February 16th, 2012
03:29 PM ET

Syrian activist "Danny" speaks exclusively to CNN

Syrian activist, "Danny", speaks exclusively to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh Thursday about the dire situation in Syria. Known as the "voice of Homs," the citizen journalist recently escaped Syria and agreed to sit down for an interview with CNN in Beirut.

"We want help – we can't stay like this. Bashar al-Assad will kill millions. He has no problem. This can't be solved peacefully. We're asking anyone for any kind of help," says "Danny".

Watch Nick Paton Walsh discuss his interview with "Danny" on CNN Newsroom here.

Topics: Breaking News • CNN • CNN Newsroom • Nick Paton Walsh • Syria
February 16th, 2012
02:34 PM ET

Supermodel Joan Smalls on New York Fashion Week and her rise to the top

For her upcoming special Fashion: Backstage Pass, CNN's Alina Cho reports on up-and-coming model and Estée Lauder spokeswoman Joan Smalls.

Reflecting on the moment she realized she’d become a success, Smalls says, “I think you kind of feel it that when you want something so bad and when something great happens, I think it is instinct. That you say this is going to be the moment that is going to change everything.”

She continues, “I always wanted the greater and the bigger… I came here with a purpose and you know, to finally achieve it, and to also be an inspiration to others.”

Fashion: Backstage Pass airs Saturday, February 25th from 2:30-3:00pm ET on CNN.

Topics: Alina Cho • CNN
February 16th, 2012
01:43 PM ET

International Security Expert: "Iran is ready to rejoin negotiations"

International Security Expert Jim Walsh weighs in on Iran’s nuclear announcement, telling CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield that he believes it is leverage for negotiations.

Walsh says, “There was not a game changer yesterday. There were several announcements on the nuclear program about that facility near Qom, the underground facility. And as you pointed out, about fueling…the medical reactor. But there's nothing that suddenly today Iran is any closer to a nuclear weapon than yesterday. What is missing in all this, though, is at the end of the day, Iran submitted a letter to the Europeans saying they are ready to rejoin negotiations.”

He adds, “I worry about a military strike. I'm afraid it's going to have the same impact that if Israel strikes Iran, it's actually going to push them to the bomb when they haven't yet made that decision. That's sort of what happened before with Iraq and I fear that here, as well.”

Early Start with Ashleigh Banfield and Zoraida Sambolin airs week mornings from 5-7am ET on CNN.

Topics: Ashleigh Banfield • CNN • Early Start
February 16th, 2012
11:05 AM ET

HUD Secretary Donovan: Mortgage settlement and other programs to help millions

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan joins Starting Point to discuss how millions of people will be helped by the new sweeping mortgage settlement and additional programs recently announced.

Donovan states, "We think the settlement itself will be close to two million.  About one and three quarter million people will get help.  But...there are many other things that we’ve announced just over the last few weeks.  We think an additional million people could be eligible for our modification programs with the changes that we made.

He continues, "There are about three million, 3.5 million families that if we can expand the refinancing work we’ve done with Fannie and Freddie to other homeowners that are current on their mortgages and been doing the right thing, that’s 3.5 million more families that could be reached there.  So when you put all of these together, there is no single....  There’s no silver bullet here, but all of these together can make a real difference and build on the progress that we’re making."

Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien airs week mornings from 7-9am ET on CNN.

Topics: CNN • CNN Politics • Soledad O'Brien • Starting Point
February 16th, 2012
10:57 AM ET

HUD Secretary Donovan: mandatory mortgage deal is just one tool

CNN anchor Soledad O'brien's sits down with HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan in an exclusive interview on a new sweeping mortgage settlement program.

Donovan says, “One of the things that’s critical about this is that [the settlement is] mandatory. This isn’t a voluntary program. These aren’t incentives. The banks have to do this and if they don’t, there are huge financial penalties to them and because it’s part of enforcement, it’s registered in the court and we can go back into court and really force them to do this.”

He adds, "The settlement is only one piece of a series of things we’ve announced over the last few weeks. Universal refinancing, unemployed homeowners can get more help than they were able to get before, a homeowner bill of rights. All of these fit together. The settlement alone isn’t going to fix the whole housing crisis. We never said it would. We need all of these pieces to come together."

Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien airs week mornings from 7-9am ET on CNN.

Topics: CNN • CNN Politics • Soledad O'Brien • Starting Point
February 16th, 2012
10:00 AM ET

Ivan Watson reports from inside Syria

CNN's Ivan Watson reports that the Syrian countryside is "in open revolt."

Topics: Breaking News • CNN • CNN International • Early Start • Syria
February 16th, 2012
08:33 AM ET

Rep. Mike Rogers on Iran: 'Military options have to be laid on the table'

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, talks about how Iran's nuclear announcement could have ramifications throughout the Middle East.

Rogers tells CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, “I think what you're seeing is the aftermath of what happens when the sanctions are starting to bite a little bit.”

He continues, “I do think military options have to be laid on the table. They need to understand, we're serious about this…. A nuclear Iran means nuclear proliferation across the Middle East. It's a Middle East nuclear arms race. Turkey says they'll get in. Saudi Arabia says they're going to get a bomb. Egypt says if they have one, we're getting one. And that really creates an instability problem that the next five generations of Americans will have to try to deal with…. That said, I don't think military options ought to be our first course of action. They should really be the last course of action.”

Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien airs week mornings from 7-9am ET on CNN.

Topics: CNN • CNN Politics • Iran • Soledad O'Brien • Starting Point