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tv   John King USA  CNN  October 3, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT

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directly in the case. drew, i want you to stand by. because cnn, of course, is going to continue its coverage of all of this. but a very, very dramatic day in perugia, italy, as we now know that amanda knox is a free woman, 24 years old, and raffaele sollecito is a free man, 27 years old. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." the news continues next on cnn. >> thanks, wolf. good evening on a night of dramatic breaking news. moments ago american student amanda knox gathered her belongings and left an italian prison on her way to freedom. we'll take you live to the italian courthouse in just a few moments. also tonight, president obama says he is the underdog in campai campaign 2012. candidly conceding he won't be able to tell the american people he has made their lives better. >> i don't think they're better off than they were four years ago. plus, are you ready for some football? no. we're not shifting to sports here in our new time slot.
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the nfl commissioner roger goodell is here tonight with his take on concussions, drug testing and tom brady's decision to give up the justin bieber look. >> his hair is getting a lot of attention. >> yes, we're allowed a little fun. first, as we will every night. let's begin with the news you need to know right now. in perugia, italy, a dramatic and emotional verdict tonight. an italian night sets amanda knox free. here's the scene inside the courtroom. >> translator: on behalf of the italian people, after having examined section 6 and 5 of the criminal procedure code -- >> as the verdict was read, knox broke down, hugged her attorneys, then was rushed from the courthouse. she and her one-time boyfriend have been in jail since 2007 when they were arrested for the brutal murder of knox's british roommate. they were convicted of murder two years ago. both appealed. today both won. shortly after the verdicts, knox' sister faced the cameras outside the courthouse.
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>> we're thankful that amanda's nightmare is over. she's suffered for four years for a crime that she did not commit. >> cnn's senior international correspondent matthew chance is outside the courthouse in perugia now. you were in the courthouse when the verdict was read. describe the moment when knox and her family realized she would be set free. >> reporter: it was a very, very emotional moment, indeed, john. when the verdict was read out, there were woops and cheers from the amanda knox corner where her family had gathered to witness this experience. amanda knox herself was, i think, she was actually devastated. she was in tears. she was hysterical. she could hardly stand up she was crying so much as she was sort of escorted by the guards out of the courthouse. she walked right past me. out of the door and away. it was a totally emotional experience. raffaele sollecito as well, very emotional. very highly charged atmosphere inside. very electric.
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not just for the celebrations going on, but there were tears as well because the family of meredith kercher, the murdered girl, were also inside the court. the mother, arlene kercher, the sister, stephanie kercher, they were there, too. they didn't want this to happen, they've made it quite clear. stephanie kercher broke down. she was in tears. she was being comforted by the person next to her. the whole thing combined, the joy on the one side, the pain, agony on the other side, created a very tense atmosphere, indeed, john. >> matthew, we could see amanda knox's emotions in the court. we could hear her sobbing. we could see the guards rushing her out. now we know she left the prison within the past hour. what's next for her? i understand she has told someone her first wish is to lie down on a green field? >> reporter: yeah. well, she's told everybody. what the lawyers of amanda knox have told us, what the parents have told us, the people she's been speaking to at the prison told us is that she wants to get back home as soon as possible. she told the court that, in fact, earlier today. she begged them. she pleaded with them to stop
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punishing her for something she hadn't done. she pleaded with them to set her free so she could resume her life back in seattle and be back with her family. that's exactly what we understand she's about to do. she's left the prison already as you mentioned to an undisclosed location. we understand she's going to take the next available flight back to seattle to go home. john? >> matthew chance live outside the courthouse, thank you for the fabulous reporting. our senior legal analyst jeffrey toobin is with us from new york tonight. jeffrey, four years since she was arrested. nearly two since she was convicted. what changed over time that led to this dramatic reversal today? >> the evidence against her was somewhere between thin and nonexistent. two things. a confession that was confused and simply unbelievable and not really a confession at all. and a dna test of blood on a knife that turned out not to say what the government said it was. take those two things away, there's simply no case against her. >> jeff, stand by. we'll have much more on this story coming up in just a few
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moments. first, other breaking news tonight. cnn is told tonight the new jersey governor chris christie is on the verge of announcing whether he'll seek the 2012 presidential nomination. in conversations with several sources today it was clear the governor wants to make his decision this week. one of the sources told me christie spent time this weekend in discussions with his wife about the pros and the cons of a late entry into the race. this source said look for a decision within the next 48 hours. will he or won't he? that depends on who you ask. one long time advocate or a christie presidential run says he senses a change in the governor, end quote, i see him running. another says christie is methodically going through the challenges he will face and says, quote, i hope he does, but i think wiser minds will prevail. i'm joined by cnn's chief political analyst gloria borger who's been reporting this story all day. he's under incredible pressure to make a decision and make it soon. why so much pressure to decide quickly? >> first of all, it's really
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late, john. there are other people in the field. i spoke with one republican today who said, look, he can't be like sarah palin when it comes to this. he's got to make a decision because fundraisers have to commit. out of courtesy to the other candidates, they got to know. so soon. >> what are the biggest challenges? you mentioned fundraising. you mentioned other candidates. you have to organize. you have to get out to iowa and organize. you have to get up to new hampshire or south carolina. it's a big national infrastructure you have to put together. what about other concerns? in fact, one of the people i talked to said, you know, if he decides no, if he decides not to run for president, the longer he stretches this out, the more damage it might do him at home in new jersey if he decides instead of running for president to seek re-election for governor. >> right. he's not a shoo-in in his re-elect. the first thing in talking to lots of people today, the question is campaign is asking is, how do you get -- if chris christie runs, you're going to need to get him up to speed. this is somebody whose area of expertise is not national security.
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it happens to be barack obama's strength. if someone said to me, look, he's a very smart guy who can learn, but there's not a lot of time here. so that's very important. also those early states that you talk about. iowa, new hampshire, south carolina, nevada, all require a lot of organization, john. very early. and that's another thing chris christie does not have. organization. people believe he can raise the money, but the first two hurdles are very difficult. >> gloria borger helping us out tonight. again, i'm told look for a decision definitely this week. one source saying from governor christie look for that decision within the next 48 hours. more politics tonight. president obama speaking bluntly today about his chances in 2012. this afternoon abc's george stephanopoulos asked the president about a new poll showing only about 37% of americans think the president will win next year while 55% think he'll lose. >> are you the underdog now? >> absolutely. because, you know, given the
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economy, there's no doubt that, you know, whatever happens on your watch, you've got -- >> you embraced that pretty quickly. >> you know, i don't mind. >> one of the things the president doesn't have to worry about that republicans do, the 2012 presidential primary calendar keeps moving up. it's first reported on cnn this morning south carolina republicans scheduled their primary for january 21st. initially they wanted to hold it in late february. they blame florida which moved its primary to the end of january. >> 49 states played very pretty in the sand box. only one decided to do it wrong. >> that one, they say, is florida. we'll watch that one pray out. in other news tonight, the u.s. auto industry back in a big way. general motors today reported its sales rose nearly 20% in september. ford sales were up 9%. the chrysler group reports september sales jumped 27%. tomorrow is a big day for apple and the nation's number three cell phone provider, sprint. apple said to unveil its new
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generation iphone 5 which reports say will have a better camera, larger screen, longer battery life and a faster processor. also for the first time, it's expected to be available on the sprint network. "the wall street journal" reports sprint/nextel making a $20 million investment in the phones gambling they will keep the company competitive. wall street joins markets around the world in closing sharply lower today. that in turn raises questions about whether greece can get another bailout. and avoid a default. turns out the lockerbie bomber no longer is near death nor in a coma. in a new interview with reuters in libya, he says, quote, new facts about the bombing of pan am 103 over scotland in 1988 will come out, quote, one day and hopefully in the near future. there's word today of a new assault on anti-government protesters in syria. it comes just after syria's opposition group tried to draw up a united front during a meeting in turkey.
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cnn's arwa damon keeping track of developments from beirut. >> arwa, the opposition says there's a massacre going on in a town just outside of alms. what's the latest you know? >> reporter: well, what activists are telling us, that there's now a campaign of mass detention saying that some 3,000 people have been taken in by syrian security forces who are trying to hunt down elements of or information about the free syria army. now, this free syria army was actually established in august. but has only really begun to gain traction in the last few weeks. it is still just compromise of a few thousand individuals, def t defectors mostly from the syrian military. they are increasingly they say carrying out operations to try to defend civilians from the syrian security forces. that is why activists say we saw this massive crackdown in that area. >> arwa damon in beirut tonight. arwa, thank you. the nobel prize committee says a share of this year's medicine award will go to
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canadian board scientists who worked at new york's rockefeller university even though he died friday. the prize committee didn't know about ralph steinman's death when it announced this morning that he and two others are sharing this year's medicine prize for research on the immune system. still to come here, a busy night of breaking political news. president obama plays 2012 odds maker. new jersey's governor nears his decision on joining the republican race. plus, the italian legal system handed american amanda knox a 26-year prison sentence and then tonight set her free. how differently would this case have been handled here in the united states? that's tonight's truth, next. [ boy ] hey, i thought these were electric? uh, it is, yeah, it's a chevy volt. so what are you doing at a gas station? well it still takes gas to go farther. but you're not getting gas. true. not this time. uh, don't have to gas up very often. so you have to go to the bathroom? no. yes you do. thought these were electric? yes, it's a uh,
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but you're not getting gas. true. not this time. uh, don't have to gas up very often. so you have to go to the bathroom? no. yes you do. thought these were electric? yes, it's a uh, a chevy volt. so what are you doing at a gas station? american student amanda knox is free tonight. a friend tells cnn amanda will leave italy for seattle on tuesday. an italian court cleared her and her former boyfriend of murder. today's dramatic decision came hours after amanda knox made an emotional statement proclaiming her innocence. >> translator: i haven't the things that they are suggesting that i've done. i haven't murdered, i haven't raped, i haven't stolen.
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i wasn't there. i wasn't present in that crime. >> that was a translator there. knox spoke in italian. knox was convicted in december 2009 on charges of murdering her roommate, meredith kercher. back then her home state senator complained perhaps anti-american sentiment played a part in the verdict. is the italian system that different from the american system? here's tonight's truth. let's take a look at compare them as we go through. the first trial, of course, was a jury trial. amanda knox was convicted in the first trial. how does the italian system stack up next to the american system. number one, the biggest difference, the judge is nonn t nonneutral. in our system is judge is neutral. here a judge determines if the charges have merit, the jury
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decides if the charges have merit. the jury includes the presiding judge. in the american system the judge is neutral. prosecution and defense both given equal time. the jury decides the verdict. the judge has no role in that process at all. that's the trial process. it was here that amanda knox was found guilty. now, of course, today was about the appeals process. there are, again, significant differences here. in the italian system a defendant can ask to have a case retried with all of the evidence reheard. this is very important. new evidence can be introduced in the italian appeals process. a jury of eight decides the verdict. that jury includes two judges and six civilians. again, judges involved. judges involved in the process there. in the american system a defendant can dispute the lower court process in the legal arguments. again, you can revisit the case. but you can't bring new evidence in an american appeals system and a judge decides the verdict in the american system here. that's one of the things. what was fascinating in the italian case is not only do they have the normal decision like you would an american appeal, do you uphold or reverse the conviction, well, in italy the
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appeals process, you can actually add time to a defendant's sentence. that's something prosecutors were shaking in the knox case. they wanted her to get a longer sentence. let's take a closer look at the italian system that first convicted amanda knox and then tonight ordered her set free. joining us from perugia italy, a reporter for news weekdayly beast and author of angel face. cnn's senior legal analyst, jeffrey toobin. as you're in this courthouse, explain to americans, there's been a lot of talk, a lot of commentary that the italian system was unfair, that amanda knox was treated differently or unfairly because she was american. is that a valid criticism or is the system just different? >> i think the system is simply just different. raffaele sollecito who's also italian was also convicted of this murder in the first trial. i think shouting anti-americanism doesn't make sense on a lot of different levels. i think amanda knox was very much out of context, though,
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here in italy. i think that when the investigators first talked to her, when she was first noticed mingling around the crime scene, i think they had their eye on her then. i don't think it was because she was meamerican. i think it was because she was different and acting in a way they felt inappropriate after something as disastrous as her roommate being murdered. >> jeff toobin, for an american who might follow court cases in this country and not just spend a lot of time on this one, let's go through a couple of issues. in an appeal in the italian system you can bring new evidence into lay. you can't do that in a traditional american appeal, can you? >> no. you have what's called the record. which is the evidence that was brought to the trial. and except in extremely unusual circumstances, that's it. that's what you're arguing about in appeal. there's no new fact finding, no new jury. you just have to deal with the hand that you dealt and you were dealt in the trial court. >> and also judges. jeff, let me stay with you for a
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minute. the judges are involved. in an american system the judge presides over the trial. the jury goes off. that's all lay people. in the apeoples system, again, an appeals system here, judges make the decisions period. how unusual, how different does it make it that you have six citizens plus two judges diseasidisease i deciding the case? >> this is the heart of the difference. in italy, spain, france, you have the judge as really an active participant in the case. that goes through the apeoples process. that's what an inquiztorial system is. we have an adversary system. prosecution, defense with a neutral judge. again, i don't think one is necessarily better than the other in general. but both of them make mistakes some of the time. it certainly seems like initially the italian court really blew this case. >> barbie, as you track this case over the years, at what point did the knox team think, we actually have a chance here in this appeal, we may get this
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reversal? >> i think, you know, the big difference between the first trial and second trial, it really comes down to the fact that in the appellate level they allowed for an independent review of two very contentious pieces of forensic evidence. the defense asked for that in the first trial. it was denied. the fact it was granted in the second trial and those two pieces of forensic evidence were really the only two things linking amanda knox and raffaele sollecito to the murder were thrown out. that was a real game changer between the first trial and second trial. >> jeff stoobin, are we done? could there be subsequent proceedings in which an italian court says come back, we need to talk to you? >> there could be. there is one more route for the prosecution. it's important to remember about this case, rudy guede, whose evidence, fingerprints, dna is all over the crime scene, he's in prison. this crime is solved. the mystery was why they wanted to prosecute two other people. but the killer in this case is
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in prison and has been for years. >> and so barbie, on that point, is there naval gazing, reflections, a debate in italy. they know this case attracted attention not only in the united states but around the world. has there been criticism of the system there or do they think this is proof their system actually works just fine? >> well, i think we have one clarification. rudy guede was actually convicted as one of three people who killed meredith kercher. this is what the italian press is talking about tonight. you know, rudy guede passed through the high court level, confirmed his conviction with two other people. right now, you know, there are two people who are also responsible for meredith kercher's murder. and the italians are asking who are those people if amanda knox and raffaele sollecito aren't them? i think in italy 50% of all cases that go to the appellate level are changed or modified in some way. this is proof of that theory. this is proof of that statistic.
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the prosecutor in this case has said that he's going to appeal an acquittal and i'm sure he will. i suspect also the lawyers for rudy guede are preparing their petition to reopen his case as well. because the high court as we just said has him as one of three for the murder of meredith kercher. >> barbie, we're going through the legal rules and requirements in the process. you're there and you've been covering this case for some time. just take us back to that moment, the emotions of the moment, when amanda knox -- we saw her on television sobbing. found out she's free. >> well, she really collapsed with emotion. i think her family especially was very confused. because, of course, they don't speak italian. they saw her emotional reaction. i think they were not entirely sure if, in fact, she had been acquitted or confirmed at that point. she was really just collapsed with emotion. and she was helped out of the courtroom and whisked away to the prison where she in record time was processed out.
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we understand leaving tomorrow to go back to seattle. >> barbie in italy, jeffrey toobin in new york, thank you for your help on this fascinating case. we'll track it as amanda knox makes her way home. appreciate your help tonight. when we come back, a shift to the news of sports. the nfl commissioner roger goodell is here. remember football, they had a lockout. thought they'd have a strike and no season. now television ratings are up. what about the promise for drug testing? mr. roger goodell, next. [ 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. and i don't have to worry about a late fee. which is good... no! bigger! bigger! [ monica ] ...because i don't think we're going anywhere for a while. [ male announcer ] write your story with the new citi simplicity card. no late fees. no penalty rate. no worries. get started at citisimplicity.com. no late fees. no penalty rate. no worries. so if i didn't know better i'd say you're having some sort of big tire sale. yes we are. yeah. how many tires does ford buy every year? over 3 million.
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the nfl season four weeks old. the tv ratings so far suggests fans have a forgive and forget approach to the labor system. with ticket prices so high, how is attendance holding up in such tough economic times? will the league take leadership roles in the big national debates about concussions and drug testing? all good questions for the nfl commissioner roger goodell kind enough to join us. i want to get to those questions. as a football fan let's go first to the conversation every fan is having on this monday. is this a fumble or is this declared down? eli manning throws here to victor cruz. the pass is completed. he does something. he leaves the ball on the carpet. the officials say he declared himself down. that's a fumble, no? >> i haven't had a chance to get
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back to tauhe office. i've been down here all morning. the rule is pretty clear about getting yourself up. it appears that's what he's done. i'd like to spend some time with our officiating crew. it's an unusual play, of course. >> in hindsight maybe he should have waited for a whistle to hand the ball to an official. >> he's trying to get down to stop the clock and get on to the next play. that's something they do in a hurry up offense. >> how much of your monday's are spent on things like that? >> today i'm traveling. >> one of the big issues in your labor agreement was testing for human growth hormone. you committed to doing it. the union committed to doing it. now a month into the season some key members of congress are saying where is it? they haven't seen it. they want to call you up and the players union up to capitol hill and say what's the delay. what is it? >> we're redty to go. on the nfl side the players want to continue to look at the science behind the testing. it's not a new conversation for us. we've been talking about this for over a year. >> do you get to a credibility
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question at one point where you say we're going to do it, it's part of our deal and now -- >> it certainly is for me. we committed to it in our collective bargaining afwreemt we'd start "new york times" regular season. i'm disappointed we haven't done it. i want to get to the point where we have the best testing program in all of sports. hgh testing is happening in olympics. the science is there. it's a valid test. we should be doing it. >> the union is just stubborn. >> the union seems to want to continue to focus on some of the science. i think the science is there. now, obviously technology will continue to improve. and it will be our job to stay up with technology and try to have the best technology in all of our testing. >> that conversation you have had to deal with that happens at every level of football, what to do about concussions and the violence and how much of it is rule, how much is equipment. let me start with the equipment question. what is the league doing and how much is the league itself willing to spend on research, maybe, do we need a new helmet, do we need other equipment? >> in our new collective bargaining agreement the players and owners agreed they would
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fund medical research to the tune of $100 million over the next ten years. in addition to that, we continue to work with equipment manufacturers to make sure we have the best possible equipment for our players and make sure they're wearing it which is a key issue and wearing it properly. we are continuing to do everything we can to make our game safer which will flow down to every other level of football. >> yet it's a physical sport. when you try to clean up the game, it causes some controversy. james harrison of the steelers said this to "men's health" magazine in july. up until last year there was no word of me being dirty until roger goodell who's a crook and a puppet said i was the dirtiest player in the league. if that man was on fire -- i'll use the word urinate -- on him -- how do you answer him? >> i don't. i'll keep doing what's right for the game of football and make the game safer for all players. >> when a player says something like that do they try to meet with him or ignore it? >> we met james last year. he came in the office to go over
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the rules and meet with our staff to make sure he understands the techniques we're trying to eliminate from the game. he met with our entire football staff. i did attend the meeting. i sat there for 20 minutes. >> did he say anything like that to you in that private meeting? >> no, sir. >> the league was the pioneer, i think, out ahead of a lot of political class in society with play 60 trying to deal with childhood obesity and say look at our players, we're going to be examples in the community. in the past couple years you've teamed up with the obama white house. do you ever worry about getting drawn into the politics of that. rush limbaugh said i don't want the government telling me to exercise, what to eat or not to eat or telling the school what they can serve my kids. >> we're not the government. we will partner with anybody including the government that wants to try to help make our kids healthier. and live more active lifestyles. we think that's good for them. that's good for the individuals. it's good for our country. we'll continue to do what we can to support that effort. >> you say you won't give david
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stern advice because he's the dean of commissioners. but are there lessons from your experience that you would tell him look at this, your ratings, for example? would the nba if they don't figure this out in the next week or so, if their season, the regular season, not the preseason, is kicked back or will they pay a price? >> i think all of us know when we're in the business of appealing to fans that fans want to see their sport. if you get between the sport and the fan, you're in dangerous territory. david knows that better than anybody. he went through the lockout in the '90s and is experiencing it again now. i know nobody wants to get an agreement that works with the sport more than david staern. part of his job is to make sure the agreement works for the clubs and the players. that's the trick that a commissioner has to continually focus on. >> i started with a controversy from sunday's game. i'm going to end on one as a patriots fan. i need the commissioner's opinion. what's up with this. these pictures, the before and
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after tom brayty. the boston globe wrote an obituary for the long haired tom brady. who's that guy on the right? >> anybody writing an obituary for tom brady is making a mistake. >> for the hair. >> not only his hair, as a young man he's one of the greatest guys in the world. his hair is getting a lot of attention. >> any idea why? >> i don't. i haven't talked to tom about that part of the business. >> you've got more important things to worry about. we appreciate your time today. >> great to be with you, thank you. >> on a footnote, espn has decided to pull hank william jr.'s opening song from tonight's monday night football after comments williams made on fox news this morning comparing president obama to adolph hitler. espn's statement reads in part we are extremely disappointed with his comments and as a result have decided to pull the open from tonight's telecast. there's a new move in congress to get tough with china. its backers say there are 2 million reasons why. tonight's number when we return. plus, erin burnett out front
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premieres at the top of the hour. erin will be here with a special preview. the postal service is critical to our economy-- delivering mail, medicine and packages. yet they're closing thousands of offices, slashing service, and want to lay off over 100,000 workers. the postal service is recording financial losses, but not for reasons you might think. the problem ? a burden no other agency or company bears.
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a 2006 law that drains 5 billion a year from post-office revenue while the postal service is forced to overpay billions more into federal accounts. congress created this problem, and congress can fix it.
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welcome back. here's the latest news you need to know right now. this hour's breaking news, american amanda knox left an italian prison tonight. a friend tells cnn she'll head for seattle, washington, tomorrow. several hours ago an italian court overturned knox's conviction in the 2007 murder of her roommate. a huge fire at a chemical plant south of dallas forced officials to evacuate nearby
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homes as well as a college and elementary school. officials say no one was injured. u.s. senate tonight is debating a bill to punish china for manipulating its currency. it will be a soymbolic vote. >> by the way, china has a lot more to lose with retaliation than we do. >> so why would we as a country tamper, tamper at this time of a global slowdown, tamper with creating a trade war? >> and that brings us to tonight's number. let me walk over here. we'll give you a peek. 2 million. 2 million. that's the number of american jobs supporters of that legislation say have been lost to china over the past decade because of its unfair currency valuation. and other unfair trade practices. 2 million jobs, they say, over the last decade.
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why? because of the u.s. trade deficit with china. if you look at this over the past ten years, green is the united states. that's what we sell china in the value of goods. yellow is what china sells us. look at that. look at that increase over the year. you see the huge trade gap right there. because of this more products being made in china, obviously. which the sponsors of that legislation means more jobs. so what would that mean? what would that mean? 13.9 million people are unemployed in the united states right now. we have a 9.1% unemployment rate. what would happen if we had those 2 million jobs back? ub employment would be in the ballpark of 7%. that's why the advocates on capitol hill say it's time to punish china. house leaders won't touch this one. the last thing they want is a trade war. 2 million is a big number. it would make a big difference. erin burnett out front is coming up at the top of the hour. erin is here for a special preview. it's your first show. you're already learning what i think is a very important lesson. get out of the office. where did you go? >> i did.
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i actually went down to wall street today. i wanted to see those wall street protests for myself. back in my old stomping kroun i. it was pretty interesting. we'll share that tonight. plus you're talking about china. important economic rival slash friend of the united states. militarily also important. we have our exclusive interview with leon panetta. a quick snip of that for you, john. when i asked him if yemen -- he had said it was the biggest threat to america. whether it's still the biggest threat now that he has taken out al awlaki. here it is. >> you recently said yemen was the biggest terror threat to america. has anything changed? is yemen now less of a threat to the united states than it was? >> we certainly have gone after their leadership. i think we've dealt them a major blow by virtue of having taken down bin laden and now al awlaki and other leadership types. there are still al qaeda out there that continue to try to plan potential attacks on this country. this is not a time to take the
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pressure off. this is a time to put the pressure on. >> on that note we talked about the budget restrictions as you've been talking a lot about that could be really hitting the department of defense. he also talked about what his biggest fear is of an attack on america, what keeps him up at night. we have that, our trip to wall street all coming up on our first show. >> looking forward to it. have fun. that's the most important mission. have fun. >> thanks, john. >> see you in a few minutes. when we come bab, governor chris christie i am told tonight is getting very close to his big decision. will he or won't he join the republican race for president? i'm told we'll get an answer perhaps within 48 hours. in america, we believe in a future that is better than today. since 1894, ameriprise financial has been working hard for their clients' futures. never taking a bailout. helping generations achieve dreams. buy homes. put their kids through college. retire how they want to. ameriprise. the strength of america's
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new jersey governor chris christie is about to end the mystery. i'm told tonight he wants to announce his decision on whether or not to join the republican presidential field by tend of this week. one source says look for that decision within the next 48 hours. one reason to stay on the sidelines? the going could get tough. >> i believe that a lot of conservatives, once they know his position on those things that you delineated, they're going to not be able to support him. so i think that that is absolutely a liability to him if he gets in the race. >> but here's the strong reason. maybe a very strong reason in favor of running. 2012 looks at least at the
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moment like a good year to be the gop nominee. a new "washington post"/abc poll out tonight found that 55% of americans believe a republican will win the white house next year. just 37% believe president obama will be reelected. let's dig deeper on the christie side with our cnn contributors eric ericson and donna brazile and "the new york times" national political correspondent jeff zeleny. jeff, to you first, it's a tough one to track. they're all being tight. they're saying the governor spoke to his wife over the weekend. i was told it will happen this week unless something crazy happens, and it could happen as early as wednesday. consistent with your reporting? >> we're hearing the same thing. i think time is actually running out for him. i mean, south carolina moved up the date of its primary because florida moved up the date of its primary. we're talking some 85 days away perhaps until the iowa caucuses. it's very hard to put this together. it's not any 85 days we're talking. debates between now and then. herman cain was right. there are some issues that if conservatives looked at him with a little sharper magnifying glass i think they wouldn't be
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necessarily as pleased in this. surely he has been taking the lesson from rick perry as well. tough to do this at this point. some republicans say, oh, it's the same as barack obama. he got in. but he was out there trying out as a candidate long before anyone but a few reporters were paying attention. frankly, he was a bad candidate until november of '07. it took him a long time to get going. i think it's tough for chris christie. >> eric erikson, he has a group of fundraisers in new york and new jersey ready to help him. in terms of organization, are you hearing from anybody you know in the grassroots con serbtive movement in the last 24, 48 hours they got a call that says stay tight, here comes our decision or here's what it might be? >> reporter: no. in fact i've got a lot of conservatives who i would think would be hearing such a thing and they're not. which leads me to believe this may still be some hype to it. there's too much buzz to suggest they're not thinking about it up in trenton. at the same time, i mean, we've had, what, 12 or 13 or 14 noes in the past six or seven months.
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to all of the sudden get to yes, there's not a ground game in iowa right now or new hampshire or florida or south carolina. they'd have to put all that together in the next 85 days. there is that new sec rule out now that came out in the last year or so that prevents financial services companies from giving monies to governors that get state contracts. so that will hurt his fundraising base to a degree. he's going to have to think about all these things. can he do it in 85 days. >> donna, we're talking about a potential republican candidate here. you're a veteran organizer. you know how to put together the nuts and bolts of a campaign. let's first listen to senator john mccain. is he right? >> if governor christie decides to run, i wish him luck. i think there is a bit of a caution that always the swimming pool looks a lot better until you jump right in. the water may not be quite as warm as you think. >> oh, i think the water is full of sharks. it might be difficult for him to
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get into the cesspool at this hour. look, on the other hand, john, the republicans are looking for a real, strong, conservative stand-up there. mr. mccain is absolutely right on immigration, gun, same-sex civil unions, et cetera. i have more in agreement than governor christie than, say, some of the conservatives. >> does that lead you to think he would be a tough general election candidate, get the nomination? >> possibly. he comes from a blue state. he's a blue state governor. right now i'm not down on president obama. i think president obama has a good chance of winning re-election against the current field. but at the same time, you know, the question is, is there room for a moderate in the republican party? i don't think so at this hour. >> you said you think the president. let me focus on the president. he had an interview with george stephanopoulos where he was asked essentially, you're the incumbent president of the united states, but are you the underdog? >> are you the underdog now?
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>> absolutely. because given the economy, there's no doubt that, you know, whatever happens on your watch, you've got -- >> you embraced that pretty quickly. >> you know, i don't mind. >> expectations game there? is that a factual statement? >> i think it might be both. one thing he's trying to do is in the white house is trying to for a couple weeks send the message to their their supportet they need the troops here. this is serious business here. that he needs people who like limb generally and perhaps may not love him entirely to come out and support him. but, you know, if you look at "the washington post"/abc poll it's accurate, at least, by this snapshot of things today. but one thing he's leaving out. incumbent presidents have a lot of advantages. he's going to have a big blue and white airplane fly all over the country. a lot of attention. so i think it might be slightly early to say that. i think we're going to see that in some tv ads. we'll see how that plays out. >> the tag line, love my generally, support me entirely. i like that. you guys stand by. we'll be right back. we'll keep our group with us. a texas ranch leased by rick
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perry had a racial slur in its name. what did the texas governor know, and what did he do about it? that's next. we're america's natural gas and here's what we did today: supported nearly 3 million steady jobs across our country... ... scientists, technicians, engineers, machinists... ... adding nearly 400 billion dollars to our economy... we're at work providing power to almost a quarter of our homes and businesses... ... and giving us cleaner rides to work and school... and tomorrow, we could do even more. cleaner, domestic, abundant and creating jobs now. we're america's natural gas. the smarter power, today. learn more at anga.us. new splenda® essentials™ no calorie sweetener with b vitamins, the first and only one to help support a healthy metabolism. three smart new ways to sweeten. same great taste.
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this much is not in dispute. texas governor rick perry leased a hunting property in texas that had an offensive racial slur in its name. the name was on a rock at the entrance to the property. the praub described it as, quote, a large flat rock standing upright. you can see the word there on the screen. i prefer not to say it. governor perry says his father some time ago had paint applied to obscure the offensive word. but this is in dispute. the perry campaign says at no time when the word was visible did perry bring groups to visit the land. but first "the washington post" and then the new york tmgs reported the name was visible for some of the outings organized by perry. on sunday mr. cain called it insensitive.
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today mr. cain seemed to dial it back some. >> the mere fact that word was there was insensitive. that's not playing the race card. i am not attacking governor perry. some people in the media want to attack him. i'm done with that issue. >> eric erickson, donna brazile. eric i want to go to you first. there have been a number of controversies, dustups, questioning of the governor's record. this is conduct as a politician, predates his time as governor to some degree. how significant? >> i don't think it's very significant. i think the media research center today pointed out that "the washington post" in just the last couple of days has written more words on this story than they ever wrote on the jeremiah wright story with his connection to barack obama. this isn't going to be a big story long-term. i mean we know the undisputed facts are rick perry's father painted over this rock and it was a lease that rick perry's father had until '97 when the son took it up. at some point the rock was turned over. some people may have seen it very recently but were not sure and it sounds more like a cheap
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shot than a legitimate political thing. by the way, texas democrats since 1992 have not used this as an attack on perry. there's a plain just to position here. perry is the guy who the republicans are attacking for wanting to let illegal aliens come across the state lines and subsidize them and somehow he's a racist. >> points taken on much of that. you can criticize the coverage of jeremiah wright and all that and we can go back through that history if we want. but to the questions here, donna brazile do you see this as a legitimate issue about governor perry? or do you at least have a question or two you think he needs to answer? or is this something that happened long ago? their story is they painted over the name because they didn't like it. done, we're done? >> as i mentioned time and time again. i've known rick perry when he was a democrat. so i believe i can say this with credibility that he's not a racist. so i don't think that's the issue. the issue is the insensitivity of having that word written on a rock, and not doing something about it, according to him they did something about it. now let's go beyond that and
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stop dealing with what i call race in a very superficial way. it's more of a distraction. it's more annoying when you discuss it, especially when you discuss it in political company. so i think we need to move on. governor perry will have to say that for himself. i can tell you that he is, at least from my knowledge of him back in the 1980s, he's a decent person. >> that's an important point and i appreciate you making it. it's a partisan environment sometimes. what are your questions? you were doing some reporting on this over the weekend in terms of when did he know it? what was his own involvement in doing anything about it? what are the unanswered questions? >> i think some of the unanswered questions are just specifically when was the rock painted over? and was he taking people over, you know, and showing it to them. but i think what it does sort of longer-term is opens up more questions about his upbringing, you know, his time as a child in west texas. if there's anything else out there that sort of feeds into this it will be a problem. i was a little bit surprised not to see him address this, not to
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speak about it. he had, his campaign was responding very aggressively. but, he does not have anything scheduled for the next couple of days. at some point he's going to have to address it. i'm not exactly sure why you don't do it right away. we've seen this before. you know -- >> he should be on offense. he should not be on defense, especially on these issues. >> erick i know you think this is being overblown. this happens to all governors. every governor says that was asked and answered. that was litigated. when you run for president things get different and you have to answer the questions again. do you think maybe they're a little blind to that? >> you know, they may very well be. at the same time i really don't think this is as big a story as the media, new york and washington may want to make it out to be. i really don't think that this is as big a story. i agree with donna. he's at some point going to have to bring this up and address it head-on. but is this a big story? maybe in "the washington post." but, then you know, in 2009, with the bob mcdll

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