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Skull Focus of Anthony Trial; Tracy Morgan Back in Nashville; Michelle Obama's Surprise Visitor

Aired June 21, 2011 - 13:59   ET


RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: The legal battle between the defense and prosecutors is back on in the Casey Anthony murder trial. Little Caylee's skull the focus now.

You're looking at a live picture from inside the Orlando courtroom, where the defense is continuing to make its case.

The big question right now is how long Caylee's body was left out in the woods. Leaves and roots are telling, if not key clues, to possibly unlocking the answers. A forensic plant expert testified that Caylee's remains may have been in the woods for as little as two weeks, but here's what she told prosecutors when they pressed her.


JEFF ASHTON, PROSECUTOR: So you're not of the opinion that the body had only been there for two weeks; correct?


ASHTON: OK. It's also possible it was there for a great deal longer than two weeks?

BOCK: Yes.


KAYE: But more troubling, the judge ruled Anthony's lead defense attorney is breaking some major rules set by the court. His tactics are becoming a big concern, especially because of what it could mean to the trial.

So I want to bring in "In Session" legal contributor Sunny Hostin, who's been keeping a close eye on this case daily.

Sunny, listen with me first to what Judge Perry said about the defense concerning one of their witnesses.


JUDGE BELVIN PERRY, ORANGE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: The court will find that this violation is not inadvertent, that it should have been clearly communicated to the expert.


KAYE: The judge was ruling on a defense witness who was supposed to testify about the decomposition fluid in Anthony's car trunk, but the judge essentially, Sunny, limited what this witness can tell jurors. More importantly, the judge made that ruling because he says the defense was intentionally trying to keep the expert's opinion from prosecutors.

So how big of a deal, or maybe not, is this?

SUNNY HOSTIN, LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR, "IN SESSION": It's a big deal. I mean, no attorney, Randi, wants to hear the word "violation," and that it was willfully done, as opposed to inadvertently done.

This judge made it very clear early on that any expert that was going to testify needed to file a report with the other side explaining what opinions he or she would testify to. This was made as clear as I think could be.

Now, the judge finding that this witness did not do it because Jose Baez didn't tell him that that requirement was there was extremely significant. The judge didn't go so far, though, Randi, as to preclude his testimony. He's testifying right now as we speak about a few other things. But he is going to perhaps allow him to testify about this touch DNA and the possibility of the decomposition fluid being tested in the trunk after a potential Frye hearing.

And so, significant in terms of Jose Baez's career, because this judge has said at the end of the day, at the end of the proceedings, he is going to address these discovery violations.

KAYE: And let's talk about some of the evidence. This forensic plant expert who testified about the leaves growing through Caylee's eye socket and skull, how important and credible are her findings, do you think, to jurors?

HOSTIN: You know, I think that certainly some of the jurors did hear that she gave a range. On direct examination by the defense, she said Caylee's remains could have been there for as little as two weeks. And that really dovetails quite nicely with the defense's theory that Roy Kronk, the meter reader, somehow staged her remains there. But it isn't inconsistent with what the prosecution is alleging, which is that they could have been there for a much longer period of time. She did say that as well.

So, I think the bottom line is that the defense may be able to use this in closing arguments, but the prosecution can use it as well.

KAYE: And there's also this new information from prosecutors about a former inmate who was a cellmate with Casey Anthony. Ironically, this former cellmate had a child who drowned in a pool and was discovered by her child's grandfather.

What could this mean, this very similar story to what the defense is putting forward as their theory? What could all this mean? HOSTIN: Yes. Well, we heard about it today from the prosecution, and it's perhaps letting us see a little bit of what the prosecution's rebuttal case may be.

We know that the defense theory in this case is that Caylee Anthony died by accidentally drowning. But the prosecution is telling the judge that there was an inmate at the same time that Casey Anthony was being held who had a child die accidentally and whose grandfather found the child dead in a swimming pool. But that connection hasn't quite been made, the prosecution says, between this inmate and Casey Anthony.

The inmate says she never directly spoke to Casey Anthony, but the prosecution says they're continuing their investigation to se perhaps if, indirectly, Casey Anthony found out about that. And what is the big takeaway there, of course, is that perhaps that is where she got the material for her theory that Caylee Anthony drowned in the pool.

So we'll hear more about this, I think, from the prosecution, depending on the outcome of their continuing investigation.

KAYE: Yes, especially because she has been caught in many lies early on in the investigation. So who knows?

HOSTIN: That's right.

KAYE: But after jurors left for lunch, Sunny, the defense attorney, Jose Baez, complained to the judge about this CD that contains some stuff from Casey Anthony's desktop computers.

What was the objection there?

HOSTIN: Yes. You know, I think it was a bit of showmanship, meaning I just got this information from the prosecution. The judge said this is not really a big deal.

Of course the prosecution is continuing its obligation to give you more information. And so it seemed a bit of sour grapes from Jose Baez, who now has been caught in not the first discovery violation, sort of trying to point the finger at the other side, and the judge said, uh-uh, that's not going to fly here, the prosecution didn't do anything wrong.

KAYE: All right. Sunny Hostin, great to have you on to talk about this. Thank you.

And we want to show you some amazing video right now. A string of tornadoes ripped through the Midwest yesterday.

Take a look here. Pretty incredible stuff.

This was the scene in Nebraska last night. Several homes near the Nebraska/Kansas border were destroyed. The National Weather Service says there were preliminary reports of 43 tornadoes across the Midwest last night. The strongest tornado hit Kansas, which the National Weather Service has preliminarily rated an EF3.

President Obama expected to lay out his plans for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan tomorrow evening. Officials say the 30,000 surge troops deployed late last year would be pulled out completely by the end of next year.

Right now there are about 100,000 American troops in country. The first troops were deployed when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan right after the 9/11 attacks back in 2001.

Jon Huntsman has joined the Republican race for president. He made his announcement from Liberty State Park, just across the water from the Statue of Liberty, the same place Ronald Reagan launched his campaign 30 years ago.

Huntsman is a former governor of Utah who quit his job as ambassador to China earlier this year. In his speech today, Huntsman said he respects his former boss, but also said he and the president have a difference of opinion about how to help the country.

We'll have much more on Huntsman and his candidacy later this hour.

The FDA today unveiled new, very graphic warning labels for cigarette packages. You can see some of them here.

It's hoped that pictures of a diseased lung or dead body will make people think twice before they light up. Cigarette packages will now carry one vivid color image and warnings about the dangers of smoking. Examples of the warnings include "Cigarettes are addictive," "Cigarettes cause cancer," and "Smoking can kill you."

Mark Kelly, the U.S. astronaut who commanded the final flight of the space shuttle Endeavour, announced today that he is retiring to spend more time with his wife, Gabrielle Giffords, as she recovers from a gunshot wound to the head. The two also have a memoir in the works now.

He said in a statement today, "I am humbled to announce that after 25 years of service to our country, I am retiring from the United States Navy and leaving NASA, effective October 1st."

After weeks of apologizing for his anti-gay rant at the Ryman Auditorium, comedian Tracy Morgan returned to Nashville today. We'll tell you what he said and we'll find out whether one man who was in the audience at that Ryman performance accepts his apology.


KAYE: Comedian Tracy Morgan was back in Tennessee today for the first time since his anti-gay rant during a performance at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. Well, this time he was at the Nashville Convention Center to deliver a personal apology.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRACY MORGAN, ACTOR AND COMEDIAN: I don't have a hateful bone in my body. I don't believe that anyone should be bullied or just made to feel bad about who they are.

I totally feel that in my heart. I really don't care who you love, same sex or not, as long as you have the ability to love. That's the important thing here.


KAYE: And Kevin Rogers was in the audience during that anti-gay rant earlier this month. And his comments about it on Facebook helped spark national outrage.

Today, he joined Tracy Morgan at the news conference, and now he's coming back on our program.

Kevin, we spoke with you right after this had happened, right after you posted your comments on Facebook. Today, you sat next to Tracy Morgan at the news conference. You spoke with him.

What did he say to you? And did you buy it? Did you think he was sincere?

KEVIN ROGERS, ATTENDED STAND-UP SHOW: I had a great opportunity to meet with Tracy prior to the press conference. And, you know, he stood in front of me, and we actually met eye to eye as he told me how sorry he was for just the fact that he, as he called it, bummed me out or hurt my feelings. And genuinely, from him I really felt that he had been hurt by the idea that he had hurt other people or possibly had discussed something that could hurt other people.

KAYE: So you did think he was sincere?

ROGERS: I do. I felt that it was directly from his heart, and him discussing just how much it really hurt him.

He didn't realize that as a comedian his voice was as far- reaching as it was. You know, and like the same thing with myself. I didn't realize my voice was as far-reaching as it has become.

KAYE: Several other members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community were there today. How did his remarks sit with the rest of the people?

ROGERS: I believe that they felt the same as I did. It was just a very genuine, open communication that we had prior to the press conference.

And the members of the community had the opportunity to address their concerns and let Tracy know how they felt about what he had said. And then he had the opportunity to say the same thing to them, that, you know, he truly was sorry, and that going forward, he wants to take this opportunity to make this into a positive and do good things with it. KAYE: So has this been enough for you, this so-called apology tour of his? And if so, where do we go now? I mean, has this grown bigger than Tracy Morgan?

ROGERS: I think this is much larger than Tracy. I think this has opened up a dialogue now in our country to where we discuss, you know, what's appropriate in comedy and daily conversations, and hopefully not making light of such important issues like bullying and issues that face LGBT community members.

KAYE: You know, I want to ask you, because the day you came on our program, on a personal note, I know that you had to come out to your mom before you appeared on CNN with me to talk about this. So I just want to ask you, on that personal note, how you're doing with your family and how life is going for you these days.

ROGERS: Everything's great. Everything with my family's great.

There's been an outpouring of love from my aunts, uncles. All of them have been calling my mom and my dad and talking to them about their unconditional love for me.

And actually, I spoke to my mom just prior to the interview to let her kind of know what was going on, and we had a good discussion. And, you know, she continues to be proud of me and check in on me and make sure I'm OK. So it's been great. It's really nice to be free.

KAYE: Yes, I'm sure. Well, it sounds like you have a great mom and a great family, and I'm sure they're impressed by the power of your voice since you were first to post these comments online.

So we certainly appreciate you, Kevin, bringing it to our attention and coming back on the show to button it up with us, as we say. Thank you.

ROGERS: Yes. Thank you, Randi.

KAYE: So guess who Michelle Obama met with today in South Africa? Here's a hint. He's a former-prisoner-turned-president- turned-retiree. Details right after this.


KAYE: First lady Michelle Obama is on the first full day of her trip to South Africa. With her are her two daughters, Malia and Sasha.

During a visit to the Nelson Mandela Foundation today, the former South African president actually sent word that he wanted to meet them.

Joining us with details from Johannesburg is CNN's Nkepile Mabuse.

Nkepile, tell me, how did the meeting come about, and where did they actually meet? NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Randi.

I mean, since the announcement was made that the first lady of the United States would be coming to South Africa, the question was asked repeatedly, will she be meeting Nelson Mandela? And the White House said, well, it will depend on his health.

Of course, this is a man who's 92. He's actually turning 93 in a couple of weeks' time, and his health has been an issue. Doctors are constantly monitoring him.

And so the media didn't actually know that this meeting was going to happen. But, of course, Mr. Mandela probably admires the Obamas just as much as they admire him. He had nothing but praise for President Obama when he was inaugurated in 2009. So he was probably just as excited to meet Michelle Obama as she was to meet him -- Randi.

KAYE: Oh, yes. And I'm looking at the pictures of them that were taken all together. Boy, those smiles, they're big.

But how is Mandela's health these days?

MABUSE: He seems fine. I mean, he's not receiving outside visitors. That's why there was a big question mark around whether Mrs. Obama will actually get to meet him. But his health seems fine.

These pictures show a man that looks strong. He's gained some weight since the last time we saw him when he was sick. So he seems to be doing fine.

Unfortunately, we don't really have much details of what they discussed. But if you do have the pictures, you do see Mr. Mandela holding a book in his hands.

This is actually his latest book that has not yet been released, and we're told by the Nelson Mandela Foundation that, actually, the first lady got a copy after the visit. And they've asked her to review it and give them their thoughts -- her thoughts before they actually release the book -- Randi.

KAYE: Wow. What a special moment for the two of them.

What else can you tell us Mrs. Obama is doing on her South African visit?

MABUSE: Look, she's got an action-packed six days. I mean, she has been so busy.

Today, she met one of South Africa's first ladies. You know that the South African president has several wives.

And then, after that, she actually met with a couple of people, local South Africans. They've selected about 75 women from all over Africa to actually get an opportunity to interact with Mrs. Obama. And I think, you know, what I'm getting from this visit, from the tweets that I've been getting all day, is that South Africans are quite taken aback by her humility. I'll just tell you some of the -- read you some of the tweets that I'm getting.

This is one of the 75 women that is spending time with Mrs. Obama, and she said, "From kings to ministers, and then myself, Mrs. Obama gave each individual her undivided attention."

So, really, people are feeling that she's a very warm person. She also went and visited a preschool in a very impoverished area, and she started -- she opened a book with Malia and Sasha, and they started reading to the kids.

They actually read "The Cat in the Hat." She said she used to read the book to her daughters all the time. So, you know, she's got that personal touch. And really, people are taken aback and they're really admiring how down to earth she really is -- Randi.

KAYE: Nkepile, those are great details. Thank you so much for getting those and bringing them to us. Thank you.

Twenty-one minutes past the hour. Time for a look at some top stories that we're following.

NATO says one of its drone helicopters went down in Libya today. A spokesman said the unmanned drone was a U.S.-made Fire Scout chopper. The spokesman wouldn't say whether it was shot down or crashed due to mechanical problems. Libyan state media says the drone was shot down.

Well, according to Syrian state TV, President Bashar al-Assad ordered another general amnesty today for those accused of crimes. It's the second known amnesty overture from the embattled Syrian leader since protests erupted in the Middle Eastern country, and it concerns any alleged unlawful acts that occurred before Monday.

Planning to get away this Fourth of July? Well, you'd better book fast.

Although airfares for the holiday weekend have held steady for most of June, they are expected to jump 10 percent by Thursday, based on Travelocity's historic airfare data. That gives last-minute vacationers very little time to book their trips before prices start climbing.

The extensive menu of airline fees is growing again, at least at one low-cost carrier. Florida-based Spirit Airlines has announced -- get this -- it will charge a $5 fee for passengers who ask an agent to print their boarding pass at the airport. Five bucks for that print job. You can, though, bypass the fee by checking in online and printing your own boarding pass, or by checking in at an airport kiosk for now.

Coming up next, a look at some developing severe weather and some amazing tornado video from Nebraska. Keep it here.


KAYE: Severe weather expert Chad Myers joining us now to tell us about these tornadoes in Nebraska and where else we might be expecting some yucky weather.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: They've moved a little bit farther to the east today, into Iowa and places, but Nebraska, Kansas, all the way back down even into Oklahoma yesterday, and a couple up in North Dakota, and a line of weather that rolled through northern Kansas. Here's a picture. I just want you to see it because I can't even describe in words what you can see in pictures here.

A large tornado was on the ground, estimated now to be about 135 to 165 miles per hour. Not that far from Harlan County Reservoir, and also back out there into parts of central Nebraska.

It's going to be another hot day today. The hot weather is going to be lingering around from Phoenix, all the way back down to Tucson. And that's going to affect the firefighting effort.

The winds have died down. For the firefighters out in the Southwest, the winds are much better now, five, 10 miles per hour, but the heat will be on for the next 10 days. Temperatures every afternoon, above 105 to 110 right in that fire line.

Highs for tomorrow across parts of the Southwest as well. Phoenix, 113. You're under advisories. If you can stay inside, one of those swamp cooler days, they will work tomorrow. It is not the monsoon season out there just yet.

But the heat is on, and it's not going to go away. At least the wind has died down for a second.

The wind has done something different in the Southern Hemisphere, as we go "Off the Radar."

The wind has pushed the volcano ash from Chile all the way across the southern Atlantic into the southern Pacific. And as it continues to move, that ash cloud has run right on through and over all of Antarctica. And Antarctica itself here is now stuck in the middle of a ring of ash.

There's Chile right there. And this ash is circling the entire Southern Hemisphere. That circling of the Southern Hemisphere is causing flight delays.

Why? Because you cannot fly a jet plane through an ash cloud.

When the ash goes into the jet engine, the jet engine is so hot, it melts the ash back into lava. And then as it comes back out the other side the back of the jet, it cools off, it crystallizes, and turns into obsidian, that glass you find sometimes on volcanic beaches. Well, the entire Southern Hemisphere being affected by those winds there, and also that ash.

And obviously at this point, summer solstice. It's winter down here. People are trying to get out of the way. They can't even fly to get out for their winter vacation.

It is summer solstice today, the longest day of the year, the shortest night. And even up in northern Alaska the sun doesn't even set -- Randi.

KAYE: Long day, long workday. It all kind of comes together today, doesn't it?

All right, Chad. Thank you.

MYERS: You're welcome.

KAYE: Well, for all those who smoke, new images on cigarette packs may make you change your mind. We'll show them to you right after this break.


KAYE: Twenty-nine minutes past the hour. Here's a look at some of the headlines and news you may have missed.

Smokers, beware. These vivid color images will soon cover 50 percent of cigarette packs. New government regulations mandate these graphic labels to warn people of the dangers of smoking. It's part of the FDA's plan to reduce smoking and must be in place by September 2012.

As you can imagine, tobacco companies are not taking this very well. They say the new requirements violate the First and Fifth Amendments and have complained to the FDA.

A 19-year-old suspect has been arrested near London for the Sony hackings. London police say the man's computer will be examined for clues and for links to the hacker group Lulzec. The hacking into Sony's Playstation network and Sony pictures' Web site earlier this year cost the company millions.

A Russian plane made a premature descent and crashed and burst into flames in northwest Russia. Forty-four people have been killed and eight injured in the crash. Nearly 140 rescue workers have been working tirelessly at the accident site. Investigators have recovered the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder from the site of the crash. Officials say preliminary information suggests it was due to pilot error in poor weather conditions.

All right. Pay attention here to this story. A North Carolina man is in jail for holding up a bank for, yes, just one dollar. James Verone says he wanted to go to jail. It's his way of making sure he gets the medical attention that he needs for free.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAMES VERNONE, ROBBERY SUSPECT: First time I've ever been in trouble with the law. So it's not -- you know, I'm sort of a logical person. And that was my logic. That's what I came up with.


KAYE: Interesting logic. Fifty-nine-year-old Verone says he has a growth on his chest, two ruptured discs, and a problem with his left foot. He does not have a job and figured jail would be the best place to get free medical care. Also a place to stay. He says he's hoping for a three-year sentence, but he may not get that much.

It's finally Anthony Weiner's last day in office. The Congressman was forced to resign after a sexting scandal broke out, costing him his job. Weiner announced his intention to quit last week after it became known he had sent lewd photos of himself to several women. The Weinergate scandal had turned into quite a sideshow, and fellow Democrats urged him to step down to get rid of the, quote, "distraction."

Jon Huntsman is joining the Republican race for president. These are live pictures of him greeting supporters there. He says that he respects his opponents and respects the president. We'll take a look at his message and his chances, next.


KAYE: Jon Huntsman has joined the Republican crowd running for president. Here's how he kicked off his campaign today.


JON HUNTSMAN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're not just choosing new leaders. We're choosing whether we're to be yesterday's story or tomorrow's.

Everything is at stake. This is the hour when we choose our future. I'm Jon Huntsman, and I'm running for president of the United States. Thank you all.



KAYE: That was earlier today. Now we want to show you some more live pictures of Jon Huntsman greeting the crowd, greeting supporters, now that he is officially a candidate. He promised to respect his fellow candidates and even said he respected the president, his former boss when he was ambassador to China.

Huntsman is also a former governor of Utah. CNN's senior political analyst Gloria Borger joins me now from Washington. So Gloria, does Huntsman move to the head of the pack just by virtue of getting into the race now?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think you'd have to say, Randi, that he moves into the top tier. Just by virtue of his resume and by virtue of his message.

And there's one more important thing to consider here, which is while Mitt Romney has a lot of big donors, about half of the big donors, I'm told, in the Republican party are kind of sitting back and waiting. And there's a lot of people who believe that this message, that crossover message would have appealed to these big donors because more than anything else they want somebody who can beat Barack Obama.

But I'd also have to say from watching that speech this morning when you declare in the same place that Ronald Reagan declared in 1980, you have to understand that the bar is pretty high for giving a terrific announcement speech. And I don't think he quite jumped over that bar.

KAYE: Yes, I want you to take a look, though, at this CNN/Opinion Research poll with me. Seventy-one percent say that they're unsure about him. So how does Jon Huntsman fix that?

BORGER: Well, first of all, it's name I.D. Seventy-one percent of Republicans are unsure about him because they're not really sure who he is, right? And so he's got to introduce himself to Republican primary voters, which he's going to try and do.

But also, his strategy here really, Randi, is the sense that he can appear to a broader swath of the Republican electorate. You know, in the 2010 midterms, we saw really conservative Tea Party voters come out. His strategist that I talked to bet that people voting in the primaries again want to win. Particularly in a state like New Hampshire, where independent voters can vote in a Republican primary. For the first time since 1996, there's no Democrat running.

So say, they turn out in the Republican primary. They believe that those are the voters that will be attracted to a Jon Huntsman.

BORGER: And just real quickly, Gloria, how does he explain that he worked for the Obama administration and as the Obama administration says supported many of President Obama's policies?

BORER: Yes. You know, I was before him before I was against him. Right? Remember that? I think that's tough because he has to explain to voters that he's running on principle, that it's just not a matter of politics. And when you talk to his staff, they say look, when a president asks you to serve you serve, just as he did serve Ronald Reagan and both Bushes.

But I do think he's going to have to talk about his evolution and particularly on issues like Barack Obama's energy policy, which he supported and now does not support. And conservatives are not going to be drawn to that, I can tell you that.

KAYE: All right. It's a long road to 2012, Gloria. I can feel it already.

BORGER: It sure is.

KAYE: Thank you very much. BORGER: Yep.

KAYE: And turning now to President Obama's plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Here to talk about that with us is Michael Holmes. So, he's supposed to make this big announcement tomorrow night.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, yes. And the question has been all along how many troops will he draw down, when will they be drawn down? Exactly.

And Barbara Starr's been talking to contacts here, and I got an e-mail just earlier saying the talk around the Hill is that he's going to do 10,000 by the end of the year. And then another 10,000 by the end of 2012. So, that's -- sorry, another 20,000 by the end of 2012. So that gives you 30,000, which were the surge troops.

KAYE: That's what I was going to say. So these were the surge troops.

HOLMES: That's right. Who went in in December of 2009. So that's going to -- it pretty much was the promise he made. He said he was going to start doing this around right now. So, this is the announcement that people are expecting.

The thing is that Defense Secretary Gates and generals like Odierno and Petraeus, they were hoping it would be a lot smaller than this, it would be 3,000 to 5,000 this year so that more -- and that they would be mainly support troops. So, you'd have more combat boots on the ground during this fighting season, as they call it.

KAYE: It's a tough decision. Even Gates today saying the president should maybe take into account public opinion before he makes this decision.


KAYE: He's got a lot of people in his ear.

HOLMES: A lot of people want these troops to come back as well.

The interesting thing to remember, too, is at the end of the -- even once the 30,000 are out, there's still 68,000 troops there on the ground. So, there's still a lot of boots on the ground.

But this all ties in as well with these early feelers being put out to the Taliban, and what we were talking about the other day, that the commanders want to keep the pressure on the Taliban militarily while those feelers are being explored, those contacts are being explored.

KAYE: We've been following, talking quite a bit about Greece. I mean, there's no question Greece is in trouble. They're broke.


KAYE: And they have to raise something like $71 billion or something to try and get out of debt?

HOLMES: The figures are staggering. They got a big confidence vote going on right now in the Greek parliament. It's thought that the government will survive this confidence vote because the alternative is no good. I mean, there's no great result in this. We're expecting the results of that in about -- I think it's going to be a couple of hours or so.

What they've got to do is push through something like nearly $40 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts by June 28. The default deadlineis July 15. If they default, I mean, it doesn't bear thinking about, really. I mean, the contagion potential is huge. It could flow into countries that are already teetering economically like even Ireland, Portugal, and others. Banks would fail.

The IMF warning it could create a second global meltdown, financial meltdown.

KAYE: It's amazing, though, what they're doing to try and get back on track. They're selling --

HOLMES: Selling the farm.

KAYE: -- highways.

HOLMES: Yes, highways.

KAYE: Airports.

HOLMES: All sorts of government stuff being sold off to try to pay the bills. They've got to raise billions and billions and billions of dollars just to stay afloat. And what they're doing with all these cutbacks is trying to qualify so that they get more bailout money to just keep going and pay the debt.

KAYE: Because they've already gotten some, right?

HOLMES: They've already gotten some. This is the second tranche. And there's a third one coming as well. At least $150 billion at stake here.

They need this. And a lot of people are saying, well, should you just let them go? I mean, just cut them loose.

KAYE: The old too big to fail --

HOLMES: It is. Because they borrowed big during the good times, and now they're paying for it. The austerity measures are so strong. People there, you've seen them rioting in the streets as well.

KAYE: Yes. It hasn't been pretty.

All right, Michael, thank you. Thanks for the update.

Does it matter what state you live in? It does when it comes to your job, your taxes, and your expenses. How well is your state doing compared to others in economic growth? We're going to show you next.


KAYE: Welcome back. When it comes to the economy, there are clear winners and losers among states. In the past decade, the U.S. economy has actually shifted. And that impacts you, your quality of life, job, expenses, taxes, you name it. Which is why we wanted to take a look at some new numbers released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis in today's "Big Breakdown."

So, let's start on the positive side, shall we? We'll start with the winners. You see the states that are here in green? Well, those are the economic powerhouses that have emerged in the past decade. The red, of course, yes, not the powerhouses. They're the losers.

The big winner, right there, Texas. Texas is the country's second-largest economy, replacing New York. And in one of the biggest economic shifts in the past 50 years, its economy is on track to outgrow California as the top state economy. The Lone Star State gained nearly a full percentage point in its share of the U.S. economy to 8.3 percent last year. That may not sound like a lot, but this kind of growth and economic clout has happened only two times in the past half century. California in the 1980s and Texas itself during the 1970s oil boom.

So, take a look now here. Next to Texas, Florida's share of the nation's economy increased more than any other state. The growth came mostly from retiring seniors who brought their wealth with them, of course, to the Sunshine State.

And now we have Virginia, another winner. Thank the government, its politicians, government workers, and their families. The suburbs of Washington, D.C. packed with government workers were key to Virginia's growth, according to this study. And that is the same for its neighbor, Maryland. OK? There we go.

And take a look here at California. There are states like California. Well, it's still the nation's biggest state economy at $1.9 trillion. Its growth has leveled off somewhat since 2000 through last year. Its share of the national economy shrank faster than all but three states, actually.

Which brings me to states that lost the most. Michigan and Ohio. They were the only states whose economy shrank so much that their economies are smaller now than they were actually ten years ago. What this shows is a dramatic realignment of the nation's economy away from industrial states like Michigan, loaded with empty factories toward states with economies fueled by raw materials, government, and senior citizens. Very interesting study.

The high cost of death row. Three times the price of life without parole. Should states abolish the death penalty just to save money? Our Stream Team weighs in on that topic, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KAYE: Cash-strapped states are looking for all kinds of ways to cut their budgets. And a new study out of California points to a big money pit: the death penalty. According to that study, California pays around $30 million per execution. Attorneys' fees, the appeals process, and housing the inmates are all part of the equation. Much more than the cost of life without parole.

It's a bigger concern for California because they have nearly twice as many death row inmates as any other state. Florida is number two, Texas is number three.

So, we want to put the question to our Stream Team today. Should cash-strapped states get rid of the death penalty? On the team today is Kent Scheidegger, legal director of The Criminal Justice Legal Foundation. And Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

This is certainly a hot topic. Kent, I'd like to start with you. Leaving out the moral debate here, OK? This is just about money. From a purely economic standpoint should the death penalty be abolished?

KENT SCHEIDEGGER, LEGAL DIRECTOR, CRIMINAL JUSTICE LEGAL FOUNDATION: No. As the study pointed out, we have been to the legislature many times with reform proposals. and those reform proposals have been killed by the legislature in committee every time we've been there.

Death penalty doesn't need to cost as much as it does. We know what to do. We've drafted legislation. We've proposed legislation. The legislature simply needs to enact three forms need to bring these cases to a conclusion much faster than they presently are and at much less cost.

KAYE: Richard, let me bring you in here. Is the kind of increased cost seen in California do you think the same for other states?

RICHARD DIETER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, DEATH PENALTY INFORMATION CENTER: Well, all states have experienced that it's more expensive to have the death penalty than to have a system of sentencing people to life without parole. And that's why states like Illinois, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico all within the past few years have decided not to spend any more money. Abolish it, it's really not doing anything for the safety of society.

KAYE: Kent, you've said the process should be streamlined to save money, but others argue that if you just choose life in prison, then the costly appeals process -- all the lawyers, all those days in court wouldn't take place. So, what do you say to them?

SCHEIDEGGER: It's not true that the appeals process wouldn't take place at all. A life without parole sentence is still a sentence. The person is still entitled to appeal. He can still file habeas corpus petitions. And as far as the guilt phase of the trial goes, there really is no moral justification for spending a penny less if a person's going to be sentenced to life without parole to make sure he's properly convicted than if he were to be sentenced to death.

The additional expense comes primarily from reviewing over and over and over again the decision on the choice of punishment. And we simply don't need as many reviews as we have --

KAYE: So, Richard, what's the answer to save money? I mean, should there be a cap, do you think, on how long an inmate can be on death row before they're either put to death or transferred possibly to the general population?

DEITER: You know, my sound was cut off. But I think what was being asked about was the whole appeals process. And you know, we do need appeals, whether we're on death row or life imprisonment. But that's --

KAYE: I was actually asking -- I was actually asking Richard, sorry, if there should be a cap on how long somebody should be on death row. Would that help keep costs down?

DEITER: Yes. I mean, you can't have a cap on time. You have to allow them a certain amount to argue their appeals.

The problem in California is there's 300 people who don't even have a lawyer to start their appeals. You know, that's the system. Because it would cost more money than even they're spending now to get to that point. So, you can't cut out the appeals or say it's all over five years if they haven't yet had a lawyer. That's the situation in California.

KAYE: And Kent, I'd like to give you the last word here. Instead of doing away with the death penalty, should states maybe just scale back the number of crimes that carry that penalty?

SCHEIDEGGER: Well, that isn't the problem. It certainly isn't the problem in California because we already sentence about half as many -- a larger proportion of the murders to death as other states.

So, the real problem is getting these appeals done. And it can be done faster and it can be done at less cost than it is now if the legislature would simply enact the proposals we've proposed time and time again.

KAYE: All right. Kent, Richard, we appreciate you both weighing in on this topic. It's getting a lot of attention. Thank you.

And it's time now for a CNN Political Update. And summer brings talk of swimming pools, family vacations, and campaign cash. CNN deputy political director Paul Steinhauser back with us from Washington.

Really, Paul? Campaign cash? I don't know. How does that fit into summer?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Some good flow there, right, Randi? Well, here's why. We've got a presidential campaign going on, right? So where's vice president Joe Biden today? He's in Chicago. He's going to be headlining, he's going to be the main attraction at a Democratic National Committee slash Obama re- election campaign fundraiser at Navy Pier. Now, that's a nice place to be.

And it's been a busy week for the top two guys because President Obama, remember, last night he was fundraising. Headlined two fundraisers right here in D.C. for the campaign. And on Thursday, he's going to be in New York City.

We're seeing kind of a pickup here when it comes to fundraising as the second quarter comes to a close. Remember, it ends at the end of this month, Randi.

KAYE: Well, he set some record amount, right, that he would like to raise, the president did?

STEINHAUSER: Yes, remember, last time around back in '08 he shattered all roar. He raised $750 million almost. That broke every record. They want to raise $60 million, sources tell us, by the end of the second quarter.

Now, it's crucial, especially on the Republican side -- we know the president's going to raise a lot of money but check out the Republican numbers when they start coming in early July to see how strong those campaigns are. Remember, in this early time in the campaign before people are voting, campaign cash is almost like a barometer on how well a campaign is doing. That's why we look at those numbers so often. Randi?

KAYE: So, what's more important. I mean, I'm just curious because you've been doing this a long time. Is it campaign cash or is it name recognition? Or does the campaign cash get you the name recognition?

STEINHASUER: Or maybe the other way around. Both are important. Both are important. But the most important thing will be in January and February when the votes actually start happening in the caucuses and primaries, Randi.

KAYE: All right. Paul Steinhauser in Washington for us. Paul, thank you. And your next update from The Best Political Team on Television is just one hour away.

So if you're not careful where you relieve yourself, the flush could cost $32,000. Our number one story of the day in my "XYZ," next.


KAYE: Time now for my "XYZ."

And today I'm taking you to Portland, Oregon where an entire reservoir had to be drained after a guy did something he definitely should not have. Would you believe that he unzipped his pants and urinated right into the reservoir? Which is a key supplier of drinking water. Luckily, a security camera caught the 21-year-old guy in the act, shut down the reservoir immediately. Then, of course, they had to drain it, all 8 million gallons of drinking water at a cost of $32,000. As one reporter covering this story put it, that's like a $32,000 flush.

Some critics said that was an overreaction, that animals do this in the water all the time. Yes, that's comforting, right? But the city went ahead with it anyway. The guy who did it may be charged with a misdemeanor, but for now, he's reportedly offered to pay for the cleanup if and only if he gets a job. He also offered some community service as well.

I'll leave it there. CNN NEWSROOM continues right now with Brooke Baldwin.