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Obama's Meeting with the Top Business Leaders; Salt Lake Students See Their Lunches Thrown Away by School Officials; Outbreak of Overdose Deaths in Pennsylvania; Isaac Lufkin, an Armless Football Player Brings Wins to his Team

Aired January 31, 2014 - 10:30   ET


JAKE TAPPER, HOST, "THE LEAD": It's possible that you might be able to get an immigration reform bill on your desk that has legal status for the millions of undocumented workers from this country, but not citizenship. Would you veto that?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Well, you know, I'm not going to prejudge what gets to my desk.

TAPPER: Right, but what is that principle?

OBAMA: Well, I think the principle that we don't want two classes of people in America, is a principle that a lot of people agree with, not just me, and not just Democrats. But I'm encouraged by what Speaker Boehner has said.

Obviously, I was encouraged by the bipartisan bill that passed out of the Senate. I genuinely believe that Speaker Boehner and a number of House Republicans, folks like Paul Ryan, really do want to get a serious immigration reform bill done. If the speaker proposes something that says, right away, folks aren't being deported, families aren't being separated.

We are able to attract top young students to provide the skills and start businesses here. And then, there is a regular process of citizenship, I'm not sure how wide the divide ends up being. That's why I don't want to prejudge.


COSTELLO: And right now, the president is meeting with top business leaders as part of a different push. This one, to help the long-term unemployed. Among those meeting at the White House with President Obama, Brian Moynihan of Bank of America, Don Thompson of McDonald's, Jim McNerney of Boeing and Larry Fink of the financial service firm Blackrock. Our chief national correspondent and anchor CNN's new show "Inside Politics" John King joins us now. So, John, what's the goal here?

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The goal here is to see if you can bring people together, Carol, who often are not on the same wage. The president and these corporate CEOs. They have had disagreements, so, with the Obama's administration's regulatory policies. Some of these CEOs didn't like the health care law. The once that are involved in the tech industry, have complained a lot about the NSA surveillance controversy.

And yet, if you ask any economist, they say, look at the economic growth numbers just from yesterday on the fourth quarter of last year. They say 2014 should be a year of economic expansion. Should be a year of hiring. So, as those companies look for workers, what the president is trying to say is, don't discriminate against someone who's been out of work for a year or two because of the punishing recession.

And companies will tell you this. When they see that gap in the resume, they get a little worried. Has this person been, you know, out of the workplace too long? Are they not aggressive and ambitious enough? Do they not have the right skill set we need to have them in here? What the president is trying to say is, hey, we are going to try some new federal training programs. Maybe we can help you. Maybe we can help match up your needs with somebody in a training program.

But please, don't discriminate against the long-term unemployed. It helps the president make his case on an important issue and its good public relations for these companies, Carol.

COSTELLO: All right. John King, many thanks for being with us this morning. And be sure to watch John this Sunday for CNN's "Inside Politics" begins at 8:30 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

You can also see more of Jake Tapper's exclusive interview with the president that will air today at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. I'll be back.


Dozens of students at a Salt Lake City elementary school were left in tears earlier this week after their school lunches were taken from them by school officials and tossed in the trash, all because the students didn't have enough money in their school lunch accounts.


UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: She took my lunch away and she's like, go get a milk. And I'm like, OK, and then I come back up and - just go on the line and (inaudible) orange. And she said, you don't have enough money in your account. So you can't get lunch.


COSTELLO: There were lots of tears and it was pretty upsetting.

I'll say. This school district has apologized on its Facebook page saying, quote, "The situation could and should have been handled in a different manner. And that they are working to ensure students are never treated in this manner again." But the damage is done now. So, joining me to discuss this, clinical psychologist, Jeff Gardere and Kelly Wallace, CNN digital correspondent.

Welcome to both of you. KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good to be here.

JEFF GARDERE: Thank you.

COSTELLO: Kelly, could you imagine if this happened to your kid?

WALLACE: I cannot imagine. My husband and I actually were talking about it this morning at home. And we were both outraged. I mean at my kids school, you pay a certain amount of money and we get a note home, right, hello, you know, you need to add some more money to your kid's balance.

And you do that. I can't simply imagine the thinking that went behind this to literally take lunch away from children and then give them a piece of fruit and some milk and then toss the lunch away. I mean clearly, it is under investigation. And some people could lose their jobs because it is so outrageous.

COSTELLO: It is outrageous, Dr. Jeff. And this was done in front of other children. So, you wonder about, you know, lasting trauma.

JEFF GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Sure, of course. It was done in front of the other children. So, certain children were served their lunches, OK? So, that was embarrassing for the kids who got the lunch, and then here's the worst part. The lunch was taken away from them and then allegedly thrown in the garbage, which I believe, because you can't reuse that lunch, correct? So, these kids, I believe, were traumatized because this was done in an angry fashion, I believe, by adults that they trusted. We are talking about fifth graders here, Carol.

COSTELLO: Fifth graders, Kelly. I just ...

WALLACE: I know. You're speechless, right?


WALLACE: I know. And - you know it's led to a review because apparently, you know, when the kid brings the lunch up, he or she is sometimes notified that, you know, there is an outstanding balance on your account. And I really still think that this is something that should be handled, you know, administrators and teachers to parents. The kids should not be penalized in any way if their parents haven't paid.

And, you know, one of the moms who's outraged said she got no notification. She didn't know that there was money outstanding on her 11-year-old's account. And if she did, she would have done something about it. I mean it's just these stories always make your head spin. Because you think there is another way to handle this. And as, you know, Dr. Jeff just said, it is almost like anger took over. And they penalized the children, because they were angry that parents were not paying up.

COSTELLO: Well, the sad part, Dr. Jeff - when I was a kid, I was on the school lunch program. Because we were having money troubles at the time. And I just remember the way I felt. Because everybody knew that I was on the school lunch program. So, these kids must have felt very similar to that. That all of the sudden, it's like oh, I'm so embarrassed. What's happening to me?

GARDERE: Oh, I certainly agree. And Kelly as a mom, I think has said it very succinctly and very correctly. That this is an embarrassing thing for a child. And for you, Carol, the same situation applied to you, applies to these kids. You know, they feel embarrassed enough that perhaps they are being told that they have an overdrawn balance or they owe something on the lunch. This should not be something you discuss with children. School is supposed to be a safe haven.

We have already seen these situations of kids being abused by teachers, the school shootings, and now this situation of where you have a lunch in front of you and it is taken away. So, the sense of security that kids should have as they are growing up in the safe haven of school, even that in this aspect of food in their mouths has been violated.

COSTELLO: Dr. Jeff Gardere, Kelly Wallace, many thanks to both of you.

WALLACE: Thank you.

GARDERE: Pleasure.

COSTELLO: Still to come in the "Newsroom."


POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You don't want anyone's pity?

ISAAC LUFKIN: No, I don't like pity. Pity just makes me weaker.


COSTELLO: A 14-year-old kicker helps his team to a state title. No arms, no problem.


COSTELLO: Checking our top stories at 43 minutes past the hour for the second time this week. A cruise ship returns to port because of a nasty stomach bug. The Caribbean Princess returned to a Texas port overnight after 162 passengers got sick from the norovirus. The CDC will now oversee an extensive sanitation process. On Wednesday, a Royal Caribbean cruise cut a trip short after nearly 700 cruise passengers got sick from a still unidentified stomach illness. But they believe it was norovirus in that case too.

Today, people across Boston having a mixed reaction to news of the Boston bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could face the death penalty. Yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder said federal prosecutors would pursue it. Some people in Boston said they don't agree with it, but one of the attack survivors says the death penalty is the way to go. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARC FUCARILE, MARATHON ATTACK SURVIVOR: I would prefer the death penalty. Because I'd prefer that people know that if you terrorize our country, you are going to be put to death. And I strongly believe that's how it should be. It hasn't been easy and - nor has it been easy for the parents that lost children that day. So, this is almost kind of too easy for him.


COSTELLO: Tsarnaev has pleaded guilty to 30 counts. He's accused of killing three people and injuring more than 250 at the Boston Marathon last April.

Yahoo! says it was the victim of a cyber-hack attack. Besides that hackers try to log into e-mail accounts using stolen user names and passwords. Yahoo! says it has reset passwords for affected accounts and text messages were sent alerting users to suspicious activity.

Pennsylvania man now under arrest accused of selling heroin to undercover officers. This is the first arrest in a new crackdown over heroin. In a deadly mix that's responsible for the deaths of nearly two dozen users just in the past week. CNN's Rosa Flores has more for you.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It sells under harmless sounding names like Theraflu and Bud Ice, but the white powder inside these one-inch packets is deadly, linked to killing at least 22 people in western Pennsylvania in the past week.

ANDREW, RECOVERING HEROINE ADDICT: I just finished filling, you know, the heroin. And I walked into the bathroom and I just woke up on the ground.

FLORES: Andrew overdosed on Theraflu twice, and almost died. But it took his friend dying to scare him back into rehab at the Greenbrier Treatment Center near Pittsburgh.

ANDREW: You know what you can do, you know what I mean, like seven or eight or nine bags with Theraflu and it wasn't my first overdose. I made it like two or three, and it really made me feel like, you know, I'm not invincible anymore.

FLORES: But this 19-year old says, the first reaction from heroin addicts? Rush to find the good stuff.

ANDREW: That's the sick thing about like addiction when somebody knows that there is heroin bags out there that are killing people or making them overdose, they are like - those are the good bags.

FLORES: These bags are recovered heroin evidence, but analysis by Allegheny County medical examiner, Dr. Karl Williams shows half of the white powder is actually fentanyl, the narcotic he says, is ten to 100 times stronger than morphine. Overdose deaths in Allegheny County, 15 in a week, ages 22 to 53.

DR. KARL WILLIAMS, ALLEGHENY COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER: Now that they are mixing a much more potent fentanyl in with the heroin, it pretty clearly explains why we are seeing this massive upsurge now in that community.

FLORES (on camera): Because the dose that they are probably used to using is maximized because of the fentanyl.

WILLIAMS: Yes. Chemically, it's much more potent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Greenbrier Treatment Center, may I help you?

FLORES (voice over): Addiction centers in the region have received hundreds of calls from addicts and their families.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to sit down and you have to ask yourself, am I done?

FLORES: Some asking to be admitted for treatment. Others scared about the potency of the new drug.

HOLLY MARTIN, GREENBRIER TREATMENT CENTER: We treat a lot of nurses. We treat a lot of pharmacists. But we also treat teachers and mill workers, still workers. We treat people from every walk of life here.

FLORES (voice over): The Homestead Police Department executed a search warrant and recovered about 1500 bags stamped Bud Ice.

CHIEF JEFFERY DESIMONE, HOMESTEAD POLICE: The illegal substances were found in nap sacks on top of a pool table.

FLORES: Authorities believe that's only the tip of the iceberg. A statewide hunt is under way. The attorney general promising to prosecute the maker of a drug that's teaching hard lessons and taking lives.


COSTELLO: Rosa Flores joins me now. And I know there has been one arrest. But there have to be more arrests coming, right?

FLORES: You are absolutely right, Carol. And the A.G.'s office has sent a very clear message saying that every - anyone who is either selling, distributing, making this stuff, is definitely going to be prosecuted. And there is a criminal statute for drug delivery resulting in death. And we already know like you mentioned, there is at least 22 deaths in western Pennsylvania. So, they are going to be looking and hunting for these guys as we speak.

COSTELLO: Just such a strange combination. You know, what this heroin was tainted with, a cancer drug.

FLORES: You know, it really is odd. And I would love to share a little more about Andrew with you, Carol, because if you think about this boy, he is 19 years old. But when he was four years old, his mom was using drugs. She was watching videos that taught people how to use drugs so they could feel better. By that time, his dad was already rinsing his beer and feeding that to him.

By age nine, he was taking prescription pills. And then, here is the worst part of all, by age 13, he's withdrawing, is what he was telling me. He was with his dad and with his friends. And one of his dad's friend said, hey, boy, come over here, I am going to make you feel better. He shot him up with heroin. He said that he has been hooked on that ever since.

COSTELLO: Well, I am glad he is getting help.

FLORES: Oh, I know, Carol. It's just such a sad situation. Such a sad situation. A lot of young people going through this. And, of course, sometimes feeling helpless.

COSTELLO: Rosa Flores, many thanks to you. For more on that story, be sure to check out our website, You can read all about it.


COSTELLO: As we start Super Bowl weekend, we want to salute one player who's making his mark. You won't find him playing for the Broncos or the Seahawks. At least not yet. Isaac Lufkin is a 14- year-old high school kicker. And he happens to have no arms. CNN's Poppy Harlow has his story.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is a lot more to this kick and a lot more to Isaac Lufkin than his winning field goals.


ISAAC LUFKIN: I want to (INAUDIBLE) this up.


LUFKIN: Ravens.

HARLOW: You want to keep wearing purple?

LUFKIN: Yeah, purple.

HARLOW (voice over): He is still riding high from an undefeated season and the freshman football state title. He led his division in on-site kick recoveries this year. Remarkable, considering this is what Isaac goes through just to suit up.

(on camera): You don't want anyone's pity?

LUFKIN: No, I don't need pity. Pity just makes me weaker.

HARLOW (voice over): He means it.

LUFKIN: I don't like people helping me because, you know, it makes me feel like I can't do it. I drop my backpack and someone helps me pick it up. I drop it again I pick it back up, because if I can't do it, no one else will be able to do it sooner or later.

LORI LUFKIN, ISAAC'S MOTHER: For me, I see him put on his football jersey and I am just filled with pride. Because he is my little football star.

HARLOW: There is no question Isaac has overcome an unimaginable challenge, moving beyond the arms he was born without to the perseverance born within.


ROBERT PALAZZO: As soon as he walked in, I pointed and said, you are our plays kicker.

HARLOW: His potential was immediately obvious to classical high school athletic director Bob Palazzo.

PALAZZO: I would not be the guy who would want to tell him he couldn't do something. Put it that way.

HARLOW (on camera): What does he do for his teammates?

PALAZZO: I think he gives them hope. I mean you see a guy with no arms, strap up and put a helmet on and launch himself into a violent pile, you know, and get up and smile.

HARLOW (voice over): Palazzo calls Isaac's knack for accuracy a skill that's tough to teach.

(on camera): You want to do more than kick?

LUFKIN: Yes, I want to be a defensive lineman.

HARLOW (on camera): Hit people?

LUFKIN: Yeah, hit people. They can't grab my arms. They can't grab my jersey. The only thing they can do is actually block, but I can still crawl under them. And then it is not like they can sit on me. They just - they have got to let me through.

HARLOW (voice over): His determination was clear from the beginning. This is Isaac learning how to dress himself.

LUFKIN: Don't give up.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Don't give up.

LORI LUFKIN: Don't give up.




HARLOW: Here he is throwing a football as a toddler from his shoulder.

LORI LUFKIN: He never gave up. It wasn't easy for him. But he never gave up.

HARLOW (on camera): Is he disabled?

LORI LUFKIN: No. I don't find him disabled at all. And I never looked at him that way. I always knew the sky was the limit.

HARLOW (voice over): Today, Isaac can do nearly anything on his own. Eggs sunny side up, no problem.

(on camera): High five!


LORI LUFKIN: He is not always going to have somebody there to do everything for him. So, that was my greatest gift to him, was to be independent.

HARLOW (voice over): He has learned how to do remarkable things with his feet. Eating ice-cream, playing the keyboard. Even video games. As a child, Isaac navigated the world with his toes. Now, in high school, he has also learned to use his chin, shoulder and what he calls his stuff. There have been bullies.

LUFKIN: This one kid, he just - he wouldn't stop. He would whack me in the back of the head with notebooks and shove me on the ground and then he'd laugh at me. Then he'd take my sleeves and tie them around my throat.

HARLOW: But football and his killer on-sidekick have brought a new sense of pride and acceptance.


HARLOW (on camera): Some say you are like a secret weapon on the team. Is that true?

LUFKIN: Yeah. Because at first, like when I first do my on-sidekick, I will run up to a guy who would have to block me and I'll slide backwards, like I'm easy to block. And then the second time around, I'll just duke him and I'll go hit a guy and he won't expect it so he won't block me. And then I'll get him at his weakest point.

HARLOW: What do you think you have done for your football team this year?

LUFKIN: Now, they can't be lazy. Because now they - no matter what, they have no excuse not to show up for practice and no excuse not to catch the ball or throw the ball or run the ball or block, because - If I can kick a ball and set it up and do my own thing, they can do their own thing.

HARLOW (voice over): In what may be even more astonishing, Isaac is not the first armless kicker at classical. Exactly 50 years ago in 1963, Chris Schoeman led the classical varsity football team to the state championship title, prompting President Kennedy to send him this letter. It is his example that has opened the door for Isaac to dream big.

LUFKIN: I want to see if we can go undefeated for four years straight.

HARLOW (on camera): Is he destined for greatness in one way or another?

PALAZZO: I think he has already achieved it. He has overcome things that I don't know if I could overcome. And he has managed to bring our whole program to another level.

LORI LUFKIN: I knew it before he was born. And he will be great. And he will be everything that everybody said he wasn't going to be.

HARLOW (voice over): And in so many ways, he already is.


COSTELLO: Poppy Harlow joins us now from Super Bowl Boulevard. And I guess one thing people might wonder is he an eligible candidate for prosthetic arms?

HARLOW: It's a really good question. He is. And he had them on and off as a child. But, you know, we talked to his prosthetist. And he said Isaac somehow has become so agile, so flexible, Carol, and so able to do everything with his feet that giving him prosthetics right now might hinder him. What we do know is that if he had prosthetic arms, it would throw him off balance for being a kicker. And he is a pretty good kicker. So, we don't want to harm that at all right now. We want to watch him go all the way to the NFL and to be on the Ravens, right?