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State Dinner Crashers, Tiger Woods Accident, President Obama's Week Ahead

Aired November 28, 2009 - 12:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Let's talk about that Virginia couple that has so many people's attention. Yes, they got past that security at the White House dinner and yes, they actually met the president. Right there, you see that image, and now the Secret Service is admitting fault saying it is embarrassed by the breach. CNN's Kate Bolduan is at the White House with the latest on this very bizarre story.

So Kate, what is the White House say being this now image.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Here there, Fredricka, well, the Secret Service has insisted that the president was never in any danger in this situation, that Tareq and Michaele Salahi, like all other guests, had to go through several levels of security to get into the event although they are allegedly uninvited guests to this very high profile state dinner.

But, in a statement released Friday, the director of the Secret Service, Mark Sullivan, said that the agency is deeply concerned and embarrassed. And also in the statement he goes on to say that, "Although these individuals went though magnetometers and other levels of screening, they should have prohibited from entering the event entirely. That failing," he says, "is ours."

Clearly this investigation is far from over and ti will continue.

Fran Townsend, a former Homeland Security adviser to President Bush says she expects to see fallout. Listen here.


FRAN TOWNSEND, FMR HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR: At best the uniform division Secret Service agents who let them onto the property will be disciplined and at worst they could potentially be fired. I will tell you, it is a very serious security breach because after all, bad people will watch this and watch how they did it and learn and they may test the Secret Service in other circumstances if not at the White House as a result of this. And so it is a very, very serious case.


BOLDUAN: Now, the Secret Service is not ruling out the possibility of criminal charges here, Fredricka, but really it is important to point out that while we do know that these are aspiring reality TV show stars, it still remains unclear really the circumstances, the details surrounding Tuesday's events and how this couple got into the state dinner.

WHITFIELD: Are we hearing anything more from the couple or perhaps even their attorney?

BOLDUAN: Yeah. So far nothing specifically from the couple, but from their attorney in a statement he says that they did not crash the event, and that they look forward to setting the record straight soon. So, you can be sure we'll be hearing more from them.

WHITFIELD: OK. Well, our legal guys are going to be weighing in as well talking about the parameters of what might be a legal case in the making. Kate Bolduan from the White House, thanks so much. Avery and Richard will be with us momentarily.

To a much more pressing topic for the president right now, Afghanistan. President Obama is set to reveal his long-awaited decision on a new war strategy Tuesday night. He's expected to send an additional 34,000 U.S. troops, primarily for greater security and training. Retired Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt says a more secure Afghanistan won't happen overnight.


BRIG GEN MARK KIMMITT, U.S. ARMY (RET): I don't think we're going to need hundreds of thousands of troops there for a decade or more, but we're going to have to take the time to do this right to give the Afghan national security forces the training and the capability and the experience for them to do this themselves.


WHITFIELD: So on Tuesday night, CNN is the place to watch President Obama announcing his decision on U.S. troops heading to Afghanistan. Our special coverage with the best political team on television begins 7:00 Eastern Time.

A suspected act of terror destroyed Russia's fastest train. New video of the scene shows emergency workers trying to get people out of the wreckage. Investigators say elements of an explosive device were found at the scene. They found a crater under the tracks as well. At least 26 people were killed, about 100 more injured. The train was headed from moss cow to St. Petersburg when it derailed.

The U.S. embassy in Beijing confirms three Americans were killed this morning when a cargo plane crashed shortly after taking off from the Shanghai International Airport. According to the main Chinese news agency, the plane bound for Kyrgyzstan caught fire soon after takeoff. Thick plumes of smoke rose from the crash site. Four surving crew members were taken to a hospital, one said to be an American. Their conditions are not known at this time. We'll, of course, bring you more information as we get it.

The cockpit recordings have now been released from the pilots who overshot their landing by 150 miles. Northwest Flight 188 was headed from San Diego to Minneapolis, but ended up flying more than an hour past the destination. Well, here now is part of that conversation. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

PILOT: Minneapolis, Northwest 188.

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL: Minneapolis Center, go ahead.

PILOT: Roger, we got distracted and we have overflown Minneapolis.

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL: Northwest 188, do you have time to give a brief explanation on what happened?

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL: Just cockpit distractions. That's all I can say.


WHITFIELD: So, the FAA ended up revoking the pilots' licenses and they have appealed. But, still no explanation as to what the distraction was.

All right, so what happened now to Tiger Woods? That's what Florida police want to know this morning. The superstar was injured in a one- car collision earlier on Friday. He went to the hospital, but apparently now he's back home. CNN's Susan Candiotti joins us live from Windermere, Florida, just outside of Orlando. That's also the place of residence for Tiger Woods. What do you have for us this morning -- Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Fredricka, or I should say good afternoon. It's about noontime outside this exclusive residence development where Tiger Woods and his family lives. It's a gated community, as people are standing by standing around there trying to figure out what exactly happened.

All we know is that this accident occurred at about 2:30 in the morning Thanksgiving night into Friday morning, and police say that Tiger Woods left his house driving his Cadillac SUV down the driveway straight out, heading out, hit a fire hydrant, then went on to hit a tree in his neighbor's lawn, and then they say his wife told police she heard the crash from inside the house and came outside and used a golf club, of all things, to knock out the rear window of the vehicle. Our correspondent, Gary Tuchman, asked the police chief here about that last night.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Why did his wife have to bash it in with a golf club?

CHIEF DANIEL SAYLOR, WINDERMERE, FLORIDA POLICE: To my understanding, she explained to my officers that the doors were locked so she could not gain entry so she used a golf club to smash the window out to gain entry to unlock the door.

TUCHMAN: Did she have a golf club with her at the time.

SAYLOR: I don't know where the golf club came from.

TUCHMAN: I mean, if she went back to get it, she should have gotten the keys and opened the door, maybe.

SAYLOR: That sounds like probably what you'd do.


CANDIOTTI: The local police were there within minutes. They responded to the scene and they found Tiger Woods lying on the ground. They said his wife was standing over him appearing to be frantic. They said that there were cuts on his lips and face. There was some blood inside his mouth, that they tried to talk with him and ask him some questions, but he really was unable to answer because they said he was slipping in and out of consciousness.

Tiger Woods was rushed to the hospital. A spokesman later said that he was released in good condition. But, originally the Florida Highway Patrol, the agency that's investigating this incident, reported the injuries as being serious. They haven't had a chance to talk to Tiger Woods yet because when they arrived at the scene, he had already gone to the hospital.

They went to his house last night, and his wife turned them away saying that he was sleeping and so that's why they're going to come back today to try to talk to him further about this.

Of course, among the many questions everyone wants to know is, of course, what was he doing leaving the house at 2:30 in the morning, it's a natural question, and others have wondered was there a problem at home? Some sort of a domestic dispute, a fight? We asked the police chief about that, and he said that he had no indication of that.

We might learn more this afternoon after the troopers go in to interview Tiger Woods. We'll let you know what happens, but, Fred, we're wondering whether Tiger will be able to attend a charity tournament that is going to benefit one of his own foundations. It starts on Monday in California.

WHITFIELD: Right, and he apparently would be one of the hosts of that event, so people would expect to see him. Now, alcohol, anything like that involved, we know at first officials said no. Anything new on that?

CANDIOTTI: That's a good point. That is what is listed on the Florida Highway Patrol original incident report. There's a space there that indicates alcohol related? And they typed in no.

WHITFIELD: All right. Susan Candiotti, thanks so much, just outside of Orlando this afternoon.

All right, let's focus on jobs right now because that's what the president wants to do. He's hosting a special White House forum this week looking at ways to turn the unemployment numbers around.


WHITFIELD: All right, let's check and see if the weather is still good for shopping because, Reynolds, that's all people want to do this holiday weekend.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well I mean, that's kind of a tricky question because does everyone want to go shopping?

WHITFIELD: A lot of people.

WOLF: Is there maybe one segment of the population that's not maybe as into the whole shopping thing. I mean, just saying, throwing that out there.

WHITFIELD: You're just saying you're not going to do it. I get it.

WOLF: Not naming names.

WHITFIELD: Me either, but I know people want to.

WOLF: That's true. they are going to be going out there.

WHITFIELD: They want to know how to dress when they go outside to the car to the mall.

WOLF: Exactly, you know, there are people who are going to be traveling today, too, going out to the airports, they have to know what to expect.


Shopping, traveling.

WHITFIELD: I was going to say, revision on the weekend plans. That weather is so beautiful, just about everywhere you go, you just need to go outside and do that walk or as you suggested, or do something else more fun outside. Forget going to the mall. Now we're going to get a call from the retailers. All right, Reynolds, thank you.

WOLF: Enjoy.

WHITFIELD: All right, President Obama has a very busy week ahead. He's got a major announcement on his strategy for Afghanistan, that's Tuesday, and he's got a battle in the Senate over his health care plan. So with all of that, he's also planning a jobs forum at the White House. CNN's deputy political director Paul Steinhauser is in Washington.

So, Paul, why the jobs forum and how might it take shape?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIR: Well, I think one number explains the jobs forum and that number is 10.2 percent. That's the nation's unemployment level, double digits, first time in 26 years, and this is, as you know, the No. 1 issue with Americans, the economy. So, Thursday, yeah, the president is holding that jobs forum at the White House. He announced it, Fred, just before he left on that big trip to Asia. And at the time he talked about there would be a gathering of CEOs, small business owners, economists, people from the unions, people from nonprofits groups, and basically the idea is to get everybody together and talk about how we can get Americans back to work.

The next day the president hits the road. He's taking what is being called a White House to Main Street tour, the first stop will be Allentown, Pennsylvania, and that tour the White House says will continue over the next couple months.

But here is one reason why this is so important to the president. Check out, this is from CNN Opinion Research Corporation, our national survey we did recently. Only 47 percent of Americans now approve of how President Obama is handling unemployment. That's what our poll indicates. Look, it was 64 percent back in March. That was right after the federal stimulus package was passed and there was a lot of hope at the time that that would lead to a lot of jobs. That maybe hasn't materialized, at least in the minds of Americans, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Yeah, so it's interesting when you talk about jobs forum, I think people are start envisioning this is where people who looking for work can line up and go, but this is not for people who are looking -- this is really for employers to get together and try figure out how can we make a dent in this very high unemployment rate.

STEINHAUSER: Exactly. More strategy here to try to figure out how to get people back to work. It's not a place where you can actually grab a job.

WHITFIELD: OK, let's look way ahead now to midterm elections for one, and then maybe even the next presidential election because there is a very familiar name being dangled about possibly running for president. We're talking about the former vice president.

STEINHAUSER: Yeah, former vice president Dick Cheney. This was announced yesterday. This group, brand new group called -- they just formed yesterday, put up a Web site, it's called Draft

WHITFIELD: Would he do it?

STEINHAUSER: That's the whole idea here for them. This is a grassroots effort they say, and they want to try to convince the former vice president to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Listen -- just remember the national survey suggested among Republicans and conservatives, the former vice president remains pretty popular, but, Fred, there's only one problem here. That's the former vice president himself. Recently he was at a political event in Texas, somebody mentioned, hey, would you run in '12 and you know what he said? Not a chance.

WHITFIELD: Not a chance?

STEINHAUSER: I don't think it's on his radar right now, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Well, maybe it's just flattering, then, to hear that there are so many people egging you on, trying to get you to run. And maybe he will just enjoy that part of the limelight. Not that he's been hiding away at all. We've seen him quite a bit in the limelight, but maybe he finds this a little flattering.

STEINHAUSER: He's been very vocal, especially against this administration, when it comes to foreign policy and national security measures, but yeah, I don't think this is on 4is rhis radar.

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much, Paul. Good to see you. Have a great weekend.


WHITFIELD: All right, let's talk about another couple that actually says yes to being in the limelight in a very big way and they actually crashed the White House gala. Was it a social faux pas or a criminal action? Our legal guys have some very strong opinions and there they are. They can't wait to delve into this one.


WHITFIELD: All right a look at the top stories right now. Iran's nuclear program, the U.N. Nuclear watch dog agency has passed a resolution demanding Iran suspend construction at its recently revealed underground facility. The U.S. threatens to push for more severe economic sanctions should Iran not comply.

A cargo plane bound for Kyrgyzstan from Shanghai, china, crashed shortly after takeoff this morning killing three crew members. The U.S. embassy in Beijing confirming the three were Americans. We're told one of four survivors is an American, as well. All four are being treated at a hospital.

And it gets more embarrassing by the picture. Word now that the Virginia couple, that one right there, who crashed Tuesday's White House state dinner did, in fact, meet the president. A White House photo confirming President Obama encountered Tareq and Michaele Salahi, right there. Another check of the top stories in 20 minutes.

But keep that photo of that Virginia couple fresh in your mind, because that's our first case that we're going to delve into with our legal guys, Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor. And Richard Herman, a New York defense attorney and law professor.

Good to see both of you.



WHITFIELD: OK, so you gaze at that picture and remember initially the White House, Secret Service, all of them said in concert the president and the first lady were never that close to this couple, they were never in danger. Now you see that photograph, Richard.

FRIEDMAN: Yeah, wrong. WHITFIELD: And it says there was a lot of potential danger had they been up to no good. Let's talk about what kind of charges, if there were to be charges imposed. What would they be? Because they misrepresented themselves allegedly, and there were no invitations officially extended to them, right?

HERMAN: Yeah, if you want to divert the attention from the ineptitude and the gross negligence of the Secret Service, then you try to have charges pressed against this couple for trespassing. This is not like trespassing on your neighbor's property, this is the president. This is the White House, the president of the United States. And if they misrepresented any statements to federal authorities, that's like Martha Stewart. She was convicted for any securities fraud, she was convicted for misrepresenting to federal authorities, and if that's what happened here, these people are going to be in the limelight in the federal judicial system.

However, Fred, I think it's so embarrassing, I think this is such a horrific embarrassment that this thing is going to be tucked away neatly and Secret Service is going to try to run for the hills on this one.


WHITFIELD: You know, the Secret Service already saying this is really embarrassing. Avery, at least I hear that you're agreeing on just about everything, here, but you know, just to back up a moment because, you know, their lawyer says that they were, "cleared by the White House to be there." So maybe there wasn't an invitation, but if they got the green light to actually walk through the door, get in there, get these pictures taken, weren't they in effect, kind of cleared by the White House?

FRIEDMAN: No, of course not. The only way that could have happened, Fredricka, is that if you conspired to mislead or lie to a federal official because the test is whether or not they were on the guest list. They clearly were not. Look it, first class attire, low class behavior. That's what the case is about. I actually think despite the embarrassment for the Secret Service, no one can stand by and let this happen. There has to be a consequence. I actually -- I agree with the underlying thinking that Richard said, that it's like Martha Stewart. I mean, here is what the problem is. I think they're looking for legal problems. I think it's going to happen.

HERMAN: There's going to be a consequence. Some Secret Service people are going to get fired. That's the consequence here.

FRIEDMAN: You know what, that's different? That's very different.

WHITFIELD: The Secret Service and the White House has to take it further to say we definitely want to impose charges, I mean, but if they don't, then there's no other way in which to punish this couple, right?

HERMAN: Somebody at the front door got mesmerized by Barbie there, they let them in. I mean... WHITFIELD: They did look good. They looked like they were playing the part.

FRIEDMAN: She's shaking hands with the president. There's a process. They ignored it, they tricked somebody, they got in, they have to pay the price.

HERMAN: Yeah, but the lawyers say -- I can't wait to set the record straight like a Sarah Palin...

FRIEDMAN: Well hey, the best test is they were booked for Larry King on Monday. Guess what? They canceled.

WHITFIELD: Oh, man. Still not going to hear from them right away.

All right, OK, let's move on to another case, this is very interesting, although I know we could talk for days on that one particular case. I know we're going to be talking again on it.

Let's talk about this family where a babysitter apparently gets custody of a child over the actual parents. The babysitter actually saying you know what? The mother was MIA for a while and so she filed this request and the judge actually adhered to it, but wait there's more Avery. Now apparently the judge says let me reconsider this. What happened here?

FRIEDMAN: Well, what happened is the babysitter went into court representing to the court she was a relative, and she represented that the baby refers to her as misdemeanor and her husband as daddy and it was a sucker punch. The natural parents were not given notice. They now have been given notice. Let me tell you something, you have to look for reversal here. The general rule is, No. 1, best interests of the parent (SIC). No. 2, natural parents is a general rule always trump other people like the babysitter.

WHITFIELD: But, so now we're talking about a case of misrepresenting one's self. The babysitter did indeed that. So, Richard do you see the judge saying OK, let's reconsider now. Maybe the parents are OK even though they may have been missing for a while?

HERMAN: Well, the judge is going to reconsider on January 20, not now, not in December. So, that tells me that there was merit to the claim made by the babysitter. If this was a full-blown misrepresentation because the parents went back into court -- at least the mother did and did get some visitation for Thanksgiving. So, if this ultimate misrepresentation took place, the judge would have reversed himself right then and there.

FRIEDMAN: No, no no, depending on the docket. How do you know that? I agree, in a pure world, the judge should do it immediately, he's inviting briefs, he's inviting evidence in this.

WHITFIELD: All right, well there's another case, and Richard I know you love this one. Ft. Lauderdale attorney Scott Rothstein volunteers his license to practice, volunteers to actually give up because he's in the middle of a federal investigation of a Ponzi scheme and now apparently he is disbarred. So wait, I'm confused here. Is this kind of an admission, too, on his part that, yeah, I guess I am guilty in my involvement of this Ponzi scheme -- Richard.

HERMAN: Well Fred, you know, the state's license attorneys. It's not a right, you don't have a constitutional right to be an attorney. It's a privilege and it's licensed by the state. And any lawyer that gets convicted of a felony gets disbarred, they lose their license. He had his escrow accounts being investigated by the disciplinary committee. He's a target in a major federal fraud investigation.

FRIEDMAN: One billion bucks.

HERMAN: He just decided to wave the white flag, pull down his shingle, and concentrate on defending himself.

FRIEDMAN: Well, you know what, you know what it strikes me as, you can't fire me, I quit!

WHITFIELD: I'm going to fire myself. I quit.

HERMAN: No, no, I don't see that.

FRIEDMAN: He was avoiding the inevitable, here. His problems are so much larger than his law license, right now. We're looking at involuntary bankruptcy, which the investors have hauled him into bankruptcy court. The last thing he has to be concerned about is the -- and you know, your question, Fredricka, is it an admission? I would imagine there's some probative value.

WHITFIELD: Sounds like it.

HERMAN: Fred, it is an admission, Fred. You hit it right on. It's absolutely an admission by him.

WHITFIELD: OK, we're going it talk to you again and we're out of time on this one. Something about double lattes.

FRIEDMAN: That's me.

WHITFIELD: You got to hang around for this one. All right, guys. See you in a bit.

All right. A tense cockpit conversation is released on tape after two pilots overshot their destination, by not just a couple miles, but try --


WHITFIELD: All right, perhaps you're looking to get away for the weekend, but money's kind of tight. Well, in this week's "On the Go" segment, Aisha Teshpar (ph) says now is the time to pack up and head to a big city.


AISHA TESHPAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For a quick and easy weekend trip, try visiting a big convention city.

CHRIS MCGINNIS, EXPEDIA.COM: A lot of companies have reduced or eliminated travel to meetings and conventions this year, so those big convention hotels are sitting empty and prices are really falling. The best deals in big cities are mostly on weekends.

TESHPAR: And the price is right in normally expensive destinations.

MCGINNIS: A big convention destination like Chicago, you're looking at rates down about 17 percent. New York is down about 25 percent, and here in San Francisco, rates are down 22 percent.

TESHPAR: Car rentals can be cheaper, too.

MCGINNIS: You're going to get the best rates in big cities if you rent cars over weekends when business travelers are not renting. So, if you pick up on a Thursday or Friday and drop off on Sunday, you're going get the best car rental rate.



WHITFIELD: We got distracted; that's the reason used by pilots on Northwest flight 188 in newly released cockpit recordings, an explanation to why they overshot their landing.

CNN's homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve has the story.


AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL: Northwest 188 contact Minneapolis Center 124.87. Northwest 188 radio check.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Over and over and over again, air traffic controllers in Denver and Minneapolis try to make contact with Northwest flight 188, even asking other Northwest pilots in the area if they can radio the plane.

Finally, after overflying Minneapolis by 150 miles, after 77 minutes incommunicado, the crew makes contact.

PILOT: Minneapolis Northwest 188.

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL: Northwest 188 Minneapolis Center, go ahead.

PILOT: Roger. We got distracted and we've overflown Minneapolis. We are overhead Eau Claire and would like to make a 180 and do arrival from Eau Claire.

MESERVE: Controllers ask if the crew is in control of the aircraft.

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL: You can stay right here and on this frequency. I just have to verify that the cockpit is secure.

PILOT: It is secure. We got distracted. We were (INAUDIBLE) never heard a call and we just (INAUDIBLE).

MESERVE: Several minutes later, another controller follows up.

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL: Northwest 188, do you have time to give a brief explanation on what happened?

PILOT: Just cockpit distractions, that's all I can say.

MESERVE: Again, the controller tries to get information.

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL: Northwest 188, is there any way you can elaborate on the distraction?

PILOT: We're just leading with some company issues here and that's all on my part I can tell you right now at this time.

PETER GOELZ, FMR. NTSB MANAGING DIRECTOR: It was pretty clear that they knew they were in hot water, they were not going to discuss it over the open channels. They knew it was going to be recorded. They knew they just didn't want to say anything.

MESERVE: The pilot and co-pilot later said they were reviewing crew scheduling procedures on their laptop computers. In a stinging rebuke, the Federal Aviation Administration accused them of "a total dereliction and disregard" of their duties and revoked their licenses.

(on camera): The pilots have filed an appeal. Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating in hopes of coming up with a conclusive explanation for this frightening lapse on the part of the crew.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: All right, if you caught it Thanksgiving night, you were very inspired. You're going to get another chance to see it again. The CNN hero of the year is Efron PenaFlorida. He started a school on wheels to educate children living in slums in the Philippines.

And you can get involved in that organization or any of the groups run by our top 10 heroes this year and our Josh Levs is here to explain how you can do that.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, Fred, I guess you were talking about how inspirational they all are.


LEVS: Right? And we have some video here. We'll take a look at all 10 -- of the top 10 heroes at the ceremony this year. They all have these inspirational stories, achieving really great things in their communities, often against some very difficult circumstances. And the website is right next to me, this is it --, shortcut to get you there. We bring you inside the organizations and you can see what a day is like for them. Here's one example.


BETTY MAKONI, FOUNDER, GIRL CHILD NETWORK: After my mother died from domestic violence, I told myself that no girl or woman would suffer the same again. I started related to provide a safe place for girls to heal from abuse.


LEVS: That's Betty Makoni, she lives in Zimbabwe, a leader in the fight to protect girls from sexual abuse. Her organization the Girl Child Network has helped rescue tens of thousands.

And this here is how you can help. Let's zoom way in here, I want you all to see at this website here. We talk to you about the top 10 heroes and right next to each person, you can see the little gree writing right there, it says how to help. You just click on how to help and it will hook you up with the organization.


LEVS: So, here is the one we were just seeing from Betty Makoni, the Girl Child Network. It hooks you up right there. You can make a contribution, you can volunteer, you can get involved.

Let's take a look at another example here. This is Jorge Munoz, a bus driver who cooks meals for the hungry.


JORGE MUNOZ, FOUNDER, AN ANGEL IN QUEENS: In the beginning it was eight guys, two weeks later it was like 24, 110, 120, sometimes 140. About ten guys (ph), having enough food for everybody.


LEVS: And he does this literally every night. In fact, when he was at the ceremony, the awards ceremony, this is what he said.


MUNOZ: Right now, I want to -- everyone to know that my sister is in Queens, she stay home and thanks to her, no one hungry tonight.


LEVS: So, because he wasn't there that night, his sister was running it that night, Fred, literally every night of his life.

And we're now listening to you. You know, we're looking at to next year, you can start nominating. We also want to hear from you. Since this weekend with "CNN Heroes" playing, a lot of people talk about heroes. Who are your heroes? You can post on our blog,, also Facebook or Twitter at /JoshLevsCNN. Plus, you'll get a chance to see the special because millions voted this year and you can see all the heroes tonight. You can join Anderson Cooper for "CNN Heroes, An All-Star Tribute" to those changing the world, CNN tonight and tomorrow night 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

And Fred, you know, it really -- it's just nice to have all the celebrities, that's great ...


LEVS: ...but really, the celebrities of this, the people to watch, are these people who you've never heard of who are doing amazing things in tough, tough, trying circumstances.

WHITFIELD: And it's so true. It's so inspiring on so many levels because you look at the cutaways in the audience and people are constantly crying, you know, inspired by ...

LEVS: Just so many tears, I know.

WHITFIELD: know, the sacrifices that many of these heroes have made to try and do something for someone else and it's really a beautiful story being told by all of them.

LEVS: That's beautiful and I encourage people to check this out, really just to learn more about what they've done, you know, it's a great site.

WHITFIELD: Perfect. Thanks you so much, Josh. Appreciate that.

LEVS: Thanks. You bet.

WHITFIELD: OK, well, we've got some legal cases that we're going to jump into again, including one involving the owner of the NBA's Clippers settles a discrimination case, but is it really settled? Our legal guys discuss this straight ahead.


WHITFIELD: A look at our top stories right now. Three Americans are dead after a cargo plane crash in Shanghai, China. They were part of the crew. The flight was headed to Kyrgyzstan when it caught fire after takeoff. An American is among the four surviving crew members who were hospitalized.

And Iran is baulking at a U.N. resolution condemning its nuclear program. A Tehran lawmaker warns that his country could pull out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty over the censure according to Iran's official news agency. Yesterday, the U.N. demanded Iran stop building its nuclear facility near the holy city of Qom.

And Florida investigators have some questions for Tiger Woods today. The golfer is recovering from minor injuries he sustained during an accident outside his Orlando estate. Police want to know more details about how his SUV crashed into a fire hydrant and then a tree. Police don't believe alcohol was involved, but they say charges just might be filed in this case.

All right, we're going to turn to our legal guys not to talk about that case, but to talk about at least three others if we can try and get through them. Let's talk about this L.A. Clippers owner ...


WHITFIELD: ...who has a really interesting, I guess, track record, if you will. Donald Sterling, he's been sued for racist housing procedures. He's actually given millions in settlements as well. Avery, I want to have you delve into this first. But you know, just full disclosure, you have actually met the L.A. Clippers' owner, Donald Sterling, but ...

FRIEDMAN: Yes, yes.

WHITFIELD: ...we know that's not going to be able to stand in the way of you ...

FRIEDMAN: No, I met him one time, that was it, about three seconds, yes.

WHITFIELD: Yes, surveying this one. So, what is this all about?

FRIEDMAN: Well, Donald Sterling is the owner of the L.A. Clippers and he recently resolved a case brought by the U.S. Department of Justice for racial discrimination in housing and a record has been set. He paid more than any other case since the Fair Housing Act was passed.

WHITFIELD: Millions.

FRIEDMAN: The Justice Department -- yes, millions, almost $3 million. And so, the question I think that the case presents, Fredricka, is, well, when the NFL or Major League Baseball finds an owner doing inappropriate things, what do they do about it? Up to this point, NBA ...

WHITFIELD: They usually clip them.

FRIEDMAN: Yes, we clip ...


FRIEDMAN: That's the line of the day. That's exactly right. And ...

WHITFIELD: I've been hanging around you guys too long.

FRIEDMAN: But you know what? They're not clipping them. They're not doing anything about it. The question is should the NBA do something about this kind of behavior.

WHITFIELD: And so, Richard, might they -- might the NBA compel to do something?

HERMAN: Pretty spunky today, Fred, aren't you? Clip them.

WHITFIELD: You guys are rubbing off on me.


HERMAN: Yes, you know, here's the -- one of the legal significance here is that he settled these cases. No jury found him at wrong or wrongful conduct here. He settled the cases and people settle cases for many different reasons.


HERMAN: Many times because they're wrong or they're guilty ...

WHITFIELD: And it becomes an admission, yes. Not paying ...

HERMAN: Right, but he settled. And for the NBA to act like ostriches here and put their head in the ground on claims like this, on racial discrimination where the NBA is ...

WHITFIELD: You have a very diverse body within the NBA or any business, for that matter.

HERMAN: Yes, the NBA is predominantly black basketball players. His team is predominantly black basketball players. For them just to ignore this, when we see basketball players get fined for cursing, for getting drunk, for any kind of misconduct.

FRIEDMAN: Rap music.

HERMAN: Rap music. I mean, it really is -- it's a blemish on the NBA. They have to do an internal investigation here.

WHITFIELD: All right, we'll see if that happens. All right, let's talk about this very interesting case, it's out of Bloomfield Township, Michigan. Involves the tasing of a guy who was part of a high speed chase and allegedly he also had drugs in his system. He died after being tased. So, now what kind of recourse might this police jurisdiction have if any, Avery, might they be able to say we didn't know that, you know, he wouldn't be able to withstand being tased?

FRIEDMAN: Well, actually, let me tell you something, Fredricka. The issue concerning the use of tasers is one that continues to evolve and it certainly beats lethal force. I mean, in the old days, they just pulled the trigger. One of the questions that really is required to be answered here is to what extent did the taser execution have anything to do with the death?


FRIEDMAN: And you know what? I think there's a real question. What strikes me is that after a law enforcement realized that tasers weren't working, should they have stopped? Strikes me they should have, or right at the beginning of the investigation.

WHITFIELD: Yes, and so ...

HERMAN: Fred ...

WHITFIELD: ...I wonder, Richard, you know, does it matter -- I mean, if someone is inebriated or if you suspect that there's drugs in their system, is there certain criteria I guess that needs to be met before any jurisdiction uses a taser, knowing that the outcome is sometimes fatal and if the person is already impaired, does that jeopardize, you know, their safety even further?

HERMAN: No, there's protocol for subduing someone, and first you say, police officer, show your credentials, stop. If they don't stop, you take it to the next level and the next level. It's -- tasers are a lot less invasive than bullets here, but Avery hit something here, Fred. You've got to concentrate on the period of time where the officer said we -- he was fighting with us, we tased him, the taser didn't affect him, it didn't stop him. Then, we jumped to him being in handcuffs and dead on arrival at the hospital.



HERMAN: So, something inbetween happened. We need to find out what that was.

WHITFIELD: OK, now let's go to Bellevue, Washington. You guys love this story.


WHITFIELD: And this is about an interesting little coffee shop, coffee is served along with something else. And people don't like the fact that these women are scantily clad.

FRIEDMAN: Well, some people don't like it, right.


HERMAN: Some people like it, Fred. I don't know.

WHITFIELD: Yes, right, some people like it. But now, apparently there's this big movement to try and actually I guess close this shop down. It's called The Naughty Body. They could have come up with a better name I must say.

HERMAN: Well, the puritans apparently moved over to Bellevue there and you know, this poor guy runs a coffee shop, he's trying to make a living in this economy. He comes up with this novel idea ...

WHITFIELD: The guy runs the coffee shop, but the ladies are serving the coffee, OK, go ahead.

HERMAN: The ladies -- right, the ladies serve it ...

WHITFIELD: ...barely wearing anything, go ahead.

FRIEDMAN: In bikinis, right. HERMAN: In bikinis. It's a drive-up coffee shop, it's been in existence in the past as a drive-up coffee shop. No zoning violations in the past, but all of a sudden because a week after business tripled and these guys are going there giving a tremendous amount of business ...

WHITFIELD: Business is getting a real jolt now.

HERMAN: Yes, a real jolt.

FRIEDMAN: A real jolt, oh my goodness.

HERMAN: Oh man.

FRIEDMAN: Yes, well that -- you know, what I think what's significant here is that there -- Fredricka, you're on a roll here. The reality is ...

HERMAN: Distracted.

FRIEDMAN: ...that they have to comply with zoning, they have to comply with land use issues, but the bottom line is you know what? If you don't like it, don't go there.


FRIEDMAN: Doesn't make any sense.

WHITFIELD: All right.

FRIEDMAN: They're spending $5, $6 a cup of coffee and they go right next door to the bikini car wash.

WHITFIELD: OK, and I'm getting yelled at. We're at the bottom of our cup, we're out of time.


WHITFIELD: Good to see you guys as always.

FRIEDMAN: We'll see you soon.

HERMAN: Lay off that coffee, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And I forgot to ask you -- I know. I forgot to ask you how was your Thanksgiving?

FRIEDMAN: It was wonderful. Thank you.

WHITFIELD: It was good for both of you?

HERMAN: Great. Terrific, Fred. Terrific.

WHITFIELD: All right, good. Well, have a great rest of the weekend then.

HERMAN: All right, you take care.

FRIEDMAN: Take care.

WHITFIELD: Thanks so much. Good to see you.

HERMAN: Stay off that coffee, Fred.

WHITFIELD: No coffee for me. Cut me off.

All right, making a positive impact on troops overseas. One woman giving back 500,000 times over. Her care packages are now pushing others to pitch in.


WHITFIELD: Of course, it's always good to give thanks to the U.S. troops. Well, for one California woman, it's become a full-time job called Operation Gratitude. Nearly half a million packages have been delivered to service men and women since she started the organization.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Carolyn Blashek is a one-woman USO. She's on a mission to bring smiles to the men and women serving our country.

CAROLYN BLASHEK, OPERATION GRATITUDE: Well, Operation Gratitude is a volunteer nonprofit organization that sends care packages to service members who are deployed overseas in combat zones.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Blashek was inspired by a soldier she met in 2003.

BLASHEK: He had no one in his life, and I thought to myself, I need to let him and every service member know that people at home care about them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, she started sending care packages to the troops out of her home.

BLASHEK: Within a few weeks, my house was literally covered from floor to ceiling with items that people had donated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Blashek recruited volunteers and now holds package drives in an armory outside of Los Angeles.

JUDY IHRIG, VOLUNTEER: It's absolutely unbelievable what one woman can do. Once they come down here and see what she started in her living room and what an impact she has made for the military men and women who serve, it's infectious.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, thousands of volunteers want to help, including celebrities.

MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY, ACTOR: The thing that everyone can get from her personal story is if you have a great idea and your heart's in the right place, you find that a whole lot of people would love to help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In six years, Blashek has shipped close to 500,000 packages. She even traveled to Iraq to hand deliver the 300,000th one. Inside were keys to a new Jeep and handwritten letters from home.

BLASHEK: It was time for me to give back to my country and this is my way of doing it.


WHITFIELD: All right, if you want to get involved because I know you are inspired to, want to, right now go to and it'll prompt you on what to do next.


WHITFIELD: All right, a look at the top stories right now. More fallout from the U.N. resolution censuring Iran's nuclear program. The U.S. warning it could push for harsher economic sanctions. But an Iranian lawmaker is issuing a warning as well. According to Iran's official news agency, he says Iran may withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

And growing embarrassment by the U.S. Secret Service as more details come out about the White House party crashers. Turns out the couple did meet with President Obama. The agency says the president was never in any danger, however, and it admits its security dropped the ball by allowing the couple to get into Tuesday's State Dinner.

All right, it's unclear what Michaele and Tareq Salahi said at a White House security checkpoint, but could it actually land them in hot water or on their own show?

Here now is our Mary Snow.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. and Mrs. Salahi.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They cast themselves in their own drama. Their new role, crashers to the president's first official state dinner. Michaele and Tareq Salahi's Facebook photos hobnobbing with the vice president and the White House chief of staff are now famous, but the couple who are reality TV hopefuls could end up facing charges if one lawmaker has his way.

REP. PETE KING (R), NEW YORK: I would want to see whatever charges can be brought against them brought against them because this isn't a joke, this isn't a game, this isn't breaking into a fashion show or anything. We're talking about security of the United States being at risk here.

SNOW: According to the Bravo network, Michaele Salahi was being considered for the show "The Real Housewives of D.C." For those who follow the entertainment industry, Andy Warhol comes to mind. IAN DREW, SR. EDITOR, US WEEKLY: Warhol said everyone would have their 15 minutes of fame and now, you actually can. It is not just a saying or a platitude. This is the new American dream.

SNOW: The White House gate crashers come one month after the balloon boy drama. People were riveted watching a balloon drift over eastern Colorado, fearing a 6-year-old boy was inside. They later found out the boy's mother admitted it was a hoax. She and her husband pleaded guilty to charges related to the case.

Some reality TV producers say people aiming to be on these shows are trying to promote themselves and stand out from the crowd.

MICHAEL HIRSCHORN, ISH ENTERTAINMENT (via telephone): And I think that a lot of these reality, quote, unquote, "stars" are self- producing, they're sort of making themselves more dramatic and crazier and louder as a way of gaining the attention of first producers and then the public.

SNOW: And the appetite doesn't seem to be easing. From disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich to the mother of octuplets, there's a place for them on reality television, which is much cheaper to produce than drama series.

Erwin Gomez finds it sad. He's the stylist for Michaele Salahi who helped her get ready for the White House dinner and says he believed she had been invited.

ERWIN GOMEZ, ERWIN GOMEZ SALON AND SPA: I hope she's smart enough to know that it doesn't take this big risk to get into reality show.

SNOW (on camera): Separately, the couple is named in 16 separate civil lawsuits. They did not respond for comment. The Salahis' publicist says they won't be making any formal comments at this time, but says their lawyer states emphatically that they didn't crash the event and are looking forward to setting the record straight. The couple is expected to be doing media interviews next week.

Mary Snow, CNN, New York.


WHITFIELD: All right, interesting stuff. Interesting, too, personal finance questions. You've got some? Well, you can ask the Dolans. They'll be joining us in our 2:00 p.m. Eastern hour. If you want to ask a question or send a comment, you can join the conversation on my Facebook page or my blog. Just head to

Meantime, "YOUR MONEY" starts right now.