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Student President An Undocumented Immigrant; Punishing Rangel; GM Shares Begin to Trade on NYSE Today

Aired November 18, 2010 - 09:59   ET



JIMMY FALLON, TALK SHOW HOST: There goes big news. Tiger Woods joined twitter today. That's right, yes. Tiger tweeted out that he's finally decided to try out Twitter. That's not a name of a person. Twitter is a social media -- he said he decided to finally try Twitter. He wanted to say more but he had to give half of his 140 characters to his Elin Nordegren. And he had -- he had to cut it short.

But he said on his first tweet today, "But be careful, if you re- tweet it, it's like re-tweeting every tweet he's ever re-tweeted. Know that before you do it. Be safe you guys.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Tiger Woods signed up yesterday apparently. It's a media blitz, we're being told. Tony Harris, are you following? Is he following you? What's going on, Tony?

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: No, I don't think there's any following going on right now. But he has about 185,000 folks who have signed up to follow him, and I expect that number to really explode in the next days, right? I mean come on, he is one of the biggest stars on the planet.

But you know, I don't know how you feel about these media blitzes, Kyra. I'm of two minds about it. I think, there is a certain element of this where Tiger is trying to regain the luster, the polish, the shine, the veneer on that image, but I don't know about the media blitz. The thing that made him the international star is that swing, right, his exceptional skill and talent as a golfer.

I think if he can get back to being the golfer that he has been for so many years, I think everything else falls in place. But a certain level of re-engagement I guess.

PHILLIPS: Here's -- but Tony, Tony. Here's what happened, too.


PHILLIPS: He was known for not talking to anybody. He was the one that was always shussing everybody on the course. And he didn't mingle very much and he wanted his privacy. And obviously we know he wanted all his privacy because he had so many deep secrets. Now he's saying on Twitter, what's up everyone? Finally decided to try out Twitter. It's like -- it's kind of a desperate move to be accepted again.

TONY HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: ... he can get back to being the golfer that he has been for so many years, I think everything else falls in place, but a certain level of reengagement I guess, makes sense.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: But Tony, well, here's what happens too is he was known for not talking to anybody. He was the one always shushing (ph) everybody on the course. He didn't mingle very much, and he wanted his privacy. And obviously we know he wanted his privacy because he had so many deep secrets. Now he's saying on Twitter - now, he's saying on Twitter, "what's up everyone? Finally decided to try out Twitter." It's like, kind of a desperate move to be accepted again.

HARRIS: And, yet, here is the other reality of Tiger. If you have ever watched Tiger Woods in a clinic situation, working with kids, at some of the clinics before the events, and some of these are actually televised, he can be very, very engaging. I think if he is that Tiger, the engaging Tiger, and lets everyone else in on that side of his personality, this would be a good move. But it has to be authentic. And I just worry when you get a blitz like this, you get "Newsweek," you get "Mike and Mike" in the morning on ESPN.

All right. Let's talk about the "Newsweek" piece for a moment because that is out right now on something that he penned. Here is the quote that every one is lifting and we're talking about. "I made terrible choices, right, and repeated mistakes. I have hurt the people whom I loved the most and even beyond accepting the consequences and responsibility, there is the ongoing struggle to learn from my failings."

What we want him to be now is first and foremost, Kyra, an exceptional father. That's the legacy moving forward, I think, that you care about and I care about. If he goes back to being the golfer that he was for all of those years, everything else in his life, all of the accolades, all the fame that comes with it, right?

PHILLIPS: You're absolutely right. Tony Harris, miss you, come home soon.

HARRIS: I'll be back tomorrow, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Good.

Top of the hour. 10:00 a.m. on the East Coast, 7:00 a.m. out west. Here are the stories that got us talking this morning.

General Motors, the darling of Wall Street a year and a half after declaring bankruptcy? Well, the company is selling its new stock at 33 bucks a share. Today's initial public offering sets a new record at more than 20 billion bucks.

This sounds like a Tom Clancy novel. A computer attack targeting Iran's nuclear fan, causing a worldwide threat in the computer worm known as tex-met (ph) and it could shut down power grids, water treatment centers, even oil pipelines and no one knows who unleashed it.

Here's another on-line threat. Facebook. At least that's according to a New Jersey pastor who says the social network is bad for marriages. So what's he doing? He's telling his church leaders to either get off the site or lose their jobs.

We begin with Pedro Ramirez. He was living the dream. Valedictorian of his high school class, elected student body president at Fresno State, all-American kid by any measure except one, Pedro is an undocumented immigrant. He didn't know his status until his senior year in high school. His parents brought him from Mexico to the United States when he was three.

After he was elected student body prez, well, someone tipped off the college paper and now the secret is out. College officials knew about it though and under California law called AB540, undocumented immigrants may pay instate tuition if they meet certain requirements, and they may run for student office as well. Pedro hasn't broken any laws, and the school president is on his side.

He said Pedro filed all the right paper work, that he was up front with them about his status and is serving without pay. John Welty adds, "I commend Mr. Ramirez and AB540 students who are following state statute as they seek higher education." But some students are upset that Pedro wasn't transparent about his status when he ran for office. This is what the guy that Pedro beat had to say.


COLE ROJEWSKI, FMR. STUDENT BODY PRES. CANDIDATE: He misled the students. He was not upfront about it and no one knew about it. I think he should step down and have a re-election.


PHILLIPS: Well, now, Pedro's worried about being deported and he's also worried about his family. He is calling on Congress to make his path to citizenship less of a hardship. Pedro joins us by phone from Fresno.

So, Pedro, first of all, how are you feeling this morning and are you feeling encouraged at all by the support that you are receiving?

PEDRO RAMIREZ, PRES., ASSOC. FRESNO STATE UNIV. (ON THE PHONE): Well, good morning, Kyra. Thank you for having me. Yes, you know, these are weird times, but I do feel encouraged that I'm getting a lot of support from the community, from a lot of the students, faculty and administration. So I'm just - you know, I'm a guy that looks on the bright side. I'm not a pessimist.

PHILLIPS: So Pedro, let me ask you, though, when you did find out that you were an illegal undocumented, and this happened when you were applying to colleges and you were a senior in high school, why at that point didn't you decide, "OK, I better start applying to become a legal citizen"?

RAMIREZ: Well, what I can recount was from that time onwards, I asked my parents questions, how can we resolve this, and my parents informed me that there were always meeting with immigration attorneys and seeking out solutions, and, you know, they would do their hardest to move the paper work forward or whatever needs to be done.

PHILLIPS: And so are you in the process of that now?

RAMIREZ: Not now. I'm basically - I don't have a pathway right now for me to become a citizen or at least a resident. My goal is not to become a citizen, which is my true wish is to become an American citizen, to become at least a resident and actually be able to work in this country, but there's no pathway for me right now. Without me having to go back to Mexico, where I don't know what to do in Mexico. Like if I said - I have been here all my life and I don't know what to do in a country that I've never been in.

PHILLIPS: Sure, we should point out that because of 8540, you are doing this legally. You aren't doing anything illegally with regard to your college education. Now, your parents. Your mom, I understand, is a maid, and your dad a restaurant worker, and I know you're extremely concerned about their status now. Why speak out and why take it a stand right now?

RAMIREZ: I never meant to drag them in here. I love my parents and they love me and I think what their choice for them to come here were - they wanted me to have a good future, you know, get educated and have a good job, you know, just like anybody else, just live the American dream and I want to protect them. But I never meant for all these, I guess, to go out. It just kind of happened and now that it has, you know, my goal is just to explain my - tell my side of the story and hope that people can hear me out.

You know, I'm not only seeking forgiveness but I'm also seeking permission to remain in this country and be part of the American way of life.

PHILLIPS: Pedro Ramirez, we will follow the story, for sure. Thanks, Pedro.

While we're talking higher education in California, check out these pictures. Students at UC San Francisco upset about a possible tuition hike across the system. And eight percent hike on the table for next year and that would make the basic annual fee for undergrad just over $11,000 and that doesn't include room and board. This comes just a couple of years after a whooping 32 percent fee hike.

Charlie Rangel served 40 years in Congress but today, maybe one of the most important of his storied career. Colleagues on the House ethics committee meeting behind closed doors to decide how he should be punished for violating 11 House rules. Here's the list of possible penalties - expulsion from Congress, one of the most severe. No one expects that. Lesser penalties include censure, a fine or a loss of House privileges. Most people seem to think that Rangel would just be reprimanded.

In Alaska, the final votes are still being counted in a fairly fought Senate race but this morning the woman who waged a remarkable write-in campaign is declaring victory. You may remember incumbent Senator Murkowski launched her write-in bid after losing the Republican nomination to Joe Miller. He was backed by the Tea Party.

At this point, he has not conceded. If the official results confirmed her victory, Murkowski will become the first senator elected as a write-in candidate since 1954.

And a very special story to tell you about. Right now, the 33 miners who were trapped in that Chilean mine for more than two months are bound for Hollywood. They've been invited to attend the taping of "CNN Heroes, An All Star Tribute."

Our CNN's Gary Tuchman actually traveling with them and he reports from a stop right here in Atlanta.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, this is a wonderful moment for us. We're at the Atlanta Airport. Behind me, some of the miners who survived 10 weeks on the ground with mothers and fathers and children, wives and girlfriends. CNN Heroes invited all the miners, all 33 to the United States to attend "Heroes, An All-Star Tribute" taping. It airs Thanksgiving night. Also five of the rescuers who went down into the mine to get these 33 miners out. So we have about 80 people who traveled from Chile overnight. Our connecting here in Atlanta and then our going on a flight, a four-hour flight to Los Angeles where they'll spend several days touring L.A., touring southern California, going to the "Heroes" Tribute. We're honoring their heroic perseverance, the miners, their endurance and also obviously the rescuers, the heroism going underground and help get the miners but for many of these miners, for almost all of them, it's their first time in the United States. For many, it's their first time out of Chile. They're tired but they're very excited. It's wonderful to have them here.

Kyra, back to you.

PHILLIPS: Gary, thanks so much. You can watch CNN's "Heroes" Thanksgiving night at 8:00 Eastern, 5:00 p.m. Pacific, right here on CNN. It's a star-studded tribute hosted by our Anderson Cooper.

Another celebrity marriage bites the dust. Eva Longoria and Tony Parker calling it quits. We'll find out what's behind those text messages. Next.




PHILLIPS: You have to Bieber. That teen singing sensation is used to the top of the charts but now he's topping holiday toy list. Stores stocking up on Justin Bieber doll, again. Earlier this month, one national toy store actually paid extra to fly the dolls in instead of waiting for them to arrive by boat. The dolls are sold out. Now, the toy store has put in another order. And age doesn't matter for the doll apparently. Experts predict that fans, young and old, really want it.

Eva Longoria's picture perfect marriage to Tony Parker ends after three years. And the actress is devastated. "Showbiz Tonight" host A.J. Hammer joins us from New York.

Oh, A.J., text messaging, internet, social media, the temptation was too hard evidently.

A.J. HAMMER, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" HOST: I guess so. And I'm hearing from both sides, people who are completely shocked by this and I'm hearing from a lot of people who are saying they weren't shocked at all given all the gossip that surround Eva Longoria and her husband since they were married back in 2007.

I, however, have always been one of those people who always hopes that the cynics are wrong when they say that a Hollywood marriage isn't going to last. Unfortunately, the cynics win this time. Even (INAUDIBLE) now on Tuesday, her reps denied random reports that were floating around that Longoria had filed for divorce from Parker in Texas but now, "Showbiz Tonight" has learned the "Desperate Housewives" star filed the paper to divorce her NBA player husband in California on Wednesday. So just a day later.

Reps for both tell CNN they're not commenting but late yesterday, Eva stunned everyone. She decided to speak about it and make it official through Twitter. Listened to what she tweeted, "it is with great sadness that after seven years together, Tony and I have decided to divorce. We love each other deeply and pray for each other's happiness." I must say that's pretty well tweeted.

The pair had this lavish ceremony outside of Paris three years ago. Longoria was regularly seen courtside, cheering on her husband who plays for the San Antonio Spurs. But, Kyra, is it so wrong of me. Am I too naive to believe that Hollywood marriage can last? I still think it can.

PHILLIPS: I think it can too but it's very, very rare, A.J.. Very, very rare.

HAMMER: I'm proven wrong almost every day here.

PHILLIPS: Well, I'm glad you believe in love. That's one of the greatest things about you.

All right. "Dancing with the Stars" a bit of a shocker, I guess. Still making news and we're hearing from Brandy, I guess. HAMMER: We're going to be hearing about this until the whole thing is over. You don't want to mess with the dancers and their fans. As you inevitably know by now, Bristol Palin was saved while singer Brandy and her partner, dancing pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy were booted from "Dancing with the Stars" on Tuesday night. It really was one of the show's most shocking eliminations yet.

And now it's Maksim speaking out about Bristol's apparent viewer fan base and he's making some stunning allegations about the show's voting system. Listen to what he told "E! News," "I definitely think that the system is flawed. I think there are a lot of problems with it. I have a lot of friends in the Philadelphia area who couldn't call at all."

Bristol will be back for the show's final, it's going to be on Monday night competing against Jennifer Grey and Kyle Massey who I think has been a favorite to win this thing all along. But I'm here to say right now, Kyra, all bets are off. If you were betting against Bristol from the start, obviously, you've been proven wrong. You never know. It won't be crazy if a week from now, we're talking about Bristol, the champion on "Dancing with the Stars." It may seem crazy but it's possible.

PHILLIPS: And you'll be talking about it.

Our true believer, A.J. Hammer. If you want any information and you want to believe in love, watch A.J. every night. He's got everything entertainment as well. "Showbiz Tonight" 5:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. on Headline News.

Eating right and living longer. Ahead, our Dr. Sanjay Gupta shares the secret and even more from Kobe, Japan.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You should push your plate away before you're ever full. They call it hara hachi boo (ph).


PHILLIPS: There's also long life and what the Japanese eat, think sushi.



PHILLIPS: So, how will Charlie Rangel be punished for violating 11 House Rules? Well, today is the day that the House ethics committee meets behind closed doors, starting at noon to decide his fate, and reporters apparently just caught up with him at the Rayburn Office Building before he went into a conference room. Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. CHARLIE RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: It's reported that I've been convicted and that I was corrupt in some of the local newspapers, and I want to make it abundantly clear that no matter how many mistakes I've made and how apologetic I am, the question was asked of counsel, was there evidence of corruption, and what he responded, "no, there's no evidence of corruption or self-enrichment and that I was overzealous and sloppy."

These are not things to be proud of, but it certainly differs from the newspaper's headline back home that still reports inaccurate information that was not founded on any facts by the investigating committee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You would disagree with them calling you corrupt?


PHILLIPS: And the worst ending here for Charlie Rangel could be expulsion from Congress. Most people think he will just be reprimanded.

Well, a stern warning from the FDA about those high-powered drinks that combine alcohol and lots of caffeine. The government agency is telling makers of the alcoholic energy drinks that they're dangerous, illegal and can't stay on the market in their current form. The drinks are popular on college campuses and have been blamed for a number of blackouts.

We all have heard the saying we are what we eat. Well, the Japanese know something about that. CNN's senior medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, travels to Kobe, Japan, where a diet filled with fresh fish is extending life.


GUPTA (on camera): There are some cities around the world that have extraordinarily high life expectancy rates, and health officials trying to figure out exactly what is it about those places that is somehow different. The places that we are looking is Japan. One thing I can tell you right off the bat it had less to do with genetics and a lot more to do with the environment and specifically the types of foods that they eat.

This is one of the most popular places you will find in cities like Japan, with octopus and squid. Fresh fish markets. This is a place where a lot of people come and they buy fresh fish every single day. This is particularly fresh fish as well, you can tell. Just looking around here, you can see how fresh this is. But there are some fish you really should pay attention to. You have crabs over here. You have big clams, small clams, but there are certain fish, for example, that are really high in omega 3 fatty acids. Mackerel, over here, have you ever had this? It's a great fish, very high on omega 3 fatty acids. Salmon is another one. If you look at the blood of Japanese people versus people in other places of the world, often those levels of omega 3 fatty acids are twice as high. I find not surprising that heart disease, such a big killer in the United States, they have rates that are half of that here in Japan. And this is a big reason why, specifically. Omega 3 fatty acids terrific at lowering your blood pressure, decreasing the clots and clogging your arteries. And lowering your triglyceride levels. Tuna, another great fish, for example. Great pieces of tuna here. Again, all of them very fresh. People come here every single day.

On average, people in Japan eat about one to two servings of this type of fish per day as compared to the United States, for example, where they eat one to two servings per week. Also, just really quickly as well, seaweed. You may be hard pressed to find this at many stores in the United States but it's another great source of anti-oxidants and it's also often eaten with fish. If you hate fish, there are other ways to get the anti-oxidants. Soybeans, for example, tofu, flax seed, walnuts, those are all great sources as well.

But, again, really trying to figure out why people live longer in big cities around the world. A lot of them has to do with the type of diet they eat. And in Japan, where they do it better than anywhere else, fish specifically omega 3 fatty acids, makes a difference.

You know, there's something else they taught me here as well and it's this idea that you should push your plate away before you're ever full. They call it hara hachi boo (ph). It's a really good phrase, never stuff yourself. That's advice you can use no matter where you live anywhere in the world.


PHILLIPS: Beware of identity thieves. You hear that warning often enough. But what happens when the person stealing your I.D. is your parent? We're talking to one victim who found out his dad was the crook mooching off his credit card.


PHILLIPS: The stock market opening bell just rang about an hour ago. Checking the numbers. Up 187 points. Pretty historic day for GM. The automaker's shares trading once against at the New York Stock Exchange, coming more than a year after the big government bailout.

Stephanie Elam, our business correspondent, Steph, what does this mean for GM, the government and investors?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, for the little people out there. A lot of people are wondering today, Kyra, you have this initial public offering, the largest in U.S. history at this point, raising over $20 billion. The stocks opened up at $33, and right now, it is trading a little above $35. So it's going in the right direction. And this is good news for taxpayers obviously because of that big $50 billion bailout that happened back in July of 2009. You can see that they've already paid back $10 billion. Well, the return on today's IPO back to Treasury will be $11.8 billion.

In the beginning, Treasury has held 61 percent stake in GM and now, after this payout, taxpayers will hold a 33 percent stake in the company, and GM will have paid back about $22 billion out of this number. So, obviously people are saying this is in the right direction, but also at the same time, it's like don't expect to see all of this bailout money is paid back momentarily now that this IPO is back on the market here.

PHILLIPS: All right, because a lot of people want to know, hey, are we going to get any of that $50 million - or $50 billion back?

ELAM: That's a big question, and it really does matter here. By selling the shares today like they did, selling some of their shares, they have -- taxpayers have less of an exposure if the stock were to drop. But that also means they have less of a chance to make money if the stock were to go up. So, at this point, people are saying you may have to se the stock get to $50 or increase to about 65 percent for this to be a break-even.

But guess what? Treasury has already agreed that they're not going to sell anymore shares for six months. So, the fact we could recoup the money is there. Just don't expect it to be a quick one. We won't see it any time before this year is out. That's for sure.

PHILLIPS: Steph, thanks.

ELAM: Sure.

PHILLIPS: Half past the hour. Time for some other stories that got us talking this morning. Winter has arrived early in the Pacific Northwest. A line of storms whipping up over the Pacific Ocean and plowing across Oregon and Washington. The Cascade Mountains can expect up to 20 inches of snow.

The so-called Barefoot Bandit due in federal court. In Seattle, 19-year-old Clinton Harris Moore is accused of flamboyant crime sprees. Stealing planes and flying without a pilot certificate. Doing it all barefoot.

And Sarah Palin looking ahead to 2012. She actually told ABC's Barbara Walters that a presidential run is not only possible, it would be successful.


SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm looking at the lay of the land now and trying to figure that out, if it's a good thing for the country, for the discourse, for my family.

BARBARA WALTERS, ABC NEWS: If you ran for president, could you beat Barack Obama?

PALIN: I believe so.


PHILLIPS: Well, this may be worth nothing, but a CNN/Opinion Research Poll taken before the midterm election says President Obama would beat Palin in the popular boat 52 to 44 percent.

Identity thieves come in all shapes and sizes. But if you have been victimized, if someone's racking up your debt, ruining your good credit, the last person you would probably suspect would be mom or dad. Believe it or not, it's a growing problem. And Junior is an easy target. A parent just needs their kid's Social Security number, and they can do a lot of damage.

Just ask Joel Winston. He learned that lesson the hard way. Now he's a consumer rights advocate. So, Joel, tell us what happened when you found out that your I.D. had been stolen.

JOEL WINSTON, CONSUMER RIGHTS ADVOCATE: As you mentioned, it's very simple to happen. I found out by surprise when any got a call from a creditor regarding a student loan. And it was a paper work mix-up where I as the student ended up as co-signer to my own loan. So, when the loan ended up in default, I got a call from a creditor saying I was immediately due on a loan I was never even aware of.

PHILLIPS: So, how did you find out it was your dad?

WINSTON: My dad's name was the main signer of the loan, and I knew that he had helped me take out the student loans. So, I was aware that he was involved, but I wasn't sure if it was an intentional issue or if it was a mistake with the processing of the student loan paperwork.

PHILLIPS: So, did he finally fess up to you to what he did or did you have to file a police report? What happened?

WINSTON: Unfortunately, he did fess up, which allowed me not to have to file a police report. But identity theft is already a complex issue, and it's very difficult for consumers to deal with. Adding the element of a parent or a family member that you know can make it much more difficult to resolve.

The normal course for consumers is to file an identity theft report which absolves them of all of the charges and allows them to pursue a reconciliation on the credit report to erase the erroneous information. But if it is a family member, it brings in difficult emotional issues and responsibilities about whether or not you want to file an identity theft report or whether you can work together to find a compromise and resolve it in an amicable manner.

PHILLIPS: So, your dad opened up three credit cards. Did he ever say to you why he was doing what he was doing? And did he apologize, and are you talking now?

WINSTON: Yes. He absolutely apologized; we're on completely good terms. Money is just money, but family is more important.

And the way it ended up is while I was in college, I was a victim of unintentional credit card marketing. So, when credit cards arrive at my home address, they were there, plastic in hand ready to go. So, he didn't go out and intentionally violate my credit and try to use my identity, but the credit card companies made it all too easy to have the card in hand, to activate it and start spending it.

So, once I became aware of the situation, I was able to work with him and with the banks to transfer over the ownership of the account. Fortunately, I went to the bank's fraud operations department, explained the situation, and they were willing to work with me to transfer the account because he was willing to take responsibility and also correct all of the errors on my report as well as alleviate any of the excess fee charges while the transfer was taking place.

PHILLIPS: What a nightmare, Joel. That's such a bummer.

And final bit of advice for someone who might be going through this or maybe is afraid that the parent might do something like this. What do they do to protect themselves?

WINSTON: Unfortunately, consumers just have to maintain constant individual vigilance. They need to check their credit reports. Everybody gets a free annual credit report if they go to government Web site, You also need to be aware that in addition to the major three credit reporting bureaus, there are also other bureaus that cover everything from banking to retailing, to landlord/tenant as well as insurance. You need to do a full background check on yourself once a year as a consumer.

So, I recommend sources like as well as to get more information about how to contact these agencies directly.

PHILLIPS: Joel Winston, I tell you what. You are a strong son and very forgiving. Glad things worked out for you. Good advice for other students. Thanks, Joel.

WINSTON: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Our 30-Second Pitch is just ahead, and today's job seeker is making quite an offer to you. Find him a job, he'll give you a big, fat cash reward.



PHILLIPS: Well, it's Thursday, and that means time for our "30- Second Pitch." Today, our job seeker today is a former executive in marketing and product development. Look at how he's selling himself. He's offering a reward for anyone who helps land him a job. The finder's fee, between $10,000 and $25,000 depending on his base salary. The more he makes, the more he'll pay you.

Scott Avidon is the man with the plan. Scott, pretty smart! What made you decide to offer a reward? This is a first for us.

SCOTTAVIDON, JOB SEEKER: Well, thank you, Kyra. After several months of fruitless job searching, I knew I needed to apply my creativity to make myself stand out from everyone else. And I believe in the kindness of people and in the amazing reach of the Internet and social networking, and I wanted to put it to the test.

And so I did research, and I actually was able to find a gentleman named Mike Checkaway, who did something similar a couple of years back on a regional level and I contacted him, and he was very helpful. It got me really excited. And so, I created a blog and Web site for it, and a press release, and it was picked up, and it's just gone viral. And it's really touched a nerve and it's amazing.

PHILLIPS: What's the Web site?

AVIDON: My Web site is It's s-c-o-t-t a-v-i-d- o-n.

PHILLIPS: OK.That's easy.

AVIDON: You can also - I'm sorry - you can also reach the blog directly from there, if you would like.

PHILLIPS: What kind of response have you gotten since you puts this reward out?

AVIDON: It's been overwhelming. Not just in the volume of responses, but the number of people that have reached out to me, the number of Americans who have reached out with their kindness and support is very humbling. And people want to help. And it's touched a nerve, and people are sharing their stories, and I'm receiving wonderful leads and connections, and, you know, I'm just so grateful.

PHILLIPS: Let's get down to it. Are you ready for the 30-second pitch?


PHILLIPS: All right, Scott. Take it away.

AVIDON: Good morning. My name is Scott Avidon. I'm a product development and creative professional. Throughout my career, I've managed and led teams of up to 35 people and been able to empower them to reach for their full potential. This has led directly to increased productivity, profitability and morale.

While at Stuban my efforts helped reach record profit levels. I'm hoping to join an innnovative, design-driven organization in a leadership position. And I invite you to visit my Web site to learn more about me. Thank you and thank you, CNN.


PHILLIPS: Right on the mark! We don't get that very often. You get paid, and so does the person who employees you. It's a nice incentive. Scott Avidon, pretty creative. Appreciate your time today. Let us know what happens, Scott.

AVIDON: Thank you so much, Kyra. I appreciate it.

PHILLIPS: You bet. And if you are out of work and you want to sell yourself to prospective employers, let us know. Send your resume and letter to Also, if you want to hire our 30-Second Pitchers, go to our blog All of the info and e-mails will be there.

And for some other stories, let's go "Cross Country." Starting in Tempe, Arizona, where a homeless man is being hailed for returning a college student's backpack containing $3,300 in cash. Dave Talley found the backpack at a lightrail stop.


DAVE TALLEY, FOUND BACKPACK WITH $3,300 INSIDE: It's not something I wish anybody to have to go through because that's rough choices. A lot of things could have been taken care, of but the fact of the matter is, is it's not my money. I didn't earn it.

BRYAN BELANGER, ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: This is the greatest thing I ever experienced, I think, and it really is a lesson to keep your faith in people and character exists no matter what your circumstances are.


PHILLIPS: The cops found a flash drive inside the backpack and found the student's resume. That's how they tracked him down. No word on whether Talley received a reward.

A magnificent sight off the coast of Florida. Beachgoers spotted this giant mantaray swimming near Singer Island. WPTV made it to the area just in time to capture these aerial pictures. Mantarays can grow as large as 17 feet wide and weigh thousands of pounds.

And finally, a veteran sky diver in Florida says he's, quote, "embarrassed as heck" today. Why? Fire crews had to use this ladder truck to rescue Al Griffis from the top of a pine tree. He got stuck after straying off course during a retraining jump. Luckily he wasn't hurt.

And maybe Facebook didn't start the fire, but it could be reigniting the old flames, and a pastor thinks the site is temptation central. He's urging his flock to log off for good. Getting your thoughts on this.




PHILLIPS: Facebook, where the past and present meet and can totally change the future. Know anyone who got on Facebook and reconnected with an old friend, old flame, and the next thing you knew, the two old pals were having an affair? Marriage vows thrown under the bus? A pastor in New Jersey says that happened too often among his flock. He says Facebook is nothing but troubled for married couples. So, he's told married church leaders to get off the site or resign.


CEDRIC MILLER, PASTOR, LIVING WORD CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP (via telephone): Most times it's that Facebook creates the vehicle for people to reunite with their past. If it's a pre-Jesus past, it's something that needs to stay dead and buried.


PHILLIPS: The Reverend Miller's going to tell his whole 1,100- member congregation to avoid Facebook if they want to keep their marriages intact.

So, what do you think? Does the pastor has a good point or is he scapegoating Facebook? Here's what some of you had to say.

Clarissa writes in, "How is Facebook to blame in failed marriages? The problem is in the relationship, not a Web site. When a marriage has trust, honesty and love, nothing can tear it apart."

Joel says, "My spouse cheated on my using Facebook, and I think it makes cheating just that much easier. Facebook does make it easier for an unhappy spouse to cheat by allowing them to network with other unhappy spouses that they would not have contacted any other way."

Belinda says, "This pastor should be preaching to personal responsibility and integrity. Making Facebook the scapegoat is as rediculous as saying 'the devil made me do it.'"

And Sherry says, "Married couples should beware. I put my husband on Facebook, and the old high school women came out of the woodwork. It is tacky to call on the phone after all these years, but it seems they feel Facebook is just fine."

Remember, we always want to hear from you. Just log on to and share your comments. I sure appreciate you weighing in.

Donald Trump for president? His name has been tossed around before. Now, once again, the business tycoon says he's thinking about running. He tells ABC he will make a decision about a 2012 White House bid in June. And just in case he needs some convincing, there's a Web site called, encouraging people to take a poll and weigh in.

Another person thinking about throwing her hat into the ring in 2012 is Sarah Palin. That tops our political ticker. In an ABC interview, Palin says she thinks she could beat President Obama. Deputy political director Paul Steinhauser, weigh in on this. What do you think about Palin's comments?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Here's what I think. I started thinking immediately of our most recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national poll. Check out these numbers, Kyra, because we have numbers on this. Palin versus Obama, a hypothetical in 2012. If she wins the nomination, look at that. The president with an eight-point advantage over Sarah Palin in a hypothetical head-to- head.

We also did head-to-heads between the president and some other likely contenders, like Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee. Both are actually ahead of the president.

Go to the next board, and here's why. Look at Palin's favorability and unfavorability right now. Only 4 in 10 saying they have a favorable opinion of Sarah Palin, almost half say they don't.

But Kyra, with all polls, I say this. Remember, polls are a snapshot of how people feel right now. In the next presidential election, even though we're talking about it, it's still a long way away.

Talking about Sarah Palin, something you mentioned earlier this hour, and that's Lisa Murkowski. She's claiming victory up in Alaska, the senator is in that contest against Joe Miller, the Republican nominee. How does that equal - how does that have anything to do with Sarah Palin? Here's why. Remember, Palin was a big supporter of Joe Miller in that contest. So, a victory for Murkowski could be kind of a slap in the face in a way for Palin in her home state of Alaska. It also is kind of a slap in the face, I guess, for the Tea Party movement. A lot of Tea Party people backed Miller over Murkowski. Kyra?

PHILLIPS: All right. Let's talk about 2012. Not that far away, and the clock is ticking for senators who are up that year.

STEINHAUSER: Oh, yes. We keep talking about the race for the White House, but there's a big battle for the Senate. And one of those senators is getting pretty active early. I'm talking about Dick Lugar, the six-term Republican from Indiana. Last time he ran, he had no opposition in the Republican primaries. Well, Lugar may face a challenge from the right this time and I guess he's trying to avoid it, so he's already named a campaign manager. She'll set up shop back in Indianapolis next month, and he's out with a poll. He paid for this poll, and it that indicates he is the most popular politician right now in Indiana. So, Dick Lugar among some other senators who may face challengers, taking it very seriously very, very early, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Paul, thanks. We're going to have your next political update in just about an hour. And a reminder, you can always go to our Web site, 24/7.

If you want to earn your place in the record books, you don't necessarily have to have Olympic speed or heavyweight strength. But in some cases, it helps if you know how to juggle. Today is Guinness World Records day. Thousands of people going for the glory and dozens of stunts. See what records could fall by the end of the day.

But first, flashback, November 18th, 1959, the day movie audiences first saw Charlton Heston take to his chariot in "Ben Hur." That movie took six years to make and included 15,000 extras. The price tag? 15 million bucks, and at that time it was the most expensive film ever made.

On a fun note, except for two brief stunts, Charlton Heston did all of his own chariot driving, by the way.


PHILLIPS: All right. Just moments ago, the president of the United States ratifying the new nuclear arms treaty with Russia. Let's listen in.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to begin by thanking the incredible leaders who are around this table, not only the Vice President and the Secretary of State, but also some of the most able statesmen from both parties that we've had in modern American history who are sitting around this table.

We are here to discuss the importance of ratifying the START treaty. And let me be clear: It is in the national security imperative -- it is a national security imperative that the United States ratify the New START treaty this year.

There is no higher national security priority for the lame duck session of Congress. The stakes for American national security are clear, and they are high. The New START treaty responsibly reduces the number of nuclear weapons and launchers that the United States and Russia deploy, while fully maintaining America's nuclear deterrent.

If we ratify this treaty, we're going to have a verification regime in place to track Russia's strategic nuclear weapons, including U.S. inspectors on the ground. If we don't, then we don't have a verification regime -- no inspectors, no insights into Russia's strategic arsenal, no framework for cooperation between the world's two nuclear superpowers. As Ronald Reagan said, we have to trust, but we also have to verify. In order for us to verify, we've got to have a treaty.

The New START treaty is also a cornerstone of our relations with Russia. And this goes beyond nuclear security. Russia has been fundamental to our efforts to put strong sanctions in place to put pressure on Iran to deal with its nuclear program. It's been critical in supporting our troops in Afghanistan through the Northern Distribution Network. It's been critical in working with us to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world, and to enhance European security.

We cannot afford to gamble on our ability to verify Russia's strategic nuclear arms. And we can't jeopardize the progress that we've made in securing vulnerable nuclear materials, or in maintaining a strong sanctions regime against Iran. These are all national interests of the highest order.

Let me also say -- and I think the group around the table will confirm -- that this New START treaty is completely in line with a tradition of bipartisan cooperation on this issue. This is not a Democratic concept; this is not a Republican concept. This is a concept of American national security that has been promoted by Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and now my administration.

We've taken the time to do this right. To ensure that the treaty got a fair hearing, we submitted to the Senate last spring. Because of the leadership of John Kerry and Dick Lugar, there have been 18 hearings on this subject. There have been multiple briefings. It has been fully and carefully vetted, and has the full endorsement of our nation's military leadership. Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Hoss Cartwright is here and will confirm that this is in our national security interests.

My administration is also prepared to go the extra mile to ensure that our remaining stockpile and nuclear infrastructure is modernized -- which I know is a key concern of many around this table and also many on Capitol Hill. We've committed to invest $80 billion on the effort to modernize over the next decade. And based on our consultations with Senator Kyl, we've agreed to request an additional $4.1 billion over the next five years.

So the key point here is this is not about politics -- it's about national security. This is not a matter that can be delayed. Every month that goes by without a treaty means that we are not able to verify what's going on on the ground in Russia. And if we delay indefinitely, American leadership on nonproliferation and America's national security will be weakened.

Now, as Senator Reid said yesterday, there is time on the Senate calendar to get this treaty ratified this year. So I've asked Vice President Biden to focus on this issue day and night until it gets done. It's important to our national security to let this treaty go up for a vote. I'm confident that it's the right thing to do. The people around this table think it's the right thing to do.

I would welcome the press to query the leadership here, people who have been national security advisors, secretaries of state, and key advisors -- defense secretaries for Democratic and Republican administrations, and they will confirm that this is the right thing to do.

So we've got a lot on our plate during this lame duck session. I recognize that given the difficulties in the economy that there may be those, perhaps Democrats and Republicans on the Hill, who think this is not a top priority. I would not be emphasizing this and these folks would not have traveled all this way if we didn't feel that this was absolutely important to get done now. And so I'm looking forward to strong cooperation between Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, as exemplified by John Kerry and Dick Lugar, to get this done over the course of the next several weeks.

All right? Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Do you have the votes in the Senate?

OBAMA: I'm confident that we should be able to get the votes. Keep in mind that every President since Ronald Reagan has presented a arms treaty with Russia and been able to get ratification. And for the most part, these treaties have been debated on the merits; the majority of them have passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support. There's no reason that we shouldn't be able to get that done this time as well.

All right?

Thank you, guys. Thank you.