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Parliament Pressures; Obama Says Leaders To Meet On Debt Today; American Airlines To Replace Its Planes; Texas To Execute White Supremacist; Former Players Sue The NFL; Memphis School Funding Fight; Four-Month NFL Lockout; What Millennials Are Missing; NFL Sued by Former Players
Aired July 20, 2011 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: Well, if you think the British press is rough and tumble, you've got to love parliament. Welcome to an uncommon session of the House of Commons where the phone hacking scandal that began years ago in a now defunct tabloid, today fell dramatically and noisily in the lap of the British Prime Minister, David Cameron.
Now, imagine for a second, if the U.S. president had to stand on the floor of Congress and defend his hiring of a newspaper man suspected of illegal eavesdropping. This is that man, Andy Coulson, former editor of Rupert Murdoch's "News of the World," later David Cameron's communications director.
Coulson quit that job under a cloud in January, and was arrested this month. Cameron says if he'd known then what he knows now, Coulson never would have worked for him. But now, he's not in the mood to apologize.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: What's the public expects is not petty political point scoring, what they want, what they deserve is concerted action to rise to the level of events and pledge to work together to solve the issue out once and for all, and it is in that spirit that I commend this statement to the house.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: It is no exaggeration to say Britain's very foundations are shaken by the lengths to which some London muckrakers allegedly went to find scoops (ph).
Just yesterday, Rupert Murdoch, his son James, and News Corps former top British executive, Rebekah Brooks, you see them there in the center, for hauled before a parliamentary committee. This followed the resignations of Britain's top two police officials whose phone hack investigations went nowhere and were blasted today by parliament.
And then, of course, there is the prime minister, David Cameron, he is facing the single biggest crisis of his 15 months as prime minister. My colleague, Dan Rivers, has been watching the latest spectacle.
Dan, is Cameron's leadership really under threat here?
DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it certainly is being tested to the absolute limit. Yesterday, it was Rupert and James Murdoch's turn to be grilled. Today, it was prime minister, David Cameron's turn to face the music, facing it in the House of Commons in the building behind me where he was asked repeatedly about his decision to hire Andy Coulson as his communications director.
Andy Coulson, of course, now disgraced, his former editor of "The News of the World" who's been arrested as part of this police investigation. It was a fact that the leader of the opposition, Ed Miliband, came back to time and time again.
Let's hear what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED MILIBAND, LABOUR PARTY LEADER: He says that in hindsight he made a mistake by hiring Mr. Coulson. He says that if Mr. Coulson lied to him, he would apologize. Mr. Speaker, that isn't good enough, because people it's not about hindsight, Mr. Speaker, it's not about whether Mr. Coulson lied to him, it is about all the information and warnings that the prime minister ignored. He was warned, and he preferred to ignore the warnings.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIVERS: Well, the prime minister says he wasn't so warned, he never received those warnings. He said he will say sorry for hiring Andy Coulson if it's proven that Andy Coulson knew about phone hacking if he is indicted and put away in prison as part of this inquiry. At the moment though, Andy Coulson has only been arrested, he's not being formally indicted, and the prime minister is saying, look, I took him at his word, he said he didn't know what was going on, and I wanted to give him a second chance -- Randi.
KAYE: And Dan, the prime minister did add one more investigation into the mix. Tell me about that.
RIVERS: Yes, that's right. I mean, we've now got this look at the kind of broader epics of what's going on in journalism, in politics, as well as an inquiry specifically into phone hacking, that will be a judge-led inquiry led by Lord Leveson that will get underway -- was already getting underway, they will start to dig down. But they've got to do that in parallel to the police inquiry. It's a difficult balancing act, and it is an inquiry that will probably go on for months, even possibly years, being described as a sort of watershed moment in the relationship between the press, the police and the politicians.
KAYE: Dan Rivers for us in London. Dan, thank you as always. Well, the close ties with the Murdoch crowd are now a liability in the U.K. government. They didn't begin with David Cameron. Rebekah Brooks told lawmakers yesterday that she visited Cameron's predecessors a lot more often than she ever saw Cameron. Brooks is a long-term Murdoch protege who rose to become his British chief executive until she resigned and was suddenly arrested. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REBEKAH BROOKS, FORMER CEO, NEWS INTERNATIONAL: The fact is I have never been to Downing Street while David Cameron has been prime minister, and yet under prime minister Gordon Brown and prime minister Tony Blair, I did regularly get to Downing Street. Strangely, it was under labor prime ministers since I was a regular administration (ph) and not -- and not the current administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: At least six investigations are now under way into phone hacks, bribes to the police, and government conflicts of interest. We will, of course, do our best to keep you posted on all of that.
Some of the other big stories that we're keeping an eye on, just into the CNN NEWSROOM. We are learning President Obama plans to meet with house and senate Democratic leadership this afternoon at the White House, 2:50 p.m. to be exact. This all because we are less than two weeks away from the federal government defaulting on its obligations, and Congress has yet to work out a deal.
President Obama's debt-cutting plan can't pass the house and the plan from house Republicans can't pass the Senate. House speaker John Boehner reiterated Tuesday that a default is not in the cards. Also on Tuesday, the so-called gang of fix revealed its own plan supported by the president, but it's far from a done deal. Former treasury secretary, Larry Summers, called it, quote, "more planned to have a plan." Both sides of the house remain at odds. Republicans are united against any tax increases and Democrats are against in entitlement reform.
In what it calls the, quote, "largest commercial aircraft order in history." American Airlines is replacing its fleet with hundreds of new airplanes from Boeings and Airbus. AMR in court (ph), the parent company of American Airlines, says the new aircraft order will replace its current fleet with more fuel-efficient planes. The order calls for 460 planes Boeing 737s and Airbus A320 planes. Boeing says the new planes are five percent more fuel efficient than older generations that were built in the 1990s.
In Texas, the man behind a shooting rampage after the September 11th terror attacks is set to be executed tonight. Marc Anthony Strollman (ph) targeted those he believed to be in Middle Eastern dissent in retaliation for those attacks. Strollman, an admitted white supremacist, was on bail at the time for previous crimes and prosecutors claimed he carefully plotted the attacks. One of the men he shot has forgiven him and has urged the state of Texas to spare his life.
Seventy-five former football players are suing the NFL, claiming the league purposefully concealed the harmful effects of game-related concussions. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, claims the NFL knew as early as the 1920s about the dangerous affects of concussions on a player's brain, but did not disclose the information before 2010. Ridell, the company that makes helmets for the league, is also names as a defendant in the suit which seeks unspecified damages. League spokesman, Greg Aiello, told the Web site profootballtalk.com that the league was not aware of the claims of the suit but would vigorously contest any claims of that kind.
At the bottom of the hour, we'll talk with Alicia Duerson, widow of a Dave Duerson, who committed suicide and told his family that he wanted his brain used for research into the effects of trauma on the brain from playing pro-football.
School children being used as pawns in a budget battle in Memphis. The first day of school put on hold indefinitely. We'll ask the mayor and school board member what exactly is going on next.
KAYE: School children in Memphis could be getting a longer than expected summer break. The school board voted last night to delay the August 8th start of school. The board says the city has shorted the district about $150 million over the last several years, and classes will not start until they get $55 million the city owes the schools for this year. The school board commissioner who proposed the shutdown says schools could be closed indefinitely.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. KENNETH WHALUM, COMMISSIONER, MEMPHIS CITY SCHOOLS: On a vote of eight decided -- on a vote of eight to one decided we're no longer going to wait for funds that the state says we're rightfully due, and eight to one was the vote to delay indefinitely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Here with us live from Memphis to talk about the dispute is the school commissioner, Stephanie Gatewood, and joining us by phone is the mayor of Memphis, A.C. Wharton.
Let me ask you first, Mayor, will this dispute be resolved in time for school to start as scheduled, do you think?
MAYOR A.C. WARTON, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE (via telephone): Yes, it will. Let me say this, this was started by the council some years before I got here, and I will get it resolved. I didn't have a vote when the decision was made that got us into the situation, but we're going to do what's necessary to make sure that the children are back in school on time, and that the teachers are back in school on time. The fact of the matter is we do not have $55 million, but we'll get something worked out to keep -- get the schools open on time. KAYE: Stephanie, can you tell me -- I understand that there was a vote, and the vote was to keep the kids out of school indefinitely until you get the $55 million. Are you concerned about the children losing out here?
STEPHANIE GATEWOOD, COMMISSIONER, MEMPHIS CITY SCHOOLS: Yes, absolutely. Let me be clear, the vote that was taken last evening clearly stated that we would accept the minimum amount which was $9 million with the agreement to accept the rest of the money in equal installments.
But clearly, we know the city council does not have the $5 million, you know, that they are sitting on it, however, we do know that a portion of the dollars can be expended.
In fact, the city , as per the mayor, stated that it's already in the budget. In fact more pointedly, two days ago the check was in the mail.
So, all we are saying is we cannot -- we would not be able to start schools and really be able to meet a full payroll for our teachers and faculty and staff, which they would deplete the education for our students, and that's what we're most concerned about.
WARTON: Let me clear up one thing.
KAYE: Sure, Mayor, go ahead.
WARTON: Simply because we have budgeted something, which we have, does not mean the revenue is here yet, that's the difficulty. We did, indeed, over budget for MCS, Memphis City Schools, but the property taxpayers have not paid their bills yet. We're required by law to get this money from the property tax and the deadline on that, they will become delinquent September 1st, but we're going to come up with something, I mean we don't want to give the impression that we have the money here and we're holding it, that is --
KAYE: Where are you going to get the money from?
WARTON: From some current revenues if we work out an installment, not $55 million as Commissioner Gatewood just pointed out.
GATEWOOD: And also, what I pointed out was that we would - we knew that you did not have the $55 million, and therefore, we said that we would accept the minimum amount due.
GATEWOOD: So, I was clearing up the resolution. That's right.
WARTON: We're working - that's precisely what we're working on. You know, the - I guess in some political circle, one would say, oh, they bluffed us, we're not going to give into a bluff. We're talking about children here, we can play politics later on. This didn't start with me, it started with the council, it's my responsibility now, and we're going to get it resolved like adults, and that's what we're doing. The children will go to school on August 8th, teachers will report on August 1st, if they do not, it won't be because of the city of Memphis.
KAYE: Stephanie, what's been the reaction from parents after the board voted to go ahead and keep the kids out of school if you don't get the money?
GATEWOOD: So the reaction that we've received is, oh, that we're so angry. We're upset. Well, let me just say that as a parent of a student that attends Memphis City Schools, I have a child that attends Memphis City Schools as well, and what I've said to parents is, please look at the big picture. It's not that we want to hold your kids out of school until we get the money from the city council. We absolutely are not using them as pawns. The fact of the matter is, is we want to be able to offer them a quality education. And we -- every parent wants to be able to send their child to school and know that their child is going to be safe and know that their child will receive a quality education.
KAYE: What are they lacking --
GATEWOOD: And I'm reminded of --
KAYE: What are they lacking without this funding right now that you would go to such extreme measures to keep them out of school?
GATEWOOD: Well, so without the funding -- sure.
MAYOR AC WHARTON, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE (via telephone): By the way, this funding is only one-tenth of their budget.
KAYE: OK, mayor, let's let Stephanie answer that.
GATEWOOD: And not only -- and not only that, but because -- if we do -- currently as it stands, we are not even legal as it relates to the maintenance of effort. So the money that -- whether it's a tenth of the budget, that money goes to the state as it relates to maintenance and budget -- maintenance of effort.
KAYE: But what are the students lacking? What are the students without?
GATEWOOD: So they're lacking -- sure. So if, in fact, we do not open schools, they will be without the ROTC programming, they stand to lose strings (ph) programming. They stand to lose any of the programming that is not mandated by the state. So not only that, but their class size ratio will be larger as well. So this is not a political game. This is not a political ploy, in as much as it is a fact that we want to ensure that all of our students receive an appropriate quality education.
KAYE: Mayor, would you like to respond to that?
WHARTON: The bottom line is the children will go to school. We want to reassure that. They will go to school on time. We can deal with all the inside baseball stuff later on. The children are going to school. The teachers will report. If they do not, it will not be because of any shortcomings of the city of Memphis.
KAYE: All right. Mayor Wharton, Stephanie Gatewood, appreciate your time and certainly --
GATEWOOD: Thank you very much.
KAYE: Hope to get this resolved sooner rather than later for your students there.
Think the NFL lockout is only affecting rich athletes and CEOs? Wrong. It is slamming economies of small towns around the country. We'll tell you why, next.
KAYE: Tonight, NFL players could vote on a collective bargaining agreement to end the long NFL lockout. And the owners could vote tomorrow. But even if it all comes to an end, it won't change the fate of towns across the country hit hard by the four month standoff. CNN Money's Poppy Harlow is live in New York with much more on this.
So, Poppy, what exactly has been the economic impact of the lockout on everyday people?
POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: It's a good question. It's a much bigger impact than I think any of us would have thought. You know, you think of the lockout. You think of the owners, billionaires, you think of the players who generally make a lot of money. You don't think of the small towns that rely on these teams.
And I'm not talking about their hometowns where they play. I'm talking about the towns, Randi, where they go and train. They hold three week training camps in a lot of small towns across America. We went up to Cortland, New York. That is where the Jets usually hold their training camp. Not this year, though, because of the lockout. And it is just a huge blow to that town's tiny economy. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW (voice-over): Last summer, Cortland, New York, looked like this. But this year it won't look like anything close.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like royalty coming into town for us.
HARLOW: Population, 19,000, it's been home to the New York Jets' training camp since 2009.
REX RYAN, NEW YORK JETS COACH: Coming up here, you know, it exceed our expectations.
HARLOW (on camera): A year ago, this field was full of Jets players running drills, working out and attracting 41,000 spectators who filled the local bars and restaurants. But this year, there's none. HARLOW (voice-over): in the midst of t he NFL lockout, Jets' management cancelled training camp here, telling CNN Money the planning is extensive. Something they couldn't focus on during the lockout.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America loves football and, you know, we really missed out big-time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: it was heart-breaking, you know. You've got 250-pound pro athletes walking down the street and it's amazing, you know, and they're in your restaurant.
HARLOW: It's a major blow to this tiny economy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I anticipate a 20 percent loss. We're talking, you know, millions of dollars for these small businesses.
HARLOW: Jets' training camp brought in $5.8 million to Cortland last year in just three weeks. Nearly 5 percent of the entire county's annual budget.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was the best month we ever had. A couple of them through our bill at Sanchez, because he had just signed his contract.
HARLOW (on camera): Oh really?
MARK SANCHEZ, NEW YORK JETS QUARTERBACK: All the fans that we see at Harry, Tony's and Garcia's and all the restaurants we go to, it's really too bad.
HARLOW (voice-over): Jets training camp effectively created a tourism business where there wasn't one.
HARLOW (on camera): Tell me what the moment was like when you found out the Jets were bringing their training camp here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think my jaw just dropped, being that it's been my favorite team for years, over 30 years. I mean I just can't even explain the emotion.
HARLOW (voice-over): Cortland isn't the only town hurt by the lockout. The Baltimore Ravens have cancelled their training camp in Westminster, Maryland. At least a $2.2 million hit for the city. And the New York Giants aren't training in Albany, New York. Meaning a loss of at least a million bucks for the state's capitol.
Between the Jets and the Giants, the economic impact in New York is so big the state attorney general has launched a anti-trust investigation into the NFL lockout, saying it "will inflict significant economic injuries statewide." As for folks here in Cortland, they can't wait till next year when the Jets come back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cortland's Jets green now.
(END VIDEOTAPE) HARLOW: And, you know, Randi, it's interesting, I find out being up there that Cortland apparently used to be New York Giants territory. Now that the Jets usually practice up there, they've all sort of moved over to the Jets' side of this.
But on a more serious note, the attorney general's investigation here in New York into the NFL lockout and the economic implications for the state of New York. I talked to the office of the attorney general this morning. I was told that if a deal is reached, the players vote tonight on that in the NFL, then it's going to be determined whether or not that investigation is going to go on. But bottom line, even if the players reach a deal, Randi, that doesn't bring the millions of dollars and the training camp back to Cortland, New York.
KAYE: Yes. And I know you focused on Cortland, and it's terrible what's happening there, but how widespread is the impact of this?
HARLOW: It's very widespread. I mean so far we've counted a handful of teams that have cancelled their training camps. You've got the Ravens in -- near Baltimore. You've got the New York Giants in Albany. The Minnesota Vikings, my hometown team, talking about possibly not going to train in Mankato. So there's still a lot of people sitting on pins and needles because, frankly, it takes weeks, months to plan these camps, to get all set up for them. They haven't known where the negotiations stand whether there will be practice or not. So this is not just one town, this is a lot of towns across America at a time when we need as many jobs and as much revenue as you can get for these places.
KAYE: All right, Poppy Harlow in New York. Poppy, thank you.
And now I want to tell you about something really exciting. If you have to step away from the TV but you don't want to miss a minute of our show or anything on CNN, well, you can download a CNN iPhone or iPad app. Here you can see it. We are streaming live right here. All you have to do is check it out at cnn.com/video on your computer. And you can see how cool this is, right. It's us. It's about -- well, you still see Poppy there. It's about a minute or so behind what you see on regular television. But you can watch on demand clips, stream live shows and you can actually even rewind live video if you missed something. So we're really excited about it here at CNN. You can get CNN anywhere you are on the go. So check it out again, cnn.com/video.
Time right now, 25 minutes past the hour, time to check in on top stories that we're following.
British Prime Minister David Cameron was grilled by members of parliament today over his relationships with those at the heart of the phone hacking scandal at "News of the World" newspaper. He addressed questions about his judgment in hiring former communications director Andy Coulson, who was a former "News of the World" editor.
We just heard from the White House that President Obama would agree to a short term extension of the federal debt ceiling if there is agreement on a significant deficit reduction plan by Democrats and Republicans that needs more time to be passed by Congress. This is something the president has steadfastly opposed until now. President Obama says the deadline is drawing close and congressional leaders need to talk turkey in today's meetings.
NASA's final space shuttle mission is scheduled to end tomorrow when Atlantis lands at 5:56 a.m. Eastern Time. You are looking at live pictures there. Enjoy them while you can. The crew is returning from the International Space Station. NASA will be retiring its three space shuttles, sending them to museums, and 2,300 shuttle workers are expected to be laid off later this week. Make sure to watch CNN for live coverage of that landing.
A generation defined by technology. Also known as millennials. And there are a few cool things they're really missing out on. We'll show you next.
KAYE: Vinyl records, typewriters and the milk man, just a few of the things the current tech savvy generation, or millennials, are missing out on. But as it turns out, some millennials are turning back the clock. Casey Wian takes a look.
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Amoeba Records in Hollywood is sort of the anti-iTunes. Rows and rows of CDs, cassettes, 8-tracks and vinyl records, LPs, 45s, even 78s.
(on camera): Why is there a market for this stuff?
RICK FRYSTAK, AMOEBA MUSIC: Because it's a deep, soulful experience. I have seen teenagers that have never see a record before, see one and be absolutely entranced, enthralled, and they want to go and get a collection.
You put a needle on the record, it's mechanical and you don't get that when you're pressing a button on a little digital device. And remember the smell of the cover when you took the cellophane off of the record? Just the smell of the record cover alone was a sensual experience.
WIAN: That's a similar feeling that sold millennial Travis Newton on this typewriter.
TRAVIS NEWTON, WRITER: I bought it to write short stories, poetry. I don't know. There's just something about a typewriter that you can't get like a laptop or an iPad or whatever. It's got -- it's more -- it's a mechanical typewriter. It's got a very physical presence, like you're connected to it.
RUBEN FLORES, U.S. OFFICE MACHINE: What is the best thing about a typewriter? The bell.
WIAN: Repairing typewriters has saved Ruben Flores' 50-year-old office machine business. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, the type writers are keeping us alive.
WIAN: Last Christmas, normally, it's about two a week, at $200 to $600 a piece.
FLORES: We're not going to get wealthy off of this, but we can make a living.
WIAN: Believe it or not, so can Jeff Levicke, a payphone repairman.
JEFF LEVICKE, PAYPHONE REPAIRMAN: The one question that I get probably on a weekly basis is: they still have payphones?
WIAN: More than 1 million pay phones have been retired since 1997, are now mostly in places where people can't afford or don't have access to a cell phone.
LEVICKE: We have no crystal ball, obviously. But amongst our technicians, we estimate four or five years of pretty good coin revenue. But who knows?
JIM PASTO, ROCKVIEW FARMS DISTRIBUTOR: Come on. Let's go. Let's go sell some milk.
WIAN: It's 30 years and counting for milkman Jim Pastor.
PASTOR: People are shocked when they look to the door and they found we still do the old-fashioned milk service.
WIAN: No bottles these days --
PASTOR: That's from the old days. They have up there for decoration.
WIAN: -- but plenty of customers, including millennials preferring to buy locally produced food.
PASTOR: They want to give the little guy a shot, you know? They want to keep it in the community.
People who order eggs and butter, cheese, yogurt, anything right on the truck and we'll have it right there for him.
WIAN: Pastor delivers the kind of service that he says just might solve some of the millennial generation's challenges.
PASTOR: It's a human touch when people talk to people. And I think with all of the politics in the world -- I'm not a political kind of guy, but I think this country is so divided right now, I think we need -- all need -- everybody needs a milk man.
WIAN: Could it be that simple?
Casey Wian, CNN, Los Angeles. (END VIDEOTAPE)
KAYE: Some of your favorite restaurant chains may be lying to you about how many calories are in their food. Wait until you see the numbers right after this.
KAYE: Thirty-four minutes past the hour. Let's check some of the news and other headlines you may have missed.
British Prime Minister David Cameron was grilled by members of parliament today over his relationship with those at the heart of the phone-hacking scandal at "News of the World" newspaper. He addressed questions about his judgment in hiring former communications director, Andy Coulson, who is a former "News of the World" editor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: And I am extremely sorry about the furor it has caused. With 20/20 hindsight and all that has followed, I would not have offered him the job, and expect he would not have taken it. But you don't make decisions in hindsight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: We just heard from the White House that President Obama would agree to a short-term extension of the federal debt ceiling if there's an agreement on a significant reduction plan by Republicans and Democrats that needs more time to be passed by Congress. This is something the president has steadfastly opposed until now. President Obama says the deadline is drawing close and congressional leaders need to, quote, "talk turkey" in today's meetings.
A new advancement in airport security was introduced today. The Transportation Security Administration is taking steps to eliminate the image of an actual passenger in the body scanners at airport and is replacing with a generic outline of a person. The new software was designed to enhanced privacy as well as maintained security standards. According to a TSA official, there are nearly 500 imaging technology units at 78 airports in the U.S., and more units will be deployed this year.
You think you are being smart when you check restaurant's Web site to see how many calories are in a dish you might order. But a new study by Tufts University nutrition researchers shows nearly one out of five restaurant dishes has at least 100 more calories than restaurants state on their Web site. The dishes in question came from several restaurant chains, including Chipotle Mexican Grill, Olive Garden, Boston Market and Outback steakhouse.
Up next: more bad news for the NFL. We'll tell you about the lawsuit just filed by dozens of former players.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KAYE: It was a little over a year ago the National Football League finally admitted for the first time there's a link between concussions and brain damage. But today, new allegations the league has known for almost a century just how harmful concussions could be. A new lawsuit filed by 75 former NFL players claims the NFL not only knew but intentionally concealed that information from the coaches and players and trainers and the public.
We reached out to the NFL for comment, and received this statement. It says, quote, "We have not seen the complaint but would vigorously contest any claims of this kind."
We should also note that Riddell, the company that makes helmets for the NFL, is also named as the defendant in the lawsuit.
Joining me now on the phone is Alicia Duerson. She is not involved in this lawsuit but has a very personal connection here.
Her husband, NFL star Dave Duerson, killed himself earlier this year, asking that his brain be studied for dementia-like disease, often link to repeated head trauma. And sure enough, scientists have included his brain tissue did show evidence of what's known as CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Alicia, I want to thank you for being with us. I know it's a tough topic for you.
But I first have to ask you, what is your reaction to this lawsuit today?
ALICIA DUERSON (via telephone): Well, I have mixed emotions about it. I truly believe the NFL must have known on some level because there were always doctors present, you know, with these guys. But I guess the other part of me is saying the 12 families who lost their loved ones and their husbands or fathers did have CTE, I feel like we're the families who they probably need to help in the lawsuit as well, because it's one thing to say that, you know, it caused it. But it's another thing to actually have it, which Dave actually had it.
KAYE: What do you think Dave would think of this lawsuit that's not been filed?
DUERSON: I think Dave would approve of it, I think, because he did want his brain donated, and he felt there was a problem with his brain, and he felt because of all of the blows he took to his head, that it caused him to have this problem. So, Dave has sacrificed his brain so they could research and develop and get better safety procedures and stuff like that for the NFL and for future football players.
KAYE: Tell me about the text message he sent the night before he died.
DUERSON: He basically went into just, you know, how much he loved us and loved the kids and take care of them. And then he said that he felt that there was something wrong with the left side of his brain, and for me to please get it to the NFL.
KAYE: He was 50 when he passed away. What kind of symptoms was he showing that might have been related to this, and how early did those symptoms come on?
DUERSON: Dave showed -- well, it's -- OK. One thing is, Dave had it for a long time. When they did his brain, the doctor said brain had it for 10 years, OK? So if you look back on the life with Dave, my personal life with Dave 10 years ago, it explains a lot of things that were happening in his life and what he was going through, and neither one of us understand what he was going through.
So, now, you know, you look back, hindsight 20/20, OK, I understand all this now. But the final days of his life, it was very difficult for him because he was such a brilliant man, and he was very gifted. And, you know, for him to just forget simple things, like directions, or having to write things down constantly as reminders for himself, and he was aggravated a lot. You know, you could easily aggravate him.
Just different -- he was just a totally different person, just totally, 100 percent different.
KAYE: All right. Alicia Duerson, I certainly appreciate you coming on the show and sharing your former husband's story with us. Much appreciate it.
And we should tell you that we're also going to talk much more about this in our next hour, just about 45 minutes from now, with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who has looked at this topic extensively and he will be here with us to talk much more about that.
Well, he is 14, and he says he's killed his victims by cutting their throats. The trial in Mexico of an American citizen who's an alleged drug cartel hit man. Details right after this.
KAYE: Breaking news now into CNN. I want to get right to Susan Candiotti. She has some new developments related to the Murdoch hacking scandal and the 9/11 families. Susan, what have you learned?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Randi. The families of 9/11 victims who had been worried about whether their phone records might have been hacked, they have now been given a meeting with the U.S. attorney general, Eric Holder, and FBI director, Mr. Muller.
Now, no date has been set for this meeting but you'll recall that after the FBI launched its investigation last week to see whether any phone records or voice mails had been hacked, that's when the families started asking for this meeting because they are very worried it might have occurred. Randi, it's important to remember that the suspicion that this might have happened was reported in a British newspaper, a tabloid. And they cited an unnamed source who claimed that a private investigator here in New York had been contacted by a reporter to hack into these phone records, and that the investigator had turned them down. So, families want to know whether this indeed did occur.
So far, our understanding is that no evidence has shown up, but of course the investigation is just now getting under way. Randi? And no date has been set for the meeting, not yet.
KAYE: OK. Susan Candiotti, thank you for the update.
When Mexico's drug warlords hire hitmen, age apparently doesn't matter. Take the case of a 14-year-old American citizen on trial in Mexico for allegedly killing for a drug cartel. Let me put this into some perspective for you. He's 14 years old. That would make him an eighth-grader. Prosecutors says he confessed to the murder of four people. He told them he did it by cutting his victims' throats.
CNN's Rafael Romo first reported this story when the suspect was arrested last December. You join us now to bring us up-to-date on this. What do we know, Rafael, about the suspect and the cartel that he was working for?
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: This is a story where the most negative aspects of the drug trade converge. This kid was recruited by a drug cartel by the name of the South Pacific cartel when he was only 11. By his own admission, he was shown in front of the cameras when he was arrested -- he executed four people by decapitating them, and this is why he is being tried in Mexico this week. The trial started on Monday, is expected to last three weeks. Because he's a minor, he is only expected to serve about three years in a correctional facility.
KAYE: He was 11 years old you said. Any reason why he decided to join the cartel?
ROMO: Well, what's happening more and more is that these cartels are recruiting minors as lookouts, drug runners, but in this particular case what we have seen is they posted videos on YouTube and on the Internet, showing these kids as enforcers. In particular, this 14-year-old was shown torturing one of the victims, so that's the reason why he is facing trial.
KAYE: And you said they're recruiting minors. Any idea how many minors are getting mixed up in this?
ROMO: It is very difficult to tell, but I was talking to a criminal attorney in the state of Morelos where this trail is being held and he's telling me that he's seeing more and more of these cases where kids are 11, 12, 13 and 14, who are working for cartels. And the cartels know they are only going to face three years in a correctional facility. So, they use them to run drugs and weapons and help them in any other way they can. KAYE: And they are so young, they are probably easily impressed and think what these cartels are doing are cool and pretty impressive to them.
All right, Rafael. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
Giving a voice to the voiceless. It's a cutting edge innovation by researchers at M.I.T. and the Harvard surgeon who treated Oscar winning actress Julie Andrews after she lost her singing voice to cancer. We'll go behind the science and talk live to the innovators in today's "Big I," next.
KAYE: Every day on this show, we do a segment called "The Big I." It's about big ideas, innovations and solutions to problems. Today, we focus on a new synthetic material that could literally bring voice to the voiceless. Researchers at M.I.T., Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital have developed material that can repair damaged vocal cords. It's a gel-like substance that would replace vocal cords that have become rigid from extensive use. And it's moving closer to FDA approval.
Meet the chemist and medical doctor behind the vocal chord invention. Dr. Steven Vitels is a professor of laryngeal surgery at Harvard Medical School and director of the center of laryngeal surgery and voice rehabilitation as Massachusetts General Hospital.
And Sandy Karonagi is assistant biomedical engineer at the Massachusetts General Hospital voice center. He began developing the vocal cord substance as a research at M.I.T.'s Robert Linger lab.
This sound really cool. Certainly can be very useful, I'm sure, to a lot of people. So, Doctor, why don't you tell me first. Tell me about what you've created here and what it will mean for people who have vocal cord damage and those who might not have a voice.
DR. STEVEN ZEITELS, PROFESSOR OF LARYNGEAL SURGERY, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: Well, fundamentally the majority of folks who have lost their voice, the overwhelming majority, have lost the suppleness and pliability of their vocal membranes, regardless if it was a benign or a malignant problem, obviously a cancer. So, there was a fundamental principle that the supple vocal (INAUDIBLE) membranes need to be restored. So, this became a goal of ours to create a substance that could restore that pliability because that could eventually lead to the preservation of most voices and actually restore millions that have been lost.
KAYE: And Mr. Kornagi, who can this help? Who would be the perfect person for something like this?
SANDY KARONAGI, ASSISTANT BIOMEDICAL ENGINEER, MASS GENERAL HOSPITAL: Well, (INAUDIBLE) better suited to answer that, but if I may, while many people who have scarred vocal chords and who have stiff vocal chords for a variety of reasons, will be the right kind of patients for who could receive this kind of material. ZEITELS: So, you have a scenario - yep. So, you have a scenario where whether someone has diminished pliability because they talk a lot, because they've had operations and tubes into their throats, premature babies have actually often had their lungs supported by endotracheal tubes. And these kids when they grow up have a lot of vocal problems. You have diseases. One of them is HPV related, respiratory papillomatosis where people can have 100 operations.
And then there's the simple use over time. Most of what we allot to people's voice getting older, an aging (INAUDIBLE) voice, is actually just that they've used it more. And over time we're going to see manual inputting is decreased on devices and keyboards that people will be doing voice recognition.
KAYE: And how close is this to FDA approval?
ZEITELS: So, we had a visit with the FDA last year, and they were incredibly supportive and also quite encouraging because vocal implants have been done for probably 100 years. The materials that the Dr. Kanangi can discuss, the constituents are already FDA approved in other products. So, that was the goal of this, to not start with a material that would be brand-new to the FDA.
KAYE: All right. Dr. Zietels and Mr. Karganagi, certainly appreciate you coming on and sharing this creation with us. We look forward to its use in the future. Thank you.
A Florida representative calls a fellow Florida representative the most vile, despicable member of the House. Joe Johns will join us with the details right after the break.
KAYE: The debt debate got ugly between two Florida representatives. CNN's Joe Johns joins me live from the political desk in Washington. Hi, Joe. So, the fur was flying up on the Hill, huh?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Hey Randi, it's certainly getting even uglier out there. Two of the most outspoken members of Congress are going at it right now. Neither one of them is the kind of person who backs down. They're both from Florida. Talking about Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Republican congressman Allen West. West sent out an email calling Wasserman- Schultz vile, descpicable, cowardly after remarks she made on the House floor about him. The debate over cut, cap and balance that just passed last night.
Wasserman-Schultz went after him on the floor. This is how it started. Calling his support of the bill unbelievable. Take a listen to what she said to kick it off.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Incredulously, the gentleman from Florida who represents thousands of Medicare beneficiaries as do I, is supportive of this plan that would increase costs for Medicare beneficiaries. Unbelievable from a member from South Florida.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: So, West takes these remarks personally and fires off this e-mail. "You want a personal fight? I'm happy to oblige. You are the most vile, unprofessional and despicable member of the House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face. Otherwise shut the heck up."
So, this is pretty tough stuff. There's been obviously a lot of hand wringing over how entitlements like Medicare might have to be changed due to deficit reduction. Stakes obviously huge for Florida because it's got such a large retiree population. Randi.
KAYE: Never pretty to fight about money. All right, Joe, thank you very much.
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