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All Miners Out, Shaft Sealed in Chile; Big Guns on the Trail; Foreclosures Soar

Aired October 14, 2010 - 10:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, new numbers on how many Americans are filing for unemployment benefits for the very first time. Initial claims rose by 13,000 last week; the new number, 462,000. That's pretty much what we've seen over the past year. Initial jobless claims have been stuck in a pretty tight range since November. Economists say it's another sign of a glum economy, and they say the real economic recovery can't even take hold until those weekly claim numbers dropped to 400,000 or less.

The weak job market has even drawn some sobering advice from an elder statesman of journalism, shall we say.

Tom Brokaw celebrated the American spirit with his book, "The Greatest Generation". But in a radio interview he told the new generation of college grads that they have to look overseas for that American Dream.

Here's what he said, quote, "I wouldn't be looking just within our borders for opportunities. I would be looking to see what the chances are of getting a job in the Middle East, for example, or India or China. I'd be looking well beyond even the national borders."

Well, a lot of U.S. companies have shipped their jobs overseas and they're finding lower wages, fewer taxes in places like China, South Vietnam and South Korea. So should young Americans just out of college and hungry for opportunity focus their search across the world?

Joining us to discuss that is CNN chief business correspondent Ali Velshi. He is here with us in Atlanta. And in London, our own Richard Quest. Guys, so good to have you. I know this is going to be a lively discuss. Ali, let's start with you. You've got a 14-year- old, and you are already telling your 14-year-old to learn Mandarin.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I'm telling both of my step kids to learn Mandarin. And I tell every kid I meet, I'm actually a big spoiler because people say, "here, meet my kid," and I say, "Are you learning Mandarin?" I really think and I love that Tom Brokaw is saying it because nobody can accuse him of being anti- American. He is sort of the epitome of American pride.

The reality is the center of balance, the center of gravity is shifting east. Major corporations are finding their CEOs from the ranks of people who have worked in India or Brazil or China or Russia. I spoke to the head of a major executive recruitment firm and I said what would you tell a graduate today who wants to earn $250,000 at some point in their career? He said overseas internships. A year abroad. First job overseas even if they're unpaid. International experience is probably the single determinant of your success in the next five years and beyond.

PHILLIPS: Richard Quest, what do you think? Are you seeing a lot of our college grads here coming overseas and trying to get internships and infiltrating your country?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: Every single day I get e-mails from journalism students in the United States who want to come and intern here at CNN in London and the same from all over the world. Yes, Ali is right, that, of course, international experience is now the single most important determinant, and if you look at every chief exec or director or exec, they have worked in the overseas divisions of the major corporations, but, and here is the crucial bit, there is one thing just to go overseas and do the overseas experience.

VELSHI: Right.

QUEST: It's another to understand that a global corporation operates in an overseas environment, and forget - I mean, Tom Brokaw is quite right that of course, the opportunities are to go to Asia, to go to Europe, but you got to start planning that a lot sooner than just when you're in your final or your senior year because you have got to learn the languages.

VELSHI: That's right.

QUEST: You've got to learn the culture. And most important, you've got to get a love of the global economy.

VELSHI: That's right.

PHILLIPS: So what do you say to parents or even American companies here or you know, the typical, I mean, Christine Romans would battle you on this and say we have to keep our college grads here in the States, maybe work in here.

VELSHI: Right. Entry level jobs in China, in Guangzhou province are not what we are talking about here. But it is what Richard said, it's about making them understand, get a global understanding early and learn other languages. It's not just Mandarin, which I happen to think is a brilliant choice right now, but the Indian languages, Portuguese, Brazil, Russian. The world is growing.

You have to inculcate that a little bit earlier so that people understand that they are prepared for larger opportunities. It may not be their first job but if you really want to get that dream, you go out there and you work somewhere else for it. Do not deny that the center of gravity is shifting away from America.

Remember, for 100 years the center of gravity was not India and China and they made a lot of money off of it. We too can prosper over the center of gravity being somewhere else. We just have to know how to do that. PHILLIPS: Well, Richard, I mean, think about, all three of us, I guess, when we were back in school, I remember my professors saying, "you need to learn a language. If you really want to do well in this business, there are a lot of young gals just like you that want to do what you want to do, learn a language. Is it the same concept, Richard?

QUEST: It is indeed and you, me and perhaps Ali, although he's from north of the border, so I suspect he has a really strong good smattering of French somewhere, out there but the rest the real tragedy of you, me and Ali is that we grew up in an economy at a time when, really, all we had to learn was English.

PHILLIPS: That's true.

QUEST: Frankly, the moment - tonight, I am flying to Brazil, all right, on assignment. I don't speak Portuguese. There's going to be a lot of arm waving. The old English tradition, speak slowly and shout, and they'll soon understand. You get the idea.

I think the most important thing to remember is if you are going overseas just to get a job. Remember, you're going for two reasons, a culture experience or a career advancement. But if you just want to get a job because you can't get one here -

VELSHI: That's not going to work.

QUEST: You are desperate and doomed to fail.


PHILLIPS: So put it in perspective for us as we wrap this up.

VELSHI: Well, it's always good to learn another language. If you are in the United States, learning Spanish doesn't hurt you. We used to learn French. But there are other options out there. Understand that the world - look, my wife studied Japanese back in the '80s because that was going to be the big thing. That didn't turn out to be the case but she is no further back in life because she did it. So be prepared to be able to work somewhere else. Take that on and get your kids in high school prepared for this stuff.

And by the way, Richard - (speaking French).

QUEST: A translation of which can be found on the web.

PHILLIPS: Can I just say je t'aime to both of you? Would that work?

Thanks, guys.

Remember, you can catch this bilingual dynamic duo, Ali and Richard, each and every week right here on CNN, Thursdays, that would be today, just tune into CNN International for "Quest Means Business" and CNN Domestic, they are here on the CNN NEWSROOM, 2:00 p.m. Eastern time. But every Thursday you got them together right here on CNN. Guys, thanks.

VELSHI: All right.

Take a look at the sign. It says "Mission Accomplished Chile." Today, some of those rescued miners getting their first glimpse of morning light in more than two months.


PHILLIPS: Well, you just couldn't have scripted the Chile miners' story any better. Overnight rescuers pull out the last man, miner number 33, Luis Urzua. Chile's national drama, now a great success. And check out the sign, it says "Mission Accomplished."

Back in August, we weren't sure how that mission would end. But now all 33 of the men are out of the mine. They're in the hospital getting checked out, and some could get out as early as today. These guys are national heroes in Chile and are going to get a presidential visit at the hospital very soon. That's where our Patrick Oppman is right now. Patrick?

PATRICK OPPMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And President Sebastian Pinero, Chile's president, who greeted and shook the hand of every single one of those 33 miners over the day that it took them out of the mine, is here this morning. He just arrived, Kyra, and is up talking with those miners, people that he says he wants to get to know better and spend some time with.

He only got to quickly talk to each of those men before they were whisked off over the last day or so to a field hospital and then flown by helicopter from the mine site down to the city of Copiapo, the home town of many of these miners. So he's going to be here this morning spending a little bit more time with them.

There are also many family members here today, coming to see their relatives for a little bit longer and hopefully take them home if not today, very, very soon. I was just in the waiting room hoping to get a shot of President Pinera as we join his rounds when I ran into an old friend of ours, this is Jessica Yanez. You'll remember because she and her husband, Esteban Roxas, are going to renew their vows. They're having a wedding dress made for her. She is going to have the wedding dress that she never had, the wedding that she never had 25 years ago, Kyra.

And I was talking to her and said, "how do you feel?" and she really summed it up. She said "last night was the first night that she's been able to sleep since August 5th." So a very welcome day for her. She's very excited to have her husband back in her arms. And they'll be renewing their vows again soon. Just a happy day and that will an even happier day, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: And my guess is we're going to be hearing a lot more of these fabulous personal stories as the days go on.

Patrick Oppman, live from Chile. Patrick, thanks. And with the midterm elections just 19 days away, Democrats getting a boost from some big guns on the campaign trail, but it's not the president who is stealing the limelight.


PHILLIPS: Well, just 19 days from now, elections that could change the course of the country. And with polls showing Democrats in deep trouble, some of the party's big guns are on the campaign trail. We're talking about first lady Michelle Obama and former President Bill Clinton. What's happening with President Obama's approval ratings is not so good. They're dropping, and some moderate Democrats don't even want to be seen with him right now.

CNN's senior White House correspondent Ed Henry joining us now live from Washington. How is the president taking all this? I mean, I know he knows that his wife is a pretty amazing woman, Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, I mean, in fairness, he's still popular in a lot of the parts of the country but he is probably proud, maybe, that the first lady is getting out there. She is sort of a reluctant warrior in some ways. As you know, she didn't really want to campaign a lot in the 2004 battle when he ran for the Senate. In 2008, it took her a while to warm up but she went out there a lot.

Now she's everywhere. I was in Chicago yesterday. She was battling there for the democratic candidate for her husband's old Senate seat in Illinois. Earlier, she was in Wisconsin for Russ Feingold. Today, she is going to Denver for Senator Michael Bennet. What is all combined there? They're all key battlegrounds.

That as you mentioned, the president's been in some of those places. Might not be back in the final days. They think she's a huge asset here at the White House. And here's why. Look at these numbers. You mentioned her popularity. President's approval rating, about 45 percent. She's 20 points higher, 65 percent in our latest polling, and when I spoke to her advisers over the last couple of days, they realized that's because the president has got a lot more responsibility. He gets a lot of the bad news thrown on his desk.

She is able to focus on just a couple of good issues that are positive and popular, like healthy eating and standing up for military families. There's a risk here that they know that if she gets more involved in politics, her numbers can come down. But they say, she'll be very positive to counter that. Here's her pitch yesterday for Russ Feingold. Very uplifting.


MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: He cannot do this alone. He needs strong leaders like Russ to help him and they all need folks like all of you to make this happen. They can't do this alone. So we need you to make those phone calls for Russ. We need you to knock on those doors for Russ. And we need you to get everyone you know to vote for Russ. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: And she's going to be especially helpful, Democrats think with some of the female senators right now in trouble. She's going to be going in the next week or so to California for Barbara Boxer, Washington state for Patty Murray. They're both in some trouble. It's interesting, I got a cover story right now on about the first lady's role on this campaign and when I researched it, I found this quote from the 50s from Mamie Eisenhower saying, "Ike runs the country. I turn the lamb chops," and I was think, we've come a long way now, you got the first lady trying to save the president's bacon. It's a lot different than it was in the 50s, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Yes, it is very different but you know, we know that Michelle Obama can do it all. She's quite the renaissance woman. You'll have to ask her if she makes good lamb chops. Thanks, Ed.

HENRY: I don't think I'm going to do that.

PHILLIPS: OK. We'll remain politically correct.

All right. We'll keep talking. Thanks, Ed.

In Delaware, Joe Biden held the Senate seat for nearly 40 years, and now the battle to replace him captures the voter anger and apprehension that's swirling around this year's midterm elections with less than three weeks before the vote, the two candidates squared off in a debate carried last night on CNN and they sparred over pretty familiar themes - Democratic loyalty to an unpopular president, which we just talked about, and the GOP's uneasy alliance with Tea Party politics.


CHRISTINE O'DONNELL (R), DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: I had to fight my party to be here on this stage, to win the nomination, and to some extents I am still fighting my party. So when I go to Washington, my allegiance will be to the voters of Delaware, not any special interest.

CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: I have a real practical record of having reached bipartisan solutions here on country government, of working with the elected Republicans who served with me on county council and on council while I have been county executive.

O'DONNELL: Well, Coons has taken a double-digit lead among Delaware's likely voters. According to our CNN "Time" Opinion Research poll, he now leads O'Donnell by 19 percentage points. That poll was taken before last night's debate, by the way, a couple of moments that could be damaging to either opponent.


WOLF BLITZER, HOST "THE SITUATION ROOM": You proposed new taxes on hotels, paramedics services, and even 911 calls from cell phones. Is that true?

COONS: No, it's not true that we proposed a tax on calls to the 911 center. And any decent research into that will reveal that it's difficult, it's complicated.

NANCY KARIBJANIAN, WHYY TV: What opinions of late that have come from our high court do you most object to?

O'DONNELL: Oh, gosh. Give me a specific one. I'm sorry.

KARIBJANIAN: Actually, I can't because I need to you tell me which ones you object to.

O'DONNELL: I'm very sorry. Right off the top of my head. I know that there are a lot, but I'll put it up on my web site.


PHILLIPS: Oops. The internet world has been largely mixed on whether either of the two candidates emerged on this debate as the clear cut winner.

The nation's housing crisis, banks seized a record number of homes last month, but some areas are much harder hit than others. Josh Levs will show us the best and worst state for homeowners right now.


PHILLIPS: Checking our top stories. A court hearing set today in Michigan for the so-called underwear bomber suspect. That pre- trial hearing is the first since Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab fired his lawyers and chose to represent himself last month. The 23-year-old Nigerian allegedly tried to detonate a bomb hidden in his underwear on a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas day.

President Obama taking his message to America's younger voters this afternoon. He is holding a town hall meeting sponsored by MTV, BET and Country Music television.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Paula closing in on western Cuba today. Bonnie Schneider, tracking that for us. What do you think, Bonnie?

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I think, Kyra, this storm is not going to be a hurricane much longer which is good news for Cuba and good news for the U.S. really. You can see in our satellite perspective that Paula is still classified as a hurricane but when we get the next advisory it is likely to be a tropical storm because this storm is really being torn apart by strong winds in the upper levels of the atmosphere. They tend to break down the thunderstorms and that's why they don't develop as much.

Now, having said that, we're still seeing a lot of rain, particularly here in western Cuba. This is a mountainous area, so the concern is not only heavy downpours, several inches, but we're also watching for the threat of mudslides, which are very, very dangerous. And that's something we're going to keep a close watch on.

I want to show you the effects of the storm system, of the tropical system on Florida. Here's Key west and you can see bands of rain and thunderstorms working their way up the lower and middle Keys of Florida at this hour. The tropical storm watch remains because the winds could exceed 39 miles per hour. And if that's not enough, speaking of wind, we are also monitoring the development of a Nor'easter, first one in October so far, and this one could be a big one in terms of wind and rain.

You already see it ramping up across the Carolinas and the mid- Atlantic. Thunderstorms are building just to the east of Raleigh- Durham. A lot of that sliding into Greenville (ph) and Elizabeth City towards the outer banks and certainly up until Richmond but look at what's happening in Washington, D.C., we got a lot of rain developing there and into Baltimore. That will move into Philadelphia later today and tonight and even into New York City as well.

This storm will have a huge impact on air travel. So for those of you that are heading out somewhere today or tomorrow, keep a eye on this Nor'easter. Because look at the delays we're anticipating. No delays right now but there will be lengthy delays in Washington, Atlanta, Charlotte, a lot of places. Now the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale delays, we're anticipating that, is due to Paula and the winds and rain associated with that. So keep that in mind.

Elsewhere across the country, we are also tracking some pretty nice conditions across much of the West Coast. Notice Los Angeles, up to 81 today, showers in the northwest with a high of 60 out in Seattle. Much, much colder, though, and we are talking about temperatures this morning in the 40s and in the 30s in South Dakota this morning. So the cold front that is coming through, is really going to make a difference where you are going to need that coat if you are up and out early in the morning, and also getting colder and much more wet for New York City as that Nor'easter ramps up, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Bonnie, thanks.


PHILLIPS: Staggering new numbers this morning on the state of the economy. A record number of foreclosures, across the nation, one of every 139 homeowners actually received foreclosure filings last quarter. Some states way better off than others though. Josh Levs is here to tell us which is, I guess, we should start with the worst, yes?

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we will and unfortunately, it's the usual suspects, Kyra. These numbers are just awful and they are telling about the state of the economy. Let's do this. I'll give you two national stats and then we're going to look at how your state is doing. So let's start off with this.

Foreclosures soaring, look at that, 930,000 foreclosure filings in the latest quarter, that is not far from a million in a single quarter. And one more here, bank repossessions topped the 100,000 mark. There's more than 100,000 bank repossessions of homes in this country in just that quarter.

All right. Time for the states. Here you go. Nevada had the highest rate of foreclosure, one in 29 homes in that state received a foreclosure filing, just in that quarter. Now, in raw numbers, you have the most in California, 191,000 homes foreclosed. And check this out, one more thing about the states, if you put together these states, California, Florida, Arizona, Illinois and Michigan, just those five states alone, you get half of that record number of foreclosures in this country, half of them, packed into those five states. Now, I should be able to get to this map here.

Let me show you a map which is interactive and shows you how things are going near you. This is from - let's zoom way in here. The more red you have, the worse the foreclosures have been throughout this crisis. The darker red that higher rate. And over here have some of the states that had it best, you got North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Iowa. Just days ago, I was talking to you about the section, and about North Dakota being the one state where incomes have actually gone up.

And what happened was a lot of the states over here skipped the real estate boom. All right. They didn't get that excitement of the real estate boom but now they are being spared the worst of the bust. I will tell you this, amid all these bad news, there is some good news, realty track which follows foreclosure rate says that the up tick will probably not last very long because some lenders have actually halted foreclosure sales pending reviews, and also because this week 50 state attorneys general have announced a probe into improper foreclosures. So, Kyra, some steps are being taken that could and should help reverse this just horrible trend.

PHILLIPS: All right. So what can people do if they're concerned they might face a foreclosure?

LEVS: Yes, because it keeps adding up. And more and more people are looking at the economy and getting that fear. There are web sites that you should know about. There's two I'm going to show you right here. I'll just mention quickly. One is You can sign on there. You can you're your information about where you are and you can get some help in that web site.

There is also one from the government right here, It talks to you about all sorts of steps, you should be able to take to hold on to your home. I'm getting links up for you at my Facebook and Twitter pages, Josh Levs CNN along with other links. Hopefully, they will help you if you are in the situation or you're afraid you might face it, and not be among those awful statistics in the next quarter. Kyra.

PHILLIPS: OK. Josh, thanks.

We're going to tell you about medical history being made right now. Human embryonic stem cells put to the test on the first human. We're going to talk to a pioneer in this field about that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PHILLIPS: All right. Let's talk about medical history that's being made right now. Doctors using human embryonic stem cells to treat a patient. We're talking about a human being this time, not rats. A volunteer with a spine injury is getting that treatment right now at a hospital right here on Atlanta, Georgia.

We don't know much about the volunteer, except that the person was injured within the last two weeks and had cells grown from stem cells injected into his or her spine. Those cells are taken from four five-day-old embryos. The process destroys the embryo, which is what makes this treatment so controversial. But doctors are hoping that this therapy will one day help them repair bodies damaged by accidents and war, and, of course, by a number of diseases.

In animal trials, as you can see here, paralyzed rats actually regained some movement after they were injected with nerve cells made from stem cells. But it remains to be seen if this kind of treatment can actually work on humans.

Dr. George DalEy of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute is a pioneer in this field, and he's here to talk about what's happening right here in Atlanta. Dr. DalEy, I know we're going to talk about the concerns here, but this truly is a milestone within this work, correct?

DR. GEORGE DALEY, HARVARD STEM CELL INSTITUTE: Oh, yes. This is an incredibly exciting day. It is a milestone for stem cell research.

PHILLIPS: And why is that? is it because it is no longer being tested on animals but that an actual human has agreed to go forward and do this?

DALEY: Yes. I mean, this is really the realization of over a decade of very hard work by many scientists. Human embryonic stem cells were first isolated in 1998, and they have been the subject of intense study. They're incredibly important tools for research. But this is the first time that we're actually seeing them moved into patients. It's a first step, but it's a very long journey.

PHILLIPS: Well, let's talk about the fact that this patient, that they had to get an accident patient that just suffered this injury within two weeks. Is it because they want a newly damaged spinal cord and that helps -- I mean, what they hope to do might regenerate a little quicker? Explain to me why they're not doing it on somebody who has been paralyzed, for, say, 20 years.

DALEY: Yes. Well, the way this is being done is to attempt to really mimic the really positive results that various research teams have had on rodents. If you can make an acute injury, a crush injury in a rodent, you can actually show that by putting these cells back, you can restore some of the function, literally make these rats be able to walk. So, they're trying to mimic what they have been able to show in these animal models in human patients. So, they're looking at patients with acute injury.

PHILLIPS: So, how long could it take before we see if this actually helps this patient walk again? Are we talking months, years, decades?

DALEY: Well, it's very, very important to realize that this is a first step. This is a trial that's really going to teach us mostly about the safety of these cells. We don't really have the ability to predict that these cells are working.

In an acute spinal cord injury, it's very hard to predict the ultimate outcome of these patients. And so we're going to be infusing these cells, and we're going to watch the patients very carefully. The most important thing is for us to know that we can deliver the cells safely without putting the patient at risk. This is the most important part of this.

Now, over the next many years, there will be additional patients. They'll be an accumulating experience, and hopefully one day we'll be able to know whether the treatment itself is actually improving the function of these individuals. But these are brave, brave first patients.

PHILLIPS: Sure. I can't even imagine going through an accident, becoming paralyzed and having to make a huge decision like this, to become basically an experiment within two weeks. I think you nailed it using the word brave.

You've done amazing work, Dr. Daley. We're really eager to follow up on this and see how it goes.

DALEY: Well, this is an entirely new area of medicine. We're no longer trying to use drugs here. We're trying to say we can get at the root causes of disease. Spinal cord injury involves the loss of the ability of the spine to conduct the nerve signals. And what this experiment is trying to do is to return the cells which act as the insulation on the spine, to allow these nerve signals to continue.

And the hope is in the long term that we're not necessarily going to have patients getting up and walking, but we're just going to provide enough function to make a real difference in their lives.

PHILLIPS: Dr. George Daley, thanks for your time, sir.

DALEY: My pleasure.

PHILLIPS: Straight to Chile now. The president making remarks outside the hospital where those miners are. Let's listen in.

Well, we apologize. We thought we had the audio connected there. But there's obviously an issue. We'll try and troubleshoot that. Have more after the break.


PHILLIPS: Well, he's got a passion for his work, but he's a little down on his luck. Benjamin Corrales from Mountain View, California lost his job almost a year ago, but he's got a resume packed with experience. We're hoping someone is out there listening.

So, he's hoping this "30 Second Pitch" will do just the trick. Ben, what type of work are you looking for?

BENJAMINE CORRALES, JOB SEEKER: I'm looking for a textile design job. I have a lot of experience in this field, but I also have experience in other fields like architecture, urban planning and geography.

PHILLIPS: You're also bilingual, which is a huge asset.

CORRALES: I am also bilingual.

PHILLIPS: That's right.


PHILLIPS: There we go! We can do the "30-Second Pitch" in English and in Spanish. There we go! It's perfect.

CORRALES: We can try that, too, if you want to, absolutely.


PHILLIPS: I mean, Ben, I'm looking through here. You have computer software proficiency and experience. You're bilingual. You have been a textile designer, an architect, a B-7 city planner. Tell me what that is, a B-7 city planner.

CORRALES: I used to work for the city of San Jose. San Jose, as you know, is the tenth largest city in the United States. It's a big organization where as a planner, you work with community leaders, with politicians and the layperson. It was very stressful but it was very rewarding, especially when just a simple person gets there and asks you for, "I need to do this little addition to my house." From that level to a big, huge development of many houses.

PHILLIPS: Wow. What do you think --


PHILLIPS: Go ahead.

CORRALES: Go ahead.

No, I mean, working for the city of San Jose, I worked there for ten years. So, I built a career there, and unfortunately, because of the recession, you know, they had to let people go. But now, all of the skills that I acquired that I can use them in any other field.

PHILLIPS: Well, I tell you what. Why don't we get down to the "30-Second Pitch" and get your e-mail up there. It's

Now, do you want to stay in the California area or are you willing to move around?

CORRALES: I'm willing to go where the job is for me. I'm flexible. And when the right job comes for me, I'll go there. We need to meet in the middle and talk about it.

PHILLIPS: There we go. All right. Let's start the clock. And Ben, you've got 30 seconds. Take it away.

CORRALES: Buenos dias. Good morning. I'm Ben Corrales. My passion is textile design, which is the process of creating design for knitted, woven and printed fabrics. I've been trained in this field. I'm also a trained architect and have completed master's work in urban planning and geography. I'm proficient in mapping and graphic design applications.

I'm also a certified green building professional. (SPEAKING IN SPANISH). I'm bilingual, so I volunteer my time tutoring Spanish speaking youth and adults. Learn more about myself at That is Thank you.


PHILLIPS: Amazing. I think you're the first person that's actually got it right at 30 seconds. Ben Corrales, felicidades. And thank you for your time --

CORRALES: Gracias. Muchas gracias.

PHILLIPS: -- today. Oh, it was our pleasure.

CORRALES: Thank you for the opportunity.

PHILLIPS: You bet, Ben. Absolutely.

And if you are out of work and you want to sell yourself to prospective employers, let us know. Just send your resume and a letter to Also, if you want to hire our 30- second pitchers, like Ben, you can just go to our blog, All their info and emails will be there.

Quick break from CNN NEWSROOM.


PHILLIPS: Well, here's yet another example of hate and ignorance at work here in the United States. Check out what some insensitive, uneducated punk did to an Islamic center and mosque in Florence, South Carolina. They actually wrote out the word "pig," right there in front. And they did it with bacon. And that just adds to the insult because most Muslims, as you know, don't eat pork products.

The head of the center says apart from a broken window, he's never had a problem here before. And he has a message for that vandal.


MUSHTAQ HUSSAIN, ISLAMIC CENTER CHAIRMAN, FLORENCE, S.C.: He will pay for it himself, you know, because he should be doing something for somebody else and god will take care of it. If I see that person particularly, I would ask him simply, I would tell him, go and get some knowledge.


PHILLIPS: Absolutely. And police are looking into this as harassment, not a hate crime because nothing was done to an actual person.

You know, I see stories like this, and it makes me wonder how we can ever expect make peace with Muslims when we take carry out ignorant and shameful acts like this? When we take advantage of freedom of speech, and we combine it with fear and ignorance without realizing or caring about the international implications?

Take, for example, the Florida pastor of that tiny church who wanted to burn Korans. How can we forget him? That tiny church riled up an entire Muslim world and had the president, the secretary of state and even the general in charge of the Afghan war weighing in on what he was about to do.

The Internet and social media have made the world so much smaller. When some yahoo burns a Koran and spells out "pig" with bacon at a mosque, the Taliban can see it in Afghanistan minutes later. We really have to take responsibility for our actions.

Nineteen days until the election. And Washington's balance of power could be at stake. One election that captures much of the voter anger is the race for Joe Biden's Senate seat. We'll listen to a bit of that debate and hear from the candidate, next.


PHILLIPS: All right. Let's talk about that Senate race in Delaware. You probably saw the debate live here on CNN. Joe Biden has held that seat for nearly 40 years, and today the battle to replace him captures a lot of voter anger and apprehension that's been swirling around this year's midterms elections.

And with less than three weeks before the vote, two candidates squared off in a debate that was carried on our network. And the sparred over a lot of familiar themes. Democrat loyalty to an unpopular president, and the GOP's uneasy alliance with Tea Party politics. And they they bickered over the exit strategy for the U.S. military to leave Afghanistan.


CHRISTINE O'DONNELL (R), DELAWARE SENATE CADIDIATE: When we withdraw from Iraq, we need to make sure there are benchmarks in place. Those benchmarks are making sure there is a government, a representative government over there that serves the needs of the people and that can defend themselves. When we've reached these benchmarks, that's when we withdraw.

CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: I would support a negotiated resolution to the war that allowed us to leave security and intelligence assets in place and that allowed us the opportunity to reengage should the Taliban tack control again or allow al Qaeda to re-emerge as a real threat to the region or to the United States.


PHILLIPS: Neither Coons nor O'Donnell answered the original question. Wolf Blitzer wanted to know if they would accept a negotiated end to U.S. involvement if it included Taliban representation in the government.

Just 19 days until Americans cast their votes. We're counting down and bringing you all of the stories, like the one we just told you about in Delaware that's going to impact voters' decisions. CNN deputy political director Paul Steinhauser in Washington tracking all the other latest political stories. Paul?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Hey, good morning, Kyra. Great debate last night in Delaware. But let's look ahead to tonight. Another huge debate in Nevada, and we're talking about the battle between Senate majority leader Harry Reid, the top Democrat in the Senate, fighting for his political life, facing off against Sharron Angle. Former state lawmaker out there. She's the Republican nominee, supported by a lot of people and a lot of money from the Tea Party movement.

Take a look at this. Reggie (INAUDIBLE), I'm going to ask you to zoom right in here to the CNN political ticker. Brand new wire we just put up. The polls indicate that race continues to be deadlocked, Kyra, so this debate tonight could be very crucial. Remember, early voting starts in Nevada on Saturday.

Let's look at some other brand-new CNN -- "Time" Magazine/Opinion Research Corporation poll numbers on some of the other Senate battles that are crucial that could decide if Republicans win back control of the Senate.

Let's start in West Virginia. This race is deadlocked, according to our poll numbers. Forty-four percent for Joe Manchin, the Democratic governor. Pretty popular there. Forty-four percent for John Raese, a businessman. Remember, this is a seat that used to be held by -- for the Democrats for almost 60 years. Long time. Robert Byrd, who died earlier this year, had that seat forever.

Take a look at Wisconsin, another troubling place for Democrats. Russ Feingold, the incumbent Democratic senator there. And you can see, according to our poll numbers. He is trailing now 52 percent to 44 percent to Ron Johnson, who is the Republican nominee and also backed by a lot of people in the Tea Party movement.

Quickly, let's zoom out to Washington state. This is where Senator Patty Murray, Democrat is running for re-election. Poll numbers out suggest she is eight points ahead of Dino Rossi, the Republican nominee. But still, a very tight race. We will be polling at all these states, Kyra, between now and election day. As you said, just 19 days away. Wow!

PHILLIPS: It's coming up quickly, isn't it? Thanks, Paul. More political news at the top of the hour. And a reminder, if you're away from your TV and need a political fix, just go to our Web site,

Legalizing marijuana. A lot of folks are for it, a lot of against it. The issue sparked a lot of debate on CNN new primetime show, "PARKER/SPITZER." Here's how Kathleen Parker weighed in on it.


KATHLEEN PARKER, CO-HOST, "PARKER/SPITZER": I've been convinced by people in law enforcement and the judicial system that we can really allocate our resources in much more -- in much better ways than arresting people for simple possession of marijuana.

In 2008, for example, in California, there were 60,000 arrests just for simple possession of marijuana. And it seems to me a huge waste of man power and resources, et cetera, et cetera. There are so many arguments you can make in favor of legalizing it that I really can't come down on the other side.


PHILLIPS: Provocative issues, lively debate. You don't want to miss "PARKER/SPITZER"every weeknight right here on CNN 8:00 p.m. Eastern.



PHILLIPS: Now for the part of our newscast that really means a lot to us. It's called "Home and Away," a tribute to our fallen heroes in Iraq and Afghanistan. We'll tell you how to take part in just a moment.

But first we want to tell you about Lance Corporal Shawn Hefner. He did in Afghanistan in 2009. His mom was asked to write his story for a book for a group of Marine moms, and it's now being put together. Here's a memory of Shawn after she - after, rather, he completed boot camp. His mom writes, "seeing my son after three months of training was a shock. Shawn's countenance had changed. He was sure of himself, proud of himself. He stood taller, and his shoulders were broader. I could never but into words that pride that a mother feels when witnessing the fulfillment of your child's dream. He was now a Marine."

We definitely couldn't do this project without you. Here's how you can join us. Go to our Web site, And you can click on the upper right hand corner, and it tells you exactly what to do from there. And we will help to keep the memories of your hero alive.



PHILLIPS: We got a developing story now. Hurricane Paula has been downgraded to a tropical storm. Bonnie Schneider telling us the latest on that. Bonnie?

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Kyra. We are looking a definitely a weaker storm system. Paula now has winds at 70 miles an hour with gusts up to 85. So, no longer a hurricane. Not surprising, we were watching the winds come in from the vortex messages as the hurricane hunter aircraft were kind of transmitting them.

You can see the storm over the northwest corner of Cuba, a mountainous area, so there is some concern for mudslides and still heavy rain. The hurricane warnings are no longer continued for Cuba, but there are still tropical storm warnings. There's also a tropical storm watch up in effect for the Florida Keys because we are likely to see strong winds associated with the system.

Let's take a closer look at the projected path. This is good news for the U.S. because the storm is projected to curve well away from the U.S. mainland. The only problem is, it will linger over Cuba longer, and that means more rainfall. So, you can see the cone of uncertainty has shifted a little further to the south, but the storm is forecast to weaken dramatically over the next couple of the days.

Now, taking a look at how it will impact the rest of the United States. Just to show you that the storm will likely bring some wind and some rain to areas in the South, but not for long as the storm turns away from the U.S.

Elsewhere in the country, we are also monitoring a nor'easter ramping up, bringing wind and rain already to the Carolinas, to Maryland, to Virginia right now. And all of that is heading into Pennsylvania for cities like Philadelphia and then further north to New York today. This will affect air travel as we go through the afternoon and for tomorrow. So we'll look for rain and wind across the Northeast. And that will head even into northern New England as we get into tomorrow as well, Kyra.

So, a lot happening on the Eastern half of the country. The Western half looks nice and quiet.

PHILLIPS: All right. Sound good. Thanks, Bonnie.

Well, that does it for us. We'll be back here tomorrow, 9:00 a.m. Eastern. Right here in the CNN NEWSROOM. Now I toss it off to my favorite man -


PHILLIPS: -- of the 11:00 hour.

HARRIS: Of the 11:00 hour, nice!


HARRIS: All right, Kyra. You have a great day!

PHILLIPS: Love you, Tony!

HARRIS: Love you back.