, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says his country and the west have moved from confrontation to cooperation on the nuclear issue. Ahmadinejad comments appear to show support for a UN proposal to shift the bulk of Iran's enriched uranium abroad, but Iran has not yet formally responded to the proposal.

It's now a federal hate crime to attack someone in this country because of their sexual orientation. President Obama signed the measure into law yesterday saying, quote, "No one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hand of the person they love."

And an update for you in this story, drivers in the Bay area will have to find alternate routes to work again today. Repair crews are still working to fix the Bay Bridge after part of a steel brace fell on commuters earlier this week. Transportation agencies says high winds and traffic vibration likely loosened the 5,000 pounds of metal. It happened during rush hour. It was a miracle drivers weren't severely injured or killed. The bridge links San Francisco and Oakland, the most traveled bridge in the region.

CHETRY: Well, this next story, for many and for most of us is almost too horrific to comprehend. A 15-year-old girl in California goes to her homecoming dance. Police say that outside of that dance, she was gang raped and attacked left unconscious. Five people are now under arrest. Four of them charged. And what's even more shocking is police say that others watched this brutal attack for more than two hours and no one tried to stop it. Eventually, a bystander who heard about it called 911.

So a lot of us are wondering how could this happen. And also what the legal ramifications are. Can people who watch this be prosecuted?

For a legal perspective, we have Paul Callan with us this morning. He's a defense attorney and former New York State prosecutor. And also in Milwaukee, we've got Steve Perry, CNN's education contributor and principal and founder of Capitol Preparatory Magnet School. Steve, great to see you as well.

STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you. Thank you very much.

CHETRY: Let me start with...

PERRY: This is a heinous crime.

CHETRY: Oh, it absolutely is. And that's one of the reasons why we just want to talk a little bit more about exactly what's going on here. First of all, when we talk about the five, people charged or at least four of them charged. One of them is in police custody right now. We're talking about young kids. Three of them are 15, 16 and 17 years old. And according to the deputy DA in Richmond, they could possibly face life in prison because of the nature of this crime.

What's going on with this, Paul?

PAUL CALLAN, NEW YORK CIVIL TRIAL ATTORNEY: Well, that's right. They could be facing life in prison because California allows juveniles who commit particularly brutal acts, felonious, violent acts to be tried as adults, and prosecutors in California are looking at the possibility of trying these juveniles as adults. And they also have an enhancement section of the statute that says if you're acting in concert in a gang setting and you commit an act of this kind of brutality, you might face as much as life in prison.

CHETRY: You know, one of things, Steve, that everybody is talking about is the fact that, you know, this was a school district that was aware that they have had violent situations in the past. Students were required to carry I.D.s that need to be shown anytime they're walking around campus. And this was a school sanctioned function. It was a homecoming dance, and it happened there.

What does it say about what's going on in Richmond schools?

PERRY: It's absolutely unconscionable. All of the people who were there, the police officers and chaperones and anyone whose there responsible to monitor, they were all being paid to make sure that this didn't happen. And when you do monitor a dance, you notice certain students go out and they don't come back. And they leave at odd times. And so when they are gone, that's what the chaperone is supposed to be watching. To make sure something isn't happening.

And in this era when children text each other, there had to be a buzz in the building when 20 children were gone. They were gone during the middle of a homecoming dance, and no one went outside to check. That simply is not acceptable behavior. I hope that every single person who was part of that has been brought into somebody's office and asked from dawn to dusk, what on earth happened? What were you doing, man?

CHETRY: Yes. And, you know, that's the interesting part. They are continuing to question many of the students and they are bringing in more every day. One about the two dozen or so kids who allegedly watched this and did nothing, can they face any charges?

CALLAN: Well, you know, Kiran, I think one of the things that shocks most people is that bystanders who witness violent acts like, rape or robbery or murder, generally cannot be prosecuted if they just sit on their hands and do nothing.

Now California, unlike most states, does have a law that if you witness a crime involving a child, someone 14 or under, you are required to call the police and take action. However, she was 15 years old so she falls out of the realm of this law. And, frankly, if somebody was just a bystander watching this horrific act, they cannot be prosecuted.

CHETRY: OK. However, though, Paul, this is the other interesting rub about this is that police are now saying they are looking into whether or not the cell phones, the kids with cell phones recorded this. Does that take it into another realm from watching to having some involvement?

CALLAN: Oh, I think it does take it into another realm. But you're going to need some creative prosecutors here to put together a case of child pornography. There are very strict California and federal laws prohibiting the recording of graphic sexual activity involving a child. Now she's under the age of 18, so that would fit under the federal child pornography statute if somebody recorded it on the cell phone. So I think that might be an angle to get one of bystanders who didn't call the police.

CHETRY: You know, and as we look at all these legal issues aside, Steve, it really is just shocking that this would happen. I mean, most people who think about it, think that this could never happen in my community. I can't imagine something like this going on.

What is going on with kids these days? What's going on that so many children could either sit by and watch this happen, or at least what police and the DA are alleging take part in such a brutal assault on a fellow classmate?

PERRY: Children have been so desensitized to issues of violence and crime that it seems almost as if there's an expectation for so many children that they will see or be part of crime at some point in their young lives.

Many of our schools are very, very dangerous places where children go through archway metal detectors and a padded down before they go in and moved from classroom to classroom, part of building to part of building, almost as if it's a prison. They look like prisons. They act like prisons. And so children themselves begin to take on the part. You begin to play the role that you are in fact prescribed. And so our school look like prisons in many cases, and as a result too many children are participating in crimes.

CHETRY: Well, we will be continuing to follow this case and see what happens, and see if any of these bystanders, these alleged bystanders will face any criminal charges as well.

Paul Callan, as well as Steve Perry, thank you.

CALLAN: Nice being with you.

PERRY: Thank you.

CHETRY: Alina.

CHO: Kiran, this story, you don't want to miss. It appears when it comes to Michael Jackson memorabilia, the second time may be a charm. So what exactly would you pay to own that hat, that Mercedes, or the white-beaded glove Jackson wore when he unveiled the moonwalk? Several of the items are up for auction in November in New York. We're going to have a preview coming up.


CHO: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

It's another one of the great ironies surrounding Michael Jackson's death. An auction of the King of Pop's memorabilia was canceled at the 11th hour just two months before he died. Well, now, it's back on. And with new found interest in all things Jackson, his stuff is no doubt worth a lot of money. So just how much? Ted Rowlands has a sneak peek.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some of the stuff for sale doesn't sound like it's very valuable, but the auction house says that anything Michael Jackson is in high demand.


ROWLANDS (voice-over): The most recognizable item for sale and possibly the most valuable is this white glove Jackson wore on stage the night he introduced the world to the moonwalk, while performing "Billy Jean."

Others items include these sketches Jackson drew of Charlie Chaplain, Frankenstein and Mickey Mouse. This painting signed by both Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor. You can even buy Jackson's handwritten lyrics to "Beat It."

There's a hat Jackson wore on stage at the 1995 MTV Music Awards, a pair of tube socks covered in crystals and from "Thriller," the mold used to make Jackson's fangs as well as a few zombie costumes.

Some of the items are a bit bizarre like this piece of chocolate from 1994 celebrating Jackson's marriage to Lisa Marie Presley. And this guitar is for sale, it's only significance is that Jackson played it back in 1978.

Julien's Auction CEO, Darren Julien, says demand is extremely high for anything Michael Jackson.

DARREN JULIEN, CEO, JULIEN'S AUCTIONS: His death definitely made his items and anything associated with his life or career worth more money. ROWLANDS: None of this stuff is from the Jackson estate. It's all from collectors and people who saved gifts from the singer. The auction house says there's documentation for the items.

There's this 1985 Mercedes, Jackson owned it, but then gave it to his aunt for her birthday. The car is in working order and comes with Jackson's DMV registration and even this rare photo of the singer actually driving.

Betty Alonso is selling this letter and scarf Jackson sent her after they met in 1977 because she says, she could use the money.

There's tuition and roof replacement.

BETTY ALONSO, SELLING LETTER AND SCARF: There's tuition and roof replacement, or maybe we'll take a family vacation, and thank Michael Jackson.

ROWLANDS: And as for that white glove, Jackson gave it to Walter Orange of the Commodores, the night of the moonwalk performance. It's expected to fetch six figures. Oranges says he'll give some of the money to charity.

WALTER ORANGE, THE COMMODORES: The world is going to see this glove someplace, somewhere, and that makes me feel good.

ROWLANDS (on camera): The auction is scheduled for November 21st at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.


CHO: That's incredible. I didn't know he gave that white glove away.

CHETRY: See that? And did you see -- was it Jermaine that was out there at the red carpet of the "This Is It" premiere. He had that little tiny...

CHO: Little key chain.

CHETRY: Yes, key chain from the gloves.

CHO: I saw the movie, you know. It's really incredible to see. I suggest that people go out there and see it. It's incredible to see just how intimately involved he was in every...

CHETRY: Everything.

CHO: Everything of that.

CHETRY: He said, hold on, I have to cue the growl.

CHO: Right.


CHETRY: You don't do that...

CHO: From the lighting to the musical chords. It was incredible to see.

CHETRY: Although, mixed reviews from the critics.

CHO: I saw that.

CHETRY: Anyway, still ahead, we're talking to Rob Marciano. There's some extreme weather he's going to be telling us about. There is snow in the west, there are some tornado activity, flood watches in other parts of the country. And Rob is a Yankee fan as well so I'm sure he'll have something to say about the game.

CHO: Yes, I'm sure he will. Yes.

CHETRY: Forty-two minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. A beautiful shot of New York City today. Forty-five degrees -- 49 actually right now. It's 45 minutes after the hour but 49 degrees.

It's going to go up to 58.

CHO: That's really pretty.

CHETRY: I know. Expected to be partly cloudy today. Good weather tonight for the game two of the world series going to be here in New York and hopefully Rob Marciano, your team will be able to redeem itself.


CHETRY: That was a drubbing last night, sorry.

What do you have to say for yourself?

MARCIANO: Well, Cliff Lee looked amazing. I'll give him that. I'm not a big fan of Tom Petty, and I'm not a big fan of Pedro Martinez, so let's see what tonight. Anyway, Phillies looked amazing last night. Congratulations to them.

CHO: Incredibly democratic of you.

MARCIANO: Enjoy it. Give C.K. my love there, Kiran. All right. Let's look at the snow here in Denver. This makes me happy. Maybe not of you driving through it; nonetheless, Denver saw a quite bit yesterday. Anywhere from 10 to 12 inches in spots, slow go around for sure. This, according to the National Weather Service out there in Boulder, Colorado is the worst October snow that they have seen since 1997. Amazing stuff there. Check out the snow totals, 38 inches in some of the high country in Pine Cliff, in Conifers of 30 inches, Fort Collins 18 inches, Boulders 17, and at the Utah getting into the act with 11 inches there. All right. Let's see other side of this storm? We still have some snow that is going to come around the back side, so we could see another 5 to 10, maybe another foot of snow across the Eastern range of Colorado and through Western parts of Nebraska.

Deadwood South Dakota, by the way, saw about a foot of snow also. But the other side of this system, warm air coming on the front side will spawn severe thunderstorms and some of these could cause tornadoes. We had a tornado watch in effect for Dallas until 7:00 local time. We'll be warmer head that but pretty chilly in Denver at 30, 58 degrees, as you mentioned, much nicer In New York tonight than was last night. It didn't get the rain out but certainly a heavy mist falling for the game.

CHO: The Colorado snow is incredible. It looks like you need another Telluride film festival coverage action going on there.


MARCIANO: I like the way you treated what your wheels are turning.

CHO: I'm just saying.

CHETRY: He's trying to look for those investigative pieces. Anywhere you can find that.

MARCIANO: This morning, I'm just looking for something positive.

CHO: Fingers crossed for tonight.

CHETRY: Yeah, exactly. There's always tonight. That's why there's seven games in a series. All right Rob, take it easy.

Lights, camera, who needs lights? As they say. Did you hear about on the Craig Ferguson show last night? The lights actually went out during the show.

CHETRY: He milt it.

CHO. He certainly did, and our Jeanne Moos, of course, has her take on it as only Jeanne can. We'll have that coming up. It's 48 minutes after the hour.


CHO: Hello. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Kiran, you can't see us, right? How about this, is that better?

CHETRY: We never looked better. The lighting is great, isn't it.

You know, I think that I'm going to go with this from now on. It was actually lights out for Craig Ferguson, the late night host isn't losing his job.

CHO: Times are tough.

CHETRY: Right.

CHO: But his show literally went dark the other night when the studio lights blew during a taping. But, Ferguson does, you know, he rolled with it. Did he ever roll with it? And the result was comedy gold. Here's our Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lights camera, action. Who needs lights?

That's the last Craig Ferguson 's audience saw of actress Alicia Silverstone.

Going to a commercial, the blackout at the Los Angeles studio continued but Ferguson supplied his own lighting, ad libbing.

CRAIG FERGUSON, TALK SHOW HOST: One of these movies that make a million gazillion dollars now.

MOOS: Of course, Ferguson isn't the first talk show host to lose his lights.

But for some reason, Ferguson is electrically genius. He light on the guest.

Has repeatedly gone out.

FERGUSON: Go sit in the other chair then. I'll sit in this chair.

MOOS: If it isn't the lights, it's a leak on the set, or a shattered teleprompter. Ferguson broke his own prompter, then went to the instant replay. But twice, Ferguson has found himself in the dark.

FERGUSON: My first thought, put your hand on her boobie...

MOOS: With lines like that, who needs a teleprompter.

Now, most of the lighting mishaps you see on TV don't actually leave the talent in total darkness, but they do have an explosive quality.

Pants on fire, but news anchors can't compare with the comedian when it comes to the comeback. Ferguson resorted to his Hitchcock impersonation.

Leaving TV critics to speculate on the cause of the blackout. "Entertainment Weekly" wondered if the gods of the village people were seeking revenge for Ferguson's show opener.

It's a wonder that didn't shatter the glass.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


CHETRY: We're back.

CHO: Yes.

CHETRY: With the lights on. But it's funny that that's happened to him so many times. He has had a couple of series of bad luck.

CHO: But the teleprompter is a crazy thing too, a scary thing too. I don't know. Maybe more than the lights.

CHETRY: That's true.

Don't need lights, do need prompter. We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, we're going to be talking about getting on board the pirate ship. Fifty-four minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: We're coming up on four minutes before the top of the hour. It's being called the first-ever pirate-proof ship. And only CNN has exclusive access on board. We're going to show you what happens when this ship is put to the test in a training session with mock pirates before it heads out to face potentially the real thing. Alina?

CHO: Imagine having the minimum payment on your credit card suddenly shoot up to more than double? We've been telling you about how the banks are sneaking in these new charges before new consumer protection rules go into effect. But a funny thing happened after we profiled one couples credit card hike. Guess what? They suddenly got a big break from the bank. So, what about everybody else? Jessica Yellin has this a.m. follow up?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Kiran, Alina, it seems there's good news for an Ohio couple that CNN profiled. Because of our story about the credit card nightmare, their bank is giving them some relief.

Remember we told you about Chuck and Jean Lane, a couple that save by the rules, but their credit card company, like so many others, jacked up their payments before new regulations go into effect next year.


CHUCK LANE, CREDIT CARD CUSTOMER: I'm calling to find out why my payment jumped from $370 to $911 this month.

YELLIN (voice-over): Now, Chuck tells CNN his bank offered to slash his payments to $270 a month, less than before. The bank won't confirm the offer citing privacy issues, but after CNN's story, the Lane's congresswoman, Betty Sutton also prodded the bank to take action.

REP. BETTY SUTTON (D), OHIO: They did take the appropriate action to reduce the payment. But, it's unfortunate that it has to go to that extent.

YELLIN: It's great news for the Lanes, but what about millions of others who are seeing their credit card payments skyrocket? A new Pew study of the 12 biggest credit card companies finds they are adding new fees, increasing some rates by more than 20 percent, and making changes that could cause monetary injury to consumers.

NICK BOURKE, PEW SAFE CREDIT CARDS PROJECT: The bottom line is the credit card companies are doing whatever practices that are most profitable for them as long as they can. And until the law takes effect, that's going to continue.

YELLIN (on camera): And Congress can step in and stop it now.

BOURKE: Congress can step in and stop it now.

YELLIN (voice-over): Some members are trying. Representative Sutton is introducing a bill that would prevent unfair new fees. Representative Betsy Markey also saw our piece and is introducing a bill that would halt rate increases, but so far neither has become law.

LANE: I know I'm not the only one. And I'm sure there's a lot other people out there that can't afford an increase of two and a half times what they put into their budget for a credit card bill.

YELLIN (on camera): Now, the lobby that represents credit card companies tell CNN that credit card lending it is the riskiest type of lending and that rising interest rates are directly related to the state of the economy. As for all of those other consumers who aren't featured in the CNN piece, they can still hope that their members of Congress take action -- Kiran, Alina.


CHO: Jessica Yellin, thank you.