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CNN SUNDAY MORNING
Chinook Down in Afghanistan; Fallout from Failed Senate Iraq Resolution; Oscar Fashion
Aired February 18, 2007 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: "Now in the News," engine failure is suspected in the crash today of a NATO helicopter in Afghanistan. Eight of the 22 service members aboard were killed. The rest were injured. The CH-47 Chinook, similar to this one you are seeing, is a twin rotor transport. A military spokesman says the pilot reported a sudden, unexplained loss of power and control before that crash.
Also breaking news out of Baghdad, at least 36 people were killed today by three car bombs, about 125 people were wounded. Police say the deadliest of the blasts came in a commercial area known as New Baghdad. At least 30 people died when two bombs went off, one after the other. We have a live update just ahead.
And no Iraq resolution in the U.S. Senate. Republicans successfully blocked debate on the non-binding resolution critical of the president's plan to add more troops in Iraq. It's the second time the resolution failed to make it to a floor vote.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Mideast peace talks continue this morning with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice making the rounds between Israel and Palestinian leaders. Rice just wrapped up a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. Rice's message, Palestinians must recognize Israel's right to exist.
The body of tabloid star Anna Nicole Smith has finally been embalmed, but the legal wrangling over where to bury her drags on. Partner Howard K. Stern says Smith wanted to be buried in the Bahamas next to her son Daniel. Smith's estranged mother wants her buried in Texas. A hearing on the matter resumes in Fort Lauderdale Tuesday.
NGUYEN: Next on CNN SUNDAY MORNING, stories of intrigue from one of the first black men to supervise spies for the CIA. An "American Uncovered" profile.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN STEIN, ACTOR, WRITER: Bueller, Bueller, Bueller.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Yes. He's not there. You know him from the comedy classic "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Well, Ben Stein's message today is no laughing matter. He joins us live to talk about your financial future. NGUYEN: Looking forward to that. And perhaps not since Samson lost his locks to Delilah has a haircut caused such a fuss. We've got an update on the antics if Britney Spears.
It is Sunday, February 18th. Good morning, everybody. From the CNN Center in Atlanta. We all have our hair today. We're good to go. I'm Betty Nguyen.
HOLMES: I did get a haircut. Nobody even said a word.
NGUYEN: Oh, it wasn't breaking news?
HOLMES: Haven't said a word. It was not at all.
NGUYEN: We will work on that.
HOLMES: I'm T.J. Holmes. We do thank you so much for starting your day right here with us.
HOLMES: We're going to start in Iraq where there has been a series of deadly car bombings that have rocked parts of Baghdad today. We're going to get the latest from CNN's Arwa Damon, who is live in Baghdad for us.
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, T.J. And in just moments, three explosions in the capital, the deadliest of those attacks when two car bombs detonated near simultaneously on a busy Baghdad commercial street in the southeastern portion of the city. That attack leaving at least 35 Iraqis dead and more than 125 wounded.
Shortly thereafter, a suicide car bomber targeted an Iraqi national police checkpoint in Sadr City. That is a sprawling Shia slum also in the eastern part of the city and home to the Mahdi militia, loyal to radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
These attacks, T.J., coming just a day after the spokesman for the Baghdad security plan announced on national television, Al-Iraqiya state-owned television, that the plan was in fact showing signs of progress, saying that violence had decreased by at least 80 percent. But today's attacks really underscoring that the insurgency here does have a vote -- T.J.
HOLMES: Arwa, as we're talking here, we just got word from wire services -- just crossed the wire that the death toll now from the deadly bombings is up to 55. And you talked about the security crackdown that's been happening there in Baghdad. Is this the worst we've seen since all of those new security measures were put into place and since that crackdown?
DAMON: Well, T.J., the crackdown didn't really have a specific start date per se,. What we have seen is we've seen it intensify and gain momentum since it began right around December time. But lately what we have seen with the arrival of this new U.S. brigade was, again, an intensification of it. And this is one of the deadliest attacks that we have seen, at least in the last week, in the last few days, especially since the Iraqi government is coming out and trying to tout this new plan as having -- showing initial signs of progress. But a lot of people here are cautioning again that the insurgency does have a vote.
There is a school of thought that says that they have merely blended back into the local population, laid down their weapons and are sitting back and assessing just how the security plan is going to look on the streets of Baghdad, and trying to determine in turn how they are going to attack the Iraqi security forces and the Iraqi population.
What attacks like this achieve is that they -- put simply, they just paralyze society here. I mean, can you imagine going out in the morning, wanting to buy perhaps some groceries or breakfast for your family and ending up a victim of an attack such as this one -- T.J.
HOLMES: Yes. That is certainly something a lot of folks can't imagine but happening every day there. Arwa Damon for us in Baghdad. Arwa, thank you so much. And again, we do want to remind you that again we're getting word from the wire services that 55 have now been killed in those bombings in Baghdad and around Iraq. We will keep you updated on that.
Also, just in to CNN, two more U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq in separate attacks this weekend. One soldier was killed when insurgents opened fire on a foot patrol just north of Baghdad. The other soldier died during combat in Baquba.
We want to tell you more about a deadly chopper crash in Afghanistan. We spoke a short time ago with a spokesman about what happened in that chopper crash. Talked to him just a short time ago.
MAJ. WILLIAM MITCHELL, U.S. MARINE CORPS: The crash was apparently caused by some engine trouble that the aircraft experienced in flying over some terrain in eastern Afghanistan.
HOLMES: What do you know about the -- I guess it had to be pretty severe engine trouble. What was the pilot able to radio back to you?
MITCHELL: The message from the pilot was that he had experienced a sudden and unexplained loss of power, and the aircraft just experienced a pretty bad crash. And we lost eight, wounded 14 in the event.
HOLMES: And again, it was engine trouble that was reported but no reason to think that engine trouble or there was any enemy fire or anything like that in the area?
MITCHELL: So far indications are strong that it was related only to the engine problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: And not including the casualties we see in that crash today, there have been 286 U.S. military service members killed in Afghanistan.
NGUYEN: Back here in the U.S., the Senate stands pat on Iraq, no resolution, but plenty of bad blood on both sides of the aisle after Republicans successfully blocked debate on a vote critical of President Bush's troop build-up. CNN's Kathleen Koch is live at the White House this morning.
More on the fallout, I imagine, is what we're going to be hearing today, Kathleen.
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Certainly will, Betty. And Democrats in the Senate, it's important to point out, clearly did think that they had momentum on their side with this vote Saturday because the House had Friday overwhelmingly approved that very same non-binding resolution condemning the president's planned troop build- up in Iraq.
But while Republicans in the Senate were able to block debate there, it's important to point out that seven of them, more than ever before, defected and voted with the Democrats to keep this debate -- let this debate on the anti-surge resolution go forward.
So some are interpreting this as evidence that the president is increasingly weakened and isolated when it comes to the war in Iraq. White House press secretary Tony Snow in a statement neither praised nor condemned the vote saying only, quote: "This week's voting gave the world a glimpse of Democracy's vigor. The next vote should provide unmistakable assurance of this nation's resolve in achieving success, supporting the cause of democracy and stopping terrorist forces in their ultimate aim of bringing their violence to our shores."
Snow is referring there to votes that could occur as soon as February 26th. That's when Congress returns from its Presidents Day recess. And those measures would limit President Bush's ability to conduct the war by placing conditions on ongoing spending, though the White House says it will certainly fight to preserve funding for the war in Iraq -- Betty.
NGUYEN: And on an unrelated note, we understood at least yesterday that testing was coming back on the president. He had a couple of moles removed. What did that testing determine?
KOCH: The president's physician and also a dermatologist on Friday removed two moles from the president's face. The White House says the tests show that both of those moles were benign. This is the third time that the president has had some suspicious growths removed. He had a couple of other lesions removed from his face in December 2001, December 2004. Those were benign.
And you'll remember it was back in November that the first lady did have a cancerous tumor removed from her right shin. But obviously both the president and the first lady now, their health looking quite good.
NGUYEN: Glad to hear that. CNN's Kathleen Koch at the White House today. Thank you.
KOCH: You bet.
NGUYEN: About 700 people converge on the Oklahoma State Capitol yesterday to show support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and for the troops. Among the crowd were many military veterans calling themselves "Vets for Victory." A smaller group of veterans opposed to the war held a nearby rally. But police forced them to take down their signs.
Democrats expected the defeat, but Majority Leader Harry Reid says Democrats will continue to fight because Iraq is too important to be brushed aside. Here is just a portion of his comments to CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: This war is a serious situation. It involves the worst foreign policy mistake in the history of this country. So we should take everything serious. This is -- we find ourselves in a very deep hole. We need to find a way to dig out of it.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: So maybe I misheard you. But you're saying this is the worst foreign policy blunder in American history?
REID: That's what I said.
BLITZER: Worse than Vietnam?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: And you can hear more from Senator Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on today's "LATE EDITION." That comes your way at 11:00 a.m. Eastern.
Well, you might not believe the latest information we have on the Britney Spears saga. Let's just say it's been a "hair-raising" experience.
NICOLE LAPIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And we're a week out from the Oscars. So let's take a flashback now. Some of the worst-dressed Academy moments, shall we? Ooh, there's Cher. And it gets even worse. I'll show you some more when CNN SUNDAY MORNING continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEUTRELL OSBOURNE SR., FMR. CIA SPY SUPERVISOR: I supervised CIA agents and assets in over 30 countries on three different continents.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: All right. So the Cold War becomes the backdrop for an African-American success story inside the CIA. You don't want to miss it. It is coming up here on CNN SUNDAY MORNING.
NGUYEN: Well, remember last week, we told you about some JetBlue customers who were just a little more than angry, shall we say, about being stuck on an airplane for eight hours because of the severe cold and ice? Well, because of that and other weather delays they had to dig themselves out of, the company has decided to cancel 23 percent of its weekend flights. Boy, that's going to make them happy. A JetBlue spokesman says the airline needs to time to get the weather-battered airline back on a normal schedule. The cancellations also allow JetBlue's flight crews to get mandatory rest periods.
Look at this, 8,000 people, can you make them out right there? They just look like little dots in the big picture, but there you go, you see them, they are in Bismarck, North Dakota. They spend their Saturday trying to reclaim the title. And what is that title you ask? Well, it is the most snow angels made in one place.
HOLMES: Oh, yes, of course.
NGUYEN: Didn't you think of doing that? I know you did. Their previous record was knocked out by students in Michigan. If the number is confirmed by the Guinness Book of Records, it would more than double the Michigan number. We'll see.
HOLMES: What record is not available for you to go for in the Guinness Book?
NGUYEN: I'm sure people will come up with almost anything.
HOLMES: You can do anything.
NGUYEN: So just when you thought it couldn't get any worse for cities ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, it does. Coming up on CNN SUNDAY MORNING, a small town gets news that once again will test the resolve of the people trying to rise from the rubble.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEIN: I cannot go through an airport without 10 people saying Bueller, Bueller to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Bueller. NGUYEN: Bueller.
HOLMES: Ben Stein, the actor/comedian/presidential speech- writer/financial guru, what else is he adding to that list of things? He's a guest...
NGUYEN: A guest on our show.
HOLMES: ... on our show. We will talk to Ben Stein in our next half hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Remember when Olive (ph) was here last month, she was runner up in the regional Little Miss Sunshine? Well, they just called right now and said the girl who won had to forfeit her crown. I don't why (INAUDIBLE), anyway, now she has a place in the state contest in Redondo Beach!
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I won! I won! I won! I won!
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Finish your dinner!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: OK. "Little Miss Sunshine" among the movies vying for best picture at this year's Oscars. Hollywood hands out the little gold statues a week from today. Nicole Lapin from the .com desk here to get us caught up. (INAUDIBLE) it is a big time, always have my big Oscar party.
LAPIN: Am I invited?
HOLMES: I'll holler at you later, I'll tell you about it.
LAPIN: Very cool. All right. OK. So whether, you know, you're having a party and you want to catch up or if you're a movie buff or you're prepping for an office poll or something like that, it's really tough, we know, to keep track of all of the nominees this year. So we have got you covered. Maybe you forgot those people who are in the running. We have a cheat sheet on our Web site.
First things first, best picture, "Babel," of course, "The Departed," "Letters from Iwo Jima." We saw a little clip from "Little Miss Sunshine," and "The Queen." We also have the acting categories for you with a little blurb on each of the nominees. And then there's a quiz. We can test you out, T.J., just before your party.
Maybe we could bring this to the party. Like who was nominated for best actor seven times but never, ever won?
HOLMES: OK. I just know because you have it up there. But I didn't know that one.
LAPIN: On the prompter, it's Peter O'Toole. And if you followed step one, T.J., you would have know that he's nominated again this year. So you know the Oscars and fashion go hand-in-hand. We obviously don't know what the stars are going to wear this year, but with the help of People mag, we take a stroll down memory lane with some of the worst fashions of the past.
LAPIN: Oh, that's Helena Bonham Carter in '87. Cher, she is there three times, the look. OK, we have the best to kind of balance it out a little bit, yes. Reese right there as well. So whether it's the fashion or the nominees, the big Hollywood night is just a week away. So you can read up at cnn.com/Oscars.
And we have some great goodies to tell you about. I'll be back in just a little bit, so...
NGUYEN: Goodies, eh?
LAPIN: Goodies. It's good stuff.
NGUYEN: I'm almost afraid to ask.
LAPIN: Oh, don't be afraid. We'll be back with it, and it's good.
HOLMES: All right. We will see you shortly.
NGUYEN: Thank you, Nicole.
HOLMES: Well, he was a pioneer at the CIA, one of the first black men to supervise spies. And up next, a secret exposed, and it has to do with his mother, photography, and the clandestine operation. An "American (sic) Uncovered" profile, that is next.
NGUYEN: Plus, this...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For this to come on the heels of this disaster, certainly it's a hard lick for a community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: Yes, it is. Another tough blow for a small Gulf Coast Mississippi town still trying to rebuild from Hurricane Katrina.
And we're going to give you a live picture of the New Orleans French Quarter. Yes, you can see those partiers out there. It is still kind of early, just a little after 8:00, coming up on 8:30 their time. They're needing a little financial boost, though, in that area, and we'll get to that story, next.
But first, we want to tell you about this morning's "Tips from the Top. Motorola sold over 75 million RAZR phones in 2006. CEO Ed Zander made this sleek phone a household name. And meet the man behind the RAZR.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Bringing innovation back to Motorola is Ed Zander's job. As CEO since 2004, he has helped the company get back on track. Zander pushed to have the RAZR phone produced and gave it its name. In 2005, company sales in the U.S. hit more than $35 billion.
ED ZANDER, CHMN. & CEO, MOTOROLA: As CEO, it does stop with you, and you have to assume the good, you know, assume the bad, take responsibility for what the company is doing, and making sure your people know that.
HOLMES: "Now in the News," eight American service members are dead, 14 injured in a helicopter crash in southeast Afghanistan this morning. A NATO spokesman tells CNN the Chinook helicopter, like the one you are seeing here, had a sudden unexplained loss of power. Military officials say it was not shot down.
Meanwhile, two car bombs exploded in Baghdad today. Police now say 56 people were killed, at least 128 others were wounded. The attacks happened in the mostly Shiite areas. These latest blasts come after U.S. and Iraqi troops began a major security push around the capital.
HOLMES: Meanwhile, in the U.S. Capitol, no Iraq resolution in the Senate. Republicans successfully blocked debate on the non- binding resolution critical of the president's plan to add more troops in Iraq. It's the second time the resolution failed to make it to a floor vote.
Hello again, everybody. And welcome back. I'm T.J. Holmes.
NGUYEN: On this Sunday morning, good morning, everybody, I'm Betty Nguyen. We want to thank you for starting your day with us. Well, you can say let the good times roll because it is party time in the Big Easy. In fact, so many partied so hard you don't see them out in the street this early in the morning, according to these live pictures straight out of New Orleans.
It has been a weekend of Mardi Gras parties, though, and parades. Early mornings are a tough time for folks as many are still getting some rest from this. Tourism officials expecting about 700,000 people this year. Parades are planned each day, leading up to Fat Tuesday. This is the second Mardi Gras since Hurricane Katrina, and officials hope the festivities will give the city an economic boost. It is a tale of two cities now, both in Mississippi and both ravaged by Katrina. Business is booming in one while a major business is leaving the other, the story now from CNN Sean Callebs.
MAYOR WILLIAM SKELLIE, LONG BEACH, MISSISSIPPI: And the shot hit right there in front of us.
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Beaten and battered by Katrina, Long Beach, Mississippi just got another kick in the teeth. Oreck, the vacuum, the town's most important employer, is leaving town. Not for cheap overseas labor, but for Tennessee. Five- hundred jobs here will disappear.
SKELLIE: For this to come on the heels of this disaster, certainly it's a hard lick, you know, for a communities.
CALLEBS: Company president, Tom Oreck, says post-Katrina insurance costs doubled the price for one-third of the coverage and not enough workers have forced his hand.
TOM ORECK, PRESIDENT/CEO, ORECK: Less than half our people came back after the storm, and repopulating the plant's been very difficult.
SKELLIE: I don't buy it. I mean, they, you know, can take it to the bank, whatever. But I mean, I don't buy it. There were enough workers before, there were enough workers to put them back in business.
CALLEBS: This is the daunting task facing the Mayor Skellie and his city. All these red blocks highlight homes and businesses destroyed. Just 20 miles to the East, it is a completely different story.
Biloxi's casino business is booming. The Beau Rivage Casino, just one of 10 casinos trying to fill thousands of jobs after rebuilding and after so many were forced to leave the area.
BRUCE NOURSE, BEAU RIVAGE CASINO: There was a lot of anxiety, obviously, when we got to the point of rehiring, we needed to hire about 4,000 people. We were very pleasantly surprised, to be honest with you. We had over 25,000 applications for those 4,000 jobs.
CALLEBS: The casino pays $1.5 million in taxes each month to Biloxi, giving the city a leg up on its coastal neighbors, still trying to rebuild.
SKELLIE: We still have our Gulf Coast here, our beautiful beaches, our water, our great fishing.
NGUYEN: And one other note for you -- State Farm Insurance says it will stop writing new homeowners and commercial policies in Mississippi. Mississippi's attorney general says he'll now push for legislation to block that decision.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Well, before there was James Bond, before there was Jack Bauer, there was Luttrell "Mike" Osbourne, Sr. No, he was not a superspy, but he did supervise CIA agents worldwide. In fact, Osborn was one of the first African-Americans to hold such a position with the agency. Osborn, Sr. now, the subject of our series "America Uncovered."
TONY HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the 1950s, and "Superman" was on TV.
ANNOUNCER: Up in the sky, it's a bird.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a plane.
ANNOUNCER: It's Superman.
HARRIS: The Cold War, with the Soviet Union, dominated the global scene. Two images that would define the future of Luttrell Osbourne. Oh, and his mom worked for the CIA.
LUTRELL "MIKE" OSBOURNE, SR, FMR CIA SPY SUPERVISOR: Well, from what I understand, my mother had a clerical position, and what she would allow me to know was enough for me to get interested in deciding that I wanted to be a spy. And that was basically how the story began. I was all of 12 years old at the time.
HARRIS: His mother, Ella Grisby (ph) Motley, was working for the CIA in the National Photographic Intelligence Center. Osbourne says that superman image and his mother's job left no doubts where he wanted to be.
OSBOURNE: By the time I was 17 years old, I had decided that I was going to the agency and I taught myself photography, how to take pictures and how to enlarge them.
HARRIS: Those sell-taught skills would land Osbourne his dream job five months after high school, as a photographer for the CIA. That was in 1957. His mother had left the agency by then, but never before had an African-American woman and her son both worked for the CIA.
Osbourne would get a college degree, move up in the CIA, and eventually become one of the first African-American spy managers.
OSBOURNE: I was a case officer. I supervised CIA agents and assets in over 30 countries on three different continents.
HARRIS: Osbourne says he became only the tenth African-American in that role.
OSBOURNE: In the Operations Division, that's where all the case officers are, the supervises were spies. Everything is set around basically case officers because they are the kings and they are the people in the agency that make things happen, as far as collecting intelligence and running what we call "clandestine operations."
HARRIS: One of his biggest cases, he says, was one of his first -- turning a foreign official into a spy for the United States. But first he had to learn to speak Spanish. Today he speaks four languages.
OSBOURNE: In the business, to recruit an intelligence officer, is big stuff, so that to be my first successful assignment, I was really -- it went to my -- it didn't go to my head. I felt good about it.
HARRIS: Years later, during the Reagan administration, he worked on policy toward Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi.
OSBOURNE: The White House wanted to know whether the Libyan government, Gadhafi, could mount a successful assassination attack on the president of the United States. And the request trickled down to you know who, me. That was -- a lot of people would know that would be a significant experience when you can respond to the request from the White House.
HARRIS: Asked what he cherished most about his days as a CIA operative, and the answer has nothing to do with being a spy. While stationed in Europe in 1964, he was able to attend the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Nobel Peace Prize (INAUDIBLE) and the gold medal.
HARRIS: Afterwards, Osborn spent an hour with the civil rights leader.
OSBOURNE: He was just as cool and calm, and he treated me just like I was a big-shot, and I was all of 25 years old, he was 35.
HARRIS: With 27 years of CIA service behind him, Osbourne's now a security consultant. Any advice for those in an interest for being a spy?
OSBOURNE: Don't be afraid, and don't take no for an answer. Don't let anybody tell you can't learn enough language, you don't know how to do things. All those things that people tell you, don't believe it because it's people trying to keep you out of the good stuff.
HARRIS: Tony Harris, CNN, Atlanta.
HOLMES: And Osbourne has been extremely busy in retirement that includes writing a book about his time in the agency, the working title "The Dark Operative Series: Black Man in the CIA."
Well tonight, our America uncovered continues with a trip to the catwalk with fashion designer, Tracy Reese. You may not know that face, but you'll probably recognize her designs and her client clientele list. Woo! Reads like a who'd-who of the Hollywood elite. Paris Hilton's on that list including RNVC Armita (ph). That's tonight at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
NICOLE LAPIN, CNN.COM: OK, how much would you pay for a lock of Britney Spears' hair? Getting very interesting online. I'm going to show you the hair and the money, coming up.
NGUYEN: Plus, no one wants to be old and poor, so when should you start planning for the golden years?
HOLMES: Yeah, up next some answers from a man with many jobs, acting, game show host, presidential speech writer, financier, analyst, there he is.
Give us a wave. How you doing this morning, sir?
We will talk to Ben Stein here in just a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN STEIN, AUTHOR, ACTOR, ECONOMIST: Bueller, Bueller, Bueller...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: Who can forget that, "Bueller?" You probably know Ben Stein from those famous lines in "Ferris Bueller's Day off," but what you may not know about him is that he wears many hats, including lawyer, economist, White House speech writer, and author. His latest undertaking, "Yes, You Can Get a Financial Life," which is co-written by Phil DeMuth. Ben Stein joins us from New York City this morning. Thanks for being with us.
STEIN: Honored to be here bright and early.
NGUYEN: It is bright and early and we'll spare you the Bueller jokes. But, I do want to talk about this book because it's really fascinating. You've written many books. How is this one different?
STEIN: This one is like passages that old Gail (ph) book, only about finance in every decade of your life. It's about how to plan and execute successfully financially in every decade from the teens to the post-retirement years.
NGUYEN: You know, I'm really interested in this. Let's just go through a couple of those decades. Say in the 20s and in 30s, run down a list of what people should be doing in save.
STEIN: In the 20s you should be saving at least 10 percent of your income. You should be saving in broadly diversified mutual funds, index funds, variable annuities with low fees or ETFs, which are Exchange-Traded Funds. In your 30s, you should be getting ready to provide for babies -- well, late 20s, early 30s -- babies and for a home. And that's going to make it very difficult because usually the mother leaves the workforce, at least for a while, that's a big blow. That means you have to exercise extreme financial discipline. The pay-off is if you can start saving in your 20s, you're not going to be in any fear at all in your 50s and 60s.
NGUYEN: And that's such a wonderful feeling to know you're financially -- yeah, it's that breathing, that exhale. But you say something that's really interesting in this book. You say that parents should not go into financial debt, they should not impoverish themselves to put their kids through school. So, you're suggesting that kids should take out the loans? Those college loans?
STEIN: Absolutely, because they get the main benefit from the education, except for bragging rights, the parents get no benefit from the kids being in school. The kids are going to have a much higher income, much higher standard of living because they went to school. They should pay for it. It's like buying a drill press or an oil well, the person who buys should pay for it. It's not...
NGUYEN: But, is it a disservice to them because they're starting out in debt?
STEIN: Well, if you're terribly rich and you don't miss the money, fine, pay for it. Otherwise, you should not impoverish yourself to buy an asset which benefits mostly your child. The child should go into debt for that himself, or herself.
NGUYEN: Another you say is that investing in a home isn't always a smart thing, but a lot of Americans equate the American dream with buying that home.
STEIN: And you should have a home. I couldn't agree more. You should have a home or a condo or something you own yourself. I couldn't agree more. The only thing is, it's not an investment alternative like variable stocks or variable annuities or mutual funds. It's a home, it's a place for you to live in, it's a place for you to have your family in, but it is not a great investment. Compared with stocks and mutual funds and ETFs and broadly diversified low-cost VAs, it's not a great investment.
Yes, you should have one, that should not, in any sense, keep you from saving in financial assets. And when you want to liquidate the value of your home, where are you going to live? You're going to find it's very expensive to replace it.
NGUYEN: OK, let me ask you this quickly because you're a man, like we said, who wears many, many hats, also a former presidential speech writer -- presidential speech writer. As we look at these candidates, Republican, who do you like? Democrat, who do you think's going to be the biggest challenge?
STEIN: Well, I think Hillary Clinton is virtually unstoppable. I mean, she is a huge name, incredible she's an incredible fundraiser. Everyone else can raise 200 million, she can raise 400 million. I think Giuliani will be the nominee. I think he's going to have a very hard time with Hillary, but I think he'll prevail, just because he's kind of a wacky, funny guy and I think he's kind of endearing. I respect, love, worship, kiss the feet of McCain for his bravery, but I think Giuliani will get the nomination and I think he'll win.
NGUYEN: We'll see how it all plays out. Ben Stein, thanks so much for being with us today.
STEIN: Thank you, madam. Thank you, Betty. Thank you, Betty.
HOLMES: All right, Betty. We got to talk about Britney again and all this much ado about her 'do. She's sporting, of course, the shaved head and some body art. Her extreme makeover, just the latest sign of possibly troubled times for party-going pop star. Details now from CNN's Peter Vice.
Reporter: As it might say back in her hometown in Louisiana, that Britney sure has changed. She walked into an L.A. hair salon on Friday and asked to have her head shaved.
ESTHER TOGNOZZI, ESTHER'S HAIRCUTTING STUDIO: And I said, "well, I'm not shaving your hair off," and I tried to talk her out of it. I said, "are you sure you're not having a bad day and tomorrow you'll feel differently about it? Why don't we wait a little bit?" She said, "No, I absolutely want it shaved off now." Next thing I know, she grabbed the buzzer and she went to the back of my salon and was shaving off her own hair and she actually enjoyed shaving off her own hair.
Reporter: next stop was a tattoo parlor where she pulled her low-rise jeans a little lower and also explained the hairstyle, sort of.
EMILY WINN HUGHES, TATTOO SHOP WITNESS: She basically just said that she was tired of having things plugged into it and she didn't want anybody to touch her, tired of people touching her, that sort of thing. It seemed like she was kind of sick of it all, whatever it all is.
Reporter: "People" magazine reports that Spears check herself into a rehab facility, this week, but checked out a day later. A spokesman for Spears has not answered CNN's request for comment. The 25-year-old has two young children and filed for divorce last November. Lately she's been turning weird behavior into an art form.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She hosted New Year's Eve at Pure (ph) Night Club and, you know, there were reports that she collapsed. So, she's sort of started out on that note, and it's really just continued. She's been out almost every night, a lot of partying for somebody with two children.
TOGNOZZI: The only emotion she showed was when she said, "My mom's going to be really upset," and she got teary eyed. And I think her mom should maybe get a hold of her little girl. I think she needs her family. Reporter: Spears hasn't had a hit record in three years, but she doesn't necessarily need the money. "Forbes" has estimated her net worth at $100 million.
Peter Viles for CNN, Los Angeles.
NGUYEN: So the question is -- we're hot on the case. Where is the hair? That's what a lot of people are talking about in this Britney Spears saga.
HOLMES: And we have heard reports now that somebody, of course, has put the locks on eBay for $50 a pop.
NGUYEN: You knew it was going to happen.
HOLMES: And our Nicole Lapin has purchased some of those locks.
LAPIN: No, I haven't!
NGUYEN: She has not.
LAPIN: No I haven't, but you know what -- $50, T.J.? Forget it. Some of these bids are up to the seven figures. OK, those are probably jokes, but we did find 13 people selling what they call a part of history. Take a look. The locks of Britney Spears' hair has received 23 bids for this one right here, it's all the way up to 268 bucks. And if you scroll down a little bit more, you can find maybe you have buyers remorse, a seven-day refund policy. I don't know how that works, but it's there.
And let's take a look at another seller on eBay. This lock is, of course, for those nostalgic for the blonde Britney. This is reported that it was Britney Spear's blonde piece of hair, whether it was her extension or her real hair, we don't know, but it's received 41 bids and it's up to $90,000.
Brace yourself. This one needs a little bit more bracing. This one is at a million dollars for her hair extensions, for her hair. But wait. There's more. Her Red Bull and her Bic lighter. There was one bid on this one, but that bid was withdrawn. So, a million bucks, you get some hair, you get a Red Bull, you get a lighter. That's what the story is looking like online -- Betty and T.J.
NGUYEN: Well, the crazy thing here is, first of all, why are you buying this? But second, how do you even know if it's real?
HOLMES: You don't know.
LAPIN: We don't know. And these are all -- what they say, online, 13 people selling it, we don't know if they're real, they're fake, if it was their dog's hair, if it was whatever. But that's what it's looking like online.
NGUYEN: Dog hair, huh? LAPIN: Maybe. You don't know.
NGUYEN: Never know. Thank you.
HOLMES: All right, it is time for us to check in with Howard Kurtz, he's in Washington to see what's ahead on CNN's RELIABLE SOURCES. Howard, please, save us from ourselves.
HOWARD KURTZ, RELIABLE SOURCES: T.J., you're on the cutting edge of this Britney story.
Coming up, a house passes a nonbinding measure against President Bush's Iraq policy and the Senate can't even manage a vote on that. Are the media making too much of symbolic votes that don't change a thing?
Bob Woodward, Tim Russert, Judith Miller -- the Scooter Libby trial pulls back the curtain on the cozy relationship between the press and the powerfuls.
And cable television's love affair with a deceased stripper no signs of cooling off -- is the Anna Nicole frenzy out of control? That and more ahead on RELIABLE SOURCES.
NGUYEN: Thank you, Howard.
HOLMES: Thank you.
NGUYEN: So, you think you know how to ride a bake -- a bike that is? That too.
HOLMES: Yes, well you probably don't know how to ride either one of those.
NGUYEN: Or this one.
HOLMES: You can't ride this bike, really. This is a strange little contraption. We're going to show it to. It's rolling your way in "The WaterCooler."
NGUYEN: All right, everyday there are new stories that stop and make you say, "what?"
HOLMES: And you're going to say "what" after you see this segment that we call "The WaterCooler."
NGUYEN: All right, so you've seen those commercials for that certain headache remedy? Well, this guy could probably use it. You're looking at the pride of the annual melon festival in the Australian Outback.
HOLMES: What a waste, Betty, of perfectly good watermelon.
NGUYEN: His head looks swollen already.
HOLMES: He doesn't look well. This is a head-butter who is a professional watermelon picker and he smashed his way though 40 melons in under 60 seconds.
HOLMES: And yes, the Guinness World Record folks were there to certify that it was a world record.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL KILLIAN, SIDEWAYS BIKE INVENTOR: Oftentimes when I just push the bike around people will argue with me, says, "What is that? That'll never work." You know, so, it's a great antidote to just ride it, because then it proves itself, but certainly slightly insane all the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: Yeah. Insane is right, but it actually works. This is something you don't see every day. It's called a Sideways Bicycle.
HOLMES: That's the point? It's the brainchild of Irish inventor, Michael Killian and he says steering both front and back makes it much more stable. And he compares the experience to riding a snowboard, which is not that easy.
NGUYEN: No. So, want to get an early start on your Christmas shopping? Well, looks like another high-flying year for the makers of high-tech toys. Check this thing out. It's from the annual toy fair in New York.
HOLMES: An alien-looking robot, if you will, becomes a remote control helicopter, Robo Copter -- might not be good if you have things in the house that are precious that you don't want somebody knocking down with their new Robo Copter.
NGUYEN: Like china, crystal, you know, that kind of stuff.
Howard Kurtz has some of that in his house. In fact, he's coming up next. And then White House Press Secretary Tony Snow talks with Wolf Blitzer at 11:00 Eastern.
HOLMES: He is one of many guests on today's LATE EDITION, along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. That's coming up at Noon Eastern and you can find out why this Democrat thinks the Iraq war is a bigger blunder than Vietnam.
NGUYEN: And later it's THIS WEEK AT WAR hosted by John Roberts.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HOLMES: I'm T.J. Holmes at the CNN Center in Atlanta. RELIABLE SOURCES begins in a moment, but first a check of the headlines.
The death toll from two bombings in Baghdad jumps to about 55 now with at least 125 wounded. The car bombs exploded in quick succession today at an outdoor marketment. And the military announces the deaths of two U.S. soldiers killed in separate attacks in Iraq.
Eight American service members are dead in Afghanistan and 14 others injured in a helicopter crash. It happened in Southeastern Afghanistan. The military says that Chinook helicopter, similar to the one you're seeing here
"Yes, You Can Get a Financial Life," Luttrell "Mike" Osbourne, Sr.
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