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Storm Socks It to Northeast; American Jihad?; Vote Count Moving Slow

Aired March 14, 2010 - 08:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, there, everybody. From the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. It is 8:00.

Look at your clock again.


HOLMES: Eight o'clock here in Atlanta. It's 7:00 in Minneapolis; 5:00 a.m. out in California. If your clock does not coincide with those times we just gave --

BALDWIN: Time to fix it.

HOLMES: -- you messed up. You're supposed to spring forward.

So, hello to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes.

BALDWIN: And good morning. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for starting your Sunday with us at 8:00 here on the east coast.

Right now, good news if you're watching us, that means you have power. Bad news for about half a million people in the Northeast -- zero power.

HOLMES: Yes, they got hit by another powerful storm. And this area can't get any relief. This is the video. You see the wildlife is taking over there on the streets.

BALDWIN: They're enjoying it.

HOLMES: Yes. It's good for them, bad for just everybody else.

BALDWIN: Not for people.

HOLMES: We'll be talking more about this with our Reynolds Wolf, who is keeping an eye on the damage and also exactly what hit the area and if they are expecting any relief anytime soon.

But we do want to give you an update of a story we've been keeping an eye on overnight. One of two American women reportedly linked to an alleged plot to kill a Swedish cartoonist has been released from custody in Ireland. Police say Jamie Pulin Ramirez has not been charged, also not out on bail -- so, really, just been released. The "Wall Street Journal" reports that she had been arrested in connection with an alleged plot to kill a Swedish cartoonist who puked fun at the Prophet Muhammad.

BALDWIN: We got some new information for you and some new video. There he is. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is walking out of the hospital.

Remember, we told you about the story yesterday. He was admitted to the hospital in Seoul, South Korea, treated for some kind of stomach issues, a stomach virus. A doctor says he is in good spirits. A reminder, he is 86 years of age, but despite that, he was busy, buy in South Korea for a security forum.

HOLMES: Also, to Haiti now. A procession this weekend to mark the two-month mark since the powerful earthquake struck near in Port- au-Prince. Haitians in white march to the city on Friday. More than half a million people remain in temporary shelters. That's a bad thing right now because the rainy season is on the way and some are saying this could lead to another disaster.

BALDWIN: A whole lot of rain in the Northeast as well. Crews this morning are working to try to restore power to hundreds of thousands of people. We're talking homes. We're talking businesses, specifically in the Northeast. Just three weeks ago, parts of the Northeast in the Mid-Atlantic, you remember they got really walloped with record snowfall.

So, now, here's what's happening: a combination of all that snow- melt and the heavy rainfall and all these winds creating a mess. Take a look at these pictures in the Northeast. Trees toppled. Of course, that means they knocked out power lines.

The winds -- get this -- 74 miles per hour. That is category one hurricane winds status, folks. Affiliate WTNH is reporting a tree fell on a car in Westport, Connecticut. It killed one person, injured three others.

And really, the pictures out of West Virginia tell the story there. Look at the rising water here. This is Charleston, the capital city. Four inches of rain fell in parts of that area. Front yard, forget it. It's just water.

Flooding there blamed for at least one woman's death. Also, we are hearing a firefighter is missing after his boat capsized in a rescue attempt.

Storm and flood warnings remain in effect.

And, Reynolds, I can't get over, I guess, all the water in West Virginia. You know, you have the Kanawha River which up and kind of rises above its banks. But with all the -- everything was going on, I guess, in West Virginia and the Northeast, it's quite a mess for a lot of folks waking up this morning.


Something else to consider about parts of the West Virginia, is because you got many of those places that are up in the mountains and the reason why that is important is because, quite often, you will have showers, you'll have clouds actually moving from off of the Atlantic. And when that moisture makes its way up to the hillsides and into the Appalachians, in the highest elevations where it's almost like getting a damp sponge and squeezing the moisture out of it. They refer to that process as orographic lift. So, it can actually enhance rainfall.

With that enhanced rainfall coupled with all that melting snow caused those waters to rise, and, of course, the trouble you're seeing not only in parts of West Virginia but all throughout other parts in the Northeast, where it's not just the rain but it's also the wind.

You guys are talking about this earlier. Let's mention it one more time. Certainly, it's worth mentioning. Seventy-four miles per hour, that is the equivalent of a category one hurricane. That gust was recorded at JFK yesterday, a site where we had plenty of delays. We could see more delays today.

Other places with incredible winds, Atlantic City, Keansburg, and Trenton, New Jersey, Philadelphia, even Islip, New York, winds in excess of, say, 50 miles an hour. Most of these locations which were the equivalent of tropical storm force winds.

OK. This what happened yesterday. Now, let's show you what's happening right now and then we'll show you what we can expect in the hours to come. Right now, we're seeing scattered showers in places like Boston, back over to Warwick. In New York, a little break of the same, for the time. Same deal over in Denver and Connecticut.

But we're beginning to see a few things on radar that are interesting. Normally when we see rain, we see light to moderate showers in terms of the blue and the greens, but where you see yellow, that indicates we have heavier amounts of rainfall. But where you have pink, that's frozen precipitation. We're seeing that pop up in parts of the highest elevations.

Back over towards Buffalo, what else is new -- more snow for you. And we can expect later on today, for this area of low pressure, this double barrel low, to drift its way out to the Atlantic. And right behind it, some of the colder, drier air is going to be filtering. The overrunning moisture could make for more snowfall. Windy conditions also in parts of the southeast, but drier to in parts of Florida and back into the Carolinas.

Meanwhile, for the center of the U.S., it looks wonderful for the Central and Southern Plains. But into the Four Corners, another incredible snow-maker, this double-barreled low will bring some heavy snow to the highest elevations, the Rocky Mountains, the Sangre de Cristo, even into the Wasatch Range. But then, out to California -- another great day. The surfing is going to be unreal at will be incredible at the Pismo beach. Get out there and enjoy you long boarders.

Meanwhile, as you head back up towards parts of, say, Portland, even to Seattle, rain can be expected, maybe some light snowfall into parts of the Cascades. In the Cascades and in Seattle, temperatures in the 50s, 61 for San Francisco, 52 in Kansas City, and we'll wrap it up in Miami with 77 degrees the expected high.

T.J., busy day in weather. It always happens in the weekend. It never fails. Let's send it back to you.

HOLMES: It never does (ph). We appreciate you as always.

WOLF: You bet.

HOLMES: We'll talk to you again soon.

Well, it was once was viewed as a threat beyond our borders, it comes home. And there's a growing list of Americans suspected to be working with al Qaeda.

This week, you know the story now about Jihad Jane. That story surfaced. She's that the blue-eyed blond from Philadelphia, originally, a Michigan native.

Also, the New Jersey native, Sharif Mobley, also made headlines. He worked at five U.S. nuclear plants.

So, what in the world is going on?

CNN national security analyst and friend of our show here on CNN SUNDAY MORNING, Peter Bergen, joins us from Washington.

Peter, always good to see you. Good morning.

So, is this a continuing, growing problem? Or do we just have a couple of high-profile cases making the news right now?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think, T. J., it is, in the last couple years, we've seen a lot more serious domestic cases. I mean, Jihad Jane just being the most recent one, and the Somali-American you referenced who worked at a number of nuclear power plants. But, you know, I think, for a long time, it was regarded as not going to be a big problem in the United States because American Muslims are well-integrated generally speaking.

But somebody like Jihad Jane, if the allegations against her are true, I mean, she's a high school drop out, you know, a few marriages under her belt, somebody who didn't have a very stable personal life and seems to adopt militant Islam as a form of sort of identity that gave her life meaning. And we've seen a number of these sorts of cases. The types of people who might have -- go ahead.

HOLMES: Yes. Oh, yes -- on Jihad Jane, you brought up a good point there. We're trying to figure out if folks like this really subscribe to the radical ideology, or are they looking for an identity themselves? Is al Qaeda necessarily going after people who may have some personal issues, some mental issues, some psychological issues?

BERGEN: Well, I think every -- al Qaeda doesn't really need to recruit people, kind of people self-recruit, that was send an invitation with Jihad Jane. I'm not a psychologist but she certainly seems to be looking for something in her life, and we've seen other cases like Jihad Jane.

There was a case in Long Island of a kid called Bryan Neal Vinas who converted to Islam. He went to an al Qaeda training camp, conducted a rocket attack -- a part of a rocket attack against the American base in Afghanistan.

And so, you know, maybe 20, 30 years ago, you would have acted out by joining the Weather Underground or the Black Panthers.


BERGEN: And today, you know, militant jihadism provides that kind of outlet.

HOLMES: Now, also, I guess, this story kind of through a lot of people off because it was a blond-haired, blue-eyed woman from Michigan originally. But, I think, well, you and I have been talked about more so that al Qaeda would like to go after more women because they don't necessarily fit the profile -- certainly a blond haired blue-eyed woman.

BERGEN: Right. Indeed, and in fact, al Qaeda has recruited European females for suicide attacks in Iraq. A Catholic convert to Islam was recruited from Belgium and conducted a suicide attack in Iraq in 2005, a female. So -- but this is unusual for an American woman, particularly one that wasn't, you know, Muslim from birth to be -- to have self-recruited here.

HOLMES: And let's go -- finally here, wrap up with the Mobley, Sharif Mobley, the one who is under arrest in Yemen, accused of being part of al Qaeda, but also worked at five nuclear plants in the U.S. That's certainly disturbing to a lot of folks. We don't know necessarily if he was -- was privy to sensitive information at those plants.

But still, is it possible this is just a coincidence? He was working here, happened to some work. Or do you think there was a definite connection and he was up to something at these plants?

BERGEN: You know, the jobs he had were pretty low level, and, you know, lots of people work at nuclear power plants who, you know, aren't in a possession to steal nuclear material or know-how.


BERGEN: And I think that he falls into that category. But what is interesting is that here's a guy who's in Somalia, who's gone to Yemen to kind of support the jihad there. There's been some concern that some of these Somali-Americans might show up in Yemen where, after all, al Qaeda has a pretty major presence. And this one of the -- this is an example of this happening.

HOLMES: All right. Peter Bergen, national security analyst -- and again, always good to see you here on our show on CNN SUNDAY MORNING. You enjoy the rest of your day, Peter.

BERGEN: Thank you, T.J.

HOLMES: All right -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right, T.J. Thank you.

One week after Iraqis defy threats of violence to vote in national election, the count continues. But for some, it's a pretty slow process.

CNN's Arwa Damon is looking into this whole thing. She tells us the delay definitely raising some suspicion of voter manipulation there.



And yes, we are still waiting for more partial results from Iraq's historic elections. They have been trickling out ever so slowly and not at the expected 30 percent of the vote being tallied. This is causing widespread frustration amongst the Iraqi people who are eagerly awaiting these results and it is also causing a number of conspiracy theories to run rampant about fraud as well as vote manipulation.

We are seeing more serious allegations being put forward by the political parties themselves. However, the Independent High Electoral Commission and the United Nations are insisting that there are enough checks and balances in place to prevent any sort of fraud or manipulation from taking place, saying that the delay was because of a technical failure with the server and because the entire process is taking a lot longer than expected.

Now, these initial results are showing Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law coalition slightly in the lead. This is not entirely surprising given that a number of the provinces that have had the results released are in the country's predominantly Shiite south.

Interesting to watch are the results coming from in the majority Sunni provinces. And there, we are seeing the power of the Sunni vote, something that could potentially sway the political dynamics here. And what is going on now already is backdoor dealings, alliance building and coalition building -- T.J.


HOLMES: All right. And again, thank you as always to our Arwa Damon. We're going to turn now to your taxes. You only have a little time left now to get them filed. And you may qualify for some special 2009 tax breaks, thanks to the stimulus bill. We'll tell you how they could affect your tax return.

BALDWIN: Also, and you hear about this 11-year-old boy, turned 11 just this past week, spent his birthday on Capitol Hill, the baton pass, if you will, an activist baton, from his mother who's passed to him. His story, how he addresses lawmakers in Washington -- coming up.


BALDWIN: So, it's just about that time, tax time. And in case you already have done your taxes or you are like us and, you know, have not quite tackled them just yet, hang on though because there's a couple of sticking point this year that can actually cost you.

HOLMES: The IRS is already throwing back some of those returns saying they were not done correctly and you need to get them done right.


HOLMES: Well, we don't have that problem because we don't have ours yet. Josh Levs though is tracking this for us. Here are some advice that could save you some time and some money.


JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The stimulus changed so much about our economy, including your taxes, in ways you might not even realize. And now, some people are having their taxes rejected by the IRS.

Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to talk you through some basics, including some ways to save money on your taxes, and then I'm going to show you some links where you can get a lot more information that will help you preparing yours in this final month while there's still time before the deadline.

Let's start up with this. Here's an example of a problem some people are having and we're seeing it here.

Basically, what's going on there is some retirees, in some cases, veterans with disabilities, received a $250 payment from the stimulus but didn't realize that they got the payment. They didn't know. So, what's been happening in some of those cases, the IRS is actually rejecting that, sending it back, saying basically -- you did your taxes wrong. So, the advice there,, basically, find out if you are in one of those categories, find out if you got that $250 payment before you send in your taxes.

Another interesting situation being highlight here by "Detroit Free Press." They're pointing out, you know, every worker in America was eligible for up to $400 from the stimulus, and that means some married couples got $800 from the stimulus. Well, not everyone was supposed to get the entire amount. Some people got more than they're supposed to.

So, as you're doing your taxes now, in some cases, you're hearing from the IRS, guess what, you owe us money because you got more from the stimulus than you were supposed to get. And "Detroit Free Press" suggesting you'd fill out a Schedule M to take care of that. Now, I don't want to just look at the bad, because there are some good here. There's actually some great in it. The stimulus can lead to you getting a huge refund.

And here's a big example. This is from CNN Money. They point this out.

There's one guy who got $150,000 back in a refund, because he did this -- the stimulus changed the laws for small businesses, and, ultimately, it was extended for other businesses in terms of how far back you can go to reclaim some of what you have paid the government. If your business has suffered a big loss in the recession, you can now go back five years and reach some of what you have given the government in the past, and basically go back and reclaim some of that money. So could lead to a much bigger refund than you saw coming.

Now, how do you take advantage of all this? We have linked a whole bunch of stories for you that should help a lot. They're right here on my blog, Also, And I'm on Twitter, JoshLevsCNN.

So, hopefully, these links will do you some good as you prepare your taxes. And, hey, if you find some other hints and tips and tricks along the way to help other people out there, certainly post them there as well so other people can see.

I'm Josh Levs, CNN, Atlanta.


BALDWIN: OK. It's a pretty crucial week, of course, potentially a make or break week here for President Obama as he takes what maybe the deciding push for health care on the road this week.

Let's take a look at his schedule. Tomorrow, the president will be heading to Strongsville, Ohio, where he's set to speak at a senior center there. Then, Tuesday, he is back at the White House for much of the day.

Wednesday, President Obama will be hosting St. Patrick's Day reception with, of course, none other than the head of the Irish government. Thursday and Friday, the president will be back in Washington. No scheduled events are on his calendar yet at least for those two days.

HOLMES: A little boy is taking on a big battle in Washington. We'll hear what the 11-year-old has to say as he fights for health care reform.


MARCELLUS OWENS, HEALTH CARE REFORM ADVOCATE: She missed so much work that she lost her job.



HOLMES: Well, some of the stories we're keeping an eye on from overnight.

Afghanistan's interior ministry saying that they have evidence now that yesterday's series of explosions that left 35 dead and 57 wounded in Kandahar was no accident. Authorities say they've recovered eight-explosive-filled vests and three rockets. Kandahar Province is considered one of the last Taliban strongholds.

BALDWIN: There's a new study to tell you about this morning. It's actually suggesting there could be a link between exposure to all that toxic debris at ground zero and heart problems in police officers. The ground zero workers have reported lung problems. But this particular study is the first to actually linking work at ground zero with cardiovascular concerns.

We should like to note, the study was funded by a police organization in New York. And the lead investigator says more testing needs to be done.

HOLMES: Now, the search is on for more victims of a deadly avalanche in Canada this morning. Three people were killed, another 17 injured at a snowmobile competition there. This avalanche roared down in Boulder Mountain near Revelstoke in British Columbia. That's some was 250 miles Northeast of Vancouver.



BALDWIN: Pretty big week coming up in Washington here. Democratic leaders say they are a little bit more confident when it comes to health care reform. You see, both houses of Congress have agreed to move towards this potentially historic vote. President Obama had hoped the House and Senate would vote on the reform bill by March 18th, but the White House press secretary, "Hey, what does a couple extra days make?"


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Our hope is to get this done as soon as possible, if it -- if it takes a couple of extra days after a year, it takes a couple of extra days.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So, you're backing off the 18th date?

GIBBS: No, I'm -- I am saying the president wants, as do -- as does everybody here, wants to get it done as soon as possible.


BALDWIN: We learned on Friday, President Obama postponed a trip overseas in order to focus on the health care reform measure. He lives a week from today now. HOLMES: Well, you have probably heard and you will hear the term reconciliation a lot in this health care reform debate. You're certainly going to hear it more as we head towards a showdown. So, what exactly is it?

Here's a quick explainer. "Reconciliation is a measure to pass contentious budget legislation while avoiding a filibuster threat." That clears it up nicely, doesn't it?

So, let me break it down for you this way, folks.

BALDWIN: Go for it.

HOLMES: It just means that instead of having to get 60 votes to pass legislation in the Senate, they only need a majority -- just a maneuver that would allow them to just get a majority vote, 51 votes instead of the 60.

This was used in 1989 to pass a Medicare overhaul for physician payments. And in 1996, it was used to pass the welfare overhaul. And it was also used to enact the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003.

We are hearing that a vote could possibly take place in the health care bill on Thursday, possibly Friday. It won't happen soon enough for one little boy. He's been on Capitol Hill waging a battle his mom started but couldn't finish -- she died without medical insurance three years ago.

So, the fifth grader's message now: health care is not a privilege, it's a right.



MARCELLUS OWENS, HEALTH CARE REFORM ADVOCATE: And I'm here because of my mom. My mom was a health care activist just like I am today, and she was testifying in rallies about everybody having health care.

My mom was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension in 2006. She missed so much work that she lost her job. And a long with her job, she lost her health care. And losing her health care ended up costing her her life.

I believe that at least if she did have her health care, she would have at least be recovering a little at a time.

I don't want any other kid to go through the pain that our family has gone through. And my grandma -- and I -- I mean, sorry. And I want Barack Obama and Congress and everybody to come together and help the health care bill pass.

I wanted to finish her fight for health care.


HOLMES: Welcome back everybody, to the CNN SUNDAY MORNING. I am T.J. Holmes.

BALDWIN: Good morning. I am Brooke Baldwin. All right, are you feeling it this morning. You lose that one hour of sleep, did you spring forward? If not a reminder this morning.


BALDWIN: You've got set you're clock ahead one hour; of course daylight saving time beginning today.

HOLMES: So the time check for you is that, it's 8:30 here in Atlanta on the East Coast, its 7:30 in Canada and Arkansas, it's 6:30 in Aspen, Colorado.


HOLMES: And it's what -- it's 5:30 out in San Diego.

BALDWIN: San Diego.

HOLMES: So that's the correct time.

BALDWIN: Got it.

HOLMES: If you're in those time zones then you're not at all, you need to correct some things --

BALDWIN: Check your clock.

HOLMES: -- and call your boss and say you're going to be late.

BALDWIN: But for now, let's talk weather because that's affecting a lot of people I guess where it's 8:30 in the morning for you. We're talking about the East Coast.

A couple of weeks ago, a lot of people dealing with a whole lot of snow, a winter wallop for a lot of you in the Northeast specifically, but this weekend we're talking a lot of rain.

HOLMES: Yes, rain is now here. Now that maybe March will be the rain month, it's also the wind month so far. Hundreds of thousands of people without power after this powerful storm hit the region. Some areas reporting winds near a hurricane strength, some 74 miles an hour.

Now, north of New York, in West Port, Connecticut, one person killed, and three others were hurt when a tree fell on their car. In West Virginia, flood's blamed for one woman's deck; also a firefighter is missing right now after his boat capsized in a rescue attempt.

BALDWIN: Did you see the video of all of those umbrellas? I mean -- HOLMES: They don't work.

BALDWIN: -- Reynolds they are not working.


BALDWIN: They were not only is flipping inside out and we're talking Category 1 hurricane wind strength?

WOLF: It's hard to believe. Yes, I mean that low really intensified off the coast and right now it's still bringing some rainfall even a little touch of snow to parts of upstate New York and Vermont and even New Hampshire, and even Maine could see snowfall. And it's going to be the wet, heavy kind.

So that means all the trees that have been weakened by the heavy winds, the strong winds in excess of 70 miles per hour, well, we could see those trees breaking. And for all those tree line streets that you have in the Northeast, we would not be surprised if we see some more power outages as you guys may have mentioned. Nearly a half a million people without power, I expect we're going to add to those numbers.

Something else you're going to add to in terms of numbers of rainfall totals that we're going to seeing along parts of the Boston and back and above of New Warwick, heavy rainfall falling along parts of I-95, where you see the greens and the yellows popping up on radar. That happens to be where the rainfall is the heaviest, but when you get a little bit farther to the north of that you've only see some pink that's going to pop-up on radar and that pink indicates frozen precipitation North of Conway and back near Berlin and west of Lewiston (ph).

That is going to continue through a good part of the day today, because this area of low pressure that's just a -- a giant saw blade almost, that's been mixing through parts of the Northeast and it's going to continue to give you the breezy conditions, although as the low moves out the winds are going to die down.

The rain should continue, but back into the nation's midsection -- a mix of sunshine and clouds and maybe sprays -- spray shower too near Fargo and back over to Moorhead, Minnesota.

Meanwhile, back across the Central Plains, relatively dry, but look how things change once you get into the Rocky Mountains. If you're making a drive across Kansas moving up towards mountains, you're going to be moving into Colorado, where you can see more clouds up in the mountains, some snowfall, West Coast looks nice and dry for you, same story back in Texas.

Very quickly your high temperatures for the day out West we go; 61 in San Francisco; 70 your high in Los Angeles; 72 in Dallas; Atlanta, 51 the high and New York and Boston mainly into the 40s and into the 50s.

That is a look at your forecast. T.J., let's pitch it over to you.

HOLMES: Well, there is a church in Tennessee that's getting some national attention for its unorthodox and controversial approach to religion. The minister, yes of course, using their hands and knees to throw blows. Yes, in church even, and they are today, the focus of today's "Faces of Faith."


HOLMES: This may look like fight night, but these are actually ministers in the ring. And in one corner, from Clarksville, Tennessee, Pastor John Renken, who says fighting and the bible go hand and hand.

JOHN, RENKEN, PASTOR: And I do believe that Jesus Christ was the ultimate fighter --

HOLMES: Since 2004, Renken has been using the gospel to inspire his fight team at his extreme ministry.

RENKEN: And for every fight we pray --

HOLMES: And after they pray, they are blowing blows.

RENKEN: Regardless of whatever sermon is being preached that weekend, on a regular basis that's used as an analogy.

HOLMES: Pastor Renken fights at a martial arts academy that doubles as a church. The school's motto: "feet, fist and faith."

RENKEN: We have to train hard and we have do the things that the bible asks us to do which are similar which are similar to the things are asked of an athlete.

HOLMES: Pastor Renken is now known as "The Fighting Preacher". And he has about 100 members and his message is spreading pretty fast.

RENKEN: There's probably about 700 churches that are doing roughly the same thing we are in one way or another.

HOLMES: Of course, everyone doesn't approve of Renken's fighting faith. And his critics don't find religious value in a man who in his words, fights for Jesus.

RENKEN: The national media has taken some slants on it that I don't agree with and our intention is just to be missional (ph) it's just another outlet to reach people with the gospel.


HOLMES: Wow, my preacher never gets down like that but I'm hopefully he's watching and maybe he'll spice it up today when I go to church.

The sport is seen as legitimate outreach tool by the Youth Ministry Affiliate of the National Association of Evangelicals. They represent more than 45,000 churches.

BALDWIN: We've talked a whole a lot about the economy and specifically how the economy has been affecting schools, they're just running out of money and many of them being forced to close their doors, but our question is what do the students think? What do they think is going on? We are talking to them.

Plus, coffee is brewing and maybe in your kitchen and maybe across the country, we're taking a closer look at the new movement that says it is an answer, an alternative to the TEA Party.


HOLMES: All right. It's almost that time for "STATE OF THE UNION WITH CANDY CROWLEY", for which we serve as the warm up act for her --

BALDWIN: We love her.

HOLMES: -- on Sunday morning.

BALDWIN: Candy is live in Washington with a preview. And Candy, I know you're talking health care. That's what everybody in D.C. is talking about, but you talked to the House Minority Leader and does he think that they're going to get that magic number of 216?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": Well, you know, the question for him wasn't will they get there. We talked to John Boehner just before he took off for his district and asked him exactly that question. Does Speaker Pelosi have enough Democrats to get this thing passed?


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), MINORITY LEADER: They can pass this all on their own. The only bipartisanship that's involved in this town right now in with regard to health care, is their bipartisan opposition to what they are attempting to do.

CROWLEY: You don't -- do you think, because you're a pretty good vote counter, does she have 216? The Speaker?

BOEHNER: If she had 216 votes, this bill would be long gone. And remember, they tried to do this in June and July last year and if they had the votes then it would be -- I would be law. They tried to pass it in September, October, November, December, January, February. Guess what? They don't have the votes.


CROWLEY: I remember counting votes is a lot like looking at polls, they're only good for that moment. Because I can tell you that we will have David Axelrod also on the show, the White House Senior Adviser and there's -- I don't think any way that President Obama would have postponed his overseas trip for three days unless they were absolutely certain that they have the votes for this. HOLMES: Well, Candy it sounds like he's almost daring, the Democrats to push this partisan bill through. So what is the risk, how does the president, Democrats weigh the risk of showing the American people that they are willing to just be partisan and push this through, versus, I guess, the benefit of showing that, hey, we got something done, we got health care passed?

CROWLEY: Yes, they think the benefit of getting something passed is much better than not doing anything. Because they think it would be very hard in November to go and say, well, yes, we have a Democratic Congress, we have a Democratic White House, but we couldn't pass health care reform.

And then, too -- I've talked to a lot of White House officials this week and they truly believe that once this thing is passed, that if they go out and sell what they think is the big thing Americans will like and that is insurance industry reforms, that those polls showing they don't -- that people want reform, but not this specific reform will turn around and begin to favor this particular package.

BALDWIN: What else, dare I ask, Candy, beyond health care. I know part of health care we're talking about student loans, is there anything else we ought to be talking be about, beyond -- beyond that this morning?

CROWLEY: Well, there's -- there's lots of life out there beyond the health care, even though we have been kind of focused for a year on that. Yes, Afghanistan --


CROWLEY: -- what's going on there.

Also some talk about Gitmo prison. And it was supposed to have been closed at the end of January. Where does that stand? Where is the trials and mastermind for the 9/11 attacks, where is that going to be, together? There's was plenty of talk -- to talk about and as you know, never enough time.

HOLMES: All right, Candy Crowley, coming up in about 20 minutes. We love -- we just love John King, but, my goodness, we love seeing you.

BALDWIN: We're oozing Candy Crowley love.

HOLMES: -- on Sunday morning. But it's coming up, Candy, we'll see you in a moment.

CROWLEY: Thank you all.

HOLMES: But again to our viewer, its' just about 18 minutes away. Candy Crowley and "STATE OF THE UNION".


BALDWIN: We've heard some words like your foreclosures, unemployment, bad loans; they are words that define a miserable economy.

HOLMES: Yes and an economy with a drastic domino effect. Kansas City, Missouri, you've heard this story on the national radar, right now, one district there plans to close nearly half of its schools by the end of the year.

So what is exactly going on here and certainly in other cities? I want to bring in Carl Azuz, with CNN Student News.



HOLMES: He's always tapped into what's going on with the students. I'm sure they are reacting to this one in a major way. This directly impacts students?

AZUZ: Especially because most of them have talked to us and told us that most of their schools have been affected by the recession. We asked that just this past week. It's not a scientific poll, it's a quick poll at and it kind of gives us an indication of where things are with students.

They have told us that the majority of them between 52 percent and 54 percent have seen the effects of this at their school now. That number use see in your screen there, was trending upwards in terms of yes. So it looks like even more of them might have seen the effects of the recession.

But the next step for us was they've talked to us about how it's affected their schools, that it's affect their schools and the next step for is to take a step back and not have them look at this like victims, like they ran out of money and they took this away from us, but have them consider the tough decisions that school officials are having to face all the time with what do we keep and what do we cut?

So the question to them was where are your priorities if you have dwindling budget cuts?

First comment today is coming from Areeba. She's talking to us about getting rid of the smart boards. A lot of students think they don't need the high-tech equipment.


BALDWIN: Those are fancy-shmancy high-dollar machines.

AZUZ: They are and there are some students like this one who are saying, "We can get by with a normal white board, even a chalkboard.

Our next comment from Kayla. Kayla talks to us about getting rid of the sports teams, cutting funding for that. "What people need is a good education, not fitness," she says. That's more controversial and not many athletes were going to be on board with that one.

And then the last comment from Armando -- I want to show you the (INAUDIBLE). He says, "The public schools are not the government programs that need to fall victim to budget cuts." He goes on to say, "Schools of the future of the nation should be the primary focus of federal and state spending," and you can hear a collective amen from administrators and educators around the country on that one.

HOLMES: Those are very smart comments. And about the smart boards -- that was kind of an issue in Kansas City. They have all this money --

BALDWIN: The Olympic size pool --

HOLMES: They have new technology. They have a new pool and they have this fancy stuff and no students in the classrooms. (INAUDIBLE) going down so that stuff does not pay off. That was a very smart comment there from the students.

BALDWIN: Priorities.

HOLMES: Where do you go now? Where do you continue the conversation with the kids?

AZUZ: We just put up a blog at We will be asking students, and we would love for any of you out there, if you'd like to log on to, click on our blog and talk to us about solutions.

We are looking for creative solutions. We know that many students a four-day school week, not a lot of them support longer school days. But they've also talked to us about fund-raisers and if you have any creative solutions for schools struggling with budgets in this time of financial crisis, log on, talk to us. is the place to go.

BALDWIN: We were talking about that report yesterday. Kansas City, they were saying 7:30 to 5:30.

HOLMES: Yes, longer days.

BALDWIN: That's a long day.


AZUZ: And many of them, they want to have their cake and eat it, too. Just less school altogether.

BALDWIN: Carl Azuz.

AZUZ: Thank you guys.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

HOLMES: Carl, we appreciate you as always; love hearing from those kids.

Thanks so much buddy.

AZUZ: Thank you both.

BALDWIN: All right. First there was a TEA party, and then this weekend we've been talking coffee as in the Coffee party.

HOLMES: Yes, politics here. Find out what the Coffee party is all about. Stay with us.


HOLMES: All right. TEA party might have some competition out there. This time yesterday we were telling you about the national kickoff of a new political movement calling themselves the Coffee party.

BALDWIN: Well, they were heading out to coffee shops across the country yesterday. And apparently the turnout was pretty strong, but still we are asking, what is this group really about? Who are these people? These coffee drinkers?

CNN's Pat St. Claire (ph) takes a look at why some activists prefer their politics with a jolt of java.


DAVID PHILLIPS (PH), COFFEE PARTIER: My name is David Phillips. I am from Berwyn Heights, Maryland.


PAT ST. CLAIRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The folks gathered at this Washington coffee house Saturday came for more than just a cup of Joe.

Enter the Coffee party. A new organization that also says it wants smaller government and lower taxes, but builds itself as a more civil alternative to the better known TEA party movement, a group known for it's boisterous rallies.

D.C. area documentary filmmaker, Annabel Park, started the group on Facebook.

ANNABEL PARK, FOUNDER, COFFEE PARTY U.S.A.: Just like an American revolution we're looking for real representation. We don't feel represented by our government right now.

ST. CLAIRE: Controversy has already erupted. Members of the TEA party movement point out, Park has done volunteer work for the Democratic Party, including for President Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.

JIM HOFT, ST. LOUIS TEA PARTY: It's driven from the top down. It's not a grassroots movement coming from the bottom up.

ST. CLAIRE: But some who attended meetings insists there is nothing instant about their coffee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We hear about the TEA party all the time, and now it's time for another grassroots organization to come in and give a different viewpoint.

ST. CLAIRE: On March 27th, the group says they will get together again to discuss ways to engage members of Congress during the Easter recess.

I'm Pat St. Claire, reporting from Atlanta.


HOLMES: On March 27th, the Coffee party plans to get members together again. They say they want to map out strategies to send a message to Congress. Keep in mind this did start on the web. Plenty of members were busy at their computers sending us iReports from their meetings.

Let's take a look at a few. We have the first one here from Oceanside California, I believe it's a Tyler Buck that sent this one into us. Looks like some people lined up outside after a gathering at the -- what is that -- the Hill Street Cafe, it appears to be.

BALDWIN: Looks, like it. Hill Street, Wall Street?

We have another one. From the East Coast, JC Wilmore snapped this picture of coffee members meeting in Richmond, Virginia, got their posters, ready to drink their coffee and talk politics yesterday.

So that happened. And we will have to see I guess where the Coffee party kind of goes from here.

We are also waiting to see what is really going on between the president and the Supreme Court chief justice, John Roberts.

HOLMES: A lot of folks say there is some growing tension between these two guys. We will get a closer look at the back and forth.


BALDWIN: How about this match-up for you? The commander-in- chief versus the chief justice; maybe something you would expect and maybe not. But there is a tense history between President Obama and Supreme Court chief justice, John Roberts.

HOLMES: And we're seeing something that really rare, a war of words between the two, pitting justice against politics and it's happening in a very public setting.

Here now, our Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sources close to Chief Justice John Roberts, since President Obama's State of the Union address, Roberts has been privately frustrated by this scene.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the flood gates for special interests including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections.

TODD: It was almost unheard of, a biting face-to-face political jab at the court by the President with the whole world watching. With the exception of Samuel Alito's mouthing of the words, "not true", the justices sat virtually motionless, as Congressmen cheered all around them.

Court sources say, that bothered Roberts more than the criticism itself. And now he's firing back.

JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE, U.S. SUPREME COURT: The image of having the members of one branch of government standing up, literally surrounding the Supreme Court, cheering and hollering while the Court, according to the requirements of protocol has to sit there expressionless, I think is troubling.

To the extent the State of the Union has degenerated into a political pep rally. I'm not sure why we're there.

TODD (on camera): And some may not be there again. One court source says it's a good bet Alito won't go back to a State of the Union address any time soon. The source says Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy may not either.

(voice-over): Our sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because they're not allowed to comment officially for the justices say all nine members of the bench, even the liberals, were uncomfortable.

As for Roberts, The sources don't believe this is personal, but the two men clearly have a tense history. It dates back at least to late 2005 when then-Senator Obama not only voted against Roberts' confirmation but publicly criticized him on the Senate floor, quote, "He has far more often used his formidable skills on behalf of the strong in opposition to the weak."

Three and a half years later --

OBAMA: And I will execute --

TODD: Roberts' slip at Mr. Obama's seminal moment was clearly unintentional, but became a metaphor for the awkwardness of the relationship.

Just weeks earlier, Roberts had tried to smooth uneasy relations between the Court and other branches by hosting the President-elect. Despite the outreach, politics still drives a deep wedge.

CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin says the Obama White House has its own problems with what it perceives as Roberts' aggressive pursuit of a conservative court agenda manifested in that campaign finance ruling.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The White House increasingly sees John Roberts as a political opponent. And The White House sees the Citizens United case as a political opportunity, because they think they are on the popular side of this issue.

TODD: There is speculation that John Paul Stevens will retire from the bench in the coming months and the president will nominate another liberal-leaning justice just like him.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


BALDWIN: Judicial versus executive. How about that?

"STATE OF THE UNION WITH CANDY CROWLEY" coming up at the top of the hour but first, a quick check of the morning headlines.

HOLMES: First, a lot of weather to tell you about. It's been hitting the northeast pretty hard for several weeks. They are going through it again; hundreds of thousands of people now without power this morning, two weeks after record snow hit that same region. Today's problems brought on by heavy rains and damaging winds.

And to Haiti now, take a look at this scene. It was a grim two month observance. This is Port-au-Prince in Haiti, a city devastated by that January 12th quake. Haitians there marched through the city Friday. More than half a million people remain in temporary shelters and a lot people think that possibly this could lead to another wave of disaster.