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Protests Against TSA Expected; Rangel Convicted of Ethics Charges; Harmful Hospital Visits; Beatles Finally Make Their Way to iTunes; The Cost Of Remodeling; Legal Gay Marriage Worldwide

Aired November 16, 2010 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah, that's fascinating. I always like talking about people smarter than me and now we're going to talk about dolphins that are. Tony, have a great afternoon, my friend - Tony Harris.

I'm Ali Velshi. For the next two hours today and every weekday, I'll guide you through the maze of information coming your way. Together we'll learn what's going on at home and around the world.

You'll get access to folks who can best explain the impact today and beyond today including about those dolphins. We'll showcase the best ideas in innovation, philanthropy, public education. My mission is to help you figure out how what's going on around you fits into your life. Let's get started right now.

It's a new rundown. Here's what I've got. Medical mistakes - an estimated 15,000 patients die every month and hospitals are partly to blame. A clever new way for gay couples to marry legally in states where it's against the law. And as Tony was saying, he knew dolphins were smart. Did you know that they were big-eye smart?

But first, prepare yourself if you're traveling for Thanksgiving, a record number of people, regardless of how you're getting to your turkey dinner, you won't be alone. To top it off, this year's turkey comes at a time - well let me just give you the numbers, by the way, I think we just skipped by that. A record number of people are traveling this holiday season. Most of them will be traveling by car.

A few of them are traveling by air. And this comes at a time of a nationwide outcry over airport security measures. That could possibly add to delays at airports. I'll have more on that in a minute. But first AAA is out today with its annual Thanksgiving travel report. More than 42 million Americans are expected to travel next week. That's a jump of 11 percent over last year.

Now, the vast majority of those people, 94 percent will drive to where they're going. That's 12 percent over last year. Only 4 percent plan to fly, but that's an increase over last year, as well. Now, airfares are up over last year, hotels are up, as well. The outrage at airports that you've been hearing about for the last couple of days is growing.

It's coming from a lot of travelers who are saying enough is enough. They're rebelling against the TSA, the Transportation Security Administration and their full-body x-ray scans and pat-downs. Critics say the scanners are unsafe and the pat-downs are an invasion of privacy. Here's the take of Chesley Sully Sullenberger, you remember him.

He was the U.S. Airways pilot who saved his entire crew and passengers when he was forced to ditch his plane in the Hudson River in January of last year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAPT. CHESLEY SULLENBERGER, U.S. AIRWAYS PILOT: As a matter of fact, my wife and I traveled just recently and she underwent such a screening where she was touched in sensitive places. But I can tell you again from my perspective as an airline pilot for over three decades that this just isn't an efficient use of our resources.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: All right. Now there's an interesting argument. It's not an efficient use of our resources. That is not necessarily the argument that is taking root in certain corners of America. I want to bring in Josh Levs who has been following this very, very closely. Because there's a real ground swell movement against what the TSA is doing. And that's not the argument they're using - the "this is an inefficient use of our resources". What are they saying?

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, what they're saying - a lot of people are upset about the Advance Imaging Technology and they feel that it's too invasive, that it's too intrusive. There's a website here called optoutday.com that posts some images of it. There's another one here that is a "we won't fly". And both are calling for the same thing. They're calling for people on the day before Thanksgiving, one of the busiest travel days of the year, for people not to go through these.

We have video of it. It's the Advance Imaging Technology that can take basically images of your body and this is something the TSA has been rolling out, using a lot of stimulus money, getting more and more of it out there. And these two groups are saying that this is not right, it's too invasive, it's too intrusive. They're asking people to opt out of having that done. And instead, go for the pat-down.

And then they're saying have the pat-down in public. Don't go to a private area. They want people to see you going through a pat-down because they want people over the Thanksgiving table to be having conversations about what's going too far, Ali. Now the guy behind optoutday.com is just one guy in Virginia, started this as a website. I spoke with him earlier.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, (via telephone): Based on what was happening with the new procedures with the body scanners and with the enhanced pat- downs are really a gross invasion of privacy. And there's got to be some reasonable standard that we can imply that keeps us safe but also doesn't violate people's privacy in the way that's currently being done.

LEVS: But I want to be sure to get you the other side here. Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano just yesterday was fielding questions about this exact same thing. Here's a little piece of what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: They in no way resemble electronic strip searches. All they do is ping in a private area away from the gate with an image that is neither retained nor transmitted. We've built privacy screens into the machines. We built privacy concerns into the procedures when they were deployed. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEVS: And now CNN has reported -- these machines are built with a mode in which they actually can hold on to images. And there was one instance that we know of a federal court -- one courthouse U.S. Marshal service said it held on to 35,000 images. But as a rule, the way these things are supposed to work, is that the images are not saved, they are not shared, they are not stored. The person who sees the images isn't even seeing you right there.

But the point here is that we're having this battle right now in this country about what's going too far. And what you've got to do to keep your country safe.

VELSHI: But Josh, I mean, I travel three or four times a week on an airplane. I was also reporting the night of the "Underpants Bomber" who had bomb material in his crotch. Now, some people are saying you shouldn't be able to search people without cause. The whole point of random searching is that it's without cause.

If you want to take Sullenberger's argument, and say it may not be a particularly efficient way that they do things. I'm all about efficiency. I would love that line to go faster than it is. But I think my safety and the safety of travelers is more important than someone's not wanting to be touched because it's random.

LEVS: I think you're right. I think most Americans agree with that. Part of what we're seeing is the eternal battle in a successful Democracy between security and privacy. Security and freedom, which basically is always going to play out.

VELSHI: Sure

LEVS: I will tell you, this guy behind national opt-out day that you just heard from. He told me he supports going through a metal detector, he supports the machines that can sniff your body for chemicals, he just doesn't feel that every person should be subjected -- if they've gone through those things --

VELSHI: OK

So what you have here really is a subjective line. Line up 100 Americans; everyone's going to draw the line in a different place. And the question is ultimately going to be what laws will our government follow to keep us safe while maximizing our privacy?

VELSHI: Well, there is a lot to discuss. I guess there many other areas which people feel the line has been crossed even though it may end up helping them. We'll continue to discuss this, Josh. Thanks very much for that. Josh Levs. Now you can call John Tyner the instant poster boy for the instant outrage over airport body scans and pat-downs. He triggered this ground swell of public support after a dispute with TSA agents at the San Diego airport on Saturday.

Tyner's a 31-year-old software engineer. He refused to submit to a full-body x-ray scan saying it was an invasion of his privacy. He also refused a pat-down saying "if you touch my junk, I'll have you arrested." Tyner recorded the encounter on his cell phone. Now, TSA says Tyner violated federal law by leaving the airport and could face a civil penalty as high as $11,000. Tyner explained to CNN why he refused to comply.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN TYNER, AMERICAN TRAVELER: Since my story has gotten out, I've gotten plenty of comments from people that they probably got worse than what you just got. I've had people say they were handled so roughly by TSA that they ended up with a sick to their stomach feeling for the rest of the day. The thing that upset me so much about the search was that the guy intended to touch my groin. I wasn't going to stand for that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: And we'll keep you posted on what happens with John Tyner. OK we go to hospitals expecting to be healed, not harmed. Wait until you hear what a new government study turned up - the cost of medical mistakes in money and lives right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: After a one-day trial that he boycotted because he didn't have a lawyer, New York Congressman Charlie Rangel has been convicted of breaking house ethics rules. You heard the verdicts live here on CNN, count after count declared proved by clear and convincing evidence.

The 20-term Harlem Democrat who is also a Korean war hero and who was just reelected stood accused of failing to declare rental income on a villa in the Dominican Republic, improperly leasing four rent- controlled apartments in New York, and using official stationary to raise money for the Charles Rangel Center for Public Service at New York College -- at City College of New York. So what happens now? CNN's Brianna Keilar has been following this case all the way through. She joins us now from Capitol Hill.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, and this was not a legal proceeding, this was a House proceeding, Ali, but this is comparable to a verdict and it did not turn out well for Charles Rangel, a 20-term Democrat from New York, former Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the tax writing committee. He was found in essence guilty on 11 of 12 counts, violations of house rules.

And that did include, as you mentioned, failing to pay taxes on rental income from this villa that he owns in the Dominican Republic. That happening while he was the chairman of that tax writing committee. Also failing to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets, which every member of Congress has to do. Misusing that rent- controlled apartment, and also using, yes, that congressional letterhead as well as his franking privileges and staff time to solicit those donations. So what happens now?

Well, this committee, in essence again, this was like a verdict. They're going to move on to what's really the sentencing phase, they call it a sanctions hearing. They're going to decide exactly what to do. It seems unlikely that he would be expelled from the House, but there are varying levels of rebukes he could face - maybe a reprimand, which could be a slap on the wrist, perhaps a censure, maybe he'll face a fine. That is the next step and we're waiting for that to be scheduled, Ali.

VELSHI: Yesterday I saw you covering this, he walked out of the hearing, and he didn't have a lawyer. Can you explain to me what was going on there? Why he didn't have a lawyer? I mean, this comes as no surprise that he was facing this hearing.

KEILAR: It's a little bit of he said/they said. He says he doesn't have a lawyer because he spent $2 million on legal fees, can't afford anymore. He told the law firm that he was working with that he couldn't guarantee payment on what could be $1 million more in legal fees and they withdrew. Now that law firm, Zuckerman Spader (ph) here in D.C. tells a slightly different story saying they did not seek to terminate this relationship with him and they were trying to work with him.

But the bottom line here is the committee didn't buy it. They didn't grant his motion, and even though he boycotted it, they said we're going to continue with this. And we ended up with a much shorter process because he wasn't there really to defend himself, Ali.

VELSHI: Is there an appeal that comes out of this?

KEILAR: No, I think this is it. It doesn't play out exactly like, I guess, like a court proceeding you could say.

VELSHI: Alright, Brianna, good to see you, thanks very much for following this so closely - Brianna Keilar on Capitol Hill. OK, a new study on medical mistakes - a real eye-opener. The Department of Health and Human Services analyzed a sample of Medicare patients' files. And here's what they found.

One in every 7 patients hospitalized is harmed as a result of the medical care. These mistakes, or so-called adverse events, contribute to 15,000 deaths a month. That's 180,000 deaths a year. And these unexpected problems add $4.4 billion to the government's health care tab every year. Our Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is on the case. Not only to tell us what goes wrong, but in a minute to tell us what you actually do about it. What are these mistakes that go wrong?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh my gosh, there is so many of them. And we looked through the report and went through some of the big things that went wrong. So let me give you this sort of laundry list here. Sometimes patients get the wrong drug. Ali Velshi gets the drug that was meant for Elizabeth Cohen, or you get the wrong dose of the drug. Sometimes there's IV fluid overload. Patients are given too much fluids and that can be very dangerous. Excessive surgical bleeding that isn't taken care of. Or, and this is a big one and I think a lot of people don't know this, frequently patients in the hospital have catheters and those are great places for infections.

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Right, and hospital infections still remain a major -- have we made advances in cutting that back?

COHEN: Well, yes, the American Hospital Association put out a statement today saying, hey, look, we know about this. We know that it's a problem and we are working on it.

VELSHI: Right.

COHEN: But so far the improvement isn't nearly what anyone would like to see. These infections still kill hundreds of thousands of people a year. I mean there are a hundred thousand people a year.

VELSHI: This move toward electronic records and electronics in hospitals in some cases is meant to try and systematize everything so some of these things don't go wrong, but we're still in that --

COHEN: Right, so you have bar codes so that you don't get my drug.

VELSHI: Right. Right.

COHEN: All of that. Right. There's hope that that will make a change.

VELSHI: OK. So one in seven of these Medicare patients studied had something go wrong that they didn't -- that as a result of their care. How do you make sure you're on the other six? What can you do, if anything?

COHEN: Right, we all want to be in the sixth.

VELSHI: Yes.

COHEN: All right, here is the golden rule when you're in the hospital, take someone with you.

VELSHI: OK.

COHEN: You are sick.

VELSHI: Yes.

COHEN: You can't really take care of yourself.

VELSHI: Right.

COHEN: So that's rule number one. And then there are a couple of other things that you can do. First of all, one of the things you can do is ask for a daily medication list so that you know or your spouse or whoever knows what you're supposed to get.

VELSHI: OK.

COHEN: And if someone brings you the wrong thing, you're aware because it's not on the list.

Also, ask if you really need that catheter. Sometimes you don't. And then ask how quickly can this come out so that you don't get that infection that can be so deadly.

Also, ask about washing your skin before surgery. If you know you're going in for a surgery, there are some rinses you can use at home so that that can decrease your chance of getting an infection.

VELSHI: If you bring somebody with you who can ask questions when maybe you're not conscious, do you have to have them approved as somebody who can do that?

COHEN: No, I've never -- I mean so many people have asked me that and I've never heard of a hospital requiring that.

VELSHI: OK.

COHEN: I mean you get to bring in who you want to bring in.

VELSHI: But as you have often said, ask questions. It's intimidating. You're in an area that you just don't know anything about what's going on, ask.

COHEN: And, I mean, I won't pretend, it can be tough. I was talking to a doctor whose brother was in the hospital. And he said, does my brother really need that catheter? Can it come out? He had to ask like 10 times.

VELSHI: Right. Right.

COHEN: You know, they kind of gave him a hard time but he thought, I don't care they were giving me a hard time, I wanted that thing out of him.

VELSHI: OK. "The Empowered Patient" is a book that Elizabeth has written which actually helps you with being empowered. This will be a good time to learn on these -- about these things if you're going to a hospital. You can also check out Elizabeth and her information on her website, cnn.com/empoweredpatient.

OK, John, Paul, Ringo, and Steve. How Apple finally got the Beatles onto iTunes after years of bickering. We'll talk about it with Christine, a big Beatles fan, after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) VELSHI: If you look at these pictures, these are pictures that we've had coming in of Prince William and his fiance, Kate Middleton. News came out overnight that he had proposed to her last month on a trip to Kenya. They have returned to Great Britain where they have had these photographs taken. You will see -- you'll see later on pictures of her ring. A sapphire surrounded by diamonds. And they have been -- there you go.

And then you'll hear some interviews from them some time in the next 40 minutes or so we'll start getting that in -- those interviews in. They've given sort of a shared interview that all the various networks will hear. And I'm sure between now and the time they get married, sometime in 2011, you will be hearing plenty from the two of them. You'll learn everything you wanted to know and more about Kate Middleton and Prince William. We'll have more on that through the course of this show.

All right, talk about -- well, let's stay on Britain and pop culture for a moment. It's probably the most glaring absence from the iTunes catalog, the Beatles catalog. After years of negotiating with Apple, the Beatles record company has reached a deal that will see Beatles music offered up on iTunes. Christine Romans, my co-host on "Your Money," joins me from New York to tell us what this says about the direction of the music business, that the biggest digital holdout is now on board.

This has gone on for so long and I think if you asked me a week ago if it had been resolved, I'm not even sure I would have remembered. I assume everybody who wanted Beatles music on their iPod has now burned it and done whatever they had to do. Apparently this is a big deal though.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CO-HOST, "YOUR MONEY": Well, but apparently all those people were burning it and getting -- even Steve Jobs must have been burning it and getting it on his iPod, right, and he's a big Beatles fan, because Beatles still selling major amounts of albums, as I like to call them, over the years even though they weren't on iTunes. One hundred and seventy-seven million albums they've sold just in the U.S.

But iTunes is a behemoth. Ten billion songs sold. And you know, Ali, these two companies have been fighting each other in court for about 30 years over the Apple name because the Beatles' business entity is called Apple Corp and there's Apple Computers.

VELSHI: That's right.

ROMANS: So it hasn't been harmony. It's only been acrimony over about 30 years with this -- between these two entities. But now they have come together.

VELSHI: Christine, I -- there was something I saw today that talked about the return on your investment if you renovate your home. Now, over the years, there have been sort of, you know, do this versus that, but you've got some new information on the value of renovating your home. And it doesn't show that there's a lot of value, at least when it comes to resale.

ROMANS: No. And this tells you about what's happening in the housing market, because there's just so much available out there to buy, that if you're renovating your home, you're getting less of a return on that investment.

VELSHI: Right.

ROMANS: In fact, overall, about 60 percent. So if you put in $10,000 in investments, renovations, you're probably only going to get $6,000 back on the sale of your home.

Here is how it kind of works. I'm not sure why that says mortgage break, because it's not about mortgage breaks. This is about the return on your renovation dollar. New fiber cement siding, that's about an 80 percent return. A new wooden deck, about a 45 percent return. A new front door --

VELSHI: That's what you want.

ROMANS: A 102 percent return.

Ali, you want the cheap and easy curb appeal thing.

VELSHI: Right.

ROMANS: Also insulated garage doors. Those tend to be a little bit better. A renovation of a home office, not good. High-end kitchen reno -- you are not going to get that money back. So unless you are making a granmaria (ph) souffle every day and you love how that Viking stove works, you're not probably going to get your money back out of it.

VELSHI: Right.

ROMANS: This is something I think that's incredibly important for people because we're trying to navigate the new normal in the housing market, Ali.

VELSHI: Right.

ROMANS: Numbers like this tell us how -- what direction we're going.

VELSHI: All right. But if you're doing it because you're enjoying it and you're going to live at your house for a while, that's a different story. But if you're doing it just because you think it will help your resale value, the market's sort of bigger than your house right now.

ROMANS: Yes, exactly. It sure is.

VELSHI: Christine, great to see you, as always.

Christine Romans.

You can see, by the way, more of us on "Your Money" Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. Eastern, Sunday's at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. And just in time for the holidays, Christine Romans has a new book, which someone will appreciate getting as a gift because "Smart Is The New Rich" and it gives you ways that you can take advantage of some of the trends that are going on in this economy right now. That's the book. It's called "Smart Is The New Rich" available in bookstores now.

Ever hear of e-marriage. It is a new way for gay couples to get married, even if their home state won't allow it. We're going to meet two men who tried it and we're going to ask an expert if it's legal, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: President Ford presided over a White House ceremony in 1976 that hasn't been repeated to this day. In a little while, we're going to talk to you -- we're going to show you live the presentation of the Medal of Honor to a live recipient. It is a moving story. And just in a few moments, you're going to have a chance to see it live. I'm going to have a preview after this break.

But right now I want to talk to you about a fascinating story, e- marriage. Not just the idea that you get married using the Internet. The idea that a gay couple can get married using the Internet in a state that doesn't allow gay marriage. I want to introduce you to two guys. Mark and Donte Walkup. They got married via Skype. And they got married via Skype while they were in Dallas by somebody officiating who was somewhere else. And now you two are married. Congratulations. You call yourselves accidental activists. Explain to me how this all transpired.

MARK WALKUP, MARRIED VIA SKYPE: Well, in terms of being an accidental activists, we were both outraged after the passage of prop 8 in California when voters took away the rights of gay people to be able to marry. And so, since then, we've been doing what we can to advocate and to try and fight for full equality.

The way this worked was we wanted to get married. My partner was in an automobile accident a year and a half ago. I got to the emergency room and the very first question I was asked was, what was my relationship to him? I lied. I said he was my husband and I wanted to see him immediately.

VELSHI: Right.

M. WALKUP: But there's a lot of other couples, a lot of relationships out there where they couldn't be able to see their partner because of the lack of a legal marriage status.

VELSHI: So what did you do?

M. WALKUP And so we decided --

VELSHI: How did you go about doing this?

M. WALKUP: Well, we tried -- well, first of all, we researched some laws -- marriage laws. And, for example, the first one that we went to was Iowa. And Iowa's language was very specific. It said that the officiant and the party had to be geographically there together. VELSHI: Right.

M. WALKUP: And -- but when we went to Washington, D.C., the language was not that specific. It said the officiant had to solemnize (ph) and witness the ceremony in their said district. And that's what she did when she married us.

VELSHI: And how does this work, though, because there's a document usually that takes place when you get married and everybody involved has to sign it. Clearly you were in different places and the document was in different places.

DANTE WALKUP, MARRIED VIA SKYPE: Yes. We got the document in May this year in Washington, D.C., and the document basically says that we were registered to be married by an officiant out of the District of Columbia. OK. So the document stayed there. And during that time, both Mark and I decided that we wanted to get married in our home state with our family and friends all around us. We realized it would not be affordable or, you know, in everybody's interest to be up there in Washington, D.C.

That's when Skype came around and we realized that the officiant had to be there and we could be here. And she had to sign the document and have it registered. And it's registered in D.C. And then once she signed it and she had witnessed and solemnized (ph) it on 10/10/10, it was sent to us and it was an official document that we were married.

VELSHI: Guys, hang on there. I've got Ann Fitz with me in the studio. She's a legal expert and a defense attorney.

Ann, is this legal?

ANN FITZ, LEGAL EXPERT AND DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely. They -- essentially what happened is they had the ceremony in Texas and the legal aspect of it took place in Washington, D.C. So this is absolutely a legal marriage under the laws of Washington, D.C. And the fact that they have the ceremony itself in Texas does nothing to negate the validity of it.

VELSHI: How interesting. Is this an effective way of working around states that don't have gay marriage laws or don't allow gay marriage?

FITZ: Right, yes. They found a loophole in the law. And until there's actually legislation that prohibits these types of ceremonies from taking place, there's absolutely nothing illegal about having the ceremonies in a different state or jurisdiction from where same-sex marriages are legal.

VELSHI: If the -- if somebody does something to make this kind of activity illegal in the state of Texas, are these two guys still married?

FITZ: Yes. If there's legislation that's subsequently passed ex post facto prohibits the retroactive banning of these types of commitments or marriages. So this marriage, and any other marriage like this, would stand in the state of Texas.

VELSHI: Mark and Dante, do you guys have the rights of a married couple in Texas?

M. WALKUP: No. We don't. There's a ban on same-sex marriage in Texas or anything that's similar to marriage. So, no, we don't have the legal rights and we're not considered legally married in Texas. I was able to get my Social Security card changed via my wedding certificate, or my wedding license. But when I went to try and get my driver's license changed, they wouldn't allow it because of the same- sex ban.

VELSHI: Interesting, guys. Very innovative way of doing things. Mark and Dante Walkup, joining us from Dallas, Texas. Ann Fitz, joining me here in the studio.

Thank you very much for all of you joining us on a very, very interesting topic.

OK, a minute ago I told you about the Medal of Honor. It'll be presented a little bit later on, about half an hour from now. We will bring it to you live, and the fascinating story of the recipient of the Medal of Honor. It'll move you to your core when you hear what this soldier did.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: We are 30 minutes away from a rare and important event. One of the very few acts of government that is entirely set apart from politics, entirely devoted to our highest ideals. The President of the United States will bestow the Medal of Honor, this nation's highest Military distinction. The recipient, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta. He's a paratrooper from Hiawatha, Iowa. Sergeant Giunta is the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor from either of our current wars. He is, in fact, the first living recipient since 1976.

Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr went to Afghanistan to show us his remarkable act of bravery on an October night in 2007.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STAFF SGT. SAL GIUNTA, MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT: The whole time frame maybe lasted anywhere between like two minutes three minutes, and five or six lifetimes, I don't know.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): But in those two, three minutes, Army Staff Sergeant Giunta went from a self- described mediocre soldier to a hero.

(on camera): We've come to Afghanistan to find the men that Sal Giunta fought with. Many of them are here on this remote combat outpost. But their thoughts and memories are with Sal and what happened that night.

(voice-over): That October night, Giunta was walking along a ridgeline with other members of his unit assigned to protect other soldiers as they were walking back to their base.

SGT. FRANKLIN ECKRODE, AUSTIN, TEXAS: We opened up into a small clearing out of lightly forested area and a single shot rang out.

STARR: It was what the military calls an L-shaped ambush sprung by the Taliban, which means Taliban fighters are both in front of the men and to their side.

GIUNTA: There's not just one of them and it's not two of them and it's not ten of them. It's probably more than 10 and they're really not that far away.

STAFF SERGEANT ERICK GALLARADO, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA: To actually watch the guy pulling the trigger who is aiming at you.

GIUNTA: It seems your world is exploding in bullets and RPGs and everything. Just bad situation.

We looked -- and it was along our whole side. It was along, you know, our flank.

STARR: Every soldier that night was shot.

GALLARADO: I got shot running backwards shooting at the enemy. I could see them.

ECKRODE: They started coming out of the trees and getting closer. I shoved over a berm on my back and got hit a fourth time.

STARR: Hit eight times was the man in front, walking point, as the Military says, Sergeant Josh Brennan of McFarland, Wisconsin. He talked to his dad, Mike, only a few days before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually he had volunteered for that mission that day.

STARR: On that ridge line, Josh Brennan was down, severely wounded. Sal Giunta raced ahead into the face of Taliban fire.

ECKRODE: He got to the front, he killed one of the guys dragging my team leader away, Sergeant Brennan, wounded another one. Recovered Sergeant Brennan, brought him back to an area where we could secure him and continue the fight, started the aid on him. And -- for all intensive purposes, the amount of fire that was still going on in the conflict at the time, he shouldn't be alive right now.

STARR: Six hours later, Josh Brennan died. Also killed that night was the medic Hugo Mendoza of El Paso, Texas. It's that act of bravery that was above and beyond with Sal Giunta running into enemy fire and getting to Josh to help save him.

GIUNTA: I think about it, and it hurts. But say it out loud makes it that much more real. And I feel like I've said it enough. And I know it's real but sometimes I can trick myself and just not think about it for a while. It's very bittersweet. I mean, it's such a huge honor. It's a great thing. But it is a great thing that has come at a personal loss to myself and so many other families.

STARR (on camera): And that is what you want people to know?

GIUNTA: Absolutely.

STARR (voice-over): Extraordinary. And Staff Sergeant Sal Giunta would want you to know, part an extraordinary group of soldiers.

Barbara Starr, CNN, Afghanistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELSHI: You'll see Sal Giunta in about 20 minutes and you'll see him receive the highest Military honor that this country bestows. The first living recipient since 1976. The Medal of Honor ceremony takes place at the top of the hour. We will bring it to you live.

Royal wedding bells soon heard through Britain. Can you guess who's tying the knot? We'll bring you the answer in a live report next on Globe Trekking.

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VELSHI: Time now for Globe Trekking. Our destination, where else would we go today? London. Royal excitement across the United States today. Prince William is engaged to his long-time girlfriend Kate Middleton. Both are 28, have been dating for the past seven years. They became engaged in October, during a holiday in Kenya. They didn't tell anybody about it. The wedding is expected to take place next spring or summer.

CNN's Max Foster joins us now from London. Max, how surprised is everybody in London? This has been the most anticipated, talked about royal wedding in a very long time.

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No surprised at all. It has to be said, Ali, we're expected to (INAUDIBLE) at some point. She's been on the scene for a very long time. She's been at royal events, she's very much part of the royal household. She has royal (INAUDIBLE), royal security. So she's very much been at the center of the royal family and those royal occasions that we see on TV.

But there was a big surprise today, Ali, and that was when we had the photo call when the young couple came out, they were beaming and everyone looked down at Kate's hand. And there it was. That was Princess Diana's engagement ring. William had given it to his new bride, his new fiancee. And everyone was really surprised by that because everyone's drawn parallels between Kate Middleton and Princess Diana before. And this was a classic -- this was his quote. It's a lovely thing to say, It was my way of making sure my mother didn't miss out on today, Ali.

VELSHI: Wow, and tell us about those comparisons. In fact, tell us a little bit about Kate Middleton. I know we will all know lots about her in the coming months. But here in the United States, we don't follow it as closely as they do in the UK. What is she about? FOSTER: Well, she's a country girl. She was brought up Berkshire, which is a leafy area of the countryside to the west of London. She went to a local private school. Then she went on to St. Andrews University, a very well-regarded university in Scotland, which is where she met Prince Andrew.

But he's not from aristocratic backgrounds at all. She has no links with the Royal Family. They just met and fell in love at university. Her father is a self-made millionaire. Her mother was an heir host there. So a middle class family, completely different background. But actually they have similar social scenes in common. So they're not completely alien to each other and certainly the Royal Family's very comfortable with her.

VELSHI: She's been around for a long time, but for a little period when they weren't dating. It's been seven years.

Max, is there a sense that everybody has vetted her? That there are no surprises forthcoming?

FOSTER: Yes, I think that's pretty much the case. There was some speculation when she gave up her job at a retail company that the palace had put some pressure on her to do that so she could get ready for a life in the Royal Family. She's very comfortable. I've seen her in social settings with the prince's cousin. She's very comfortable there. Everyone knows her, everyone likes her. And she's good fun.

She's a stunning girl, as well. She's very interesting to the fashion community. And that's where the parallels with Diana come in, yet again. She's going to be a fashion icon as we understand it. So you're going to hear a lot more about her. She's certainly getting on the front pages a bit, Ali.

VELSHI: Max, good to talk to you as always. We'll be talking many more times over the coming months. Max Foster, in London. Of course, we will bring you a conversation, an interview that the two of them had earlier today.

All right. Which animal do you think is smarter? An elephant, a pig, or a dolphin? I'm going to give you the answer next in the big eye.

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VELSHI: Every day on this show, we bring you the Big I. It's all about big new ideas and innovations. This story about dolphin intelligence debuted on "AC360" last night.

Before the break, we asked which of these three animals is smarter: elephant, pig, or dolphin? The dolphin would be the correct answer. Here's the top 10 list according to Animal Planet. You'll notice that according to this list, dolphins are second to chimpanzees. There we go, chimps, dolphins, various other animals, all the way to number 10. Pigs are in there, by the way. Elephants are number four. Now, we're learning more about just how intelligent dolphins actually are. And joining me to talk about these new developments, what we're learning is a senior lecturer in neuroscience and behavioral biology at Emory University, just up the road here, Dr. Lori Marino.

Lori, thank you for being with us.

LORI MARINO, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Thank you for having me.

VELSHI: Just for fun, I have a brain here. This is a human brain, not a dolphin brain. Tell me what's new in this. I've always known since I was a little kid, dolphins are smart. Dolphins are demonstrably smart because you see them do things and they learn tricks and they do things they learn very quickly.

What are we learning now?

Well, we're learning now that their brains are enormously complex. And that their brains have -- parts of their brains are very elaborated. Their brains are very, very large. In fact, second only to the human brain when you take body size into account. And, in fact, what we're learning is that from field studies in the wild is that these animals have cultures, sophisticated social lives, and so forth. So we're learning a lot more about them then what you can learn from the tricks.

VELSHI: How do you measure intelligence in animals? I mean, we're not even sure we measure it in humans. How do you measure it in animals?

MARINO: Well, it's difficult. And what you have to do is just be very clear about what you're measuring. So, for instance, if you're using the brain, you have to be clear about exactly what you're doing. So you can look at, say the size of the brain relative to the body and we know that has something to do with intelligence. But we could also look at things like how complex the problems are that they have to solve in everyday life and things of that nature and hope that we're getting close to that.

VELSHI: Tell me about self-awareness. I mean, I'm always curious about this. I always look at dogs and wonder why they don't sort of -- how respond to mirrors and themselves and whether they get up in the morning knowing they're a dog and you're not. Tell me about how self-awareness plays into this whole issue.

Are dolphins self-aware and does self-awareness mean that you're smarter?

MARINO: I don't know if self- self-awareness makes that you smarter because all animals have to be self-aware. However, dolphins and some other animals do have this ability to recognize themselves in mirrors and we have that same ability. So in some sense, there's something about their psychology that's very similar to ours.

VELSHI: When you think many people have domesticated pets and they think that their dog is the smartest thing ever. And we've described people talking about how smart dogs are. And on this show we've shown how they've save people.

Where do dolphins fit in with dogs and cats?

VELSHI: Certainly dogs and cats are smart. Dolphins actually show some capacities that dogs and cats don't show. For instance, they do recognize themselves in mirrors, they do show the ability to recognize some human based languages, although there are some dogs that are able to do that. It's not an all or nothing thing. It's more of a --

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: Different kinds of smart.

MARINO: Exactly.

VELSHI: When we have a list, when we see a list like that, is that fair?

MARINO: Not really. Not really. Really because every species have their own common features and characteristics.

VELSHI: So in humanity, obviously we use IQs but most people, I think, will tell you that there's street smarts and there's book smarts and you need some good combination of all of the above.

MARINO: Yes.

VELSHI: Is that similar in the Animal Kingdom"?

MARINO: Yes, because every species has evolved to be smart in the areas that are important for that species to survive, including humans.

VELSHI: Within that species, is there a lot of variation? In other words, can you have a not so smart dolphin?

MARINO: Sure, I think as in human species and any species you're going to have variability in smarts, in talents in different capacities.

VELSHI: And some of our smarts is experiential, right? We take it in as we go.

MARINO: Yes.

VELSHI: Is that capacity a bigger issue than an absolute measurement of how smart one is? In other words, dolphins seem to have the ability to learn new things.

MARINO: Absolutely and that is a sign of intelligence is the ability to take in new information and adjust to it and to learn and to be flexible behaviorally. And dolphins are masters of that.

VELSHI: Very interesting conversation.

Lori, thanks very much for being with us.

MARINO: You're very welcome.

VELSHI: Dr. Lori Marino is a senior lecturer in neuroscience and behavioral biology at Emory University.

Take a look at what I'm going to show you here, this is the room in the White House that we are going to be watching very shortly. And that is where the president is going to present the Medal of Honor so Sal Giunta. He is the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since 1976. It is such a serious medal that is given for such valor that in most cases people who receive them have often died in the pursuit of -- in the execution of whatever it was that they're being awarded for. In this case, Sal Giunta survived. Two of his comrades were downed in a fight in 2007 in Afghanistan. We will bring you this ceremony and the moving story of Sal Giunta about 2:00.

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VELSHI: My friend and CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger joins me now with some new polling on Nancy Pelosi.

Hello, Gloria.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: How are you doing, Ali?

You know, it's clear that while Nancy Pelosi looks like she's going to wind up being the minority leader here for the Democrats, when we in our CNN poll asked people outside the beltway, Democrats, what they thought about that, they were pretty conflicted.

Take a look at these numbers, 45 percent of Democrats say they would like her as minority leader. But 47 percent say they would like to see somebody else. So not exactly a vote of confidence from outside the beltway.

Way outside the beltway now, Ali, to Alaska, where those votes are still being counted. It looks like Senator Lisa Murkowski will remain the senator from that state. Joe Miller still has some questions about ballots. But if things go as they have been going, looks like she's going to emerge victorious.

And an important story today, Ali, on the STAR Treaty. The Obama White House had hoped that that treaty could have been ratified during this lame-duck session. But, today, a key Republican Senator John Kyl of Arizona, who had been doing the negotiations with the White House said, you know what, I think we're going to need some more time to mull it over. Cannot be done during the lame-duck session. Of course, to ratify a treaty, you need two-thirds vote in the Senate. That would mean the White House would have to get eight Republicans. Without him that's not doable.

So, a real setback for the White House today on the STAR Treaty -- Ali. VELSHI: All right. Gloria, thanks so much. Our senior political analyst Gloria Borger, in Washington.

Hey, take a look at these pictures at the White House. We're going to be following this momentarily. This is where the Medal of Honor ceremony for Sergeant Sal Giunta will take place momentarily. The first live recipient of the Medal of Honor since 1975. A remarkable story. We'll bring you up to speed right after this.

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