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Thomson, Illinois: The Next Gitmo?; Business With Beijing; Cleveland Survivors Urged to Get Help

Aired November 16, 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: Pushing forward now on the hour's top stories, a body found early this morning in the Chicago River is believed to be that of Michael Scott, president of the Chicago Board of Education. Details surrounding Scott's apparent death are not being released. We'll keep you posted.

President Obama in Beijing where he has a busy day ahead with Chinese leaders, a group often called America's bankers. Chinese exports, U.S. deficits and both countries' currencies are all on the table.

California Governor Schwarzenegger pumped up to encourage the troops, that's what it says on his Twitter page as Schwarzenegger hobnobs with U.S. soldiers in Baghdad. He says he'll post pics when he gets home, but we've actually got them now.

And Sarah Palin's got a bestseller on her hands a day before it's officially released. So tweet me your thoughts on "Going Rogue," I'll read them next hour.

Back to our developing story now, a body pulled from the Chicago River is believed to be Michael Scott, president of the city's board of education. Police found his car nearby, and the news is tugging heartstrings from the heartland, all the way to Washington.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says Chicago's children have "lost a devoted champion." But Scott's career was not without scandal. Before a grand jury, he denied using his influence to help certain students get into elite public schools.

The confessed mastermind of 9/11 could face a judge and jury just blocks from Ground Zero in Manhattan. The White House wants to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four suspected conspirators in federal court in New York City today, a plan that Republican critics call unconscionable, even dangerous.

Our John King got an earful from both sides on "STATE OF THE UNION."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: We believe that these folks should be tried in New York City, as you say, near where their heinous acts were conducted, in full view in our court system, which we believe in. We've had, you know, since 2001, about 195 terrorism cases in the courts, and we've been successful 91 percent of the time. We're very confident about these cases. We believe we're going to substantially meet the deadline. We may not hit it on the date, but we will close Guantanamo, and we're making good progress toward doing it.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), FMR. MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: The reality is this is unnecessary. First of all, it's an unnecessary advantage to give to the terrorists. I don't know why you want to give terrorists advantages.

And secondly, it's an unnecessary risk to the city of New York, which already has any number of risks. If it was necessary, if this were the only option, well, of course I'd be in favor of it, and of course the city would do everything it could, as it will, to try and make it safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Now, in just less than an hour, the tiny town of Thomson, Illinois, will be invaded by federal house hunters or, rather, big house hunters. They're checking out a prison that could be the new Gitmo, a holding tank for suspected terrorists. But instead of saying there goes the neighborhood, many people are thinking, here comes the jobs.

Elaine Quijano has been talking to folks in Thomson.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): About 150 miles west of Chicago sits the farming community of Thompson, Illinois, population 600, where the biggest building in town, a $145 million state prison, sits mostly empty and just down the road at Sunrise restaurant...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

QUIJANO: ... the talk is all about how to fill it.

ARDEN WEAVER, THOMPSON RESIDENT: Well, I myself, I have no objections.

QUIJANO: Like others in Thompson, Arden Weaver has heard the concerns about security and bringing terror suspects from Guantanamo to U.S. soil. But he's not worried.

WEAVER: I don't feel with the modern technology in this prison -- I can't picture anybody escaping.

QUIJANO: Neither can restaurant owner Zendel Zendeli. His take? That it doesn't matter who is being held at the prison.

ZENDEL ZENDELI, RESTAURANT OWNER: All the prisoners are in there for a reason. It won't make a serial killer any less dangerous than anybody else. You know? They will be bringing all kinds of prisoners there. QUIJANO: The Thomson Correctional Center reportedly houses only 144 minimum security inmates, but the state of Illinois is jumping at the chance to fill more of the prison's 1,600 cells.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Make no mistake about it, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We have a chance to bring more than 2,000 good-paying jobs with benefits to this region.

QUIJANO: Back in Thomson, the shuttered businesses on Main Street tell the story of the toll that the recession has taken on the town and its people.

(on camera): Federal officials are touring the prison today and meeting with local officials as well. In the meantime, Illinois Republican congressmen are voicing their opposition to the idea, saying they understand full well the economic picture here in Illinois, but believe national security concerns trump everything else.

Elaine Quijano, CNN, Thomson, Illinois.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Well, it's just after 3:00 a.m. in Beijing, where President Obama faces a busy day of meetings with the most powerful men in China.

CNN's John Vause has a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN VAUSE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The real substantive meetings will take place over the next few days, when President Obama meets with senior Communist Party officials, including President Hu. When they sit down on Tuesday, it will be the sixth time they've met face to face this year, in indication of just how important the relationship is between the United States and China.

Chinese officials are expected to push Mr. Obama on issues like a strong U.S. dollar, the federal budget deficit, and Mr. Obama's commitment to free trade, while the U.S. president will be looking at China to help push along issues like climate change, how to deal with North Korea's illicit nuclear program, and Iran nuclear ambitions.

Mr. Obama's trip to China began on a friendly note with a town hall-style meeting in Shanghai with university students. The questions were mostly friendly, but President Obama did push it on issues like human rights. In particular, freedom of speech.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because in the United States information is free. And I have a lot of critics in the United States who can say all kinds of things about me. I actually think that that makes our democracy stronger and it makes me a better leader, because it forces me to hear opinions that I don't want to hear. VAUSE: And while the president was extolling the virtues of freedom of speech, unlike previous visits by other U.S. presidents, this session was not broadcast live by the state network, CCTV. Instead, it was streamed live by the state news agency, Xinhau, on their Web site, but text only. Words, no video.

It was also available live on the White House Web site with simultaneous Chinese translation. But for the most part, Mr. Obama was seen live and uncensored by only a small number of people on mainland China.

John Vause, CNN, Beijing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: All right. We'll take you live to the launch pad. We're hoping that in just about 20 minutes or so, that Space Shuttle Atlantis is going to be able to prepare for liftoff.

We've had increasingly cloudy skies. As a matter of fact, forecasters put the odds of acceptable weather, I guess, at about 70 percent. And that's not nearly as good as previous days. Low clouds were the main concern for this liftoff.

(WEATHER REPORT)

PHILLIPS: We'll keep tracking Shuttle Atlantis also. Live pictures once again, a little bit of a closer shot there via our friends at NASA.

It looks like -- well, we'll just watch the clouds with Chad and follow this, and hope that it will have a safe liftoff at about 2:28 Eastern Time. Atlantis loaded up with spare parts for the International Space Station, hoping to stockpile it with as much equipment as possible before the shuttle fleet is retired next year.

This is -- well, it is NASA's last shuttle flight of the year, among only six remaining, by the way. You probably all know that that program is coming to an end, so it's a bit of a bittersweet flight for those astronauts on board getting ready, hopefully, to take off about 2:28 Eastern Time.

We're tracking it.

A quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Now to Cleveland, where clues point to more excavation around the property of a sex offender and alleged serial murder. Over the weekend, the FBI used radar and thermal imaging equipment to scan for evidence in a case that's already turned up 11 sets of remains. No new evidence was taken, but they did mark areas with spray paint, suggesting they may do some more digging.

The suspect, Anthony Sowell, is so far charged with five murders and being held under $6 million bail. Today, the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center opened a special hotline for women who may have been attacked by Sowell in the past but survived. And this is why police say there could be dozens more victims in this case, victims who survived and are afraid to come forward.

Today, they got a powerful plea to put that fear aside and reach out. Cleveland "Plain Dealer" columnist Connie Schultz writes to any survivors out there, "You were beaten and probably raped at his home on Imperial Avenue. You have been terrorized by the memory ever since, but you are terrified to say so."

Connie Schultz joins me live from Cleveland. And I'm also joined by forensic psychiatrist Lise Van Susteren.

Connie, let's start with you.

What a powerful column. It really moved all of us when we were talking about it in our editorial meeting this morning. And you continue to write in your column, "It is not your fault that you were lured into a false sense of security and attacked. It's not your fault that you trusted Anthony Sowell or any other man like him. No woman -- not one -- deserves to be abused, raped or murdered."

Tell me why you were so compelled to write this and send that message out.

CONNIE SCHULTZ, COLUMNIST, "THE CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER": Well, Kyra, I came into this story -- you know, I had been traveling abroad and hearing about it halfway around the world. And my colleagues, Mark Powente (ph), Rachel Disel (ph) and Gabriel Baird (ph) had been working on it at length. And when we met with the police when I got back, one of the things they said to me really stuck with me. They said, "We know there are more women out there."

So, I reached out to the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. Megan O'Brien (ph) is their director there. And it did not take her long to decide that not only was it possible and probable those women were out there, but we needed to create a special set of circumstances for them to come forward, because these women, as you know, many of them are probably struggling with issues of mental illness, many of them have been missing for some time, perhaps, from their families who love them but are frustrated with how to help them.

And so, Chris Quinn, our editor, turned to me -- the editors asked me -- a group of them asked me if I'd be willing to write it for page one. I asked Chris Quinn, our city editor, "Should I write it directly to the women?" And he said, "Absolutely.

"Let's make a direct appeal, because we know that some of them may be reading the paper. We know loved ones who care about them are reading the paper. We know community activists are reading it." And so we put it out on page one in a way to try to reach them.

PHILLIPS: Well, how terrific that you got that support from your bosses as well.

SCHULTZ: Yes.

PHILLIPS: Lise, let me ask you -- put us in the mindset, if you can, through, of course, your experience and understanding and how you've talked with so many victims in these type of situations. Why should they come forward? Because there's probably a tremendous amount of fear, guilt. We're talking about women, also, we've been reading, that have been involved with prostitution and drugs and may have a record.

I mean, there's a lot to take into account here.

DR. LISE VAN SUSTEREN, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: There is. And the amount of adversity that these women have faced all through their life, of course, is substantial.

They are going to have to get over a lot of mistrust of the system. After all, the system has generally not worked for them. But the plea that they have seen in the newspaper today -- and Connie, it's extraordinary how sensitively this has been written with an understanding of what these women are going to be going through -- this is a huge help to get past some of the resistance.

SCHULTZ: Thank you for saying that, Lise.

And I want to emphasize right now -- first of all, thank you for covering this. You know, there are women like this all around the country. And confidentiality is everything.

And a place like the Rape Crisis Center has guaranteed that these women are going to have confidentiality. And keep in mind, this zip code, I mean, this feels personal for a lot of us who do not live in that neighborhood, but I lived in that zip code for 11 years as a single mother. There are 170 registered offenders, sexual offenders, living just in that zip code.

This is a terrorized neighborhood.

PHILLIPS: Well, and you also point out in your column that you've actually been reading online, and a lot of people are blaming the women for these crimes.

I mean, did that outrage you as much as it outraged me?

And then, Lise, I'd like you to weigh in on that as well.

Go ahead, Connie.

SCHULTZ: Of course it's outrageous. And I want to emphasize, I think this is a minority of people, and I think it's particularly a minority of a certain kind of man who's weighing in that way.

I think the majority of Americans are horrified by this, certainly the majority of women. And the last thing we want to do is victimize the victim.

And, you know, this crosses all economic lines, Kyra. And Lise could speak to that eloquently, I'm sure. We all know somebody who has struggled with mental illness, and many of us have known family members who we've lost track of for a while because they are so despondent, in so much despair, and they don't know how to reach out for help.

PHILLIPS: And Lise, a lot of these women have already been so marginalized. And there could be a positive effect here for them if they come forward; right? It shows that somebody cares, wants to help them, might even be able to release them from so much anxiety that they've been harboring.

VAN SUSTEREN: Absolutely. It is an extremely tall order to take women who have been abused like this -- and there is this tendency to blame the victim. And unfortunately, they oftentimes blame themselves.

SCHULTZ: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: But bringing them to a place and telling them that they are going to be safe physically and emotionally, and to be with other women -- because as I understand it, one of the ideas is to put them with other people who do understand very well what types of challenges they go through -- this type of opportunity can provide a message that there is hope and that there is a possibility of turning their lives around.

SCHULTZ: And Kyra, the Rape Crisis Center told me they've actually gotten stimulus money which they have used to hire additional counselors for this. I mean, this is an all-out effort, and they're going to have a satellite operation in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood where these murders and these rapes were committed.

PHILLIPS: Well, Connie, your column was simply outstanding. I'm so glad that we could support it.

SCHULTZ: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: And Lise Van Susteren, always great to have you on to add your insight.

What a fabulous discussion. Let's hope it does some good, ladies.

SCHULTZ: Let's hope so.

PHILLIPS: All right.

We also want to repeat that number that Connie mentioned for the Cleveland Rape Crisis Hotline. Here it is: 216-339-9664. Women who may have been alleged victims of Anthony Sowell are urged to come forward and get help.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Top stories now. Catholic clergymen talking sex and marriage. Would you believe me if I said yes? The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops began last hour in Baltimore. They're discussing how to better promote and protect the sacrament of marriage between men and women.

A radical Muslim cleric says he didn't try to pressure the alleged Fort Hood gunman into harming U.S. soldiers. Anwar al-Awlaki had a previous e-mail contact with suspect Nidal Hasan. The cleric also praised Hasan as hero after the rampage.

New worries over Iran's nuclear ambitions, this time coming from the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency. A senior official with the IAEA believes that Iran plans to start enriching uranium at a previously secret facility in 2011. Tehran revealed the facility in September, sending off global shock waves.

The astronauts are suited up, strapped in, ready to go. Live pictures of one of NASA's last remaining shuttle missions, and we're taking you along for the ride.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: You're looking at a live shot of Kennedy Space Center, where the Space Shuttle Atlantis is ready to go.

Commander Charles Hobaugh and his crew have got a full cargo bay. It's stuffed with equipment, supplies, all kinds of other goodies for the International Space Station.

John Zarrella is at Kennedy Space Center.

John, NASA's not going to have many more of these.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, that's right, Kyra. This is the last one this year, then five next year. The thrust of all of these remaining missions, to bring up a bunch of spare parts to the International Space Station, because once the space shuttle goes away, there won't be any way to bring up a lot of the big, big pieces.

I'm going to be joined here for the launch by astronaut Mike Foale, veteran of five shuttle flights and one flight on a Soyuz rocket up to the International Space Station.

You were the commander of the space station. We've got -- what now, about 12 seconds left in the countdown?

We're going to listen in and then we'll talk as the vehicle goes up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Six, five, four, three, two, one, zero. And liftoff of Space Shuttle Atlantis, on a mission to build, resupply and to do research on the International Space Station.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Houston now controlling. Atlantis begins its ultimate (ph) journey to shore up the International Space Station.

Atlantis now (INAUDIBLE) orbit. Four and a half million counts of hardware and units taking aim on the international outpost.

Thirty seconds into the flight, Atlantis almost two miles in altitude, almost six miles down range from the Kennedy Space Center, traveling 500 miles an hour. The three liquid fuel main engines now throttling back to 72 percent of rated performance, going into the bucket, reducing the stress on the shuttle as it breaks through the sound barrier.

Fifty-five seconds into the flight, all systems operating normally, 900 miles an hour, the speed of Atlantis right now. Six miles in altitude, nine miles down range.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Atlantis, go with throttle up.

CHARLES HOBAUGH, ATLANTIS COMMANDER: Copy. Go with throttle up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The throttle up call acknowledged by Commander Charlie Hobaugh, joined on the flight deck by the pilot Butch Willmore, flight engineer Randy Bresnik, and Leland Melvin. Seated down in the mid-deck are Mike Foreman and Bobby Satcher, kicking off their workweek with a Monday commute to orbit.

One minute, 30 seconds into the flight. Atlantis, 13 miles in altitude, 15 miles down range, traveling almost 2,000 miles an hour.

Three good auxiliary power units, three good fuel cells, three good main engines. One minute, 50 seconds into the flight, 10 seconds away from solid rocket booster separation. Booster officer confirms staging a good solid rocket booster separation, guidance now converging. "Atlantis" steering into the center lane of highway 129 on route to the international space station, two minutes 20 seconds into the flight, 34 miles in altitude, 48 miles down range, "Atlantis" traveling 3,200 miles an hour. The propulsion officer in mission control reports that the orbital maneuvering system engines have ignited. "Atlantis" kicking on the afterburners.

ZARRELLA: You're off the worst part of it there. Those first two minutes are probably the worst part, the scariest while those boosters are on now, heading down range. You've got what, about four, five minutes until you have main engine cutoff and then you're in space.

MICHAEL FOALE, SIX-TIME SHUTTLE ASTRONAUT: That's right and right now this is the -- they just had the (INAUDIBLE). It's quiet in the cabin. Now what's happening is that the acceleration is building up. It's like having someone sitting on push on your chest. It's pushing, pushing, pushing. It will start to build up in another -- they're at about mach six or seven right now.

ZARRELLA: Mach six or seven.

FOALE: They'll build up for the next -- this mission goes up, this launch goes on for 8 1/2 minutes. By the time they're done, they're at mach 25 which is 17,000 miles per hour or five minutes in every second that they go on.

ZARRELLA: What you thinking right now as you're up there? You're feeling pretty confident at this point.

FOALE: At this point, because your visors are up, you're now able to talk across the air path to each other. We're just making professional calls and you're hearing this cadence come from the mission control center reporting the milestones. They're just following basically the trajectory of the orbiter to space, in particular watching how the speed builds up because how much speed you have tells you where you can go.

ZARRELLA: At this point, you could still -- if something goes wrong, you can still come back. You can't come back here necessarily but you can make a transatlantic abort or once around the orbit --

FOALE: That's right.

ZARRELLA: ... at this point, so there's still options if you were to lose a main engine or something. So right now though, that next key point is going to be when those main engines cut off -- MICO as you call it right -- and then you're in space.

FOALE: And then you're in space. At that point, right before that moment, you're feeling about three Gs. It's like three people sitting on your chest and then when the engine is cut, your arms fly up. At that point, if you're experienced, you don't move. You hold still and you then kind of calibrate how much do I need to move my arms so they don't fly into the other guy. You're no longer fighting the feeling of gravity -- gravity is still there (INAUDIBLE) and so you need to move slowly and carefully.

ZARRELLA: You got three rookies on this flight. You think they knew that they were supposed to -- they're probably all flailing around up there. They've been told. We've got another three minutes to go. We're what, about four, five, six minutes into this now. So a couple more minutes to go and those main engines will cut off. Now on this particular flight, only six astronauts going up, right?

FOALE: Because there's a spare seat. And the spare seat, which one of us --

ZARRELLA: One of us could have gone, absolutely. I've been saying that right along.

FOALE: The deal is we need to bring Nicole and start home. Nicole was launched on the previous shuttle. She's been there for a few months. She's going to be landing in a seat like the others, sitting up when they come into the landing strip here at Kennedy. She'll be on her back basically with her legs up.

ZARRELLA: And I wanted to ask you about this whole notion. Has it sunk in in the astronaut core that, this is it, only five more launches from the space center of shuttles. Has it sunk in out there?

FOALE: It's sinking in. And of course, I've flown five times on a space shuttle.

ZARRELLA: You're spoiled. FOALE: I have been spoiled. It's a wonderful spaceship and incredibly capable. But it goes to earth orbit. It goes no further. We need a rocket that can go further so that my children and their children can think about exploring the solar system. And this is what the (INAUDIBLE) commission (INAUDIBLE) has been talking about. It's right there in front of the White House today for their consideration. They're making decisions I think as we speak about what should America do and how can America lead the world in exploring space.

ZARRELLA: And from this point on really with Nicole Stock (ph) coming back, no more astronauts are going to be ferried to the space station on the space shuttle. We're following astronaut Katie Coleman (ph) for the next year and she prepares to go and she's going to have to go on the Soyuz like you actually went, because this is it for shuttles ferrying astronauts.

FOALE: It's coming up. We don't know that it's here, but it's coming up at the end of next year.

ZARRELLA: But as far as ferrying astronauts to the station on shuttles, that's it.

FOALE: And so we're going to be transitioning to using the Soyuz rocket just as we did after "Columbia" for two years. That's how I (INAUDIBLE) the space station was on the Soyuz rocket and we have a launch coming up on the 21st of December. It's a Soyuz launch carrying a Japanese, a Russian and TJ Cramer (ph), an American astronaut and that's how we're going to send astronauts in the future to the station for the next few years and we don't know how many years and that's what's bothering the astronauts.

ZARRELLA: I know that when we were talking earlier, when you flew there were only two of you up on the space station. Since you were saying you like to celebrate holidays and all, what did you do with those spacesuits that were up there?

FOALE: I needed to have some companionship. And Sasha (INAUDIBLE) is a great friend of mine and he has a sense of humor thank goodness because as I started to take the space suits and blow them up and put them around the table, he looked at me like I had really flipped. But it was New Year's eve and I said, Sasha, we need a party and we just have to pretend that there's people inside those spacesuits.

ZARRELLA: We lost the picture from up on the space shuttle. NASA's lost that signal that we usually get of the main engines cutting off and separation.

FOALE: It's coming up in 20 seconds.

ZARRELLA: So we're going to replay -- 20 seconds. So while we're waiting on that, we're going to replay the launch pictures. We got the picture back again. Here it is. So we should see that -- that's a spectacular view too, being able to see this is just phenomenal, when you can watch. What are we looking at right here now? FOALE: That is a view from the external tank of the orbiter underbelly. Basically the shuttle is up, the tank is down below and we're looking at the tripod that holds the tank at top end of the tank to the orbiter. And very shortly now, we'll see that separate away.

ZARRELLA: There it goes now. There is goes now. And that's the shuttle actually going away filling up.

FOALE: It's thrust -- in fact you can see the little clouds at the back there pushing itself away from the tank. The tank will now continue to tumble slowly away from the shuttle.

ZARRELLA: You're in orbit now? This is it, right?

FOALE: They are in orbit right now, 132 miles over the earth and it will stay there.

ZARRELLA: And then catching up now for the next day, two days to the space station.

FOALE: That's correct.

ZARRELLA: It was a spectacular launch that we were able to see just a few minutes ago. I was worried -- it was kind of cloudy today. I said oh boy, we won't get to see it, but the clouds cleared nicely and it was a -- they all are. But it was certainly a terrific liftoff.

FOALE: It makes me choke. In fact to be honest, I sometimes wonder if I'm going to be able to speak after watching one. I'm always struck by just how bright and noisy and loud and impressive these launches are.

ZARRELLA: Mike, thanks so much for spending some time with us today.

Kyra, again, it's going to be awfully difficult not to be watching shuttle launches from here a year from now. It's quite a sight -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: And I have a good friend that's been working his whole entire Navy career to get into that program and wear that same blue suit that Mike's got on and he just got accepted and he doesn't know if he's going to get a chance to fly, wondering what he's going to fly. I mean, it's hard for those young astronauts that have been wanting to do this since they were little kids.

ZARRELLA: That's what Mike was saying, that it's difficult in the astronaut office not knowing what's coming next or when it's coming. Kyra was just saying she's got a friend who just was accepted as an astronaut. And you're sitting there going, you don't even know what you're going to be flying or when or if you're going to be flying. That's got to be the toughest part for you guys -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, John. What else can you say, Monday commute to orbit? I just love hearing those guys on the com say things like that. John Zarrella, that's awesome. And another Monday commute to orbit. We'll keep tracking it. Thanks John, thanks to Mike.

A city so strapped for cash, it couldn't even bury its dead. The story shocked you when we first brought it to you. Now things are slowly changing in Detroit thanks to the kindness of strangers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Chicago police wrestling with a mystery today. They believe a body pulled from the Chicago River is the president of the city's school board. No word on how he died. Michael Scott was appointed by Mayor Richard Daly about eight years ago. Police are waiting for the coroner to confirm the identity.

Is the economic stimulus working? Vice President Biden is trying to find out. He's in Phoenix meeting with business leaders and political pals today. Biden is also touring the city's international airport which got more than $11 million in stimulus cash.

Some good news from General Motors for taxpayers. While the struggling auto giant lost more than $1 billion last quarter, it's no longer skidding towards the edge of a cliff. GM says it's going to start repaying the $6.7 billion it took in loans from Uncle Sam.

If you're a Sarah Palin fan, you're going to be in heaven. If not, this might be a good week to catch up on the movies in your DVR. Palinpaloosa It begins this week in earnest. Her book is out tomorrow and her talk show tour starts today. First stop, a chair next to Oprah. Here's a taste.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW": Let's talk about the interview with Katie Couric.

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: Must we?

WINFREY: You talk about it in the book so I assume everything in the book is fair game.

PALIN: It is.

WINFREY: You do say that it wasn't your best interview. Was that a seminal, defining moment for you, that interview?

PALIN: I did not and neither did the campaign. In fact that is why segment two and three and four and maybe five were scheduled. The campaign said, right on, good, you're showing your independence. This is what America needs to see and it was a good interview. And of course I'm thinking, if you thought that was a good interview, I don't know what a bad interview was, because I knew it wasn't a good interview.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Let's bring in our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley. We remember that interview very well. Oprah didn't waste any time asking about the infamous moment, did she?

CANDY CROWLEY, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: She didn't, and we will hear a lot more about this. We're seeing some excerpts of various news entities have gotten the chapters or parts of chapters in which she discusses that interview at length. She may not have considered it a defining moment but it certainly was when we began to see the polling on Sarah Palin on the campaign trail turning around as there began to be increasing doubts about her ability to do the job as vice president. So it was certainly a turning point. But hardly I think and she says this in the book, hardly -- or in one of the interviews rather -- something that caused the campaign to lose. But it certainly was part of the picture of Sarah Palin that was beginning to be painted at that time.

PHILLIPS: Let's get down to business. Is this book about making money or is it about politics? Is she gearing up for something else?

CROWLEY: Well, who knows? They're sort of competing in some ways. It's certainly about making money. And it certainly looks as though that's going to happen. She was number one on pre-sales on Amazon.com. So certainly she's going to sell this book. She got a nice hefty advance for it and she's going to make some money on it. A lot of the people that I had talked to, these are Republicans, both those who criticized the pick of Sarah Palin as number two and those who were for her say, listen, here's the problem with this particular book tour. Yes, everybody writes a book before they run for president and yes, isn't it interesting that she's going to Iowa, that she's going to Pennsylvania, very battleground states.

But the problem is, this sort of book, at least from what we've seen so far, seems at times to be about score settling and not about addressing what has been Palin's weakness all along, which has been is she actually ready for the job? Does she have the heft? Is she prepared to be vice president, I'm sorry, prepare to be president? We've had any number of polls out recently, CNN has one out today, that shows that the overwhelming majority of adult Americans don't think that she's qualified to be president. Only 28 percent in our poll found that she was qualified.

And even among Republicans, Kyra in this poll, when you did just Republicans, do you think she's qualified? Fifty four percent said, yes, Sarah Palin is qualified, but 44 percent said, no, she's not. So that's a huge number. That's a lot of convincing to be done. And the Republicans, many of the Republicans I talked to say this does not go a long way to convince people if it's going to be about who said what to whom and who was responsible for the Couric interview and why didn't they let her talk on the night the ticket was defeated? What she really needs to talk about are issues.

PHILLIPS: She sure goes after the McCain camp in that book as well. CROWLEY: She does.

PHILLIPS: I'm sure we'll be talking about a lot more. Thanks, Candy.

Palin and her book have been keeping our twitter page pretty busy. We asked all of you, are you Palined out or can you just not get enough of her? Emily Mason says should Palin go away? No. Her true calling would be to do a talk show, gossip entertainment show like Fox News.

TV Mario says a think she must stay. People need a person like her. She's different. She's the kind of person we all need in politics.

Twicegirl28, how dare Palin blast McCain when he brought her out of her nothingness? She offers no new ideas, just restates the party rhetoric.

Kennfab (ph) says please ask her to go away and take Joe the Plumber with her. More tweets coming, appreciate it. Stay tuned.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Detroit's struggles have been well-documented -- soaring unemployment, massive foreclosures, even dead bodies piling up at the morgue. Last month we told you how the county had run out of money for burying its unclaimed dead. That story prompted one CNN viewer to take action. CNNMoney.com's Poppy Harlow has our follow-up.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Paul (INAUDIBLE) passed away September 16th, the age of 61.

CONGREGATION: May he rest in peace.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Six people buried in Detroit at a local funeral home, those who never knew them mourned them.

BETSY DEAK, PERRY FUNERAL HOME: No one's alone. We feel like islands but not one of us is. A loss of someone who died three years ago is everybody's loss.

HARLOW: In a city of abandoned houses, abandoned factories and abandoned people, a record number of unclaimed bodies piled up at the Wayne County morgue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is our freezer.

HARLOW: Their next of kin unable or unwilling to pay for their burial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to believe that it's because of the economic problems that we're having. SHANTI DAS, FOUNDER, MAY WE REST IN PEACE: They were stacked up like my shoes in the closet.

HARLOW: Shanti Das, a former Motown music executive was moved by our first story on Detroit's unclaimed dead and decided to do something about it. Her own family had struggled to find the money to bury her father.

DAS: It was a lot of things that kind of hit home for me. And I immediately wanted to take action.

HARLOW: And she did. Das started a nonprofit called "May We Rest in Peace." She's raised thousands of dollars to bury these people.

DAS: I thought oh my God, we have to try to help restore some dignity to these families.

HARLOW: For six families, there is now dignity in death. Their father, sisters, mothers and brothers laid to rest because of the kindness of strangers, making a difference in a town that could not on its own. The county had run out of funds to bury the unclaimed. For the McGrath family, there is now closure.

MICHAEL MCGRATH, FATHER BURIED THROUGH DONATIONS: My father had requested that he be buried, not cremated. So this is really something that's going to help me sleep at night, knowing that he received what he had actually asked for.

DAS: Wow. That makes me a little emotional right now. It's a good feeling.

MCGRATH: Thank you, thank you very much for doing something like this. It's going to be something that we can always look back and think that somebody was there to help us when we needed it or helped my father when he needed it.

HARLOW: And for the 52 remaining unclaimed, the situation is less dire than before. The county now has burial funds available and personal donations from across the country ensure the unclaimed are not forgotten.

DAS: It's going to take one person like me and a million others to start shedding light on these problems. But just because I'm a country girl from Atlanta doesn't mean I can't help someone in Detroit.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Got to love her Poppy. There's a message right there. It only takes one person with a big heart.

HARLOW: That's exactly right Kyra. At that memorial service, it was unbelievable. We ran into this construction worker at this memorial service. His name was Paul Betts. You know what he said to me Kyra. He said, you know what? We may be -- Detroit may be a city known for our abandoned houses, but we are not going to let them know us as a city that abandons their dead. I thought that was spot on. He's exactly right. He's the one starting these memorial services. Shanti Das out here in New York is one helping to bury those folks in Detroit. It's one person making a huge difference. Kyra.

PHILLIPS: You first brought us the story and we got to the follow-up. It's got a nice ending. Thanks, Poppy.

So how far would you go for scotch on the rocks? What if I told you it's 100 years old and not exactly on the rocks but under? It seems the British explorer Sir Earnest Shackleton imported crates of McKinley scotch on his expedition to Antarctica in 1909. The voyage was abandoned but the spirits stayed behind, buried under the floorboards right here of Shackleton's hut. Now McKinley's parent company is sponsoring a dig -- actually a drill by New Zealand's Antarctic heritage trust, not we understand for tasting but for testing which could lead to a re-launch of the brand.

Time for some parting tweets about bestselling author-to-be, Sarah Palin. Should she keep going rogue or just go away?

JamesConley says I believe former VP Palin should do some soul searching and see if she's ready to swim the political shark tank. We assume you mean former VP candidate Palin.

And Mdjjackson says Palin should stay. She's a great role model and has been under estimated. Palin in 2012. Thanks to all of you for chiming in.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Ten-year-old Will Phillips of Arkansas is kind of going rogue in his own way. He says he won't pledge allegiance to the flag at his fifth grade classroom until there really is liberty and justice for all. He's talking about equal rights for gays and lesbians. He and his father Jay talked with our John Roberts on "AMERICAN MORNING."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILL PHILLIPS, 5TH GRADER: I decided that I was going to do that the weekend before when I did it. I was analyzing the meanings of it because I want to be a lawyer.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR, "AMERICAN MORNING": So what did you decide in analyzing the meanings of it that caused you not to stand up and recite the pledge?

W. PHILLIPS: Well, I looked at the end and it said with liberty and justice for all. And there really isn't liberty and justice for all. Gays and lesbians can't marry. There's still a lot of racism and sexism in the world. Yes.

ROBERTS: What's the reaction been from your fellow students at school to you not standing up for the pledge and the views that you hold about this issue? W. PHILLIPS: Not very good. They've taken from what I said an assumption that I'm gay. In the halls and the cafeteria, I've been repeatedly called a gaywad.

ROBERTS: A gaywad. What's a gaywad?

W. PHILLIPS: I really don't know. It's a discriminatory name for homosexuals.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: It sure is, Will and it's not right that you're being called that. You're a terrific kid. Will told us teacher to, quote, go jump off a bridge when she called him on the protest. That earned him a trip to the principal's office.