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IN THE ARENA

No Deal Yet; Fear of a Downward Spiral; Tabloid's Dirty Tricks; Newspaper Icon on Phone Hacking Scandal

Aired July 21, 2011 - 20:00   ET

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


TOM FOREMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, welcome. I'm Tom Foreman.

Tonight we are getting mixed signals about a possible backroom deal on the debt ceiling just hours away from what President Obama, at least at one point, called a deadline for a decision.

"The New York Times" says President Obama and the Republican speaker of the House John Boehner are raising the clock to bash out an agreement. Roughly it would involve $3 trillion in cuts and an eventual overhaul of the entire tax system.

Here's the catch, though. Other sources are shooting down the idea that this is even happening as fast and hard as they can.

Listen to Boehner himself earlier today on Rush Limbaugh's radio show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, Rush, there is no deal. No deal publicly, no deal privately. There is absolutely no deal.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: No deal, no deal, no deal. Now here's the White House spokesman Jay Carney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There is no deal. We are not close to a deal. We are -- obviously, the president is in discussions with all the leaders of Congress as well as other members, and exploring the possibility of getting the biggest deal possible, which is a position he has held for a long time now, as you know.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: We will go live to Washington in just a moment where nerves are frayed, anxiety is high, and confusion clearly reigns.

But first here are some of the other stories we'll be ripping into tonight. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: The hacking scandal just keeps spreading. With charges of eavesdropping, bribery, and something called blagging. The Murdochs aren't the only ones in the crosshairs. Police are targeting other British tabloids. The fiasco on Fleet Street.

And he was little Darth Vader in the Super Bowl ad. He's also on his third pacemaker and his eighth operation. A kid with a bomb ticker who's all heart.

Then millions are starving, but the tragedy goes beyond Africa. As food becomes as precious as oil, one man warns hunger could spark the next world war.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: This is the kind of night you get into the news business for. I'm telling you. So, so much is going on and, and are you ready for some football?

After several months of an NFL lockout, there may be a new deal just in time to save the season. We've just heard about it this evening. We will have all the details on that later on in the broadcast.

But first let's get back to our top story. Washington's all- consuming debt ceiling debate. Kate Bolduan is following the onslaught of rumors and reports from Capitol Hill.

Kate, thanks for joining us here. Listen, we've been going through this for days and days here. We hear there is a deal, and then we find out there is not. Is there anything even vaguely definite at this point?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We definitely know, Tom, that the president called Democratic leaders to the White House late this afternoon. It was a two-hour meeting that broke up just a short time ago. We haven't been provided a readout quite yet, or we'll have to find out if we will even at all.

But I will tell you after that there definitely doesn't seem to be anything definite at this point. A lot of conversation, Tom. It appears that President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are making a fresh drive, if you will, to try to reach a big deal. Try to avoid having to maybe go to that fallback plan that we keep talking about so much.

But you lay it out really well what the conversation is about those ideas. $3 trillion possibly in debt reduction over 10 years. Then the details get a little squishy. Spending cuts, entitlement cuts, and then a question of revenue. That if -- even if I just lay those out right there, it seems like there's a little bit in here that everyone can not like, if you will.

And so that we're starting to learn some more details about not very much, I will tell you, because it does seem squishy. And you laid out very well, John Boehner came out to say no deal very quickly, but it shows how sensitive this whole thing is right now. Even the talk of elements of what's on the table coming out has people really getting excited.

When this came out, Tom, just very briefly, Democrats were heading into a caucus meeting, a policy lunch, if you will, and the budget director, he was going in there to brief Democratic senators.

I was told by a source who is very familiar with this caucus. This person put it as Jack Lew took blow after blow by Democratic senators in there who were very upset, saying that this deal -- even talk of this element of framework would be very bad for their constituents. People very upset about what they're hearing, but we don't really know if it's a deal yet, of course.

FOREMAN: And very briefly here, Kate. Is there any sense from people there saying, though, you know, if this could be kept under wraps for the time being, maybe it ought to be, because it seems like every deal that comes out is coming out prematurely, and that's what's creating more of a firestorm.

Is there -- is there any sense of that in either party of people saying, if they can get a deal and they have to do it quietly in the back and then roll it out, let's do it. It's the only way we're going to get there.

BOLDUAN: A few things on that. I will say there probably is an element of that because we're hearing from people, if they hear of the elements of even what's on the table coming to the press and then coming to these members of Congress, that's upsetting them.

They don't want to hear it from the press. They want to hear it from their leaders before the press. So there is an element, if the conversation is going to happen and you're having that conversation and backroom deal, come talk to us before you go talk to the press.

There is a bit of that. But it seems that any element that we're hearing of even what's possibly being talked about, you're hearing very quickly, very strongly from the left and from the right, there are people who are not going to cave and not going to compromise on their positions.

And it seems as this point that they're trying to find a way to thread the needle, if you will, to find some kind of compromise that includes some of these elements that can thread the needle now to just make it through the House and through the Senate at this point.

FOREMAN: All right, Kate. I know you might have a long evening there. I have images of you being trampled by herds of congressmen running to react to something --

BOLDUAN: I'm pretty --

(CROSSTALK)

FOREMAN: Thanks for joining us with all the latest on all of that.

We're going to stick on that you know. But I got to tell you that in the heat of the debt ceiling debate, we may be overlooking a simple and troubling fact. No matter what is done, it very likely could cost the nation jobs, which is what so many of us are worried about in this country.

We asked Fareed Zakaria, an astute observer of the economy and what he calls are dysfunction of politics, to talk it over a little while ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: Fareed, we've been hearing so much about what will go wrong if the debt ceiling is broken. And yet I feel this rising current of people saying, make no mistake about it. Even if we solve this, there are going to be some hard times for this country as a result of the solution.

FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: Well, the debt ceiling itself is almost a -- you know a sideshow. The fact that it has become center stage is just because, you know, one group, the Tea Party, within the Republican Party, decided to make it that.

This -- the debt ceiling simply reflects the fact that we are spending more than we take in.

FOREMAN: And then we have an economy in shambles right now all over the country.

ZAKARIA: And that we don't have growth. The only way you're going to get this economy back on track, Tom, is if you get growth. If you look historically, the times that the budget deficit has gone from being a number one concern to moving down when we've solved the problem, it's all been that we grew faster than we thought we would.

If you can get growth back, if we can get people employed, get them paying taxes, you can't cut your way to a happy future because the more you cut, you get yourself into a downward spiral like you see in Greece.

You know you -- because what does it mean to cut government spending? It means to lay off people who now don't have jobs. They can't pay taxes, they can't go to the diner, they can't buy stuff. So it may work in theory, but in practice, the more you cut, the more you're depressing the economy.

FOREMAN: One of the predictions I've read is that the solution to the debt ceiling problem could cost us a million jobs over the next few years. We could lose, you know, what we've created in a very short period of time.

Do you think that's too dire? Do you think that's possible?

ZAKARIA: It depends on how much we cut and how fast we do. I think what President Obama has been trying to do -- again, I think, quite wisely -- is push some of these cuts off into the future. When you signal to the markets we're getting our budget deficit under control but don't do it in an economy that is fragile right now.

But if we were to precipitously start laying off wholesale school teachers, firemen, policemen, then, yes, because all of a sudden you have fewer people paying taxes, you have fewer people buying goods, you have fewer people buying products.

We really need to look at what's happening in Europe. The governments that cut too fast too far actually depressed their GDP growth and increased their budget deficits as a result.

FOREMAN: Talk to me about some of these key building blocks that have to be restored. I have had many conversations over months where people have said, if we do not restore the value of housing in this country and the construction market, nothing else we do will solve this.

Is that a fair building block to begin with?

ZAKARIA: I think it's absolutely fair. The problem is it is the most difficult building block to restore because housing went through probably the biggest bubble since the 1920s. It burst.

If you look at the Nasdaq bubble, the Nasdaq bubble burst at its peak at 5,000. What is the Nasdaq now? It's 3,000. In other words, 15 years later, you're not even -- you know, sorry, 21 years later, you're not even halfway. You're barely halfway back to the prices. I'm not suggesting that will happen in housing.

FOREMAN: Well, it might, though. I've had experts in housing who said it could be 15 years before markets recover in some places.

ZAKARIA: Certainly it's going to take a while. And so then the question becomes what can you do? And people say well, you need a lot of government support. Maybe, but part of the problem was too much government support and too much government encouragement to people to take on large debts.

FOREMAN: Let's say we can't -- let's say we can't tackle housing right now or up front, give me a couple other building blocks that you think are critical to address right now so that we get beyond, not just the debt ceiling fight, but our overall inability to create jobs. Every politician says we got to create jobs and not one of them seems to have a clue how to do it.

ZAKARIA: There is one absolutely, obvious way we could do it. We have an infrastructure in this country that is in shambles, OK, point one. Point two, we have 20 percent unemployment in the construction industry. So there are millions of people out of work in that industry. Three, 30-year money -- 30-year bond rates are 2 percent. So you could borrow money at 2 percent for 30 years, rebuild American infrastructure, put people to work.

This -- you know, we shouldn't think of this -- all expenditure is not the same. When you build a bridge or expand a highway that is going to increase economic activity for the next 100 years, that's called an investment. That's not an expenditure.

FOREMAN: And as you know it was the theory behind all those shovel-ready projects. The idea was we will have these projects and yet we found that ultimately even the president himself said not all shovel-ready were shovel-ready.

ZAKARIA: Well, not all shovel-ready was ready, but let's remember before (INAUDIBLE) gets a bad name, of the $800 million stimulus plan, only $100 million was infrastructure. Most of that has actually turned out to be on time and on budget, but it's a $14 trillion economy. People say why did China manage a -- you know, an infrastructure program that worked?

Well, here's the main reason. They spent 10 times as much as we did as a percentage of GDP. So -- you know, if -- you can't expect to get a big bang by putting $100 billion into a $14 trillion economy.

FOREMAN: Let me ask you one last quick question here. Does it trouble you that we keep looking at all of this so much in terms of the politics, which party comes out wining in this whole thing? Because I'm just convinced that both parties ultimately lose terribly because we all lose with problems like this.

ZAKARIA: I think it's the worst part of Washington right now, which is that it seems as though -- you take something like infrastructure. Republicans have supported something I've been pushing, a national infrastructure bank to finance this kind of infrastructure, so it doesn't cost the public much. The private sector would do it.

Kay bailey Hutchinson sponsored a bill, Chuck -- Richard Lugar, Chuck Hagel all support it. Can't any traction? Why? Because Obama proposed it. And it seems to be now a kind of almost idea in the Republican Party that anything Obama supports, they have to oppose.

We have to get to a point where we can actually get the business of the country done and not worry about who's going to get credit for it because if we get into this game, you know, we've got -- we've national energy policy we have to solve, we've to solve immigration, we've got to solve health care. We've got to get these jobs done. And oh, by the way, we've got to deal with the debt ceiling.

We can't worry about who gets credit. We need to get these things done too fast.

FOREMAN: All right. Fareed Zakaria, thanks for being here.

ZAKARIA: My pleasure, Tom.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: So another report tonight of another possible deal out of Washington on the debt ceiling. We will stay on top of it if anything come up in this hour. We'll get it right to you.

Just ahead, though, the flames of scandal seems to be engulfing ever more papers on London's Fleet Street and that is raising the temperature of an iconic New York newspaper man who says stop the presses, it's time to throw the con man out.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOREMAN: First it was hacking, now it's something called blagging. Word tonight that British police are widening their investigations into possible illegal activity by journalists at several newspapers, not just Rupert Murdoch's disgraced "News of the World."

So what is blagging? And how do these newspapers do it? Well, it's recklessly or deceitfully getting personal information without that person knowing.

I don't know why we need a special term for it, but apparently we do.

And they did this by hiring private investigators. The "Daily Mail" alone hired one private investigator 952 times -- pretty good payday for him.

Joining me now to talk about the impact of this is Dan Abrams. He's the founder of Mediaite.com.

Dan, let me ask you something. Up front, the impression that the Murdoch empire would want you to have is, yes, expand the investigation because everybody does this.

DAN ABRAMS, FOUNDER OF MEDIAITE.COM: Well, look, that's what "The Wall Street Journal" editorial said a few days ago, which was sort of this notion that why are we the only ones being looked at? This has been happening for years in Fleet Street.

And so, boy, if the investigation is now expanding into other papers, News Corp and Murdoch have got to be thrilled. They've got to be saying, well, finally, it's not just us. At least they're looking into others and the minute an investigation begins, people tend to find things. Whether it's what they were looking is a separate question.

But the last thing people who ware the subject of an investigation want is that investigation, which is the problem for the Murdochs, which is why investigating others is only good for them.

FOREMAN: So the other papers would then would have to come out pretty squeaky clean to turn it all back to Murdoch, and even in the meantime just the headlines they're investigating others suggests other people did the same thing.

ABRAMS: Well, yes, but this isn't -- this isn't to suggest that this is going to somehow absolve Murdoch of all his problems. It's not. But it is something that I'm sure that he and his team have advocated for, which is to say, why are you just picking on us? But you know, you used this term blagging, which I've never heard of before, and I think it's important to distinguish between getting information that people didn't want you to get and engaging in illegal activity.

FOREMAN: Yes, totally different things.

ABRAMS: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: I'm not suggesting it's a good thing or it's a positive thing or it's an OK thing, that certain media entities are gathering information that they shouldn't be gathering. But when you cross the line into illegality, it's a totally separate line.

FOREMAN: You mentioned the question of the law, and you raised a really interesting point here. One of the things that, as they try to investigate this, they've got to get people to talk, and you've been looking at the degree to which the Murdoch empire seems to be shutting down the talkers.

ABRAMS: Well, I mean, look, it's not now that they're shutting them down, which is that, look, there's a law firm they've been working with for a long time since 2007. It's called Harbottle & Lewis. And as -- they were apparently the recipients of a lot of information about this scandal over the years.

Now they have said -- the Murdochs have said, we give you permission to talk to the authorities, but we don't waive our attorney-client privilege. So it allows them to answer very basic questions from the authorities, but it doesn't allow them to answer the questions that everyone wants to know, which is, what did you know, when did you know it, how much did you know, et cetera.

And the law firm -- this is astounding -- has come out and made a public statement, which has effectively said, we would love to clear the record. We'd love to clear up misconceptions and false statements that are out there, but we can't.

Very rare to see a law firm do that.

FOREMAN: What about -- what about all the other people out there? One of the concerns always when someone with the resources of a Rupert Murdoch gets in trouble is that he can simply settle with all sorts of the worst cases and say, I'll give you a bunch of money, just shut up.

ABRAMS: Well, there have been settlements. I mean there have been settlements and now again there are questions. It was a soccer player there who they had a big settlement with, and one of the terms of the settlement was confidentiality. So if you violate confidentiality, we get our money back.

So from his perspective, he's not going to violate that confidentiality. But again, there's someone else who's got information that currently they can't share about what's happening.

FOREMAN: Does anybody wind up other than the street level people, does anybody else wind up or have a threat of jail out of this? I mean it looks like the telephone records and Privacy Protection Act, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Electronic Communications Privacy Act. There are a lot of potential laws broken here, but the question is how do you tag that to anybody other than the guy in the field who did it maybe?

ABRAMS: Well -- well, yes, look, under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, there have been people who served time as a result of bribing foreign officials. The problem is -- the issue is you've got to be able to demonstrate, I think -- I mean some would argue you don't necessarily even have to demonstrate this, but I think you have to demonstrate that there was some knowledge on the part of people here in the United States that this bribery was going on abroad.

Now remember things like that the act I'm talking about generally aren't used for these kinds of purposes. Generally it's used when you're trying to get contracts from a foreign government.

FOREMAN: Sure.

ABRAMS: People have been put in prison because they bribed the Thai officials, for example, on a film festival.

FOREMAN: Sure.

ABRAMS: To get special access. That's generally the way this law is used. But prosecutors increasingly have become very aggressive with the use of this law. And so it wouldn't surprise me if they used it at least as an investigation tool.

This comes back to the beginning of our conversation, which is the last thing you want is an investigation because the more they investigate, the more they find, and when they find things that might have been viewed as rogue in a different context, suddenly all get linked to this one thing they're looking at.

FOREMAN: They tie it all together, yes.

ABRAMS: And that's a worst-case scenario for me.

FOREMAN: Well, we'll see because this investigation clearly is going on. I'm sure that means we'll talk to you again.

ABRAMS: Tom, good to see you.

FOREMAN: Dan Abrams, nice having you here.

This scandal is clearly reaching far beyond British shores, I'll tell you that, casting a shadow on newsrooms all across the globe including here, whereas you know polls tell us that a lot of you don't hold us in the media in particularly high regard.

It has spurred some journalists to call for a house cleaning in the whole business, and no one wants it more than Pete Hamill. He's a New York newspaper icon, worked for the "New York Post", the "Daily News", the "Village Voice", "Newsday", "New York" magazine, and "Esquire."

He's also in his spare time written 11 novels. His latest is called "Tabloid City." What are the odds? And he believes, if this sort of activity was going on in a newsroom, someone beyond the street level reporters had to know. So when I spoke to Pete Hamill earlier, I asked him, who?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETE HAMILL, FORMER EDITOR, NY POST AND NY DAILY NEWS: I know that the editors I worked for, if you came to them and said, look, I got this spook. You hire him, he can get into any mailbox in New York. This is before the Internet.

FOREMAN: I've got a professional spy --

HAMILL: Yes.

FOREMAN: Sort of a secret agent, in effect.

HAMILL: He can open the mailbox. He can take the mail out. He can heat them so that you can read the contents. He can seal them.

FOREMAN: If you went to one of your editors and said, I've got a guy who can do the very thing they've been doing over in Britain, what would have happened?

HAMILL: The editor would have said, and what do you think about that? Let's do it. OK, let's start with this. I've got a better idea. Give me your press card. Give me your keys. Go down the hall and get your check and never come back. They would have kicked these guys out, which is the thing that -- is what repels me about it because I know great British newsmen who would never dream of doing that, and Irish newsmen in Dublin and Belfast.

FOREMAN: And when you --

HAMILL: They would never do that.

FOREMAN: So when you think of Rupert Murdoch being the guy in charge of these people and that he's in charge of papers here, what do you think?

HAMILL: Well, I -- if he turned a blind eye to it, if he said, I don't care how they got it, we got it, then he has to examine his own conscience because he was creating a culture of corruption, and not petty corruption, not getting two tickets for a ball game or something. Major corruption. And he should be thinking about what he did to the craft of journalism itself.

You and I know people who died practicing this profession. As imperfect as it is, they died. They were killed and shot and burned in some cases. And to do this and call yourself by the same name that they called themselves with, those heroic people who went to the bad parts of the world, I think that's an outrage, that part of it.

Whether I don't know it to be truthful how much Murdoch would know or his son or his editor, but I'm sure, if they were spending money on corrupt ones, somebody knew, and somebody high up.

I've worked at papers where I couldn't get $50 to go to Philadelphia without the approval of an editor on a piece of paper.

FOREMAN: Yes. Yes. They watches the money very closely.

HAMILL: Yes.

FOREMAN: Do you expect to see real fallout here from this scandal?

HAMILL: You know, I worry about "The Post." I worry about it because it gave me my life. I got walked into a city room in 1960 for the first time, and I had the rest of my life ahead of me. I wanted to live. I wanted to outlive me.

FOREMAN: Do you think it's in danger?

HAMILL: It could be because it's such a minor footnote to these immense billion-dollar too-big-to-fail empire that if that -- if it took the sacrifice of that, it could. It could. If that happens, I'd be the -- one of the people weeping because I know people who work there who are terrific journalists.

I know people who worked there, when I was a kid, who if they're not in heaven, I ain't going. I want it to live. So I hope this thing with all the smarmy stuff that was going on in England doesn't contaminate all of it.

FOREMAN: Last question. What do you hope comes out of this for this profession that you and I have practiced for a long time?

HAMILL: What I hope is a reexamination of the basic function of the profession, which is to go out there and get the truth. Find the truth. You don't break laws in order to get the truth. To take -- unless you tell everybody. If there's a footnote that says we got this story by corrupting three Scotland Yard guys whose names are -- you know? And which is never going to happen.

But that I hope everybody vows to themselves and to their staffs if they're editors that we're going to put out a paper without stooping into the gutter. We're not going into the gutter. We're an instrument for helping people up, not to take the whole standards of our profession and lower them, that we end up saying that great men, giants preceded us, and those other ones that died for this profession should not be ashamed of using the name, using the thing, the word newspaperman or newspaper woman or journalist.

That's something we ought to wear like a badge of honor.

FOREMAN: Pete Hamill, thanks so much for being here.

HAMILL: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: Next up, the African famine threatening the lives of millions, particularly children. It is the worst it has been in decades, and importantly, this may be a sign of things to come.

Food shortages in places you would never expect.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOREMAN: In Africa tonight, the latest numbers say some 10 million people may now be at risk for famine following up on the story we told you about last night.

The heart of the crisis is Somalia, a country mired in war and poverty, now plagued by the worst drought in 60 years. The United Nations is urgently calling for a massive and immediate international response.

Meanwhile, thousands of Somalis have fled across the border to Kenya. CNN's David McKenzie at Kenya Dadaab refugee camp once again tonight and he filed this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the edge of the Dadaab camp. It's where Somali refugees are streaming into, in their thousands every week. Children are the worst off, many of them are malnourished. Most of them seem to have a respiratory problem because of the dust and the wind blasting through here.

They're living in terrible conditions like this. They're in these huts, which are basically constructed out of tarpaulins. They cook in this tiny little space with no shelter. When they come here, they come expecting help. They come expecting food, water, the basic dignity that refugees should get when they move to another country.

But here they even have to go out into the outer areas to defecate because there are no latrines for them, and they say they're worried there could even be a disease outbreak in these areas.

While people talk politics in Al Shabab, getting aid into Somalia to help the situation, it's here in Dadaab camp where people are the worst off. David McKenzie, CNN, Dadaab, Kenya.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: The suffering of the refugee camps is devastating, of course and the scale of this famine is rapidly shaping up to be something almost unbelievable. But even more frightening, the hunger gripping Africa tonight may be the sign of a growing food crisis, one that is threatening the very stability of many societies as we know them.

This is according to Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute and author of "World on the Edge, How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse." He joins me now from Washington.

Lester, thanks for being here to talk about just a dreadful, dreadful story. Before we look at the larger crisis, let me ask you something about Africa.

Aid organizations estimate we've got about 10 million people now at risk, not just in Somalia, but in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, and other east African countries. How did a catastrophe of this magnitude, seem to slip up on the world.

LESTER BROWN, PRESIDENT, EARTH POLICY INSTITUTE: Tom, you referred to Somalia as a country. It is a place on the map, but it's not a country in any meaningful sense of the term. There's no effective government to manage the situation, and we have trends beginning to converge now.

Somalia has one of the fastest population growth rates in the world. The average woman has more than six children. That's the average. And the resource base -- the forest, the grasslands, the soils are deteriorating.

Soil erosion is a major problem. We just heard about the dust blowing through the camp. That's an indication of soil erosion. So these trends are converging now and the trigger has been this drought, which is creating a horrendous situation.

FOREMAN: You seemed to be addressing, Lester, one of the things that I've read that famine has pushed the notion that famine as we want to think of it, which is a shortage of food is not an adequate definition.

It's got to be a combination of a shortage of food, other environmental factors, a population, cultural factors, governmental factors. I know we have problems with various militant groups in that area as well. All of this comes to play.

BROWN: It's a combination of things. On the demand side, we have population growth worldwide that's 216,000 people at the dinner table tonight who weren't there last night. It's 3 billion people trying to move up the food chain, consuming more grain and livestock products.

And in the United States we're converting almost one-third of our grain harvest into fuel for cars. So that's beginning to squeeze on -- put pressure on the demand side. Meanwhile, on the supply side, we have climate change. We have spreading water shortages.

And these are beginning to make it more difficult for farmers to expand production fast enough to keep up with the growth and demand.

FOREMAN: Let's bring up a map that we have here. You said the regions are most at risk are the Arab world, Sub-Saharan Africa, and sub-continental India. What are the challenges in each of these regions in particular? Why are we highlighting these? BROWN: Well, India, if you look at the Indian subcontinent, the population is roughly 1.4 billion, the same as China that includes Bangladesh and Pakistan. It's a lot of people in a small area and though they've gotten the productivity up quite a bit, they're running out of water, particularly in India in the major way.

They're over pumping their aquifers, wells are going dry and they're projected to grow by half billion people in the decades ahead. So that's real population pressure. Africa, sub-Saharan Africa has more land, but its population is growing very fast.

And it doesn't have the technology and the capital resources really to develop the productivity of the land fully. So that's the problem there. And the hunger and malnutrition in the world is concentrated in the Indian subcontinent and sub-Saharan Africa.

FOREMAN: Do you think the rest of the world -- there's been a big call from the U.N. to say, we need to help these people. Is there help available in the rest of the world with the economy teetering the way it is? I can imagine a lot of countries saying we'd like to help. We just can't afford it.

BROWN: Well, if it's just the horn of Africa and just 20 million people or 10 million people, that's manageable. If it becomes bigger and affects a number of countries or if India were to have a really poor harvests, then it would be scramble time.

The question is how much would countries be willing to provide? We don't have surpluses anymore. There was a time in the U.S. when we had huge grain surpluses, and we would use those whenever need. We don't have those anymore, nor does anyone else. So we're in a fairly tight situation now.

FOREMAN: All right, Lester Brown, thanks so much for joining us. We'll talk to you more as this goes on. To find out how you can make a difference and help victims of the famine in East Africa, if you'd like visit our impact the world page, that's at cnn.com/impact. It's worth checking out.

Just ahead, a war of words between two members of Congress. This time it's not across the aisle, but it's over the backyard fence and amid all of these serious problems in the world, it's personal, of all things.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOREMAN: We all know we have big problems on our hands with Afghanistan, the debt ceiling, joblessness, and all of that. But we couldn't help but notice a school yard scuffle on the floor of Congress.

On one side, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democrat from Florida's 20th District, actually she's the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. She never met a sound bite she didn't like. And on the other side, Representative Allan West, the Republican from Florida's 22nd District, he's a Tea Party favorite and also no stranger to controversy. They're practically neighbors, right.

Well, it started when Representative Schultz lobbed something over the backyard fence. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPRESENTATIVE 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)

FOREMAN: Well, neighbor West took huge offense at this. He fired back an e-mail to her personal e-mail, I might note, and he said, I quote, "You are the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the House of Representatives."

Wow, that tells you something, especially considering how many might qualify for that title and he goes on to say -- and again I quote, "You have proven repeatedly that you are not a lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me."

It doesn't stop there. Now there are demands for apologies. But frankly, with all the other things we're dealing with, we're not sure who should be apologizing to whom.

With unemployment rising and the government about to go broke, you can't help but wonder if they should apologize to us for bringing it up in the middle of all this.

Nonetheless, we thought you'd find it perhaps as amusing as we did that they got into such a scuffle amidst all the serious work that needs to be done.

Up next, the youngest Jedi master hoping the force is with him, what a great story this is, when he heads to Congress and fights for children's health care.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOREMAN: Cuts to Medicaid and other health care programs are some of the hottest issues in these tough Washington budget talks. We all know that, but behind the numbers are real people suffering real consequences.

Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta met up with one who you just might recognize. Sanjay --

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Next week, Washington is going to feel the force, so to speak. He's a little guy with a big mission. Take a look at who I met when I was out in L.A. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Dr. Gupta?

GUPTA: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: You're it.

GUPTA: I'm it?

(voice-over): Max Page only knows one speed, full steam ahead. Now you've probably seen max before even though you might not know it. Remember this Volkswagen ad from Super Bowl XLV? Darth Vader? Nope. Just Max.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Yes, we have that.

GUPTA: Within mere seconds of meeting him, Max was asking about my daughters.

(on camera): Three girls.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Let me guess, 4-year-old?

GUPTA: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Two-year-old?

GUPTA: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Six-year-old?

GUPTA: You got it. How did you know?

(voice-over): We're at the children's hospital of Los Angeles with Max and his brother, Ells to see Dr. Michael Soka.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're getting your pacemaker checked?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's good.

GUPTA: That's right. Max has a pacemaker. Actually, it's his third, and he's only 6 years old. For parents Jennifer and Buck, the first sign of trouble came before max was even born.

JENNIFER PAGE, MAX'S MOM: My 38-week appointment, we found out that max had structural damage to his heart. They didn't know -- they couldn't get a good heartbeat. They took an emergency C-section, born in a whirl wind.

BUCK PAGE, MAX'S DAD: The last feeling I remember is it's almost hopelessness because it's out of my hands as a dad, and as a dad, that's not something you're used to. JENNIFER PAGE: I just said, please, just save my son. That's all we're here for. I don't even know what you just said. I don't understand you're going to do. I just need you to save my son. I need to have a chance to know this kid.

GUPTA: It's hard to imagine, but for mom and dad, it was all a blur. Max was born with a heart condition known as Tetralogy of Fallot. It's rare, and it includes four separate problems in the heart, which leads to a lack of oxygen in the blood.

Without a pacemaker and eight major operations so far, Max probably wouldn't be here. Can you feel it, Max? Can you feel the pacemaker?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: If you like touch it or like something hits it, it's kind of when I feel it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like the movie "Cars." You know they show the pistons in engines going around. You want them working together, right? You don't want one going like this and another one going at a different rate. You have to have them working together.

GUPTA (on camera): And something like this for Max or any childlike max should be cared for in a children's hospital. Could any hospital?

DR. MICHAEL SILKA, CARDIOLOGIST, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF LOS ANGELES: No, no, this is a fairly sophisticated, fairly sub- specialized area of medicine. I'm a pediatric electrophysiologist. There are probably slightly over 100 of us in the country. There aren't that many people who really do what we do.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: It's that kind of skill that Max needs. I mean, Tom, there are only 56 of these specialized children's hospitals in the whole country, and as Washington talks about budget cuts, the programs that train these types of doctors are on the chopping block.

So little Max is headed to Capitol Hill next week to lobby for that program and also to argue against cuts to Medicaid, which helps tens of millions of other kids. We'll see how it goes. Tom --

FOREMAN: Thanks so much, Sanjay. You can see the rest of Sanjay's report on "Mini Darth Vader, Max Page," on this weekend's "Sanjay Gupta M.D., Washington Feels the Force." Don't miss it. That's Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Well, well worth your time. Just ahead, the NFL owners are ready to open training camps. We just don't know if the players are ready to report. It's breaking news this evening. We'll have the latest on when or whether you can fire up your grill and get that tailgate party started. Stick with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) FOREMAN: A developing story in the NFL lockout this evening. The owners have kicked the ball down the field. Moments ago, Commissioner Roger Goodell have announced that they have unanimously voted for an agreement and passed it back to the players in the hopes of getting an agreement there to jump start the season just two days from now after a four-month lockout. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: The clubs approved an agreement that was negotiated with the players this afternoon in addition to approving that agreement. We also approved a supplemental revenue sharing system for the next 10 years.

With this ratification and with the ratification of the NFL PA board, we will be prepared to open the training facilities beginning on Saturday, this Saturday.

We will then be prepared to start the new league year next Wednesday, subject to the full membership of the players ratifying the agreement, recertifying as a unit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: All right. Well, this is happening this evening, as we told you. Joining me from our L.A. bureau, our resident sports editor and CNN contributor Max Kellerman.

Max, thanks for being here. Listen, Roger Goodell didn't seem like a ball of fire there, like this was a done deal. It clearly is not at this point. What's going on, on the players' side?

MAX KELLERMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: They have some broad sense of what's happening. They're very, very close to an agreement. There are a few outstanding issues that need to be resolved, and it seems as though the owners here are trying to put leverage -- trying to put pressure on the players by coming out publicly.

Look, we signed our end of the deal. Let's go. Let's see football public. It's those guys. It's the players. Training camp is open. Go to training camp.

And the reason they're doing that right now, the owners, is for every week of preseason that they lose, the owners lose $250 million, something like $20 million per owner. The players get paid very little in the preseason, so there's not the same sense of urgency on the players' side.

There are three -- several outstanding issues from the players point of view, two of them involve lawsuits, and one of them involves workers comp.

FOREMAN: Let me ask you about that preseason. My understanding is that the hall of fame game between the St. Louis Rams and the Chicago Bears on August 7th, that's already dead now. That was announced, despite this deal, that's gone. That's bad news for those fans.

KELLERMAN: I've also heard -- I've also heard -- my sources tell me that there are higher-ups in the Chicago organization who say we can get a preseason game together in two days. We don't need this deadline six weeks ahead of time. So all this remains to be seen.

FOREMAN: OK, well, you talk about the preseason. I would guess that one of the other things on the players' side. You're saying they're not paid much for preseason games.

The owners make a ton of money for it and a lot of players would say, look, I don't want to get injured in a preseason game. That's not where my bacon is made. Anytime I can delay that or avoid it, why not?

KELLERMAN: Well, sure. I mean, I think they would do it -- to take that risk when there are still some outstanding issues. For instance, the Brady suit, Tom Brady and some other high profile players sued the league because the league locked the players out.

Remember, the players didn't strike. The league locked them out. You can't come to work. So these players sued them under this is a violation of antitrust. We really don't have another place to work because the NFL is essentially a monopoly.

And Tom Brady, the Patriots quarterback of New England, and nine other very high profile players joined this suit against the NFL. So now as plaintiffs in that case, they all have various interests. Many of them would drop the case.

But maybe some of the agents for some of those players say, wait a minute. You want this to just go away. For instance, Logan Mankins or Vincent Jackson, we don't want to be franchised, which is a way for NFL teams to avoid paying their best players as much money as those players would otherwise get.

We want our clients to be free agents. So there's this kind of negotiating and haggling behind the scenes as they're dotting the Is and crossing the Ts.

FOREMAN: How much danger do you think there is here in fans out there saying, at some point, if you keep delaying, you goof around, you cancel the hall of fame game, you mess up the preseason, at what point do you think that fans start saying we're sick of the whole lot of you, the millionaire bosses, the millionaire players. We've seen that happen before in sports. Is there a sense among all these folks that they're risking that?

KELLERMAN: There was that sense, and then because of various court decisions, there was pressure on both sides to get a deal done. It looked like the owners didn't have such a great hand as they thought they did.

And it looked that way for the players after various court decisions. The bottom line is the NFL is very close to getting a deal done that would give them a 10-year window of labor stability while the NBA, whose economy is half the size of the NFL, looks very likely to lose most, if not all of their next season coming off their most successful season in years.

So maybe people would get fed up with the NFL if it was the case that there was a lockout. But if they wind up missing a preseason game or two, but have a full slate of regular season games this year.

And for the next 10 years have a collective bargaining agreement that gives them labor stability and you compare that to the NBA, I think the NFL is going to come out of this looking really, really good.

FOREMAN: All right, Max Kellerman, thank you for being here. Really quickly, give me your best bet. When do we see the first game? How many weeks?

KELLERMAN: I'm going to say that the first pre-season game on the outside, maybe they lose two preseason games. I'm not convinced they don't play the first one. I'll believe it when I don't see it.

FOREMAN: All right, Max. Thanks so much. We appreciate you for being here. Stick with us all evening as we keep you up to date on the various news. Thanks for joining us IN THE ARENA. I'm Tom Foreman. Good night from New York. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts right now.