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AMERICAN MORNING

Police Shooting Protest; Cyber Monday

Aired November 27, 2006 - 07:00   ET

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


ALI VELSHI, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Buying the TVs, the flat panels, things like that. Men got to their first store, according to one study, by 4:00 a.m.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: You're right, that's all guys.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: That's at Best Buy. That's not a toy store.

VELSHI: And 17 percent of men -- that's true -- and 8 percent of women got there by 4:00 a.m. And 40 percent of men bought consumer electronics, they bought books, video games. Things like that. Women spent an average of $304, men, $420. Again, remember the average is about $800. So a lot of guys did more than half their shopping, already.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, but how much of that was for themselves and how much --

VELSHI: Exactly. Doesn't count in the holiday shopping.

S. O'BRIEN: I'm going to guess.

VELSHI: It's a flat panel TV, Honey.

S. O'BRIEN: Exactly.

M. O'BRIEN: For you, Honey.

S. O'BRIEN: Happy holidays to me.

(LAUGHTER)

Thanks, Ali.

M. O'BRIEN: Thanks, Ali.

The next hour of AMERICAN MORNING begins right now.

Diplomatic push: President Bush heads to Eastern Europe and the Middle East trying to turn the tide in Iraq.

S. O'BRIEN: The pope on his own mission, facing protests of thousands of Muslims waiting for his arrival in Turkey.

M. O'BRIEN: Deadly force: Five undercover New York police officers firing 50 shots. An unarmed groom-to-be caught in the crossfire. How could that happen?

S. O'BRIEN: Michael Richards takes an apology for his racist rant to the Reverend Jesse Jackson, talks about his next step as well.

Talk about all that, and much more ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.

M. O'BRIEN: Good morning to you, Monday, November 27. I'm Miles O'Brien.

S. O'BRIEN: Thanks for joining us, everybody. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

President Bush is heading toward that high-profile summit, within just a few minutes, with a particularly violent weekend in Iraq as a backdrop. President Bush stops first in Estonia and Latvia, for the NATO summit, then he travels Amman, Jordan for that summit with the Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. Get more this morning from two reports for you. AMERICAN MORNING's Bob Franken in Washington, D.C.; Arwa Damon in Baghdad. Let's begin with Bob.

Good morning, Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN MORNING: Good morning, Soledad.

The meetings that the president will hold in Amman come in the context of a very seriously deteriorating situation in Iraq, and a deteriorating political situation in the United States. All of which conspire to make the president consider changing course in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRANKEN (voice over): The host of the summit, Jordan's King Abdullah, is warning of a larger crisis engulfing the Middle East.

KING ABDULLAH, JORDAN: We're juggling with the strong potential of three civil wars in the region, whether it's the Palestinians, that of Lebanon, or of Iraq.

FRANKEN: But President Bush is focused on what can be done in Iraq without leaving behind a country consumed by sectarian war.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm open to any idea or suggestion that will help us achieve our goals of defeating the terrorists and assuring Iraq's democratic government succeeds.

FRANKEN: The administration is looking for help throughout the region. Vice President Cheney met with Saudi Arabia's rulers over the weekend to ask them to exert pressure on their fellow Sunni Muslims, in Iraq.

And there are diplomatic efforts to engage Iran and Syria. The two countries seen as hostile to U.S. interests, but who wield their own influence in inside Iraq. Back in Washington, the Iraq study group is trying to agree on which of the tough choices to recommend as U.S. policy, but its final report is not due for several weeks.

In the meantime, the newly elected Democratic majority in Congress is trying to assert itself on Iraq. Congressman Ike Skelton will chair the House Arms Services Committee, and says President Bush needs to tell the Iraqi premiere that the recent elections signal a change for the U.S. role in his country.

REP. IKE SKELTON, (D-MO.) CHAIRMAN, ARMS SERVICES CMTE.: He should make it clear that the election has its results, and that in truth and fact, there should be a redeployment beginning soon. And that the Iraqis will have to take the security burden on themselves more and more. The American people want that. And I think President Maliki should understand that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FRANKEN: And what everybody seems to be understanding is that the potential for violence in the Middle East extends, Soledad, far beyond Iraq.

S. O'BRIEN: No question about that. Bob Franken, for us this morning. Thank you, Bob.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, of course, in a very delicate position. Country still reeling from that very violent weekend, the deadliest since the U.S invaded. And, of course, the powerful Shiite leader, Muqtada al Sadr, is threatening action if, indeed, Maliki goes and meets with President Bush. CNN's Arwa Damon is live for us in Baghdad this morning.

Kind of between a rock and a hard place, isn't he, Arwa?

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN MORNING: Soledad, he pretty much is.

On the one hand he owes his position as prime minister to the support of Muqtada al Sadr's bloc. On the other hand, he can't afford to alienate the United States. But the prime minister's position is becoming increasing vulnerable as he risks losing that main support base.

Something that was further highlighted when he traveled to Sadr City, the area where much of his support is coming from, it is a Shia stronghold, that is home to the Mehdi militia that is loyal to radical Shia Cleric Muqtada Al Sadr. He was there yesterday morning visiting the relatives of bombing victims. And according to Iraqi officials, his convoy was stoned by dozens of fellow Shias as he left that area. So, indeed, Soledad, the Prime minister is in a very difficult position right now.

S. O'BRIEN: Arwa Damon, for us this morning. Thank you, Arwa.

Let's show you some live pictures. We've got some pictures of Andrews Air Force Base. That's Marine One landing right there. The president will be departing soon, heading to Estonia for meetings with the leadership there. And then heads on to that NATO meeting, which is happening in Latvia, before he goes to that meeting that Arwa was just talking about, with Nouri al-Maliki in Jordan.

So, we're continuing to monitor that. We're expecting the president to take off in 10 minutes or so, monitor that for you this morning, as well -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: New details on the pope's trip to Turkey this morning. We're hearing the Turkish prime minister will meet with the pope. Alessio Vinci joining us with detail -- Alessio.

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN ROME BUREAU CHIEF, AMERICAN MORNING: Good morning, Miles.

It is a significant development in the sense that, first of all, the prime minister, Erdogan, was one of the most outspoken critics of the pope after he made those remarks linking Islam with violence. He also leads a conservative pro-Islamic Party. And therefore, this meeting with the pope is seen as, perhaps, the best way the trip could begin. That said, this is a trip full of challenges for the pope. The pope yesterday in St. Peter's Square, asked pilgrims to pray for him.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VINCI: "Pray for the success of my journey," Pope Benedict asked pilgrims in St. Peter's Square, on the eve of his difficult trip to Turkey.

At exactly the same time, though, in Istanbul, thousands of nationalist Turks gathered to protest the pope's upcoming visit. There were far less than the hundreds of thousands organizers hoped would show up, but a vociferous minority, nevertheless, closely watched by security officials. Days after a small group chanting, "Allah is Great" stormed one of the buildings the pope is expected to visit. And weeks after a gunman fired shots outside an Italian consulate in Istanbul, shouting that he would strangle the pope.

Not enough to deter the Vatican. The pope is expected to meet with the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Churches, and gather in prayer with other Christian minorities. But this marks his first trip to a Muslim country since quoting a controversial statement by a 14th century emperor, linking violence with Islam.

JOHN ALLEN, VATICAN ANALYST: The clash of civilizations that Benedict sees in the world today, is not between Islam and the West, it's between belief and unbelief, that is, between a culture that prizes religion and the supernatural, and cultures that don't. In that struggle, he thinks of Muslims as natural allies.

VINCI: The pope expressed regret for the damage his speech in Germany last September caused, but did not offer a full apology. Vatican officials confirm that as a sign of respect towards the Muslim faith, Pope Benedict plans to visit the Blue Mosque, essentially emulating his predecessor, John Paul II, widely credited with building bridges with the Muslim world, by becoming the first pope to enter a mosque when he traveled to Damascus in 2001.

ALLEN: I think Benedict believes those bridges, having been built, it's now time to walk across them. In other words, dialogue has to be more than being polite to each other, has to be more than tea and cookies.

VINCI: The pope is on a delicate mission, with all sides willing to talk and, perhaps, finally willing to listen to each other.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VINCI: Security, of course, remains a major concern. Every time the pope travels outside the Vatican. There are reports this morning in one Italian newspapers that Italy has sent a small contingent of special forces to Turkey, to protect sensitive sites, such as the embassy and the consulate. They are, at the same time, of course, thousands -- tens of thousands -- of police officials, Turk police officials, as well as the Vatican personal security guard will be there on hand, so everything should go according to plan as far as the Vatican officials are concerned -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Alessio, Turkey is more than 99 percent Muslim, but it's also a secular country, so is there a chance that the pope will make some inroads there?

VINCI: Well, the trip is divided, if want, in two sections. The first part, in Ankara, will be the political side of the visit. He is there on the invitation of the Turkish prime minister. And there, of course, he will have to discuss all the bilateral issues that can exist between the Vatican and Turkey, and the political side, if you want.

During the second part of the trip, when he travels to Ephasis (ph) and Istanbul, there he will be able to speak more, especially with the other Christian Orthodox -- with the Christian Orthodox there. And he is there at the invitation of the patriarch, Bartholomew I. Obviously, the trip is divided into two big sections.

It will be an opportunity for the pope not just to mend fences, perhaps, with Islam, but also with the fellow Christians, divided for more than 1,000 years.

M. O'BRIEN: Alessio Vinci, in Rome. Thank you.

A programming note for you, Anderson Cooper will report live from Turkey for the pope's visit this week. Our special coverage begins tonight, 10:00 Eastern Time. Join us tomorrow beginning at 6:00 a.m. Eastern for an international town hall meeting, a network wide look at the pope's visit and the issues of religious tolerance and differences. We're calling it "When Faiths Collide", all day tomorrow on CNN.

S. O'BRIEN: Back at home, lots of questions about the shooting death of a 23-year-old man. He was killed as New York City police officers fired 50 shots in just a matter of seconds. The man was leaving his bachelor party. He died on the very day he was to be married. Two of his friends were also injured. CNN's Mary Snow is at police headquarters in New York City this morning with more.

Good morning to you, Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN MORNING: Good morning, Soledad.

And still so many unanswered questions. This shooting incident is now being investigated by a grand jury investigation. This, as dozens gathered yesterday in a call for justice.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many shots?

CROWD: 50.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many shots?

CROWD: 50.

SNOW (voice over): The crowd, lead by the Reverend Al Sharpton, counted to 50 to mark the number of shots fired by New York City police officers, killing one man and injuring two others early Saturday morning. And 23-year-old Sean Bell was killed just hours before he was to be married. His two friends, one seen here, received multiple gunshot wounds. Police say no weapons were recovered. And outraged members of the community are demanding answers.

REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: All of these rumors don't answer the question of why three unarmed men were shot down, with 50 shots, in our community.

SNOW: Early Saturday the three men left a bachelor party at a Queens strip club that was under surveillance. New York City Police Commission Ray Kelly says undercover officers were watching the men. And there were suspicions one may have had a gun. Kelly says a plain clothes officer on foot approached the men's car and was struck before the car hit an unmarked police van, adding that the officer was treated and released for an abrasion on the shin.

RAYMOND KELLY, NYPD COMMISSIONER: The officer was struck, and the mini-van was hit at just about the same time, and then the officer opened fire.

SNOW: In all, Kelly says five officers opened fire, including one officer who fired 31 shots, meaning he had to reload his .9 millimeter.

MALCOLM SMITH, N.Y. STATE SENATOR: We're united in our pursuit of justice.

SNOW: That has prompted one state senator to get involved, demanding a full investigation.

SMITH: Why would that happen when there's no return fire at all? That's the biggest question. SNOW: As the community waits for answers, Bell's fiance, and family members, joined in a vigil. And one of Bell's friends is calling for calm.

MIKE JONES, BELL'S FRIEND: Just have warm hearts, but like, don't have hot heads. Because hot heads is how this incident happened in the first place. We have to do this in a way that will respect Sean's memory.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: Now, the police department says it has not yet been able to interview the five officers who were involved in this shooting, and won't be able to until the Queens' district attorney completes its questioning. The police commissioner did, however, say that none of the five officers had ever been involved in a shooting incident in the past -- Soledad?

S. O'BRIEN: Mary Snow for us this morning. Mary, thanks.

The Reverend Al Sharpton will be our guest straight ahead this morning. He's been talking to the victim's family and leading the protests, too. As you saw in Mary's piece. That's going to be coming up in our next half hour right here on AMERICAN MORNING.

Michael Richards, of "Seinfeld" fame, well he's apologizing, once again, for that racist rant at a Los Angeles comedy club. Taking his apology, in fact, to the Reverend Jesse Jackson's nationally syndicated radio show on Sunday. Richards says his words were fueled by anger not bigotry.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST, RADIO SHOW HOST: Word and so the excessive use of it, is not the first time it -- had come out. I'm trying to get to what drove it.

MICHAEL RICHARDS, COMEDIAN: Well, it's the first time, for me, that came out in that -- it's the first time for me to talk to an African-American like that. That's a first time for me.

There's no justification for the things that I said, but I was in show mode, and it was heightened. At times I try to turn it around, and I use the words, I said in my act, the words, the words, the words, what's underneath the words, in a plea to get to the face rather than get so caught up with the names.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

S. O'BRIEN: Well, after the show, CNN's Brooke Anderson had a chance to talk to Richards as well. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN MORNING: Do you see yourself as a symbol of this bigger issue now? MICHAEL RICHARDS, COMEDIAN: Perhaps a voice that got it in motion?

ANDERSON: How do you think this went this morning?

RICHARDS: Very well. The African-American community is -- I mean, the leadership has opened up the healing, and for that I'm grateful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

S. O'BRIEN: Reverend Jackson says he hopes that Richards' words and apology can shine a light on cultural isolation in the entertainment industry, and that it might be a chance to turn a minus into a plus -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: A real mess for holiday travelers in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California, today already up to 15 inches of snow near the Canadian border and in Washington State; 40 mph winds, gusts up to 60 to 70 mph, causing all kinds of problems on the roads. Heavy snow now moving into Idaho. And coming up, we've got your "Traveler's Forecast."

(WEATHER REPORT)

Ahead, more on the post-Thanksgiving travel rush. We'll look at how the long journey home went for millions of Americans. Stay with us for more AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: Live pictures now, beautiful shot of Air Force One there, Andrews Air Force Base. The president and his entourage aboard, everything buttoned up and Air Force One making its way toward the runway. When does Air Force One take off? Anytime it wants, right?

On its way, first of all, to Estonia, then Latvia. The president will meet with leaders in Estonia, NATO summit in Latvia. And then that important summit with Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, that will take place in Amman, Jordan; a high-stakes diplomatic mission. Of course, CNN will be with the president every step of the way -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: And whether it's by plane, train or by car, Americans are returning from their Thanksgiving weekend, the same way they took off, in big ol' crowds. Senior Correspondent Allan Chernoff is live for as New York's LaGuardia Airport with more on the journey home this morning.

How does it look this morning?

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SR. CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN MORNING: It's pretty busy, Soledad, it has been since 5:00 in the morning. A lot of people extending their Thanksgiving weekends and coming back this morning. Of course, if you were driving through the snow yesterday on I-90 in Washington State, you probably didn't have such a pleasant trip home from grandma's house, but for most of us, Thanksgiving travel hasn't been all that bad.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHERNOFF (voice over): After a long Thanksgiving weekend, travelers rushed back to make it to work by Monday morning.

Despite a few setbacks, the trip home was relatively smooth, at least for the masses. Unlike Wednesday into Thursday, when rain and snow snarled already-congested traffic in the Northeast, Sunday's weather cooperated, keeping roads fairly clear for those traveling by car.

In some places like New Haven, Connecticut, traffic backed up anyway, not from winter weather, but from the sheer volume of travelers. On Pennsylvania's Interstate 79, traffic remained heavy, but flowed smoothly, to the relief of drivers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm surprised a little bit, yeah. I think a lot of people might have been taking the airplanes.

CHERNOFF: At Los Angeles International Airport, one of the nation's busiest, a technical workers union, representing more than 7,000 members, staged a strike outside a terminal, but it didn't seem to affect holiday travelers.

Denver International Airport had a busy, but seemingly calm day. Air traffic in Florida was also above average on Sunday with Orlando's airport reporting 100,000 travelers, but short security lines and on- time departures gave passengers something to be thankful for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was expecting it to be a little more hectic, but it's been pretty tranquil.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHERNOFF: Tranquil. Well, I would love to learn how to make the airport experience tranquil. Never happens here in New York, as you know, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: I don't think tranquil is a word you come up with, on your long list of words there. Allan Chernoff for us this morning, where things are not quite tranquil, but not so bad either. Thanks, Allan.

Let's get a quick check of the "Traveler's Forecast" for you. Chad is here in New York this morning.

(WEATHER REPORT)

Top stories ahead. Of course, we're "Minding Your Business". Money trouble for the U.S. dollar. Ali Velshi is will explain that. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BUSINESS HEADLINES)

S. O'BRIEN: Coming up this morning, five police officers are now suspended and there are questions about the barrage of shots they used to kill an unarmed man. We talk to Reverend Al Sharpton about what he wants to see now, from the police.

Plus, something that could be a life saver for students who are traveling abroad, and here at home as well. Straight ahead, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: This morning a family is grieving, a community is demanding answers as well, after a shooting outside of a nightclub in New York City, a strip joint. The officers fired 50 shots and killed a man who turned out to be unarmed, and was the next morning due to be married. Wounded two of his friends as well.

Reverend Al Sharpton has been comforting the family, took part in a rally protesting the shootings as well. He's our guest this morning.

Nice to see you, reverend. Thanks for talking with us.

REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: Good morning.

S. O'BRIEN: It all began at Club Kalu (ph), which is a strip joint, and ended up with an altercation around 4:00 in the morning and ended with Sean Bell (ph), the bridegroom-to-be, being shot -- fifty shots. An undercover officer fired 11 shots. Two officers in a minivan fired 34 shots. Two officers in a Camry firing five shots. What do you think happened?

SHARPTON: I mean, I do not know. First of all, people do not like -- it's always ugly to have to question law enforcement because they're our first line of defense against harm. When you have a situation, young man at a bachelor party, his bachelor party. He was to be married 5:00 that afternoon. They leave the bachelor party, which is in this club, get in their car, pull out, and police say in some versions that they bumped an undercover car, meaning they didn't even know it was a police car. And we end up with 50 shots, one man dead, two wounded.

That's the question we want to know, as we would demand others. Today, what -- how do you justify shooting 50 times at unarmed men? At what point do you realize no one is shooting you?

S. O'BRIEN: Well, that's what some people theorize happened here, that is what I've heard is called a contagious shooting, meaning an officer opens fire, and at some point, because you have an undercover officer and you have more officers in the Camry and more officers in the minivan, that you don't know where the shots are coming from, so people who are shooting think that it's return fire when actually it's another officer shooting.

SHARPTON: Well, then that's even more frightening, because then are we now in the field that around the country, if police shoot at unarmed people, it would then have a ripple effect on other police, and we become in the middle of a firing squad that we did nothing to cause. I mean, that's no comfort. If anything, that's even more frightening.

And I think that the policy has to be addressed and a real criminal investigation on what made the police shoot in the first place. You can't say I thought he had a gun, I heard somebody say something. You cannot have the use of deadly force based on the imagination of a single police officer. And this policeman has caused a serious regression of community/police relations in this city since the Diallo case in 1999, which was similar with 41 shots, unarmed man.

S. O'BRIEN: At this community rally, there are some people who are calling for Commissioner Ray Kelly to resign, to step down. Do you think it's a leadership issue? Do you think he should step down?

SHARPTON: I think it's an issue of policy. It's an issue that we must see in terms of leadership. The first part of this, this family wants and deserves justice. We must first deal with what actually happened that night, the prosecution of that, so that people understand that policemen and everyone else are not above the law. Police cannot go to the scene and become the judge, the jury and executioners. That's the first thing.

So whether you switch police chiefs or not, and that may be what we have to do, that doesn't answer the fact that we have someone who has been killed here, and two wounded, and there must be accountability of those officers.

S. O'BRIEN: As we've said, he was due to be married and he has two young, young children. How -- you've spent a lot of time...

SHARPTON: I've met -- first of all, the most solid parents you'd ever meet. And then the young lady he was to marry is just a very strong, charming young lady. He was going to join his parents' church yesterday. She went to the service and joined. Two young children, one five-month-old, one three years old that she has to now raise and tell them what happened to their father. And the bad part is, what happened to their father? Who wants to tell this story? And how do you deal with the bitterness and anger justifiable in a community that's seen this too many times?

S. O'BRIEN: I know there's a meeting today. Do we have time to ask about Michael Richards quickly? Because he's apologized. And he was on Jesse Jackson's show sort of apologizing again. A lot of his apologies sort of talk about something kind of came out of his mouth. He doesn't know where it came from. What do you make of these apologies?

SHARPTON: I mean, I called in the show. As you know, Michael Richards called me first day. I think Michael Richards -- the question should not be just apologizing. One, he should meet with those he said this to. But second, it's hate speech. We're getting ready to call the cops (ph) on hate speech, including the use of the word "nigger," even by other blacks. It's time to get the poison out of the atmosphere, because I think even those in the music and entertainment world have to now be held accountable. Are we creating a climate where racism becomes so easy that a Michael Richards can be a story for two weeks. The real story is we're too loose with our language, and it's poisonous.

S. O'BRIEN: Reverend Al Sharpton, nice to see you as always.

SHARPTON: Thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: Thanks for talking us. And that meeting later today, so we'll follow up on that -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: What kind of shopper are you? Are you a black Monday person or -- excuse me, Black Friday or a Cyber Monday? today, the people who would never wait in a long line in a mall get a chance to find their e-deals. We'll look at online holiday shopping next.

Also a piece of history goes up in smoke in Tampa's Ebor (ph) City. The latest on the search for a cause there.

And are you worried about your children traveling seatbelt-less in a bus? There may be a solution. Have little Johnny carry his own.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: It looks like MP3 players and video games got America's young adults to drop some cash this holiday weekend. According to a survey by the National Relation Federation, shoppers between the ages of 18 and 24 years old spent, on average, $532.54 over the weekend.

M. O'BRIEN: Don't forget that 54 cents.

S. O'BRIEN: That's 116 percent more than last year, up 116 percent.

M. O'BRIEN: Really?

S. O'BRIEN: yes.

M. O'BRIEN: Wow!

S. O'BRIEN: For the weekend, spending for everybody was up about 19 percent this year. And the headline -- this one was a shocker to me -- except when you start thinking about it -- men outspent women $420.37 on average; women spending $304.30.

M. O'BRIEN: Right, and men spent $419 on themselves and women spend $303 on others.

S. O'BRIEN: It actually makes sense when you consider that what they're buying is the big-ticket item, the electronics. Men were lined up by the door-buster deals, you know the ones they put right in front of the door when they open, and you're, like, ooh, laptop, or, ooh, DVD player, or, oh, plasma.

M. O'BRIEN: Camping out all night.

S. O'BRIEN: Cell phones, laptops, all that.

I would never camp out all night, but that's me.

Only the beginning, though. Of course, now that the holiday weekend is over, workers are refreshed, ready to get back to their desktop computers.

Shop some more. Today is Cyber Monday, the online version of Black Friday.

Kyung Lah is live for us in Washington, D.C.

Hey, Kyung, good morning.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.

If you didn't get enough on Black Friday, you can go online and get a little bit more. Whether you view it as myth or reality, there are some deals to be had. If you look at the Web site, CyberMonday.com, and you scroll down, you can see that there are numerous retailers offering deals. Click on one of them, just on today, the goal e-retailers say is to sort of extend that fervor on Black Friday onto the information super highway.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The mayhem, the hype. Oh, yes. You know all about the day after Thanksgiving, dubbed Black Friday. Not fair, say e-retailers.

SCOTT KRUGMAN, NATIONAL RETAIL FEDERATION: If traditional retailing can have its day on black Friday, online retailers get a day as well.

LAH: And so comes Cyber Monday. Online marketers conjured up an ad blitz for the first workday after the Thanksgiving shopping weekend, and even created a special Web site. Word spread, and now online retailers offer some real deals on Cyber Monday, from free shipping to one-day sales specials.

KRUGMAN: We've talked to a lot of retailers and have found out that they noticed certain sale spikes on that Monday after Thanksgiving.

They get to use broadband access in their offices and they get to shop and pick up things that they couldn't pick up over the Black Friday weekend. Online retailers have responded with some great deals and specials over that lunch timeframe.

LAH: You heard correctly, employers, shop.org says according to its online survey, 61 million people will shop online from work for holiday gifts, up 10 million from last year.

KRUGMAN:: The fact that consumers are doing it in the lunch hour in their offices probably helps productivity, because they're not going out to the malls.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAH: Well, that's one way to look at it. Now e-retailers say with everything going high-tech, they're entitled to their own tradition, especially if it turns them a profit -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: It really is the bottom line, isn't it?

LAH: Absolutely.

S. O'BRIEN: Kyung Lah for us this morning, thank you.

(WEATHER REPORT)

S. O'BRIEN: Coming up this morning, can money really buy happiness? Well, there's a new study that might finally put that debate to rest. We'll take a look at that. And a new way to buckle up, even if the car or the bus doesn't have a seatbelt. We'll show you a new invention, straight ahead.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: Every time a school bus crashes, we ask the same question -- why aren't there seatbelts on each and every bus? It happened JUST last week in Alabama in that bus crash that killed four teenage girls. And now a family in Massachusetts is coming out with their own answer, portable seatbelts.

AMERICAN MORNING's Dan Lothian has our story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was my best friend, and she was just a great girl.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Anne and Charles Schewe daughter, 20-year-old Sara, was studying abroad, when she was involved in a deadly bus accident on a dangerous road in India.

CHARLES SCHEWE, FATHER: The bus that Sara was on went off the road and rolled.

LOTHIAN: An official with the study program confirmed the tragic news.

SCHEWE: And he said, I'm sorry to tell you that your daughter was killed.

LOTHIAN (on camera): Sara was a junior at Georgetown University, was considering a career in marketing until her death 10 years ago. Her parents say they could have become angry or depressed, but instead, decided to turn their loss into something good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've always wanted to invent the portable seatbelt.

LOTHIAN (voice-over): A product they thought could be a lifesaver for students traveling on dangerous roads, especially in countries with inadequate vehicle safety standards. So they met with an engineering professor at the University of Massachusetts.

SUNDAR KRISHNAMURTY, U. MASSACHUSETTS-AMHERST: And I said, well, you know what, it's possible our design team works on these different projects.

LOTHIAN: He enlisted the help of seven teams made up of engineering students.

JOSH DOOLITTLE, ENGINEERING STUDENT: It really inspired us and made us want to engineer the best seatbelt we could.

CLINT WALTON, ENGINEERING STUDENT: Saving lives is a huge, huge goal for us.

LOTHIAN: After trial and error, Clint Walton and Josh Doolittle came up with the winning design.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The basic design is this carrying case right now, weighs five pounds.

Pull it around, sit down on it and over your head.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If she had had a seatbelt on, I'm convinced that she would be alive today.

LOTHIAN: There is still more work to be done before this product can hit the market. International travel safety expert Rochelle Soble, who lost a son in an overseas accident, says anything that can offer protection should be explored.

ROCHELLE SOBLE, ASSN. FOR SAFETY INTL. ROAD TRAVEL: Money must be invested in road safety. The payback is enormous in human life.

LOTHIAN: Hoping to offer more than seatbelts, the Schewes founded Sara's Wish Foundation, raising awareness about the dangers American students face in foreign countries, while honoring their daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She would not want us to be sitting crying in the closet. Certainly she would want us to be out there doing something really good and positive.

Dan Lothian, CNN, Boston.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

S. O'BRIEN: You can see more on travel safety and travel tips for students at the Schewe's Web site, which is www.saraswish.org -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, the intense search for a family out West missing after going out to cut down a Christmas tree.

Plus, Michael Richards' racist rant. He says he's sorry -- again and announces his next step to make amends. That's ahead.

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