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Good Jobs Numbers; Manhunt for Kony; Michigan Mom Murder Mystery

Aired March 9, 2012 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, HOST: Jobs, jobs, jobs, everyone saying the report good news for the president. We're going to tell you why he might be worried tonight.

And the latest in the case of the woman found strangled in her Mercedes. The man in custody told police about the victim's husband. We have an exclusive interview tonight.

And the flight attendant that terrified everybody on her flight tonight. The woman who videotaped the meltdown is here.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, we told you so. The economy is doing a lot better, today the third month in a row of frankly really good jobs numbers. Today's jobs report shows the U.S. added 227,000 jobs last month and more people felt optimistic enough to actually get back into the labor force. That's why the unemployment rate held firm.

Now, everyone is increasingly optimistic about the jobs picture in America, something frankly we at OUTFRONT have been saying for months. Our "Strike Team" said there would not be a double dip recession last fall when a whole lot of people were full of doom and gloom and recession, and then after the December jobs report, we were all excited when we said this could be President Obama's morning in America moment.

That of course was Ronald Reagan's theme for his victorious 1984 re-election campaign and last month after the strong January jobs report, we said it again and we are glad that all that talk about a double dip has gone away, but here at OUTFRONT, we are realists and the truth is, there are some real problems out there. One, in that report today, we found out that wages are simply not growing as quickly as inflation.

That means the standard of living for average Americans is lower today than it was a year ago. And two, there are pitfalls ahead and the president sees them, too, so he isn't counting his re-election chickens yet.


BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did not run for this office just to get back to where we were. I ran for this office to get us to where we need to be.


BURNETT: Well there are some serious pitfalls the economy might plunge into, which could send the president's reelection hopes into well oblivion. Right now, it does look really good for him, but one issue we've talked a lot about on this show as you know is Iran. If tensions continue to escalate, oil prices could go as high as $150 a barrel according to analysis from (INAUDIBLE) Management.

Now if that happens that means gas prices at the pump go to about $5 a gallon. If oil goes as high as $200, which in some analysts' expectations could happen, even if briefly that would take gas prices at the pump to $7 a gallon. Those prices means consumers would get hit hard. High energy prices also mean companies pay a whole lot more in fuel and that means a lot less money for hiring and for raises.

It would mean a double dip. Conrad Dequadros of RDQ Economics is here to talk about the real pitfalls out there and let's start with that one about the Iranian situation because your concern is you don't need outright conflict to continue to have a real problem with gas.

CONRAD DEQUADROS, SENIOR ECONOMIST, RDQ ECONOMICS: Well if you think about it the issues that we had last year with Libya, for example, we had oil prices rise, even though there wasn't that significant of an impact on oil supply. So there is the risk that even if there isn't a conflict just concern about conflict could make oil prices rise further and as you said, it is a potential, significant cost increase for consumers.

And is a fairly sizable part of consumer's budgets. About six percent of consumer spending is on energy related goods and services. And unfortunately as you go down the income scale it's a larger impact on consumers, so lower income consumers spend a lot more on energy as a percentage of their budget, so it affects lower income consumers even more than the average.

BURNETT: And it's interesting when you talk about Libya a year ago because at that time, we were talking about well Libya is going to be a huge, a future supplier of oil, but not a big current one. And yet it had a very big impact on oil prices. Libya is still a complete disaster. And now, everyone's complacent. They're not even focusing on that one. Iran is a very big supplier, so I guess that you know puts it in context. You're also concerned though about something we've talked a lot about on the show, complete and utter dysfunction, the dysfunction in our government that caused this country to get downgraded.

DEQUADROS: And if you think about it, it's not a matter of if there's gridlock, there's no impact going into 2013. If there is gridlock, we'll see a significant increase in tax rates, the tax cuts of 2003 expire. We have the expiration of the payroll tax cut. We already have increases in tax rates from health care reform, an increase in dividends, which dividend taxes, which could impact the stock market and impact households, so gridlock in Washington I think is a big problem. I think that we need to see some progress on tax reform and addressing these potential increases in tax rates for households as we get into 2013.

BURNETT: Really abysmal what happens in Washington and sometimes you wonder if they realize how much it hurts economy. Last but certainly not least, the debt problem, half of our debt held by countries overseas, China, the biggest foreign holder. What happens if China simply pares back?

DEQUADROS: Well you know that even is linked back to the prior point that you made. If you remember in the middle of last year, the U.S. debt was downgraded. And one of the reasons for that downgrade was the dysfunction in Washington. And if we continue to see this dysfunction, potentially further downgrades of U.S. debt, you could see a situation where foreigners might become less willing to invest as much in treasuries as they have.

I don't think you're going to see foreigners sell, but they could just buy less. And right now we have very low borrowing rates in the U.S., 10-year treasury yields, which are sort of the benchmark that all consumer and business borrowing rates are based off at around two percent.


DEQUADROS: A year ago, they were about 3.5 percent. You know if we were to see a pullback by foreigners, if there wasn't another marginal buyer for treasury securities, you could see interest rates go higher if we move, if we see treasury rates back at four percent by the end of this year, which is what we're expecting.


DEQUADROS: And five percent by the end of next year, you're talking about mortgage rates that could be in the six to seven percent area versus below four percent now.

BURNETT: That's a big -- that's a big chunk -- a lot of money. All right, well thank you very much, Conrad Dequadros, appreciate it.

And now James Carville and Reihan Salam join us, appreciate both of your taking the time. Let me start with you James Carville. First with the good news, your guy, President Barack Obama, I know he's careful in how he talks about it, but he has got to be thrilled with the jobs numbers.

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I think they are and I think it's very, very good that he's very, very careful. You know, people see this and they do it, but they're still a lot of things in the economy. Look, this economy was wrecked by the financial crisis and now we know that coming out of these things is brutal and very hard. I think these numbers are in line with that and I think people are starting to give him a little bit of credit for what's going on. They're seeing some improvement, but it's still, as you point, there are a lot of pitfalls and the president has got to be very careful how he talks about this.

BURNETT: Reihan, Mitt Romney also talked about the jobs numbers today and I find it sort of strange that he keeps harping on the fact that the president said the unemployment rate would never go above eight percent because you know if it goes below eight percent this year it's going to be very difficult for Mitt Romney, but here's what he finally said when someone asked him about it in Jackson, Mississippi today.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don't forget by the way, that this president, how many months ago was it, 37 months ago, told us that if he could borrow $787 billion, almost a trillion dollars, he would keep unemployment below eight percent. It has not been below eight percent since. This president has not succeeded. This president has failed and that's the reason we're going to get rid of him in 2012.



BURNETT: Reihan, I just have to say, looking through the numbers today, I don't understand why he's harping on the eight percent because if it goes below eight percent this year, which it well could, he is going to have to eat his words. Instead he could be harping on the lack of income growth, which is a very real and serious issue for regular Americans. Why isn't he doing it?

REIHAN SALAM, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY: I think you're absolutely right. I think it's because it's a very clear indicator. It's a very clear benchmark and the problem is -- and James is right about this. This -- a picture is actually a very confusing one because on the one hand, we have these pretty strong job numbers. On the other hand, we actually have weak GDP numbers, so you're right to suggest that hey, maybe the unemployment rate could go below eight percent, which really will confuse the Romney message. On the other hand, I imagine that his advisers are telling him wait a second, the GDP numbers look weak enough that it looks as though the labor market is actually going to soften as we go further into 2012.

BURNETT: Which, James Carville, it very well could, in part because of what we're seeing with oil prices and Iran. So, how does this play into the president's calculus of how he's going to address the Iran issue, what the United States does, whether or not it supports Israel?

CARVILLE: Well I mean look we have elections coming up. There's some talk about Netanyahu calling elections in Israel in 2012 and actually have some versions of elections in Iran. You know how this -- how this plays out I'm not exactly sure. I know that Bob Gates, one of the most experienced people who ever served in the United States government said this was the hardest problem he had ever dealt with, so I suspect it is a tough problem. But you know he's the president of the United States and there's always trouble spots around world. There are always things like this.

You know as predicted, as a result of the financial crisis, this recovery has been fragile. It's been slow and people (ph) like, but it is starting to gain some momentum and the president is looking stronger and better and Romney's answer is just not very convincing at all. It just looks like he's harping back to 37 months ago and I don't think that has any (INAUDIBLE) with voters or people right now.

BURNETT: Let me ask you this question John -- James -- just strategically --


BURNETT: -- about this whole eight percent versus the lack of income growth. So when I look at the income growth the average American income is not rising as quickly as inflation, which means they are feeling worse off in terms of what they can buy than they felt a year ago. Reihan points out that's a complicated thing for Romney to say, is it a complicated thing for him to say? Why does he not go after that?

CARVILLE: We've had a lack of income that's been a problem for the middle class in this country since 1973. And it is kind of bad because inflation is so low and if you're not keeping up with really low inflation --


CARVILLE: But I think Erin that some of your friends on Wall Street would say in a really soft labor market that we've been through it's not surprising that right now employees don't have much leverage with employers, so they're probably making a little bit less and that maybe has something to do with the fact that the jobs numbers are getting better. I don't know, but I'm just sort of extrapolating on the kind of Cajun mind here.


CARVILLE: That when you have a soft market like that people are willing to work for a few pennies less and that could be what we're seeing and hopefully, as the economy gains momentum then employees will have a little more advantage when negotiating with employers.

BURNETT: All right, well thanks to both of you. I think we all hope that that happens. It will be very interesting, especially given all those global competition for jobs now, whether we can finally break that spiral on wages.

All right a viral video about a warlord has been viewed now 60 million times, but does it tell the whole story? We're going to go live to Africa tonight. And an exclusive report on a woman found strangled, what the man in custody says the victim's husband told him to do, and a rare look inside a prison housing Somali pirates.


BURNETT: Sixty million that is how many people have now watched the viral video about Uganda warlord Joseph Kony and that number obviously is now just growing and growing. Kony is notorious for hacking victim's body parts off, kidnapping young children, forcing them to become soldiers and forcing some to become sex slaves. It is horrific stuff. Now the video some say does not tell the whole story, but it calls for the notorious warlord to be brought to justice, but here's something you may not know.

The U.S. is already working on that. You may recall that President Obama sent 100 U.S. military advisers to Uganda in October. Well they were sent for the sole purpose of capturing Kony. CNN's David McKenzie is in Nairobi tonight. And David, we appreciate it. I know you've spent time there. There's a lot of talk about what Joseph Kony may have actually done in Uganda, some of those acts that we were describing, hacking the limbs, are truly horrific. Some people say that he may not even still be in Uganda. Where are you hearing he may be?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Erin that's a great point. Certainly, he's definitely not in northern Uganda and while this powerful and simple message has been put out to millions of people, some say it's actually simplistic and loses some of the key facts in this issue. One of those key facts, Erin, is that he's not in northern Uganda. The LRA, the Lords Resistance Army and Joseph Kony fled Uganda some six years ago, pushed into East (ph) and Central African Republic. That's where they are right now. They've been operating there in South Sudan as well as Eastern DRC. And what they're doing is hunkering down in the forest, hiding from Ugandan and U.S. forces and in many ways (INAUDIBLE) Erin.

BURNETT: And so I can understand you know given that why so many Uganda government are upset and sort of feels this paints the whole country of Uganda with that brush, but is this newfound fame, the fact that this video has gone viral now, going to help find Kony or not?

MCKENZIE: Good question. I mean a lot of people are (INAUDIBLE) that wondering well whether if 60 million odd people know now who Joseph Kony is, is he going to use this to his advantage and try gather people around him and push back or is it going to make him easier to catch? I think neither is true in the short-term. I think the U.S. military is involved in trying to capture him.


BURNETT: Obviously appears like we just had a little bit of a problem with David's shot there, but joining us to talk a little bit more about this manhunt that's going on and the U.S. military's involvement in it is Rick Nelson. He's a former counterterrorism official for the U.S. military, goes by Ozzie and good to see you, sir. We appreciate it. Obviously, a little bit interrupted there at the end of the conversation with David, but he's talking about the role of U.S. military advisers. What exactly do these quote unquote "advisers" do? I mean are they CIA agents?

RICK "OZZIE" NELSON, FMR. COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: Erin thanks for having me on. These aren't (ph) regular soft forces, Special Operations Forces and what they're doing is what's known as an indirect action mission, which has basically been the bread and butter of this force for some time. An indirect action mission is something like training and equipping host nations or indigenous (ph) forces and this is exactly what our forces are doing in Uganda.

BURNETT: So, what's made this guy so difficult to capture? I mean if they've been there since the fall and they have been helping others in the region, I mean just that people are protecting him and it's that hard to find him?

NELSON: Well the area that David outlined, Erin, is about 1.4 million square miles. About the size of the South China Sea, so you're trying to manhunt in an area that large, which is very dense tropical foliage and coverage, it makes it very difficult and that's one of the things that the U.S. forces are doing is they're helping the Ugandan and local forces be able to operate in that environment for long periods of time so they can have an effective manhunt.

BURNETT: What do you make of the Ugandan government saying that he's not even in Uganda? And David was talking about the fact that he could be in the Central African Republic, but can you trust these governments to be quote unquote "good guys" and not actually be protecting someone like this?

NELSON: We never really know and that's why it's important to equip the Ugandan military with the skills that they need to make their own determination and their own analysis to figure out where he may be operating.

BURNETT: Ozzie, I'm curious about one thing. You know we've done -- it's interesting you know Ron Paul has talked so much about the U.S. military and that it should be pulling back, so we looked into how many military sort of sites the U.S. has around the world, there's about 200,000 of them. This is just obviously one example of where we put American troops in a country to do work. But how do we decide to go after this warlord instead of that warlord or help this country instead of that country or is it essentially just kind of random or what's getting media coverage?

NELSON: Well that's a very good question, Erin. A lot of these decisions are made at the National Security Council level. They weigh all the factors involved. In this case, you know stability in Central Africa is critically important given what's happened with the Arab Spring. We need the rest of that continent to be stable and also Uganda has been a very strong supporter of the Amazon mission in Somalia and helping to bring peace and stability to that region, and so it's important for the U.S. and the international community to support these nations in Africa that are seeking stability in Somalia.

BURNETT: All right, Ozzie, thank you very much.

NELSON: Thank you, Erin.

BURNETT: Well tonight a new twist in the murder mystery of a Michigan mother who was found strangled in the back of her Mercedes. We told you about this first a month ago. That's Jane Bashara (ph), the woman who dies and we are learning today about some questionable actions by investigators in the case. Her clothes reportedly never made it to the state's crime lab after her body was found and this is something that has continued to raise questions for us. Police initially refused to believe Bashara's (ph) handyman. His name is Joseph Gentz (ph).

He had confessed to killing Jane Bashara (ph). He was charged finally this week with murder and conspiracy to commit murder, although they didn't say about conspiracy with whom. The 48-year-old handyman reportedly has an I.Q. of a third grader, claims that the victim's husband Bob Bashara (ph) promised him a couple of thousand dollars in cash and a used Cadillac to carry out the hit.

Now Bashara (ph) denies that claim. Ted Rowlands is in Grosse Pointe with an exclusive interview with a long time friend of the handyman Joseph Gentz. So Ted who -- this is the friend who convinced Gentz I know to go to the police. What did he tell you about Mr. Gentz?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well he is a religious guy and he says he wished he could have done more, but he said absolutely he does not regret convincing his friend to turn himself in.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think if I would have had more information maybe, things would have changed.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): Standing in his front yard, Steve Virgona broke down talking to us about the murder of Jane Bashara (ph).

STEVE VIRGONA, KNOWS JOSEPH GENTZ: Sorry. But I want justice served.

ROWLANDS: Virgona says his friend, Joseph Gentz, came to him after Jane Bashara (ph) was found strangled to death.

VIRGONA: I seen him very nervous and anxious and crying about it, anything, but sometimes you in a situation you just can't get out of, maybe (INAUDIBLE) make the right choice.

ROWLANDS: Virgona says the choice was to tell police what Gentz says happened, that Gentz killed Jane Bashara in her garage, that her husband Bob Bashara convinced him to do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was manipulated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was manipulated.

ROWLANDS: Virgona says he went with Gentz to turn himself in on February 3rd, but after Gentz told his story, police let him go.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're under arrest for the murder of --

ROWLANDS: Gentz was eventually arrested more than a month after Virgona says he initially confessed. Bob Bashara remains free and maintains his innocence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have cooperated with law enforcement agencies and will continue to do so.

ROWLANDS: News that Bob Bashara not only has a girlfriend, but also owns and S&M Dungeon (ph) below this storefront shop in ritzy community of Grosse Pointe Park, a Detroit suburb where the couple lived. Bashara's attorney David Griem thinks Bashara's private life has clouded the investigation.

DAVID GRIEM, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It appears that things such as that, the S&M (ph) and the rest of it, things that aren't admissible in a courtroom, are what caused them to zero in on Bob Bashara.


ROWLANDS: Gentz, Erin, pled not guilty at his arraignment. Right now, he's undergoing a mental evaluation, trying to see how much he does understand about this. Until that is done, they do not have a preliminary hearing or trial date set.

BURNETT: Ted, I'm just curious about a couple of things. Obviously, you know you were talking about evaluating his intelligence. I know we've reported before an I.Q. of perhaps a third grader of maybe 80. What -- how do you think that that's going to affect this whole question of conspiracy to murder? I mean don't they have to have a conspiracy with whom and perhaps charge, arrest someone else as well?

ROWLANDS: And the speculation is that the other people possibly involved in this will be charged and a lot of people in this community think that may be Bob Bashara. His attorney, we talked to him today, says he hopes that doesn't happen, but has warned his client that that indeed could be the case.

BURNETT: And what about the -- there's been allegations of shoddy police work and I know you're talking about Joseph Gentz. He originally confessed, police let him go, and then eventually they ended up charging him. We were also talking here about Jane Bashara's clothes, the clothes in which she died never got to the crime lab. Is -- are there concern that perhaps a lot of I's were not dotted, T's were not crossed that could ultimately affect police ability to figure out who really did this?

ROWLANDS: Yes, as far as not arresting Gentz right away, you know who knows what investigators were thinking. Maybe they wanted him to go out and possibly touch base with Bashara. They may have, you know been monitoring him, you know. But on the clothes thing, it really has raised a lot of eyebrows. The bottom line is Detroit police told us today we sent the clothes that she was found in to the state crime lab with the state police. The state police told us today we never received those clothes. What happened to the clothes, who knows? Bottom line is there could have been very critical evidence on those clothes and they're missing.

BURNETT: All right, well Ted Rowlands, thank you very much on that reporting there from Michigan tonight.

Well a flight attendant terrifies passengers on an American Airlines flight. The woman who videotaped that meltdown comes OUTFRONT and we talk about just how overtaxed and exhausted a lot of the people who are flight attendants and pilots in this country may be.

And President Obama called Russian President Putin today. Yes and you know what, we actually know a number of things that they talked about. No one else knows, but we found out.


BURNETT: We start the second half of our show with stories we care about, where we focus on our reporting, do the work and find the "OutFront 5". First, the third month in a row of better than expected jobs numbers, 227,000 jobs added in America in February. Good news of course for the president, but there are still some concerns, wages are not growing as quickly as we need them to be. Inflation is growing more quickly and as Conrad Dequadros of RDQ Economics told us earlier, there is still some serious risks to the economy from a possible conflict or even discussion of a conflict with Iran which could drive oil prices even higher.

Number two, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad not losing support in his circle despite some reports of high-level defections. That's what senior U.S. intelligence officials tell our Barbara Starr tonight. The officials also showed satellite images showing heavy artillery damage to some Syrian cities. It is believed that Syrian forces had targeted hospitals and mosques where opposition groups are hiding. U.S. intelligence also shows Iran is helping Syria with weapons and drones surveilling.

Number three, Dominique Strauss-Kahn known as DSK spoke about the economy today to students in Cambridge, England. Strauss-Kahn had to be rushed into the building as a crowd of protesters outside the Cambridge Union Society awaited. The society stood by their invitation citing DSK's prolific knowledge of the economy. Strauss- Kahn of course was accused of trying to rape a hotel maid. Charges were dropped. He is in the midst of a prostitution ring trial in France now.

Number four, the crash of the Costa Concordia cruise ship severely hurting the profits of the world's largest cruise ship operator, it really did hit the bottom line.

I remember when this happened, I was walking through the airport in Atlanta and overheard people having a conversation whether they should cancel their cruise ship booking. I wondered then this would happen and it did. Carnival posting a $140 million loss in the first quarter. A year ago, they made $150 million.

The cruise company says fewer people are booking cruises, especially with its European brand. Carnival's profit also, of course, hurt by rising gas prices, which the company says are going to keep going up.

Well, it has been 218 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we going to get it back? Well, the positive jobs report helped stocks. All three indices were higher. Fourth week in a row for the S&P and the NASDAQ. But, by the way, more jobs means more people earning money means more tax revenue -- 40 percent of our deficit is tax revenue.

And now, to a disturbing incident aboard an American Airlines flight this afternoon in Dallas. Just minutes before takeoff, this flight 2332 from Dallas to Chicago was headed for the runway, a flight attendant launched into a tirade on the intercom, screaming that the plane was going to crash, alluding to 9/11 and complaining about the American Airlines bankruptcy reorganization.

Now, for a few moments, passengers were in a state of panic, as you can well imagine, but then they realized that was happening. Laurie Grabe captured the scene on her cell phone.


BURNETT: Actually makes the hair on my arm stand up when you hear that, get off of the plan. I mean, you can imagine if that would have happened when the plane was actually in the air. How terrifying it would have been.

The passengers on board took action. They subdued the woman. Another flight attendant also helped. After the plane returned to the gate, the flight attendant was taken to the hospital for evaluation.

Laurie Grabe decided to fly home to Michigan on another flight -- obviously, safe and sound. And she with us now.

Laurie, thank you very much for taking the time.

Literally just hearing that and hearing the fear and terror in the flight attendant's voice over the intercom that you captured, what did you think when you first heard that happen?

LAURIE GRABE, PASSENGER ON AMERICAN AIRLINES FLIGHT 2332: The screaming? Scary. That was after somebody already -- up to the plane. Or actually people ran up from the back to restrain her after she was making comments over the P.A.

At first, we thought she was joking and there's just an error in leaving the P.A. on and as she started talking about turning the plane around and trying to hold of the captain and mentioning the plane crashing, which she did several times. And then, everybody started getting pretty upset.

BURNETT: I can imagine. So, you said she mentioned the plane crashing several times. What did she say? Took off, it would crash -- or exactly did she say?

GRABE: She mentioned that she was responsible for the safety of the plane. She said she was trying to reach the captain. She said, I give up, it's not my fault that the plane crashes. And several times, she referred to turning the plane around and if the plane crashes, it's not her fault. She mentioned opening the doors -- and at that time, we were taxiing towards the runway, so obviously, very afraid that we were going to take off and, you know, what may happen if we were to get in the air.

So, luckily, somebody did try and take the P.A. away. They were not sure what was going on with her either. And finally, somebody wrestled with her a little bit and got it away from her and some other passengers came up from the back and restrained her. That's when you start hearing the screaming, and then police cars escorted us back to the gate and then came on, took her off.

BURNETT: And what else did she say, Laurie? You say she talked about it crashing. Was there anything else that she said?

GRABE: No, it was -- in the beginning, it was just, seemed like it was an accident and she was maybe a little disgruntled with her job. I just remember thinking, wow, she's not happy. And another stewardess saying, you need to shut that off. Don't talk like that on the P.A.

And then when she started talking about, you know, turning the plane around and plane's not going anywhere unless everybody sits down and everybody was looking around and everybody was sitting. So, very confused. We were all very confused on what was going on and obviously realized she was having some kind of issue within herself.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Laurie, thank you very much. We appreciate your taking the time and sharing that video with us.

Well, you heard Laurie talking about she was disgruntled and clearly very unhappy with her job. You know, being a flight attendant used to be a dream job. You could travel the world, enjoy the perks airlines had to offer.

But in recent years, I mean, you know, we all fly, right? You can see the stress flight attendants have to deal with, the anger and bitter passengers they have to deal with. It's a really hard job and the average salary is only about $38,000 a year.

You're on the road all the time. You're away from your family 15 to 20 days a month. Many flight attendants don't even live in the town in which they work, which means they have to actually get in an airplane to commute to even start their job.

Peter Greenberg is a travel editor for CBS News, knows a lot about these issues, actually done an entire documentary on American Airlines in recent years.

These jobs are really hard jobs now.

PETER GREENBERG, TRAVEL EDITOR, CBS NEWS: They are. I mean, they're high stress. You're working in a very enclosed environment with people who may be in the plane angry, drunk. Certainly, you add a delay to that, you add weather to that. And when they're working all these hour in that enclosed environment, they're also expected to be the policewomen or the policeman on the plane. And because that's what's happened since 9/11.

So, they're the only ones who really have, if you take a look at the entire arc of the flight, day to day public contact with the people on the plane. So, it's tough.

BURNETT: And with all the cutbacks, they given everything they go through, they don't -- $38,000 a year, I mean, with traveling and being away so much and time zone changes and everything.

GREENBERG: And that's an average of $38,000. A lot of them make less than that. One of the reasons why they're commuting is they cannot afford to live in the cities in which they're based.

And the other reason, you talk about the history of flight attendants flying for what they called flight benefits to see the world, coffee, tea or me -- all those days.


GREENBERG: Airlines are flying at 82 percent load factors. Those planes were effectively full. The flight attendants can't even use their benefits to go anywhere when they're not flying to work. So, it's a tough deal.

BURNETT: We've heard recently, some reporting about these crash pads where they stay, and literally, the beds are warm --

GREENBERG: It's called hot bunking.


GREENBERG: You know, you have four to six people per apartment in these cities where they have to be based to get to go with their flights to start their day. So, when somebody gets up from sleeping, somebody takes their place. It's not fun.

BURNETT: Well, it's amazing and so many of them -- I mean, they are so professional and so kind and smile. It's part of what they do.

GREENBERG: In spite of everything.

BURNETT: In spite of everything. I just don't know how they do it.

But pilots as well -- pilots have taken significant pay cuts in recent years.

GREENBERG: And have lost their pensions, too.

BURNETT: Have lost their pensions.

GREENBERG: Yes. BURNETT: And we've heard recent reports about alcoholism, exhaustion. I mean, they're under a lot of stress, too.

GREENBERG: They are. And also, sleep deprivation.

Now, the Department of Transportation recently proposed new rules for crew rest. But that was for cockpit crew. Giving them at least an hour or two more rests between layovers, at least they come back to the plane somewhat more rested. That doesn't necessarily apply to flight attendants.

BURNETT: Right. An extra hour here or there --

GREENBERG: But it can make a difference.

BURNETT: Yes. All right. Well, Peter, thank you very much. Appreciate it.


BURNETT: All right. Well, coming up, a rare look inside a prison that's housing Somali pirates.

And the latest from the Rutgers sex cam suicide trial. Fellow students came on the stand today and talked about the man who was blamed for Tyler Clementi's death. That's next.


BURNETT: We do this at the same time every night, our "Outer Circle," where we reach out to our sources around the world.

And tonight, some amazing stories. First to the Seychelles where access inside a prison where Somali pirates are doing time. Now, despite efforts to combat pirate attacks, business for them is still booming.

CNN's Dan Rivers went to the prison in the Seychelles and filed this report.


DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the unlucky ones, a rare glimpse of Somali pirates in prison in the Seychelles. In fact, 90 percent of suspected pirates are released without charge.

Proving these men are really engaged in piracy is notoriously tough. The convicted ring-leader here, 51-year-old Mohammed Ali, still insists he's innocent.

MOHAMMED ALI, CONVICTED SOMALI PIRATE: I'm not pirate. I'm fisherman, my friend. I'm a fisherman. Not a pirate.

RIVERS: Indeed, the authorities say many suspected pirates were once fishermen, driven out of business by commercial operations. They ply these waters for a more lucrative catch.

(on camera): This prison on the Seychelles is just one of a number in the region that are already full to bursting point. The U.N. is building more facilities, but here they are actually planning to release 19 prisoners next month to make way for more senior pirate leaders, so-called Kingpins.

(voice-over): Those nineteen inmates are expected to be transferred to smaller prisons elsewhere.

But despite multi-national efforts to detain the pirate ringleaders, business is booming for the pirates. Over the last four years, average ransoms have risen from $600,000 to $4.7 million per vessel, according to the International Maritime Organization. Total ransoms pay-outs last year have totaled an alarming $135 million.

ADJOA ANYIMADU, SOMALI ANALYST: At moment, people participating in pirate attacks can earn up to $10,000 for few weeks work. But the average income yearly for a Somali is $600. So, you can see temptation is always going to be there.

RIVERS: Lt. Colonel George Adeline tries to stop them. He says his cutters are regularly attacked.

LT. COL. GEORGE ADELINE, SEYCHELLES COAST GUARD: The pirates can attack any ships especially at night. It's very hard to identify between civilian ships and the military ships. Sometimes at night they attack anything that moves.

RIVERS: The Seychelles is overwhelmed with pirates they, and other countries, have detained. Some are just children. The U.N. is building more prisons in a semi-autonomous region of Somalia, but they won't be ready for years and the Seychelles can't cope.

These men have made a simple calculation, the chances of getting convicted are low and the rewards could be life-changing.

Dan Rivers, CNN, on the Seychelles.


BURNETT: Just an amazing report there.

And now, we go to Nigeria and a failed attempt to save two European hostages kidnapped by an Islamic militant group.

Briton Chris McManus and Italian Franco Lamonilara were killed in the failed rescue by Nigerian and British forces. Now, Britain is under fire for not telling Italy in advance about the raid.

CNN's Nkepile Mabuse is in Lagos tonight and I asked how the hostage rescue went so wrong.


NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, clearly, something went terribly wrong during this rescue mission, but none of the countries that were involved, Nigeria, Italy or Britain are saying officially exactly what happened. You remember that British Prime Minister David Cameron when announcing the failure of the operation said Chris and Franco were killed by their captors before they could be rescued.

CNN sources telling us that they were actually killed during the raid. Nigerian leaders going even further, saying it was during a shootout. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan immediately blaming Islamic sect operating in the north of Boca Haram, saying those responsible for the kidnapping and the killing of these two construction workers will be brought to book -- Erin.


BURNETT: Thank you.

And now, let's check in with Anderson. He's got a look at what's coming up on "A.C. 360.

Hey, happy Friday, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "A.C. 360": Hey, Erin.

We're following breaking news out of the crisis in Syria. Troubling new information tonight about just how much support the Assad regime is receiving from Iran. Also, U.S. intelligence officials telling CNN the Syrian president's circle remains intact and strong. We're bringing you the latest bringing news.

Also tonight, a sad chapter in our country's history. The practice of eugenics, including the forced sterilization of people in many states in this country. California led the nation in the practice and they've done nothing to make amends. We're keeping them honest.

And it's been a year since that massive earthquake and tsunami destroyed much of the communities Japan, triggered one of the worst nuclear disasters in history that is still ongoing. Tonight, we're going to hear from a journalist who managed to smuggle a camera inside the destroyed Fukushima plant. He says dozens of workers continued to put their lives on the line to contain that meltdown.

Those stories and tonight's "Ridiculist," Erin, at the top of the hour.

BURNETT: All right. Anderson, thank you.

Well, a parade of witnesses took the stand today on behalf of former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi as his defense team tried to show he wasn't biased against his roommate Tyler Clementi because Tyler was gay. Prosecutors though were quick to pounce on cross-examination.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you in your own personal interactions with Dharun, ever heard him use any derogatory words towards homosexuals in general?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you ever have occasion to discuss with him homosexuality?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Had you ever heard him say anything negative or derogatory about homosexuality in general?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you ever discuss specifically the topic of homosexuality with Dharun Ravi?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you heard him say something derogatory about homosexuality in general?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you said you never discussed it with him. That was the question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's correct.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Thank you. No further question, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You may sit now (ph).


BURNETT: Dharun Ravi is accused of placing a webcam in his room in 2010 to spy on Clementi and purposely humiliate him. Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. And this came after he learned that Ravi and others had watched him have romantic encounters with another man. Ravi faces up to 10 years in prison if he is found guilty.

Paul Callan has been covering this case for us, former prosecutor, and joins us again tonight.

And, obviously, Paul, we just saw some of the character witnesses there. And, obviously, what they're trying to prove is that Dharun Ravi was not homophobic.

PAUL CALLAN, FORMER NYC HOMICIDE PROSECUTOR: This was a bone- headed tactical decision by the defense in the case. It's been a sophisticated defense up until today. But you put a character witness on the stand. Why? To show he's not antigay.

So who do they call? Seven friends of his father to say the kid is not anti gay. Well, how are they going to know whether he's anti- gay or pro-gay? The jury's expecting his fellow students to be called. And if I'm on the jury, I'm saying to myself, why didn't they call his fellow students? Why did they call his father's friends?

BURNETT: You would assume because they didn't know what they would say? Or they might say something else, maybe crack jokes about people who are gay.

CALLAN: Exactly. I mean, if you're on the jury, I think that's what you're going to assume. Better to call no character witnesses than to call character witnesses who know nothing about the defendant. So very foolish move by relatively sophisticated defense attorneys who have done a great job up until now.

BURNETT: We're looking at Dharun Ravi right now, video of him today. You had said yesterday that ordinarily, you would never say to the defense to put him on the stand, but they should in this case.


BURNETT: You still think so?

CALLAN: I absolutely think they should. And now, more than ever, because, you know, the bias intimidation claim, that he's antigay, was the weakest claim in the case. There's one tiny piece of evidence. He said he was uncomfortable around gays in one of his e- mails. That's the only piece of evidence.

And now, the jury is sitting there thinking -- the father's friends? They better put him on if stand because he's got some explaining to do. And I think it's all the more important now that he'd testify.

BURNETT: All right. Paul Callan, thank you.


BURNETT: Well, today, President Obama was on Air Force One. You know, he's on Air Force One a lot. But today, he made a phone call to one Vladimir Putin and you know what? They planned a vacation. Yep.

And one of our producers got something in the mail from Rick Santorum's sugar daddy today. And I promise you, it is worth sitting through our commercials to see this.


BURNETT: On Sunday, Vladimir Putin was elected president of Russia. And President Barack Obama finally got around to calling him today.

When we called the White House and said, hey, what did they talk about? Bu they wouldn't give us any detail. They wouldn't even tell us how long the call was.

But we have our sources and got the skinny. And then right before this show came on the air, the White House sent out a statement about the call.

Guess what? We were right. And that brings us to tonight's number: two. That's how many things they talked about in the call.

First, President Obama said he looked forward to working together with the newly elected Russian president on rebuilding their relationship. Yawn!

Second, the president said we are going to have so much fun at our G-8 party at Camp David, I'm paraphrasing, of course. But Putin and Obama will see each other in May at the G-8 in Camp David. It was supposed to be held in Obama's home town of Chicago, but he changed the location and -- well, we don't really know why but we suspected it has to do with wanting to plan a really good vacation. There's boats there, tennis court, all kinds of things, secretive things.

We're sure the leaders of the eight most powerful economies in the world will have plenty to do, you know, it's secure, it's isolated, no paparazzi. You know, people may not take pictures of whatever it is you're going to do with or without clothes on. I just hope during all of their fun, they actually get to solve some of the world's problems.

All right. Well, we have saved the best for last tonight. Rick Santorum's biggest backer, his sugar daddy, sent one of our producers a surprise in the mail. It was a great, great gift. And we're going to share it with you next.


BURNETT: So, our booker Bob Hand received this in the mail yesterday. Yes, this. It's a card from American businessman Foster Friess. Now, you probably remember him as the sugar daddy of Rick Santorum's campaign. You know, he was on this show a few weeks ago.

On the cover of the card is a photo of Foster and his wife Lynne on the beach with this caption, "smoking hot wife". It's right at the bottom below their feet. It gets stranger inside.

On the inside cover is an ad for Lynn's new book. It's a children book that Amazon describes as the story of an inquisitive chipmunk who learns the mystery at a museum. And the other side of the page is a message from the couple and a quote from President John F. Kennedy, the same John F. Kennedy who made a speech that Rick Santorum said made him want to throw up.

All right. Well, you know, hey, you got to be consistent. What's the deal, though? Is this a Christmas card? An ad for Lynn's new book? A statement of faith?

The answer is found on the back of the card. It's a photo of the couple eating a popsicle together. And below that is just one line, just two big kids headed for their 50th anniversary in August.

Fifty years -- can you believe that? I'm not sure I would want my husband to send out a card like that, but I hope that we're this happy when we have been married 50 years. The anniversary is a few months away. But you know what? Bottom line, it's a sweet card. Let me be the first one to say: Happy anniversary to Foster Friess and his smoking, hot wife.

Anderson starts now.