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The Situation Room

Mitt Romney Booed; Passengers Rocked in Sky; Iran Producing Deadlier Missiles; Courting the Black Vote; President Obama Not Going to NAACP Conference; Running Mate Race; DirecTV Drops 19 Channels; Florida A&M President Resigns; Priest Denies Shoplifting Charges; Secret Sauce No Longer Secret; Religious School Accused Of Making Students Panhandle; Border Patrol Closings Prompt Concerns

Aired July 11, 2012 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Mitt Romney gets booed for promising to repeal Obamacare. We will have extensive coverage this hour.

Also, airline passengers show off bandages and scrapes after getting tossed around in the sky. And they're the lucky ones.

Allegations a church-affiliated school forces children to beg for money at subway stations. We have it all on video.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin with the Republicans' furious assault on President Obama's health care reform law and equally determined backlash. Mitt Romney faced it today going off-script after some prolonged booing interrupted his speech before the NAACP Convention in Houston.

That's where our national political correspondent, Jim Acosta, is standing by. He's in the hall right now.

Jim, show our viewers, tell our viewers what happened in Houston.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, NAACP leaders told CNN they praised Mitt Romney for showing what they called courage in coming to this convention today. But safe to say Mitt Romney did not hide his positions on issues that are dear to the civil rights group. And members of the NAACP did not hide their feelings about Mitt Romney.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The honorable Mitt Romney this morning is our speaker.


ACOSTA (voice-over): At first, the applause for Mitt Romney at the NAACP was polite. But that did not last long. When the GOP contender pledged to get the national debt under control in part by repealing the president's health care law, the crowd let him have it.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And so to do that, I'm going to eliminate every nonessential expensive program I can find. That includes Obamacare. And I'm going to work to reform and save...


ACOSTA: The boos lasted 15 seconds, the most sustained negative response Romney has seen in this campaign. The chair of the NAACP's national board said members objected to Romney's use of the term Obamacare, a buzzword coined by the law's conservative critics.

ROSLYN BROCK, NAACP CHAIRWOMAN: That was a loaded statement. And the crowd erupted in displeasure.

ACOSTA (on camera): They booed. People booed here.

BROCK: They absolutely booed.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The Romney campaign said the reaction came as no surprise. Consider the latest Gallup survey which shows the GOP contender trailing President Obama by a whopping 87-5 percent margin among African-Americans.

But Romney brought his own numbers, namely the African-American unemployment rate. At more than 14 percent, it's well above the national rate. But when he made the case that he's the right candidate to fix that, he was booed again.

ROMNEY: If you want a president who will make things better in the African-American community, you are looking at him. You take a look.


ACOSTA: Romney did hear some cheers when he hinted at his opposition to gay marriage, an issue that has divided NAACP members.

ROMNEY: I will defend traditional marriage.


ACOSTA: The outburst did not sit well with everyone in the audience. Some NAACP members defended their booing.

AKOSUA TYUS, NAACP D.C. CHAPTER: He literally came into our house and attacked the issues that are important to us on our turf.

ACOSTA (on camera): You don't regret booing a presidential candidate?

CLAUDIA BROWN, NAACP MEMBER: Oh, absolutely not. I was not booing him, the man. I love all people because I'm a Christian. I was booing his agenda.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Still others said it was embarrassing.

PEGGY HOLMES, NAACP MEMBER: Because I wasn't raised that way. If I invite someone to my house, I treat them like a guest. I respect them.

ACOSTA (on camera): Are you a little disappointed that they booed him?

HOLMES: I was.

ACOSTA (voice-over): A Romney campaign spokeswoman noted the candidate also got his fair share of applause. Just how much applause is in the eye of the beholder.

TARA WALL, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN SPOKESWOMAN: Three boos out of thunderous applause over and over again, I will take that.

QUESTION: Did you hear thunderous applause?

WALL: Applause in general.


ACOSTA: At the end of his remarks, Mitt Romney did receive a standing ovation from about -- what we noted to be about half the crowd here in Houston at this NAACP Convention.

And Mitt Romney also got cheers online from conservatives who praised him for not tailoring his message to this much more liberal audience.

But, Wolf, if there was one thing that was made clear today, that is a repeal of Obamacare -- a repeal of the president's health care law will not go down quietly in an Obama -- or in a Romney administration, I should say. The members of this civil rights group made that very clear today -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I think it's fair to say, though, that a lot of folks were just pleased that he showed up, that he was there. He came. He paid his respects to the NAACP, the oldest civil rights organization in the country.

ACOSTA: That's right. He could have skipped this event altogether. The president is not coming here tomorrow. He's sending Vice President Joe Biden. The White House says the president has a scheduling conflict. So at least Mitt Romney is coming or did come today.

And you have to say, Wolf, he did not hide his positions from this group. He basically told them what he would do if he were president of the United States, whether they liked those positions on not. He was pretty straightforward about what he would do.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta on the scene for us in Houston, thanks for that report.

And this just in. Only a few moments ago, the House of Representatives passed a full repeal of the president's health care reform law. It's the 33rd time they voted to kill the law. But aside from scoring some political points, today's vote doesn't really change anything. The debate did provoke plenty of partisan fireworks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: We have to go repeal health care again for the 31st time. You would have thought the 17th time would be good. Maybe the ninth time, 29th time -- 31st time, it's like they're going for a record or something.


BLITZER: Our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, watched all of this unfold up on Capitol Hill. She's joining us right now.

First of all, we have the final vote, right, Dana?


Five Democrats switched over and voted with the Republicans. A couple of those are retiring. And a few of them are Democrats from districts that make it clear that if they want to come back here and get reelected, they need to vote against the president's health care law.

As you mentioned, there certainly was not a lot of suspense into what happened today, but there was a lot of drama.


BASH (voice-over): If it was just political theater, Democrats figured why not put on a show?

REP. AL GREEN (D), TEXAS: I shall read the replacement bill.

BASH: Al Green's routine marked repeal-obsessed Republicans for not having a plan of their own.

GREEN: Let me just read half of it first. I shall now read one-half of the replacement bill. Now I shall read the other half of the replacement bill. That's the replacement bill. Here is the bill that we can read.

BASH: Another Democrat evoked grandma's favorite remedy.

REP. JOSEPH CROWLEY (D), NEW YORK: Republicans want to go back to the day when chicken noodle soup was the only option for hardworking families who couldn't afford care. The truth is, chicken noodle soup might be mmm-mmm-good for lunch, but as a health care policy, it is mmm-mmm-bad.

BASH: They even tapped into 1980s movie trivia.

REP. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: You ever seen the movie "Fatal Attraction"? It's a great film. At the end of movie, by going and boiling the Douglas family bunny. Well, Mr. Speaker, I would submit that having now had 30 different debates on this floor over repeal of the health care bill, that House Republicans have finally hit their boil the bunny moment.

BASH: Not to be outdone, this Republican chose '80s television character Boss Hogg to make his point.

REP. PHIL GINGREY (R), GEORGIA: I call this boss Obamacare. The only health care that citizens of this country can access are those approved by the boss.

BASH: Democrats are trying to turn this repeal rerun to their advantage with ads against vulnerable Republicans.

NARRATOR: Tell Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack she shouldn't repeal our benefits if she wants to keep hers.

BASH: By the GOP count, this is the 33rd vote to dismantle the health care law, even though repeal dies in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

So Democrats asked over and over, why bother? Republicans say public opinion is on their side.

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: We're going to keep at it until we get this legislation off the books. It was a bad bill. It has become a bad law.


BASH: To be sure, when Democrats were in control of the House, they held their share of votes that were clearly just political, to make political points that they knew weren't going to get anywhere.

For example, Wolf, you remember when Democrats were in control, they voted over and over to bring troops home during the Iraq war during the Bush administration knowing full well that was not going to happen.

BLITZER: And you point out five Democrats voted with the Republicans to repeal the president's health care law. I take it all of the Republicans were united. There was no dissent among them, is that right?

BASH: That's correct. No Republicans voted against their party. No Republicans did not vote to repeal. They got across-the-board party- line vote for the Republicans.

BLITZER: Interesting. Thanks very much for that, and Dana is up on Capitol Hill.

Let's discuss what's going on.

Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, is here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The Republicans were totally united about this.


BLITZER: But the polls show maybe it's not such a clear-cut issue. The Republicans think it's a winning issue for them. BORGER: They believe it's a winning issue because a majority of Americans still are opposed to health care reform. But if you look at how the numbers have shifted over the last four months, it's shifting in the other direction.

Take a look at this new "Washington Post"/ABC News poll. The question was asked, do you support health care? You see In April 39 percent and up eight points to July 47 percent. Now, that's probably because leading up to the Supreme Court decision and in the aftermath of the decision, what the White House decided to do and the Obama campaign decided to do is pick out nuggets from the health care bill that Americans really like.

And so they were talking about preexisting conditions, keeping your kids on your health care until they're the age of 26, no lifetime caps. And so they actually explained health care reform some would say better after they passed it than they did before they passed it. So public opinion is shifting a bit on it. And independent voters seem to be shifting even more towards liking the measure.

BLITZER: Interesting. As it continues, maybe more people will get accustom to it and will like it...

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: ... see it's not going to necessarily destroy their health care system that they have come to like. Well, 85 percent if not more of the American people have a health care insurance that they seem to like.

BORGER: Right. And they may change their mind in 2014 when it all takes effect. But, of course, that's after the election. Right?

BLITZER: After the election.

I want you to listen to this little clip. Here's Romney once again at the NAACP Convention in Houston.


ROMNEY: I know what it takes to put people to work, to bring more jobs and better wages. My plan is based on 25 years of success in business.


BLITZER: That's consistent with what he says out on the stump all the time.

BORGER: Always.

BLITZER: But the American people want more. They want more details.

BORGER: They do. They do. Right now what they're hearing quite honestly from both candidates is a lot of generalities about how you're going to create jobs, how you're going to reduce the debt, how you're going to improve trade.

And, again, in this ABC News/"Washington Post" poll, the question was asked, who has presented a clearer plan for dealing with the economic situation? And Obama wins that round 43 percent to 38 percent.

Now, it's not that the president has been that specific. It's just that people kind of have an idea of what he did over the last four years. Mitt Romney claims he has the business experience, but this poll shows that the public doesn't really understand what he's going to do to fix the economy.

At a certain point, maybe it's at the convention, maybe it's in the fall campaign, he needs to get more specific. You can't just run and say, OK, the economy is bad. That's President Obama's fault. Vote for me. You have to provide an alternative. Voters want to know what you're going to do specifically.

As a 59-point plan, it is kind of a muddle. They need to know exactly what he would do.

BLITZER: Romney, he went to the NAACP.

BORGER: He did.

BLITZER: He spoke to them. There were a couple occasions where he was booed, as we just heard in Jim Acosta's report. He just reacted a little while ago. He spoke to FOX. This is what he said about the reception he received over at the NAACP.


ROMNEY: I think we expected that, of course. But, you know, I'm going to give the same message to the NAACP that I give across the country, which is that Obamacare is killing jobs.

And if jobs is the priority, then we're going to have to replace Obamacare with something that actually holds down health care costs, as opposed to causing more spending for the government and more spending for American families.


BLITZER: So, you know, he I think emerged from that event today in Houston. I think he was happy the way it unfolded, even though there were a couple of not so nice moments.

BORGER: As Jim pointed out in his piece, there were people in the audience who believed that booing was not the right thing. It should not have come as a surprise to anybody in that audience that Mitt Romney is opposed to what he calls Obamacare.

Of course he is. He's been campaigning on it for a year. So having that booed there was I think a disappointment, because I think people gave Mitt Romney a lot of credit for just showing up. Remember, George W. Bush did not attend the NAACP for some time because he knew that he would get that kind of a reception. BLITZER: We're going to have more on what happened in Houston today later this hour. Gloria, thanks very much.

BORGER: Right. Sure.

BLITZER: There's also sobering news about a threat to the United States military and to Israel. Stand by for details of a newly declassified Pentagon report warning that Iran's missiles are getting deadlier.

Also, a hazard of summer thunderstorms that every airline passenger needs to be aware of.

And a church school forcing little kids to beg for money -- CNN's cameras are there.


BLITZER: Let's get to Jack Cafferty. He's got the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, as the Democrats and Republicans get ready to host their national conventions in the next few weeks, you could ask whether it's even worth throwing these big pep rallies anymore.

The Democrats are facing numerous problems when it comes to their convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. Some Democrats aren't even going to attend, saying they'd rather stay home and campaign instead. The Democrats are millions of dollars behind the Republicans in fundraising for their convention since President Obama's refusing any corporate donations.

The president carried North Carolina four years ago, but he's got big problems there this year. Voters amended the state constitution to outlaw gay marriage, the unions are steamed because there are no unionized hotels in Charlotte, there's a sexual harassment scandal rocking the North Carolina Democratic Party, and the state has a very unpopular sitting Democratic governor, probably no coincidence then that the Democrats have already shortened that convention by one day.

It's not just the Democrats though. Some Republicans are going to skip their party's convention in Tampa.

The fact is these political conventions are expensive, four-day long parties that still get tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money. Not exactly a top priority for us taxpayers when you think about all the other places the money could go. And it's not like there's any surprise or drama anymore when the candidates and their running mates are generally known long before the conventions.

Former Mississippi Governor and RNC chairman Haley Barbour told "Politico" that he thinks three-day conventions are the answer saying nobody would know the difference besides some bartenders and restaurateurs in the host city. Here's the question: is it time to do away with the national political conventions? Go to, post a comment on my blog, or go to our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A lot of fun at those conventions. I've got to tell you. I've been going for a long time, Jack. But three days probably -- is it four days? You know, that's plenty. Three days, probably good enough.

CAFFERTY: Well, maybe they'll shorten it. The Democrats have already cut one day off theirs. We'll see what the Republicans do.

BLITZER: All right. We'll see what they do. Thanks very much, Jack.


BLITZER: There's an ominous new warning coming in from the Pentagon. Iran's missiles are getting more accurate, apparently getting more deadly as well.

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence, he's got the details for us.

What are you learning, Chris?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Iran's missiles are getting more accurate, but they may not have to be because they are also getting more deadly. By that I mean they're developing a new payload system that spreads out the destruction over a wider area than a solid warhead. And you've got to remember how many U.S. bases and U.S. ships are in that region.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): Iran's recent missile test showed off their capabilities. And a new report from the Pentagon confirms it. Iran's ballistic missiles are more accurate, more versatile and more deadly than ever. The report finds that "Iran may be technically capable of flight-testing an intercontinental ballistic missile by 2015"-- the type of missile that could hit the U.S. if it works.

JOHN PIKE, DIRECTOR, GLOBALSECURITY.ORG: This is going beyond simply being able to strike at other countries in Iran's neighborhood.

LAWRENCE: Analyst John Pike says Iran already has missiles that reach more than 600 miles, enough to strike Israel's eastern border. But the report reveals Iran continues to improve a ballistic missile with a range of nearly 1,300 miles.

PIKE: This will give them the ability to attack a number of European countries of which we give them a degree of political influence in a crisis that they might not otherwise have.

LAWRENCE: The real battle may come on the high seas though. Within the last few weeks, the U.S. Navy has doubled the number of mine sweepers in the region to protect the oil supply moving through the Persian Gulf.

The Pentagon report says Iran is developing short-range missiles that can identify ships at sea and maneuver towards them in mid-flight. And Iran already has a missile that could reach the U.S. if it could put it on a ship and move it to within 600 miles of the American coastline.

PIKE: And if you wonder why it is Iran keeps delaying missile they could shoot at long-range against the United States, I suspect maybe it's because they're working on the easier solution: the missile fire from a ship.


LAWRENCE: And officials say that would be difficult to defend against because some of those missiles could fit in a standard cargo container. And, Wolf, there are thousands of ships out there sailing around with those type of containers.

BLITZER: Good stuff. Good information. Thanks very much for that -- Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon.

Coming up in our strategy session, Mitt Romney, he got booed today over the NAACP convention in Houston. But why he still may be accomplishing a larger goal when it comes to African-American voters?

Donna Brazile, Ana Navarro, they are here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And a horror stories from airline passenger who are glad to be alive.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought we were going to die. It was scary.



BLITZER: Let's get right to our strategy session. Joining us now are CNN contributor, the Democratic strategist, Donna Brazile, and our CNN contributor, the Republican strategist, Ana Navarro.

Ladies, thanks very much for coming in.

Donna, I think Romney did the right thing, honoring the NAACP, going to the convention in Houston. I think the president missed an opportunity. I think he should have gone as well.

Why didn't he?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, I thought the president was there in spirit. Eric Holder was there yesterday. The vice president's going. President Obama's going to a lot of conventions, he's doing a lot of campaign events.

But I think members of NAACP understand where the president stands on many important issues like jobs, and economy, and peace and freedom.

Mitt Romney missed a very important opportunity to widen his appeal, widen his base. I thought his speech was more about where he stands with the Tea Party and the Republicans. And not where he stands with independents and perhaps Democrats.

BLITZER: On this issue -- on this issue, you know, the annual convention in an election year, the president as you know needs to energize that African-American vote if he hopes to win some of these battleground states as he did four years ago. He's a no-show at this convention. I think it's almost like a little bit of a snub to the NAACP.

BRAZILE: Wolf, that's not true.

BLITZER: I know a lot of folks there were just telling reporters they wish the president would have been there.

BRAZILE: Of course. You know, every time I go around this country, people -- everybody wants to see the president. When I serve as a surrogate for the president, they say we like you, Donna, but we like to see the president of course.

Look, this president has done a great deal not only to put in place the policies that many -- the members of NAACP support, but people all over the country support. Mitt Romney missed an opportunity today I thought to widen his appeal to a group of people that may have been open to his economic message.

BLITZER: You and I will disagree because I think the president missed an opportunity today as well.

But let me bring Ana into this conversation.

I want to play a little clip. Here's Romney addressing the NAACP.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you want a president who will make things better in the African-American community, you are looking at him. You take a look.


BLITZER: I think he did the right thing by going, but there were some unpleasant moments when he was booed there when he spoke about repealing the president's health care law in that particular comment. On the whole, he was politely received.

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I thought he got a good reception. He wasn't just speaking to the people in the room. He was speaking to all the people watching this program right now and who like the fact that he sent a message of inclusiveness.

And I do agree with you, President Obama did snub this organization. Being there in spirit doesn't count. They like him there in flesh and blood. You know, you can't be there in spirit for these types of conventions.

I think Mitt Romney knew he was going to get booed. I saw him get booed for the same comment at the Latino event about a month ago. But I think what he's playing at is making sure that he's saying the same thing to every audience, and that he's not being considered a pander. That he's going there, he's saying the truth, he's making his point, he's talking about the economy, he's talking about jobs. He's reminding the community, that community in particular, that group, that African-American unemployment is 14.4 percent -- and just making his case.

But I think this was much more about the independent voters, the swing voters who really like the message big-time.

BLITZER: Because in some of those battleground states, like North Carolina, if it's a battleground state, or Florida or Virginia, not Virginia so much. But in Florida and North Carolina, the African- American unemployment rate is much higher than the 14.4 percent nationwide.

And if the president's going to win those states, he's got to make sure those folks show up and vote.

BRAZILE: Look, the recession disproportionately impacted people of color, blacks, Latinos and other Americans. There's no question that the president's policies has helped stabilize the situation. But in order to get the situation what I call in a better place, we need more. We need more help from not just the Congress. We need President Obama and the private sector to help lift people out of poverty.

Wolf, I have to tell you something. What matters to African-Americans and others is not just showing up one day, but being part of the history and long struggle for civil rights and equality for all people.

BLITZER: He's sending a video tomorrow to the NAACP. That's obviously not the same as actually going there shaking hands, talking to folks, seeing them and giving a personal speech.

BRAZILE: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Let's move on to the vice presidential, veepstakes as we're calling it for Republicans. Just a while ago over on Fox, Mitt Romney was asked when he's going to make a decision, how that's coming along. Listen.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can't tell you anything about the VP process, Neil, you know that. If I did, I'd have to, you know -- I'd have to come after you with my men in black flashlight and erase your memory.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Knows "Men in Black." He knows that movie. He's probably seen one and two. All right, so we have a little analysis on our own based on comments that you've made are you being vetted, are you not being vetted.

My analysis the top tier, Ana, we'll put them up right now, those seemingly most likely to be at the top of that list, Rob Portman, the senator from Ohio, Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor, Paul Ryan, the very popular Wisconsin congressman and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

Are they on your top four most likely vice presidential running mates for Romney?

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think they are. I think they are in the top tier. I think there are probably other names. I think we're probably missing Kelly Ayote from New Hampshire, maybe a couple other women. I wouldn't be surprised if Condi Rice or somebody like that is also being vetted.

BLITZER: Donna, there is a second tier that I put together and I'll put that up, a second tier of possible candidates, John Thune, the South Dakota senator, Marco Rubio, the Florida senator, Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, and Condoleeza Rice.

Condoleeza Rice, Bill Crystal, a publisher of the "Weekly Standard," he thought that she would be pretty good. She should be on the short list. She keeps saying she's not interested, doesn't want it. But she's got a lot of qualifications.

BRAZILE: And she's someone I greatly admire and I think she would make a terrific vice president. But, you know, she said over and over again, she likes policy, she's not that interested in politics. I think that second tier is a little more attractive to me personally than the first tier, but then again I like diversity.

BLITZER: You like Thune, Rubio --

NAVARRO: John Thune is attractive. Condoleezza Rice would be terrific. She brings, you know, foreign policy bonafide that I thik Romney -- would be an asset to Romney at this point and also a historical first.

BLITZER: Would Condee Rice be a game-changer?

BRAZILE: I think. Many people know of her long history with civil rights issues, but foreign policy, economic issues, but her association with George Bush might not be what Mitt Romney is looking for. He might want a fresh face or fresh start. And therefore I think my friend here, Mr. Rubio. Her senator might be on that list as well.

NAVARRO: You know I'm rooting for him.

BLITZER: Romney says he's being vetted. So we'll see how serious.

BRAZILE: I think he's attractive.

BLITZER: And a lot of speculation. This announcement by the way could come as early as next week. He might not necessarily wait until closer to the Republican convention at the end of August.

NAVARRO: That might not be a bad idea. Listen, this week we saw Barack Obama saying VP Biden both to the NAACP and to the La Raza Convention. It's pretty nice to have an attack dog on call.

BLITZER: The most important thing is whoever he picks should be qualified.

BRAZILE: Do not pre-empt the Olympics. Please do not pre-empt the Olympics.

BLITZER: No. They wouldn't do it before the Olympics.

NAVARRO: No political ads during the Olympics in states like Florida.

BLITZER: To be in the Olympics a little bit. Ladies, thanks very much.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

BLITZER: A flight to Miami was close to landing when terrified passengers began to fear the worst. About a dozen people were injured. We're going to tell you what happened.

And millions of Americans suddenly can't watch channels like MTV, Comedy Central and more. We're going to tell you why those channels went dark today on some systems out there.

And in our brand new 6:00 p.m. Eastern Hour, our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta, he will join us live from Cambodia where there's been a major medical breakthrough. And he personally helped solve this mystery.


BLITZER: Nineteen channels have gone away for millions of TV viewers. Lisa Sylvester's monitoring that, some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What do you have, Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Wolf. Well, DirecTV and Viacom couldn't reach an agreement on programming fee so channels like Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central went away at midnight.

DirecTV says Viacom is asking for a 30 percent increase in fees at a time when ratings are down. Viacom says its proposed increase would mean pennies a day per subscriber. Twenty million DirecTV subscribers are now affected.

And the president of Florida A&M has resigned amid a hazing scandal at the school. James Ammons' resignation comes on the same day of the parents of drum major, Robert Champion, outed the university to a wrongful death lawsuit.

Champion died last November after being beaten by band members on a hazing ritual. Eleven band members now face hazing charges.

And a Catholic priest in Boca Raton, Florida is apologizing to his parishioners for his arrest on shoplifting charges, but he insists he's innocent.

Police say this surveillance video shows the priest picking up a $900 picture frame. A store employee says he left the store without paying for it. Six days later police arrested the same priest at another store on charges that he shoplifted two coats.

And at last, something you might have wondered. The fast food mystery is solved. In a video on Canadian YouTube, the executive chef for McDonald's revealed what's in the Big Mac's secret sauce.

In case you were wondering, it is mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish, classic yellow mustard, white wine vinegar, garlic, onion powder and paprika.

The amounts though they are not given. You'll have to figure that out through trial and error. You can see it there. I watched a little bit of it. He said these are household items. Sure enough that's what the secret sauce is, Wolf.

BLITZER: Secrets indeed. Thanks very much, Lisa, for that.

It was indeed anything, but a routine approach to the Miami Airport.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never felt something like that in the past. Basically with the noise and the bumps, you just think it's going down.


BLITZER: Passengers describe the 15 seconds from hell they'll never forget.


BLITZER: If you were to see a child begging for money on the street, the reasonable assumption would be that they were homeless, that their family were in dire straits.

But for some children in Oakland, California, it's part of their school curriculum. CNN's Gary Tuchman reports. Those aren't the only questions about one private school.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Walk down the sidewalk and turn the corner at this BART station, one of the Bay Area subway stations, and you'll see him.

A little boy, 6 years old or 7 years old at most, panhandling, begging for money, but it's not for him or his family. It's for his school. In fact this begging is, in a way, part of the curriculum at the St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church School in Oakland, California.

This child, whose identity we're protecting, looks like a modern day version of "Oliver Twist." Standing nearby, an adult companion who's not happy we're there.

(on camera): Can you just tell me your name?


TUCHMAN: My name's Gary Tuchman with CNN. We want to know why you have children out here begging for money at this subway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not answering any questions.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But we found out who the man is. He's Reverend Robert Lacy Jr. He and his father are the people who run St. Andrews.

The school whose children are regularly spotted hustling for money at subway stations. So why are they doing it? Where is the money going?

REVEREND ROBERT LACY JR., ST. ANDREWS MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH: If you have any questions, you can give them to us in writing.

TUCHMAN (on camera): OK, but why can't you answer that question now, sir? I think children should be home during their school work during the year not begging commuters for money. This poor little boy should be doing homework.

(voice-over): Yolanda Bailey had three children at St. Andrews and she pulled them out.

YOLANDA BAILEY, MOTHER: To me, it's just like a big slave camp.

TUCHMAN: Bailey said she was told her kids were doing fundraising. She says no one told her they were begging.

LA ASIA HOLT, FORMER ST. ANDREW STUDENT: Me and my little brother went with Pastor Lacy. He told us if we didn't make $50, we would stay there until we did.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Catherine Joiner says she pulled her son, Charlos, out of the school where she paid $3,000 a year in tuition. Charlos says he was required to panhandle for hours nearly every evening.

(on camera): You got hungry. You got thirsty. They didn't bring food or water with them?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I couldn't even sit. I couldn't sit down.

TUCHMAN: But those are not the only unseemly allegations against the father and son ministers. Yolanda Bailey said her older child was struck by the Reverend Lacy Jr.

BAILEY: He hit my son on the top of the head with a book.

TUCHMAN: Her younger son says he was hit several times.

(on camera): And what did he hit you with?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Belt and spoons.

TUCHMAN: A belt and spoons?

(voice-over): Meanwhile, Charlos says he was locked in a second floor classroom because he had talked in class and wasn't allowed to use the bathroom. So he says he climbed out on this second story window ledge to escape.

CHARLOS STEWART JR., FORMER ST. ANDREW STUDENT: I didn't want to do it so I tried to come in and I slipped on the ledge, and I fell, and I broke my foot in five places.

TUCHMAN: This is a picture shortly after Charlos went to the hospital and these are the medical reports. Charlos' mother says the school denied he fell out of the window.

CATHERINE JOINER, MOTHER: I just thank God that he landed on his feet. He could have -- there's no doubt he would have been dead, had he fallen head first.

TUCHMAN: And there's more to say about the school. St. Andrews has declared it has 195 students. The more students, the more federal taxpayer money received.

The school has cashed in more than $220,000 taxpayer dollars over the last five years. Will Evans is a reporter with California Watch, a non-profit media organization that has been investigating the school.

(on camera): They say in official filings they have 195 students. Your finding is how many students go to that school?

WILL EVANS, "CALIFORNIA WATCH": They definitely -- under 30 at any given time and sometimes much fewer as few as 10.

TUCHMAN: Is there anyone who carefully looks at the form schools fill out saying the number of students they have?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): The Oakland Unified School District is the entity doling out the money and admits it has blindly trusted schools like St. Andrews. Noel Gallo has been on the board for 19 years.

NOEL GALLO, OAKLAND UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT: It's very difficult for me to stand here and make excuses because it happened.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Is there a chance that St. Andrews will receive more taxpayer money through you.

GALLO: Absolutely not. TUCHMAN: Zero?

GALLO: Zero funds.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Back at the BART station --

(on camera): So let them take the picture of the transaction taking place. You have no right to put that up there. This is a public place. Put that down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not public.

TUCHMAN: Sir, this is a public place. If people are giving money to your children, we're allowed to film it.

Reverend Lacy told me at the subway station if I e-mailed him questions, he'd provide me with answers. So I did, but he didn't. Which means the next stop was coming to the church.

I knocked on the locked door. I know there are people inside. But no one wanted to say hello.

(voice-over): But just as we were about to leave, we ran into Reverend Lacy on the street.

(on camera): Regarding these allegations about children in the subway station, about the abuse allegations, about you taking too much taxpayer money, what's your response to all that?

LACY: We're honest people. We're law abiding citizens. We have committed ourselves to do God's service here in this community. And that's what we've been doing it and that's all we have to comment at this time.

TUCHMAN: But no specific answers to those allegations?

LACY: No, no, no answers to that. We're praying people. If you don't mind, we'd like to say a prayer with you here right now.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And his prayers were the last words he said to us. Gary Tuchman, CNN, Oakland, California.


BLITZER: State and county investigators now are looking into the abuse and the panhandling allegations. BART, like many transit systems in the United States, they give permits to fundraising groups. But because of this case, there now appears to be momentum to change that policy.

Horror stories from airline passengers who are glad to be alive. We have details of 15 seconds they will never forget.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought we were going to die. It was scary. (END VIDEO CLIP)


BLITZER: Jack Cafferty's back with the "Cafferty File," -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, question this hour is as follows, is it time to do away with the national political conventions?

Susan writes, "The party that foregoes their convention and instead uses the money to help areas affected by the economy, Detroit, or natural disasters, Colorado, New Orleans, would gain more votes than any convention could ever earn them."

Steve in California writes, "I think it's time to get rid of them as society gets more and more technology-savvy. I don't see why we need to host conventions and major benchpolitan centers just to cause huge traffic jams."

Miguel in Texas writes, "Have you lost your bearings? Lose all those millions of dollars to boost the local economy? The conventions also give the president to-be and vice president time to make points with the people who then go out and campaign hard for them up until the election."

J.K. in Minnesota, "Yes, do away with them and the electoral college and go on the popular vote. That way the candidates better pay attention to all parts of the country and not just the swing states. What a screwed up system we have."

Eric in Toronto writes, "You mean do away with the four-day commercial that no one watches? Besides, the candidates' speeches, nothing else really matters."

Brandon in Iowa writes, "I'd say it's time to bag the conventions. They're a waste of time, money and promote the polarization of America."

Bob in Ohio, "Nope, I would rather watch politicians and their supporters lying and partying than anything passes through my TV every evening."

And Pat in Michigan writes, "You act like the unemployment isn't bad enough already, now you want to put a bunch of hookers out of business?"

If you want to read more about what to do with the conventions, go to the blog or our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you.

So while many in Washington are discussing Homeland Security, illegal immigrants, budgets, are forcing border patrol stations to close.

In our brand new 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour of THE SITUATION ROOM, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta will join us. He is live from Cambodia where his toughest questions most likely saved lives in a deadly medical mystery.


BLITZER: Here's a look at this hour's "Hot Shots." In Bosnia, a woman cries over hundreds of caskets being prepared for a mass burial ceremony.

In Spain, miners on strike chant in the capital city of Madrid after marching through the countryside. In India, farmers plow a field before sowing cotton seeds. And in France, a baby pygmy Tarrant sits on its perch in a zoo. "Hot Shots," pictures coming in from around the world.

While many here in Washington are discussing Homeland Security and illegal immigrants, budgets are forcing border patrol stations to close.

CNN's Ed Lavandera explains why this move has local law enforcement speaking out.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The border patrol station in Amarillo, Texas, sits on grassy prairie land on the edge of town. It's home to two border patrol agents.

The office is hundreds of miles from the border and might not be much to look at. But Potter County Sheriff, Brian Thomas, says his deputies patrol Interstate 40, a major corridor for human smuggling and he counts on the border patrol agents for help.

(on camera): What do you think happens now when you come across a group of illegal immigrants that might be being trafficked through your home?

SHERIFF BRIAN THOMAS, POTTER COUNTY, TEXAS: If we don't have any criminal charges on them, we have to let them go. I mean, there's not any other choice.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Sheriff Thomas fired off a letter to Texas lawmakers saying the plan is ill thought out and we might as well hang a sign on the Texas panhandle that says welcome illegals.

(on camera): This is one of the holding cells in the jail in Amarillo, Texas. Illegal immigrants that are captured anywhere in the massive 26-county area in the Texas panhandle are usually brought here before they're transferred to a federal holding facility.

The sheriff here in Randall County tells us that on any given day, he can see anywhere between zero and 15 illegal immigrants here.

(voice-over): The Customs and Border Protection Agency says it's closing down nine interior border patrol stations to save $1.3 million a year. The decision is part of an overall strategy to, quote, "increasingly concentrate our resources on the border." In all 41 agents will be moved out of nine cities, six in Texas and one in California, Idaho and Montana.

President Obama has pushed for this strategy of beefing up border patrol presence directly on the border.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: So we prioritized border security, putting more boots on the southern border than at any time in our history. Today, there are fewer illegal crossings than at any time in the past 40 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is where the battle belays.

LAVANDERA: Randall County Sheriff Joel Richardson argues these interior border patrol stations are second lines of defense in national security. He also worries that human smugglers will have an easier time moving across the country.

SHERIFF JOEL RICHARDSON, RANDALL COUNTY, TEXAS: I understand border violence and the need to secure our borders, but taking two agents and sending them to the border when they already serve an area of about 26,000 square miles just to me just doesn't seem to make sense.

LAVANDERA: The question these local law enforcement officials are asking is, who are they supposed to call now when they come across illegal immigrants? That's still unanswered. Ed Lavandera, CNN, Amarillo, Texas.


BLITZER: And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, a town with friends in high places facing a financial crisis. Hundreds of city workers have their pay suddenly, suddenly slashed to minimum wage.

Also, he was a close aide to Osama Bin Laden, convicted of supporting terrorism, why is he now been released from the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba?

Plus, the medical mystery swirling around Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. Fellow lawmakers want to know what's wrong with him, but he won't say.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.