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Obama Names Duncan as Education Secretary; Federal Reserve May Cut Interest Rates Again; Illinois Legislative Discusses Impeachment; Tips for Laid-Off Employees

Aired December 16, 2008 - 13:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Can this man fix the nation's schools? Barack Obama finds an education secretary from the mean streets and gym floors of Chicago. Already, he's a team player.

After 27 years, case closed? Police in Florida set to solve a murder that sparked a movement. The victim was Adam Walsh.

And the hours are long. The breaks are short. And Scrooges need not apply. But if you fit the bill as Santa's helper, you're in for a dream Christmas.


PHILLIPS: And hello everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips live at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Keep your friends close and your scandal-ridden home-state governors as far away as possible. That would seem to be the lesson as the president-elect picks an education secretary and takes a reporter to school when he strays off topic.

But first, Brianna, tell us about the education secretary.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, Arne Duncan is the choice for education secretary, who is palatable to various and sometimes opposing constituencies in the American education system, for instance, teachers' unions or reformers who are pushing for charter schools.

So this is someone with broad appeal as President-elect Barack Obama's education envoy, to help him out as he pushes to fulfill his campaign promises of basically increasing the standards of standardized tests and pumping more money into the U.S. education system.

Now, Arne Duncan is the head of Chicago public schools. This is the third largest school district in the United States. And he will become part of a very small club of education secretaries coming from urban school districts.


BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: So when Arne speaks to education -- to educators across America, it won't be from up in some ivory tower, but from the lessons he has learned during his years changing our schools from the bottom up.

I remember a conversation we had about one of those lessons a while back. We were talking about how he'd managed to increase the number of kids taking and passing A.P. courses in Chicago over the last few years. And he told me that, at the end, the kids weren't any smarter than they were three years ago. Our expectations for them were just higher.


KEILAR: Duncan also has a personal connection to the president- elect. He plays basketball with Barack Obama. In fact, he was actually a professional basketball player in Australia. So kind of an interesting resume there, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: And there's always a connection with the basketball.

All right. Did Obama say anything about the Blagojevich controversy?

KEILAR: Yes, he did. He just can't shake this. It's been a distraction for his team.

This came today when a reporter from the "Chicago Tribune" asked Obama if his previous comments about kind of having a hands-off approach when it comes to being interested in who replaces him in the Senate, is that, those comments square with a "Chicago Tribune" report that Obama's incoming chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, was actually on some of these wiretapped conversations with the governor's office, talking, indeed, about the replacement for Obama in the Senate.

Here's what Obama said.


OBAMA: We've done a full review of this. The facts are going to be released next week. It would be inappropriate for me to comment. Because, for example, the story that you just talked about in your own paper, I haven't confirmed that it was accurate, and I don't want to get into the details at this point. So do you have another question?


KEILAR: So again, it's important to note that there are no allegations from prosecutors of wrongdoing on the part of Obama or his staff. But as you can see, Kyra, this Blagojevich scandal continuing to be a headache for the Obama team, and its really taking them off message consistently at their press conferences.

PHILLIPS: All right. Brianna, thanks so much.

All right. Well, a terrible time to go off-roading in San Francisco. A flash flood trapped three men inside their SUV. The water pushed the vehicle 15 to 20 feet downstream before the men could be rescued.

Record-breaking rainfall has been reported across Southern California now.

And a long wait in the bitter cold for some Denver area school kids. The temperatures hitting a record 19 degrees below zero Monday morning. Diesel fuel turned to gel, and some school buses wouldn't even start. Others just conked out on the road.

And in Jefferson County, Colorado's biggest school district, 145 buses broke down. That's nearly half the fleet.

More on the wintry weather across America. Let's get to meteorologist Chad Myers in the weather center.

Hey, Chad.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You remember those days. Don't you, Kyra?

PHILLIPS: Growing up in Jacksonville, Illinois, absolutely.

MYERS: And you had to put the dry gas in your tank. And if you forget about it, your fuel line's messed up.

PHILLIPS: I just wanted to hear it on the radio that we didn't have to go to school. That's all I worried about. Now as an adult, you know, you think differently.

MYERS: And then you've got diesel at 10 degrees below zero. That's like trying to get molasses to flow through a very small pipe.


PHILLIPS: All right, Chad. Thanks.

MYERS: You're welcome.

PHILLIPS: Well, how low can they go? They being the interest rate gatekeepers at the Federal Reserve, who are deciding as we speak whether to cut the costs of borrowing to an all-time low.

CNN's Christine Romans watching from New York.

Christine, will another half percent or so make any difference?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Will it make any difference? I don't know. You know, we've had 4.25 percentage-point rate cuts over the past year, so more than a year. And has it made any difference? Well, look at the economy. The economy has continued to deteriorate.

I guess you could argue that things could have been a lot worse without all those rate cuts, but there is the feeling that it's what the Fed has been doing outside of lowering interest rates that has been, you know, maybe even more important and more telling. How low can they go? It's going to be a history-making afternoon, Kyra. There's no doubt about it. I mean, you've got interest rates already in historically low 1 percent. They could cut that in half to half a percent. I mean, that's essentially as close as you can get to free money. You know? Borrowing money for free that you possibly can.

The idea is they're trying to juice the economy. They're trying to get the money flowing again in the economy. This is one of the ways traditionally that has worked.

What they say outside of cutting rates, Kyra, will be very, very important. Will they announce new kinds of plans to buy up treasury- related assets, to push down mortgage rates? Well, they say they want mortgage rates to be lower next year. Will that maybe help spark some recovery in the housing market? Who knows?

What are they going to say in the statement about credit crisis, about the labor market? What they say will be incredibly important here today. But make no mistake about it: if they cut interest rates, as expected, by half a -- half a percentage point, it will be history.

PHILLIPS: All right. We'll be tracking it and be waiting.

Christine, thanks.

Transition to power is the focus of team Obama, but the focus in Springfield is just the opposite. A potential transition from power of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

A legislative panel is hard at work on what may become articles of impeachment arising in part from the governor's alleged scheme to sell Obama's old Senate seat.

CNN's Ed Lavandera has the latest.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The political world in the state of Illinois is essentially at a stalemate. State lawmakers continue the proceedings of impeachment against the governor of Illinois.

Meanwhile, the governor and his attorney say that he has no intention of resigning and will continue to fight the charges, and the impeachment charges that are being brought again him.

So state lawmakers are down in Springfield, beginning the proceedings of impeachment. And while they stay that it would just be a lot easier and spare the state a lot of drama if the governor would simply resign, that's not going to happen. And that's coming as a great frustration for state lawmakers, who say this impeachment proceeding could take weeks, if not months.

JOHN FRITCHEY (D), ILLINOIS GENERAL ASSEMBLY: It's been no secret that I've been critical of the governor over the last several years. That being said, I sincerely echo the comments of my colleagues. I truly take no glee and satisfaction in being here. I've been here 12 years, longer than many of the people in legislature but shorter than some, but I will submit to say that I doubt any of us will find ourselves in a more solemn role than we do presently.

LAVANDERA: As for Governor Rod Blagojevich, on the surface, it is business as usual. He left his home in Chicago this morning and went to work at his state office here in the city.

His spokesperson tells us that he continues to work on state business, including signing several bills into legislation, including one of which, ironically enough, was mentioned in the criminal complaint against him last week by investigators here in Chicago. One of those in the complaint, that mentions that the governor had asked for some sort of bribe in exchange for his support for the bill.

So on the surface it is business as usual, but clearly, everyone knows that is not the case.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Chicago.


PHILLIPS: Well, there's already one Kennedy isn't in the Senate. Is another one on the way? We're going to look into that.

And it's standard procedure when you leave a big job: the exit interview. Ahead, Candy Crowley's exclusive Q&A with President Bush.


PHILLIPS: Well, many presidents in the last few weeks of their second terms find themselves in the background, under the radar, transitioning to life as a semi-private citizen. But President Bush had a lot to talk about when he sat down today with our Candy Crowley, and the shoes were only part of it.

Candy Crowley joins me live from the White House.

Hey, Candy. Good to see you.


You know, we did talk about the shoes. We talked about the state of the economy, and whether he would bailout the auto industry. Reading between the lines, the answer is yes there, but they're not ready to announce anything.

But if you were going to look at George Bush's presidency in an exit interview, basically, you have to start with Iraq.


CROWLEY: Some of the criticism of you is, he doesn't listen to outside voices, doesn't hear people telling him to do something different than what he wants to do. Were there people saying to you, "Mr. President, you need think about getting out right now?"

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Absolutely. I heard all kinds of voices. There's urban myths in Washington, D.C., and you know, of course I listened to -- I listened to a lot of people before we went into Iraq. And I listened to a lot of people, including in my own administration, who said, "It's just not working. Let get out." And I listened very carefully to them, and, obviously, came to a different conclusion.


CROWLEY: Kyra, the president also said that, yes, there was a time he worried that Iraq was not winnable, but obviously, as history will record, and as his legacy will show, he continued on, despite the unpopularity of the war and the much tougher slog that it proved to be than anyone had envisioned -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: So Candy, did he have the opportunity? Were there people advising him, "Look, you know, Saddam Hussein's now been found in this, you know, spider hole. Let's just find someone else to run that country, and let's get out of here"?

CROWLEY: He said, yes. He said, you know -- he said that there were times, I think he said in 2006, when people told him, "OK, get out."

But he also said that there were people inside his administration and outside who said, when Saddam Hussein was captured, "OK. Let install our own guy, and let's get out of here."

Now, he phrased it, saying, "Who cares about democracy? Let's just put our own strong man in and leave." So I don't know if those were the exact words of the people advising him, but clearly, that's what he thought about such a proposal. But it would just be the U.S. installing someone else and, again, clearly, he didn't take that advice.

PHILLIPS: Candy Crowley. Always good to see your stuff. Candy, thanks.

CROWLEY: Thanks, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, you can see Candy's entire interview this afternoon, "THE SITUATION ROOM," 4:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

Rescue crews searching for the Caribbean for a plane carrying 12 people. The Atlantis Airlines plan took off from the Dominican Republic yesterday, headed to Turks and Caicos. It sent out an emergency signal before disappearing off the radar. The U.S. Coast Guard is helping with that search.

And in Israel, a deadly tourist bus accident. At least 22 Russians were killed when their bus flipped over and plunged some 200 feet down a ravine. Nearly three dozen others were injured. It happened near the Red Sea's resort of Eilat. The group had just arrived in Israel from St. Petersburg on vacation when that accident happened.

And a potentially explosive situation in a major department store in central Paris. Five sticks of dynamite were find -- found tied together in the Printemps store. Police say that no detonator was connected to those explosives, and a group claiming responsibility for the incident is demanding that France pull its troops out of Afghanistan.

That group sent a letter, claiming to have placed bombs in several locations of that store. It's not clear if the explosives were found in all those areas.

Twenty-seven years after his murder, the Adam Walsh case may finally be closed. Florida police holding a news conference today. We've got a preview.


PHILLIPS: Well, your boss has just dropped the bomb. You're going to be out of a job. Definitely news that will make your head spin, but it's such an important time to keep your head.

Personal finance editor Gerri Willis doing a series this week, a layoff survival guide, shall we say? Today Gerri's looking at those minutes and hours right after the ax falls.

Gerri, what should employees expect?

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Well, you know, first off, mass layoffs at big companies, like the ones we've heard about, Kyra, are highly orchestrated by lawyers to keep the company's legal liability to a minimum. So it starts out, you get an interview, an exit interview with your manager. Right? The employer asks you to sign a release form in order to get severance. It's a good idea to have the form looked over by an attorney first.

Now, this is your opportunity to ask for a referral. Do it. Who could turn you down at this time of year?

Next, call the payroll department. Find out what the company currently owes you. This is critical for folks who are paid on commission. And this is not a call you want to make next week from your kitchen. Get it. Do it now.

PHILLIPS: And that's it. Acting quickly. And how do you even know what to take with you or where do you even start? Because obviously, you probably won't be thinking very straight at that point.

WILLIS: Yes, you won't be thinking straight, and the fact is you probably won't be allowed to take much. Leave the company laptop, PDA, but take your personal effects, like photos. Even getting out your Rolodex could be tough at this point. Taking company property may jeopardize any commission you may be planning on getting.

Remember, customer lists, propriety data, are verboten. Stay away. If you come to work one day, I mean, some folks, it's not a big company. It's a small one, right? They come to work. The place is shut down permanently. You may have recourse for back pay.

There's a federal law called the Warren Act. It requires employers to give 60 days' notice and pay them through that period. So if you have a problem like this, call the Department of Labor. They have a phone number especially for this: 1-866-4-US-WAGE.

PHILLIPS: What about Unemployment?

WILLIS: Well, you'd think that filing for Unemployment would be a no-brainer. Not really. It takes two to three weeks for the benefits to start. So the sooner you file, the more -- the sooner you get your money.

And the truth is, you'll be lucky if jobless benefits covers just a third of your salary. The average worker gets less than 300 bucks a week. But your amount is based on your earnings. Benefits extend for 26 weeks, but the federal government just expanded that by another 20 in areas that are really hard-hit by unemployment.

Go to to find your state's unemployment insurance Web site. Now remember here, Kyra, the world is different. Now, you typically call on the phone or you file for uninsurance (sic) over the Web. So there's no place to go. You just pick up the phone, and those phone lines apparently are full. So you may have to be patient with that.

If you have a job-related question, send it to me at Love to hear from you. I love to hear your questions and your comments about issues such as this.

PHILLIPS: Gerri, thanks.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

PHILLIPS: And if you're trying to find a job right now and you do have some questions, send us an e-mail. I'm going to be joined by a career coach in the next hour. We'll read some of your questions on the air, hopefully get some answers you'll want to hear. Send your e- mail to

Kennedy, it's one of the most famous names in the history of American politics. Will it be the name of New York's next U.S. senator? We'll take a look.


PHILLIPS: Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, and you're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

1:26 Eastern time. Here are some of the stories we're working on in the NEWSROOM.

President-elect Barack Obama filling out his cabinet. Today he named a basketball buddy and experienced educator, Arne Duncan, as he education secretary. Duncan is the head of the Chicago school system and an advocate of holding teachers and schools accountable for student test scores.

Illinois lawmakers are taking on a weight [SIC] responsibility today. They're discussing the possibility of impeaching scandal- ridden Governor Rod Blagojevich. A panel is looking at the corruption charges against him.

And you know her name, her face, and her family. Now Caroline Kennedy wants to join her uncle in the U.S. Senate? Let's head to politics and growing speculation that another Kennedy could be heading to the U.S. Senate.

New York Governor David Paterson, who will choose a successor to Senator Hillary Clinton, confirms that Caroline Kennedy is interested in Clinton's seat.

CNN's Mary Snow has the latest buzz.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Caroline Kennedy is ready to step into the public eye that she's worked to avoid for most of her life. The 51-year-old daughter of the late president, John F. Kennedy, told Democratic officials she's interested in filling the Senate seat now held by Senator Hillary Clinton, assuming her nomination as secretary of state is confirmed.

New York Governor David Paterson has the power to appoint a replacement and says he's spoken with Kennedy.

GOV. DAVID PATERSON (D), NEW YORK: She told me she was interested in the position. She realized that it was not a campaign, but she was talking to other people because she thought that a number of people, she felt, should know that she's interested in the position.

SNOW: Kennedy has largely stayed out of the public eye until this year, when she endorsed Barack Obama during the Democratic primary. She even campaigned for him.

CAROLINE KENNEDY, POSSIBLE SENATE CANDIDATE: I have never had a candidate who inspires me the way people tell me my father inspired them. But I do now.

SNOW: Kennedy is an attorney, author and mother of three. She oversees her father's presidential library, and in New York she's worked to raise money through private partnerships for New York City public schools.

The schools' chancellor, Joe Klein, supports her and so does New York Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, who endorsed Kennedy, crediting her skills and intellect.

But some Democrats in New York have questioned her qualifications. And New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer was asked whether he thought she was qualified.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: I think there are 12 candidates whose names have been mentioned. I think every one of them is qualified.

SNOW: One of the candidates whose name has been thrown out, state attorney general Andrew Cuomo, who was once married to Caroline's cousin, Kerry. One Democratic strategist says one thing is certain: this will be a hotly contested seat.

HANK SHEINKOPF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: What you do know is Caroline Kennedy has no public profile, has never served in a legislative office. Frankly, nobody knows much about her. And the Kennedy name? Well, this is not 1960 anymore. This is 2008.

SNOW (on camera): And in 2010, whoever replaces Senator Clinton will face a special election. New York Republican Congressman Peter King is interested and tells CNN that Caroline Kennedy's news makes him more determined than ever to run. He tells us that he feels strongly, in his words, that no one has a hereditary right to a Senate seat.

Mary Snow, CNN, New York.


PHILLIPS: Well, Caroline Kennedy isn't the only big name entered in the New York Senate sweepstakes. There's also actress Fran Drescher, the nasal-voices star of TV's "The Nanny." Laugh if you like, but since a bout with cancer, Drescher has been an outspoken advocate for women's health care.

She was a guest on CNN's "LARRY KING LIVE" and Larry asked her about Caroline Kennedy.


FRAN DRESCHER, ACTRESS: I spoke at Senate hearings and during black caucus week I was on the panel. And cancer, you know, hearings, and I -- and you know, don't forget, I was the creative and executive producer of "The Nanny." I mean, I have been a successful businesswoman for many years. And I -- I like talking to people and I like dealing with problems and solving problems.


PHILLIPS: While Fran Drescher is well known if her own right, two of the other New York Senate hopefuls, Caroline Kennedy and Andrew Cuomo are the children of well-known political leaders. CNN's Frank Sesno will join us to talk about political dynasties in the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM.


PHILLIPS: Protecting the new president. Just one of the challenges ahead on Inauguration Day? Security officials already in high gear getting ready for January 20th.

CNN's Jim Acosta takes a look.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Barack Obama should have an easy time getting to the inauguration with plans to travel by railroad as he did during the campaign through Pennsylvania. But the incoming president will arrive in a nation's capital that's become a fortress in recent years, a fortress that will scratched by an avalanche of people.

MAJ. GEN. RICHARD J. HOWE JR., MILITARY TASKFORCE: I think we will have the best attended inauguration in the history of our great country.

ACOSTA: The man in charge of the military task force responsible for protecting the nation's capital says the Secret Service along with a slew of federal and local agencies are preparing for the unexpected.

How is the communication between the different agencies?

HOWE: Great question. We've had 91 exercises as of last Friday.

ACOSTA: Going through different scenarios?

HOWE: Different scenarios, different possibilities, getting people safely to the events and helping get them safely back home.

ACOSTA: Just how to evacuate what's expected to be a jam-packed national mall in an emergency is one such scenario. The city is planning widespread road closures. The district's metro system will be overwhelmed.

STEVEN TAUBENKIBEL, D.C. METRO SPOKESPERSON: We've never seen anything like this at all in this region for us.

ACOSTA: Transit police are weighing whether to conduct random checks of backpacks and subway escalators could be shut down if too many people are crowing in the stations.

(on camera): So if there are too many people, you have to turn these off?

TAUBENKIBEL: Yes. We said that. We will do that.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Then there's the matter of protecting the new president. Former Secret Service agent, Reginald Bald, says Mr. Obama may want to avoid any long walks down the parade route.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sure the Secret Service has done a really good job on briefing him about threats and what precautions that they need to take to protect him. He wants to be out in the open, but he also understands what's at stake.

ACOSTA (on camera): The Secret Service is now dismissing early estimates of 4 million people at the inaugural. It may be more like one and a half. Still, inauguration watchers may want to wear their best walking shoes. People from D.C. and nearby Virginia, are being urged to travel on foot.

Jim Acosta, CNN, Washington.


PHILLIPS: Well, it was a crime that horrified the nation and sent a grieving father on his life's mission. The 1981 kidnapping and murder of 6-year-old Adam Walsh, was never officially solved. But today, police in Florida are expected to say, case closed.

They're holding a news conference that John Walsh will attend and they'll reportedly name a longtime suspect as the killer. Ottis Toole twice confessed to killing Adam, then he recanted. He was eventually convicted of three other murders and died in prison in 1996. The police news conference is scheduled for 2:30 Eastern time. We'll be covering that. We'll bring you much more next hour.

It's important health news for you. There's been progress in the battle against colon cancer. But there's a widening gap between blacks and whites when it comes to surviving the disease.


PHILLIPS: Well, colon cancer kills 49,000 Americans each year. And a new report out from the American Cancer Society says the disease is not color blind. Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen, here with all the details.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a very difficult story, because there is something that can help prevent colon cancer and the problem is, is that many Americans are not getting it. It's called a colonoscopy. It can prevent you from getting colon cancer. And the problem here in this new study is African-Americans are less likely to get colonoscopies than white Americans are.

So, let's take a look at these numbers. African-Americans, a 45 percent higher chance of dying from colorectal cancer than their white counterparts. There's no genetic reason for this. It is all about a lack of screenings.

PHILLIPS: So, you know, at what age are you supposed to get a colonoscopy? I mean, you and I were just talking about it. Oh, we've got various family members, or friends.

And at what age is, you know, the proper time to do it? Or --

COHEN: Right. And I mentioned, I haven't had one yet. So, I can't share the experience. Because I'm not 50. And you said, really Elizabeth, you're not 50?


PHILLIPS: I thought you said you were 50, and I was thinking you do not look 50.

COHEN: Not having the --

PHILLIPS: Let's just clear the air, here.

COHEN: Not having reached the 50 mark, I have not had a colonoscopy, since I don't have a family history. But, let's take a look at what some of the rules are.

The basic rule of thumb, is that you get your first colonoscopy at 50. But that you're supposed to get sooner if you have any kind of family history of polyps, of colon cancer, of various GI problems. So, you definitely want to talk to your doctor if you seem to remember, oh, what did granny have and when did she have it? You definitely want to chat with your doctor about getting it done before age 50.

PHILLIPS: And these aren't perfect procedures, either. A lot of people think oh, if I get a colonoscopy I'm fine. I get everything checked out. But, not necessarily the case.

COHEN: Right. It doesn't find everything. It doesn't find every last polyp. I mean, you still can get colon cancer following a colonoscopy.

And there's a new study out that finds that there are certain problems with colonoscopies. That they don't work perfect. But, the bottom line is, is that even the people who wrote the study say get your colonoscopy, it's incredibly important.

You know, there are some cancers we can't do anything about. You can't prevent them. This is a cancer that you can prevent. So, doctors get especially frustrated because you can prevent it, and not enough people take advantage of that.

PHILLIPS: Well, good advice. Thank you.

Well, students in a Colorado elementary school teaching lessons in charity. They took their love for their cancer-stricken \teacher to the next level. 35-year-old Jewely Del Duca is fighting Stage 4 colon cancer and couldn't get her insurance company to cover an advanced type of treatment. That's when two of her fourth grade students started the True Gift Fund.

They convinced other students to give up their Christmas gifts actually and donate the money to the fund. We actually interviewed her a number of weeks ago, followed up on the fund, and here's what she had to say recently.


JEWELY DEL DUCA, FOURTH GRADE TEACHER: You think about what it was like for me to be a kid and Christmas. And to give up something that I've wanted, maybe all year long I've wanted it. And to give it up for another human being is -- such a mark of empathy.


PHILLIPS: Well, so far the fund is up to $6,000. The goal is $25,000.

Well, forget the grumpy old man stereotype. A new study suggests that older people are happier than you might think. And one reason may be the way they filter information.

Researchers at Duke University had adults in their 20s and 70s look at the neutral photos, such as a cup and negative photos, such as mutilated bodies. Well, older people could remember just as many neutral images as those in the 20s. But they remembered significantly fewer of the unpleasant negative images. Researchers say that there is a difference in how older adults process emotions and that may be why they are more content. You can see the entire report in the January issue of Psychological Science.

Well, geez, no wonder he's so jolly. Turns out Santa can pull in a nice profit this time of year. Josh Levs has a look at Saint Nick's sizable salary.



PHILLIPS: Well, we keep hearing about how the economy is affecting everyone. So, how are Santas' earnings this season? Josh Levs is checking that twice.

What did you find out, Josh? They do actually pretty well, don't they?

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know what? It's actually really interesting. Yes. We decided to get to the bottom of things here. We paid a visit to a mall. We found that Santa and his cookie jar are actually doing pretty much as well as ever.


LEVS (voice-over): Every year he make his appearances at malls across the U.S. And at a time when many people are cutting back, mall properties like this one in Atlanta, feel Santa is a crucial part of their marketing strategy.

DEWAYNE HERBERY, MARKETING DIR., LENOX SQUARE MALL: Santa brings this experience that I think, of shoppers look for during the holiday season. And most of our malls have a Santa. And this particular Santa that we have at Lenox, is very special. He's been around 12, or 13 years. Customers and shoppers get accustomed to the Santa of their choice and every year, that's that holiday tradition.

LEVS: Little Peyton (ph) had her first photo with Santa, joining the Kerouac (ph) family tradition.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We grew up here in Atlanta, and have been coming to Santa at Lenox for all my life. And I think actually my grandfather helped build this mall. So it's in the family.

LEVS: Cousin Henry gave Santa his list.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is the children. If you didn't like the children, you couldn't come in here and sit for 10 or 11 hours a day and talk. So the kids make it all fun.

LEVS: Of course, there is a practical benefit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Santa works for cookies and milk and carrots for the reindeer.

LEVS: It is a bit more than that. According to one expert, Santa can make quite a few cookies, anywhere from minimum wage to $175 cookies an hour.

AL LEE, "DR. SALARY," PAYSCALE.COM: This is mostly driven by national photography companies who often provide the Santas to many different malls.

LEVS: Speciality companies like the Noerr Programs Corporation.

JUDY NOERR, PRES. NOERR PROGRAMS CORP.: We are a year-round operation. We have around 18 people during the year, full time people, at our corporate headquarters. And then we gear up, practically over night, to around 2,000 people for Christmas.

LEVS: She says her company hired a few more Santas than last year. How much each makes depends on a few factors.

NOERR: Some Santas, a lot of cookies, and some Santas, a few cookies. And it really -- a lot of it depends on that persona that the Santa has and how he builds his rapport with the people.

LEVS: From the smiles of the faces around him, it looks like Santa may be one person who won't have to tighten his belt this year.


PHILLIPS: Well, there might be some competition to get to be a Santa who takes a lot of cookies home, right?

What does an aspiring Santa need to know?

LEVS: There is some is competition actually.

I'll tell you what, let's put it this way, Santa has a real beard. And Dr. Salary, who you just saw in that piece, he told us that is one of the biggest things because kids, they can figure that out. Santa also has a real full-face, no pillow in the shirt, real Santa build, and he is Santa 24/7 for the whole holiday season. Santa does not get spotted being unSanta-like at a restaurant or anywhere for that matter. And one more piece of advice from Dr. Salary, have a great insurance plan. Keep in mind, Santa, kids are going to be crawling all over you, tugging at your beard, coughing, sneezing -- you've got to know how not to get sick so you can stay jolly the whole holiday season, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Yes, I have seen kids throw punches, too, and a few kicks in unwanted places.

LEVS: Yes, I was thinking about mentioning that. But it's better coming from you.

PHILLIPS: Well you know, Santa makes a lot of those kids cry. Poor things, they get scared.

Thanks, Josh.


PHILLIPS: Yes, exactly.

Well, if you are trying to find a job right now and you have some questions, send us an e-mail. I'm going to be joined by a career coach in the next hour. We're going to read your questions on the air, hopefully get some answers for you. Just send your e-mail to

We have some developing news for you now out of Bellingham, Washington. Apparently 19 people have been taken to the hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning. Apparently they either worked or were at the Bellingham Cold Storage, that is a warehouse for frozen products there in Bellingham, and according to a P.R. representative for St. Joseph's Hospital it happened this morning.

They received about 19 patients from the Bellingham Cold Storage that had the carbon monoxide poisoning. Three of those patients have been transferred to a Seattle area hospital where they're actually going to be placed in a hyperbaric chamber. And then the other 16 patients we're told are in stable condition.

So we'll bring you more information as we get it and update you on that story.

We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.


PHILLIPS: Well, twin brothers are going on craigslist to get a date. It was actually their little sister's idea though. Kristin Walters can't do chores or babysit to make money because she has muscular dystrophy, so she has devised an ingenuous plan. She is selling a date with her brothers, Ryan and Rob, to raise some cash.


KRISTIN WALTERS, SELLING DATE WITH BROTHERS: So I called my brother, Rob, who lives in Nevada, and I'm like, what would you think of the idea if we sold like a date with you and Ryan?

ROB WALTERS, KRISTIN'S BROTHER: I'll do anything for my little sister. A date to get her a little bit of money, that's definitely not too much to ask to say the least.


PHILLIPS: Well, Kristin plans to use that money to buy Christmas presents. The siblings will give an update on how the auction is going tomorrow on CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING."

We will be watching, that's for sure.

Most everyone is getting a kick out of that incident involving President Bush the other day. And of course, our Jeanne Moos was a shoo-in to cover the story.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The weapons of mass destruction finally surfaced. And we in the press couldn't get enough.

COLLINS: Nearly Bush whacked in Baghdad.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Talk about reinventing duck and cover.

MOOS: Duck was all over the covers of newspapers.

There were good puns --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shoe-icide attack.

MOOS: Ones we had to struggle to get. Turns out shoe-nibomber is a playoff of the unibomber.

At Dino's Shoe Repair, President Bush's image got polished.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought he was deft and he was very agile.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was very graceful. I didn't know he had it in him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes. That was a pretty good dodge all right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dodging and weaving, I mean, he has done that through his whole administration, but we've never actually seen it filmed.

MOOS: Critics loved seeing it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would have liked to have done it myself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he threw one for the world. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He deserves it.

MOOS: Good thing it wasn't a female shoe-icide bomber.

(on-camera): This would be a perfect shoe to throw at someone.

(voice-over): The first movie clip everyone thought of was "Austin Powers."

MIKE MYERS, ACTOR, "AUSTIN POWERS": Who throws a shoe?

MOOS: Next thing you know on YouTube, Austin Powers/George Bush hybrids bloomed.

MYERS: Who throws a shoe? Honestly. You fight like a woman.

MOOS: Instead of shoes, Saddam Hussein's head was thrown, the Three Stooges were edited into the act. In no time at all there was a Bush shoe target purse. Even the official George W. Bush shoe throw game, try to hit the president with a shoe.

(on camera): Would you dare toss these shoes?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are expensive. I wouldn't throw them.

MOOS: And now, the Secret Service, (INAUDIBLE) don't like their reaction?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were having cigarettes and coffee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you let someone throw two shoes at the president?

MOOS (voice over): As for where the now famous shoes should end up --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they should be impeached along with Bush.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They probably need to go in like the Smithsonian or something.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know how you can like bronze baby shoes?

MOOS (on camera): Yes.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They should auction them off to raise money for the car industry.

MOOS (voice-over): Actually, they're being held as evidence. It could have been worse if the Iraqi had done what this minor league manager did, not shake his shoe, but say, you stink, with an armpit offensive. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.