tv The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN September 27, 2011 2:00pm-4:00pm PDT
room" in washington, d.c. wolf? >> drew, thanks very much. happening now, the deadly attack on the united states embassy in afghanistan, may be pushing the obama administration to dramatic new action. this hour, new signs the dangerous haqqani network will be designated by the united states government as a gang of terrorists. plus, presidential speculation surrounding the new jersey governor is building to a fee vor pitch, hours before a major speech by chris christie, why are some republicans fix eighted on a man who -- fixated on a man who insists he's not a candidate and won't be a candidate. michael jackson's doctor in tears as prosecutors accuse him of gross negligence. dr. conrad murray now on trial in the pop star's death. our own dr. sanjay gupta is studying the medical evidence. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in the situation room. up first this hour, the united states weighs new action against a very dangerous
militant group that may be as big a threat to the united states in afghanistan as al qaeda or the taliban. the obama administration appears ready to formally call the haqqani network what so many people believe it is, a terrorist organization. our foreign affairs correspondent jill dougherty is at the state department, she's been digging on this story. what are you learning? >> wolf your know, the political pressure here in the united states has been building to put the haqqani network on that list of terrorist organizations. but what really put force behind the argument is a violent action by the group itself. >> reporter: violent attacks in afghanistan, american blood spilled. >> haqqani operatives planned and conducted that truck bomb attack as well as the assaults on our embassy. >> reporter: now u.s. officials tell cnn, secretary of state hillary clinton is on the verge of designating the al qaeda linked haqqani network as a foreign terrorist organization.
one official says, i think you'll likely see some action fairly soon. >> this step is long overdue. >> reporter: behind the scenes, u.s. officials tell cnn, the decision has been debated for months. the treasury department already has targeted individual members of the terrorist group for sanctions, freezing their assets. publicly, the state department says, the secretary has been pushing pakistan to break its links with the haqqani network. >> we've made absolutely clear, that the haqqani network is job one, that we want to do it together and that's the conversation that we're having now. >> reporter: some in the military, they say, pushed for that terrorist designation. others in the administration argued it could hurt efforts at splitting the haqqanis from al qaeda, a process called reconciliation. even push the haqqanis away from a possible peace deal. but, says one expert, few in the administration now have much hope for any reconciliation. >> every indication is that the
haqqani network is getting more extreme, not less extreme, and that it's not the case that they are mostly affiliated with the taliban and maybe a little bit affiliated with others, but that they are affiliated with which ever radical element is most active at the time. >> reporter: what's more, some officials tell cnn, economic sanctions could do little to a network that has almost no assets in the u.s. another concern, potential damage to the already strained u.s. relationship with pakistan which american officials have accused of supporting the haqqani network. now putting individuals and not organizations on that terrorism list, actually has been done before. in fact, one official pointed out that taliban themselves are not on the list of foreign terrorist organizations, although individuals who are members of the taliban, are on the state department list of designated terrorists. wolf? >> jill, if the u.s. does designate the haqqani network as
a terrorist organization and the pakistani government, its intelligence agency, continues to cooperate and support the haqqani network, would that automatically force the obama administration to server that $2 billion a year aid package to pakistan? >> you know, it could have repercussi repercussions. absolutely. that's one of the difficulties in holding some of this up, this decision, is that the reper cautioncusions of making that determination they are terrorist organization would lead you to say that the isi is supporting it, which could lead you to that step. it could be a radical and important step. >> i write about all of this on my blog, cnn.com/situationroom blog on the enormous stakes involved right now in u.s./pakistani relations potentially at a turning point. check it out. jill, thank you. let's get to another important story, the man who's creating a lot of buzz in the republican presidential campaign, even though he's not a candidate, we're talking about the new jersey governor chris christie.
he's giving a high-profile speech to the party's faithful later tonight and that's ratcheting up the hopes of some republicans who say governor christie has something that's missing from the race. jim acosta is here working this story for us. why are so many people fixated right now on governor christie? >> wolf, perhaps it's due to some of the renewed hand wringing over the gop field or perhaps it's because chris christie continues to give speeches as he is tonight at the reagan presidential library. whatever it is, there are new signs the governor may be changing his mind about running for president. >> welcome back to "the view" the vice president of the united states, joe biden. >> reporter: it's safe to say the chris christie craze has shifted into overdrive when the ladies on the talk show ""the view" are asking vice president joe biden his view on the new jersey governor. >> christy is a good guy. new jersey is a big, important state. he's at the top of his game right now. >> reporter: if the game is who can generate the most
speculation, christy is winning, despite repeatedly telling audiences he's not running. take last week. >> it's got to be something that you and your family really believes is not only the right thing to do, but i think what you must do. at that time in your life, both for you and for your country and for me, the answer to that was, it isn't. >> reporter: or last february. >> i threatened to commit suicide. i did. i said, what do i have to do short of suicide to convince people i'm not running? apparently i actually have to commit suicide. to convince people i'm not running. >> reporter: this week it was former new jersey governor tom cain who ratcheted up the christie chatter when he told "the national review" on-line it's real, he's giving it a lot of thought. i think the odds are a lot better now than they were a couple weeks ago. >> he was for standing up for roe versus wade before he was against roe versus wade.
>> reporter: but it may be wishful thinking for republicans who cringe at the idea of choosing between rick perry and mitt romney and long for christie's combative yet confident style. >> it's people who raise their voices and yell and scream like you that are dividing this country. we're here to bring this country together, not to divide it. [ applause ] >> reporter: christie is hardly a cure-all for conservatives. he believes manmade climate change is real. >> it's time to defer to the experts. >> reporter: last summer he blasted critics in the religious right who objected to his appointment of a muslim judge. >> this sharia law business is crap. it's just crazy. i'm tired of dealing with the crazies. >> reporter: that was a major turnoff for christian conservatives. >> he's made some very questionable appointments. of some key positions. he has some backing from individuals who are clearly on the other side of most social issues, so i think he would have a difficult time gaining a lot
of support among social conservatives. >> reporter: back to those tea leaves. christie's brother told a new jersey newspaper he is sure the governor is not running, but a close adviser to christie tells cnn the storm of speculation is incredible but this is a decision that, quote, will come from chris christie on his terms. as you know, wolf, that is not a yes, but it's also not a no. it seems right now the only person who knows what chris christie is doing is chris christie. >> it's going to be hard for him to run after he himself has said he's not ready, he's not qualified to be president of the united states and all of a sudden to change his mind on that, that's going to be difficult for him to walk away from. i assume he's not going to run. let's be honest about why there's all this pining for chris christie. a lot of republicans out there are nervous about rick perry. they have been disappointed in his debate performance and as you know, the -- even the president of the united states went after rick perry the other day, saying, you know, his state is on fire, referring to texas,
yet he's raising questions about global warming. >> that's right. and we did a little digging on that. you'll remember the president took that swipe at perry over the weekend at a fund-raiser saying, you know, as you just said, wolf, that here you have a governor whose state is on fire, denying climate change. it turns out scientists from several federal agencies have said the fires are largely due to la nina weather patterns and not global warming. we found this youtube video featuring a department of agriculture meteorologist summing it up this way and talking about the la nina effect on the drought in texas. >> the cause of the dry weather is a la nina system in the pacific ocean that is affecting u.s. weather. >> we're at at least a 5050 chance we will slide back into at least a moderately strong la nina event and that could have more devastating consequences for texas and oklahoma and other drought-ravaged areas. >> now, the perry campaign released a statement calling it
outrageous that the president would use the wild first in a political attack heard from the obama re-election campaign and they're standing behind the attacks saying there is a strong consensus from scientists that climate change does cause changes in the weather. they're sticking with this one. >> we'll monitor governor christie's speech tonight. right now president obama is wrapping up his western tour with a visit to the critical swing state in the 2012 election. listen to some of his remarks in colorado. >> the republicans in congress, they call this class warfare. you know what? if asking a millionaire to pay the same tax rate as a plumber makes me a class warrior, a warrior for the working class, i will accept that. i will wear that charge as a badge of honor. [ applause ] the only warfare i've seen is the battle that's been waged against middle class families in
this country for a decade now. >> these days the president's speeches often blur the line between official white house business and political campaigning and that's raising some questions about who's paying for these presidential trips, like the one he's on right now. we asked our white house correspondent, brianna keilar, to take a closer look. what did you find out? >> you're paying for it, i'm paying for it, taxpayers for the most part are paying for it, wolf. as you know it's standard practice for presidents, democratic and republican, to be fair to go on what are freed predominantly fund-raising trips on the taxpayer's dime rather than having their campaign pay for it. why? there's a formula. some official white house business on the trip and that means the president's election campaign and the party pay very little of the cost. on the president's three-day western swing he fielded questions at a town hall meeting in northern california and visited a high school in denver. two official events to promote his jobs plan. compare that to the seven fund-raisers he headlined on the
trip. he raised at least $7.5 million for his re-election coffers and the democratic national committee. and you, the taxpayer, are footing the bill for most of the trip, which also costs millions of dollars. pete sep with the national taxpayers union, a nonpartisan group against wasteful government spending. >> usually a political party only covers a fraction of the costs of presidential travel. usually in the single digit percentages. most of the money raised really comes at a free cost to the parties. they only reimburse for a few hundred thousand dollars on a given trip, if taxpayers are lucky. >> reporter: it's expensive for the president to travel. air force one costs about $180,000 per hour to operate, according to the air force. there's a support plane for the president's limousines, sometimes another for his helicopter marine one, and a secret service detail. hotel rooms and meals for dozens
of white house staffers, and don't forget local security costs, like overtime for police officers in the presidential motorcade. >> not for me, but for you. >> reporter: previous presidents, democratic and republican, have done the exact same thing. in september of 1995, president clinton attended eight fund-raisers in four days on a cross-country swing. and then there's the campaign events that don't raise money, but rally support. like this one. president bush's dramatic entrance into a campaign event at a florida baseball stadium, less than a month before his re-election. and taxpayers picked up almost the entire tab. call it a perk of the presidency. something a mere candidate does not enjoy. >> that's the point. when the parties themselves have to pay for the costs of the pomp and the circumstance, well, the pomp and the circumstance gets a lot smaller, a lot more modest. >> reporter: now there's actually not a lot of transparency in how much it
costs for the president to travel. we asked the white house, but as other administrations have done, they don't disclose the costs, citing security concerns, namely they don't want to reveal secret service costs. a report done by a democratic congressional committee during president bush's tenure, put the cost as divided, 97/3. that's 97% paid by the taxpayers, 3% paid by the party. not necessarily a totally unbiased report, but it's really all there is to go by, wolf. >> i'm sure the republicans will do another report right now, taking a closer look, if they come up with a different number 97/3. good report. i learned something from you and i covered the white house as you know, for almost eight years during the clinton administration. i didn't know it costs $180,000 an hour to fly air force one? >> that's right. when you factor in the maintenance costs and you're talking about sort of averaging all of those things out and the fuel and everything all in one thing and operational hours, almost $200,000. >> wow.
brianna, thanks very much. facebook is wrapping up its political networking. we're taking a closer look at why social media companies are trying to make a bigger impression on the 2012 election and on washington. and what brought michael jackson's doctor to tears today? stand by for a report on dr. conrad murray's trial and our own dr. sanjay gupta will give us some perspective on the drug that killed the pop star. ♪
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let's get to jack cafferty for the cafferty file. >> president obama has made racism worse in america. those words from african-american actor morgan freeman. he told cnn's piers morgan the other night that the tea party's opposition to president obama, the nation's first black president, is rooted in racism. freeman claims tea partiers will do whatever it takes to, quote, get this black man out of here, unquote. freeman adds that the tea party shows the weak, dark underside of america and that, quote, we're supposed to be better than that, unquote. well the only black republican
candidate for president pushed right back. businessman and tea party member herman cain says most of the people who criticize the moment, the tea party moment, have never been to a tea party rally. cain says name calling will continue because opponents don't know how to stop the tea party movement. meanwhile with black leaders grumbling mr. obama hasn't done enough about staggering black unemployment the president evoked language that sounds a whole lot like the civil rights era. he told the congressional black caucus to march with him, quote, take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes, unquote. americans are split on how mr. obama's presidency has changed race relations in this country. a recent "usa today"/gallup poll shows 35% surveyed say race relations have improved while 23% say they've gotten worse under president obama. 41% see no change. back in 2008, when the nation voted for hope and change, americans had a much rosier view of what the president would do for race relations.
gallup found that day after mr. obama was elected, a whopping 70% predicted race relations would improve. here's the question, has president obama made racism worse? go to cnn.com/caffertyfile, post a comment on my blog or our post on the situation's room's facebook page. a location that a growing number of you are going to. lots of people going to the facebook page. >> they should. for good reason. thank you. good question. we'll see what our viewers think of very provocative. as the 2012 campaign heats up one of the most influential internet companies in the united states is creating a whole new vehicle to try to influence elections. we're talking about facebook. lisa sylvester is here looking into this story for us. it's got some significant ramifications. >> it does. wolf, google has had a pack since 2006 and facebook is now getting in on the action and for all of its grassroots origins it's important to keep in mind that facebook is actually a multibillion dollar corporation
with a lot at stake in washington. >> reporter: facebook is friending people in high places. the internet company that ceo mark zuckerberg started in his harvard dorm room has formed a political action committee to financially back political candidates. >> i think people are surprised because they look at mark zuckerberg and say this young kid has so much money and so much influence and he's going to go to washington and try to exert himself on the lawmakers. >> reporter: in a statement, a facebook spokesman said quote -- facebook joins the ranks of other tech companies moving into politics. google co-hosted a republican presidential debate last week. linkedin held a town hall style meeting with president obama. at the same time, congress is
starting to pay more attention to internet companies. google's ceo, eric smid the was called to testify before a senate package last week on anti-trust issues. other issues that might invite lobbying by internet firms, intellectual property, patents, taxes and the biggy for facebook, privacy. >> they are playing a unique role as a company in terms of all of the privacy and personal data that they control. and there's no question that they are going to be dealing more and more with legal overtures and regulatory challenges that are going to require extensive governmental interaction. >> reporter: disclosure forms show facebook, which had almost no presence in washington a couple years ago, has been ramping up on the political front, hiring big guns like president clinton's former chief of staff and former clinton press secretary joe lockhart. >> with these tech companies we're seeing a spike in activity in their campaign donations and lobbying. >> reporter: facebook so far has spent more than $550,000 on
lobbying this year, almost as much as it spent in the past two years combined. google has spent about six times as much, or $3.5 million on lobbying this year. now last year, facebook had two lobbyists in washington. this year it has more than two dozen lobbyists. >> only imagine how many it will have next year if that growth continues. they tried to hire the former white house press secretary robert gibbs, but that didn't work out. >> yeah. they are really going for the big names here. that's the point, is that it's not just two dozen random lobbyists. these are people well connected. a number of people who have been through the revolving door, who used to work in government, now working for the private sector. we saw it with joe lockhart,erskin bowls and other names. expect facebook to be a significant presence in washington. >> i assume they'll hire a bunch of republicans as well. good lobbying group in washington, republicans and democrats at a time of divided
government like this. thanks very much. good report, lisa. chilling images of michael jackson after his death, as his doctor goes on trial for manslaughter. stand by for a full report. and coca-cola's ceo says washington gridlock is forcing him to do business with china. how might that attitude affect the presidential campaign? stand by. evan, sandy . . . evan .. what pushed you toward the explorer? it was less expensive. better technology inside. there was stuff that we have in our car that i didn't even know existed. how does your music gear fit in there? it fits perfectly. i mean, i got a keyboard, acoustic guitar, merchandise, cds to sell and it all just fits like a nice game of tetris. what would you say to a friend who's skeptical about buying a ford. do you want to borrow my keys. (announcer) everything you need to stay balanced on long trips.
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the trial for the doctor charged in the death of michael jackson, started off with a chilling and emotional beginning today. right now on the stand, kenny ortega, the man who produced jackson's world tour at the time of his death. earlier, jurors heard opening statements from the lawyers of both defending and prosecuting dr. conrad murray. cnn's ted rowlands has the latest. >> reporter: in his opening statement, prosecutor david walgren started showing jurors this photo of michael jackson's partially covered body after he was pronounced dead more than two years ago. he then took nearly an hour and a half, laying out the state's case against jackson's doctor, conrad murray.
walgren took the jury through jackson's final hours, from his final rehearsal where he showed a photo of jashgz on stage to jackson's bedroom where he say murray gave jackson the overdose that killed him and left the room. >> conrad murray figuratively and literally abandoned michael jackson. >> reporter: walgren told jurors murray purchased hundreds of bottles of propofol and had been giving it to him with other drugs on a daily basis in the months before jackson's death and played this audio that he says murray recorded of jackson while he was extremely drugged. listen carefully, jackson is trying to talk about his upcoming concerts.
>> reporter: murray's lead defense attorney ed chernoff told jurors that michael jackson caused his own death taking a large amount of lorazepam and the lethal dose of propofol when murray left jackson's room to use the bathroom. >> when dr. murray left the room, michael jackson self-administered a dose of propofol. that with the lorazepam, created a perfect storm in his body. that killed him instantly. >> reporter: chernoff argued yes, murray was giving propofol to jackson for months as a way to get him to sleep but he says murray was trying to ween jackson off the drug which triggered jackson to self-administer the fatal dose. >> the evidence is not going to show you that michael jackson died when dr. murray gave him propofol for sleep.
what the evidence is going to show you, is that michael jackson died when dr. murray stopped. >> reporter: at times, in the courtroom, jackson's family broke down in tears. even murray broke down at one point, as chernoff talked about murray's relationship with michael jackson. dramatic day inside the courtroom. outside the courtroom, fans of michael jackson have been a staple here as well. this is just day one, wolf, of a trial that is expected to last four to six weeks. wolf? >> ted rowlands, i know you'll be watching and we'll stay in close touch with you. thanks very much. our chief medical correspondent dr. sanjay gupta is standing by at the courthouse with a closer look at the key drug in question right now, propofol. sanjay, the defense told us that conrad murray was not necessarily a perfect man, but he's not a killer. based on what you know about this drug propofol, this other drug that was apparently
administered at the same time, give us your initial thought on the defense argument? >> i think what they are allu alluding to, wolf, is this idea that propofol being used outside the hospital, outside of an intensive care unit or operating room, is -- was obviously a mistake, something that's not conventionally done, and that's probably what they're referring to in terms of the imperfections of conrad murray. i think what they were also saying is that the dosing of propofol that we're talking about here, 25 milligrams, is a relatively small amount. now, you know, you're hearing -- already starting to hear some push back on that, was it propofol in combination with other drugs? could these two things together have caused what they call a perfect storm within the body, causing someone's ability to breathe on their own essentially top stop, and so, you know, that's where you're sort of hearing that defense argument going. but i think that they're sort of conceding, look, giving propofol outside the hospital is a strange, bizarre thing, not
adequate monitoring equipment, not adequate resources, should someone have problems, but it wasn't the lethal problem here, wolf. >> but would that be enough, though, for i guess malpractice, if you will? the notion that he was administering this drug, which really should only be administered with a whole team of doctors, anesthesiologists, physicians, in a hospital that he was doing this on his own in someone's bedroom? >> yeah. it's -- i think for sure, and i think that's probably going to be, you know, this is obviously a criminal case that's ongoing now, but that's going to be something that may be looked into as well. i think you're absolute lit right, wolf. the idea you would use a substance like this and not have all the adequate equipment, but more to the point, there's concession that he stepped outside the room and that's sort of, you know, anesthesiology 101, when using a medication like this, the patient has to be continuously monitored, someone has to be there with the patient at all times, because they can
have sudden changes in their respiration. one thing i found interesting, though, wolf, something called the controlled substances act, and we've heard about, you know, people violating this act in the past, even with anna nicole smith, for example. propofol at that time, and still, is not considered a controlled substance, which i think is surprising to a lot of people. but in hospitals it's not a medication that's locked up like, for example, a lot of narcotics are. so this is a drug, known drug of abuse, for example, among anesthesiologi anesthesiologists, among hospital personnel, but it's not a controlled substance, wolf. >> we're all going to be a lot smarter at the end of this trial on all these drugs and the combination and the mixture. i know we're going to stay in close touch with you as well. thanks very much, sanjay gupta, our chief medical correspondent. a notorious fugitive nabbed after more than 40 years on the run. ahead, where he was found, how authorities were able to track him down. plus, iphone fans, get ready, get ready for iphone 5. we have details on apple's big announcement.
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a notorious fugitive nabbed after more than 41 years on the run. lisa sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in "the situation room" right now. >> this is a remarkable story. the fbi has announced the arrest of george wright in portugal, wright was serving a 15 to 30-year jail sentence in new jersey for the 1962 murder of a world war ii veteran before escaping eight years later. authorities then tied him to an infamous 1972 hijacking involving a $1 million ransom. they're seeking his extradition now from portugal. australia is about to become one of only a few countries in the developed world with no
restrictions for women in combat. under a new plan to be phased in over a five-year period, australian women will be able to serve alongside men in front line combat roles according to the australian defense ministry. the united states formally excludes women from direct combat units. and spec clags is swirling that the iphone 5 is just around the corner. apple has now confirmed a press event next wednesday with a much anticipated device is expected to be unveiled. the phone could feature upgrades like longer battery life and more memory. and there's new scientific evidence that a morning cup of coffee may help brighten the day, at least for some women. according to a new study, women drinking caffeinated coffee were less likely to become depressed and the more they consumed, the more that risk of depression goes down. but researchers say there's no indication that drinking a cup after cup would prevent depression altogether.
so, another reason why i reach for my coffee. >> prevent you from getting depressed but also keep you up. >> i know. that's a good reason. >> are you a coffee drinker? >> i like a couple cups in the morning. >> it's nice to get started. a terrifying moment in china today. stand by for details on that. and cnn's erin burnett shares her impressions from her recent visit to china. engineers scale to new heights to inspect earthquake damage at the top of the washington monument. [ woman ] jogging stroller, you've been stuck in the garage, while i took refuge from the pollen that made me sneeze. but with 24-hour zyrtec®, i get prescription strength relief from my worst allergy symptoms. so lily and i are back on the road again. with zyrtec®, i can love the air®.
being called the darkest day in the history of the subway system in china's largest city. more than 260 passengers were hurt when two trains collided in a tunnel in shanghai. authorities say faulty equipment was to blame and apologized to passengers. let's bring in cnn's newest anchor erin burnett. you went to china to do some reporting for your news show. there are some who say these terrible accidents are happening because china is simply growing
too quickly with very little regulation. what was your impression is. >> it's interesting, wolf. you see that. driving through china, every time i go, one thing strikes me, especially when driving through any area with mountains, how many tunnels they have built, how brand new the roads are. everything there is new and under construction and this unfortunate accident today in shanghai, two months ago we heard the same thing, it was a signal failure that caused a high-speed train to collide in july made by the same company. there certainly is something to the fact that china's growing too quickly. obviously you have the government in control of a lot of companies doing the signals and building the roads which is another challenge and it could be getting a little bit of ahead of itself. today the term brick, brazil, russia, india, and china, the four fast growing economies in the world, the man who invented that term today said that he thinks inflation is in china is a bigger risk to the growth of the world and the united states than a default in greece. and no one really paid attention to that comment because we've
got so much going on in europe. china remains the most important growth opportunity and risk to america that we've got. >> it's amazing so many companies are really expanding in china, ford, the ceo of coca-cola, you probably saw, said they're expanding their business in china because he's worried about what's going on in the united states. >> it's true. china is a real area of growth. you look at ford saying they're going to be rolling out these cars in china, biggest auto market in the world, coca-cola, every company you name it. for them china is a big opportunity and a lot of issues with how the government structures the deals they do, but if they didn't have china they wouldn't have a lot else. the u.s. economy is in such a tough spot. one thing i would say is china still has a really, really long way to go. when you look at their economy right now, the second biggest in the world, it's still only about 6.5 trillion, ourz is more than 15 trillion and we're not number one. the difference between number one and two is huge and going to remain huge for a long time. >> what's the reaction in china
to the downgrading of the u.s. credit rating since china owns so much of the american debt? >> it's interesting, wolf. we went on the streets of shanghai, i should emphasize, the wealthiest city in china and asked people what they thought. we were there after the downgrade and we wanted to ask the questions in english. if you go across china a lot of people don't speak english at all, even though interesting anecdote, more english speakers in china than people in the united states. we asked them, most of them said pride, that they thought we were living in a too super power world, china and the united states. some people, though, that were a little less sophisticated when i asked them who's stronger china or america they went on the military route and said we only have one aircraft carrier and america has a lot. america is still stronger. there's still, i would say, a lack of sophistication in how they see this versus how americans see it. definitely pride, that they think it's a two horse race now. >> you're going to be reporting
extensively on your show about this and a lot more. good luck. monday when your new show kicks off. we're going to be watching and i want our viewers to know, erin's show begins this coming monday, 7:00 p.m. "the situation room" moves up an hour, we'll be on from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. eastern instead of 5:00 to 7:00. all that begins this coming monday. erin, good luck with the new show. >> thank you, wolf. excited and see you monday. >> see you then. thank you. who's to blame for broken government in washington? you're going to want to hear what -- why one columnist says it's you, the voters. our strategy session, that's coming up next. ♪
let's get to our strategy session. we're taking a look at the politics of broken government here in washington. joining us now to discuss our cnn political contributor the democratic strategist donna brazile and joining us republican strategist rich galen, the publisher of mullings.com. let me read to you what mutar kent the ceo of coca-cola said. i'll put it on the screen. if you talk about an american company doing business in the world today, with its chinese, russian, european or japanese
so rich, the breakdown of this oop cooperation in washington is hurting in the united states not only the economy in the u.s. >> we need to have a better tech system and other things and as erin was just reporting in the last segment we also have to remember doing business in places like china isn't all rosy. >> you were suggesting in the interview in "the financial times" it might be easier to open a coca-cola plant in china an the united states. >> if the dictator likes you, that's better but putting that aside i think he's right about the polarization, we just saw again friday and again just yesterday on a relatively speaking small amount of money on a fema bill, the federal emergency management agency to give them more money.
the fact that tied everybody in knots for four days is insane. there are big problems to be solved and devoting so much time and attention to these little granular issues is -- >> do you agree, donna, the president and the executive and legislative branch is broken? >> absolutely, wolf. every time we think things are getting better in washington, d.c., things absolutely get worse. the problem is polarization is that every time we talk about it we just contribute to it because we lack the type of leaders that we often had in the past that could sit down and iron out their differences. the truth of the matter is, wolf, the electorate is very interested in divided government but they don't like dysfuncti dysfunctional government. what we've been experiencing is dysfunctional government and that needs to stop. >> when you say we lack the leaders, are you including the president of the united states? >> the president has reached out, he has tried to work with republican its but the only thing the republicans want is to basically force the president's
hand. >> sort of got caught there. >> he has reached out, he has offered the olive branch. they don't want an olive branch. they want him out of office and washington, d.c. >> exactly what the democrats wanted when george w. was at the end of his term. democrats wanted bush out just as badly as republicans would like to have the white house. but the bigger problem is that forget about assigning blame. there's plenty of blame for everybody to go around. stephanie cutters leaving the white house, i tweeted when i read that she's one of the best people in white house, it's bad news for the u.s. government, good news for the campaign, but bad news -- people like have that have stay around because she's smart, understands how this thing works and having people like that move into the campaign i think is dangerous. >> president obama just put forward a job proposal that contained almost 90% of the things republicans once used to support. >> the moment he said we're
going to pay for it by going back reneging on the deal he made last december on taxes, they were opposed. >> here is the question a lot of people are asking me, and the other day people asking me why could ronald reagan reach a deal, work across the aisle with tip o'neil, the democratic speaker. they reached a serious compromise but president obama can't reach a deal with speaker john boehner. >> this large part because john boehner is basically listening to his caucus and they are the most active and energized and many democrats said the other night they're mad because they believe the president has given up too much. >> he tried to play golf with john boehner and apparently that didn't work out well. >> well golf diplomacy sometimes works -- >> sometimes it helps. >> i don't disagree with donna on that particular point but i think there's a bigger issue and we're part of it, the three of
us aaand the other people that o that, in a 24/7 campaign mode. people are never not campaigning. when you talk about the reagan and tip o'neil days, different era, the tip o'neill days, different era, and now everybody wants to know why nothing is going on. >> it was three networks plus cnn in the '80s. >> this partisan environment is fueled by the 4/7 news cycle as well. >> blame the news media. >> exactly right. >> you know what, me and newt. >> thanks very much, guys. shocking cruelty in syria, a man's parents are beaten because of his musical protest against the ba shar al azad regime. if you think you pay through the nose for health insurance right now you're certainly not
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racism worse? rick writes, not really but a lot of people have grown weary of all the race card excuses for obama's poor performance. those critical of his performance are sick of being labeled racist. presidents are subject to criticism of their actions, policies and relationship with congress. this president gets no get out of jail free card for being black. charles writes, yes and no. he's made racism better by allowing us to talk about the issues, debate them and see a black man as a man. we're not there yet completely but we're closer and yes he has made it worse, just look at the type of president he's been, awful. i say this is a blaas a black m voted for hill. maybe we here in the nation would have been better if hillary clinton or colin powell were elected. debbie, no, the president has
not made racism worse. people who were already racist when a man of color became president of their country stopped. barbara, "somehow his being elected brought the worst out of people. they are having a hard time hiding their racism. a lot of the good christian family values people are racist." bob writes obama has made everything worse, i think he does it perfect. billy writes herm y y yy m writes, short answer, no. he's biracial, many of the caucasian people, republicans and tea partiers have a problem with his skin color. he didn't make it worse by running for president. this is one of the worst questions you have ever asked. if you want to read more of the responses to the worst question i ever asked go to my blog
cnn.com/caffertyfile or through our post on "the situation room's" facebook page, 6:00 in the east, wolf. >> thank you very much, jack. to our viewers you're in "the situation room." happening now the shocking cost of health insurance for those lucky enough to afford it. sanjay gupta is standing about i to tell all of us what it means. plus opening statements in the michael jackson death trial. prosecutors accuse dr. conrad murray of gross negligence while the defense says the pop star gave themselves a lethal dose of deadly drugs. and a precarious perch at the top of the washington monument, on the outside of the monument we're talking about, we'll tell you what this worker is doing. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. breaking news, political headlines and jeanne moos all straight ahead. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com >> as the economy limps along
and millions try to figure out how to make ends meet, stunning new figures showing how much americans are paying for health insurance right now. a survey out today says the cost to cover a family of four topped, get this, $15,000 this year, that's a 9% jump over last year. the good news for workers is that employers tend to pick up most of the tab. the worker pays a bit over $4,000, the company pays the rest but the premiums for health coverage are rising much faster than wages and inflation and many must fend for themselves and the census department says almost 50 million americans have no health insurance at all. joining us now is our chief medical correspondent dr. sanjay gupta. sanjay, first of all, what do you make of the latest numbers? >> well, you know, there's obviously a sharp spike compared to years past, 3% in the last
couple of years. is this a one-time spike or the beginning of a new trend. insurance companies when asked about this are saying the health care costs continue to rise, that's the problem. nothing has been done to control health care costs and they also say with the sluggish economy fewer people are buying health care insurance especially young healthy people, not as likely to buy health care insurance and that makes it difficult for insurance companies to rein in costs as well. there's one other point to this, wolf, when you talk about the affordable care act overall starting next year why f there's ever an increase of premiums over 10%, insurance companies have to justify that increase and some analysts say this is a proactive move. let's increase premiums now so we don't have to come increased scrutiny in the years to come. >> effectively these people are blaming president obama and the democrats' health care reform law for this dramatic spike this year?
is that what you're hearing? >> that's what some analysts are suggesting that when there's a bunch of things that will take place next year. one is you have to justify increases of premiums of 10% or more but also have to show as part of this that more of their health care dollars they're taking in are being spent on health care, 80 cents on the dollar has to be proven to be spent on health care and what's not being spent on health care or matching that equation has to be given back. one other thing, wolf, you mentioned that there's roughly $4,000 individuals will pay, families will pay, even though the premium is $15,000 so employers are covering a lot of that but there's something else happening as well, the sort of cost shifting going on. while your premium may not have gone up you notice higher deductibles, higher co-pays. employers are saying we don't want to cancel insurance outright but cost shift more and more to the consumer and especially the consumers using more health care. there's all sorts of different
dynamics going on here, wolf, but an increase in premiums overall as you said at the core of all of it. >> that's what a lot of republicans point out, this is discouraging big companies from hiring more people because of the costs of health care that are going up and up and up. sanjay, thanks very much. after conflicting lower court rulings on the constitutionality of the president's health care law the obama administration is skipping a step in the appeals process and apparently ready to have the united states supreme court take up the matter and that could mean a decision at the peak of the president's re-election campaign. our senior legal analyst jeffrey toobin is joining us now. jeff, you know a lot about the supreme court. is this a smart strategy on the part of the obama administration? >> you know, i think it is, because first of all the agencies which are preparing to implement this law have to know whether it's constitutional or not and there really is no point for waiting another year. also, i think if the law is approved, obama can say i passed
a constitutional law. if it's not approved he can run against the supreme court as presidents have done in the past but the uncertainty can't help anyone and seems like a wise choice for all concerned just to move ahead and get this thing resolved >> do you have a sense, do you think, who is going to win before the united states supreme court? no one knows the nine. that's the name of your best seller. how does it look. >> i think there are four certain democrats, ginsburg, briar, societomayor will certai vote for it, just as thomas won't we. can the liberals get one more vote? anthony kennedy is their best hope. if i would bet i would say the law will be upheld but this is a close question and the most important case since bush v.
gore at the court. >> has to be resolved by next june? >> by the end of june, the next term, it will be the biggest case, i can't wait. >> let me turn the corner for a moment to the dr. conrad murray trial that's under way in los angeles now for the death of michael jackson. let's listen to what the prosecutor and the defense attorney said today in part at least in their opening comments. >> what we expect the evidence to show is that conrad murray repeatedly acted with gross negligence, repeatedly denied care appropriate care to his patient, michael jackson, and that that -- it was dr. murray's repeated incompetent and unskilled acts that led to mr. jackson's death on june 25th,
2009. >> we believe the evidence will show you, the scientific evidence will show you that when dr. murray left the room, michael jackson self-administered a dose of propofol that with the lorazepam created a perfect storm in his body that killed him instantly. >> all right, those are the opening statements, but what do you think? is this a slam dunk for the prosecution or is it uncertain what's going to happen? >> i think it's uncertain. you know, the prosecution wants to make this a simple case, conrad murray injected him with propofol and he died end of story. the defense wants to make it a lot more complicated. no, michael jackson had a history of drug abuse. michael jackson had a financial incentive to keep performing even though he was very sick and he had the ability to inject himself and it's going to be very difficult to disprove that
michael jackson injected himself. if i had to guess, i think the key fact will be that conrad murray, when the emts came for michael jackson he didn't tell them the truth about which drugs had been administered. i think that's a very bad fact for the defense. i didn't hear a good refutation of it today but i don't think this case is a slam dunk and california being california it's going to take a long time to resolve it. >> you never know any jury that can surprise all of us, you covered the o.j. simpson trial. >> in that same courthouse. >> you were surprised by the verdict in that trial. >> you can see on youtube the expression on my face from the verdict. i look younger though. >> jeffrey, thanks very much. president obama is heading on to air force one, only moments ago he started that, he's about to take off from colorado, the last stop at his
west coast swing to pitch his american jobs act. speaking at a high school, he highlighted the need to modernize schools across the nation, create jobs and reform the tax code. our chief white house correspondent jessica yellin is joining us now live in denver, jessica, he's pushing this jobs bill. how aggressive was his sales pitch today? >> reporter: wolf, today he really put on the pressure for congress to take up and pass the american jobs act. he said that members of congress are calling this class warfare, saying that he's engaging in some class warfare. he said if they want to call him a warrior for the working class it's a badge of honor he's honored to wear. listen to what he said. >> it's been two weeks since i sent it to congress and now i want it back. i want it back, passed so i can sign this bill and start putting people back to work. i've already got the pens all
ready, all lined up on my desk. >> reporter: that's what he's saying out here but we all know, wolf, that congress isn't even in session right now, and we don't know when either the house or the senate will take up this bill, and then even if both houses will take it up in its entirety or break it up into pieces. wolf? >> colorado went for the president last time, how important is it this time around this important swing state? >> crucial, wolf, one of a handful of swing states the president has to retain in order to hold the white house. as you'll recall, of course, this is where we all were for the democratic convention where he accepted the nomination in that big speech. he won the state by more than 8.5 points and since that time unemployment has remained high, latinos, an important voting bloc for him, have become angry because immigration reform is stalled and i have spent some time in the state covering the 2010 senate race.
the tone, the mood among independents has changed here especially for president obama. he cannot take them for granted. he will have to fight for colorado in 2012. >> he's got a lot of work ahead of him in colorado and a lot of other states as well. jessica, thanks very much. huge numbers of shoulder-fired missiles have gone missing in libya. how big a threat could they pose to commercial airliners all over the world? what can the u.s. do about it? stand by. plus a college republican group's bake sale is called inherently racist, and the sponsors say that's exactly the point. so what's behind the uproar? we'll share what we know with you. ♪ [ cellphone rings ] cut! [ monica ] i have a small part in a big movie. i thought we'd be on location for 3 days, it's been 3 weeks. so, i used my citi simplicity card to pick up a few things.
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jack cafferty is here with "the cafferty file." >> the republicanial presidential debates are turning into lively affairs, maybe too lively. for the third time crowd members have booed or cheered at what some say are highly inappropriate moments. most recently rick santorum asked about the repeal of don't ask, don't tell. and an openly gay asked what the intentions were, members of the crowd booed loudly.
after the fact, santorum said he condemned those who booed the gay soldier and he said he didn't hear the boos in the debate hall. in another debate rick perry was asked about the death penalty and the more than 200 executions that have happened on his watch as texas governor. the crowd cheered that question. and another gop debate crowd got worked up ben ron paul was asked a hypothetical question about a 30-year-old uninsured man who gets cancer. the crowd cheered when asked if that man should be allowed to die. president obama criticized the reaction of some of the audience members of the gop debates and vice president joe biden called the booing of the gay soldier reprehensible. politico asks in an online conversation if the gop debate crowds are blood thirsty. critics say the debates promote extremism within the republican party and show that the mean season is upon us. they fault the candidates themselves for not stamping out the behavior when it happens,
and they should. also some suggest that the booing or cheering could turn off moderate and swing voters in the general election, and it should. here's the question. are republican debate crowds blo bloodthirsty? go to cnn.com/caffertyfile, post a comment on the blog or go to our post on "the situation room's" facebook page. it's bad enough for these morons that interrupt these proceedings with this kind of stupidity, what's worse is the candidates don't, at the time, say you know what? you don't speak for anybody in this room, and just sit down and shut up or get out of the hall, but nobody says a word. >> good point, jack, thanks very much. we'll see what our viewers think as well. we've told you about the shoulder-fired missiles that have simply gone missing in libya, possibly, get this, thousands, thousands of these missiles. that concern is prompting senator barbara boxer of california to ask that commercial airliners be equipped with anti-missile defenses.
barbara starr, what technology are we talking about? >> what senator boxer is talking about is today she issued a call for the pentagon and the department of homeland security to come up with a program, a technology program to protect commercial airliners from shoulder-fired missiles. let's walk through a couple of points here. as you say the issue on the table, frankly, is libya. you remember the pictures from cnn's ben weedman several weeks ago when he was taken through facilities in libya that showed. these shoulder-fired missiles, open boxes, empty boxes, all kinds of missile paraphernalia in disarray. there had been an estimate up to 20,000 shoulder-fired missiles in libya and quite frankly officials tell us they're not sure what's there, what's not there, what's under control, that may have left the country. that is what is prompting boxer's call. what is the technology solution?
interestingly, some aerospace companies like northrup grumman we want to show you a simulation in animation come up with a technology where the aircraft commercial aircraft would have a laser underneath it. that laser would focus on a missile coming at it, and basically electronically trick the missile into going off into the distance, keeping the commercial aircraft safe. you remember, golf, in 2002 there was an attempt to shoot down an israeli aircraft over mombasa, kenya. this type of threat is certainly out there and libya is the current concern. wolf? >> how likely is this that it could happen, some of the thousands of shoulder-fired missiles could wind up in the hands of terrorist who have some money and use them to try to shoot down a commercial airliner? >> this is the concern. as a top pentagon official told me this afternoon the problem is they don't know where these missiles are. what's the commercial aviation
industry's reaction? so far they don't really want this technology on their planes. it costs $1 million per plane so they at least want the federal government to pay for it. they believe the threat is fairly minimal, mainly when planes takeoff and land at airport, but look, the threat is only growing, and libya remains a very critical concern right now, wolf. >> barbara, thanks very much, very disturbing report. scaling the washington monument under the watchful eye of the u.s. park service and it's allowed. we'll tell you why this man is dangling from the top of a landmark right here in washington, d.c. cupcakes and cookies aren't usually controversial but one college group is organizing a bake sale that is inherently racist. we'll tell you why. ou're seriouy proposing we change our name to sun life valley.
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lisa sylvester is monitoring other top stories in "the situation room" now. good day for the markets today. >> u.s. stocks followed world markets and closed up today as investors grew more optimistic about europe being able to resolve its debt crisis. in its third straight day of gains the dow closed up nearly 150 points. earlier it was up by more than 300 points. the nasdaq and s&p also made gains of more than 1%. outrage today at you cuc bey over a bake sale organized to be racist. prices were highest for whites, followed by asians, african-americans and native americans, protesting a bill allowing state universities to consider race and gender in admissions. and amanda knox is not the
fem fatale the media painted her as, that is the argument defense attorney is making as the young american and her former boyfriend appeal their murder convictions in italy, the pair sentenced to more than two decades in prison after being convicted of killing knox's roommate in 2007. a verdict in that case could come as early as saturday. and at least seven people are dead after a powerful typhoon made landfall early tuesday in the philippines. strong winds and rain slammed the capital city of manila, but the storm struck agricultural areas the hardest. more than 64,000 people are now feeling the effects from that storm, with several thousand families in evacuation centers. really hard situation there in the philippines. >> i wish them the best. thanks very much, lisa, to are that. this programming reminder for our viewers, beginning monday for our north american viewers "the situation room" moves up an hour. please be sure to join us from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. eastern on
weekdays, "john king usa" follows at 6:00 p.m. eastern, the new erin burnett outfront show at 7:00 p.m. for all of you international viewer "the situation room" will air at the same time it does now. a protest song in washington, d.c., and in retaliation his parents are brutally beaten at home. >> here you can see the blood of my wife on the floor, on the carpet. my wife. >> can the regime of the syrian president bashar al assad be stopped? the middle east expert fuoa fuoad ajami is coming up. orld. a large part of that is oil sands. this resource has the ability to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. at our kearl project in canada,
uprising. they targeted a neighborhood in aleppo, the country's economic center. schoolchildren have taken to the streets and elsewhere call for the fall of the president bashar al assad. a new poll taken in syria shows eight out of ten want the regime to leave and more than seven out of ten hoping for reforms. the survey was carried out in secret due to a ban on opinion gathering in syria. even when syrians openly express their views right here in the united states, though, the regime back in damascus can react with horrific brutality. cnn's gina samara looked at the shocking cruelty visited upon the family of a syrian american. ♪ >> reporter: 38-year-old musician malik jandali says
"watani ann" is simple. >> what does it say? i am my homeland and my homeland is me, my love is fire in my heart for you. when am i going to see you froo he? >> reporter: days after he played the song at this july 23rd anti-assad protest rally in washington, the reaction in his homeland, he says, was swift and brutal. >> here you can see the blood of my wife on the floor, on the carpet. my wife. >> reporter: malik's father, a 72-year-old surgeon says these images taken moments after he and his wife were beaten at their home in syria show just how far that government is willing to go to silence dissent, even if the voices being raised are thousands of miles away. >> as i came back from work evening, from my hospital, came two men inside and closed the door and start hitting me,
handcuffed me back, put tape on my mouth and nose, pushed me upstairs, where -- where -- my wife -- they came up and start hitting her, mostly on her face, in front of me. and they said to us, "this is a lesson to you to know how to behave your son, who is demonstrating and making fun of us." >> reporter: cnn was unable to independently confirm the attack
in homz and the government would not respond to our question but in the past blamed armed gangs for attacks on civilians. when malik learned of what happened to his parents, he says he was saddened but not surprised. >> it's the regime that is possible of doing any crime, any atrocities, to terrorize people and to sustain them. >> reporter: as he sits in his son's home in the united states nearly two months after the attack, dr. jandali's wounds may have healed but not the pain. >> i was very, very, very shooked, and the most what hurts was to watch, to watch my wife being hitten, and i can do nothing. >> reporter: far from silencing a song of protest, the attack
against the composer's parents may have instead made it a rallying cry for the syrian opposition. gina samara, cnn, atlanta. >> just yesterday we showed you arwa damon's powerful report on the horrible torture and dismemberment of a young syrian woman and now this, the regime is beating elderly people because their kids are speaking out far away. joining us now to discuss what's going on the noted middle east scholar, dr. fouad ajami. does this surprise you at all? >> you know what's really painful about the stories it's almost difficult to comment on them. they need no comment, they make us all seem so weak and there is a race there, the regime feeling its own eminent economic
collapse is just going for broke and the people, the stubborn crowd people are just persisting and when you see this professional couple, a man in his 70s, a physician, a wife who i believe is a psychiatrist also, very educated woman and their son, and you see the treatment of the syrian people are receiving at the hands of the government it is absolutely appalling. >> i've spoken with syrians who live here in the united states, over these past several months, they've whispered in my ears that they're so scared to say anything, to go to even a little demonstration here in washington, because they fear their relatives, their parents or their grandparents will be brutally attacked in syria. i assume you've heard this from syrians living outside of syria as well. >> absolutely. there is no one really safe from the reach of this regime. this regime i think when we watch what was going on in tunisia, and egypt, we had an idea that perhaps the fall of these dictators could be easy and then we watched the luck of the libyans. we understand how lucky the
libyans were because nato came to the rescue and the poor syrians are now in month seven, in month seven of this ordeal and when you listen to the syrian rulers themselves, they truly believe and they want the world to believe it's a conspiracy that this is all the work of the americans, all the work of al jazeera, all the work of cnn, it's agitation, fundamentalists and what you see is a gangster regime, a cruel, monstrous regime at war with its own population. >> is there a recipe, a formula to stop this? what do you think, fouad? >> i don't know. even at the united nations when you see what's happening there, you have the russians and the chinese and the indians and the south africans and the brazilians persisting in giving cover to this regime and then there is the pressure admittedly good and important and i think the only honorable thing to do that the europeans and the united states have now put against the regime economically, but i don't see any exit. i really don't.
i wish one can look into the future and see deliverance for this proud and good and decent people, but it doesn't seem to be in the offing for the moment. >> one thing that some u.s. officials have suggested to me that could perhaps, perhaps dissuade those surrounding bashar al assad is to really go forward with war crimes, crimes against humanity, bring these people, at least raise the possibility they're going to be brought before the criminal, the international criminal court in the netherlands. do you think the top military brass, the security brass surrounding bashar al assad would be intimidated by that threat? >> well i don't know about this, but i think what's clear, in fact, if the alawi brigade commanders if they stick around bashar and rally to him, i don't know how one would break out of this sectarian, if you will, truth of the regime but we must try all things and we must take away from this regime whatever cover and whatever legitimacy is
still opposes and when you listen to the foreign minister of syria a couple of days ago, yesterday at the united nations it was amazing the world they live in and the self-delusion and the hypocrisy and you see the terror unleashed on these decent people and wonder about the ways of man i think. >> what about the arab league. >> yes. >> yesterday i spoke here in "the situation room" with with nasr jude, i asked him jordan to the south of syria, what his government is doing about all of this, and he basically referred to a recent arab league statement which was nebulous, ally didn't say that bashar al assad must step down or anything along those lines, a very weak kind of statement. is that the best we can expect from the arab league? >> i don't think the arab league will do much. i happen to have talked also to nabil arami the secretary-general of the arab world, a decent man, diplomat
and lawyer of long experience and deep education. he has no military divisions, and what the syrians have told the arab league is stay out of the affairs and the sovereign affairs of syria. syria trades off on this legend of being in the front line state in the struggle against israel, and is kind of this, and is trades off the neighborhood it lives in, off of the strategic position of syria. this is not libya which is somewhat isolated from the heartland of the arab world and i don't think the arab league will do much and i don't think the arab league will give the kind of cover that the arab league gave for the intervention in libya. >> it's hard to believe these thugs could undertake these kinds of acts against as you point out an elderly family in their 70s, distinguished surgeon and his wife. it's shocking to see these reports and they're coming out with great intensity. fouad ajami thank you for coming in. >> thank you, wolf for doing the story and continuing to do it. >> thank you. workers at the washington
monument in the capital, assessing damage from several hundred feet up, we'll go live to the national mall in washington. he's not a candidate in the republican field running for president but some are hoping he will be, the push to cut chris christie in the race for the white house, that's coming up. daddy, come in the water!
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take a look at this, the washington monument in washington, d.c., looking at live pictures. some are watching this unfold more than 100 feet above the ground of the washington, d.c., monument. i'm inside here, my feet are firmly on the floor but check out this guy over at the washington monument. workers there spent part of the day langling more than 500 feet up to inspect damage from the august earthquake that rattle the east coast. here he is looking at what's going on. brian todd joins us live from the national mall. brian, what have they done so far? >> reporter: they've just done an initial assessment, wolf, and tethered some of the anchors that will hold some of the people who will rappel down the monument in the coming days. officials say the monument is structurally sound but they want
to make sure there are no loose pieces of mortar that might fall and hit people in the future. they've undertaken an eye-catching damage assessment mission. a lone figure pops out of a hatch and makes history, david meggerley, rigging specialist from an illinois engineering firm works 555 feet above the round, securing anchors along the top pyramid of the monument. others will rappel down. the monuments had scaffolding around it, been power washed but no one has ever scaled the figure. it's a daunting task. >> it's a job i wouldn't do. >> reporter: gordy keto worked in denali national park and helping to oversee the situation. do you get nervous knowing to tourists are constantly watching
this operation and what if something happens? >> they're focused on the task at hand, something they do all the tile. >> reporter: they have to inspect every tone. they can work through heavy rain but if there's any threat of lightning they have to stop. the monument's been hit by lightning several times in its history. officials know mortar dropped near the base during the quake and know the shaking opened a significant track on the west facade near the top, four feet long, at least a half inch wide. other cracks are letting in rainwater and sunlight, damage from a violent tremor captured on surveillance video, shows streams of debris falling, a woman getting knocked off her feet, another woman, knickl lni williams. what were you going through? >> i felt like i had no control over my own body. it was absolutely terrifying and i thought maybe we had been
under attack. >> reporter: williams admits her first thought was to try to take off down the stairs by herself but quickly realized she had about 20 tourists on that observation deck who she had to evacuate. she said there was a little bit of panic and some screaming but managed to g ed td to get them injuries. >> when do they believe tourists will be able to get back inside? >> reporter: park officials say they won't have a damage assessment report until probably mid-october and the engineering firm has to assess all the data, do the actual repairs and then they have to come back and recertify all of those repairs. you're talking probably at least a couple of months before people are allowed back in. >> brian todd on the national mall for us, thanks very much. his life story reads like an international crime novel up to the moment he was arrested after more than 40 years on the run
after he escaped from prison and hijacked a plane, the manhunt to find him is now over. one u.s. ally decided to allow its military women to serve in combat on the front lines. we'll tell you where. [ woman ] my grocery bill isn't wasteful spending. [ woman ] my heart medication isn't some political game. [ man ] our retirement isn't a simple budget line item. [ man ] i worked hard. i paid into my medicare. [ man ] and i earned my social security. [ woman ] now, instead of cutting waste and loopholes, washington wants to cut our benefits? that wasn't the agreement. [ male announcer ] join the members of aarp and tell washington to stop cuts to our medicare and social security benefits.
a notorious international fugitive nabbed after 40 years on the run. lisa sylvester, what's going on here? >> the fbi has announced the arrest of george wright in portugal. wright was serving a 15 to 30-year jail sentence in new jersey for the 1962 murder of a world war ii veteran before escaping in 1970. authorities then tied him to an infamous 1972 hijacking involving a $1 million ransom, they're seeking his extradition now from port gol. egypt's first election since the fall of hosni mubarak's government are scheduled to begin in late november. the supreme council says voters will choose a parliament then and elections for president will come after that. the country's interim rulers have been under intense scrutiny since mubarak was intense scruty since mubarak was thrown from power. australia is about to become
one of only a few countries in the developed world with no restrictions for women in combat. under a new plan to be phased in over a five-year period, australian women will be able to serve alongside men in front line combat roles. that's according to the australian defense ministry. the united states formerly excludes women from direct combat units. there is speculation swirling that the iphone 5 is just around the corner. apple has confirmed a press event next tuesday where the much anticipated device is scheduled to be unveiled. the phone could feature upgrazed like longer battery life and more memory. there is new scientific evidence that a morning cup of coffee may help brighten the day, at least for a few women. according to a new study, women drinking caffeinated coffee were less likely to become depressed and the more they consumed, the more that risk of depression goes down. researchers say there is no
indication that drinking cup after cup of coffee will prevent depression altogether. another good reason for all us to drink coffee in the morning. >> one day it is good for you, one day it is bad for you. wait another week and we'll get another opinion. let's go back to jack with the cafferty file. quick clarification, when ron paul was asked a hypothetical question, hypothetical at the cnn debate about a 30-year-old uninsured man getting ill, the man did not have cancer. why that matters, i don't know. as much as it was a hypothetical question, but apparently it mattered to someone. question this hour is are republican debate crowds blood thirsty. cory writes, blood thirsty, i think they're cold hearted. i mandate we change their moniker to the ice tadd party. behavior of the debate audience and the lack of some sort of acknowledgement of inappropriateness by any of the candidates have shocked a lot of us. the booing of the gay soldier was just the icing on the cake. please stay away from our white house.
fay in texas writes, it seems so. many of them call themselves conservative christians too. there appears to be a serious disconnect between the sunday se sermons and everyday living. e.j. writes there has been quite a spotlight put on this and rightly so. but candidates on the stage are the ones that have to be called out, jack. are they all so afraid to upset their base that they allow hthe too boo a soldier because of his sexuality. after all that, they say i didn't hear the booing or they condemn that type of behavior. it is like when sarah palin didn't hear the racial names that then candidate obama was called at her rallies. it shows the gop in a negative light, but they don't seem to care as long as they win. richard on facebook writes, these are the types of people that would watch the lions eat the christians in rome. the candidates don't say anything because they're afraid of alienating their base, the
extremists. jack, you have found out our secret, yes, we're a blood thirsty lot. sometimes we go to kiss concerts when there is not a radical republican holding a rally. once we win the election, we're going to move on to cannibalism, but right now we have to content ourselves with a rare roast beef. got to go now, saw another ufo fly by. if you want to read more on this, go to my blog, cnn.com/caffertyfile or on the post on the situation room's facebook page. this programming reminder for our viewers, beginning this coming monday, for our north american viewers, "the situation room" moves up one hour. please be sure to join us from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. eastern on week days. "john king usa" will follow at 6:00 p.m. eastern and the new "erin burnett outfront" show airs at 7:00 p.m. eastern. for all of our international viewers, "the situation room" will air at the same time it is airing right now. not to worry, 11:00 p.m. in
london, midnight in paris, it airs at the same time. having chest pains is no joking matter unless it is ellen degeneres has them. jeanne moos has the comedienne's take on her health scare next. ♪ for all the different things our customers planned for. like a college education. or, the perfect wedding. ♪ ♪ i love ya, tomorrow! [ male announcer ] we're making them a better financial future. what can we make with you? transamerica. transform tomorrow.
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ellen degeneres got the last laugh. here is cnn's jeanne moos. >> ellen degeneres may have called paramedics for chest pains. but that didn't stop her from dance. she described how she felt in the middle of the night. >> a tightness, like on my chest and all the scary things like something was heavy my chest and it was a cat, so i moved it. >> reporter: she joked about her heart, she joked about the firemen, came to the warner bros. lot where she tapes her show. >> and then they come in with an ax, break the door down, which it was open, i don't know why they do that. >> reporter: and thus did ellen join the ranks of comediennes who take heart by using heart trouble for material. >> normally my heart is like -- mine is like -- >> reporter: robin williams had a heart valve replaced with a cow valve. >> i can't eat meat now because now it is one of us. >> reporter: here he was with letterman showing his scar. >> already it started to grow
back that was five minutes after the surgery. >> reporter: remember dave, the first day back from his own surgery? >> while i was gone, i had quintuple bypass surgery on my heart! >> oh! >> plus, i got a haircut. >> reporter: there say lot of show and tell after celebrities have heart surgery. regis and letterman compared legs. >> they take the arteries -- >> do you think they're going to go to home depot? >> this thing will not heal. it is all the way up my leg. >> look at that. it's gone. >> reporter: and dick cheney has practically been giving people heart attacks with his show and tell. >> i want to talk about this little bulge here. >> i'm guessing that line was specially unsettling on "the view's" radio broadcast. >> reporter: the former vp has an implanted pump that help his own heart. >> battery operated. this is the control element. >> reporter: he's been setting the thing off -- >> it will beep in a moment.
>> and that means you better put it back. >> reporter: in interview after interview. >> when you take it out, it beeps. >> please put it back in. >> reporter: like some heart felt practical joke. >> what does that mean? >> it means -- >> put the battery back. >> reporter: robin williams talks about how emotional he got after his heart attack. wait a minute. are those palpitations or is that a punch line i hear? >> i thought instead of a valve they gave me a tiny vagina. >> reporter: anatomically correct jokes. jeanne moos, cnn, new york. >> very funny stuff. thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." for our international viewers, world report is next. in north america, "john king usa" starts right now. good evening, everyone. tonight, president obama turns testy when asked if he should be doing more to help african-americans hurt by the bad economy.