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President Obama Meets with General McChrystal Regarding Strategy in Afghanistan; Earthquakes Devastate Parts of the Philippines; A Second Typhoon Hits Indonesia; David Letterman's Extortion Scandal May Help or Hurt Ratings; Doctor Returns to Home Community that Provided Him Tuition Money to Practice Medicine

Aired October 03, 2009 - 11:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: We need to start in Afghanistan now, where five more U.S. service members have been killed in Afghanistan. The president is reviewing his war strategy, meeting briefly yesterday with his top commander in Afghanistan.

We go now to CNN's Elaine Quijano who is at the White House. Elaine Quijano, good morning to you. The president, talking a lot about Afghanistan lately, it will be on his agenda a lot next week.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, T.J. he's got a couple meetings scheduled next week with his national security team to talk about Afghanistan, but Pakistan, as well.

And this really is coming on the heels of the meeting he had just yesterday, in fact, a private meeting on Air Force One in Copenhagen, Denmark. That's when President Obama sat down with a top commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal.

That meeting, we're told, lasted about 25 minute, and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that it was a valuable meeting, but he really didn't say much more beyond that.

The president, though, could be, of course, weighing a number of options for Afghanistan. And here are just a few of them.

The president, first of all, could decide on a troop drawdown. Basically, this could mean pulling back a number of forces and having if the remaining troops focus on training the national Afghan national army and police and possibly using drones to go after Al Qaeda targets in Pakistan.

Secondly, the president could also decide to keep combat troop levels right where they are. About 68,000 troops are currently in Afghanistan. And that would mean basically keeping the strategy the same right now, going after the Taliban.

Finally, the president could decide to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan. That's, of course, the strategy that General McChrystal and some other military leaders are recommending right now or that they're advocating for.

It's been reported that the general would like to see as many as 40,000 additional U.S. troops. The president could decide to go ahead and grant that request or he could decide on a smaller figure.

Either way, though, T.J., President Obama is making this decision at a time when polls are showing that most Americans simply do not support the war in Afghanistan -- T.J.?

HOLMES: And one more thing before I let you go, because so much hay was made about it after the "60 Minutes" interview with McChrystal aired in which he said he only talked to the president once in 70 days. A lot of people jumped on that.

Was the president or the White House saying much about that? Did they have a response to that? And also how far in advance was this meeting with McChrystal and the president on air force one, how much ahead was that planned?

QUIJANO: I wish we knew. We don't really know the answers to that.

We know do afterwards again is that Robert Gibbs was saying that this was a valuable meeting. But you're absolutely right, there's also a question about what's taking so long, about what exactly the timeframe is here on the president making a decision.

Here's what we know -- that the president is, in addition to having these two meetings next week with his national security team, at some point he's going to be meeting with them again.

And then White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, look, it's after all those meetings with the national security team that the president is going to go ahead and they're going to draft this strategy on Afghanistan.

Obviously, though, T.J., every day that goes by, as you reported there, more deaths in Afghanistan, U.S. deaths in Afghanistan. That all just underscores not only how complicated this decision is but really just how big the stakes are for the U.S. going forward.

HOLMES: All right, Elaine Quijano for us from the White House this morning. Elaine, we appreciate you, as always.


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Afghanistan will be a focus on CNN's "State of the Union" tomorrow morning. John King speaks with President Obama's national security adviser about U.S. troop levels and the future of the war. Expect Iran to come up, as well. That's Sunday, 9:00 a.m. eastern on CNN.

HOLMES: Iran recently admitted it's building a second uranium enrichment facility, and the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency the on his way to Iran now. Mohammed Elbaradei plans to meet with Iranian officials, but the International Atomic Energy Agency says it's not clear if he will be allowed to visit the site.

Iran has said it will cooperate with nuclear inspectors. NGUYEN: The Philippines getting sit hit with a second massive storm. Typhoon Parma forced tens of thousands to flee their homes today, the country still reeling from last week's deadly typhoon Ketsana, which caused the worst flooding in the Philippines in 40 years.

CNN's Eunice Yoon is in Isabella province. She joins me know from an evacuation center. How many people were able to seek shelter, Eunice?

EUNICE YOON, CNN ASIA BUSINESS EDITOR: Well, betty, thousands of people have been evacuated from this particular region. Those are the numbers we are hearing at this stage, although the total number is still not known.

Now, I'm standing right now in front of a disaster command center. Earlier, about an hour ago or so, we were visiting an evacuation center, which was a converted school and daycare center. About 200 people were there, all of them families. They were sleeping about five people to a room on the floor, in sleeping bags.

They were in relatively good spirits under the circumstances. They said they were well fed, but that the problem was the power. At that school, basically sitting there in the dark because there have been power outages not only here but throughout the typhoon-hit areas.

And they said the power probably wouldn't be coming back for another five days. In fact, just before this live shot, the lights all came out, and the only reason you see me here is because of the private generator which finally kicked in -- Betty?

NGUYEN: Yes, this is the first time we've been able to see you live because earlier when we spoke with you, the power was out.

This storm is coming in at just the worst possible time. It was September 26th, not too long ago, when another storm blew through and killed hundreds of people. Have they even been able to recoup from that storm and prepare for this one?

YOON: No, not at all. If you talk to some of the people in Manila, people are traumatized. They're very upset about this latest calamity coming on top of another disaster, typhoon Ketsana, where people are in crowded evacuation camps back in the capital of Manila.

I spoke to one of the evacuees here, as well, just to try to get a sense of just how bad the flooding was. And he told me an interesting story that his house is actually situated right along the river.

And he had refused because he didn't want to be evacuated for a while until -- he finally knew he was in trouble once the water started rising to the first floor of his house. That's when he decided to send a text message to this command center, and the workers and the military personnel who are here and had taken him out of his situation -- Betty?

NGUYEN: He is one of so many that are facing such difficulties because of these storms.

Eunice, thank you so much for that.

We want to turn now to our own Reynolds Wolf, who's been watching this storm as it plays out. And Reynolds, like we mentioned, this is not something we need, but at this point it seems like they're getting pummeled, correct?

REYNOLDS WOLF, METEOROLOGIST: They really are. We're talking about not just the winds but the heavy rainfall. When you have the high elevations of the northern parts of the Philippines, what happens is you have heavier amounts of precipitation.

What occurs is -- let's enlarge this -- we have something we refer to as orographic lift, which basically is in the most rudimentary sense, it's like getting a sponge and squeezing all the moisture out of it.

What happens, you have these clouds that go into the higher elevations at the northern end of the islands, and when it interacts with the cooler air aloft, it actually pulls the moisture right out of it, and that of course causes the flooding you'll see, the possibility of mudslides.

It is a huge issue. And of course heavy surf is also forming not only in the Philippines but farther to the north and places like Taiwan.

Now, it's not all bad news. There is some good news. What's good is it has weakened, winds dropping to 85-mile-an-hour gusts -- still strong through beyond this entry point at 105.

Something else that's good happens to be the forecast, where we do expect the storm to make a bit of a jog to the north and then veer to the east. In fact, as we take a look into Sunday and then into late Sunday afternoon, winds regaining some strength back up to 90, 105, and 100 as we get into Tuesday and Thursday.

You'll notice, here's Taiwan, the storm veering off a bit more to the east. Let's certainly hope that occurs.

The thing that's going to be driving this storm a bit more eastward is the anticipation of a frontal boundary that will be extending off the coast of China and helping to push the system deeper out into the Pacific Ocean.

So, certainly better news on the horizon for many of the people in that part of the world.

We've got a lot coming up with what you can expect in your world with your forecast for the weekend. Plus a look at the temperatures and some surprising snowfall this early in the year.

NGUYEN: Yes, snow October 3rd.

WOLF: I know. Got to love it, if you're a skier -- shoveling, not so much.

NGUYEN: Not if you're digging out from under it. Thank you, Reynolds.

HOLMES: Two devastating earthquakes in Indonesia have killed at least 540 people. Hammers and bare hands being used to dig for as many as 4,000 people who could still be buried. The first quake left buildings and rubble in the city of Padang. CNN's Arwa Damon visits the devastating region.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Outside of the city of Padang, there is also widespread devastation. At the end of this road there once were three villages. We're hearing that they have been entirely demolished, 90 percent of the residents there dead, still buried.

The only survivors are inside this tent.

DAMON (voice-over): Most survived because they happened not to be at home and now everybody is understandably in shock. Seven-year- old Marsat (ph) tells us how she was buried up to her neck and had to dig herself out. Eight of her family members are now dead.

DAMON (on camera): The earthquake caused a massive landslide. This is as far as we've been able to get on what was once the road. So to reach the village, we actually have to climb up and over.

DAMON (voice-over): A local leader points to where there used to be people's homes, now entirely swallowed up by the earth.

DAMON (on camera): We've just come down off the side of the mountain, and from the minute you arrive here you can smell the stench of death. And the only thing that we've seen that even remotely resembles what would have once been a house is this.

DAMON (voice-over): Twenty-seven-year-old Resal (ph) shows us where his house used to be and then points to where he found his family's motorcycle. It was swept down. It's all that remains.

As each day goes by, the true immensity of Wednesday's earthquake becomes disturbingly clear.


HOLMES: And if you would like to help the victims of the tsunami, also of the quakes, you can go to "Impact your World" homepage on You'll find a list of links to aid groups including the Red Cross and also World Vision. Again, that's

NGUYEN: President Obama reacting to a disappointing September jobs report -- connects new jobs in health care reform in his weekly radio Internet address. He explains how that could work with Congress passes reform legislation. And, he says, current medical costs are crippling one vital section of the economy.


BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Small businesses will be able to purchase health insurance through an insurance exchange, a market place where they can compare the price, quality, and services of a wide variety of plans, many of which will provide better coverage at lower cost than the plans that they have now.

Now, 95 percent of small businesses won't be required to cover their employees, but many that do will receive a tax credit to help them pay for it.


NGUYEN: All right. Well, Republican leaders say the president's health care plan will do nothing to help address job losses. A Michigan legislator giving the weekly GOP address also says the stimulus plan has fallen fall short of its goals.


REP. CANDACE MILLER, (R) MICHIGAN: All told, our economy has lost roughly 3 million private-sector jobs since President Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trillion-dollar stimulus plan became law.

At the time, the people of Michigan were told that the so-called stimulus would create jobs in our state immediately, more than 100,000 of them. Well, now local economists say that we are on track to lose 300,000 jobs just this year alone.


NGUYEN: Congresswoman Candace Miller is calling for deeper tax cuts for small businesses.

HOLMES: Well, he's a funny guy most of the time, but not a laughing matter for the king of late night comedy.

NGUYEN: David Letterman's stunning accusation of an extortion attempt and his confession of having sex with female staffers. Will the scandal hurt or help where it counts, and that is in the ratings?


NGUYEN: OK. So, will it be a ratings bonanza or a blunder? We are talking about the fallout from David Letterman's bombshell admission to an alleged extortion attempt.

HOLMES: And could this scandal dethrone the recently crowned king of late night television ratings? CNN's Kareen Wynter tunes us in for the latest.


KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This shocking admission drew applause during David Letterman's Thursday night taping.

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW": I have had sex with women who work on this show.

WYNTER: The 62-year-old host revealed an alleged extortion attempt by a CBS employee who demanded millions to keep hush about Letterman's affairs with staffers.

LETTERMAN: So, that's where we stand right now.

WYNTER: The question is, will viewers continue to stand by Letterman in the long run?

ANDREW WALLENSTEIN, EDITOR, "THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER": This couldn't happen at a worse time for Letterman.

WYNTER: That's because since Jay Leno's late-night departure this summer, CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman" has been crushing its competition in the ratings.

It trailed NBC's "The Tonight Show" for more than a decade.

Letterman's recent guest spot with President Obama reportedly helped the network double its viewership, beating NBC among adults ages 18 to 49 for the first time since 2005.

As for this negative press, "The Hollywood Reporter's" Andrew Wallenstein says Letterman's likable and the fact that he claim clean airing his own dirty laundry earned him some points. But --

WALLENSTEIN: The details of what has gone on here are really very few and far in between. And I think once things start to come out of the woodwork that will be the true test of which way this thing swings for Letterman.

WYNTER: And things haven't always swung Letterman's way. The host faced a backlash earlier this year when he joked about former governor Sarah Palin's daughter being, quote, "knocked up" by Alex Rodriguez while at a Yankee game. Letterman later apologized.

LETTERMAN: I take full blame for that. I told a bad joke.

WYNTER: This time, Letterman is getting laughs at his own expense. But Hollywood critics say his confession may yet test the show's ratings and its longevity.

Kareen Wynter, CNN, Los Angeles.


HOLMES: A suspect's been arrested in that Erin Andrews video peephole case. That person is scheduled to appear in an Illinois courtroom actually this hour. There she is. This is the ESPN reporter, who released a statement now thanking the FBI for their efforts and reiterated that she will press on with charges.

NGUYEN: Yes. The feds arrested 48-year-old Michael David Barrett on Friday at Chicago's O'Hare airport. Authorities say Barrett videotaped the nude sportscaster through hotel peepholes and then posted the images online.

HOLMES: And he's facing federal charges of interstate stalking and up to five years in prison if convicted.

NGUYEN: Well, "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" TV star Kandy Burrus' ex-fiancee has died after an overnight bar fight. Atlanta police say Ashley A.J. Jewell was killed after suffering a severe blow to the head in the parking lot of an Atlanta strip club where he was a manager.

Police have arrested a man on involuntary manslaughter charges but have yet to identify this person. We have this from Burris' twitter account that she holds, saying "I'm just in one of those moods where I don't want to talk."

We're going to have more on this story as it develops.

HOLMES: That's a love story that's certainly hitting the Atlanta community where those women on that show, quite popular given what's happening right here. Man, just a horrible story to wake up to this morning.

The video you were seeing is another story we're about to bring you about a doctor. He had no money, few resources, and he made a promise to his town, though. If they helped him pay for college, he would pay it back.

We'll show you how this Harvard grad is keeping his word.


NGUYEN: A quick check of our top stories today.

Five more U.S. service members are killed in Afghanistan, and NATO blames all on roadside bombings or other, quote, "enemy activity near the Pakistan border." More fighting is being reported in other parts of the country, as well.

HOLMES: For the second time in eight days people in the Philippines dealing with a dangerous typhoon. This time around we're getting reports that two people have been killed so far by typhoon Parma. It slammed the northeastern section of the Philippines.

NGUYEN: At least 21 people are dead from just devastating landslides on the Italian island of Sicily, but that number could go even higher, dozens of people still missing at this hour. We'll have another check of our top stories in about 20 minutes. HOLMES: We're going to have an unlikely success story to tell you now. As a child of a former, or rather of migrant farm workers, this young man dreamed of becoming a doctor.

NGUYEN: And he didn't have any money to go to college, though, so he asked his community to invest in him. It did. Our Soledad O'Brien explains how that investment is paying off.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Raul Ruiz is a busy ER doctor. He is a physician on staff at Eisenhower Medical Center, the Coachella valley's only nonprofit hospital.

O'BRIEN (on camera): How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a doctor?


O'BRIEN: Four?

RUIZ: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Not an easy feat for the son of migrant farm workers.

RUIZ: I used to type it, as my practice typing, all things are possible, all things are possible.

O'BRIEN: He was a good student but terrible test taker. English wasn't his first language.

RUIZ: According to my SAT scores I should have never gone to college.

O'BRIEN: What were your scores?

RUIZ: I'd rather not say.

O'BRIEN: The biggest obstacle wasn't grades. It was money.

A family friend paid for him to apply to UCLA. But it was the community of Coachella that helped put Dr. Ruiz through school. Cochela is a small farming town with mostly Spanish-speaking immigrants. The average family income is less than $25,000 a year.

RUIZ: I'd start knocking on doors and saying I am from this community. I want to become a physician, and I'm going to come back. I want to offer you the opportunity to invest in your community.

O'BRIEN: He handed out homemade contracts to sponsors like Juan Torres, owner of the local hardware store.

RUIZ: I was able to raise about $2,000.

O'BRIEN: Wow. That's a lot of dough.

RUIZ: It was $20, $50, $100 at a time.

O'BRIEN: He was 17-years-old. With the money, and more importantly, the community backing, Raul Ruiz went off to UCLA. After graduation, he went to Harvard Medical School to become a doctor. And that's not all.

RUIZ: I have a masters' in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of government. And I have a masters' in public health from the Harvard School of Public Health.

O'BRIEN: Three degrees from Harvard, the first Mexican-American ever to achieve that.

RUIZ: My efforts are not just mine alone. It's my family's and my community's. So, you know, we worked hard.

O'BRIEN: He could have practiced anywhere, but he came back.

RUIZ: A promise is a promise.

O'BRIEN: And he continues to give back, mentoring eight Coachella teenagers.

RUIZ: There's only two obligations. One is that they show up. And two, that they participate with me in community service. Then we'll see if we can make a difference.

O'BRIEN: To ensure there will be a next generation in Coachella, who will also give back.

Soledad O'Brien, CNN, Coachella, California.


NGUYEN: That is an amazing story.


NGUYEN: A guy who made a pledge, lived up to it, and now he is living by example.

HOLMES: I would like to nominate right here and right now that city Coachella as a CNN hero.

NGUYEN: Exactly.

HOLMES: To do that, to make that investment and take a chance, and he is -- I mean, that is a beautiful, beautiful story.

NGUYEN: Fascinating, too.

Also I want to give you a quick programming note. Coming October 21st, CNN will present "Latino in America." It is a comprehensive look at how Latinos are changing America, reshaping politics, business, schools, churches, and neighborhoods. Latino in America coming October 21st and 22nd on CNN. HOLMES: A three-year-old and a four-year-old, all right, left alone to play. Not on a playground, not in a backyard, in that, in south Florida traffic, folks. We'll tell you where their mother was at the time, and we'll tell you where she is now.


HOLMES: Well, friends, family members, civil rights leaders gathering in Chicago today to honor a Chicago teenager who was fatally beaten.

Derrion Albert's beating was captured on a cell phone camera last month. Funeral services for the 16-year-old will be held next hour at a Chicago church. Reverend Jesse Jackson among the noted dignitaries expected to speak at the funeral. Four teenagers have been charged in his death.

The violence problem in Chicago topic one for Fredricka Whitfield this afternoon at 4:00 eastern. The entire hour devoted to examining the problem and looking at solutions. "Taking Aim, Chicago Violence," you can be a part of it. Send you questions and comments to

NGUYEN: This next person probably never going to be nominated for mother of the year, but at least the south Florida woman is now out of jail.

HOLMES: Yes. Her name is Brenda Lee Duclos. She was released yesterday, two days after her kids were found wandering around.

NGUYEN: Where?

HOLMES: Wandering around a store in aisle five or somewhere. They were in traffic when she was allegedly passed out drunk. Derrick Hayward with our WSBN affiliate with the story.


DERRICK HAYWARD, WSBN: The details are not pretty -- 44-year- old Brenda Lee Duclos is accused of starting the engine of her '99 Ford Windstar, her three-year-old son and four-year-old daughter in the back, before passing out under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're charged with child neglect, DUI, first offense.

HAYWARD: Stuck in the driveway, mom in the ozone, engine running, the three and four-year-olds decide to leave.

Two miles away, a stranger finds them trying to cross busy Southwest 100th Avenue two miles away by themselves on their way to find their older sister.

HAYWARD (on camera): Deputies say when they arrived at the house with the kids in the back of the patrol car, they found the mother here, passed out behind the wheel of the van with the engine still running, and that the kids told them they'd been in the van for, in their minds, anyway, hours. They got tired of it and just climbed out and walked off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was about to drive under the influence with her two precious children. She was going to pick up her older daughter. But when she passed out, those two youngsters actually got out of the van and they were trying to walk to their sister's school to tell them -- to tell their sister what happened.

JUDGE JOHN HURLEY, BROWARD COUNTY JUDGE: Let me make this clear one more time. You are not allowed to operate a motor vehicle in which there is anyone in that car under the age of 16. Do you understand?

Ma'am, I hate to try to be a tough guy or hard on you, but, ma'am, your children were found two miles away from you passed out in your driveway. And if that is not a danger to your children, then I don't know what is, ma'am. Short of having a loaded gun with them, I don't know what's any more dangerous.


NGUYEN: Wow. Well, Duclos's husband, John, he is weighing in, and he says his wife, quote, "did a stupid thing." Yes.

HOLMES: Yes. I think everybody is in agreement there.

NGUYEN: Two miles away in traffic.

HOLMES: They got a ways away. That is scary stuff.

NGUYEN: They are very lucky nothing happened to the children.

HOLMES: Three and four was it?

NGUYEN: Three and four-years-old.

HOLMES: We'll turn to another story of not really parent of the year. A California man accused of having a tattoo put on his son. We're not talking about any tattoo. This is a gang tattoo on his seven-year-old.

He's not going to now face a charge of mayhem, which sounds like mayhem here, but that actually came with a potential life sentence.

NGUYEN: Here's the guy right here. He still faces a lesser charge of cruel and inhumane treatment of a child, along with the friend who inked the dog paw on the boy's hip. You can see the tattoo right there.

Let's explain a little bit about this. This paw is the symbol of the Fresno bulldog gang.

HOLMES: The judge now has agreed with defense attorneys that any damage left by that small a tattoo does not amount to permanent and painful disfigurement.

NGUYEN: But he went on to say, the father, that he did it because the kid wanted a tattoo.

HOLMES: He wanted it.

NGUYEN: His seven-years-old. You can't give him everything he wants.

HOLMES: I think that wraps up our parenting segment for today.


We'll turn to California now. Some scary stuff here, as well. A football game between two rival high schools got put on hold because 14 players, all from the same school, have come down with flu-like symptoms.

NGUYEN: Yes. School officials have not confirmed that this is a case of the H1N1 virus, but they are not taking any chances. The game has been postponed until at least Monday.


HOLMES: The best places to live in America -- towns have been linked. There is a winner. Who's your winner?

NGUYEN: My winner? That's hard. I'm not going to put that one out there. No way. Josh, you're going you have to give us the results.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: There is some good news about your native Texas today.

NGUYEN: I would have picked a few Texas towns.

LEVS: Maybe one made the list. The number one I can't tell you but I can tell you it's not in Texas. That just narrows it down to 49 other states.

It has robust industries, little crime, good health care, and residents say you can't beat the lifestyle. Which town is number one?


HOLMES: Our top stories here.

President Obama's two birds with one stone -- today in his weekly radio and Internet address, president Obama suggested reforming America's health care system will have the beneficial side effect of stopping the hemorrhage of U.S. job losses which are now at a 26-year high.

NGUYEN: "Deaths in action," that's how NATO is describing how five U.S. service members were killed in Afghanistan. It reports three died in eastern Afghanistan, two more in southern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border. Fighting's always taking place in other parts of the country. HOLMES: Another typhoon is hitting the storm-battered Philippines, the second major storm we've seen there make landfall in the past eight days.

The Filipino capital missed a direct hit from this one, typhoon Parma, but more flooding and possible mudslides are feared. The Filipino president has declared a state of calamity.

LEVS: We are getting more responses to the animation than I think almost anything else. We'll tell you at the end how you can weigh in.

Meanwhile, I want to tell you what we were just mentioning. This list of what's being called "The Best Places to Live" as of this year. What actually happened is "Money" magazine put together this list on of the best small towns in America, and the winner, Louisville, Colorado. Here's some video.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It has that kind of nice small-town feel to it but it's not small minded. It's really family friendly, safe, and beautiful, too.


LEVS: Now, what they did, we'll keep looking at picture, but what they did to make this happen is they looked at job growth, robust industry, quality of health care, school scores.

They also looked at weather. So, I'm going to bring in our Reynolds Wolf. Reynolds, I wasn't familiar with Louisville, Colorado, but does it have one of the best weather situations in America?

REYNOLDS WOLF, METEOROLOGIST: It's pretty nice, you know, if you like some of the great outdoors. There are opportunities to go skiing, certainly within range of the Rockies, also great trout fishing out there, all kinds of cool things to see.

We put this into motion. This place is a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Here's Louisville right here. There's a great airport, great sights to see. So, yes, it makes perfect sense. Plus nice clean, healthy mountain air that could make a world of difference, I suppose.

LEVS: Different story for the one rated number two city, number two town in America, Chanhassen, Minnesota. I hope I'm saying that right. Talk to me about that. What's it like there?

WOLF: That is actually a suburb of the twin cities. You know, also another nice, clean town. We'll head our way back over in that direction. Just to the southwest of Minneapolis. You have Minneapolis downtown right here. Here it is in Chanhassen right here in this location.

Again, a very similar situation -- certainly not the mountains and whatnot, but a very clean way of life. A lot of woods, a lot of outdoor recreations there. Just a neat kind of town.

LEVS: I'm sorry. A lot of these places are suburbs, like you're pointing out.

Let me go over the top ten list with you. Let's bring them in.

You have Louisville, Colorado, then Chanhassen Minnesota, Papillion, Nebraska, Middleton, Wisconsin, Milton, Massachusetts, Warrant New Jersey, Keller, Texas, Peachtree City, Georgia right near us here, Lake St. Louis, Missouri, and finally, Mukilteo, Washington.

That's kind of an impressive list. I'll tell you, we're getting some interesting responses. I got one tweet from someone earlier this morning saying these are pretty towns but in his eyes they lack racial diversity. Hearing lots of opinions.

Let's end on this last screen, because this is a good piece of news to share with Betty. Texas is doing great. Of the top hundred towns, four states tied for the lead. Each has six best towns. Texas is one of them, Betty.

NGUYEN: Although I'll have to give T.J. a little credit. He pointed out Texas is an awfully big state so they would have more cities to put in the pot. Still, hey, we'll take what we can get.

Peachtree City here in Georgia is fantastic. So a lot of fantastic places to live.

All right, thank you.

LEVS: Thanks.

HOLMES: Even something like this you got to do some "whoo." You need to be treated, I think.


NGUYEN: Whatever.

OK. Some of us may like some solitude. Would you?


We'll take you to entire neighborhoods that are casualties of the housing market.


HOLMES: All right, my subdivision doesn't have this on the outside of it.

NGUYEN: Thank goodness.

HOLMES: Yes. They're called "zombie subdivisions" because they are in no man's land where very few people live.

NGUYEN: They are collateral damage from this housing crisis we're in. CNN's Colleen McEdwards has the isolating details.


MCEDWARDS: Imagine buying a $500,000 house in a field of weeds surrounded by "for sale" signs.

DON WILLIAMS, RESIDENT: We knew that the neighborhood was having some issues, but we loved the home.

MCEDWARDS: That's exactly what Don Williams did -- 400 homes were plan for this subdivision. Only 13 were ever built.

MCEDWARDS (on camera): Do you think there's any chance anybody's going to build around that?

WILLIAMS: No time soon. I wouldn't say in the next five years or so. I wouldn't.

MCEDWARDS, (voice-over): Now he and his neighbors are finding a way to enjoy the peace and quiet.

This is Water Lace subdivision gone bust. It's one of hundreds of abandoned residential Meccas around the United States, better known as "zombie subdivisions."

You don't have to worry about cars running the stop signs on Huet (ph) drive or violating the posted speed limits. No children in the boarded up play house, no one enjoying a cocktail at the unfinished club house where the pool and the tennis courts were meant to be.

MCEDWARDS (on camera): This was clearly not the developer's vision. She went bankrupt, and then it was like dominos from there. The lender tried to sell the properties, but then the bank failed as well, crushed under an avalanche of bad real estate loans.

The housing crisis feeds the banking crisis, so before any of the fancy amenities like tennis courts and swimming pools went in here, this place was finished. Now all that's left are hundreds of vacant lots that no one is likely to ever want to buy.

U.S. banks are taking huge losses as the pace of foreclosures on these dreams gone bust picks up. In Atlanta, alone, there have been more than 9,000 foreclosures in the past 16 months on commercial real estate. That's according to Smart Numbers, a company that tracks property sales.

Some foreclosures are entire subdivisions and massive condo complexes. The total dollar value is staggering -- $3.3 billion in foreclosed property. And that's just one city in a little more than one year.

MCEDWARDS (on camera): So this shows downtown Atlanta and then all around the outside of the city you see all this color showing vacant lots.

MCEDWARDS (voice-over): Steve Palm is the president of Smart Numbers. He calls this map the "ring of death" where more than 100,000 building lots sit empty.

STEVE PALM, SMART NUMBERS REAL ESTATE: It's like instead of a gold rush, it was a dirt rush.

MCEDWARDS (on camera): "A dirt rush?"

PALM: Yes. And we're paying for it now.

MCEDWARDS (voice-over): So far this year, more Georgia banks have failed than in any other state, and it's mainly because of staggering losses in real estate.

PALM: Most any bank is in trouble right now. It's just some are more in trouble than others. I mean, we're in a deep, deep recession, and if you're a bank you're definitely going to be part of it.

MCEDWARDS: Palm forecast a double dip in U.S. housing for the year 2010 even though housing starts have improved, jumping 1.5 percent in August, mainly on new apartment construction. It's a glimmer of hope, but foreclosures keep hammering the banks, and the housing market is still over supplied.

WILLIAMS: This one probably won't materialize any time soon.

MCEDWARDS (on camera): Are you angry sometimes?

WILLIAMS: There's not any time I've been angry, but disappointed over what could have been.

MCEDWARDS (voice-over): It's been a wild and ugly ride that for the residents of Water Lace is not over yet.

Colleen McEdwards, CNN, Fayetteville, Georgia.


NGUYEN: That is so tough there.

The newsroom does continue at the top of the hour with Fredricka Whitfield, the lovely Fredricka. Hello.


Lots straight ahead. David Letterman I know you've been talking about all morning. He's the one usually poking funs at the politicians and entertainers for fooling around. Well, now he's at the center of an extortion case where he's being accused of the very same. In fact, he actually admits to it.

Our legal guys will delve in about what's ahead in the legal road for David Letterman as well as for the accuser, Robert Joe Halderman.

And Chicago violence -- today a 16-year-old Derrion Albert is being laid to rest. He was the victim of a brutal beating caught on cell phone video earlier this week. While many people are still trying to understand why and how something like this could happen, we're also going to be delving into the violence that Chicago is facing in the 4:00 eastern hour. We're calling that hour "Taking aim -- Chicago Violence." What's at the bottom of this?

And we're going to be joined by a number of experts who are going to talk about how they're trying to help this city recover from what is a terrible spate of violence. Already this year more than 30 children have died from inexplicable sets violence.

And we're hoping you'll be part of the conversation -- 4:00 eastern time today. Send your comments to our blog as well as Facebook.

HOLMES: All right. Fredricka, we appreciate it.

From Chicago we turn to something, a city that's kind of -- we've been talking about the two cities.

NGUYEN: They didn't get the Olympic bid, but Rio de Janeiro did and they are celebrating an international victory if you will. We will catch up with the party as they get ready to mark their place in the history books.


HOLMES: Rio de Janeiro, the city riding a wave of excitement today. They secured a place in the record books as the host city for the 2016 games.

NGUYEN: And they are thrilled about it. It is the first time the games will be held in any South American country. And our Shasta Darlington drew the short straw, lucky her. She is Rio with reaction.



SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Finally, Rio de Janeiro's time has come. After three failed attempts to host the Olympic Games, the tourist hot spot named "The Marvelous City" clinched it for 2016.

In Copenhagen to make the case for Rio, Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva broke down in tears when the announcement was made. In Brazil, mobs crowded onto the popular Copacabana beach in the heart of Rio to watch the Olympic selection process play out live over huge screens above the sand.

"There's a lot of happiness and joy," says Rodrigo. "Rio has deserved it for a long time. We have the World Cup and now the Olympics. This is perfect."

Rio de Janeiro also won a place in history. It will be the first South American city to host any Olympic games.

"It's marvelous" says this Christiani (ph). "These Olympics are just so important for our country. It's just too much."

Happiness was a big part of Rio's pitch. The city declared Friday a public holiday. And once the pressure was off the parties heated up with live samba music.

DARLINGTON, (on camera): Hours after the announcement, even as the sun was setting, the party showed no signs of letting up, especially with the arrival of a special guest.

A President Obama look-alike turned up on the beach surrounded by a bevy of Brazilian dancers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): The public here is what won it for us. Brazil's Barack Obama got his constituency out.

DARLINGTON (voice-over): When the celebration ends, a lot of challenges remain. Rio has pledged to spend $14 billion. It has to build more Olympic venues and revamp transportation and infrastructure.

It also has to reign in violent crime in its slums. But with seven years to work out the details, Rio will no doubt take some time to revel in its victory.

Shasta Darlington, CNN, Rio de Janeiro.


NGUYEN: They got a lot to stuff to do, but in the meantime they are still partying from the realization that it is coming to Rio in 2016.

HOLMES: They got seven years to get ready. They'll probably be partying the whole seven years along the way -- Fredricka, the party continues with you now.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you know -- and I love Chicago, but I don't know. I'm looking forward to going to Rio for the games.

NGUYEN: Right? We have already put in our bid.

WHITFIELD: Have you? OK. Well, I'll wind up behind you all. All right, thanks so much.