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Lou Dobbs Tonight

G-20 Protests; Taking on the World; Terror Plot; Cap and Trade; Dropouts and Crime

Aired September 24, 2009 - 19:00   ET


LOU DOBBS, HOST: Thank you.

Chaos and clashes in Pittsburgh -- police there firing tear gas trying to stop protesters at the G-20 Summit -- we'll be taking you there live.

Also credibility questions tonight -- the president preaching fiscal responsibility to the world while continuing to push his high spending agenda here at home.

And New Jersey school kids being led in song, praising the great leadership of President Obama -- is this evidence of left wing propaganda and indoctrination or what?

ANNOUNCER: This is LOU DOBBS TONIGHT; news, debate and analysis for Thursday, September 24th. Live from New York, Mr. Independent Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: Good evening, everybody. Dreaming of a nuclear free world and it may be just that. With President Obama at the helm, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution attempting to rid the globe of nuclear weapons, a seriously lofty goal.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This very institution was founded at the dawn of the atomic age, in part because of man's capacity to kill had to be contained. And although we averted a nuclear nightmare during the Cold War, we now face proliferation of a scope and complexity that demands new strategies and new approaches.


DOBBS: The president claims he's not singling out any specific nations, but clearly on everyone's mind, the nuclear ambitions of both Iran and North Korea. No new sanctions were imposed on either of those two countries and tonight President Obama is turning his attention to the troubled global economy.

He's in Pittsburgh hosting the leaders of the world's biggest economies, the so-called G-20. Pittsburgh police on edge tonight and on alert -- anti-globalization protesters and anarchists are out in force, an all too familiar scene whenever the G-20 meets. Our Brian Todd and his camera crew were hit by tear gas lobbed into the crowd of protesters. We have complete coverage tonight with Dan Lothian and Brian Todd. First to Brian Todd -- Brian, what is the scene there tonight and how are you doing?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're doing fine, thank you very much. Myself and our two crewmembers who were hit with tear gas have long since recovered and were able to still stay on the streets and cover the protests. We're getting reports -- we are learning of sporadic clashes that lasted into the evening tonight, between riot police and groups of people, whether they be protesters or others intent on creating mischief.

We were told by police a short time ago that Pittsburgh police fired what they called soft beanbag rounds at a crowd that had thrown stones, bricks and sticks at them in the Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh not too far away from here, also got reports that windows at a business there were shattered, so some sporadic clashes still going on this evening. But for the most part, the streets have quieted down from this afternoon. It did, as you said, though, Lou, get very dicey earlier on.

DOBBS: Well, Brian, the -- is the area now under control? Is it -- is it reasonably peaceful?

TODD: It is certainly peaceful down here near the convention center. Ironically, this is the area here where they were going to herd some of the protesters, a large parking lot that they were going to use as a pen. The protesters never got this far. This is very close to the convention center and the area here where we are on the street near the convention center, very, very quiet tonight, but we are getting reports of just kind of mop up operations by the police, sporadic clashes by some of the protesters, the protesters were very cagey this afternoon. They moved around from street to street, trying to avoid the police, trying to get closer to the location where we are, but the police kept moving with them and kept blocking them.

DOBBS: All right. Brian, thank you very much. Stay well; we appreciate it -- Brian Todd reporting from the G-20 in Pittsburgh.

Topping the president's agenda there, going after what he called the reckless risk taking that caused the financial system's collapse last year. But President Obama may have a credibility problem. Massive spending and soaring deficits at home could make fiscal responsibility a hard sell internationally.

Joining us now our White House correspondent Dan Lothian -- Dan, the president expected to ask other nations to help as he is putting it, to rebalance the world economy, an ambitious goal, particularly given the challenges he has at home.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, certainly an ambitious goal, but you'll see the United States and these other countries tackle a couple of important issues both tonight and tomorrow here at the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh. First of all, they want to really look at this global financial reform, try to figure out a way to prevent another catastrophic meltdown.

From the European perspective, many of the leaders believe that the way to do that is to cap the bonuses of these bankers. Now the U.S. on the other hand, while they believe that they should be addressing these compensation issues, they are looking for broader reform. So the big question is what it is, what will be the consensus after this meeting ends.

The second issue will be trade imbalance. There are many economists out there who do believe that especially when we talk about China here, that the trade imbalance really contributed to the meltdown. So they'll be dealing with that issue. But it won't all be negative.

In fact, Lou, we were talking about this earlier this week, how the last time that these global leaders met, the financial situation was on the brink of another great depression and so things have stabilized and you heard Timothy Geithner, the treasury secretary talk about that at a briefing here today.


TIMOTHY GEITHNER, TREASURY SECRETARY: We're seeing the first signs of optimism about prospects for a global recovery. I think the broad consensus of private economists and businesses are that we're beginning to see growth in the United States and around the world we see exports rising and forecasts for growth are being revised upwards. This is encouraging, but we have a ways to go.


LOTHIAN: Now Geithner says unlike other times, he doesn't want this to be a situation where people look down the road and say this is something that can be addressed later. He said this is not something that can wait for two years or can wait for tomorrow, it is something that must be dealt with today. But there is one concern, the concern of complacency; it is easier to get these leaders fired up when the situation is dire. Now that the situation has stabilized there's a concern that some of these leaders may not be as willing to push for reforms, Lou.

DOBBS: As a matter of fact, is there any reason in the world to believe that the relationship between the United States and the European union, specifically the leaders Sarkozy and Merkel and France and Germany has improved with the Obama administration going quite different ways, the president seeking gigantic fiscal spending programs, both the Germans and the French, most of the Europeans saying they want to constrain fiscal spending and if you will, maintain considerable order in their monetary and fiscal policy?

LOTHIAN: Well that's right. I mean clearly those differences still remain and they're going to try to sort of narrow those differences here at the G-20, but you know you have to be realistic. I mean every time these G-20s there's a very ambitious agenda. But then when all is said and done, when you look at it on paper, what really has gotten done, and that's the criticism -- that they get together, they talk, but the ball really doesn't get moved in any direction at all, so yeah, those differences do remain. It will be interesting to see if they can reach any consensus at all on these important issues.

DOBBS: Well as you suggest, Dan, when all is said and done, more is said than done. Thank you so much, Dan. Appreciate it -- Dan Lothian with the president in Pittsburgh at the G-20.


DOBBS: Well chants of "Ahmadinejad is not my president" today, hundreds of protesters opposed to the Iranian leader blanketing the Brooklyn Bridge -- those marchers carrying what they say is a mile- long green banner signed by thousands of people all around the world. They're calling for human rights and separation of religion and state in Iran.

The banner previously wrapped around the Eiffel Tower in Paris. We'll have a lot more on Iran in our "Face Off" debate tonight. What can really be done to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon? Will sanctions work? What is the president's next step? And will any of it be effective? That's coming up.

New details emerging tonight in the massive terror plot to detonate bombs in this country. The terror suspects were in court today, one actually made bail and is back out on the street tonight. Deborah Feyerick has our report.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The imam who authorities believe tipped off a key suspect in a terror investigation left jail. His parents, brother, and wife seen here with him, posting bail of $1.5 million to secure his release.

FATIMA AFZALI, AHMAD AFZALI'S WIFE: I'm really excited that my husband is home and I'm thankful for you guys for respecting our privacy.

FEYERICK: Ahmad Afzali, known to many in New York's Afghan community is accused of lying to investigators who believe the imam tipped off a key suspect warning Najibullah Zazi he was being watched, a charge the imam's lawyer denies.

RONALD KUBY, AHMAD AFZALI ATTORNEY: Don't you think that Mr. Zazi may have thought something was suspicious when law enforcement made his car disappear? I mean you don't have to be the sharpest pencil in the terrorist box to figure out that, gee, maybe they're on to me.

FEYERICK: FBI agents were watching Zazi as he began the 1,700 mile drive from Denver to New York in early September. His car was stopped at the George Washington Bridge, then later towed and searched, along with a laptop computer inside. But it's what happened before he left Denver that also worries investigators. According to the indictment, Zazi and other alleged co- conspirators bought large industrial strength quantities of hydrogen peroxide, acetone and acid, explosive materials like the kinds used in the 2005 London subway and bus bombings. Then according to the indictment, Zazi checked into a Denver area hotel that has a stove, above which FBI agents later found traces of one of the chemicals.

Although he had bomb making instructions on his computer, Zazi had to reach out to an unnamed individual for help. The indictment saying Zazi was quote, "seeking correct mixtures of ingredients to make explosives" and that he, quote, "needed answers right away." Zazi arrived in New York the same day a source says group of Afghan men attempted and failed to rent a large U-Haul truck.


FEYERICK: Now the joint terrorism task force is urgently searching for chemicals that the alleged terrorists may have been ready to move using that truck and as for the imam, he is home tonight. He has an electronic monitor and bracelet. His wife and lawyer say he contacted Zazi at the request of police and not to buff any terror suspects. Lou?

DOBBS: And the investigation, where does it stand now?

FEYERICK: Well right now they're still looking for a number of men; they're looking to see whether those chemicals might be in a warehouse or a storage facility somewhere. They really think that there's a great sense of urgency.

DOBBS: All right. Thank you very much. Deborah Feyerick -- thank you as always.

In a separate terrorist bust, a man in Springfield, Illinois is tonight charged with trying to blow up a federal building. The FBI says Michael Finton, also known as Talib Islam, parked a truck he thought was packed with explosives outside the Paul Finley (ph) Federal Building. He had no idea that his accomplice was actually an undercover FBI agent. And when Finton tried to remotely detonate the bomb, he was arrested.

Well this just in to CNN tonight -- in Dallas, the FBI has arrested a Jordanian national for trying to bomb a skyscraper there. The 60-story skyscraper is in downtown Dallas. The 19-year-old suspect had been under surveillance for a number of months and is the focus of an undercover FBI investigation.

The suspect in June identified potential targets in the Dallas area and what you're looking at are live shots of the Dallas area and the building that the suspect was planning to blow up. He discussed his plans with an undercover FBI agent and then the suspect tried to plant what he thought was a bomb.

The FBI said the device contained non-explosive material and the suspect will be appearing in federal court tomorrow. And we will be continuing of course to follow this story closely. Up next, tense moments as senators debate health care legislation. Just listen to what Republican Senator Jon Kyl and Democratic Senator Max Baucus had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is you delaying, Senator...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, I am not delaying. I'm making an extremely important point.


DOBBS: The rest of that exchange coming up tonight. The controversy continues to build.

Also, more on the president's domestic agenda, which is in big trouble -- word tonight the cornerstone of the president's so-called green agenda, cap and trade could be dead in the House and claims that the media is in the tank for President Obama; well the results of a new poll certainly won't surprise you.


DOBBS: The Senate Finance Committee today continuing to debate the Baucus health care legislation and the hundreds of amendments that have been attached to it. Tempers flared between Senator Jon Kyl and Senator Max Baucus in a moment of what became I think interesting political theater.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman let me just complete my thought here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have one minute to complete your thought.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll complete my thought and then make another point, Mr. Chairman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is you delaying, Senator...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman -- Mr. Chairman, I am not delaying. I'm making an extremely important point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a very, very important point, but you're also delaying, so other senators have amendments they (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead, complete your thought. (INAUDIBLE) have to recognize other senators (INAUDIBLE)...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, it's courteous if you don't interrupt somebody right in the middle of a sentence of an important point they're trying to make.


DOBBS: Well doing a review of the amendments there were a few lighter moments as well from still frustrated senators as they are waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to give them some indication of the real cost of some of the proposed amendments.


SEN. KENT CONRAD (D), NORTH DAKOTA: Do we have anymore information overnight on CBO's scoring of amendments that are pending? Did we get any report overnight?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think -- nothing we want to discuss publicly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was afraid of that.


DOBBS: Well Congress and the White House have been spending months talking about overhauling health care. It seems they are no closer to a final piece of legislation at all. And again, a reminder that the chairman that you saw there, Chairman Max Baucus ruled against providing 72 hours for the members of that committee to read any perspective legislation or await -- or await what would take about two weeks for a cost of the measure that he is asking the entire committee to approve.

The Obama White House is pushing still its climate change legislation but that bill is -- we're told tonight -- in serious trouble. Republicans say it's another attempt at a new and big tax. And a newly disclosed Treasury Department memo shows that the plan would actually cost the economy and American taxpayers billions upon billions of dollars. Lisa Sylvester has our report.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's called cap and trade, the federal government would cap the amount of carbon dioxide and other emissions businesses could produce. Companies that are over the limit could buy pollution allowances or credits. The liberal think tank, the Center for American Progress says it will help create green jobs of the future.

BRAD JOHNSON, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: We need to address our problem of oil dependence and how we use energy and we need to change from investing in pollution into investing in jobs, in American jobs.

SYLVESTER: But the legislation is unpopular among conservatives who call it a tax. After passing in the House by a narrow margin of just seven votes, Republicans say cap and trade faces an even tougher time in the Senate. What's changed -- the August recess.

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: We are all for clean air, clean water and clean energy. We are not for taxing people out of their house and homes in order to pay for it and the American people have made that very, very clear.

SYLVESTER: Even moderate Republicans like Senator Lamar Alexander, who were considered on the fence have turned away from cap and trade. A newly released Treasury Department memo written during the Obama administration transition period has given more political ammunition to critics, the memo saying that cap and trade could carry a heavy economic cost, one percent of GDP, that's $141 billion and it could lead to U.S. companies moving offshore. The Free Market Competitive Enterprise Institute obtained the memo through a Freedom of Information request.

CHRIS HORNER, COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INST.: The cost of everything goes up under cap and trade, so that will slow -- that will break if it were to go into effect in the near term would break an economic recovery, clearly.

SYLVESTER: The Treasury Department in a statement to CNN said the memo was produced before actual legislation was written, adding that costs to consumers would be offset because "revenue raised to emission permits would be returned to consumers under both administration and legislative proposals."


SYLVESTER: Even still the non partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that cap and trade proposals will cost American families. By the year 2020, the cost is estimated to be $22 billion a year. That works out to about $175 per household. Lou?

DOBBS: An extraordinary cost and also we should point out the Congressional Budget Office keeps finding itself in contradiction of the Obama administration, at seemingly every turn on the legislation -- the legislative agenda, whether it's health care reform or whether it's cap and trade.

SYLVESTER: And keep in mind the Congressional Budget Office is a nonpartisan independent office that's finding these numbers -- that they're coming up with these numbers and that often doesn't square with the Obama legislation or the Obama agenda rather.

DOBBS: Right. Thank you very much, Lisa. Appreciate it. Lisa Sylvester.

An overwhelming majority of Americans say the news media was instrumental in the election of President Obama. Almost 90 percent of those surveyed say the national media played a strong role helping to elect Barack Obama as president. Seventy percent say the media continues to cheer lead the Obama presidency, that survey was conducted by Sacred Heart University. It also found that almost 90 percent believe the news media is still trying to influence public opinion.

Still ahead here, a U.S. sponsored resolution to rid the world of nuclear weapons. But what does it mean for Iran and its nuclear future, North Korea, and oh, yes, the United States? That's the subject of our "Face Off" debate tonight.

An indoctrination of our youth or is it civic awareness in our public schools? New concerns, new video that may well shock you of what is some say left wing propaganda in our classrooms.


DOBBS: California is already struggling with high unemployment, a massive budget deficit, and now an alarming new study shows crime committed by high school dropouts in California is costing the state more than $1 billion a year. Casey Wian has our report.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): About 124,000 students drop out of school in California each year. Put another way, about one in four California students aged 12 to 17 do not finish high school. They commit crimes at about twice the rate of students who graduate. That according to a new study by U.C. Santa Barbara's dropout research project, which estimates that crimes committed by those dropouts cost the state more than $1 billion while they are still juveniles and more than $10 billion over their entire lifetimes.

PROF. RUSSELL RUMBERGER, DIR., CALIFORNIA DROPOUT RESEARCH PROJECT: The factors that contribute to kids dropping out are also the factors that contribute to them committing crimes, so if we can address those factors especially early on, behavior issues, attendance, engagement, things like that, it will both increase the graduation rate and reduce juvenile crime.


WIAN: The study proposes several steps the state could take to cut its dropout rate. Measures it says would yield $2 in economic benefits for every dollar spent. They include preschool programs, raising teacher salaries by 10 percent, reducing class size and reforming high schools to focus specifically on job skills and preparation for college.

But funds are scarce and a state law prohibiting student test scores from being used to evaluate teachers makes California ineligible for some federal education bailout money. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has called a special session of the state legislature to change that.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: And I promise you the legislators is going to do a good job in changing those laws so that we can compete for this $4.3 billion because I tell you, I want to grab hundreds of millions of dollars of that money. California deserves it, we are the biggest state and we are the most important state and we're going to be number one in asking for that money and getting that money, I can guarantee you that.

WIAN: By cutting California's dropout rate in half, the state would reduce the number of juvenile crimes each year by 30,000 the study says and save more than half a billion dollars a year in criminal justice costs alone.


WIAN: The irony is California doesn't even know what its actual dropout rate is. State lawmakers have approved a bill that would require the state to compile a comprehensive dropout report each year. It's waiting for the governor's signature. Lou?

DOBBS: As is the case with so much it seems in California, Casey, we're talking about a 23-percent dropout rate when we know the national average is closer to 50 percent for Hispanics and black students. We know in the state of California that the number is significantly higher than 23 percent, because Harvard University did a study showing that number to be right around 40 percent some years ago and it has only worsened since then. I mean this is -- and government does not seem to know how to function in the state of California.

WIAN: Absolutely, and here's a legislative effort, we have actually got something through the state legislature, which has been very difficult as you know in recent months to actually get a real dropout rate compiled for the state, the governor hasn't signed it into law yet, so it's more of the same, Lou.

DOBBS: Just for fun, let me ask you one question. Just to see -- just for fun. Has anyone in the state of California done a study of why those students are dropping out of California high schools so that they could actually say with certainty and based empirically on what the solution would be and how much to spend on those solutions?

WIAN: Well, that's part of this study that was done by the U.C. Santa Barbara. They put out five...


DOBBS: OK, what is the reason those students are leaving?

WIAN: Well, they didn't get into the reasons...


DOBBS: Because what the answers were that they were going to be raising teacher salaries, they're going to be reducing classroom size, going -- but there's no statement as to what is causing those students to drop out which is generally more a matter of what is happening to the families of those students, at least in other states. Now California may be a little different. Casey, thanks a lot. Casey Wian.

Up next, why is the government trying to promote the census of all things on Spanish language soap operas? It gets better. We'll tell you all about it. Also New Jersey school kids -- it gets better there too -- literally singing the praises of Barack Obama.

And can the world live with a nuclear Iran? We may find out. Our debate tonight is about what can be done, if anything to stop them.


ANNOUNCER: Here again, Mr. Independent, Lou Dobbs.

DOBBS: The UN Security Council today, led by the United States, passed a resolution calling for a halt to the spread of nuclear weapons. The council's action will bring increased pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear program, but will that resolution have real impact?

That is the subject of our face-off debate tonight, and joining me now, Claudia Rosett, journalist-in-residence at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies; Anne Bayefsky, who is the Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, professor of Touro College in New York; and Walter Russell Mead, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations; and David Andelman, editor of the World Policy Journal. Good to have you all back with us.

Let's - let's get straight to it, Claudia. This - last night, Ahmadinejad speaking with that marble - that green marble behind him to all the world - what - What was the point of that entire exercise? It was at best a bizarre speech.

CLAUDIA ROSETT, FOUNDATION FOR THE DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: The point of that was he was telling us, and I quote, "We seek to establish a new world system," and he was speaking to people back in Iran, he was speaking to friends he believes he has - and in some cases does - in places from Venezuela to Malaysia to China.

DOBBS: Well, there weren't many friends in that room, and luckily we saw the cameras pull out and reveal a room, which, by the way - as we acknowledge on this network but others did not - are totally in the control of the United Nations. They were trying to present this man as being - speaking to a full room, when it appeared I think to most of us watching that, to be less than half.

DAVID ANDELMAN, EDITOR, WORLD POLICY JOURNAL: That was the - that's the whole victory for the - for the good guys, if you will, in all of this. That is to say, had we barred Ahmadinejad from speaking? Had we barred him from coming to the United States? Had the U.N. said we can't have him here, imagine what the rest of the world would have said to us. What we did was we showed that freedom of speech does work in the - in the - in our world, in the American world, in the American universe.

So, in some respects, beaming this back to the rest of the world says these are the countries, the few countries that really understand and respect this guy, the rest of the world doesn't, and that is probably the most powerful - I think the most powerful statement that could be made from last night.

DOBBS: Do you agree, Anne?

PROF. ANNE BAYEFSKY, TOURO COLLEGE: Not at all. They handed a global megaphone to an anti-Semite to spew anti-Semitism, they put him on the web, which is webcast there permanently for all the children of America to now click on and do their research. Prime Minister Netanyahu actually felt that it was important to spend half of his speech today explaining that there was a holocaust to the general assembly because that's the - the kind of reception that people really think there.

The other thing to note is that the general assembly has never had a resolution dedicated to anti-Semitism in its history. So this is an organization where the lessons fall on deaf ears.

DOBBS: You noted last night, Walter, that in your career you had never seen the general assembly so empty. Do you take that as a - as real progress at the United Nations?

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: I do. I think - I think Iran is more isolated this year than it was last year, and it was more isolated last year than the year before. But I think the elections in Iran, the civil protests, the open scandal of Iranian mistreatment of - of their prisoners, you know, where you're having relatives of the senior clergy talk about their children being raped in Iranian prisons - this kind of thing is - has been really devastating.

Now, Ahmadinejad to me actually looked scared. He - and I think the people I actually sympathized with the most at that speech were the patriotic Iranians who have to look at their country being represented by this loon, a man who is clearly out of his depth, who's lost control of things, and I think the humiliation and anger that they were feeling, you could see it among some of the dissidents outside who were demonstrating.

DOBBS: But in demonstrating that on global television like CNN can, is that not a - a very powerful message that we can send? This man is a loon. Let's look at him for what he is, and let the people of Iran understand that, that they are isolated with him as their leader.

ROSETT: I would profoundly disagree. What it says is the United States thinks it's worth giving this man a stage at the same institution where the President of the United States spoke that morning, and in fact I think in much of the way - it gives him - it legitimizes him in ways where he can go home and say, look, I'm still the guy they think is your leader.

DOBBS: Let me - let me - let me turn to another speech by President Obama, also declaring the nuclear nonproliferation to have succeeded today, and speaking for the first time as the president leading the Security Council. How important - was it true significance? Because it was obviously spun out that way.

BAYEFSKY: Well, President Obama was upstaged by the French President Sarkozy, who said words are essentially meaningless. We have a problem in the here and now. And you could see that President Obama was actually taken aback by Sarkozy who said straight out that Iran is a nation that wants to wipe Israel off the face of the map.

And what our president - the most important thing to get out of what happened today was that President Obama changed the subject. There was a draft of a timetable or an agenda before the Security Council that said nuclear nonproliferation, Iran and North Korea. He changed it to nuclear nonproliferation without any naming names and nuclear disarmament. He put disarmament on the table, and everyone around the table congratulated him and then said - Uganda said now we have to deal with disarmament before we deal with nuclear nonproliferation. So we're in for a lot of trouble in the future because he's now - America's in the hot seat.

DOBBS: Do you agree?

MEAD: Well, I think it's a - a noble goal, abolition of nuclear weapons. I can't think of anything nicer. It's a historic moment, the first time the president of the US chairs the Security Council, he calls for that. Will it move the ball very far down the field? No. And again, I think the - the questions are much more immediate, Iran and North Korea, I think especially Iran because I don't actually think Israel is going to wait for the Security Council very much longer before the Israelis take matters into their own hands in Iran.

DOBBS: Quickly, your judgment?

ANDELMAN: Lou, I think we have to step back a minute and say, look, we got a unanimous Russia and China agreeing with us, unanimous agreement to move forward on trying to rid the world of nuclear weapons, including especially Iran and North Korea, and that itself is a break through.

DOBBS: Claudia, you get the last word.

ROSETT: Watch what they do, not what they say. And this is a piece of paper and absolutely nothing else.

DOBBS: Claudia, thank you very much. Anne, thank you. Walter, David, thank you very much.

Up next, viewers may not know what's behind the dialogue of their favorite soap opera - we do, and we'll tell you why a lot of people are now outraged. Yes, we're talking about the unthinkable -- the politicization of the novella.

And our nation's school children receiving an education or political indoctrination? What's going on here? We'll tell you what these two stories have in common.


DOBBS: The call for public service are now taking a decidedly political and ideological tone. Those calls are increasingly being heard in our nation's schools where some overtly political messages are being aimed directly at our school children. Is this education or is it outright indoctrination?

Kitty Pilgrim with our report.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is not the first time our country has heard sweeping calls to public service by major political figures.

JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER US PRESIDENT: Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

PILGRIM: George Bush Sr. pushed public service as a thousand points of light, but in a highly politicized nation, claims are again being made that politics is filtering into the classroom.

DEMI MOORE AND ASHTON KUTCHER, ACTORS: I pledge to be a servant to our president.

ANTHONY KIEDIS, VOCALIST, RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS: I pledge to be of service to Barack Obama.

PILGRIM: This video, produced by Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions, extols people to pledge to do good. Shown on TV and at the start of political rallies after election, it was also shown near the start of the school year during one elementary school assembly in Utah.

Parents in that school district were outraged.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As an adult, I can watch the video and I can be objective about it, but for children to see a video like that, I don't think that they have the ability to be objective.

PILGRIM: The principal apologized in a letter to parents. "I neglected to anticipate the potential that aspects of the video clip, which was solely intended to promote the value of service, might be inappropriate for your children."

At this school in New Jersey earlier this year, grade school students were taped singing a song praising Barack Hussein Obama, extolling his great plans to make this country's economy number one again.

The school district today reportedly released a statement saying that the recording and distribution of the class activity were not authorized. The performance was done in celebration of Black History Month.

Then there's this video called "The Story of Stuff" about the ills of over consumption. The 20-minute movie is sharply critical of the role of government.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've seen a little change in the government, where they're a little more concerned in making sure everything's working out for those guys than for us. PILGRIM: After a high school teacher in Missoula, Montana showed the film to her biology class last January, the school board voted that it could not be used further. A spokeswoman for the filmmakers today told us many schools continue to order this video.


PILGRIM: Now, we talked to the spokeswoman for "The Story of Stuff," and she says while it is widely used in middle and high schools, it was a video that was never intended for children, and the filmmakers' spokeswoman admitted to us that not everyone is thrilled about it being used in the classroom. The filmmaker, Annie Leonard, emailed us late this evening that she wanted to encourage conversation about production and consumption, Lou.

DOBBS: Well, I guess we're certainly making her happy, because this is a discussion that should be had. Without any question whatsoever, if that is being used in classrooms around the country, are parents aware of what is being put out there as a message to young children?

PILGRIM: In the cases that we cited, that became apparent after the activity occurred, so ...

DOBBS: But you said -- you reported that this is in wide use across the country.

PILGRIM: Actually, "The Story of Stuff" is being ordered -- DVDs are being ordered from, they told us today, that many schools are thinking about using this and using this.

DOBBS: Well, you know what we'll do, let's find out how many schools are using it. Let's find out. You know, parents should know what's going on in their schools. But we're going to be -- we're going to be -- you know, if we're becoming a nanny state, we can help. We'll find out how many of these are in schools around the country. It's what we do. So let's do that, all right? Thank you very much for your fascinating report.

Well, fans--if you like that, you're going to love this. Fans of telenovellas on Spanish-language television could soon be seeing more than they tuned in for as well. The Telemundo network, owned by NBC, will incorporate a story line in a popular soap opera to promote the U.S. Census. That's right. They're going to put that into a storyline. It is part of an Obama administration plan to make sure the Latino population is fully counted next year. Ines Ferre with our report.


INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When it comes to Latin television, no other genre is more popular with more viewers than steamy, plot-driven telenovellas, or soap operas. For the first time, a telenovella will include a plot line surrounding a U.S. Census message. "Don't be afraid to be counted." Telemundo's top soap opera "Mas Sabe el Diablo" or "The Devil Knows Best," will soon feature Michelle Vargas playing the role of a young Census Bureau recruiter.

DON BROWNE, PRESIDENT, TELEMUNDO: This character will live in the novella and basically be entertaining but educational, because education, empowering people with good, accurate information is really critical to the success of the Census.

FERRE: This is the first time that Telemundo and its Spanish- language competitors have partnered on a national level with the Census Bureau. Univision set up a toll-free number for questions and is planning a special program and heavy news coverage.

Government messages have aired on network programs before. Nancy Reagan appeared on "Diff'rent Strokes" to promote the "just say no to drugs" campaign. Michelle Obama recently taped a PSA for "Sesame Street." But one media critic says putting a government message in a telenovella is less transparent.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": If Barack Obama or Michelle Obama or anybody else in the government wants to go on an entertainment show -- Leno, Letterman, even a soap opera -- and deliver a message, that's fine, because you know what you're getting. But if you're tuning into Telemundo and you're watching some soap opera that has a plot about a Census worker, you probably don't know that the U.S. government has had a hand in crafting that particular drama.

FERRE: Telemundo says it has total independent control of its program. With nearly 47 million Hispanics in the U.S., the Census has big political implications. Recently, Hispanics have tended to vote Democrat. The Census, as mandated by the Constitution, determines how many seats each state will get in the House, and how states draw up congressional districts. Every year, more than $400 billion are doled out based on Census data.


FERRE: And the Census numbers are also important for the way TV households are sampled. The bigger the audience, the more ad revenue the networks can generate. Now, the Census Bureau says it plans to make ad buys on media outlets to get its message across, but as far as a telenovella character is concerned, the Census Bureau says it did not pay Telemundo any money, Lou, to put that character in there.

DOBBS: Well, it's an interesting business proposition. Why Telemundo -- they are a small, they are a relatively small player compared to, say, Univision.

FERRE: Right. Well, actually, Univision, they get their telenovellas canned from Mexico, from Telavisa (ph). So they say they do not have any editorial control over...

DOBBS: They have no editorial control. They're just a distributor.

FERRE: ... the telenovellas. DOBBS: All right. And how much money is this worth? Does anybody have an estimate for Telemundo?

FERRE: No, we do not have any estimate as far as how much money it could be worth.

DOBBS: All right, we will find out. Why not? The government is everywhere else, why not in a soap opera? That's -- he asked rhetorically.

Coming up next, the top Obama adviser says the administration's policy of too big to fail could make the next crisis even worse. And the death of the dollar, the push by some countries to scrap the dollar as the global currency. Guess where one bank is headquartered? China. We will be right back.


DOBBS: Well, President Obama's hosting the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh. Joining me now to assess some of what might happen there and should happen, three of my favorite economic thinkers, Mike Holland, chairman of Holland and Company, president and founder of Holland Balance Fund. Amity Shlaes, author of "The Forgotten Man," also senior fellow of economic history at the Council of Foreign Relations. And in Washington, David Smick, author of "The World is Curved: Hidden Dangers to the Global Economy." Good to have you with us.

Well, let's start with Amity. The G-20, what problems will they solve this time?

AMITY SHLAES, AUTHOR, "THE FORGOTTEN MAN": Well, Lou, the big problem is probably going to get short shift, which is growth. They will talk about growth, they will have big conversations about how the Chinese need to shop more and we need to save more and then somehow there will be global recovery, but that will miss the mark. The real issue is to get the U.S. to continue to grow as it has in the past and not to grow the way Europe grows, slowly.

We used to talk about India when it was slow. We'd say there was a Hindi rate of growth and they could not grow faster, then India astounded. The U.S. needs to astound now, and none of the components of an astounding U.S. are going to be on the table in Pittsburgh.

DOBBS: Amity does not sound like she's too optimistic there. What do you think, Mike?

MICHAEL HOLLAND: Oh, I am hugely optimistic, but not about the G-20. I think she's spot on with the respect to a lot of the things that are not only not pro-growth, but a lot of the things that are being talked about are probably neutral and negative for growth. And there is once again, we have so many things on the agenda there, that the likelihood of getting anything done, it sounds like Washington to me.

DOBBS: Washington and 19 other capitals go to Pittsburgh.


HOLLAND: David, the idea that HSBC and a number of other banks are calling for the dollar to be moved out as the reserve currency. Do you suppose that will be a considerable conversation there?

DAVID SMICK, AUTHOR, "THE WORLD IS CURVED": I think it will. I think part of it is, there's kind of a kick-America environment right now, and I think if you're going to kick America, you might as well kick the dollar, particularly given our horrendous debt situation and the fact that we have this kind of attitude now of, well, it will be OK, because somebody will come up with something. But I do think, you know, let me defend the Obama administration a little bit.

I think they went in, unlike past summits, they went in with the right idea, which is, you know, the problem of the financial crisis...

DOBBS: This is already an improvement. Yes.

SMICK: ... at least -- at least they got the right message, which is, the world has excess savings and too few investment opportunities, and all of it wanted to come to the U.S. and therefore we had long-term interest rates and it created bubbles, and the rest is history. So they came in and they said, we've got to rebalance the world economy, and particularly with countries like Germany and China, where their exports are -- are...

DOBBS: David, you've got to get to the good part quick now. Come on, partner. You're losing me.

SMICK: ... and Germany -- and Germany and China said...

DOBBS: We are in Germany and China? What are you doing to us, David?

SMICK: ... not on your life, Mr. Obama. They said...

DOBBS: I've got to interrupt, man.


DOBBS: I'm a country boy. You can't be floating all that highfalutin stuff at me and have me absorb it. What do you think?

SHLAES: Well, part of the reason we have this problem is those places, Germany, especially Europe, was not growing fast enough. So the answer is not to make us more like Germany.

DOBBS: My God, now we were talking a year ago, we had -- we had fools running around talking about depression. We had people saying this is the worst crisis since the Great Depression. We haven't seen a single statistical support of that statement anywhere, except at the Fed, where they have unleashed trillions of dollars into the economy. What in the world is going on? Why is it this discussion at G-20 to rebalance an economy that they've never been able -- never been able, as far as I can tell, to manage?

HOLLAND: Yes. Go ahead.


SHLAES: Well, Lou, what they're skirting around is this dollar question that you raised. There's a crisis behind our crisis.

DOBBS: Right.

SHLAES: You don't have to be pessimistic to say, this is a crisis behind our crisis, which is a crisis in confidence over our currency. It might not happen right away, but we've done a lot of things to damage the currency. We don't seem to care about its value. We are willing to de-value it for trade. That is an issue here.

SMICK: Lou, if you want to sit up at night, read the CBO reports. Within ten years, we are going to have to borrow just to pay for the interest. The world knows that and that doesn't include Social Security, Medicare, and all the other problems that are going out. They know that. They know we have a dollar problem coming.

But the question is we are ignoring it. We've had this kind of attitude that you know -- it doesn't -- the problem, somebody will find a solution to the problem. I think it's -- the dollar situation is very serious.

DOBBS: So in Pittsburgh, are we going to have an answer or not? I've just gone from -- David sounded optimistic to begin with. He was complimenting the Obama administration and now we haven't got a chance in hell.

HOLLAND: (inaudible) David to get to an answer of yes, because it's very unlikely we are going to get anything out of there. I think that's a good bet. If you're a betting person for anything of substance to come out of this, a lot of great rhetoric and a lot of well-intentioned sounds, but at the end of the day, at the end of the process -- two days I should say, Lou, I expect nothing to come out of it.

And thanks for all of us that nothing does come out of it, because some of the things they are talking about are things that could hurt everyone.

SMICK: Well, Germany, they already announced they're not going to agree with Obama.


SMICK: And so the meeting is a photo opportunity. It's all over. But we've got to at least give them credit for -- the last meeting was a joke. This meeting, at least they kind of said, we cannot have the whole world...

DOBBS: This meeting is not even funny, therefore it's not a joke.


DOBBS: Thanks a lot, we appreciate it. Amity, than you very much. Thank you, David. Thank you. We will be right back. Stay with us.


DOBBS: And we just want to say this into CNN. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been taken to the hospital feeling ill at work. Again, details will be forthcoming here on CNN. Thanks for being with us tonight. Join us here tomorrow. From all of us, good night from New York. Next, "Campbell Brown."