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Toyota Investigation Report Released; Ohio Killer's Confession

Aired February 8, 2011 - 15:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.

Want to begin with these pictures that are right over my right shoulder. And let's just pull them up full. And I want to back up just to explain what we have been watching.

This is Mount -- or -- excuse me -- this is me Mont Belvieu, Texas, right about 30 miles due east of Houston. And we heard from this company's spokesperson because what is essentially on fire is a refinery. It's Enterprise Products. Spokesperson for the company, Rick Rainey, he was just on our air.

And here is what he said. This explosion that triggered these massive flames happened just about two hours ago, right around noon Central time. This facility you're looking at apparently stores natural gas liquids. He did tell us, of course, company personnel are on site, as well as fire and police.

He said that the company is very much so trained to deal with this kind of situation. And, obviously, they're trying to control this fire, whether that means allow it to burn out or not.

Here's the big headline at this point in time that we're still digging on as well. There is one person, according to the spokesperson, one person from this plant who has not been accounted for. But there's a caveat there. He said that that person was seen leaving the facility, so hopefully he or she is fine, just simply not accounted for at the moment.

He also did say one school in the area has been told to shelter in place, but there are no evacuations, despite these massive black plumes of smoke. I imagine, looking at that picture, that is hundreds of miles -- or hundreds of feet I should say into the air from that plant. They're working to stop the flow of the product, but again good news here, no injuries, no fatalities. We won't go too far from this story, I promise, more news out of Mont Belvieu, Texas, here momentarily.

But I want to get you to Washington to our other developing story. We have just gotten the results of this 10-month-long government investigation into what caused several Toyotas to speed out of control. And I know you remember this story. We talked a lot about unintended acceleration and that whole problem surrounding these cars.

And I want to bring in our Deb Feyerick, who's been all over this story.

Really, Deb, I remember all your reporting since the very beginning here. And it seems to me with what we're getting from the Department of Transportation, we're learning not necessarily what caused it, but what didn't.


Well, NHTSA came out, the organization that was looking into this, the regulators, as well as NASA. They brought in engineers. And they ruled that, in fact, they do not believe that electronics played any role in these cases of unintended acceleration where cars were simply speeding wildly out of control. They ruled that out as a possibility, saying that Toyota's explanations, that it was either oversized floor mats trapping the gas pedal or a sticky gas pedal, one that was not sort of rising when people removed their foot, those two factors played the role, but not the electronics.

Remember, complaints surged from 2001 on because Toyota moved to this new system whereby you didn't have anything connecting the gas pedal with the engine, except for a series of sort of electronic impulses. Well, NASA engineers, they bombarded the car with electromagnetic interference. They found nothing.

And so now they're saying these were the causes. And there was almost a sense of confidence, if not jubilation, that federal regulators had been proved right and that Toyota had in fact said what the problem was. But again, Brooke, you've got to keep in mind eight million cars recalled in the United States, and Toyota did pay civil fines of $49 million.

But one of the conditions was that they admitted no wrongdoing. Well, now, according to this study, it appears there was no wrongdoing -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Well, you mentioned it was a massive number, eight million cars recalled, and anyone who drove any one of these cars remembers how frightening it was when this story really first came out. I mentioned you were all over the story. You talked to a bunch of different people.

And I want this piece -- this is part of one of your pieces. This is a report you did right after that California crash that led to the recall.

Let's watch.



FEYERICK (voice-over): The 911 call lasted just 17 seconds.

CHRIS LASTRELLA, WAS IN FAULTY CAR: We're going North on 125.

911 OPERATOR: Mm-hmm. LASTRELLA: And our accelerator is stuck.

FEYERICK: August 28th, 2009, California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor was driving his 13-year-old daughter Mahala to a soccer match in San Diego County. His wife, Cleofe, a genetic researcher, was next to him in the passenger seat. Her brother, Chris Lastrella, behind Mark, was talking to a 911 operator describing what would be the family's final moments.

LASTRELLA: We're going a 120. Mission Gorge. We're in trouble. We can't -- there's no brakes.


LASTRELLA: Mission Gorge -- end freeway half mile.

911 OPERATOR: OK. And you don't have the ability to, like, turn the vehicle off or anything?

LASTRELLA: We're approaching the intersection. Hold on. Pray. Pray.


BALDWIN: Deb, I remember that report. That 911 call was so chilling, because he's helpless.

FEYERICK: Yes, it really is.

And, see, this is where -- we have already spoken to somebody who does not support the finding of NASA's already. But what was so shocking about this particular accident is this was a 20-year veteran of the California Highway Patrol.


FEYERICK: Fellow officers and friends said, if there was anyone who could have stopped that car, it would have been him. And that's why they don't necessarily believe that it was the floor mat or a sticky pedal, because they say saw -- witnesses say they saw the car surging and an inability to simply stop the car.

Critics are now saying, even with these findings, that in fact the door is definitely not closed, although NASA said this high-speed acceleration was not a cause of the electronics. Our critic told us, well, you know what, guess what? A lot of these accidents happened when the cars were either going 20 miles an hour or stopped.

So, again, there's still going to be a lot of critics out there saying, uh-uh, we still don't believe it. And there's one more report that has to come out, will be sort of an overall look at both NASA's findings and how they apply to the auto industry around the world.

BALDWIN: So, bottom line, Deb, because there are a lot of theories that are being thrown around. We know NHTSA is still investigating. They're saying today it's not the electronics. So what are they looking into?

FEYERICK: Well, they basically said it's what we told you back a year ago. It's either oversized floor mats, these all-weather floor mats, or it's a pedal that's slow to come back.

BALDWIN: Got it.

FEYERICK: They had recalled the cars. They had made those changes to the cars. But again the descriptions of people who saw folks in these out-of-control cars where they're standing on the brakes with two feet trying to stop it.

There are a couple of changes, Brooke, that we do want to mention that NHTSA is saying they're now going to look at. And that is putting brake overrides into all cars, also standardizing these keyless ignitions. That's sort of the new thing. And there's no one way to turn off a keyless ignition. So they want to make that standardized, so everyone knows what to do.

They're also going to continue research on these electronic throttle control systems to see whether in fact over time they do wear down. So it's still ongoing, but they're confident it ain't the electronics right now.

BALDWIN: Well, people want answers and they want a fix. And they deserve it. Deb Feyerick, thanks for the latest there on Toyota. Appreciate it.

And I want you to take a look at this video. This is from Egypt today. And listen. Do you recognize -- I know he's kind of -- see far left-hand side of the screen, you see that young man? That is the Google executive who was released just yesterday after being held in Egypt for more than a week. So, coming up, is he now leading one of the biggest protests we have seen so far?

Also, the chilling confession from this man, who he -- who says he killed two women, a child and a dog before stuffing the bodies in a tree. He explains why he did it. That is next.

And we are still watching these pictures. This is Mont Belvieu, Texas. This is the Enterprise Products refinery plant, massive explosions about two hours ago, people still trying to get to the bottom of what happened, how to stop this, and where that one person is who is still unaccounted for.

Be right back.


BALDWIN: Well, I told you we were making phone calls on this massive fire that is still burning two hours later in Mont Belvieu, Texas.

And we were able to get the Chambers County judge on the phone. Jimmy Sylvia is joining me now. And, Jimmy, I understand you're in a place where you can actually see this with your own eyes. Tell me how massive it is and how high this smoke is into the air.

JIMMY SYLVIA, CHAMBERS COUNTY, TEXAS, JUDGE: Well, the fire has actually reached about -- estimated about 300 foot in the air. And of course, it's a big mushroom cloud of smoke.

BALDWIN: Jimmy, the big question, one of the big questions I have right now, we were listening to the company spokesperson on the phone saying one person from this plant is still unaccounted for. Do you know if that person has been found yet?

SYLVIA: No, ma'am. The last report I got is that -- is that there are no confirmed injuries. Now, that -- I haven't heard whether they have found that person or not.

BALDWIN: What are you hearing? What do you know about the fire right now?

SYLVIA: What I know about it, of course, it's an explosion at the Enterprise Products facility in Mont Belvieu, Texas, which is in Chambers County.

BALDWIN: Mm-hmm.

SYLVIA: We have got one road closed off. It's State Highway 146 and diverting folks away from that. We have got about a two-mile perimeter set up around the fire. There are no homes within the two- mile perimeter, which is good.

BALDWIN: Yes, that was my next question. I was trying to hop on Google satellite images just to see what was in the area. And I guess good for this plant is that there isn't a whole lot of much.

SYLVIA: That's right. And it's -- you know, it's in a populated area, but folks are not close to it. So as of right now, we have -- we're asking folks in the area to either evacuate or shelter in place. And that's what the school district has done. The Barbers Hill Independent School District at this time is sheltered in place.

BALDWIN: So if parents are watching right now, Jimmy, what do you want them to know?

SYLVIA: I want them to know that the school district is sheltering their kids in place. They're safe. And there will be news put out by the school district if things change at this time.

BALDWIN: From what we understood from this spokesperson from Enterprise Products, this facility here that is still burning stores natural gas liquids. And you may not have an answer, but I'm going to ask anyway, sir. Do you know if in this kind of situation they just have to let this thing burn out?

SYLVIA: That's my understanding.

BALDWIN: That's your understanding. OK. You didn't hear the explosion, did you?

SYLVIA: No, ma'am. We were actually in commissioners court at the courthouse now like about 13 miles away.

BALDWIN: Amazing.

SYLVIA: Now, we could see the flame from this distance.

BALDWIN: Jimmy, Jimmy Sylvia, Chambers County judge, appreciate you calling in very much.

SYLVIA: Yes, ma'am.

BALDWIN: And again we're still keeping a close eye on what's happening there. And we will bring you any updates as soon as they are available to me.

Meantime, an accused cold-blooded killer confesses his brutal crime in horrible, gruesome detail. And perhaps the most frightening part of all of it, he says he chose his targets completely at random. His name is Matthew Hoffman. He killed one woman, her son and her best friend in November and the dog. He pleaded guilty last month, is serving life in prison right now.

And take a look at this video. There he is just strolling along the aisles of Wal-Mart in Mount Vernon, Ohio. Apparently, he's there, he's buying heavy-duty trash bags and tarps to wrap up and throw the bodies in. This is all according to his confession, by the way.

After he did that, he says he stuffed the bodies into a tree not far from the family's home. You remember this story from last November? I have got to tell you, people in this community were so shocked, so horrified by these killings, I want you to listen to what the sheriff said at the time. Again, this was back in November at a news conference.


DAVID BARBER, KNOX COUNTY, OHIO, SHERIFF: As the sheriff of this county for the past 18 years, I have never experienced a case this big, this serious and this tragic. And in my entire law enforcement career, I have never experienced something like this.


BALDWIN: One of the saddest days they said of their lives.

I want to bring in Allison Manning. She has been following this story "The Columbus Dispatch" and co-wrote an article on the killer's confession that appeared in today's paper.

Allison, I read every single word of it. It's chilling. And I want to begin, though, if we can just pop the video back up, of the Wal-Mart, because according to this confession, he disposed of this bodies 12 hours after killing them. And I'm just curious your reaction to seeing this guy walk along. It looks like he's taking his sweet time.

ALLISON MANNING, "THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH": He was pretty methodical and pretty cold in his confession and how he wrote about what he did. And I think that's pretty evident when you watch the video. And he just looks like any other guy shopping.


BALDWIN: You would never know.

MANNING: You can't really see it in the video, but on the receipt he bought a turkey sandwich and a T-shirt while he was buying these other supplies. So he had other things on his mind, I guess.


The day of the crime -- and I know you have read every word of this confession, four-page confession -- the day of the crime, he goes, thinks he's just going to rob this house, camps out -- camps out the place. And then within an hour after he goes in, Tina Herrmann and Stephanie Sprang come home.

And he writes in his confession: "At this time, I was in a total state of shock. I wandered around the house, slowly coming to the realization of what I had done and how bad it was."

Did he indicate, Allison, at al what made him snap, what made him kill these women?

MANNING: I mean, he said in the confession that he initially wanted to just subdue Tina Herrmann because she was the first woman that came home, and it appears that Stephanie Sprang came home a little bit later -- or came to the house a little bit later.

And when he had two to deal with, it's the way he phrases it, he decided that killing them was the only option.

BALDWIN: So he says he dealt with them and then he describes in the confession, as I read, he describes processing the bodies. That's the word he uses.


BALDWIN: When the kids came home, Allison -- so, we have seen pictures of -- I think he was 10 years of age -- Kody and the daughter. And then what did he say he did next?

MANNING: He stabbed Kody in the doorway. He was 11. And...


BALDWIN: Just because he was there. Just because he surprised him.

MANNING: Right. Right. And the daughter ran into a room and he says that he couldn't bring himself to hurt her. And, as we know, he kept her for four days before she was rescued.

BALDWIN: Let's talk about her, little girl. She's 13. We're not going to name her because we now know she's the victim of sexual assault.

But she lived, and, in fact, police found her tied down in this bed of leaves. And he said -- this is so hard to wrap your head around this, but he said he tried to be nice to her. Tell me what he did in those four days.

MANNING: Yes. I mean, the way I read it, it was almost as if he was having a house guest or playing house with her for four days. He said that they watched movies. They watched the "Iron Man" movies. He made her hamburgers and breakfast.

He at one point slept with his arm around her in order to I think make sure that she didn't escape. But it was just -- it was a really bizarre way that he phrased those four days.

BALDWIN: Playing Wii video games. He says in his confession: "I would not have hurt her. I planned on giving her more and more freedom until she ran away."

I'm just curious, Allison, have you -- have you talked with this young woman's father? Does he buy this? Does he buy this confession?

MANNING: I talked to him last night. He doesn't.

The way he put it is, if giving someone a little cereal and spoiled milk is making them breakfast and taking care of them, then this guy has some -- has some problems. He's -- I mean, the father is understandably upset and the family is still dealing with this. And I think something like this, a self-absorbed confession like this, only -- only can exacerbate that kind of pain.

BALDWIN: He is in prison for life, is he not? Part of the deal that he struck is that he wouldn't be put for death or be up for the department if he confessed.



Allison Manning with "The Columbus Dispatch," it's chilling stuff. And our thoughts of course with that father as well. Allison, thank you.

Coming up next, that Google executive held in Egypt for more than a week breaks down during an interview following his release. We're going to tell you what made him so emotional.

Also, we have just learned that former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann is not leaving television. So where might he be going next? That answer ahead. Stay here.


BALDWIN: Anyone who thought those anti-government protests in central Cairo were starting to weaken was not paying attention today. I want you to look at this.

You see the guy on the far left-hand side of your screen with a microphone? He's leading that massive crowd in Tahrir Square today? He is Wael Ghonim. Remember, yesterday, we told you about this man. He was the one released after being held for 12 days by the Egyptian government, he says blindfolded the whole time.

Ghonim works for Google, but he created a Facebook page credited with sparking the sometimes violent protests that has rattled the Egyptian government and prompted the president to decline another term in office. And shortly after his release from custody yesterday, he sat down and spoke with an Egyptian television reporter and talked about how much pain he feels that more than 300 people have died since that uprising began.


WAEL GHONIM, GOOGLE EXECUTIVE (through translator): The thing that tortured me the most when I was in detention was that people would find out that I was the admin of the page that was calling for protests. I did not want people to find out that I was the admin, because I'm not the hero. I was writing with a keyboard on the Internet. And my life was never exposed to any danger.

I want to say to every mother and every father that lost his child, I'm sorry. But this is not our fault. I swear to God this is not our fault. It's the fault of everyone who was holding on to power greedily and would not let it go.


BALDWIN: Wael Ghonim in tears.

But now here's another take on Egypt. And this is all about the view from over here and Glenn Beck. Have you heard about this today? Glenn Beck has been doling out an elaborate stream of conspiracy theories. And now a fellow conservative is calling him out for that. And that is news.

Jessica Yellin, national political correspondent, tell me about this.



Yes, Glenn Beck is arguing that essentially -- essentially, the protesters in Egypt aren't really a positive sign of democracy and freedom, but instead he suggests that liberals in America are somehow backing the protesters in a plan to expand a Muslim empire that threatens America.

Here's just one example of what he's been saying on FOX News.


GLENN BECK, HOST, "GLENN BECK": This is the story of everyone who has ever plotted to or wanted to fundamentally change or destroy the Western way of life. This isn't about Egypt. Everything is up on the table.


YELLIN: Well, Bill Kristol, the conservative commentator and wise man in the conservative -- in the Republican Party, wrote in "The Weekly Standard" that Glenn Beck -- quote -- "brings to mind no one so much as Robert Welch and the John Birch Society." He says, "He's marginalizing himself just as his predecessors did back in the 1960s."

Those are some strong words. And Glenn Beck hit back, mocking Kristol, saying that Kristol is just defending his power and stands for nothing in particular.

But this is a growing divide or a meaningful divide we're seeing among conservatives right now.

BALDWIN: But, Glenn Beck, he's kind of an icon on the right, so how unusual, Jessica, is it for a fellow conservative to call him out in public? And we just saw the language, using language like the John Birch Society.

YELLIN: Right. It's incredibly unusual, especially from a leader in the conservative movement.

And this speaks on one hand to a divide among conservatives about sort of foreign policy, the so-called neoconservatives who believe in spreading democracies -- they supported the invasion of Iraq -- and then a more isolationist wing who are gaining strength with the Tea Party movement.

But this particular fight isn't just a policy difference. You know, Kristol is essentially accusing Beck of being irresponsible and unhelpful to the conservative cause. And we don't see that very often.

BALDWIN: What about how the Republicans and how the White House are handling Egypt right now? I mean, they have been more or less fairly quiet, have they not?

YELLIN: Mostly, yes, until now. Some like Mitt Romney have been only moderately critical. He said for example that the White House had a rough start, but regained its footing.

Sarah Palin just gave an interview. She took a dig at the president saying that his 3:00 a.m. phone call came and it went to voice-mail, but -- you know, a little witty line, but it's not clear what her substantive critique really is there. It was Newt Gingrich who has sort of gone the farthest. He told John King that the White House has been amateurish and sent mixed messages. Here is Gingrich speaking to John King.


NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think that what we want to do is walk a narrow line between -- we don't want to betray somebody who has with us for 30 years as an ally. We do recognize his time may well have gone. But we want to treat him with dignity because he stood by us in very tough times.

We want to help the Egyptian people achieve self-government. But we want to isolate and minimize the risk of the Muslim Brotherhood. This administration I think doesn't have a clue about those realities.


YELLIN: Doesn't have a clue about those realities. Brooke, I'm sure you're shocked that this too is now being infused with politics.

BALDWIN: How about that, Egypt? Of course, of course. Jessica Yellin, thank you.

And I want to take you quickly back and show you some more of those live pictures out of Mont Belvieu, Texas, still fires. Still, it is raging. You can see the fire, the flames, the smoke several hundred feet there up in the air.

Coming up next, we're going to hear from the spokesperson of that company to talk about that fire and how this whole thing started.


BALDWIN: Want to get you back to our breaking news, back to this fire here, back to Texas.

This is Mont Belvieu, just about 30 miles due east of Houston. This thing is still raging some 2.5 hours after those initial explosions right around noon Central time. This is the Enterprise Products plant.

And I want you to listen to the company spokesperson. This is Rick Rainey giving an update.


RICK RAINEY, ENTERPRISE PRODUCTS SPOKESMAN: Shortly after noon our time, central time, today we experienced a fire at our west storage facility at our Mont Belvieu, Texas, complex. This is a facility that stores natural gas liquids. We currently have our personnel on site, our part of a mutual aid group fully trained to deal with these types of situations and they're in the process of bringing the situation -- or trying to control the fire, in the process of making sure that we can stop the flow of product into the complex through the various pipelines that feed the facility. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Again, that was Rick Rainey speaking earlier on our air. He did say that one person was unaccounted for, yet he did say that person was seen leaving this plant. So hopefully that person has been found. I also talked to one of the local judges, told me there is shelter in place for one of the schools. So parents your kids are safe but they're staying put for now.

I also want to let you know we're monitoring what's happening on Capitol Hill today where any minute now we're expecting hearings to begin on two bills that address abortion. So coming up next, exactly what's in them that is increasingly controversial?


BALDWIN: Welcome back to the NEWSROOM. There is new video out today that purports to show Planned Parenthood's willingness to help a couple running a prostitution ring that involves young girls.

And really this is just the latest from this anti-abortion group that wants to cut off taxpayer money for Planned Parenthood. We told you about this first video when it was released last week. It was shot at a Planned Parenthood clinic in New Jersey. In this clip you'll hear from actors posing as a pimp and a prostitute. And they ask this clinic worker, who's no longer with the clinic, by the way, about abortions for their girls. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If they come in for pregnancy testing -- at that point you'd still be -- you never got this from me, just to make all of our lives easier, if they're 14 and under, just send them right there if they need an abortion, OK?


BALDWIN: We were the only newscast to talk to both sides this story. I talked to the producer of the videos, and I also talk to a representative of Planned Parenthood. Here's what they told me.


LILA ROSE, ANTI-ABORTION ACTIVIST: This is an organization that is covering up sexual abuse institutionally. They're not reporting abuse like they're required to do by law, and they're receiving almost a third of their $1 billion budget from the government. It's absolutely outrageous. These clinics need to be immediately defunded.

STUART SCHEAR, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: What you saw on the tape was completely inconsistent with Planned Parenthood's guidelines for providing health care to the three million patients that we see each year. It was repugnant and the employee who was involved in this was fired yesterday.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: Now, this video campaign is timed to this Republican push in Congress to restrict federal funding for abortions. And hearings on two separate bills are expected to be highly contentious. The first one starts in a matter of minutes.

I want to bring in senior Congressional correspondent Dana Bash for me on Capitol Hill. And Dana, we know that Republicans say this bill simply takes something that's been going on for decades, the ban on federal funding for abortions, and makes it permanent. Don't abortion rights activists say it really goes further than that?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, they do, and in some ways it does because it does provide more specifics in terms of how the ban on federal funding goes forward. You're talking about that ban known as the Hyde Amendment. That has been in place for decades as you said, and it simply says that there will be no federal funding for abortions except in the case of rape, incest or the health of the mother.

Looking at specifics about what this legislation would do, for example, it says that individuals who have private insurance with abortion coverage, would no longer be eligible for tax credits to help pay for it. In addition, small businesses who now get tax credits to help pay for employees' health insurance, if that health insurance has abortion coverage, they would lose the tax credits.

One more thing -- if private insurance includes abortion coverage, people who get tax deductions when they reach a limit in terms of spending for health care, they would lose the tax deductions if the insurance has abortion coverage.

What we're talking about here, Brooke, it's important to underscore, this is just if the coverage for abortion exists inside their health insurance. This has nothing to do with whether or not somebody actually utilizes that coverage.

So that is why Democrats are saying, hold on a second. This is a backdoor to try to make it really impossible for most women to get abortions, which they reminded everybody at press conferences today is still legal. It is still the law of the land, and they say this is it a Republican attack on women's health.

BALDWIN: What are the chances, Dana, giving what Republicans are saying and Democrats are saying, of this thing passing?

BASH: Let me give you the Republican point of view and that might answer that question. Republicans I've talk to several of them, and there are lots of co-sponsors of this, we do believe that it is very likely to pass the house, they say, wait a minute.

If it is the law of the land and if everybody agrees federal funding shouldn't be used for any kind of abortion, then they believe that that should include tax deductions, that should include tax credits, and that the whole idea of insurance is that it's a pool. And so they can't be sure where this money goes or where this money comes from in terms federal funding. That's why they argue this is critical.

They do now have the power in the House. As I said, there are so many co-sponsors, I believe almost 200 in the House. We expect it to -- it's very likely to pass. The Senate of course is a whole different ball game. That's why we saw Senate Democrats come out this morning and say, we're going to fight this and make sure it doesn't pass the Senate if and when it comes to the floor.

BALDWIN: Dana Bash, I have a feeling this is not the end of talking about this very controversial topic. Thank you, Dana.

Coming up next, talk about a real life band of brothers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He knows that if he doesn't do something right I'll jump on him. But then again I'll give him flash backs of the younger days when I used to be rougher.


BASH: These two aren't the only set of brothers in one marine battalion. You won't believe exactly how many there are. That is next.


BALDWIN: I want to show you this incredible story. Five sets of brothers, all serving in this one marine battalion, all getting ready to head to Afghanistan. Talk about a real life band of brothers. Here is CNN's Ed Lavandera with this exclusive TV interview with every single one of them.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A deep bond runs through this line of marines. This is a brotherhood beyond the uniform.

LT. COL. TODD ZINK, U.S. MARINE CORPS: I was surprised, too.

LAVANDERA: This U.S. Marine Corps battalion is a family, an infantry unit made up of five different sets of brothers all about to deploy to the war in Afghanistan, Will and Raul Hernandez, Mathew and Jonathan Fossler, Josh and Daniel Beans, Bobby and Cody Hendrickson, Francisco and Hector Vega.

LAVANDERA: Have you leaned on each other quite a bit?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It gives us a sense of home.

LAVANDERA: Their brotherhood says eases the pressure of heading into the battlefield.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think there's anybody better to keep me safe than him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This will be one of the biggest struck ells we go through together as brothers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do we worry? Absolutely. You never know what's going to happen out there. We have to take care of each other because that's all we have.

LAVANDERA: Only josh and Danielle beans have experienced war together before. Three years ago they rode on the same street patrols in Iraq together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not many brothers are in a situation where they're both able to deploy together or even be in the military at the same time much less the same unit.

LAVANDERA: The families of these marines face an emotional time -- double the fear, twice the stress. How about your folks?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, they're --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're having a hard time back home knowing that we're here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But they support us in everything we do. We kind of left them with no choice.

LAVANDERA: The Beans brothers wanted to fight in Afghanistan so they volunteered to join this unit. The Vega brothers have also served separate tours of duty in the Iraq war. The Fossler brothers are first generation marines. And this will be the Hendrickson brothers the first tour of duty. In the dangerous days ahead, good old-fashioned sibling rivalry will help lift their spirits.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He knows if he doesn't do anything right, I'll jump on him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I always call my mom and tell her he's picking on me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He used to beat me up a lot.

LAVANDERA: So the best question I can ask is, who's the better marine?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think based on that he takes the prize for this one. Oh, he is.

LAVANDERA: Oh, really?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's the better marine.

LAVANDERA: Here they're all brothers in arms, and that's where the rivalry ends for this band of brothers.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Camp Pendleton, California.


BALDWIN: They've got their backs for sure.

Coming up next, the founder of Facebook, of course, he's made it much easier for people around the world to connect, but now someone is apparently connecting with him and he's none too pleased about. We'll have those details.

But first this. We all need money advice from time to time, but guess what you can get it for free right here on CNN. Here you go.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Time now for the "Help Desk" where we give answers to your financial questions. Joining me this hour is Jack Otter, the executive editor of, and Carmen Wong Ulrich is also here, the author of "The Real Cost of Living." So good to see you, Jack and Carmen.

First question from Phillip -- "My son, who is 27, has just found a job after being unemployed for almost two years. His college loans are metastasizing due to interest buildup with over $100,000 owed. Even if he declares bankruptcy, he has little hope of paying it all off and building a secure future. Current minimum payments leave him nothing to live on or save. Do you have any suggestions to help him dig his way out?" Carmen?

CARMEN WONG ULRICH, AUTHOR, "THE REAL COST OF LIVING": Metastasizing. That's the thing. It can feel like this crazy cancerous growth, but here's the thin. You cannot avoid student loans even in your bankruptcy. Bankruptcy won't solve the situation.

The good news is we don't know if he has federal loans. If you have federal loans what he needs to apply for is an income-based repayment program. This is a fairly new program where you don't pay more than 10 percent of your discretionary income, that means after you pay your rent and utilities and all your living expenses, no more than 10 percent is going to go towards these loan payments. He has to apply and it has to be a federal loan. Do it that way.

The other way is you have to work with your lenders and make that happen. Do not avoid them and stop paying them.

ELAM: The more you communicate the better off for you.

The next question comes from Anna, and she writes in "I converted $50,000 from a regular IRA to a Roth IRA in 2010, the plan there being to split my taxes in my 2011 and 2012 tax filings. Should I be prepaying some of those 2011 taxes during 2011, or is it OK to pay the first half when the 2011 taxes are due next spring?" You follow that, Jack?

JACK OTTER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR MONEYWATCH.COM: I do. First, great that Anna has done this. She is going to thank herself when she retires and has all this tax-free income. The bad news is it's just like any other income tax, and, yes, she's going to be responsible for it over the course of the year. She can do quarterly payments. For me, the easiest thing is to increase the withholding in your paycheck, and that way you don't see it, you don't have to send something in every quarter.

ELAM: Every little check a little going out. It's a lot less painful.

Carmen and Jack, thank you so much for helping us out today. If you have a question you'd like to get answered, please send us an e- mail anytime to


This has never happened to me. Actually, maybe it has once or twice. You ever made a Facebook friend request and then you get denied? What to do? What to do? Here's a little advice. Let it go.

The famous founder of Facebook is going through something of an anti-social part of his network today, and that is what's trending, and that's why Brooke Anderson of HLN's "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" is joining us. Brooke, good to see you. I've been suffering a little Brooke and Brooke withdrawal.


BALDWIN: Good to see you. Let's talk about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Does he have a stalker?

ANDERSON: Allegedly, yes. And you're talking about Facebook, yes. Mark definitely does not want to friend on Facebook this 31- year-old man, who has alleged by stalking him. Zuckerberg had to get a restraining order against this guy.

TMZ reports that Zuckerberg's attorneys filed legal papers claiming this man tried to follow, surveil, and contact Mr. Zuckerberg using language threatening his personal safety and that of Zuckerkberg's sister and girlfriend.

TMZ says this man sent Zuckerberg flowers, a handwritten letter, and listen to this, he reportedly showed up at Zuckerberg's home a few weeks ago and was intercepted by Facebook security --

BALDWIN: And down she goes, Brooke Anderson, mid-thought. We apologize to you. Brooke Anderson, thank you.

Let's move along, shall we. Coming up next if they had to decide right now who do Republicans want to run for president in 2012? We have the results of a brand new poll that is next. Can you guess who the top four are? You're looking at them.

Also, we're still keeping a close eye on that Mont Belvieu, Texas fire. Look at all that smoke and fire. It's been burning for three hours now. This thing is still burning. The good news is, according to the company spokesperson, no injuries, but still one person unaccounted for. We're all over it. Stay right with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BALDWIN: Maybe you're sitting there, it's your lunch break and you're sitting there watching me from work. Do you ever get the sense that your work space is just getting smaller and smaller? Well, guess what? It probably is. According to this new survey by the international facility management association, the average size of a cubicle back in 1994 was a whopping 90 square feet.

So what is it today, you ask? It's 75 square feet, a little bit smaller. No real shock here. Apparently your shrinking work space is a result of a troubling economy and more technology.

And a lot of folks say it is too early to start covering the presidential race. Well, here's my answer to that -- yes and no. We won't be talking about it every single day. That comes a little bit later, but the fact is this thing is under way.

So we've just done a poll of Republicans to gauge their feeling one year ahead of the primaries, and here's what we found. Take a look at this with me. The Republican leader right now is Mike Huckabee, but not by much. Look at the numbers there.

And I'll read the list. You see Huckabee, Palin, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul. Everyone else is down in the low single digits, so as of now those are the contenders. Jessica Yellin has been out there sizing them up.


JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Will she or won't she? If Sarah Palin is planning to run for president in 2012, she isn't saying.

SARAH PALIN, (R) FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: It's our right to vigorously, respectfully debate ideas and intentions in this country. I'm going to continue down that path, and if that leads to being a candidate for a high then I will announce that at the appropriate time.

YELLIN: Any candidate would envy her advantages. With her TV appearances and "momma grizzly" candidate endorsements, she's built a fundraising machine, political capital, and intense support within her base. Her biggest weakness -- controversial remarks like this one after the Tucson shooting.

PALIN: No one should be deterred from speaking up and speaking out in peaceful dissent.

YELLIN: CNN's polling shows Palin's support among Republicans eroding over the last year. Now a majority of GOP voters tell CNN they would not back her for the party's nomination.

The polling looks best for former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who has strong support among Christian conservatives. He told his current employer FOX News he won't announce his intentions before summer. MIKE HUCKABEE, (R) FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: I think people get sick of us if we're out there too long, for too long a period of time. There's nothing new. You're the day old loaf of bread on the chef, and it's very difficult to make your message fresh.

YELLIN: Huckabee's challenges -- showing he can appeal beyond the Republican base and demonstrating foreign policy credentials. He made a recent trip to Israel but few visits to key early voting states, and political insiders question whether he really wants to make the run.

Like the others, Mitt Romney hasn't announced, but that just seems like a formality. Among insiders it's an open secret the former Massachusetts governor plans to get in the race. He's been raising money, forming alliances, and building an impressive political operation. The former CEO has an unrivaled war chest, raising $6.3 million and contributing nearly $1.2 million to other candidates last election.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: I'm doing the things like other folks are doing to keep the option open and moving forward in the event I make a positive decision. But there are matters of health, of support, of the kind of network you'd like to have of individuals behind you. Those are things you've got to assess before you make a final decision.

YELLIN: Romney's greatest hurdle -- explaining away comparisons between the Massachusetts health care plan he championed as governor and the Obama plan so unpopular among GOP primary voters. He told ABC News --

ROMNEY: Not apologizing for it. I'm indicating that we went in one direction, and there are other possible directions. I would like to see states pursue their own ideas and see which ideas work best.

YELLIN: Then there's the former house speaker Newt Gingrich who says he's considering a run, quote, "very seriously."

NEWT GINGRICH, (R) FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: By the end of February we'll make a decision whether or not to have an exploratory committee. I think the country has enormous problems. I think it requires a totally different kind of approach.

YELLIN: He's punched his card in the key early voting states. He has broad name recognition and a gift for getting press and generating ideas.

But some Republican insiders fret he lacks the discipline for a presidential campaign. Others warn his past personal indiscretions and three marriages could cost him support among the valued-driven Republican base. Top Republican consultants tell me, for many of the candidates, this is about seeing who can be the last to enter the race. That would minimize fund-raising demands and possibly allow time for other candidates to flame out.

Jessica Yellin, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: Jess, thank you.