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Senate Health Care Deal: Democrats Lock up Bill Needed to Pass Reform; Deadly Winter Blast; Bears-Ravens Matchup Still On; Old Civil Rights Cases Reopened for Prosecution; Major Crimes Prevalent Among Chicago Teens

Aired December 19, 2009 - 17:00   ET




BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ladies and gentlemen, it now appears that the American people will have the vote they deserve on genuine reform that offers security for those who have health insurance and affordable options for those who do not.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN ANCHOR: Next in the CNN NEWSROOM, the president without a tie on this Saturday, gets the one bill needed to keep the bill alive but not so fast.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: They were proud of this bill, they wouldn't be doing it this way. They wouldn't be jamming it through in the middle of the night on the last weekend before Christmas.


GRIFFIN: Republicans saying the fight for what they call a better bill, it is not over.

Plus, just outside all of that drama, this powerful drama -- a snowstorm slamming into the northeast, stranding people just about everywhere.

You're all in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Drew Griffin, in for Don Lemon tonight. We'll get to the storm but first is the deal President Obama and his party had been waiting for. The deal republicans have been warning about for months. Senate democrats said they have locked up that all essential 60th votes required overcoming a republican filibuster of their health care reform bill. It is a major breakthrough in this long and sometimes bitter debate. But it's certainly not the end.

Our Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash has been following this battle, boy, for a long time, Dana. You join me now from the Capitol Hill. And this does cross a line but not the entire line. Let's start with the last holdout vote. It was Ben Nelson, the lone holdout in the senate. How did they get that vote?

DANA BASH, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: After a lot of talk, a lot of negotiations, Drew. Look, they have been talking to him really for weeks but it got most intense yesterday. Senate leaders were in a room or various rooms with him for about 13 or 14 hours yesterday until they finally nailed down the last issue, which is the abortion issue, which he was most upset about, specifically that abortion restrictions he thought weren't tight enough. Let me give just you the gist of this deal. The gist is that states can opt out of abortion coverage and also the whole concept, the whole thing that he was upset about, is that he did not believe that federal funds, those taxpayer dollars would be walled off from actually going for abortion. So what they've done is they have made it so that private money would only be allowed to be used to pay for abortion coverage that would be offered in this new exchange -- Drew.

GRIFFIN: And that wasn't all Dana. I mean, he also got some money out of this. Let's -- you know -- we should be up front. The rest of us in every other state, we're going to have to pay for what Nebraska's going to have.

BASH: Well, yes, exactly. So, part of the way they are expanding coverage in this bill, democrats, to more people, to allow them they get health insurance coverage is by expanding Medicaid, that's the program for low-income Americans. But many of the states were upset because that means they are going to have to pocket and foot much of the bill. So, the way this was written is that all states would get federal help until 2017 but Nebraska, the home state of Ben Nelson, that is going to get 100 percent federal help forever. That was absolutely a sweetener for Ben Nelson. There are no two ways about it. I asked the senate majority leader about that and he tried to brush it off saying that it was a compromise, but he put compromises in here for many senators. But that was one that was certainly interesting for Nebraska.

GRIFFIN: We'll all be paying for that and Nebraska comes out ahead and I guess the senator goes back proud of that. Dana, just walk me back through the next couple of days. We're still not out of the senate and we have a lot of people over in the house that I don't think they're going to vote for this thing.

BASH: Absolutely. Look, beyond abortion in terms of the big picture bill, there were a lot of other delicate compromises that senate democrats had to -- had to put in here to, first of all, appease moderate or conservative democrats. Case in point, they took out a public option. That is not going to make many democrats in the house who wanted a public option happy. But they did put some other things in here for liberal democrats who wanted a public option because they said that was the best way to give private insurers competition. For example, there is something new in this compromise that says that insurance companies must spend 80 to 85 percent of the money they get from people's premiums on their medical costs.

So, that is just one small example. But ultimately, you are right. The bottom line is that liberals feel that they simply got a raw deal here, that the democratic leaders and the president felt that they had to bow more to moderates than to them. So it is going to be very interesting to see how the negotiations go ultimately with the house. But first step, of course, is passing this in the senate and the first major vote we're going to see on this compromise is probably going to be -- depending how you look at it tomorrow night, Sunday night, or more specifically, it's going to be 1:00 a.m. on Monday. It can be a long night tomorrow night, Drew.

GRIFFIN: All right. I want to hang out one more question there.

BASH: Yes.

GRIFFIN: It gets through the senate presumably 1:00 a.m. Monday or whenever the heck. And then what happens real quickly with the house and how quickly?

BASH: Well, first, it's going to have to finally pass the senate. Because republicans, who we haven't talked about here, because they don't have the votes to do much but they have the votes to slow the trains down. They will try to do that so the final vote in the senate probably won't happen until Christmas Eve. And then it's still unclear when the senate and the house are going to meld the bills. The president has said all along he wants a final package by year's end but it doesn't look like the house will going to come back and give him that wish.

GRIFFIN: All right, Dana, thanks a lot.

Let's go right now to White House Correspondent Dan Lothian. Dan, you know, the president wants this before January 1. Hmm, it's going to be tough to happen that way. But at least he's got something to smile about.

DAN LOTHIAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He does have something to smile about, I mean, the way that this was looking over the last few days, it was a very delicate situation, as Dana was reporting. A lot of negotiations going on behind scenes. So, now democrats and certainly this administration one step closer. Mr. Obama today, who was having a laid-back day until all of this activity up on Capitol Hill stepped before the mikes to praise democrats for really pushing health care reform forward to this point.

He also was highlighting was this will mean to Americans, and particularly seeing their premiums, their health care premiums go down. Small businesses could save money and not only now but in the future. The president also saying that this reform will also help bring down the deficit. While republicans are still looking at this and saying, listen, this is nothing more than just a legislative train wreck. Democrats feeling like they are moving the ball forward on this but they're not on the goal line -- across the goal line just yet.


OBAMA: There's still much work left to be done. With not a lot of time left to do it but today is a major step forward for the American people. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LOTHIAN: The president saying that this reform represents fundamental changes that will not only save lives but also save a lot of money. And I should point out, we have been talking a lot about compromise. The president saying that, you know, in any legislative process, there's always compromise that takes place. And in this particular case, it happened as well. There were compromises but he believes that the changes only made the bill stronger, Drew.

GRIFFIN: Dan, I got to ask you, along with the compromise, it looks like this is going to be hundreds of billions of dollars in tax increases, depending on where you look at this. And also, no public option. And a lot of the liberal backers, especially the union leaders who have backed this president, that was the one thing they wanted out of this.

LOTHIAN: That's right.

GRIFFIN: Can he get this and sign it and appease them?

LOTHIAN: Well, certainly it's what those liberal democrats wanted and what the president himself wanted. I mean, remember early on, the public option was sort of one of the fundamental things that the president really pointed to saying that he wanted in this reform and saying that, you know, he didn't want to sign anything for the sake of getting something passed, that he wanted something that was right, that was complete for the American people. You know, in fact today during his remarks as he was walking out, I did ask him a question about that, whether or not he felt any disappointment at all that he would not or may not be getting a public option, he did not answer that question.

Clearly, there were Democrats who would want that. You heard Senator Reid talk about that. They would be much more at ease with this if they could have a public option and certainly the president would want that. But they believe, this administration believing that they do have something that they can run with. It doesn't have everything. They've always said that they can't get the perfect bill but they believe that this is something that can bring down the cost for a lot of Americans and provide insurance for 30 million Americans who are uninsured.

GRIFFIN: All right, dam Lothian, Dana Bash, thanks for bringing us the latest on this drama as it involves the snowy d.c. Let's give you a recap of where this things going.

Next, as Dana said, these entire 383 pages of amendments now are being read aloud on the senate floor at the request of republicans. The first vote on the amendments is set for Monday at 1:00 a.m. Democratic leaders optimistic they will going to remain on track for a final senate vote on Christmas Eve, and once the senate bill passes, it will have to be reconciled with that house version, and that's where it's probably going to get sticky.

Speaking of sticky, two days before the official start of winter, six days before Christmas, the east coast is in the grips of a killer snowstorm. Blizzard warnings have been in effect from North Carolina. They're moving up through New England right now. Countless motorists stranded on interstate highways. There have been thousands of car accidents. Flights delayed, airports shut down, and the worst could be yet to come. What we know right now is the storm has killed at least three people in Virginia, people everywhere in the path of the storm are urged to stay home and keep off the roads. At Washington, Reagan National Airport there is closed. The city declared a snow emergency first thing this morning. A collision between a bus and a snowplow sent nine people to the hospital with minor injuries. Trust me, folks, this is a mess.

And Karen McGinnis is following it in our weather center -- Karen.

KAREN MCGINNIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right. And I have been following one flight, Drew, for the past hour or so. If you have been watching, this united flight is supposed to go into Dulles right around 6:30. It was supposed to go and land around 6:29. Now it's supposed to land at 6:38. So, I'm going to continue to follow this over the next however long. It's supposed to go into Dulles there. So, we'll watch it. But the weather is not looking conducive because we've got low visibility, we've got snow, we've got blowing snow. It will be problematic, especially since we've seen Reagan and Dulles both problematic all day long with the runways, trying to clear the runways long enough to get the flight off or flight to land and that definitely is going to hamper that.

Well, let's go ahead and take a look across New England. We've talked mostly about the mid-Atlantic and the northeast. Wait until you see this blue-shaded area essentially from Long Island towards Cape Cod, that's where we have blizzard warnings. Well, what's the red? Well, that's a winter storm warning that extend all the way from portions of Tennessee and North Carolina, right along the border through the Appalachian mountain region, extending all the way up towards Boston, where we're looking at perhaps wind gusts up around 60 miles an hour. Yes, this starts for tonight and goes into tomorrow.

So, this is not an event that's beginning right now. Although, in Rhode Island, there are some reports of some very heavy sleet being reported. All right. In the forecast for Washington, d.c., Drew, it could rival the Knickerbocker storm of 1922, which they had 28 to 33 inches of snow, a record. And we may not see record snowfall on this one, but it will go down on the record books as maybe one of the top five or top ten snowfalls that we have seen in that region. Back to you.

GRIFFIN: Wow, the Knickerbocker of 1922.

MCGINNIS: I wasn't there.

GRIFFIN: I forgot all about that one.



GRIFFIN: Great thanks. We will keep you on the job all night.

MCGINNIS: I will be back in the next few minutes.



GRIFFIN: Roanoke, Virginia, is the perfect picture of what this is blizzard is like up and down the east coast. Look at the snow pushed by the driving winds. To say the roads are treacherous is an understatement. At least three people had died in Virginia. State police, listen to this, reporting more than 4,000 traffic accidents. Interstate highways in the state have been completely overwhelmed.

Bob Spieldenner is the spokesman with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. He joins us on the phone. Bob, is this as bad as we are reporting and as we are seeing?

BOB SPIELDENNER, SPOKESMAN, VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT (voice-over): Yes, Drew, this has definitely been a major storm for us. It's been a statewide events and everything from the eastern part with some minor flooding to heavy, heavy snow to western and northern Virginia.

GRIFFIN: And this is such a busy travel time. Did people go out on the roads and try to brave this stuff anyway? Or did they heed your warnings and stay away?

SPIELDENNER: Well, unfortunately, I think we had a lot of folks who is trying to travel through the storm specially last night and early this morning. We had a lot of folks that had been stuck on the roadways because of accidents. We have been working all day to get those cleared with the Department of Transportation, state police and National Guard, we've been working with the Local Emergency Officials to keep those roadways clear. But it's been on that strong effort.

GRIFFIN: If people are driving up or have to drive up from the south or the east, coming into Virginia, what are the road conditions right now and what are the advisories from emergency management?

SPIELDENNER: Well, we are still advising people to avoid travel if at all possible. We have, you know, more snow coming in at the tail end of this storm. We're not out of this yet. We are still experiencing problems. And as the temperatures go down tonight, we're expecting conditions to worsen.

GRIFFIN: All right, Bob, thanks a lot for joining us. We wish you and especially your workers, to be safe out there as they try to clear the roads for all of the rest of us. Thanks Bob.

And guess what, this is the last shopping weekend before Christmas and all of this snow, well, it's going to slow people down for sure on the east coast. But it's not keeping them from dashing to some stores. A live report on the last-minute rush coming up. As we go to break, we will keep that all-important information on weather conditions around the country on the bottom of your screen. And we'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: Kids loving it in Fredericksburg, Virginia. We're trying to get you in that holiday mood. Because a lot of people are hearing, ug, my flight has been canceled. This has been quite a winter storm still developing and pushing northward along the east coast. Travelers at Washington's Reagan National Airport, they are going nowhere. But there may be hope for tomorrow morning.

Elaine Quijano is standing by at Reagan. Elaine, what a disaster of a non-travel day really. You can't even get a taxicab there, it looks like.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you couldn't. And you know, normally, on this particular weekend before the Christmas holiday, all of this area behind me would be filled with people doing curbside check-in, trying to hurry on through to get to their holiday destinations. Not so tonight, you see it's pretty empty. The only activity we've seen really are airport workers lucky enough to get some rides to go home. Because inside the terminal itself, it is quiet. All you have are passengers who are stranded, basically getting down for the night, really.

They are getting comfortable because nothing is flying in and out of this airport. They have shut down the runways until at least 6:00 a.m. Tomorrow morning, so there's just not a lot for these passengers to do but hurry up and wait basically. Now outside the airport, the airport crews are really going to be working around the clock tonight, trying to get the airport ready for tomorrow morning. Here's what the Airport Authority Spokeswoman Tara Hamilton told us earlier today. Take a listen.


TARA HAMILTON, METRO WASHINGTON AIRPORTS AUTHORITY: Later on this evening, once the storm -- you know, continues through and hopefully departs our area, then we can get our crews out there. We'll work around the clock all night long. So, early in the morning we will be ready to have the airfield open for the aircraft coming back.


QUIJANO: And it's not just the airlines that have been affected by this. The railway system, the metro system has been affected as well. There you see a shot of an empty train station basically here at Reagan National Airport. That is because the Metro folks have decided they are going to shut down, they have shut down all the above-ground stations, Drew. It's just that bad. And I can tell you since we've been here earlier this morning, things really haven't let up all that much. It's basically like standing out in a snow globe basically, Drew.

GRIFFIN: You look pretty in that snow globe, Elaine.

QUIJANO: Thanks.

GRIFFIN: How are you guys getting back? I mean, how are you traveling around?

QUIJANO: That's a good question, yes, I have to tell you that one of my photographers is coming down from Stanford to Virginia which is far outside the beltway basically south on I-95, took him probably three hours, I think is what he said because of the journey normally is, you know, 45 minutes or so. But there were so many cars -- it's funny, he said folks with four wheel drive clearly still not really used to this kind of weather because folks that would pass him, he would later see them spun out in ditches. This is just been one of those treacherous days out on the roads.

Obviously, the train system affected and the airports as well. So, the advice, of course that we continue to hear from officials says, check to make sure if you are planning on coming back to the airport tomorrow, make sure you check your airline's website for the very latest information. Because there's going to be quite a domino effect here when they do finally get all of these flights going, it's still going to take some time for things to return back to normal.

GRIFFIN: All right. Thanks, Elaine, Elaine Quijano, outside Washington Reagan there in d.c.

And this storm isn't making the job any easier for last-minute Christmas shoppers either. As if long lines and packed parking lots weren't bad enough. Our Susan Candiotti braved the blizzard to report from the heart of Manhattan where the snow is just coming down.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here we are in midtown. It was pretty light all day long, not much. Now it's starting to pick up a little bit but we're really supposed to get hammered over night, up to 15 inches, they are saying in the region. It's finally starting to stick a little bit. I can't resist, right? There you go. Hi. Anyway, drew, we have been seeing a steady stream of shoppers throughout the day. And this is a critical weekend for retailers who are trying to get as many people as they can into the store. But as we have been asking, has the snow forecast turned some people away?


CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Will the pre-winter blast of white stuff keep shoppers from laying out the green?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This is crunch time for the retail industry.

CANDIOTTI: Shoppers are expected to dive into their wallets this weekend, even if they have to get out a shovel to do it.

ELLEN DUKES, SHOPPERS: We'll be out shopping even in the snow, yes. Six to ten inches, but we will be shopping.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Got to do what you got to do. Wait to the last minute, I guess.

CANDIOTTI: Weather forecasters suggest using your head before hitting the road. CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGISTS: In the three, four hours you're shopping in some of these spots, you could get six to eight inches of snow on top of the car, and then you can't even get out of the parking lot.

CANDIOTTI: Retailers are counting on last-minute shoppers to help save another year of sinking sales, expected to drop 1 percent this year, a slight improvement over a 3 percent decrease last year. Customers may think the longer they wait, the better the deal.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Probably after Christmas will be better.

CANDIOTTI: Don't be too sure. To head off drastic price cuts again, retailers say inventories were kept down on purpose.

SCOTT KRUGMAN, NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION: This is not the year to play chicken with the retailer. If you wait too long to purchase your merchandise, that striped sweater you wanted might only be available with polka dots.

CANDIOTTI: And if the weather gets too bad to hit the mall, there's an app for that, too. Retailers say you can always go online.


CANDIOTTI (on camera): Of course, at this point is the question is if you buy online, will you get it on time? Well, probably, if you pay enough for that extra shipping, right, Drew?

GRIFFIN: Yes, I'm counting on it. I'm counting on it. Thanks a lot. Good report. Looks like a nice weather night in New York, even with the snow.

Well, there's a drama unfolding in the nfl with all of these storms going on. Here's the deal. Chicago Bears play the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore at 4:15 tomorrow afternoon. Take a look at what that stadium is looking like today. They're shoveling it out. Here's another big problem, the Bears are still in Chicago. At 8:00 tonight they're supposed to take a charter flight from O'Hare to Baltimore, but will they make it?

Brad Biggs is with the Chicago tribune, sports reporter there. He's actually pre-positioned. Brad, you got to Baltimore early. I'm wondering if the Bears wish they did, too.

BRAD BIGGS, Chicago tribune REPORTER: Yes, I'm sure the Bears which they arrived last night in Baltimore as they originally planned. But it sounds like they'll get in late tonight and be able to sleep in a little bit in the morning with the lake kickoff. Originally it was going to be a 1:00 p.m. They pushed it back three hours. And they have been working all day to clear the snow out of the stadium. And it's still coming down pretty hard here.

GRIFFIN: I know the Bears love to play in the snow, but will the fact that they've been stuck on and off this plane and not getting in until late tonight affect them at all, you think? BIGGS: No, I think the Bears, they struggled most of this season, and I don't think they're going to latch onto this as an excuse for their play, their performance tomorrow. They've had some issues just playing good football period all season, with how they show up tomorrow. But hopefully they get in at a decent time tonight. They aren't delayed any further. The brief plan is arrive at bwi at about 11:00 p.m. so they get to the hotel and get a little bit of rest.

Griffin: Well, let me ask you this, the nfl sent us a kind of a terse statement saying, hey this game is going to be playing at 4:15. What if they can't get there? What happens?

BIGGS: Well, yes, if they can't get here, I don't know. Then you have to look at pushing the things back. But the Bears seem confident, they will be able to make this happen. That the airport will be able to accommodate them. That their jet will be able to take off from O'Hare. They had mechanical issues with their charter flight last night at 10:30 and that's why they sat on the plane in Chicago for two hours because they were supposed to land here about 1:00 a.m. And at 1:00 a.m., there was maybe an inch of snow on the ground. I was outside in the inner harbor. It wasn't too bad. You wouldn't think a jet couldn't come in and land. They had a multitude of issues here. A long weekend of the end of what has been a long season for the Chicago Bears.

GRIFFIN: All right, Brad Biggs. And from what I understand, you're the only reporter who made it there for the trip. You probably have 12 stories to write if your guys don't show up.

BIGGS: I have confidence in my guys showing up.

GRIFFIN: Thanks, Brad Biggs with "The Chicago Tribune" waiting for the Bears arrival there as we watch one drama of the storm unfold.

Well, the FBI has the green light -- or should we see the greenbacks to reopen unsolved civil rights cases. We will talk to a man who refused to let up. There he is there until it finally happens. We'll be back after the break.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: "Time" magazine's come out with its top ten lists for 2009. On its list of this year's most popular buzz words, here's the top five. One I really don't like, "sexting," sending text messages of images of a sexual nature. "Public option" is another one, the contentious element in the debate over public health care. "Autotune," a software program that fixes off tune singing. And "Wise Latina," remember that? A remark districted at now Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. And "death panel," a concept that emerged over the summer in the health care debate. We'll have much more on "Time" magazine's top-ten list. Coming up, a panel of social commentators will join us for a spirited of the top-ten awkward moments, breakups, political gaffs and much more. Hope you'll join us.

Checking the top stories now. Senate Democrats say they're on track to pass health care reform by Christmas. Party leaders convinced hold-out Ben Nelson of Nebraska to support the bill, giving them enough votes to overcome Republican efforts to block it. Once it passes, the Senate bill will have to be reconciled with a version passed last month in the House of Representatives, and that will be tough.

Pope John Paul II, a step closer to sainthood. Pope Benedict XVI signed a decree today recognizing the late pontiff's, quote, "heroic virtues." John Paul still needs credit for two miracles for more canonized, or made a saint. A Vatican spokesman said it's too early to say how long that process will take.

A father fighting for custody of his 9-year-old son has been invited to spend Christmas with the boy's Brazilian family. David Goldman is locked in a legal battle with the family of the boy's dead mother. Their attorney has said the fight has gone on too long and it's time for the sides to get together. On Friday, the Brazilian Supreme Court justice blocked the boy's return to the U.S. Despite a ruling in a lower court to return the boy to his biological father.

We will talk more about that in the 10:00 p.m. hour. Our guest will be attorney, Christopher Schmidt. He has been involved in many cases of abducted children through the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

There's money now to open a decades-old civil rights case and other infamous cold cases as well. Funding for the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act has finally been approved. It took four years to make that happen. Alvin Sykes is president of the Emmett Till Justice Campaign.

Sir, you had a lot to do to get this bill passed. What does this bill offer to help solve some of these unsolved cases?

ALVIN SYKES, PRESIDENT, EMMETT TILL JUSTICE CAMPAIGN: Basically, what the bill provides is it authorizes up to $135 million for the next ten years and creates two positions in the FBI and the Civil Rights Division to focus exclusively on finding, searching and prosecuting, where possible, all unsolved civil rights-era murders from 1970 and before.

GRIFFIN: Those are tough cases to solve with or without the money. Aren't their huge hurdles to try to solve these cases after so many years?

SYKES: Yes, sir, there's tremendous hurdles, because back during that time, most of the people that had the evidence have left and went north, to have the names of the victims that are there. You have many evidentiary types of problems that are presented. But basically with this influx of money, it would provide the opportunity to be able to hire the necessary personnel and be able to conduct a comprehensive outreach effort to find these victims and the names of these victims and investigate those cases.

GRIFFIN: Mr. Sykes, that's a lot of money, $135 million, carved up in the FBI to put some positions on it. There are thousands and thousands of unsolved murders in this country that family members would like to have resolved as well. Why is it important to go back and try to solve these specific cases?

SYKES: Number one, these cases are not only the greatest civil rights -- unsolved civil rights-era murders. They also represent the greatest police brutality cases in history. Most of the cases in the murders that occurred back during that time had complicit involvement in law enforcement. So law enforcement has an extraordinary effort responsibility to devote and find and solve these cases where they can.

Secondly, because of the time frame that has expired, so much from this period of time, right now, there are 7,000 to 10,000 civil rights complaints filed each year throughout the country, and only 50 to 100 of those make it to court. So it's very difficult to be able to juggle resources to devote to these cases with all of the other current cases that are going on now. And each day of perpetrators die, witnesses die, lose their memory. We have to do this now.

GRIFFIN: So how quickly do you expect things to start moving on this, now that the bill has passed?

SYKES: It's already started to move. It's been in the process in the Civil Rights Unit and FBI -- the FBI, in just the last few weeks they announced 33 cases where they need to find the names of family members, next of kin, to help get more evidentiary evidence as well as to -- to help let them know what happened to their loved ones. We will be meeting with the attorney's general for our second meeting shortly, followed by the requested meeting with president Obama. And we think following that, that there will be aggressive outreach manhunt throughout this country for these perpetrators and it's going on now.

GRIFFIN: Mr. Alvin Sykes, instrumental in getting this all going, we congratulate you. Thank you very much for coming in and talking about it with us, sir.

SYKES: Thank you very much.

Let's get back to the weather. The latest on the blizzard that is swallowing up the east coast.


GRIFFIN: Folks, that's Baltimore. The Bears think they're going to fly there tonight and play football there tomorrow. That's going to be interesting to watch as we watch this weather unfold.

We're going to toss it to Karen MaGinnis in The Weather Center.

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Drew, I was thinking the same thing.

GRIFFIN: What is going on?

MAGINNIS: I don't know. Visibility doesn't look all that great there right now. And I have been watching this one flight, and it's -- it's expected to land, 6:24. I think it's past 6:24. It looks like it is going into Dulles as we speak. It's taking off out of Denver, going into Dulles. I'm focusing on this particular one. There are only six flights I found going into Dulles over the past couple of hours, so I was tracking this particular one. As you can see, the path that it was taking across Kentucky and into West Virginia and headed on in across Maryland and into northern Virginia. That's good to know.

We have a live picture out of Washington. They can see the snow blowing around as it is getting dark. At the top left picture, is that the capital or -- it is the White House. And there you can see the visibility's greatly reduced. Temperatures only in the 20s.

I want to show you the temperatures here in just one second. Here what's going on. All the way from Charlottesville, you think you're going to be in the clear as we get down here, but, no, you will be getting another dose of this on the back side of that area of low pressure. But this is headed up towards Philadelphia. Philadelphia, you're looking at six to eight inches of snowfall. New York, snow's coming down, and it's probably going to add up to about six to ten inches of snowfall. All total, you can see about 15 inches now.

Do we have the iReport? If we do, I want to show you happened along Route 1. Our iReporter, Sophia Champetas (ph) -- you can go on to and look at this. All of these cars stranded on Route 1 near Alexandria. Nobody was moving. There was an abandoned taxi so nobody could really get by. That's the story of the day. The interstates, the secondary roads especially and lots and lots of neighborhoods across Virginia and Maryland and through parts of New York, North Carolina even, some of those areas there really got walloped as well. This started out as a rain system that impacted Florida. In some cases, more than a foot of rainfall.

Well, in these red-shaded areas, this is where we have winter storm warnings in effect. But some areas actually have a blizzard warning where winds can gust as high as 60 miles an hour through the Cape and along Long Island, eight to 16 inches of snowfall.

Drew, it is a wicked night and going to be a wicked day tomorrow. It will be interesting to see that Ravens' game tomorrow.

GRIFFIN: I'm looking at the web site now from BWI and almost every flight has been canceled. Southwest from Chicago canceled all of its flights. We will see, 4:15 tomorrow, NFL says it will happen. I don't know who will play for the Bears.

MAGINNIS: It could be you and me.

GRIFFIN: A couple of guys from New Jersey.

MAGINNIS: All right. See you in a few.

GRIFFIN: All right, where are we going now, guys? The Senate has been adjourned now, I'm understanding, until 1:00 p.m. Sunday. They stopped reading the amendments on that bill and they're going to get back to work 1:00 p.m. Sunday. Boy, it would be fun to see those Senators trying to get home tonight in that mess in D.C.

And it's been another record year for crime and violence in the city of Chicago. Ahead, we're going to talk about how city leaders plan to get a handle on it as the New Year approaches.


GRIFFIN: It's been a rough couple of years in Chicago, where crime and violence have dominated the headlines there. Many of the victims and instigators are Chicago public school students.

CNN's T.J. Holmes spoke with a few of them. He asked why violence is often the first option for conflict resolution.


T.J. HOLMES, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: How many in this group, you can give me a show of hands if you want to, how many in you all have been in the past year a fight, physical altercation of some kind?

All five of you in the past year have been in the fight last time?

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: Last September, for me.

HOLMES (voice-over): For these Chicago teens, fighting is a way of life.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: It's like that every day in school. There's not a day you don't see something bumping something and not get in an argument over petty stuff.

HOLMES: Not an accidental bump, but a move meant to intimidate.

(on camera): Why is it so important to be big man on campus?

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: If you're a big guy, want to keep your reputation. If something bumps you, you want to keep your reputation or you're a punk.

HOLMES (on camera): Has anything gotten more serious?

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: Once I got jumped and I found myself fighting 15 girls. It was like OK, we're going to spare your life today, and that scared me.

HOLMES (voice-over): What these Chicago teens tell us is not unusual. In fact, nearly 40 percent of Chicago public school students were involved in a physical fight.

LILA LEFF, FOUNDER, UMOJA: High school is about young people scrambling for power and influence.

HOLMES: Lila Leff leads a program that, in part, tries to stem teen violence. She says kids are vying for power and prestige everywhere.

LEFF: In some high schools, the currency is how much money your parents make or what car you're going to drive when you're 16 and what college are you going to get into because you're taking five A.P. classes. And in some places it is reputation.

HOLMES: Because in some places, reputation is all they have. 85 percent of Chicago's public school students live below the poverty line. Gangs, guns and drugs are all too common.

(on camera): Have you all witnessed some type of shooting?



UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: They happen every day, and it be mostly over petty stuff.

HOLMES (voice-over): For these teens, the threat of violence is too real.

(on camera): You mean, you carry stuff around when you're outside?


UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: Yes, if you don't carry...

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: You might as well just lay down on -- dig your grave yourself.


HOLMES: Wait. What do you carry?

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: I carry a taser and mace.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: I carry a mace, box cutters and scissors.

HOLMES (voice-over): These teens have developed a tough exterior in order to survive.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: If I told my mom I got into an argument with a girl -- you didn't fight her? Get your scary self out of my face, then.

HOLMES: An attitude youth violence expert, Dr. Carl Bell, said is no surprise.

DR. CARL BELL, PSYCHIATRIST: If the parent is scared something will happen to the kid, and that fear turns into anger and the anger gets transmitted to the kid. And the kid is told, defend yourself, because if you are a punk, people are going to try you.

HOLMES: Leff's program, Umoja, tries to change that thinking, teaching students leadership skills to resolve conflict without fighting.

These five teens said it's helping them. UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: I learned how to control myself.

HOLMES: Amber was suspended 15 times for getting into fights during her freshman year. Now a junior, she said she worked hard to keep trouble at bay.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: So, I started looking at a lot of situations different and a lot of fights different. When people come to me, I'm like, think. While we're arguing, I will be thinking in my mind, all right, it's fine. You will get ten days out of school. And it's not even worth it.

HOLMES: T.J. Holmes, CNN, Atlanta.


GRIFFIN: The latest shooting of an 11-year-old boy happened in the district of Alderman Sandi Jackson. When we come back, we'll ask her what the heck the city of Chicago is doing about all of this violence.


GRIFFIN: No suspects, no movement, no closure in one of the latest high-profile shootings in Chicago. 11-year-old Ashton Wise and his father, they were shot last week sitting in a parked car. Ashton was killed. His father survived the attack. Police have yet to make an arrest.

That shooting happened in Alderman Sandi Jackson's district, the 7th, and is on the south side of Chicago.

Sandi Jackson, alderman for two years, you are married to Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.


GRIFFIN: Makes you part of a very powerful political family there in Chicago. And, Mrs. Jackson, I have to ask you, what is going on in your city and what are the elected officials doing to stop this madness?

JACKSON: Well, I got to tell you, it is no question that the city is in a crisis. I think with the record number of unemployed individuals on the street, it is leading to an increase in our crime rate. And so we're seeing it in ways we haven't seen before.

One of the things that we try to do was to try to secure an increase in federal funding so that we can fund the kind of community programs that your tape showed earlier before you came to me. We know that community programs work and when children have a clear sense of self and of value, then they're less likely to act out. Right now, because of the economy, a lot of the kids that live in my neighborhood, that live in my ward, have no place to go. A lot of them have nothing to do and so they stand around, they're on the streets. And it is inevitable when they're on the street, they're going to get in trouble. So getting that federal funding down to the state and the city level to help create the kinds of community centers that can pull these children in -- excuse me -- will make a huge difference.

GRIFFIN: Alderman, I have to ask you, there are people unemployed all over this country, in every city. Huge unemployment. But we're not seeing the kind of kid-on-kid violence in these other cities that we're seeing specifically in the south side of Chicago. And you've got a lot of political muscle there. We saw Arne Duncan and Mayor Daley make some big grandiose announcement a couple of months ago, after that videotape shooting or cell phone beating, I should say. and yet, there doesn't seem to be any groundswell of the neighborhood saying, you know what, no more, we're going to tell you who these people are that are doing these shootings, we're going to help the police, the police are going to come in. Where is the outrage?

JACKSON: I would beg to differ with you on that. There is a groundswell within the community that is taking charge and saying, we're going to do something about it. There are any number of community groups that are out now that are walking the children to and from school here in Chicago. It is called Safe Passage. We have groups like Cease-fire and Black United Fund on the south side, strong black men and women who are out trying to ensure that these children are able to come out of their homes safely and make it to and from school. We have community leaders that are talking about these issues every day.

What we need to see more of, though, is parental involvement. We need to figure out what is happening in the homes of some of these children who are acting out, and who don't see the value of life, and whose first response to criticism is to pick up a gun. Somewhere in here we have got to stop that process. We have got to teach them that that is not the rational way to respond when you have a problem that crops up.

And so, again, securing the kind of funds that we need to secure has been a difficult process. and we all know that crime is happening all over the country. But I can tell you that the unemployment rate on the south side of Chicago, in my ward specifically, is nearing 60 percent for African-American males.


GRIFFIN: Alderman Jackson, we thank you. We wish you -- certainly, we wish you luck and we hope that whoever did see whoever killed Ashton Wise will come forward and tell the police who did it, at least solve that crime.

JACKSON: That is our hope and that is our goal. We would encourage that person to do that.

GRIFFIN: Thank you.

JACKSON: Thank you for having me.

GRIFFIN: Thank you, Alderman, for coming in.

JACKSON: Thank you.

GRIFFIN: New research in the life span of Americans. There is some good news. But we warn you, it could be costly.