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Report: Fast-Food Chains Choosier Than Schools; Who Hacked Scientists' E-mail?; Electronic Device Reads Text for the Blind; Five Arrested in Pakistan May Be Linked to Five Missing in D.C. Area; Texas State Senator Extracts Information from Runaway Convict; Disgraced Ex- Mayor's Claims of Money Trouble Ring Hollow in Detroit; James Arthur Ray: Self-Help or Self Harm?

Aired December 9, 2009 - 13:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Sell drugs, buy guns, bide your time. Prison life in Texas, according to a lifer who spent a week on the run. A lawmaker wants the Department of Corrections to make some.

The former mayor and the million-dollar judgment. Kwame Kilpatrick says he can't afford to pay his debt to Detroit, but nothing's too good for his wife.

Months before the sweat-lodge deaths in Arizona, a woman jumped to her death in San Diego. All were looking for answers from self-help guru, James Arthur Ray. Now we want answers, too.

Hello, everyone. It's 1 p.m. in the east, noon in the Midwest. Half the country is sitting down to lunch or soon will, or just finished. And that includes your kids.

Our top story right now is about their lunches, specifically the meat that their schools receive from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "USA Today" reports McDonald's, Burger King, and especially Jack-in-the-Box, all have much higher meat safety standards than the USDA sets for our schools and our kids. Can you believe fast-food chains test meat that they buy more often than the government does?

And on top of that, even the limits they set for bacteria are lower. And, get this: USDA buys spent hens. That's just what it sounds like. Old chickens. KFC won't buy them. Campbell's Soup won't buy them. And if they didn't go to school lunches, they'd wind up in pet food.

So, here's what we want to know, and I'm sure you want to know, too. What kinds of meat are your children eating? And what are the standards?

Joining me with the facts that they uncovered are "USA Today" reporters Peter Eisler and Blake Morrison.

And you know, Peter and Blake, how many times as kids and even in our adult life have we made fun of what we've had to eat at school? Come on. We've all teased about it, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, quite a lot. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's one of the things that we wanted to look at.

PHILLIPS: Yes, so, you know, looking at the reality of what you did find, I mean, I'm -- it's incredible. Old hen meat fed to pets, you know, are going to these school kids. The fast-food chains trumping the standards for our own kids in school lunches. I mean, what do you think -- and, Blake, let me start with you -- was the most shocking thing that you discovered while you were working on this report?

BLAKE MORRISON, REPORTER, "USA TODAY": Well, you know, we talked a little bit about the spent hen issue, and what was stunning to us is that there is really no market for this meat. The market is for pets. Sometimes alligator farms, compost, and yet the school-lunch program seemed to be buying quite a bit of it. I think 77 million pounds this decade.

And to us it was pretty stunning, given that these are standards that we should have for our kids, who are particularly vulnerable to pathogens like salmonella, for instance. And, you know, Pete talked quite a bit about that when we were taking a look at the standards themselves.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Peter, let's talk about the standards, then. You know, who is failing our children? Who's responsibility is it to make sure that that meat is -- is standard?

PETER EISLER, REPORTER, "USA TODAY": Well, you know, the government has a set of standards that they've put in place, and the problem is that the standards that they put in place are about ten years old now. And with all the attention that's been paid to foodborne illness and all the technological advances that have come along in the industry, that the fast-food industry really has adopted a lot more of this stuff and a lot tougher programs in place for how often they sample the meat, how carefully they check for pathogens, for bacteria and that sort of thing. And at this point, the government has fallen behind.

PHILLIPS: And so, is it USDA and AMS that need to both raise the standards here? Because they work together in not only checking out this meat, but distributing this meat, right?

EISLER: Yes, that's true. You know, the Agricultural Marketing Service is a branch of the USDA, and they purchase the meat. And they're the ones that set the standards.

But after we came out with our findings, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack said that he was going to order an independent review early next year to look at all the standards that they've set for the meat that they purchase for schools and determine where they need to be toughened and to move forward on that.

So, his goal, he said, is to make sure that the standards in the food that kids are getting in school are the safest possible.

PHILLIPS: Now, Blake, if you were to look at fast food, kids' lunches and then the meat that we all buy in the grocery store, you guys already discovered that fast food has higher standards than what our kids are getting. What about the meat that we're going in and buying from the grocery store? Where does it rank?

MORRISON: Well, that's hard to say. It all depends on where you shop, of course. I mean, one of the things that struck us, we took a look at one provider, traditionally one of the biggest providers to the school lunch programs, a company based in Fresno. It was already involved in two recalls already this year for salmonella- contaminated meat.

Now, that's been a provider for the school lunch program for years and years now, one of the major suppliers. And it's a situation where Representative Rosa DeLauro, for instance, is saying that plant ought to be shut down until it gets its act together.

Now, the USDA's response to that is "We are closely looking at that plant, and we're not going to let them supply to schools anymore unless and until we're convinced that what they're doing is safe."

But it's one of the situations where, if we're not paying attention, nobody really knows. And schools themselves often don't know where the meat they're serving is coming from.

PHILLIPS: See, that's interesting, Blake, because both of you guys also revealed the numbers from the CDC, that between 1998 and 2007 there were 470 outbreaks of foodborne illnesses in schools, and that's thousands and thousands of kids getting sick. So, Blake, is it that these kids got sick because of the quality of meat that they were eating?

MORRISON: Well, that's part of the mystery. I mean, part of it is that with children it's hard to know sometimes why they're getting sick. Sometimes you just want to dismiss, say, "He's a kid. He got sick on something. We don't really know."

But that's part of the reason we wanted to look at this. You know, parents have all these choices when they go to a grocery store, but when they send their children to school, it's the government who's making the choices. They're the ones who are vetting these providers. They're the ones who are making decisions about what the kids eat.

And the parents really don't know. They have no idea what's on the menu or where it is coming from and whether the companies that are providing it have really poor track records.

PHILLIPS: Well, the most heartbreaking thing is for thousands and thousands of kids across the country, this is their only meal of the day. And we all know that. We've covered those stories, and it's a shame. But we're going to follow-up on your report and how it has impacted the Department of Agriculture. We know that Vilsack now, the secretary of agriculture, has launched an investigation.

Guys, great work. Peter, Blake, thanks for talking to me today.

MORRISON: Thank you very much for having us.

EISLER: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: You bet.

We also received a statement, by the way, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture just a short while ago. Here's what it says. Quote, "Food safety is a high priority for the Obama administration, starting with the launch of the president's Food Safety Working Group within a few months of taking office. The Working Group is charged with strengthening our food safety system, improving collaboration among federal agencies, and focusing efforts on preventing foodborne illness.

"Secretary Vilsack has also ordered an independent review of the testing procedures and requirements of the national school lunch program and charged the department with ensuring that all products supplied to America's schoolchildren are safe and healthy and that our purchasing processes remain equivalent with the best industry practices."

Well, we're not done with this story. Next hour I'm going to talk with Barry Carpenter. He used to actually run the agency that buys the meat for public school cafeterias. Now he heads the National Meat Association.

Also you can read the full work of Pete and Blake in today's "USA Today" and also find their full three-part series online at I encourage all parents to read it.

Well, enough about lunch. What about breakfast and the so-called most important meal of, you know, the rest of the day?

General Mills is the latest big cereal maker to cut the sugar content in some of its leading brands. The timing will vary, but the goal is single-digit grams of sugar per serving.

The EPA is taking a hard look at water quality in rural areas, especially rural schools. The Associated Press has found 1 in 5 schools that pump their water from wells has violated the Safe Water Drinking Act. But the A.P. also turned up school water contamination in all 50 states, big cities, and small towns alike.

The feds say that small water systems have most of the problems, so that's where they'll focus their efforts.

And also finally, after a lot of talk, heated arguments, finger-pointing and dire warnings, Senate Democrats have struck a tentative agreement on the public option in health-care reform; namely, there will be no government-run insurance option according to Democratic sources. Instead, the compromise calls for nonprofit private insurance plans.

Now, the plans would be run by the Federal Office of Personnel Management, much like the current health plan for federal workers.

Also, the deal would open Medicare to uninsured Americans beginning at age 55.

The White House was quick to praise, but a big hurdle remains. It could end up in the Senate trash can if it costs too much. We're going to know the price tag after the Congressional Budget Office crunches those numbers.

And state after state battered by snow and ice and cold. It's the first big storm of the season. And it's one you won't forget. So who's next in line? We'll tell you in just a sec.


PHILLIPS: Well, it's all over, a 90-year-old veteran fighting for his flagpole, his neighbors fighting mad that he broke the rules. So, who won the home-front battle?


PHILLIPS: Well, President Obama says he wants to make health care lean, mean, and a jobs machine. He came out and spoke about 20 minutes ago on ways to push the recovery act forward.

One big way? Almost $600 million in stimulus money to build or renovate community health centers and to switch over to electronic medical records. The White House linking all this to broader reform efforts.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's been a tough fight, but I also know the reason we've taken up this cause is the very same reason why so many members from both parties are here today: because no matter what our politics are, we know that when it comes to health care, the people we serve deserve better.

The legislation in Congress today contains both Democratic ideas and Republican ideas, and plenty of compromises in between. The Senate made critical progress last night with a creative new framework that I believe will help pave the way for final passage and an historic achievement on behalf of the American people.


PHILLIPS: The president then signed a memo directing the health and human services secretary to get moving on those initiatives. Hurricane-force winds and bone-chilling cold, heavy snow, sleet, rain. That storm that's gone from coast to coast has got it all. And, Jacqui, we're also hearing now about a possible tornado touching down near Tallahassee.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, now we can throw tornadoes in the mix, right? Yes, we still have a warning right now at this time. This is for Thomas County as well as Jefferson County, and it's a little uncertain as to whether or not it was a tornado or severe wind damage, but it was near the Lake Jackson area. Three or four homes were damaged and also a bunch of trees had been downed. So we're investigating that right now, and as we get more information, we'll bring that along to you. But no word of any injuries at this point.

So, Doppler radar indicated tornado for sure, possibly on the ground. The area of rotation right now is somewhere near Alma, and it's moving off to the east about 30 miles per hour. And as you can see, this is right along that state line, Florida and Georgia. So we'll continue to monitor that situation for you right now.

There are no watches which are in effect at this time.

Snow is the other big story that we have going on for you here. And we've got some pictures to show you, just fresh now from New Hampshire. This is the Petersboro area, expecting a good 5 to 9 inches of snow there today. We might see some freezing rain and a wintry mix, and those winds are really going to kick in tonight. So white-out conditions will be a possibility late tonight. But it will be kind of touch and go.

Here's the system as a whole as we take a look at the big picture. Still blizzard conditions here across parents of the Midwest, where we've had a foot of snow. Madison, Wisconsin, really got hammered, up there about 15. And we're still seeing those wind gusts continue to be very strong, around 30 to 40 miles per hour.

All right, do you like the snow? Some people actually like the snow, so I wanted to pass on the Web site of the day today as being If you're looking for a place to ski and get out there, this is a great Web site, because it has information, snow reports for every single state.

All you have to do is click on your state here, or if you're looking for some travel deals and looking for some ski packages and trips, just go a little further down. And also a lot of people go on here and rate some of these places, so you know if it's some good fresh powder or a nice place to stay -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. We like that nice, hard-packed fresh powder. A combination of both, I guess.

JERAS: We do. There's four feet of it out west so...

PHILLIPS: Well, we're ready to go skiing, that's for sure. Well, victory is his. A World War II vet and Medal of Honor winner gets to keep his flagpole after his homeowners' association dropped threats of legal action.

Colonel Van Barfoot put up the pole even after the HOH told him they wouldn't allow it. The 90-year-old says he's flown that flag everyplace he's ever lived, saluting it daily, and he wasn't about to stop now.

This whole thing got veterans around the country pretty fired up, and Virginia Senator Mark Warner eventually stepped and mediated.

Hacked e-mails causing heat at the climate change summit. They're giving plenty of ammo to global warming skeptics. So who's behind the hack job? We're going to go live to London for some more answers.


PHILLIPS: Top stories now.

A "not guilty" plea from the Chicago man accused of helping to plot last year's terror attacks in Mumbai, India. David Headley is also accused of plotting to attack a Danish newspaper.

Fencing off a house of horrors. A registered sex offender charged with 11 murders was back in a Cleveland court with a new defense team. Today Anthony Sowell agreed to let police fence off his house to preserve evidence. Sowell is accused of killing 11 women and hiding their bodies in and around the home. He's pleading insanity.

Well, it was a hack job that rippled around the world and landed squarely at the climate change summit going on right now in Copenhagen. We're talking about those leaked e-mails that gave skeptics of global warming a lot of ammunition.

So, how did the hackers pull it off and who's behind the hack job? CNN's Paula Newton live from London.

Paula, what do you know?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, like its namesake, Climate-gate started, like Watergate, with a break-in, and what did they do? They broke into these e-mails. A lot of people were so surprised that they looked through so many e-mails, but it turns out this is pretty easy to do.

We have been tracking this for a couple of years now, Kyra. And what happens is if you get any kind of spam or sometimes e- mail, even from someone you know, as soon as you open it, that opens up this spyware, this program that can then scour all your information and deliver it to another server.

Now, some people have linked this to Russia, but the fact of the matter is, you know, the experts tell me, look, they rotate these servers all over the world. Just because they had used that at one time doesn't mean that there is an actual Russia connection to this whole controversy right now.

And in terms of who did it, there are many, many different accusations flying around. If you talk to the climate change campaigners, the environmentalists, they say that the same groups that they have been fighting in the United States for a while, those climate skeptics, one way or another, they're behind this.

The climate skeptics are saying, "Look, if there had been nothing to hide, then why has this become such a big debate? We basically found what you guys have been trying to hide."

You know, some of those key words that the hackers were able to clue into. The point is you can have a hacker for hire that gives you all this information, and then you have somebody who knows what they're looking for go through the data. And when you start to talk about some of the key words like "tricked", Kyra, that was like finding jewels for these guys.

PHILLIPS: And it's interesting, too, even just looking back at the e-mails, Paula, you know, some going back ten years, some going back as early as this year.

NEWTON: Yes. And, you know, a lot of stuff that was picked through made a lot of the climate campaigners incredibly angry. I want you to listen to an author now of "Climate Change Cover-up." He's sure that the lobby groups in the United States are behind it.


RICHARD LITTLEMORE, CO-AUTHOR, "CLIMATE CHANGE COVER- UP": Who has the motive? The fossil fuel industry for sure. Who has the capacity? That's a very difficult thing. This was a really sophisticated hack. This was not the act of an inadvertent 18-year- old who just happened to do it. Somebody -- somebody with real sophistication and the motive to sift through 13 years of e-mails obviously was at work.


NEWTON: The oil and coal industries in the United States say these claims are absolutely outrageous, and the campaigners basically are grasping at straws. Kyra, the mystery continues.

PHILLIPS: Yes, it does. A lot of people still wanting answers. Paula Newton, we're going to stay on that story as a network, that's for sure, and cover the rest of the conference. Thanks so much.

Well, Al Gore and global warming. The former VP really does know his stuff, and he has a lot to say about those hacked e- mails that Paula just talked about. He actually sat down with our John Roberts for an exclusive chat. You're going to hear it next hour. So, what's the truth about global warming? Is it real or a trick? You'll want to tune in tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern, when CNN's Campbell Brown takes an in-depth look, only on CNN.

Convicted child rapist confined to a wheelchair, escaped from prison on foot. It sounds like a movie, doesn't it? Well, he's back in the slammer, and he's telling it all to a Texas lawmaker. Now, it's the prison system that has some explaining to do.

But, first, Braille, so old school. The blind now have a new school option to read just about anything they want. We're going far behind Braille and straight to the "Edge of Discovery." Here's Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Blind since birth. But that doesn't stop Jim Gashel from reading just about anything he can get his hands on.

ROBOTIC VOICE: The Miami has allowed him (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

TUCHMAN: How does he do it? Well, Jim uses a powerful cell phone rigged up to read -- yes, read -- a book, a dinner menu, the money in his pocket.

JIM GASHEL, VP, K-NFB READING TECHNOLOGY: If I'm in a hotel room, and I need to know the difference between the conditioner and the shampoo or the conditioner and the mouth wash, no problem.

TUCHMAN: It's called the Kurzweil National Federation of the Blind Reader.

GASHEL: I now think of myself as a person who can read print, and I never did that before.

TUCHMAN: The reader has been out for almost two years. A new version has just been released that can recognize the colors of James' clothes.

ROBOTIC VOICE: Color blue.

TUCHMAN: And even translate Spanish to English.

ROBOTIC VOICE: My programming includes the latest economic developments.

TUCHMAN: It doesn't recognize objects yet, but Jim said it's coming soon. He works for the company.

GASHEL: We call this technology life changing, and it really is.

In the future we will be recognizing things. It's small things that add up to a lot. TUCHMAN: So while the reader's price tag of as little as $1,400 may sound expensive to some, to others it's priceless.

Gary Tuchman, CNN.

ROBOTIC VOICE: Recognizing color.



PHILLIPS: Breaking news out of Pakistan. We want to get straight to our homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve, in our Washington, D.C., bureau.

Jeanne, what do you know?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, this is a very fluid situation. The reporting at this point still playing out, so excuse me if you hear -- don't hear some things you want to hear about this.

But we're being told by Pakistani police authorities that five people, including three Americans, have been picked up in the eastern part of Pakistan during a raid on a house. The town was called Sargodha.

The deputy superintendent of the police there tell CNN that one of these people was a Yemeni, one was an Egyptian, and then three Americans. He would not disclose the reasons for their arrest, but said an investigation had been launched and more information would be available at its conclusion. Sargodha is about 120 miles south of Islamabad, as you can see on this map that we're looking at.

Now, in a possibly related development, but we don't know if it's definitely related -- we do know there are some students missing from the Washington, D.C. area. And a spokeswoman from the fib put out the following statement. "The FBI is working with family and local law enforcement to investigate the missing students and is aware of individuals arrested in Pakistan. We are working with Pakistan authorities to determine their identities and the nature of their business there, if indeed these are the students who had gone missing. Because this is an ongoing investigation, we will not be able to provide further details at this time."

And now just a short moment ago, we received a press release from the Council on American Islamic Relations. According to their press release, the parents of five missing young people from the Washington area approached CAIR and informed them of the disappearances. CAIR immediately informed the fbi, and along with the family and members of the Muslim community, has been working to assist the agency as this investigation in to the missing students goes forward. But, again, we don't know definitively that these missing students are indeed the people who have been picked up in Pakistan.

Why is this a matter of concern? Because we've seen so much cross pollination. You have seen about 20 young American Somali men leave, for instance, the city of Minneapolis and going to Somalia to wage jihad there. Several of them have been killed. We also have the case of Naji (INAUDIBLE) Zazi. He, it is alleged, went to Pakistan and got training and then came back to the United States and was allegedly plotting terrorist actions here.

That is why it's such a tremendous concern to law enforcement, but, again, Kyra, we're putting the pieces of the puzzle together. Five people arrested in Pakistan. According to the Pakistani police, three of them Americans, also separate track, five students missing from the Washington area. We don't know yet if these are the same people. We'll let you know when we have more information. Back to you.

PHILLIPS: Okay. Sounds good. Thanks so much, Jeanne.

Well, I got to tell you, this next story still has me burning, and at the same time I find it pretty fascinating and scary. We told you about Arcade Comeaux, Jr., the convicted child rapist serving three life sentences in Texas who supposedly was confined to a wheelchair, but managed to escape on foot.

Well, he's where he belongs now. He's back behind bars. But, get this. According to news reports, Comeaux says that a prison nurse smuggled him a gun that he used to escape. And that while on the run, he stayed in safe houses with the help of a large criminal network tied to the prison system. State prison officials are now investigating.


BRETT LIGON, MONTGOMERY CO. DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Does CDC (ph) need to be embarrassed about this escape? I think they're already embarrassed. I hope they're already embarrassed enough to fix things because we don't want escaped convicts from Montgomery County.

QUANELL X, ACTIVIST: Right now, it's almost like the inmates are running the asylum.


PHILLIPS: Well, on top of all this, records show that many officials actually believe that Comeaux was faking his supposed paralysis for years.

Well, someone very familiar with the Comeaux escape is Texas state senator John Whitmire. He's pretty outraged and says security at all 112 prisons needs to be examined now.

So, guess what he did? He went straight to the convict's mouth. He actually sat down with Arcade Comeaux for three hours. Senator Whitmire joins me live from Houston.

Senator, I know, because we've talked about this story and how it's outraged you and what takes place in the prison system there, but it's not very often that a senator sits down with a convict for three hours. Why did you do it? And how was that put together?

JOHN WHITMIRE, TEXAS STATE SENATOR (D): I was notified yesterday morning by law enforcement officials, but I consider going to Conroad, Texas, where he's being held and have a dialogue with Comeaux. They thought it would get him to talk freely about the circumstances of the prison escape.

So I agreed, went there about 1:30 yesterday. Established some rapport. Apparently he told me he had actually written me letters of concern in the past. So, from there I told him I was there to make the system work better.

But before I could talk to him about his concerns, he was particularly concerned about the death of six inmates. We needed to know, one, where the shotgun was that was still in the free world, and equally important is how did he obtain the pistol. So, after several hours of discussion, we got some very strong leads, and, in fact, I'm pleased to announce he kept his end of the -- of the information and took the law enforcement to Baytown, Texas, this morning and found the shotgun.

So, the shotgun, which was a danger to the public, has been obtained, and now we're working leads -- law enforcement's working leads, I might add, as to how and whom gave him the weapon, the loaded pistol, inside one of our most secure prisons.

PHILLIPS: All right, so let me ask you, because, I mean, that's admirable that he's helping you to solve, obviously, a pretty huge problem within the system. But, you know, this guy is far from a hero or an angel...


PHILLIPS: I mean, he's in the poky there for sex crimes and, you know, this is someone who faked his paralysis. He had everybody snowed. He had communications with bad guys on the outside that were protecting him. He escaped -- I mean, God knows what this guy would have done.

But he is sitting down with you and he's talking to you. What else did he say to you that's going to help you as a senator make a difference in the prison system? What were some of the things that he told you that you were shocked by? Because you know about so much that already takes place in this system and how broken down it is. Any other bombshells that had you sit down in and in shock?

WHITMIRE: Well, there's a lot of ongoing investigations that I can't reveal, each and every detail, but he did confirm to me that you could get any type contraband that you want in prison.

But let me add something, you did give this gentleman's background. He is a con artist. So, you have to keep in mind, everything that he told us, you are very suspect of. In fact, I didn't know that he would take us to the shotgun until he actually did it this morning. But you got to take all this information very serious. He told us of some security breaches. He told us that you can get anything you want. He not only talked about correction officers bringing in contraband, but he mentioned other avenues that are being used.

So, the rangers, which is the best law enforcement agency in the world, are following these leads, and we must -- I must -- continue to speak out until all 112 of our prisons are secure. They're not, in my judgment, today.

PHILLIPS: So -- so -- well, let me ask you. What did he say about these prison workers helping with -- with contraband, et cetera? Are they getting paid from the outside to do this? Are they making more money by taking advantage of the system?

WHITMIRE: No, it's bribes. There's no question.

Most of our correction officers are hardworking, honest individuals. But apparently there's an element, that if allowed to go unsearched, are going to bring contraband in for monetary and other benefits.

You know, you can make a building secure. Our airports and our courthouses and city halls are secure. Why in the world our prison officials do not put the apparatus in place -- metal detectors, surveillance cameras, layer upon layer of supervision? I'm of the opinion if they want to, they can make our prisons secure, and they must. We must have zero tolerance.

I -- think about this. But for this escape today, there would be a loaded pistol inside one of our most secure prisons. We got very fortunate this time, and we've got to prevent the next contraband entering our prisons.

PHILLIPS: I know you are pushing for change, we'll follow up on it. Please keep us updated, Senator. I know you're working hard to do that. Something does have to happen in that state. Appreciate your time.

WHITMIRE: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: You bet.

Smoke them if you got them. That's what some pot activists are saying. What one city is doing today could make it harder to light up a joint, even if that joint contains medical marijuana.


PHILLIPS: Top stories now. Look for things to get worse before they get better. That warning from General David Petraeus. The U.S. lawmakers about the war in Afghanistan. Petraeus said the surge in U.S. troops could meet a surge of violence as they root out not only the Taliban, but corruption in the Afghan government. And heads may start rolling at the TSA after a security screening manual was posted online. At least five employees are on administrative leave, and the head of the Homeland Security is doing damage control. Janet Napolitano tells lawmakers that airport passengers were never in any danger and that the manual was, quote, "out of date anyway."

Medical marijuana takes center stage in Los Angeles. The city council expected to vote today on new guidelines for hundreds of pot dispensaries. The plan could force many of the marijuana storefronts to close or move out of residential neighborhoods. There are 1,000 dispensaries in Los Angeles alone.

His money, his marriage, and the mess he made in Detroit. Ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's been grilled all week by prosecutors. His million-dollar debt and his million-dollar smirk still intact.


PHILLIPS: Another helping of mystery meat next hour. Pushing forward on low standards for your kids' school lunches. We're going to talk to a guy who basically bought lunch meat on the government's behalf.

And following up on a school that we told you about, where hungry kids would load up on ketchup packets and take them home for dinner. It's a "Chicken Soup for the Soul" kind of update.

"Well, there's nothing else I want to do more right now than pay the city of Detroit." Those words came out of Kwame Kilpatrick's mouth just last month. Well, apparently, he's not putting his money where his mouth -- and apparently sizable mouth -- is.

The disgraced ex-mayor's been in court all week, claiming money issues, trying to get monthly payments on his million-dollar restitution reduced. However, prosecutors say in reality, this guy's living large. Shopping at Gucci, paying for his wife's plastic surgery. Oh, and wait until you hear the explanation on that one. Here's WDIV's Karen Drew.


KWAME KILPATRICK, EX-MAYOR OF DETRIOT: She had a very extensive, painful surgery to remove a hernia and to tie her muscles back together in her stomach. And because I wanted to make her feel beautiful. "You could do whatever you want to do, baby." So, that's what that was.

KAREN DREW, WDIV-TV CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's the explanation Kwame Kilpatrick offered to why he spent more than 15 grand on plastic surgery for his wife, even though he said he couldn't afford to pay his restitution to the city of Detroit. As far as the high-life living in South Lake, Texas and the million-dollar mansion for his wife and family, Kilpatrick defended the expense, saying that he owed it to his wife.

KILPATRICK: I think I embarrassed her, I hurt her. I cheated on her. I lied to her, and I put her through hell, and I think that's the least I can do.

DREW: Kilpatrick was grilled on his spending and not following court orders. One example given by the prosecution: that all political funds had to be forfeited, but they were not. The prosecution listed seven political funds related to Kilpatrick.

VOICE OF ROBERT SPADA, ASSISTANT WAYNE CO. PROSECUTOR: Kilpatrick Civic Funds, your campaign accounts, the Night Vision Foundation, the Detroit Justice Funds, the Detroit Political Action Group, Generations Past, and the Detroit Police (ph) Foundation.

DREW: Kilpatrick also said that he was not aware that he had to turn over his wife's account information, which has $164,000 in three different accounts. At the same time, Kilpatrick said he could not afford to pay his restitution.


PHILLIPS: And a refresher in case you blocked it all out. Kilpatrick resigned from office last year, pleading guilty in two felonies in connection with a sex-and-text scandal.

Testing times for Detroit on many fronts. The city's public school system is hundreds of millions of dollars in the hole, so folks knew administrators weren't good with numbers. Well, it seems students are having big trouble, too. They've just gotten their worst scores ever on a national math achievement test. Some 70 percent of kids falling below the basic math level. Reading and science scores are due out in the spring.

He says he changes lives across the world, but for the better or for the worst? Some say this self-help guru is more about self-harm.


PHILLIPS: James Arthur Ray. Plenty of followers and plenty of troubles. Y'all might recall that Ray is the self-help guru who presided over a Arizona sweat lodge ceremony in October that eventually left three people dead.

Relatives of the victims tell us that they have reason to believe that Ray will face criminal charges. They may call him a criminal, but Ray calls himself a visionary. Now we have more information about a another deadly incident and allegations of a cover up. Gary Tuchman investigates for "AC 360."


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was July in San Diego. Colleen Conaway was among scores of people looking to improve their lives with self-help guru James Arthur Ray. They paid him thousands of dollars for a three-day seminar entitled, "Creating Absolute Wealth."

This is Colleen's sister, Lynn.

LYNN GRAHAM, SISTER OF COLLEEN CONAWAY: She was healthy. She was energetic. She was full of life.

TUCHMAN: Colleen and the others were told to spend a few hours pretending they were homeless in a self-sufficiency exercise. A bus dropped them off in the middle of the city. They had no IDs, no cell phones. James Ray talks about it on his Web site.

JAMES ARTHUR RAY, SELF-HELP GURU: You have no one to assist you, apparently. And yet you not only survive, but you thrive.

TUCHMAN: But something terrible was about to happen to this small-town girl from northern Minnesota.

(on camera): What happened to Colleen Conaway was pitifully sad and tragic. A witness told police he was walking out of this movie theater on the third floor of this outdoor shopping mall in downtown San Diego. He says he saw a woman standing right near this balcony, and she was standing on this ledge outside of the protective railing.

He thought it was part of a show, because on the ground below there was a performance with children. But then, to his horror, she jumped, plunging more than 30 feet to her death.

It does not appear Colleen Conaway wrote a suicide note, and there was no identification found on her body, because she was participating in the homeless event. So when officials took her to the morgue, they had no idea who she was.

Meanwhile, the homeless event continued. Ultimately, the participants and the employees of James Ray International boarded the bus here to leave, and they either didn't know or weren't overly concerned that Colleen wasn't among them.

ANDY GRANT, SEMINAR PARTICIPANT: I just wandered around San Diego. I was -- I was literally just in rags.

TUCHMAN: Andy Grant of Massachusetts was also part of the group.

GRANT: I looked back at the woman, and she put her hands up and just fell forward.

TUCHMAN: He also witnessed Colleen's suicide. But at the time, he did not know she was part of the James Ray group and that she was supposed to be with them on the bus ride back to the hotel at the end of the day.

GRANT: I was just really trembling with emotion at that point. I told a couple of the staffers that, "I want to speak about what happened". They're like, "There'll be time to worry. I told James himself. He was on our -- he was on my particular bus.

TUCHMAN: There was no indication James Ray and his employees knew the suicide victim was part of their group. However, people on the bus did know Colleen did not show up for the ride back. The bus left without her.

James Ray officials say there were backup drivers in case anyone showed up late. They also say they called her phone, even though she wasn't supposed to have it with her. About the same time, the medical examiner's office was trying to figure out who she was.

PAUL PARKER, MEDICAL EXAMINER'S OFFICE: At the hospital, we labeled her as a Jane Doe because she had no identification.

TUCHMAN: In fact, about seven hours lapsed before the James Ray group on Saturday evening finally reported her missing.

PARKER: One of our investigators went to the hotel room, where they met with the group representative to look at her driver's license. And when we did that, we identified her that way.

TUCHMAN: Andy Grant who went to the seminar with his wife, says he shared his shock and emotions about seeing the suicide with James Ray and the entire group. He says Ray later thanked him for sharing his thoughts.

GRANT: Saturday night ended up with this big dinner and skit competition, and, like we won for the funniest silly thing.

TUCHMAN (on camera): What time was that, do you think, roughly?

GRANT: Like 9:30 at night was this dinner we had.

TUCHMAN: Because before 8 a.m. at night, that's when the James Ray Company reported that this woman was from your group and that she killed herself and that she was a person on your bus. And they had this whole celebratory event afterwards. How does that make you feel?

GRANT: It made me feel gross as hell. I mean, certainly no one told us anything like that had happened.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Once her identity was discovered, Colleen's heartbroken parents got a call from the medical examiner.

MARIAN CONAWAY, COLLEEN CONAWAY'S MOTHER: All I know is she was alone, no ID, no means of getting a-hold of us or anyone in a big city where she didn't know anyone. And she was just left.

TUCHMAN: Why she jumped is a mystery. Her toxicology report came back negative for alcohol or any drugs.

James Ray would not talk to us. But his company told us in a statement, "There is no evidence whatsoever that Mr. Ray or James Ray International contributed to or could have prevented Ms. Conaway's tragic suicide."

(on camera): James Ray himself, has he ever called you to say he's sorry?

GRANT: Never.

TUCHMAN: Called your parents?


TUCHMAN: No phone calls at all?

GRANT: No. TUCHMAN (voice-over): Five weeks after her death, they did receive this small sympathy card with the signature James Ray International.

We asked the company lawyer, why such callousness? We got this statement: "James Ray International made efforts to locate Ms. Conaway's family to express their condolences. In the end, they only had Ms. Conaway's address, and so they sent a message there."

And then to add insult to injury, Colleen spent almost $12,000 on the San Diego event and two other Ray events she was supposed to go to in the future.

(on camera): Any calls from James Arthur Ray people saying, "You know what? Your sister died during our event. We think you're entitled to a refund?"

GRANT: None.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Fast forward, ten weeks later. Three people died in another James Ray self-improvement event, in his sweat lodge in Arizona. The families say no refunds have been offered to them.

The Ray people did give us another statement about returning the late Colleen Conaway's money: "Ms. Conaway's family did not contact James Ray International to request a refund, and we have found no record of any request."

Colleen's family says it's obvious someone who died at their event is entitled to their money back. So will the company refund the dead woman's money? No commitment yet. But officially, they are still committed to this: the Creating Absolute Wealth event for San Diego next year is still listed on James Ray's Web site.


PHILLIPS: Gary Tuchman joins me live now. Boy, you see the parents of the victim, and your just heart breaks, because there is so much mystery as to why that happened. When did he actually find out that this woman was the victim?

TUCHMAN: Well, this is the amazing thing. They had the celebration Saturday night, and Andy says nobody knew that the person who died was in their group. And then Sunday, it all ended, and they never knew who it was. He didn't find out -- he and his wife Lori -- did not find out that the woman who died was in their group, Collene, until two-and-a-half months later.

And the only reason they found out is they found out after the sweat lodge tragedy because he was on the Internet and he saw a blog that said, you know, three people died in the sweat lodge and a couple of months earlier, a woman in the group jumped to her suicide. And he said what? And he did some investigating, called the police and found out that that was the woman in his group. James Ray never told anybody.

PHILLIPS: This story keep becoming moreand more bizarre, and you seem to be the one kind of staying on this beat. I mean, what's the latest with regard to the investigation into the sweat lodge, and now this and sort of all this controversy surrounding ray?

TUCHMAN: Here the deal. Investigation is going on. (INAUDIBLE) County, Arizona sheriff's department. The district attorney's office. We were told last month that they would have some announcement in December, but they have been tight-lipped. However, it is important to know that the families of the sweat lodge victims tell us that they are comfortable that very soon, there are going to be serious charges placed against James Ray which could result in a lot of jail time.

PHILLIPS: Oh, wow. All right. We will follow up at look to you for that. Gary thanks so much.

TUCHMAN: Thanks, Kyra.