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14 Americans Killed in Afghanistan; Fighting the Flu; Wayward Pilots Talk
Aired October 26, 2009 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We're pushing forward now on public health emergency. Swine flu is serious business, widespread in 46 states. This may be the peak of the outbreak. So, where's the vaccine?
Another top story, a terror plot in Texas denied by the alleged plotter. A 19-year-old Jordanian pleads not guilty to driving what he thought was a car bomb under a Dallas skyscraper.
And number six in a series. President Obama's closed-door meeting with his national security team on the war in Afghanistan. Today's session comes just hours after 14 Americans died in two unrelated helicopter crashes. Among those dead Americans, three DEA agents sent to Afghanistan with a seemingly impossible task -- to wipe out the massive pipeline that helps funnel heroin to American streets.
CNN's Chris Lawrence joins us now from Kabul.
Chris, will the death of these DEA agents change the mission? I mean, they weren't sent over there that long ago to help this fight.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Kyra. But I can tell you, you know, we just spoke today with a representative from Afghanistan's counter-narcotics agency, and he told us that these agents are vital to what they're doing there.
What they've been doing not only is going on these strikes like they were in this incident -- you had these DEA agents with the U.S. military raiding a compound where they believed insurgents were trafficking drugs. They got into a pretty violent firefight. We're told that over a dozen insurgents were killed.
All of the Americans survived that firefight, but it's when they got on the helicopter, the helicopter lifted up, and then the helicopter went down, that those three DEA agents were killed. The first DEA agents to be killed in Afghanistan fighting narcotics, as well as seven American troops. But again, we're told from Afghanistan officials that they are vital not only to strikes like that, but also training Afghan police in order to fight narcotics in their country -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: So, what's the military saying about what might have caused the chopper crash?
LAWRENCE: Their word right now that we're hearing is that it was not insurgents that brought it down. A senior U.S. military official says that crash in western Afghanistan, it may appear that the chopper -- that the helicopter hit something. Whether it was manmade or something else, they don't know. That's still being investigated.
There was another helicopter crash, a collision, actually, between two U.S. helicopters down in southern Afghanistan that brought both of those helicopters down and killed four American troops. That is still under investigation. But U.S. officials say insurgents had nothing to do with it -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Our Chris Lawrence live in Kabul.
Senator John Kerry, just back from Afghanistan, firing back at Dick Cheney. Kerry says the former VP neglected Afghanistan for eight years, so his criticism of President Obama rings hollow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: After eight years of neglecting Afghanistan as vice president, Dick Cheney has now come out of retirement to criticize President Obama for taking time to examine assumptions before sending troops into war. This from the man who in 2002 told America, "The Taliban regime is out of business permanently."
I think this is one time I wish Dick Cheney had been right. But tragically, he wasn't. And he isn't today. And that's why we have to make the tough choices about Afghanistan now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Kerry's also taking on antiwar Democrats, warning that a major U.S. troop pullout could trigger civil war in Afghanistan.
America's other war, Iraq. It may be winding down for U.S. forces, but not for ordinary Iraqis. An ordinary day shattered by the deafening blast of a monster bomb.
At least 160 people, including 30 children, were killed in yesterday's twin suicide car bombings in Baghdad. More than 500 wounded, making the attack the deadliest in the capital in two years. It happened in what's supposed to be one of the safest areas. And so far, no claims of responsibility.
Brave Pakistani students returning to schools closed after a terror attack. Suicide bombers blew themselves up at an Islamic university in Islamabad last week. Seven people were killed, including six students. Right now, only public schools in the capital have reopened. Officials assuring parents and students that they'll be safe.
This could be a critical day in the campaign to overhaul health care. Just in to CNN, we're hearing that next hour, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to announce he's putting a so-called public option in the bill that he'll send to the Senate floor. As you may know, that's the single most controversial element of the whole debate. Supporters say it's essential to keep the private health plans honest and affordable. Opponents claim a government plan would put the private plans out of business. Democratic sources tell CNN the re-plan would allow states that object to opt out, but it's far from clear that it will win over any Republicans or even conservative Democrats.
Remember this summer's TEA party, caravan protesting Democratic health proposals? Well, it's back.
TEA Party Express 2, Countdown to Judgment Day, kicked off Sunday in San Diego and Los Angeles. It moves all the way up California and deeper into the Northwest, stopping in 38 cities over 19 days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS KEAYS, TEA PARTY PROTESTER: We need to get back to the days when we were responsible and we assumed the responsibility of ourselves and our families. And the government is not a part of my daily life. I really resent the government taking up so much of my time, that I'm down here having to protest right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Well, the TEA Party Express winds up in Orlando November 12th. "Judgment Day" is a reference to next year's congressional elections.
H1N1 isn't just a virus, it's a national emergency. So says the White House as so-called swine flu becomes widespread in 46 states.
Look at all that red. It's lurking in the others, too, but localized.
Since April, more than 20,000 swine flu patients have been hospitalized in the U.S. out of millions who have been infected. More than 1,000 U.S. patients have died, including 100 children.
And what about all that swine flu vaccine that was supposed to be everywhere by now? Well, it's still on the way, and no presidential declaration will make it get here any faster.
Here's CNN's Kate Bolduan.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Long lines and long waits...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We thought it was the end. It goes all the way around the parking lot.
BOLDUAN: ... the scene in Fairfax, Virginia, this weekend as people young and old searched for H1N1 flu vaccinations.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we're just all a little scared about this whole thing.
BOLDUAN: In a move described as preemptive, President Obama, late Friday, declared H1N1 a national emergency. "The rates of illness continue to rise rapidly within many communities across the nation, and the potential exists for the pandemic to overburden health care resources in some localities," Mr. Obama said in a statement.
The declaration allows hospitals to cut through bureaucratic red tape in the event of a surge of H1N1 patients, reducing paperwork requirements, relaxing rules for setting up medical tents near hospital where's patients could be treated, also making it easier to transfer patients from one facility to another.
According to one administration official, the move is meant to essentially help free more doctors and nurses from administrative burdens so they can focus on patients. It comes, as the government admits, vaccine production is way behind.
DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, CDC DIRECTOR: We're nowhere near where we thought we would be by now. We're not near where the vaccine manufacturers predicted we would be.
BOLDUAN: Despite the delay, rare bipartisan agreement Sunday, lawmakers saying they are pleased with the federal response so far.
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: I think the government is doing everything they possibly can and the Centers for Disease Control.
SEN. BEN NELSON (D), NEBRASKA: I think they are making every move possible. I think it's a better indication that this is a monumental challenge, and the monumental challenge is being met.
PHILLIPS: Don't forget, you can track the spread of swine flu and the vaccine, too, anywhere, any time, on the new CNN.com.
Still no arrests in the fatal stabbing of University of Connecticut football player Jasper Howard eight days ago, but there are plenty of tears. Friends, family and the entire Huskies team paid their final respects. A packed house this morning at Miami's New Birth Baptist Church, where the hometown gridiron star was eulogized.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RANDY EDALL, UCONN HEAD FOOTBALL COACH: He treasured people. And as you can see by the attendance here today, just how much he touched each of us. And, yes, we are sad, but we should rejoice and be happy, because there's a piece of Jasper in all of us that's going to make us better as we continue to live and we continue to carry on his message and his hope and his ability to reach other people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Police in Connecticut are staying tight-lipped about their investigation, but they do say they're following numerous leads. Here's a Christmas gift idea for the pilots of that wayward Northwest Airlines flight -- a wristwatch, an egg timer, an appointment book, maybe even a sundial. We'll explain.
PHILLIPS: Flying the chatty skies. Remember the two Northwest Airlines pilots who overshot their destination last week by 150 miles? The reason they took the scenic route may surprise you now.
Our Jeanne Meserve is live in Washington.
Talk about getting engrossed in conversation, Jeanne.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, we don't know the full story yet. We haven't had any from the National Transportation Safety Board this afternoon, though we are expecting one.
We do know that the agency talked to the pilots of Northwest Flight 188 yesterday, and a source familiar with their statement says crew members told investigators they did not fall asleep onboard the flight, but lost track of time. That would be consistent with their earlier statements, including this quick interview shot earlier with the first officer, Richard Cole.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: There's a lot of discussion nationally that you guys fell asleep in the cockpit. Can you address that all?
RICHARD COLE, NORTHWEST AIRLINES PILOT: I know there's a lot of discussion, but I can't talk about the specifics. But there are a lot of misinformation that's going on. Things are being said that didn't happen, but I can't go into any details.
QUESTION: What specifically are you talking about?
COLE: I can't say. I mean, nobody was asleep in the cockpit and no arguments took place. But other than that, I cannot tell you anything that went on because we're having hearings this weekend, we're having hearings on Tuesday. All that information will come out then.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: If you're one of the few people who missed this story, flight 188 did not communicate with air traffic controllers for more than an hour last Wednesday night, and repeated attempts from the ground to reestablish communications failed. When the flight overshot its Minneapolis destination, there was worry that it might be a hijacking.
CNN's Barbara Starr has learned that the military is concerned that it wasn't notified sooner about the flight. By the time NORAD had jets ready to take off, communications with the aircraft had been re-established.
The investigation is continuing. We know that investigators are today talking to the flight attendants, and we are expecting an update from the NTSB. Delta, meanwhile, the parent company of Northwest, has sent a $500 voucher for future travel to all of the passengers who were on board the now infamous flight -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Infamous, to say the least. Thanks, Jeanne.
MESERVE: You bet.
PHILLIPS: Well, if you've clicked on our Web site lately, you know it's new and improved and slicker than a snake's belly. But more importantly, it's user friendly.
Josh Levs plays tour guide on the new CNN.com.
Josh, is it easier for you being the guru that you are?
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, I love it. Yes, actually, it is easier for me.
It's also the result of months of discussions about how this could work. Let's zoom right in so everyone can see.
It's really interesting. I'm excited about the differences that we're seeing here.
You know, one of the biggest differences that we're seeing is that there's embedded video and photos right inside the main page. Does that make it slicker than a snake's belly? I'll leave that up to you all.
Check this out right here. If you go to the story that we were just hearing about, it used to be you had to go somewhere else to see the video. Right now, you play the video, it comes up for you while you're reading the story. And this is true for so many stories we have.
Look at this -- video, video, video. It all comes up while you're reading the story. You don't need to go away from it at any time. Just one of the many new features we've got here.
Let's hit pause on this. And I'm going to take you now over to this feature over here, which is the News Pulse.
Take a look here. News Pulse shows you which stories are most popular. And at any given time, you can see what people are tracking.
I'm looking at the U.S. stories right now. No surprise, the story we were just hearing about, the wayward flight, is one of the most popular stories. You just click on the little image, you see how popular it is for the day. Then you click on this link if you want to get more information.
And Kyra, there's also something else that's neat here that I like, and that is a tour of the new CNN.com. We have some video of that. Let's go straight to that. It's pretty cool.
It shows you these stunning new features in a cool way. Let's listen in.
There you go. Kind of our own little version of a music video. And what it's doing is it's showing you the new features and how to use them, along with some of the audio, et cetera.
And, you know, Kyra, one thing I've been doing throughout today is listening to the viewers and the users and saying, hey, do you like this? Do you not like this?
Let's do this first. Let's go to the graphic. I want everyone to see where you can weigh in, and then I'm going to read you a couple tweets.
So, this is how you can let us know what you think -- CNN.com/Josh, or Facebook or Twitter, JoshLevsCNN. Let's get to it.
All right. Troda wrote to me at Twitter, "New and improved, but long overdue. CNN Web site is a welcome addition to my daily routine."
This one, LeonSpears: "The new CNN.com is very interactive. The media links operate smoothly."
Let's go the NEWSROOM blog, CNN.com/Josh or CNN.com/Kyra, actually.
"The new site is well worth the huge CNN effort. Best of all, it shows CNN's dedication to making CNN.com a major part of its journalistic mission."
But not everyone's happy. Renee writes us here, "Overall, I don't like it. Sorry. The old one was more practical."
We're listening. No matter where you are, you like it, you hate, you got other ideas? We want to know what you think. So, keep those coming.
And Kyra, who knows? People out there might have some new ideas for us that get incorporated. It's a work in progress always. But I will tell you, a giant step forward. And we feel pretty good about it right here today.
PHILLIPS: Thanks, Josh.
LEVS: You got it. Thanks.
PHILLIPS: Well, the man accused of knifing a priest to death now in the hospital himself, and cops won't say why. Your top stories coming up next.
PHILLIPS: Top stories now. Not guilty, the plea today from a Jordanian teen accused of trying to blow up a Dallas skyscraper. Authorities say that Hosam Smadi's online rants against the U.S. government tipped them off. He could face life in prison if convicted.
A 64-year-old church custodian, police in Chatham, New Jersey, say he's confessed to last week's fatal stabbing of a pastor. But investigators won't say why Jose Feliciano is now hospitalized, citing patient confidentiality laws. Police say the victim, 61-year-old Ed Hinds, was knifed more than 30 times in the church's rectory.
And the fire is out, but the investigation is just beginning. What sparked this massive oil depot blaze in Puerto Rico over the weekend? Well, the FBI and ATF are on the scene. The fire burned for three days. Authorities are eyeing suspicious graffiti found nearby.
PHILLIPS: Well, do you have to understand English to drive a car in Dallas? The cop who wrote this ticket evidently thought so, but outrage is outrage in any language.
PHILLIPS: Well, a Texas-sized sorry from Dallas police, along with an admission, it's happened before. The department's scrambling after a woman and her family went public about her ticket for driving and not speaking any English.
Texas does have a law that says commercial drivers have to speak the language for safety reasons. Civilians, not covered. But now we're hearing that several dozen drivers may have been improperly ticketed over the past few years. Six officers being investigated as we speak.
Meantime, a lawsuit's in the works in that first case that came to light. The woman's daughter explains what went down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRENDA MONDRAGON, DAUGHTER OF TICKETED WOMAN: She says she got pulled over for doing an illegal U-turn. And then I read the ticket and I noticed that there were three offenses. And the first one was for the illegal U-turn, the second one was for not having her driver's license on her, and the third one was for being a non-English-speaking driver.
So, I basically told my mom that she got gotten a ticket for not speaking English. She was worried that now, every time she drives and she gets pulled over, is she going to get another ticket for not speaking English?
So, I called the number on the back of the ticket to find out the fees, and the guy who answered the phone -- I don't recall his name -- put me on -- when I told him, he asked me for the offenses. I told him all of them, and for the non-English-speaking, he said, "I'm not sure about that one. Let me check, hold on."
He put me on hold for about two minutes, came back and said, "Well, you could get a ticket for being a non-English-speaking driver. And it's going to be $204."
So, I told my mom that it was going to be $204, and she was stressing. She's unemployed, so she was stressing how she was going to pay that, so I told her I would take care of it for her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: All right. Well, listening to all that, our friend Jane Velez-Mitchell, host of HLN's "Issues," and, of course, author of the book "I Want," weighing in on this.
We have a couple of stories, actually, to talk about. Sort of a similar theme.
All right. The police chief came forward and said, OK, we're apologizing. We admit that 38 similar tickets had been issued in the past three years.
What's your first reaction to being ticketed for not speaking English?
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST, "ISSUES": It would be funny. It really is so laughable and so idiotic that it would be funny, if it were not so tragic, ,that this poor woman felt humiliated. And it's clear-cut discrimination. This, to me, is the ultimate example of why this debate over illegal immigration has gotten so toxic. This is a legal resident, a woman here legally. But this drumbeat against illegal immigration -- it gets it into people's heads that everyone is here illegally and everybody who speaks Spanish needs to be prosecuted. And, of course, illegal immigrants are a very tiny percentage of the number of Latinos in America. The vast majority of whom are here legally and often American-born.
The irony of all this is the woman who was ticketed for not speaking English did speak a little bit of English. And she said, please, can my daughter get out of the car so she won't be late for school? So, they didn't even ticket her correctly because she was speaking -- try that in New York City. When you walk around or drive in New York City, every language you hear is Russian or French or German or Italian.
PHILLIPS: Devil's advocate here. OK, critics coming forward saying, , come on, she's a legal U.S. citizen. When you get pulled over, you should know how to speak English in this country, especially with a police officer. You've done something illegal. You can't expect the police officer to know how to communicate with you. What do you say to those critics who say, if you're going to live in this country, you have to learn how to speak our language?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We are a nation of immigrants. I say to those people, remember whence you came. And remember the fact that you didn't come over on the Mayflower speaking perfect English, or your ancestors certainly did not. Unless you are indigenous Native American, you are an immigrant.
And there's a reason why at the Statue of Liberty, it says give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free the wretched refuse from your teeming shore. The homeless, give them to me." Because we were all immigrants at one point in our ancestry, OK? So, those people...
PHILLIPS: MLK and JVM. I'm seeing you on the mountaintops.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I have an interesting background, very briefly. I'm half Puerto Rican, half Irish. My father had me very late in life, and he was born in 1916. His mother came from Ireland. He would tell me the stories. She was named Jane Mitchell. I was named after her, where there was tremendous discrimination against the Irish, especially against the Irish Catholics. There were signs that said "Irish need not apply."
Every ethnic group that comes to America goes through a hazing ritual. The same thing happened to Italian Americans. So, we have to put this in the bigger context of we are an immigrant nation. When you insult immigrants, you are essentially insulting yourself.
PHILLIPS: All right. This is leading us to the next story. You've read up on this to tell our viewers. Spanish speakers, the next state over, getting a hard time as well.
Imagine if your boss changed your name because it's too ethnic or didn't let you speak in your native language on the job. Well, that's what's going on at a hotel in New Mexico. And employees and the town are pretty fired up.
Joining me on the line, the man at the center of that, hotel owner and former Marine Larry Winton. Larry, let me get your side to the story here because we're hearing from employees there that say you're a racist, it's totally unfair what you're doing, asking them to change their names to English names, to only speak English, why are you doing what you're doing?
Larry, are you there? .
LARRY WINTON, HOTEL OWNER (via telephone): Yes, yes, ma'am.
PHILLIPS: OK. You hear me OK? Were you able to hear my question? I can go ahead and repeat it.
WINTON: Yes, repeat it, please.
PHILLIPS: You got it. Manager Larry Winton on the line with us here. We're giving the back story of the hotel that you are now running. What do you say to the employees who are basically saying you're a racist? You've asked them to change their names from their Mexican names to English names, you're telling them to only speak in English, not Spanish. And they say they feel like they've been fired unfairly by you.
WINTON: Well, Ms. Phillips, I'm not a racist, and I would apologize if I offended anyone that would think I was a racist. It was not intentional. It was simply to help the hotel progress from the low state that it is in.
PHILLIPS: Tell me how that would help a dilapidating motel turn into a better motel by asking employees that have worked there for a long time not to speak Spanish and to Anglicize their names?
WINTON: Well, Ms. Phillips, it's not true that I intentionally changed names to Anglicize. Again, my business is distressed hotels. This hotel was running about 10 percent occupancy. It had four owners in the last five years...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Can I jump in, Larry? I'm here. My name's Jane Velez-Mitchell. I hope you don't mind if I keep using the word Velez in my name. You say you're trying to turn around a dilapidated motel. Did you or did you not tell someone name whose name was Martin to say his name was Martin or similar changes?
WINTON: Yes, ma'am, I was answering your question of why...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Answer that question. Did you ask him to change his name and anglicize his name? Did you ask anyone to anglicize their name?
WINTON: Yes. I ask Martin to change it to Martin to better understand it over the telephone...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You can't understand Martin? Do you know that the vast majority of people who live in this community where you have your hotel are Latinos? So, your customers are going to be, to a large extent, Latino. Now, how do you treat the customers when they come in? Do you ask them to change their names? Like, if I came in, would Jane Velez-Mitchell, so that you better understand my name, would you ask me to change it?
WINTON: No, ma'am.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It's ludicrous, sir...
WINTON: I only ask people on my switchboard as I have done for 40 years. And again, I never intentionally changed anyone's names to insult them, insult their heritage, insult their culture. It's a matter of, I wanted Martin to get the recognition.
Who was a fine young man, I might add. We looked forward to him being one of our managers, if you want to know the real truth. He was an excellent fellow, and we wanted him to get the recognition over the switchboard, not say that some boy was good for me on the phone or did me a great service. We wanted his name to be recognizable. That name was proven not to be recognizable, and I wanted him to get the credit for his great service.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me say this, sir. All of these states that we're talking about with all these stories -- Texas, New Mexico -- New Mexico, California, they were all Mexico at one point. That's why when you look at the cities and the street names, most of them are in Spanish to begin with. Los Angeles was Pueblos de Los Angeles.
And that's why if you look up and down California, for example. San Francisco, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, San Diego. If you look at the street names -- La Cienaga, La Brea -- everybody understands them. If I tell somebody I'm going to La Cienaga, they're going to tell me -- they're not going to say I can't understand what you're saying. So, the idea that you're presupposing the people cannot understand Martin but they can understand Martin, really says a lot more about you, sir, than it does about your customers or anybody else.
WINTON: Well, Ms. Phillips, I've turned around 20 hotels using my same procedures. This one failed four times out of five. It was losing anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 a day from no business supporting the payroll, the lights, water, gas, insurance. And you know, I'm here learning about diversity, I'm learning about tolerance. I certainly appreciate all the differences in Taos (ph). It's a beautiful city. It was never intended to insult anyone. I think Martin was a fine fellow. If he wants to come back to work tomorrow...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You're still calling him Martin.
PHILLIPS: Yes. Larry -- here -- this is Kyra Phillips and Jane Velez-Mitchell. Jane Velez-Mitchell has a show called "Issues" on HLN, and she joins me on a segment on subject matter that gets to both of us on many levels. And this one, I guess, disturbed us because we feel like in many ways you haven't familiarized yourself with a town, with a culture, and I think Jane, you made that point very well.
I think, Larry, you're a Marine. You've got a strong personality You lay down the law on how you want to do things to run a business. But I think in this case, have you thought about maybe opening up your mind that these employees -- this is their part of the country where they feel comfortable, where everybody knows the language, understands the culture. Why not embrace them, get to know them and incorporate your ways of running a business but respect who they are and their culture and that they were doing -- they know how to do the job. Maybe embracing their names and their language and the people that they work with could make a much better situation for you, for them and for everybody in that area.
WINTON: Well, I agree with you. Taos (ph) is very unique, more unique than anywhere I've ever been, I assure you of that. More beautiful than anywhere I've ever been as well. I wish I would have known more about the cultures...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Can I ask you a question, Larry?
WINTON: ... What I want you to, if you would, just understand, my switchboard is answered from people calling from North Carolina, South Carolina, and I can assure you, they don't understand the culture here. They don't understand -- they come from a different world, where I was raised, Virginia. We're not accustomed to hearing -- if they were speaking Austrian or German, I would have the same issue, that I want all my people on the switchboard to understand, not just -- if it was all Spanish people coming here, if I went to Spain, do you think I would change anybody's name? No. Because everybody's coming here is from Spain. This was not intentional, Ms. Phillips.
PHILLIPS: But -- but -- your assumption is that...
WINTON: It's to help the hotel. I'm learning. I'm going to make mistakes. I'm ready to correct what I can because I've got a lot of money invested here. And I want the city to understand that's what we're here for, make a good hotel.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: My final thought is -- I don't think this man is doing something that he thinks is wrong, obviously. He's defending himself.
And I have compassion for him because ultimately I think we need to take a 21st century look at this whole issue of discrimination.
To me, it's a question of low self-esteem, not on the part of people who are being discriminated against, but on the part of the discriminators. If that's the only way they can feel better about themselves, by saying that in some way they are superior because of an accent of birth, then I really have compassion for them, and I think they need to go in therapy and find out why they need to feel better than other people in that manner.
You know, arrogance based on achievement, I can respect.
PHILLIPS: Larry, you talked about wanting to know more about the culture and learning more about diversity. We all agree that that's a very important step for you to take. We're going to follow up. We appreciate you calling in.
WINTON: Thank you.
PHILLIPS: All right. Jane, always good to have you.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It's a lot of fun.
PHILLIPS: You want to debate that, you want to come out stronger. But I think there's a part -- you found it and I did as we were listening to him, you have to sometimes have a little bit of compassion for ignorance.
PHILLIPS: And hopefully he's going to learn a lesson here.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And let's hope as he stays in the community he becomes more enlightened, it has a happy ending. I hope so.
PHILLIPS: And there are pretty amazing people that live there. I've been there. I know you have too. All right. Thanks, Jane. Appreciate it. See you tomorrow.
All right. We're going to turn to top stories now. Starting with the autopsy results in for Jeffry Picower. A Florida medical examiner says the associate of Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff had a massive heart attack and drowned. Picower's body was found in his swimming pool at his Palm Beach mansion yesterday. He made more than $7 billion, by the way, from Madoff's investment schemes.
And teammates of Jasper Howard are joining his grieving relatives saying good-bye today. The University of Connecticut football player being laid to rest in his hometown of Miami. Each player carried a single white rose tied with a blue ribbon. Howard was fatally stabbed outside a dance at Uconn's campus. Police don't have any suspects at this point.
And with so many of you still out of work, the Senate is considering beefing up your unemployment checks. They're working on a bill that would extent expiring benefits for another 14 weeks for states hit extra hard by jobless claims. They could extent an extra six weeks.
More fat cats might be getting slim checks. You know, the Obama administration is already cracking down on bailed-out execs and the money they rake in. Well, the White House isn't done yet.
PHILLIPS: A lot of our viewers get pretty riled up when they hear about the fat paychecks that many people on Wall Street get. Those payouts could be actually reined in even more. CNNmoney.com's Poppy Harlow joins us now to talk about more pay cuts coming?
POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: Yes, what happened, Kyra, last week, the top 25 executives at these seven bailed-out firms -- take a look at them on your screen -- they got major pay cuts.
But it's not stopping there. The Obama administration, the pay czar, Ken Feinberg, is now reviewing, as we speak, the next 75 most highly paid executives at those firms, looking at whether their pay is fair or not.
The reason behind this is, a lot of times the people that take the most risks, whether they're talking about an automaker or a financial firm, are not necessarily the top people on the firm. It could be traders, for instance, on Wall Street. They want to see if the pay really matches up with the risk that was taken, is it fair? They're looking at that.
And Kyra, a decision is expected in December or early next year. But what this shows that pay is changing not only for the CEOs and the CFOs, but all the way down at some at some of these bailed-out institutions. Or it's likely going to?
PHILLIPS: OK. What about the companies that didn't get T.A.R.P. money, because the pressure is different in that. HARLOW: It's different, and a lot of people say isn't it un- American for the government to step in and regulate pay where the government didn't bail out these companies? What's happening now is the government's not stepping in on companies that don't have T.A.R.P. money.
But what is happening is the companies are taking it upon themselves. Morgan Stanley, for example, that Wall Street firm has paid back their T.A.R.P. money but have instituted these clawbacks. So, let's say that they pay one of their traders x amount of money. If a trade that that person makes proves to be a loss for the firm up to three years down the road, they can take that money back. That's one thing that's changing.
But, Kyra, a lot of folks say the shareholders need to have a say in this. They need to have more say, and the people that sit on the boards and decide on those compensation packages. What they're going to do, Congress is pushing forward on that. They're proposing a law that could institute that. But it wouldn't be binding.
So, this morning, I spoke with the Nell Minow. She's the chairwoman of the corporate library. She's been pushing on this for decades. She's finally getting attention. She met with the Obama administration and Geithner on this. Here's what she told us this morning when it comes to executive pay.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NELL MINOW, CHAIR, THE CORPORATE LIBRARY: Right now, the consumers of CEO pay, the shareholders, have almost no ability to sending any kind of signal back. You can't replace the directors who do it wrong, you can't say no to these outrageous awards.
It's unthinkable to me, it's unfathomable to me, that directors who served on the bailout companies continue to serve, directors who have approved compensation awards that have created all kinds of perverse incentives, continue to serve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: All right, so the only thing that can really happen as it stands now is that a shareholder, an active shareholder has to spend up to millions of dollars to issue a proxy statement, send it out to all the shareholders, get enough votes to kick some folks off that board. And, Kyra, that doesn't happen much. So, what she's saying is, we need more direct say on pay from the shareholders that invest their money in this company so there's really more accountability. That's really what it comes down to.
PHILLIPS: Well, and don't you have to sort of clean house in order to get a new mentality in there?
HARLOW: That's the question. Look at Citigroup, for example. This is a bank where they have a relatively new CEO. He's been there under two years. They have a lot of the same board members. There are some folks say those board members need to change behavior or go. I'm not saying either way.
But I'm just saying, you look at a lot of the boards at these companies -- look at AIG, for example. They replaced some board members but not all. And you look at what's happened. These firms are changing. They have government money, but a lot of times the boards that, by the way, decide on pay. There are compensation committees. We don't talk about it a lot, but they have -- the onus is on them, really.
PHILLIPS: Point well made. We'll see you tomorrow. I know you're working on some good stuff for us. Thanks, Poppy.
PHILLIPS: Well, first, it was the dirty dozen followed by the Sickening 16. Imagine stuffing your gullet with these guys. Why? The quest for fame guaranteed to gross you out.
PHILLIPS: Come on, Otis, cue the music. We have to start it with the music.
PHILLIPS: Perfect! I hope all of you have had lunch because you could lose it with this. There are some things you just should not put in your mouth, like a bucket full of nasty, hissing Madagascar roaches. But don't tell this dude. He's on a mission to break a Guinness World Record, for whatever the heck that's worth. Well, he did it. Busted the old mark of 11 with five buggers to spare.
Tell him what he's won, Johnny! An all-inclusive week at the roach motel? (INAUDIBLE) State Journal, we think.
From one cucaracha to the next, Ricardo Sanchez. C'mon, give me a little move, Sanchez.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: You know that argument you were having with the hotel guy a little while ago?
PHILLIPS: Oh, Larry Winton, Taos New Mexico.
SANCHEZ: I agree with him.
PHILLIPS: You agree -- OK, hold on a second. You agree with him that he should be able to fire people because they don't speak very good English?
PHILLIPS: ... in addition to anglicizing their names? Rick, what if someone said to you, "Rick Sanchez, mm, your name, it doesn't sound right, people won't understand it. We're going to change it to Rick Sanford. Let's go now to Rick Sanford." SANCHEZ: My real name is Ricardo Leon Sanchez Deyrenalo (ph). I don't use it because I want to be respectful of this wonderful country that allowed us as Hispanics to come here. And I think it's easier if someone's able to understand me by anglicizing my name...
PHILLIPS: But Sanchez isn't anglicizing your name!
SANCHEZ: Let me finish my point. When I was listening to the conversation, I heard him say, "I don't do that with all employees, only people who man the switchboard to make it easier for them to have conversations with prospective clients who are trying to call in." I -- it didn't sound to me like he was being unreasonable with that demand.
PHILLIPS: It's Taos, New Mexico and he's firing people because of their Spanish-English. By the way, Sanchez, you haven't anglicized your name.
SANCHEZ: Yes, I'm Rick Sanchez. My real name is Ricardo Leon Sanchez Deyrenalo (ph). And I'm not going to go on the air and make people say, "Hi, you're watching the news on CNN with Ricardo Leon Sanchez Deyrenalo (ph)...
PHILLIPS: But you speak Spanish in your show. You have a little picture thing where you play a little salsa music. I mean, you have your culture in there. You're identifying with the Latin culture.
SANCHEZ: Of course I do, I'm Latin. I couldn't be prouder of being Latin. But I'm not going to let my being Latin get in the way of what is a respectful way of behaving when you're in somebody else's country. The culture of the United States is not Latin. And if you can anglicize your name to make people in this country better understand you and to do business, I don't think it's a bad idea and that we need to be that critical.
I mean, look, there's two sides to the story. It's one of those where I'm looking at it and I'm going, if you really think about it, it's not a bad idea. You good?
PHILLIPS: What? Is someone talking to you?
SANCHEZ: Yes, your producer is telling me "Hurry up, we got to go to break" or something like that.
PHILLIPS: Oh, all right. Yes, I guess you and I could keep chatting about this. We'll continue our debate now that we're going to get flooded with e-mails. You're up in four minutes. See you in a minute, Rick.
PHILLIPS: All right. Just in, new information about the NTSB on the pilots that overshot the landing by 150 miles. We've been talking about that story since it started. Jeanne Meserve live in Washington. What did you find out, Jeanne?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, an update after five hours of interviews with the pilot and co-pilot, the NTSB says both pilots say they weren't fatigued. They'd had a 19-hour layover, but that there was a distraction in the cockpit when there was a concentrated period of discussion where they did not monitor calls from air traffic control, even though both stated they heard conversation on the radio.
Apparently, they were discussing a new company policy on flight crew scheduling. Each pilot accessed and used his personal computer while they discussed the scheduling procedure, even though that prohibited company policy. They said they lost track of time and didn't know what was up until they heard from a flight attendant five minutes before they were scheduled to land and realized they hot overshot their destination. That's the pilots' point of view from the NTSB investigation.
PHILLIPS: Got it, Jeanne. Thanks for working that story for us.
That does it for us. At the top of the hour, Rick Sanchez takes it from here.