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Pakistan Attack Kills 41; Insurers Target Reform Plan; President's Promises to Gay Community
Aired October 12, 2009 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, top of the hour now. Time for our reset.
Hello to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes, sitting in today for my dear friend Tony Harris in the CNN NEWSROOM.
It is 9:00 p.m. in Pakistan, where Taliban militants strike for the fourth time in a week. Also, it's noon in Washington, D.C., where gay rights protesters want the armed services and want President Obama to end the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
Also on Capitol Hill, health insurance reform faces a vital vote. That's coming up tomorrow.
So, let's get started right here. We will start in Pakistan.
A key U.S. ally battling militants in Afghanistan is reeling this morning after yet another attack in its country, within its own borders. Police say a bombing at a security checkpoint in Pakistan's Swat Valley killed 41 people. That bombing said to be carried out by a boy who was maybe 13 or 14 years old.
Our Reza Sayah reports that today's incident comes after a series of attacks.
REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A teenage boy wearing a suicide vest blows himself up on Monday, killing more than 40 people in northwest Pakistan. This according to military officials.
It has been a terrible week here in Pakistan, with a string of deadly militant attacks. The one on Monday taking place at a busy marketplace in Swat Valley. Officials telling CNN the teenage suicide attacker targeted a military convoy. Six of the fatalities were indeed soldiers. But because this was a busy market area, the remaining fatalities, all civilians.
The attack on Monday comes after perhaps one of the most audacious attacks ever in Pakistan. Ten armed insurgents storming and penetrating the army headquarters in Rawalpindi on Saturday, killing 11 security personnel and taking dozens hostage. The standoff ending early Sunday morning, when commandos stormed the headquarters, killing nine of the militants, capturing the militant commanders alive. The military coming under heavy criticism because of the apparent security breach. On Monday, the army spokesperson defended the military.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can anybody guarantee today that 100 percent, any organization, for that matter, any army or any -- can prevent a single ability of terrorism? It's not possible. But more important is how we react to that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAYAH: The army spokesperson also saying telephone intercepts reveal the assault on the army headquarters was planned by the Taliban in south Waziristan. Officials say a military offensive targeting south Waziristan is coming soon. South Waziristan, of course, a Taliban stronghold and, according to Washington, a safe haven for al Qaeda.
Reza Sayah, CNN, Islamabad.
HOLMES: Well, we turn to Afghanistan now, where Republicans are stepping up pressure on President Obama to decide on a way forward there. The president holds his fifth strategy session with his national security team this week. A decision appears to be maybe weeks away.
The top commander, meanwhile, in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, wants more troops.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think the great danger is not an American pullout. I think the great danger now is a half measure, sort of a -- you know, try to try to please all ends of the political spectrum. And again, I have great sympathy for the president, making the toughest decisions that presidents have to make. But I think he needs to use deliberate speed and I think he needs to adopt a strategy which he has basically articulated last March and before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Well, nothing new to hear that President Obama is being criticized by Republicans, but he's also taking some heat from fellow Democrats. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who heads the Intelligence Committee, says the president should take the advice of his war commander.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I don't think we can make the country into a Jeffersonian democracy, but I do think you've got to stabilize this country. You leave this country, and the Taliban are increasing all of the time, they are taking over more, it will have a dramatic impact on Pakistan one day. I really believe that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Now, Senator Feinstein says she doesn't understand how the president could put General McChrystal in charge in Afghanistan, then not follow his recommendations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: What do we want? Equality. When do we want it? Now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: This was the scene yesterday, gay rights demonstrators demanding equality and an end to the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Thousands marched to the U.S. Capitol for that rally yesterday. The march came a day after President Obama delivered a message of support to the nation's largest gay and lesbian rights group.
Well, several dozen people are out of their homes today in Washington State because of what you're seeing there. A landslide pushed a road into a local river. That forced the water to create a bit of a detour, so it essentially changed the shape of that river, changed the flow, changed the landscape there. The slide took out utility poles, cutting power to about 800 residents. The mud is estimated to be a quarter-mile wide and some 30 feet deep.
Well, this is going to be a critical week for health care reform, and a critical day tomorrow. A key plan is coming under fire from the health insurers.
Congressional Correspondent Brianna Keilar joins us now live from Capitol Hill.
You have changed locations. Still look like a lonely woman there at the Capitol. They're off today, of course, for Columbus Day.
But we have a new report out there, Brianna, that the health industry is essentially fighting back a bit.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. This is a report paid for by the health insurance industry that says to consumers, you are going to have to pay more for health insurance than Congress, or really the Democrats are telling you will have to pay for health insurance. And they are saying it will cost thousands more dollars than Congress is saying.
So, yes, it's a very quiet day here on Capitol Hill. This is a normally bustling entrance to one of the Senate office buildings here. And this quiet, T.J., really belies the chatter that is going on over this report that has come out.
Some very visceral responses from Democrats. A spokesman for the Senate Finance Committee, which is having its vote tomorrow on its key plan, his response saying that this is untrue, its' disingenuous, that this was a report bought and paid for by the same health insurance companies who have been gouging consumers. And the White House similar as well, saying that this is self-serving analysis from the insurance industry and that ignores the policies that will bring down costs.
But this is the idea of the insurance industry really hitting on this plan, T.J. It really speaks to the fact that during the Clinton administration, the insurance industry was key in helping scuttle that plan. So, the specter of that, 1993, 1994, really looms here today on Capitol Hill -- T.J.
HOLMES: Well, Brianna, it seems like maybe they are not so late in the game, but this does come on the eve of that key -- as you mentioned, that Senate Finance Committee vote tomorrow. Now, we've been talking about this Finance Committee. This was supposed to be the bipartisan bill. We'll see what happens, but it's essentially expected to get out of committee tomorrow, no problem?
KEILAR: Yes. Senator Max Baucus, the chairman of this committee, says he's confident that he has the votes for this. There are more Democrats than Republicans on this committee. And this is why we're watching it, because even though there are five committees that have to move their bill on health care, this is the fifth, this is the final, and arguably the most important, because this bill is much more conservative both in the price tag and in the policy.
It doesn't include that public option. And so, there is a sense that maybe this bill is what the end game of health care reform is going to look most like. And yes, they are hoping to get -- Democrats are hoping to get some Republican support but, really, their only hope at this point, T.J., is Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine, the one Republican on the committee who may vote with them on this.
HOLMES: All right.
And again, Brianna Keilar.
A little quiet around there today. Have you seen anyone else? Again, we know it's Columbus Day, they're off. But is anybody else in the building besides you?
KEILAR: No. I've gotten one e-mail from someone who said, "Hey, I am here working." But one.
HOLMES: OK. One. All right. Well, that's something.
Well, you all enjoy yourselves. We appreciate it, and we'll be certainly keeping an eye on things tomorrow.
And as Brianna just mentioned, the Finance Committee, Senate Finance Committee voting tomorrow on its version of the bill. Here now, a look at some of the details of that plan.
Estimated price tag, about $829 billion over 10 years. That is according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The CBO says the plan would cover another 29 million people, 94 percent of eligible Americans. And it says the bill would reduce the national deficit by more than $80 billion.
Well, the president has sent a strong message to gay rights activists. But how does it compare to what he said during the campaign? Has he held up his end of the bargain?
HOLMES: Well, gay rights demonstrators say it's time for President Obama to make good on his promises. Thousands took part in a march and rally in Washington yesterday, and they are calling for an end to discrimination in the military and for equality in marriage for gay and lesbian couples.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIAN BOND, CHAIRMAN, NAACP: We have some real and serious problems in this country. Same-sex marriage is not one of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And since actions speak louder than words, 691 miles and 13 hours later, I'm here to show America, to show Jenny (ph), the 13-year-old girl who cries at night because she has a crush on another girl, and to show Steven (ph), the 48-year-old man who grew up single because he'd rather be that than be gay, to show them that it's not just OK, that it's a right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CYNTHIA NIXON, ACTRESS: It is time for us to make the president move beyond words. The right sentiment just isn't enough anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Well, President Obama renews the promises he made to gays and lesbians during the campaign. He spoke over the weekend to the nation's largest gay and lesbian rights group. The president vowed again to end the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy and support laws against discrimination.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In May, I met with Judy, who is here tonight with her husband. I met her in the Oval Office, and I promised her that we were going to pass an inclusive hate crimes bill, a bill named for her son. The struggle has been long. Time and again we faced opposition. Time and again the measure was defeated or delayed. But the Shepards never gave up. They turned tragedy into an unshakeable commandment (ph).
Countless activists and organizers never gave up. You held vigils, you spoke out. Year after year, Congress after Congress, the House passed a bill again this week. And I can announce that after more than a decade, this bill is set to pass and I will sign it into law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: We are moving ahead on "don't ask, don't tell."
OBAMA: We should not be punishing patriotic Americans who have stepped forward to serve this country. We should be celebrating their willingness to show such courage and selflessness on behalf of their fellow citizens, especially when we're fighting two wars.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: CNN's Randi Kaye now taking a closer look at the president's promises to the gay community and what he has and has not done so far.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): As a candidate, Barack Obama promised to fight for gay rights. So why, nearly a year since the election...
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Yes, we can! Yes, we can!
KAYE: ... are so many gays and lesbians growing impatient with the president they overwhelmingly supported and helped elect?
(on camera): Barack Obama has called himself a "consistent and fierce advocate" of the gay community. Has his presidency lived up to that?
RICHARD SOCARIDES, FORMER CLINTON ADVISER, SAME SEX ISSUES: Not in these last 11 months. Not yet, at least.
KAYE (voice over): Keeping them honest, here are just some of the promises the president made.
Promise number one: to end "don't ask, don't tell," which bans anyone openly gay from serving in the military.
OBAMA: I think that we should end "don't ask, don't tell." I have stated repeatedly that "don't ask, don't tell" makes no sense.
I believe "don't ask, don't tell" doesn't contribute to our national security.
SOCARIDES: The government is actively discriminating against us just because of who we are, and this is happening on his watch.
KAYE: Promise number two: the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that defines marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. The president says he supports civil unions, not same- sex marriage.
SOCARIDES: President Obama has said that he wants the law changed, but he's taken no action towards doing that.
KAYE: Promise number three: a hate crimes bill that will make attacks on the members of the gay community, because of their sexuality, a federal crime. The House approved the measure, but the Senate has yet to.
(on camera): In June, the president did celebrate gay pride at the White House. He just appointed an openly gay U.S. ambassador to New Zealand. But critics call these, quote, "peripheral" moves. As a candidate, the president promised them fierce action.
Still, the White House says the president is intent on making progress on the issues. But even the supporters in the gay community say the president has made a lot of promises, and still, no action.
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
HOLMES: Well, a spotlight right now on "don't ask, don't tell." But how do other countries handle the issue of gays in the military? Our Nicole Lapin joins us later this hour with some of those answers.
A quick check now of some of our top stories.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she's toasting the Irish. She met today with rival Protestant and Catholic leaders in northern Ireland's two-year-old shared government, and she's urging the two to work through their differences.
Also, a man wanted in the hijacking of a Pan Am flight 41 years ago is now in custody. Luis Armando Peno Soltren surrendered at New York's Kennedy Airport yesterday. Soltren is accused of using weapons on the 1968 flight to force the pilot to land in Cuba.
Also, in Atlanta today, jury selection under way in the case involving the children of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. And they are not on the same side here. Bernice and Martin Luther III have accused their brother Dexter of mishandling the family corporation which controls the King estate. We'll get another check of our top stories coming your way in about 20 minutes.
Well, it's been a long time since the Chicago Cubs won a World Series, as we all know. You know, roughly about 100 years. Well, here's something else for you. The team has now filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Susan Lisovicz joining us now live in New York.
This sounds terrible, but this is a move that many were waiting to happen.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. The AP is reporting, T.J., that the Chicago Cubs has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, as you allude. This is something that has been expected.
Why is that? Because last month, a federal bankruptcy judge approved the $845 million sale of the team from the Tribune Company to the family of Joe Ricketts. He is the founder of TD Ameritrade. With that sale will come not only the team, but Wrigley Field, as well as a percentage of Comcast SportsNet Chicago.
Anyway, the deal with Chapter 11 is to divest the team of debt. And so, to do that under Chapter 11, and then to complete the sale to the Ricketts family. But as you mentioned at the top, T.J., this is a very -- it's a famous team, it's a storied team. And part of the famous aspect of the Chicago Cubs is that the last time it won the World Series was 101 years ago.
That was in 1908. It went to the big dance though, I guess, in 1945. The big dance is probably -- that's the basketball term, right?
HOLMES: Basketball, the big game.
LISOVICZ: Yes, yes, yes. Right.
HOLMES: It's OK.
LISOVICZ: It went to the -- yes, the big stage.
HOLMES: Yes, the World Series.
HOLMES: It's OK, Susan. We appreciate you on the numbers. That's what you do, so we'll take that from you.
Thank you so much.
LISOVICZ: Baseball fan that I am.
HOLMES: Thank you. We'll see you again here soon though.
LISOVICZ: You're welcome. HOLMES: Well, Michael Jackson has a new single out. The wait, the long wait, is now officially over. A new Michael Jackson single. You'll hear it.
HOLMES: All right. You want to make it through this flu season? Here's some expert advice for you.
The experts out there are stressing that you should get vaccinated because the benefits outweigh the risks. They also say you should eat lean protein and fat-free dairy products to boost your immune system.
Also, you need to work out. Moderate, regular exercise and adequate rest are necessary to keep healthy.
Kind of some commonsense things there, but you need to be reminded every now and again.
The experts also know that surgical masks can be critical in help control the spread of the flu. Now some worry the U.S. doesn't have enough of those masks on hand in the event of an H1N1 pandemic.
CNN Homeland Security Correspondent Jeanne Meserve explains.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): During the cataclysmic 1918 flu pandemic, Red Cross nurses hand-made surgical masks to help control the spread of disease. Now machines crank them out at the Prestige Ameritech plant in Richland Hills, Texas, one of the few manufacturers in the U.S. Ninety percent of production has moved to other countries where labor is cheaper, and some say that has created a vulnerability right here.
MIKE BOWEN, PRESTIGE AMERITECH: If there's a pandemic, America won't be able to supply its own needs.
MESERVE: Bowen and others fear that in a 1918-size pandemic, the nations that make masks like China and Mexico would keep them for themselves.
REP. JOE BARTON (R), TEXAS: Push comes to shove, you take care of your own before you take care of others. That's just human nature. And for that reason alone, I think we should buy more of these masks in the United States and we should encourage the capability to manufacturer more of these masks in the United States.
MESERVE: The government estimates the U.S. could need three billion surgical masks during the H1N1 outbreak. Right now, the Strategic National Stockpile contains only a small fraction of that amount, 37 million. It's a yawning gap, government officials acknowledge, one that was laid out in stark detail in this Health and Human Services PowerPoint presentation two years ago. Government officials say before they build up supplies, they want more evidence the masks provide effective protection, but current guidance from the CDC recommends the use of surgical masks. And last year, OSHA estimated that a single health professional could go through close to 2,000 during a pandemic.
Bowen has been crusading for more domestic production of surgical masks. He could benefit financially but says this isn't just about business, it's about the nation's health and security.
BOWEN: Important things like face masks should be made in America. And I think they will finally realize what we've been trying to tell them for almost three years.
MESERVE (on camera): Hospitals, clinics and physicians are creating their own stockpiles of surgical masks. A good thing, except manufacturers are already having trouble keeping up with demand. And if H1N1 becomes more deadly, that demand will likely grow much quicker.
Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.
HOLMES: We're taking a rare inside look at the battle that killed eight American soldiers in Afghanistan last week, and we're getting that account from four survivors.
HOLMES: Well, the last couple of weeks have been especially bloody in Pakistan. Militants have struck several times, including today. A suicide bomber drove his explosive-packed car into a military convoy. The driver of that car, that bomber, said to be a boy some 13 or 14 years old. The attack in Pakistan's volatile Swat Valley leaves 41 dead.
And this comes after a commando-style attack on Army headquarters in Rawalpindi. The militants killed 11 members of the military and three civilians there. All of the militants were killed, but one was taken into custody.
Well, Pakistan, of course, plays a key role in battling militants next door in Afghanistan. President Obama has a meeting set for Wednesday to discuss the strategy for Afghanistan. And there are plenty of opinions on what to do. CNN's Kate Bolduan reports.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The funeral for Sergeant Titus Reynolds, one of the U.S. soldiers killed last month in Afghanistan. A striking and painful reminder of the cost of war as President Obama reconsiders U.S. presence and strategy in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama huddled with his national security team twice during the week. The focus Wednesday, Pakistan, Friday, Afghanistan, and General Stanley McChrystal's assessment of the situation on the ground, reportedly calling for 40,000 additional troops.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R) ARIZONA: To disregard the requirements that has been laid out and agreed to by General Petraeus and Admiral Mullen I think would be an error of historic proportions.
BOLDUAN: Senator John McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, tells CNN's John King, anything short of General McChrystal's request could result in failure.
MCCAIN: I think the great danger now is not an American pullout. I think the great danger now is a half measure. Sort of a, you know, try to please all ends of the political spectrum.
BOLDUAN: The White House insists no decisions have been made and all options remain on the table. Vice President Biden has advocated a smaller approach, more special ops teams and use of unmanned predator drones. And in stark contract to his collage, Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says the focus should be more on Afghan forces, not U.S. troops.
SEN. CARL LEVIN, (D) ARMED SERVICES CHAIRMAN: At this time, don't send more combat troops, but I say focus on the Afghan forces, the army, faster, larger, better equipped.
BOLDUAN (on camera): The White House is getting pressure from all sides on this issue. Many on the left oppose committing any additional troops, while many on the right say the president should take the best advice from the commanders on the ground. A fifth meeting on the administration's strategy in Afghanistan is scheduled for Wednesday. White House officials say a decision could still be weeks away.
Kate Bouldan, CNN, the White House.
HOLMES: Well, the futures of two U.S. base camps in Afghanistan, in the rugged Waziristan (ph) region are sealed. They're shut down after a brutal Taliban attack that left eight American soldiers dead earlier this month. The surviving troops say they were surrounded on all sides by hundreds of heavily-armed insurgents. Now they're opening up about how they held their ground.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
1ST LT. CASON SHRODE, U.S. ARMY: Probably 90 seconds into the fight, they ended up hitting one of the generators, so we lost all power. At that point, I made a call up to FABASTIC (ph) and basically just said, you know, we're taking heavy, heavy contact. At that point I knew that this was something bigger than normal.
SGT. JAYSON SOUTER, U.S. ARMY: Immediately we found out that our mortar systems were unable to fire at that time. So, me, I started working on the fire's (ph) assets (ph) with nearby OPs and cops to see exactly what fire support access we can use.
SHRODE: I think the numbers were so more significant than 25 to 30 that we got -- they got 25 to 30 with that initial push. But because we were basically surrounded 360 degrees, I think there were significant numbers that allowed them to continue to fight throughout the day.
CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER, ROSS LEWALLEN, APACHE PILOT, U.S. ARMY: My initial impressions were, unfortunately we came over the hill and first tried to call them and got no response is that everybody was gone. We could tell that everything around them was going to hell and we could hear it in their microphones. We heard the guns going off. So we knew that they was -- it was a pretty intense situation that they were facing.
SOUTER: After the aftermath, Camp Keeting (ph) was completely changed. Like he said, almost all of the buildings had burned down. There were trees that were cut down, trying to save other buildings from catching fire. And then just remnants of a mass attack afterwards.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Hearing the accounts there from some of those soldier who survived an attack on those outposts. But as we mentioned, eight U.S. soldiers did not survive to tell their stories. And they are Sergeant Justin, Gallegos. Also Specialist Christopher Griffin, Private First Class Kevin Thomson, Specialist Michael Scusa, Staff Sergeant Vernon Martin, Specialist Stephen Mace, Sergeant Joshua Kirk, Sergeant Joshua Hardt.
HOLMES: A quick look now at some stories making headlines.
A New York woman is charged with driving drunk and vehicular homicide after an 11-year-old passenger riding with her died in a car crash. Six of the girl's friends, also in that vehicle, were injured as well. Take a look at that car. The driver is the mother of one of the injured and the girls were all on their way to a slumber party.
Listen to this horrible story here out of Florida. A man shot and killed his bride to be a day before their wedding and they say it was an accident. Police say this was his fiancee who was living with him. The day before their wedding. He thought it was an intruder. It was actually his fiancee. Shot and killed her. Said he actually thought she was laying in bed next to him and that's why he was sure it was an intruder. Police are now investigating this, but they say it does appear this was just a tragic, tragic accident.
Also, North Korea has reportedly fired five short-range missiles. South Korea's official news agency says the communist North conducted the tests today off its east coast. That's despite recent moves by Pyongyang to ease tensions over its nuclear program. Also over its missile programs.
Well, thousands of Americans are running out of unemployment benefits every single day, but Congress must come to the rescue this week. Stephanie Elam -- kind of an oxy moron there, to say that Congress and coming to the rescue, but still, I digress. They might be coming to the rescue this time around.
My good friend, hello to you. What are they going to do?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, T.J., it takes some work to get there, but you're right, it's not right there just now. The Senate could vote as soon as tomorrow to extend benefits to millions of people out there who are out of work across the country.
Under the Senate bill, people out of work in all 50 states will get an additional 14 weeks in unemployment benefits and in states where the unemployment rate is above 8.5 percent, people will get an extra six weeks on top of that. Right now, 27 states, including D.C. and also Porto Rico, fall into that high unemployment category. But the Senate bill is much different from what passed the House last month. Under that legislation, people would get an additional 13 weeks of jobless benefits, but only in those 27 states where unemployment exceeds 8.5 percent.
If the Senate version passes, it will have to be reconciled with the House version. So, obviously, T.J., a whole bunch more wrangling out there for them to come to the rescue, as you say.
HOLMES: Well, tell me, how many and how quickly are running out of these unemployment benefits?
ELAM: Well, the National Employment Law Project says 400,000 people ran out of benefits in September and another 208,000 are set to lose them this month. And if Congress does not act, nearly 1.5 million people will stop receiving checks by the end of the year.
Of course, there's always the questions about how this is going to get paid for. That's something everyone wants to know about. Congress has already extended benefits twice during the recession. The Senate bill would extend the federal unemployment tax, paid for by employers, through June of 2011. The House bill would extend the tax through next year.
T.J., we'll have to wait to see what happens. But with unemployment at a 26-year high, the calls for extending benefits are obviously getting louder. A lot of people out there who are saying that they need some help.
HOMES: Of course, always a wait and see.
Stephanie, thank you so much.
But before you go, I would like to dedicate this song to you. Let's roll it now. The new Michael Jackson single. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHAEL JACKSON (singing), SINGER/SONGWRITER: I never thought that I would be your lover. C'mon baby, just understand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: All right. Well, there you have it, Stephanie. I dedicate that to my dear friend. This is the first track for Michael Jackson since his death, of course, last summer, over the summer. It's available today.
It's called "This Is It." A love ballad. Background vocals from his brothers. It's only -- the only unreleased track on the new two- disk set that's going to come out later this month. It's the first of what may be dozens of unreleased recordings as Michael Jackson's posthumous career now gets underway. But the first just released at midnight last night. There it is. Check it out.
Well, gays in the military, a controversial topic here in the States, but what about the rest of the world? We'll tell you what other military powers are doing.
HOLMES: Gay rights activists with a message for President Obama: it is time for action. During a march and rally in Washington yesterday, demonstrators called on the president to make good on some of his promises he made during the campaign. In a speech over the weekend, the president cited progress on one of those promises.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are moving ahead on "don't ask, don't tell." We should not be punishing patriotic Americans who have stepped forward to serve this country. We should be celebrating their willingness to show such courage and selflessness on behalf of their fellow citizens, especially when we're fighting two wars.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Well, a lot of this, of course, about the policy here, the "don't ask, don't tell" in the military. So how do other countries handle such an issue? Do they have the same type of policy? Nicole Lapin has been looking into this for us. A fact check.
Not everybody has -- around the world has this policy. So how are they doing it?
NICOLE LAPIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, but a lot of people do. A lot of countries do. And we wanted to see comparable militaries. And in most NATO countries, most of our NATO allies, what do you think?
HOLMES: Most NATO allies do not.
LAPIN: No, they do.
HOLMES: They do. Same policy?
LAPIN: Most NATO allies allow gays to serve openly in the military. And most E.U. countries, all but one actually, also allow gays to serve openly in the military. But you might be looking at that and saying, well not all NATO countries, not E.U. countries, are comparable to us. So let's take a closer look at the U.N. security council, because that's probably the closest we can get to the United States military.
Let's take a closer look specifically at Russia right now. And they have a similar policy to us actually. It's basically a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. But out of the five member nations, Great Britain and France are the two that allow gays to openly serve in the military.
Britain actually changed its policy in 2000 when it joined the E.U. because all E.U. nations have a general anti-discrimination policy. And France specifically has more of a laza fare (ph) policy. And they look at it and they almost compare themselves to the United States, saying "don't ask, don't care." So that's kind of their stance on it.
And then you have China, of course, on the security council as well. And they don't have a specific policy that's laid out. But, T.J., as in a lot of Asian and Middle East countries, they don't allow gays in the military but they also don't recognize homosexuality either. So make what you will from that.
HOLMES: Yes, what are we supposed to make of it? How is this supposed to apply to the United States now? All these allies. You talk about the E.U. You talk about -- I mean all these other countries now. I mean what does that really apply -- or can we apply anything we see over there to what we can do here?
LAPIN: Well, there's a big report that's going around Washington right now. It's getting a lot of buzz. It's in the current edition of "Joint Forces Quarterly." This was meant for the Joint Chiefs chairman. And there is an Air Force colonel that studied this issue for nine months, T.J., and he sites examples of other militaries, Australia, Israel, Britain, Canada, that allow gays to serve opening and he said this, "there was no mass exodus of heterosexuals and there was no mass coming out of homosexuals either."
So, we should note that while it does conclude that allowing gays to serve openly in the military wouldn't actually affect the combat readiness of the U.S. military, those views aren't shared by the Pentagon.
And there's a lot of information out there that does not match. And you also have to remember that what they have on the books or what they have codified isn't exactly what happens in practice.
HOLMES: And it sounds like there from that report, from the quarterly, is that it might not make a difference one way or another.
LAPIN: Yes, and it's some that they are taking a look at definitely too from here.
HOLMES: All right. Nicole Lapin, I'm glad we dug into this a little more today.
LAPIN: Yes, you're welcome.
HOLMES: Nicole Lapin, thank you so much for that.
Well, doctors who treated him call his case a medical miracle. A 22-year-old who was dead for 15 minutes, he's walking around just fine today. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta is tracking cases like this in his new book that's out today in a CNN special documentary that's airing this weekend.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in many ways I've been thinking about this book for close to 20 years, since I was a medical student. How do we really define death? We think of it as this bright white line between life and death.
But as you might imagine, it's much more of a process, which means that it's also much more of an opportunity. If it's this process, you can try and reverse it. And that's exactly what this book is about. It's exactly what happened to this person you're about to meet. Take a look.
JOAN BROOKS, CHRIS BROOKS' MOTHER: Christopher.
911 OPERATOR: 911. Where's the emergency?
DAD: Middleton Township.
911 OPERATOR: What's the problem?
DAD: My son's not responding here. He's breathing, his eyes are open. I don't know what's going on.
I don't know if he's snoring . . .
911 OPERATOR: Is he awake and talking to you or not?
DAD: No, he's not.
BROOKS: Hurry up.
911 OPERATOR: I'm going to give you some instructions. Just stay on the line.
BROOKS: Christopher. Christopher.
GUPTA (voice-over): They're talking about Christopher Brook, 22- years-old. He's just months from college graduation and he was working construction part time and also living at home with his family.
GUPTA (on camera): When that 911 call came in, Chris Brooks was dead. Clinically dead for more than 15 minutes. His heart stopped beating shortly after 3:00 in the morning on November 15, 2008. But here's the thing. It wasn't the end. In his case, and in several others that you're about to see, death was reversible.
The night Chris Brooks died began innocently enough at this bowling alley in Morrisville, Pennsylvania. A night out with a girl and his best friend, T.J. Sanansini (ph).
Was he acting any differently at all?
T.J. SANANSINI: No. He was actually acting himself. You know, he's always the life of the party.
BROOKS: He's 22. Just got home from college to work for the weekend. He went bowling.
Plug the cell phone in here and it woke me and he goes, it's just me, mom, I'm plugging my cell phone in. And I said, OK, I said, you're going to sleep here? He goes, yes, I think I'll just sleep down here tonight.
GUPTA (voice-over): Moments later, there was this noise from the couch. Joan thought it was snoring, but something wasn't right.
BROOKS: And I came over and I bent over and I went to smack his face and he went like this and I put my hands down on both his arms to smack his face again and then I'm like, Christopher. He said, what's the matter. I said, I can't wake him up.
GUPTA (on camera): And I can tell you Chris Brooks is doing perfectly fine today. You'll see much more of his story in the upcoming documentary this weekend, October 17th and 18th. But he's back to normal. His brain is working well. He really has no problems.
And that's sort of the point. What happened to Chris probably wouldn't -- couldn't happen -- couldn't have happened 10 or 20 years ago. He likely would have been pronounced dead, but instead he's here now actually living a normal life.
This is what it's all about. One of the things that really helped Chris was this idea of doing chest compressions only. If you see someone who has a sudden cardiac arrest, go over, call 911, and start pushing on the chest 100 times a minute and stop for nothing.
We know that the likelihood of survival goes up exponentially if someone simply does that. It's not a billion-dollar drug. It's not a new fancy procedure or technique. It's simply using your two hands to try and save someone's life. Many more of those types of stories and that type of advice this weekend, October 17th and 18th and in the book as well. Back to you. (END VIDEOTAPE)
HOLMES: And don't miss the primetime debut of Dr. Sanjay Gupta's special series "Cheating Death" this Saturday and Sunday, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.
HOLMES: After over 50 years in business, Mike Udell, old- fashioned ice cream parlor still draws huge crowds. As part of our special series "Americana in Focus," our photojournalist Mike Miller talked with Mike about his secret to success.
MONROE UDELL: My name is Monroe Udell. I'm the owner of Jaxson's and I am the original owner for 53 years. I originally started it in 1956. I made the ice cream myself. The double-dip ice cream cone was 15 cents. The location is a landmark today. We've always served humongous portions. We came up with the kitchen sink because people called their ice cream in kitchen sinks, which were actually in punch bowls.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's definitely worth the drive.
UDELL: We're not a cookie cutter and we're renowned, you know, in the industry as one of the outstanding ice cream parlors and restaurants in the country today. It's still made right here. With all the good fruits and nuts. We don't -- we haven't changed a thing. We still do it the old fashioned way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm in heaven.
UDELL: We've had, you know, down times and good times with the economy. It's about six weeks since I've had my quadruple surgery -- heart surgery. I'm going to try to be here as long as I can. I hope another 50 years.
HOLMES: Again, thanks to our photo journalist Mike Miller reporting there for us.
And you can find more information about "Americana in Focus: Jobs That Last" online at cnn.com/americana.
Well, the CNN NEWSROOM continues right now.