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Dangerous Winter Ice Jams; Obama's Plan After Presidential Term Is Over; Attorney General Eric Holder Hospitalized

Aired February 27, 2014 - 11:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. So we've seen how the brutal weather has caused problems on the ground and in the air. Now we're seeing what it's doing on the water. Some rivers are big, static lakes of ice. Look at this. These ice jams could be very, very dangerous, especially when it starts to get warmer.

Our Ted Rowlands is at an ice jam on the Kankankee River about an hour from Chicago.

Ted, that is an amazing, amazing sight behind you.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dangerous job but gorgeous. You don't see this very often. This is a massive ice jam at Cottage Grove on the Kankankee River. You can see, as far as the eye can see, these massive boulders of ice that were formed over the last few days. We had a warm-up in the Midwest and that broke the ice initially, and then, of course, we got the deep freeze back and that's what you're looking at. This is happening across the Midwest. When this stuff starts to move, get out of the way because it takes out everything. It takes out trees, earth, anything in its way.

You're starting to see it here in Kankankee. Actually, you can see it along the side of the river here, there are homes and the ice jam is coming dangerously close to some of these homes.

JoJo Broadwell, they call him the mayor here on the little stretch of the Kankankee River. He's here with his cat, Slayer.

You've been here your entire life and you've never seen anything like this. Give us an idea of what is happening with your home here along the banks.

JOJO BROADWELL, WILMINGTON, ILLINOIS RESIDENT: Hey, I'm really scared. We're on the banks of the river here. It goes down 20 feet and you're seeing it 20 feet on top of the water here.

ROWLANDS: And your house is right here, so?

BROADWELL: This is my home. That's how close it is. If the ice gets any higher, it's going to destroy everything in its path and we have all kinds of good people here in Cottage Grove. And we pray -- we're all family down here on the river and we pray for everybody.

ROWLANDS: John, JoJo is saying the noise from this ice is moving, it's incredible.

You said it was like --

BROADWELL: It's like dynamite. It's like dynamite. It will wake you up. You think a bomb is going off.

ROWLANDS: And look at these trees out here in the middle of this area. These were trees up on the bank that the ice came and ripped apart when it was on the move.

BROADWELL: Yes. It's taken everything. You can see barrels. You see a boat over there across the river that was on the bank. It just takes everything -- trees. You'll never know what you'll see floating down the river after this is all over with.

ROWLANDS: I just heard a crack. You can hear it, too.

BROADWELL: You can hear it. You can hear it. The warm weather dredging across the way is underneath here and you can hear it popping and cracking. It's really scary.


But John, I tell you, we're out here, it is a beautiful area, an extraordinary sight to see.

BERMAN: When you see those pictures and you hear it's like dynamite and you can see the trees just strewn about, is there anything that you can do to protect your house? Obviously, we wish everyone well there.

ROWLANDS: No. If the ice is on the move, you're in trouble.

Now, the other part of the equation is when the ice melts, if it melts too quickly, you're going to have some of the ice jam and then the water buildup which is going to create flooding. That you can put out sandbags and move your furniture.

But if this stuff gets any higher there's nothing you can do.

BROADWELL: There's nothing you can do. Ain't no sandbags are going to stop 100 tons of ice.

ROWLANDS: You're going to take Slayer and --


BROADWELL: We're going to jump in a pickup truck and we're gone. Everything else is material, but me and my cat, that's all that matters. Everything else can be replaced.

ROWLANDS: JoJo, good luck to you. Good luck to you, Slayer.

John, back to you.

BERMAN: Good luck to everyone there. Thank you so much, Ted Rowlands. Stunning, stunning images behind him there. Appreciate it.

All right, @ THIS HOUR, President Obama is preparing to launch what will be his life-long commitment. The word is this will be what he will plan to focus on after he is president, his main job after this one. It's an initiative called My Brother's Keeper and it focuses on opportunities for young men of color, specifically, black and Hispanic men.

Don Lemon is joining us.

Don, just hours away from the president's big announcement on this. What do you expect?

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We expect the president to come out around 3:25, 3:30 to announce this major initiative and it's called My Brother's Keeper. It's going to be modeled on wildly successful mentoring programs across the country. They are looking at successful programs. One like BAM, which is being a man, or Becoming a Man, I should say, from Chicago. The president went to visit them last year, a scheduled visit to Chicago. He went to visit them, a group of young men in this program, and he was really affected by it. He wanted to take this program, model it across the country.

I got a chance to meet some of these young men who are going to be here at the White House and they describe what it means to be a man. Listen.


LEMON: What does becoming a man mean? What does that mean to you?

JAMES ADAMS, BECOMING A MAN PROGRAM PARTICIPANT: It basically means like it's time to grow up, leave behind the childish things, becoming a man, basically, stop being childish, persevering.

CHRISTIAN CHAMPAGNE, BECOMING A MAN PROGRAM PARTICIPANT: Take responsibility and deal with your things. Deal with your actions and whatever the outcome is, you've got to accept it.


LEMON: So these young men, the young men from around the country, business leaders, philanthropic leaders will also be at the White House today. $150 million has been given to this program and they are hoping to get $200 million more for that program in the next five years to help young men of color. John?

BERMAN: Don, obviously, President Obama is the first black American president. One of the ironies is that he has received criticism by some in the African-American community for not focusing more on issues that they believe are critical inside communities -- unemployment among African-Americans, twice as high as white unemployment, crime, issues like that. Are these programs, in a way, an answer to that criticism? LEMON: Well, you know, even the Congressional Black Caucus has criticized the president about that. People have been critical of the president and maybe this was a way, as you phrase in your question, to kind of make up for that and she said, listen, we tackled unemployment, saved the auto industry, health care and on and on, those were issues that helped young black men as well.

But as you have said, young black men especially fall either at the top or bottom of categories, black unemployment, incarceration rates, dropping out of school and what have you. One in three black men born today are black children, black boys born today can expect to spend some time in prison. 80 percent in major cities of black men will have a criminal record. So these are not good numbers.

But the president was affected by what happened to Trayvon Martin and the George Zimmerman verdict and started to speak more honestly and more candor about young black men in America and the challenges that they face. And I think those incidents sort of precipitated this and now the president wants to try this initiative around the country that's working in so many cities.

BERMAN: It seems like something he wanted to focus in his second term and now we learn beyond.

Don Lemon, at the White House, thank you for coming on. Appreciate it. LEMON: All right.

BERMAN: Ahead for us @ THIS HOUR, different type of story. When does a dress fit too well? Well, the new answer from Pippa Middleton.


Time now for our @ THIS HOUR "Hot Flash." Michaela is on the road so CNN's Ashleigh Banfield, the host of "LEGAL VIEW" is here to set us straight.

I want to start with this selfie that started a war on social media. It shows a Ft. Carson soldier avoiding a flag salute during the ceremony. The caption even says that's what she's doing. She says, "That's me laying back in the car so I don't have to salute the 1700 flag, the 5:00 flag." This is getting a lot of blow back, a lot of nasty comments. The Army is now investigating.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR, "LEGAL VIEW": As it should. I don't want her on my wall. Are you kidding me? Isn't this entire organization based on honor, loyalty, respect? Call me crazy, but I earned my citizenship and I respect it.

BERMAN: She also goes on --

BANFIELD: She's paid to --


BERMAN: and says she made a video, saying that she's a respectful soldier. She thinks people are misinterpreting it. I think I can understand the anger among people, including you. I think there's one lesson that we can all agree on, which is Instagram, social media, it's a bad place to post things.

BANFIELD: Dumb, dumb, dumb. All I can say, we already know how soldiers have made big, dumb moves, putting stupid photographs out there that have risked the lives of other soldiers. This is not going to risk anyone's lives, but maybe her. Not cool.

BERMAN: Another legal story here. Red light cameras, the ones that have busted you when you go through intersections, new numbers show that fewer places are using these. Seven states have banned them and more could follow. Critics say they are a big invasion of privacy and they are more about making money than keeping driver's safe.

Ashleigh Banfield, what say you?

BANFIELD: I don't like them personally because I tend to go fast and skip that orange light. But they find that they are causing more accidents. So if the purpose was supposed to be safety-based and they ended up being pretty much revenue-based, they bring in a lot of dough.

BERMAN: Some studies do show they cause more accidents. There's a bunch of studies on both sides of it. If they are not working, I can understand that. At the same time, you're not supposed to speed. When you speed, I think you're making this agreement, saying, I know if I get caught, I get caught.



BANFIELD: The people who come out and say, my privacy is an issue. Hey, you're out on a public street and you have a public license on a public taxpayers' road.

BERMAN: Respect my right to break the law while speeding.

BANFIELD: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

BERMAN: Our final story is one you have to look at again, again and again. It's a shocking admission from Pippa.

BANFIELD: Shocking.

BERMAN: So you remember the dress? She wore it to her sister's wedding in 2011. People said, wait a second, who are we supposed to be looking at? Pippa is saying that that dress fit, quote, "a little too well."

BANFIELD: The Alexander McQueen dress. I know you knew that, right?

BERMAN: I don't know who made it but I liked it.

BANFIELD: I think it was called the humada-humada (ph) model. BERMAN: It's quite a dress.

BANFIELD: Why is everybody so whacked out that she said it fit well. Yes, she was stunning. Yes, she upstaged the bride. OK.



BERMAN: She said that -- she said, at an event, "Recognition has an upside, a downside, and also its backside." So also she has a sense of humor.

All right. Thank you so much, Ashleigh Banfield.

"Legal View" starts at the top of the hour. You do not want to miss it.

And if you want to weigh in on Pippa's dress or the selfie or red light cameras, we'd love you to tweet us. Our Twitter handle is @thishour. It's a good one.

All right. We do have breaking news to tell you about @ THIS HOUR. We have just learned that Attorney General Eric Holder is at the hospital after experiencing faintness and shortness of breath. He's at the Washington Hospital Center for further examination. He is alert. He's resting. We'll find out much more about the attorney general, Eric Holder, at the hospital after experiencing some shortness of breath. More on this story right after the break.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. Our breaking news @ THIS HOUR, Attorney General Eric Holder is in the hospital after experiencing faintness and shortness of breath. He's at the Medstar Washington Hospital Center for further evaluation. He's alert. He's resting.

Want to find out more now from Evan Perez, our justice reporter.

What do you know?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. This news just came in from the Justice Department. At about 9:30 this morning, the attorney general was having his normal meeting with staff, with high- level staff at the Justice Department when he experienced some faintness of breath. And just out of precaution, they took him to the hospital. He's still in the hospital right now. He's resting. He's talking to his doctors. He seems to be OK. Obviously, there's been a bit of a scare for him. He's normally a pretty healthy guy. So this is quite a surprise turn for this to happen this morning.

BERMAN: A 63-year-old man, probably the closest friend that President Obama has in the cabinet. He's married, his wife Sharon, he's got three children. What's his schedule like on a day-to-day basis? He's now in second term as attorney general. There had been a great deal of speculation that he would not serve this long, yet he's given no indication that he's ready to leave yet.

PEREZ: Well, that's right. I mean, this is, you know, a grueling job. He's up probably before dawn every morning. He stays up late at night. He's a late-night kind of guy, e-mailing aides and staff late into the evening. And then he's up early in the morning, reading some of the briefs before he heads down to the FBI and gets, you know, some of the latest -- what the latest threats are on terrorism and so on, some of the biggest cases that they have going. So it is a pretty long day that he has.

And as you said, there's been a lot of speculation as to how long he was going to stay in the job. He says that he wasn't intending to serve all two terms of President Obama. He told us in an interview in November that he expected to stay well into this year in the office. So there's a lot of speculation that perhaps later this summer we might find out of his plans to leave. But he does say he loves his job. It's the best job he's ever had. And he's defied a lot of skeptics who thought he wouldn't last this long.

BERMAN: And he's in the news, Evan, almost every day. Over the last few weeks alone, on the issue of marijuana in states, saying the federal government will not impose federal laws in states that have legalized marijuana. Just this week, on issues particularly concerning gay rights, he said the state attorney general should not have to defend laws that they do not feel are constitutional. So he has a lot going on, a lot of balls in the air at the Justice Department.

If he's in the hospital for a day or two, or maybe more here -- and we don't have any reason to believe that just now. Again, he's alert. But when he is not around, who runs the show there? The deputy attorney general?

PEREZ: Right. James Cole, who is the deputy attorney general, is now probably the person who's in charge if the attorney general is not, you know, capable of carrying out the office. We don't know that any of that has happened. He's just at the hospital. It's not far away. But it is probably something that he might maybe take a few days after to recuperate to make sure everything is OK.

Now, as you said, the Attorney General Holder has been in the news a lot. He's been working on everything related to gay rights to civil rights issues. He's been very active building a pretty big legacy on this issue after going through a lot of controversy, some tough periods in his first four years in office.

BERMAN: And again, we should say we have no reason to believe this is anything other than precautionary. He's at the hospital. He's alert. His aides say he is talking to doctors.

Just off the top of my head I can think of Governor Chris Christie who, in his first term, was rushed to the hospital experiencing a similar thing. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, at the hospital at one point experiencing the same sort of thing.

We certainly hope Attorney General Eric Holder recovers and gets back on his feet and back on the job as soon as possible.

Evan Perez, thank you so much for being with us. We really appreciate it.

We'll have much more on this as it develops throughout the day.

Thanks for joining us @ THIS HOUR. "LEGAL VIEW" with Ashleigh Banfield starts right after the break.