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Out of Bounds; Tax Hypocrites; Hiding Underground

Aired August 9, 2012 - 19:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, HOST: OUTFRONT tonight, mudslinging and mayhem are hurting both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Who is dirtier? This is a very tough thing to ascertain. And police have discovered an underground hideout home to a fringe sect of Islam with children who literally have never seen the light of day, an investigation tonight, and later a CNN exclusive, our Ted Rowlands, the first to go inside the temple where six people died at the hands of a white supremacist. We will take you there. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone, I'm Erin Burnett and OUTFRONT tonight out of bounds. Mitt Romney took to the airwaves today to lament the tone of the election and slam his rival.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm seeing some of the ads out there. I don't know whatever happened to a campaign of hope and change.


ROMNEY: I thought he was a new kind of politician.


ROMNEY: Instead his campaign and the people working with him have focused almost exclusively on personal attacks and not at all on the issues of the day.


BURNETT: Personal attacks and not at all on the issues of the day. Sadly that charge actually goes both ways. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are guilty as sin. You'll see why we chose that reference. As those of you who watch the show know, we've tried from day one to try to stop sandbox politics and find middle ground, but in the words of Senate Joseph Lieberman, a man who spent more than two decades in Washington and was himself the Democratic vice presidential nominee in the year 2000, quote, "the campaign has already set records for nastiness and negativity."

The head of "Foreign Policy" magazine says this campaign has quote "the sensibilities and IQ of a typical middle school student council election." And I was very insulted when I heard that actually because I ran for school president in eighth grade and I lost. I ran against a kid named Danny Luppins (ph). I am certain that our campaigns had higher IQs. And when I lost, Danny actually nominated me head of the top committee for our little school, which was a statesmanlike move.

Now that is not how it feels like it's going in this election for the world's most powerful job. The group that tracks campaign ads tells OUTFRONT that what they've so far has been "unprecedentedly negative". Now we feel it's our duty to call out ads that we think are out of bounds. So tonight we look at an ad Romney himself released today, the same day, of course, that he mourned the loss of the campaigns of hope and change.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: Who shares your values? President Obama used his health care plan to declare war on religion forcing religious institutions to go against their faith.


BURNETT: That ad does not add up. It refers of course to the debate earlier this year about contraception and Obamacare. The Obama administration clarified the 2010 health care law. It said that insurers must cover preventive health services. All right now they said that contraceptives counted in that category and that that meant most health insurance plans would have to provide birth control free of charge.

Now, this angered many religious institutions who said they don't believe in contraception. Now it's important to say that churches were always excluded but affiliated institutions say a Georgetown University, which may employ workers of other faiths, were not excluded. This upset a lot of people and after a firestorm, the Obama administration caved.

Saying that church-affiliated universities, hospitals and charities don't have to provide or pay for birth control, but the employer's insurance companies would provide coverage directly. Now not everybody loves that solution. That is a fair thing to say. But it does make Romney's ad about a war on religion off target. Just for a little context off target though isn't even close to as bad as the one this week targeting Mitt Romney that we found truly out of bounds.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE, POLITICAL AD: When Mitt Romney and Bain closed the plant, I lost my health care and my family lost their health care. And a short time after that, my wife became ill.


BURNETT: She subsequently died of cancer. As we've told you all week though, she did not lose her health care coverage when the plant closed down because she was always covered by her own employer. And even if she had been covered by her husband's insurance blaming Mitt Romney personally for her death is just plain wrong. That ad came from the Super PAC run by a friend and longtime PR deputy of President Obama.

It gets a true out of bounds. Michael Waldman joins us, former speechwriter for Bill Clinton. Reihan Salam representing the other side of the aisle is also here. OK, good to see you both.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great to be here.

BURNETT: So this week I will say in terms of the truly nasty, what we're going to call out of bounds for the rest of this season as we go through every ad, goes to the Super PAC representing the president. But Mitt Romney's one on religion also seems to be at best simplistic and at worst just wrong.

MICHAEL WALDMAN, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR BILL CLINTON: Well, supposing there are some religions where shrill overstatement is a sin and if that's the case, then that would have been an ad like this. I'm not really entirely sure that I know what the purpose of an ad like this is. Calling it a war on religion is clearly such an overstatement.

Then the ad goes into showing him -- Governor Romney praising Pope John Paul and then being endorsed by (INAUDIBLE) a foreign head of state who I admire a lot, but he is a foreign head of state and seemingly in a very naked bid for a kind of particular eastern European Catholic vote. Catholics voted heavily for President Obama last time. He won Catholic -- American Catholics by nine points. So you can see why they would do something like this. But it's such a jumble of an ad. I can't imagine they're actually going to spend a lot of money running it on television.

BURNETT: Reihan, it does seem this whole you know war on religion, the war on women, all of these charges are -- I mean people have all sorts of specific issues with candidates and their point of views, but to say this president is waging a war on religion, I mean, the man goes to church. That's ridiculous.

REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well I think -- the issue with the Department of Health and Human Services is a very complicated one. And part of the issue is that many people felt that the Obama administration had defined religious employers very, very narrowly as though it only employ and serve members of a particular faith. But of course there are a ton of institutions not just Georgetown University, but we're talking about soup kitchens, hospitals --

BURNETT: They're funded by churches.

SALAM: Right, exactly, exactly, and also that receive public funds and I think you know the idea that acting in their conscience is something where, you know, that would be compromised in some way really struck a chord with many Americans and I think for good reason.


SALAM: Because I think that there's a view many people have about President Obama. You saw it in the Roanoke (ph) remarks. We've seen it a number of other times that he believes that the way Americans work together and come together is through the state. But there are many other institutions including churches --

BURNETT: OK, but Reihan -- you know and I think you're great at making your side but answer this question.

SALAM: Absolutely.

BURNETT: War on religion.

SALAM: War -- look, I think that the idea that the administration has been unduly hostile to religion and religious employers I think is a fair point to make because I think that these institutions --

BURNETT: But he backed off and changed it. He backed off after the three days of firestorm --


BURNETT: -- whether you think he backed off because of the firestorm or not gave a waiver.

SALAM: There's a waiver -- there's a waiver -- a temporary waiver giving these institutions a year. And again when you look at it from the perspective of people who believe these institutions should be given wide berth and wide autonomy being given this brief respite, in case you actually wind up agreeing with their policies, acting in accordance with their views, that is, the views of HHS, that's not a very attractive solution.

WALDMAN: But American people have been watching Barack Obama as president for nearly four years. They hear this language about the war on religion and it sounds nonsensical. Obviously he's not waging a war on religion and it's hard to believe that the Romney campaign even believes it itself. There was this one controversy --


BURNETT: (INAUDIBLE) believe it.

WALDMAN: There's no way to believe it. There's this one controversy, there were two sides to it. They did back down. And by the way, if you remember, as a political matter, that controversy was when the gender gap began to widen massively. So it's not clear that this is some -- this is something that cuts only in one direction politically. But I think that that is, as they call it, dog whistle language.

That means a lot to some of the base supporters of the conservative wing of the Republican Party. What's interesting is why is it necessary to be sending them shout outs right now when he should be speaking, finding many different ways to speak to undecided voters or the base? It just shows with all these negative ads unfortunately both sides are spending all their efforts to try to rev up their own base rather than speaking to a wider public.

BURNETT: I mean, Reihan, what I find problematic about is -- it's the headlines. You know "War on Religion", when you can go through some very serious and nuanced discussions about what you think the president did or shouldn't have done, right? And you can have that conversation. But the ad isn't about that. So the candidates out of one side of their mouth are saying we want to elevate the dialogue. The other guy is picking on me and then they're running things that say the guy killed somebody or the guy's having a war on religion. It is sort of an insult to intelligence of the voter.

SALAM: I definitely see where you're coming from on that but I think the problem is that you're trying -- the fundamental reason why this campaign has been so negative is this. President Obama has a record that I imagine if you asked him would you love to be running with unemployment this high, et cetera, I think he'd probably say no. So he's backed into a corner there.

BURNETT: Correct.

SALAM: Mitt Romney is also backed into a corner because he finds it very difficult to talk about the substantive policies that he wants to advance as an alternative partly because he senses that those are going to be demonized so aggressively by the other side. So the problem is when you don't have an election about substantive issues which frankly neither candidate wants to talk about, you get into these --


BURNETT: All right, I just want to bring it up again. Danny Luppins (ph), OK, the kid, well he's now a man, anyway he was kind enough to send his picture from eighth grade. Yes, that's when he beat me --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Erin, you didn't have a chance.

BURNETT: I had to deal with -- OK --

SALAM: Look at that bi-level haircut.

BURNETT: Let me just say -- and let me just say I don't remember a lot about the campaign, but I know that we were not nearly as nasty because he named me the head of the top committee when he won.

WALDMAN: See that's like the kind of national unity government that pundits are craving, you know.

BURNETT: You know what --

WALDMAN: That's the Simpson/Bowles of middle school.

BURNETT: Go back to the (INAUDIBLE) school in eighth grade and the IQ would be higher and a lot of things would be higher -- all right thanks to both.

And OUTFRONT next members of Congress holding news conferences calling for simplifying the tax code and then asking for loopholes to benefit their communities. That doesn't add up and the top hypocrites named next.

And a week of victories for NASA, the space agency suffers a fiery failure, and our exclusive look tonight inside the temple where a madman killed six innocent people.


BURNETT: Our second story OUTFRONT tax hypocrites. Democrats and Republicans have spent a lot of time calling for a simpler tax code. They want to eliminate deductions for example.


REP. KRISTI NOEM (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: And we need to level the playing field. We do have a lot of loopholes and exemptions out there that need to be exempt (ph).

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: America needs to have significant tax simplification. We have to make it simpler and easier to comply with America's tax laws.

SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: Well the tax code is larded down with so many special interests goodies.


BURNETT: Well interesting that we picked those individuals because those grand statements don't always add up, especially when it comes to pushing tax breaks that benefit them.

OUTFRONT tonight, Tim Carney, senior political columnist for "The Washington Examiner". He's been looking into this double talk -- good to see you and I know that you yourself in terms of your column, you lean right, so you're being aggressive here.


BURNETT: And a lot of people on the right, so let's get straight to it. Let's start with Marco Rubio. The man a lot of people want to be the presumptive VP candidate. He has said again and again as we heard there he wants to simplify the tax code. But what's he doing?

TIMOTHY CARNEY, SENIOR POLITICAL COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, he is pushing for a special tax deduction just for people who win Olympics medals. Because the U.S. Olympic Committee will give you cash payment, 10,000, $20,000, if you win a medal and he thinks that that income, unlike other prize income, ought to be free of taxes. So this is certainly a special interest carve out for people who happen to be very popular.

BURNETT: Right, and, you know, it's all about popularity right now, especially if you might be VP, right? All right well let's talk about -- let's go on the Democratic side. Democratic senator, we just saw him there in those sound bites, Ron Wyden, a major voice when it comes to tax reform. What's his hypocrisy? CARNEY: Yes. Well again Wyden is one of my favorite Democrats because he's liberal but he really tries to find solutions to problems except just last week he was touting how he stuck into the tax extenders bill a special tax credit for electric motorcycles. And he said, well, heck, two of the -- the two biggest -- two of the biggest electric motorcycle companies happen to be in Oregon, my state, and I'm not going to give up the tax credits for the guys in my state.

BURNETT: Wow, electric motorcycles.


BURNETT: I wonder if they have gotten to the point where they perform as well as the quote/unquote "real thing".

CARNEY: Well you can buy one with the tax credit and find out, Erin.

BURNETT: I don't know if that will be enough to get me to do it. All right Republican Congresswoman, we also saw here there, Kristi Noem. She's also called for tax reform, cutting spending. But what tax credit is she advocating?

CARNEY: For the production tax credit for wind energy. In other words, windmills have always depended on special subsidies, special tax treatment and that's up to -- set to expire this year. And so without special legislation to extend it, it will be gone and she's been pushing. She's been leaning. She's been writing letters, bringing together bipartisan coalition to save this tax credit. While at the same time, saying, oh, well we need to make sure that the tax code is clean without other credits and deductions.

BURNETT: And it sort of may surprise a lot of people who you know in the conventional way of things would say well Republican congresswoman pushing for green energy tax credits, how does that add up?

CARNEY: Well, a lot of it -- a lot of energy policy ends up working out on a regional basis. You know you've got ethanol tax credits, which did expire to Congress' great credit. That was more of a regional thing than party. And with wind and solar it often works out that way where the Republicans are willing to attack Obama for giving a subsidy to Solyndra, but then they'll go ahead and give out their own green energy subsidy on the other hand.

BURNETT: All right, Tim, thank you.

CARNEY: Thank you.

BURNETT: Tim reporting on some of the hypocrisy that we're seeing in Washington right now.

Still OUTFRONT a computer glitch, how it can cost the company half a billion dollars. There are a number of reasons why the margin of error is so dangerously thin and a bizarre discovery. A group of people who have actually been living underground for years following the leader of a fringe Islamic sect.


BURNETT: Last week, a trading firm called Knight Capital lost $440 million in 45 minutes thanks to a software glitch. The software basically caused Knight's computers to start buying and selling stocks like crazy, nearly 150 of them. Knight Capital didn't have enough money to handle the error and the 45-minute mistake put it on the edge of bankruptcy. Knight needed a white knight and eventually found one through group of investors who poured money in. They were lucky to survive. But a lot of people are still in shock that this happened.

They say normally this would be caught within a few minutes by a computer. Knight's error was truly colossal. But it highlights something important. Computers dominate markets, the markets where our IRAs, 401(ks) and pension dollars sit trusting the system. You can see when you look at the New York Stock Exchange floor -- I remember when it was full. This is a tight shot so you can't see the point I'm trying to make, but there's no one there anymore. Traders -- trades are executed by computers in fractions of a second. In that world traders need any edge they can, going so far as putting their computer servers next to an exchange server, just to get their trade in before someone else.

Yes when speed matters the distance matters so you know if your computer's here, the signal has to travel further. So putting it here is called co-location (ph) and it's quite the time saver and that's the number tonight, 10. That's how many microseconds traders save for every mile their trade travels when they use co-location services. So basically if you execute a trade in Chicago, for every mile the data you're sending travels on its way to New York, you save 10 millionths of a second. It's a small amount of time but in this day and age it translates to big money, pretty frightening.

And now, our third story OUTFRONT, Russian police discovered members of a rogue sect of Islam living deep underground literally with more than two dozen children, some of whom had never seen daylight. Their leader calls himself a prophet, which is against the teachings of Islam and he seemed to have more than 70 people under his tight control. Our Matthew Chance investigates.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, an astonishing discovery really in Russia where an obscure Islamist religious sect has been found to have forced its members, including children, to live underground for more than a decade. The authorities in Russia have charged the sect leaders and taken the children described as dirty but in good health into care.


CHANCE (voice-over): Russian police say 27 children, along with more than 30 adults, lived in catacomb-like (ph) cells in what's described as an eight-level underground bunker. Some of the children have never left the compound or even seen the light of day.

IRINA PETROVA, POLICE PROSECUTOR (through translator): The premises consist of cells without natural light and ventilation located in the basement and foundation and dug into the ground as it was said in the official report. It is an eight-level ant hill (ph), not only adults were living on these premises but also children.

CHANCE: At least 19 of the children, aged between 1 and 17 years old, were removed by the authorities. Some placed in care. Others in hospital.

TATIANA MOROZ, HEALTH WORKER (through translator): The children were in satisfactory condition. The children were all fed. Although they were dirty. Upon receiving them, we washed them. They have undergone a full examination. All the Russian specialists have examined them and taken all the analysis. Tomorrow, the full analysis will be finished and we will give our final conclusion about the condition of their health.

CHANCE: The Islamist sect was unearthed last week in a suburb of the city of Kazan in Russia's mainly Muslim Tatarstan region during an investigation into militant groups.



CHANCE: Amid chants of defiance, police detained some of its members, including its reclusive 83-year-old leader (INAUDIBLE). They're facing charges. Russian media reports say his followers lived in isolation, refusing to recognize Russian laws or the authority of mainstream Muslim leaders in Tatarstan, isolation that led them to keep their activities literally underground.


CHANCE: Well the raid on the sect's house came amid a wider investigation into militant groups in the area. As I mentioned, following a number of high-profile attacks against leading Muslim figures in the region. There is no suggestion, though that this bizarre sect is in any way connected -- Erin.

BURNETT: Thanks to Matthew. It is a very bizarre story.

Well, still OUTFRONT NASA gets a big win billions of miles away and suffers a big loss much closer to home today. And next we see for the first time inside the temple where a gunman shot and murdered six people.


BURNETT: We start the second half of our show with stories we care about, where we focus on our own reporting from the front lines.

Well, movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes appeared in court today. Homes lawyers wanted the judge to keep court documents sealed while attorneys for 17 news organizations, including CNN's, asked for them to be unsealed. CNN's Kyung Lah was in the courtroom. And she told us that Holmes hair was brushed down. He looked much more lucid than he did in his first court appearance. That was her feeling. He was shackled, she said, wearing a maroon jump suit and appeared to be following the hearings.

Well, researchers at Boston University and Veterans Affairs have linked a gene to post-traumatic stress disorder. We spoke to the lead researcher Mark Miller and he told us that they studied the DNA of people who had PTSD and of those who had experienced trauma but didn't then suffer from the disorder.

And what they found was people who had PTSD had a variation of a certain gene called RORA. It's a gene that helps protect brain cells from the bad effects of stress and basically our understanding is it's not quite a mutation of the gene but it's a variation that's a little bit different and that might be why they actually end up suffering from PTSD after trauma.

Miller told us the study gives researchers a new avenue to explore how traumatic stress affects the brain.

Well, it hasn't been all good news for NASA. Today, the Morpheus lander crashed after briefly taking off. According to NASA, the vehicle experienced a hardware component failure. No one was injured. It had been designed to carry 1,100 pounds of cargo to the moon. It uses green propellants, liquid oxygen and methane.

Compared to the Mars rover Curiosity that cost $2.6 billion, this was a relatively cheap project for NASA, costing $7 million over 2 1/2 years. That's less than pocket change for them.

And banking giant JPMorgan has revised its first quarter results. They say they earned about $459 million less than they originally reported. Why? Because they say they overstated the value of some of their positions on the trading book.

JPMorgan also disclosed that banking regulators have subpoenaed the bank for documents related to the ongoing LIBOR scandal. That, of course, is the scandal linked to the LIBOR rate, to which American mortgages and credit card rates are linked.

It has been 371 day since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

Well, data released today shows 30-year mortgage rates rose last week for the second time in a row. The average rate was 3.9 percent. So, even though that's up, that is still pretty darn low.

And now our fourth story OUTFRONT: an exclusive first look inside Wisconsin's Sikh temple in Oak Creek. The FBI wrapped up its investigation on the ground and worshipers returned to the temple for the first time since Sunday's shooting.

Tonight an update on the conditions of the three men wounded in the attack. Punjab Singh who was shot in the face still needs help breathing and remains in critical condition.

Santokh Singh has improved to serious condition after undergoing surgery for a gunshot wound to his chest, stomach and liver.

And the first policeman on the scene, Lieutenant Brian Murphy, was also upgraded today from critical to satisfactory condition.

And regarding his status, Oak Creek police chief John Edwards told OUTFRONT today that Lieutenant Murphy is in good spirits and is communicating as best he can and interacting. It's good to see that. He had a little bit of a restless night last night, so medical staff is having him rest today.

Chief Edwards and the other colleagues of Lieutenant Murphy have all been in that hospital every day.

OUTFRONT tonight, Ted Rowlands with a CNN exclusive look inside that temple today.

So, Ted, what did you see? It had to be emotional for you even as a reporter, seeing everyone go into the temple.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, absolutely, Erin. We were allowed to come in. We were only camera crew allowed in. It was very emotional. There were people weeping, as you might imagine, as they came into the temple for the first time.

A lot of people cleaning too. They worked very hard to try to get this temple back to normal as soon as possible.

There's one bullet hole, however, that they say will be there forever. They fixed all of the other ones with dry wall. Some of the windows were broken. They fixed all of that in record time. They had volunteers. They had supplies from a local Home Depot donated.

This one bullet hole which is basically at the front entrance of the main prayer area, that will be kept. We saw the area where each one of the victims died. One victim, the only female victim, died inside that prayer area along the side near the back of the wall. We saw an area in the back room where the other three victims died.

We also saw the pantry area where 15-plus women and children were crammed in for more than two hours. Some of them were injured. They thought there were multiple gunmen.

For two hours, they sat in there in terror. It is a tiny room. It was just -- an absolutely emotional scene in there.

We talked to one of the victims and it was amazing, most of the victim families were there, were there helping clean up and were there talking to us. One of them not only talked about the victims but he also addressed the gunman. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AMARDEEP KALEKA, VICTIM'S FAMILY MEMBER: Simply put, our families, his mother, who left behind two beautiful boys, and was the only mother -- imagine losing your mother. Our father, the four other victims, the people who were shot and are in the hospital, the police officer who did his job -- they are heroes. They are living the American dream.

The other person was a coward. And at the end of the day, he should always be remembered as a coward.


ROWLANDS: And, Erin, the others will be remembered tomorrow at a service here in town at a local high school. For two hours, the public is invited to come. They'll have all six bodies there on display. Then there will be a private ceremony back here at the temple.

BURNETT: Ted, I wanted to ask you. You know, I know that it sort of a -- it feels very suburban there. At least that was my impression from being there earlier this week. You know, a little spread out, that whole area.

There was a very powerful picture. I'm sure you saw it in person today. One of our producers sent it to us -- of a rainbow coming over the Sikh temple this afternoon. And you can see it. I mean, that's a pretty gorgeous rainbow. It's almost perfect. And I don't know if it's a metaphor for what's happening.

But what have you been hearing from other people in the community you've been speaking to, you know, not necessarily members of the temple?

ROWLANDS: Yes, well, the entire community, as you saw when you were out here, has come together. And people from outside have come in. People not only Sikhs but non-Sikhs have come in. Reverend Jesse Jackson was up today and prayed with some of the victims.

It has been remarkable according to the Sikh community how much of an outpouring they have received. And quite frankly, they're hoping that will be the legacy of these six victims. These people around the world will come closer together. People that are different will come closer together.

BURNETT: All right, Ted, thank you very much, as always.

Well, the lone gunman in the temple shooting, Wade Michael Page, apparently had ties to white supremacy groups for decades. One of his fellow soldiers at Ft. Bragg, Fred Lucas, came OUTFRONT earlier. I spoke to him on the phone from Bloomington, Indiana. I asked him how and when he knew about Page's radical views.


FRED LUCAS (via telephone): You could just see that -- you know, his -- the shaved head haircut that he had. The vehicle he drove. And he was not -- he had no problems telling people about his feelings about racial equality and such or lack thereof.

BURNETT: So, we also mentioned his car. What about his car stood out to you?

LUCAS: Well, it was -- it was a VW thing. Which is a 1960s era Volkswagen that very much resembles like a German military vehicle of World War II. It was orange and he had, you know, darkened it up to red. And the red and the black tires with white walls, it just kind of evoked the symbolism (ph) via color that you see in the Nazi flag.

BURNETT: Fred, was is this something at the time you talked about with other people, other colleagues of yours, about him specifically? Or sort of stuff that you heard that created this impression in you that he was a supremacist but you never really talked about openly at the time?

LUCAS: I did. But there was -- and my biggest regret is I did not pursue it more. I was fully engaged, you know, with leading my own soldiers, that I didn't take the time to try and fix the issues on other teams.

BURNETT: And so, Fred, when this happened, and you first heard his name, what was the feeling that -- how did you feel?

LUCAS: It was terror. I mean, honestly. I was driving, when I heard this. It came over the radio. And I almost wrecked my vehicle. But then, you know, after a little bit of reflection, in some respects, it didn't surprise me.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT next, who will Mitt Romney choose to lead in prayer at the Republican national convention?

And in our IDEA segment, Snoop Lion, formerly known as Snoop Dogg, a billionaire in Jamaica.


BURNETT: We're back with our "Outer Circle" where we reach out to our sources around the world.

And we begin tonight in Syria, where an opposition activist group is reporting that at least 142 people were killed today across the country, including 33 in Aleppo. Human rights groups are reporting heavy shelling in neighborhoods in Aleppo. The Syrian government and rebel groups have been battling for control of the city for days.

Ivan Watson is OUTFRONT tonight. And I asked him how people are trying to escape the violence.


IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erin, some two weeks of fighting in Syria's largest city has put immense pressure on a society where already millions had been displaced. We've seen in the past couple of days the number of refugees streaming across the border into turkey has jumped from some 47,000 to, now, more than 50,000.

And today, we've seen thousands more crossing the border at two separate checkpoints, crossing points, along that border. Our own team that was in Aleppo witnessed entire neighborhoods that appeared to have been depopulated in that city.

They also saw the immense danger that the civilians continuing to live there face. One case, a man riding in a taxi shot apparently by a government sniper. In another case, a city park that had been turned into a cemetery -- Erin.


BURNETT: Well, thanks to Ivan.

And now to China for the trial of a century, which mysteriously ended just hours after it began. Gu Kailai, the wife of a former top communist official, didn't object to prosecutor's charges. The charges were not just run of the mill charges. They were for murdering a British businessman named Neil Heywood.

Gu's husband, Bo Xilai, the top communist official who was thought by some to be a future president of China. I mean, it was incredible how high this guy was. He's now completely tossed out of power.

Steven Jiang is following the case in Heifei and I asked him what happened in court today.


STEVEN JIANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, the most anticipated trial in China in recent memory has ended quickly with a rather anticlimactic statement by a senior court official. He basically told us the trial is over, the judges are deliberating, and the verdict will be announced at a later date.

He was able to provide some new details about the case, as well as what happened behind closed doors in that courtroom. He said Gu's lawyers asked for leniency on the grounds of her diminished capacity while committing the crime. As well as her close cooperation with police during the investigation. He also made a point of stressing Gu looked physically healthy and emotionally stable during the trial.

Even though authorities are keeping quiet about when they'll announce a verdict, nobody expects the result to be surprising. This, after all, is a country where the conviction rate is the almost 100 percent. So it's all but certain that Gu Kailai will be found guilty of murder -- a family friend has told us, however, her life will be spared -- Erin.


BURNETT: We're going to see. It's going to be a crucial case for China.

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

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

We're keeping them honest tonight in the program.

The state of California has just filed suit against a group called Help Hospitalized Veterans. It's a charity that claims to help wounded veterans. The state of California says the men behind the so- called charity have been helping themselves to excessive salaries and lavish lifestyles while using accounting gimmicks to trick the public into giving even more money.

We're going to speak with Kamala Harris, California attorney general, and hear what the charity has to say about the accusations.

Plus, we'll have a bizarre case ahead in crime and punishment. This man, Chavis Carter, died from a gunshot wound to the head. The question is who pulled the trigger.

The police say he committed suicide. Chavis' mother is not buying it and says he was shot by the police.

Here's what she and others want to know. How could Chavis shoot himself in the head while he was in the back of a police car with his hands cuffed behind his back.

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

BURNETT: All right, Anderson. Looking forward to seeing you in just a few moments.

And now our fifth story OUTFRONT. Who will Romney choose to lead the prayer at the Republican National Convention? This is actually very important question.

You know, we looked into it. Both party's conventions have historically featured prayers from leaders of various religions including the Mormon Church.

So there's pressure on Mitt Romney to include someone from his faith. He's the first Mormon nominee of a major political party. And the Mormon faith is very important to him personally. He's very senior in church. It's a central part of his life.

But will he do it?

OUTFRONT tonight -- "BuzzFeed" reporter McKay Coppins, he's reported extensively on the church, also, of course, raised Mormon himself. So, he has an interesting perspective on this as a reporter as well.

So, McKay, we look into this, 1960 convention, JFK, the first Catholic president. You think he'd want to have a Catholic. But he maybe he was -- we have some parallels. He didn't want to emphasize it.

So, we actually had a Mormon give the benediction which is pretty impressive. 2004 Republican convention, a prominent Mormon leader also gave an invocation.

So what do you think Mitt will do?

MCKAY COPPINS, BUZZFEED REPORTER: I think we will not see a Mormon giving prayer at the convention. As a reporter who's covered this --

BURNETT: And you say this with a laugh. You say, you're crazy.

COPPINS: I think any reporter who has covered this extensively knows that Mitt Romney will do everything within his power to not talk about his religion. And he spent a year avoiding the issue. I don't think just as the nation is tuning in he's suddenly going to throw caution to the wind and say, sure, let's throw a big spotlight on my faith. I don't think it's going to happen.

BURNETT: We reached out to Republican National Committee, Romney's campaign and the Mormon Church, asked all of them if there were any plans or discussions. Anyway, no comment.


BURNETT: All right. Here's what I want, to go through these numbers. Lots candidates have included religious leaders that are important to them. On the Republican side, it's become sort of a tradition, right?

John McCain had a retired military chaplain speak, when he was a prisoner during Vietnam, who spoke. So, someone personally connected to him.

George W. Bush had his personal spiritual adviser speak when he was a nominee.

So, there is a precedent for personal faith being on display at the Republican convention.

COPPINS: Absolutely. And Mitt Romney, by all accounts, is a very personally faithful person. The question is just whether he's willing to let that part of him kind of come through for a few minutes and let people pay attention to it.

It's just -- he is so guarded when comes to his faith. I don't know if it will happen. We'll see. I mean, it very well could.

BURNETT: Well, you know, so we pulled some numbers and maybe he's just being too sensitive, because when asked -- the Pew Research Center did a poll -- when asked are you more uncomfortable with Barack Obama's religion or Mitt Romney's? First of all, anybody who's watching from either campaign, most Americans are fine with both of you. But 19 percent are uncomfortable with Barack Obama's religion. Only 13 percent with Mitt Romney's.

He's probably looking at the Pew poll that finds Mormons up there with Muslims in terms of "I don't trust them" which was a few years back. But this is now.

COPPINS: Right. And he has to understand that things change over time, right? I mean, he looks at polls back from when his father ran for president. That showed that 18 percent of the country said they wouldn't vote for a Mormon. That stayed relatively the same.

But these things, prayers at conventions, aren't about electoral consequences. They're about showing the side of the candidate that turns to God. I think that people would feel comforted and a little bit relieved to see him be open and frank about his faith. Because they're really --

BURNETT: Maybe he should, because it is -- it is a part of his core person, which is the number one complaint we hear about Mitt Romney. We don't see that heart, right?

COPPINS: Absolutely. He just has to own it I think. I mean, I think a lot of Mormons will give him a pass because they want to see him in the White House. They're protective of him.

The people I talk to when they're off the record say it would be great if you would own it a little more. I mean, they're proud of him for being out there, having a Mormon get this far. I think it would be nice for a lot of Mormons if he would own his religion.

BURNETT: And maybe for non-Mormons too.

COPPINS: Absolutely.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks so much, McKay. Appreciate it as always.

COPPINS: Thanks for having me.

BURNETT: And up next, Snoop Lion formerly known as Snoop Dogg has turned over a new leaf. Actually, it's like fall. I mean, his tree has just changed colors. And he has a great idea.


BURNETT: That is the new song by Snoop Lion. He told us we can play it, because a few weeks ago, Calvin Broadus shocked fans around the world when he announced he was shedding his Snoop Dogg persona and quitting rap for reggae.

He told the world he was done making music about gang-banging and instead would use his music to spread love, teach people to grow and become wise. A lot of people are skeptical and still are. It looks like he's making good on his promise.

How do we know? On OUTFRONT, well, we do, because our IDEA guest is helping to do it. John Paul DeJoria -- John, great to see you.

A lot of (INAUDIBLE) here, Paul Mitchell, founder of Patron, man who went from living in a trailer to becoming a billionaire. Those are all -- that's your story, a lot in common with Snoop Lion.

JOHN PAUL DEJORIA, PAUL MITCHELL SYSTEM: Yes, they have a lot in common.

BURNETT: OK. So, tell us about this idea. You and Snoop meet up and --

DEJORIA: Yes, well, I've met Snoop some time ago here, right? In an event, we drink some Patron together. And then he's in Austin, Texas. We're sitting down, we spent the whole evening together. Wonderful man.

And when we started talking about how fortunate we were to have the American dream happen for both of us, because we both come from no means. And then we talked about what I did, what he did for America, to make it better for those who are less fortunate.

Then we said, hey, let's do something together in L.A. And he's into sports in L.A. He helped buy a bunch of uniforms. Let's do something for Jamaica.

We all go there on vacation. We love the people. But Trench Town, Trivia Town (ph), very low income. The people are poor. What can we do together?

So, I talked about grow Appalachia. We decided, that's it. We're going to get together. And our organization is called Mind Gardening. You garden with your mind, not just with your hands.

And it was all about let's go to Trench Town and Trivia (ph) Town in Kingston, and let's help them plant gardens so they can be proud and nourish their own mind with the right vegetables and the right thoughts. That's it all started. It's under way. This thing's under way right now.

BURNETT: This is -- you mentioned grow Appalachia. That's where you are helping people who are on food stamps for example to grow their own gardens and literally become healthier.

DEJORIA: We have 10,000 of them doing right now, helping themselves.

BURNETT: So, now, you -- this is literally physical food that creates stronger minds.

DEJORIA: Yes. So, it's physical food that creates stronger minds, but at the same time, we're going to show them how to grow vegetable garden, supply whatever they need to grow vegetable gardens in the slums of Trench Town and Trivia Town, in the slums, in those little areas. We're going to teach them how to grow tomatoes up the sides, how to be proud to their mind as clean and they have a good diet which is pretty clean.

It's a really, really good thing.

BURNETT: So, so --

DEJORIA: Like, I love you out there, you know.

BURNETT: So tell me, Snoop Dogg is known as being Snoop Dogg.


BURNETT: Now he's snoop lion. You guys are doing this together. Is this real?

DEJORIA: This is very real, by the way, OK? I don't know if Snoop ever said "I'll never do hip-hop again" but what he did say is I've done a great reggae album. It is great, by the way. I want to do things that will benefit everybody, children and children's children. I mean, the guy is for real.

What happened was he went to Jamaica and he was with some of the elders, Rastafarian elders, very spiritual people. And together they were very aware that it's time for him now to move to the next elevation, to the next transition in his life, the next carnation -- which is really Snoop the adult now and no longer Snoop Dogg, Snoop Lion.

And the guy is a lion, going from being called slim in jail to right now Snoop Lion and doing things for people from his heart. I mean, this guy's for real. This is no B.S. or no record selling deal. He is for real.

He wants to help people. We spoke eye to eye for many hours about this. He's a good man.

BURNETT: And this happened over Patron?

DEJORIA: Well, over Patron is when we first got together and met. That's how it all started. It all started over Patron, which was good. Sean Puffy Combs was there and Cee Lo was there. And we're all together celebrating Muhammad Ali's 70th birthday.

And all of a sudden, and these other guys, too, want to do something to save the world. Sean Combs say, wait, J.P., what can we do together to save the world? It's interesting when rap sometimes gets a bad name, yet the people that come out of it in hip hop want to help save the world with their hearts, and what money they were fortunate enough to get. This is a pretty good transition, huh?

BURNETT: It is. Certainly, you are the fascinating man to partner with.

J.P., always good to se you. Also a member, of course, of our strike team here on OUTFRONT.

DEJORIA: Peace, love and happiness. BURNETT: Thanks for watching.

Anderson Cooper starts right now.