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Kids Lunch Tossed in Trash; Obama Press Conference on Long-Term Unemployment; Interview with Dennis Rodman; Miley Cyrus, Rob Ford Give Bieber Advice.

Aired January 31, 2014 - 11:30   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: There is no such thing as a free lunch but can there ever be a cause to give a child a lunch and take it away and toss it in the trash.


SOPHIA ISOM, 5TH GRADER: She took my lunch away and said, go get a milk. I said, what's going on? She said, you don't have any money in your account so you can't get that.

ERICA LUKES, SOPHIA'S MOTHER: There were lots of tears and it was pretty upsetting for them.


BANFIELD: This happened in Utah where school officials say the kids who were singled out for this humiliation had overspent lunch accounts. They are kids. Apparently, their parents knew about it too and had been warned to put the money back in but the parents said they weren't told. Now, officials are apologizing.


JASON OLSEN, SALT LAKE CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT SPOKESMAN: It could have and probably should have been handled in a different manner.

They did take that tray away and give them a fruit and a milk.


BANFIELD: I think probably wouldn't be the word I would use.

Lisa Bloom, I can tell from the look on your face, you probably agree.

I want to be really clear. Logistics play into this story. Apparently, the kids came down, got served the food and then it wasn't determined until they got to the cash register whether or not they actually had enough money. They couldn't do anything but throw the food away, because once you have served the food, you can't give it to another child. Those are the logistics. There is a plethora of issues that I can't begin to address. Does it go anywhere legally?

LISA BLOOM, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: First of all, you are absolutely right. This is not a probably. I have been on Facebook and Twitter all day on my pages. People universally, 100 percent, think this was the wrong move. So there is no excuse for taking food away from children and throwing it in the trash. Let them have the food. Take it up with the parents. The parents are the ones that control the finances, not kids. Kids don't have jobs. I think this was a teachable moment for the school. It looks like they have been properly chastised and it won't happen again. Boy, who even thought of this ridiculous humiliation for schoolchildren and make them go hungry in the afternoon as if that is going to be good for their education.

BANFIELD: The school district, do they owe anything to these parents in terms of dealing with the kids or trying to reverse that. Look, this happened, the kids are affected by it. It is a horrible embarrassment. They are children. There is a lot of stigma that can attach when sufficient like that happens.

BLOOM: It is less of a legal issue. I don't think anybody is going to sue over the cost of a lunch. It is more of a teachable moment. This is a great opportunity for the adults to say to the kids, we made a mistake. Just like you made mistakes, we made a mistake. Here's what we learned. It is wrong to throw away food. It is wrong to make kids go hungry, especially when they didn't do anything wrong. We made a bad decision in the moment. We are really sorry I think that would be a great way to approach it. Let the kids know everybody makes mistakes.

BANFIELD: I hope so. They were given some fruit and milk. I know when my kids have these issues as well at my school, they are always given something. They can't have full access to the other array the kids can.

Lisa, good to see you. Have a good weekend.

BLOOM: Thanks, Ashleigh. You, too.

BANFIELD: We're watching the live shot at the White House, because the president is getting ready to take to the mic in the East Room, and here is the topic. It is something we all think about all the time. It is the unemployment in this country. Not just unemployment but long-term. Those people that have been out of work so long, they have just given up. They don't factor in anymore. Turns out, they have an even tougher time getting jobs, because they are not getting the interviews. Guess what he is doing? The backs of those heads include a lot of really big, important people, from very big, important companies. They are making a big, important announcement. You will find out what it is in a moment.


BANFIELD: Again to the live mic in the East Room at the White House. The president is about to be live at the mike. He is being introduced right now. The vice president in attendance as well. What's important about this is it is an issue that has been on the minds of many in the struggling economy while the stock market does well, the 401K has had a great year. Unemployment still stinks, particularly long-term employment. Many people say bad unemployment numbers don't take into account those that just dropped out and stopped look. So today what the president is doing, is he is meeting with some of the top companies to get them to push to interview and hire the long-term unemployed. It turns out, it is real hard to get those interviews. He is not only with the vice president, but all the leaders are in the room, too.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you so much. Thank you, everybody.


OBAMA: Everybody please have a seat.

First of all, let me just thank Eric for being here, for sharing his story, for his service to our country. I hope that listening to Eric here, everybody recognizes what a great success story this is. Also, the notion that somebody with this kind of skill and talent was having difficulty finding a job indicates the challenge we face.

I want to thank all of you, business leaders, philanthropists, elected officials, all levels of my cabinet, not only for coming but for committing to more success stories for people like Eric. Making sure everybody in this country who wants to work has a chance to get ahead and not just get a paycheck but also the dignity and the structure that a job provides people.

On Tuesday, I delivered my State of the Union address. I said that while the economy is getting stronger, businesses like yours have created more than eight million new jobs and our unemployment rate has been lower than it has been in five years, we all know we still have more to do to build an economy where everybody who is willing to work hard and take responsibility can get ahead. We've got to do more to restore opportunity for every American.

The opportunity agenda I laid out begins with doing everything we can to create new jobs here in America, jobs in construction, in manufacturing, jobs in American innovation, American energy. They are steps we can take to streamline our tax code and incentivize companies to invest here. There are things to do to make sure we are continuing to lead the world in innovation and basic research. We have a whole lot of infrastructure we can do. We have deferred maintenance in America. The ramifications of us taking that on would be significant. We have to grow faster and put more shoulders behind the wheel of expand can in the economic world. Step two is making sure that every man has the skills to fill those jobs. Step three, we have to guarantee every child access to a world class education from early childhood to college to a career.


OBAMA: Step four, we have to make sure that hard work pays off with wages you can live on, savings you can retire on, health insurance that's there for you when you need it. Today, we are here to focus on that second point. Connecting more ready to work Americans with ready to be filled jobs so that folks that are out of work can apply the skills they already have.

BANFIELD: It turns out, there are numerous studies the president continues to talk about, the larger companies that have committed to a process whereby they will try to get the long-term unemployed into the workforce. There are studies that showed that people who are unemployed for six months or more are significantly less likely to get that job interview response on the basis of just fact that they have been out of work a long time.

I want to bring in Wolf Blitzer, standing by live. He is watching what the president has been up to for the last couple of days.

I want to speak specifically to what is happening today and how the president wants to go about this. He is meeting with leaders in Motorola, eBay, McDonald's, Walgreens, Apple, Bank of America. But he is talking about executive action. If Congress isn't going to work with me, I will do it by myself.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, THE SITUATION ROOM: He's trying to find a way to work with these companies. He is trying to encourage them to hire long-term unemployed, six months, more than a year, people that lost their jobs through no fault of their own. The company may have gone bankrupt. The companies may be downsizing. These are highly qualified people that can't find a job. He is looking for ways to be more assertive, more aggressive in working with these companies encouraging them to go out there and look for these long-term unemployed folks who are qualified. They are not getting the interviews or opportunities a lot of folks think they deserve. They are plotting new strategy and research and incentives. If they are too qualified for a job, one person who may already have the job. The other person has been a long-term unemployed person and go ahead and give that long-term unemployed person a shot and bring an additional work person into the workforce as opposed to giving somebody else who already has a job that opportunity. These are complicated issues. There may be some ways to lower that long-term unemployed number.

BANFIELD: 1:00, Wolf Blitzer is back. 5:00 as well in "The Situation Room." It is must-see TV on Friday.

Thanks, Wolf. Have a good weekend.

BLITZER: Thank you.

BANFIELD: Dennis Rodman is in rehab. We knew that. We didn't know he was going to keep quiet. He is back in front of the camera and he is back with our Chris Cuomo. Do you remember what happened the last time these two got together? Wait until you see what happens this time.


BANFIELD: Dennis Rodman is opening up to Chris Cuomo. In an exclusive interview, he did the interview from rehab. Chris sat down with the former NBA star. He is known for his buddy/buddy relationship with the leader in North Korea.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CO-HOST, NEW DAY: Dennis Rodman says he has some things he wants to clear up about our last interview on "New Day." What he wants people to know about the real situation in North Korea and to figure out how he gets here the future he says he wants.


DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBA BASKETBALL PLAYER: I have always been a party animal. I have always said to the media and to the world that, you know, I don't hurt anyone. I never carry a gun. I don't have a gun. I don't have a knife. I don't have anything that's going to damage anyone's future or what they do in life. That's not my job. For me, the reason why I drink is because I'm bored.

CUOMO: You drink because you are bored?

RODMAN: Absolutely. I have been saying it ever since 1993. I need to be active. I need to be productive and try to keep my mind on life in general.

CUOMO: But drinking does all the opposite things, doesn't it, Dennis? It makes you inactive.

RODMAN: You want to ask all the hard questions. I am the only guy that can ask and like I say, you can ask me anything in the world. I will not flinch or anything like that.

CUOMO: Do you think I'm asking you hard questions or obvious ones? We're in the rehab center. The first is we admitted we're powerless over alcohol.

RODMAN: I think first you have to give a person the opportunity to speak out. I've been in rehab, but for me rehab is like -- I don't have to drink. I came to the realization 15 years ago I don't really have to drink, you know. I don't need to go in a bar or restaurant and fuel for alcohol, you know. That's not my job. I did it for recreation purposes, that's it. Like most people in the world who go to a bar or restaurant, 90 percent of the people in the world have a drink. It could be a glass of wine. It could be anything that's very simple. For me, it's like I love to have a good time. I love to be around people, to have a good time. And for me, this, I've admitted so many times that, hey, you know, I drink, and people know that. People know that. Am I an alcoholic, absolutely. I can't deny that.

CUOMO: Last interview we had, were you drunk in that interview?

RODMAN: Oh, my god. Really?

CUOMO: Were you? That's what I've been told.

RODMAN: Well, Chris, you any, I think the fact that when I was in North Korea -- we had a lot of drinks. We went back to the hotel. We had wine and sake. I'm never gown to down alcohol. Please help me when I'm in the recovery. Please come out and say, Dennis, thank you. You're trying. Please do that for me. That's all I ask.


BANFIELD: I have to say at times it was pretty hard to follow a lot of what Dennis Rodman was saying, his logic on a lot of things. But one thing he did say that was crystal clear in response to the issue about Kenneth Bae, the American who's imprisoned to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea with crimes against the country -- We're not told. There was no public trial, he did say this. He's offering himself up in exchange to free Kenneth Bae. Dennis said he's happily would exchange places with him. Chris Cuomo pressed him on it again and he said yes. He said, "I would go straight away, literally anything. This is Dennis Rodman. Let Kenneth Bae go, straight away, let him, go, take me." And that's what he had to say.

But what he said about drinking and why he said the things in the first interview?

William Moyers is vice president of public affairs at the Hazelden Treatment Center in Minneapolis. He joins us live. That's a center that helps families and communities with drug abuse and alcohol addiction.

William, thank you for being with me.

I'm not teen literature I clear what Dennis Rodman's answer was, if the alcohol was talking and if it had a lot do with alcohol. He seemed to hedge either way. Is this even about alcohol anymore?

WILLIAM MOYERS, VICE PRESIDENT OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, HAZELDEN TREATMENT CENTER, MINNEAPOLIS: Well, Ashleigh, I don't really know what Dennis Rodman's struggles include, but I do know that for somebody who is in treatment or rehab as some people call it, now is not the time for Dennis Rodman to be public. Now is not the time for him to be on CNN or, you know, portraying himself in a public are arena. He needs to be stepping back, focusing on whatever is going on inside of him, coming to grips with his demons, coming to grips with his illness, if, in fact, he is an alcoholic. This is not the time for Dennis Rodman to be on the world stage or media stage. It's a time for Dennis to take care of Dennis and not worry about anything else.

BANFIELD: I agree with you. I always thought, you know, rehab is rehab. It's a time to go away and be treated and focus only on yourself, your treatment, your health, et cetera. Rodman, for whatever reason, implored Chris Cuomo to let him have his say, and clearly he has taken it on the chin for the things he said. It was a maelstrom. He didn't realize what maelstrom it was until he got back. Is there anything that can help him get better by clearing it off his chest, clearing it off his chest, giving an excuse for this foolishness he just ranted about when he was in North Korea? Is there anything helpful about this?

MOYERS: I don't know that there's anything helpful about this, Ashleigh, but the time will come when Dennis can explain what happened in North Korea over the course of his life, but that time is not now. We know that early treatment, as Chris mentioned, that he's come to the reality that he's powerless over alcohol and he needs help. Stemming out of the limelight and stepping away from the support he needs is not a healthy step for Dennis. What he needs do is withdraw into himself, withdraw into his clinical setting, withdraw into the rest of the group he might be with and start to focus on what it is that causes Dennis to drink and what it is that he can do to lead a productive healthy life without drinking. And it's very early in the process for him, I would imagine. And Dennis needs to stop being his own worst enemy and begin to embrace the reality that he's not alone but that he can step out into the public and that he's going to explain everything in an interview or without first taking care of the most important thing, which is Dennis and his illness.

BANFIELD: All right. William Moyers, nice to have you. Thanks so much. Appreciate your time.

MOYERS: Thank you, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Coming up next, this is not a setup joke. This is the news. What does Miley Cyrus have in common with Toronto mayor, Rob Ford? They're now both giving advice to troubled teen star, Justin Bieber. Again, not a joke. You're going to hear it right ahead.


BANFIELD: Weighing in on Justin Bieber's troubles now, embattled mayor, Rob Ford, called in to a radio station to discuss the pop singer's woes. He told people to give him break.


ROB FORD, MAYOR OF TORONTO: He's a young guy. He's 19 years old. I think back to when you were 19.



BANFIELD: Miley Cyrus had some advice for the Biebs on "The Tonight Show," how to party.


MILEY CYRUS, SINGER: He's got a lot of money. Pay people to make sure you don't get in trouble.


CYRUS: Have it at your house.



CYRUS: Buy a house and add a club to it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BANFIELD: How about this? Lay lo on the weekend.

Have a good weekend. Thanks for watching. AROUND THE WORLD starts right now.