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Polygamist Sect Raided; Severe Weather; Clintons Earn Millions; Weapons Smuggling
Aired April 05, 2008 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: We're following a pretty serious story out in Minnesota where a charter bus carrying high school band members, tipped over on its side early this morning. See the images, right there. CNN has learned that one person is dead and three more have suffered critical injuries. The accident occurred on Interstate 94 in Albertville, Minnesota, northwest of Minneapolis.
The bus was carrying students from Pelican Rapids High School in western Minnesota, they were heading to Chicago on a band trip. We'll keep following tabs on that for you this hour.
Meantime, polygamy on the run, this time in Texas. Authorities there raided a compound of a super secret sect once led by convicted felon, Warren Jeffs, and they took more than 50 girls into custody. Our Susan Roesgen is in Eldorado, Texas.
Susan, what has led to this development?
SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, there was a tip, Fredricka, a tip that a 50-year-old man had illegally married a 16- year-old girl and fathered a child with her. Now, those girls that were taken away yesterday, actually more than 50 and perhaps as many as 60 or even more than that, are not actually charged with anything themselves. The fear is that they have been abused by older men. And in fact, we saw earlier today more buses, Fredricka, coming, so apparently there may be even more young women being taken out of the ranch, later today.
Investigators want to know just how many young girls could have been forced into arranged marriages with older men.
(voice over): Escorted by the sheriff's department's trucks and Jeeps two white buses from a local Baptist church drive down a dusty Texas road. It is hard to tell through the tinted windows, but inside of the buses are dozens of girls, some just a few months old. The girls were being removed from a sprawling secretive fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints compound near Eldorado called the YFZ Ranch. Throughout the evening, dozens of girls were taken away.
MARLEIGH MEISNER, CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES: We have 52 young women from the ages of 17 to 6-months of age that we have taken from the compound, not legal custody, but taken from the compound and of those we have 18 that we have taken legal custody of. I the can tell you that we are about halfway through our investigation. ROESGEN: The fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints has and estimated 10,000 members, most of them in a tiny town in Utah, and they are notoriously hostile to outsiders.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I ask a quick question?
ROESGEN: Nearly all of them are followers of Warren Jeffs, a man they call their prophet. Jeffs is currently in jail after being convicted on two counts of being an accomplice to rape.
Stretched across 1,700 acres the ranch is the largest polygamist community outside of Utah and Arizona. It has a towering white temple, a water tower, dormitories and is guarded by armed men.
So already, Fredricka, 18 young girls under the age of 17 are in protective custody, and they will go the foster homes, they will not be going back to that ranch at all. As for the other girls, investigators are still going to question them. They are being housed right now in a community center, and the community has been donating cots and food for them, but the investigators say that they are being very careful and sensitive with the girls, because most of them have never ever left that 1,700-acre ranch, they've never been beyond that fence, they don't know what life is like here on the outside.
WHITFIELD: Wow, that is the only life they have known for so many of them. All right, Susan Roesgen, thank you much from Eldorado, Texas.
Well, for Skybus, not a great deal after all. Talking about air travel, now. The Ohio-based airline that offered some seats for $10 each, has not flying today stranding the crews and the passengers.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We didn't think which would get home. We heard of a place at another airport that would take the passengers back to the hub.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is quite a shock. We have kids to support and family to care for and tomorrow, I guess Monday, I'll be in the unemployment line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Oh, man. Skybus is the third U.S. airline this week to file for bankruptcy after ATA and Aloha, Skybus blames its demise on high fuel prices and a slowing economy.
And we are talking about "Issue No. 1," your money. Next hour, we will bring you the latest on the job reports and how the reposition of your career should shape up. It's important information, right here on CNN's YOUR MONEY coming up next on the top of the hour.
And all of this week, our money team has you covered whether it is jobs, debt, housing, or savings, all of it. Join us for a special report, it's called "Issue No. 1, The Economy," all next week, noon Eastern only on CNN.
Well now, on to the other major story we're following. Severe weather across the south, particularly. Roads turned into rivers as the latest system of powerful storms spread across several southern states. Just look at that standing water. This is southern Alabama. High waters are also forcing evacuations in parts of Kentucky.
A 2-year-old girl was actually swept away in high water following a car crash, and in northern Alabama, high winds downed trees in the Birmingham area and that means another chainsaw Saturday is underway.
And then in Mississippi, the story is possible tornadoes, there. Crews are working today to get power back on for almost 100,000 customers.
Karen Maginnis is in the Weather Center.
And so Karen, what will it take for them to determine whether or not it was indeed a tornado or whether we are calling it possible tornadoes.
KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, they look at the damage and see if the debris is blown in a straight line or if it's scattered about. If it's scattered about in different directions, then that tells us that that was probably a tornado.
But look at what we have got going on now in the Gulf Coast. Take a look at these lightning strikes. This has been ferocious. You're looking at the Gulf Coast, this is the panhandle of Florida. Mobile, you saw those pictures earlier of people stranded in their vehicles, trying to get in some of that high water in some of those underpasses which is just about impossible.
But, we've been watching this storm just rake its way across Dustin, also Great Beach, seaside, Ft. Walton Beach, and so some of the areas that will be seeing lots of lightning strikes. Southwestern sections of Georgia being pummeled by some pretty strong storms. The good news is that about 24 hours ago, we were looking at tornado watches and tornado warnings in Jackson, Mississippi, Vicksburg, and Meridian, Mississippi, well, a lot of the moisture has made its way to the east. And I wanted to point out that in Mobile, they are estimating between seven and 11 inches of rainfall has fallen there over the past 24 hours.
Officially yesterday, Mobile saw about 4.5 inches of rain. A good drought-busting rainfall, there. But, you know, spring is the transition time, we're transitioning from winter to spring, but in some places, it is going the feel more like winter, like across the Dakotas and into Minnesota, also across the Cascades into the Bitter Roots and Big Horn and for Yellowstone Park, as well. Fredricka, so, we've got some of everything, today.
WHITFIELD: We sure do. All right, Karen, thanks so much. All right. Well, the U.S. State Department is renewing its contract with Blackwater Security and Iraq's government, well, they're not happy about that. An adviser to the Iraq's prime minister called it "bad news." He says he'll push the government to keep Blackwater out of Iraq. Blackwater guards shot and killed 17 Iraqis during an incident last September.
President Bush and president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, are holding a farewell summit this weekend, but the White House says that Mr. Bush probably won't get what he hoped for, a deal on the missile defense system for Europe. That's something that Putin strongly opposes. President Bush arrived in Russia from Croatia where he celebrated the expansion of NATO to the former communist territory.
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GEORGE W BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Should any danger threaten your people, America and the NATO alliance will stand with you and no one will be able to take your freedom away.
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WHITFIELD: And the Olympic torch relay in route to China, passed through Russia today and a host of runners carried the torch on its relay leg through St. Petersburg as you see there and tomorrow the torch heads to London.
And a piece of history goes up in flames. The latest on what happened, straight ahead.
And the Clintons release their tax records. What's Hillary Clinton saying about the millions that the couple earned. You are in the NEWSROOM.
WHITFIELD: All right. A massive fire raged through Canada's Quebec City today destroying one of the oldest buildings. The Quebec City Armory built in 1884 collapsed during this inferno and it was home to a Canadian forces reserve unit. Nobody was inside when the fire started, that's good news. An investigation into what caused the blaze is still underway.
And "News Across America," right now. In Indianapolis, don't mess with the gas station attendant, here. Surveillance video showing what happened when a would-be robber brandished a sawed off shotgun. After wrestling the gun away the clerk said he didn't know what to do and the suspect simply ran off.
In Phoenix, Arizona, a guilty plea from one of two men accused in a series of random shootings that left seven people dead and 17 others wounded. Thirty-two-year-old Samuel Dieteman (ph) also agreed to testify against co-defendant Dale Housener. And police say the two shot people and animals at random over several months.
And police in Los Angeles on alert. They have received word that gangs could be gunning for them, revenge for earlier shootings is believed to be the motive.
Turning to politics, now. The Clintons released their tax returns, and now we know the power couple made more than $109 million in just the past eight years. Today, there are questions about where some of the money came from. Our Brian Todd looks at the bottom line.
BRIAN TODD, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): She says that she will rescind President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans if she gets his job, says she got the breaks and didn't need them.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, I never thought I'd say this, but you know, ever since my husband got out of full time public service, he is actually made money, much to both of our amazement.
TODD: Did he ever. Just released tax records show Hillary and Bill Clinton had gross income of about $89 million between 2000 and 2006, nearly half of it from the former president's speeches. They got $40 million after taxes during those six years showing why she's classified by one watchdog group as one of the 10 wealthiest senators. The Clinton's figures dwarf the combined incomes of Barack and Michelle Obama, whose combined gross income was under $4 million for the same time period.
(on camera): The Clintons also donated more than eight percent of the income to charity, that was more than twice the percentage donated by the Obama's.
(voice over): Mrs. Clinton had been under intense pressure to release these tax records, amid questions from the Obama campaign and others about at least one source of their wealth.
JEANNE CUMMINGS, POLITICO: There are questions about the former president's involvement with overseas' company and what his role was and what his compensation has been.
TODD: Specifically, a holding company called Yucaipa registered in the Cayman Islands. Bill Clinton, the records show, got a $15 million payout from Yucaipa for what the campaign calls his role as an adviser and investor.
The Obama campaign had openly question whether Mr. Clinton's involvement in Yucaipa constituted some kind of tax shelter. A Clinton campaign spokesman told us, absolutely not, that the former president paid U.S. taxes on that income. The campaign says there are no shelters or hidden taxes in this return, but tax experts and Clinton opponents will likely go over this information in great detail in the weeks ahead.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washinington.
(END VIDEOTAPE) WHITFIELD: All right. Well, let's talk a little but more about presidential candidates, most of them out west campaigning. You see right now, Barack Obama who is in Montana there, in Missoula, Montana, for that matter. Our Jim Acosta is keeping tabs with what is being said from all of the candidates, today, with the "Election Express" bus in Philadelphia.
So Jim, we just saw the piece about the money that the Clintons have made and where some of the money has come from. Has Hillary Clinton felt like she had to explain any further while on the campaign trail?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, Hillary Clinton is using these tax returns and the release of the tax returns to make the point that she has been making out on the campaign trail since she started this race, and that is that she feels that the very wealthiest Americans should be paying more in taxes to help the country when it comes to the budget deficit, the economy and so forth, and so yesterday, late last night in Grand Forks, North Dakota, as Senator Clinton is making her way out West for campaign stops out there, she made the point that she and her husband, former president, don't necessarily need a tax break after making more than $100 million over the last eight years.
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CLINTON: Don't get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against rich people. As a matter of fact, my husband, much to my surprise and his, has made a lot of money since he left the White House, doing what he loves doing most, talking to people. But we didn't ask for George Bush's tax cuts. We didn't want them and we didn't need them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now, as for Hillary Clinton, she is campaigning in Oregon today as she makes her way towards Montana where there is a big dinner happening tonight at which she and Barack Obama will be sharing the stage which should make for a very interesting event. Oregon has a contest coming up after the Pennsylvania primary, as does Montana.
Montana by the way, has the very last contest on June the 3rd, sharing that date with South Dakota and as for Barack Obama, he is spending the day in Missoula, Montana, and we will be having that live event coming up on CNN shortly, but Barack Obama looking to campaign out West and make the case that after Pennsylvania that he is in a very good position to pick up some more victories, no matter what happens here in the Keystone State.
Now, as for the Republican in the race, John McCain, he is wrapping up his Service to America tour, which was billed by his campaign as a reintroduction of the senator from Arizona to Americans across the country, and he is wrapping up that tour in Arizona, his home state -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right, interesting stuff, Jim. OK, so while Obama is in Montana, Clinton is there in Oregon and we hope to take live pictures of her when she takes the stage there somewhere in this hour. In the meantime, let's talk about Michigan. There was talk of a do-over and now there is a decision.
ACOSTA: That's right. And this is the state along with Florida that moved up their primary date against the party wishes, the wishes of the Democratic Party and because of that, they were penalized and had the delegates declared invalid and when both of those states went for Hillary Clinton, she would very much like to seat the delegations, and so there was a lot of pressure on Michigan and Florida to hold do- overs.
Michigan, after playing ftse with the idea for some time now, the Michigan Democratic Party has essentially said no, this is it, put the final nail of the coffin, it's not happening. We have heard rumblings of this in the past that this do-over is not coming back from the dead, be it appears this time it's actually dead. But, this is politics, so we'll wait and see, but it sounds like the do-over is not happening in Michigan -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right, Jim. Jim Costa, thanks so much. Of course we're going to see you again in less than an hour from now, because that's when the BALLOT BOWL makes a new appearance for today. It's your chance to hear from the candidates themselves. BALLOT BOWL today, 2:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN, your home for politics.
All right. More turmoil over the disputed presidential election in Zimbabwe. A week after voting and still no official results. The delay is raising fears now that President Robert Mugabe is working on ways to cling to power. Meantime, the opposition candidate insists that he won the election and he says he will oppose any runoff because of possible violence. The election commission missed yesterday's reporting deadline, a hearing now is set for tomorrow.
And gun running along the U.S. border with Mexico. Will an arrest this week make any difference?
WHITFIELD: All right. Illegal arms, fueling a drug war and threatening U.S. security is all taking place right now along the U.S. border with Mexico. Our Casey Wians is on the front lines.
CASEY WIANS, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Twenty-year- old Victor Varela of Now Mexico looks like a clean-cut college student, but the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and firearms alleges he's the leader of an arms trafficking ring that supplied 50 caliber semi automatic rifles and other weapons to Mexican drug cartels.
WILLIAM NEWELL, AFT SPECIAL AGENT-IN-CHARGE: Make no bones about it, there is a war going on in Mexico right now and it's a war between territory and power between competing drug trafficking organizations. And their weapons of war are these types of firearms right here, and they're getting them in many instances, here in the United States, illegally. WIANS: ATF agents arrested Varela this week. Authorities allege his organization smuggled two 50 caliber weapons featured in a recent report by CNN. Varela was allegedly caught seeking even more firepower.
TERRY GODDARD, ARIZONA ATTY GENERAL: He tried, but he was unsuccessful, to purchase a fully automatic M-60 machinegun.
WAINS: In an unrelated case in Arizona this week, a task force lead by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, including several state and federal law enforcement agencies and the Mexican federal police, seized this weapons cache in Tucson, it includes a 50 caliber sniper rifle destined for Mexico.
GOV JANET NAPOLITANO (D), ARIZONA: Every instance of border violence is of concern. That border is key for Arizona, it needs to be safe, it needs to be secure, so yes, we're devoting a lot of resources, there.
WAINS: While U.S. authorities push Mexico to crack down on the smuggling of drugs and people, Mexico wants U.S. help stopping the illegal money and weapons shipments.
EDUARDO MEDIAN MORA, MEXICAN ATTY GENERAL: There is no way we can break the relationship between consumption in the U.S. and tolerance to consumption in the U.S. and violence in Mexico. The other relevant issue here is weapons that are illegally shipped to Mexico from the U.S.
WAINS: Mexican officials believe more than 5,000 people have been killed by drug cartel violence in the past two years, mostly by weapons smuggled from the United States.
(on camera): Arizona's attorney general says that this week's bust is the beginning of an increased U.S. effort to respond to Mexico's concerns. Victor Varela has not yet entered a plea to the weapons trafficking charge which could result in a 12-1/2-year sentence if he's convicted.
Casey Wians, CNN, Los Angeles.
WHITFIELD: Barack Obama's campaign continues to raise millions more than the other candidates. You are looking at him live in Montana. What impact is that having on the race for president, overall?
And hitting the century mark in more ways than one.
GERRI WILLIS, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Press "pay and go" on this week's "Modern Living." If you feel fast food should be even faster, there's a new technology that does just that, fast food kiosks. Instead of waiting for someone to take your order, place your order and pay with credit at a kiosk using a touch screen, the order is then sent to the kitchen, filled and delivered to yo9u at the restaurant counter. Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken are among the first fast food chains to use these kiosks, but expect more food franchises using this technology in the near future. With this week's "Modern Living," I'm Gerri Willis.
WHITFIELD: Twenty-eight minutes now after the hour. Here's what's happening right now. We continue to monitor a developing story in Minnesota. A chartered bus carrying high school band members tipped over on its side as you see right there early this morning. One student is dead, dozens injured, some of them critically. We're also tracking severe weather across the South. Flooding and high winds creating huge problems in Mississippi and Kentucky, as you see right there. A 2-year-old girl was actually swept away in high water following a car crash in Kentucky. Karen Maginnis is in the Weather Center, and boy, it is tough to look at the pictures.
MAGINNIS: It really is. And a lot of folks have been going through that, Mobile particularly hit hard. Radar estimates says that between seven and 11 inches of rain. Now we are watching the severe weather make its way into the central and eastern portions of the panhandle of Florida, and now there is a severe thunderstorm watch out until 7:00 p.m.
You see, there's just an endless supply of moisture coming in off of the gulf, and take a look at this, these particular cells have been really lighting up the Ft. Walton Beach area, also Great Beach, Destin, and San Destin, heavy amounts of rainfall, very vivid lightning. Look at this, just amazing how continuous this lightning has been. Well, as we move into Georgia, we're seeing some pretty good thunderstorms rumbling around here and indeed, south Georgia and portions of South Carolina are still under that severe thunderstorm watch.
WHITFIELD: All right, let's talk again about presidential politics. The three main presidential candidates stumping out west today.
You're looking at pictures right now in Hillsboro, Oregon, where Hillary Clinton has, we understand just arrived. All of her supporters there awaiting her for this town hall meeting sort of setup. And all this after a pretty late day in Eugene, Oregon. Clinton heads to Butte, Montana, and she'll be addressing Democrats at a party dinner there.
And rival Barack Obama will be there as well. He'll talk first, but right now, you're looking at live pictures out of Missoula, Montana, where he's at the University of Montana before supporters there.
And then in less than an hour, Senator John McCain ends his "Service to America" tour with a speech in Prescott, Arizona.
We'll be following the candidates all day.
Well, it's been another busy week on the campaign trail with Hillary Clinton releasing her tax records and a poll showing Americans might just be ready for an African-American president. Senior political analyst Bill Schneider is keeping track in Los Angeles.
Good to see you, Bill.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, let's talk about these tax records, because not just the Clintons have released their tax records, but so has Obama. So, we're talking about what -- $110 million or so for the Clintons and about $1 million for the Obama couple, so how might these numbers impact if at all their race for the nomination?
SCHNEIDER: Well, certainly it was becoming an issue over Hillary Clinton's supposed secretiveness because she was slow to release her tax returns. Now, they're all out there. A lot of people are very much impressed by how being a former president is a pretty lucrative business: speaking deals, the book deals.
There seems to be a network of financial patrons very close to the Clintons who have a lot of relationships with them. Their campaign contributors to Hillary Clinton's campaign, they also have investment partnerships with former president Bill Clinton, they paid him money to give speeches, some of them have given charitable contributions to his library and other funds.
So, there appears to be a very close nexxus of patrons involved with the Clintons, nothing illegal about any of this. Now, if anything (ph) ...
WHITFIELD: Nor unusual, is it? Is it really that unusual?
SCHNEIDER: Yes, that often happens, yes. Unusually usual.
WHITFIELD: Is it unusual?
SCHNEIDER: Unusual, well, I think this is a bigger scale than usual, but you know, like George Bush, he certainly had a lot of close relations with financial patrons, so I'm not sure it's entirely unusual for a candidate to do this.
The big problem though is -- here's what's unusual: to have a presidential candidate married to a former president.
SCHNEIDER: That's what's unusual. So, all of his financial relationships become issues in her campaign.
WHITFIELD: Right, right, his stuff becomes her stuff.
WHITFIELD: All right, meantime, everyone is out West in terms of the three leading candidates, all out West focusing on what could potentially happen there. What's the strategy?
SCHNEIDER: Well, they're important primaries -- these are very small states, but not many Democrats.
SCHNEIDER: I mean, Montana, Montana doesn't vote until June 3rd, it is the very, very, very last primary. It's a Western state, it'll close the whole season, maybe, on June 3rd. But think of it this way, the primary season started with the Iowa caucuses on January 3rd. It could end in Montana on June 3rd. That's six months long and it may not even ...
SCHNEIDER: ...be over then. It could go all the way to the convention.
WHITFIELD: Oh my gosh. Meantime, let's talk a little bit about McCain. He's out West as well, he's in his home state of Arizona. But all week, he's been focusing on this is who I am, visiting his alma mater and then, we saw him in Memphis yesterday. How important is this for him to kind of reintroduce himself to American voters? Is that what he's doing?
SCHNEIDER: It really is the best -- it's best theme (ph) he's got.
SCHNEIDER: Throughout all of the Republican primaries, we found in state after state, voters were voting for McCain personally, it was a very personal vote, they like him, they think he's independent, they thin he's straight forward. Remember, the straight talk express has always been his campaign theme.
It's a vote of personal confidence in him, and his biography, very heroic biography about his service to the country, the five-and- a-half years he was a prisoner of war, his independence and maverick qualities. All of those things are very appealing to voters.
If he's going to win this election, even have a chance, it's not because of his ideology or his party, George Bush is in very serious trouble, it's because people will vote for him personally. He knows that and that's why he's starting this campaign off on a highly personal note.
WHITFIELD: Interesting stuff. All right, Bill Schneider, always good to see you.
WHITFIELD: Take care.
All right, and be sure to catch CNN's "BALLOT BOWL" later on today. It's your chance to hear from the candidates themselves. "BALLOT BOWL" today 2:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN, your home for politics.
Straight ahead, our legal team weighs in on a decision by Wal- Mart not to take thousands of dollars away from a disabled former employee. I know they are fired up. Can't you tell? We'll talk to you guys in a second.
WHITFIELD: All right, a victory this week for a disabled woman in her battle with corporate giant Wal-Mart. It didn't come easy however. It took the blogosphere, it took e-mails and it took this story from CNN's Randi Kaye to get Wal-Mart to back down.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In May of 2000, a semi-truck plowed into her minivan on this Missouri highway. Debbie's brain took the brunt of it.
Today, she lives in a nursing home. Jim Shank works two jobs to help pay the bills, and his bank account may soon take another hit.
(on camera): Eight years ago when she started stocking shelves at this Wal-Mart near her home, Debbie signed up for the company's health and benefits plan, so she was covered and her family says that the bills were paid promptly.
What Debbie didn't notice, her husband says, is a tiny clause in the paperwork that says Wal-Mart has the right to recoup medical expenses if the employee also collects damages in a lawsuit.
(voice-over): In 2002, the Shanks settled with the trucking company. After legal fees, $417,000 was put into a trust for Mrs. Shank's care. The family's lawyer says he told Wal-Mart about the settlement. Then in 2005, Wal-Mart's health plan asked for its money back and sued the Shanks for about $470,000, money it had paid to cover Debbie's medical bills. The court ruled in Wal-Mart's favor.
(on camera): The fact is is Wal-Mart isn't doing anything wrong here. It is their legal right to recoup this money.
JIM SHANK, DEBBIE SHANK'S HUSBAND: They're quite within their rights. But I just wonder if they would need it that bad.
WHITFIELD: Wow. So again, Wal-Mart reversed itself after this story aired, but the question still remains to our legal guys, why doesn't this happen usually?
Avery Friedman is a civil rights attorney and law professor, and Richard Herman is a New York criminal defense attorney and law professor. Good to see you.
RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Hi, Fred.
AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Nice to see you, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right, Richard, let me begin with you. This is kind of the outcome that every accident victim wants and I guess usually people kind of think the big corporation will have some empathy, at least that's what their thinking was to Wal-Mart. Why in the world would Wal-Mart resist?
HERMAN: Well, Fred, you said it, the blogosphere, public perception, reports like the CNN report we just saw. I mean, they were taking such bad press for this unfortunate situation was compounded by the fact that her son was recently killed in Iraq and she, because of the memory loss as a result of this accident doesn't even recall that.
So, Wal-Mart made a business decision in the best interest of Wal-Mart to amend their plan, to not to collect the $275, not the $470, they were reduced to $275 ...
HERMAN: ...and they said, no, we're going to let this slide. This is a tragic situation and we're going to review them in the future on a selective case basis ...
FRIEDMAN: As they should.
HERMAN: ...you know, I tip my hat to Wal-Mart -- tremendous.
WHITFIELD: All right, Avery, so Richard says this was a business decision. Explain, you know, what did Wal-Mart have to lose by digging in its heels?
FRIEDMAN: Public relations. They won every case along the way, Fredricka, and I'm not tipping my hat to those guys. I mean, they're a, you know, take no prisoners kind of company. The fact is that except for CNN and the blogosphere, the Shank family would have been stuck with the bill.
Look, these cases are called subrogation cases, the employer plays the medical, then after a settlement, they will commonly get it back. So, there's nothing unusual, but with Wal-Mart, which took in netted $90 billion dollars -- billion in one quarter -- did they really need the $200 grand? Without the court of public opinion, Fredricka, the Shanks would have really been hurt, they would have been alone (ph).
WHITFIELD: Wow, pretty bold for the Shanks to fight the fine print because usually that's kind of the protective order. If that's in place, usually folks will say OK, we can't even go forward with challenging, because, you know, we should have known better and it says so right there.
FRIEDMAN: Well, but they never saw it. You know, what people really read their insurance policies or their ...
FRIEDMAN: ...employment contracts, nobody knows.
HERMAN: And Avery, if Wal-Mart just continued not to enforce their plans, they wouldn't be the largest retailer in the country. They wouldn't be, so.
HERMAN: You know, it's a business decision ...
HERMAN: ...and you got to tip your hat to them. You really do.
WHITFIELD: OK, well, let's talk about the third graders in Georgia plotting to harm, you know, their teacher. What in the world is it all coming to? All right, Richard, you know, there have already been some juvenile charges imposed against them, but how serious is this?
HERMAN: Those juvenile charges are going to get dismissed, Fred, and you got to get out of Georgia.
HERMAN: You got to get out of Georgia.
HERMAN: It's crazy down there. Eight, nine, and 10-year-old kids coming to school with duct tape, with a broken knife and a paperweight, a crystal paperweight, with a plan to knock out the teacher, tie the teacher up, and stab the teacher ...
HERMAN: ...because the teacher disciplined one of the kids in the class.
WHITFIELD: So wait a minute, are you saying -- you're saying that don't take these kids seriously, they really couldn't be that sophisticated to carry this out so, thereby there shouldn't be any charges?
HERMAN: In order to convict in any criminal proceeding, you have to have the ability to form the requisite ...
FRIEDMAN: It's not criminal.
HERMAN: ...mental intent to commit a crime ...
FRIEDMAN: That's not criminal.
HERMAN: ...and these kids are too young, they can't do it. They need therapy ...
HERMAN: ...their parents need therapy.
WHITFIELD: Oh, my God, Avery, Avery, Avery.
FRIEDMAN: Well, the doctors -- go ahead, go ahead.
WHITFIELD: No, I want you to go ahead and weigh in on this one.
FRIEDMAN: Well, I mean, I used to be a juvenile court probation officer and the fact is an eight, nine, 10-year-old can't formulate that premeditation. I mean, what we need here is serious counseling, more parental involvement and less twinkies. Nothing (ph) is going to happen here, that's what's going on.
WHITFIELD: So wait a minute, they can't form this premeditation, yet they were sharp or smart enough or something -- conniving enough, to come with this plan, meet, develop all this materiel ...
WHITFIELD: ...and I guess sort of plan how to execute it. How is that not actually having premeditation?
FRIEDMAN: Well, I think what's going to happen is the doctors, the -- actually, the mental health professionals are going to say they can't formulate premeditation.
But here's the bottom line.
WHITFIELD: All right.
FRIEDMAN: The school district is still going to go after the kids ...
FRIEDMAN: ...and employ punishment, that's not the role of the courts in juvenile proceedings.
HERMAN: Yes, but the punishment's because they brought alleged weapons to school ...
FRIEDMAN: Right, that's right.
HERMAN: ...and that's the violation.
WHITFIELD: Not because of the plotting.
HERMAN: That's the violation ...
HERMAN: ...of the school policy, they could be suspended or expelled for that.
WHITFIELD: I'm scared of school kids these days.
FRIEDMAN: No, it's going to be all right.
WHITFIELD: Good Lord. All right, let's hope so.
Richard, Avery, thanks so much. Good to see you.
HERMAN: Hey, Fred ...
FRIEDMAN: Good to see you.
HERMAN: ...I was in U.S. district court the other day in New York, New York, a young handsome attorney comes up to me, he says he's clerking for a federal court judge. He watches our show religiously every week ...
WHITFIELD: Did he?
HERMAN: ...and he is a direct offspring of Avery Friedman ...
HERMAN: ...a proud father. So Avery, you should be so proud.
WHITFIELD: Oh Avery, huzzah (ph)!
FRIEDMAN: Very nice of you to say. Thank you.
HERMAN: Even though you're too young to be a dad, Avery, come on.
WHITFIELD: All right, congratulations.
FRIEDMAN: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much, guys.
FRIEDMAN: See you soon
WHITFIELD: See you next weekend.
HERMAN: Take care.
WHITFIELD: All right, straight ahead, I get a chance to talk with the man who was the driver for this man, Martin Luther King Jr.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. JOSEPH LOWERY, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: We were prepared and yet we were unprepared, as much as you can prepare for death. But Martin knew he was being stalked, all of us knew that it could happen at any time to any of us, because hate was rampant and the forces of darkness were, were determined to keep us from making progress in our journey to justice.
And they would stoop to anything. They had killed Jack Kennedy. They killed Bobby Kennedy. They were ruthless, and so we -- and in spite of the fact that we knew it was going to come when it came, we weren't ready for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: We're rekindling memories this weekend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and that fateful day. It's been 40 years since King's assassination.
I recently talked with King's driver, a man who glimpsed the private moments of the man who would become the icon of the Civil Rights Movement.
WHITFIELD (voice-over): You know most of their names and faces, the men who marched in the Civil Rights Movement alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. There were others, mostly in the shadows, sometimes literally in the driver's seat.
TOM HOUCK, KING'S DRIVER: I'm Tom Houck. I was Martin Luther King Jr.'s driver.
WHITFIELD: You probably do not recognize him, but part of his story will sound familiar.
SHIRLEY MACLAINE, ACTRESS, "DRIVING MISS DAISY": What are you doing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm trying to drive you to the store.
HOUCK: Well, I'm not Houck of that Houck, I'm Tom Houck.
WHITFIELD: Tom Houck was just 18 at the time. Forty years later ...
HOUCK: It still gives me goosebumps, so that every day, I still think about it in the fact that I was able to be that close to a man that has changed the world.
WHITFIELD: And changed this Massachusetts native. At an early age, he was both a witness and a participant in the Civil Rights Movement, tagging along with a brother to picket Woolworth's in support of those in the South doing the same thing.
HOUCK: That was my first demonstration at age 12.
WHITFIELD (on camera): And did it feel right?
HOUCK: And I liked carrying that sign.
WHITFIELD (voice-over): That same year, his mother died. Houck moved south with an aunt, he left high school lured by everything Dr. King's dream promised. In Atlanta, he joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the SCLC which Dr. King founded. Then one Sunday, King invited him over for lunch with the family.
HOUCK: Coretta had asked me if I had my driver's license and said, would you mind taking the kids to school tomorrow morning.
WHITFIELD (on camera): This is also the start of a great relationship with the kids. What did they call you?
HOUCK: Well, Martin and Dexter called me Uncle Tom. And Mrs. King, Coretta says, oh, don't call him Uncle Tom.
And I'm hoping that this new computer will translate, and I'm able to get out (ph), and won't lose anything in the process.
WHITFIELD (voice-over): Tom Houck, gregarious, politically savvy and proud of his roots in the 60s is now writing his memoir.
HOUCK: Marty and Dexter asked me to go out in the front yard and to throw the football, catching a pass.
WHITFIELD (on camera): What are you hoping yours will reveal that others haven't?
HOUCK: The human side, the fun side of Dr. King and also about this young white boy that found his own dream through Dr. King. They enjoyed music. I mean, Dr. King would -- you know, Dr. King used to like groups like the O'Jays, Gladys Knight and the Pips, you know, I mean.
WHITFIELD: Which you'd played in the car?
HOUCK: We'd play it in the car. Sure, we listened to WAOK Radio in Atlanta and this is before FM took off.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Ah, he's my kind of fellow. Hey, hey. WHITFIELD (voice-over): Houck hopes his book will be in stores next year in honor of Dr. King, his family and their impact.
WHITFIELD: And I spoke with Tom Houck again yesterday on the anniversary of King's death, and we talked about where he was and what he was doing when he heard the tragic news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOUCK: What I think happened when I heard that, it was like numbness. I mean, it was like oh, my God, I mean, this is horrible. So after the phone call, a few minutes later, I heard that indeed that he had died in the hospital, and I rushed back to Atlanta and helped organize in a state of bereavement.
I mean, you know, the entire staff was in a state of bereavement and so many of them were scattered around. Several were in Memphis, some were in Washington, and I helped put together the transportation for what is probably the biggest funeral, private funeral in this country's history.
WHITFIELD: And you were a pallbearer, too?
HOUCK: Yes, I was, I was -- I actually wasn't a pallbearer, what I was is I stood honor guard at Ebenezer Baptist Church the night before the funeral.
WHITFIELD: How did you, how did others keep it together? You know, I mean, what an emotional blow.
HOUCK: You know, very quickly, Dr. Abernathy, amazing, he was Martin's best friend. Dr. Abernathy was elected by acclimation as president of the SCLC to follow Dr. King. And Ralph handled it very, very well. He put together, I mean, as I said the bereavement, the pain, the fear. And having to put together a huge funeral in that process was extraordinarily difficult.
WHITFIELD: And that had to last for what seemed like an eternity, and then somehow everyone had to pull it together again and there is still unfinished business.
HOUCK: Well, then you know, and then Mrs. King and others went back to have the march in Memphis two days after the assassination. And just think of how difficult that must have been for her, and it was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Well, this weekend, you have seen the images, you've heard the accounts, but it's not the whole story. If you missed even a second, get another chance to see it again. This weekend, Soledad O'Brien reports "Eyewitness to Murder, the MLK Assassination." That's Saturday and Sunday night 8:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.
WHITFIELD: All right, here's another guy who lived life in the fast lane, except Gordon Miller has been living life for 100 years. So buckle up.
Reporter Amy Hollyfield is with San Francisco affiliate KGO.
AMY HOLLYFIELD, KGO REPORTER (voice-over): Margaret Miller is a worrier, so when her son suggested that her husband of 63 years drive a car and a boat at 100-miles-an-hour on his 100th birthday, she immediately put her foot down.
GORDON MILLER, 100-YEARS-OLD: Nothing can go wrong, it's the age. She's worried all her life.
HOLLYFIELD: Gordon Miller thought it sounded like a pretty fun idea. So, he and his son, Fred (ph0, managed to talk Margaret into letting him do it.
MARGARET MILLER, WIFE: I'll be very happy when it's over.
HOLLYFIELD: So, early this morning on Gordon's 100th birthday, he and Fred hopped into Fred's car and raced down a runway in Discovery Bay at 100 miles per hour with three generations of family members watching. Even Margaret got caught up in the excitement.
M. MILLER: Fantastic, I'll have to admit that was pretty much a thrill.
HOLLYFIELD: As Gordon pulled up to greet his adoring crowd, this extraordinary birthday boy acted like he had just taken an ordinary drive.
G. MILLER: I feel like we're going right down the freeway fast.
HOLLYFIELD: But going 100 on the day you turn 100 is the stuff of the "Guinness Book of World Records" and Fred plans to submit this stunt for consideration. But to make it especially outrageous, they then headed to the San Joaquin River, where a boat with two 1,000- horsepower engines waited.
G. MILLER: What's it do, 140?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, 140, 150.
G. MILLER: But we're not going to go that fast.
HOLLYFIELD: With Gordon again at the wheel, he hit 100 miles per hour again, gliding across the delta on what has to be the most memorable and exciting birthday of his life.
Of course, Margaret much prefers having him safely standing still on land and what she says usually goes. Gordon points to her as the reason he has lived such a long, healthy life. G. MILLER: I've been very fortunate to have a really good wife and two darn good kids.
WHITFIELD: Oh, he is the cutest inspiration and so, how do you top that when you turn 101? Well, Gordon Miller says that you slow down. He's taking things one day at a time. Great advice.
All right, a look at the top stories in a moment. "YOUR MONEY" is next. Here's a preview.
ALI VELSHI, CNN HOST: Thanks.
Coming up on "YOUR MONEY," employers slashed 80,000 jobs in March. We'll tell you how that affects you whether you're employed or not.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST: Also ahead, will Treasury Secretary Paulson's plan to fix the financial sector do anything to protect investors, homeowners, and consumers today?
VELSHI: And we'll talk to Reverend Jesse Jackson about how the subprime crisis has affected the African-American community and economic equality.
ROMANS: All that and more after a quick check of the headlines.
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