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Syria Conflict Claims Two Journalists; Deadly Protests In Afghanistan; Santorum's Take On Satan; Obama Plans To Cut Corporate Taxes; Georgia Democrats Push To Ban Vasectomies; Interview With Filmmaker Sean Stone, Oliver Stone's Son; Veteran Brothers May Face Deportation; Danny Bonaduce Discusses Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Aired February 22, 2012 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. It is 1:00 on the East Coast, 10:00 on the West Coast. We've got a very busy hour straight ahead. Let's get straight to the news right now.
We begin with a horrified scene out of Argentina. A packed train plows into a platform at a busy station in Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires. According to state media, at least 49 people were killed, more than 600 others injured.
And this is the scene right now. The emergency director says the death toll could climb. Dozens are reportedly still trapped inside. Crews are scrambling to rescue them. Officials say the train was traveling at 16 miles per hour when it crashed during morning rush hour. Passengers say the crash sounded like a bomb blast. The transportation secretary believes there may have been problems with the trains brakes. We're keeping our eye on the latest developments.
Our Spanish-speaking viewers can also get the latest from our sister network, CNN Espanol. They are on top of this story with extensive coverage.
Few western journalists are among the latest victims in the revolt against the Syrian government. American Marie Colvin was killed today in the shelling of the opposition stronghold of Homs. Colvin was a veteran -- a veteran correspondent who worked for the "Sunday Times of London" newspaper. She had covered numerous conflicts over the years, including the Libyan civil war last year. And French photojournalist Remi Ochlik died in that same attack. He began covering conflicts in Haiti when he was 20 years old. At least three other journalists, including two Syrians, were killed earlier this year in Syria.
A lot of the reporting comes from Syria coming from courageous Syrians who risk their lives every day to get the word out on the brutal crackdown by the government. Rami Al-Sayed was one of those people until yesterday. He is shown here with his 18-month-old daughter. Al-Sayed was one of the main opposition videographers. He was killed yesterday in the heavy shelling of Homs. His death came as he was trying to help a family flee the bombardment.
In Afghanistan, a deadly day as violent protests continue over the burning of the Qurans by U.S. troops. Afghan officials say at least five people were killed across the country, four by police who opened fire on the demonstrators. The U.S. military says some copies of Islam's holy book were burned by mistake this week at the U.S. Bagram Air Field. The U.S. commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan issued a formal apology saying, in part, that the incident was an error and was immediately stopped when discovered.
The political spotlight is on Arizona tonight as the Republican contenders for the White House square off in a debate sponsored by CNN. With his surge in the polls, Rick Santorum could be the main target of his rivals in part over comments made four years ago saying that Satan is waging war against America. Here's what he said about it yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm a person of faith. I believe in good and evil. If somehow or another because a person of faith who believes in good and evil as a disqualifier for president, we're going to have a very small pool of candidates who can run for president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And you can catch all the action of tonight's debate only on CNN. The debate over taxes is a big issue, by the way, for a whole lot of voters. President Barrack Obama now has a plan to fix the corporate tax code. Details were just revealed just a couple of hours ago.
And the president is offering to slash the corporate tax rate down to 28 percent from the current 35 percent, but in exchange, companies would have to say good-bye to dozens of loopholes and subsidies that they currently benefit from. In addition, multi-national companies would have to pay minimum taxes for their overseas earnings. The president's plan is pretty much in sync with Congressional Republicans.
All right. Inside Georgia's House chambers, it's a battle over women's reproductive rights versus men's. House Democrats have introduced a bill that would ban men from getting vasectomies unless needed to prevent injury or death.
It's a bold, direct response to House Republicans' and their push to ban abortions for women more than 20 weeks pregnant. Democrat Yasmin Neal introduced the bill today saying if we legislate women's bodies, it's only fair that we legislate men's. We're going to actually talk to the lawmaker, Yasmin Neal, about this proposed vasectomy ban. She'll be joining us tomorrow right there in the 1:00 Eastern hour. You'll want to join us for that.
All right, you may not know him, but you certainly know his famous film-making father. I'm talking about Sean Stone, son of Hollywood director, Oliver Stone. Sean is making headlines in part for becoming a Muslim, all during a trip to Iran. So, what's behind his big decision? I'll ask Sean Stone and I'll talk to him about his meeting with the Iran president, as well. That's coming up in Facetime.
WHITFIELD: Iran and Islam both critical topics of the news right now. Barely a day goes by that they are not in the headlines. But add one film-maker from a very famous family to the mix and you get a fascinating story. We're talking about Sean Stone. His father is Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone and Sean is a filmmaker in his own right.
But now it's his new faith that's getting a lot of attention. Sean, his dad, is Jewish, and mom is Christian, is now also a Shiite Muslim. He became a Muslim on Valentine's Day in Iran while working on a documentary there. The trip has given Sean an interesting perspective on Iran, its people, politics, and even its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which is why we're getting some Facetime right now with Sean Stone, he's joining us now from New York. Good to see you.
SEAN STONE: Thank you, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: So Sean, what happened on this journey to Iran that then lured you to Islam?
SEAN STONE, FILMMAKER: Well, I wouldn't call it lure so much. I happen to agree with Mohamed Gandhi said, you know, I'm a -- he said, I'm a Hindu, a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist. And you know, being there, seeing Islam in practice, I -- and having read Koran, having studied Islam at Oxford and Princeton both, I just feel that it's an extension of the Judeo-Christian heritage and Mohamed is a profit in that same line compared (ph) to Abraham. So, why not simply accept it publicly? I stated it publically rather than holding it privately. That's the only thing that makes me a Muslim, actually.
WHITFIELD: So, you actually were interested in becoming a Muslim well before you even went to Iran?
STONE: It's not that I feel like I've become a Muslim. I don't feel any more Muslim than I am Christian or Jewish. I believe that I worship the same god I always have. And I have -- I reaffirmed my faith in that one god.
And I think my purpose in this regard -- in the sense is to help explain Islam to Americans and to the west, hopefully to let them see that it's not a, you know, (INAUDIBLE) of fascism. I mean, Muhammad Ali, one of our hero boxers of all time, was a Muslim. But right now, there's a lot of Islam phobia, and I just feel like it's important for me to accept that as well as my other beliefs in today of Christianity and bridge (INAUDIBLE.)
WHITFIELD: So, what is it that you want people to have a better understanding about Islam that you think you'll be better equipped to kind of convey?
STONE: I'm not saying that I'm better equipped than anyone else to convey it, but to simply -- you know, to be a white face, first of all, it's important because as, you know, people think of Islam, they think of Semitic peoples, Arab peoples, or black people but very few white who are Muslim. But Christianity and Judaism come from the same region. And now, you know, they're white -- you know, that's white America. So, what's wrong with accepting Islam and also showing respect for that religion?
WHITFIELD: OK. So, you're not denying or replacing your association with being Jewish or even Christian, but you're now incorporating the Muslim faith into that. And we asked a number of people who have been reading our belief blog to weigh in and offer some questions. And one comes from Sandra and she wrote this question and wanting it to be posed to you. A conversion is something that indicates a leaving of something else. The holy bible specifically states that you cannot serve two masters. How can you say, then, that your conversion to Islam does not mean that you have left, abandoned, the God of your parents? How do you respond to that?
STONE: Well, as I stated actually at a press conference in Iran, I never converted to Islam. I accepted Mohammed as a continuation of the profits. So, by accepting that, you know, Mohammed's work was a continuation of that same tradition, I've always reaffirmed my belief in the one god. And so, however you choose to serve him, however you choose to worship him, whether -- even in Judaism in the Christianity, we have different churches.
You can be a Catholic and, you know, there's a lot of anti- Catholicism, for example. Even, you know, when Kennedy became president, right, this country was very wary of it. Judaism as well, there's Orthodox-C (ph) and then there's liberal Jews. The same with Islam. You know, you can be a liberal Muslim who doesn't -- you know, doesn't stop to pray five times a day and you can be, you know, pray and show all your -- you know, all your devotions. So, it's really a question of do you believe in the one God? And then, are you willing to accept other people's forms of practice?
WHITFIELD: While in Iran, while working on your film making there, you had an opportunity to meet with Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. What was your meeting like and what did you learn about him that you feel you'd want to convey to people?
STONE: You know, it's a long issue in terms of the president. Obviously, you know, he's been vilified and we labeled him as an extremist. The speeches that I heard him say was very clear in the sense that he preached we are all made in the image of god, all people of all countries and all colors are brothers and sisters. That was his very clear message. If we wanted to, you know, ultimately talk about him in terms of Israel and in terms of Iran's potential, you know, development of nuclear power and bombs, why don't we have a dialogue with him? Why am I the only person going over there and actually talking to the president?
WHITFIELD: Did you feel any personal conflict having that dialogue with him knowing where the U.S. stands and other western nations stand particularly as it pertains to his nuclear ambitions or his country's nuclear ambitions?
STONE: No. He told me personally, no bomb, no bomb, because, frankly, you know, I do defend the nation state, their national right to have a nuclear power. And if that means a nuclear bomb, as well, you know, I defend that right. But he told me, personally, no bomb, we don't want a bomb. Now, whether or not, you know, it's not ultimately going to be up to him, because he's a president just like our president's a president with many factions. He has a parliament, and he has a supreme leader to answer to. So, there's a lot of factions in his country.
WHITFIELD: And then, what about Ahmadinejad's public statements about the holocaust never happening and your father's Jewish and you still embrace the Jewish faith? How do you not feel conflicted about that as it pertains to Ahmadinejad?
STONE: I don't know what he believes about the holocaust, but I know that his point, in terms of the holocaust, is to say, the holocaust is a European issue perpetuated by the west -- by western European powers. The (INAUDIBLE) against, you know, Jews in Russia. The racism -- I mean, going back historically, about Christians against Jews, this is a western problem.
And then you create Israel and you say that it's because of western Europe. Well, why didn't you take the Jews into America, for example? I mean, his point is Israel cannot predicate its existence on the holocaust. He thinks that is a weak basis for Israel's existence. Now, personally, I think we need dialogue in regards to the Israel, Palestine problem, and this has not been talked about for 10 years since 911. We've really had not -- not had a formal, you know, congregation of countries to discuss this problem.
WHITFIELD: And Sean, before I let you go, your Islamic name will be Ali. How will you use -- you use it?
STONE: I will be Sean Christopher Ali Stone.
WHITFIELD: All right. Sean Christopher Ali Stone, thanks for your time. I appreciate it.
STONE: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. And you can read more about Sean and his story on CNN's belief blog at CNN.com/belief.
All right, still to come today, two brothers, two Vietnam veterans. One even awarded the bronze star. So, why do they say the U.S. government is now threatening to deport them? We'll get answers why Manuel and Valente Valenzuela join me, next.
WHITFIELD: They risked their lives fighting for this country. Now two brothers who served in the Vietnam War say they face possible deportation to Mexico. Manuel and Valente Valenzuela were born in Mexico to an American mother. The brothers say the threat of deportation shouldn't happen to veterans of the U.S. military.
They took their protest to the U.S./Mexican border Saturday, both dressed in their military uniforms. Both say they got caught up in the mess because of pleading guilty to misdemeanors crimes years ago. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement says the case would have been resolved years ago if the brothers had provided requested documents. Manuel and Valente Valenzuela join me now. Also with us, immigration lawyer Raul Reyes.
We'll get to you in a moment, Mr. Reyes.
Manuel, let me begin with you. First of all, just to kind of clarify, what is your status? Are you both American citizens or not?
MANUEL VALENZUELA, VIETNAM WAR VETERAN: We have believed that we're American citizens since the day we were born due to my mother being born American mother.
WHITFIELD: So immigration is saying that you have not provided the proper documents and thereby you would likely be deported. So where are the documents or what has happened with your response to immigration?
M. VALENZUELA: Well, they say that but we have proof, papers, that we have provided proper documents and all they asked for more different documents, which they have it -- which, in my case, they asked for more criminal records, which homeland security is police. They should have that on hand. (INAUDIBLE).
WHITFIELD: Now is it your feeling, because of the pleading guilty of these misdemeanor charges, that is what has now jeopardized your status here in the U.S.?
M. VALENZUELA: Yes, ma'am, because the things that act (ph) have changed and done a lot of changing of this day and time and I believe that's the case.
WHITFIELD: And, Valente, what's the next step? What are you and your brother being requested to do? You have a court appearance upcoming?
VALENTE VALENZUELA, VIETNAM WAR VETERAN: Yes. Well, I did this Thursday and I was told that I didn't have to show up for court. So I'm in limbo right now and I'm just waiting to hear from my lawyer.
WHITFIELD: And what's the time line? You both say that the U.S. is asking or -- they have sent you some kind of letter, or documentation, that says that you're facing deportation. Have they given you a date, a time line, a deadline?
V. VALENZUELA: Let me clarify this. Our ordeal began in '09 and it's three years now. Each of us has gone to the immigration court four times already. And we are like in house arrest. We are in limbo. We don't know what's going on.
WHITFIELD: Well, Mr. Reyes, let me bring you into this equation, because reportedly a number of U.S. military servicemen, upwards of 3,000, have faced this very juncture.
RAUL A. REYES, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: Absolutely. WHITFIELD: So I guess the question is, how is it that they could serve for the U.S. military and have not provided some sort of documentation? Or is it the case that there are many active duty or even military veterans who are not U.S. citizens and find themselves in this same kind of predicament?
REYES: Well, in actuality, there are thousands of people who serve in the U.S. military who are not citizens. Many of them are legal residents or people with pending citizenship. But in the case of these two brothers, what's so striking to me is, you know, their mother was an American citizens. So American case law is very clear. If you a child of an American citizen born abroad, you are an American, whether or not you have the documentation.
And the perfect example is this is Mitt Romney's father George, his father was born in Mexico, but there has really never been any question that George was an American. Because, you know, as long as one parent has citizenship, the child has American citizenship. And that's very well settled (ph) law.
WHITFIELD: So what do you think is -- what is at the root of these brothers then? Why do you suppose they are now facing possible deportation if what you said certainly validates that they are American citizens?
REYES: Right. Well, I think what's happened is our immigration system today is so decentralized that it takes a long time for the message to get from Washington to all the regional offices. I mean it was just last year in August that Department of Homeland Security unveiled these new guidelines for halting orders of deportation. And even under these guidelines, even if you were to somehow challenge the brother's citizenship under these guidelines, which include factors like length of time in the country, military service, ties to the community. Even under these factors, they have an outstanding case for the order of deportation to be canceled.
And, you know, just on a personal level, I really think it's outrageous that these two men, who, you know, they're senior citizens, they're, you know, these are older gentlemen who served our country at a time when so many Americans resisted going to serving in the Vietnam War. You know, I think it's very unfortunate that they're being dragged through this whole ordeal of having to show their papers, prove that they are Americans. And that's very unfortunate and unfair.
WHITFIELD: And you used the word dragged down. And we're talking more than 30 years ago they served. They have Social Security Numbers. And in order to get a Social Security Number, don't you have to be a U.S. citizen?
REYES: Right. And also, could I just add about the misdemeanors that you mentioned. That's a very minor issue. And, in fact, there's members of Congress serving today who have misdemeanors. So that's really like a negligible issue.
WHITFIELD: OK. Raul Reyes, thanks so much. Manuel and Valente Valenzuela, keep us posted on all that takes place. Appreciate your time.
M. VALENZUELA: Excuse me. Could I say a paragraph here that is very, very important?
WHITFIELD: Really quickly, because we're about out of time.
M. VALENZUELA: OK. This for the president of the United States. Josh Shian (ph), a supreme court justice, back in July, made a decision on a veteran who committed murder, previous to the law of '96. He was allowed to stay. President Carter pardoned draft dodgers after Vietnam War and brought them home. A governor last month early released 200 murders. Why can't President Obama and the commander in chief of the military, that says he is always there for this veterans when they come home, pardon this men, all these veterans and bring all them home to their American wives and American children. And our lives --
WHITFIELD: All right, Mr. Valenzuela.
REYES: Good love to you, brother. Right on.
WHITFIELD: We will try to see if we can get a response from the White House because I assure you they're likely listening. Appreciate you all's time.
M. VALENZUELA: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: A nurse in New Jersey has spent the last four decades working in the operating room. She's in her 60s, but she says she is nowhere near retirement. And it isn't because of the paycheck. Coming up next, the value and wisdom of a veteran employee.
WHITFIELD: It's an election year, so it's no surprise politicians are giving their two cents about what Americans what and want they need. But we want to go beyond political sound bites to get to the heart of what it means to you to be American. We asked our one million i- Reporters to define today's America, how we're evolving cultural, socially, economically. And many of them shared their stories. Today, we head to Morristown, New Jersey, and the story of a nurse who has spent four decades working in the operating room with no plans to retire. Here now is CNN "Money's" Poppy Harlow.
ANN DOSHI, OPERATING ROOM UNIT EDUCATOR: I walk kind of fast, so you have to keep up, all right.
POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM (voice-over): At 62 years old, nurse Ann Doshi isn't anywhere near retirement.
DOSHI: You have the knowledge and you have the chance to share it. And that's what I like to do.
ALLISON MURPHY, MENTORED BY ANN DOSHI: Ann has tons of energy. She has more energy than some of us younger nurses. DOSHI: This is the OR table. This is where the head of the patient would be.
HARLOW: After 40 years in the operating room, Ann trains nurses and medical students at this New Jersey hospital. It's a field where experience counts.
DOSHI: It used to be years ago that there was a saying that older nurses, seasoned nurses, ate their young. And I'm not saying that that doesn't still exist in the field, but I think for many people today they realize that the older person can be a lot of help to them.
HARLOW (on camera): Ann's employer, Atlantic Health System, has been singled out for its effort to retain and recruit older workers. In fact, last year, AARP named it one of the top 10 best employers for workers over 50. Thirty-eight percent of its workforce is over 50. That's above average for the labor force as a whole.
You guys want older workers, is that right?
LESLEY MEYER, H.R. MANAGER, ATLANTIC HEALTH SYSTEM: Absolutely.
MEYER: Older workers bring us invaluable experience, knowledge and skills.
HARLOW (voice-over): Allison Murphy, a 28-year-old nurse mentored by Ann, says the contribution of older co-workers can't be overstated.
MURPHY: We really, truly learn from them. I think they're very innovative. They're are right there on top of all our new equipment, all our new procedures.
HARLOW: But studies have found an overwhelming prejudiced against older job candidates. Experts say, though, it's a myth that older workers are less productive or less innovative.
PETER CAPPELLI, PROFESSOR, THE WHARTON SCHOOL: Everything gets better with experience and, therefore, everything gets better with employees who are older. Absenteeism declines. Turnover actually declines. Job performance increases. Certainly knowledge of the work increases. And their personal skills improve.
HARLOW (on camera): Are there risks to having an older workforce?
MEYER: We haven't found any risks.
MEYER: Actually, our health care -- employee health care costs have gone down.
HARLOW (voice-over): The company's health care costs fell a modest 1 percent last year. But what is going up, the number of Americans ages 55 and older in the workforce. That's not surprising since many older workers don't believe they can afford to retire. But others, like Ann, say staying on the job is about more that financial security.
DOSHI: The majority of my work right now, to be very honest, is because I really love my work. I want to do this. And I don't want to stop.
HARLOW (on camera): You don't want to stop?
DOSHI: No, I don't.
There's some rooms that are identical.
HARROW (voice-over): In Morristown, New Jersey, Poppy Harlow, CNN "Money."
WHITFIELD: And for more on what it means to be American, go to ireport.com/iamamerica.
All right, Rick Santorum said Satan is attacking America. He made the comment four years ago. But now that his race to the White House is picking up speed and support, will some of Santorum's more controversial comments be an issue for him going forward. That's coming up next in "Fair Game."
WHITFIELD: Surging in the polls, GOP presidential hopeful, Rick Santorum, finds himself in the spotlight ahead of the Arizona debate. And with all of the attention, a closer look at the things that he has said in the past, like the comments that he made in 2008 now coming back to haunt him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM, (R), FORMER PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Satan has done so by attacking the greater institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity, and sensuality as the roots to attack all of these strong plants that have so deeply rooted in the American tradition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: CNN asked Santorum for his response to that speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANTORUM: I'm a person of faith. I believe in good and evil. I think if somehow or another, because you're a person of faith and you believe in good and evil, it's a disqualifier for president, we're going to have a very small pool of candidates to run for president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So how will Santorum deal with the scrutiny? That's the question this "Fair Game." Joining us is Democratic political consultant, Ed Espinoza, from Austin, Texas, and Republican strategist, Gentry Collins, from Washington.
Good to see both of you.
Ed, we may have a little audio problems, so we'll try to work it out.
Gentry, you first. How may this redirect or even direct Santorum's campaign?
GENTRY COLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, Santorum has a great opportunity but he's where he is in the race as an alternative to Mitt Romney and not as an evangelical or a Catholic candidate. I think most voters want to know that the next president has a plan to put this economy back on track, create jobs and restore confidence in our economic future. And if Rick Santorum hopes to maintain this surge, he's got to get the campaign back on those messages.
WHITFIELD: Ed, can he do that?
ED ESPINOZA, DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Well, he can. The question is, does he want to? The voters are responding to it. Rick Santorum has said a lot of crazy things, prenatal care, public education, and now the theology comments. But it doesn't seem to be slowing him down.
WHITFIELD: Is it as simple as, this is a dialogue that Santorum would rather have than that of the economy, since the Obama administration has had a lot of feathers in its cap, most recently, as it pertains to the economy.
And, Gentry, perhaps this is the route in which this campaign wants to take?
COLLINS: I don't think they've chosen this route at all. I think these are 4-year-old comments that have been dredged up and he's been required to respond to them as part of the political back and forth. A week ago, they went to the Detroit Economic Club and tried to refocus on economic issues.
I would remind you that the CBO itself, the Obama administration have both come out and said they expected increasing unemployment before the end of the year. So there are very few feathers in Obama's cap. And any smart campaign, like the Santorum campaign has tried to do, is going to try to focus on this economy.
WHITFIELD: So debate this evening. Ed, how dominant will this religion, will Santorum's words, whether it be within the last four years or more recently, dominate tonight's discussion?
ESPINOZA: Yes. I mean, there is one comment from four years ago, but there's a lot of comments from four days ago. And I think that those things probably will come up in tonight's debate because, like I said, there's lots of things that Republicans have talked about during the course of the campaign but it's only recently that voters have really started to catch on and latch on to statements around social issues.
And when you've got economic growth under President Obama, 23 quarters of job growth, two months of higher-than-expected job creation, what do they have left to talk about? They switch to the cultural issues. And so far, it's been working for the Republican base.
WHITFIELD: Gentry, does it appear to be that Rick Santorum is the Republican base's guy? Are they throwing their support behind him or is it too early to tell? Might it be the Michigan race that determines that?
COLLINS: I think it's too early to tell. And I think the Michigan race is probably too early to tell. Remember, the Democratic nominating contest went into June four years ago, and this contest may be drawn out.
Santorum has some momentum today and a surge. What does that mean? A few points in these polls. I think there's a long way to go. We have 480-some delegates to be decided on Super Tuesday on March 6 and some big states still outstanding into the early parts of April. I think he's got momentum but I don't think it's fair to say that the entire party is behind him just yet.
WHITFIELD: OK. Real quick?
ESPINOZA: Yes, there's still a ways to go.
WHITFIELD: OK. Go ahead, real quick
ESPINOZA: Still a ways to go. Just agreeing with Gentry.
WHITFIELD: All right.
Ed, Gentry, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.
COLLINS: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. That's "Fair Game."
Again, tonight, GOP candidates facing off right here on CNN. Be sure to watch the "Arizona Republican Presidential Debate" tonight at 8:00 eastern time.
His squeaky-clean image as Danny Partridge in the '70s sitcom "The Partridge Family," was tarnished after he turned to drugs and alcohol. But in the last year, Danny Bonaduce has turned his life around. And he credits one person in particular for helping him stay sober. Mr. Bonaduce will be joining us live in out in-dept focus on tackling addiction right after this.
WHITFIELD: All right. Remember just moments ago we talked to two U.S. military brothers and their fears of deportation? We now have a statement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, regarding Manuel and Belante (ph) Valenzuela, and their fear that this deportation may indeed happen, to Mexico.
The statement says, "ICE offered to file a joint motion to administratively close the case for both brothers on January 31, 2012. We are very deliberate in our review of cases involving veterans. Any action taken by ICE that may result in the removal of an alien with military service must be authorized by the senior leadership in a field office following an evaluation by local counsel. ICE exercises prosecutorial discretion for members of the armed forces who have honorably served our country on a case-by-case basic when appropriate. Director Morton's June 2011 memo on prosecutorial discretion specifically identifies service in the U.S. military as a positive factor that should be considered when deciding whether or not prosecutorial discretion should be exercised." That statement is just now coming in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Who could forget the 1970s TV show "The Partridge Family"? We know that red-headed boy, Danny Bonaduce, very famous. But unlike many child stars, his career did not end with a one-hit show. He had several movies and TV appearances. But not long after, the big long-term roles stopped coming and Bonaduce turned to drugs for comfort. When he hit rock bottom, he was battling addictions to both drugs and alcohol. Danny Bonaduce made his way back into the spotlight in the reality TV, VH1's "Breaking Bonaduce," and currently has a radio show in Seattle.
And Danny Bonaduce joining us right now, live, to share his personal journey, from addiction to recovery.
Danny, good to see you. I know it's one day at a time but I understand you are celebrating sobriety for 13 months, is that right?
DANNY BONADUCE, ACTOR & RADIO SHOW HOST: 13 months. It's so funny because I've kept this to myself because I've been trying to get sober for at least 20 years, and I've never had a year before. They have these birthdays and cakes and celebrations when you get a year. In 20 years, I'm trying to get sober, I've never had a year, and I finally -- I had a year last month. I am now celebrating 13 months.
BONADUCE: If you call it a celebration, I'd really like a drink, so it's not that great of a celebration.
WHITFIELD: Well, so what is it that makes it, A, difficult to stay on that road to recovery. Once you're on it, there are constant temptations. What happens in that moment where you find, it is one day, one month at a time?
BONADUCE: Well, I will tell you this from past experience. Because there are very few things, to be honest with you, that people -- that people of rehab and therapists, there are very few things that they actually get right. For the most part, they are incredibly wrong. They should almost be sued for fraud.
WHITFIELD: What do you mean?
BONADUCE: They just don't -- well, first of all, I am not a big believer -- I have been told to my face that alcoholism is a disease, a progressive disease, a terminal disease just like cancer. Well, I just recently did a tour of the children's wing of the Philadelphia Hospital that as the unfortunate acronym of CHOP, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, in the cancer ward. Man, when went in there and I saw an 11-year-old with no hair and dark circles under their eyes, at no point did I feel like saying, hey, I know how you feel. I don't believe it's a disease just like cancer. People that say that should be ashamed of themselves.
WHITFIELD: OK, because you say drugs did not choose you. You choose drugs and alcohol at a very low point in your life. And did that low point, in large part, come because you weren't getting the long-term television roles and that was really damaging to yourself esteem, and so you turned to these methods of comfort? Did I get that right?
BONADUCE: No. I turned to drugs because -- people get it backwards and it's nobody's fault. It's the way I would think if I didn't live it. People think I made a fortune on "The Partridge Family." "The Partridge Family" sold 28 million albums. "American Idol" on the night they do their finale gets 26 million viewers. "The Partridge Family" got 40 million viewers very Friday night.
The fact is, I made $400 a week and only for 26 weeks a year. I never had any money. I didn't start getting high until I was in my 20s. And I just came home one day and a Los Angeles county sheriff was putting a padlock on my door and I was homeless. And I thought, well, I've got to do something with my time, so I -- I don't make the expression "turn to drugs." The people that I was with were doing drugs so I did the things that the people I was hanging out with did drugs, and the next thing I know, I was addicted and couldn't stop doing them.
WHITFIELD: But weren't there moments, I guess during that hanging with others or experimentation where you were saying, I'm jeopardizing everything, I may not work again or I may not be able to afford this. If they are putting a padlock on my house, how am I going to be able to afford this if I get hooked? Any of that stuff comes to mind at that moment?
BONADUCE: All the time. All the time. People ask me, what was your rock bottom? I say, pick. Let's see, I woke up in a jail cell in Phoenix, Arizona, chained to a transvestite covered in blood and I couldn't tell whose blood it was. I woke up in a phone booth in Hollywood Boulevard one time. You know that song you played when you introduced me? "I Woke Up in Love this Morning"?
BONADUCE: I just wondered where the heck I woke up this morning all the time. I don't even have a particularly good rock bottom. I've only been sober 13 months.
WHITFIELD: So when you were at that bottom, one of the many bottoms, then, was there ever a moment where you said, you know what, I'm kind of tired in this. I don't want to be like this. And like a light switch, you make a decision and say, I don't want to be like this any more? It's just not that easy?
BONADUCE: That's always the way it is. Unfortunately, it's not that easy. What happens is you recover. Either you go to rehab, because you're going to go to jail -- that's why everybody goes to rehab. Not everyone. I don't want -- by the way, let me tell you this. If you think A.A. will help you or rehab will help you, please go. Don't do anything that will stop you from -- if you think you can help yourself, please do. I am not an expert on any of these things. I know what works for me. Would you like to know how I got 13 months not drinking?
BONADUCE: It's called antabuse. It's a pill. It turns alcohol into poison. There you go.
WHITFIELD: Danny! --
BONADUCE: If I take a drink right now, I'll die.
WHITFIELD: So what is that? Are you telling me that --
BONADUCE: It's antabuse. Look it up on the Internet. Look it up on the Internet. It turns alcohol into formaldehyde. It will kill you.
WHITFIELD: So for a lot of people who are struggling --
BONADUCE: I don't sit around with a bunch of people whining that their mothers didn't love them and their daddies didn't hug them, and I can't get a job and girls don't like me. So what? There's cures, man. How about if you're hooked on heroin and oxycontin? Take suboxone. It blocks the receptors. You won't get high anymore. There's way out. Stop being such a baby. There are all of these people that say, my mommy doesn't love me enough, my daddy doesn't hug me enough. There are some people that would want to coddle them somewhere. I want them to shut up and stop whining.
WHITFIELD: And you're saying it begins and ends with self, and it has nothing to do with who might be able to help intervene or what? BONADUCE: OK. I was married for 18 years to a woman who wanted me to get sober for all 18 years and I never did. She finally came to her senses and divorced me. I was married to another woman for about three weeks when I got drunk and said something unpleasant and she said, I don't know who you think you're talking to, but I'm a school teacher. I have a skill. I don't need anything you have. And she walked out the door.
And I said, wait, this pill I've heard about called antabuse. And she said, if you let me help you take it every day like a child, then I'll come back. I agreed to those terms and I've been sober 13 months.
Stop your whining. Go to your meetings. They're wonderful. I've been to some wonderful -- some of the most interesting people I've ever met I've met at A.A. meetings. But I tell you this, I stopped drinking because I took medication that will either make you go to the emergency room or die if you drink on it.
WHITFIELD: Well, Danny Bonaduce, I'm glad it's 13 months and counting. I won't say congratulations because you said not to say congratulations.
And I appreciate your time very much.
BONADUCE: Thank you very much. And we really appreciate the time. I really do. I appreciate the time very much
WHITFIELD: Thank you. And we really appreciate your honesty.
Danny Bonaduce, it's great to see you.
Coming up next, we have a pretty amazing story about a dog that defied all the odds. And despite the unimaginable cruelty that he faced, he's not only a survivor but a real champ. His name is Andre, and we're going to tell you all about Andre next.
WHITFIELD: Time now to check stories making news at "Street Level."
To Indianapolis where an Indiana lawmaker is taking a stand against Girl Scouts. In a letter to Republican caucus members, State Republican Bob Morris says he's against celebrating the group's 100th anniversary. He says they, quote, "sexualize girls, promote homosexuality, and are allies of Planned Parenthood."
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STATE REP. BOB MORRIS, (R), INDIANA: I challenge each of you to get on the Internet and do your research yourself in regards to the Girl Scouts of America, and you'll find many of the same findings that I found, and my wife.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Moore says his daughters are no locker Girl Scouts.
At Miller Park in Milwaukee, people with peanut allergies can now enjoy the baseball game without worrying. The Brewers are hosting three home games this season with peanut-controlled area seating. Fans with peanut allergies can thank this sixth grader, Matthew Troiter (ph), who wrote the team a letter about his allergies and the Brewers decided to make a change. Peanut-controlled games will be May 7 against the Reds, Thursday, July 26, against the Nationals and September 14, against the Mets.
In Arizona, a sad story that ended happily ever after. A little dog found dumped in a trash bag with his eyes gouged out is now settled in a place he can finally call home. Andre, the miniature pincher, was so badly injured that shelter workers weren't sure if he would ever survive. When people heard about his story, they came out in droves and donated for his surgery. They ended up collecting $1700. That's more than Andre needed, so that money will help other abused animals. And Andre has since been adopted, getting love and appreciation for being such a wonderful survivor.
Time to check political headlines now. CNN's political reporter, Peter Hamby, is live from Mesa, Arizona.
Peter, tell us what the super PAC has come out with that says Mitt Romney is just like President Obama.
PETER HAMBY, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER: Yes, Fred, here in Arizona, the ad wars have been pretty sleezy, but Mitt Romney has been bombarded with TV ads. The latest from the super PAC supporting Rick Santorum. They've spent $130,000 to date on the air.
WHITFIELD: How can Mitt Romney beat Barack Obama when they're not much different? Obama drastically increased spending, increased taxes and fees. Romney is the blueprint for Obama-care. Who can win? Rick Santorum.
HAMBY: Pretty tough ad there from that super PAC. Still a drop in the bucket compared to the spending from the Romney campaign and they're allied super PAC, which is totally bombarding up through Super Tuesday -- Fred?
WHITFIELD: Thank you, appreciate that.
You don't want to forget the GOP candidates facing off tonight right here on CNN. Be sure to watch the Arizona presidential debate tonight, 8:00 eastern time.
Thanks so much for watching. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The CNN NEWSROOM continues next with Brooke Baldwin right after this.