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CNN NEWSROOM

Kids in Focus; At War With the Taliban; Giving up Drugs for Salsa

Aired October 30, 2009 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: A sixth young suspect now in custody, linked to the gang rape of a 15-year-old girl last weekend outside a school dance. Police say it was two hours of rape, robbery, beating, laughter and cell phone pictures in a courtyard. No calls to 911.

The law looks for justice. Students, parents, teachers, the community looking for answers.

Well, maybe Coach Carter can push forward some answers. Remember him? His challenges, triumphs and tough love as basketball coach at Richmond High were so inspiring, Hollywood came calling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "COACH CARTER")

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to come back, Coach.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's going on?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to come back on the team.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the hell happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They shot him. Lenny, they shot Lenny. I mean, we was just there. We was just there, everything was good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come inside. Come inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything was good, Coach. I mean, you know...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come inside, son. Come on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't understand. I want to come back on the team. What do I got to do to play?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't worry about that, son. Just come inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever you want me to do, I'll do it. OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. OK. OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP, "COACH CARTER")

PHILLIPS: Well, here's the real deal. Ken Carter, the man who was no myth, joins me live from San Francisco. Coach, your old school and your community back in the news, no Hollywood endsing this time.

What's been going through your mind as you learned about this gang rape?

KEN CARTER, FMR. RICHMOND HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL COACH: I just couldn't believe it when I first heard about this incident. You know, I could kind of see this coming on about 10 years ago, when I coached at Richmond High School. Things was changing, and we just have to get real tough with what we're trying to accomplish with our kids. When I was at Richmond High, we had well-defined goals, we controlled the kids' behavior, and we talked about their social responsibilities.

PHILLIPS: And that's what was lost here, social responsibility. I mean, Coach, nobody called 911. They participated. They heard about the rape, even inside the dance, and walked out to watch and participate.

I mean, this isn't just an incident, this is a culture. It was a culture that you were able to grab hold of and somehow change the minds and the hearts of these kids.

I mean, how does it get back to this?

CARTER: Well, earlier, ma'am, like I said, we had well defined goals. That's what the contract did for us. Each and every one of my student athletes signed that contract if they wanted to participate on the team. And then...

PHILLIPS: Tell our viewers how you did that, Coach. You basically said, OK, here's the deal. Because not everybody's familiar with your contract system, what you did.

CARTER: Well, it was real simple. We had a carrot. What the boys wanted to do, they wanted to play basketball. And so, when ask kids today why you don't like school, the first thing they'll tell you, it's boring.

And kids will always come up to me now and say, "Coach, I don't like my English teacher." And I say, "Young man" or "Young lady, your English teacher probably don't like you."

And when I was at Richmond High School, a lot of the faculty would tell me, "The kids are not going to like you." And I would say to them, "I don't need a 15-year-old friend. I'm not here to be flexible."

And I wanted to teach the kids about having enthusiasm about being at Richmond High School and having courage. And so, when they signed that contract, that contract was just parameters around the kids so they could work within those parameters to be successful.

PHILLIPS: And here's what's amazing. Your kids were successful. I mean, they stayed out of trouble, and it spread across the school. Kids were graduating, they were going on to college. But what do you think happened here? Because that's not the case now, as school this school is back in the headlines for a brutal rape of a 15-year-old girl. Why do you think that what you instilled at that time faded away?

CARTER: Well, what happened, someone went to sleep at the wheel. And it's as simple as that.

A lot of people don't like change for some reason. I don't know why. They know it's not working, we know it's broken, but we don't care to change.

And so change is a good thing. And at Richmond High, that's why I would take the kids outside of our community every chance I would get, because I wanted to show the kids a different way of life.

If you see it, write it, believe it, you can receive it. So if you see better, you can do better. If you see it, you can be it. And that's what we were trying to do at Richmond High School.

That's why we worked on certain political agendas at Richmond High School. You remember when I rode the scooter from Richmond High School to Sacramento to bring awareness to the deterioration of our schools? So, there were great things. People just have to take action.

One thing at Richmond High School, every time we would have a game, we would have 10, 15, 20 family mechanica members in the stands. And so you noticed when parents are around, kids never, ever get in trouble.

PHILLIPS: It's an interesting point, because they're so desensitized right now. And you even point out, it doesn't even matter if it's a poor school or a school doesn't have a lot of resources. You say that's actually a poor excuse to blame on something like this. Right?

CARTER: Yes, ma'am. See, we're not human beings having a spiritual experience, we're spiritual beings having a human experience. And there's a difference between being broke and being poor. Being broke is just an economic condition, but being poor is a disabling frame of mind and a depressed condition of your spirit.

See, when I was at Richmond High School, our boys were never depressed. Now, a lot of times they didn't have money in their pockets, but they were never, ever depressed because we always had well-defined goals. And you think about it, there's not a parent in America who don't want their child to be successful.

They don't have access to the good information. The people who have access to the good information are the ones who are the most successful in our society.

PHILLIPS: It's so true.

Coach, do me a favor. Stay with me here. We have someone else we want to bring on the line, because I think you could give some good advice to this young lady.

You know we've heard from the cops, the school board, teachers, a number of community members. But what is it like to actually be a student at Richmond High School right now? And how does the class of 2010 ever get past this?

We want to bring in senior class president Gina Saechao. She's actually on the phone with us because she's in school today.

Gina, you heard what Coach Carter was saying. Is any of that resonating with you?

GINA SAECHAO, RICHMOND HIGH SCHOOL CLASS PRESIDENT: Yes, it is. I mean, it's the truth. The students here sometimes do get out of control. And we have to set higher standards for them.

But I'm sure there are plenty of us out here that work very hard to overcome these economic situations. We all work hard, and it's just, everything sets us back. They seem to work against us.

PHILLIPS: And Gina, you are a prime example of that. There is a very hard-working group there at that high school, a group of students. But there are also the students that didn't call 911 when your 15-year-old classmate was being gang-raped.

Why is that? What's wrong with those classmates that didn't want to help that, that didn't want to do the right thing?

SAECHAO: I'm not sure what, but if it was me, I would have called 911. That's just not right, to watch someone get raped and beat.

I'm sure what was going through their mind was, oh, they're my friends, I'm not going to snitch on them. You know, everyone has a code of honor with stuff like that. You know, respect, or whatever is in their little mind, but that's not right.

PHILLIPS: You bring up a good point about snitching.

Coach Carter, how would you advise Gina and other students who may be listening right now on that whole issue of it just not being cool to snitch?

CARTER: Well, you know, it was -- when I was at Richmond High School, believe it or not, it was not cool to be smart. We had an individual who had an F in every single class he had taken throughout his academic career. Within one semester, this young man was on the honor roll. And so, it's just the way you think.

And now we live in the world of words. And there's about 60,000 words in the human language. And so, you have to be real careful of the words that you use with kids. And I think education throughout our country is on life support.

Now, we have a chance to save this patient, but, you know, everybody talks about tough love, but we're going to love tough. There's a difference between tough love and loving tough.

Kids know when you love them and they know when you respect them. And I just think simple little things like saying, "Yes ma'am" and "no sir" in our culture, you know, we have taken that away.

And kids love discipline. They actually love discipline. When people ask me, "Did you actually give kids 10,000 pushups?" I would say, "Yes, that was on a good day."

(LAUGHTER)

PHILLIPS: You know...

CARTER: And it was not a situation where there was a punishment or a discipline. A punishment would last you one minute, one hour, one day. A discipline will last you a lifetime.

PHILLIPS: Gina, while we have Coach Carter, you know his story, you know what he did at your high school 10 years ago. Anything you want to ask him?

I mean, you're the senior class president. You're leading your senior class right now. You, in many ways, have to figure out how to change this mindset and deal what you're seeing in the news.

Do you want to ask the coach for any advice?

SAECHAO: I just wanted to ask you, like, how did you get past it after everyone told you they're not going to get there, they're not going to do their work, they're not going to get the grades? How did you get past it and overcome?

CARTER: Well, young lady, and Mrs. Phillips, I want to tell you this -- I'm going to return back to Richmond High and we're going to work something out. I'm going to meet with some community leaders...

PHILLIPS: There we go.

CARTER: ... and because that was my old high school -- and I had a great, great career there at Richmond High School. And my academic career there was just simply outstanding.

Our teachers loved us and cared about us and was real strict with us. And I want that to happen again, because the kids need the discipline.

But, young lady, someone else's opinion of you don't have to become your reality. And so that's what kids have to understand. If they say it, believe it, they can receive it. And that is the key.

Believe it or not, if you write things down, they are 10 times more likely to come true in your life. I wonder if Mother Teresa would have never reached her full potential or Bill Gates would have never reached his full potential. What would the world be like?

The kids in Richmond and at Richmond High have to understand that if they don't reach their full potential, they're cheating the world out of something extremely special.

PHILLIPS: Well, you heard it right there. Coach Ken Carter said he's going to go back to that high school.

Gina, are you ready for him? Are you going to host him? Are you guys going to work together?

SAECHAO: Definitely. I can't wait. It's a very exciting opportunity.

PHILLIPS: There we go.

OK. Gina Saechao, Coach Ken Carter, we're looking forward for the follow-up.

SAECHAO: OK.

CARTER: Thank you so very much, young lady.

PHILLIPS: It's a pleasure talking to you, Coach.

Gina, thank you so much. Keep strong.

And we'll talk to you again, Coach. Appreciate it.

CARTER: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Well, tomatoes, onions, a spicy kick and a lot of heart. A former L.A. gang member hungry for change finds redemption through salsa, but does she have the recipe to save her home girls?

You're going to meet her.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Live pictures of the White House.

He's heard from the aides, the advisers, the diplomats, and as we speak, President Obama hearing from the generals, the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the next phase of the war in Afghanistan. And they may well get the last word.

This is the last formal strategy session that the president plans before he decides whether to send more troops and, if so, how many. He says he thinks every day about the sacrifice U.S. forces and their families are making.

And this week's visit to Dover Air Force Base was a sobering reminder. One of the fallen heroes whose dignified transfer the president witnessed was Army Sergeant Dale Griffin of Terre Haute, Indiana.

This morning, Griffin's mother told an interviewer she made a request of the commander-in-chief.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONA GRIFFIN, MOTHER OF DALE GRIFFIN: He leaned in and gave me a hug. And I held on to his hand for a moment and just leaned up to his ear and I said, "Mr. President, please don't leave our troops hanging."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: A decision is still believed to be weeks off.

The White House is backing a frontal diplomatic assault by Hillary Clinton in Pakistan after years of mistrust and hard feelings on both sides. Clinton told a group of Pakistani journalists, and I quote, "I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government know where they..." -- meaning Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists -- "... are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to."

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, 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 have seen in our own country with the arrest of Zazi, who is clearly connected with al Qaeda, trained in an al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan, I just want to keep putting on the table that we have some concerns as well. And I think that's the kind of relationship I'm looking to build here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Now, as you may know, Pakistani troops are at war with the Taliban as we speak in the region called South Waziristan.

CNN's Reza Sayah is there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You are looking at a place very few people ever visit. Some call it one of the most dangerous spots in the world. This is South Waziristan. One of seven districts in Pakistan's volatile tribal region right along the Afghan border, widely believed to be the headquarters of the Taliban's safe haven for al Qaeda.

It was here when earlier this month the Pakistani army began its all-important offensive targeting the Taliban. Up until now, the army had not allowed journalists to enter the battle zone, but now they are. It's very unlikely that we're going to get a complete picture of how this battle is going, but we did get a chance to see where this fight is happening.

Some of the most severe, rugged terrain in the world. The army also showing us some of the items that they've seized, some heavy weaponry, ammunition, computers used by militants, fake passports used by suspected militants. The military strategy is to encircle the Taliban and move in from three fronts.

We saw the southwestern front, the army showing us the village of Kanigoram which they are approaching. The village of Kanigoram, a stronghold of the Uzbeks fighters. An estimated 1,000 Uzbeks fighters of the army says is here.

We also saw the village of Kotkai, which the army captured a few days ago. Kotkai has symbolic meaning, because it's the hometown of the Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud.

How is this battle going to unfold? When is it going to find? What's going to be the aftermath? Many analysts agree it is much too early to tell.

This is going to be a very difficult fight with militants who are very familiar with this terrain. The winter months are setting in.

Analysts say it may be months before we find out how this battle is going to conclude and what the impact is going to be. Not just on the Pakistani Taliban, but on al Qaeda in the tribal region and militancy in Pakistan.

Reza Sayah, in South Waziristan, Pakistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Well, it's time to follow up. A veteran and his service dog, they got hassled because his disability isn't visible. Well, he and the pooch can feel good about what happened this week in Washington.

We'll tell you what happened.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Just in, a small plane has reportedly crashed into a home in northern Georgia. We're told that the Cessna went down about an hour ago after leaving the Gwinnett County Airport. So far, no word on what happened to the people on board or on the ground.

A couple of miles from the bridge, a big oil spill in San Francisco Bay. It happened this morning while an oil tanker was transferring fuel. Right now the oil slick is about a mile long. No word yet on how much fuel has spilled.

(WEATHER REPORT)

PHILLIPS: Well, giving up drugs for salsa? A former gang member went from bad girl to top chef with a little help from Homeboy Industries, the largest gang intervention program in the country. And now an entire community is getting a taste of her success.

Our Thelma Gutierrez shows us how.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALMA COVA, HOMEGIRL CAFE: You try to prove yourself.

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alma Cova has spent most of her 21 years proving herself.

COVA: Before, the way I used to communicate with girls was just fighting.

GUTIERREZ: She belonged to a notorious Los Angeles street gang.

COVA: I never finished my high school. I dropped out.

GUTIERREZ: Most of the time she says she was high.

COVA: I used to say, like, I'll sleep when I die. You know?

GUTIERREZ: That was two years ago, before Alma had her daughter Malina (ph), and before Homeboy Industries, a gang intervention program, came into her life.

Alma was trained to become a chef. She even has a salad named after her at Homegirl Cafe. And now she makes salsa, but not just any salsa.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When they were doing the display, I'm thinking, yes, exactly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is one of the best that I have tasted with the mango in there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has me sweating a little bit, too.

GUTIERREZ: Homegirl Salsas have made their way into Ralphs, a major supermarket chain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're selling it like crazy off of our shelves.

GUTIERREZ: Ralphs had heard the nonprofit was having a hard time raising money, so they made a $25,000 donation. And they did something even bigger. They struck a deal to sell Homegirl Salsa at one downtown location to begin with.

KENDRA DOYEL, RALPHS GROCERY STORES: That really was our goal. Rather than just hand them a check and walk out the door, we really have become as a company very vested in their success.

GUTIERREZ: That translates into money for Homeboy Industries and jobs for former gang members.

PATTY ZARATE, HOMEGIRL CAFE: That means 12 more people working with us, an extra shift, overnight shift, just making salsa. That means 12 to 15 people less on the streets.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): You grew up making and eating salsa. All of a sudden, you find out that this big store chain wants to carry it.

What does that feel like for you?

COVA: It was really exciting, like I mentioned, because I had never been a part of something, you know, that's recognized.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): Alma says that thanks to her job, she's providing for her daughter, and for the first time she's thinking about her future.

COVA: I want to be responsible. I want to be her role model. I want for her to finish school, to go to proms, for me to do her 15, 16.

You know, I want a lot of stuff for any little girl. And a lot of stuff that I didn't get to have when I was growing up.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): Because you were in trouble.

COVA: Yes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Thelma Gutierrez live in L.A.

Thelma, the salsa made it into at least one store. Any plans to go even bigger?

GUTIERREZ: Kyra, big plans to take it even bigger. They're saying that if the customers continue to make this salsa a hit in that one store, the plan is to take this salsa over the next year and put it into 259 Ralphs stores. So that would be huge for Homeboy Industries.

PHILLIPS: All right. Now, last time we talked, we talked about Homeboy Industries and how it was struggling financially.

Is the sales from the salsa helping Homeboy Industries as a whole?

GUTIERREZ: You know, Kyra, if you talk to anybody at Homeboy Industries, they'll tell you that every little bit helps. And so far, they have had a really tough time making payroll.

They say that they have just been able to make half their payroll. And it's so important to keep these people employed so that they're not on the streets, as you just heard somebody say at Homeboy Industries.

But one of the things that they're doing is they have sold 200 pounds of salsa so far. Homeboy Industries is able to keep half of that money. And so this is such a huge thing. And that's 200 pounds in just a week. So there's no telling just how far this can go if the consumers decide they still want to buy it.

PHILLIPS: OK. So, can we order it? What about all of us in Atlanta, Georgia, or New York City? Can we somehow order?

GUTIERREZ: I'll send you some, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: OK, good.

GUTIERREZ: You are such a fan, we'll make sure to get some to you.

PHILLIPS: OK. That's a deal. And I'm going to figure out a way how other people can order it. Maybe I'll run her online ordering program.

GUTIERREZ: There you go.

PHILLIPS: Thelma, what a great story. Thanks so much.

Well, there are all kinds of legal ways that teens can make money -- part-time jobs, mowing lawns, dog-sitting. Not getting pregnant? Wait a minute, what? Paid not the be a mother?

Wait until you hear this story.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Keep your clothes on. Put off having a child until you're no long a child and get paid for it. Yep. Abstinence making the wallet grow fatter in North Carolina, thanks to a program that pays teen girls to choose college over motherhood. Watch this story from Julia Bagg (ph) from our Greensboro affiliate WFMY, and then let's talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AUDIENCE: No.

JULIA BAGG (ph), WFMY-TV CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fourteen- year-old Tiwan Goodner and these other girls are not just learning self-defense but self-discipline, and they're taking these moves to the bank.

HAZEL BROWN, COORDINATOR, COLLEGE BOUND SISTERS: We're paying them to avoid pregnancy to graduate from high school and enroll in college. And we're paying them because it is a short-term and a long- term incentive for them to change their life trajectory.

BAGG: These girls all have older sisters who got pregnant before turning 18.

TIWAN GOODNER, 14 YEARS OLD: Most teens is having babies, they're still a child themselves. If they can't take of theirself, care of their child.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you're ready for whatever may come your way.

BAGG: Along with self-defense techniques, Tiwan learns about abstinence, contraceptives and preparing for college. Tiwan and the College-Bound Sisters earn seven dollars a week for coming to this hour-and-a-half program. She has more than $600 saved up right now.

GOODNER: It's a lot when you don't have any.

BAGG: To cash in on up to $2,200, the girls must stay in school and stay pregnancy-free. The dollars are only collectible when they enroll in college.

BROWN: Because they know they have $1,000-plus earned and know they are lose it if they drop out of the program, it's incentive for them to stay with it.

BAGG: Program co-director Hazel Brown says her data shows that these girls are twice as likely to avoid pregnancy as other at-risk teens. But opponents say a paycheck reward sends the wrong message.

BILL WRIGHT, REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIR, GUILFORD CO., NC: To pay someone not to do something wrong or not to make a mistake like that, that's a concern.

BAGG: Bill Wright chairs the Republican party in Guilford County. He says encouraging teen girls to avoid pregnancy is a good idea, but not a good way to spend taxpayer money.

WRIGHT: I prefer it be funded by civic organizations, churches or other nonprofits, and not tax dollars. There's a certain thing called individual responsibility. I think society has often taken us away from that and trying to put more of that on government.

BAGG: The program runs on a grant for $75,000 a year.

WRIGHT: Costs for one of these girls is nothing compared to one teenage baby prevented.

BAGG: Tiwan knows being a teen mom is not a part of her plan.

GOODNER: I want to be something in my life. I want to get degrees, and I want to have a good job.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: That was Julia Bagg from WFMY in Greensboro reporting. OK, help me out here. I'm kind of on the fence. On one hand, I'm thinking, wait, what about the boys? Shouldn't they get paid, too? It takes two to tang go, right? Plus, what's next? Pay kids not to kill, not to steal? Pay them not to snitch? Where does it end?

Then again, if the numbers are right, it's far cheaper on the taxpayer to pay for prevention than to raise a baby. Plus, maybe we're seeing the very definition of personal responsibility evolve as families and the times have changed.

I don't know, what do you think? E-mail me or tweet me, Kyra,CNN. We'll read them at the end of the hour.

Stocks on Wall Street selling off. Yesterday, we had a huge rally, but the Dow is giving back all of those gains today, unfortunately. Susan Lisovicz joins me with the details. What happened? It dropped off right before 1:00.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we had a rough open. We had a feel-good rally yesterday on that GDP report, but everybody was talking about the economy growing for the first time in a year because of all of the stimulus. All of the stimulus, if it's taken away, what happens?

Well, we got an answer today, in a sense. Consumer spending declined half a percent. In September, a month when we had no more Cash for Clunkers.

So, that's one of the things that's working. You see the three major averages are down sharply today, and perhaps what's worse and more telling is this is the fourth triple-digit decline that we have seen in six sessions. So, you may see October end all major averages down.

We were due for a correction, OK? We have had this remarkable rally since March. But when we have a report like that, it really drives home the concerns about recovery without Uncle Sam's help.

PHILLIPS: Now, we were watching the White House briefing. Robert Gibbs, of course, was talking about the economy and talked about these exact numbers. He also said that 650,000 jobs were saved. Now, it's 640,000 jobs actually, so how reliable are these numbers?

LISOVICZ: Well, the White House wants to point out that all of the spending is actually doing some good. Keep in mind that this amount is only $150 billion of $787 billion. Only a fifth. But there's a lot of caveats with these numbers.

Why is that? Because it's based on tens of thousands of reports from universities, from state and local governments, from nonprofits, from private businesses. What's included, what's counted? Part-time, temporary work that may already be finished? There are a lot of questions when it's this complex. There's going to be a lot of discrepancies and a lot of debate, and even the White House itself says in its summary, quotes a well-known economist saying, "It's not feasible to identify and count jobs, each job that results from stimulus."

They're trying.

PHILLIPS: They're trying, but it's not exact. All right, thanks, Susan.

Fees here, fees there, fees everywhere. Just about everything you buy includes hidden charges. And they really add up, too. Our personal finance editor Gerri Willis has been looking into that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR (voice-over): From cell phones to cable service to credit cards and banks to airline travel and hotel stays. Experts say the average American is spending close to $1,000 a year extra on hidden fees and surcharges. A nickel here, a dime there.

BOB SULLIVAN, AUTHOR "RED TAPE CHONICLES": It's real money. Married couples are talking about $2,000. That's a nice chunk of change to stock a healthy retirement, pay for a nice vacation, get a head start on school costs.

WILLIS: Bob Sullivan is the author of "The Red Tape Chronicles."

SULLIVAN: With almost every transaction now, if you're buying a car, buying a house, getting a cell phone, the company knows far much more than you do, including they know what the real cost is. And when all of this confusion over what things cost, well consumers lose.

WILLIS: And they're losing in a big way. The average fee ranges from less than a dollar to $10. While that may not seem like a lot of money but it adds up. Cell phone fees average $9.40 per month, more than $116 a year. Cable and satellite fees on average run $9.52 a month, totaling $114 a year. Every time you fly, $33.44 with a national average of 3 1/2 tickets a year, that totals $102 a year.

Credit card fees average $7.72 a month bringing the annual cost to $92. And the average fee incurred for a hotel stay is close to $25. Roughly $95 a year per person. Bjorn Hanson is a professor at NYU's Tisch Center for hospitality. Hanson says hotels are more creative in what he calls the surprise fee.

BJORN HANSON, PROFESSOR , NYU TISCH CENTER: The hotel industry in - in 2008 collected about $1.75 billion on fees and surcharges. Some of the fees that surprise guests the most would be an early departure fee, a cancellation fee, mini bar restocking charges, luggage or baggage holding fees.

WILLIS: Some hotels go as far as charging resort amenity fees for towels and, some urban hotels even charge a daily fee for receiving faxes.

(on camera): Experts say the best way to avoid being surprised by hidden fees and surcharges is to ask upfront before every transaction, what's the final cost I'm going to pay. According to the national survey cited in our report, consumers had the most success resolving fee complaints with credit card companies and hotels.

Gerri Willis, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: An Iraqi-born man is captured ten days after allegedly running over his daughter for being too Westernized. Falay Hassan Al- Malachi (ph) 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; his daughter in serious condition.

And we're following a developing story. A small plane reportedly crashed into a home outside of Atlanta, engulfing the house in flames. We're told the Cessna went down about an hour ago after leaving the Gwinnett County airport. So far, no word on what happened to the people on board or on the ground.

A commuter nightmare in San Francisco and Oakland. The Bay Bridge, still shut down after three pieces of steel fell into the roadway three days ago. Hundreds of thousands of people scramble to find alternate ways to work. A lot of them just hop the bus or the train.

It's almost high season on the high seas for piracy, but the Navy has a new plan of attack, and believe me, it doesn't involve swords or a walk on the plank.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Now a NEWSROOM follow-up. Last week, we brought you this story of Arthur Schwartz and Pearl, the service dog who helps the Iraqi war vet deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. Schwartz and Pearl rely on buses to get around their home city of Miami, and since Schwartz isn't blind, they usually run into problems.

But the defense spending bill that President Obama signed into law this week actually provides new federal support for service dogs for vets. And just as important that all of us walk a black or two in the shoes of veterans like Schwartz.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARTHUR SCHWARTZ, IRAQI WAR VETERAN: None of them that are doing that and coming back want anything special. They're doing great things and the extra mile for their country. For Pearl and I, it's a great thing and a great step forward and a great day for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Well, for the record, Miami-Dade Transit says pearl should always have been allowed to board those busses with Schartz, no questions asked.

And burglars they weren't. But some Utah boys got a bad rap at McDonald's. We're going to tell you why they say the home of the Big Mac is whack.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Their food sticks your ribs almost as much as their jingle sticks to your brain. Over the years, McDonald's has produced some of the catchiest little diddys ever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SINGING)

VOICE OF UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where your dollar gets a break everyday.

VOICE OF UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Far out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Well, your dollar might get a break, but some Utah teens sure didn't when they imitated a YouTube rap at the drive-thru.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SINGING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We said "We just did order. Here, and we'll slow it down." And so the song repeated it, and he rapped it again, and he said "OK, stop playing games and if you're going to order, order," and at that point the manager came out and said to stop acting like children, and if we were going to order something, then order, or to leave.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: They tried to rap their order, and they did leave. But get this, the manager got their license plate number and called the cops, who tracked them down and cited them for disorderly conduct. The restaurant owner said employees felt that their safety was threatened. Quite a pickle. But the boys' parents say they're going to fight it.

As always, Team Sanchez back there working hard on the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Quite a pickle. Quite a pickle. Aww. I got that, well done.

PHILLIPS: You were listening!

SANCHEZ: I was. I caught the pickle line. You know what everybody does in stories like that? I always start thinking of those great -- because I'm really old, and I always remember all the McDonald's and all the Burger King commercials.

PHILLIPS: Oh, yes. Do you remember Rodney Allen Ripey (ph) with -- do you remember Jack in the Box? Did you ever live in California?

SANCHEZ: No, no I was a Miami guy. In Florida, we had Royal Castle.

PHILLIPS: Oh, OK. We had Jack in the Box.

(LAUGHTER)

SANCHEZ: All right. I suppose this is where I talk about what's coming up, right?

PHILLIPS: You got it. Yes. Although we're hungry and we really want some fast food right now, we better move on.

SANCHEZ: I got a fabulous story coming your way. Again, it goes to one of those hyper-sensitivity things. There's these kids that are playing this football game. It's two high schools, they're in New Orleans. And this has turned into a big controversy because some kids during a pep rally did a skit, and some people saw them wearing blackface. Which you know is offensive. And everybody agrees with that.

But they say, "No, what we were going is a skit pretending to be like from the Batman movie, the Dark Knight." That's what they were wearing, and it was like a mask. But it's created this huge brouhaha now, and many sensitivities have been affected by this. And we're going to drill down on it because maybe it's something we have to have conversations about from time to time to illuminate all of us.

PHILLIPS: That's what we like to do. We like to illuminate and have good discussions.

SANCHEZ: You're good like that.

PHILLIPS: So are you.

SANCHEZ: See you later, Pickle.

(LAUGHTER)

PHILLIPS: Right, Meathead. All right, let's check our tweets on the "paid not to get pregnant" story out of North Carolina.

Meldesigns says, "It will only encourage abortion."

Shahab23 says, "Whatever incentive works."

And from Liz581, "Why do the girls have to be paid for learning things they should be taught anyway? It just didn't seem right to me."

And from Sheekle: "I don't believe kids should be paid not to get pregnant with taxpayer money, either. If private organizations want to, then go for it."

Appreciate your tweets. Thanks so much.

Pirate problem on the high seas. Hijackings, kidnappings and worse. So, how do we stop it? Some high-tech answers to an old age problem.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK0

PHILLIPS: Hospitable pirates? That's how a kidnapped British woman is describing the captors that snatched her and her husband off a yacht last week. In a telephone call broadcast by ITV News, Rachel Chandler says says that she and her husband Paul are healthy and well fed. Pirates are reportedly planning to hold the couple and hijack Spanish ship just off the Somali coast.

Just a few years ago, if you were talking about pirates, chances are it was the Johnny-Depp type. How do you fight back? Less swashbuckling, more hijacking and kidnapping. So, how do you fight back? Well, Brian Todd has a look at some options.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Using the crudest tactics, they've hijacked the shipping industry with grappling hooks, AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. They brazenly clamor on board massive tankers and cargo ships, taking crews hostage. They usually have little use for the cargo. It's ransom they're after and they often get it.

Pirates off the eastern coast of Africa have cost the industry billions of dollars in recent years. Military officials tell CNN they don't have the resources to cover the vast areas of those hot zones. And with monsoon season ending in that region, the pirates are back at it.

But this is what they could now encounter. A security team helps the crew get into a blast-proof bridge. A sniper takes position on deck, scans the perimeter. It's a drill on board the "SS Horizon Producer," a cargo ship making a run into San Juan harbor. The vessel is equipped with a new multilayered security system called triton shield.

It starts with long-range surveillance cameras to detect pirates further out. And if they do get close, loud speaker alarms. A few feet away, trained guards patrol the deck under simulated fire.

At sea and in port, with the help of the San Juan Bay boat pilots, CNN has exclusive access, as the captain and crew are trained how to scramble into their secured bridges and engine rooms. It's not always smooth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need the guy's name and mission.

TODD: But the captain says his crew needs this.

CAPTAIN STEVE PROCIDA, S.S. HORIZON PRODUCER: Well, you saw the drill. Guns going off and that kind of stuff. And it was a realism about it. And I think it woke up a lot of guys.

TODD: This is the brainchild of a company called International Maritime Security Network, IMSN. The firm provides everything. Security teams, fortification of bridges, sniper nets, training the crew how to react if pirates breach the vessel. I spoke to an IMSN instructor who asked that his name and face not be identified because he conducts training in high-risk regions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We show them how to detain that individual. We show them how to use handcuffs. We also in the course train the crew on how to be a hostage.

TODD: But there's another part of the system aimed at never letting it get that far.

(on camera): This is a crucial part of the deterrent. A ball of water that blasts down from the gunnels to knock the pirates off who try to scale the ship. It can also flood the pirates' boat. They can mix in bleach, pepper, oil, even soap to try to distract them even more.

(voice-over): I'm repeatedly blasted, and when I try to look up alongside the hull, I can't see a thing. Back on deck, I press the instructor about the effectiveness of all this.

(on camera): How confident are you that this wall of water, the blast-proof bridge, the loud speakers are going to really keep pirates from coming on the ship?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're 99.999 percent sure that we've got the answer here.

TODD: Is that really that certain, because the pirates and the criminals always stay one step ahead of the law. 99.9 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's true.

TODD: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back in our factory, we're already making the next version of the next step up. We're going to one step them. Every time they make a move, we'll be ready for them.

TODD (voice-over): Why not just arm the crew?

CAPTAIN LARRY WILKINSON, CEO, INTL. MARITIME SECURITY NETWORK: You put a weapon in a man's hand who's not trained to use that weapon and should you have a target come alongside of you, he can just start opening fire. And it he could be a fisherman.

TODD: But this system is not cheap. A shipping line can choose any combination of security layers or just one. If is gets the whole package, the price starts in the mid 200,000 for a vessel. That includes highly-trained guards on board for the first voyage. After that, it's just under $5,000 for each day the security team is on board. But an official with Horizon Shipping Lines tells us what a hijacking could cost in delays or ruined cargo.

JACOB WEGRZYN, HORIZON SHIPPING LINES: In Puerto Rico, we have pharmaceutical loads that are worth, you know, $30 million, $40 million in a container. So if you have 700 or 800 containers on a ship, you can do the math.

TODD: What these security consultants are really aiming for is a true deterrent.

JOHN KLENIATIS, DEFENSE SHIELD INC.: The whole point is, they see this from the water and they say, these guys are looking for something. It's not worth hitting the ship. Let's go somewhere else.

TODD: This is the only vessel IMSN has outfitted so far, but we're told more are in line. In the coming months, this system is going to be deployed on another merchant vessel off the coast of Africa for a trial by fire. Brian Todd, CNN, San Juan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Well, that does it for us. Have a fabulous weekend. Rick Sanchez picks it up from here.