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Rallying Against Health Reform; Private Spy Ring Probe; Haiti's New Brutality; Priest Suspended

Aired March 16, 2010 - 09:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Happy Tuesday. It's 9:00 a.m. in the East, 6:00 in the West. If you're near L.A., sorry about the little wakeup call from down below. We'll get to that in just a minute.

But first the priest, the Pope and the past. America has had its Catholic sex scandal. Now Europeans are getting theirs.

He went to prison a boy. Could have been locked away, written off. But he came out a man, a successful man. If he can find redemption, can't other kids?

And is the IRS hurting for change? One guy says agents came to his work to collect back taxes. Four whole pennies.

Also this morning, the teapot might be boiling in D.C. over health care reform. Brianna Keilar is keeping an eye on that. Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon. She's going to tell us more about a possible spy network that apparently no one knew about.

And Sarah Sidner in Haiti. She's telling us about a spike in rapes and sexual assaults against women there.

Well, you've heard the talk for years. Seen the bickering for months. So are we finally going to see some action when it comes to health care reform?

Well, House Democrats say that they're finally on the verge of having enough votes to pass the overhaul bill. But do the numbers add up? A CNN analysis finds at least 200 House members opposing that measure. That's just 16 votes shy of what's needed to prevent the bill from passing.

What may be most alarming to the White House, by our count, is at least 22 Democrats are now opposing the measure. House leaders are hoping for a vote by this weekend.

So as the vote nears, the pressure builds. Uncommitted lawmakers feeling the heat from the White House. And angry protesters are gathering this morning on the capitol's doorstep.

CNN congressional correspondent Brianna Keilar on Capitol Hill.

Set the scene for us, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, you know, last week we saw supporters of health care reform here protesting. Today, we are expecting a lot of folks who are against Democrats' health care reform efforts and we'll be keeping an eye on that for you.

But a couple other things that are going on. You've got a lot of arm twisting going on right now as Democratic leaders try to secure the votes they need within their own party. And you've also got a lot of people -- Democrats -- waiting for the price tag on this package that the House is looking at right now.

This would be from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. And every time we're talking about a bilk here, this is very important for this price tag to come out because this is what helps a lot of people decide if they are on board or if they are not.

Right now we've heard recently from Democratic leaders that they don't have the votes yet. But they appear pretty optimistic, at least that they are going to. Listen to the caucus chairman, Congressman Larson.


REP. JOHN LARSON (D), CONNECTICUT: I think that the votes are there. And I think in times like this, everybody is concerned. You know, consensus is about getting everyone to agree that this is the best that they can achieve at this time. While individually, they may not agree with everything that's in the bill.


KEILAR: Congressman Larson said that last night after Democrats met for a caucus meeting, and, Kyra, they're going to be doing that again today as Democratic leaders try to shore up the votes. That's going to take place here in about a few hours at noon Eastern.

PHILLIPS: Meanwhile, Republicans calling this trickery. Why?

KEILAR: What they are calling trickery is the strategy that seems to be prevailing right now for how the House would vote on health care reform. You know the Senate has already passed a bill. And basically, the House has to pass the Senate bill and then they're going to pass changes to it.

But there's a whole lot of Democrats who do not like the Senate bill. If they could not vote on it that would be their preference. And so it appears right now the Democrats are going to structure this vote so that they actually insert that Senate bill into a procedural vote, Kyra.

Normally what you would expect in this situation is a vote on the Senate bill and a vote on the changes to the Senate bill. Instead, what we're expecting is a vote on a procedural rule that has the Senate bill embedded in it. And then the big vote is just going to be on the changes.

So you have Republicans saying, what are they trying to do? They're trying to pass this without actually passing it? And, really, it's go to give some political cover to those Democrats who don't like the Senate bill, think there are major issues with it because as you know there were some sweetheart deals and some other things in it that are just really unpopular.

PHILLIPS: Brianna Keilar on Capitol Hill. Brianna, thanks.

So here's a look at what House lawmakers are considering. The measure has already been passed by the Senate. Its primary benefit would extend health insurance coverage to about 31 million people who are currently uninsured.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says the overhaul package has a net price tag of $875 billion over 10 years. But we're told it would reduce federal deficits by only $118 billion over 10 years. If passed, there are several issues in the measure that could be targeted for removal. They include coverage for abortions and new taxes on high-cost insurance plans.

It's crunch time for Democrats who are still undecided. We're going to talk to one lawmaker who is torn between a president that he wants to support and a health care bill that he doesn't really like. His story in his words one hour from now.

It's the worst U.S./Israeli feud in recent memory. It's public. It's ugly and it's getting even bigger. Here's the crux of the battle. The U.S. wants Israel to nix construction plans for east Jerusalem that would integrate the predominantly Arab part of the holy city.

And as you know for centuries, Palestinians have always wanted this land as their state. The tension only increased when Israel boldly announced this expansion while Vice President Joe Biden was there to encourage peace talks. A slap in the face, says the U.S. And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even weighed in, calling the timing of that announcement insulting.

And now U.S. special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, is delaying his trip to the region until Israel backs down.

Palestinians already angry about those construction plans have been sent over the edge by the reopening of a synagogue in east Jerusalem. Protesters threw rocks, burned tires and several neighborhoods and police dispersed the crowd by firing stun guns and rubber bullets. We're told that 49 people were hurt.

Hamas called the protests after -- or called for the protests, rather, after yesterday's reopening of a synagogue that was destroyed during the 1948 Arab/Israeli war.

Your taxes and the war on terror. Did a former Defense Department official illegally bankroll a private aspiring in Afghanistan?

Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr joining us now.

So tell us what you know, Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, the man under review is Michael Furlong, a DOD employee. The question is, whether he directed contract money he was overseeing from open collection, public collection, of information about Afghanistan and Pakistan into spying perhaps, covert collection of intelligence that was then turned over to the intelligence community for targeting of al Qaeda and Taliban suspects.

Nobody knows at this point exactly what transpired here. But the investigation was all launched to once the CIA, according to sources, complained about Furlong to the Pentagon back in December. The CIA's station chief in Afghanistan writing a classified memo saying that Furlong had just gone too far.

We spoke to a source close to Furlong who maintains that he did nothing wrong, that he was simply collecting information and turning it over to the intelligence community to see if it was of interest to them. But the question on the table is whether or not he hired people not to openly collect information as the contract he oversaw mandated or whether he was getting into the intelligence business, which was the CIA's business.

Back to you.

PHILLIPS: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Barbara, thanks.

The earth has its own way of saying "good morning, L.A." A 4.4 magnitude earthquake centered near the Civic Center. People across Southern California felt it. And no reports so far, though, of injuries or significant damage.

But part of the Santa Ana freeway apparently gave way. It's going to be a fun commute this way. And it's not confirmed if the quake is to blame for that yet.

Rob Marciano, you're following the developments of that. Something that California is used to. Growing up there we had a number of rocks and rolls.


ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I bet you had, you know, a natural alarm clock every once in a while as far as the little shaking of the house. So yes, shouldn't be a whole lot of damage as you mentioned.

This on the heels of a couple of big aftershocks in Chile. So clearly the earth's crust shaken by that major quake a couple of weeks ago and continues to try to settle down.

Also trying to settle down some of the rains across parts of the northeast. Flooding concerns there and the upper Midwest. Weather is coming up in just a few minutes, Kyra. We'll see you.

PHILLIPS: All right, Rob. Appreciate it.

Disturbing new misery in the rubble of the Haitian capital. After falling victim to the massive earthquake, now some survivors are dealing with another personal tragedy. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Nerves are already on age in Chile after last month's enormous 8.8 magnitude earthquake. And now they're dealing with more aftershocks.

Two quakes hit in the overnight hours. One measured at 6.7, the other 5.5. There were no immediate reports of injuries or significant damage. At least seven aftershocks of magnitude 5 have hit just since Sunday.

And two months after Haiti's terrible earthquake, a new brutality rises from the rubble. The escalation of reported rapes and sexual assaults against women.

CNN's Sara Sidner is live in the capital of Port-au-Prince with more on extremely disturbing details, Sara.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is. And women in these makeshift camps are now saying they really need and want more security to try to avoid any kind of violence, particularly sexual violence.


SIDNER (voice-over): Twenty-two-year-old Carine Exantus rushed to dump her belongings on a tiny space of open space and called it home after Haiti's earthquake toppled her world.

(On camera): Describe your life here.

(Voice-over): "I like, everybody else, live in a very precarious situation," she says. She lives in a maze of tents in an overcrowded camp that she says is becoming a dangerous place.

(On camera): As a young woman, what is it like for you living in this camp?

(Voice-over): "As a young woman, I'm afraid because I notice a lot of young men being aggressive towards women at night. The daytime, not much better."

(On camera): There are two things that hit you in this particular camp. One, you are in the shadow of the presidential palace and, two, the spaces are so confined that anything you would normally do in private ends up right out in public.

There's no privacy. It's uncomfortable, isn't it? Very difficult.

(Voice-over): "Yes, it is very difficult, especially for young women, like places where you have to shower. This is where we get water and this is also where we have to shower."

Just behind the camera, a group of young men sit and stare making comments. At night, verbal intimidation often turns physical.

JEAN JOSEPH RUDLER, CAMP LEADER (Through Translator): There is a problem within the Haitian people. I am telling the truth. It's in the people, in young men, like me. We don't have enough understanding, which is why young girls suffer.

SIDNER (on camera): So men are getting frustrated and taking it out on women?

RUDLER: Yes, I'm telling you this.

SIDNER (voice-over): In the past few days there have been two cases of attempted rape in this camp and one arrest, the camp leader says. Citywide in the past two months, police receive 20 reports of rape.

It's not yet an epidemic, government officials say, but camp life illuminates a long-standing cultural problem.

ABY BRUN, HAITIAN COMMISSION FOR RECONSTRUCTION: Now with concentration in the camps and the lack of privacy in the camps, it's rendered more acute. So there are rapes. There are exposures of minors to sexual acts. Just because people don't have a private room to go to. Even if they are alleged lovers. So it's a very, very dramatic situation.

SIDNER: Worse, the U.N. says the quake destroyed key resources such as rape counseling centers and Haiti's ministry for women's affairs. But there are efforts to improve security in the camps.

LINA ABIRAFEH, UNFPA GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE COORDINATOR: We're looking at safe spaces, creating spaces where women can access services comfortably, increasing the lighting because inadequate lighting, handing out solar flashlights so that women are safe to move around at night.

SIDNER: Carine Exantus says in her camp, it's still everyone for themselves. There's no sleeping easy especially when the only thing separating you from a violent act is a wall made of bed sheets.


SIDNER: And what we should also remember and remind people about it is that there are some 300,000 people who still have not received the bare minimum amount of shelter. Kyra?

PHILLIPS: Sara, what are women doing to protect themselves?

SIDNER: Well, we talked to that young lady there, Carine. And she basically told us that she does not go out at certain times when the light starts to get low. She's very careful as to who she talks to. She's really always watching her back. And that's all people can do.

People are trying to get ahold of those solar lamps, trying to get ahold of something so they can illuminate their areas. But really, there's just not enough being done. Kyra?

PHILLIPS: Sara Sidner, appreciate your reporting.

And talk about coming to a screeching halt. This guy plows into a rock slide that had just closed Highway 129 in Blount County, Tennessee. Andy Edmonds and his dog are OK, we're told. His car, not so much. No word as to when this roadway will reopen now.

It's been a pretty tough winter in east Tennessee. This is the third rock slide in recent months.


PHILLIPS: Wow is right. Fargo, North Dakota. They would rather have sand than rock as the city prepares for the Red River to crest its banks.

Rob Marciano, when do you ever get things like that caught on video? It's pretty rare.

MARCIANO: Yes, that's the first time I saw it. And it's definitely dramatic stuff. And good news is he was all right. That was not related to any sort of earthquake. The rainfall, obviously, that's come across the northeast, letting some of this rock loosen up.

But this is an area in eastern Tennessee that's-- is kind of susceptible to that sort of thing. And we've seen a couple of those in the last few months.


PHILLIPS: Isn't that the truth. All right. We'll keep tracking it with you. Thanks, Rob.

MARCIANO: OK. You bet.

PHILLIPS: Giving city hall a major scare for the price of a postage stamp. We'll tell you what happened in Baltimore and what they're trying to do about it now.


PHILLIPS: Police and postal officials in Maryland want to know who sent five threatening letters to Baltimore city hall and courthouse yesterday. One of the letters contained a white powder determined non-hazardous. But its discovery prompted an evacuation.

No one was hurt. Investigators say that all five letters are identical and will try finding their author by analyzing the paper and possibly extracting DNA evidence.

Detroit Public Schools Emergency manager Robert Bobb has some bold plans for his financially troubled and scholastically underperforming school district.

Last night Bobb announced a five-year plan with the goal of raising high school graduation rates from 58 percent to 98 percent. He also announced the closing of 45 schools based on a declining number of students and rising costs.

Well, we've known about sex abuse scandals in the U.S. Catholic Church for a few years. Now Catholics in increasing numbers across Europe are coming forward with their stories about being abused.


PHILLIPS: The priest, the Pope and the past. America has had its Catholic sex scandal. And now Europeans are getting theirs. We've learned that a suspended German priest who molested children actually had past ties to the current Pope.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen joins us live from Berlin.

So, Fred, explain this connection between the priest and the Pope.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, this happened in 1980 when Benedict was the archbishop of Munich. And apparently at that time he allowed a priest to come into the archdiocese of Munich who had a known track record of sexually abusing children.

Now apparently what happened then is that people lower down in that archdiocese allowed this priest to go back to work. Apparently Benedict knew nothing about this but they allowed him to go back to work. And he started abusing children again.

Now this priest was convicted in 1986. He spent 18 months on probation and was later brought to other churches in that area in Bavaria. Now the Pope says -- or so far we've heard from the Vatican that they say the Pope himself knew nothing about this man going back to work but certainly this does bring this whole story very, very close to Benedict -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: So how is Benedict responding or the Vatican, I guess, we should say?

PLEITGEN: That's a very good question. So far the Pope himself has not spoken about the sex abuse scandal here in Germany nor none of the other sex abuse scandals here in Europe. And it's certainly something that's causing a lot of concern all over Europe.

Now one thing that we've heard the Vatican say to this case in particular, to this priest's case in particular, is they say that the Pope himself knew nothing about this at the time and therefore cannot be blamed for the shortcomings in dealing with this case.

However, some in the Vatican are apparently saying that the Pope does -- is expected to say something about these cases in the near future. It's not sure whether he'll address the German case, the Irish cases or all these cases together -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, it's definitely pushed the issue into the international spotlight.

Fred Pleitgen, thanks so much.

Not only did Toyota put the brakes on a runaway car claim, it also says the media shouldn't have just run with the story.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PHILLIPS: All right. Opening bell just about to ring. Wall Street hearing from the Federal Reserve later today. There we go.

Stephanie Elam in New York will look at what's expected ahead of the decision on interest rates.

Hey, Steph.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kyra. Yes, we are looking to have a slightly higher opening today. The Federal Reserve is expected to keep interest rates near zero, but really, investors are going to be looking for clues about what the fed plans to do with interest rates later on this year. Policymakers have been saying that they're going to keep rates low for an extended period, but investors know a rate hike is going to come at some point simply because the economy is recovering. The latest housing report, which came out about an hour ago, it does not show a recovery, but that's mostly because of the snowstorms that we saw last month.

Home construction tumbled nearly 6% in February and permits, which is a sign of future building. They fell more than 1.5 percent. And moving on to a different kind of story here. Even after his death, Michael Jackson is still setting records. Sony and the estate of Michael Jackson have signed a record-breaking deal that's reportedly worth as much as $250 million. The deal involves ten projects over seven years. Some of the projects will include unreleased recordings and possibly DVDs and video games.

All right. Let's go ahead and check the early numbers. The Dow on the upside by 13 points, 10, 655 and Nasdaq up 5 points at 2,367, and finally Kyra, food is going to cost you some more now, Continental Airlines, anyway. The carrier will start charging for in-flight meals in coach this fall, and until now, Continental was the last major airline to offer free meals. You still get free food if you are traveling overseas. So, for everyone who flies continental, it's kind of a little bit of bummer news there, but now, I will have beat it stuck in my head for the rest of the day.


PHILLIPS: You beat it, and I'll be thinking about those $10 Pringles next time I fly.

ELAM: Exactly. That's it. Both stories are just kind of mess with you today.

PHILLIPS: Exactly. Good to see you, Steph.

Toyota's challenging a California man's claim about his out-of-control Prius. Last week, we told you about Jim Sikes. He said his car's accelerator got stuck while he was driving on the freeway. He says his speedometer blew past 90 before an officer told him to simultaneously apply the brakes and emergency brakes to stop the car. Toyota executive say a preliminary finding of company and government investigators show Sikes' story just doesn't hold up.


MIKE MICHELS, V.P. COMMUNICATIONS, TOYOTA USA: Our analysis is not finalized. Toyota believes there are significant inconsistencies between the account of the event of March 8th and the findings of this investigation. As I mentioned, this self-protective system was found to be working as designed and would have easily stopped the vehicle.


PHILLIPS: The media has also been taken to task by the same man saying journalists ran with the dramatic details of Sikes' story but should have waited to get Toyota's side.

Was justice served? A man charged with stalking ESPN report, Erin Andrews gets jail time, but says, it's not long enough.


PHILLIPS: The man who secretly videotaped ESPN reporter, Erin Andrews. There are hotel room people. He is going to prison for 30 months. Not long enough for her, though. Michael Barrett was sentenced on a stalking charge yesterday inside the courtroom. Andrews called Barrett a sexual predator, a sexual deviant, and a violator of all women. Outside the courtroom, Andrews spoke about how her life has changed.

ERIN ANDREWS, ESPN REPORTER: Checking into a hotel room, I mean, I think about it every moment of every day. So, that's how it's changed me. I never used to have to think about somebody like this before.

PHILLIPS: Besides posting videos of Andrews to the internet, prosecutors say he also posted videos of another 16 victims. They've not been identified yet and Barrett could face charges in state courts if they are named.

An Ohio death row inmate scheduled to die by lethal injection next hour. Lawrence Reynolds strangled an elderly neighbor in 1994 to get money for alcohol. Reynolds was scheduled to be executed last week, but that was postponed when he tried to commit suicide by overdosing on pills.

Texas Governor Rick Perry wants unmanned predator drones to patrol the border of his state and Mexico. Perry is concerned about violence from the Mexican drug war spilling over into the U.S. Two Americans and the third person with ties the U.S. consulate in Juarez were shot to death over the weekend.

Got ahead at tea party protesters. At least, tea is easier to stomach than blood, and it doesn't stain as much either. That's not Kyro syrup and red food coloring, folks. It's actually the real thing.


PHILLIPS: So, how often do you see a bloody protest that's not violent? This story is a bit gross. So, avert your eyes if you must. This is Bangkok. Protesters donated blood, then dumped it outside the government headquarters. The symbolism just oozes, doesn't it? Now, that was the whole idea. Protestors support the previous Prime Minister who was dumped in a military coup four years ago. They want new elections. Government spokesperson says that this is all fine as long as there's no violence, but the Red Cross says this is wasteful and unsanitary.

That Red River flooding has a few people nervous, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it's for sure, and the last -- really the last year they've been planning for the potential of it happening again. Then, we had heavy rains across the upper Midwest this fall and heavy snows this winter, and now that it's spring, things are beginning to get a little bit more interesting, and the rivers are coming up.

This is a depiction of the amount of snow pack that's across the upper Midwest, and the brighter the color, the purple there, that's the deeper the snow pack but really what it amounts to is the amount of water equivalent once it melts, and the purple is anywhere from 5 to maybe over 10 inches of, say, rainfall that would come down over a week or two-week period. So, that's why we're nervous about this area, and that's why the rivers continue to rise.

Let's talk about the forecast for, say, Fargo and the Red River. Here's the graph that shows the forecast. Your actual stage right now or early this morning was at 27.04 feet, obviously, continues to rise. Where it's expected to crest is around about Saturday night at 38 feet, you see right there, 38 feet. So, that is just about two feet below what the record was, but that was set last year, and then you remember last year when we were doing these forecasts, they change every day. There are a lot of variables, and last year around this time, they had a forecast for 36, 37, 38 foot, and went to 40 feet.

So, that's certainly spelling nervous times for the folks there in Fargo. Not expecting a whole lot of rain there today, maybe a couple of showers in the eastern parts of Minnesota, but generally speaking, it'll be dry for the next few days but warm, and that's going to be an ongoing issue. Warm for them.

A little bit of rain across Texas today and some rain across parts of the Pacific Northwest. Parts of the Deep South, including Atlanta looking pretty nice with some sunshine. Temperatures in New York will get to almost 60 degrees today, and they will take it, Kyra, after the rough weekend that our friends up there across the Tri-State area had, for sure.

PHILLIPS: All right. Thanks, Rob.

MARCIANO: Okay, see you.

PHILLIPS: They're considered too young to make their own legal decisions, yet teens can face life in prison for crimes that do not involve murder.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PHILLIPS: So, you remember when you were in sixth or seventh grade, a tween or early teen? For better or worse, what others thought about you was starting to become more important, wasn't it?


PHILLIPS (voice-over): So, how would you like it if the principal put your name on a list, put a big fat "F" next to it and then posted it outside his office for all to see. Well, that's what a middle school principal in Wisconsin did. Basically, shamed every child with a failing grade. You fail; you can't go to the school dance. So, Mr. Schoepke (ph), what were you thinking?

DAVE SCHOEPKE, PRINCIPAL: What the kids have known for quite a long time is that if they have their names on a failing list, at a natural grading period, they do not have An opportunity to go to a dance or field trip or something like that. Their privileges are gone.

JAMES KRIER, PARENT: You should notify the parents. We're the people that are backing the kids, and it's not up to him to post their grades and make -- how is that going to help? He's going to run them down to the ground even further.

SCHOEPKE: I also told the kid once you get that stuff turned in and we can get you taken care of off the list today, then you'll be eligible going. I think we're probably about halfway through our list, and we probably have half of those kids already getting homework turned in and assignments turned in and projects turned in, and so this failing grade will go away.


PHILLIPS: Oh, yes. And they are totally humiliated, too. Effective or not the school district superintendent told a TV station in Lacrosse that the "F" list violates student privacy rules and it won't happen again. There's some good news to report.

So this use of shame to get kids off the "F" list got us thinking about our own childhood humiliations. We want to hear some of your stories too. Go to our blog, Share your tales and I'll read some of them in the next hour.

Well, it's back tax money that the IRS couldn't live without. The government apparently would have come to a standstill without those four pennies. Get ready to roll your eyes when you hear one taxpayer's story next hour.


PHILLIPS: Stimulus. Some people love it. Some people hate it. And here's a really important question, though. Has it actually worked?

Josh Levs, who can recite the entire stimulus without using notes is here to tell us about a new survey. So what do the experts say?

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I have been living at the stimulus desk for a while, haven't I, Kyra?

PHILLIPS: Yes, you have -- months.

LEVS: It does -- it kind of sits in there. It doesn't go away.

So here's the thing and this is interesting. "The Wall Street Journal" did a survey of economists and they found some really interesting things. Let's just go straight to these numbers, I wanted you to see them.

By far, the majority -- they talked to 54 economists -- and by far, 38 of them, which is the vast majority, say that the stimulus has helped the U.S. economy. They say it has boosted growth and mitigated job losses.

And on the next screen, a couple of specific breakdowns from the survey; there are six of the 54 who said that overall there's actually a negative effect. So you have the minority just looking at the role the stimulus played and say they don't think it helped. And by far, you can see the see the vast majority say it did.

And then one more screen here which has an example for you of how this specifically played out in the economy. On average, these economists who look at the stimulus, Kyra, they say it's added one percent, overall, to the nation's economic growth.

So as the survey goes, you know, you can never be totally sure, but that's pretty substantive. And these are some of the most respected economists in the country, Kyra, coming there and saying that's what they believe it has achieved.

PHILLIPS: All right, so what's the forecast?

LEVS: Well, here is the forecast. They are seeing some more growth for it in the coming year. Let's show you one more screen here. When they look back at what it did over the last year, they do say that they believe it added about one percent growth over the last year. These economists are forecasting that the GDP will jump three percent this year and without the stimulus it would have been more like two percent.

So in terms of our Gross Domestic Product, which is a critical economic indicator, they are saying they believe it will add another percentage point this year.

But I want to also remind everyone when we look at this that the stimulus is one tiny little slice of what has really been done for this country to try to pull us out. And what you're looking at here is the web. This is from

Let me see if can get that cool effect going. We call this the big bang. And when you load it up, it starts off with the $4.7 trillion that's been popped into the economy in all sorts of different ways. And at, we break down for you where it went.

Over here you see the stimulus money. Over here you see money that the Federal Bank put in to bailing out these financial industries, the auto industry. You also see "Cash for Clunkers", those kinds of things. So we're talking about trillions and trillions of dollars that have been poured into the economy.

And these economists do say, "Wait a second. The stimulus has done some stuff but those massive spendings that you saw from the Central Bank did a lot more."

And we want to hear from you. Let's show them how you can weigh in? We've got a conversation going this morning at the blog, Also Facebook and Twitter, JoshLevsCNN. Tell us what the stimulus has done for you.

Because Kyra when it comes to the stimulus, you know, the idea is it's supposed to get folks working again. So we'd love getting this anecdotal information from you. Did it change your life? Are you able to buy stuff you wouldn't otherwise? Did you get a job out of it? Have your roads has been improved? Or have you seen nothing at all from it yet?

We certainly look forward to what you have to say today -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: I appreciate it, Josh.

LEVS: Thanks.

PHILLIPS: More from CNN NEWSROOM straight ahead.


PHILLIPS: Growing up behind bars. They are considered too young to make their own legal decision, yet they can face life in prison for crimes that do not involve murder.

Now, one man is sharing his personal experience with the Supreme Court.

CNN's Jason Carroll has the details.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Dwayne Betts addressed students at last year's University of Maryland's Commencement ceremonies, his thoughts then and now are about second chances.

DWAYNE BETTS, CONVICTED AS ADULT AT 16: And definitely when I was 16 years old on December 7th, 1996, I carjacked a man in a parking lot in Springfield, Virginia and after that I was --

CARROLL (on camera): At gunpoint?

BETTS: -- at gunpoint. I had a gun.

CARROLL (voice-over): Betts remembers when he was a high school honor student who fell into the wrong crowd. (on camera): How did you end up going astray? And why do you think that that happened?

BETTS: I think -- I think the truth is that -- it's sort of a strange mix of opportunity. You know, turning 16, you have a gun in your hand. And so I think it was a lot of baby steps.

CARROLL (voice-over): Baby steps that led to a major crime, carjacking which in Virginia carries a maximum sentence of life even if no one is physically hurt as in Betts' case.

BETTS: And there's no way to quantify what a life sentence does to a person. And if I had to wake up every morning to a life sentence, I don't even want to imagine what I would have became (ph).

CARROLL: Instead Betts received the minimum sentence, nearly nine years, serving alongside the state's most violent criminals in the adult prison system.

BETTS: And I'm still thinking about what that time did to me in a sense that it became natural to walk down a hall and see somebody getting beat up and in a lot of ways I was the exception in that I didn't get raped, and I didn't get robbed.

CARROLL (on camera): Is it your opinion that the -- your punishment fit the crime.

BETTS: You know for me and for most young people who find themselves transferred to adult court, that case could definitely be handled in juvenile court.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Give daddy a hug.

CARROLL: And your life has changed dramatically from the point where you carjacked that man in that parking lot to where you are now. How would you define that your life now?

BETTS: You know for me the most precious things in my life are the ability to be a contributing member as a father, as a husband and as a teacher.

CARROLL: Betts' story has been offered to the Supreme Court as an example while the court considers a case challenging whether it's cruel and unusual punishment to sentence juveniles to life sentences in non-murder cases. Legal experts lining up on both sides.

SHANNON GOESSLING, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SOUTH EASTERN LEGAL FEDERATION: Let them serve out the remainder of their life in custody because it was justice at the time that they were sentenced, it is justice today, it will be justice tomorrow.

MARSHA LEVICK, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, JUVENILE LAW CENTER: Kids are different. That's something that every one of us knows as a parent and the law needs to recognize. And in fact, in many respects has historically recognized that kids are different. CARROLL: In 2005 the Supreme Court abolished capital punishment for juveniles citing evidence showing teenagers are too immature to be punished that way. Could that ruling influence the court's decision this time?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: This is likely to be a very close case because in general this is a tough on crime court, but it is also a court that has recognized that when it comes to juveniles, cruel and unusual punishment means something different than it does with regard to adults.

CARROLL: Betts says he did not grow hardened or hateful while behind bars. Instead, he says he grew up fast and worked hard.

BETTS: All right. This is what I want you all to write.

CARROLL: Since being released he began a book club for teenagers and has written a memoir about his experiences, one he says no teenager should try to repeat.

BETTS: And I don't think that I'm trying to wiggle out of responsibility for my crime. I'm just acknowledging that we set up a juvenile justice system to deal with kids who commit crimes.


PHILLIPS: Jason Carroll now joining us live from New York. Jason, what criteria is the court likely to look at when trying to reach a decision on this?

CARROLL: Well, Kyra, when we speak to these legal experts about this they all agree that they'll probably be looking at some of the same evidence they looked at when they were addressing this issue in 2005.

They looked at a lot of empirical evidence, scientific evidence basically showing that juveniles are less able to sort of manufacture in their brains what they're doing when they're doing something wrong unlike an adult. So they'll likely be looking at evidence like that when they're trying to come up with a decision this time around.

PHILLIPS: Jason Carroll, great reporting. Appreciate it.

Let's go ahead and look at the question facing the Supreme Court now. Are life sentences cruel and unusual punishment for kids or is this a case of even-handed justice that rules on the crime not the criminal.

Our next guest is an expert of court sentencing. Mark Osler is a professor of Law at Baylor University. He joins us live from Dallas.

Watching that story, Mark, what's your take? Because a lot of people would say, well, Betts is an exception here.

MARK OSLER, LAW PROFESSOR, BAYLOR UNIVERSITY: Well, Dwayne Betts and that story is actually more typical than you might think. When you look at juvenile offenders as a whole, it is only 5 percent to 10 percent of them who become chronic offenders as adults. The great majority of juvenile offenders straighten out eventually. They have decent, productive life and that's instructive when we look at this case in the Supreme Court.

PHILLIPS: All right. And he was a teenager when he committed this carjacking. He did have a gun. He didn't kill anybody, but I want to roll some video.

This is a story, Jason had another part to his series yesterday and he talked about this little boy, 12-year-old Jordan Brown who actually murdered his dad's pregnant fiancee because apparently he was jealous of the attention. And now his dad does not want him tried as an adult and doesn't want him to have to face a sentence of serving life in prison.

You know, he killed somebody. So how do you feel about life in prison for this child?

OSLER: Well, it's a horrific crime. It's a terrible crime. There's no doubt about that and there is definitely the need to have a severe sanction for that.

However, what we're talking about in the Supreme Court and in the broader discussion is even if you give a child like that the sentence of life in prison, is there later going to be the chance of parole? When he's 45, is there going to be a parole board that can go and look at what he's done with his life in prison?

People who are violent their whole life, they're going to be violent in prison as well. That means a parole board will review that later.

PHILLIPS: So let me ask you that, should -- I mean, how do you determine if someone is going to kill again or not because if you look at the campaign for youth justice, national stats actually say that 34 percent of these juvies are more likely to re-commit crimes.

So, you know, do you take a 12-year-old like this Jordan Brown and keep him in jail and just try to help him as much as possible with therapy and work inside the jail system instead of taking the risk of letting him out on the streets once again since he did commit murder?

OSLER: Yes. I think the answer is yes. You do incapacitate him. You do lock him up. He's somebody that's willing to use a gun to kill someone and that's very serious. And I think even a sentence for some juveniles of life in prison is going to be necessary.

The question is, are we going to consider parole later down the road. And with someone like Jordan Brown, it could be that after proper evaluation, the decision is life in prison is appropriate. He's so young that that may be extreme, but even then, I think that is saying he will never get out is getting rid of any hope whatsoever with a child who committed the crime at 11. That's too extreme for us to accept, I think.

PHILLIPS: So bottom line you think that somebody could commit murder but years down the road if treated properly in prison, which you believe can happen, they can walk the streets and never kill again. OSLER: That's true. I do believe that, and I think that we've seen that, you know, over and over in other cases where people have committed murder, that they've done their time and they've come out and they have been rehabilitated. The chance of rehabilitation is greatly increased when we're talking about someone who committed their crimes as a child because people do change.

Children are a different person once they become an adult and there is the hope that that person can change their ways. And that's especially worthwhile to consider when we can have parole in place where you can constantly evaluate how that person is doing within the prison population.

PHILLIPS: We'll follow the Supreme Court's decision. That's for sure. Mark Osler, appreciate your time today.

OSLER: Thank you.