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Arrest in L.A. Grim Sleeper Case; Accused Spies Could Plead Guilty; NY iPhone "Doctor" Fixes All That's Droppable

Aired July 8, 2010 - 09:58   ET

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


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Let's talk about what's happening right now. We're going to talk about the Gulf oil disaster. We're going to bring up -- we're working to get some live pictures for you out of Theodore, Alabama. That's where the National Incident Commander Thad Allen is going to hold a news conference on the cleanup operation following this gusher right here.

We're going to monitor the developments for you and bring you the latest.

Real quickly, here's what we know on day 80. BP said it's pushing to stop the gushing oil sooner than later. Energy director Bob Dudley saying it could possibly be stopped by July 27th however he couches the statement saying that's in a perfect world with no interruptions.

Then in New Orleans, a federal appeals court will take up deepwater drilling; at issue, reinstating a six-month ban on drilling as the Obama administration wants or block the ban as offshore companies will argue.

And those choppy seas that held up clean up operations may finally be calm today. That could allow skimmers back in the Gulf to collect the oil.

Other big story, that heat wave moving south; it's already there.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Where it should be, right?

PHILLIPS: It's not moving. It's there, it's embedded.

MARCIANO: It is. For sure, Kyra, yes. Some of the temperatures over the past couple days pretty impressive as far as where we've been and where we're going. Century mark yesterday in New York again for the second day in the row and here are some of the numbers as far as the record highs that were set.

Richmond, Virginia -- 104 degrees; Philadelphia -- 103; Baltimore, Maryland once again -- 101; Central Park got up to a cool 100 degrees yesterday as measured in the shade, not including humidity. So felt a lot worse than that. So the core heating sliding down a bit farther down into the south into the southeast. This cool front, which this time of year would bring 15, maybe even 20 degrees of cooling is moving way too slow to really cool things off rapidly across the northeast. So it's time to get there for quite some time. The northwest, meanwhile, Portland to Seattle, anywhere from 90 to 100 degrees expected today, a little bit drier, a little bit less humidity but it's still hot for folks up there, and there's not a lot of air conditions units in play for Oregon and Washington.

98 degrees in Atlanta, 98 degrees in Raleigh. So that's where the core of the heat is beginning to sink farther in the south. This is going to be the warmest day of the year, I think, in places like Alabama, Georgia and south of the Carolinas.

As far as air travel delays today, D.C. metros over an hour, Philly something, most of it because of haze. There are some showers that are trying to develop across the New York City area and eastward onto Long Island. But they're going to have a tough time doing so, may get a little bit of outflow from that to potentially cool you off but that is about it.

A lot of outflow and a lot of cooling off from rain with this tropical system. This is a tropical depression number two. It's centered right about there, about I don't know, 60 or 70 miles southeast of Brownsville, heading in that direction. It's obviously not very organized. So it doesn't look like it will develop into a tropical storm. There's still a slight chance of this happening. But it's going to make landfall later this afternoon and bring with it some heavy rain. I could see four to eight inches of rainfall, maybe as much as 10 in an area that got a lot of rain with Hurricane Alex just a week ago.

So the Rio Grande is already flooding, at a flood stage that we haven't seen in over 30 years and they're going to get more on top of this. So that's the biggest problem. It shouldn't affect the oil spill cleanup too much but it's going to affect what's going on in southeast Texas with the flooding they already had to endure with Hurricane Alex. We'll keep an eye on tropical depression two and may become Bonnie before the day is done but it certainly won't become a hurricane. Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Thanks, Rob.

MARCIANO: You bet.

PHILLIPS: Well, it has all of the intrigue of a 007 movie, mystery, a sultry female and a Russian connection. A spy ring that is moving fast right now. The 10 alleged secret agents are in a New York federal courtroom for an arraignment right now and we've learned that the 10 spy suspects are in plea talks and they could be deported as soon as tonight.

CNN national correspondent Susan Candiotti in New York with the latest. Susan, what can you tell us?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: All right. Kyra, well arraignment is scheduled for this afternoon, and you're right, things do seem to be moving very quickly now. We are hearing from sources, including one that has close details to the investigation, closely linked to it, telling us that this may all be resolved as quickly as tonight.

Two people are telling us that, in fact, pleas could be entered and are expected to be entered today at that arraignment and that the deportations could happen as early as today. Now remember that the indictments in this case were unsealed yesterday. That is formal charges by a grand jury. All of the defendants charged with acting as federal agents but unregistered in the United States, acting on behalf of Russia, and then there is also a conspiracy charge to commit money laundering.

Now, as we understand it, the plea would likely just simply be working in the United States as unregistered agents and then this would be worked out that they would be moved out of country very quickly. This comes as talks, of course, of a major spy swap that is under way. And so additionally, what would happen to the children involved in this case? Remember, some of these are married couples. All of that remains unclear, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: So what's your take? Why do you think this is moving so fast and we're getting these developments in so quickly?

CANDIOTTI: Well, certainly there could be an element of politics involved in this. We have been reporting for a couple of days now that this issue has come up between representatives of the State Department and Russia and so there could be an element of that big picture wise, of course, looking at the relationship between Russia and the United States. So that could play a role in all of this.

Because it's coming together so quickly, that certainly is highly unusual, but if there is an attempt here to resolve this case quickly, to arrange a spy swap in relation to all of this, in connection with all of this, then that would certainly help explain it.

PHILLIPS: Got it. Susan, thanks so much.

Well, Los Angeles might be able to sleep a little easier. DNA might finally have unmasked its grim sleeper killer, a quarter century after the first crime.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: It could be a huge break in a nightmare that has nagged Los Angeles for 25 years. An arrest in the so-called "Grim Sleeper Case." That nightmare might finally be put to rest thanks to DNA testing. CNN's Randi Kaye has more on the arrest, the victims and the victims who say they're finally closer to justice.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He preyed at night, trolling the streets of south central L.A. for victims, and there were many. It's believed Deborah Jackson was the first to die. The 29-year-old cocktail waitress left a friend's home on August 10th, 1985. Her body was found days later.

Jackson was shot to death. Over the next two decades, he would take many more lives, all but one were black women. Some working as prostitutes. Most were shot to death.

DET. DENNIS KILCOYNE, LOS ANGELES POLICE: He would spot them and does spot them, victimize them and then just discards their body in alleys like they're trash. He is a monster.

KAYE: A monster that Detective Dennis Kilcoyne pursued for years, and he and his team believed it would only be a matter of time.

KILCOYNE: We got this beautiful DNA profile, all of these dashes and dots and this is that but there's no name or address or face to go with it.

KAYE: Now, they say they do. Lonnie David Franklin Jr., the 57- year-old was arrested Wednesday, in front of his home in south L.A..

CAPT. KEVIN MCCLURE, LOS ANGELES POLICE: We made an arrest here in the 17th block of 81st street on a suspect that has been known to many as the "Grim Sleeper."

KAYE (on camera): He's suspected of killing at least 11 women but for now police will only charge him with 10 murders. He doesn't have a lawyer and there's been no plea but police say he is the killer they called the "Grim Sleeper," a name coined because of the long gaps between killings.

(voice-over): News of the arrest reached the family of Alicia Alexander, who on September 11th, 1988 asked her father if he needed anything from the store. She was found murdered days later.

PORTIER ALEXANDER, FATHER OF VICTIM: My body just - it's such a good relief that I found I had.

KAYE: 19 years after Alicia was taken, Franklin allegedly claimed his last victim. Janesha Peters was discovered on January 1st, 2007, shot in the back and dumped in a garbage bag. A quarter of a century of killing is over and now police say they can finally put a name to the grim sleeper.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New Orleans.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Former chief of the LAPD and also current city council member Bernard Parks joining me by phone now in reaction to this case. Council member Parks, I remember when you were back on the force. This is a case that you remembered well, a case you wanted to solve. My guess is and you've never left paying attention to it. That's for sure. Your reaction once you found out that this evidence might have led to the actual killer?

VOICE OF BERNARD PARKS, LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCIL: You know, yesterday, Kyra, that when I heard from Chief Beck that they had the suspect in custody, I was just overwhelmed in the fact that all of this work under Dennis Kilcoyne and his team, the effort of clear channel to assist us, the reward money, the repetitive news conferences to highlight this case, the first thing I thought about were the parents and the families would finally be able to come to whatever closure that they could in that knowing that there's going to be justice in the loss of the life of their loved ones.

PHILLIPS: And you talk about the money that was put toward finding this guy just recently, and you took that money and you put it toward a massive billboard in Los Angeles and I can't remember if you had more than one. You'll have to tell me. But tell me why you were so passionate about finding the serial killer.

PARKS: Well, in my career, we've had a couple of serial killers and you realize that there's somebody who is preying on the community and this person went over a 25-year period. What we were fortunate is that clear channel actually volunteered and came on board in 2008 and began to put billboards up, and then they increased the number and they began to allow us to use their electronic boards that were close to freeways, but the reward money that the city put up was basically unprecedented.

It was $500,000 to deal with these cases that were in the city. So, just very recently, we renewed that reward motion in council, and each time we did that, we brought family members, the detectives, they would advise the public of the new information they had and what was fortunate every time we would do this, it would amplify the number of leads and contacts that the people would have with that team of detectives.

PHILLIPS: And let's talk about that. Let's talk about the LAPD task force and all of those leads that came forward. He's what's so fascinating. I want to talk more about Lonnie David Franklin, 57 years old, and what you know about him and what you know about him now.

But the evidence actually came from a slice of pizza. Explain how this happened and how this second family tree search led to Lonnie David Franklin Jr.

PARKS: Well, the information that I have. And we're going to get more of a briefing this morning is that there's a new process with DNA that allows you to search for family members in the DNA bank, data bank and earlier this year my office and myself contacted Jerry Brown to get permission to use that. The detectives asked for it, and what they did, actually, is that they found a connection in the data bank that was actually his son, which then led them after some investigation to determine that the son obviously was too young to be the suspect.

It led them to the father and then after some investigation, they actually were able to obtain a direct DNA sample from the suspect, which then became the perfect match.

PHILLIPS: Wow. What do we know about Lonnie David Franklin? Do we know anything else about his history or his past? Has any information been retrieved from his son? Anything you can tell us?

PARKS: I don't have any, in fact, I will be at a briefing today at 10:45 to get some of that information. My understanding is that he lives in the immediate area of some of the bodies that were dumped and from listening to the news last night, he is a person that people were shocked about that he was a regular person in the community that did repair work on people's cars and basically was someone that did not bring attention to himself.

So a lot more will come out about him and his past. Because not only is it unique and the fact that we are talking about a serial murder but the length of time that he was able to - in fact, it was like 12 or 13 years between incidents at one time. All of that is the type of thing that I'm sure the detectives are poring through. From seeing TV last night, they obviously were serving search warrants.

PHILLIPS: And we're looking at that now, council member Parks. We're actually looking at video from his home in south L.A., and have you heard of anything they might have retrieved from the home? And kind of put your police cap back on for me back when you were on the beat. What is it they are looking for? What are they going through? What are they hoping to find?

PARKS: I think their number one mission there is to find evidence that would link him closer to those cases in addition to what they currently have. And we know from some suspects, they like to recover trinkets from their crime. They may be evidence of the victims that are there, either samples or clothing or articles. I'm sure they're looking for anything that can possibly further connect him to these crimes, and if there are other crimes.

Because these are the 11 we know about. The key now is are there other crimes, and when he gets the exposure and his photo becomes visible to the public, there will be other people that will call and say -

PHILLIPS: Right.

PARKS: Whether they thought he was connected to something else. So this is where they're doing the real hard police work. The technology has done its job, now the real hard police work of sifting through evidence, ensuring that it's booked properly so that you can put on a case before the court and come up with a successful prosecution.

PHILLIPS: Well, I know this a huge coup for the LAPD. And I know that it means a lot to you as well. You've had quite a personal connection to this and we are going to learn more about it, Lonnie David Franklin, age 57. Police right now say that they have their man, a man they believe terrorized the Los Angeles area for more than two decades.

Council member Parks, really appreciate your time. Please keep us updated on what more you learned about this suspect and of course, if it leads to anymore possible assault cases. Appreciate your time, sir.

PARKS: Thank you very much, Kyra, and for your interest in this case also. PHILLIPS: Always have been, ever since I was a reporter there, more than a decade ago. Thanks so much as I'd like to call you, chief. Thanks, chief.

PARKS: Bye-bye.

PHILLIPS: And you can go to cnn.com as well. There is a pretty detailed interactive section there on CNN.com, as you can see right here, about this case, details of this case, but as you just heard, we are following this story about DNA leading to the arrest of what police are saying is the "Grim Sleeper " serial killer in Los Angeles.

Think no one can fix your busted iPhone, iPad or iTouch? Well, this guy says I can. Meet the self proclaimed fix-it Geek who is getting business from around the globe, right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Checking top stories. Ten suspected Russian spies in the U.S. can plead guilty today. The 10 could be deported as soon as tonight. The development comes amid reports of a possible trade of the accused Russian spies for spies convicted in Russia.

The Rides the Duck tour actually has temporarily suspended operations nationwide. Got word of this after a barge crashed into a tour boat in Philly yesterday. The search for two missing tour boat passengers in Philly is now a recovery mission. All other passengers and crew made it to safety.

The northeast heat wave will hold on through this afternoon. Two deaths have been blamed on the heat and there's also been scattered power outages in some states.

Another glitch for iPhone users AT&T says a software defect is slowing uploads for more than a million wireless customers. A fix is in the works. And of course, if you drop your iPhone, that's a whole different kind of glitch. CNNMoney.com's Poppy Harlow joins us now from New York.

So Poppy, you actually found somebody who makes house calls for busted phones.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: I know he calls himself "Dr. Brendan." We are not kidding. A year ago, this guy was bartending. But you know what, we are all addicted to our gadgets, our iPhones, our iPads, our Blackberries. We all drop them, they break. He fixes them out of his apartment in New York Lower East Side. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRENDAN MCELROY, IPHONE FIXER: We do everything from you know, iPhones, iPads and iTouch.

HARLOW (voice-over): He is known around town as Dr. Brendan and if your iPhone looks like this or this, he can bring it back to life.

MCELROY: Aside from liquid damage, there's not one I can't fix.

HARLOW: If it's crushed, busted, broken, 28-year-old Brendan McElroy know how to fix it and he said he'll do it for less than half of what Apple charges.

(on camera): Do you consider yourself a tech geek?

MCELROY: I'm a bit of a tech geek. I'm not a full contact geek.

HARLOW: After dropping his own iPhone while bartending last year, he surfed the web and taught himself how to fix it.

MCELROY: I'll be honest, I butchered it a bit.

HARLOW: He's not a real doctor but a self-proclaimed tinkerer who zips from customer to customer on his motorcycle.

MCELROY: This is my fourth house call of the day.

HARLOW: This emergency call is at the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is this problem with the LCD screen where there is a stripe in the middle.

HARLOW: 10 ten minutes, 75 bucks and it's done.

But there's one catch. Having your iPhone fixed outside of Apple could void your warranty. Why Dr. Brendan?

DR. SEETAL MEYWAY, CUSTOMER: Apple is a total hassle to me. The one time I went in there, you have to schedule the appointment, you wait, they tell you they can't fix it.

HARLOW: Next stop, back home to more customers.

MCELROY: So what's up with your phone?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I dropped it.

MCELROY: Oh, no.

HARLOW: It's a story he hears over and over again.

MCELROY: Were you very upset?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

MCELROY: No, you weren't. Some people break down and cry.

HARLOW: The fix takes a tiny screwdriver, a razor blade and, of course, the screen.

MCELROY: Courtesy of China, and that is a new iPhone screen there.

HARLOW: How did you find the right components? MCELROY: I found something, some post from some distributor that claimed to sell these parts so I e-mailed them. I was very nervous. Because it was just like, oh, send this cash to China. You know.

HARLOW (on camera): But it worked out?

MCELROY: It worked out.

HARLOW (voice-over): It's 5:00 p.m. and he's already fixed seven iPhones and more customers are on the way. In fact, business is so good, Dr. Brendan quit his bartending gig and is opening his own store this fall.

(on camera): What is the oddest story you've heard about how someone broke their phone?

MCELROY: There has been a lot of stories but my girlfriend saw my text messages and threw it at me. There was another one, someone's son actually bit the phone.

HARLOW: Oh. Did you fix it?

MCELROY: Yes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: Of course, he fixed it. He fixed them all. And you know, Kyra, he says the worst ones are actually those iPhones that people drop in the toilet and they bring them to him. He says he keeps a pair of rubber gloves around for those. I couldn't believe it. He says if it smells though he's not going to touch it but business is good. you know, he doesn't spend any money on advertising and he has customers sending him phones, Kyra, all the way from Greece. Can you believe it?

PHILLIPS: It's brilliant. How many times have we dropped it in a place where we wished we wouldn't have dropped it?

HARLOW: Too many.

PHILLIPS: And it's a complete nightmare.

Exactly. This is our lifeline. Poppy, thanks.

HARLOW: Exactly. You got it.

PHILLIPS: Well, Facebook, Twitter, maybe a bit of an obsession especially for the ladies. A new study shows that one-third of women aged 18 to 34 check Facebook when they first wake up. We're talking about, I guess it takes priority before even going to the bathroom in the morning. Also 42 percent of young women think that posting photos of themselves visibly intoxicated is OK.

Lady Gaga, she is the trendsetter known for her eye-popping fashion sense. But optometrists say falling in love with doe-eyed looks is a "Bad Romance." One that could lead to eye infections or worse. We're facing the music.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: (INAUDIBLE) on Lady Gaga has built a reputation on going big, big hits, big theatrics and big style. But her big eye trend now comes with a warning. Try to match it with illegal contact lenses, and you're putting yourself at risk for bacterial infection, loss of eye function and potential loss of sight. That's actually the warning from the American Optometric Association, which says the so- called circle lens are selling fast on the internet even though they're illegal in the U.S..

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRYSTAL EZEOKE, WEARS CIRCLE CONTACT LENSES: It's something that appealed to me ever since I started liking anime, and you know, I just liked the big cartoony eyes.

DR. MARVIN HSIAO, OPHTHALMOLOGIST: I think it's a big issue not having proper, eye professional care and ordering these lenses. Just because you can get it on line, just because they're available, it doesn't mean it's safe to use.

EZEOKE: I wear them for pictures, just little things I do around my house but I don't usually go around outside with them or to school.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: By the way, Lady Gaga's doe eyes in the "Bad Romance" video, the "New York Times" says it's a computer generated effect, not circle lenses.

The Black Panthers, they helped defined the Civil Rights Era with calls for armed self defense and an iconic chant. But now original members say that the Black Panther name has been hijacked by a controversial new movement. We're talking to Bobby Seal, founding chair of the 1960s movement right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Explosive accusations against the Justice Department from a former employee. He claims that a case of voter intimidation was scaled back all because of race. It's an accusation that the DoJ flatly denies, and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is now investigating.

But it all revolves around cell phone video taken on election day 2008, the day Barack Obama was elected president. Two members of the New Black Panther Party are in military-style uniforms outside a Philadelphia polling place, one of them with a night stick.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, I'm here at 1221 Fairmont in Philadelphia, and there's a guy with a billy club right here. So, do you have any problems here? What's going on? Everything okay? UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Everything's fine.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: What's the problem?

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just making sure.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you at 1220 Fairmont?

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: I'm here -- I'm just a media guy. And that's all I'm doing.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Who are you with?

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: I'm with University of Pennsylvania.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have identification?

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: No. Who are you with? Sorry.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Security.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Okay. I mean, I'm not -- I have a poll watcher certificate, so I can go inside.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Wondering why you came up taking pictures?

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: I mean -- what?

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: I wondered why everybody's taking pictures. That's all.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: OK. I think you might be a little intimidating that you have a stick in your hand. That's why.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Who are you? Who are you to decide?

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, that's a weapon. So, that's why I'm a little worried.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Who are you to decide.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, I'm a concerned citizen. And I'm just worried --

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: So are we. So are we. That's why we're here.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Okay, but you have a night stick in your hand.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: You have a camera phone.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: I have a camera phone, which is not a weapon.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: OK, never mind. I think I'm going to call the police.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Now, this video and this story got us talking about the New Black Panther Party, a group now classified as an active hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. Here's why.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We keep begging white people for freedom! No wonder we are not free! Your enemy cannot make you free, fool! You want freedom, you're going to have to kill some crackers! You are going to have to kill some of their babies! Let us get our act together!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: That is from a New Black Panther Party rally in Philadelphia.

Now, we want to make a point that the New Black Panther movement is in no way affiliated with the Black Panthers of the civil rights era. This is the original Black Panthers.

(VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: And in light of the voter intimidation investigation, we thought taking a look back at the 1960s movement would help us all put this in better perspective. Bobby Seale is a founding chairman of the original Black Panthers, joining us live from Oakland. Bobby, great to see you.

BOBBY SEALE, FOUNDING CHAIRMAN, ORIGINAL BLACK PANTHERS: Good morning.

PHILLIPS: First of all, your reaction, quickly, if you don't mind, to the cell phone video and these New Black Panthers standing there in front of the polling station. Do you believe that was voter intimidation?

SEALE: Yes, to some degree it was. What happens is, they misunderstood. They are supposed to have a candidate on the ballot or somebody they support that relates to their arguments for change they want rather than having a club or something like that.

It's a misrepresentation, of course, of what we were about. I mean, I ran for mayor of Oakland. I ran for California state assembly. We put party members on the ballot. Politically, electoral politics was part of our plan. We were some of the most profound grass roots community organizers in the country at the time for those days.

PHILLIPS: And I want to go deeper into that difference, and the fact that you did run for office and you were so much about making change verse inciting hate. And I want to ask you -- the New Black Panthers declined to come on air with you today. I want you to know that I did reach out, and they declined to have this discussion.

So, with that point made, how do you feel about the fact that they are building off your legacy? They even have your book, "Seize the Time," listed as a book that New Black Panthers should read. In addition, they have a ten-point plan, just like you had a ten-point plan.

They use a lot of the same language, except for one thing that I noticed. The Black Panther from your time, the Black Panther party you founded said, all power to all the people. And that's what was listed in your ten-point plan. The New Black Panther party plan says -- uses some of the same language but says "all of the people of color have been subjected to the white man's wrath."

I look at your ten-point plan, and I see a huge difference between that and the New Black Panther Party ten-point plan.

SEALE: Our 10-point platform and program was about all power to people. We started in the African-American community. We became a profound organization. But our principles -- we were never what you called xenophobic black nationalists. We were not separatist black nationalists. That was not the name of the game.

I created this party. This organization came out of my heart, mind and soul. Black community unity, yes, but only as a catalyst to help humanize the world. A very practical, progressive human being that wanted to work with us, in coalition with us, other ethnic groups, -- Asian, Native American, Puerto Rican and others.

This is where we had coalition politics. We crossed all racial lines and ethnic lines, and we said all power to all of the people because we were trying to get rid of institutionalized racism in America. And to run for political office is one method of trying to do that. And that's the way you want to try to -- get into political office to change laws that's on the books.

This is largely what's happening. I mean, I have a former Black Panther Party members, Bobby Rush, is a United States Congressman. Another person who was a community worker with the Black Panther party was none other than Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and they stand up. These are stand-up people that we were fighting for constitutional, democratic human rights, economic parity et cetera, that we stood for in the 1960s.

PHILLIPS: OK. So, with that point, which is exactly the point I wanted you to make, I want to you listen to King Shamir Shabazz. He's the chair of the Philadelphia chapter. And he was speaking at a rally there Take a listen to this, and I want to you get your feedback.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING SHAMIR SHABAZZ, CHAIR, PHILIDEPHIA CHAPTER OF NEW BLACK PANTHERS PARTY: We didn't come out here to play the game. It's too much serious business going on in the black community to go out here sliding through South Street with white dirty cracker (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and we call ourselves black men with African garb? What the hell is wrong with you, black men? You had a doom day (ph) with a white girl on your arm!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: How does that make you feel?

SEALE: Well, I mean, it's just that old xenophobic kind of rhetoric, you know. A xenophobic kind of rhetoric that turns into sort of a kind of racist rhetoric rather than anything constructive. We used to say the only true culture worth holding on to was a people's revolutionary culture. In other words, reevolving more political, economic and social justice power back in the hands of the people. That's what's necessary to be held onto rather than making absurd, racial, categorical remarks. That's not what it's about, you know what I mean?

If they use my book, "Seize the Time," they should read page 69, which says why we are not racist. I state there and I stated in 1970 when I wrote the book as a political prisoner at the time, we will never, ever stoop to the low scurvy (ph) level of the mentality of a racist to just hate another person because of the color of their skin or ethnicity.

We don't do that. That's not the goal objective. The goal objective is human liberation. The goal objective is the greater community cooperation of humanism. The goal objective is to get rid of institutionalized racism. And, for instance, being a great supporter, Barack Obama is a representative of us having gotten rid of a large aspect of institutionalized racism here in the United States of America.

PHILLIPS: Final thought. Looking back at the pictures on your Web site that reminded me of what you made happen -- the free breakfast program, the youth institutes, the free ambulance service. Just looking back at this images -- so different, Bobby, from the images we see from within the New Black Panther Party.

Are you concerned about how the New Black Panther Party is affecting your legacy and the good things you did, as you say, not only for the African-American community, but for all?

SEALE: Well, the problem with the young people -- the New Black Panthers have been around since 1989 out of Dallas, Texas, originally. And the old Black Panthers there called me up. They're a bunch of Ph.Ds and stuff, and they said, "Chairman Bobby, you have to do something about this and come down here and speak about these guys because are distorting what we are about."

So, they don't understand it. The New Black Panthers have never put up one of these kinds of programs. Now, the programs have unified the people in the community, unified their electoral power in the community. When you unify the electoral power in the community -- then you're doing a heck of a lot more because you're going to the core. You're going to the law books, to the city charters, to the legislative framework that made the laws in the first place. When Rosa Parks was forced to move to the back of the bus, there was a law on the books that said that. So, the objective is to change that law, and that's the way you change institutionalized racism in America.

Now, we got attacked and defended ourselves. I mean, I had 28 dead Black Panther Party members by the end of December, you know what I mean? But then steps in -- who steps in? United States Congress. Finally, we got Ted Kennedy and Senator Church to step in. And they put the FBI and the police on the hot seat about running around attacking the Black Panther Party members. After that, there were never many more shoot-outs in the black community. And we went on to continue to run for political office, organize programs. That is what evolving human liberation is truly about.

PHILLIPS: Bobby Seale, founder of the original Black Panthers, not to be associated with the New Black Panther movement. What an honor to talk to you today, and what a great discussion. I really appreciate your time, Bobby.

SEALE: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Happening right now and coming into the weather center, a tropical depression about to make land fall. Northeast Brownsville, Texas is what we're told. We're going to have more about that after the break.

And also, basketball fans in Cleveland, Chicago, New York and Miami, on pins and needles. Lebron James tonight announces which town he's going to play for. Former teammate tells us where he thinks the king will rule.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(AUDIO GAP)

PHILLIPS: Right, Rob Marciano?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: And it's about to move onshore, Kyra. So, we just want to give you this update real quick. Down across Brownsville, this thing is about 30 miles off the shore now, and you see the rotation of it.

Right now, the center of it right around there, and all of this rain is rotating. That's going to be the main focus is the amount rainfall because the Rio Grande river is at unusually high levels, at about 30 feet or so. It's usually at about 10. So, we're at flood stage already and will get more rainfall, anywhere 4 to 8 inches of rain on top of what they received.

This will happen in the next couple of hours, official landfall. It also means that even though we have tropical storm warnings that are in place, or just wind gusts possibly -- we're not going to see this develop into a name storm, which will be Tropical Storm Bonnie. So, Bonnie will live to fight another day. Tropical depression number 2 about to come on shore in southern Texas, and will bring rains and potential flooding. Kyra?

PHILLIPS: Rob, thanks.

All right, Tony Harris, give me the song. Ready?

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Umm (SINGING) -- "he's playing basketball."

PHILLIPS: I think I like Tony better!

HARRIS: Are we going to talk basketball?

PHILLIPS: We are talking basketball, Lebron James --

HARRIS: Are we doing it now or after the break?

PHILLIPS: No, take us to break! Keep singing!

HARRIS: Really? All right. We are going to play hoop wars, Kyra Phillips and Tony Harris. I will post you up. I will drop-step you -- really?

PHILLIPS: You know what? Fast break. After the break, Tony!

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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PHILLIPS: It's decision day for Lebron James after a full-court press from four NBA cities. The superstar will announce which team he'll play for. James has played his professional career with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but his ran out at the end of the season, and now the New York Knicks, the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, all trying to woo him. James announces his decision tonight, 9 p.m. Eastern, on an ESPN special.

So, I'm bringing Terry - Terry

(LAUGHTER)

PHILLIPS: -- Tony Harris off the bench for a two-on-one fast break with our next guest.

HARRIS: Where is my mark, Kyra? Where's my mark?

PHILLIPS: You're not lit well. We got to get you in a better spot.

HARRIS: A little bit of light, just a smidge.

(LAUGHTER)

PHILLIPS: On the phone, suburban Atlanta, is Eric Snow -

HARRIS: Love Eric Snow.

PHILLIPS: -- NBA TV. Also former teammate of LeBron James. Eric, so glad you're with us, too.

ERIC SNOW, NBA TV COMMENTATOR (via telephone): Thank you! Glad to be on.

PHILLIPS: Yes, well, you have to school me here, because the last time I played basketball was in high school. And I'll just tell you, white woman can't jump.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: But you had the jump shot. But you had the dribble drive game, right?

PHILLIPS: I had the dribble drive. I did the best I could.

Let's get back to LeBron James, because I definitely would never be able to play with him.

But Eric, first of all, your take. All of this hype, now an ESPN special. Is this just too much, or is this just worth it?

SNOW: I guess it's worth it, because we're all paying attention to it.

PHILLIPS: Point well made.

SNOW: I don't really understand the whole process. I think, he was the guy that was a megastar because all of this, so I think you visit with the teams and make your decision. And you move on and try to do what your goal really is, and that's to win a championship, so I really don't think all this stuff was necessary.

HARRIS: Well, well, wait a minute, Eric. I mean, ESPN is the biggest sports channel on the planet and he is the biggest sports brand arguably on the planet right now. So it kind of makes sense for me to see them do it as a decision. But I'm really curious as to what you think his decision will be on this.

SNOW: I'm still holding onto the hometown area --

HARRIS: Cleveland?

SNOW: In Cleveland. I'm a little disappointed in how it's been handled. I think the way he's handled it -- yes, I guess it's great for branding, but he hasn't encouraged anyone to go to Cleveland, to want to go to Cleveland because he hasn't committed. He won't show his commitment.

HARRIS: Has Cleveland done its part? Has Cleveland -- now, we know -- because Kyra, this is as much an economic story as it is about basketball and the championships, and Eric knows this for a fact. What Cleveland was like before the arrival of King James, and what it's been like since, if you talk about the ancillary businesses around the arena, and how the city responded to this guy.

PHILLIPS: Like what the Green Bay Packers does for Green Bay.

HARRIS: Exactly! But the team, Eric, would you agree with me that the organization hasn't done enough to build the kind of team around LeBron so that he can do what you just said was the ultimate goal which is to win championships?

SNOW: I mean, if you look at any other team in the league that say we won back-to-back 60-plus games, two straight MVPs, pretty much have a young team, have salary cap space and the ability to have an owner that's willing to spend over the luxury tax, willing to make trades to win --

HARRIS: Who have they signed, Eric? Who have they signed in this free agency period? Who have they signed?

SNOW: And my point to that is they haven't signed anyone because he hasn't signed. Guys are not going to commit if he doesn't commit. And that's why I say I think he went about it the wrong way. If he committed, they would commit. Most guys won't commit because he won't commit.

PHILLIPS: Now, let me ask you, Eric, because you are a former teammate of LeBron James. Tell me about him. What was it like to play with him? What do you think he will do? Where do you think his heart is going to move? Is it money? Is it fame? Is it hometown? What do you think?

SNOW: He's a great dude to play with, great knowledge of the game, obviously great talent. I firmly believe his heart wants to stay in Cleveland. But I'm not sure that everything else, the exterior of him wants to stay in Cleveland.

I know that the financial ramifications of the city of Cleveland affects him. I know that -- you know, him and his brand has done a lot for that area.

HARRIS: Yes.

SNOW: The businesses, the restaurants, and the livelihood of a lot of people is based on LeBron James being there. Before he went there, half of the seats were full. Now, they sell out every game. His jersey is selling, they sell products. You know, "Forbes" had it one of the top five franchises in the NBA. So, he's done a great thing for that area, so it will be devastating. I do know that affects him.

HARRIS: I cannot believe, Eric, that you are suggestingthat he should have committed early. If you were in this position, you would be walking this thing out to the very end. C'mon!

(LAUGHTER)

SNOW: I would have been committed, and I would have spent all my energy and time trying to get other people to come to me. HARRIS: Well, when Eric says it, I actually believe it.

PHILLIPS: Yes, exactly. I would believe Eric.

Eric's talking about -- the New York Knicks. We went on the Web site. Sold out. Knicks, sold out.

Eric, thanks so much! Stay in touch with us. I know we'll talk about this a lot more.

SNOW: Thank you, I appreciate it.

HARRIS: Stick around, I'm going to call you next hour.

PHILLIPS: Tony, you want to sing a little "Basketball," and take us to the break?

(MUSIC PLAYING)

HARRIS: (SINGING) He's playing basketball -- oh, yeah.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: A man with terminal prostate cancer given three months to live makes some kind of amazing recovery. It turns out he could live ten years or longer. Great news, right?

Not in this case. Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, the guy convicted in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland was sent home over a year ago. Doctors had given him three months to live. So, Scottish officials sent him home to Libya to die. Compassionate release, they say.

Well, it turns out they sent Al Megrahi home to live. The man who cheated 270 people out of their lives now cheating his own death.

That brings us to today's blog question. We asked if you think killers should ever be released on compassionate grounds. Nate says this. "Compassion? As a mass killer? Where was his compassion for those individual lives? No, I don't believe it compassion for any murderer."

And this comes from Greg, "I think that convicted killers should be treated with the same compassion they had for their victims."

And this one from Robert Hunt, father of Pan AM 103 victim Karen Lee Hunt. I want to thank you personally for writing in. This is what you had to say. "We knew this was a sham when he was released last year. The Scottish government should be ashamed of themselves." By the way, Karen Lee Hunt was one of 35 Syracuse University students on that flight. She was only 20 years old.

Remember, we want to hear from you. Just log onto CNN.com/kyra, and share your comments with us.

Thanks so much for spending this day. Tony Harris will pick it up from here.

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