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American Morning

Obama Administration Presses Bankers to Lend More; Health Care Reform May Stall in Senate; Obama Tangles With CEOs; The Advent Conspiracy: Movement to Spend Less, Give More; Chicago Churches Fighting Violence

Aired December 14, 2009 - 07:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, welcome to AMERICAN MORNING on this Monday, December 14th. Glad you're with us, I'm Kiran Chetry.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes sitting in today for John Roberts. Here are some of the top stories to keep an eye on this morning.

Fat cats meeting with the big dog in a few hours. President Obama preparing to butt head with the nation's big banks, trying to convince them to start lending to Americans again, that week coming after the President spent the weekend bashing those guys, calling the CEO's fat cats who just don't get it. Again, in four hours those fat cats and the President will come face to face at the White House.

CHETRY: All right. From cats to a tiger, this morning the best- paid athlete on the face of the planet has been dropped by a long-time sponsor, Accenture announcing it's cutting all ties with Tiger Woods saying quote, "he is no longer the right representative. In a moment, we're going to break down just how significant this is for Tiger's brand.

HOLMES: Also, inside the advent conspiracy, this is a movement to put Christ back in Christmas. How? Spending less, giving more. Good news for recession wrought consumers maybe? Christine Romans tells us of America's Christians are eating the word.

CHETRY: We begin the hour though with the CEO's of America's biggest banks getting prepared to feel the wrath perhaps of the President this morning. Their face to face meeting is set for the White House just after 11:00 Eastern this morning, and the President wants to tell them he wants them to start lending more and making less.

He spent the weekend berating them. The heads all of these firms are expecting to attend today. And the president's pitch -- we bailed you out, now you bail us out.

And new this morning, one of those bailed out banks, Citigroup, has cut a deal to pay back $20 billion in bailout money. That would make them the last of the Wall Street giants to return taxpayer funds.

Suzanne Malveaux is live from Washington this morning. And so the president certainly didn't pull any punches, called them "fat cats," the bankers over the weekend. But the bottom line is once this money is repaid, how much control does this White House or Congress have over these banks?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Not a lot, actually, Kiran, because one of the things that the president is trying to do is to shame the banks into changing their behavior, kind of using this populist appeal to point out that many Americans perceive that these big banks are taking advantage of good, hard- earned tax dollars, and essentially that they're out of touch.

But without any real, tough regulations, there's a real limit as to what president Obama can do.


MALVEAUX: President Barack Obama is in a tough spot 14 months after American taxpayers bailed out the banks.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of, you know, fat cat bankers on Wall Street.

MALVEAUX: The president supported the $700 billion feast that Wall Street was fed, and now he's lashing out at how some are using their profits.

OBAMA: They don't get it. They're still puzzled, why is it that people are mad at the banks? Well, let's see. You guys are drawing down $10 million, $20 million bonuses after America went through the worst economic year that it's gone through in decades, and you guys caused the problem.

MALVEAUX: Two of the Obama administration's economic advisers also took aim.

LAWRENCE SUMMERS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF ECONOMICS ADVISER: It was irresponsible risk-taking that brought the economy to the brink of collapse.

DR. CHRISTINE ROMER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ECONOMIST: We know that some of the practices that happened on Wall Street did set us up for what was a very severe financial crisis, and we are all still paying the price for what went on on Wall Street.

MALVEAUX: Tough talk as the administration prepares to host executives from some of America's largest banks at the White House today. Topping the president's agenda, lending -- not only making funds more accessible, but also ramping up the speed at which loans are processed, in turn, giving the economy a much-needed jolt.

And the sticking point -- government oversight.

OBAMA: What's most frustrating to me right now is you've got these same banks who benefited from taxpayer assistance who are fighting tooth and nail with their lobbyists up on Capitol Hill, fighting against financial regulatory reform. MALVEAUX: But some of those big banks, however, believe Congress and the administration's approach unfairly penalizes them for being so large. They don't believe the government should have the right to seize them and break them up.

And the president is going to address this, the bankers' concerns, all of this, but he's really trying to get ahead of the debate when he makes a statement on the economy coming out of that meeting -- Kiran?

CHETRY: When it comes to actually talk of the recession, White House advisers over the weekend seem to have differing messages. Here's what the president's top econ people said yesterday.


SUMMERS: It will take time. A year ago, the question was would we have a depression. Today, everyone agrees that the recession is over and the questions are around how fast we'll recover.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your mind, this recession is not over?

ROMER: Of course not.


CHETRY: So, Suzanne, two different answers from the White House on issue number one, the economy. What are you hearing this morning about this?

MALVEAUX: I asked about that this morning because it certainly seems like a mixed message coming from the administration. But on the one hand, they say when you traditionally look at how do you define a recession, whether it's the strength of the economy, whether it's confidence in the market, those type of things, that the worst is over. They can agree on that.

What they're saying in terms of jobs, they know a lot of people are still unemployed. A lot of people don't feel like this recession is over, and so this administration is saying yes, there's still a lot of work to be done.

In that sense they are trying to convince the American people that yes, they get it -- a lot of people still feel this is a very real recession -- Kiran?

CHETRY: Suzanne Malveaux for us, thanks.

And in just a few minutes we'll be joined by "Fortune" magazine contributor William Cohan as well as Jacki Zehner of the Circle Financial Group. We're going to be discussing what today's meeting between the president and the bankers could ultimately mean for you.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Now to the battle over health care. President Obama says he's confident the Senate will deliver on health care reform by Christmas. But there are new signs this morning that Democrats still don't have the 60 votes needed to get a bill passed.

Here now, our Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just days after Democrats thought they were closing in on a compromise to pass health care reform in the Senate, the party's delicate coalition of 60 votes started cracking once again.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL, (D) MISSOURI: I have to be assured that this is going to bring down the deficit and it's going to bring down the cost for mostly Missouri families.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if it doesn't?

MCCASKILL: Well, then we'll have to go back to the drawing board.

ACOSTA: Back to the drawing board after a group of ten liberal and conservative Democrats agreed to strip the public option out of the Senate bill and add a provision allowing 55 to 64-year-old Americans to buy into the Medicare program for seniors.

But before the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office could weigh in on the cost of the so-called Medicare buy-in, the grumbling had begun.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN, (I) CONNECTICUT: I think this Medicare buy- in is frankly another way to try to get to single-payer, government- controlled health care system. And I and Senator Nelson think that would be bad for our country and for the people of our country.

ACOSTA: Even party loyalists are skeptical. A letter signed by some of the most liberal senators in Washington, including names like Leahy and Feingold, object to the Medicare buy-in because of the program's lower reimbursement rates for doctors.

Add to that Republican complaint that's Medicare is going bankrupt.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) MINORITY LEADER: Medicare of course is already unsustainable. It's going broke in seven years. And the bill itself, the core bill, purports to cut Medicare by half a trillion dollars. Then if you expand Medicare and put more people on it, you make it even more unsustainable.

ACOSTA: What do Democrats want this holiday season? Try more votes in the Senate.

SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER, (D) WEST VIRGINIA: The reason it's so difficult is because every single Democrat and Independent has to vote for it, because the Republicans are withholding all of their votes.

ACOSTA: And getting those votes will come at a price. LIEBERMAN: It's frankly time to start subjecting some things that's don't belong there. And if we did that, I think this week, we could get more than 60 votes, including some Republicans. And that's the way it ought to be.


ACOSTA: This could be a critical week for health care, and the question for Democrats may come down to this -- can they live with a bill without a public option and without an expansion of Medicare? Republicans are still betting they won't -- T.J.

HOLMES: All right, Jim. Jim Acosta for us this morning. Thanks so much.

CHETRY: Seven minutes past the hour. Other new stories new this morning, Iran's foreign minister is now saying the three U.S. citizens held in Iran on charges of espionage will stand trial.

The trio were detained in July. They were hiking and they accident entered Iran, they say, from northern Iraq. The families have maintained the whole time that this was an accident, they strayed along the border.

HOLMES: Meanwhile, rescuers in Oregon will decide in a few hours whether to resume the air search for two missing climbers on Mt. Hood. They say time is critical after two days of nasty weather and avalanche threats. Crews found a third climber dead on Saturday.

His camera was recovered. Rescuers say they are now using the images to help pinpoint the climbers' location.

CHETRY: Also, the Washington state coffee shop where four officers were gunned down has reopened. The doors opened Saturday morning, 8:14 local time. That's the exact moment the officers were ambushed by the gunman, Maurice Clemmons, who was later killed by a Seattle police officer.

A long line of customers gathered outside the doors, including Lakewood's police chief, who was asked to be the first customer. The police officers and families of the four heroic officers say it shows hate will not win.

HOLMES: Also Camp Tiger says it's disappointed by long-time sponsor Accenture's decision to drop the golfer as their pitchman. The global consulting firm is the first major company to cut all ties with Tiger Woods.

A statement on the company's Web site says Woods is, quote, "no longer the right representative after Woods admitted to infidelity." And Kiran, as we know, their slogan was "Go on, be a Tiger."

CHETRY: That's right.

HOLMES: Wow. Also, stay with us, coming, 7:30 eastern this morning, is Accenture just the first of many to cut ties with the world's best golfer? We'll get some insights when we talk to Evan Tracy, marketing expert and CNN consultant. Also, David Dusek, deputy editor of "Sports Illustrated" Golf Group.

CHETRY: Still ahead, inside the advent conspiracy, the movement to put Christ back in Christmas by spending less and giving more. Is it good news for recession-rocked consumers? Christine Romans tells us whether or not America's Christians are heeding the word.


CHETRY: It's 11 minutes past the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

President Obama is not pulling any punches with the most powerful bankers on Wall Street. In fact he's meeting with them at the White House in just four hours, and his message -- we bailed you out, now it's time for you to return the favor.

In fact, let's listen total president describe the CEOs on "60 Minutes" last night.


OBAMA: I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of, you know, fat cat bankers on Wall Street.


CHETRY: Well, how is it possible, then, for the president to convince the banks to start lending again? Joining us now is William Cohan, author of "House of Cards" and a contributor to "Fortune" magazine and, also Jackie Zehner, founding partner of Circle Financial Group and a former senior trader at Goldman Sachs. Good thing you got out of that in terms of the PR angle, right?


Well, welcome to both of you.

And William, we've had you on before, and I know that you've been very annoyed at this entire situation. This is the third time the president will be meeting with some of these top bankers. What is going to be the message today, and how much of an impact can it have?

WILLIAM COHAN, AUTHOR, "HOUSE OF CARDS": This is Obama's bully pulpit moment, I think. And he's going to use this moral suasion that he has to try to convince these guys to repay the debt, literally and figuratively, that they owe to the American people and to, you know, start lending.

But I think it's also an indication of these limitations that he can only use that moral and the power that he has -- he cannot force them to lend. CHETRY: And so Jackie, what do you think is going to come out of these meetings, if anything?

JACKI ZEHNER, FOUNDING PARTNER, CIRCLE FINANCIAL GROUP: I think he's going to send a clear message, which is that Wall Street in general needs to do more to help the economy and job creation, and they do. I mean, they all did benefit from the government packages. Granted, they did pay it back. They paid it back with a substantial return. They've done a lot of great things.

But we need more great things. We need more initiatives like the $500 million dedicated to 10,000 small businesses. We need leadership across the sector, and particularly from those that have done well through this crisis and benefited from the government programs.

CHETRY: Yet there are people who say, William, they're not a government agency and they're also not a charity. They did what they had to do -- they did what they had to do to get themselves saved by going hat in hand in some cases and getting a huge bailout. They were able to repay it back so they can continue business as usual.

That's what you want to do if you're at a bank. So how do you convince, as the administration, to say, wait a minute, you need to change that model and be more philanthropic and recognize that you were saved by the tax payer.

COHAN: It's not a question of just philanthropy. It's getting back to business. You know, part of this was to get the capital markets back functioning again. Now the next step is to get capital down to the businesses, the smaller businesses that aren't just the big companies that are rated AAA that need it.

There's more than just bailout money that was repaid. It was, you know, bonds they could guarantee from the federal government. Look, savers, the American people, are giving their savings to these banks and getting nothing on that money.

CHETRY: That's right.

COHAN: And subsidizing these guys who are making the arbitrage on the difference and making billions of dollars on profits and bonuses. So it's more than that. It's a connective system. They need to do more of their part now.

CHETRY: Let me ask you this -- do you buy the argument that some say the reason they got into this in the first place is lending to people who can't pay it back. Are there borrowing worth -- creditworthy borrowers out there that we can trust to give money to again, or will we end up in the same loop?

ZEHNER: Of course there are creditworthy borrowers. I think credit has gotten tighter. I think the standards should have improved. And clearly too many people got money that, whether it be individuals or corporations, that never could have paid it back.

That being said, absolutely do more, and do it creatively. I'd like to call a challenge for Wall Street to really use their business acumen both in a for profit and more, I would say, socially responsible way to drive job creation. There are a lot of smart people.

CHETRY: Right.

ZEHNER: And they need to be called on to really use that intellect in a new and more responsible way. It's time to change Wall Street, and I think today is the day we put the stake in the ground on that.

CHETRY: It's just interesting because then what teeth do you have to try to do that? Because, I mean, the time for enforcing regulation was right when they needed you and now they don't. I mean, they've paid back the money. And so saying, agree with us and come on board with some of these regulations to make doing your job tougher, why would Wall Street say yes to that?

COHAN: Well, because we live in a connected society. They do need us. They continue to need us. They need to -- you know, they can't just operate in a vacuum. And the time has gone. I completely agree with Jacki, the time has come to change the paradigm on Wall Street, to get them more socially responsible, to think about others and not just themselves.

And I'm sure they would say, of course, that they do that, but the time has come for some real change. And this may be the moment, although I fear that this has been the theme of the administration now for a year and we haven't seen a lot of action as a result of that. In part, just of Congress.

CHETRY: And what would you do if you were one of the president's economic advisers in terms of trying to rein in the situation, get some real robust regulation passed? How would you approach it?

COHAN: Well, first, I would have a national debate. A national town meeting, a blood-letting if you will. Get these CEOs beyond just meeting with the president, get them in a public forum like even on CNN and get them to explain what they did and why they did. And then, to me, the heart of it is the compensation system.

In this new bill, in the House that the House just passed, there's a piece that, you know, allows for a study of whether or not there's a relationship between Wall Street compensation and risk taking. I don't think we need to study that for a year. I think that's pretty well documented at this point. Let's change the compensation system on Wall Street so that people are not encouraged to take risks with other people's money. Let's get them to have more skin in the game, something that is long, long overdue.

CHETRY: And, Jacki, quickly, what would be your piece of advice if you were advising the White House today at this meeting?

ZEHNER: I would really stop pointing the finger. I think this blame game is really -- is really dangerous, and I think we need to work together. I think we need a message from the White House that this is about collaboration. This is about shared responsibility. Let's change the language about this.

You know, the good thing about blame and the bad thing, if you're looking for someone to point the finger, they'll always find them. Stop pointing fingers and really start thinking about solutions and call on people to bring the best of themselves to job creation in this country. And stop being the defense. Let's work together in partnership.

CHETRY: Great insight from both of you. William Cohan, Jacki Zehner, thanks a lot.

COHAN: Thank you.


HOLMES: Well, coming up, we'll show you pictures of the Italian prime minister bloodied with a broken nose and broken teeth. We'll explain who got too close.


CHETRY: Kind of beautiful and festive it looks in here, huh?


CHETRY: Even the good camera has lights on it. I live it.

HOLMES: We haven't decorated yet in Atlanta.

CHETRY: Well, get on it.


CHETRY: You only have 12 days. Meanwhile, it's 21 minutes past the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

You know, troops are preparing to serve this country in Iraq and they need your help so that they can make it back home for the holidays. A squadron of the Tennessee National Guard training in Mississippi is eligible to return home next week there. There is a snag, though. They still need $4,000 for the busses after the money fell through last week. If you'd like to help, the squadron has a Facebook page and we're going to be linking it up to our blog,

HOLMES: I'm sure they will get that $4,000 in a short time. Also, if it had to be there by Christmas, today is apparently the day to ship it. FedEx's busiest day of the year is today. The company says across the globe, planes will be touching down every 48 seconds in order to move more than 13 million packages. That's up a million from last year.

CHETRY: Are we stuck in an elevator right now?

HOLMES: It's nice elevator music right now. CHETRY: Holiday shoppers holding out for just the right deal. Well, if you're one of those people, today may be your week. So far shoppers have been spending cautiously but as we head into the last shopping weekend before Christmas, analysts say that retailers could be offering discounts of up to 75 percent off.

HOLMES: They may be shopping cautiously. Maybe they're a part of the advent conspiracy.

CHETRY: That's true.

HOLMES: All right. This thing has gotten a million views on YouTube. You know, the name sounds like something Dan Brown would come up with, but again, it's the advent conspiracy. It's a growing movement that's asking Christians to buy fewer presents this time around.

CHETRY: That's right. And it's not just for guys to get off the hook if they don't know what to buy their love ones, right? There you go.

HOLMES: You know, then you think of that -- well, hi, sweetie, the advent conspiracy here.

CHETRY: Yes, exactly.

Well, a message to a lot of folks is really one that's hitting home and they're taking it to heart especially in a tough economy. And our Christine Romans joins us now with more on this story, the advent conspiracy.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And it's getting some traction. I mean, it's gone viral on YouTube. You know, retailers for years have been taking Christ out of Christmas, favoring the more all encompassing holiday theme for everything from their window decorations to greetings at the door. And that used to outrage religious groups, right?

But today a growing number of Christians are saying, wait a minute. Why are we looking for Christmas at the mall anyway?


ROMANS (voice-over): Ken and Joanne Hawkins and their four kids, the family that prays together, shops together.

JOANNE HAWKINS, ADVENT CONSPIRACY PARTICIPANT: Christmas has always been a very chaotic -- a lot of shopping, a lot of wrapping and craziness and then January would come around and it would be this whole letdown.

ROMANS: But that's changing this year. The Hawkins family has joined a growing Christian movement that calls itself the Advent Conspiracy, a conspiracy that boils down to this. Conspire to give fewer, more thoughtful gifts and put the savings toward a good cause. The recession has made the message resonate. This clip promoting the true meaning of Christmas has gone viral. More than a million views on YouTube. Here in St. Louis, pastors gather for a briefing on how to join the Advent Conspiracy and get a pep talk from professional baseball player and devotee Albert Pujols. More than a thousand churches have signed on.

GREG HOLDER, CO-FOUNDER, ADVENT CONSPIRACY: We're seeing a variety of different church types, mega churches, house churches, main line established churches. It's crossing a variety of lines because we're remembering what we have in common and that's the story of Jesus and this longing that each of us has to make a difference.

ROMANS: The Hawkins' pastor is hoping his parishioners will think before they buy.

FR. JONATHAN MITCHICAN, PASTOR, CHURCH OF THE HOLY COMFORTER: We're not saying, you know, don't buy anything, but spend less. Buy one less gift. Don't go into debt. Buy less, worship more.

ROMANS: The church has held seminars and make your own gift workshops, raised money through its annual bazaar. Sermons have focused on the movement's four tenets: worship fully, spend less, give more, love all. The Hawkins family is trying to do just that.

HAWKINS: It's not about things and the commercialism of Christmas. Not saying that we're not going to get any gifts, of course, we're going to get gifts. But we're going to spend less. We're going to really look at how we spend our money.

ROMANS: Of course, devout Christians every year decry the commercialism of their holiday. The question is, does the Advent Conspiracy still resonate once the recession is finally over?


ROMANS: Joanne Hawkins in Pennsylvania says her family's advent conspiracy is, you know, a work in progress. Her three older kids get, they get it, she says, and they have cut back. Her youngest, 11- year-old Elizabeth, she still sees Christmas as being about Santa Claus and presents under the tree. The message might be getting through to Elizabeth, though. Her Christmas list is shortened. It includes saving a life through their Advent Conspiracy contributions, but Elizabeth also wants a puppy.

CHETRY: Get it from the Humane Society -- yes, one of the nice shelters.

ROMANS: There you go.

CHETRY: But, you know, what really is interesting when you talk about the whole issue of why we do spend so much and why it turned into more of a chore than it has, you know, a celebration.

ROMANS: And for so many of these people we talked to, it's a nagging concern that in the '80s and the '90s and the early 2000s we got very selfish. We bought a bunch of stuff on plastic, on borrowed money. There was a let down in January. We hadn't paid for it all, and somehow that all contributed to this big bubble that has burst and hurt us, and that they're using that as a prism to look back through religion again and the purpose of Christmas. But does it last? That's the question.

When times start to get better again, will people continue, will Christians in particular, continue to try to refocus their holiday which has, quite frankly, become a consumer holiday. We all know that.

HOLMES: It's a good time to make that point right now. All right. Thank you, Christine.

CHETRY: Christine, thanks.

And, by the way, a quick programming note for you, balancing faith and finances at a time when money is tight. Christine Romans explores the intersection of how we worship and how we spend. "In Got we Trust: Faith and Money in America," it airs this Saturday night, 8:00 Eastern only here on CNN. We look forward to seeing it, Christine. Thank you.

Twenty-six minutes past the hour.


HOLMES: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. The grandfather of murdered Chicago teen Derrion Albert hoping his family's tragic story can help save other teenagers. Albert was beaten to death in a huge street brawl back in September. The story shocked the nation.

Albert's grandfather talked to the congregation at one of many Chicago churches announcing new plans to fight teen violence. Four teenagers, of course, charged in the murder of Derrion Albert.

The brother of one of those suspects is Vashion Bullock. Now he doesn't fighting in the brawl that killed Derrion Albert that day. He's watched that video. He's seen himself standing in the middle of that mob, but he says what happened on the street that day, what he was experiencing is completely different from what you may have seen in the media.

Here now, my conversation with him as a part of our A.M. Original series, "Walk in My Shoes." I want to warn you that some of the video you're about to see is disturbing.


HOLMES (voice-over): It shocked the nation. But for 17-year-old Vashion Bullock, this brawl was only a step removed from his everyday reality.

(on camera): What happened that day that had you end up in the middle of all that? VASHION BULLOCK, FOUGHT IN BRAWL THAT KILLED DERRION ALBERT: One of the kids had thrown a rock at my brother's car, so I approached the boys like, why did you all throw rocks and stuff at the car?

HOLMES (voice-over): For weeks, Vashion says tension was brewing between two rival factions at Chicago's Fenger High School. Fights between the teens were nothing new really but on this day, some kids came with makeshift weapons.

BULLOCK: They brought those weapons to the fight. They picked up from house bricks and brought them. They picked up them bottles and brought them. They ripped the railroad tracks up just to fight.

HOLMES: The video shows a shirtless Vashion with his brother Eugene Reilly standing next to him, both empty handed as another teen whacks Vashion with a wooden plank. When the brothers appear again, they're holding planks.

(voice-over): So your brother comes over and does what?

BULLOCK: Swung one of them. He was fighting with me. He had to protect himself and me. Because I am his little brother.

HOLMES (on camera): You're telling me your brother was simply defending himself and defending you at that time with whatever was around and whatever the other side was using.

BULLOCK: Come on. I got hit in the back of my head. He got hit in the back of his head with a stick.

HOLMES: Now did Derrion, as far as you know, did he ever - was he ever part of the group that was jumping you?

BULLOCK: I isn't going to say he was fighting me, because I couldn't tell.

HOLMES: So you assume he was over there, trying to swing on and trying to fight you and your brother?

BULLOCK: No, isn't assuming, I know for a fact.

HOLMES (voice-over): But authorities have repeatedly said Derrion was nothing more than an innocent bystander, on his way home from school, caught between two rival groups.

(on camera): So from what you see in that video, what do you see your brother doing to Derrion?

BULLOCK: I see him hit him with a stick. It was a fight.

HOLMES (voice-over): Derrion was still on the ground when Vashion's brother Eugene delivered a final blow.

(on camera): I know it's your brother and I know you love him. But did you think it was necessary to take it that far?

BULLOCK: They brought those weapons to the fight. That's what people are not understanding.

HOLMES: But Derrion was down. Why do you think your brother had to go after and hit this kid, who clearly wasn't a threat any more, at least.

BULLOCK: He was another body, another body with two hands that could have been swinging on anybody.

HOLMES (voice-over): After video of the brawl was released, Vashion's brother Eugene was taken into custody. One of four teens charged in the killing of Derrion Albert.

BULLOCK: I'm just saying they should let all of them go because it was just a fight. I don't - fights happen daily.

HOLMES (on camera): But you know for the police and the justice system, that isn't good enough. Your brother picked up something, hit a kid and the kid died.

BULLOCK: What about the other people that picked up the weapons and hit me? Where are they at?

HOLMES: Don't you think somebody should be held accountable for Derrion's death?

BULLOCK: No, not accountable for the whole thing because it was a mistake. Isn't nobody wanted him to die, and nobody meant for him to die, we just - it was a fight. Fights get out of hand. Not intentionally, just because.


HOLMES: And Vashion who was severely injured in that fight as well, that was in September, he hasn't been back to school. He's trying to get into another school to maybe finish up his senior year. He still wants to go to college but this has certainly changed his life in a major way.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Right and because you asked him, and I asked you, did you say to him what is it you want to do with your life? I mean, you have to look beyond your circumstances in some cases and you said he does have aspiration.

HOLMES: He does but at this point, he just wants to get back into high school. He doesn't know if he can find another school he can get into, enrolled in by the first of the year and maybe graduate but this has set him back in a major way. And of course, he can't go back to that same high school now. Fear, he's gotten death threats as well. But that's his reality every single day. He says what you saw on that video is not what happened that day.

CHETRY: Well, good stuff, T.J. Thank you.

Crossing the half hour right now, the bottom of the hour. The stop stories now, the American military's top officer in Kabul, Admiral Mullen, will visit troops and commanders in southern and eastern Afghanistan and meet with Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan. He expressed some concerns over the Taliban in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, as well as militants in Pakistan.

HOLMES: And Dubai getting a bailout. $10 billion bailout from its neighbor, Abu Dhabi. A big portion of the cash will go towards paying $4.1 billion owed today by the country's main investment arm, Dubai World. The glittering oasis shocked investors last month when it asked for more time to pay down its debt.

Well, just when you thought it couldn't get worse for Tiger, it did. After weeks of speculation about Tiger Woods' private life, he admitted to infidelity and announced Friday that he was taking an indefinite break from golf. Now, since then, some of his sponsors have started to take a break from him. There are others though who are continuing to stand by Tiger Woods, at least for now.

Joining us to talk more about how this will affect his brand, Evan Tracy, marketing expert and CNN consultant. Evan, thanks for being with us. We also have David Dusek, the deputy editor of the "Sports Illustrated" Golf Plus. Thanks for being with us as well, David.

Evan, let me start with you and talking about Accenture here. It's a management consulting firm, and it announced yesterday that it was ending its relationship with Tiger Woods. And here's their quote, "After careful consideration and analysis, the company has determined that Woods is no longer the right representative for its advertising." Now, Accenture is the first sponsor to completely cut ties with Woods. How significant is this, Evan?

EVAN TRACY, CNN CONSULTANT: Well, it's very significant. And what we've seen really since his car accident, the day after Thanksgiving, is that all of his sponsors are pulling their ads as quickly as they have been able to do so. And what you're really seeing is a total draw down away from this advertising because it leaves a big hole in many of these sponsors' marketing plans.

Some of them, you know, as many as a third of all their ads featured Tiger Woods in them. So they have to move on, and I think this is what Accenture is pretty much telling Tiger as well as the marketplace.

CHETRY: All right. And David, let me ask you about his biggest sponsor, that would be Nike. They pay him around $20 million from some of the estimates. They said they're staying on board for now, but as we talk about things like the break from golf, more and more women coming forward alleging affairs, how much of an impact does this have on a sponsor like Nike?

DAVID DUSEK, CONTRIBUTOR SE GOLF PLUS: Nike is going to stick with Tiger Woods through thick and thin. I mean that Nike Golf being a $650 million portion of the Nike entire company. It founded itself, its whole identity really centers around Tiger Woods and what he does on the golf course. The difference you're going to see in corporate sponsor who are staying with Tiger and ones that may be thinking, like Accenture, that they need to go elsewhere, the encore, the stuff that is related to sports and his actual performance, those will be the companies that will stay with him the longest. And Nike, Woods - has put everything around Tiger, the clubs that he uses are called Victory Red. Now, that's for a reason because he wears red on Sundays.

CHETRY: Right.

DUSEK: Their whole identity is so wrapped up and intertwined with Tiger Woods, that I think for them to unwind themselves, I think it's going to take even more than what we've seen and I look for them to stay.

CHETRY: That's interesting. And Evan, also - David talked about sports-related sponsors that are staying with him, what about Swiss watch maker Tag Heuer? This is interesting because on the heels of Accenture saying they are leaving, they announced, Tag Heuer, that they're staying with Tiger. It's interesting to hear what the company said.

They basically said that he's the best in his domain, we respect his performance in the sport, and also adding that Woods' personal life is not our business. How many sponsors do you think are going to take that tack that what happens off the links is really not their business?

TRACY: I mean, well, this is what makes this sort of an interesting case. Golfers are different than any other athlete in the sense that they are independent contractors. And they're not going to be necessarily suspended by a team in the case of another professional sport. So he can get back on the course and start performing, and that's really where his brand was founded, was on the golf course.

So there are a lot of these brands that sort of appeal to that sports demographic that are likely to stay the course. It's where there are more products across the sort of family spectrum that they're more likely to get out of the Tiger business at this point.

CHETRY: All right. So you have Procter & Gamble with Gillette, there you see it. That's a company that markets and I mean, that has products ranging from things that kids use all the way up to you know, family's moms, the same situation with Gatorade. I mean, what do those companies do where there's more of a possible backlash based on some of these allegations that, in fact, he's admitted to?

DUSEK: I think Tiger Woods leaving for this indefinite period of time from golf, gives them an out. At this point they don't have to put Woods front and center in their advertising campaigns. Certainly we're not going to be seeing Tiger Woods in a lot of PSAs anytime soon.

But when he eventually does come back, whether it's three months, six months, he may, in my opinion, sit out all of 2010. They can start to basically feel the waters and see what's his trending, what's his cue (ph) rating, is the public opening up or getting past this story.

CHETRY: Right.

DUSEK: They've got that opportunity right now to step back, take him out of the marketing plans and a lot of them have other campaigns, other personalities. For example, Gillette has Roger Federer, they've got other things that they can do while they wait and see what happens with Tiger Woods.

CHETRY: OK. And Evan, quickly, before we go, what does Tiger need to do? Stay silent like he is, you know, sort of just let things out on his web site or some personal paper statement or does he need to do a "Oprah moment"?

TRACY: Well, this is a family issue first and foremost, and I think he needs to really focus on getting the family situation settled before he starts doing anything out in the open for the rest of us to sort of enjoy. Right now, this is really about Tiger and his family.

CHETRY: All right. Evan Tracy as well as David Dusek. I see you nodding as well -


CHETRY: We'll see if he does speak publicly about the situation. Thanks to both of you for being with us.

DUSEK: Thanks a lot.

HOLMES: Well, the Italian prime minister taken to the hospital, bloodied, broken nose, broken teeth. What in the world happened? We're live in London to figure it out. It's 39 minutes past the hour.



HOLMES: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Italy's prime minister Berlusconi, he's going to spend at least one more night in the hospital after he was attacked at a political rally in Milan Sunday. Berlusconi was struck in the face by a statuette. He suffered a broken nose and a couple of cracked teeth.

Paula Newton live for us in London with more on Berlusconi's condition. This was some scary stuff. Just a scary sight to see this Italian leader, battered, bruised, and literally bloodied.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely shaken, almost to the ground, had he not been supported by his aides. You know, he's at a political rally, T.J., and this literally came out of nowhere on his left-hand side. And you can see just from the grimacing and this person apparently his name is Massimo Tartaglia.

He has no connection to the prime minister except police say he has had some psychiatric treatment over the last decade, but he was holding a very heavy souvenir. It's like one of those impressions of the cathedral in Milan. And you can you imagine anyone holding anything in their hand but then to be sucker punched out of nowhere like that. Doctors just now, T.J., saying that look the prime minister's injuries are a bit more severe than they thought. They were cautious to say that he is doing well.

He is, as you say, two broken teeth, a fractured nose, that he won't have to have surgery for, but nonetheless taking no chances. Keeping him in the hospital until at least, tomorrow night, maybe even until Wednesday. T.J.

HOLMES: Paula, what else do we know about this alleged attacker, what do we know about him and what kind of beef he might have had with the prime minister? And also what's been going on with the prime minister in general? Has he been embroiled in anything that would cause people to come after him in this way?

NEWTON: Well, what's interesting, is the person who is in custody is a 42-year-old man. As I said, he has a history of psychiatric disorders, but his family saying he's never done anything violent before. What's interesting is that Mr. Berlusconi and his party are saying, look, it is the atmosphere of hate that's been created around Berlusconi because of the way he's conducted himself in office, because of all the political scandals swirling around him.

They're saying that the rhetoric is just too heated and what it does is it opens the door and make it open season for anyone to take a punch like this at the prime minister. But the base of it is, T.J., this is a security breach. Now, I've been with the prime minister touring even earthquake zones and things like that. There are times when I would say the security is not what it could be perhaps, the security detail saying look, he wants to be close to the people.

This was a, you know, pretty much a partisan rally. He expected to be around friends. At the same time, what should be really looked at as a very serious security breach has now turned into yet another political scandal in Italy, with the prime minister's people saying, look, this is the fault of the people on the left who have made it absolutely acceptable to say whatever they want to say about the prime minister.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, he says he wants to be closer to the people. He sure got a little close. Don't know how close he'll be when he gets out of the hospital.

Paula Newton for us this morning. Thank you so much.




HOLMES: This morning's top stories just minutes away, including President Obama says enough is enough, and today he is heading with the heads of banks pressuring them to lend more. But will the tough talk make any difference.

CHETRY: It was a historic vote in Houston, the city electing its first openly gay mayor. We're going to hear what Mayor-elect Denise Parker has to say about her win. Those stories and more at the top of the hour.


HOLMES: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

Can you imagine finding out you have a serious disease that is robbing you of your mind, make it difficult for you to even communicate? That is exactly what happened to a successful businessman in the prime of his life.

So exactly what is this condition and just how common is it? CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has this "A.M. Original."


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: When Kenny Sparks turned 49 he was at the top of the game. He was a popular co- owner of a multi-million dollar contracting firm with a loving family. He had it all. But things began to change for him.

CHERYL FULLER SPARKS, KENNY'S WIFE: He was stumbling over words, and being in the middle of a sentence, and he would forget what he was saying.

GUPTA: Cheryl Sparks thought it was stress, but Kenny became more agitated, depressed, non-communicative.

GRAHAM SPARKS, KENNY'S SON: He would tell stupid jokes all the time. He wasn't telling jokes, he wasn't talking with, and he was just sitting there with a blank stare on his face.

ALEXANDRA SPARKS, KENNY'S DAUGHTER: Nutrition-conscious, he would go to the gym every day, swim for hours on end. And he was polishing off gallons of ice cream.

GUPTA: After several doctors visits, Cheryl finally talked her husband into seeing a specialist. What she learned what was shocking.

CHERYL FULLER SPARKS: He couldn't draw a clock and put the hands on it.

GUPTA: When doctors told her Kenny had a condition known frontotemporal dementia, for FTD, she was relieved.

CHERYL FULLER SPARKS: I was thankful it wasn't Alzheimer's. Clearly, what did I know?

GUPTA: Doctors told her, FTD would rob Kenny of his personality, his speech, and his life. His diagnosis was fatal. Frontotemporal dementia is a degenerative disorder that damages cells in the anterior temporal and/or frontal lobes of the brain. Typically diagnosed in people in their 50s and 60s, the disease affects the area of the brain that manages reasoning, social awareness, memory, causing changes in personality and judgment.

DR. MURRAY GROSSMAN, NEUROLOGIST, U. PENN: What is particularly frustrating for family members is that the patients don't seem to have much insight into the difficulties that they are having or the difficulties that they may be causing for others.

GUPTA: Although FTD affects approximately 250,000 Americans, it's becoming clear more people suffer from the condition and don't know it.

SUSAN DICKINSON, DIRECTOR, ASSOCIATION FOR FRONTOTEMPORAL DEMENTIA: There is a great lack of awareness among physicians. So the journey to diagnose this, many of our families, it takes five or six years, and they go through a series of misdiagnoses.

GUPTA: The association is trying to get the word out by offering information on support groups and resources for physicians and families on their website.

For the Sparks family, it has been a difficult waiting game. And because the illness is rare, some friends and family don't understand Kenny's condition. But his wife and children do, and to them it's devastating to watch him slip away.

CHERYL FULLER SPARKS: It's knowing that the man that I thought that I was going to grow old with, I'm not.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


HOLMES: You can check out with all of Dr. Sanjay Gupta's reports on our Web site,

CHETRY: You're top stories are coming your way in just 90 seconds. It's 57 minutes past the hour. We'll be right back.