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Relief Efforts Continue in Haiti; Gen. William Ward Interviewed; Education Secretary Comments on Education in New Orleans; Afghan Soldiers Killed by American Friendly Fire; Family Sues Police in Massachusetts for Brutality; Bill in Congress May Open up Travel to Cuba; President Speaks with House Republicans in Front of Camera; Woman Offers to Marry for Health Insurance; Oscar Nominations to be Announced

Aired January 30, 2010 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: From the CNN center, this is CNN NEWSROOM. It is Saturday, January 30th. Good morning, everybody. Thanks for being with us. I'm Betty Nguyen.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes. It's 10:00 a.m. where we sit in Atlanta, Georgia, 9:00 a.m. in Memphis, Tennessee, 7:00 a.m. in Simi Valley. Wherever you are, we're glad you're with us.

Up first up here is one of the things we'll be looking at, a man dying in police custody in Boston. His family has now filed a civil lawsuit. We're going to have the lawyers on both sides of this case. They're going to be joining us this hour.

NGUYEN: Also, it's a tough economy and people are trying just to stay afloat as best they can. Some, in fact, are getting really desperate when it comes to health insurance. Listen to this one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will marry for health insurance. What do we think about that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: She's saying she will marry for health insurance, and she did this on YouTube. The woman in a desperate situation because she can't buy health insurance due to her preexisting conditions, so she's saying she's going to marry for it. We'll have much more on this story straight ahead. Obviously it's a talker.

HOLMES: And another talker this morning, and you'd rather not be talking about it, some nasty weather out there, nasty conditions that a lot of folks are going to be dealing with this morning. Winter weather playing out from coast to coast really and all points in between, Oklahoma City, in particular, where repair crews are trying to restore power to thousands after Thursday's ice storm.

NGUYEN: Much of the nation's midsection has taken a direct hit weather-wise. In Missouri, temperatures are expected to stay below the freezing mark, keeping snow and ice from melting away anytime soon.

(WEATHER BREAK)

NGUYEN: Well, the White House is coming under some criticism for the way the Justice Department is handling a suspected terrorist. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab of Nigeria is accused of attempting to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane as it approached Detroit on Christmas Day.

Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins gave the Republicans' response today to the president's message, and she says when it comes to the fighting terrorism, the administration is blind.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R) MAINE: The Obama administration appears to have a blind spot when it comes to the war on terrorism. And because of that blindness, this administration cannot see a foreign terrorist even when he stands right in front of them fresh from an attempt to blow a plane out of the sky on Christmas Day.

There's no other way to explain the irresponsible, indeed, dangerous decision on Abdulmutallab's interrogation. There's no other way to explain the inconceivable treatment of him as if he were a common criminal.

This charade must stop. Foreign terrorists are enemy combatants, and they must be treated as such. The safety of the American people depends on it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: New York Senator Chuck Schumer says it is obvious the trial of five 9/11 terror suspects cannot be held in New York. The Obama administration is under pressure to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others outside Manhattan.

While Schumer opposes trying the men there, another member of Congress says security should not be a problem for New York.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Would you be satisfied if this trial, a, moves out of New York and goes, for example, to a military base in upstate New York, a civilian trial? Would that be OK with you?

REP. JOE SESTAK, (D) PENNSYLVANIA: I guess it would be acceptable. But I'd be surprised that we have to do it. I've heard these comments that it will take 2,500 checkpoints or police officers.

I served in the White House when Al Qaeda was a problem as director of defense policy. I drove past the White House the other day. You could almost throw a stone and hit the White House. We're able to protect that bastion of our society, so to speak, quite well. I don't know why we can't do it downtown New York City.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: Well, two administration officials say the Justice Department is considering other trial locations.

HOLMES: NATO officials are now apologizing for an apparent case of friendly fire in eastern Afghanistan. It left four members of the Afghan army dead, seven others wounded. An Afghan army statement suggests both NATO and Afghan troops mistook each other as enemy forces and started firing.

Our Atia Abawi joins us now live with the latest. Tell us what we know at this early hour, I guess, after this incident.

ATIA ABAWI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, T.J., what we do know is that an investigation is underway, a joint investigation with the Afghan national army as well as the International Security Assistance Force in that area.

The question is how they could have mistaken each other for enemies and why an air strike was called killing those four Afghan soldiers. This comes a day after two U.S. service members were actually killed in the same province by their Afghan interpreter.

I spoke to a NATO official here in Kabul who says that they're not sure exactly what may have happened, but they're denying claims that the Taliban say that they were able to infiltrate that base where that Afghan interpreter killed those two U.S. soldiers.

And right now that is under investigation. At the moment they're saying that might have been just a disgruntled employee working with the Americans. T.J.?

HOLMES: And Atia, you talked about this province and where we've seen a couple of Americans killed. Is this the same province we're talking about, as well, where we just saw a NATO official killed just yesterday?

ABAWI: Well, it was actually two U.S. service members that were killed yesterday, the same exact province. This province is Wardak, it's just east of the capital province of Kabul. It still is in eastern Afghanistan.

This is area where just last year we saw the first influx of troops come in February of 2009 because it was an area that many in the area that many in NATO and ISAP saw a gaining of Taliban influence. It's an area that we saw shadow governments by the Taliban. We saw about 1,000 to 1,500 American troops coming into Wardak province in the beginning of 2009 to try to clean up the area from the Taliban.

But obviously this is still a very -- an uneasy area. It still has some kind of Taliban influence. But these two incidents seem to be coming from within.

Obviously today, this morning, a friendly fire incident between U.S. and Afghan forces with other Afghan forces, and yesterday an inside job when it comes to the Afghan interpreter killing those two U.S. soldiers.

HOLMES: All right, Atia Abawi, we appreciate you keeping an eye on what has been a very busy time in that particular province. Thank you so much, and we'll check in with you again.

NGUYEN: Plans to rebuild the earthquake-ravaged parts of Haiti are taking place as recovery progresses. Engineers, architects, aid workers are all coming together to work with Haiti's government as part of this effort, and they're working under, in fact, the U.N. direction.

Well, the head of the rebuilding initiative wants Port-au- Prince's population reduced from 3 million to 1.5 million or 2 million. The government already plans to resettle about 400,000 homeless people east of the capital.

More than $1 billion dollars in international aid has been pledged for Haiti, and plans for reconstruction must be approved by the government there.

Let's get the latest on where that money is going, how the reconstruction is moving along. Karl Penhaul is in the middle of the rebuilding effort and he joins me live now from Port-au-Prince. A lot of money at stake here, a lot of people pledging to help Haiti, but are you seeing it start to trickle down to the people that need to actually do the rebuilding?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Betty, I think however much the international community pledges for Haiti, it's just not going to be enough. Haiti is no stranger to international aid over the decades. It has received billions in international aid, and it hasn't really lifted Haiti out of poverty, still more than half the population surviving on just $1 a day in normal times, three-quarters surviving on $2 a day or less than that.

And so really $1 billion, what needs to be done in Haiti is a drop in the ocean. And in terms of government plans to temporarily relocate people, well, most of all right now the Haitian people are in need of tents. The international community has not been able to get even enough tents into Haiti for the homeless population in two and a half weeks.

And so the Haitian people are essentially doing it themselves. They're pulling debris from what's left of their homes. They're putting up tin shacks. Even here behind us in this square where initially there were only just sheets for tenting, homemade tents, now the people are bringing bits of wood, bits of tin, and making their own homes.

And really that is the danger. If the government, if the United Nations, if the aid organizations don't step in and doing do something fast, the Haitians themselves will do what they can to get by.

And you can understand it, because even as I say, two and a half weeks after this quake, the Haitians are still not even getting enough food and water. The international community doesn't even aspire to feed Haitians every day.

I was talking to a U.S. general the other day. He said there's no way we can feed every Haitian every day, but we just aspire that within the two-week period they get enough food to survive. And what that is doing is generating chaos in some of the food lines. People are scared that if they get food today it could be days before they get more, Betty.

NGUYEN: Yes. There's desperation on the front when it comes to getting food, when it comes to getting medical assistance. And then of course shelter, a lot of issues still to be dealt with down there. Karl Penhaul joining us live, thank you, Karl.

HOLMES: We're going to turn now to someone who has some of his men and women serving right now to help the people of Haiti. In fact, this is a four-star general who we are delighted to have in studio with us today. This is not just any four-star general. There he is. You see his face.

The name, though, General William Ward, is the only black four- star general currently serving in the military. It is an absolute honor to have you here. You're the head of the Afrikaans, the U.S. command in Africa, you're stationed in Stuttgart, Germany.

You're here because you're actually being honored by the trumpet awards. Congratulations on that. In the interest of full disclosure, I ran into him last night at a diner, got excited. I said we got to have you on. It's so great to have you on, certainly in Atlanta.

Like I said, you're the only black four-star general currently serving in the military. Why are you the only one?

GEN. WILLIAM WARD, U.S. ARMY: Well, there aren't many to begin with, and in my case I've been privileged and blessed to serve our nation wearing this clothe, and reward for that service has been my obtaining the rank of four stars.

HOLMES: Is that ever something you thought about when you first entered the military?

WARD: No thought at all. I wanted to come in and do my time as a career officer, initially serving about a four-year term. That continued on because opportunities presented themselves, challenges presented themselves.

I was also able to work with young men and women from all over our nation who just thoroughly impressed me. And I have just been with it now for 38 years.

HOLMES: Seems like I hear that story a lot for all the guys who have been in about 30, 40 years. They just wanted to do a few years.

WARD: Right.

HOLMES: And here they are all these years later. How does that weigh on you in a lot of ways as far as responsibility? Certainly, I mean, your service to the country, but as almost an added -- I don't want to call it a pressure, but still a responsibility. You are the only black four-star general. A lot of people will look up to you in a lot of ways, a lot of those young soldiers, young black soldiers coming up.

WARD: I look at it as a chance to demonstrate that you can achieve those things if you set your mind to them, if you apply yourself in productive ways, if you're prepared to accept opportunity that come your way and then move on.

And also being able to be part of a team, a team that works together to help assure the success of all its team members has been something that I see as something that can be applied to any profession.

And in the military it certainly is no more evident than as we work with our young men and women who are teammates to help them be as proficient as they can be. For me, I'm privileged and happy and honored to be doing this for 38 and a half years.

HOLMES: Last couple things here. You're going to be honored tonight, but on another front, some of your men and women are serving in Haiti. That wasn't the original plan.

WARD: My command is responsible for providing security assistance, helping African nations increase their capacity to provide for their own security.

In this instance, one of our vessels who was in route to training assistance on the west coast of Africa was diverted to Haiti to participate in the earthquake relief operation, and they're doing so now, along with a dozen or so ship riders from those African nations.

They were asked if they wanted to participate and they said yes, and so they are also there participating in the Haiti relief operation.

HOLMES: And before I let you go, you're the only one now. How many more are coming up behind you? We're going to see more and more?

WARD: I sure hope so. There are many out there doing great work. The pipeline is important, so young men and women are being prepared. The opportunities are there, we just want to make sure the numbers are there also so that they can demonstrate their talents.

HOLMES: General Ward, it is an absolute honor to have you here again. You're here to be honored. You're rarely in the states like this, so here to be honored for the Trumpet Award recognizing African- American achievement, getting one of those awards at the ceremony today. Glad we could get you in the studio. Thanks so much.

WARD: Appreciate it, T.J.

HOLMES: Hope we can stay in touch with you. WARD: Absolutely. Thank you very much. Good to be here. Thank you very much.

HOLMES: All right, Betty?

NGUYEN: Great guy there.

It nearly decimated the city, so why are we hearing a comment today that hurricane Katrina was a good thing for New Orleans?

HOLMES: After a massive worldwide recall -- we're talking about Toyota here now. Do you own one of these millions that's been recalled? We're going to tell you what in the world you should do now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Well, hurricane Katrina, a good thing for New Orleans? Well, that's what President Obama's education secretary says, at least saying it about the education system down there in New Orleans. That statement certainly has a lot of people talking, has us talking this morning.

The statement was made to CNN analyst Roland Martin, who happens to be in studio with us.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.

HOLMES: Good to have you with us.

MARTIN: Glad to be here.

HOLMES: Also CNN education contributor Steve Perry will be weighing in in Connecticut. Roland, I want to start with you. This is an interview you were doing with Arne Duncan.

MARTIN: It was for my TV-1 show, Sunday morning news show.

HOLMES: We'll see it on Sunday.

MARTIN: Right.

HOLMES: But there was some stuff that was put out and released. I do want to read this to our viewers. And he says "I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was hurricane Katrina. That education system was a disaster. It took hurricane Katrina to wake up the community and say we have to do better. The progress that they've made in four years is unbelievable."

MARTIN: Right before that he said "I hate to say this."

HOLMES: "I hate to say this," by he said it.

MARTIN: He said it. And this is what he was talking about. That was a decrepit school system. And so what you do is you turn tragedy into triumph. That is, you have an opportunity to totally rebuild a school system that was not educating children, where you had a high illiteracy rate in that city, a high poverty rate.

And so it was totally destroyed, so therefore they can build from ground zero.

Not only that, "The Washington Post" story you see today, he says many folks in New Orleans are saying that, as well. Other educators are saying that, that this was the opportunity, that because it was destroyed this is how you can now fix it and repair it and build it up.

HOLMES: Let me bring in now Steve Perry. Steve, you hear the statement, I assume and it sounds like a lot of people agree with it, at least. You agree with it as well?

STEVE PERRY, CNN EDUCATION CONTRIBUTOR: Of course I agree with it, but problem here is what we didn't obliterate was the leadership. We keep retreading leaders in the public school system. Paul Ballas was the CEO of Chicago public schools, not necessarily a powerful school system, a failure in its own right, coming from there, Arne Duncan.

It's like a bad version of the Atlanta housewives. We keep retreading the leaders and taking them from one place to another and expecting different results. We can't just change what's happening in the schools. We have to change leadership and bring new talent to bear.

MARTIN: But actually, Steve, in New Orleans, when you look at test scores, when you look at involvement of the schools, you have seen a change because the power structure, how the school system was being run totally changed in terms of -- Ballas has a heck of a lot more control over that school system than what you had before then.

You get the fights between the mayor and the school board and you had folks in the schools, they totally changed how they run the schools. So at the end of the day, our kids, scores are going up, kids are learning more. The data is there, and it is getting better.

HOLMES: Steve, go ahead.

PERRY: But the other side of it is we often talk about the scores going up, so they go up from five percent to 10 percent, we call that 100 percent growth, but it's still 90 percent failure.

What I'm talking about is at some point we need to change fundamentally who's running the schools, not just move people from one part of the country to the other and making incremental change, because we're still categorically failing our children.

MARTIN: I agree, but Steve, if you go from five to 10, your goal then 10 to 15, 20 to 30, you're not going...

PERRY: The problem is... MARTIN: Steve, I understand that, but what I'm saying is the whole key that Secretary Duncan is talking about is that you had an opportunity to totally restructure.

If you actually -- if the school system in this country were a lot like a sorry building with so many code violations, city council would have razed these schools. And so what he was saying is we have an opportunity to reconstruct how folks are being educated as the result of the devastation.

PERRY: I agree with that.

MARTIN: In Haiti, you're seeing the same thing.

PERRY: That's not what I'm disagreeing with. Of course that's happening. I'm saying that we can't have a Katrina in all of the 50 states. We have to have more than that.

And what I'm saying is the problem here is that what we keep doing is we keep retreading superintendents. They go from one community to the other. They're like journeymen field goal kickers on bad teams in the NFL. I'm saying at some point we have to put new people in there.

HOLMES: Has there...

MARTIN: There are new people down there, as well.

HOLMES: Steve, has there been -- what changes have you seen in New Orleans? You talk about that same kind of administrative structure there, but still, has there been something that caused everybody to look at that education system a little differently, or are you saying there's really nothing that has changed down there?

PERRY: I'm not saying at that all. I'm saying there are changes. I'm saying we can continue to make greater changes.

One of the changes, they've been having an honest discussion about vouchers. They're giving real choice to the student throughout the community. That's phenomenal.

What I'm saying is that we need to make sure we have access to new leaders. One of the reasons why D.C. is doing what it's doing is because they have a leader who comes from outside the system. She wasn't a transplant from somewhere else and doing it in community after community after community.

What Michelle Reed is doing is she is looking at the whole problem with a different set of eyes, a new set of eyes.

MARTIN: And the problem she has is she's dealing with the city council, she's fighting with the mayor that supports her.

I agree we need new leadership, but here's the reality -- has that system been fundamentally changed to a certain degree? Yes. Are they seeing progress? Yes. Are things progressing, yes? Are they having parent who is finally recognize you can't just complaint but you need to get involved? Yes.

And so I applaud the progress there. Do we need more leaders? Yes. There are people moving to New Orleans I know personally to get involved in the school system, the charter schools, absolutely.

So I will always applaud progress while at the same time calling for new leadership. I will not dismiss the progress of that happening there.

What you're seeing at the education department is they are trying to focus across this country on challenging people to raise their expectations, challenging teachers' unions to stop making excuses for sorry teaches, but also challenging the parents to say you cannot demand excellence from a school system if you don't have a demand for excellence at your own home.

HOLMES: And, Steve, I'll let you wrap it there. Go ahead, Steve.

PERRY: And what I'm saying is of course I'm applauding progress. On the same token, I'm talking about there are children right now in the schools who can't be part of a school system with 70 percent failure rates in some of the schools. I'm saying those children need access out to schools now. And that is happening.

MARTIN: I agree with you.

HOLMES: Let him finish.

PERRY: And so we applaud the progress. The problem is that these children don't get a chance to wait for progress to take shape. We need more now.

MARTIN: Look, I understand. I support vouchers, public school, private school, home school, online, as long as they get educated at the end of the day. That's all I care about.

PERRY: Then we're in agreement.

HOLMES: Gentlemen, I appreciate you both being here.

MARTIN: Tune in to my show, TV-1, 11:00 a.m. tomorrow. That's the purpose of the interview.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

HOLMES: Fellas, we appreciate it. Good discussion, both of you.

PERRY: Take it easy, gentlemen.

HOLMES: See you, Steve. Betty, why don't you go ahead and take it from me.

NGUYEN: Y'all a little rowdy over there today. Who let Roland in the building? Does his I.D. card still work around here?

MARTIN: Works all the time.

NGUYEN: Now you want to go there. All right, somebody cut his mike.

Toyota, let's get to this. Toyota is trying to move forward in the wake of just a massive worldwide recall.

And in sickness and in health, especially sickness, I want you to listen to this plea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will marry for health insurance. What do we think about that?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: Yes, this woman says she is so desperate for healthcare that she will marry for it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: This just in to CNN. Former president George W. Bush has departed the White House after his meeting with President Obama. His son, former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, was with him.

There's no specific agenda for this meeting. They were just getting together for a talk. That's what we were told by White House officials. The former president is in town for the annual Alfalfa dinner, an annual dinner in Washington that is indeed closed to the press.

Some other top stories we want to tell you about. NATO officials are apologizing for an apparent case of friendly fire in central Afghanistan that left four members of the Afghan army dead, another seven wounded. It happened earlier this morning in the Wardak province.

An Afghan army statement suggests both Afghan and NATO troops mistook each other as enemy forces and began firing. The Afghan Defense Ministry is investigating.

And inmates at an east Texas prison woke up to a lockdown this morning after a failed escape attempt by five prisoners last night. Corrections officials say guards opened fire as the would-be escapees ran for a fence. Three of the prisoners hit by gunfire are being treated for their wounds.

And rhythm and blues singer Etta James is in the hospital this morning. Her son tells CNN that she is suffering from a bacterial infection that has become resistant to antibiotics.

She's perhaps best known for the 1961 classic "At Last." Mrs. James is 72. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a year ago. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: In Massachusetts, accusations of deadly police brutality are threatening to take down as many as three dozen state and local officers. That after a man they stopped at a sobriety checkpoint died in police custody.

While police have maintained that they did nothing wrong, the medical examiner's office has now ruled the death a homicide.

Cheryl Fiandaca of our Boston affiliate WCBB has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARGARET HOWE, WIFE OF VICTIM: Tragic. You get a phone call, you know, that he got arrested. The next thing you know I'm in a hospital and the police officer is telling me your husband didn't make it. What do you mean?

CHERYL FIANDACA, REPORTER, WCBB: Kenneth Howe's family can't understand how he could have died going through a police sobriety checkpoint when he wasn't even driving. The family says these pictures help tell the story.

HOWE: That's him just on the ground, all of them all on him. I just don't know what he was thinking about. You know? There are so many questions to ask. Did he think about us? Did he knew he was dying?

FRANCES KING, ATTORNEY FOR VICTIM'S FAMILY: These police officers that beat this man to death are cowards. They're cowards. And they're animals.

FIANDACA: State police say Howe was injured after he assaulted a female trooper who called for help.

The family, though, disputes that account. Photos show the scene on November 26th. State police, North Andover police, and Essex County sheriffs held a sobriety checkpoint on route 114. Howe's family admits he wasn't wearing a seat belt and was trying to put out a marijuana cigarette.

KING: Whatever was in the car, Cheryl, whatever happened, you arrest someone and you take them to the station, they're booked. Mr. Howe should not be dead.

FIANDACA: With two of her children standing by her side, Margaret Howe and her lawyer filed a 41-page civil rights lawsuit against the police who she says beat her husband to death. Today with the filing of the suit, the family's lawyer is now demanding the U.S. attorney get involved.

KING: The state police investigating the state police is ridiculous. And there's an inherent conflict of interest, and we respectfully request that the U.S. attorney's office take over the investigation. FIANDACA: But the attorney for North Andover says the Essex County D.A. is already investigating and claims his clients did nothing wrong.

LENNY KESTEN, ATTORNEY FOR NORTH ANDOVER POLICE: There were a number of lieutenants on the scene, the North Andover police chief was on the scene, there were captains on the scene. Nobody saw anything which caused them alarm, which made this seem to be particularly unusual other than a struggle, and it took a long time to subdue him.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: All right, so two very different accounts of what may have happened. Joining me now is the attorney for the family of Kenneth Howe, Frances King and Leonard Kesten, who represents the North Andover police. You saw both of them in the piece.

Let me start with you, Mrs. King. What does your client, the family of Mr. Howe, say happened that night? What are they alleging happened that night?

KING: Well, what happened that night, which has been confirmed by the medical examiner's office on January 21st, was that Kenneth Howe suffered a blunt impact to his head and torso with compression of chest.

The medical examiner's office has ruled this a homicide. A homicide is the death at the hands of another. And the hands of another are in these photos from the "Eagle Tribune" where the police beat this man to death.

We knew this from the very beginning when Kenneth died during the last hour of November 25th. The horror began at the emergency room at the Lawrence General Hospital, where medical personnel were horrified at the sight of Kenneth's brutally beaten body.

NGUYEN: Well, let me bring in Mr. Kesten here, and I want you to react to what the medical examiner's report has ruled. We have it here. We put it up on the screen. It does, indeed, rule it a homicide, saying there was blunt impact to the head and torso.

But it also says that there was some cardiovascular disease and some clogged arteries. So are you in contention, Mr. Kesten, that it was not a beating but perhaps some of these other things that may have led to the death?

KESTEN: There was a fight that night. What Mrs. King has been doing is the worst kind of ambulance chasing, calling them cowards, murderers from the beginning. The pictures show nothing unusual.

My heart goes out to the family. It's tragic that the man died. Why he died nobody knows yet. She has been...

NGUYEN: You're saying nobody knows. I'm sorry. You're saying nobody knows, but the medical examiner has ruled -- I mean, we have the death certificate right here -- ruled it a homicide and saying "cause of death" -- we can put it up on the screen -- "blunt impact to the head and torso." You're saying that that is not the case?

KESTEN: There was a fight. Nobody has ever questioned that there was a fight. The man hit people. People hit him. There was a fight. And he died.

The medical examiner has not issued his autopsy. Mrs. King has been accusing the medical examiner of a cover-up until he issued something. She's accusing now the district attorney of a cover-up, who has not finished his work. It's an outrage.

NGUYEN: Mrs. King, I'm going to let you get in here, and I guess my question is if it's a cover-up, why was it ruled a homicide?

KING: Let me say one thing, what Mr. Kesten said about a fight. I challenge him to show me in any of the 43 photos that the "Eagle Tribune" photographer took where there is evidence of a fight. My understanding of a fight is two people or more than two people. Kenneth -- excuse me, Mr. Kesten.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Mr. Howe is on the ground for 11 minutes.

KESTEN: What happened to Mr. Howe when he was standing up, Mrs. King? What happened to get him on the ground? There are no pictures. You know it. There are no injuries inflicted on him once he's on the ground.

KING: Well, let's talk about...

KESTEN: The photographer got there after it was finished.

KING: Let's talk about once he's on the ground from 11:20 to 11:31. He's on the ground handcuffed and leg cuffed. I have a picture here that is time stamped 11:25 where leg irons were being applied.

KESTEN: That's right.

KING: He's on the ground. Every single photo he's on the ground for 11 minutes.

KESTEN: That's right.

NGUYEN: Mr. Kesten, to help explain this story, Mr. Howe was accused of hitting an officer, correct, and then a fight ensued?

KESTEN: Here's the story. You'll see in those pictures, you'll see the codefendant -- there was another man arrested in that car for possession of drugs. He was handcuffed and walked to the cruiser because he didn't fight.

KING: We don't know...

KESTEN: The third man didn't fight. The pictures were taken off the struggle was finished. There was a fight. Everybody knows it. The witnesses have said so to the D.A. I have interviewed people about it.

Mrs. King has been screaming murder. Mrs. King has brought a suit for money damages. The law enforcement looked at it. The D.A. is looking at it. We went to the U.S. attorney to see if there was any potential of any crime. Nobody's hiding anything. Mrs. King's only role in this case is to file suit to get money.

KING: Well, that's interesting, Mr. Kesten, because from the very beginning the family and myself have been demanding justice in the form of criminal prosecution.

NGUYEN: In fact, Mrs. King, did you file a civil complaint this week, as well?

KING: We have filed a civil complaint in our --

NGUYEN: What does that entail?

KING: It entails potential injunctive relief if the procedures of the police are found to be inadequate, which I believe will happen. And in our society, we can't bring Kenneth back so, there is monetary relief. Is Mr. Kesten being paid to defend these bullies and animals?

NGUYEN: All right, well, I thank you both for your time.

KESTEN: This is horrible.

NGUYEN: The story in itself that a man died is horrible.

KESTEN: It is, and it's horrible to call them -- it is horrible that he died. I feel bad for the family.

KING: I call on the police officers in these photos...

NGUYEN: We could go on for hours, I'm sure, but unfortunately we are out of time. I'm about to lose the satellite window. So thank you both for explaining the different sides of this. Obviously an investigation is under way. We appreciate your time.

KING: Thank you.

NGUYEN: Thanks for watching CNN Saturday Morning. We've got much more to come. Stay right here.

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(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow U.S. citizens back into Cuba.

HOLMES: Yes, that where there might be somebody waiting for them. Here now is Shasta Darlington with this morning's "On the Go."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Americans have been banned from visiting Cuba for nearly 50 years. But the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act is making its way through Congress. The island nation could once again become a popular travel destination for Americans.

TESSIE ARAL, CUBA TRAVEL EXPERT: The beaches are one of the most wonderful beaches in the Caribbean. You have historical aspects of Cuba, the old Havana, Trinidad. You have many ecological tours that you can do.

DARLINGTON: Cuba is also known for its music.

ARAL: If you go down old Havana, every little bar, you're going to have a trio or a quartet playing, and music is everywhere on the island.

DARLINGTON: But Cuba has problems, including food shortages and widespread poverty. The U.S. trade commission estimates more than a million Americans could visit Cuba each year if the travel ban is lifted, a surge Cuba's aging infrastructure would struggle to accommodate, shortcomings that visitors may overlook at least for a while as they sip Mojitos on the beach.

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NGUYEN: President Obama facing off against his biggest critics in hopes of mending some political fences. Well, yesterday the president accepted an invitation to talk to House Republicans who have been some of the most vocal opponents of many of his initiatives.

And the president said he hoped to find some common ground. But like many things in Washington, consensus is hard to come by. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We've got to close the gap a little bit between the rhetoric and the reality.

I'm not suggesting that we're going to agree on everything, whether it's on healthcare or energy or what have you, but if the way these issues are being presented by the Republicans is that this is some wild-eyed plot to impose huge government in every aspect of our lives, what happens is you guys then don't have a lot of room to negotiate with me.

You've given yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion because what you've been telling your constituents is this guy's doing all kinds of crazy stuff that's going to destroy America.

And I would just say that we have to think about tone. It's not just on your side, by the way. It's on our side, as well. This is part of what's happened to our politics, where we demonize the other side so much that when it comes to actually getting things done it becomes tough to do. (END VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: All right, so we are talking about just that this morning with our political editor Mark Preston. Mark, things got a little testy at that event, but some may even be surprised that the president even went to this Republican retreat.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes. Well, you know, what's really surprising, too, Betty, is they did this question and answer period in the public. They allowed our cameras in and to run it live.

And, yes, there was some testy exchanges as the president said that they're not going to agree on healthcare, they're not going to agree on energy legislation, they're certainly not going to agree on the stimulus bill.

What they're also not agreeing on, and he pointed that out, as well, is bipartisanship, who is to blame for this really bitterness that we see on Capitol Hill. Now, president Obama there said that both parties seem to deserve a little bit of blame for that. However, Republicans will say it's Democrats that deserve the blame.

NGUYEN: Yes. Well, you know, it seems like this bickering is going around on a bunch of different fronts. Let's take the state of the union address, for example. We saw the president take a shot at the Supreme Court, and then you saw Justice Alito kind of shaking his head and saying that's not true. What is going on, Mark?

PRESTON: It's interesting, Betty, that you ask that, because whenever we see things like this happen here, we say, wow, this is the worst we've ever seen it here in Washington, you know, the bitterness is so bad, the bipartisanship isn't there.

Quite frankly, this happens all the time. You know, we're a country that's very much divided. Yes Barack Obama won, and some would say handily, he won more states. But if you look at the popular vote, the fact of the matter is we are a very divided nation. So Republicans have different ideals than Democrats do.

So you're seeing this knocking of heads about who actually has the right answers to cure all the ills that we have right now from the economy to Afghanistan, even getting our troops out of Iraq.

NGUYEN: Yes. I doubt one person has the right idea for all of those problems that we're dealing with. Mark Preston joining us live as always. We appreciate your insight, thank you.

PRESTON: Thanks, Betty.

NGUYEN: As we talk about the any economy and all the things that need to be worked on, and some people actually need to find some work, this woman says she has lost her healthcare because of a preexisting condition, and so she will marry for health insurance.

HOLMES: Yes, a lot of people out there desperate for insurance. She explains herself in a YouTube posting. Take a look. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TERRI CARLSON, GENETIC IMMUNE DISORDER SUFFERER: I don't care what you look like. But what I care about is how good your health insurance is. So, you want me to respond to you? Attach your healthcare benefit information. What are your co-pays? Are they $5? None? Whooo! The lower the co-pay, the sexier you are to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: Has it really gotten to that point when it comes to health care?

HOLMES: And it looks like she's, you know, kind of being, you know, being kind of upbeat and fun about it and cute about it there, but this is very serious for her.

Her name is Terry Carlson. She's 45 years old and has a genetic immune disorder. Her own insurance, she apparently lost her job and the COBRA insurance that you get afterwards expires. And now the only way she says she can get insurance is by marrying someone and getting on their insurance through their employer.

NGUYEN: Just a sign of the times, I suppose.

Well, there's much more to come on CNN Saturday morning. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: All right, it is news that Hollywood and all the rest of us have waited for all year to hear, especially T.J.

HOLMES: Yes. Big Oscar party, every year.

NGUYEN: Every year. He gets all decked out. Oscar nominations are coming right up.

HOLMES: The 82nd annual Academy Awards is going to be coming up on March the 7th, but nominations coming out on Tuesday. We had to bring in somebody to help us with this thing. There he is, "Entertainment Tonight" anchor Kevin Frazier. Kevin, good morning. Good to see you this morning.

KEVIN FRAZIER, "ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT" ANCHOR: Good morning. How is everything in Atlanta?

HOLMES: Everything is great. But your town is the place that's hopping right now.

NGUYEN: Yes.

FRAZIER: Even for a person that's not into it that much, what's the buzz?

NGUYEN: The buzz this year when it comes to Oscars. What are what names are being thrown around?

FRAZIER: Well, first of all, I think that this is going to be Monique's year and Sandra Bullock, and Christophe Wallace. But I think that at the end of the day, it's all about Monique and Sandra Bullock, and those are the two names and I think those are the two women who I believe are shoo-ins to walk away with Oscar gold.

Monique in "Precious," her portrayal of Mary Jones, it was one of those movies that kind of stunned the world and one of those performances that made everyone everybody stand up.

And then Sandra Bullock, it was finally her time and her turn. And she was great in "The Blind Side." And the thing about Sandra Bullock's performance is if you ever meet the real lady that she portrays, Lee Ann Touhy, Sandra nails it. It's incredible. It freaks you out.

NGUYEN: Yes, because a lot of times when you see the buzz about a specific actor, it's because they've given this really dramatic performance and they really had to get into the role, which she did, but this is kind of an upbeat character with a little feistiness to her. But it's nothing like what we saw with Monique's role.

FRAZIER: No. They are very, very opposite characters. The Mary Jones character Monique played, it scares you. You know what, it took me back to one of those movies like "A Menace to Society" by the Hughes brothers, one of those movies that you see that shocks America, and I think that's what you got with "Precious."