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Supreme Court Weighs Voting Rights Law; Yahoo! Work-from-Home Ban Angers Working Moms; Yahoo! CEO Blasted for Work-from-Home Ban; Women "Friended" into Sex Trafficking

Aired February 27, 2013 - 13:30   ET


ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: All of those were efforts put in place by Republican legislators after 2008. Nobody can decide that. When you say we're not going to have voting on Sundays, that was to prevent those black churches from going en mass to the voting polls.

And so, look, you can say we're not targeting any race but we know exactly what the purpose was. Suzanne, one of the reasons why you saw significant black turnout in Ohio and other states, people were angry last year about voter suppression efforts and what they are saying is, look, we've done well and the reason we are doing well now voting is because you have the federal government who says you've got to free clear any changes of voting in those locales. It's critically important.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Doug, I want to bring you into the conversation here.

Tell us what it was like before you had the Voting Rights Act in place in 1965.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN & AUTHOR: Well, Rosa Parks, during World War II, they gave her a bunch of Jim Crow voting laws, questions on the Constitution. They wouldn't let her vote in Alabama and she was going to take it to the courts. She eventually got the right to vote and she fought hard for it. And in the 1960s, Rosa Parks wasn't just the person who sat on the bus in Montgomery in 1955. She walked. She protested. She marched on behalf of the Voting Rights Act from Montgomery to Alabama.

So as Roland said, a wonderful moment of unveiling a statue and then having this happen at the same time, they brought it into the conversation.

MALVEAUX: That's exactly right.


MALVEAUX: Let's talk about Rosa Parks because you have an op-ed that has just come out here. We see the president unveiling the Rosa Parks statue. You think she might be embarrassed somewhat by this?

BRINKLEY: Well, certainly be embarrassed by the voting rights situation going on right now, but more than that, she was a very self- deprecating individual. She didn't do anything to make herself look good. She was about grassroots activists and when I interviewed her for my biography, her big heroine was Harriett Tubman of the Underground Railroad, and Barack Obama needs to sign a national monument to save the Harriet Tubman sites in Auburn, New York, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. One executive signature and Harriett Tubman's legacy could be saved, and that's something that Rosa Parks cared mightily about.

MALVEAUX: One of the things that people don't know is it was very strategic to put her on that bus and have her to be able to lead the charge there. It wasn't something like she was this meek, mild woman but she had had the background, the profile of someone who could carry a movement.

MARTIN: Precisely, Suzanne.


MARTIN: I think a lot of people forget that.



BRINKLEY: She was the secretary for the NAACP for Mr. E.D. Nixon and did all of this work. She would interview black women raped in Alabama and do the case studies for the NAACP. Her live isn't about one moment, it's about a lifetime of commitment to civil right. She was polite. She wasn't a firebrand. She was more like Gandhi and Mandela perhaps than Malcolm X or King, but she was a courageous civil rights warrior and it's right that we're honoring her with a statue.

MALVEAUX: All right --


MARTIN: Suzanne, it's interesting to have Rosa Parks, her statute -- literally, it's right across from Jefferson Davis. And so, again, quite interesting to have Jefferson Davis on one side, looking across at Rosa Parks. That would be one heck of a conversation.


MALVEAUX: Absolutely.


Roland, Doug, thank you very much. Good to see you both.

BRINKLEY: Thanks a lot.

MALVEAUX: We're just getting new details now on a death of an American musician.




MALVEAUX: "Time" magazine calling Van Cliburn the Texan who conquered Russia. He became an international star, made the first-class cal record to go platinum. Van Cliburn suffered from bone cancer. He died today at his home in Fort Worth, Texas. He was 78 years old.





MALVEAUX: The new CEO at Yahoo! taking some heat from working moms over the decision ending working from home.

Zane Asher talked to one of those mothers.


ZANE ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You might say Menka Lamba, a new mom, pulled a Marissa Meyer last year.

MENKA LAMBA, WORK-FROM-HOME PUBLIC RELATIONS CONSULTANT: I was able to get a job when I was seven months pregnant and continue working right to the moment I gave birth.

ASHER: But she desperately disagrees with the Yahoo!'s latest move to put an end to its flexible work policy and make everyone come to the office.

LAMBA: I don't know exactly what she's thinking. I'm sure she's got the best interest of the company and her employees in mind. But in my experience, having that flexibility is helpful and you're able to continue to contribute and be productive.

ASHER (on camera): The backlash against Yahoo! has been mostly one- sided, but Donald Trump tweeted that she's right to expect employees to come to the workplace. But most others disagree. Executives from other tech giants, Google, Facebook, and H.P., defended flexible work policies. And Virgin chairman, Richard Branson, wrote on his blog, "We like to give people the freedom to work where they want."

JENNIFER OWENS, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, WORKING MOTHER MEDIA: I think it's incredibly disappointing and incredibly backward thinking and I think they are shooting themselves in the foot.

ASHER (voice-over): Yahoo!'s ban will put the company in a clear minority. While only 10 percent of employees work from home on a regular basis, 98 percent of companies today offer employees at least one type of telework option.

A 2012 analysis found flexible work policies increased worker productivity, higher retention rate and better overall performance.

OWENS: I once worked with a guy who played solitaire for four hours a day in my news room. It doesn't matter where you are, it doesn't matter where people are working, it matters how they're working.

LAMBA: I wasn't planning to go back to work anyway. This isn't a full-time excursion for me. It's more allowing the flexibility to be able to continue and not disrupt my life.

ASHER: Yahoo! responded to the backlash Tuesday night and the company said, "We don't discuss internal matters. This is what is right about Yahoo! right now."

Zane Asher, CNN, New York.


MALVEAUX: So what could this mean for the future of those working from home?

Plus, we're going to hear from the reporter who actually broke that story, up next.


MALVEAUX: Yahoo! says its ban on working from home is the right move. In a statement, the company says, quote, "This isn't a broad industry view on working from home. This is about what is right for Yahoo! right now."

Kara Swisher is the "Wall Street Journal" reporter who actually broke the story was just on a conference call with Yahoo! Officials. She joins us by phone.

Kara, was there any news in this news conference with Yahoo!?

KARA SWISHER, CORRESPONDENT, WALL STREET JOURNAL (voice-over): No, they are not talking to me. They don't talk to any reporters. So far, the CFO hasn't addressed the issue.

MALVEAUX: Obviously, reporters allowed to get on that call and listen in, quite typical here.

SWISHER: Uh-huh.

MALVEAUX: Give us a sense -- first of all, you got wind of this story. There's been incredible backlash. Explain what has happened since this change in policy at Yahoo!

SWISHER: Yes, there has. I actually tried to get Yahoo! to comment. I thought it would be a backlash and they didn't feel like they need to comment, calling it an internal story. I wrote the story after I got the memo. They rushed out that memo to tell the employees what was going on. I think they were going to do it very quietly. The memo was somewhat -- it was a little obtuse of what they meant and not empathetic. I'm not clear -- I think the memo was badly done. Most people agree. And then it creates all these questions, which Yahoo! didn't want to answer publicly.

MALVEAUX: A lot of people have been weighing in. Do you think there's going to be an impact, based on your story? People are taking a second look at whether it's a good idea or bad idea, whether it sets people back, whether this is something that a female in the company has done.

SWISHER: You know, I think Marissa Meyer is an anomaly. I don't think she will have an impact of other companies. I'm told by 10 or 12 of the big ones in the Silicon Valley do not do this. She feels the situation at the company is dire and they should attack work at home. You would think you should -- the fact that work-at-home workers that are fired and work-at-home workers who aren't working out, could just as you would fire the people at home that are not working out. There are others at Yahoo! not doing a good job either.

To me, it's -- it's become a big work at home issue and doing a blanket was a little drastic. As I've written, it's her company. She can do whatever she wants. It shouldn't affect -- people are moving in this direction all over the place. And so, you know, we'll see. But I'm not sure what will happen with Yahoo!, but it won't change the fact of people working at home.

MALVEAUX: Kara, let us know if you get any information from the conference call. People have concerns.

Allyson Willoughby is senior vice president and general counsel at a company called Glass Door. It's a social media job site.

Allyson, you've got this situation at Yahoo!. Marissa Meyer is there to help shore up the company. She's been struggling a little bit. Do you think this hurts the publicity, first of all?

ALLYSON WILLOUGHBY, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT & GENERAL COUNSEL, GLASS DOOR: That's a good question. I think it is the right decision for Yahoo! at this moment in time. They are in a turnaround mode, exactly what Kara just said. I agree it's a right decision for them.


MALVEAUX: Why so? Why do you say that?

WILLOUGHBY: Look, I think she's -- Marissa is sending a strong message that she wants all hands on deck. She wants everybody in the office and the collaboration that can comes with that. There's a more subtle message that there are probably underperformers that she also is trying to get back into a more higher performing mode. So she's sending a strong message.

And from a recruiting perspective, it will be more difficult for them. When we do surveys of employees, the number-one people thing people want is salary and then job location. It's important to people to be able to work close to home or at home. It will hurt them in the short term.

MALVEAUX: Do you think there's a point to be made here? A lot of people are very angry with her decision and say less flexibility here, you see report after report, time after time, the more flexibility you have, the more productive your workers are. And these are the working moms that are going to get primary impact.

WILLOUGHBY: I think that's true. Like I said, I think it was a very difficult decision and I think there are a lot of disappointed remote employees at Yahoo! right now, and I can certainly understand why.

That being said, I will say, if you look at Marissa Meyers ratings on Glass Door of CEOs, she has an extremely high rating. She ranks in at an 87 percent rating which is way higher than the average CEO. She's clearly doing something right. Employees are happy with her performance in general.

MALVEAUX: Allyson, thank you. I appreciate your perspective as well.

This is something that we're going to be talking about for quite some time. Very controversial. We'll see if other companies follow through.

Thank you. Appreciate it.

WILLOUGHBY: You're welcome.

MALVEAUX: Beer drinkers out there, you've got to pay attention to this one. Anheuser-Busch now accused of watering down its beer. How much? We're going to explain, up next.


MALVEAUX: A sinking boat off of Monterey, California, actually might have been a hoax. The Coast Guard called off the search for the people that distressed call claimed were in a boat, but the search has already cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So, if you were pushed to get a four-year degree, college degree, you know, you were probably told it would get you a good job. A new study now says going to a community college could actually be more profitable. Georgetown university study finds almost 30 percent of Americans with associates degrees, well, they make more than those with bachelor degrees. And associates degree is a two year degree you get at a community college and it is typically cheaper. The study says there's a high demand for college grad with the so-called middle skills, like lab technicians, computer engineers, radiation therapists, draftsmen and machinists.

Instagram, popular photo-sharing network site, reaching a milestone, 100 million monthly active users. The site was purchased by Facebook last year. Even though the 100 million followers doesn't compare to the more than 1 billion users who logon to Facebook each month, still pretty impressive, I think. The photo-sharing sight only three years old. Users have to have an iPhone, of course, an Android device to actually create this account.

So say it ain't so. This is for the beer lovers. Anheuser-Busch, couple of folks in California accusing the company of watering down its beers. Two Californians filed the suit, saying the alcohol level, well, below the advertised figure 5 percent by volume. The suit names all the beers in the graphic here, including Bud Light, Michelob and Busch Ice. They're calling the claims false and the lawsuit is groundless. The suit is seeking more than $5 million to fund -- to correct that advertising campaign.

And then, they joined Facebook to connect with friends, right? Like all of us do. Instead, they were recruited into sex trafficking. Up next.


MALVEAUX: It is a growing problem, something that all of us need to be aware of. Social media sites are being used now to recruit underaged sex workers.

Lori Siegel reports that it all starts with just the click of a mouse.


LORI SIEGEL, CNNMONEY.COM CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It started with a friend request on Facebook.

NINA, SEX TRAFFICKING VICTIM: -- accept him and then once I accept him, they would message me.

SIEGEL: They quickly developed a relationship.

NINA: He told me the biggest dream in the world. I thought he really did like me and we were going to live this fairy tale life together.

SIEGEL: What she got was a nightmare.

NINE: He pretty much was, like, I'm going to put you outside, and you're going to walk, and catch dates. I was OK with it because I liked him. He wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, wanted to have kids. He really made it believable.

SIEGEL: In a mouse click, Nina became part of the growing number of victims recruited into sex trafficking on social networks. The other end of her friend request, a pimp.

NINA: I've been beaten with a pistol. I've been duct taped and put in a closet for 24 hours.

LISA, SEX TRAFFICKING VICTIM: The money part. I wanted money. That's why I did it.

SIEGEL: Lisa, who asked us to hide her identity, was trafficked for much of her life. She's free now, but still receives more than 20 messages a day from pimps.

LISA: What's up with you, cutie.

SIEGEL: Pimps are using many different social networks to do everything from connect to brag about money. ANDREA POWELL, FAIR GIRLS: Oftentimes, there is lot of pictures. Just money. Almost all of our girls who are working with now aged 11, all the way up to 22, they are being recruited online. This Facebook, it is tagged, which a lot of people don't know, sort of like I call it the creepy Facebook, and then twitter, actually, Instagram, to a smaller degree.

SIEGEL: Andrea Powell's organization, FAIR, locates and rescues trafficked women like Nina.

POWELL: Pimps will look for girls who are really looking isolated. So girls who are maybe dressed provocatively, or look like they only have a few friends.

JACK BENNETT, FBI CYBERCRIMES CHIEF, SAN FRANCISCO: Minors will friend people, whether they know them or not, just to appear to be popular. And somebody who is a pimp can use that information to start looking at what makes a person tick.

SIEGEL: Pimps were doing exactly that. In Virginia's affluent Fairfax County, revealed in a major 2012 case, gang members were using social networking sites like Facebook to solicit women. One of the defendants sent over 800 solicitations on Facebook, many to women still in high school.

The U.S. attorney prosecuting that case says social media has spurred a new class of crime.

NEIL MACBRIDE, U.S. ATTORNEY, EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA: The use of social media to recruit young girls into the sex trade is definitely on the rise. Pre-Internet, if they sent a letter to a young girl saying, you're cute, we think you should come work for us, it strikes me as impossible that that approach would have ever worked. So a crime like this, I think, simply couldn't have happened 15 or 20 years ago.

SIEGEL: One common move, having a woman reach out.

NINA: I used to have to sit next to my ex-pimp and help him recruit girls.

SIEGEL: But those same pages used to recruit are also used to rescue.

LISA: I can go and see who all liked this, and that can lead me to looking for girls who look like they need help.

SIEGEL: Law enforcement sources say Facebook reacts swiftly when notified of elicit activity on specific contacts. Facebook says it takes human trafficking very seriously and has built complex systems to flag and block such material. says it "has numerous tech and educational tools to empower and protect users, and has a dedicated team to respond to unauthorized conduct on the site."

Nina and Lisa, whose names were changed to protect their identities, are still on the social networks where they recruited.

Nina is no longer looking for a boyfriend on Facebook.

NINA: More pimps tell you the same thing, you kind of get the clue. And, you know, life's not a fairy tale.

SIEGEL: Lisa starts school this semester. When she enrolls, she plans to log out of Facebook for good.

Lori Siegel, CNN Money, New York.


MALVEAUX: If you're interested in learning more about modern-day sex trafficking, check out CNN's Freedom Project to End Modern Slavery on our web site.

That's it for me. Brooke Baldwin takes it from here as CNN NEWSROOM continues.