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Another Suspect Arrested in Gang Rape; Press Secretary Fields Questions on Prison Photos, Stimulus Plan; Obama, Generals, Joint Chiefs Discuss Afghan War Strategy; "CNN Hero" Helps Disabled Children in Iraq

Aired October 30, 2009 - 13:00   ET


KYRA PHILIPS, CNN ANCHOR: All work, no play. Too bad. Thanks, Don.

We are pushing forward. It's too late for prudence, too late for vigilance, decency, compassion. In the painful aftermath of a gang rape at a high-school dance in California. All the community can hope for now is justice, and police are still making arrests.

Plus, President Obama still looking for answers in Afghanistan. This hour the generals get specific on troops, the Taliban, and the eight-year war.

Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips, live in New York, and you're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

We're going to start by taking a look at the news landscape today. We were all struck about the stories about kids coast to coast. And so for the next couple of hours, we're actually going to push forward on the good, the bad, the outrageous, and the inspiring about kids.

From the brutal gang rape at Richmond High we've been telling you about, tearing apart and galvanizing a California community; to a case in Pennsylvania where young people in trouble allegedly were used to fatten a judge's pockets.

Also, how the recession is guiding where your kids go to college.

And, former kids from 1959 Georgia, reunited after 50 years, a civil rights movement and a black president. The times have changed, but have they?

Let's go ahead and start with the gang rape case outside San Francisco. A 15-year-old girl among friends after a dance on Saturday, beaten, raped and robbed for over two hours while others allegedly laughed, snapping pictures and shooting video on their cell phones, none of them using those phones to dial 911. The crime ripping the community's heart from both sides.


MONICA PETER, AUNT OF DEFENDANT: The charges is very false. I don't believe any of the charges, none of it.


PHILLIPS: Well, that was the aunt of one of the defendants. Six suspects in total right now in custody.

Let's get straight to Kraig Debro. He's with our affiliate KTVU.

What else can you tell us, Kraig?

KRAIG DEBRO, KTVU REPORTER: Good morning, Kyra. Out here on the West Coast, police arrested 18-year-old Carlos Montano last night. He's the sixth person to be taken into custody. Four people have been charged. A sixth suspect is behind bars at this hour.

I just spoke to the district attorney of Contra Costa County. She tells me a decision on whether to charge that person will be made later today. And also this morning, another high school in the area, showing some sympathy and compassion for the students at Richmond high, for the rape victim. That school had its homecoming dance scheduled for tonight, and they've canceled that homecoming, because they're showing compassion, and they want to send a message to the other students at Richmond High that they are with them.

Now, of course, yesterday was a big court appearance. The four suspects appeared in court. Three of them were juveniles.

PHILLIPS: Kraig, I apologize, hold that thought. We want to stay on our top story. But real quickly, we've got to go to the White House briefing. They're talking about the major meeting going on at this hour with generals and the president on the eight-year war.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: ... September 30th by the recovery plan. The -- the data that we received back was to measure direct job impact from that project. So the direct jobs in that is, again, 640,329.

The statistics do not measure indirect jobs that may be created through those projects. Let's take an example. If -- if we fund a road project and, Jake, you're hired to help lay the pavement on a new widening of an interstate, what's not counted is whether Bill gets -- his job gets saved at the asphalt plant that produces the material that ultimately is used in that project.

The figures also don't include money that is -- has gone out through -- through tax cuts and other parts of the bill that are not examined in this report.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the 640,329 directly saved or created...

GIBBS: Uh-huh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How credible should the American people consider these number given that, in many cases, they are rough estimates, and there has been some recording problems in the past?

GIBBS: There -- there were -- there was a reporting problem with the contracting numbers, because that paperwork went up quite quickly. They've had a chance to go through the numbers over the past couple weeks and address any confusion or errors. These -- this is paperwork directly from a project that the money has been appropriated for. So I think the American people can have confidence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. And let me switch subjects for one second. The president signed a Halloween security appropriations bill that contained a provision allowing the secretary of defense to block the release, not only of these other detainee abuse photographs but other ones that -- future ones that may exist.

How is that consistent with the promise of transparency, not so much the decision the president already announced about those specific detainees photographs. But this kind of blanket power that is now invested in secretary of defense.

GIBBS: Well, the blanket power is based on the secretary of defense, telling the commander in chief that the release of these photos would threaten the safety and security of American soldiers.

I doubt, seriously, that Secretary Gates -- I know that Secretary Gates, and I would assume that any future secretary of defense is not going to abuse that privilege. To -- to say to somebody that the release of this would harm our men and women who are protecting our freedom is not a -- not something that you would trigger lightly. And it's narrowly written to assure that our men and women are protected, just as incidents like this are investigated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm hard-pressed to imagine any secretary of defense approving the release of the Abu Ghraib photographs. Because releasing those photographs, any general would argue, would put American lives at risk and yet it can also be argued that releasing those photographs would stop a horrific pattern of abuse that was going on at American prisons throughout the world.

So if this law had been in effect back then, your...

GIBBS: First of all, I have not heard Secretary Gates make this argument. I think going backwards into a big hypothetical is -- is...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Explain why it is that so many people feel like this blanket protection, this ability to just cover up any crimes...

GIBBS: Let's talk about the protection, rather than generalizing -- generalize, in many ways, about something that you haven't had a discussion with the secretary of defense about in the past.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama has just given Secretary Gates a power that did not exist before, to block the release of any prisoner release photographs.

GIBBS: Hold on. Hold on. Let's -- let's make this -- not just block any prisoner photographs; block prisoner photographs that the secretary of defense has deemed threatens the safety of men and women in our unit. So let's -- let's -- let's broaden the -- let's make sure we understand what the definition (ph) is. This isn't -- this is a trigger that the secretary of defense has to determine in the -- before it can be triggered.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me put it this way. Let me ask this -- ask you this way. Does President Obama think the release of the Abu Ghraib photographs put American lives at risk?

GIBBS: Again, you're going back into the generalization and hydrochemicals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what the president just gave his secretary of defense the power to do.

GIBBS: I have not talked to about those specific photos. Nor have I talked to Secretary Gates about those specific photos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a realistic fear that people might have that a similar circumstance would present itself, the judgment might come down against releasing, which might have a remedial effect on that very problem.

GIBBS: This administration takes seriously, I think, based on what we have released publicly. Detainee abuse and the conditions with which detainees are held. Right? We've taken a lot of grief for that. But what the president determined is that we are not going to put through that our men, women in harm if the secretary of defense determines that something like that could do that, just as the regional commanders communicate to the secretary of defense that what these type of photos could do.

But Major, I -- again, I'm happy to talk to the secretary of defense about this, but I would not want to generalize going back by using the word "could" so many times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you -- do you think that the stimulus is doing what you've expected it to do up to this point? Or did you expect more jobs that you saved or created?

GIBBS: No, I think we're on track with what we estimated would likely happen. I think yesterday's figures denote that we have seen a growth in our economy. Particularly if you look at -- we haven't had a growth like we've had in the previous quarter in more than two years. We haven't had any positive economic growth in more than a year.

So I think, for those that have said the stimulus recovery plan aren't working, you're hard-pressed to -- to back that statement up with the figures that have come out in the last couple of days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But in terms of the number of jobs, the 640,000 that were created.

GIBBS: Direct jobs for the 47 percent that was required to be examined by the independent board through this date, right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So is that where the administration saw it at this point? When you're sort of looking...

GIBBS: That's approximately -- the million jobs saved or created, has us on track to where we thought we'd be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back to the meeting again today. So -- so that one of the questions that's being looked at, is with these military leaders. Do you have personnel to potentially match 40,000, going into Afghanistan.

GIBBS: Well, I think that force -- the health of the force is certainly a topic that will come up. Their views on the assessment will come up. When I mentioned, which I think also what your network is reporting. That's statutorily what the joint chiefs have purview.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you telling me that the figure of a million more or less job is reached by counting the indirect jobs.

GIBBS: Well, I think through a combination of the indirect jobs, as well as a percentage of the act that has not yet -- that is not measured through this report, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your own report yesterday suggested that it was a percentage not yet measured, with half of he money not yet spent or at least not recorded.

GIBBS: Well, again, there's about 47 percent of -- of the total number is examined by law in this report. This report, again, required by the statute measures direct jobs from these -- from projects. It is not -- does not count money that goes from tax cuts, money that would go from others -- or go to recipients through other safety nets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These jobs that you say have been counted so carefully sound like a scientific actual -- a number that can be observed scientifically.

GIBBS: At 3 p.m., you'll be able to view it holistically on your computer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does each one of these so-called saved or created jobs represents a concrete, new job or saved job? (UNINTELLIGIBLE) or two part-time jobs, right?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or two part-time jobs?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your critics don't believe that it's possible to count on anything like that.

GIBBS: Our critics didn't think the recovery plan would help the economy grow, but I think the critics, if you put 50 cents in the newspaper machine and pull the arm, you'll see that our critics haven't been so right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it's five cents on the dollar (ph). GIBBS: Don't worry. There's a payment that goes along with that recovery plan to -- Greg has had nothing to say during this interplay, so -- so go ahead head.

Yes, ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) don't want Americans to have universal health care and don't want them to succeed. Does the president agree with that?

GIBBS: The president has said on a number of occasions that he does think some of -- some of his critics in Congress on health care have decided that -- that they want to play a political game, rather than one that addresses -- address the problem that we've dealt with for decades, and that is health insurance reform. Absolutely.


GIBBS: Well, I think the president has done quite a bit of that. That's -- that's been happening throughout this process.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it fair to say the strategic review in Afghanistan is winding down?

GIBBS: I think it is nearing its -- I think it's nearing its conclusion, yes. I've seen...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody has got to...

GIBBS: I've gotten a couple of questions today about whether the people have stated that this is the last meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not the last meeting. Is that correct?

GIBBS: I have certainly not been told that it's the last meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But there's no other meeting scheduled.

GIBBS: Not currently.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there going to be one next week?

GIBBS: There could be, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems as if there are reports that the deal that the negotiators agreed to as far as on nuclear fuel, has been nixed by the government itself. How concerned are you that the Iranian government is not negotiating in good faith?

GIBBS: Well, we have -- we have yet to see, and we await the detail -- details of their response through the IAEA. We have seen the same reports you have, but we have yet to see the detailed response. We're in constant contact with the IAEA in order to get that. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the president going to say, you know what, "If we don't get it here, then we're going to think about the next step here. We're going to think about the sanctions"?

GIBBS: I would simply say that the president's time is not unlimited. This was not about talking for the sake of talking. This was about reaching an agreement that, just a few weeks ago, seemed to be something that the Iranians wanted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: H1N1, is there anything that you guys, looking back, could have done differently, to have sped up this vaccine?

GIBBS: Well, let me -- let me say that I think we have -- the numbers that I got earlier today, I think there are now 26 -- 26.2, I believe, million doses that are now -- have now been made available.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... over 100 million...

GIBBS: And the 26.2 million is more than we had just two days ago. Well, we have obviously had problems in the delivery of the vaccines from manufacturers. The 26.2 million, though, is three million more than we had just two days ago.

Look, I think it's accurate to say the president has been and is frustrated with ensuring that this vaccine is delivered on time and won't be satisfied until those that want to be vaccinated from H1N1 have the opportunity for the vaccine to do so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anything the government could have done differently?

GIBBS: Well, again, I think we have -- we -- the manufacturing of the vaccine, which certainly takes about six to nine months, and this case has taken closer to six months. But it hasn't been as fast as we were told or as fast as we had hoped. But we'll continue. I know that John Brennan and others meet daily on this topic to ensure that we have the vaccine that we need as quickly as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the state believing the private (ph and secretary on this?

GIBBS: Well, I think -- I think we certainly had hoped that that their --their predictions on this would be correct.

Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two quick questions. Is General Jones's trip to Russia, to Moscow, a sign that the negotiations on the START (ph) treaty are on schedule or that they are tied to some kind of impact?

GIBBS: General Jones is back from that trip today. And will participate in the meeting this afternoon in the situation room. We think the -- the talks are -- are progressing as we had hoped for a treaty that expires the 5th of December.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you think you'll make that...

GIBBS: We -- we believe so, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And anything more on the meeting of the president's economic recovery advisory board?

GIBBS: I don't have the topic, but I can -- we can see if there is a little bit more detail going forward. Yes, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Robert, do you have any idea what the cost per job of those 640,000 would be?

GIBBS: Well, I don't. And I think the economists would tell you, Mark, that -- that there's still investment in those jobs that is being made. The projects, I think, on the form there's a part that denotes that there's still a certain amount of investment in this project that's yet to be spent out. So I'm not sure you can make a 1 to 1 math conclusion on that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know if the president has begun reading or intends to read the House health-care bill?

GIBBS: I don't know the answer to that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is anyone in the White House reading it? Pages of it?

GIBBS: I assure you -- all 1,900, I can assure you there are many people that are studying it, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've said that the president's decision on Afghanistan would be weeks away. Is that still correct? And does that mean that he will not be deciding it before he leaves for Asia on November 11?

GIBBS: I haven't gotten any greater guidance than weeks. I'll stick with that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before, during or after?

GIBBS: I can narrow it down to either before, during, or after. It certainly could come earlier, but I don't anticipate it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New Jersey election or after?

GIBBS: I assumed Afghan, but a fairly good question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was asking about the Afghans.

GIBBS: Let the record reflect...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: H1N1 -- with whom and what is the president frustrated about the vaccine?

GIBBS: Well, I think the president is frustrated that -- that all those who want to be vaccinated thus far haven't had an opportunity to do so. We'd hoped that the vaccine would, as we have been told, be here faster. It has not.

But the president believes that -- and the team believe that they are making progress. I noted that there's three million additional doses of their vaccine than there were just two days ago. And we're working with state and local authorities to assure that there are -- all that can be done is being done to assure the speedy delivery of that vaccine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it a bureaucratic breakdown or a vaccine production breakdown?

GIBBS: I think the -- I think right now it -- we -- again, we had hoped that what the manufacturer had said in terms of getting the vaccine here earlier would have been true.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To follow up on the election question...

GIBBS: The New Jersey one or...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New Jersey one. It's being reported that the president's pollster, Joel Benson (ph), is taking an active role in Governor Corzine's campaign.

GIBBS: I think he works for him.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does that in any way elevate the stakes for the White House in that election or in Tuesday's results generally? Do you see anything coming out of results on Tuesday that could assist or in any way undermine what the White House is trying to accomplish legislatively on Capitol Hill?

GIBBS: Based on Joel's participation?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On whatever election results. There is some speculation if Corzine doesn't win, things don't work out for Creigh Deeds, Bill Owens doesn't win in New York-23, it could put a damper on things for the White House in a political environment where people are suddenly nervous about maybe short-term political prospects, as opposed to larger long-term aims of the White House.

GIBBS: Yes. Look, I think we continue to take the long view on -- on what's going on in Washington and throughout the country. We'll have time to dissect whatever those results are on Tuesday. But I don't -- I don't think it portends, quite honestly, whatever the results are, I don't think they portend a lot.

In dealing with somebody in the future, somebody I think -- somebody had mentioned that, you know, if you lost either governorship, it would impact -- I mean, in 2001, if I'm not mistaken, in Virginia, New Jersey, the Democrat won in either of one of those. I don't think anybody thought that, when they looked at the election results in 2002, that they thought that President Bush was significantly hampered by that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The recovery act questions, if you look at the 643,000 jobs...

GIBBS: Six hundred and forty thousand, three hundred twenty- nine.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's at a pace of about 80,000 per month, if you were to go out since the act was signed on February 17. Not counting February but counting the months since.

GIBBS: That would be a fair -- well, I trust your math, but other than that, I can't speak to it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And yet on a monthly basis, about 500,000 or more Americans are applying for first-time unemployment and benefit claims.

GIBBS: I would say this. We're happy it's not 580,000. Right?


GIBBS: Well, the president obviously not satisfied that anybody that wants to find a job in this country can't. And there are a lot of people that that applies to, unfortunately.

But I think we saw, through GDP growth, a positive improvement that we think is the beginning of better things. But I don't think there's any doubt that, if -- if you can look at this plan and say, without out, we would have lost -- we would have had 80,000 additional people every month, applying for unemployment benefits. Yes, not only are you note paying out those unemployment benefits, but that person has a job. So I think that's actually a good way of discussing the multiplier effect, indirectly, of jobs saved or created.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last one on the stimulus, then I'm going to let go. You (ph) just said a moment ago it was said that all of the GDP growth, virtually all of it, can be attributed to recovery act spending.

GIBBS: I think a lot of it, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we were discussing with you the situation yesterday, you pointed to 1.6 percent of that 3.5 percent GDP growth as attributed to car sales.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cash for clunkers. Jared (ph) has told me that your analysis for the stimulus and its economic (UNINTELLIGIBLE) doesn't count cash for clunkers spending. It only counts recovery act spending.

GIBBS: The analysis for today? Yes, because as you -- as Jared (ph) will tell you -- I would, too -- that cash for clunkers was funded out of a separately...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My question is, how do we reconcile those two? If cash for clunkers was 1.66 of the 3.5, and all of the recovery act spending is responsible for the 3.5 GDP growth, I don't see how those two things can both be true. If the recovery act is responsible for all of the...

GIBBS: Well, let me go back to what you said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... and cash for clunkers was responsible for half of that...

GIBBS: If we didn't have -- the GDP, if we didn't have the recovery act, our GDP would probably be somewhere near flat, right? I think that's how I measure. Without it, we would be basically middling along. We -- through the recovery act, have seen positive economic growth, and that's a good thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yesterday, you said, in defense of cash for clunkers, almost half of the 3.5 percent GDP growth was attributable to cash for clunkers.

GIBBS: I didn't say that. That's just the figures based on the GDP itself, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But that's not recovery act spending.

GIBBS: No. It's not recovery act. It's part of the plan that the president has put forward in order to help the economy grow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the GDP number didn't -- this is cash for clunkers. How can it be -- I'm still trying to figure out how recovery act can be responsible for all of the 3.5 percent GDP.

GIBBS: I'll go back and look at the math figures on this. I think what's undeniable, Major, is that the recovery plan is helping the economy grow, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just asking.

GIBBS: So am I.


GIBBS: What did you come to the conclusion?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It may be 3.5; it may be -- there's a difference between 3.5 and 1.6, which you said...


GIBBS: ... was the economy -- was the economy joined (ph) for the first time in a year? Based on your assessment of the figures?




GIBBS: I have to get some math teachers, as well.

Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought it was anything but boring.

GIBBS: Sheldon (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What exactly has -- has the president taken away from all these meetings that he's had? This is the seventh one he's had today. If you could shed some light on what he's -- how he's processing this, how he's keeping his -- what has he talked with his other advisors about after he comes out of these meetings? And ultimately, have you decided and how well you have him explain this to the American people?

GIBBS: Let me take the second one. We have -- we have not, in all honesty, had extensive conversations about that yet. I do believe, without getting into specifics, I think the president strongly believes that it's important for the American people and for the international community to know his reasoning behind whatever decision he makes and to clearly explain our goals and objectives in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, and in the region as a whole.

So I anticipate that, whatever form it ultimately takes, the president will use the occasion to explain some of that to the American people so that they understand his decision making and his thought process.

You know, in terms.


GIBBS: Again, we haven't gotten into broad specifics on that yet. So the -- on the first part, Jeff, you know, look, I think -- I don't -- I used to have a calculator. I should just go back and do it. The number of hours that he's -- that he has spent in these meetings is probably now what the end of today will probably be, getting close to 20 direct hours of his time.

The group -- the principles that meet with the president, additionally, take time to get the material ready and prepare to answer questions for the president. Probably at least twice as much of that -- of the president's time, the principles expense.

So obviously, we've -- the president and his team have spent a pretty big chunk of time evaluating very, very closely each of these individual countries, their relationship together, and their impact on the region.

He -- at the conclusion of these meetings, he generally is off to the next thing. I think he has spent quite a bit of time after the meetings back in the office, back in his office, probably primarily in the residence at night, going back and reading through his notes as well as notes that he's taken on the meetings and oftentimes will come out with questions that the team will prepare the answers for, for the next meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... Cosmo (ph). How have these...

PHILLIPS: All right. Robert Gibbs touching on two things just before 1 p.m. the Dow dropped 230 points, giving back all of yesterday's big gain and then some. We're going to talk with Susan Lisovicz in just a few minutes about that.

Also, we heard him talking war. We've heard from the suits, the aids, the advisers, and the diplomats. As you know, today, President Obama hears from the generals and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the next phase of the war in Afghanistan. And they may as well get the last word. Right now, a closed-door meeting is underway at the White House. It's the last formal strategy session the president plans before he makes some pretty big decisions.

Barbara Starr, directly from the Pentagon, she has been following this and sets the stage for us -- Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, the Joint Chiefs now in the Situation Room with the president. This meeting, perhaps one of the last issues, as you say. It's going to be perhaps just a little different because of the job that the Joint Chiefs have under law. The Joint Chiefs don't have any combat responsibility. They don't conduct the war. That's General McChrystal over in Afghanistan. Their job is to provide the trained and equipped forces to General McChrystal in the war.

These men are the heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. and to provide trained and equipped forces is so critical because the military families, of course, are very concerned that their loved one is going off to war have the protection, the gear, the weapons, the equipment to keep them safe in the war and make them success at the jobs their doing. That's the job of the Joint Chiefs, to make sure all of that happens.

That's likely to be one of the major topics at this meeting now ongoing at the White House. and, of course, as Robert Gibbs was talking about, the health of the force, the stress and strain on the troops. General George Casey, the head of the Army, General James Conway, the head of the Marine Corps, these two men, it's their troops that are likely to have to do the heavy lifting in combat. And both of these men have expressed their concerns that, if they have to send tens and thousands of additional troops, they may not be able to give these young troops the year at home between combat tours with their families as promised. That's a major concern -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Barbara Starr from the Pentagon, appreciate it.

Trust is a two-way street, says Hillary Clinton in Pakistan. And U.S.-Pakistani relations, well, picture any downtown street at rush hour in the rain.


PHILLIPS: Top stories now, for the first time, a woman will head the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The new president? Bernice King, youngest daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The civil rights leader founded the SCLC.

For the first time in French history, a former president faces a criminal trial. Jacques Chirac is accused of corruption while he was mayor of Paris before his election as president. He's accused of using the city payroll to hire workers for his presidential campaign. He's had immunity while he was president, but after he left office, there's been talk of charges.

In Honduras, celebrations and new hopes of ending a political crisis. Deposed President Manuel Zelaya and the interim leader have agreed to deal -- to agree to a deal, rather, that could return Zelaya to power. The plan calls for national elections late next month. Honduras' lawmakers will decide whether he will be reinstated before the elections.

Secretary of State Clinton says that she didn't go to Pakistan for happy talk, and that pretty much goes without saying. Pakistanis have long resented the missile strikes from U.S. drones near the Afghan border and what they consider meddling from Washington. Washington has long suspected Pakistan hasn't done all that it can to fight the Taliban and al Qaeda. And now Clinton has said so. To a group of Pakistani journalists, the secretary said, and I quote, "I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government doesn't know where they are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to." She added, "Maybe they are not gettable. I don't know."

Today, she sat down with CNN's Jill Dougherty and said trust is a two-way street.


HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: You have to take on these threats wherever they occur. But it's not sufficient to eliminate the threat that Pakistan faces. As long as al Qaeda can recruit and send forth suicide bombers, as we've seen in our own country with the arrest of Zazi, who is clearly connected to al Qaeda, trained in an al Qaeda camp in Pakistan. I want to keep putting on the table that we have some concerns as well. And that's the kind of relationship I'm looking to build here.


PHILLIPS: The battles, the troops, all the political strife, all very visible facts of life in a war zone. But for many Iraqi families, a hidden struggle, a disabled child, an immobilizing problem until one "CNN Hero" rolls through.

And we're keeping our kids in focus in the next hour also. You know Ken Carter? We'll a lot to say about the Richmond High case. After all, it's the same school where he faced the challenge that made him famous. Remember the movie, "Coach Carter"? Yes, the real Coach Carter? He joins us live next hour.


PHILLIPS: They are the tiniest victims of the Iraq war, young children, many of them disabled by battle wounds. Others diagnosed with polio or palsy, forced to literally drag themselves along the ground. It's a heart-wrenching sight. But a wheelchair can mean freedom, not only for them, but their families as well.

That's where one our top-ten "CNN Heroes" steps in. Brad Blauser is in Baghdad live via Skype

Great to see you, Brad.

BRAD BLAUSER, "CNN HERO" & FORMER CIVILIAN CONTRACTOR IN IRAQ: Thank you. It's great to be with you.

PHILLIPS: So tell me, was there a certain child that touched you and moved you to create this charity or was it a daily occurrence that you were observing with the disabled kids in Iraq?

BLAUSER: Well, I had a friend on base, Lieutenant Colonel David Brown, he was a battalion surgeon, would go out and see children either dragging themselves on the ground or families bringing them to him and putting them in his arms, asking for help. And he approached me and asked me to help him find some children's wheelchairs at that point.

There was specifically one boy who they saw dragging themselves on the ground. They stopped. They followed him to his home and talked to his parents. Went to a local hospital and bought -- pooled $60 and bought an extra-large adult wheelchair and took it home to him. It didn't fit him. They were grateful for the support, but it just didn't work for them. That's when we started on the approach to get children's wheelchairs into Iraq because, in all actuality, they're not available here.

PHILLIPS: And I think that's one thing that's so hard for all of us to understand because it's so easy for us to get them here in the United States.

Correct me if I'm wrong, Brad, but I remember meeting a couple of families that had disabled kids in Iraq and their whole lives, their parents had carried them. And if the parents didn't carry them to and from where they needed to go, I mean, these poor kids would just sit in a room and never leave the house. Where's the Iraqi government been when it comes to disabled children? Are they just absent?

BLAUSER: Well, at this point, they've not been able to get around to helping disabled children. They're worried about building hospitals in every province to meet the basic health care needs. But we'd love to see them get involved and use excess oil funds for revenues and provide a national children's wheelchair program. UNICEF says there's possibly up to 150,000 children with walking disabilities in Iraq. Mercy Corps says there's possible up to 1.5 million children. So the need's huge and tremendous. And the revenues are there to be able to fund the program. So we're just trying to help them organize that.

PHILLIPS: Wow. You went over there as a contractor because you were in debt. Now you're staying there, sticking with this charity, not receiving a paycheck. Tell me why you've made such a life change and why you're staying there?

BLAUSER: Well, I saw it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help the children of Iraq who don't have a voice. I've become their voice through this program and through the platform I've been given through the media outlets and actually through help with U.S. military here. They've been able to help give me the voice to take a stand to bring attention to the need of the children here who need the wheelchairs so badly.

Actually, a wheelchair for a child, a specialty pediatric wheelchair is a basic health care need for children. It gets them off the ground. It takes them off of the dirty ground and puts them in a wheelchair that helps their bodies grow properly and will actually help to correct some of their disability.

PHILLIPS: Well, Brad, you're an amazing man. And just seeing those kids, I think it brings tears to all of our eyes. It's incredible what you're doing, and we salut you.

Thanks so much for talking with me about it today.

BLAUSER: Thank you so much. I appreciate your time.

PHILLIPS: You bet. And if you want to find out more about Brad and his Wheelchair for Iraqi Kids program, or to vote for our Top Ten CNN Hero finalist, just go to Plus, watch our all- star tribute hosted by Anderson Cooper on Thanksgiving night only on CNN.

Well, a new trend in kids going to college. Those four your schools -- or those four-year schools, rather, are actually losing a little luster. Find out why.

Plus, bad news for an ex-judge awaiting his corruption trial. Fabulous news for thousands of kids awaiting real justice. Sixty-five hundred convictions thrown out like yesterday's trash.


PHILLIPS: Swine flu cases on the rise, and so are swine flu deaths. This just in to CNN, the CDC now says that H1N1 has caused at least 19 more children's deaths. At least 114 kids now dead from swine flu complications.

Also, the CDC says 48 states are now reporting widespread flu activity. That's more than peak flu activity in a normal flu season. The news isn't all bleak, though. The CDC also says nearly 27 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine are now available for distribution. That's around 2 million more since yesterday. The CDC had hoped to have 40 million doses available by now, but manufacturing delays knocked down that number. Well, for 22 years, folks with HIV couldn't immigrate to or even legally visit the United States. Well, that's going to change. President Obama today announced an end to the travel ban, a policy he said was rooted in fear rather than fact. President Bush signed off on it more than a year ago. And the new rules have been in development ever since. Only a handful of other countries bar entry to H1 -- or HIV-positive travelers.

That travel ban news, well, coming as President Obama signed some other HIV legislation. The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act affects hundreds of thousands of low-income Americans. It means that they can continue their federally funded medication that keeps the virus at bay. The law of course named for the young man diagnosed with AIDS at 13 and shunned by his community. Ryan White passed away in 1990 at the age of 19.

All right, let's push forward even more on kids and their futures. A new study says a growing number of high school grads choosing to go to their local community college.

Susan Lisovicz joins me now with the details. I mean, this all comes down to money, right?

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No question about it -- 11.5 million 18- to 24-year-olds were in college last year. That's a record. That's great. Four-year colleges stayed exactly the same. Community colleges, two-year colleges up 10 percent.

Why is that? It's a bargain. Check out the numbers.

The average cost per year for community college -- tuition, room and board, all that -- $6,700. For a private four-year college, three times more. Historically, quite typical. As the economy worsens, enrollment rises at community colleges. And you could save even more money if you suck it up and live at home with mom and dad.

PHILLIPS: And you know what? A lot of people stereotype and say, oh, community college isn't as good as a university. It's so not true. I mean, you can get a quality education at a community college as well. It's up to you on taking the ball and running with it.

LISOVICZ: Absolutely. And what you're finding is that there's such demand. Ironically, because of the recession, states are cutting back on their funding for education. So, in some cases, community colleges are actually cutting out courses and turning away students. But also, so many instances where they're making lounges into classrooms or doing odd hours so that they can accommodate students. Because so many folks know the best way to battle this recession is to get smarter, go to school.

PHILLIPS: You've got to get an education. It's the last thing we should be cutting. Drives me crazy.

The Dow dropped 230 points just before 1:00. There goes all the the gains from yesterday, right? LISOVICZ: That's right, and what's perhaps even more troubling, this is the first triple-digit decline that we've seen on the Dow, fourth one in six sessions. You know, there's a lot of questions about this recovery. Yesterday, we got the great news on GDP, but a big asterisk. So much of it was fueled by government spending.

Today we got a report, just for the month of September, on consumer spending. You know how critical it is. It fell half a percent. What's so interesting about September? There was no Cash for Clunkers. A month earlier, consumer spending was up 1.5 percent. That's some of the concerns that's reflected in the stock market decline, unfortunately.

PHILLIPS: Well, have a good weekend, despite the bad news.

LISOVICZ: You, too.

PHILLIPS: Good to see you, Susan.

LISOVICZ: Likewise, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right.

Well, Richmond High School hit the headlines big-time this week after that horrible homecoming gang rape, but the school was famous first for a guy who tried to keep students on the straight and narrow. Remember Coach Carter? Well, he's with us at the top of the hour to talk about what's going on at his old school.

Plus, pay for no play? An update on a story we first brought you over the summer, giving teens money not to become mommies. Smart or absolutely scandalous?

Bad news for an ex-judge awaiting his corruption trial, fabulous news for thousands of kids awaiting real justice. Sixty-five hundred convictions thrown out like yesterday's trash.


PHILLIPS: An Iraqi-born man is captured 10 days after allegedly running over his daughter for being too westernized. Faleh Hassan Almaleki was nabbed today by U.S. marshals at the Atlanta airport. That's halfway across the country from Arizona, where police say he rammed his Jeep into his daughter and another woman. Both are still hospitalized, the daughter in serious condition.

Walking in her father's footsteps. The daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been chosen to head up the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the civil rights organization MLK co-founded. Reverend Bernice King is the first woman to hold that title.

Small plane, big trip. The 2010 winter Olympics torch has arrived in Canada from Greece, carried in a miner's lantern. It may not look like much now, but that little flame is about to take a long journey, the longest torch relay in the history of the games. It will travel some 28,000 miles carried by foot, dogsled, canoe, horseback, snowmobile, skateborder, you name it.

Some 6,500 convictions over five years tossed out in the blink of an eye. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court addressing what it calls a travesty of justice by a judge accused of putting cash over kids.

More now from Sarah Buynovsky of affiliate WNEP.


SARAH BUYNOVSKY, WNEP-TV CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The state supreme court said today that former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella so tainted his courtroom that rulings he made in thousands of cases will be vacated, that is, canceled. Ciavarella and former Judge Michael Conahan are facing federal corruption charges.

Prosecutors say the two schemed to send juveniles to detention centers for kickback money. A special judge assigned to investigate recommended months ago that Ciavarella's rulings be canceled. The state supreme court agreed, saying, "Whether or not a juvenile was represented by counsel and whether or not a juvenile was committed to one of the facilities which secretly funneled money to Ciavarella and Conahan, this court cannot have any confidence that Ciavarella decided any Luzerne County juvenile case fairly and impartially while he labored under the specter of his self-interested dealings with the facilities."

There is no definite word yet on whether all the juvenile records will be wiped completely clean. The Luzerne County district attorney tells us she now has 30 days to tell the supreme court which cases she would like to retry.


PHILLIPS: For most of the 6,500 kids affected, end of story. They can't be retired (ph). The D.A. does get a say in 100 or so cases.