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CNN Sunday Morning

Health Bill Passes Hurdle; Simplifying Credit Card Contracts; CNN Heroes

Aired November 22, 2009 - 08:00   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. From the CNN Center in Atlanta, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. It is November 22nd. Hopefully you are awake.

Good morning. I'm Betty Nguyen.

RICHARD LUI, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, good morning to everybody. I'm Richard Lui, in for T.J. Holmes on this Sunday. It's 8:00 a.m. right here in Atlanta, 7:00 a.m. in Chicago. And if you're in the west, 5:00 a.m. in San Diego.

NGUYEN: Early, early.

LUI: Where they've got nice pictures out, by the way.


LUI: Thanks for starting your day with us. A late night for senators, though, on Capitol hill last night. And if only one person strayed from their party affiliation, things could have gone a bit haywire.


SEN. CHRIS DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: On this vote, the yeas are 60, the nays are 39. Three-fifths of the senators duly-chosen and sworn having voted in the affirmative, the motion is agreed to.


LUI: As expected, it was a squeaker, 60 to 39, and that vote stopping a filibuster and allowing U.S. senators to debate health care reform. Just debate, now.

Majority Leader Harry Reid says they still have a long way to go. The full story -- straight ahead.


NGUYEN: And, yes, a special treat for you in our "Faces of Faith" segment today. Best-selling author Mitch Albom, you remember him from the book, "Tuesdays with Morrie," well, he has a new project and we're going to be talking about it. It's a new book out that's called "Have a Little Faith." We'll talk to him at the half hour. You don't want to miss that. LUI: OK. Let's start with that big vote in the U.S. Senate aimed at blocking a Republican attempt to stop the $848 billion plan from being discussed.

NGUYEN: Well, you know, the motion was one vote away from failing.

Our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash watched the day- long arguments and brings us this report.


DANA BASH, CNN SR. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Betty and Richard, the galleries for the public inside the Senate chamber were filled and senators sat in their seats to vote to mark the moment. It's hard to believe that when it comes to health care in the Senate, this Saturday night vote was just the beginning.

(voice-over): Without a single vote to spare...

DODD: The ayes are 60, the nays are 39.

BASH: Senate Democrats united to move forward on health care.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: We Democrats stand ready to do what needs to be done.

BASH: Losing even one Democrat would have stopped the president's top priorities in its tracks. The Republican leader made one last plea.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: If there were one Democrat, just one of our friends on the other side of the aisle, just one, who would say no tonight, none of this would happen.

BASH: But he was too late. The last two Democratic holdouts had already announced that they don't like their party's health care bill, but they don't want to block debate on it either.

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: I've decided there are enough significant reforms and safeguards in this bill to move forward. But much more work needs to be done.

SEN. BLANCHE LINCOLN (D), ARKANSAS: It is more important that we begin this debate to improve our nation's health care system for all Americans, rather than just simply drop the issue and walk away.

BASH: But in the sign of the rough road ahead for divided Democrats, both Mary Landrieu and Blanche Lincoln, who was facing a tough re-election battle in Arkansas, pledged to oppose a final bill unless a government-run insurance option is removed.

LINCOLN: I am opposed to a new government-administered health care plan as a part of comprehensive health insurance reform, and I will not vote in favor of the proposal that has been introduced by Leader Reid as it is written. BASH: Republicans spent all day blasting the Democrats' bill.

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: They have been hiding behind this voluminous 2,100-page bill, at a cost of $1.2 billion per page.

BASH: Railing on the Democrats' plan as a government takeover.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Washington control over all of our lives in health care.

BASH: And budget buster.

SEN. KIT BOND (R), MISSOURI: Move over Bernie Madoff, tip your hat to a trillion-dollar scam.

BASH: Democrats spent much of their time during the 10-hour session making arguments like this.

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Those who have chosen to block any attempt at health care reform this year are on the wrong side of history.

BASH: Beating back GOP attacks.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: They are against a government health care plan, but they want to protect Medicare. Medicare is a government health care plan. You can't have it both ways.

BASH (on camera): The Senate now goes home for a week and then will return for what is likely to be several weeks of fierce debate. It will take a lot of compromise and presidential intervention to unify Democrats on big differences over the substance of this health care overall: differences over everything from the cost to government intervention -- Betty and Richard.


NGUYEN: Well, the White House released a statement saying President Obama was gratified by the Senate vote and it said, quote, "brings us one step closer to ending insurance company abuses, reining in spiraling health care costs, and providing stability and security to those with health insurance and extending quality health coverage to those who lack it."

LUI: All right. Let's look at the key parts to this Democratic health plan in the Senate. The estimated cost is $848 billion over the first 10 years. Now, the legislation would expand health insurance coverage to 30 million more U.S. citizens. That means it would provide health insurance to 96 percent of the eligible population.

And according to the Congressional Budget Office, the Senate plan would reduce the federal deficit by $130 billion over 10 years. It would require individuals to buy health insurance, but it would not mandate that all employers offer that health care insurance. We'll have more on the Senate vote and that Democratic plan, CNN chief national correspondent John King joins us in just 15.

NGUYEN: Well, officials are investigating a radiation leak at Three Mile Island. That is the power plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, that suffered a partial meltdown of one of its reactors back in 1979. Officials say the leak occurred yesterday and does not pose a threat to the public. However, more than a dozen workers exposed to low levels of radiation had to be decontaminated. The cause of that leak is still not known.

LUI: A change in status, but not location for the alleged Fort Hood shooter -- this after a bedside hearing at Major Nidal Hasan's hospital. Now, he's officially under pre-trial confinement in San Antonio. Normally, that means jail. But in Hasan's case, he is currently paralyzed, so he's staying in the hospital for now. He was wounded the day he allegedly killed 13 people at Fort Hood.

NGUYEN: Well, we know Thanksgiving is right around the corner, just a couple of, well, four days away, right, on Thursday?

LUI: Yes.

NGUYEN: And everyone wants to head up to their mother's house, their father's house. You know, spend time with family.

LUI: It's always fun, always fun.

NGUYEN: But travel delays -- that may be on the radar.

Bonnie Schneider gives us a preview of the weather and what kind of havoc it could cause.

Hey, Bonnie.


Already we are seeing a lot of activity in the air. I want to show you flight explorer, because -- believe it or not, even at this early hour of the day -- we have 1,952 planes in the air right now. Now, most of them are in the eastern half of the country, but we're still getting earlier starts there. Some planes out of L.A. and San Diego, all headed for holiday travel. But we are anticipating some big problems for you, not just for today, but also for Wednesday, the busiest travel day of the year. I have more on that coming up.

LUI: All right. I'm traveling. I'm looking forward to that.

NGUYEN: I think we all are.


NGUYEN: Not looking forward to the delays, though.

All right, Bonnie, thank you.

LUI: And superstar Carrie Underwood celebrates CNN's Hero of the Year. Stay with us when we reveal that winner.


LUI: So, Betty, you know, there's plenty of weather to talk about.


LUI: Plenty of weather, and we're all thinking about -- as we were saying before the break -- because we're trying to get away for the holidays.

NGUYEN: Yes, and in some cases, severe weather. Bonnie Schneider joins us now with a look at that.

Hey, Bonnie.

SCHNEIDER: Hi, Betty and Richard.

We're starting off in the southeast, because that's where we have rain falling right now. So, for those of you that are driving in and around Atlanta, or maybe Jacksonville, we are going to be seeing some wet weather in this vicinity. In fact, it's raining right now and we do have the alert for airport delays in Atlanta. There's the raindrops on the camera. No surprise there that we're seeing some wet weather in the region and low clouds, poor visibility, not just in Atlanta, but also to the south in northern Florida.

How about snow? Are you ready for that? Well, winter weather advisories are already posted for the mountains, the Cascades, the Blue Mountains as well. This means we could see some very heavy snow for southern Washington, parts of Oregon as well, and it will continue tonight and into tomorrow.

Yes, we're measuring it in the feet. So heavy snow already -- it's not yet winter, but we're already feeling some of the wintry weather, possibly pretty early in some other places.

Let's take a look at Minneapolis this morning. Minneapolis, Minnesota, enjoying kind of a quiet morning. Temperatures will be mainly into the 50s. So, it's not too bad so far. Some low clouds this morning.

But some big changes are ahead for Minneapolis, Minnesota. We are looking at the threat for -- you guessed it -- snow. You're probably thinking, isn't it a little early for that? Temperatures for today and tomorrow in the 50s, chance of rain.

Well, there's going to be a blast of much colder air dropping down from Canada across the Great Lakes. And it's not going to just affect Minneapolis -- Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, all turning much colder. So low temperatures in the 40s for tonight and tomorrow, not so bad.

However, check out Wednesday night, getting into Thanksgiving: 28 degrees, dropping down to 28 degrees. So Thanksgiving morning will be very cool in northern Minnesota and we do run the risk of snow showers, as you can see, as we look towards Wednesday, the busiest travel day of the year.

But let's take a look at what else is happening. So far, we're not really looking too much in terms of flight delays, but we are looking at the threat for some wet and stormy conditions for those of you that will be driving. For example, if you're hitting the roads along the gulf coasts, maybe you're driving on I-10 from Louisiana straight to Alabama, to Florida, be prepared for those downpours, because I'm expecting them on and off throughout the day. This low pressure system is somewhat stationary for today. So, that means low clouds and also windy conditions in advance of the fronts.

So, the two travel trouble spots for this day, for Sunday, the southeast and then all the way across the country in the northwest. We'll be looking for mountain snow, wind, and rain. Cities like Seattle, Portland, batten down the hatches. It's going to be a little stormy for Sunday, but then it should be nice as we look towards Thanksgiving.

LUI: But what about Wednesday? Tell me about Wednesday.


SCHNEIDER: Right. Wednesday looks good for these regions. However, we are going to see -- as I mentioned -- some rain, wind, and snow, possibly for the Great Lakes on Wednesday. Chance of snow in Minneapolis. Chance of snow in Cleveland. So, it will be a little stormy there.

NGUYEN: All right.

LUI: I want a better Wednesday. Give me a better one than that.


NGUYEN: We'll work on that and we'll get back to you.

LUI: Yes, exactly.

SCHNEIDER: Tell me where you're going.

LUI: All right. Thanks a lot.


LUI: Talk to you soon.

Have you ever tried to read all the way through a credit card contract?


LUI: Hopefully you haven't spent the time to do that.

(CROSSTALK) LUI: Yes, if you have.

NGUYEN: If you have, then you need a hobby.

LUI: Yes, exactly.

NGUYEN: But one man does have a plan to cut the contract, you know, many pages, page after page, down to one page. But as our Jessica Yellin reports, the credit card companies, they're not buying it.


JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Kiran, John, we've all heard endless horror stories about credit cardholders hit with unexpected rate hikes or penalty fees. Well, now, we met one man who says your credit card agreement can be crystal clear. He just needs Congress' help to make it a reality.

(voice-over): Americans swipe their credit cards 58 million times a day. But how many cardholders actually understand what they've signed up for?

Some in Congress are trying to get rid of the fine print in contracts like this one.

(on camera): Can you tell me what the annual percentage rate is? What the interest is?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I haven't a clue. It doesn't say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to give me about an hour. But at the end of the hour, I would say no.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's too much gobbledygook.

YELLIN (voice-over): To test it the point -- we sat down to read one.

(on camera): ... for the account and the person to whom we address billing statements...

(voice-over): So, how long did it take? Stay tuned.

Alan Siegel says it doesn't have to be this way. His company specializes in contract simplification. They've done it for the Internal Revenue Service, major banks and insurance companies.

ALAN SIEGEL, SIEGEL+GALE STRATEGIC BRANDING COMPANY: It's designed to be readable and it's totally plain English and we use personal pronouns instead of the party of the first part.

YELLIN: He says government regulators and credit card companies have both resisted simple contracts.

(on camera): Is it possible to have a credit card contract that anyone can understand?

SIEGEL: Absolutely.

YELLIN: How long does it have to be?

SIEGEL: I believe it can be one side of one piece of paper.

YELLIN (voice-over): In fact, he's created a sample. One page, here is the interest rate, here are the penalty fees. His testing shows a tenth grader could understand it.

(on camera): Have you shown this to any credit card company?


YELLIN: And what did they say?

SIEGEL: Panic.

YELLIN (voice-over): Some in Congress think card companies have a stake in keeping their products and their contracts confusing, and have proposed a new consumer protection agency that would work to make these agreements less complicated.

The American Bankers Association is fighting it.

NESSA FEDDIS, AMERICAN BANKERS ASSN.: There are other ways to address it rather having to create an expensive, big, bureaucracy.

YELLIN: Speaking for the credit card companies, she says government regulators are already working on streamlined new rules that will make credit card agreements clearer. But she insists credit card contracts can never be just one page, blamed the lawyers.

FEDDIS: Those contracts are based on lawsuits that have compelled them to use certain terms, certain words and to include certain information in order to have an enforceable contract. It's the nature of law.

YELLIN: Back to the current, complicated contract...

(on camera): ... authorization for us to collect the amount of the check electronically or...

(voice-over): It took 10 minutes to read one page, an hour for the whole thing. No wonder so few of us know what we've agreed to.

Jessica Yellin, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) NGUYEN: That is so true, because you're thinking, who has time to read this whole thing.

LUI: Jessica does!

NGUYEN: Yes. Over an hour. So good luck if you want to.

This isn't going to be that long, but very informative. I'm looking forward to it. Mitch Albom, you may know him, the best seller of "Tuesdays with Morrie." Well, he is talking religion today because he has a new book out called "Have a Little Faith." And really, the essence of it is: what if religion brought us together instead of dividing us.

So, we're going to be talking about that in our next half hour. You don't want to miss it.


NGUYEN: CNN Heroes. They have touched so many hearts and improved many, many lives.

LUI: And their stories resonated deeply with CNN viewers of who decided who would become the CNN Hero of the Year. That announcement came during a star-studded event that happened last night and CNN's Brooke Anderson has the story.


BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a night of tears...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God bless this country.


ANDERSON: ... and triumph. A night to honor everyday people doing extraordinary things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what? It's the Oscars of giving.

ANDERSON: Ten finalists for CNN Hero of the Year were recognized for helping others around the world. Among them, a 20-year-old amputee who's getting artificial limbs to kids who need them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that's every amputee's goal is to not be limited or defined by their situation.

ANNOUNCER: CNN hero Jordan Thomas.

JORDAN THOMAS, CNN HEROES HONOREE: This has been the greatest night of my life. So, thank you very much.

ANDERSON: And a Florida man who refused to stand by while his fellow vets suffered on the street.

ROY FOSTER, CNN HEROES HONOREE: There will be no man left behind as long as we are this nation.

ANDERSON: The heroes night began on a star-studded red carpet on Hollywood and continued inside the Kodak Theater, home of the Oscars, where musical greats paid tribute in song.

Some of Hollywood's biggest stars joined in.

NICOLE KIDMAN, ACTRESS: Let's honor our hero, Betty.

ANDERSON (on camera): How cool is tonight?

PIERCE BROSNAN, CNN HEROES PRESENTER: Truly cool. Truly memorable. Truly wonderful. Keep doing good things.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Two-point-seven million votes were cast online to determine which of the honorees would be named CNN Hero of the Year. The honor went to...



ANDERSON: Penaflorida created a classroom on wheels in his native Philippines to educate his nation's forgotten children.

EFREN PENAFLORIDA, CNN HERO OF THE YEAR: Each person has a hidden hero within.

ANDERSON: He received $125,000 to continue his work. The nine other honorees were awarded $25,000 each. No dollar value can be put on the inspiration they provide.

Brooke Anderson, CNN, Hollywood.


NGUYEN: It's always a great show. And really, you know, a wonderful way to show people just the wonderful things that many folks are doing around the world, not only here in the U.S., to help others.

LUI: Yes.

NGUYEN: And you can watch this entire, extraordinary event right here on CNN on Thanksgiving night at 9:00 Eastern and Pacific. Gather your family around because you, indeed, will be inspired.

Well, we are just three minutes away from the morning's top stories.

LUI: And what's next for health care reform? The question of the weekend.

"STATE OF THE UNION's" John King joins us live to talk about that and more when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LUI: All right. We've got the top stories for you right now. There's been a leak at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. But officials say it does not pose a threat to the public. They are investigating the cause and more than a dozen workers who were exposed to low levels of radiation yesterday have been decontaminated.

NGUYEN: Eighty-seven people now reported dead in that coal mine explosion in China. That is according to state-run media there. It happened in the northeastern part of the country. Twenty-one workers still, though, trapped under ground. It is believed that this was a gas explosion.

LUI: And officials in Indonesia say bad weather may have caused a deadly ferryboat accident early this morning. The boat was carrying more than 220 people between islands when it sank off the coast of Sumatra. Nine of the passengers were killed.

NGUYEN: All right. "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JOHN KING" coming up at the top of the hour. He joins us now live with a sneak peek.

Finally got that vote yesterday, John, but really, it's just the beginning, isn't it?

JOHN KING, HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": It is just the beginning. Good morning, guys.

It's one of these things that shows you -- sure, Democrats can claim progress, the White House can claim progress. They're going to have a debate on the Senate floor about health care. But they got just by barely -- all 60 Democrats and the two independents who caucus with the Democrats had to vote for this.

And even a number of Democrats who said, "Let's have the debate," say, "I don't like this bill, I don't like the public option. I want to take this out before we go forward."

So, we're going to go through this for weeks. It's quite telling to get one of those votes. They had to give Mary Landrieu, a conservative Democrat from Louisiana, up to $300 million in federal funding for her state.

So, this is going to be open market, I think, in some ways, as this goes forward. A lot of amendments, and I think a lot of other senators will say, "What can you do for my state?"

LUI: Talking about open market here, John, the question is, how much was spent just to get this first round of votes out?

KING: Well, and again, you give Mary Landrieu some support in her state, Senator Ben Nelson of Arkansas -- Nebraska, excuse me, there was one proposal to take away the antitrust exemption that insurance companies get. To keep him onboard, they took that out of the legislation. So, this just to get over the starting line, they had to do all this trading. Now, you've got to go through a whole bunch of amendments. You're going to need 60 votes, at least once, probably two or three times more throughout this process. So, what trading is left to come in the days and weeks ahead? That is the question in Washington this morning.

NGUYEN: Yes. And, you know, also this, John, and as we near the end of the year, a lot of people are still waiting to hear from the president about troops, increasing the troop level in Afghanistan. Do you think we're going to hear maybe a little bit more about that once the Thanksgiving holiday has come and gone?

KING: Betty, you hit a key point. Once the Thanksgiving holiday has come and gone, is what we're being told by officials at the White House and the Pentagon. And also, look for this to be not only a Washington announcement, but a global announcement. The administration has been working very hard to try to say it is not just the United States carrying the burden here, because we anticipate the president will send thousands more troops to Afghanistan. We know most of the country is divided about that. His own party is very much opposed to that.

So, the president is working with the NATO allies to try to get 3,000, maybe 4,000 more troops from the NATO allies to go in at the same time, so that he could make the case that the world sees Afghanistan as a huge problem that needs more reinforcements. But the administration is still pointing the finishing touches on that.

And that part of it is difficult at home, that part is difficult overseas as well. Remember, President Bush tried repeatedly to get the allies to give more troops into Afghanistan and he couldn't get it done. We'll see if Mr. Obama can.

NGUYEN: Yes, a lot of people are anxiously awaiting that decision.

All right, John King -- well, we are anxiously awaiting your show at the top of the hour.

"STATE OF THE UNION WITH JOHN KING" coming up at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

LUI: And guess whose new album drops this week? That's right, it's the Pope's. Details, coming up.


LUI: The Pope.


NGUYEN: Hello, everybody. Good morning and welcome back to CNN SUNDAY MORNING. I'm Betty Nguyen.

LUI: And I'm Richard Lui in for T.J. Holmes on this Sunday morning. And what we're looking at today is really the day after what was quite a vote on the Capitol. And you can see right now as we look at 8:30 in the morning on Washington D.C., it looks to be tranquil, but less than about well, about ten hours ago, it wasn't so. And that's because that Senate Democratic health care vote, that came out, over the overhaul motion and really did squeak by. We'll take a look at it.

NGUYEN: Yes, barely.

LUI: Barely, the numbers, let me tell you it needed 60 votes and that's exactly what it got. And, in fact, let's take a listen to what happened yesterday.


SEN. CHRIS DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: ...are 60, the nays are 39, three fifths of the senate has duly chosen and sworn and having voted in the affirmative, the motion is agreed to.


LUI: So the debate over the debate began yesterday morning, as we were telling you and went until the vote last night at 8:00 p.m. Arguments from both sides of the political aisle were passionate.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: A vote in favor of this bill tells every American family sitting in a waiting room tonight, wondering when they'll get to see a doctor or how much it's going to cost. It's not our concern.

And worst of all, a vote in favor of this bill is a vote in favor of the spending binge that's leading to a massive and unsustainable long-term debt that will shackle our children to a future they can't afford. That's what tonight's vote is all about.



SEN. HARRY REID (D) MAJORITY LEADER: So I say to my Republican senators, don't try to silence a great debate over a great crisis. Don't let history show that when given the chance to debate and defend your position, to work with us for the good of our country and constituents, you ran and hid. You cannot wish away a great emergency by closing your eyes and pretending it doesn't exist.


LUI: The president kept a low profile during the debate, but afterward, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued a statement saying this, quote, "The President is gratified that the senate has acted to begin consideration of health insurance reform legislation. Tonight's historic vote brings us one step closer to ending insurance company abuses, reining in spiraling health care costs, providing stability and security to those with health insurance and extending quality health coverage to those who lack it. Now, the President looks forward to a thorough and productive debate," end quote.

NGUYEN: Well speaking of debate, there has been a lot of debate about religion lately. But what if faith wasn't what separated us, but it was what brought us together? Well, that's what author Mitch Albom talks about in his new book called "Have a Little Faith." He is the author of bestsellers like "Tuesdays with Morrie" and "The Five People you Meet in Heaven."

He joins me now live from New York. Good morning Mitch.


NGUYEN: All right, I want to talk about this book because it's only your second nonfiction book, the first one being "Tuesdays with Morrie" of course, and it came by way of a rabbi asking you to write his eulogy, an 82-year-old man. That must have been a daunting request.

ALBOM: It was because I had been raised with faith, but it kind of walked away from it like a lot of people do when I gotten busy with my career. So who was I to do a eulogy for the man who does eulogies?

And the only thing I could think of was to try to get to know him away from the pulpit. You know away from the robes and it turned into an eight-year education. He lived in another eight years and by the time those eight years had passed, I'd learned quite a bit.

NGUYEN: And you say that you had a lot of cynicism about faith before you wrote this book. How so?

ALBOM: Well, I think like a lot of people, I focused on the scandals, the church scandals, ethnic cleansing, things that were done in the name of faith, that really had nothing to do with faith.

But getting to see this old man living a life of faith every day and also getting to see another man, which the book is also about -- it kind of moves between two world -- a pastor where I lived in Detroit who had once been a criminal and a thief and had turned his life around and now ministers to the poor and the church in Detroit that has a whole in its roof where the rain literally comes in.

Seeing these men going back and forth, two completely different worlds, black and white, Christian and Jewish, inner city and suburban; and yet, they were both united by this very powerful thing, this belief in something bigger than themselves and were able to overcome their obstacles that way.

I thought, well, all of us probably have our stories somewhere on the line between those two men. And that's what the book became.

NGUYEN: So do you think you know, this -- this wonderful power that you talked about, that was in these men's lives, is that something that can bring us as a people together. Even though we are of many faiths?

ALBOM: Absolutely. Towards the end of the Rabbi's life we were talking about heaven and he said he hoped he'd see me there many years from now. And I said, "Do you really think we're going to see each other again?" And he said, "Don't you?" And I said, "Well, let's face it I don't think I'm going where you're going."

And he said, "What do you mean?" And I said, "Come on, you're a man of God."

And he looked at me and he said, "But you're a man of God too, everyone is." And that statement was so significant, because that's what faith to me should be about; this very righteous man, putting himself on the same level as me.

Faith isn't about wagging a finger and saying, I'm more righteous than you are. It shouldn't be about wagging a finger and saying, mine is better than yours is. It should be about looking at one another and saying, you're a child of God too and therefore I have to treat you the same way I would I treat myself.

And if we did that, I do think that faith could be something no matter how it's practiced that could pull people together.

NGUYEN: If something what you're talking about is both understanding and tolerance; are we in a day and age where that is possible?

ALBOM: Well, it better be, because the alternative is pretty grim. And I think...

NGUYEN: And we've seen a lot of the alternative.


NGUYEN: I mean, a lot of the wars, a lot of the different attacks that we see around the world are the result of people that take religion to the extremes.

ALBOM: Yes, but taking religion to the extreme is not to me what faith is about. In fact, the rabbi said that me at one point, he said, "That's not faith, that's hate. And I think God cries when he sees that happening in his name."

There are -- most religions, most faiths share the same basic tenants: be good to one another; help the needy; respect the world that you're in and look to a higher power.

It's easy to focus on the similarities if we chose to, but it seems to be easier for a lot of people to focus on the differences.

I was moving in worlds that were very different to me. You know, I'm not used to the black church in Detroit. That wasn't my experience. But getting to know it and seeing it there, you know, it's not so scary all of a sudden. We have this thing about faith, if it's not ours, it can't possibly be good. That's not true. You just need to spend a little bit more time trying to understand the differences. And you'll see that there's actually a lot of similarities there as well.

NGUYEN: So were you proud of the eulogy that you wrote?

ALBOM: Well, I wish I didn't have to do it, but I think I did it probably better than I would have eight years earlier. And I'm also proud of the fact that as a result of the book and a foundation I started -- you know where 10 percent of the profits go to this, we were able to fix that hole in that church roof in Detroit.

In fact, we start tomorrow morning, thanks to donations from around the world, that a and that's just an effort, it's just the evidence of the fact that people coming together, literally from all over the world, from different faiths, sending in a dollar or this to that and this giant hole in the roof, that used to bring snow and rain in on this poor church in Detroit where homeless people literally sleep on the floor will now be fixed in time for Christmas and they'll have their first dry, warm Christmas in ten years.

NGUYEN: I love that. It's so wonderful. It's also proof that your words are uplifting and it causes people to create change. And so we appreciate you spending a little time with us today and sharing more of your words. Thank you.

ALBOM: And I appreciate your having me. Thank you.

NGUYEN: Sure -- Richard.

LUI: All right, thanks Betty. Interesting there.

New CDs by the way coming out this week from Rihanna, Lady Gaga and the leader of the Roman Catholic church. I didn't stutter there. Pope Benedict is dropping an album tomorrow, an "O Ye of Little Patience". We have a cut from it right now.




LUI: Well, what do you think? This album is called "Alma Mater, Music from the Vatican and it features the Pope singing and reading prayer passages with some backing by an orchestra.

And Betty, really interesting here.

NGUYEN: That's cool, yes you know...

LUI: A little sneak preview there.

NGUYEN: I wonder if there's going to be a remix. There's no auto tune nothing like that, I mean, hey, maybe they'll do a dance mix. Who knows?

LUI: It's going to be great.

NGUYEN: No, that's cool. I never knew that the Pope had albums.

LUI: Yes.

NGUYEN: He's dropping his new one and...

LUI: The Pope is cool.

NGUYEN: Although, I will tell you...

LUI: Yes.

NGUYEN: I've read a couple of reviews and you're listening to it, they weren't so hot.

LUI: Oh really so far, ok.

NGUYEN: Maybe the next one will be a little bit better. Who knows?

All right, we know, the government stimulus plan, how is that working for you? Well, some say it's not going as well as the White House claims it is. A surprising admission from the administration, that's coming up.

LUI: And, it's the $420,000 question. Who would spend that much money on a glove?


NGUYEN: All right. Time for a little "Extra Credit" this morning with Carl Azuz. What's up?

CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Good morning. How you all doing?

NGUYEN: Hey, doing well.

LUI: Good morning to you.

AZUZ: I have something a little bit different today. It's called news Q&A or alternatively, stump Richard and Betty.

LUI: Go do that.

NGUYEN: Oh, I just love these games.

AZUZ: It's multiple choice, you have a fighting chance.

NGUYEN: Ok, all right, all right.

AZUZ: But what these do is you know, every week we have questions that we give teachers to talk to students about and see how well they remember all of the things they saw on CNN Student News. And these are the places CNN Student News went this past week.

So here are our questions. Number one, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust helps orphaned elephants in which African nation?

LUI: That was a good story. That was great story of those elephants...

AZUZ: Yes.

NGUYEN: You said its multiple choice...

AZUZ: It's multiple choice you've got Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.

LUI: I got one.

NGUYEN: What do you say?

LUI: Kenya.

NGUYEN: Kenya.

AZUZ: Kenya, that's right. And it's a good thing I told Richard beforehand.

NGUYEN: Oh exactly.

AZUZ: He's really good, sorry, man, I had to out you there.

LUI: Geez.

AZUZ: Sorry, buddy.

LUI: I thought I was going to look smart at least for a second.

AZUZ: Cutting you no slack.

NGUYEN: All right, bring it, bring it let's got this one.

AZUZ: All right, second one?

This U.S. state is investing $300 million to be the home of Spaceport America and this is going to be an airport more for commercial space exploration. Here are your choices.


AZUZ: We've got New Mexico, Florida, or Nevada? Nevada, however you say it?

LUI: Nevada.

NGUYEN: NASA, Florida. Let's go with Florida.

LUI: New Mexico. AZUZ: That's a good guess on Florida, because that's why I put Florida in there, but it is New Mexico. And if you want to take a trip, they're selling tickets there and currently sold out, $200,000 a pop.

NGUYEN: Oh my goodness.

LUI: Wow.

AZUZ: I don't know where you're going to get that?

LUI: Betty, he told me that one too by the way.

NGUYEN: I don't even have a fighting chance of him. You've got the cheat sheet up here.


NGUYEN: Ok what's the other one?

AZUZ: Number three, the answer is...

NGUYEN: Ok, I got you.

AZUZ: Ok, here we go, so the third question, university officials in this U.S. state plan to raise tuition by 32 percent despite student protests.

LUI: Oh here we go.

NGUYEN: We've been talking about this one all morning. Yes, I didn't even need help on this. California, ding, ding, ding.

AZUZ: That is the one. And you know that hike is supposed to take place over two years, but despite students on several campuses...

NGUYEN: They are in an uproar. There's a sit-in going on right now in one of the halls there of the administration.

LUI: I was there in the '90s. When I was in college too, we also had a fee hike at that time. There were protests there too.

AZUZ: Ouch.

LUI: Yes, so it's happened a couple times during that state.

AZUZ: Well, those are the few of the places we've been and then domestically, just nationally...

LUI: Right.

AZUZ: ... we talked to students about a possible national soda tax. Now you know, alcohol, tobacco have taxes...

LUI: Right, right.

NGUYEN: Right.

AZUZ: This is not something that's currently on the floor of the U.S. Congress. But it's something that a lot of folks have been talking about, supporters saying it'll help decrease obesity, bring in billions of dollars. And opponents saying we don't need another tax in a recession.


NGUYEN: And what are the kids saying about that? You know how they love soda.

AZUZ: Exactly right and that's what we thought. And I was sure they would all think I will be awful but 46 percent said it's harmful, and that's true but a third of them said it was helpful. 21 percent said they couldn't decide. Now, it's not scientific...


AZUZ: ... it's from our quick poll at

LUI: Sure.

AZUZ: But I was just surprised that a third of them would actually consider supporting something like that.

NGUYEN: Well, I wonder if that's because a lot of the vending machines have been taken out at some of the schools, because of the different kind of snack that aren't so great for you, so they're kind of on that health kick now.

AZUZ: Absolutely. Yes, I mean, it's true, though, I don't know how I would have gotten through if they didn't have that Jolt vending machine. Holy cow, you can get through a two-hour quiz in about ten minutes.

NGUYEN: Right, now it's Red Bull, I mean, there's all kinds of other stuff out there.

AZUZ: Oh yes.

NGUYEN: All right, well, stick around, because this story is very interesting, especially with the money that it's raised.

LUI: Right. An iconic bid of Michael Jackson memorabilia fetches some big dollars here.

NGUYEN: Yes, up for bid was that glove that you see right there; the one that the late star wore in the 1983 at that concert when he first performed his trademark moonwalk dance.

All right, so we were thinking that, Carl, between $40,000 and $60,000. That's what they were estimating yesterday. Guess how much he got?

LUI: Well, I'm looking at the graphic right there, it's saying $420,000?

NGUYEN: Almost half a million dollars for that iconic glove.

AZUZ: Unbelievable.

NGUYEN: Yes, it's amazing.

AZUZ: Yes.

NGUYEN: But I even mentioned it yesterday, I can see how it would go for so much, because that is something that is just going to go up in price throughout the years.

AZUZ: Is it encrusted in diamonds?

NGUYEN: No, it's rhinestones.

AZUZ: Oh yes.

LUI: $84,000 a finger. $84,000 a finger.

NGUYEN: My goodness. But you know what, you know I doubt it will be on eBay, but you may see it in a museum or something like that.

LUI: Well, the top bidder was from China. It's whether that owner would actually like to bring it back to the States or perhaps put it in a museum in China.

NGUYEN: Maybe he wants to wear it around the house.

LUI: I hope not. Not to clean the house, please. You also buy what...

NGUYEN: Check for dust.

LUI: Yes, it raised something like $2 million for Jackson's estate in the end. A lot of people are still fans of him obviously.

NGUYEN: Oh gosh, absolutely.

LUI: Without a doubt.

NGUYEN: All right, well, thank you Carl, it's good seeing you.



AZUZ: Thank you guys very much.

LUI: Thanks Carl.

NGUYEN: A disaster in England that we just have to show you; some towns seeing the worst flooding in decades.

LUI: And we'll have that story and check your holiday travel as well.


NGUYEN: A lot of people prepared to travel this week. In fact, some are probably at the airport right now, headed home for the holiday, Thanksgiving on Thursday.

LUI: Yes. Absolutely. And on top of that, folks are heading to London, England. It's going to be very, very tough.

We were talking about how immense the amount of rain has been. Something like a foot in 10 days?

NGUYEN: It's the worst flooding in 1,000 years, correct?

LUI: Yes. They call it a 1,000-year flood. Bonnie Schneider is watching that for us. These are some of the pictures that residents are experiencing right there in Cockermouth, England; about 1,300 homes right now at risk.

Bonnie Schneider joins us right now. Bonnie, the question is, this is certainly epic in a bad way. How did this all come together?

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, Richard and Betty, atmospherically, we had several factors coming together where we saw so much rain in a such long period of time. I'd like to say a short period of time but it kept on raining. Actual tropical moisture from what was once hurricane Ida crossed the Atlantic entirely and then the problem was the storm was moving very slowly.

So as you can see here on Google Earth, I labeled the area in Cambria into northern central England. So, this region not only got rain, usually we have -- when low pressure systems move through there fast, they zip through maybe dump an inch or two of rain. But when you have a system that's a slow-mover and you have tropical moisture, well all that moisture comes up slowly but surely and the rain keeps coming for days and days and does not stop.

We actually call this affect training, because imagine if you had trains on a track going around and around in the same place, that's exactly what happened into England.

Now, we're also monitoring all of the travel weather for you across a good portion of the U.S. I want to show you that we are tracking the weather specifically for Wednesday, because Betty and Richard want to know what's happening on the busiest travel day of the year. I'm sure you do as well.

Mild conditions across the southeast, but we are going to see some travel trouble spots. Right now, if you're heading out to the airport, we have some delays in Atlanta; just a ground stop.

But I think on Wednesday, the trouble spot will actually be right here in the Great Lakes. Cold temperatures, there's a chance for snow Wednesday night in Minneapolis and a wintry mix, even in Chicago for Thanksgiving Day. The Great Lakes: your travel trouble spot; but the rest of the country, looking good. Nice and warm and mild across the southwest for Wednesday. But keep it tuned here, we'll keep you up to date on your travel updates.

That's a look at your weather. I'm Bonnie Schneider. Stay tuned CNN SUNDAY MORNING will be right back.


NGUYEN: A CNN Special Investigation, "KILLINGS AT THE CANAL: THE ARMY TAPES," that airs tonight at 8:00 Eastern.

LUI: And this is a story about the murders of three Iraqi detainees by three decorated army sergeants at a canal in Baghdad. And we've got a preview for you.


JOSHUA HARTSON, FORMER SOLDIER: My first sergeant comes up to me and asked me if I had a problem if we take care of them and I told him no.


HARTSON: To kill them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you shot him, just say you shot him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is going to be ugly because it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You wouldn't have so much question in your mind right now if you didn't know what happened.

BOUDREAU: Did you ever think that your husband was capable of killing like this?


MICHAEL LEAHY, FORMER ARMY SERGEANT: I said, honey, I'm going to tell you something. And I understand if you don't forgive me, but I'm not a good person.

BOUDREAU: Why didn't you report it right away?


DAVID COURT, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL LEAHY: If I were Sergeant Cunningham, I'd be worried that having broken the band of brothers, something might happen to me.

CUNNINGHAM: I did the right thing.

BOUDREAU: These men were convicted of premeditated murder.


BOUDREAU: But you still call them heroes?


M. LEAHY: I'm not going to say I didn't hit him because I'm not sure anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're saying you witnessed people taking those detainees out of (INAUDIBLE).

LEAHY: I don't consider myself a murderer. I made a huge mistake in my life that I know I have to accept the consequences for.

CUNNINGHAM: I think a lot of soldiers were betrayed. I think the wrong thing was done for someone's ego.

M. LEAHY: I'm not a good person because I murdered someone in Iraq.

BOUDREAU: This is premeditated murder. You thought you could keep this a secret?


LUI: CNN tonight: was it murder or battlefield justice? See what CNN uncovered and then decide for yourself. "KILLINGS AT THE CANAL: THE ARMY TAPES," a CNN Special Investigation; CNN tonight at 8:00 Eastern.


LUI: Counting up the jobs created or saved by the stimulus is not so simple. Now the White House is backing away from some of its initial claims and Kitty Pilgrim tells us, many are still waiting to see the benefits.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Allison Barber graduated from Colorado State University last May in one of the worst fields to find a job, construction management. She was surprised when a Denver area company, flush with stimulus money, recruited her after attending a college job fair.

ALLISON BARBER, CASTLE ROCK CONSTRUCTION CO: A lot of our projects that Castle Rock has going on right now are stimulus funded, so that made, you know, a lot of money available to hire new employees, like myself.

PILGRIM: Castle Rock Construction Company says it was able to save 40 to 50 jobs using stimulus money it received for three projects. Allison is managing two projects that will give her work through July of next year and she says she is grateful for the work.

Some of her classmates may not be as lucky. Colorado has an unemployment rate of 6.9 percent compared to a national average of 10.2 percent. BARBER: There's no doubt about it that our industry is, you know, being greatly influenced by all the money that is flowing from the stimulus package.

PILGRIM: The Obama administration is under attack from Republicans in Congress who claim it is overstating the number of stimulus jobs created. And significant errors have been found on the list of stimulus jobs on the government Web site,

On Thursday, testifying before the house oversight and reform committee, Earl Devaney, the head of the government watchdog agency for the stimulus program, admitted the claim stimulus money had saved or created jobs 640,000 was inaccurate.

EARL DEVANEY, RECOVERY ACCOUNTABILITY & TRANSPARENCY BOARD: I have no doubt there are a lot of jobs being created. I think it could be above or below 640,000. I think missing reports might drive the job numbers up and I think there's enough inaccuracies in here to question the 640,000 number. It might go down.

PILGRIM: The White House touted its job creation figures a few weeks ago to show that the $787 billion stimulus package already is reaping benefits. While Congress looks into that, Allison is simply grateful for the work, no matter what the duration.

BARBER: A lot of them may look like short-term projects, but a job is a job, and if any jobs are created, I think the stimulus package is doing what it's meant to do.

PILGRIM: Kitty Pilgrim, CNN.


NGUYEN: Well, "STATE OF THE UNION" starts at the top of the hour. I do want to thank Richard Lui...

LUI: Thanks for having me.

NGUYEN: ... for sitting in for T.J. this weekend. He did a great job; enjoyed having you here.

LUI: Thank you, Betty. It's always a good time.

NGUYEN: All right. He pays me to say that.

LUI: I do.

NGUYEN: All right. We have the morning headlines coming up right now. Here they are.

Democrats in the U.S. Senate stop Republican efforts to prevent a debate on that $848 billion health care overhaul plan. The senators are headed home for the Thanksgiving holiday. And when they return, they will begin debate on the plan itself.

You know, there's been a leak at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, but officials say it does not pose a threat to the public. Still, though, they are investigating the cause. More than a dozen workers who were exposed to low levels of radiation yesterday have been decontaminated.

As I mentioned, "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JOHN KING" comes up at the top of the hours. It is that time and let's throw it over to John King.