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Satellite Threatens Earth; Amanda Knox Appeal Continues; Top Execs from Solyndra Take Fifth Before Congress; Soap "All my Children" Taken Off Air; Woman Receives First Ever Double Hand Transplant; GOP Presidential Candidates Square off in Debate in Florida

Aired September 23, 2011 - 15:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Brooke Baldwin. And happy Friday to you.

On this Friday, I want to begin with this. The United States is back in the potential strike zone for that satellite that is plummeting now toward Earth. The dead satellite is expected to break up in the Earth's atmosphere into 26 different pieces, but some of those pieces could be hundreds of pounds. Now, NASA has been saying so far that the upper atmosphere research satellite would bypass North America, but guess what, now that we're back in its sights, we thought you might be wondering about the odds of being hit.

Rest assured, we have been talking about these odds. Not too bad. Scientists say there is a one in 3,200 chance that someone on Earth could be hit by the debris, but the odds of it actually hitting you, we took this a step further. That's actually one in several trillion, trillion with a T.

Chad Myers, so the news today, we are now in the strike zone. Is that for now or for good?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That will be for good, until it falls out of the sky and we will know.

We were doing this little tweet thing back and forth a little bit ago about how the Earth is not round. The Earth is not round. It's fatter at the equator. So this thing will be closer to the atmosphere every time it passes the equator. Every time it goes around the Earth, it will start to drag. And at some point in time, one of those times it's just going to get a little too close, and it's going to touch the atmosphere, it's going to start to turn, it's going to burn up and that's when it's going to slow down enough to actually make that fall.

There are several passes. I can show you here, coming up here. Let me take you over to the wall here as well. I can show you this way. We have a different -- kind of a different little plan here. The map as it's coming in right now, it's coming up and just to the south of Argentina. It will pass over Recife and then on up into Europe.

It will actually pass right over Italy in about 45 minutes to an hour. Every 90 minutes it makes another pass and it's a little bit farther to the west. If they think that this is going to come down in about six to 10 hours, one of those passes will actually be very close to the U.S., one over Texas, one over Mexico and then one over San Diego.

Now, it's going to fall out of the sky somewhere along the equator because that's where the atmosphere is the highest. So the atmosphere is reaching out to touch it. As soon as it touches the atmosphere, that's when it's going to burn up.

That's when it's going to slow down. That's its drag point. That drag point will make it eventually tumble and fall to the Earth. Will it fall far enough? Will there be any potential for it to get far from the equator all the way to San Diego? I don't think so. I think this whole thing is going to splash down in the ocean and nobody is going to see it.

BALDWIN: No one, no fireworks in the sky?


BALDWIN: Hang on. Hold your thought.

Joining into this conversation, I want to bring back in Tariq Malik, remember, our friend, our fellow space geek at

And big changes today as we mentioned, Tariq, that we're now in this strike zone. Chad just outlined some of the potential paths. You wrote in your piece that one of the changes is that it's falling more slowly. Why does that matter?

TARIQ MALIK, SPACE.COM: Well, it matters because NASA has been basically making its calculations based on a rate of descent for this satellite that until late Thursday told them that it was going to skip North America entirely.

What they announced this morning is that it's been falling more slowly because it is actually tumbling through space and its angle of drag that it's feeling from the very, very fringy, wispy parts of the atmosphere where it's at now just has not been what NASA thought it was.

And so basically because of that difference between NASA's calculations and what is actually happening in space, it's falling slower than NASA thought. And it just keeps the satellite up there a few hours longer than they thought.

BALDWIN: I also saw that the spacecraft is the largest NASA satellite to fall from space uncontrolled since 1979. But the news factor here is that one chunk of this could be something like 300 pounds. If we're talking that large in terms of weight, how large might this piece be, though, in and of itself?

MALIK: Well, if it's about 300 pounds, you can maybe estimate it's going to be smaller than a car, but it's going to be maybe larger than entertainment center, something like that size for your house. It would be a big block of debris. It could be a tank, it could be a big metal plate used to kind of protect the outside of the vehicle.

They have got some parts they are made out of titanium or beryllium that are just really, really hearty when it comes to burning up in the Earth's atmosphere.

BALDWIN: OK, Tariq, do me a favor. Stand by.

Chad, stand by.

I want to bring one more person into this conversation because she's kind of been there, done that. You're going to know what I mean in a minute.

Lottie Williams, she is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, she is good enough to join me on the phone now, and Lottie is one the several trillion if we're talking odds here. She got hit by a piece of falling rocket back in 1997.

And, Lottie, wow, I guess I read that you had some trouble sleeping some years ago. You took a walk right about 3:00 in the morning and wham. What happened?

LOTTIE WILLIAMS, HIT BY SPACE JUNK: Right. I started in 1986 walking with a group of retired people.

And that morning, there were three of us in the park when this big fireball flew across the sky. And we just stopped where we were and just watched it, you know, and there was a spark that came from it also. And it just kept going south.


BALDWIN: We're looking at some of your pictures. I just wanted to interject. If people are wondering what this is, this is the piece that ultimately fell on you or tapped your shoulder. But please continue.


The picture you're showing, I -- probably there either the front or the back of it. When I -- about 30 minutes after we saw this fireball go across the sky, I felt a tap on my shoulder much like when someone is trying to get your attention, they will tap you. And that's what it actually felt like.

And I thought it was somebody tapping me, so I took off to run. And when I did that, it rolled off my shoulder and fell onto the ground. And that's when I heard it. It sounded a little metallic because there's (INAUDIBLE) on the ground.


BALDWIN: So it wasn't some big loud noise coming toward you? Maybe I have just seen too may sci-fi films and I keep imagining like this loud like hiss. But it was pretty quiet and quick, huh?

WILLIAMS: Well, I heard the rustling in the tree, but that could have been someone hitting up against the tree, so that was my first instinct. And that's the reason I decided to run. And when I looked back -- when it hit the ground and I looked back, I was really surprised to see that it was dark and just laying there still, you know? And I went on and I said, well, I'm not going to pick it up right now. So I went on and walked around. And I came back and my curiosity was getting the best of me, so I decided to go ahead on and kick it into the light so I could see what it was.

And that's when I saw that it was burned. And I looked toward that northeast corner of the park and I realized that it came off of that. That was my opinion. Now, I originally thought it was a shooting star, so you can only imagine what I thought I had.

BALDWIN: Right. You actually have a piece of this Delta-2 rocket. Final question. Considering the odds, Lottie Williams, you playing the lottery?

WILLIAMS: I have played. I'm not lucky in that. I don't know if I was just in the right place at the right time that morning. With all the people in the park, I'm the one that got hit, so I don't know.

BALDWIN: Lottie Williams, thank you very much. I'm glad it was just a tap on your shoulder.

Quickly, though, I don't know if we still have Tariq or Chad, but bottom line if you do see this, if it doesn't end up plunging in the water, don't touch it. Essentially, Tariq, what do you do, call police, call the government? It's their property.

MALIK: Exactly. What NASA has been telling people from basically day one when they announced this was going to fall is do not touch the debris. It's not yours to keep, it's the property of NASA and the U.S. government. Call your local law enforcement. The authorities will call the FBI or NASA, whoever they have gotten advice to do, and then they will recover the debris.

The danger -- and NASA wants to stress this -- is that it's not toxic or radioactive in any way. It's just that it's metal and sharp and they want the debris back.

BALDWIN: OK, Tariq Malik, thank you very much. Chad Myers, keep a close eye on this path please, sir.

MYERS: Still going 17,463 miles per hour so it's not coming down yet.

BALDWIN: OK. Not yet.

MYERS: Not yet.

BALDWIN: Chad, thank you very much.

And now this:


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Basically they have no case. There is no case left. And I'm very hopeful that by the end of the month, we will get to bring Amanda home.


BALDWIN: Amanda Knox entering the final phase of her appeal. Her father believes in her innocence, but will she really be able to now walk away clean? CNN caught up with her family.

And then this, the Palestinian Authority pushing for the United Nations to recognize Palestine as a state. Mahmoud Abbas, the leader, calling this a moment of truth, but will this end in disappointment for the Palestinian people? Back in two minutes.


BALDWIN: Nearly 20 years after their first peace talks with Israel, the Palestinians are now changing course. And as Palestinians rallied today in Ramallah to watch, their president, Mahmoud Abbas, went straight to the United Nations today to ask it to recognize it is an independent state of Palestine, even though Israel and the United States still object.


MAHMOUD ABBAS, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRESIDENT (through translator): It is time for the Palestinian people to gain their freedom and independence. The time has come to end the suffering and the plight of millions of Palestinian refugees in the homeland and the Diaspora, to end their displacement and to realize their rights, some of whom were forced to take refuge more than once in different places of the world.


BALDWIN: Let's go straight to the United Nations to our senior correspondent there, Richard Roth.

And, Richard, Mahmoud Abbas calling this and I'm quoting a moment of truth. Is this moment though likely to end in disappointment for the Palestinian people?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Perhaps, though it may be the next step in a gateway to two states living side by side, but obviously don't put your bets down yet because there's a lot of differences, as we have seen over the last half-century-plus.

The Palestinian leader, the Israeli prime minister, it was almost if you watched that Republican Party debate last night, then you had these two almost candidates weighing in, lobbying, pitching the General Assembly about their views. Of course, there's a lot of damage done in the past to each other. They both in effect said we would love to live side by side, but here's why we don't like each other at the moment, why we can't talk.

Netanyahu of the Israelis saying we're in the building, we're in the same city together, let's do it now. The Palestinians saying we can't do anything like this in effect when there are settlements, when there's occupation on our land.

The so-called Quartet, these negotiators representing the United States and Russia, the European Union, they're meeting now. They are trying to come up with some timetable to provide the next step of momentum here on the statehood thing. But really this is up to the Security Council now and the U.S. says it's going to veto if it has to the formal statehood application by the Palestinians.

BALDWIN: Right. I do, though, want to play just a moment from the U.N. G.A. Mr. Abbas was greeted by a very long applause at the U.N. Watch this.




BALDWIN: And then after that long applause, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke. Watch this.




NETANYAHU: President Abbas, stop walking around this issue. Recognize the Jewish state and make peace with us.


BALDWIN: As you mentioned, though, Richard, we know the U.S. has said that they will veto. Then what would the next step be and how long might that next step take?

ROTH: I would think it would be at least a month before we even know if there's going to be a vote. The Palestinians also need nine countries on the 15-nation Security Council to back their resolution bid. If the Palestinians feel that with the U.S. veto and perhaps not getting the minimum nine countries, but that's still unclear, they will go to the U.N. General Assembly where they will get an upgraded status to their membership here at the U.N.

But it still won't be a state. All of this by the Palestinians is to shake up things and to get either negotiations or grievances aired and considered more. Netanyahu said the region is growing increasingly more dangerous. I don't think people know what can happen here. There could be more violence if the U.S. veto does happen to occur. The Palestinians are frustrated.

The people there have seen demonstrations topple governments elsewhere. Israel is saying we left Gaza and we are still getting rockets supplied by Iran. Netanyahu denounced the U.N., saying that it's the theater of the absurd, how Lebanon, a member of the Security Council, is really run by Hezbollah, backed by Iran and thus a terrorist organization, in effect, is the president of the Security Council, because that's Lebanon's role for this month.

And it will be Lebanon, which has already received the statehood application as programmed and previewed. Secretary-general of the U.N. gets it from the Palestinian leader. It's now in the hands of the Council.

BALDWIN: OK, Richard Roth at the U.N., Richard, thank you very much.

Two chicken fried steaks, one triple bacon cheeseburger, a meat- lover's pizza and a pint of Blue Bell ice cream. Yes, the guy who ordered all of that didn't eat a bite. Did I mention it was his requested last meal on death row? We're going to tell you what Texas is doing now.

And a funny thing happened during last night's GOP debate. Amid all the candidates you are getting to know so well, one guy who just a few of you probably even recognize stole the show. That's next.


BALDWIN: A couple other top stories here on this Friday.

First, the federal government inching closer toward a partial government shutdown. Hours ago, the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected a temporary spending bill, one the House passed, to keep the government up and running through the 18th of November. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid warns that FEMA could run out of funds as early as Monday. He says he will push for a new vote Monday on a compromise measure on spending cuts and disaster relief funding, but if lawmakers cannot reach some sort of agreement here, the federal government could partially shut down October 1.

Death row inmates in Texas will not get to request the traditional last meal anymore. Why? Because of the white supremacist Lawrence Russell Brewer. Brewer was executed Wednesday night for his infamous murder of James Byrd, who was chained to a pickup truck and dragged to death. Brewer's last meal request, you ask? Here we go.

Two chicken fried steaks, a triple bacon cheeseburger, cheese omelet with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, jalapenos, big bowl of fried okra with ketchup, three fajitas, I'm not done, pound of barbecue, half-a-loaf of white bread, meat-lover's pizza, pint of Blue Bell ice cream, slab of peanut butter fudge with crushed nuts, three more root beers. And the kicker, of all of that food, he didn't eat a single bite.

His last meal so outraged a Texas state senator, who fired off this letter to prison officials and today the last meal tradition in Texas is toast.

A funny thing happened during last night's GOP debate. Amid all the usual candidates, one man just recognized by a couple of people stole the show. You have to hear what he said and how the crowd in Orlando responded. Here it is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARY JOHNSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My next-door neighbor's two dogs have created more shovel-ready jobs than this current administration.




BALDWIN: That guy is Gary Johnson, and he looked pretty pleased with himself, with his joke. But in case you don't know, Johnson is the former Republican governor of New Mexico.

And today, the day after that debate, there is some controversy over Johnson's dog story. It seems talk radio host Rush Limbaugh had told a similar joke earlier that same day. Oh, well.

There was a lot more said, though, last night.

And our very own Tom Foreman is checking the facts for us with his truth-o-meter, like Rick Perry's comments on Social Security and Mitt Romney's accusations about immigration policy in Texas. Was he right? Stick around for that.

Also, this:


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Basically they have no case. There is no case left. And I'm very hopeful that by the end of the month, we will get to bring Amanda home.


BALDWIN: Amanda Knox's dad believes of course his daughter is innocent in her roommate's murder, but will a jury do a 180 on her conviction? CNN caught up with her mother. Don't miss this.


BALDWIN: American college student Amanda Knox could be mere days away from getting something she has wanted for quite a while, freedom. Final arguments started in the appeal of her conviction for the murder of her British roommate during what prosecutors contend was a drug- fueled sex game in Perugia, Italy.

CNN's Matthew Chance was inside the courtroom as Knox arrived.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there she is, Amanda Knox, coming into the courtroom here to sit through the final phase of this appeal in the Perugia courthouse. The American college student, of course, convicted of killing her British flatmate, Meredith Kercher, and sentenced to 26 years in jail. She's just over there now. She will be listening to the prosecutors summing up their case against her.


BALDWIN: Prosecutors asked the jury though to remember the victim and put themselves in her parents' shoes.

We did get reaction from her Amanda Knox's just outside of that courthouse.


CHANCE: Your assessment, please, Mrs. Mellas, of what your daughter looked like when she came to the court today.

EDDA MELLAS, MOTHER OF AMANDA KNOX: Oh, she's stressed. She knew it was going to be a hard day. Listening to people tell horrible lies about her is difficult and so we knew that was coming. She was stressed about that.

CHANCE: What did you make of the prosecution's summing up of the case today?

MELLAS: Well, it's amazing. I don't understand everything. But I understand that he talks about the fact that Amanda has made some kind of a deal for a plane ride for an interview. Ridiculous. If that's any indication of what was presented today, it's all ridiculous, because that's a total fabrication, a total lie.

CHANCE: Do you think that the prosecution was going for a very emotional appeal...



CHANCE: At one point, he said imagine that you're the parents of Meredith Kercher? How did you feel when he said that?


Well, I think if you have no evidence, that's all you have. If there's no evidence to connect somebody to the crime, the only thing you can do is try to find some emotional angle to it.

CHANCE: How optimistic are you now? You're in the final phase of this appeal. How optimistic are you and the rest of the family this is going to end well for you, for Amanda?

MELLAS: We're more optimistic than we were before, but it's hard to quantify that. And we're not counting anything until the end. Every day, we're just going to fight for her and not stop until she's out.

CHANCE: All right. Thanks very much.


BALDWIN: As Matthew pointed out, this is the final phase of the appeal. Amanda Knox's lawyers are expected to give their closing argument early next week.

Now this:


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Harrison, will you invoke your Fifth Amendment rights in response to all questions here today?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then you are excused from the witness table at this time.


BALDWIN: Solyndra executives stonewalling Congress today, remaining silent over this investigation on how they blew through millions of dollars in taxpayer money before filing for bankruptcy.

And then four decades of amnesia, affairs, evil twins later, the credits roll for good today on "All My Children."


BALDWIN: I want you to listen here to what the top executives of this California solar panel company that recently defaulted on half a billion dollars in government-backed loans had to say to Congress today. They were asked, you know, what happened to the company and what happened to the government's money, aka, your taxpayer dollar. Take a listen.


BRIAN HARRISON, CEO, SOLYNDRA: On the advice of my counsel, I invoke the privilege afforded to me by the Fifth Amendment of the constitution of the United States, and I respectfully decline to answer any questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd like to ask the same question to Mr. Stover.

BILL STOVER, CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER, SOLYNDRA: On the advice of counsel, I invoke the privilege afforded by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. constitution and respectfully decline to answer any question.


BALDWIN: So those two menu just heard from, they are the CEO and the CFO of the solar company called Solyndra. Back in 2009 Solyndra was the first green company to receive stimulus funds from the Obama administration. The president actually visited the California factory last year, all presidential pomp and pageantry. So what happened inside this company for it to go from really this White House darling project to an administration embarrassment? CNN's Lisa Sylvester walks us through the company's downfall.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A growing scandal about what happened after Solyndra received $535 million in taxpayer money. Competition from China pushed the price of Solyndra's solar panels way down, causing the company to lose customers and burn through cash. January of this year, Solyndra went back to the Obama administration and asked to restructure the department of energy loan to give it more time to pay it back.

New details from e-mail show senior staffers at the Office of Management and Budget knew they had a major political problem on their hands. Solyndra was held up as the poster child of green jobs when President Obama toured the company. But days after Solyndra's plea for help, a staffer wrote to another urging the government to cut its losses and walk away from the deal, quote, "If Solyndra defaults down the road, the optics will arguably be worse later than they will be today. At that point additional funds have been put at risk, recoveries may be lower, and the questions will be asked as to why the administration made a bad investment not just once, which could hopefully be explained as part of the challenge of supporting innovative technologies, but twice, which could easily be portrayed as bad judgment or worse."

Representative Cliff Stearns chairs the energy subcommittee looking into the Solyndra scandal. He says the entire deal was bad from the get-go and trying the last-minute save put the taxpayers in a worse position.

REP. CLIFF STEARNS, (R) FLORIDA: They subordinated the $535 million of taxpayer money to the $75 million that the two hedge funds gave to help them survive. That's against the law at least the way I read it.

SYLVESTER: What's more, Stearns says e-mails show Department of Energy staffers warned two years ago there were issues with Solyndra's finances. August 20th, 2009, a DOE staffer wrote, quote, the muddle runs out of cash in September, 2011. Even in the base case without any stress, this is a liquidity issue, it simply won't stabbed up to review by oversight bodies.

But less than a month later, September 4th, 2009, the original $535 million loan closed with Energy Secretary Steven Chu attending the ground-breaking of Solyndra's new factory and Vice President Joe Biden delivering a speech via satellite. The Obama administration says with new green technology, not every company is going to be successful, but that's not a reason to stop investing in companies moving forward on alternative energy.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We never thought and the department of energy never thought that every investment would succeed. But that is not a reason to simply throw up your hands and say never mind, let's let the Chinese own this. SYLVESTER: White House Spokesman Jay Carney says the process used to determine who receives government-backed loans is merit-based and when it comes to cutting edge industries seeking this kind of government help, there is the potential for high rewards, but also for high risk as well.

Lisa Sylvester, CNN, Washington.


BALDWIN: We reached out to multiple members of the house committee that's investigating this company Solyndra. No Republican accepted our invitation, but Democrat Diana Degette did agree to join us. She's a congresswoman from Colorado. Congresswoman Degette, thank you so much for coming on. We saw the video of those two executives taking the fifth today on Capitol Hill. According to the "L.A. Time" they were actually in your office in July two months before they filed for bankruptcy. Was there any indication at that point in time, any inkling that they weren't quite as successful as many people thought?

REP. DIANA DEGETTE, (D) COLORADO: Well, our investigation started this summer. I'm the senior democrat on the oversight and investigation subcommittee. And so we were investigating Solyndra as far back as this summer. And the Solyndra executives asked to come in and speak with me, with chairman -- Ranking Member Waxman, and Cliff Stearns and the others. So I saw them in my office as a courtesy. They sat in my office. They told me that they were restructuring, that their business model was sound, that they had orders coming in and they expected to rebound from their financial trouble. So imagine my surprise when just five weeks later they filed for bankruptcy.

BALDWIN: So it was, for you, a total surprise here?

DEGETTE: It was a total surprise for everybody on both sides of the aisle in the committee. And one of the reasons why Mr. Waxman and I asked the chairman to have the Solyndra people come today is we were hoping that they could tell us what happened between the time they were in our offices saying that everything was great in the company and improving and then five weeks later when they declared bankruptcy.

And of course then subsequently the FBI searched their headquarters. That's why they took the Fifth Amendment today.

BALDWIN: Right, for possible fraud there as well.

DEGETTE: I guess.

BALDWIN: As we mentioned, we didn't hear from these executives as they invoked the Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, but I know you don't just want to talk to them, you want to talk to those who invested large chunks of money into Solyndra. What are you hoping to learn from them?

DEGETTE: Well, you know, we're all concerned about this loan because it was a $535 million loan guaranty, and because of the bankruptcy, now the taxpayers have lost that amount. So what we want to find out is what went wrong with the loan. Was it something that the federal regulators could have seen at the beginning? Was there some kind of fraud? What did the investors think?

So Mr. Waxman and I have asked the chairman to have the investors in Solyndra, the private investors, to come in to testify what they know and we've also asked them to get all the documents they can so that we can get to the bottom of this investigation.

What we're concerned about is this is one company, but we have a number of other companies who have received these loan guaranties, and with China flooding the market -- you know, China put $30 billion into loans for solar energy. We want to know is this program still viable? And if not, what can we do to make it viable, because we've got to support alternative energy in this country.

BALDWIN: What, though -- I'm certainly not going to ask you who you think is to blame because we don't know yet. The testimony hasn't really quite happened. So really the question is no matter what the outcome is, what is the takeaway here?

DEGETTE: Well, we need to see what we need to do in this country to support solar energy. This loan guarantee program was a program that was developed under the Bush administration and continued by the Obama administration. Even Solyndra applied for the initial loan guarantee under the Bush administration and everybody was high on that.

There are a number of other companies around the United States who have received these loan guaranties who are starting their production, starting their businesses. They have thousands of jobs, thousands of Americans have been put to work under this program. We want to make sure that it's still solid.

You know, whenever you do something risky like this, like a loan guaranty for a start-up company, you're bound to have some failures. The question is, with Solyndra, was this just a regular business failure or was there something deeper here? We need to get to the bottom of it.

BALDWIN: A $535 million failure could be a costly one. Congresswoman Degette, thank you very much.

The GOP candidates, they are on the attack, but are they dishing facts or hearsay? We're going to check their facts from last night's debate.

First, Dr. Sanjay Gupta has today's "Human Factor," the first woman in the United States to have a double hand transplant.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Imagine having to learn how to use someone else's hands as your own.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How about this guy? Pinch. Pinch. GUPTA: That's the reality for Sheila May Advento, the first woman in the United States to undergo a double hand transplant.

SHEILA MAY ADVENTO, DOUBLE HAND TRANSPLANT RECIPIENT: I just remember being rushed to the hospital, in the ER and that's it. I was out.

GUPTA: Mayadenta's Her hands and feet were amputated eight years ago after she contracted a bacterial infection.

ADVENTO: They were so lifeless, you know, and so black.

GUPTA: She got prosthetics for her hands and her feet, but the idea of a possible future hand transplant was always on her mind. When the opportunity came from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, she went for it.

ADVENTO: I'm amazed by my own progress. I had no expectations.

GUPTA: It's been a year since she got her new hands, and already she has hit several milestones. She can feel temperature, pain, various textures. It's the result of a lot of hard work. She undergoes six hours of physical therapy five days a week.

ADVENTO: For me to finally feel these things again, my hair, my face or even my jeans, that's something big for me.

GUPTA: She says her ultimate goal is to live as independent a life as possible.

ADVENTO: This is actually my very first painting.

GUPTA: She draws, she paints, she drives, she puts on makeup. Finds her way around her kitchen, even clips her nails.

ADVENTO: I'm not able to pinch the nail clipper yet that well, so I was able to figure out how to do it for myself. That was my way of figuring out how to be independent.

GUPTA: The last eight years have been difficult, but she's overcome so much by believing it all happened for a reason. No matter how painful, she tries to always be positive.

ADVENTO: I don't give myself much of a choice but to keep going, despite whatever obstacles I encounter in my life.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.



BALDWIN: Did you see last night's Republican debate? The candidates rattled off pretty good one-liners and they sure tried to take one another to task, but how did they do in terms of sticking to the facts? Let's go back to CNN's Tom Foreman in Washington with a little bit more on separating fact from fiction. I was looking to see if you had your truth-ometer or whatever it is.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's the thing all politicians fear.

BALDWIN: Let's begin with something we heard from Texas governor Rick Perry last night talking Social Security.


RICK PERRY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For those people that are on Social Security today, for those people that are approaching Social Security, they don't have anything in the world to worry about.


BALDWIN: OK, Tom Foreman, nothing to worry about, fact or fiction?

FOREMAN: Nothing to worry about. That's a pretty profound statement. You have nothing to worry about, everything is fine. Here's the problem, though, for Governor Perry. He says you have nothing to worry about. He's reassuring all the elders, you don't have to worry about Social Security, you don't have to worry about me, I'm going to take care of you.

Same time, same day, look what he had on the website. "Social security's financing is broken and unsustainable in the long run. The fact is the Social Security's financing system is broken. It must be fixed." Look, politicians do this, they're always selling one message to one group and another message to another. But in the context of sort of looking for the truth in all of this, when you consider that, you have to say, look, really what you've got here is a case of something that is maybe true but incomplete, maybe actually over here in the zone of misleading, because the truth is you're giving part of the story, not all of the story.

If people want to understand his point of view, he can expand a little bit more. You're going to see a lot of campaigns do this same sort of thing where they want to shade for it a certain group. But our goal here is what's the whole picture? The whole picture is he's trying to reassure seniors but at the same time he's very much saying that he does not believe Social Security is sound. That Social Security needs a lot of work.

BALDWIN: OK, so Mr. Perry in the yellow zone with misleading. What about the other front runner in the race, Mitt Romney. At one point he went after Governor Perry's stand on immigration in Texas. Here is that exchange.


MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Four years of college, almost $100,000 discount if you're an illegal alien to go to the University of Texas. If you're a United States citizen you have to pay $100,000 more. That doesn't make sense to me. That kind of magnet --


ROMNEY: -- that kind of magnet draws people into this country to get that education, to get the $100,000 break.


BALDWIN: So we heard the applause. But was that true?

FOREMAN: A $100,000 break? That sounds pretty good. Well, it depends on how you slice this thing up. He's saying it's a magnet for illegal immigrants to offer these benefits. People believe that sort of thing, but let's look at specifically what he's talking about here.

The University of Texas, if you went to Texas, you can go to a university if you're an illegal immigrant and gone to high school, you can go as an in-state student and pay that kind of tuition to go to their university. So the University of Texas, about $25,000 a year.

If you were an out of state student, you would pay an additional around $23,000 to go there, so over four years that, would add up to about $100,000 break as an in-state student. What he doesn't mention, however is that Texas is not alone. Sure, he wants to punch Rick Perry with this. But California does this, New Mexico does it, Illinois, Nebraska, Kansas, Maryland, I can't remember them all.

BALDWIN: So not just Texas.

FOREMAN: A whole bunch of them. The bottom line, there are a good number who do the same thing. Some states don't allow it. But for him to present it in a way as if it's just Texas doing it, that's really one of those things that's a little misleading and more along the lines of being true but incomplete. So I think we're going to see an awful lot of this Brooke as this whole campaign goes on. Campaigns always cherry-picking their information.

The thing is, they often have a valid point to make, but they can't resist just shoving aside everything that doesn't fit. That's why we have this barbecue to throw them on later.

BALDWIN: Keep that truth-ometer handy, Mr. Foreman. Thank you very much. Have a good weekend to you.

After more than four decades, the curtains are going down on soap operas "All my Children." The show which made Susan Lucci famous, that is now going off the air today. A lot of you were talking about it. It is trending, it is next. But first, this --


CARTER EVANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Time now for the help desk where we get answers to your financial questions. With me now John Ulzheimer. He's the president of consumer education at, Nika Thakor is a personal finance expert. John, Linda asks, she says "I have approximately seven years left on a 15-year mortgage." She's got a fixed rate five percent, $90,000 balance. She wants to pay everything off in five years or less. What refinancing option should she be looking at?

JOHN ULZHEIMER, PRESIDENT OF CONSUMER EDUCATION, SMARTCREDIT.COM: She's got great refinancing options if she has good credit. The days of giving mortgages to anybody have ended. She can refinance that to a 15 or even a 30-year mortgage, sub four percent interest rate. She can certainly accelerate the payback, pay it off in a year or five years, but you leave yourself the option if all things go to bust that she has a lower payment that she can fall back on for the next 30 years if she needs it.

EVANS: But you've got to have a credit rating of 700 or more?

ULZHEIMER: Well into the 700s, that's exactly right.

EVANS: Kathleen writes for a married couple in their 40s with a young child, does it make accepts for them to buy term or whole life insurance?

MANISHA THAKOR, PERSONAL FINANCE EXPERT: Term. I can't stress I can't stress strongly enough that rates on term are so attractive. And I can't tell you, Carter, how many young couples I see missed over this incredibly step. Hopefully it won't happen to you, but a rule of thumb is 10 to 15 times of the annual income in term insurance is one of the best investments you can make for peace of mind.

EVANS: Separate your life insurance and your investments.

THAKOR: Yes, you can get a much more effective rates of return and lower fees if you can separate the two components and use term for the risk management component of your overall portfolio.

EVANS: OK. Have a question that you want answered? Send us an e- mail to


BALDWIN: It is a sad, sad day for Erica Cain and the rest of the beautiful people in the fictitious Pine Valley. Four decades of soapy drama of "All my Children" ends today. That is what is trending.

"All my Children" has been a daytime staple for so many of you for 42 years. It may not be it is not the final curtain call for AMC, as fans call it. It may come back in some form online next year.

CNN's Kareen Wynter tells us that the decision to pull the plug on the soap is the part of the changing face of daytime television.


KAREEN WYNTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: It is the latest soap opera squeezed out of daytime.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's over. There is nothing left.

WYNTER: ABC's long running drama "All my Children" which made the famous soap icon Susan Lucci a household name.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am here to fight for us.

WYNTER: And help launched the careers of stars like talk show host Kelly Ripa.

KELLY RIPA, TV TALK SHOW HOST: It was my first job. I just feel so devastated.

WYNTER: And actress Sarah Michelle Geller, who was also stunned by the ABC's decision to can the daytime classic due to poor ratings.

SARAH MICHELLE GELLER, ACTRESS: It seems to wrong to me.

WYNTER: And imagine after a 40 year run. "Soap Opera Digest's" Stephanie Sloan says "All my Children" was the number one soap back in the 1970s when it debuted and stayed on top for about a decade thanks to the smart storylines that pushed the controversial social issues.

STEPHANIE SLOANE, EDITOR, "SOAP OPERA DIGEST": The show had the first abortion, and protested the Vietnam War. They dealt with AIDS and homosexuality.

WYNTER: But in the 1990s Sloan says the popular drama began dipping in the ratings. Network execs were forced to slash salaries and in 2010 relocate the show's production from New York to L.A., but it was not enough to save the soap.

DANNY SHEA, MEDIA EDITOR, "HUFFINGTON POST": The era of the bored housewife is over. Soap operas catered to that stereotypical 1950s woman sitting at home.

WYNTER: "Huffington Post's" Danny Shay says the cancellation of once popular soaps like "Guiding Light", "One Life to Live," and "All my Children," is a result of changing demographics over the years, not the mention the emergence of reality TV.

SHEA: Who cares about Erica Cain when you have the "Real Housewives of New Jersey" battling it out in a real life catfight on screen?

SLOANE: Operating the more inexpensive replacement for shows that are just too expensive to produce.

WYNTER: It is not just reality shows, but talk shows like "The Chew" that are filling the landscape, fresh new programming that the viewers are hoping the viewers will sink their teeth into. Starting next week, "The Chew" takes over "All my Children's" time slot, closing a chapter on one of television's longest-running and most beloved daytime staples.


BALDWIN: Kareen Wynter, thank you. We have to take a quick break and coming up next is Political Ticker. Stay there.


BALDWIN: All right, Let's get you to the CNN = Politics update with Peter Hamby in Orlando, site of the CPAC, Florida conference. And Peter, coming off of the debate last night how did the candidates sound at CPAC, and let's just start specifically with Governor Perry. How'd he do?

PETER HAMBY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Mitt Romney came in here riding high and doing a victory lap and taunting Rick Perry, but Rick Perry came in trying to move beyond the debate last night and a struggle to respond throughout the night as he was on the heels. Here is what he said to the CPAC conference today in Florida responding to Mitt Romney, Brook.


RICK PERRY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As conservatives, we know that values and vision matter. It is not who the slickest candidate or the smoothest debater that we need to elect. We need to elect the candidate with the best record and the best vision of this country.


HAMBY: So, you know, Rick Perry is right, the best debater doesn't always win the Republican nomination. But this is a bad storyline for Perry, that he is not good in prime time, he would not be a good candidate against Barack Obama in a debate, in a general election.

So you saw him try to pivot away from that in front of a conservative audience, really pitch a conservative message that, you know what, we need to elect somebody who believes in conservative values and has conservative convictions, not just somebody who is good at delivering sound bite or a one-two punch during a debate -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Peter Hamby, thank you very much -- under the beautiful blue skies of Orlando, Florida. Thank you.