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GM Expected to File for Bankruptcy on Monday; Obama Urges Senate to Approve Sotomayor

Aired May 30, 2009 - 15:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: In this hour of the CNN NEWSROOM, GM's bankruptcy filing expected come Monday. I'll get the view from industry insider Lauren Fix and what it means to do.

And the president tells Judge Sotomayor critics to stop viewing nonsense. He urges the Senate to approve the Supreme Court nominee quickly.

And pictures of a cool college hipster go on display in California, Barry Obama the freshman year.

First our top story, President Obama is warning Republicans not to play politics with his Supreme Court nomination. The president used his weekly radio address to call for the prompt confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are, of course, some in Washington who are attempting to draw old battle lines and playing the usual political games, pulling a few comments out of context to paint a distorted picture of Judge Sotomayor's record. But I'm confident that these efforts will fail. Because Judge Sotomayor's 17-year record on the bench, hundreds of judicial decisions that every American can read for him or herself, speak far louder than any fact. Her record speaks clear that she is fair, unbiased and dedicated to the rule of law.


WHITFIELD: Meantime there's a debate inside the Republican Party about how to respond to the Sotomayor nomination. CNN congressional correspondent Brianna Keilar reports.


UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: Those principles --

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: If Republicans inside Congress are cautiously critical of Sonia Sotomayor --

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, (R) ALABAMA: There are some troubling things that will have to required into for us to do our jobs.

KEILAR: Some Republicans outside the capital are anything but. Rush Limbaugh slammed the Supreme Court nominee. RUSH LIMBAUGH: So here you have a racist. You might want to soften that and you might want to say a reverse racist.

KEILAR: Using twitter, former house speaker Newt Gingrich blogged, "A white man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw." The comments drew a sharp rebuke from John Cornyn, the man responsible for helping elect more Senate Republicans. He spoke on NPR.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN: I think it's terrible. Neither one of these men are elected Republican officials. I just don't think it's appropriate. I certainly don't endorse it. I think it's wrong.

KEILAR: Republican strategist Ron Bonjean said the inflammatory comments are hurting the party's attempt to rebuild itself.

RON BONJEAN, (R) STRATEGIST: This is the last thing that Republican members want right now on Capitol Hill. They're trying to bring back the party. They're trying to boost their approval rating and the last thing that they want to do is start trying to tear someone down and use words like racist.

KEILAR: The public argument over Sotomayor is part of a larger argument Republicans are having about what direction the party needs to go in if it's going to win election.

Brianna Keilar, CNN, Capitol Hill.


WHITFIELD: Sotomayor has said that she's an ordinary person blessed with extraordinary opportunities. Here's a quick look at her background.

Her parents moved to New York from Puerto Rico. She was raised in public housing mostly by her mother, who often worked two jobs. Her father died when she was just 9. Her love of the law is said to come from an early addiction to TV's Parry Mason and she also said she enjoyed reading the Nancy Drew children's mystery series.

And to baseball fans she's a hero for a 1995 ruling that ended major league baseball's strongest strike. She's also a hero to Hispanic jurists and potential jurists everywhere. Here's a snippet from a video she made for the Law School Admission Council.


HONORABLE SONIA SOTOMAYOR: It is very important when you judge to recognize that you have to stay impartial. That's what the nature of my job is. I have to unhook myself from my emotional responses, and try to stay within my unemotional objective persona. That process can be very weighty at times certainly can be very awe-inspiring at others.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: Next half hour, our legal guide Avery Friedman weighs in on some of Sotomayor's comments, criticism and the impact if any on her nomination.

When you think of dangerous jobs, you probably don't think of judges but judges all across the country are taking security measures to protect themselves against a growing number of threats. CNN's Jeanne Meserve reports.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In a courtroom, emotion often spills over into violence. Reggie Walton recalls his days as a Superior Court judge in Washington, D.C.

REGGIE WALTON,U.S. DISTRICT COURT, WASHINGTON: I used to call it the Jerry Springer courtroom because there were so many fights that took place either outside or inside of the courtroom.

MESERVE: As a federal judge, Walton presided over the trial of White House official Scooter Libby. That case and others have provoked so many threats that U.S. marshals put surveillance cameras around Walton's home, and he's taken other protective measures he prefers not to disclose.

WALTON: You can't let it impede on what you do as a judge, but, obviously, you're concerned about your security and security of your family. So you do take it seriously.

MESERVE: With good reason. In Chicago in 2005, authorities say a man whose case had been dismissed murdered a federal judge's husband and mother. The number of threats against federal judges and prosecutors is rising, 500 in 2003 and more than 1,200 last year, and it's expected to go higher.

BOBBY FAGAN, U.S. MARSHALS SERVICE: Most of these individuals have a great deal of frustration and anger towards, in their view, how they didn't get their day in court and justice -- justice was denied to them. And in the Federal Court, it's the final forum.

MESERVE: Often they've already threatened judges at the state or local level, where local police and sheriffs provide protection.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): Police are everywhere here.

MESERVE: Four years ago in Atlanta, a prisoner wrestled a gun away from a deputy and went on a rampage, killing a judge and three others. To prevent a similar incident in Louisiana, where Laurie White sits on the bench, only judges can carry firearms in the courtroom.

JUDGE LAURIE WHITE, ORLEANS PARISH CRIMINAL COURT, LOUISIANA: You better have a strong gun. It's not an easy spot and I think you do this job at your own personal risk and the point is whether you depend on everyone else to protect you or whether you want to provide a lot of your own protection.


WHITFIELD: That was Jeanne Meserve reporting. The U.S. Marshal Service has recently opened a 24-hour center that collects, analyzes and investigates inappropriate communications with judges.

American journalist Roxana Saberi released from an Iranian prison two weeks ago is finally headed home. Saberi is scheduled to arrive this hour in her hometown of Fargo, North Dakota. She was imprisoned for four months in Tehran on charges for spying for the United States. Washington denied the charges, as did she. On Wednesday, she met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who pressed Iran to release her early on in the process. Saberi said she now wants to spend time with family and friends and write a book.

Another deadline looming for GM, will it be met? And if so, will it prevent what many say is inevitable, filing for bankruptcy protection?


WHITFIELD: General motors on the brink of major change. Its bankruptcy filing could come Monday. The company's been racing to meet the June 1st government deadline for a restructuring plan. Today GM's board of directors is meeting for the second day to talk about its plan.

Meanwhile, a Canadian auto parts supplier is coming to the rescue of the company's European subsidiary, Opel. A Russian company, GM and Opel employees, will also own shares in Opel.

And yesterday the United Auto Workers Union agreed to major cuts to fund that coverage health care costs for retirees but it's not enough to keep General Motors out of bankruptcy. So to help us understand what's going on, we're joined by automotive analyst Lauren Fix, joining us from Buffalo, New York. Good to see you, Lauren.

LAUREN FIX, AUTOMOTIVE ANALYST: Good morning -- or good afternoon.

WHITFIELD: Afternoon, yes. This is very frightening for so many people in so many portions of our country and really worldwide.

FIX: True.

WHITFIELD: Bankruptcy, inevitable on Monday?

FIX: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I would bet money on it. They had an opportunity to file electronically on Sunday evening if they want but most likely you will hear they will do it Monday morning and then they will have a press conference to let us know what they're going to do with it.

WHITFIELD: What does this mean if I work for GM and my company files bankruptcy Monday or as early as tomorrow, do I go to work? Do I no longer get a paycheck? What happens to my benefits? All of that. FIX: Well typically what happens is everything stops. They don't do anything more. They have to have a stopping point and say, OK, all of this is going to go into bankruptcy court. Then the judge, the first thing they do, they have their first statement is we will sign a piece of paper that says you can keep the company running, at least at the management level. Usually that means production will shut down, this is what happened with Chrysler and their restructuring bankruptcy, with they had done, they will start getting things going as people need it.

Right now if you're working for Chrysler, you're without a job, that doesn't mean you're fired. It means there's no production going on. A lot of the plants are shutting down for GM for the transition to the 2010 models. So plants will most likely shut down. I'm sure the UAW has a way to communicate with these people. If you are working for General Motors, whoever your boss is, whoever you communicate is, I would double-check before heading off to work.

WHITFIELD: What if I'm a retiree, what happens to my benefits and my pension?

FIX: That's not a good thing. UAW already worked on that. If you're part of the UAW, the agreement, 74 percent ratified on Friday, which I'm surprised, a very large number. Usually the UAW that's a big percentage. Guess it's choice b -- the choices is you don't have a retirement account or anything in that health care account. There is an agreement going down right now that 20 percent of the new General Motors will be owned by the UAW Zebra Account, which is also a 2.5 percent grant.

Which means the years 2013, 2015 and 2017 there will be more funding coming in to cover for health care and retirement. There's only about $9 billion left in that fund. And there are a lot of people that need to work off of that.

WHITFIELD: A lot of people. What does this mean for other American automakers? If GM is to need kind of bankruptcy protection, the ripple effect must be tremendous.

FIX: Sure. It's going to affect those small manufacturers as well as large. For example, Fix ON (ph) which is a large supplier to Ford and General Motors has declared bankruptcy earlier this week as well as Metaldyne, there are some other small companies that have as well. What it does is offer opportunities for other companies to supply parts. And also it's a sad situation for a lot of people that are going to be out of jobs.

Like visit Ian, they are not closing their doors and Metaldyne isn't either. But with General Motors talking about closing 14 plants, that's really going to put a burden on labor numbers. We're going to have a higher unemployment rate.

WHITFIELD: Whatever happened to the adage, as GM goes, so goes the nation.

FIX: Not anymore. Now we're also talking about another 300 to 400 dealers getting letters in the mail that they're not going to get their franchise agreements renewed as of November '10. So that just came up this week as well.

WHITFIELD: There's not a lot of good news here. I'm not hearing any here. For a company that applies for bankruptcy, or an individual, it means that it protects you against creditors, people you owe. But it doesn't necessarily mean that you're a goner. But I'm not hearing anything hopeful here from what you're telling me.

FIX: Well to be honest with you, what frustrates me, we all said definitely take some of our taxpayer money and put it into General Motors so that we can help keep GM alive, that was the first $19 billion, we thought that was not too bad. But, I guess now we're at the point, you might as well just tear the bandage off the wound.

We can't be like little kids doing a little at a time. Now we're looking at $30 billion more of government money, our taxpayer dollars going into General Motors into the new GM, why they dissolve the old GM, bringing up four model lines and probably cutting back on some of those model within each product. So I'm a little concerned because you have 70 percent of the new GM owned by the U.S. Government, which means they're going to be producing cars that I probably don't want to buy.


FIX: Probably --

WHITFIELD: We didn't even get to that part, what happens if you do have a General Motors vehicle and they file for bankruptcy? You wonder where I am going to get it repaired later on down the line. All of that stuff.

FIX: They're not dissolving. It's not Chapter 7. They're not disappearing. Even if you own a Pontiac or a Hummer or Saturn, the General Motors dealers will still take care of you until there are new owners. As far as warranty, if you purchase a car, there are great deals out there. If you're going to keep the car for more than five years, great time to purchase. You're looking for a work truck; you want a family van, whatever.

The Equinox, whatever. Great vehicles. However, if you're going to lease a vehicle, you may not be able to get credit for it. Also keep in mind if you have a lemon law, that's the one thing that I heard that's going on with Chrysler, people that had their cars lemon laws, they traded their cars in, those checks they got from Chrysler bounced. There's a couple here in the Buffalo area that I have actually talked to people and I am trying to help them.

They may not get their money or their car back. Keep in mind before you lemon law a car in the next 60 to 90 days, maybe you should get it fixed and try to work with what you have got. If you're looking to purchase it, you are worried about warranty, the government will back that. There is a fund of money that is our taxpayer dollars, set aside for that. WHITFIELD: Lauren, you're a wealth of information. You have all of the answers for so many more questions that I possibly have. But thank you so much. That was fantastic. I appreciate it. I think we all learned a lot from that. Very sobering, though.

FIX: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Lauren Fix, appreciate it, from Buffalo.

FIX: Thank you for having me.

WHITFIELD: OK, imagine spending more than 30 years building a sailboat. We'll tell you how one couple actually did it and their inaugural voyage straight ahead.


WHITFIELD: Other news across America now, after more than a century, an Arizona grave marked with just a number of the remains of a Buffalo soldier are now buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Corporal Isaiah May was born a slave in Virginia 1858. After joining the army he was wounded when his unit was ambushed by bandits. He was awarded the Medal of Honor. The Buffalo soldiers were African-American troops who fought in the Indian wars.

In Bedford, Virginia, tough times for a National D-day Memorial. Donations are way down because of the economy. And without more money, the memorial may be forced to close. The foundation that runs the site is also considering selling it. D-day was the first day of the allied invasion of Normandy, France, in World War II. The 56th anniversary is just one week from today.

On Bainbridge Island, Washington. A long wait for Roy and Deloris Jackson to set sail in their homemade sailboat. An elaborate one, too. They started building the schooner 33 years ago and they wrapped things up yesterday with a lot of help along the way from friends and family and set sail. And they are very happy about that. Congrats to them.

After weeks of rain, gorgeous weather across much of the country this weekend. We love that. Jacqui Jeras is bringing us all of this wonderful news.



JERAS: Do you love it?

WHITFIELD: We are waterlogged, although very happy in Georgia because we had a drought so long, we need it. Man, I was forgetting what the sky looked like.

JERAS: Do you know it has been four weekends in a row in Atlanta that we haven't seen the sun.

WHITFIELD: It was a bummer, but we shouldn't complain.

JERAS: Now we got it back. It's so good. We have a couple of spots we have to watch today, Fredricka. Really focusing on the Ohio River Valley. This is where we have the greatest threat of seeing severe thunderstorms. It's a slight risk today. We think our greatest potential for seeing anything would be maybe some hail out of thunderstorms and maybe a little damaging wind. Knock on wood thus far; we have seen very, very little. Just a couple of showers right down there along the Ohio River in northern Kentucky. Also into southern parts of Indiana.

We're watching what's been going on across parts of Lower Michigan as well. We had some thunderstorms in this area towards Saginaw, over towards the bay, moving on through pretty quickly. So just stay inside while these things move on through. It will be great across the rest of Michigan. OK. We've got to go all the way south to find showers and thundershowers in south Florida. Some pictures to show you out of Miami. This is a time lapse video from earlier this morning. There you can see those showers, raindrops on the camera. Only picked up about .200 of an inch of rainfall in the Miami area.

But showers and thundershowers continuing on and off throughout the weekend. Temperature wise, it's really feeling good. The humidity erased here. We are expecting to see that increase slowly throughout the weekend. But overall, temperature wise, it's really looking good. A lot of 80s on the map. Big range in the temperatures, Fredricka, when the air is dry. You get cooler nights and warmer days. Send me what you're doing this weekend. A lot of people outside enjoying the weather. My kids just went to the pool, Fredricka. I got an e-mail on that. Send me a tweet at Jeras or an I-report.

WHITFIELD: Those were the days. Pool days as a kid. Do you love it?

JERAS: Uh-huh. Get one of those noodles and kick back.

WHITFIELD: Enjoy. I digress. Thanks so much, Jacqui.

JERAS: That was a fun little journey.

WHITFIELD: All right. Portraits of a future president, college day pictures. Does he look familiar to you? When President Barack Obama was Barry.


WHITFIELD: All right, a little glimpse of the future president coming up in a moment. Right now, here are some of the stories we're working on in the CNN NEWSROOM. President Obama used his weekly radio address to call for swift confirmation of his Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. He said he's certain she's the right choice and he called on Congress to avoid political posturing and ideological brinkmanship.

And General Motors is tying up loose ends as it heads towards expected bankruptcy to negotiate a deal that would give a Russian bank and a Canadian company stake in its European Opel unit. Here in the U.S., auto workers have agreed to a package of concessions.

And there's a manhunt in Arkansas for two convicted murders. They were serving life sentences without possible parole. They slipped out of prison wearing guard uniforms last night and drove away in a car that apparently had been left for them.

And Pakistani security forces say they're back in control of Mingora, the biggest city in the Swat Valley. Pakistan said that's a significant victory against the Taliban, who initially offered stiff resistance. Militant fighters have held the Swat Valley under siege for more than a month now.

And the United Nations says more than 2 million people have fled their homes to escape the violence in Pakistan. Aid officials fear the exodus could develop into a humanitarian crisis.

In Iraq, the country's former trade minister has been arrested on corruption charges. Officials tell CNN that Al Sadani was taken into custody as he was trying to leave Iraq. They say the arrest warrant charges Al Sadani with distributing rotten food through the country's rationing program. He resigned earlier this month.

In this job market, who can be optimistic? How about high school teens who are schooled in the basics of running their own business?


WHITFIELD (voice over): Despite the ailing economy, these high school students are highly optimistic about their future in the job market.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every opportunity, don't waste time.

WHITFIELD: They are a little bit more upbeat because they participated in a business-building program called the Junior Achievement Fellows, where the students are led by volunteers from various businesses.

UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: The business building program is an intensive evening for high school students and we just finished our third year of the program.

WHITFIELD: Within four months, learning the how-to of an upstart, these young men and women created business models, selling everything from jump drive bracelets to save computer files on your wrist, to water bottles with built-in filters.

UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: The students had 16 weeks to run their companies. They had 15 companies, 220 students. During that time, which is arguably the worst economic climate in the United States and the world, our students did over $30,000 in sales as a part of the program.

WHITFIELD: As summer approaches, with many retailers folding or scaling back, the once all the guaranteed summer jobs teenagers used to get at malls and amusement parks have dwindled. On top of that, they are now competing with adults for covets spots.

UNIDENTIFED FEMALE: I think it will definitely be competitive, what with the economy as it is nowadays.

WHITFIELD: According to a recent poll, 33 percent of students said there seems to be fewer jobs available now, 18 percent of teens said they noticed they're working alongside more adults and retirees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the problem today is that kids don't have business experience and they're trying to go out in the workforce and especially with the recession right now, it's hard to find a job.

WHITFIELD: This group of students feels that their management skills have given them more economic responsibility for the future.

AUDREY TREASURE, SENIOR DIRECTOR, JA FELLOWS: The students I think now feel like they're more equipped to understand what's going on. So they feel like because they have the experience of starting their own business and being successful, that they have more advantages than other people have, and they also feel responsible for not letting something like this happen again in the future.


WHITFIELD: Out of school and now out of work. Not those young people but college graduates, entering one of the toughest job markets in decades. We're help to help. Josh Levs is here to help as well with a preview of our 4:00 Eastern hour. We are focusing to make sure some of these grads can land a gig, land a job.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a tough time. I'm glad we're digging in, Fred.


LEVS: We will have good guests. Let's start off; I want to show everyone the really stark statistics, how tough it is now. Let's go straight to the graphics, folks. This is a survey and Fred, you've seen this, two years ago about half the people graduating from college who applied got jobs. Next screen, this is how much it dropped. It's astounding.

LEVS: Yeah, it's unbelievable. And keep in mind, these kids have all of this debt. I was thinking maybe a lot more kids were choosing to go on to grad school, right? But, it turns out no. Check out this third stat. It's actually -- Between last year 2008 and 2009, it's still the same number of kids that are staying in school. So, we're going to be looking at that and also, you know what, there is some positive news here and there. Some kids have it a little easier than some others.

Last thing I want to show you here, there are certain majors out there that are actually doing pretty well, by comparison. Let's go to this. Check it out, engineer and accounting majors more likely to have searched and found jobs and the last thing, show them the salaries, average starting salaries, if you're an engineer graduating, average, Fred, $58,000, straight out of college.


LEVS: Accounting, 48.

WHITFIELD: That's fantastic.

LEVS: Yeah, there's some good news in there. We're going to look at the whole picture. We're going to get you all of the information we can.

And Fred, I was just taking a look at what's already coming into on Facebook and the blog. And I'll tell you, some good stuff.

WHITFIELD: Oh, good. I'm so glad. Well, we know that this is one of those hot-button issues for a lot of folks. I mean, it really runs the gamut in terms of age, not just the grads, but their parents, too, who are saying wait a minute, I want all of that money invested in those four years or however many years of college, you know, I want some benefits, here. I want to see my kids get a job.

LEVS: Right, there's a reason that they paid for all of that schooling, right?


LEVS: It advantages the whole economy when more people are working, more young people, especially with all of that debt. Let me show you two example, just really quickly from the blog, here. "I just graduated a double major and I'm going to likely take a position as a doorman in New York."

But over here on our Facebook pages, "It sounds like more crying from a generation that receives trophies for getting tenth place." So, we're going to hear all of these angles. We're going to have some real discussions about this throughout the 4: 00 hour.

WHITFIELD: Interesting flavor, there. All right, thanks so much, Josh. Appreciate it.

LEVS: All right, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, in a visit to New York, that certainly would make his mother proud, this visit would. Prince Harry, all grown up, taking on the Big Apple and showing his humanitarian side.


WHITFIELD: All right, getting a shot, never very much fun. Researchers say some people who should be getting vaccines don't because of the needles. Chris (sic) Bolduan looks at a possible solution.


BROOKE BOLDUAN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's enough to make a kid scream. A shot can be an unpleasant experience for anyone, no matter the age. Funded by government flu grants, researchers at Georgia Tech and Emory University in Atlanta developed a solution, needles so small, you can't feel them.

MARK PRAUSNITZ, GEORGIA TECH: It's as long as one or a few hairs are thick.

BOLDUAN: Their called micro needles, so tiny they only go part of the way through the skin, just deep enough to work, not enough to hit nerves and actually hurt.

PRAUSNITZ: The micro needle not only gets rid of the big needle that physically does hurt in the skin, but also looks much more friendly. It's hard to even see there are needles on there.

BOLDUAN: Borrowing technology from the microelectronics industry, the tiny needles are laser cut, coated in vaccine and placed on an adhesive patch. This has 50 needles on it, all on a space no larger than a dime. But is it really painless? Our brave intern, Max, volunteered to find out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shouldn't be afraid of this. They're so small and (INAUDIBLE) easy, I applied it. Pushed it a little bit and that's it. Did you feel something?

MAX: Nothing.

BOLDUAN: Research shows micro needles might be more effective than traditional shots, and perhaps the biggest advantage, they're so simple, people can vaccinate themselves.

PRAUSNITZ: It's removing the need to wait in line to see your doctor, to make an appointment, but rather to pick up in the pharmacy or perhaps even get in the mail your flu vaccine and in your home get that shot.

RICHARD COMPANS, EMORY UNIV: If we can increase the fraction of the population that gets covered by receiving the vaccine, potentially up to 100 percent, that would do a great deal to eliminate the deaths.

BOLDUAN: Its simplicity could also make a big impact on fighting the disease in undeveloped areas where there aren't doctors or medical facilities.

PRAUSNITZ: We think by using a simple re-administered micro needle patch, we're going to be able to play a role in the campaign to eradicate diseases measles and polio.

BOLDUAN: More development and human trials are yet to come, but if all goes well, researchers say in five years, micro needles could make doctors' visits a little more pain-free.

Brooke Bolduan, CNN, Atlanta.


WHITFIELD: Nobody likes those.

All right, Prince Harry, everyone's wild about Prince Harry and he's focusing on charity on his day two of his first official trip to the United States. This morning in New York, the 24-year-old British royal visited a nonprofit organization that helps low-income children in Harlem.

And at this hour he is schedule to saddle up for a polo match on Governors Island in New York's harbor. Harry will be playing against Argentine heartthrob, as they say, Nacho Figueras. The match will benefit the prince's charity which helps impoverished children in Africa.

A more somber tone on the first day of Harry's visit to New York. That's what took place yesterday. The prince made a prayerful stop at the site of the 9/11 attacks.


(voice-over): On his first visit to New York, Prince Harry pays respects at lower Manhattan's Ground Zero, leaving a wreath with his message: "In admiration of the courage shown by the people of this great city." Signed, "Harry." He, offering comfort and receiving some in return.

The idea that he just arrived and the first thing that he did was decide to come to ground zero is really quite impressive. We think it's lovely and his note is really lovely and it means a lot.

WHITFIELD: This woman, among a half dozen relatives of 9/11 victims, told the prince they share something in common, what it's like to lose a loved one. She lost her husband on 9/11, Harry's mother, Princess Diana died in a Paris car crash in 1997 when he was just 12.

Even though New Yorkers are used to visits from statesmen and celebrities alike, Prince Harry, third in line to the British throne, stopped traffic on a busy (INAUDIBLE), planting a magnolia tree in the British Memorial Garden, spending time with New York's governor David Patterson and with firefighters still mourning many losses of their own.

This journey to New York is his first official solo trip overseas. It is mostly a fund-raiser trip to raise money for his favorite African charity, but perhaps it is also a practice run attending to official royal visit one day in the future.

At 24, the young prince seems to have come a long way from other highly-publicized events he may wish to forget. From reports of past marijuana use, to wearing an insulting costume and using offensive language. Harry's life took a more serious turn in 2006, he graduated from the Sandhurst Military Academy and joined the British army. A scheduled deployment to Iraq was canceled after militants threatened to target the prince.

GEN SIR RICHARD DANNATT, CHIEF OF THE GENERAL STAFF: These threats exposed not only him and also those around him to a degree of risk that I now deem unacceptable.

WHITFIELD: Later, Harry was secretly deployed to Afghanistan.

PRINCE HARRY, UNITED KINGDOM: It was fantastic (INAUDIBLE) I was wanting to do the whole time and to be able to do it was -- I was hugely grateful.

WHITFIELD: He served 77 days before word of his presence in the combat zone surfaced, prompting commanders to withdraw him.

PRINCE HARRY: It's a shame. As I said, angry would be the wrong word to use, but now I'm so disappointed. I thought I could see it through to the end.

WHITFIELD: Military service and charity work helped counter his earlier party principle image. And this weekend's trip to New York, along with these thoughtful moments at hallowed ground, may improve it even further.


WHITFIELD: And portraits of a future president. College-day pictures when President Barack Obama was known as "Barry." Smoking a cigarette.


WHITFIELD: Let's take a glimpse at this a future president. Some little-known photos of Barack Obama have gone on exhibit. They were shot by a fellow student when Mr. Obama was a freshman at Occidental College in California. CNN's Kara Finnstrom has this story.


LISA JACK, PHOTOGRAPHER: I mean, look it, he's so cute, he's so charming here and then he moves up and he's thoughtful.

KARA FINNSTROM, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Portraits of a young Barack Obama, back when he went by the name "Barry." They were snapped almost 30 years ago.

JACK: He got his flip-flops. He's got his high-wasted jeans. Remember those? He was very fashionable.

FINNSTROM: Lisa Jack was a photography student at Occidental College near Los Angeles in 1980 when chance brought her in contact with the future president. He was an Occidental freshman.

JACK: A friend of mine said oh, you have to meet and take a picture of this really handsome guy and his name is Barry. I said really? She said, yes.

FINNSTROM: She asked him to pose for a class assignment. He agreed. She shot a single roll, 36 pictures.

JACK: I think I captured youth. I think I captured confidence, fun and seriousness. I mean, you can also see that he had quite a thoughtful and pensive side. I think they sort of show the complexity of the man already at that age.

FINNSTROM: Some of them show Obama with cigarette in hand.

JACK: Everybody smoked, because it was cool then.

FINNSTROM: For decades, the negatives sat in a box untouched.

JACK: I think it was around the Republican National Convention last year when I recognized that these were historical.

FINNSTROM: But Jack kept the existence of the photos a secret until after the election, fearing they might become a campaign issue.

JACK: I just didn't want anything to be used politically. I'm not political and these are not political.

I didn't think anybody was going to come.

FINNSTROM: A big crowd turned out as the photos went on display Thursday night at a gallery in West Hollywood. They're online, too, and prints are on sale starting at $1,000 each. Jack doesn't know if the president has seen them. She would like to give him one of the portraits of his younger self.

JACK: I still think Michelle should pick it out. He's her man. You know? The offer is out there for sure, absolutely, Of course.

FINNSTROM (on camera): And that chance encounter could prove lucrative for the photographer. Even before that exhibit had opened up, the gallery said it had sold more than 150 of the photographs at $1,000 a pop.

Kara Finnstrom for CNN, Los Angeles.


WHITFIELD: She did pretty well at that exhibit. All right, we're going to protect leatherback sea turtles now, one woman's mission. Meet our "CNN Hero."


WHITFIELD: Leatherback sea turtles have been around since the age of T-Rex, but today they're critically endangered worldwide. This week's "CNN's Hero" single-handedly launched a drive to protect leatherbacks on her home island of Trinidad.


ANNOUNCER: This is "CNN HEROES." SUZAN LAKHAN BAPTISTE , DEFENDING THE PLANET: In Trinidad, people hunt turtles for, primarily, their meat. Twenty years ago, the beach was heavily laden with rotten turtles. The sands of the beach down there was terrible. I felt that was wrong. Then I said, you know, we need to do something.

I am Suzan Lakhan Baptiste, my goal is to protect endangered leatherback turtles.

I actually came out here nightly and patrolled the beach. There would be people with machetes waiting for the turtles to nest.

I was very vigilant, and I will tell people, "this is a protected species."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I started hunting turtles with my father. Suzan brought around the change. They don't kill the turtles anymore, because of the visitors.

BAPTISTE: Today, it's so much better.

You want to come and touch the turtle?

Now we are creating sustainable livelihood through Eco Tours using these very turtles.

The passion that I feel, it burns me up. I have seen the fruits of our labor. But I want to see it can happen in every community.

In Suzan's community, the survival rate for leatherbacks is virtually 100 percent.

She now works to combat turtle slaughter throughout the Caribbean.

BAPTISTE: This is a leatherback turtle that we'll be viewing. The leatherback is one of the largest seven marine species.

BAPTISTE: Our goal is to make this a model for all of the countries.

When I got started a lot of people thought I was crazy, but I love being crazy. You know? Totally, environmentally crazy.


WHITFIELD: Perhaps you know someone like Susan who is doing something remarkable to protect the environment or maybe you want to had been her with her work. Go to, right now. Remember all of our "CNN Heroes" are chosen from people that you nominate.

Some critics of president Obama's Supreme Court nominee are labeling Sonia Sotomayor a racist. Rush Limbaugh is going as far as to compare her to a former Ku Klux Klan leader. All this over Sotomayor's remark in 2001 that, "a wise Latina judge could make better decisions than a white man."

Well, earlier here in the newsroom, legal expert Avery Friedman weighed in on this debate.


AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTY: The reality is that federal judges who give speeches, many of us who travel the country talking about the law will, you know, expand on thoughts. And so what's happened is that a speech Duke Law School at Berkeley Law School, frankly, two remarks were taken out of context. But, the Senate Judiciary and the Senate itself will absolutely address those issues when it's time for confirmation.

WHITFIELD: So, do you see it will be her judicial record that will take center stage or is it going to be how she answers questions during confirmation hearings that could cement her confirmation or otherwise?

FRIEDMAN: Well, it will be both. She's published, with her name, over 150 opinions, she has many, many more. I have every confidence that the pyrotechnic hyperbole that we have seen will be put aside. We're dealing with United States senators. This will be a smooth confirmation proceeding with tough questions.


WHITFIELD: President Obama says that to fully understands the points Sotomayor was trying to make eight years ago, you need to read her entire essay, the transcript of her speech.

All right, President Obama and other successful people are sharing advice with college graduates. Hear what they are saying.


WHITFIELD: President Obama and the first lady are New York- bound today. The White House describes it as a personal visit. The "New York Times" reports the first couple will attend a Broadway show, the critically acclaimed Joe Turner's "Come and Gone."

Yesterday the first lady's focus was gardening. She visited a Washington elementary school with its own organic garden. The students have been working on the White House garden this spring along with the first lady. Mrs. Obama says she changed her family's diet on the advice of her daughter's pediatrician.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: The changes that we made were very simple. We added more fruits and vegetables to our plates and eliminated processed foods. We didn't say no to anything, we still went out and it was just about moderation. And we were able to engage our children in the process.


WHITFIELD: All right, so the students will eventually return to the White House garden to harvest the crops they planted earlier in the spring.

All right, as you know it's graduation season across the country, a time for commencement advice from heavy weights and superstars. Here are the highlights that we thought deserved at least a second listen.


OBAMA: Your class has come of age at a moment of great consequence for our nation and the world. A rare inflection point in history, where the size and scope of the challenges before us require that we remake our world to renew its promise.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), US SECRETARY OF STATE: You now have the capacity to influence events in ways that no previous generation ever has.

ERIC SCHMIDT, CEO, GOOGLE: You need to actually turn off your computer. I know this is difficult. You need turn off your phone and look at the people who are near you and around you and decide that it is humans that are ultimately are the most important thing to us.

COLIN POWELL, FMR SECY OF STATE: There is nothing wrong with money or position, but at the end of the day, the source of true happiness and success is that you have that sense of personal satisfaction, of knowing that you are doing something of value for the society that you are a part of.

BILL CLINTON (D), FMR U.S PRESIDENT: Keep pushing America towards becoming one community where we celebrate our differences, but we think our common humanity matters more.

GOV ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: People ask me all the time, what is the secret to success? And I give them always this short version. I say, No. 1, come to America. No. 2, work your butt off. And No. 3, marry a Kennedy. But, anyway...


OPRAH WINFREY, THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW: It is really fantastic to have your own jet, but you really haven't completed the circle of success unless you can help somebody else move forward.

ELLEN DEGENERES, TALK SHOW HOST: I didn't go to college at all, any college. I'm not saying you wasted your time or money, but I'm a huge celebrity.


And I know a lot of you are concerned about your future, but the economy is booming, the job market is wide open. The planet is just fine. It's going to be great. You've survived a hurricane, what else can happen to you? Some of the most devastating things that happen to you will teach you the most. And you know the right questions to ask to your job interview, like is it above sea level?



WHITFIELD: And I can't be as funny as DeGeneres, but we have to add something else that she said. She congratulated the cap and gown-wearing grads saying, "Usually when you wear robes at 10:00 in the morning, it means you've given up." Lots of rousing applause and lots of laughter in the house.

All right, news that's happening right now, GM's board members are delivering in the face of the troubled auto maker. It's expected that they will decide to file bankruptcy protection next week. The company has pulled together part of the order to restructure plan, but much of it won't be ready by Monday's deadline.

And President Obama is calling on senators to quickly confirm his Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor. In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president said he is confident Sotomayor is the right choice for the high court and he insists he is equally confident any effort to distort her record will fail.

Pakistan says it has taken back a key town from Taliban militants in the northern Swat Valley. Military officials say about 1,200 Taliban forces have been killed in a month-long government offensive.

And we're focusing this hour on being out of school, but also out of work. The class of 2009 entering the real world in one of the toughest job markets in decades. All this hour in the CNN NEWSROOM, finding employment, making yourself marketable, job alternatives and dealing with debt. In the next hour, solutions for the class of 2009, educated, but unemployed.