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NEW DAY SATURDAY
Machete-Wielding Man Shot At NOLA Airport; Report: "Serious Security Breach" At TSA; Kerry: Stakes High For Iran Nuclear Deal; Official: Suspects Got Weapons Training In Libya; Attacks Spark Fear Over Spread Of Terror Group; Black America in Crisis; Robert Durst Wrongfully Arrested?; Fourth Graders' Bill Get Slammed by Lawmakers. Aired 8-9a ET
Aired March 21, 2015 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Chaos at the airport. Armed with a machete and wasp spray, a man goes on the attack in New Orleans, passengers forced to flee and cops are forced to shoot.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning attorneys for Robert Durst, the eccentric billionaire charged with murder, say he was arrested illegally and he should get out of jail, they say. Your NEW DAY starts now.
It's 8:00 in case you haven't looked at the clock because it's Saturday morning, and you're allowed. I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. It's 5 out on the west coast. New this morning we're starting in New Orleans at the airport and the panic there, travelers just sent running as police shoot a man threatening TSA agents with a machete.
Now this incident started with 62-year-old Richard White storming through a security checkpoint, confronting a TSA agent and dousing him with wasp spray.
PAUL: It was a dramatic scene. One agent fought White and his machete back with a piece of luggage. A police officer then opened fire shooting him in the leg, the chest and the face.
CNN's Shasta Darlington following this story, so Shasta, what do you know about that man specifically? What have you learned now?
SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi, according to police he does not have a criminal background, just some minor traffic and disturbing the peace infractions so a lot of what investigators will be doing today is interviewing family and friends and neighbors to just discover what made Richard White go on this rampage?
DARLINGTON (voice-over): A chaotic scene at New Orleans's Armstrong International Airport. As an injured TSA officer is wheeled away on a stretcher. After police say a machete-wielding man, who also used wasp spray attacked security staff at a concourse checkpoint.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He walked down the TSA pre-line, encountered the TSA officer who was checking the boarding passes with the scanning machine to be scanned. He was challenged at that point in time by the TSA officer. The response was he pulled a can of wasp spray and sprayed the officer in the face.
DARLINGTON: Police say the suspect identified as 62-year-old Richard White then encountered two more TSA agents, and started swinging a machete. The incident apparently continued through the secure area until the suspect was shot three times by a Jefferson Parish sheriff's deputy.
White was taken to an area hospital where he underwent surgery. Police say a shot from sheriff's deputy also hit a TSA officer who was being chased by the suspect. Her injury was not life threatening.
The incident sent passengers and airport workers scrambling to safety and closed the airport for a short time. Police do not have a motive in the attack.
NEWELL NORMAND, JEFFERSON PARISH SHERIFF: We don't know whether or not this individual was a member of the traveling public. We suspect not. He has been a taxi driver. He's recently received a chauffeur's license, has little or no criminal history.
DARLINGTON: Now, the investigation is ongoing, but at this point the sheriff and security experts believe we're not talking about a threat to national security, but an isolated incident involving a very disturbed individual.
And obviously terrifying moments at the airport when he was swinging a machete as you mentioned one TSA agent had to actually protect himself with a piece of luggage. The airport, they diverted some flights to other concourses, but officials say they expect to have concourse be up and running normally today -- Christi.
PAUL: We hope so for all of those folks. All right, Shasta Darlington, thank you so very much.
I want to tell you about another airport incident. A report by a government watchdog unveiled what it called a, quote, "significant aviation security breach." After a former member of the domestic terror group was allowed through a TSA pre-check point.
The felon was spotted by an eagle-eyed agent, but then a supervisor cleared the security check despite the man's history. A Homeland Security inspector said it highlights the need for the agency to modify its pre-check procedures.
BLACKWELL: Let's talk about both of these stories. Let's bring in CNN law enforcement analyst and former assistant director of the FBI, Tom Fuentes. Tom, good morning to you again. I want to start with the TSA pre-check story that Christi just gave us. This man had a murder conviction connected to a domestic terror organization. How could someone like that get through the security pre-check process?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think, Victor, the mistake is he shouldn't be on the pre-check list. If they had him selected randomly to be able to go through pre-check, I think they are going to have to take a hard look at that program.
Most of us, and I have pre-check approval, comes from you know, the application process, the background process, the number of miles you fly with a particular carrier, so I don't understand how he was even able to get a pre-check.
As far as being banned from flight, I don't know if his membership in an organization, he is apparently not on the no-fly list so it's not a bar to flying for him.
[08:05:12] BLACKWELL: What about the possibility that this has happened before, we know about this case, but possibly others that have not come to light?
FUENTES: Well, certainly. If people are going through the pre-check and at the time they go through security of pre-check, you know, no one's aware of it, they don't have to take off shoes, they don't have to remove a jacket or remove a computer from their carry-on baggage.
So they are not getting quite the extensive check that people get going through the security line, but they are still being checked. And I went through pre-check a week ago and they saw something in my bag that made them suspicious and opened up my bag and went through the process. So they still do, you know, a diligent security check even at the pre-check line.
BLACKWELL: Yes, there is still some process there. Let's move to New Orleans International and this case of the man with the machete and the wasp spray. I wonder do you think there will ever be any absolute security, I kind of know the answer.
But I'm giving you some space to run here, in places like the airport, or a mall, or a grocery store, this man maybe just mental illness. We're waiting, but can that be guaranteed?
FUENTES: No. And you're right. You know the answer to it already, Victor. There's no way. And you know, grocery store or other targets, softer targets than an airport. Here at least you have the magnetometer lines, the checkpoint operated by TSA to prevent a person from getting onto a plane with a weapon whether it's a gun or machete or a can of wasp spray in this case. So you know, wherever you set up a checkpoint is going to be the first place that you're going to have a problem with somebody like this.
BLACKWELL: All right, Tom Fuentes, thank you so much.
FUENTES: You're welcome. PAUL: Thank you, Tom. Secretary of State John Kerry says the stakes are high for a nuclear deal with Iran. You saw live a short while ago here on CNN, Kerry speaking from Lausanne, Switzerland saying, "Reaching a deal is essential to making the U.S. safer."
He is heading now to London, back to Washington before nuclear talks resume in Switzerland again this coming week. CNN's Erin McPike following this story for us at the White House. Erin, wondering what stood out to you in what Kerry said just a little bit ago?
ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christie, look, he said that this potential deal has been a long process, it's been a long time in coming, but it's not over yet and they could still fail. Essentially is what he indicated, here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: We are not rushing. This has been a two and a half year or more process. But we recognize that fundamental decisions have to be made now and they don't get any easier as time goes by. It is time to make hard decisions. We want the right deal that would make the world including the United States and our closest allies and partners, safer and more secure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCPIKE: Look, he also basically said that they are negotiating in good faith and going slowly so they don't make any mistakes -- Christi.
PAUL: This is something that was interesting, though, Erin, because as we heard him say, there are important gaps that remain here. We've also heard from Iran's president this morning who said that a deal, a nuclear deal with the U.S. is within reach and achievable, but while Iran is ready to sign the ultimate choice is up to the U.S. and its allies when all issues are resolved. It almost sounds like they are on different pages -- Erin.
MCPIKE: Well, Christi, that is exactly right. Look, President Obama has said that same thing that Kerry said this morning that significant gaps remain, President Obama has said this basically at every step in the process.
I point out that Iran's foreign minister took to Twitter yesterday and he said it's time for the U.S. to choose between pressure and agreement so it seems like Iran is looking for the U.S. to capitulate.
The big issue that they are wrestling over is sanctions. We did hear White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest say repeatedly yesterday, almost a half dozen times that they are looking for ways to snap sanctions back into place if Iran doesn't hold up its end of the bargain.
So yes, these gaps do remain, but we have heard this all the way through the process -- Christi.
PAUL: All righty, Erin McPike, we appreciate it. Thank you, Erin.
BLACKWELL: New this morning, seven children are dead in a terrible tragedy. They killed when a fire raced through their home. This happened before dawn in Brooklyn, New York. A woman and a teenage girl suffered some serious injuries. The fire has been contained.
Police believed all of the victims were family members so seven children from one family lost. They are investigating what could have started this blaze. We expect to learn more at the bottom of the hour.
[08:10:10] Well, still to come, new Libyan connections to the tourist attack in Tunisia. Phil Black is following the developments. He will join us after the break.
PAUL: ISIS now claiming responsibility for a major attack on a mosque in Yemen. Is this part of a new tactic by the terror group?
PAUL: It's 13 minutes past the hour right now. It's so good to have you here. We have some new details for you this morning on the terror attacks in Yemen. ISIS for one is claiming to be behind the deadly blast that ripped through two mosques killing 137 people.
BLACKWELL: Now suicide bombers pretending to be disabled carried out the attacks by hiding the explosives under their plaster casts and a message from ISIS says, "These attacks are just the tip of an iceberg and more will follow." We have to say CNN cannot independently verify the legitimacy of these claims.
Let's go to Tunisia now. This morning, officials say two of the suspects who carried out a terror attack in a museum received weapons training in camps in Libya.
And in a new audio message, ISIS is also claiming responsibility for this attack. CNN cannot independently confirm the authenticity of that message, but it is troubling.
Let's go to CNN's Phil Black in Tunisia. Troubling, Phil, not only because of what happened there and the number of deaths and the impact on the economy, but the connection that so many foreign fighters have come from this very small country. It seem now in some ways if this is indeed ISIS' doing are going back and striking.
PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Victor, there is a strong Jihadi element. There is no doubt. That is a known and ongoing threat add to that the instability across the border in Libya where you touched on the authorities here believe the two gunmen responsible for this attack traveled across the border to that territory, received some sort of training there become coming back and carrying out the attack here.
[08:15:10]But they haven't gotten into detail about just the nature of that training. What did they learn? What were they taught to do? It's interesting because we spoke to a witness who witnessed, watched one of these gunmen up close. His assessment this was a man who didn't know his way around a gun. Take a look.
BLACK (voice-over): These were the panic scenes, security forces arrived at the museum. By that time the gun men had already killed many people and moved deeper inside the complex.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just terrified.
BLACK: Wassei Bouzid, witnessed the start of the massacre.
WASSEI BOUZID, WITNESS: The moment when he started to shoot everybody in front of him with no mercy. The blood, and innocent people laying down.
BLACK: Bouzid, a tourist guide had been waiting by a bus for his tour group to return from the museum when he saw a man that didn't look like a terrorist.
BOUZID: A man.
BLACK (on camera): In civilian clothes. Not military.
BOUZID: Not military at all. Civilian, blue jeans, shoes, blue jacket and shaved, and he did not pronounce any words.
BLACK (voice-over): Bouzid says the man then pulled what looked like a gun from his bag, but didn't know how to use it.
BOUZID: At that moment I thought he was one of the guests, one of the clients, one of the tourists, playing with a plastic gun.
BLACK: He got it working just as crowds were leaving the museum.
BOUZID: Around 60 or 70 and he started to shoot everybody in front of him.
BLACK: Bouzid fled as security forces quickly arrived in bigger numbers. After killing the gunman they were cheered as heroes. One of the attackers lived here. His family is confused and grieving and angry.
His uncle says it's true. He carried out this terrorist attack. He was killed. We don't have his body back. He was also a victim of terrorism. The family says the morning of the attack he drank coffee like any other day.
Families in Tunisia and across the globe are now struggling to understand why that normal ritual was followed hours later by horrific violence.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BLACK: So that witness we spoke to came very close to losing his life, but he also believes he has lost his livelihood. He is a tour guide. He relies upon tourists and he and pretty much everyone here believes that this brutal simple attack had a much grander purpose.
To damage the economy the country's political stability by destroying the tourism industry and sector which is so vital to its continued growth and in the short-term at the very least everyone here believes that operation was a success -- Victor.
BLACKWELL: Phil, we'll have an expanded conversation later about tourism and travelers to the Mediterranean region. Phil Black for us, thank you so much.
PAUL: Let's bring in Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, CNN military analyst, and former commanding general in Europe, in Seventh Army. General, thank you so much for being with us.
ISIS as we said apparently claiming responsibility for two terror attacks in two countries in less than a week. Particularly in Yemen where we know al Qaeda has always been the more forceful group there. If ISIS is indeed responsible, what does that say to you about their strength and how they are moving?
LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It certainly has been a troubling week, Christi. I say first, if we can address Tunisia, this was the one that concerned me the most because Tunisia is a very beautiful country, for anyone who has been there, it has a constitutional republic.
It has a code of personal law which gives women so many rights and seems to be the model for emerging countries in North Africa. To have this attack shows that ISIS is emboldened and these terrorists are beginning to think almost in group crowd psychology that they can attack.
That's troubling. When you're looking at Yemen, it's a completely different story. That is a failing and near failed state after so much hope that it could become a much better organization, a much better nation.
And now you not only have the al Qaeda versus Hootie dynamic, you have embolden Sunnis that are claiming association with ISIS that are going to stir that stew into something that's going to be continuingly troubling for many months to come.
It's a dynamic without a government there. You compare it to Tunisia with emerging great government with Yemen, which is a failing and increasingly bad government and you've got the yin and the yang of that part of the world.
[08:20:03] PAUL: Well, not only that, when you look at ISIS strongholds on the map, you've got Tunisia, this attack in Tunisia, then you go into Libya, Egypt, and across the Red Sea to Yemen.
So you put all of that together, and James Reese earlier said what they are doing in part is vying for who can win propaganda. They are as you said against al Qaeda, against the Hutis. Do you have fear that any of these groups might merge as ISIS supposedly has done with Boko Haram?
HERTLING: I see it a little bit differently. First of all, I don't think we can color the map of Tunisia saying it's an ISIS stronghold. This is the same kind of attack we saw in Paris where it's a group of -- a small group of individuals trying to impose their will on a nation that's actually very strong.
You're seeing other countries like Egypt that is -- attempting to fight these kinds of groups, and push them down and really get a rule of law after the Arab spring and as balance come about. So there is some expanding and like I said before, it is group think.
I'm actually concerned that as they search for legitimacy this could be troubling to ISIS because they have a bigger command and control problem. They have so many different groups with so many different initiatives, all claiming to be part of ISIS.
It might be truthfully easier to defeat them in detail in each one of these countries, but first you've got to get the government of these countries and their security forces to get their act together.
PAUL: But how do you do that because so many of these governments when we talk about Libya, we talk about Syria. The government is in shambles essentially. How do you fight in that regard?
HERTLING: Well, certainly and all of it needs strengthening and you see these things whenever you have revolutions. There's going to be a period of turmoil. The Libyan National Army in fact today conducted attacks against terror training camps in their country.
Still a little bit disconnected to an overall strategy, but at least you have some of the governments attempting to wipe out these terrorist groups. This is as we've said so for so long a period of time, this is going to be a long fight.
There's got to be increased coordination. You have to have strong government and security forces, and most of the countries in North Africa, not all but many of the countries in North Africa and several of the countries in the Mideast are having problems in all of those areas. So it is going to be a long fight with a lot of requirement for good governance and improved security forces.
PAUL: Yes, and Paul Cruickshank last night saying there is a new significant warning from the French prime minister saying never in the history of Europe has there been such a big terrorism threat, not a matter of if, but when ISIS might strike again.
And it's possibly bleeding into Europe and the U.S. with tourism, and what not, but Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, thank you so much for being with us.
HERTLING: Thank you, Christi. BLACKWELL: We'll have that conversation in just a moment. But first, let's bring it home, at least to the people in the northeast because looking at the calendar, it says first full day of spring.
PAUL: Doesn't look like it.
BLACKWELL: If you look out the window, it says we might as well be in the middle of winter because spring hasn't exactly sprung at least yet. We'll tell you who saw 5 inches nearly of snow.
Plus, the family of Bobbi Kristina Brown has moved her out of the hospital and into a new rehab facility. Does this mean her condition has improved? We've got that report ahead.
PAUL: It's 26 minutes past the hour. Here's a look at some other stories that are developing this morning for you here.
BLACKWELL: Yes, talk about developing, a winter storm developing. Not exactly what you expect for the first full day of spring, snow across much of the northeast.
PAUL: Yes, New York City got as much as 3 inches of snow, Connecticut more than 5. New Jersey also saw 3. Enjoy it for the day and a half or so that you might have it.
The House committee investigating Benghazi has formally requested that Hillary Clinton hand over her private e-mail server. In a letter sent yesterday to Clinton's lawyer and obtained by CNN, the committee gave Clinton until April 3 to respond to the request or face a possible subpoena. A Clinton spokesman didn't say whether she would grant the request, but Clinton has said she will not turn over her personal server.
BLACKWELL: Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of the late Whitney Houston and also singer, Bobby Brown, has been moved from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta to a rehab facility. Although sources close to the family have not said that her condition has improved. Bobbi Kristina Brown has been in a medically induced coma since being found unresponsive in a bathtub in January.
PAUL: Pope Francis is Naples, Italy this morning holding an outdoor mass in what is the most dangerous part of Naples, but there are pictures we're getting in. Earlier, we know that he said a prayer at a shrine in Pompeii, of course, the ancient city buried under ash in 79 A.D.
Today a little bit later the pope will also meet with members of the clergy, he's going to meet with some folks who are suffering from illness, and then talk to the young people in the community.
We have an update for you on the bloody arrest of a black University of Virginia student. Still ahead why police say this investigation, it could take weeks, this as fellow classmates march out of an on campus forum in protest of the violent takedown.
Economics, education, social justice, some of the reasons why equality between blacks and whites struggles to improve. A black America in crisis, we'll ask the head of the National Urban League next.
BLACKWELL: We look forward to the conversation with Mark Murell in just a moment. First this week's CNN money advance profiles a business designed to provide meals for busy families who don't have time to cook. This business also donates the proceeds to a food bank. Look.
TRI TRAN, CO-FOUNDER, MUNCHERY: I always had a problem with what's for dinner. I look at my wife and she works, too. We also have young kids at the time. I figured there must be another option to get healthy, but really delicious food.
I'm Tri Tran. I'm the co-founder of Munchery. The company started out of my living room in San Francisco, but then we quickly moved into a commercial kitchen. People can order wholesome food cooked by top chefs.
Every day there is a different menu that they are cooking and it's chilled. You can order via our web site or on our mobile app. Order the same day, get it delivered, Twitter and Facebook, allow customers to share their experience with their friends, about half of the customers were referred by an existing customer. I was born in Vietnam --
[08:29:45] TRI TRAN, CO-FOUNDER, MUNCHERY: People can order wholesome food cooked by top talent chefs. Everyday there is a different menu that they are cooking and it's been chilled. You can order via our Web site or on our mobile app. Order the same day, get it delivered.
Twitter and Facebook allow customers to really share their experience with their friends, about half of our customers were referred by an existing customer.
I was born in Vietnam I came to this country when I was 11 as a refugee on one of these boats. It wasn't until I was 22 that I actually was able to see my parents again for the first time. And it actually makes our start-up look easier compared to something like that. We really enjoy servicing our customer but we know there are always other people in need.
LESLIE BACHO, SF-MARIN FOOD BANK: For every online purchase Munchery donates 33 cents to the food bank which is enough for us to provide a meal. In 2013 we raised over $100,000.
TRAN: We have grown about with six times over and we're expanding quickly now to other parts of the country. We never forget our origins and we never take things for granted.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST: 34 minutes past the hour.
Some new details this morning for you involving the bloody arrest of an African-American student from the University of Virginia: according to officials the investigation into that incident could take, they're estimating weeks now. And we're learning Martese Johnson, the student in the video here, was reportedly taken to a health center overnight with concerns of head swelling -- or last night. He was only taken we're told as a precaution.
All of this, though, happening just days after a uniformed alcohol control agent took Martese to the ground; his head was slammed to the pavement. Students are now calling for change when it comes to excessive use of force. And look at this, they even walked out in protest during a forum on the UVA campus.
[08:35:03] CNN's Brian Todd was there and clues us into what happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, his head is bleeding.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I go to UVA, (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop fighting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) racists.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The arresting agents described him as agitated, belligerent and intoxicated. But Martese Johnson says he did nothing wrong, that Virginia's Department of Alcohol, Beverage Control agents used excessive force. His attorney says Johnson had a valid Illinois state I.D. but when asked for his zip code Johnson gave his mother's current address, different from his I.D. card.
MARTESE JOHNSON, STUDENT: How does this happen, you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) racists.
TODD: Johnson suffered a head injury requiring ten stitches.
On the University of Virginia campus outraged students press top law enforcement officials on the Johnson arrest. Martese Johnson was at this forum but didn't speak. Neither did senior ABC agents who were there. Virginia's top public safety official, who oversees ABC says he doesn't know if this is about race. Says the accusation of excessive force is being investigated and --
Any of the officers involved in that arrest have any disciplinary measures taken against them in the past?
BRIAN MORAN, VIRGINIA SECRETARY OF PUBLIC SAFETY: We're allowing the investigation to -- that type of information is important to gather and we've asked the state police to gather that information. TODD: Now a top Virginia legislator is putting immense pressure on
this alcohol enforcement agency.
DEL. DAVID TOZCANO: They are not appropriately trained, they don't have the proper protocols and they don't implement them appropriately. And here is another example of them being overzealous in their enforcement.
TODD: David Tozcano says it's time to consider taking weapons and the power to arrest away from ABC agents, contacted by CNN ABC officials would not comment. This isn't the first time ABC agents have been accused of excessive force.
In April of 2013, a young University of Virginia student was swarmed by ABC agents outside this (inaudible) theater in Charlottesville. They surrounded her car, at least one of them pulled a gun. They thought she was buying alcohol under aged. Turns out all she had was some sparkling water and cookie dough. On the 911 call from inside the student's car -- fear and confusion.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't know if they're real police officers or not and we're freaking out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does somebody have a gun or something?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God.
TODD: Student Elizabeth Daily was arrested that night but she later got that taken off her record and settled a lawsuit for more than $200,000. After that incident the Virginia ABC Department disciplined those agents and reformed its practices. But there could well be another round of that in the weeks ahead.
Brian Todd, CNN, Charlottesville, Virginia.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Well, we know that the Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control is not the first agency to face accusations of police brutality. We reported on Ferguson, Missouri and New York.
The concerns about equality in police practices have dominated the news of the past year. And according to a new report from the National Urban League there is a big equality gap between blacks and whites. And you combine with deficits in education and health care and earning disparities. In short African-American leaders like Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, say the black America is in crisis and as you see we have Marc Morial with us now. Good morning.
MARC MORIAL, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: Good morning. And good to be with you.
BLACKWELL: Good to have you. So, some of these disparities are not new. But the use of the word crisis suggests that the disparities -- these gaps are growing. Is that what's happening?
MORIAL: Over a 10-year period, the gap has grown slightly. The important thing is we're not making progress. We use crisis because in the area of economics that we really looked at, very carefully and we looked at the 70 largest cities in America, we found black unemployment levels over 15 percent in 33 of the 70 cities, and black unemployment levels of over 20 in seven cities. These are depression, recession area -- era unemployment levels, and for the people who are unemployed, for those communities, it represents a crisis.
Now, no doubt we certainly would celebrate the idea that the economy has begun to produce over 200,000 jobs per month and that's an astounding number considering that trend is the most consistent trend of that type of job creation since 1977.
BLACKWELL: And Marc, there are some people would say that a high tide lifts all boats. The unemployment rate is dropping, why is this not happening for the black community as well?
MORIAL: Well, our report may not identify the why, and there could be long debates on the why. But our report tells the truth about what we face and we also try to emphasize what kind of remedies, what kind of policies, what kind of things we need to do.
[08:40:11] The important thing is some people seeing the economy where it is may want to do a somersault or spike the ball and that is not what we suggest because people are being left behind. So we recommend a strong youth employment bill.
The unemployment levels for youth and young adults, particularly youth and young adults of color, are even higher than 20 percent. They reach 30 to 40 percent in many of these communities. That is a crisis. That is not sustainable. That produces other problems. So we think that there needs to be attention to that.
But you know, lest we be sort of all crisis, I do want to point out one area where we saw improvements and it's notable. That the health disparity area, the health index has indeed narrowed by several percentage points over the last two years. We believe it has a lot to do with the Affordable Care Act, the expansion of insurance and Medicaid brought on by the President's leadership.
And so what it tells us is that when you see a big problem and you try a remedy and the remedy works we've got to certainly note that. So with the economy -- there needs to be additional steps.
BLACKWELL: Let me get in here, one specific number that jumped out to me. The report finds that black Americans, 72 percent equal to white. How did you come up with such a precise number here?
MORIAL: Well, this is put together by an econometric team at IHS. We have been doing this index now for over ten years and we look at 300 data sets. And we've created this index which compares for example the homeownership rate amongst blacks, with the homeownership rate amongst whites and that's the black/white index. The homeownership rate amongst Latinos and the homeownership rate among whites. So there's 300 data sets like that that are put into an index. And that index measures this. And the reason why we did this, Victor, is because we want this discussion about gaps and disparities to be grounded in facts, to be grounded in some data. And not just grounded in anecdotal information or perceptions that people have.
We have to have the debate on how to close these gaps, how to fix these challenges. But we need to have a good starting point that is based on factual information.
BLACKWELL: All right. Marc Morial with the National Urban League -- thank you so much for bringing us the findings of the report.
MORIAL: Yes. And it's at StateofBlackAmerica.org. You can get the full report free for the next ten days.
BLACKWELL: All right. Thank you -- Marc.
PAUL: Thank you, sir. Lawyers for Robert Durst meanwhile say his arrest was illegal. They want him out of jail. Should he be freed is the question? Joey Jackson has something to say about that.
[08:46:37] BLACKWELL: 14 minutes until the top of the hour.
Attorneys for jailed millionaire Robert Durst want New Orleans authorities to release him. They filed papers in court saying he was arrested illegally and there is no probable cause to keep him behind bars. They asked a magistrate judge to set a hearing. Durst has been charged with the murder in the 2000 shooting death of his long-time friend Susan Berman.
PAUL: He didn't look happy in that picture. Did you notice how happy she was?
PAUL: And he was just standing there.
BLACKWELL: Not happy.
PAUL: He was happier in the orange jump suit in the back of the car.
BLACKWELL: Yes, sometimes pictures tell -- a thousand words, yes.
PAUL: That's what I'm thinking. The FBI is asking police to, you know, dust off some long unsolved murder cases and see if they have any links to Durst. There are still unanswered questions about the disappearance of his first wife Kathy in 1982. We were just talking about it.
So HLN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson knows this case. He has something to say about it.
Let me ask you first Joey -- JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: Just a little -- Christi.
PAUL: -- yes. Why are Durst's attorneys arguing that his arrest was illegal and do you think there is any credence to the argument?
JACKSON: It's called the fruit of the poisonous tree, Christi. It's a fancy term for saying if the arrest is not predicated upon probable cause then anything that is found as a result of that arrest has to be thrown out, suppressed and never sees the light of day. So the attorneys are making the argument, two separate cases here of course, the case in New Orleans and that pertains to the possession of a weapon that was found in his hotel.
There is the allegation that the weapon was also found with marijuana so that's two charges. Possession of a weapon by a felon, in addition to the possession of a weapon with controlled substances -- so the attorneys are arguing what arrest warrant? There wasn't a warrant issued and that was based upon a documentary, based upon some handwriting letter that you say is similar, based upon something you say is a confession which were ramblings in a bathroom?
If you don't have more we're going to find out at that evidentiary hearing -- that arrest warrant shouldn't have been issued. If that arrest warrant shouldn't have been issued those items that were found in his hotel shall not see the light of day. That's what the argument is predicated on. Does it have merit? We'll wait for the hearing to decide.
PAUL: But do you think it has merit?
JACKSON: I do, Christi, to the extent that what attorneys always do what we do is challenge any evidence that's going to be admitted. And so whether that argument has legs will depend upon that search warrant and that arrest warrant, and exactly what was in there. Was there more information or evidence other than you know, a letter that looks similar in a documentary, or some ramblings he had in the bathroom. I would presume that the authorities have much more than that.
PAUL: Let's just -- people don't know let's listen to the ramblings in this "True Crime" documentary series. It's called "The Jinx". And this is what Durst was overheard whispering. Listen here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT DURST: What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: He says "I killed them all, of course." So, can that be used, again we don't know the context or what he was thinking in his head when he said it but can that statement be used in court?
JACKSON: I love when you cross-examine me -- Christi. What happens is this. What happens is they are going to look at this statement and they're going to say this. [08:50:02] The attorneys initially are going to move to exclude it. How? This was an HBO documentary, having nothing to do with the police.
The argument the attorneys will make is that they were acting as agents of the police so there was state and police action here. Because remember, whenever you move to suppress something it has to be governmental and police action. This was an HBO documentary independent of the police.
We find out later, however, that HBO was working closely with the police and to that extent the attorneys would argue he had a reasonable expectation of privacy that was in the bathroom and as a result of that expectation of privacy, this should not come in because of the fact that he was overheard saying something.
Now, to the extent that they lose that argument the issue then becomes what does this mean what he was saying? Was it a confession, was it under oath or were these just the ramblings and murmurings of someone who could be sarcastic and could be not.
PAUL: All right. Joey Jackson, always appreciate your perspective.
JACKSON: So much to unpack in this case. Just the beginnings of it -- Christi.
PAUL: I got you. It is.
JACKSON: Have a great day.
PAUL: You're absolutely right about that. Thank you, Joey -- you too.
JACKSON: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: Hey, have you ever worked on something, you know, major, it was perfect, packaged the right way and beautiful, and then had it torn apart in front of you?
If you have, then you know how a group of fourth-graders in New Hampshire feel after they get an ugly lesson in law making. You'll want to spend a minute and a half and watch this one.
That story is next.
BLACKWELL: It's like "House of Cards" but for fourth graders. A group of young students got to watch democracy in all of its vicious glory during a recent trip to the New Hampshire state legislature.
[08:55:05] PAUL: They were trying to learn how a bill becomes a law so they had proposed making the red tail hawk the state raptor. They have a state bird, now they want a state raptor.
BLACKWELL: Yes. Specifically. PAUL: And they were there when the bill was debated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We already have a state bird but now do we need a state raptor? Isn't that a bird? Isn't that an animal?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So are we going to have you know, flightless birds, water fowl, pet birds, garden birds, wild birds? How many of these bills do we need to have?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Only one other state has a state raptor. Why do we need a state raptor?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we keep bringing more of these bills and bills and bills forward that really I feel we shouldn't have in front of us, we'll be picking a state hot dog next.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Must we designate one state raptor? Does a raptor that is found everywhere in the country symbolize New Hampshire?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's known for its extremely strong and sharp talons with which it grasps his prey. But it grasps them with its talons and then uses its razor sharp beak to rip its victim to shreds and to basically tear it apart limb by limb. I guess the shame about making this a state bird is it would serve as a much better mascot for Planned Parenthood.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: And you've got the kids sitting there watching all of this.
PAUL: They're right there.
BLACKWELL: No love. No chill there in the state legislature in New Hampshire. None. Brutal. Of course you can hear the reaction. Listen to one student and a faculty member.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We really like -- we wanted them to vote yes and it was ok that they didn't.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were all shocked by the behavior of the individuals that spoke the way they did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really exciting to do something like this because not everyone gets to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: So sad. Of course, it's pretty easy to surmise that the bill was killed by lawmakers.
PAUL: Good effort, kids. Good effort though.
BLACKWELL: Good try.
That's it for us.
PAUL: "SMERCONISH" starts right after the break. Stay close.