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CNN NEWSROOM

Friends Remember Elizabeth Edwards; Muppets & Healthy Eating

Aired December 8, 2010 - 10:00   ET

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


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: The sun comes up in about 12 minutes in Oakland, it's just after 10:00 a.m. in Washington, D.C. you can see almost the steam coming off the Democrats' heads now. They're pretty upset with the president's deal with Republicans on tax cuts. The vice president's going to the hill again today to try and sell that plan to the party.

And let's try this again, shall we, the first commercial spaceship now slated for blastoff at 10:42 Eastern time. We'll have it for you live as soon as it happens. The first try was scrubbed last hour, not sure why.

And the secretary of Homeland Security announcing a new campaign in just a couple of hours. It's called if you see something, say something. That notion might have helped prevent the car bomb from going off in Times Square nearly a year ago.

All right. Today we are saying good-bye to a pretty incredible woman. I'm talking about Elizabeth Edwards. She died at the age of 61 after a long fight with breast cancer. Yes, she was a political spouse but she became more to so many people because of her private pain that played out in the spotlight. A child who died. A cancer fight. An unfaithful husband.

She wrote this in her book, "Resilience is accepting your new reality even if it's less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you lost or you can accept that and just try to put together something that's good."

Jessica Yellin takes a look back at her life and her legacy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They were an inseparable pair, a political power couple. He was the candidate, but often it seemed she was the star.

ELIZABETH EDWARDS, BREAST CANCER PATIENT: Hey. Don't worry. You only have about 15 seconds of me.

YELLIN: Elizabeth Edwards inspired so many with her strength in the face of adversity. She endured a devastating loss when her teenaged son, Wade, died in a car accident. After that, she and her husband had two more children, Emma and Jack. Their oldest is Cate. When John Edwards was on the 2004 Democratic ticket, their relationship was a central part of his appeal. JOHN EDWARDS (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Thank you. Now you know why Elizabeth is so amazing, right? I am such a lucky man to have the love of my life at my side.

YELLIN: Then tragedy hit again. At the end of that campaign, Elizabeth Edwards discovered a lump in her breast, cancer. She displayed her now familiar determination.

ELIZABETH EDWARDS: I also just have a belief that I'm going to beat this. Every indication is that - all of the news I've gotten really has been good news. So I feel pretty confident. I'm making those plans for those next 40 years.

YELLIN: At first, it seemed she would beat the disease. She wrote a best-selling book about grief and endurance and began championing health care reform and in 2007, just as her husband was gearing up to run for president, more dreaded news. The cancer was back. It spread to her bones. She surged her husband to stay in the race.

ELIZABETH EDWARDS: Right now, we feel incredibly optimistic. I expect to do next week all of the things I did last week, and the week after that.

YELLIN: In the second campaign, Mrs. Edwards, a sometimes controversial figure with her husband's staff, was a key adviser and a constant companion.

ELIZABETH EDWARDS: I'm so proud to introduce, I guess, my love and the next president of the United States, John Edwards.

YELLIN: In her last years, a different truth came crashing in. Edwards learned her husband was having an affair. He lied to her and even fathered a child with the other woman. During the same period, she learned the cancer was getting worse. She dealt with her rage in this book "Resilience."

ELIZABETH EDWARDS: It's important for me to understand that I didn't do anything wrong, not just important for me but important also for my children to understand that the mother they say, the wife that they saw, you know, trying to support her husband in his quest and his dreams.

YELLIN: Mrs. Edwards separated from but never divorced her husband and in the end, he was by her side with their children in the Chapel Hill home they built together.

Jessica Yellin, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Mudcat Saunders was a senior adviser in John Edwards '08 presidential campaign. Joining us live from Roan Oak this morning. Mudcat, you worked side by side with Elizabeth. She actually hired you, right? MUDCAT SAUNDERS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: She hired me. She was the one. I remember - well, of course, John hired me in 2000 - the first time, 2001 in December, but in the 2008 cycle, I was just finishing up the Jim Webb race, and I remember Johnny called one morning from the airport and said that Elizabeth was adamant about me coming back, and, of course, I was going to get back anyway, but it was wonderful working with Elizabeth. I learned so much.

Her political acumen was fantastic and the way she worked with people was fantastic, and a presidential campaign is a hard thing, and, honestly, the way she kept me pumped up was fantastic.

PHILLIPS: Well, it cracked me up that you called her a "real tough chick." She didn't like that word but yet, you said that's what she was, "one tough chick"?

SAUNDERS: She was. Like I say, resilience doesn't exactly cover Elizabeth. When I think of Elizabeth, you know, I think of something much, much more stronger than resilient.

PHILLIPS: What do you think made her so different from other political wives?

SAUNDERS: Of course, I can't speak for all political wives, but Elizabeth was more than -

PHILLIPS: But you've mingled with many of them, and you've seen how they are, and you got to know her up close and personal. I mean, tell us something we don't know.

SAUNDERS: Well, I mean, I think, you know, the stories out well that Elizabeth was an integral part of our campaign. I mean, there was no major decision ever made in the campaign that Elizabeth didn't talk about. Elizabeth would be the first one to tell you if you were wrong. She would just flat tell you, you are wrong and that's the way it is. But at the same token, if you presented your case to her, she was the first always to say she was wrong and let's go with it.

PHILLIPS: You know, the one thing she said when she found out about her husband's affair, she said she cried, she screamed and then she went and threw up. John Edwards really blew it, didn't he?

SAUNDERS: Well, you know, I don't want to be talking about it. There's a whole lot of chapters to Elizabeth's life and you know, I'd rather talk about the book. I will say this, a lot of people have focused - in fact, that's the way it is in politics in the last two years of their marriage.

And, you know, they were married for 36 years, and, of course, they had many highs and many lows. They climbed the highest mountains, obviously, with their law practice and his run to political fame but at the same time, they walked through the lowest valleys, you know, with the loss of Wade, and there's a lot of history there.

When John called me and told me that Elizabeth was going south fast, it was different. Quite frankly, John has been crushed by this. And we can all understand why, but he told me last night when I left - I didn't leave until about 12:30 last night from Chapel Hill, but he told me - I asked him, you know, what's next. He said, "there's only one next, and that's being a great father to these kids."

CHETRY: Yes, sometimes you really don't appreciate somebody until they're gone. Mudcat Saunders, thanks for spending some time with us this morning. Sure appreciate it.

SAUNDERS: Thank you.

CHETRY: You bet.

Coming up in just about half an hour, we're taking a closer look at just how much of an impact Elizabeth Edwards had on the lives of the people that she touched and complete strangers.

"People" magazine's Washington correspondent joins us live at 10:40 Eastern.

Congressional Democrats pushing back against President Obama for what they see as him caving in to Republicans on a tax cut plan. Senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash with the latest developments on Capitol Hill. Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, you know, it is really hard to express and to let you know how much anxiety there is, anger there is. It is really palpable in the halls of Congress from the president's fellow Democrats about this deal that he cut.

Listen to what the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said after a House democratic meeting last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, I think it's fair to say that there's a certain amount of unease with the proposal that was put forth by the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now, that is an understatement, but it is interesting to hear from somebody like Nancy Pelosi who always has tried to historically paper over differences among Democrats. So what are we talking about here when it comes to the substance of this deal?

Why are Democrats so angry at the president? First of all, it is the biggie, and that is the fact that he has agreed to extend tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, those making over $250,000 for two years, breaking a campaign promise. But it's also something else, Kyra, it is the estate tax. This was a surprise to many Democrats that I've talked to, the fact that in this deal, people who have an income and a net worth, I think is probably a better way to say it, of up to $5 million, they're going to be exempted from an estate tax, and that is something that's really angering these democrats, Kyra. PHILLIPS: Well, how may this play out? What do you think? will the votes be there to pass it?

BASH: At this point, it's really unclear. The Senate is going to go first, and of course, in the Senate, 60 votes are going to be needed. If you look at the number of Republicans, most of whom we understand are going to vote for this. They have their 42. Let's say there are 38 Republicans all told, you're going to need 20-something Democrats, and we're already hearing that there are maybe about 30 of the president's fellow Democrats who are prepared to defy him. So it is really unclear as a Democratic aide I just talked to said, "it is no slam dunk right now."

PHILLIPS: Got it. Dana, thanks.

BASH: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: And the path to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants hinges on the Dream Act. Both Houses of Congress are expected to vote on it as early as today. That bill would give some illegal immigrants brought to the country as children a way to get legal status by going to college or joining the military.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: These are not young people who will be a threat to national security or have committed any kinds of serious crimes. They're required to give us their biometrics. They're required to show their entire history. These are not the people that we're focused on in terms of removing from the country and they're certainly not the individuals we're focused on in terms of our national security.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Now the Obama administration and congressional Democrats are pushing for passage of the bill. A top congressional Republican official says it would grant amnesty to more than two million illegal immigrants.

Reality stars live their lives and are raking in millions of dollars for airing their dirty laundry for you to watch. Let me tell you who is earning the most in your "Showbiz Update."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "CONAN": Well, of course, reality TV has been a big fixture on television for years. It just came out, this year, the highest paid female reality star was Kim Kardashian who made $6 million and the highest paid male reality star is "Jersey Shore's" (INAUDIBLE) who made $3 million. Let this be a lesson, kids, stay out of school.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PHILLIPS: All right. Kids, do not listen to Conan, please. But apparently airing your dirty laundry for the cameras gets you a whole lot of money. There is a pretty interesting list of reality stars getting top dollar too.

"Showbiz Tonight" host A.J. Hammer has the scoop. So A.J., what exactly is it that reality stars do to make so much dough?

A.J. HAMMER, HOST "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT": Well, Kyra, the basic job requirement is just be yourself and a lot of drama never hurts. To a lot of people, you know, Kim Kardashian may be famous for nothing, but apparently that is a job that is paying really well. It's the dailybeast.com that revealed this week the reality star who is earning the most money. And yes, as Conan said at the top of the list is Kim Kardashian, banking an estimated $6 million as you're shelling everything from cupcake mix to sneakers, but much of the Kardashian commerce is a family business.

In fact, her sisters, Chloe and Kourtney also made the top 10 on this list. The sisters co-own a line of retail stores, skin care line and a fashion line. They sell that on AVC. Kim also brings in money promoting Quick Trim weight loss supplements and she can earn as much as $75,000 a pop in appearance fees.

In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, here in New York City, she opened the new Charmin toilet paper public restroom in Times Square. And look, because I mentioned her, I also mentioned the brand. So she's earning her money right there. Plus, she's an author. Kim and her sisters recently released their book, "Kardashian Confidential." 13,000 copies of that sold in the first week. According to Nielsen Bookscan and the show that launched all these careers, "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" that just finished its fifth season. Of course, it was Kim's sex tape that really got her name well known.

But I want to move on this list because right behind Kim, Lauren Conrad, earning an estimated $5 million in 2010. L.C. as she's known rocketed to reality fame back in 2004 as one of the high schoolers cast in a show known as "Laguna Beach." And then she moved on to the "Hills." And now a show devoted solely to her and her fashion career is in the works. She's a pretty prolific author, too.

Her trilogy of young adult books have sold more than a million copies (INAUDIBLE) her style guide, Lauren Conrad Style, that sold more than 40,000 copies since it was out in October. But her biggest business coup is her line for Kohl's.

And then I got to get to one more in this list, Bettheny Frankel, estimated 2010 earnings, $4 million. Frankel parlayed her tenure, of course, on "The Real Housewives of New York City where again she was just being herself and now she has her own show, "Bettheny Getting Married." That gets more than twice the viewers of the house wives show, and that's going to morph into "Bettheny Ever After" next year. Her top moneymaker has been the skinny girl like.

And it's just amazing to me, Kyra, that these people who are all famous for nothing are now famous for something and they're wealthy. PHILLIPS: I don't know. I tell you what would be interesting and you would probably agree with this, doing a reality show in our make-up room. The way we all talk and the way we all look before we get on the air. Now, that would be an interesting show.

HAMMER: There's a lot of stuff, but the jobs would be over.

PHILLIPS: That's true. We'd be out of a contract.

A.J., great to see you. Well, if you want any information on anything breaking in the entertainment world, A.J., always got it. Every evening, "Showbiz Tonight," 5:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. on HLN.

PHILLIPS: All right. Maybe Elmo will succeed where mom and dad sometimes fail. Ticklish red muppet joining me live to tell you how he's going to try and get your kids eat all those fruits and vegetables, you know, all that healthy stuff, the Cookie Monster is trying to get into. Elmo and guess who else joins me? A talking broccoli. This ought to be interesting. CNN, live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOKIE MONSTER: Now, what starts with the letter "C"? Cookie starts with "C." Let's think of other things that start with "C."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: All right. What foods start with the letter "c"? How about cauliflower, cucumber, maybe. Yes, good luck getting Cookie Monster to scarf down a plate of cabbage but come on, he's a muppet, not a dietitian. He eats healthier these days though and eat a strict diet of Keebler Fudge Stripes would be good.

But Elmo, he is a little bit different. He is a muppet who is trying to get kids to eat healthy stuff and he and his pals on "Sesame Street" are teaching parents that healthy food doesn't have to be expensive food. So look who is here, Elmo and his super food friend who happens to be a stalk of broccoli joining us along with celebrity chef Art Smith, with us, too. Are they giving you a hard time, Art?

ART SMITH, CELEBRITY CHEF: Good morning. They are just a pleasure. Broccoli. Excuse me, darling. We have a love affair here.

ELMO: Yes, yes. But we're hear to talk about eating healthy.

PHILLIPS: OK. So, Elmo, how are you going to get my kids to eat healthy?

ELMO: Well, it's very important that they eat healthy. You know, if they don't like broccoli, then they can have it grilled or sauteed.

SMITH: Or poached. I like it poached.

(CROSSTALK)

BROCCOLI: They have to try more than once, you know, to like something, especially broccoli.

SMITH: Natural, you're fabulous, I think.

BROCCOLI: Thank you, darling. I know I'm nutritious, delicious and color-icious.

PHILLIPS: You are color-icious.

Well, that's true. Well, broccoli, I hate to say this, but you're one of the most hated individuals among kids. How are you going to get them to love you?

BROCCOLI: Well, very easy. Because I'm very lovely. Like I said, they should try me more than once. If they will know that they will grow up very, very healthy, and they will have energy through the day, they, you know, eat not just broccoli, but fruits and other veggies, right?

SMITH: Exactly.

And we have a delicious recipe in this wonderful package which you can go to sesamestreet.org/food and find out about it.

ELMO: For free!

SMITH: For free. Exactly.

PHILLIPS: OK. We like things for free. That's for sure. And Art -

SMITH: It's so delicious.

PHILLIPS: A lot of families are having a hard time, too, in this economy eating well because a lot of foods that unfortunately aren't real good for us are pretty cheap. So Art, how are you telling families on a low budget that they can eat healthy?

SMITH: Well, I think, you know, for every family, regardless, you know, from just getting the food on the table, to the shopping and everything, most importantly, it's to engage with your family. I think taking your family shopping with you, and, you know, it's important, too, when you shop - if it's too close, it's going to be too expensive. That's a big key.

For many of us, I mean, trying to find fresh food is unfortunately is a problem. So I find it very easy for myself that I shop in advance and ahead and I look around for special prices and things of that sort. You know, it's really important, too, you know, in getting your children and also the family members - because, remember, children eat what the parents eat.

PHILLIPS: You want to get the kids involved, right?

SMITH: They should eat with them.

BROCCOLI: Oh, absolutely.

ELMO: Yes.

SMITH: Thanks to "Sesame Street" and our friends here, Broccoli and Elmo, we are able to help bring this message and it's so very important particularly this time of year where food is such an important part of celebrating the holidays.

PHILLIPS: And we should point out -

BROCCOLI: And you know, what -

PHILLIPS: Go ahead, Broccoli.

BROCCOLI: Yes, well, I have to say that I feel very, very special because when people sit down together and share a meal, it's very important, not just, you know, either if it's just, you know - whatever it hopefully will be nice and delicious vegetables and fruits, but it's important for the families to sit down together.

PHILLIPS: That's true.

SMITH: Very, very important.

PHILLIPS: Before we go -- go ahead, Art.

SMITH: Because it's when we come together at the table, you know, we talk with each other and we learn so much about each other.

BROCCOLI: Yes.

SMITH: And through that, again, it's not about what you serve. It's about, you know, that how you are with your loved ones and the - food is love.

PHILLIPS: Well, before we go, a lot of kids, Elmo, they're wanting you for Christmas. Is there enough of you to go around?

ELMO: There is always enough Elmo because there's enough love that Elmo has in his heart to go around to all of his friends.

PHILLIPS: That's true.

There we go. Broccoli, Elmo.

SMITH: So true.

PHILLIPS: Art, thanks so much, guys.

SMITH: Thanks very much.

PHILLIPS: Cheers for healthy eating.

ELMO: Eat healthy, everybody! BROCCOLI: Thank you, darling.

PHILLIPS: More from CNN NEWSROOM straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Things are looking up. If you'll be looking for a job next year, CNN's Carter Evans on the New York Stock Exchange with the results of a new unemployment survey. But I understand you were flirting with Elmo there during the break. What's up with that, Carter?

CARTER EVANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Gosh, you know, that's a tough act to follow. Elmo and talking broccoli?

PHILLIPS: Sorry, pal.

EVANS: I don't know. I can't even hold a candle to that.

Maybe the news I'm delivering can help because this is good news, especially to people looking for a job. The hiring outlook, according to Manpower, is the strongest in two years. I've got the numbers here for you, so let me break it down. Fourteen percent of employers plan to hire in the first quarter of next year. We're seeing improvements in every region of the country.

One analyst says we're still stuck in first gear right now, but the market is ready to shift into a higher gear in 2011. Now, this compares to 10 percent of employers who still plan to cut workers next year; 73 percent don't plan any staffing level changes at all. Kyra?

PHILLIPS: All right. Well, Carter, we can't ignore the biggest part of the chart, and that's the 73 percent of employers who aren't making any moves at all. That's a high number.

EVANS: It is a high number, but it's good and it's bad. Here's how it's good. It's good for the people at those companies currently. They don't have to worry about being cut because what we were seeing over the last couple of years is significant cuts at these companies. So, 73 percent feels stable. That's good. It shows stability. We like that.

The bad news is the growth is fairly stagnant right now. It's better than it has been, but it's still not nearly good enough.

Here's the problem, Kyra. It's low demand. It makes employers nervous. They only hire right now when they see demand picking up. We saw that in October. They saw demand picking up for holiday shopping season and they brought on a ton of temporary workers. Hopefully this two percent tax cut will lead to more spending and hopefully more demand and eventually more hiring. Back to you.

PHILLIPS: All right, Carter, thanks.

Ten-thirty now here on the East Coast, 7:30 out west. NASA delayed the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket this morning. It's the first commercial spaceship into space and was initially set to launch just after 9:00 a.m. but aborted because of a false abort warning. NASA plans to try again, and in just about 10 minutes from now, the Falcon 9 rocket will take off from Cape Canaveral Air Force station in Florida. We will - or it will orbit the earth as part of a test flight. We'll take it live if it happens.

And we're in the midst of the holiday travel season, and that means millions of us will be heading through those new full-body scans at the airport sometime in the next month. We've heard a lot of flyers nervous about that radiation zap that you get when you pass through. A lot of people are saying nope, don't want it. I want the pat-down.

But the TSA says the machines of safe. It's been reluctant to hand out inspection reports. So now lawmakers say they want to see proof.

Representative Markey of Massachusetts is worried about unintentional exposures to radiation of both TSA workers and members of the public. The Democrat is asking the inspector general at Department of Homeland Security to investigate now.

Dr. Tim Williams is the immediate past chairman of the board for the American Society for Radiation Oncology. And Dr. Williams, we get hit with radiation all the time. You know, we are zapped at the dentist, at the doctor, and even just sitting in a room. Should we be worried about these new body scanners? What do we really know about them?

DR. TIM WILLIAMS, IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIR, ASTRO BOARD OF DIRECTORS: It's an excellent question. I mean, we do get exposed to background radiation all of the time, no matter where we are or what we're doing. And this has been analyzed by medical science. We measure radiation for most purposes in doses called millisieverts. And we get about 3,000 millisieverts a year just by natural background sources of radiation, and there is nothing we could do about it. It's an inadvertent part of just being alive, you know, and moving around.

The dose that we get from the scanners is much, much less than that. It is actually a quarter of a sievert, as you look at these. It's just a tiny fraction of the dose that you get from natural background sources.

The problem with it, though, is that we really don't know what the long-term effects of this very low dose is if you are screening millions and millions of people.

PHILLIPS: All right. So, the Department of Homeland Security says that the radiation that you get from one scan is the same as you would get from just sitting on a plane for two minutes and getting a panoramic dental X-ray, that hits you with 1,000 times as much radiation as their machines. Chest x-ray hits you with 10,000 times as much.

So, it begs the question here, how much radiation is too much radiation, Doctor?

WILLIAMS: It's another good question. The problem is that all radiation exposures is not the same. The dose you get when you travel on an airplane is given overtime, and its dose that goes throughout the entire body not just on the skin. The dose you get from a chest x-ray is only the to chest area itself. It's true, it is a lot higher, but you're getting a chest x-ray for a medical reason. There's some question that a doctor has that he needs information from that chest x-ray to help guide the patient's care. A dental x-ray also has a very low dose of radiation, but when you lay on the dental chair, they put a thyroid shield over your so the small dose goes just to the teeth itself.

PHILLIPS: So --

WILLIAMS: These scanners essentially --

PHILLIPS: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

WILLIAMS: These scanners radiate the entire skin of volume of the human body top to bottom, and the dose while very, very low, is actually a fair amount of radiation given in that brief period of time. For example, if you stood in the scanner for an entire year - not that anybody would want to do that -- but if you did, you would get about 90 times the level of background radiation just from moving around. And so that brief exposure is actually a fair amount of radiation. It's just that such a low dose relative to the time that you would have that it becomes a question of how much biology is really going on with it.

PHILLIPS: All right. So, as an expert in the area --, because I fly a lot. A lot of us in this business fly a lot. Couple of times a week. Would you say, yes, it's okay? If you fly a couple times a week, go ahead and do the body scanner. I feel confident as an expert in this area. Long-term effects, you won't have to worry about anything. Could you honestly tell me that?

WILLIAMS: I wish I could. The problem is that we have no data that tells us what the exposure meaning is for this very low dose to large populations of people. If you just fly a couple times a year, it's probably not a big deal. If you are a platinum medallion on an airline and you fly 200 hundred times of a year, it might be of more significance. If you're an airline personnel, a pilot or a flight attendant, you could go through these scanners many more than the average population would.

I think about 800 million people fly a year in this country, and so if the TSA was screening everybody, you'd be talking about a fair amount of radiation exposure.

PHILLIPS: The problem for medical science is that the only data we have that tells us that the scans are safe comes from 65 years ago, the atomic bomb survivors. They've actually been followed for al of these many decades to see what their risk is of developing malignancies from exposures to radiation. And as near as we can tell, it appears to be safe. But the problem is we really don't have the accurate dosimetry about those patients. And we really don't know the type of radiation they got.

PHILLIPS: Right. Bottom line, we just still don't know. Good information. Dr. Tim Williams, really appreciate you. Thanks.

WILLIAMS: My pleasure.

PHILLIPS: Well, the search is on for a violin stolen at a London train station. And get this, it's 300 years old and worth almost 2 million bucks.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: All right. Let's talk about Australia, where the prime minister is pointing figures in the massive release of U.S. documents by WikiLeaks. John Vause knows this story well, and the man behind all this as well is from your small town.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm not the expert on Julian Assange.

PHILLIPS: Yes, no connection! We should make that point, but you have details on the latest.

VAUSE: Yes. Is it actually the former prime minister who's now the current foreign minister. It's a guy called Kevin Rudd. And he's actually being quite outspoken on this. He's given a number of interviews so far, and he's saying actually Assange isn't to blame for the release of all these 250,000 cable documents, of which we have only seen about 1,300 so far. He says the Americans are to blame. And in fact, he did say early on that it's up to the Americans now to tighten things up a bit.

And Kevin Rudd is a member of the Labour Party, which is like the Democrats. But he's getting support from a former conservative prime minister, a guy called John Howard, who has taken a very similar stance, essentially saying that people, the bad guys, as he called them in this case, are the ones who breached the trust and released these documents.

PHILLIPS: Now, I'm going to let you know, in about 90 seconds, we'll have the space launch. So, we're going to go to it, John. So, why don't we quickly -- this stolen violin. 300 years old, worth two million bucks. Do we know anything?

VAUSE: It's almost worth two million bucks. If you had something worth $2 million, you would take a little bit of care of it. But apparently, it belongs to a very famous South Korean-born violin player. She was at a train station in London, she put it down for just a minute to buy a sandwich, a $3 sandwich, and the thieves grabbed it.

There is a reward out there for it. It is a 300-year-old Stradivarius. The insurance company is offering just $23,000 if it comes back.

PHILLIPS: Oh, my gosh. Maybe the ought to bump that up a little bit.

VAUSE: They should.

PHILLIPS: Thank you, John.

Please stay with me here. We're going to go over straight to NASA. On board with the Space X engineers. They are hoping to see a success story today. Also on board, our very own John Zarrella. He's right there near the launch site.

John, the first launch was aborted. Now it looks like we have, what, less than a minute?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Like we said earlier -- I'm listening -- in one ear, I'm listening to you and the other ear I'm listening to launch control. They are counting us down now. They apparently have resolved what was just a false glitch.

Less than about 20, 30 seconds here to the liftoff of Space X's Falcon rocket with its Dragon Capsule on board. They're counting down. Let's listen in.

VOICE OF UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0. We have liftoff of the Falcon 9.

VOICE OF UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stage one.

VOICE OF UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hitch kick. Falcon 9 has cleared the tower.

VOICE OF PHILLIPS: Can I get script?

VOICE OF UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First stage engines and tanks looking good.

VOICE OF UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Getting gravity turn.

VOICE OF UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUIDBLE) Both stages.

VOICE OF UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First stage propulsion is nominal.

VOICE OF UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

VOICE OF UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guidance nominal.

VOICE OF UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The vehicle is now supersonic.

VOICE OF UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Both stages, par systems continue to be nominal. Guidance is nominal.

VOICE OF UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And propulsion is also nominal on the first stage.

ZARRELLA: So, Kyra, right now, everything is nominal. The Falcon rocket with the Dragon spacecraft on top. Still a long way to go before you can say this is success. It's about a three-and-a-half hour mission, and what they're going to do is put that Dragon spacecraft into orbit in about eight, nine minutes from now. It will orbit the earth twice. Go around twice. So, a good couple of hours to orbit the earth.

Then, if successful, splash down in the Pacific Ocean, again about three-and-a-half hours from now. And this would mark the first time that a commercial company has ever successfully re-entered a spacecraft into the atmosphere and splashing it down into the water. Up until now, only half a dozen nations in the world have ever been able to accomplish this kind of a feat.

So, this is really a turning point, a page-turner, turning over low earth orbit missions to the international space station, to bring cargo, to bring humans, astronauts up there. Turning it over to companies like Space X, Orbital Science is another one that has a contract with NASA to bring cargo to the space station.

Still a long way to go. There are still two more test flights after this, but Space X says they should be ready to start taking cargo to the space station late next year. Orbital sciences is going to be in the same position late next year. Their first test flight, their only test flight, is coming up in August.

So, this really is a monumental moment as we turn the page from NASA to commercial companies. NASA is still going to be in the space business, but what they're going to do is take the dollars, the resources that they have been using on low-earth orbit and on taking the shuttle to the space station and instead start spending that money on deep-space missions and trying to get astronauts to Mars and onto the asteroids.

So, doing what NASA does best, pressing the envelope, new technology. And second stage has successfully ignited, I'm told. That is one hurdle, one milestone they have accomplished here. Kyra.

PHILLIPS: John, there's also risks involved here when we talk about turning over part of the U.S. space program to private industry?

ZARRELLA: Yes. You know, there is absolutely no question about it. There are a lot of critics, a lot of skeptics who say the commercial industry is not mature enough yet, they're not ready to be doing this.

But a lot of these people, like Elon Musk, who is the multibillionaire, the Pay Pal co-founder who is the CEO of Space X told me, look, it's time. This is what aviation did. Now we fly all over the world in airplanes. It's time. It's time for this to happen, for commercial companies to take over this role and go ahead and do it.

But, yes, the risk. The risk. If they're not successful, if these tests fail and NASA is in a situation where it has no way to get cargo to the space station, has no way to get astronauts to the space station, then certainly for the foreseeable future, which we already are going to be doing, relying on the Russians to take our astronauts up to the space station. And that's still going to be the case until 2015 at the earliest when companies like Space X say they will be ready to start taking humans to the space station.

But so far on this flight, very good, very good, indications that all is going well. A long way to go. Still have to get that Dragon capsule, which will also be the same capsule used to take humans to the space station. It will be configured for astronauts as well. But they have to get it orbiting the earth twice, then re-enter it into the earth's atmosphere and again, splash down in the Pacific Ocean where it will be -- hopefully will be recovered. Kyra?

PHILLIPS: All right. It's off, and we're following it. John Zarrella, thanks so much.

More from the CNN NEWSROOM, straight ahead.

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PHILLIPS: Well, House Dems burning mad. They feel the president ignored them in getting a tax deal done with Republicans. Congressional correspondent Dana Bash on the Hill with the latest, I guess, bout of unhappiness.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is an understatement. No question about it. That is definitely the top item on our ticker today.

And the fact of the matter is that Democrats in the House had a really intense meeting by all accounts last night. More than 20 Democrats got up to the microphone behind closed doors and blasted the president's deal. We're going to see similar events on Capitol Hill today.

We're going to have a Senate meeting where the administration will show up there, and Vice President Biden is going to meet with House Democrats later on. And I've spoken to a couple of Democrats already who are already saying they are going to vote no unless the vice president says we are going to change some of what is in this tax deal. It is still pretty ugly up here on that.

Second item on the ticker is the DREAM Act. This is something that people who have been pushing for -- pushing to help illegal immigrants -- have been pushing for for some time, Kyra. It would give young people here in the country illegally the ability to be legal. Eligibility for citizenship if they are in the military or if they are in secondary education, in college.

This is probably going to be before the House and the Senate today. It is still very unclear whether the votes are there in both places. In fact, in the Senate, it seems from Democratic sources that it is probably unlikely. This is really the issue when it comes to illegal immigration that has been on the table lately.

PHILLIPS: Some veteran Republicans going to lose the chance to become chairman when the Republicans take the house, right?

BASH: Exactly. This is interesting because one of the questions after the election has been how much influence and power will Tea Party folks have on Capitol Hill? The Tea Partiers were pushing not for these two people who are going to get them. They're pretty upset. We're talking about Fred Upton - he's a pretty moderate guy from Michigan. He's going to lead the Energy Committee, and Hal Rogers will lead the Appropriations Committee.

Kyra, Tea Partiers are really angry about that because they think that he is a big spender, the wrong Republican to lead that committee.

PHILLIPS: Got it. Dana Bash on the Hill. Appreciate it.

So, do you remember where you were 30 years ago today? Assuming you were around then. Hard to believe it's been that long since we heard the awful news, John Lennon gone. News that actually united millions of people around the world. We'll take a look back.

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PHILLIPS: Well, every day at this time, we honor the men and women in uniform who have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan for all of us. We call it "Home and Away."

Today we're lifting up Staff Sergeant Clayton Patrick Bowen from San Antonio, Texas. He was killed in a roadside bomb attack in the Tika (ph) province in Afghanistan in August of 2008. Clay's mom, Reesa, actually wrote into us about her son. She says, "Clay is my only child, and I miss him very much. He was the most important thing in my life. Clay had a sense of humor second to none, lit up the room when he walked in. He was talented and achieved a lot in his 12 years in military. He left me with many new friends and family that I'll cherish forever."

If you have loved one that you would like us to honor, here's all you have to do. Just go to CNN.com/homeandaway, type in your service member's name in the upper right-hand search field, pull up that profile. Send us your you thoughts, your pictures, and we promise keep the memory of your hero alive.

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PHILLIPS: Well, Mark David Chapman might have killed John Lennon on this day in 1980, but he couldn't touch the legend, the legacy, the music. Thirty years later, we're still talking about Lennon and we're still listening to his songs. The group he founded and led, the Beatles, are still selling music and making news.

As a matter of fact, just recently they hit the iTunes market, putting John and the Fab Four into iPods everywhere. Not bad for a guy and a group that started out playing in a smoky downstairs club in Liverpool around 1960.

That does it for us. Hope you are starting off your day well. We'll see you back here tomorrow.

Don Lemon kicks off the next hour -- Don.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: That says a lot about talent, doesn't it?

PHILLIPS: Yes, it does.

LEMON: It lasts forever, yes.

PHILLIPS: And you wouldn't believe all the people in front of the Dakota today and over at the Imagine Circle. I mean, it's pretty incredible.

LEMON: Yes. And we're going to check in with that.

Thank you, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: You bet.

LEMON: Good to see you. Have a great day.