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Jay-Z Starts Sports Agency; Housing Crunch Grips New York City; Rivers Of Oil In Arkansas Town

Aired April 2, 2013 - 14:30   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: That's the rock nation pledge, your allegiance signalling the start of a new venture for music mogul Jay-Z and his entertainment company, Rock Nation, has launched "Rock Nation Sports," a sports management company and it has already snagged its first big name talent, Jay-Z seen here signing all-star second baseman Robinson Cano.

All right, one business doing better, real estate these days. It took a huge hit during the recession. But in the nation's biggest city, homes and departments are still at skyrocket prices. Only thing is inventory is kind of low. Now New York real estate agents are getting creative to get the listings. Here is CNN's Zain Asher.


ZAIN ASHER, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE/BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): The city that never sleeps is running out of places to sleep in.

JARROD GUY RANDOLPH, ASSOCIATE BROKER, CORE: The low inventory is putting a lot of pressure on brokers, myself included, to go out and get new listings.

ASHER: In 2009, there were more than 10,000 Manhattan apartments for sale. This year, not even half that many.

RANDOLPH: You walk into an open house and there are 80 people there.

ASHER: And realtors are having to hustle to score listings.

RANDOLPH: I try not to be too aggressive.

ASHER: From schmoozing with door men.

RANDOLPH: Door men can be your best friend. You bring them coffee, take them out for drinks every once in a while. They know everything that's happening in the building, if someone is getting divorced, if someone passed away, if someone is moving away. They know everything.

ASHER: To mailing letters like this one to push homeowners to sell. RANDOLPH: They're very specific highly targeted letters. I might mail an entire building.

ASHER: After sitting patiently through one of the worst housing slumps, homeowners are keen to flex their muscles.

WARREN RAND, SOLD APARTMENT: I think it is obviously these guerrilla tactics that are very interesting and pay dividends at least in my case.

ASHER: Warren Rand recently sold his Hamilton Heights condo for $640,000 after a realtor contacted him out of the blue.

RAND: It was an all cash deal so it was very quick.

ASHER: The short supply and the city's growing population are pushing up prices and commissions faster than usual.

RAND: They offer full asking price for our apartment.

RANDOLPH: This is actually one of the best years I've had so far.

ASHER: And it might get even better. Randolph recently secured this $2 million listing in Manhattan's upscale Chelsea.

RANDOLPH: It's a high end property in a location where you have very low inventory.

ASHER (on camera): I might have to start saving up for this.

RANDOLPH: Start saving up.

ASHER (voice-over): Zain Asher, CNN, New York.


WHITFIELD: All right, big sale. Save up.

All right, check this out. You'll need a big bank account if you plan to rent a place in New York. A rental market report on shows that the average rental price in Manhattan is just under $4,000 a month.

All right, housing markets are up and so are the markets today. Look at that, the Dow up 75 points. We're keeping a close watch on your money.


WHITFIELD: Rivers of oil flowing through the streets of an Arkansas town. Families in this neighborhood have been forced to leave their homes and it could be several days before they're allowed back in.

Their nightmare began Saturday afternoon when a pipe burst in the town of Mayflower. Crude oil spewing out of the Exxon Mobil pipeline, coiling through the streets, and then simply flooding the yards there.


CHRIS HARRELL, RESIDENT: When I got here, you could have canoed down streets. There was so much oil running through there. It was a mess. Even after they shut it off upstream if you will, there was still a lot of oil flowing down the street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a threat of fire and air pollution. So they were evacuating the neighborhood.


WHITFIELD: Wow. Well, today, an investigation has been launched to find out what caused the Pegasus pipeline rupture and how bad is this oil spill really could be? Already we're seeing the toll on wildlife there as crews continue the urgent cleanup operation.

We just heard from Chris Harrell who says it was so bad that you could canoe down the street. Well, Chris is actually on the phone with us now from Mayflower. So Chris, these are amazing pictures here. Just seeing these pools of oil in the streets and on the yards, et cetera. So how bad is it now at your home and perhaps even your neighbors' homes?

HARRELL (via telephone): Fredricka, it is an absolute mess in our neighborhood at this point. There are quite a few personnel on the ground, heavy machinery, police checkpoint to get in and out of the neighborhood and above all just a horrendous smell of oil in the air.

WHITFIELD: My goodness, so you and everybody else have been displaced. You've been evacuated to other locations, perhaps nearby hotels, et cetera. How long are you being told to stay out of your home?

HARRELL: We have been allowed back in our home. The street directly behind my house there is about 22 homes that were evacuated Friday. We have not yet been allowed back in their home. And they're telling these people that it may be weeks before they can get back into the home.

WHITFIELD: So now what about cleanup and how much is this going to cost? Are you calling your insurance companies or what you being told about who is going to come clean things up, compensate you for it?

HARRELL: Well, so far as compensation, that's a question on a lot of homeowners' minds. There have been no real answers given by either Exxon Mobil or any kinds of claims department that they may have. So we're kind of taking a wait and see approach to see what they're going to offer up and who is going to take responsibility for the full cleanup.

WHITFIELD: So before this happened, did you or even your neighbors even know there was this oil pipeline like this in your neighborhood or nearby?

HARRELL: Well, it may be a shame on me kind of thing, but first time I knew about it was Friday when I watched the oil flowing down our street. So I had no idea and I may not have done my due diligence when we moved into the neighborhood, but it was quite a shock when we saw the aftermath.

WHITFIELD: So now what about, you know, your health. If you worry about that, you know, are there fumes in the air? Give me an idea when your concerns are, if any, about the kind of health risk that this is now posing.

HARRELL: Absolutely, yes. Obviously a lot of concern for both myself, my family, 4-year-old and 10-month-old at home ad, you know, how do the fumes affect us, how -- what is the long-term outlook for any kind of any health issues we may have down the road.

I suppose they're taking hourly air samples and they're saying there is no issue, but at the end of the day, who really knows what the long-term effect will be for anyone's health.

WHITFIELD: Wow. Unbelievable stuff. Chris Harrell, thanks so much for taking the time to share your story. Appreciate it.

HARRELL: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Good luck.

Victims of the mass shooting at Fort Hood will not receive purple hearts. Why? The Pentagon says give be out the medals could negatively impact the case against the alleged shooter. Is that fair? Is there more? Our panel weighs in next.


WHITFIELD: At Fort Hood, Texas, the victims of a mass shooting in 2009 will not receive purple hearts. The U.S. Army says awarding the medals would prejudice the trial of Major Nidal Hasan.

The panel today is conservative analyst E.D. Hill, Billboard magazine editor Joe Levy, host of "Huffpost Live" Ahmed Shihab Eldin. I did get that right? I'm sorry about that, and Lauren Ashburn, editor in chief of the Daily Download.

All right, Ahmed, let me begin with you, since I butchered your last name. On the face of it, the decision by the Army to some would seem counter intuitive that it might prejudice the trial. Do you think that's a fair argument?

AHMED SHIBAB ELDIN, HOST, "HUFFPOST LIVE": Well, I'm really confused by the argument because it seems like the administration and Pentagon are not consistent when it comes to how they interpret terrorism. I think it is important that we remember that the government, you know, deemed this to be a work place violent crime as opposed to a terrorist attack. You know, this was a situation where 13 U.S. servicemen were killed. There were 32 others that were injured and, you know what is worse is not just are we now going to be preventing people from having, you know, people who need it, people having medical veteran benefits simply because we're not going to be giving them purple hearts.

But it really raises a broader question of how we interpret what terrorism is, not just our government, the Pentagon, but also as Americans. Because this man not only did he scream God is the greatest when he was committing the crime and shooting these people, but what is more troubling is we learned investigators had found he was in communication with the U.S. citizen who was killed in Yemen in September of 2011.

And so there is a political motivation, which is the way we often, you know, determine what is and what constitutes terrorism. So the question is, if Awlaki as a U.S. citizen was denied a trial and denied due process, why is it so important that we provide this for the current Major Hasan?

I just see it as a confusing way to understand what really constitutes terrorism and I'm still not necessarily sure why Attorney General Eric Holder still insists that this was a workplace crime.

WHITFIELD: And it seems like we have two issues here, whether it's an act of terrorism, whether this is an issue of combat because oftentimes the Purple Heart is awarded as a result of combat.

So the army has responded to this proposed legislation, you know, directing it to, you know, award the Purple Heart, and in this statement it reads, quote, "U.S. military personnel are organized, trained and equipped to combat foreign, not domestic forces or threats to expand the purple heart award criteria to include domestic criminal acts or domestic terror acts would be a dramatic departure from the traditional purple heart award criteria."

So, Joe, we're talking about, you know, combat versus attacks on U.S. soil, et cetera, that is what's at issue here. Is that your interpretation or is it an issue of --

JOE LEVY, "BILLBOARD" MAGAZINE: No, this wouldn't be -- this would be the interpretation of very, very few people. In fact, it seems ridiculous. These people volunteered to defend America. They were attacked precisely because of that.

They were attacked because they were in the military. To define this as workplace violence rather than a combat experience seems counterintuitive. It is ridiculous and in point of fact, it is legal maneuvering.

The Pentagon was perfectly clear they don't want to award the Purple Heart because they feel it may prejudice the trial, it may label the accused shooter as a terrorist as opposed to a domestic criminal. WHITFIELD: All right, let me bring you in this. Is it an issue of timing? Had this argument been made after the trial was resolved, would we be having the same conversation?

E.D. HILL, CONSERVATIVE ANALYST: I'm not sure if we would be having it or not. What I think is pretty clear is that nobody really gives a hoot about this major. What they worry about are the people who are injured and killed during this and do they deserve the Purple Heart?

There are lots of big questions to argue about. The Purple Heart criteria is squishy, to be very honest about it. It has changed a lot over the past decades and if they want to award it now and expand it in this way, I think obviously they could. I do think, though, that it would be better to come up with an equivalent award that they could give out similar to the secretary of defense's medal for defense of freedom.

WHITFIELD: All right, how about, Lauren, you -- we have 30 seconds left, financial incentive? Is that --

LAUREN ASHBURN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, DAILY DOWNLOAD: As a woman who has a family, who has given their lives in the military, this is absurd. I'm sorry. These people died. They died, a pregnant woman died, they are -- we are in combat times. It is ridiculous that we are even fighting over this. Can we get to broader issues?

WHITFIELD: All right, guys, don't go away. I can't wait to hear your thoughts on this next topic as well. Should college graduates be able to sue their schools, universities, colleges, et cetera, if they don't find the work they think they should have been able to locate having received that degree, that's coming up next.


WHITFIELD: More with our panel discussion. So you didn't get a good job after graduating college? Ever think about suing the school? Several groups of law school grads are trying to take their alma mater to court, claiming some of those 90 plus percent job figure placements are misleading or just wrong.

The "L.A. Times" reports 18 law schools face class action lawsuits and the job market is looking dim for some lawyers according to the National Association for Law Placement. Just 85.6 percent of 2011 grads actually found jobs last year.

The lowest rate since 1994 and don't forget these guys are also carrying an average debt more than $100,000, about four times more than most new grads. So, my panel back with me now on this. So do underemployed and out of work grads have a case here or is college just a case of buyer beware? E.D., you first.

HILL: That's right, exactly. Caveat emptor, they should have been asking questions instead of just accepting statistics. You know, I think (inaudible). You didn't ask questions. No one forced you to go to law school. You went in there in a bad economy, knowing that people are delaying retirement and are coming back to work. Who is somebody going to hire, somebody out of work and has experience or somebody fresh out of law school with no experience? They should have known that.

WHITFIELD: So Joey, this is almost as if there was a contractual obligation here being made by the colleges. At least that's what these folks in this class action suit are almost alleging, that you promised, this is in writing, I'm taking you to task for it. Fair?

HILL: Not at all. I think --

WHITFIELD: That is for Joe. Go ahead.

HILL: Sorry.

WHITFIELD: Are you with me there?

LEVY: You know, you can say at least these people are doing something with their education. At least they're getting something out of it. But they seem to be -- they seem to be most angry about two things. They're misled because the figures were misleading.

And yet do you want a lawyer that can't do that kind of thinking? Do you want a lawyer that can't look at a statistic that says 90 percent of grads get jobs and say, well, what kind of jobs do they get? These aren't people I would want to hire as my lawyer.

WHITFIELD: So Ahmed, are the six figure student debt, high teacher salaries a factor here?

ELDIN: Yes, I mean, you know, I want to start by saying clearly I should be feeling vindicated that I didn't take my dad's advice and chose not to pursue a law degree, but in all seriousness, I think what is most troubling in this situation is that there is clearly some misleading information being published by the schools.

At least the way they're making this information available. By not making a distinction, for example, between, you know, legal jobs and non-legal related jobs. Because it is really troubling as you know I'm sure, Fredricka, the way in which these statistics are published, often affects the ranking of the school.

It is important to keep that in mind as well. And while I take the point that, you know, you might not want to hire the lawyers if they're complaining, this say problem affecting people not just in California, not just in New York, but across the country.

I think it reminds me of perhaps the broader conversation we need to be having, which is the fact that our student total debt in this nation has reached a trillion dollars, which is more than the actual credit card debt of our entire nation. There are a lot of different issues at play.

There is outsourcing of a lot of these issues through India and other countries where as people maybe would have pursued a lawyer or sought out legal counsel. Now there is a lot of internet companies that are actually assisting people and helping them navigate whether they are going to be litigants or what have you.

And so I think it is really a troubling trend and as someone who is pretty young myself, I have a lot of friends who went to law school and they're really troubled by this. I think it is imperative that schools be more specific about what kind of jobs people are getting outside of schools.

Because, you know, if you get a job folding clothes at Macy's or selling shoes or what have you, even becoming a speechwriter, a consultant, that's not necessarily suggesting that you're going to be earning the kind of money you thought you would.

WHITFIELD: So Lauren, while we're talking mostly about law students, I mean, that argument could be made by anyone who graduates with a law degree, I didn't get -- didn't land the job that I thought my degree would get me.

ASHBURN: Here's what I have to say, wa, wa, wa, grow up.

LEVY: Come on.

ASHBURN: I mean it. I understand the student debt program -- problem in America. It is a big problem. But if you cannot take your education and do something good with it, you can volunteer at legal aid. You could do any number of things to help people and continue to knock on doors.

I interviewed Fred Friendly when I was in journalism school, also racked up quite a bit of debt. Fred Friendly was the former producer for Edward R. Murrow. You know what he said to me knock on every door until one opens is what he did, it is what I did, I bet it is what all of you did.

WHITFIELD: Excellent. The last word, sorry, E.D., we're out of time. We'll do this again. I'm sure, another time soon. All right, appreciate it to everybody. E.D. Hill, Joey Levy, Ahmed Shihab Eldin and Lauren Ashburn, thanks so much to all of you. Appreciate it.

All right, it is world autism day and more than 1 million kids are affected. That's 1 in 88 children. Coming up next hour, we'll talk with actress Holly Robinson Peete, her son was diagnosed with autism. You'll hear from her live in about half an hour.