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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Jobs Report; Middle Class Voters; U.S. Navy Prepares

Aired October 5, 2012 - 19:00   ET

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


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OUTFRONT next, the unemployment rate falls to the lowest levels since President Obama took office. We'll tell you why that number matters and why it might not matter that much. Plus, the fight over the middle class. Mitt Romney makes a sudden appeal to these key voters, but is it going to work at this late date?

And new questions about the lack of security in Libya after a terrorist attack there killed four Americans. Tonight, e-mail evidence the State Department rejected a security request. Let's go OUTFRONT.

I'm Tom Foreman in for Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the war over work. A new jobless number and renewed claims from both presidential candidates about what it means. First, President Obama saying it is a very, very good sign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This morning, we found out that the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since I took office.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: The old jobless rate, 8.1 percent. The new number everyone is talking about, 7.8 percent. That's the best since Barack Obama took office and it's certainly positive news for his re-election hopes because as we've told you here all year no president has been re-elected with an unemployment rate above eight percent since Franklin Roosevelt way back in the 1930's, the waning days of the Great Depression. Erin herself has made this point many times.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIN BURNETT, HOST, "OUTFRONT": The unemployment rate may be high, but the absolute number is not what matters when it comes to getting re-elected. That's about the trend. Every president running for reelection since World War II has won when the unemployment rate was falling and lost when it was going up. Best example, get ready.

(MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's morning again in America. Today, more men and women will go to work than ever before in our country's history. With interest rates at about half the record highs of 1980.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Yes, you know who that ad was for. Of course that was Ronald Reagan, who won the election with a rate of 7.4 percent. So, the question is, can Mr. Obama win one like the Gipper or is the number still bad enough to doom his hopes? Well, cue Mitt Romney. That's what happened today. His team is furiously pointing out how many people are underemployed. Last month's household survey found 582,000 of the new jobs created involved part time workers who wanted to be full time. Plus the Republican contender says no one should forget all of those people who have stopped looking for work and just aren't being counted anymore. Romney says this new number or not is not what a recovery looks like.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The truth is, if the same share of people were participating in the workforce today is on the day the president got elected, our unemployment rate would be around 11 percent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: OUTFRONT tonight CNN's chief business correspondent Ali Velshi, Ethan Pollack. He's the senior policy analyst at the Economic Policy Institute and a former staff member for President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and Daniel Mitchell, senior fellow at the CATO Institute. Ali, let me come to you first. The numbers sound good. Are they?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I don't care. I'm going to go one further than Erin. Not only does the absolute number of the unemployment percentage not matter. I don't even think the trend matters. The bottom line is there are measures of unemployment that are much more important. The number of jobs created minus the jobs lost. The average hours worked in a week and wages. We measure that every month, but we're so caught up in this percentage rate that it's dropped eight percent, guess what? Republicans hated the fact that it was above eight percent. No president gets elected with unemployment above eight percent, drops below 7.8 percent and what's the main accusation today? That the books are cooked. That somebody actually got it --

FOREMAN: OK. Hold on --

(CROSSTALK)

FOREMAN: We're going to get to it.

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: Not possible. That is not likely to be done --

FOREMAN: We're going to get to it --

VELSHI: It doesn't matter.

FOREMAN: We're going to get to the cooked books in a minute. OK, you cited a lot of stuff there. So all that stuff considered, are we better off now or not?

VELSHI: Yes. Well we're better off. I mean I would have liked the numbers that we had in 2011 beginning of 2012 when we were growing more jobs per month, 114,000 to what we expected it to be. It's not great. That is not a number Barack Obama should be crowing about. It's not a number that Mitt Romney should be accusatory about. The bottom line is Barack Obama has created more jobs since he's been in office than were lost on his watch, but Mitt Romney points out correctly they are not the right quality of jobs. They are lower quality. They are lower hours, so no, this is not morning in America. It's also not a disaster. We're going in the right way very, very slowly.

FOREMAN: All right, Ethan, jump in here. Are you encouraged?

ETHAN POLLACK, FORMER MEMBER OF OBAMA'S COMMISSION ON FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY: I am and I totally agree with Ali. You know Mitt Romney's been saying that we've been having X months of unemployment above eight percent. He can't say that anymore. On top of that, the president can say now that he's created over half a million private sector jobs since he's been in office, which is more than two times what President Bush said, so he has some new powerful rhetorical arrows that are in his quiver.

FOREMAN: Daniel, this seems to me when I saw this report today, I thought this fits perfectly into this narrative of a country that's divided because it's a little bit good news. It's not a lot of good news, and it leaves everybody with room to argue.

DANIEL MITCHELL, SENIOR FELLOW, CATO INSTITUTE: Symbolically, it was a victory for the White House to get that unemployment rate under eight percent. Along with just about everybody else I predicted on my blog that that would be the key to Obama winning reelection, but objectively, if you look at the numbers, there are some real problems with the number of people who have dropped out of the labor force. If you're comparing it to Reagan, morning in America, you compare the Obama recovery to Reagan, Obama's behind by 6.9 million jobs and probably even more important, if we go broader than just the jobs numbers, it's per capita disposable income that a lot of social scientists have found is the real key to getting reelected and that number doesn't look too good for Obama.

FOREMAN: You raise an interesting point here, the symbolism of all of this and how people feel about it. Let's look at a CNN poll from last month, 67 percent of registered voters expect economic conditions will be good a year from now, 31 percent say poor. Daniel, what do you think? Are they right? Are they wrong?

MITCHELL: The economy will be better, but it's a question of how much better. Let's not forget Obama promised if we enacted his so- called stimulus by today the unemployment rate would be down to 5.5 percent. Well we're almost 2.5 percentage points above that. So, something's gone wrong. If you look at the Minneapolis Federal Reserve's Web site, there's an interactive feature that allows you to look at all the business cycles since World War II. This is the worst GDP performance of any president and it's the worst jobs performance of --

(CROSSTALK)

MITCHELL: -- any president. So yes things are getting better but at such an anemic rate.

FOREMAN: Let's move on --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what the problem was Tom --

FOREMAN: Yes go ahead. Jump in. Please.

VELSHI: You know what the problem was with that promise, which you're actually right about? They should never have made that promise. It was a ridiculous (ph) promise, but promises get people elected. Promises get things passed, so now Mitt Romney comes out and says I'm going to create 12 million jobs over four years, three million jobs a year, 250,000 jobs a month, a ridiculous claim and what does the Obama campaign do? Because morning in America sounds better than evening in America, the Obama campaign comes out and says that's a low bar. We can do that, too. Neither of them can.

FOREMAN: Hey, Ali, very briefly here, and then I'm going to (INAUDIBLE) questions. You mentioned the idea of a conspiracy theory. A lot of people say these are tampered numbers. This is the White House trying to mix it all up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

FOREMAN: You don't buy that at all.

VELSHI: Not a little bit. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is a geeky, wonky organization. I mean that in the best way. They -- I love their Web site. They just -- they're data geeks. I spoke to the labor secretary this morning again to be reassured that even she doesn't see them until the morning of. Sometimes, the president's national economic adviser gets it the night before because if it's a really bad number, that person can go to the president and say we need to inform the treasury secretary and the Federal Reserve chief in order to make sure there's enough liquidity in the markets in case markets move, but generally speaking, that is not the case. This is -- look, I suppose anything is possible. It could even be a calculation error, but it is remarkable that the minute the numbers turn against conservatives, everybody's up in arms saying the books are cooked -- ridiculous.

FOREMAN: All right. One last thing I wanted to ask you here, Ethan, if I can very quickly. You wrote in the spring that what we need is catch-up growth -- catch-up growth. Not merely maintenance growth. This is undeniably good news. We are making progress. Is this catch-up growth? POLLACK: It is. And first, I just want -- I want to agree with Ali and say that (INAUDIBLE) is highly professional. These guys are just great, you know topnotch. Besides that, you're right. We need catch-up growth. If you look at population growth, that means we need to create about 100,000 jobs a month just to keep up with population. By contrast, if we want to get back to full employment by about in three years, we need to create about 330,000 jobs a month, so it's clear that we're growing faster than population is, which means that we're getting better. But you can see the difference there. It's -- as Ali said, it's a slow recovery. It's getter better, but it's very slow.

FOREMAN: All right, Ali, Ethan and Daniel thanks so much for being with us tonight.

Still to come, Mitt Romney is making a move for the middle class, but it comes just a month before the election, so why is he doing it now and will it even work at this point?

Plus, America blames soda and junk for seats dislodging mid- flight -- I mean American Airlines. Does that add up? And the outbreak of meningitis spreads across the U.S. with new cases and new concerns -- tonight an OUTFRONT look at how this got passed medical safety measures. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOREMAN: Our second story, OUTFRONT, Mitt Romney is trying to make off with the middle class, at least that's what it looked like in Virginia today. Romney made another big play for that all important voting block.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: People in the middle class have been squeezed. They've been buried as the vice president said.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Last night on FOX News, Romney made an unexpected plea to the same voters, apologizing for that leaked comment about 47 percent of Americans -- people say pay no income tax and believe they're entitled to government services.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: In this case, I said something that's just completely wrong and I absolutely believe however that my life has shown that I care about 100 percent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: If you listen to how many times he's said middle class in the past few days, it looks like a direct frontal assault on President Obama's claim as the choice of the middle class. What we don't know if this is going to work. Joining us to game it out, John Avlon, CNN contributor, Jamal Simmons, Democratic strategist -- hey Jamal -- and Ann Marie Hauser serving as communications -- she served as communications director for Tim Pawlenty's presidential campaign. Ann Marie, let me get to this apology first. This was 17 days ago, this tape came out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

FOREMAN: Why did he apologize now?

ANN MARIE HAUSER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: He was asked the question. He apologized. There's very little daylight between what he said was inelegant (ph) and he apologizes and his policies are going to be for 100 percent of Americans, not 47 percent. So look, I think he's moved past this. I think people want to make an issue. It's not. If we want to talk about inelegant comments, we could talk about President Obama saying he wants to redistribute --

FOREMAN: Oh, we'll get around to that --

(CROSSTALK)

FOREMAN: Hold on a second.

HAUSER: Well it's true.

FOREMAN: John -- John jump in here for a minute here.

(CROSSTALK)

FOREMAN: Let me talk about this fight for the middle class here because you know both candidates want it, but it really did seem in the past few days since the debate like Mitt Romney suddenly just lit up to say it's working for Barack Obama, I'm going to make it work for me.

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Would he seriously borrow a position from someone else? It seems like it might be working -- come on --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- politician in America he would --

AVLON: Yes, exactly -- look I mean you know they want it because they need it. You don't get elected president of the United States unless you appeal to moderates and the middle class. And Mitt Romney moving to the middle in this debate was all about trying to appeal to the middle class and that's what -- reason the 47 percent comment hurt so much. I mean that was a stick in the eye to the middle class. And that's why the poll numbers started breaking hard against him when it started really resonating through the heartland, so he is trying to make up for lost time. He had a great debate. He's got an opportunity to do that --

FOREMAN: So (INAUDIBLE) should just clear that off the table -- AVLON: Trying the best he can, but you know some of those problems are baked in his cake, but he's making a real effort and it's about time.

FOREMAN: Jamal, jump in here. Obviously if you're a Democrat in this country you're not thrilled to see him suddenly encroaching so hard in this area that Barack Obama was kind of playing in by himself a little bit, but seriously, I'm not sure if Mitt Romney may have said middle class more than Barack Obama during the debate.

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know, I think what John just said is absolutely right. The problem for Mitt Romney is that he had to get here. I mean this is where American elections are fought, in the middle, in the general election. What I don't understand is why he waited so long to do it. I don't understand why he didn't come in immediately after the Republican primaries, come out with some policies that appeal to the middle class, maybe even take on some of the wealthy tax loopholes that he says, name a couple of them to prove that he's you know actually going to stay on the side of the middle class and then go out there and make the case and argue it. Instead he let the president and his team define him for many months, define his career at Bain, define his entire life and now he's playing catch-up. And I'm not sure he really has enough time.

FOREMAN: Ann Marie, he's got a challenging in front of him though. Pew Survey found 85 percent of self-described middle class folks say it's more difficult now than it was a decade ago to maintain their standard of living and a "USA Today"/Gallup poll taken before the debate said that 53 percent think President Obama will do better for them than Mitt Romney at 43 percent. How does he overcome that?

HAUSER: There's no doubt about it he's got some ground to make up. I think Wednesday night hit the restart button. They are ready to go. They've got a month to talk about his plan and offer more details. And I think what you saw on Wednesday night was it wasn't the 30-second spots being defined by Barack Obama. It was Mitt Romney speaking unfiltered to voters for 90 seconds. He was in their living room and they liked what they heard and I think you're going to see more of that as they continue.

FOREMAN: Jamal, shoot straight with me on this here. If I'm a Democrat out there and you're sitting around watching all of this, Mitt Romney connected Wednesday night. It has got to make you a little bit nervous to say this is the magic bullet that Barack Obama has. He's been able to connect with voters. Mitt Romney hasn't. Now he has. Doesn't this make you a little bit twitchy?

SIMMONS: Oh, it makes a lot of people twitchy. A lot of people nervous. I wrote a column about this on USNews.com because we talked -- Democrats have been getting a little confident and maybe even a little bit smug about their chances as the poll numbers continued to show Barack Obama pulling way from Mitt Romney. And so maybe what this is going to do is inspire people to do a little bit more work. Knock on one more door, ring one more phone, to try to turn voters out, but I think ultimately the president -- and by the way -- Barack Obama is one of the most competitive people that we've seen in American politics. We will not be sitting here after the second debate having the same conversation about --

FOREMAN: John I think you agree with that --

(CROSSTALK)

AVLON: Yes, I mean Jamal is looking for a silver lining. That's what's so shocking. I mean the president who is a competitive guy didn't show up as a competitor the other night. He barely showed up and you've got to wonder why --

FOREMAN: So bottom line -- bottom line, John, the battleground is the middle class from here on out.

AVLON: American elections are won by candidates who appeal and win over the moderates and the middle class --

(CROSSTALK)

FOREMAN: We have four more weeks of it. Thanks for being here Ann Marie, John, Jamal, we appreciate your thoughts.

Ahead, China claims they turned the tables on Hollywood by premiering the number one movie of the weekend, but does that add up? And we take you OUTFRONT to the coast of Iran.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: I'm Chris Lawrence in the Persian Gulf and tonight we're going to take you out on the high seas to see what's being done to counter Iran's threats to mine the Strait of Hormuz.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Our third story OUTFRONT, Iran refuses to budge despite some talk about possibly suspending some parts of its nuclear program. U.S. officials tell CNN tonight the Iranians don't appear to be conceding any real ground. This comes as tough economic sanctions have sent the Iranian currency plunging -- listen to this -- by as much 40 percent in one week. That has sparked angry protests -- you can see them there -- in the streets of Tehran. The government doesn't like it. The U.S. meanwhile is stepping up pressure in a different way with a show of military force in the Persian Gulf. This is a tense and exciting situation in many ways because of all the possibilities out there right now. Chris Lawrence is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(SOUNDS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reason for general borders (ph) imminent surface threat.

(SHOTS FIRED)

LAWRENCE (voice-over): If fighting breaks out with Iran in the Persian Gulf, it will look a lot like this drill.

(SHOTS FIRED)

LAWRENCE: U.S. Navy sailors making split-second decisions whether to fire on an approaching speedboat.

CAPT. JON RODGERS, U.S. NAVY: I ask you would you shoot knowing that you're responsible for the lives of everybody on board. That's a tough one.

(SHOTS FIRED)

RODGERS: And if you get it right, congratulations. If you get it wrong you live with it the rest of your life.

LAWRENCE: But the biggest battles could be fought under water.

REAR ADM. KENNETH PERRY: No one goes out to clear mines unless someone else has put mines in the water.

LAWRENCE: A $10,000 mine can cripple a $10 million cargo ship.

(SOUNDS)

LAWRENCE: To understand how to defeat these underwater explosives, you've got to go to the disputed waters, where the latest technology is being deployed.

(on camera): (INAUDIBLE) on a special chopper that can potentially destroy mines, one of several the Navy added to keep up power in the area.

(voice-over): It drops an acoustic line into the Gulf --

(SOUNDS)

LAWRENCE: -- which mimics the sound of a real ship to trick the mine into detonating.

(on camera): These are the open seas, but the Iranian territorial waters are less than 70 miles away. Mining the entire Strait of Hormuz would take thousands of mines and more importantly weeks that the Iranians probably wouldn't have.

(voice-over): Dive teams still go down to disable explosives, but now they're being helped by unmanned underwater vehicles or UUVs (ph). This prototype is being tested internationally for the first time. And other drones could dive 2,000 feet, stay under water for days. Some lay bomblets on top of mines that can be remotely detonated once the robot leaves. American mine sweeping ships troll these waters, dragging thick magnetic cables designed to set off mines.

SENIOR CHIEF LAWRENCE STOLINSKI, U.S. NAVY: And we hope that it's safely behind us far enough that we don't have any ship damage and you would definitely feel it. LAWRENCE: The USS Warrior has a wooden hull so it won't activate certain magnetic mines like a steel ship would --

(SOUNDS)

LAWRENCE: But U.S. crewmen don't want to destroy every explosive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the things we try to do is to look at a mine, look at its physical characteristics.

LAWRENCE: Some they want to get their hands on, play detective and examine its size, shape and weight to find out who made it.

LT. CMDR. SCOTT NIETZEL, U.S. NAVY: And obviously, that's an important piece of the puzzle. It's not the only piece, but it is an important one.

LAWRENCE: Chris Lawrence, CNN, in the Persian Gulf.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: Fascinating out there. Next, why did the State Department deny a security request from the U.S. Embassy in Libya? And an outbreak of meningitis is spreading. Tonight, we're learning about the company at the center of the outbreak and we'll tell you all about it. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOREMAN: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT. We start the second half of our show with stories we care about where we focus on our own reporting from the front lines.

We have breaking news: two law enforcement officials tell CNN the death of a border patrol agent this week was caused by friendly fire. The FBI said in a statement, "There are strong preliminary indications that the death of Nicholas Ivie and the injury to a second agent was the result of an accidental shooting involve only the agents." The injured agent was released from the hospital on Wednesday.

A radical Islamist clerk is on the way to the United States after losing his latest and final appeal to avoid that fate. Judge John Thomas of London's high court said the extradition of Abu Hamza al-Masri and four other men may proceed immediately. Some of Hamza's supporters clashed with police outside of the high court. Hamza faces 11 charges in the United States, including conspiring in 1999 to set up an Islamic jihad training camp in Oregon.

A Syrian opposition group says rebel fighters shot down a government helicopter over the Damascus country side. This video supposedly shows the helicopter being taken out, and the rebel fighters celebrating. The video was posted on YouTube. What we should note that CNN cannot verify its authenticity.

Another opposition group known as the local coordination committees for Syria says 110 were killed by Syrian forces across the country just today.

Former University of Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt says she was not forced out of her job after being diagnosed with early onset dementia. In a statement, Summitt says, I did not then and I do not now feel that I was forced out by the University. Anyone who knows me knows that any such effort would have been met with resistance.

Summitt made the clarification after an affidavit was released earlier this week, indicating that she had not made the decision to leave her position as the head coach of the Lady Vols.

It has been 428 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?

The federal deficit has hit $1.1 trillion now for fiscal 2012. This is the fourth year in a row we had trillion deficit. That definitely won't help us get our AAA rating back. That's for sure.

Our fourth story OUTFRONT, developing story, two suspects from Tunisia are being questioned in Turkey tonight in connection with the murders of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

CNN's Jill Dougherty has been digging into the story and she's with us OUTFRONT tonight.

Jill, what do you know?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, on this particular incident, we don't know a whole lot of detail, but what we do know that those two men, they are Tunisians. They are being questioned in Turkey. And the understanding is that they were somehow allegedly tied to the attack in Libya, which killed the ambassador.

Now, they were on the watch list that the U.S. compiled. That was given to the Turks and the Turks picked them up. They apparently came into the country this week and the FBI is hoping they will have some type of access to them.

That's what we know so far, Tom.

FOREMAN: Questioned them already, but they would like to have a chance to.

DOUGHERTY: Right.

FOREMAN: There was also another development today in this investigation. This e-mail between the State Department and the team Benghazi surfaced. What do we know about that?

DOUGHERTY: OK. Well, this is part of, you know there are several investigations ongoing into the death of the ambassador and the three other Americans, and how it happened. The charge is that the State Department allegedly did not do enough.

So in that context, this is an e-mail that is coming from a security support team. Now, those who Special Forces that are deployed all over the world, to hot spots, to protect American diplomats. And in this case, they were working in the embassy in Tripoli, Libya. They ask for continuing the use of a DC-3 plane. Now, they wanted that transport their own personnel and also for diplomatic business.

But the State Department turned them down. Now, the State Department explains that by saying by that time, they had commercial flights available.

So, there was no longer any need. And there is also implication of money to be spent on this plane. So, they turned them down, but they say it did not affect the response to the attack that killed the ambassador and the three other Americans and that also when they went to take Americans out of the country, after that attack, they also transported them on a chartered aircraft.

So, Tom, as I said, you know, this again is part of these three investigations. The FBI has it own, State Department has one and Congress has one and state says they are going to cooperate fully.

FOREMAN: I'm sure that you'll be keeping track of all of them. Thank you very much, Jill Dougherty.

The Centers for Disease Control has now connected an additional 12 cases of meningitis to a contaminated steroid injection, bringing the total to 47, including five deaths. Most of the cases are in Tennessee. But the tainted steroid shots were distributed to 23 states. You can see them here.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord. It can be very serious and often deadly. The steroid shots were traced to a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts.

There are several thousand of these compounding pharmacies in the country. They are not subject to the same regulations as the big drug companies.

Earlier tonight, I spoke with Dr. Gupta, our chief medical correspondent. And I started by asking him what compounded pharmaceuticals are.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, a lot of these manufactures who create these medicine cases, in this case, an injectable steroid, but it may be in large doses, I mean large amounts, and maybe in certain doses. And let's say a hospital or clinic says, I want this medication, but I want them in a different dose or I want a smaller vials, I want it mix with something else. That's where a compounding facility comes into play here.

They're not manufacturing the medication. That's a critical point, Tom, because they're not manufacturing. The FDA really doesn't have authority over them, the state pharmacy boards do.

FOREMAN: So, there's no independent FDA regulation of these facilities.

GUPTA: Right. And we asked about that, the FDA told us look, we've blood pressure been trying to get oversight over these since the early '90s. But there's a lot of pushback. The state pharmacy boards basically say the domain of the state. But this particular facility, this New England compounding center, they distribute to the entire country.

FOREMAN: So, a lot of people might go to their own pharmacist and they might compound something for them individually, but in this case, if this is going across the country, does everybody out there who receives this even know that it's been compounded somewhere? Or would they think it's a regular product or what?

GUPTA: I think the patients don't know and I would take it a step further, Tom, and say that I think a lot of the clinics, the doctors, even the people that work in the hospitals probably don't know either. I mean, you know, as a surgeon, I use this type of medication to inject in a lower back, for back pain. That's one of the most common uses. Typically, we'll ask for a certain cc, certain size vial of the medication. That's what we want.

But we don't know for instance if it's gone to a compounding facility in between us and the manufacturer. It's not always very clear to us that that's in fact happened.

FOREMAN: When we talk about these cases of meningitis cropping up in different places, people don't know. This could happen some time after they got the injection. What should they be looking for?

GUPTA: Yes, up to 28 days. That's an important point because it made this more challenging. Fungal meningitis is a pretty rare thing. It's a pretty rare thing.

The symptoms, you know, they can be different than bacterial or viral meningitis, which are more common. Mild stroke-like symptoms, as you see there, Tom, people have numbness or weakness on one side of the body or the other. Maybe some swelling near the injection site, but the typical symptoms of meningitis are inflammation around the spinal cord and brain, so people will have stiffness of the neck, profound headaches. They may develop dizziness, a real aversion to light and as you point out, Tom, I mean, these patients can die as well as a result of these types of symptoms if they progress untreated.

FOREMAN: Is there anything people can really do about this, Sanjay? Can you say to your doctor, is this from a compounding facility, especially if he doesn't even know?

GUPTA: Yes. Well, you know, it's interesting. In this case, it was clear cut that the contamination occurred at the compounding facility. I think for right now, for this particular situation, they've identified obviously which lots were contaminated. They've got to make sure no one gets more of these injections. They have to identify the patients who have and make sure those patients get treated if they need it. But going forward, I think, Tom, to your point, this is going to be a little bit of a wake up call. There's been a drumbeat about this issue in the past. But in this case, Tom, as you know, they could actually see the mold, which is what the fungus is, in some of these vials.

This is a clear cut contamination. I don't know where the story goes from here. But I think a lot of people are going to be paying a lot of attention to how they prevent that from happening again in the future.

FOREMAN: Sounds like that maybe something have to take up above the patient level, because patients can't do much about it, I supposed.

Sanjay, thanks for being here.

GUPTA: You got it, Tom. Thanks.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: Coming up next, American Airlines is improperly blaming spilled soda for seats coming loose on its planes.

American protesters take to the streets of Pakistan, but it's the U.S. policies that they are targeting there.

And he was a rock god for 30 years and he never knew it. The story of an unlikely music legend, still to come.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOREMAN: China desperately wants to get into the movie business. That's why Chinese film companies have helped finance a load of American movies over the past few years, including the 2010 remake of "Karate Kid", the upcoming "Ironman 3," and now, "Looper," a time travel movie where America's economy has failed and China is the world's superpower, starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. And according to executives, last weekend, it earned $20 million at the U.S. box office and another $25 million at the Chinese box office.

These are very significant numbers because it marks the very first time an American movie opened to a bigger box office in the country other than the United States. Or did it? That brings us to tonight's number: 7 million. That's how much money the movie "Looper" actually earned at the Chinese box office last weekend.

It was announced today that when some of the theatres in China were calculating their totals, they mixed up Yuan, the currency of China, with the dollar and that made the total seem a lot bigger than it was, so not only did the movie earn less than the $25 million reported, it might not have even been the number one film in that country. So while China might be a superpower in the movies, they're still not a superpower at the movies.

We're back with tonight's "Outer Circle" where we reach out to our sources all around the world. First, Pakistan, where a group of American women dress in pink are protesting drone strikes there.

Reza Sayah is in Islamabad and I asked him to explain what the group is trying to accomplish.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's not clear if Code Pink is going to make it to the tribal region, but they say they're going to head that way until someone stops them. This protest is against U.S. drone strike. Code Pink says this not a strategy that should be used by democratic country like America. They say U.S. drone strikes are killing too many civilians and they're not scaring militants according to Code Pink. They are creating more.

SHUSHILA CHERIAN, AMERICAN ANTI-WAR ACTIVIST: We are creating our own enemies, obviously, and this is one of the best tools for recruitment for the bad guys.

JOANNE LINGLE, AMERICAN ANTI-WAR ACTIVIST: When our government is doing something that's wrong, it's up to us as citizens to stand up.

SAYAH: It is extremely rare for Americans to come to Pakistan and to protest against the U.S. government, but it's happening in Islamabad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Now to Venezuela where President Hugo Chavez is hoping to be re-elected this Sunday in the face of the strong challenge from a coalition candidate.

Paula Newton is in Caracas and I asked her what the atmosphere is like as the election approaches.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, I have to admit, there is a lot of apprehension here in Venezuela leading up to these elections on the weekend. You know, it doesn't matter if you support the opposition or the government. Many fear that this election race could be so close that one or the other party may not accept the eventual outcome. And that's problem.

And, you know, Hugo Chavez, the self-styled Robin Hood of Latin America, has hinted that perhaps the opposition will cause trouble if the election is close and they lose. He's being mischievous in saying ay of that because the opposition says look, we have no intention of causing any trouble. As I said, closely contested election, more so than the last 14 years in this country -- Tom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: All right. Interesting news.

Now, let's check in with Anderson Cooper with a look at what's ahead on "A.C. 360".

Hey, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Tom.

Yes. We are keeping them honest tonight on the program. The tweet that launched a conspiracy, Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, tweeted this morning about today's jobs and unemployment numbers, quote, "Unbelievable jobs numbers. The Chicago guys will do anything, can't debate so change numbers."

It is a huge claim that, of course, set the political financial world abuzz. We're going the talk to Jack Welch live about it when he joins me at the top of the hour.

Also, tonight, how one woman's alleged lie working in a crime lab in Massachusetts is calling into question -- get this -- 34,000 criminal cases. People already being released from jail because of this woman's suspected fraud. It is an unbelievable story.

All that and a lot more you need to know about the meningitis scares, also tonight's "Ridiculist" all the top of the hour -- Tom.

FOREMAN: Sounds like a great show, Anderson. I hope everybody stays tuned.

Our fifth story OUTFRONT: Gunk. American Airlines now says messy passengers are to blame for seats that came loose on at least three recent flights. The airline claims spilled soda and coffee gunked up a seat locking mechanism over time.

The incidents forced the airline to take 48 Boeing 757 jets out of commission for repairs. The airline had initially said improperly installed saddle clamps for causing the problem. So, what's behind this explanation and does it all add up?

William McGee is the author of "Attention All Passenger: The Airline's Dangerous Descent and How to Reclaim Our Skies."

What's the deal here? Do you buy this?

WILLIAM MCGEE, AUTHOR, ATTENTION ALL PASSENGER: No. I think most people feel that the gunk story is bunk.

FOREMAN: I like that. What they're saying is that all this junk got down into the little clip things on the seats and when they clamped them down, it interfered with the clamping mechanism, or something like that, right?

MCGEE: Well, the bottom line is, we see millions of flights in the United States every year. All kinds of things are spilled in the cabins of airplanes. Speak to flight attendants about that, things we don't even want to know about is spilled in the cabins.

But the bottom line is these seats need to be cleaned out and the mechanisms need to be cleaned out. (CROSSTALK)

FOREMAN: Locking pin here, that we're seeing and presumably, it could be messed up by gunk. But they're serving drinks on every airplane.

MCGEE: I think the fair question to ask is why did we see this on the same airline, on the same aircraft three times within five days? You know, clearly, this is not a problem we're seeing on other airplanes and other airlines.

FOREMAN: And even if that is the explanation, that's not excuse, right?

MCGEE: No, of course not. The bottom line is American Airlines has a responsibility to make sure their aircraft are well-maintained and furthermore, the FAA has an even bigger responsibility to make sure that American is doing it properly.

What this is really about is the larger picture and that is outsourcing of maintenance. We have a real crisis going on in the United States right now.

FOREMAN: Talk to me a little about that, particularly in regard to American right now.

MCGEE: Well, up until recently, American was the last airline in the United States that was not outsourcing maintenance. But now of course, it's in bankruptcy reorganization, it's probably going to be acquired by US Airways, it has new management. And just even as we speak, just a few hours ago, 450 more mechanics were laid off at their facility in Tulsa. That's the last facility in America.

FOREMAN: Why is that a problem? All sorts of businesses outsource things. You get some other companies to take care of it. Why can't you just find a good company, it's OK?

MCGEE: Well, it's the people that are doing the work. Basically, in many cases the airplanes are going outside the United States to developing countries, we were just talking about China, Singapore, El Salvador, Mexico.

In many cases, believe it or not, the mechanics are not licensed and believe it or not, the FAA allows that.

In many cases, the standards are different. Here in the United States, if you're an airline mechanic working for an airline in house, you have to go through drug screening, alcohol screening, I went through it when I worked in the airline industry. You have to go through a security background check. These things are being waived increasingly.

FOREMAN: One quick question before we go. If all the other companies are doing it any way, all the other companies aren't having this problem, are they? They don't have seats -- MCGEE: We're seeing very troubling signs and they're all detailed in the book, "Attention All Passengers," that in fact, safety is eroding. And I spoke to dozens and dozens of front line FAA inspectors who say they can't do their job. They're not able to get to the places where the work is.

FOREMAN: William McGee, thanks for coming here and doing your job and telling us all about it. We'll see what happens.

MCGEE: Thank you.

FOREMAN: We have some soda for you in the backroom.

Up next, he thought he was a musician without a professional career. Little did he know, he was a rock star on the other side of the planet.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOREMAN: Well, with the debate and unemployment and everything else, you might have found it to be a rough week to get through. We wanted to leave you with a story that we just found absolutely enchanting to maybe make your weekend. Imagine if you're an average guy, working day in and day out to support your family, just going to and from the job. You think nothing of it.

When you were younger, though, you recorded a couple of albums but they didn't go very far, at least by U.S. standards. You pretty much forgot about them.

But little did you know, those forgotten records became the sound track of a movement thousands of miles away in South Africa. That is exactly what happened to a Detroit man.

He was a rock star and he didn't even know it. Poppy Harlow is out front with his amazing story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We thought he was like the inner city poet. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was this wandering spirit around the city.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sixto Rodriguez, a Dylan-esque Detroit native who tried his hand at rock history in the '70s.

(MUSIC)

MIKE THEODORE, CO-PRODUCER, COLD FACT BY RODRIGUEZ: When we logged in and heard the songs he was singing and what he was writing, we had to record him. We had to make a deal because he's great. This was it.

HARLOW: But it wasn't. Rodriguez's albums flopped in the U.S.

Somehow, though, his first album, "Cold Fact," made it halfway around the world and became a massive hit.

MALIK BENDJELLOUL, DIRECTOR, "SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN": In South Africa, he was in the pantheon of rock gods.

STEPHEN SEGERMAN, OWNER, MABU VINYL IN CAPETOWN: To us, it was one of the most famous records of all time.

HARLOW: The soundtrack of the anti-apartheid movement, fueling a revolution.

(MUSIC)

HARLOW: But at home in Detroit, Rodriguez had no idea. He'd given up his music career. That was four decades ago.

You used to play right across the street right there, right?

SIXTO RODRIGUEZ: I played a lot of places in Detroit.

HARLOW: Unaware of his fame abroad and getting no royalties, Rodriguez lived on little, raising his daughters, doing demolition work.

SIXTO RODRIGUEZ: I'm not a stranger to hard work.

HARLOW: He made failed bids for mayor, city council, and state rep.

You call yourself a musical/political.

SIXTO RODRIGUEZ: Musical/political, yes. I don't see anyone can't be and is not political.

HARLOW: Then, at 57, he was rediscovered by a South African music journalist and a record store owner, who found clues in his lyrics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We found him! We found him!

HARLOW: They brought Rodriguez to South Africa and he played to thousands of adoring fans.

SIXTO RODRIGUEZ: Thanks for keeping me alive.

SANDRA RODRIGUEZ, RODRIGUEZ'S DAUGHTER: He's on stage and the crowd is just going wild and they're singing and they're crying.

REGAN RODRIGUEZ, RODRIGUEZ'S DAUGHTER: It brings you to tears, to see something like that happen to someone.

SANDRA RODRIGUEZ: Yes.

SIXTO RODRIGUEZ: Well, that was -- it was epic.

HARLOW: Do you not think that your story is exceptional beyond belief? SIXTO RODRIGUEZ: Oh, it's pretty a wild, the story. I'm a lucky man to be so fortunate at this late date.

BENDJELLOUL: This is a true Cinderella story.

HARLOW: Filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul tells it in his documentary, "Searching for Sugar Man."

BENDJELLOUL: A man who lives his whole life in Detroit working as a construction worker, really hard, manual labor, without knowing that at the very same time, he's more famous than Elvis Presley in another part of the world.

So, I thought it was the most beautiful story I ever heard in my life.

HARLOW: A beautiful story, but also a mystery. Where were all the royalties?

BENDJELLOUL: I don't know. I don't know. I do think it's an important question, because the reason why Rodriguez didn't know that he was famous for 30 years was that he didn't get royalties.

HARLOW: Asked if he feels if he feels ripped off --

SIXTO RODRIGUEZ: Oh, well, no. Not in that sense of it. Hate is too strong an emotion no waste on someone you don't like, you know?

HARLOW: Do you want the fame and the fortune?

SIXTO RODRIGUEZ: Well, fame is fleeting.

(singing): Hey, baby, what's your hurry?

HARLOW: Now 70, Rodriguez may finally get his due.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Rodriguez!

HARLOW (on camera): Do you ever pinch yourself and ask, is this real?

SIXTO RODRIGUEZ: Is it real? It's certainly a different life, you know? It's certainly not what it was.

(MUSIC)

HARLOW (voice-over): Poppy Harlow for OUTFRONT.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: Great story. I hope you have a great weekend.

"A.C. 360" starts right now.