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Gold Prices Soaring; Turning Students to Graduates; Higher Education, Lower Price

Aired May 12, 2010 - 14:00   ET


ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Here's what I've got "On the Rundown" right now.

Gold. Every time you turn on the TV, someone is telling you to buy it or sell it. Gold is getting all kinds of attention because it's setting all sorts of records right now.

We're going to look into this investment and whether it really does have the Midas touch.

Plus, an unimaginable and vicious attack in China on schoolchildren, and it's not the first time it's happened. It's not the second time or the third time. It's happening over and over again.

We're going to try and find out why.

A top hat. In this case, it's not something you pull a rabbit out of, but the oil industry and millions of Gulf Coast residents are praying that it can work some magic on that massive oil leak. I'm going to tell you more about a top hat it in "Wordplay."

But listen, let's talk about gold prices.

Gold prices are soaring, historic new highs. So, does that mean that it's the time to buy right now, or if you have gold it's a time to sell?

Let me just tell you a little bit about gold.

I want to show you a chart that gives you the average annual price of gold over 100 years. In other words, each one of those measurements are over 100 years.

Take a look at this. Gold was very flat for a very long time, and then peaked again in the '80s. And then it comes off, and then it starts peaking again in the 2000s.

Now, with this trillion-dollars cue package that's meant to save Greece and Europe from that debt crisis, more people are running out of the euro and they're getting into gold.

I've got two good friends with me here to talk about this. These two guys know a lot about gold. On the left is Stephen Leeb. He is an author. He's an expert on these things. He manages money. On the right,, Frank Holmes, also knows a great deal about gold.

These two guys are here to tell us.

Number one, I'm going to start with you, Stephen. Number one, is this a time to be buying gold or selling gold?

STEPHEN LEEB, PRESIDENT, LEEB CAPITAL MANAGEMENT: Ali, if your perspective is long term, and I mean, let's say, a year or more, I think it's a time to be buying gold. Clearly, given gold has had such a sensational move, it could correct. I mean, it could come down another $100 or so. But I think a year from now, it will be higher than it is today, and I think five years from now, it will be a lot higher than it is today.


What about you, Frank?

FRANK HOLMES, CEO & CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, U.S. GLOBAL INVESTORS: I think Stephen has got very great advice. Short term, it's easy for gold to have a correction. But long term, over the next five years, if it grows at 15 percent a year, it will double. And if it gets to $2,600 an ounce, that will basically be that inflation- adjusted price of 1980. So, I don't think that that's, you know, a spectacular high-risk move.

VELSHI: Now, here's the thing. What's happening?

I guess for anybody who's about to do this, buy or sell, or thinking about gold, Stephen, what do I have to think of in terms of the entire world and why gold is doing this? Because it's not -- it's not magic. There's a reason. People are buying it, and that's causing to it go up.

What about gold is making it glitter like this?

LEEB: Well, I mean, gold, Ali, naturally glitters. It's one of the metals that's hardest to oxidize, so it really is intrinsically beautiful.

And it also has very, very few other uses other than the store value, and it's been accepted as a store value literally for thousands of years, so that when people get very worried about currencies -- and they're certainly worried about the dollars, because we've been printing so many of them -- and now top that off with these great worries about the euro, where do you go? What do you turn to? And I think you end up turning to gold.

And just sort of as a sidebar, if we look at the last 39 years or so, when gold started trading as a free commodity, gold's performance has basically been in line with the S&P 500. Over the past 39 years, gold has appreciated about 9.7 percent a year --

VELSHI: Right.

LEEB: -- which is about what the S&P has done if you count dividends.

VELSHI: All right.

Frank, let me ask you this.

LEEB: So I think it's a good investment.

VELSHI: Frank, let me ask you this. There are many different ways in which somebody can buy gold. They can buy coins, they can buy jewelry, they can buy teeth, they can buy mutual funds, they can buy stocks of companies that explore and produce gold, they can buy an exchange-traded fund.

What is the best way, if my viewers are thinking about investing in gold, to do so?

HOLMES: First of all, you buy nice gold jewelry for the one you love. And you buy silver coins and give them away as gifts. I think they're just a great long-term gift that people love.

When it comes to investing, then I would look at the bouillon ETF and unhedged gold stocks. And I think that that's a big difference compared to these gold equity ETFs.

I know that actively managed gold mutual funds have outperformed these gold equity ETFs, which all the pros are going to, so that's why I think that -- and also for your listeners, it's about 10 percent, Ali. It's about a 10 percent weighting, and you rebalance each year to maintain that.


VELSHI: Ten percent of your portfolio is what you're talking about. So don't back up the truck and sell all your mutual funds and stocks that you've made good money on in the last year and load it up with gold.

HOLMES: It's like fire insurance or car insurance. It's just there. The 10 percent is prudent, and rebalance every year.

VELSHI: Do you agree with the 10 percent, Stephen?

LEEB: Ali, if you'd asked me maybe three or four years ago, I would say, yes, 10 percent. I would be more willing to go up to maybe 20 percent or even 25 percent, if you include all the precious metals.

Frank did a nice job in listing, you know, ways in which you can buy gold, either through jewelry, through coins, through mutual funds, different kinds of gold investments like an unlevered mine such as Barrick. You can buy Juniors (ph). I mean, there's lots of ways to buy gold, and I would be willing to have -- well, 25 percent sounds high, but at least 20 percent in a vast array of different gold and silver investments. VELSHI: Well, one interesting point, and we'll save this for another conversation, but a lot of those other precious metals have other uses, too, so there are industrial uses to platinum and to silver and to things like that, unlike gold.

LEEB: Absolutely. Absolutely. And critical uses.

I mean, when you're talking about platinum and you're talking about silver, you really cannot go from here to there in terms of creating alternative energies without using silver, without using platinum. They are not just, you know, used, they're critical to, you know, a new world that we should be trying to create.

VELSHI: All right. Well, listen, both of you two are experts --

HOLMES: And there are platinum ETFs for people to invest in. There's a new copper one, there's palladium ETFs. So, investors can get directly to the metal through these various ETFs.

VELSHI: And ETFs are exchange-traded funds. You can buy them if you have a trading account. They're basically baskets of stocks that you can buy for low commission.

All right, guys. Interesting. Both of you think that you still hold on to your gold. Very interesting, and I know that you both eat your own cooking on this one, so it's good to listen you to.

Stephen Leeb and Frank Holmes, both good friends of ours.

Thanks for being here, guys.

HOLMES: Thanks.

VELSHI: We'll check in with you, by the way, every few months to see how this is going.

All right. That was a little lesson on gold. We talk about lessons a lot on this show, actually, about school.

"Chalk Talk" is the segment we use to do that. That's coming up next.

For millions of college students, it's harder to get out of school that it was to get in. I'm going to show you ways to turn students into graduates coming up next.


VELSHI: All right. The U.S. actually does a pretty good job of getting teens who are graduating from high school enrolled in college. The number has risen pretty steadily over the past few decades, and the recession has really got people's attention, boosting numbers even more, because why not go to school if the jobs aren't great?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the share of new high school graduates who are enrolled in college, take a look at that, 70.1 percent. That's actually an increase from 67.2 percent in 2007.

The '09 number actually set a new record. However, U.S. college graduation rates have fallen. OK? These are enrollment rates. The actual graduation rates have fallen.

How does that make sense? More people are getting into college and fewer people are graduating?

Educators and lawmakers are trying all kinds of different things to address the issue, and they are having mixed success with it.

Let's bring in Judith Scott-Clayton. She's assistant professor in economics and education at Columbia's Teachers College. Her particular areas of interest are higher education policy and inequalities in educational attainment.

Judith, thank you for being with us.

I have to say, we are researching all sorts of things on education. This is not a statistic I was expecting to come across -- more people going into college, fewer people graduating.

What's the problem?

JUDITH SCOTT-CLAYTON, ASSIST. PROF., TEACHERS COLLEGE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Well, getting through college is not an easy process. There are a lot of steps that students have to go through to get from point A to point B. And coming in to a huge, comprehensive, public, four-year university, it may not really be clear to students, kind of what exactly they need to do to get through.

So, a program that I looked at in West Virginia, that actually has seen some success, is one of the ones that people are talking about as a possible model for how to improve graduation rates.

VELSHI: What are they doing in West Virginia that's different?

SCOTT-CLAYTON: So, West Virginia has a major state merit-based scholarship program called the Prana (ph) Scholarship, which provides academically-qualified high school graduates with up to four years of free tuition and fees. But there's a catch to that, so it's not kind of just free money.

What students have to do to renew the scholarship every year is maintain both a minimum GPA, as well as complete a minimum number of courses each year. And what I found surprising through my research is kind of a little-appreciated reason why students are not graduating and taking so long to graduate, is they're actually just not taking enough credits starting in the first year of college. So, what I found in West Virginia, once they started this scholarship program, that students actually were much more likely not only to complete a Bachelor's degree, but to complete it in actually four years, as opposed to five years or six years.

VELSHI: OK. So we've had sort of -- I've heard discussions about this, that it needs to be more rigorous and that a lot of people think that if we apply that rigor, that people think about it not only as an investment, because they are paying money to go there, but they think of it as real hard work that you've got through to get something else. The unemployment rates in this country, Judith, are substantially lower for people with college educations than those with high school educations.

SCOTT-CLAYTON: Exactly. And I guess one thing I'd like to point out, too, with students not being able to figure out exactly what they need to do to get through college, a lot of students may think that just being enrolled full time is all that they need to do to get through, when, in fact, the way that our system is set up, just being full time is not going to get you to graduate in four years.

The way the system is defined, a student who is just maintaining the minimum that they need to do to be considered full time is not going to graduate in less than five years. So, actually, students may not realize they need to go above and beyond the minimum requirements if they want to get through.

VELSHI: Is there any sense of this West Virginia -- I know I was reading that there's another state -- Louisiana's doing something creative, too. But is there a sense that incentive to college students -- what a great deal, right, you get a free ride if you keep up your grades and you finish --- is that something that might spread around the country?

SCOTT-CLAYTON: Oh, it absolutely already has. I mean, there are more than a dozen states that have programs similar to West Virginia's program. But, again, the point that I want to highlight that's different in West Virginia, a lot of these states have these big scholarship programs that just require students to maintain a minimum GPA. Some of them don't even do that.


SCOTT-CLAYTON: But what was different in West Virginia is they required students to take 30 credits per year, as opposed to 24 credits per year. And I'm actually not aware of any of the other state programs that do that.


SCOTT-CLAYTON: And the credit requirement is what seemed to be the most important.

VELSHI: Very interesting. OK. So, causing them to take a full load, plus incentivizing them by promising free tuition if they finish, plus getting them to keep their grades up. Interesting combination. You end up with students graduating without the debt and a good, educated workforce.

SCOTT-CLAYTON: Right. And just one final point I'd like to make is that the federal financial aid system, these state programs, are important, but the largest single source of grant aid for students is the federal Pell Grant program. And that program is very flexible in that if students don't want to attend full time, they can still get a prorated scholarship.

But students that want to go above and beyond, and actually complete a course load that will get them to graduate in four years, don't get anything extra. So, it's kind of asymmetrically flexible in that sense.

VELSHI: Very interesting.

Judith, thanks very much for coming on and telling us about this. We just dug this one up and thought it was very, very good.

Judith Scott-Clayton is assistant professor of economics and research at Columbia University's Teachers College, joining me from New York.

See you again.

All right. Let's stay on the topic of education.

A higher education for a lower price, boy, I love this theme. It is actually out there already. Tom Foreman, our expert at finding good ideas, is "Building up America," coming up next on this show.


VELSHI: A lot of talk about education out there and the price of education, the cost of a good education. There are some places where you can get a good education for an increasingly good price.

CNN's Tom Foreman goes back to school for today's "Building up America."


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anyone who has driven a child to college recently knows just how daunting the cost can be. Take a look at some of the most expensive schools in this country. Each one has a total price tag well over $50,000 annually. That means you could be pushing a quarter million dollars for a four-year degree once you add in all the incidentals.

But that's not the way it has to be. Right now, I'm driving to a school where it's very different.

(voice-over): The University of Virginia consistently appears near the top of those lists of the best values in college education, confirming time and again what Portia Henry learned several years ago.

(on camera): You can spend a whole lot more for an education --


FOREMAN: But do you think you'll get a much better education?

HENRY: No, no. I feel like the University of Virginia is a wonderful intersection. FOREMAN: Intersection of what?

HENRY: Between cost and value. I get the best of both worlds.

FOREMAN (voice-over): And directing traffic at that intersection is chief operating officer Leonard Sandridge.

LEONARD SANDRIDGE, COO, UVA: We budget very carefully. We know what we can afford. We know that we can't be everything to everybody.

FOREMAN: They can, however demand accountability from everyone. Each office here from those providing food services to student entertainment is held strictly responsible for its spending. If they run over, they must make up the difference on their own, no passing the buck to students.

All new construction is kept within campus limits to contain the cost of spreading utilities, computer connections, and security services far and wide.

Free or reduced tuition for the children of staff members? Not here.

A year at UVA still costs a lot, $21,000 for in-state students, about double that for out of state. And this is a state school, so it's wrestling with rising tuition like most others.

But knowing that he could have spent tens of thousands more elsewhere for a comparable education, Josh Mitchell is satisfied.

JOSH MITCHELL, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: I think, you know, that saying that you get the most bang for your buck is definitely applicable here.

FOREMAN (on camera): Accountability and attention to detail can make education affordable.

SANDRIDGE: I think it can make a difference.

FOREMAN (voice-over): That is why this school is at or near the top of the value lists, helping students build up their future on terms they can afford.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Charlottesville, Virginia.


VELSHI: OK. Checking in on some top stories we're following here at CNN.

In Egypt, authorities have detained a passenger who arrived yesterday after an Egypt air flight from New York. Sources tell CNN that undeclared firearms were found in his checked baggage, including two handguns, five boxes of ammunition, four knives and two empty magazine clips.

We'll bring you any new information from the ongoing investigation.

A Libyan airliner crashed as it was coming into the Tripoli airport at the end of a flight from South Africa. One hundred and four passengers and crew members were on the plane, and so far there's only one known survivor believed to be a 10-year-old Dutch boy.

Another day, another effort to stop that oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. An oil containment device known as a top hat has been lowered into the sea. It's expected to be in operation by the end of the week. In Washington, Congressman Henry Waxman says his committee may have uncovered evidence that the oil spill may have been caused by a faulty blowout preventer on BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig.

All right. When we come back, we're going to take a look at some severe weather, some possible tornado outbreaks. Chad is following those. We'll bring them to you in a minute.



VELSHI: All right. Let's go "Off the Radar" for a minute, as we always do, Chad and I.

I want to go to my home country here. There's a story that is just -- it's really interesting and sad. A family sitting in their living room, then a sinkhole comes and swallows their house?

I don't even understand how this works.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, this is going to take me a second to get it, but I think we have the time.

This is up by near Nemiscau River. This is up near Montreal, right?


MYERS: So here's New York. There is blue clay under Montreal, and all the way through. Here's Montreal, Here's the Nemiscau River, kind of up in this way. So you kind of get the idea. We're north of the U.S., up into Montreal, up into -- here's Quebec.

And up then through here, blue clay lays right in this Nemiscau River Valley. And let's just go to the pictures, because they're a little disturbing, but they really do tell the picture.

It has been as much as a landslide as a sinkhole all at the same time. This whole piece of land, 500 yards by 100 yards, just happened to slide and fall down at the same time. You know, gravity still works, no matter what.


MYERS: The land got wet. The soil and the clay got slidey (ph).

Have you ever been out slipping and sliding on clay?

VELSHI: Yes, but nothing like that.

MYERS: Yes. You get clay on your feet, and you walk on more clay, all of a sudden it slides. It doesn't have a lot of traction. There's no friction between the clay layers.

And this family of four died watching a Montreal Canadians hockey game in their basement when, literally, their home was collapsed upon by all of this moving land.

VELSHI: Wow. What an incredible story. All right, Chad. Thanks very much for that. We'll keep an eye on those tornadoes, and I'll come back to you if you hear of anything on the ground.

MYERS: Right. Absolutely.

VELSHI: All right. A deadly attack on young Chinese students. This is quite a story, too, just the latest in a string of similar attacks.

John Vause is at the scene of the latest one.


ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: All right. I want to take you globe trekking right now as we do every day this time. Let's take you around the world. Let's take you to China right now where once again a deadly attack against young schoolchildren. It happened in northwestern China at a kindergarten. It's the latest in a series of similar attacks.

Our senior international correspondent, John Vause, is at the scene of today's attack with new information on the attacker and his possible motive -- John.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're learning more now about the man who carried out this attack. According to the people who live in this small village, he seemed a normal resident here. He was under some pressure, they say, because he was caring for a son with epilepsy. He also lived with his mother.

But on Wednesday morning, they say, he was seen walking down this road, to that building just over there. He owned that building, and that is where the kindergarten was housed. They say he was a big man, about 6'2", maybe 180 centimeters and heavy. We know that he was armed with a meat cleaver.

Once inside that building, he went on a killing spree, hacking to death the woman who ran the kindergarten and another child. He also wounded other children and another woman, though, rushed to hospital, but once there, six children and that woman, the mother of the operator of the kindergarten, died of their wounds. In all, nine people dead: five boys, two girls and those two women. Once that rampage was over, the attacker once again walked along this road, back to his house, and there, officials say, he took his own life, possibly by swallowing poison according to some Internet reports, a common form of suicide here in China.

So, our report said a preliminary police investigation indicates there was a dispute between the kindergarten operators and the attacker. Apparently, their lease was up last month, but they hadn't moved out of the building.

But this attack has shocked China. There's been a string of these violent rampages targeting schoolchildren across the country. And many people here are asking why. In recent weeks, the government had ramped up security at elementary schools and middle schools as well as kindergartens. But this privately-run kindergarten appears to have had no security guard on duty.

John Vause, CNN, Linchang, China.


VELSHI: All right. Coming up: mission possible -- a woman who lost her job, her home, her car, a young woman looking for an answer, her meaning in life, and she found it in a cross-country quest, 50 states in 50 days, to help the needy. You'll see her next.


VELSHI: OK. Every day, we've got a segment called "Mission Possible" where we show you people who are doing what might look like the impossible.

Here, we have somebody who has a 50/50 solution to hunger in America. All right, maybe it's not a solution, but it is an amazing initiative by a woman who was facing unemployment, homelessness and despair -- a young woman and she was looking for a different path. What a path she took, in an old blue pickup truck named Bubba.

By the way, that's the path. That is crazy. An old blue pickup truck named Bubba, with her faithful dog Zuzu, Shay Kelley is traveling to 50 states in 50 days, and she's collecting canned goods for shelters and food banks. CNN's all-platform journalist -- I'm sorry, 50 states in 50 weeks and what she's doing -- all-platform journalist Jim Spellman caught up with her.


JIM SPELLMAN, CNN ALL-PLATFORM JOURNALIST (voice-over): Life dealt Shay Kelley a bad hand.

SHAY KELLEY, PROJECT 50/50: It was working for a marketing firm and they went bankrupt. My electricity got shut off. I lost my apartment and my car got stolen.

SPELLMAN: She was jobless and homeless but wouldn't give up.

KELLEY: I was mad. And I was yelling at God and I was just, like, just tell me what you want me to do. Tell me what -

SPELLMAN: The message she heard was hit the road.

KELLEY: This is Bubba my big blue Ford.

SPELLMAN: She's dubbed it Project 50/50, 50 states in 50 weeks, working her way across the country collecting canned goods for homeless shelters and food banks.

KELLEY: Then I set a goal for 200 canned food items a week, which sounds like not very much, but the whole premise here is that doing a little bit adds up to a lot. So --

SPELLMAN: And taking pictures as she goes. Here are some of the people she's met.

KELLEY: I was in a library in South Carolina -- in Columbia, South Carolina, when I met Donald. He invited me to go to lunch to buy me a hot meal. I found out after he left that Donald had been homeless, that he was -- he was actually living at the shelter. The first week was when I learned that the people with the least tend to give the most.

Michael, I met on the streets of Savannah. He was a member of a gang. A homeless man named Bobo (ph) came up to the -- my truck window and asked us for some spare change, and Michael reached into his pocket, and I think he had 13 cents in his pocket and he gave it to Bobo.

That's Trey, and his mother actually contacted me and she said, "My son is homeless in Santa Cruz, could you find him?" And I just didn't really think this was going to be possible. Before you know it, when I get to go to California, I got to go to Santa Cruz and sitting on the table with Trey and shoot a video for his mother.

God bless you, Trey.

That's Slim Ed and he was formerly known as "Big Ed." Unemployed and he's nowhere to stay and nowhere -- nothing to eat and, you know, you're going to lose weight, you know? Slim Ed came up from the reservation in Arizona to try to find work, to try to send money back to his family.

SPELLMAN: She has this message for everyone she's met and for those she's yet to meet as she heads down the road.

KELLEY: Just don't ever feel alone, because there's a lot of people out there who are fighting that fight with you.

SPELLMAN: Jim Spellman, CNN, Denver, Colorado.


VELSHI: All right. Let me give you a check of some of the top stories we're working on here at CNN. In Washington, President Obama's been holding talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Mr. Obama said he's confident his administration will meet its deadline to start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in July of 2011. But he warns there will be hard fighting over the next few months. He also pledged the U.S. will stand by Afghanistan long after the troops start coming home.

In the Gulf of Mexico, that so-called "top hat" is now on the seafloor. It is the latest attempt to stop the massive oil leak. It's expected to be placed over the leaking wellhead by the end of the week. The "top hat" is a much smaller version of that giant concrete box which failed to cap the larger of two leaks on Saturday.

In Delaware, the son of Vice President Joe Biden is expected to make a full recovery after apparently suffering a mild stroke. Beau Biden was admitted to hospital yesterday in Philadelphia. His doctor says he's fully alert and in stable condition.

And it is almost that time of day. Our senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry, will be joining us momentarily.

Where is he? I don't see him. There he is. There he is.


VELSHI: I can see you now.

He is getting ready to talk about that meeting between President Obama and Afghanistan's President Karzai. But being Ed, he's probably got something else up his sleeve. We'll be back in a moment.


VELSHI: All right. Every day at this time, we go to our senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry, for "The Ed Henry Segment." By the way, you see Ed all the time on CNN, you never see him like this. This is Ed unplugged.

And I'm sorry to interrupt your ticktacktoe game that was going on your tie there, Ed. But good to see you.

HENRY: Ticktacktoe, oh, nice, a little slam. You know, I don't have the rake out here. You know, the other day I was standing here with the National Parks Service.


HENRY: They were actually doing some raking down there. So, maybe by the end of the segment, we'll work our way over here.

VELSHI: They're working their way over to you. Hey, Ed, by the way, you know --

HENRY: I want to drive that car around.

VELSHI: -- I tweeted about my pizza experience and I got a response from Domino's.

HENRY: What did Domino's say? Are they going to give you a free pizza? I feel bad for you.

VELSHI: On that pizza that I ordered, the thin crust -- it's standard to cut it like a grid, not to cut it in wedges, which I think is interesting.

HENRY: See -- OK, I mean, I was with you on it. I think it's better for pizza to be in slices than it is a grid.

VELSHI: Yes, I agree.

HENRY: But what I didn't understand is how this threw off your whole equilibrium. It seemed like you didn't sleep well --

VELSHI: Because pizza is comfort food to me, Ed. Pizza is comfort food.

HENRY: I know. But you're like the kid who doesn't get the peanut butter sandwich without the crust taken off and then you're mad at everybody for the next 24 hours, I don't understand it.

VELSHI: That's interesting. I'll just -- I'll think about that one for a moment.

While I contemplate that, why don't you tell me what's going on at the White House with this meeting between President Karzai and President Obama -- which, by the way, a few weeks ago, there was a threat it wasn't going to happen?

HENRY: Yes, they were feuding. You know, President Karzai was making all kinds of threats that maybe he would join forces with the Taliban if the West didn't start doing what he wanted to do and there was talk here at the White House, maybe they would cancel the meeting. I don't want to say that it turned into a bromance today, because it probably didn't go that far, but clearly, they are getting along now. And I think it's for an obvious reason, when you talk to senior officials, they've got no other options in Afghanistan and we've now got about 87,000 U.S. troops committed on the ground in Afghanistan. The last thing you can do is undermine the elected leader in Afghanistan.

And, in fact, I'm told that President Obama recently privately warned people here at the White House, enough with this sniping back and forth with Karzai. This is the guy we have.

VELSHI: Right.

HENRY: We've got to stick with him.

And so, that's what we're seeing. It's not that they're pals. It's that the U.S. doesn't have another option and they are trying to keep him propped up.

VELSHI: A lot of people worried about Afghanistan, they understand this administration has a commitment to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, very worried what happens to that region and whether it destabilizes after that. And the president also said while they are still on schedule to pull troops out next year, they will not give up their commitment to Afghanistan. I don't know how you square that.

HENRY: Well, it's interesting. I mean, my colleague Suzanne Malveaux asked that question about the end game here, and the president made clear that July, 2011, is when U.S. forces will start being withdrawn. But he also made clear it doesn't mean we're pulling out altogether. And he said it's a long-term partnership.

How you define that is something that's probably going to be something that is dealt with not just by this administration, but potentially, the next administration down the road. I mean, look what's happening in Iraq. We are finally on a timetable where we think all U.S. forces will be out pretty soon. But, you know, every other day, there's still more violence there and as you mentioned, just about the same as Afghanistan.

There's a question about when U.S. forces leave both in Iraq and in Afghanistan --


HENRY: -- how stable will these places be. And so, I think that was important when the president today said, you know, July, 2011, is just the beginning.

VELSHI: Right.

HENRY: It's not just the end of getting out of Afghanistan.

Also, important that he said -- I've never heard him say this -- that there's a cancer inside Pakistan, extremism. I mean, just days after the U.S. pointed the finger at the Taliban in Pakistan for that attempted car bombing in Times Square, for the president of the United States to say there's a cancer --


HENRY: -- inside Pakistan and the Pakistani government realizes it, pretty strong words.

VELSHI: And, of course, continued tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan, those political tensions that have been going on for a long time.

Hey, Ed, not to trigger any kind of parazzi or anything like that, but I've got to be traveling this weekend. I won't be in Atlanta or New York. So, I want you to use my seat at the Yankees game.

HENRY: This is really nice of you. Yes, I'm a big Yankees fan and so is my dad, and we haven't been to the new Yankee Stadium. So, I'm going to bring my son. It's going to be three generations of Henrys. We're going to be using the Velshi tickets.

And, you know, when Phil Kent from Turner Broadcasting took us to Atlanta Hawks game, we were sitting right there on the front row.


HENRY: We had basketball players like falling on us. So, obviously --

VELSHI: Yes, I know. I wish I could tell you that they were. Let me just tell you, just bring one of those radios with an earphone and binoculars and you're going to have a fantastic time.

HENRY: Binoculars, too, as well.

VELSHI: Three generations --

HENRY: Are the seats in the Bronx or in another borough?

VELSHI: The seats were actually -- you do actually have to give the ticket to somebody and go into Yankee Stadium to be seated in my seats. You might not think so, but it's like a weather pattern.

HENRY: I thought you had some juice. I thought you had some juice.

VELSHI: Yes, and apparently not with the Yankees.

HENRY: Thank you for the tickets. We're going to enjoy the game.

VELSHI: I will tell you what this, though, if you do get a pizza slice at the Yankee Stadium, it will be cut in a triangle. Ed, good to see you, as always.

HENRY: Thanks, Ali.

VELSHI: Ed Henry with "The Ed Henry Segment," famed right here on our show every day around this time.

OK. It's plan B on the Gulf Coast oil spill, but the phrase on the tip of everyone's tongue, you heard me say it a few times. It isn't really on the top of everyone's mind. We're going to do some "Wordplay" right after this.


VELSHI: We were going to tell you about this earlier, but then I got that news that Beau Biden is doing a little bit better. Some new details on the condition of Vice President Biden's son, who is the Delaware attorney general, Beau Biden -- his office says he is making, quote, "favorable progress," those are their words, after suffering a mild stroke. Now, Beau Biden is recovering at a hospital in Philadelphia and he's expected to be there a few more days.

This guy is healthy. He's active. He's 41 years old. He was an active serviceman.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta gives us some perspective on this.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's not common at all for someone of his age to have a stroke. It does happen, but if you look at strokes sort of across -- across the board, less than 1 percent of people are going to have strokes at his age range.

Now, there are all sorts of different things that can cause a stroke and we don't have all the information about exactly what happened to him, but sort of when you generally speaking, you can have bleeding within the brain and that can be caused by some problem like an aneurysm, something that his father had back in 1988, or you could have something that actually causes a lack of blood flow to the brain.

If you take a look at this animation here, a little blood clot, for example, can come from somewhere in the body, gradually travel all the way up to the brain, and start to block blood flow to the brain. And, again, that can cause stroke-like symptoms.

In his case, it is important to point out that from the information we're gathering, that he did have some sort of symptoms that were obviously concerning for stroke, but then that they went away. His motor functions were normal and his speech is normal, sensation -- all that from what we're hearing -- that may classify this more as a transient ischemic attack, a TIA, versus a stroke. A stroke indicates that something that is permanent, longer lasting.

Now, as far as what's going on right now, given that he's a young guy, given that he's had this problem, the real goal for doctors, try to figure out exactly what happened.

Are there one of these clots somewhere in the body? Could it have been coming from the heart for example? Taking a look at the heart with an echo machine. Could this have been due to some sort of trauma within one of the blood vessels that goes to the brain, a whiplash-type injury causing a tear in the blood vessels? Again, these are areas where they're going to need to check.

About a third of the time, about 30 percent of the time, they may never have a clear reason. If his blood, for example, is too thick, he may need to be on medications if that was a potential cause here.

Of course, this is a good time to remind people about what to look for if they think someone might possibly be having a stroke. And, again, time is really critical here if the stroke is diagnosed early, the symptoms causing the stroke diagnosed early and treated early, it makes a huge difference in terms of how someone is going to do in the long run. Remember this acronym here, FAST.

"F" stands for face, ask someone to smile, for example, look and see if one side of their face is drooping. "A" is for arms. Simply have them raise their arms up and hold them for 10 seconds, and see if one arm starts to fall away. If it does, that could be some signs of subtle weakness. But again, critical to get that checked out.

"S" is speech. Ask someone to say their name. Ask them to repeat a simple sentence to make sure they're not slurring and make sure they're not substituting words one for the other. Again, those are subtle signs, important ones, though, of something happen.

And finally "T" again, time. Time is really of the essence. Some of the medications out there which can bust up a clot that's blocking blood flow to the brain, they have to be given within a critical window. So, call 911, get someone to the hospital as quickly as possible -- that seems to be the key to this more than anything else.

Hopefully -- hopefully, good news for Beau Biden and for anybody else out there who's worried about this sort of thing.

Back to you.


VELSHI: All right, Sanjay, very, very good advice.

Time now for our "Wordplay" segment. If you haven't seen it, the idea every day is we take a term that keeps popping up in the headlines that a lot of people might not get, so we'll try to explain it.

Let's try "top hat" on for size. What the dictionary will tell you is that they're tall, cylindrical hat with a stiff brim, usually slightly curved on the sides, worn by men on formal occasions, you know, when they're putting on the Ritz or something like that. Lincoln called his a stovepipe hat. Other dandies go with topper.

So, why on Earth is a top hat in the headlines? Well, that's exactly what B.P. is calling this second -- you can see it there -- this second smaller container which is towed out into the Gulf of Mexico and hopes to cap that ruptured oil well off.

Top hat, by the way, we're told, refers to the shape of the structure also known as a "cofferdam." That was one of last week's "Wordplay" words, by the way.

All right. When we come back, I'm going to talk to you about something we discussed earlier in the show, incentives to get college students who get into college to graduate on time. Some great ideas.

I'll talk to you about when we come back.


VELSHI: Time now for the "XYZ" of it. Working in a newsroom, you get accustomed on a deadline-driven world, you know, when you have to finish a task and better be done or you got some serious explaining to do. In fact, all of us, our livelihoods depend on it.

Plenty of workers -- blue collar, white collar, green collar, whatever -- well, they face the same pressure. One group that seems to escape deadline pressure: college kids. High school seniors are signing up for higher education in this country in record numbers. Seventy percent of high school graduates enrolled for college that fall -- last fall.

But a lot of them are not making it to the finish line. Dropout rates are increasing. And according to the American Enterprise Institute, four-year colleges are graduating 53 percent of their students in six years. That means nearly half of college students are not graduating when they are supposed to.

Here's a lesson, economics 101: the average tuition for one year of college, $16,600. Failing to graduate on time is expensive. Failing to get your degree at all is just dangerous. These kids are smart. They got into college, now they need the motivation to cross the finish line.

That's my "XYZ."

Time now for "RICK'S LIST."

RICK SANCHEZ, HOST, "RICK'S LIST": All right. Thanks a lot, Ali.