tv CNN Newsroom CNN May 28, 2011 4:00pm-5:00pm PDT
jeanne moos, cnn. >> to the queen. >> reporter: new york. >> that's all the time we have. thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer. join us weekdays in "the situation room" from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. eastern here on cnn and at this time every weekend on cnn international. the news continues next on cnn. top stories at this hour at the cnn "newsroom," a suicide bombing in northern afghanistan renewing concern about the country's security when u.s. troops withdraw there. taliban militants say they targeted a high-level nato meeting. the german commando was injured in this abeing that. he's expected to survive. seven people killed including a powerful afghan police chief and two of germany's soldiers. several explosions rocking
tripoli today. a government official says one of the blasts hit a compound belonging to libyan leader moammar gadhafi. nato claiming responsibility, at least one of the attacks which it said struck a vehicle in a storage area. the airstrikes happened during the daylight which has been rare for nato strikes in libya. president obama arrived back in the u.s. within the last hour. he wrapped up a six-day trip to europe today in poland where he did meet with the prime minister, also met with veterans of solidarity labor movement, credited with helping end communism in poland. the president praised poland's transition to democracy and called it a model for nations across north africa and the middle east now. and in missouri, the death toll in joplin has risen again after last sunday's tornado. 140 people, 42 people, i should say, are confirmed dead from that f-5 twister. another 100 are missing. president obama is scheduled to tour this area tomorrow and meet
some of the victims. we'll also have a one-hour special on the joplin tornado coming up at 8:00 eastern. >> no break this holiday weekend for jurors in the casey anthony murder trial. anthony is accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter caylee. this was back in 2008. during a short session today, anthony's mother told the jury about several excuses about caylee's whereabouts following the girl's disappearance. claims caylee accidentally drowned and that anthony and her father kept it a secret out of panic. anthony's father denied that in his own testimony. and a scary landing today for passengers aboard a delta airlines flight. it was flying from pittsburgh to atlanta. flight 2284 had 44 passengers, five crew on board. it caught fire shortly after landing at hartsfield-jackson international airport. george howell of our affiliate joins us now. george, you talked with people who were on that plane, right? >> reporter: the passengers describe it as a scary
situation. again, 44 people on this plane. many of whom, again, this is three hours after the situation happened. many of those passengers just now making their way to baggage claim. one person says it was a scary situation, but an orderly exit from the plane. emergency crews responded to delta flight 2284 from pittsburgh after brakes overheated on the taxi way causing the fire. >> they kept telling us they were assessing the situation and then when the fire broke out they opened the doors and we all went down the emergency chutes. >> kathleen harrison was one of the 43 passengers on board. >> the pilot was able to control the plane and got it stopped but then there was a burning smell and the right side of the plane caught on fire. >> reporter: harrison says it was a bumpy landing. passengers were evacuated on the taxi way and bussed to the terminal. the plane will be taken to be examined. >> i'm lucky, i had my stuff
with me and i'm going home. but there are people that were flying to paris and other places and it's going to be a long time until they get their luggage. they said it's a national safety board investigation. >> reporter: harrison told me a few of the fellow passengers on that plane did have a few bumps and bruises from the landing but officials tell us no major injuries. >> good to hear. thanks for the report. we're also following breaking news out of north carolina this evening. a highway shut down, homes, businesses evacuated there. all because of a big fire and explosion at a chemical plant. tanika smith with our affiliate is on the scene in caldwell county, 70 miles north of charlotte. are they still trying to get this under control? >> reporter: the good news is the fire is under control. they brought it under control right at about 6:00 but it did burn for three hours. this is at the chemical coatings plant here in hudson. they make finishing solutions like lacquers and deputies
believe no one was inside. so far there are no reports of injuries at that plant or complaints from residents about feeling sick from the smoke. i can tell you that there'll were a series of explosions heard at about 3:00 at the plant. officials are not sure what caused it. but it did lead to that massive fire. we have some pretty amazing video from our chopper and that fire ball shooting about 100 feet in the air. emergency vehicles from several miles away were responding to the scene. the firefighters working to attack this fire from several different angles, and we could actually see the smoke from more than 20 miles away as we were trying to drive here from charlotte. people are being evacuated within a two-mile radius. this impacts about 750 people. they do have two shelters set up and right now they're doing air quality studies, the plant has an on-staff chemist who is here and a hazmat team just arrived from asheville, north carolina, to see what specific chemicals are involved and what dangers they pose. right now we're just told people need to evacuate, stay away, and
they're not sure how long they'll need inform stto stay a this area. >> this is right in the heart of the furniture industry there in north carolina. we saw that black plume of smoke earlier. you said about 750 people had been evacuated. have they said those people will be back in tonight, into their homes? because it appear that's the fire is out, or just smoldering at this time? >> reporter: well, we're here altogether the law enforcement staging area so we're working here to get updates. at this point they tell me they just don't know. they're hoping that hazmat team and the air quality study, they're hoping whatever they learn from that it will help them to determine if it's safe, when it's safe for those people to go back in. but at this point they have set up those two shelters to accommodate folks. some people have been asking if they can go back and get pets or medicine and they're not letting them go back at this point. >> tenikka smith, thanks. good luck with that reporting. it is one of the year's most
closely-watched court cases and today casey anthony's mother took the stand in her daughter's murder trial and what she had to say doesn't sound so good for her daughter's defense. [ artis brown ] america is facing some tough challenges right now. two of the most important are energy security and economic growth.
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several excuses about caylee's whereabouts following the girl's disappearance. >> oh, i started missing caylee june 16th, so, yes, i -- i miss caylee every day when i went to work those hours i was at work. so, yes, i was missing kalcayle very much at that time. >> did you start sleeping with some of caylee's items? >> yes, i think about that time or a few days before that i went and grabbed caylee's favorite teddy bear. we call him teddy, and i had teddy, you know, i would cuddle with at night because i was used to cuddling with caylee. caylee and or casey with the three of us would usually cuddle at night if she was home. at night it would be me and caylee before i went to bed. >> okay. >> the defense claims caylee accidentally drowned and that anthony and her father kept it a secret out of panic.
anthony's father denied that in his own testimony. the family in joplin, missouri, has strange things in their home after it was pummeled by the tornado there. the owner has this to say. >> it just sounded like everything was exploding. >> we will hear from them live coming up next. [ male announcer ] to the 5:00 a.m. scholar. the two trains and a bus rider. the "i'll sleep when it's done" academic. for 80 years, we've been inspired by you. and we've been honored to walk with you to help you get where you want to be. ♪ because your moment is now. let nothing stand in your way.
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you know many college students go deeply into debt to get their education but there are some schools out there where at least a few kids can get a top quality education without any contribution from their families. where? how about harvard? cnn education contributor steve perry tells us who qualifies. >> reporter: i have to admit, when i first saw an e-mail that said that harvard was offering up a no parental contribution for students whose families made under $60,000, i thought it was an urban myth. what's the likelihood of finding a student whose family makes under $60,000 whose going to post the scores and gpas that
harvard has? >> we have about 18% of the freshman class this year who fits that category. we want to make sure that people can come, regardless of their financial circumstances. >> reporter: alyssa mackie is one of those students. >> when i was applying to schools my father passed away and that changed our financial situation. so that's why i'm in need of the assistance. when i applied i didn't know about the financial aid initiative. i remember my mom opening the letter and, you know, thinking that there was a mistake because it said family contribution, zero. >> reporter: there are many college presidents struggling with how to attract students from disadvantaged populations and what they can do. what would you say to them? >> we have to send the message to students that weapon want them and that those of us who can support the financial programs like ours will do so. >> reporter: how has this program impacted your career decisions? >> if there was no financial aid
initiative, there would be, you know, maybe a little more pressure to go into a field where i'd be making a lot of money, maybe something that ip wasn't all that passionate about. so next year i'll be teaching special education for elementary school students in new orleans. >> reporter: steve perry, cambridge, massachusetts. now to missouri. you know at least 142 people were killed last sunday night in joplin as a powerful tornado flattened a big part of that city. the death toll could have been even higher if not for the so-called safe rooms in homes. a safe room is a fortified structure often steel, concrete, made to withstand a tornado and the belig family says their safe room saved them from certain death. >> it just sounded like everything was exploding. >> karen and samuel belig join us now, live from joplin. it's good to see you guys. i guess that's your home behind
you. >> well, that's not our home, that's close to the hospital. our home is actually where the tornado first started. >> in sunset ridge. >> i see. guys, tell me about the warning you had and what took place right before the tornado that got you all into that safe room that you had. >> well, i was upset, the sirens had been going off and so we'd all gone down to the basement and the weather channel was saying, you know, it was just a warning, a watch. so the sirens gave the all-clear, they stopped. i went back upstairs with my older daughter, baylor and i was standing out looking at a glass, at our window, and i thought, it's getting dark and something said get your purse and keys and go downstairs and i walked downstairs and i said to my husband and my kids, let's go to the safe room now. and then the power exploded and we ran with our dog and our
three daughters, got in the safe room. my husband was able to hold the kids down and i held the door closed and you could hear the entire house just being torn apart. just exploding. it was -- >> do you think that you wouldn't have survived without it? >> absolutely not. absolutely not. >> when we bought the house -- go ahead, i'm sorry. >> you were saying when you bought the house. >> when we bought the house, it had already been built into the house, it has concrete all the way around it. it's in the basement. it does have wood on the top. but we had been using it as storage. several weeks ago my wife decided, probably because of the alabama tornadoes, to clean it out and put some water in there. so we -- >> flashlights. >> we knew exactly where to go. she came downstairs. i was home, actually, i normally
work at the hospital. i'm a surgeon, and i work on sundays and i was able to get a flashlight. as soon as she gave me the flashlight the lights went out and i looked outside and the trees were at 90 degrees and we both kind of knew and we ran into the safe room. i felt the barometric pressure dropping. my ears popped like we were in an airplane. >> oh, yes. yes. >> and she held the door, and i held the kids, and lots of clanging and banging. >> let me ask you this. have you ever been in there before? have you ever felt the need to run into this safe room before? >> never. never. it's been packed from the floor to the ceiling with our son's -- our son is at college at ou and so we've used it as stoernlgs for some of his items. >> i wonder when you bought the house, did you think it was unnecessary or you would just use it as a storeroom? >> well, we were aware of the weather problems in this area,
certainly we're from oklahoma and we know about tornadoes. so one of the things my wife told me because i actually picked the house out is that we really need a place we can go for tornadoes. so that was one of the positives. and we really are grateful we had that. >> we would not be alive. >> yeah. that one room saved your life and now i guess have you to rebuild everything else around that room. >> yes, we do. >> we do. and it saved our children's lives and -- >> well, thank you. >> thank you so much. >> good luck, guys. we really appreciate you coming on live and we wish you well as you try to rebuild your lives there in joplin. thanks so much. >> and stay with us for a special report, "a twister's fury, in the path of destruction." it will air tonight at 8:00 eastern right here on cnn. catching a movie this weekend? >> phil, i think it's happened again.
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tree of life" starring brad pitt and sean penn. for the kids, "kung fu panda 2" voiced by angelina jolie and jack black. but it is "the hangover part 2" which already looks like a sure fire hit, taking in more than $60 million in the past two days. here's what the stars have to say. >> what do we want to see as fans of the first one? i want to see these guys in the same situation. i love the formula. there is a hangover structure, a ticking clock, a missed night, somebody's gone and we've got to get that person back someplace before somebody's really disappointed. >> i defy anyone to walk into that theater and know what's going to happen. there's a crazy surprises in this movie. throughout the whole thing. and there's a fun way that it celebrates the first one and celebrates what's familiar and fun and i think gives a little o
top stories now, taliban militants say they deliberately targeted a high-level meeting between nato and afghan officials today, seven people killed, nine others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up. among the wounded, the german head of nato's northern afghanistan command. he's said to be in stable condition. in garden grove, california, crystal cathedral ministries is selling this, the towering mega church and campus to a developer to pay off a $46 million debt. it is hoping to lease back the church so it can continue with the hour of power television broadcast. they were first made popular by the reverend robert schuler. he did it in the 1950s. schuler stepped down in 2006 and
the church has been in financial trouble since then. in missouri, the death top in joplin has risen again, now they're saying 142 people confirmed dead from that f-5 twister. another 100 missing. president obama will be there tomorrow to tour the devastation and meet with some of the victims. and a one-hour special on the joplin tornado is coming up at the top of the hour at 8:00 eastern here on cnn. and i am drew griffin at the cnn center here in atlanta. stories reporter with tom foreman is next. the biblical story of lazarus rising from the dead appears to be happening again all over africa. many call it a miracle made in the usa. but hold on, congressional budget hawks are circling, and that could be trouble.
>> lincoln's been shot. >> reporter: a new film reignites an old debate about the civil war, the aftermath, and the lady who helped kill lincoln. >> the evidence is inconclusive. >> reporter: on philadelphia's main streets, a man, a mosque, and the boxing ring upstairs. and an agricultural revolution is rising from the fields of north carolina. >> right here in this field is the capital. >> reporter: only one word for it, sweet. welcome to "stories: reporter," i'm tom foreman. president obama spent much of the week overseas trying to build up america's image which has taken a beating lately in terms of foreign policy over wars, trade, even the environment. so you might think that american leaders would be cheering over what many observers, left, right and middle consider an
overwhelming success. but you would be wrong. with the economy still teetering along, this story from jim acosta is about how we may no longer be able to afford arguably one of our greatest triumphs. ♪ you're about to see what many call a miracle. >> i could not feed myself. >> reporter: this woman in africa is dying from aids, barely able to lift her arms or open her eyes. >> this is me. wow, they've done a great job. >> reporter: and here she is again, days later, after treatment with inexpensive anti-aids drugs. talking, walking. it is called the lazarus effect, this astonishing transformation has been repeated all over the continent thousands of times and michael gerson wants you to know the story because you're paying for it. >> there are good foreign policy reasons to do this sort of thing. >> reporter: gerson is a conservative columnist with "the
washington post," a senior fellow with the council on foreign relations and he was once the chief speech writer for the man who got this rolling. >> he often talked about to whom much is given much is required. >> reporter: this was very important to him. >> right. exactly. there was a motivation here that one america should be in the world, we should be a source of hope. but also, you know, a kind of conscience motivation here, very much rooted in his faith. >> the president of the united states. >> "he" was george w. bush. in 2003, bush started the president's emergency plan for aids relief, or pepfar, an unprecedented $3 billion a year to help the world fight aids. in 2008, he led the charge for renewal and expansion. >> we can bring healing and hope to many more. so i ask you to maintain the principles that have changed behavior and made this program a success and i call on you to double our initial commitment to
fighting hiv/aids by approving an additional $30 billion over the next five years. ♪ >> reporter: he was not alone. a driving force in the effort was evangelical christians. >> one of the biggest themes in the bible throughout scripture is god cares for the poor. this is, you know, something that is really important and it shouldn't be an issue that divides us. >> reporter: but i did vision, or rather subtraction, are precisely what supporters of pepfar now fear. the program comes with a hefty $50 billion price tag, and as congress wrestles with the debt limit and budget worries, it's under sharp fire. the last time pepfar was reauthorized, budget hawks went after it, including texan ron paul. >> i concede it's very well intended and i think if we are to do any social engineering or social suggestions it ought to
be here and we ought not to be naive enough to believe we can change habits that occur in africa. >> reporter: paul, who is now running for president, declined our request for an interview on this subject. so did a half dozen other republican members of congress who voted against continuing full funding for this part of the bush legacy. even though foreign aid makes up only 1% of the federal budget. but it's not just lawmakers who are concerned, polls have found that most voters want foreign aid reduced or even eliminated. >> there's a perception out there that waste -- that foreign assistance is wasted, it is thrown down a rat hole of corruption. a lot of people believe that, particularly on the right in america. >> reporter: that does happen in some cases. >> the argument is not there shouldn't be any cuts in government. i mean, there need to be. everyone recognizes that. the question is whether we're going tore indiscriminate cuts. >> reporter: what do you mean by that? >> you know, are we going to have cuts that are working, that are saving people's lives, that when you make those cuts it has a tremendous human cost.
>> reporter: that's why this film was commissioned by the one campaign, an advocacy group trying to keep pepfar from being swept away in the red ink flood. it points out when pepfar began, only 50,000 people in sub is a haren africa were on aids drugs. today, it's 4 million. the cost has been driven down to 40 cents per person, per day. and in a region with more than 1 million deaths annually and 16 million aids orphans, keeping parents alive keeps families, communities, whole countries afloat. and people in this country don't see this happening. they don't see it occurring, because it's happening half a world away. >> i will tell you that the people in africa know that americans were responsible for much of what happened to save these societies and they're deeply grateful. >> reporter: church leaders all over the country are urging their members to watch the movie and call congress. still, it is not yet clear amid
all the crushing economic problems at home which way the country's political leadership will go. >> barack obama has not only supported these efforts strongly, but he's praised president bush for doing it. very few issues like that. >> reporter: do you think that pepfar can survive the 2012 budget process? >> i think it's going to be a struggle, you know, in many ways. >> reporter: and how that budget struggle plays out here will undeniably impact the life and death struggle still going on over there. we're thinking about. a couple decades ago, we didn't even realize just how much natural gas was trapped in rocks thousands of feet below us. technology has made it possible to safely unlock this cleanly burning natural gas. this deposits can provide us with fuel for a hundred years, providing energy security and economic growth all across this country. it just takes somebody having the idea, and that's where the discovery comes from. [ sam ] my first ride lasted just 30 seconds.
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150 years ago this spring the civil war began. and in many ways it has never ended. most of the can't says it was about slavery, but a sizeable portion insist it was about state's rights. and one in four voters in a recent poll said they sympathize more with the confederacy than with the union. it is all fueling a new debate about a mystery in history. about a president, an assassin, and a woman's work. the building that holds this japanese restaurant in downtown d.c., is a strange place to launch america's most infamous assassination plot. yet, in 1865, this was the boarding house of mary sirrot. the new movie is about how she planned the kidnapping of
president lincoln, a scheme that turned to murder. >> if you're found guilty, you could hang. >> i am a southerner and a devoted mother, but i am no assassin. >> reporter: and in the long-ago capitol of the confed rascy, it's opened an old debate. if this had happened only a few years later, it would have been a different story. in short, was mary railroaded? >> there were a lot of marys and a lot of families like hers in the sense that all across kentucky, but also across ohio, illinois, indiana. you'd see that families would divide on what was the right thing to do. >> fire! >> reporter: at the time, four brutal years of civil war had just ended, recreations of the fighting are still popular today, but back then more than a half million americans had just
died. victorious northerners were still furious over the dreadful cost of the conflict, mistrustful of southerners and when the president was assassinated they demanded vengeance. >> there were enemies everywhere, and there were spies. >> it wasn't just abraham lincoln that the country was mourning, they were mourning the dead fathers, the dead sons, the amputees and such as that. >> reporter: and they wanted to hold someone accountable. >> exactly. >> reporter: laurie verge knows the case as well as anyone. she oversees another of mary sirrot's boarding homes, now a museum in maryland just outside d.c. this room is important. booth stopped here as he fled to pick up a rifle hidden inside a wall. another boarder would swear in court mary knew all about it and was certainly in league with the killer. it didn't matter that the border was attacked by the defense as an unreliable alcoholic. of all the testimony, this was
some of the most damning. >> exactly. >> reporter: the other evidence is circumstantial, things like the fact she said she did not recognize another conspirator whom she clearly knew. it was enough, however, to have her picked up by investigators. >> i think she expected to be arrested. this lady's cool as a cucumber. she is not the least bit frazzled, the way she's talking to them. she is sort of haughty, and it was like she knew this was coming. she was prepared for this. >> reporter: but does that mean she was guilty? >> the evidence is inconclusive, it seems to me. >> you're lying! >> my mother is innocent. >> reporter: the movie underscores her illness during the trial, the brutal conditions in which she was held, the frustration for federal authorities over booth being killed during the hunt, and the fact that surratt's son, john, was the only suspect they could not find. >> you have to tell us where your son is.
>> whose side are you on? >> i'm trying to defend you. >> by suggesting i trade my son for myself? >> reporter: still, her lawyer was a strong supporter of the confed rascy, and she had a much more robust defense than the movie implies. >> there were lots of defense witnesses. they brought in priests, who testified that she was a good christian moral woman and therefore she could not be a part of murder and things of that nature. >> reporter: she was, however, an easy target. a proud southerner when that alone was widely seen as treasonous, a woman at a time women were held particularly accountable for the successor failure of their households. >> one of the lines they used at the time is that she kept the nest that bred the vipers. so she in many ways is a projection of what a mother gone wrong looks like. >> reporter: the military tribunal sent her and three
other conspir ters to the gallows. many were certain she would get a last minute come mutation to life in prison, but less than 90 days after president lincoln's assassination, she became the first woman ever executed by the u.s. government. >> she was being supported on both sides, by gentlemen trying to get her to get up there and her last words that we know of were, don't let me fall. don't let me fall. >> reporter: her son was eventually located and tried two years later in a civilian court. he was not convicted, adding to the argument that has raged ever since. do you think she would be convicted today? >> if you're going to try her on grounds of conspiracy, yes, i think she would have. >> not a treason worthy of death, it would seem to me. >> reporter: her remains were released to her family four
years after her death and lie only a few miles from the place where the president was killed, in this d.c., cemetery, still surrounded by as much controversy as the day she died. coming up, the fighting philadelphians, one man's lonely battle to save a generation. building up our wireless network all across america. we're adding new cell sites... increasing network capacity, and investing billions of dollars to improve your wireless network experience. from a single phone call to the most advanced data download, we're covering more people in more places than ever before in an effort to give you the best network possible. at&t. rethink possible. [ melissa ] i hit the water and everything changed. ♪ i saw what my life could be... and found the strength to make it happen. ♪ i lost my leg serving my country. now i serve in a new uniform.
over, almost. in the northeast, the numbers have steadily climbed. so in philadelphia, imam sutra mohammed is aiming back, with kids, his faith and a gym, where dan lothian found this unexpected story. >> reporter: on philadelphia's rough and tumble north side, violence, like sunset, is routine. >> right here. >> reporter: abandoned houses share the same zip code with make shift memorials to the victims, often young men caught up in events they can't anticipate or escape. >> somebody from another hood come down and start shooting for no reason. >> reporter: but in the middle of this hood is a former plumbing supply warehouse, a ray
of sunshine where imam mohammed is renovating the structure and young lives. >> this particular area was an area that was averaging six murders a month. there was a lot of violence, a lot of crime. just a lot of trash, a lot of, you know, debris. >> reporter: so this is the kind of place people would be running away from. >> yes. >> reporter: but you were coming here, despite the gang violence, the shootings, the deaths, you came here. >> yes. >> reporter: why? >> change. we needed to bring about change. >> reporter: and that is what led to this. >> let's box. >> reporter: a boxing gym in an unlikely place. right above his mosque. prayers and punches. once a promising amateur boxer himself, imam mohammed had 96 fights, winning the vast majority. before hanging up his gloves and
using his hands to start building a dream. he's reaching out to young people trapped in tough corners, and risking a knockout punch in the process. do you have young people who have been in gangs? >> yes. >> reporter: wung people obviously involved in violence? >> yes. >> reporter: >> reporter: dropouts from school. >> yes. >> reporter: what is your hope for them when they walk in the door? >> i hope for them that they will immediately turn their life around. >> reporter: the idea of a religious man teaching a violent sport as a means of escaping violence is not without controversy. >> it's so unusual that we come under fire from even a lot of muslims. muslims will say, well, some think muslims aren't supposed to engage in boxing. you know, i think one of the greatest boxers of all time was mohamed ali who is gym is named
after. i was a boxer for 18 years. kept me off the streets, out of trouble. kept me focused, gave me discipline. that's all we are really trying to offer. >> reporter: the gym was actually an afterthought. the mosque's 500 members acquired the warehouse ten years ago and converted it to a worship space. problem is they needed only a fraction of of the 50,000 square feet. i'm smelling something down this hallway. today it holds a deli, barber scho school. >> so you bring people in and keep them here. they don't have to leave for lunch. >> we come in. you know, just like a lot of times we go to meet at restaurant or something. somebody can come in, get something to eat, sit there, have a meeting, whatever they are doing or do their work.
>> reporter: the mosque holds ghosts as well of the great fighters who emerged from the hard streets since the 1800s like sonny liston and joe fraser. a lot of the boxing clubs have closed their doors. in fact, joe fhrazier's facility shut down. this is somewhere people can train for free. so they come. muslims, christians, those with no faith at all. all are welcome every day to trade the real violence of the street for discipline with a lot of street cred and the shelter of a caring community. >> i'd rather be here than standing outside. this neighborhood with the crime rate and everything. if i can avoid fighting or getting shot at, i'll do that any time of the day. >> be smart. >> reporter: the imam hopes through the discipline, shared
responsibility, respect for opponents they are taking something else away. you try to show them what real success is. >> yeah. we've really trying to show them this is what you can do. you can be something. you can make something out of your life. you can be a champion. >> reporter: against the backdrop of life here, he insists each round in the ring helps. >> we don't have time to think about doing good or what good we need to do. we need to do it immediately. >> reporter: after all, he knows this is the fight of his life and theirs, too. >> still ahead, the gold rush in north carolina. sweet potatoes boiling from the ground and making a fortune for farmers. there's a whole world missing when you search on orbitz.
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♪ nationwide is on your side if you haven't already noticeded at the supermarket railroad a vending machine, sweet potatoes are booming. that's big news in north carolina where another record-breaking and recession-beating crop is going into the ground. it's like watching a magic trick. a tractor rolls over the bare dirt, a planter is behind and there they are, the green shoots of sweet potatoes. there is no more wonderful sight
for jerome vick. >> this is approximately 50% of the income on this farm. >> reporter: for three generations his family has worked this land trying cotton, tobacco, soybeans before finding the climate just right for sweet poet. >> we're blessed, unfortunately, with gnats at hot temperatures. those are things we have a supply of. that's what sweet potatoes want. it's a tropical plant that's adapted to warm temperatures and southern soils are relatively poor. >> reporter: and now the poor soils are making north carolina rich. >> right here in this field is the capital. north carolina is the capital of sweet potatoes. bar none. >> reporter: that's sue langdon with the sweet potatoes commission. 400 farmers will plant 60,000 acres of sweet potatoes worth
$182 million to the state economy. that's a record. >> we have grown almost half of the sweet potatoes produced in the united states. what that means is that one out of every two sweet potatoes came from north carolina. >> reporter: sweet potatoes themselves didn't come from anywhere. history says they were growing all over the americas long before europeans arrived and right out of the ground they are not sweet. >> sweet potato is full of starch. we put them in the storage facility and cure them for about a week to ten days. converts the starches to sugars. that's where the sweet flavor comes from. >> reporter: once that happens they are a natural health food, helping with everything from joint pain to heart disease. so europeans joined american consumers to drive the demand for sweet potato fries, chips, pies and more.
>> currently about 20% of sweet potatoes produced in north carolina are exported. it looks to rise more. >> reporter: how much more? hard to say. >> farmers always feel things will be better. this year he hopes to grow to meet the sweet potato needs of 4 million people. >> we have 4 million people eating at our dinner table which is perfectly all right with me. i just have to build a bigger dinner table if we get more visitors. and with that, i'm tom foreman. thanks for watching. .