Return to Transcripts main page

AMERICAN MORNING

Unemployment Funds in U.S. Going Broke; North Korea Stokes Nuclear Fears; Chicago Sheriff Halts Foreclosure Evictions

Aired October 9, 2008 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: I didn't know you got any rest. I thought you were just motoring through to the weekend.
It's 8:01 here in New York. A look at the top stories this morning. Signs point toward a positive opening next hour on Wall Street. Dow futures up over 100 points. And investors could use some of that good news after six straight days of losses. But a caution, though, the futures were also up this time yesterday and we still saw a down market yesterday. Alone $200 billion in stock market value wiped out.

Asian markets mixed over night. And Japan's Nikkei falling half a percent. But Hong Kong's Hang Seng rallied up more than 500 points. In Europe, London's FTSE is trading in positive territory as well.

Unemployment funds in state across the U.S. going broke. That's according to a group that tracks unemployment benefits and legislation. It says at least ten states are now operating on reserves of less than six months. In about 30 minutes, a Labor Department will release its weekly report on jobless claims.

And North Korea stoking fears and has restarted its nuclear program or at least tried to. The United Nations says its nuclear monitors have been banned now from the Yongbyon reactor. North Korea had threatened to restart it this month because it was protesting not being removed from Washington's list of countries that sponsored terrorism. Washington said it would take North Korea off the list once it was verified that there was no nuclear program.

And the economy, a hot topic on the campaign trail. John McCain touting his plan to have the government step in and help homeowners who are struggling with high adjustable rate mortgage payments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Under my orders as president, the secretary, the Treasury will carry out a home ownership resurgent plan. The United States government will purchase mortgages directly and immediately from homeowners and mortgages services and replace them, replace them with manageable mortgages that would rise if people can't afford.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Meantime, Senator Barack Obama was interviewed by ABC News' Charles Gibson and talked about his plans for the economy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the people looked at my approach over the last three or four weeks during this economic crisis, which was consistent, which set out very clear principles from the first day. Principles, by the way, that ended up being adopted by Secretary Paulson and were embedded in this rescue plan, that they saw I wasn't trying to play politics with the issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Issue number one, the economy is going to be part of Barack Obama's speech at a rally today in Dayton, Ohio. That's where we find CNN's Suzanne Malveaux right now.

Suzanne, good morning to you.

(CROSSTALK)

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

ROBERTS: What's the senator expected to say about the economy today?

MALVEAUX: Well, it's interesting that John McCain has come up with this plan, $300 billion to buy those bad mortgages directly. It is a plan that is very similar to what Hillary Clinton had suggested earlier in the campaign. We have heard Barack Obama talk about it, saying that he believes that it is not a practical type of plan, so we expect that he's going to talk about that as well. He's going to say that the $700 billion plan obviously is not enough, that there needs to be greater oversight, that they need to consider tax cuts for 95 percent of American working families. That type of thing.

So, really, both of them trying to jockey here, saying that they are the greater leader when it comes to dealing with the economic crisis. You will hear Barack Obama also be very critical of John McCain calling his behavior erratic, saying he's been all over the place when it comes to dealing with the economy. Obviously, John, this is an area where they believe that Barack Obama is really doing much better than John McCain. If they keep pushing this, keep pressing this, they believe that eventually he's going to win -- John.

ROBERTS: Senator Obama is spending an awful lot of time in Ohio. And I remember back to the 2004 and 2000 campaigns, I saw more of Ohio covering those campaigns in four weeks than most people who live in Ohio would see in a lifetime. It's a very, very important state for him.

MALVEAUX: It's very important because if you think about it, there's no Republican that's ever captured the White House without winning Ohio. So Barack Obama was obviously want to take it away from him. The polls are showing that Obama is ahead in this state just slightly but he does come -- he comes out on top when it comes to dealing with the economy, whether or not he really believes in the ideas and the principles of most people, the concerns that they have about their jobs, about their mortgages, that type of thing.

The one thing that's happening here as well is early registration. State officials saying that they expect that perhaps as many as a third of the people here are either going to vote early or absentee ballot. So, you have a huge ground swell of organizations that are working for Barack Obama trying to get those early registration and get those voters out ahead of time.

The big question here, John, of course, is how is race going to play into all of this? We saw in the Democratic primary that 20 percent of the voters, in the Democratic primary said that race was an important factor. So we'll see how that plays out -- John.

ROBERTS: Yes. You know we talked with former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown yesterday. He thought that maybe it might be worth somewhere between three to five points in places like Ohio. So, we'll see. Suzanne Malveaux for us this morning in Dayton.

Suzanne, thanks so much.

CHETRY: And still ahead, Michelle Obama in her own words. What she has to say about the claim that her husband was palling around with terrorists. She talked to Larry King.

In a long arm of the law, fighting foreclosures in Illinois. We're talking with a sheriff who says he is refusing to evict people.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the "Most Politics in the Morning." Michelle Obama appeared on CNN's "LARRY KING LIVE" last night. Larry asked her about a number of personal issues from her time in the campaign trail to the perceived fighting between the candidates.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Do these two candidates, as has been reported, not like each other?

MICHELLE OBAMA, BARACK OBAMA'S WIFE: I can only speak for Barack. And I know that Barack has the utmost respect for Senator McCain. He's said so on so many occasions.

You know, I think this has been a long, tough fight. And politics sometimes leads to things said between the candidates. But again, what we've found is that people are really focused on who's going to -- who's got the vision that's going to take us to the next level. So...

KING: Your husband appears so cool, though. Doesn't he get angry?

M. OBAMA: Yes, he gets angry. But he gets -- he doesn't get angry about this stuff. I mean, he's very... KING: No?

M. OBAMA: ...I mean, he's very -- I mean, what you heard in that debate, when you saw his passion, it was when he was talking about the health care crisis. And he talked about his mother dying of ovarian cancer and how angry it made him to see her worrying about the insurance company and the payments rather than worrying about getting well. And that's what we're seeing.

That's the kind of stuff that makes Barack angry. It's not the back and forth. It's not something said about him. I think Barack said today, he can take, you know, any name calling or the back and forth that -- you know, that stuff doesn't bother him. But the unfairness that we're seeing across the country, that makes him mad.

KING: How about, you and he are together, you're looking at television, and you see a commercial for the other side that really lambastes you?

M. OBAMA: Well, first of all, we'd have to be together...

(LAUGHTER)

M. OBAMA: ...In a room at the same time.

KING: Oddity number one.

M. OBAMA: When did that happen last? And we'd have to be -- you know, fortunately, we are just too busy to watch this stuff. I mean, this --

KING: You don't watch...

M. OBAMA: I don't have time to watch TV, Larry. By the time I get through -- I'm going to get home tonight at about 9:30, 10:00. I'm going to hit the pillows so hard. And even when I try to watch TV, I can't keep my eyes open for one minute. And when Barack is watching TV, he's watching sports, you know?

We try to get our heads out of this game when we have down time -- out of this conversation. But when we're on the campaign trail, we're really trying to focus on what the voters want to know. And they don't ask about this stuff. Not once has somebody asked about the name calling and the back and forth. They want to know, what are you going to do about the economy?

KING: Do you like campaigning?

M. OBAMA: I do. I do. I like it more than I would have imagined. I was telling someone when I was getting my makeup done, this would be a hard thing to do if you didn't fundamentally like people. But interestingly enough, me, Barack, and our girls, we get energy from people. You know, when I'm tired, I get more energy coming out of a rally where I get to get hugs and I see people on the rope line tearing up because they never thought they'd see this moment. I see kids who are focused and engaged in a way that I've never seen before. That gives us both energy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Michelle Obama also praised former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton for her work on the campaign trail, saying that she has been, quote, "phenomenal."

Middle America, far from the financial setter, a backlash against big business. Carol Costello on how the little guy is fed up with the big bailout.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without using vulgarity, I hate them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: 14 minutes after the hour. Rob Marciano is tracking extreme weather from the hurricane center down there, the hurricane headquarters in Atlanta. Tracking Norbert. What do you got for us there, Rob?

(WEATHER REPORT)

ROBERTS: Very special morning here on AMERICAN MORNING. Anderson Cooper is here to announce the top ten "CNN Heroes." And you get to vote on who makes the top spot. We'll have that for you coming up.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning."

The economic crisis could really prove to be the deciding factor in the race for president. And joining me now from Washington, Tara Wall, CNN contributor and deputy editorial page editor of the "Washington Times." Also Jennifer Palmieri, a Democratic strategist. She also served as John Edwards' press secretary in 2004.

Thanks to both of you for being with us this morning.

Tara, I want to start with you. This post-debate polls are showing that voters believe Barack Obama would better handle the economy. At the debate, John McCain threw out this proposal. It seemed out of no where. About a $300 billion homeowner mortgage bailout. Will that help him breakthrough with the voters or will he suffer from some of the conservative base for proposing this?

TARA WALL, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think some voters will see it as a way to extend and reach out, and talk to those Middle Americans. But it does probably, I'm sure, give conservatives pause as we've just seen this $700 billion bailout that many conservatives still cannot stomach. Granted what he's proposing is supposedly included in that.

But it also raised the question, I think, concerns among some conservatives -- didn't we do this back in the summer with economic stimulus package? Didn't that cover some of these folks? And certainly concerns about whether or not we are bailing out irresponsibility, irresponsible investors, irresponsible homeowners. Those are questions that John McCain is going to have to answer with that proposal. But I think for Middle America, it may be seen as an olive branch of sorts.

CHETRY: And Jennifer, do we run into a problem of over- promising. I mean, with the situation we're in right now, and both candidates talking about their various tax cuts. Barack Obama also wants to have universal health care on top of trying to bailout homeowners. I mean, can you really promise to deliver that much?

JENNIFER PALMIERI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think that -- I mean, I know that Tara is right. I don't think conservatives are particularly happy about the proposal that he made on on Tuesday night. In some respect it actually originated as a think tank. I worked at a progressive think tank at the Center for American Progress. And it was originally based on a proposal of ours which not a lot of conservatives agree with.

But, you know, Senator Obama said in the debate that this is -- the ability to do this is already included in the package that we passed just, you know, just a week ago. This Secretary of Treasury under Bush may not want to do it, but the Secretary of Treasury under Barack Obama could in fact help homeowners this way with getting out of restructuring mortgages.

But I think that, you know, Obama has managed to convince people that he understands what the problems are with the economy, but that he also has been able to strike the right balance between knowing when, you know, when to be somber enough on what the problems that we face with the crisis is, but then also lead people to a place where they see it's not always going to be this way. And that we can get to a point where we have -- where we can enact his health care reform plan, and we can get to a point where the -- we are not just doing bailouts but the bailouts are turning back around where the taxpayers actually get money from this deal. But I think you know he's managed to strike that balance in a way that McCain just can't.

CHETRY: All right. I want to ask you guys about this, because while the economy has certainly dominated the conversation, the McCain camp is trying to still continue to raise questions about Barack Obama's character. McCain and Palin sat down Fox's Sean Hannity and talked about Obama's relationship with Bill Ayers. Let's listen to what they said. I'd like to get both of you to react.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: It's about Senator Obama being candid and straightforward with the American people about their relationship. He has dismissed it by saying he was just a guy in the neighborhood. We know it's much more than that. Let's reveal all of the details of that relationship and then the American people can make a judgment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Tara, is that type of attack going to work for the McCain campaign, or could it potentially backfire?

WALL: Well, I think they can do both. I mean, you know, most attacks, I think, usually come by way of your surrogates and you know, your V.P. candidate. I think, though, it's totally legitimate for McCain to bring up these issues, to raise the issue of when he met with this, you know, unrepentant really terrorist, who, you know, even after Barack Obama did meet him, still said he wished he would bombed more building. So he has certainly bombed more homes or whatever.

But I think, certainly, that's a legitimate issue in some voters' minds and particularly to the people that this terrorist affected --

(CROSSTALK)

CHETRY: I got to, I got to --

WALL: I do want to add one point, though, to what Jen said as well. I think the perception is that Democrats can handle the economy. I think whether that is wholly legitimate to say that they have -- you know, Barack Obama has this grand plan to address these issues, I don't know necessarily while he appeared to be empathetic and sympathetic to people's needs and concerns, I think that's where the line is drawn. And people see that he may feel like he may care more, but I don't know necessarily that the plans on the table necessarily match up with the record...

CHETRY: All right, I got to let, Jen --

WALL: Particularly when you fought against reform --

(CROSSTALK)

CHETRY: And I'll clarify that statement saying that he did not say he wish he did bombed more buildings. He said he wished he had done more to protest the Vietnam War. But, anyway, Jen, please quickly.

PALMIERI: Well, I think it's ridiculous that the American people are going to care about -- you know, first of all, this negative attack is going to work when we're in such a (INAUDIBLE) situation, or that they really got to, Kiran. You know what McCain is trying to get at is do you trust Barack Obama to be president of the United States. And the American people have already said they do. Majority of them have already said they think he would be a good commander-in-chief. They've already said he has the leadership qualities to be president. You know, if McCain wanted to convince people that he couldn't, they need to just start this months ago.

(CROSSTALK)

CHETRY: All right. We got to leave it there. I want to thank both of you. Tara Wall, Jennifer Palmieri.

PALMIERI: Thank you.

WALL: Thank you.

ROBERTS: 23-1/2 minutes after the hour now. Tens of thousands of foreclosures in Chicago being stopped by the county sheriff. We're talking with a lawman who says he is looking out for innocent victims of Wall Street.

Bailout backlash.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If you really want to find out how the people on Main Street feel about the people on Wall Street, this is the place to find out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They hate them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Carol Costello hits Main Street to hear the voice of the people and gets an earful.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: It's 26 minutes after the hour. In the middle of the mortgage crisis and financial melt down, with so many people hurting, one man is taking the law into his own hands. Chicago Sheriff Tom Dart says he is tired of seeing innocent people thrown out of their homes by the bank and he's not going to let it happen on his watch so he is putting a stop to all foreclosure evictions. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart joins us now live from Chicago.

Sheriff, good morning to you. Thanks for being with us. Why are you doing all this?

SHERIFF THOMAS J. DART, SUSPENDING FORECLOSURE EVICTIONS IN COOK COUNTY: John, we have seen spikes like you've never seen before in the number of evictions. Obviously a lot of other people around the country have. But the other thing we have been coming across time in and time out, day after day, are innocent tenants who have no idea what's going on, who are having their things put out on the street by my office. And so, we are now acting in what I believe is the responsible way by telling the banks you need to get your act together and you need to do some due diligence and find out who is in these houses that you're getting orders on to have them thrown out.

ROBERTS: So let me just see if I've got this straight. So, a lot of the evictions that you're acting on are people who are actually renting properties of landlords who are the ones who are actually not making the mortgage payments.

DART: Absolutely, John. And we're seeing more and more of that. We're seeing more people renting homes and renting condos than ever. And what's happening now is they are paying all of their rent, they're paying all of the things that they are supposed to do, they're paying on time and then all of a sudden someone shows up the door and says, listen, you and your family are out on the street today.

And we're seeing that time and time again. And they have no notice. They have no anything. And this is an example of where the banking industry has not done any of the work they should do. It's a piece of paper to them. And these poor people are seeing everything they own put out on the street.

And John, they've done absolutely nothing wrong. They've paid their bills. They've paid them on time. And here we are with a battery ram at their front door going to throw them out. This stuff is -- it's gotten insane, and we're going to stop it.

ROBERTS: Now, you mentioned the number of foreclosures and how dramatically it's going up. Let's just take a look at the numbers here. 1999, there were 12,935 foreclosures in Cook County. This year, that number is expected to exceed 43,000. So there's an awful lot of people who are hurting there, sheriff.

DART: John, here's the other point, too, to be made about that. The process takes 18 months from the time you file until the time the case actually gets to the foreclosure proceeding. So the snapshot, when you're looking at 45,000, you're looking at a snapshot 18 months ago. And we all know the economy has not gotten better. It's gotten worse in the last 18 months. So that number is not one peaking. I'm going to be seeing much, much higher numbers, and I'm going to see a lot more innocent victims unless we require the banks to step in and do what they need to be doing here.

ROBERTS: So the Illinois Bankers Association is accusing you of "vigilantism" and, quote, "at the highest level of an elected official." What do you say to that?

DART: I think the outrage is on my part with them. That they would so cavalierly issue documents and have me throw people out of homes who have done absolutely nothing wrong. They played by all the rules. And because of their ignorance and their lack of diligence and going out to their own property and finding out who is out there, innocent people are being set out.

I told them, you send an agent out, you send somebody out that gives me any type of assurance that the appropriate person is in the house, I will fulfill the order. But when you're just blindly sending me out to houses where I'm coming across innocent tenant after innocent tenant, I can't keep doing this right now and have a good conscience about it.

ROBERTS: There were some suggestions that they may seek to hold you in contempt of court for ignoring court orders. Are you willing to go that far? DART: I am. Because as I say, my oath of office was to try to do what is just for the people in this county. And there is no justice being done when you have people who play by the rules, who are innocent, having no notice of court hearings and having all of their possessions put out on the street, their family humiliated, their children's lives being traumatized. And that's exactly what I see when I go out on these evictions.

ROBERTS: You know, you've got to remain impartial in all of this, Sheriff. But I could say it's good to meet one of the good guys once in a while.

Sheriff Tom Dart from Cook County -- thanks for being with us this morning.

DART: Thank you so much, John.

ROBERTS: I appreciate it.

CHETRY: Well, it is 8:30 here in New York. A look at the top stories this morning. There's urgent new concerns about Afghanistan according to the "New York Times." A draft report by the American Intelligence Agency, warns that the country is in a, "downward spiral and slipping under Taliban influence." That report blames wide spread corruption in Afghanistan's government and also the country's booming heroin in trade. A final report of this version of this report will be released after the November election.

Well, some positive signs for Wall Street even though the market doesn't open for another hour. We still have Dow futures up more than 100 points right now. Yesterday's 189 point loss was the sixth straight day of losses for the Dow. Asian markets mixed overnight. It was a day after some frantic sell-off trading. Japan's Nikkei index falling half a percent. And Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 500 points.

Well, worries about the global recession is that oil and gas prices plummeting. In fact, gas right now down for the - actually the 22nd consecutive day of lower gas prices now averaging $3.40 a gallon. That's down more than four cents from yesterday.

And we now turn to the most politics in the morning. It's part three of our "Voice of the People" series. Today, a huge issue that's been front and center during America's economic crisis, Main Street versus Wall Street. Our Carol Costello is looking at the giant divide separating the two. And she joins us this morning live from Washington.

Hey, Carol.

COSTELLO: It is a giant divide, Kiran.

You know the depth of dislike Main Street feels for Wall Street didn't start with the bailout. That us versus them mentality was born a long time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO (voice-over): Wall Street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They need to really correct this system.

COSTELLO: Versus Main Street.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can't afford paying our bills.

COSTELLO: In one corner fat cats, in the other, a very angry little guy, especially in Youngstown, Ohio.

COSTELLO (on-camera): If you really want to find out how the people on Main Street feel about the people on Wall Street, this is the place to find out.

JIM KROKAWSKI, BAR OWNER: Without using vulgarity, they hate them.

COSTELLO: Jim Krokawski saved his hard earned money to buy a bar in Youngstown. He's a Reagan Democrat. Both parties covet his vote. But the state of the economy has made him a tough sell.

KROKAWSKI: I don't think Barack Obama has the answer. I don't think Senator McCain has the answer. I really don't.

But he knows who he blames for this economic mess, that would be them. How deep rooted is the dislike for Wall Street on Main Street?

DR. PAUL SRACIC, YOUNGSTOWN STATE UNIVERSITY: It's very deep rooted and it goes back to the history. You know, the mills were everything in an area like this. It's where everybody went to work. When they got out of high school and went to work in the mills. And suddenly one day the mills closed down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mondale doesn't even know we're alive.

COSTELLO: The economy tanked in Youngstown, unemployment rose to 21 percent. And the fat cats, the big companies, took their jobs away and never came back. And now Main Street says Wall Street, those same fat cats, are messing it up again.

KROKAWSKI: What did John F. Kennedy say in 1960? Don't ask what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. Now it's turned around, the country has got to do everything for whom? Wall Street.

COSTELLO: Down the street, the first Presbyterian Church that anger concerns Reverend Nick Mayer. He put up a sign to remind middle America, we're all guilty.

REV. NICK MAGER, FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF YOUNGSTOWN: Somebody made a joke about it, when we are pointing a finger at someone, there's always three that are pointing back at us. And for us to be able to see our own shortcomings is always critically important. COSTELLO: Krokawski gets that but he says he played by the rules and he could still get burned. Do you need help from Wall Street to make it?

KROKAWSKI: No. If my partners and I can't make this go, then shame on us. We did something wrong. I'm not going to blame anybody else, but ourselves.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: And in case you're wondering the last time I talked with Mr. Krokawski he is voting Obama. Not because he's completely sold on Obama but because he likes Joe Biden. He was thinking of voting for John McCain but, as he told me, Sarah Palin isn't ready for prime time -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. He certainly likes to tell it like it is. You know what I'm saying. I love the name of his bar. I wonder how he possibly thought of that.

COSTELLO: It's a pool hall.

CHETRY: Exactly. Exactly. Thanks, Carol.

Carol is going to have the last report tomorrow where in our "Voice of the People" series tomorrow where she's going to be looking at an enormously important group of voters, that's women voters, tomorrow, only on AMERICAN MORNING.

ROBERTS: And news just in. New jobless numbers out right now. Gerri Willis is here with all of that.

Good morning to you, Gerri. What have you got?

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: We just got this report in. this is weekly first time jobless claims for the week of October 4th. Down 20,000. The trend is right. The number is south. But the total 478,000 not so good. You know there's a line there, 400,000 below 400,000 is really what you want to see. We're well above that, of course. And as you know we've seen the number of folks filing unemployment claims go up and up and up this year. But this week, good news. You want to keep your eyes on the stock market because I'm sure they're going to like this number.

ROBERTS: All right. Gerri, thanks for that.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

ROBERTS: Barack Obama says John McCain is proposing to tax cut for wealthy corporate head honchos but is that really accurate? The truth squad is on the case this morning when the most news in the morning returns.

And they're the people changing the world for the better and we're naming them CNN heroes. Anderson Cooper joins us next to reveal who the top ten are and how you can vote for number one. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: And 38 minutes after the hour. We would like to welcome our viewers from around the world watching this on CNN International right now. All this year we have been introducing you to some truly amazing people. 30 ordinary individuals having an extraordinary impact in the lives around them. Nominated online by you.

CHETRY: That's right. These are our CNN Heroes. And this morning we're going to reveal the top ten CNN heroes of 2008 and here to do the honors is our own Anderson Cooper.

Good to see you.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good to see you. Thanks very much. Bright and early. I don't know how you guys do this every day.

ROBERTS: Good morning.

COOPER: Yes. It is 30 remarkable people. All of them are heroes. We've been profiling them all year long. Each one saw a need that needed fixing. Instead of looking the other way or waiting for someone else to do it. They stepped up and took charge and found a solution on their own. No one told them to do it, they just did it. The tough job of choosing these top 10 CNN Heroes went to our blue ribbon panel, a group that included Archbishop Desmond Tutu, James Goodhall, Magic Johnson, Deepak Chopra, other luminaries.

And the top ten heroes they selected are going to receive each $25,000 and the a shot at the top prize. Now on Thanksgiving night one of the ten is going to be named CNN Hero of the Year. And they're going to be awarded $100,000. So with that in mind, let's get the names. In alphabetical order, the top 10 CNN Heroes in 2008 are Tad Agoglia from Knoxville, Tennessee. Tad's first response team, a teams that provides immediate help to areas hit by natural disasters. In a little over a year he and his crew have aided thousands of victims at 15 sites across America free of charge.

The second CNN hero is Marie Da Silva from Los Angeles, California. Having lost 14 family members to AIDS. The nanny funds a school in Malawi where she's from originally where half a million children have been orphaned by the disease. Our third CNN hero is Yohannes Gebregeorgis from Addis Abba, Ethiopia. She was moved by a lack of children's books and literacy in his native Ethiopia. And Yohannes established Ethiopia Reads, bring free public libraries and literacy programs to thousands of Ethiopian children.

So our fourth CNN hero is Carolyn LeCroy from Norfolk, Virginia. After serving time in prison Carolyn started the Messages project to help children stay connected with their incarcerated parents. She and volunteer camera crews have taped roughly 3,000 messages from inmates to their children. Our fifth CNN hero is Annie Mahlum from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Every morning on her daily jog Annie used to run past homeless men and now she's running with them and others helping to transform their lives as part of her Back on my Feet program.

Our sixth CNN hero is Liz McCartney from St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. Now, Liz moved to New Orleans to St. Bernard Parish and dedicated herself to helping Hurricane Katrina survivors move back into their homes. Her organization has rebuilt homes for more than 120 families for free. Our seventh CNN hero is Phymean Noun from Toronto, Ontario. Phymean offers hundreds of Cambodian children who work in Phnom Penh's massive trash dump a way out through free schooling and job training.

Our eighth CNN hero, David Puckett from Savannah, Georgia. David brings on-going prosthetic and orthotic care to those in need in southeastern Mexico. Since November of 2000 he's helped more than 420 amputees get the limbs that have literally changed their lives. Our ninth CNN hero is Maria Ruiz from El Paso, Texas. Several times a week, Maria crosses the border to Juarez, Mexico bringing food and clothing and toys for hundreds of poor kids and their families.

And our tenth CNN hero is Viola Vaughn from Kaolack, Senegal by way of Detroit, I should say. Viola left her Motor City to retire in Senegal instead she ended up helping thousands of girls get an education and run their own businesses.

Now take a good look at these 10 CNN heroes. These are the top 10 CNN heroes of 2008. Congratulations and this is where you our viewers come in. You can go online right now and chose the hero who inspires you the most. Your vote is going to help decide the 2008 CNN hero of the year. Our top 10 CNN heroes, proof you don't need super power or millions of dollars to change the world and even saves lives. We're looking forward to honoring all of these amazing people during CNN's Heroes which is an all star tribute which is hosted by me on Thanksgiving night. What better time to thank them all for the work that they have done.

We'll also honor "People Magazine's" Heroes Among Us and we'll name our CNN hero of the year. Which of these 10 will it be? That is up to you. You decide, vote now at CNN.com/heroes. I should point out that Hero of the Year gets a $100,000 prize awarded by the public. Kiran, John.

ROBERTS: Looking forward to it. Anderson, thanks so much for that. Great group of people there. By the way, programming note here. Kyra Phillips is going to have two members of the blue ribbon panel, Franklin Graham, Deepak Chopra on at 1:25 today on CNN NEWSROOM to talk about the selection of the heroes.

CHETRY: A lot of wonderful people out there doing some great things. And it's an honor to meet all of them.

Senator Obama claims that his Republican rival will give some fat cats a $700,000 tax cut. With a number like that we had to call in the truth squad.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHETRY: Well, it's time to check in with the truth squad. We're trying to keep the campaigns honest by taking what they are saying and sorting fact from fiction. And this morning our Alina Cho is looking into the claim by Barack Obama that Senator John McCain's tax plan could mean cuts for the fat cats.

Hey, Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Kiran. Good morning.

Yes. We heard it on the debate. We hear it on the campaign trail. Tax cuts, it's the one issue that every American cares about. And Barack Obama says John McCain will give some people a $700,000 tax cut. Here he is yesterday in Indiana.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: You've heard a lot about taxes in this campaign. Well, here's the truth. John McCain and I are both offering tax cuts. The difference is, he wants to give the average fortune 500 CEO a $700,000 tax cut.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHO: Now John McCain wants to give the average fortune 500 CEO a $700,000 tax cut? Is that really true? Where did Obama get that number? Well the Obama campaign is basing it on a Fortune 500 survey that showed the average CEO of those companies earned $12.8 million last year. And here's the tricky part. What Obama calls a cut is actually an extension of the current cut put in place by President Bush. That's how he got the $700,000 figure. But that's money the CEOs are already saving. Now, McCain is proposing an extension of the Bush tax cuts, which are set to expire by 2011. So the question again, when Obama says McCain wants to give Fortune 500 CEOs a $700,000 tax cut, is he right?

Well, the truth squad verdict on this one, true, but incomplete. The tax cut is already in place. But it's set to expire. And McCain wants to extend those cuts, as you just heard. Obama has said he wants to let the tax cuts run out for the wealthiest Americans and offer new ones to middle class Americans.

Taken straight from his Web site, Obama says his plan, Kiran, will offer tax cuts to 95 percent of American workers and their families. Again, something you heard during the debate, something you hear often on the campaign trail.

CHETRY: Yes, that's right. All right. Alina, thank you.

CHO: You bet.

ROBERTS: CNN NEWSROOM is just minutes away now. Fredricka Whitfield is at the CNN Center with a look at what's ahead. Hi, Fred.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, John. Well, here's a check of what's happening in the NEWSROOM. Steadying influence, world markets show more stability today. Will Wall Street follow their lead?

And who best to handle the mess? Each candidate trying to convince voters that he's the man with the financial plan.

And residents foreclosed without warning. The sheriff said it's not right. And he's saying no to evictions. We get started at the top of the hour here on CNN, John.

ROBERTS: All right. Looking forward to it, Fred. We'll see you soon.

It is Thursday, so that means Dr. Sanjay Gupta opens up his mail bag and answers your health questions. Today about panic attacks and bad knees. We're "Paging Dr. Gupta." And John McCain calls himself a maverick, but one family has a big beef with that. We'll tell you why. Well, they're the original mavericks.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: 51 minutes after the hour. Welcome back to the most news in the morning. We are always on top of the latest medical news here in AMERICAN MORNING. And as a result, you often have questions.

CHETRY: That's why every Thursday we dig deep into Dr. Gupta's mail bag. Sanjay joins us from Atlanta, we dive right in.

And the first question comes to us from Texas. Amanda says: "I struggle every day not to breakdown into a panic attack. Do you have any tips I can follow to help me with my daily life?"

For people who have anxiety and panic, this is a daily fear.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It really is. And this is one of the most common questions we got. No surprises over the past several weeks panic attacks can manifest themselves in lots of ways. People might have chest pain. They might have shortness of breath. In fact, it was all anxiety. A couple of things to keep in mind, one is no surprise, you're not alone, Amanda. Two is that it's important to identify specific triggers that might be causing the panic attack.

Now, when it comes to not being alone, there's lots of community groups that are starting up where you might be able to talk about the specific things that are causing your anxiety. As far as your daily life goes, this is good time to remind ourselves of relaxation techniques that may have worked at different times in our life, whether it's breathing techniques or just getting physical exercise. Also keeping in mind to try and get as much sleep as possible and avoid caffeine and alcohol as crutches in situations like this.

ROBERTS: Good advice. Thanks, Sanjay. Sonya in Tennessee is up next. She says: "I have reason to believe that I was exposed to melamine. Will I have long-term kidney damage?" She doesn't say how she might have been exposed.

GUPTA: Right.

ROBERTS: But what about the medical effects there, Sanjay?

GUPTA: Well, you know, to start off, melamine, as a lot of people may know, is a chemical that we talked about a lot lately because it was contaminating certain food products, especially pet foods and then baby formula more recently in China. In the United States we haven't had cases of melamine poisoning but it is of a concern more so than ever.

This is a chemical that is typically found in plastics. It gets into food either intentionally or accidentally. Intentionally it's done because it raises artificially the protein content of food which is why some people were intentionally trying to dupe the protein content in certain foods. You're unlikely to have long-term kidney damage from melamine if you haven't gotten sick in the first place.

And there are certain things to look out for that are going to be sort of forerunners. Stomach pains, vomiting, fever, and if you are particularly worried about the kidneys, you can get your urine checked for blood or crystals in the urine. But you're probably going to get sick first before you ever have any threat to your kidney in the long term.

ROBERTS: All right.

CHETRY: We have time for one more question. This is from Joel in Maryland writing in: "About eight years ago, I really wanted to have a knee replacement but the doctor told me that so long as I could walk I would not need to replace my knee. What are the risks?"

GUPTA: Well, you know, it's interesting with knee replacements, they have become much better than they were a decade ago and they have become much more common as well. Having said that most reputable orthopedic surgeons will still say to wait as long as possible. For one reason, even though these knees are very good if you have your knee replaced at a younger age you're more likely to need a knee replacement at a later age. These artificial knees do breakdown and they can break as well. So holding off as long as possible so that you can have that knee replacement done just one time.

ROBERTS: Wasn't there a recent study, Sanjay, on that that found typical treatment for arthritic knees was equal in the long run to knee replacement?

GUPTA: That's right. And it was the short term, people who had really, really horrific pain in the short term seemed to get more relief by having the operation. But you're absolutely right, John, just using more conservative or non-operative measures seemed to work as well in the long run.

ROBERTS: All right, Sanjay.

CHETRY: They also say a little bit of weight loss can make a big difference on your knees as well.

GUPTA: Takes some of the pressure off, absolutely.

ROBERTS: Sanjay, thanks so much for that.

GUPTA: OK.

ROBERTS: By the way, if you've got a question for Dr. Gupta, go to cnn.com/americanmorning and Sanjay will answer them here next Thursday morning.

CHETRY: The original mavericks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm free to be annoyed by it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: The keepers of the family name Maverick.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Maverick.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Speaking out against the McCain campaign -

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: A team of mavericks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: And they're not holding back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very irritating.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: Uprising.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: The maverick.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: You probably heard it so often that word association comes easy. John McCain, you think maverick. But one family in Texas begs to differ. Here's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He has branded himself -- PALIN: The maverick.

MCCAIN: A maverick of the Senate.

PALIN: He's a maverick from the Senate.

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Maverick, he is not.

PALIN: We're a couple of mavericks.

This team that is a team of mavericks.

ANNOUNCER: The original mavericks.

MOOS: Hold your horses.

FONTAINE MAVERICK, DEMOCRAT: It's very irritating because he is not a maverick.

MOOS: Fontaine Maverick says her family is the real original Maverick. Her Web site seeks to take back the family name that spawned the word we've come to know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maverick.

MOOS: Back in the 1800s Samuel Maverick didn't brand his cattle and they became known as mavericks. The word came to mean an independent individual who doesn't go along with the group.

OBAMA: I'm going to have to start saying I'm a maverick.

JAY LENO, HOST "THE TONIGHT SHOW": What should I call you?

PALIN: Maverick.

LENO: What should I call Senator McCain then?

PALIN: Maverick.

LENO: Why you saying maverick again?

PALIN: $700 billion a year.

LENO: All right. I don't have that kind of money.

PALIN: Maverick. MOOS: But guess who's not laughing? members of the Maverick family say hearing John McCain's a maverick makes them want to shoot the TV just like hearing fingernails on a chalkboard times ten. After all, they're liberal Democrats. Some family members have held office in Texas. They have nothing against the old TV show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Maverick."

MOOS: They have nothing against "Top Gun."

TOM CRUISE, ACTOR, "TOP GUN": I'm Maverick.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maverick?

MOOS: But when they hear the music from "Top Gun" at McCain rallies, it must irk them. They know the McCain folks are free to use the word "maverick" but -

MAVERICK: I'm free to be annoyed by it.

MOOS: Maybe all the mockery helps.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sarah Palin is a maverick.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only a real maverick would wear these.

MOOS: From Sweet Kids for Truth to this Obama spoof of a McCain strategy session.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One word, maverick.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wants to overturn Roe versus Wade, maverick.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He doesn't know how many house he's owns.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maverick. We just keep saying maverick, maverick, maverick until that's all they hear.

PALIN: We are not afraid to get mavericky in there.

MOOS: Sometimes getting branded hurts.

BIDEN: You can't call yourself a maverick when all you've ever been is a sidekick.

MOOS: But maybe only a true -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maverick.

MOOS: Would inadvertently refer to his fellow citizens this way.

MCCAIN: This is the agenda that I have set before my fellow prisoners.

MOOS: Coming from a maverick, no one even blinked. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: I tell you, you know who is a maverick and is acting real mavericky?

CHETRY: Who?

ROBERTS: It's that sheriff from Cook County who stopped all of those evictions.

CHETRY: He is. He's saying, you know what I'm not going to kick those people out of their homes. They're not the ones who were foreclosed upon, it was their landlords.

ROBERTS: Good guy. That's going to do it for us. Thanks so much for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING. We'll be back here again tomorrow. See you then.

CHETRY: That's right.

And right now, CNN NEWSROOM with Fredricka Whitfield.

Home  |  World  |  U.S.  |  Politics  |  Crime  |  Entertainment  |  Health  |  Tech  |  Travel  |  Living  |  Money  |  Sports  |  Time.com
© 2013 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.