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Obama's Money Team; Iraqi Security Pact; Bush Talking Trade; Auto Industry Domino Effect; Holiday Blues; Homeless; Canned Meat Comeback; Holiday Dysfunction

Aired November 23, 2008 - 9:00   ET


MELISSA LONG, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: You can call them Obama's to money men, the president-elect is expected to make it official tomorrow, his pick for Treasury secretary and top economic adviser. Developing today, in Iraq, a new security pact agreement involving U.S. troops.
And this disturbing scene, and think it all happened at a child's funeral. We'll explain what went wrong this morning. From the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia. I'm Melissa Long, in today for Betty Nguyen and T.J. Holmes.

Also new this morning, holiday stress and how to cope with when it comes to your money and your family. We have plenty of fresh ideas for you throughout the hour.

But first, the money men and the talkers. Team Obama has a few new members this morning, more appointments expected tomorrow. And to White House correspondent, Ed Henry, not in Washington, but Chicago.

Good morning Ed, who are the news players?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Melissa. Well, the names of Larry Summers and Tim Geithner, two sources close to the transition tell CNN that Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury secretary is in line to be head of the National Economic Council. That would make him the top economic adviser to President-elect Barack Obama, inside the White House, itself.

You'll remember Summers, of course, served as Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration. He had been up for that post once again in this go-around, but he lost out to Tim Geithner, the head of the New York fed. He is in line to be Treasury secretary. We're expecting that both men will be announced here in Chicago tomorrow, at an event with the president-elect.

What is going on here, is that the president-elect, his transition team, are trying to send a message to Wall Street, trying to build some confidence, given this deepening financial crisis, right now. You'll remember that yesterday, in the weekly Democratic radio address, the president-elect, you know, gave some sober talk. Talked about how there have been $1.2 million jobs lost this past year. He warned the million, very start terms, that millions more jobs could be lost next year without drastic action. So, Mr. Obama introduced a robust stimulus plan, promising that he could create jobs 2-1/2 million new jobs in the first two years of his administration, largely through infrastructure projects, of more roads and bridges, but also the so-called green jobs, some renewable energy research and production and whatnot.

And so what you're seeing from Team Obama is the fact that they realize there's a leadership vacuum right now. President Bush is a lame duck. Mr. Obama has not obviously been sworn in yet, there's a lot of concern in the markets all around the world and so they're trying to give it a shot in the arm say look, we're getting our team ready. Even though they won't be sworn in until January, we're getting them lined up so that they can attack this crisis from day one -- Melissa.

LONG: We know that President Bush is in Peru right now; meeting with world leaders at the APEC forum, but President-elect Obama is working the phones.

HENRY: That's right. Late last evening, in fact, CNN has confirmed that late last evening President-elect Obama spoke to Afghan president Karzai. They specifically, of course, spoke about the war on terror, the war in Afghanistan, specifically. And aide to the president-elect saying that he said he's looking forward to working with President Karzai on January 20 and beyond in terms of improving security on the ground in Afghanistan. The point there is they're being very careful, though, to say that Mr. Obama also send the message that there's only one president at a time, as we've heard before, he does not want to step on President Bush's toes, he noted he's still on the world stage. They want to be very careful not to look like they're not interfering here or making any promises to world leaders until Obama's actually sworn in January -- Melissa.

LONG: Ed Henry, live for us from Chicago. Ed, thank you.

And for more political stories and updates, do check out We have analysis on the Obama transition and what's happening in Washington from the best political team on TV and online.

Iraqi lawmakers are expected to decide something this week that's been a huge debate in this country -- when U.S. troops need to be completely out of Iraq. The dates are all laid out in a new security pact agreement which will come up for a vote Wednesday, maybe Thursday. The showdown over it is already in full swing. Arwa Damon joins us live from Baghdad this morning.

And Arwa, tell us about the meeting yesterday and then, also where the agreement stands right now.

ARWA DAMON, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Melissa. Well, yesterday saw a mammoth meeting in parliament that lasted for about six hours where every parliamentarian who had an opinion to voice about the agreement was given the floor. It was a much more civilized meeting than we have seen in parliament over the past week when they began debating this security agreement.

We are expecting a vote that you just mentioned, there, Wednesday or Thursday. But first, parliament also has to vote on the voting mechanism. That is, will the agreement be passed with a two-thirds majority or with a simple majority? And opponents of the agreement want to see it passed with a two-thirds majority because they, in fact, it will not pass, which takes us back to the scenes of chaos that we saw in parliament last week where some opponents of the agreement began hitting their books onto the tables. We saw the parliamentarians getting into scuffles, with security guards swarming the podium.

And this has brought about this notion that maybe this agreement actually isn't going to pass. There was much optimism last weekend when cabinet signed off on it given that the major political blocks are represented with the cabinet, but now it's coming across all of these roadblocks in parliaments.

Some of the opponents, like the Sudras, on Friday, holding a large- scale demonstration that saw thousands of Iraqis converging on the Baghdad square, the very same square where Saddam Hussein's statue came tumbling down in 2003. There they burnt an effigy President Bush. They also burnt the American flag. The Sudras do want to see the Americans out now. They don't want any sort of timetable or agreement.

Other opponents of the agreement, though, are saying that they want to see and have certain guarantees from the government. They don't necessarily have faith that the government, if it's given all of the responsibilities that the agreement gives it, is actually going to be acting in a fair and nationalistic way -- Melissa.

LONG: Such passion on both sides, those for the proposal, those against it. You mentioned it could fail. What happens if it doesn't pass?

DAMON: Well Melissa, if it doesn't pass, really the only other option on the table is extending the U.N. Resolution. And actually some opponents of the agreement do want to see that happen. They want more time to debate, they want more negotiations with the Iraqi government, they want certain assurances, both from the U.S. and from the Iraqis. So, they're not necessarily opposed to an agreement, per se, they're just saying that the timing right now is too soon.

But, Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki has been coming out publicly on national television, arguing that extending the U.N. Resolution should not bee the option that the country chooses, He says that this agreement is the best deal that Iraq is going to get, given the circumstances and that it is an agreement that is going to guarantee Iraq sovereignty, those crucial steps towards becoming a sovereign nation.

LONG: Arwa Damon, live for us from Baghdad. Arwa, thank you.

In domestic news now, a deadly shooting in a crowded mall. This morning, the gunman still has not been found. Police say the shooting yesterday, near Seattle, may have been gang-related. One young man who's believed to be in his 20s, is dead, another in critical condition this morning. Authorities think the whole thing started in a fight between the shooter and two other men. People who were there say it was pretty chaotic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys see what was happening?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, we don't know. We just saw somebody shot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was just pow, pow, pow and then that was it.


LONG: Police say they hope to identify the gunman soon and, of course, make an arrest.

This was supposed to be a funeral for a baby and you see it turns into a wild fistfight. Family from the baby's mother's side were so consumed with rage after gazing at that baby's open casket, they attacked the child's father. Now, the baby's aunt is actually the one charged with murder. Police say the baby was so beat severely, his bones were broken.

In two Ohio cities this morning, there are 1,000 fewer guns on the street, that's because of a unique buyback program. It happened yesterday in Cleveland and Akron. It's an effort to stop accidental shootings at home.


LT THOMAS STACHO, CLEVELAND POLICE DEPT: What happens here is that people bring their guns in that are functional weapons that are handguns. We provide them with a gift certificate for either fuel or food and two tickets to the Cav's game and a chance in a raffle.

When we did this last year, about 12 months ago, we brought in 423 handguns. This year, your goal was to bring in 300, 350, so that's about almost 800 handguns that people just voluntarily turn into us. That's amazing.


LONG: Churches, local businesses and crime stopper groups, joined up with the police in order to sponsor these events.

Coming up on 10 minutes past 9:00 Eastern Time, good morning to you on this Sunday. If you live in the northeast, you may be waking up to even more fresh snow this morning and maybe even the potential to go out and go skiing already.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. You know, the high elevations in places like New Hampshire it's just going to be fine for you.


WOLF: Speaking of snow, take a look at these iReports we have for you from Ohio. Here they are, coming up, this was sent from Joy Cobb. And this is a tractor, just in her backyard, you see the blue skies, a few scattered clouds and of course, there on the ground, you see plenty of snowfall. And it was a beautiful thing to see, looks absolutely fantastic, but later on in the season, that picture might get pretty old. No question about it.


Melissa, back to you.

LONG: Reynolds, you mentioned it was chilly in Cleveland, but they have that sunshine, that brilliant sun, just makes all the difference in the world.

WOLF: Absolutely.

LONG: Thanks, Reynolds.

The big three, as you know, facing big problems, but what about the little guy? Their jobs may be on the line, as well. How decisions from Detroit impact lives all over the U.S.


LONG: While the president-elect is busy establishing his cabinet, President Bush is taking up the benefits of free trade, today, at a summit in Lima, Peru. He is meeting with Asian and Pacific leaders and the economy certainly the hot topic leaders. CNN's Juan Carlos Lopez reports, now, from Peru.


JUAN CARLOS LOPEZ, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the waning days of his presidency, President Bush is making an aggresse pitch, the financial crisis is global, he says, but the United States will continue setting the course for answers.

GEORGE W BUSH (R), UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Nations are feeling the painful effects of the financial crisis, I understand that, and so, all of us need to be involved in the solution.

LOPEZ: That solution, according to the president, needs to be mindful of the past.

BUSH: One of the enduring lessons of the Great Depression, is that global protectionism is a path to global economic ruin.

LOPEZ: President Bush is insisting on more trade, not less. And says he will pursue the Doha Round, a worldwide free trade agreement, reminding APEC leaders he'll do whatever he can while still president.

BUSH: I recognize I'm leaving office in two months, but nevertheless, this administration will push hard to put the modalities in place so that Doha can be completed and so we can send the message that we refuse protectionism in the 21st century.

LOPEZ: Bush once again, criticized Congress for adjuring for the year without passing pending free trade agreements with individual countries.

BUSH: It concluded agreements with Columbia, Panama, and South Korea. And it is extremely disappointing that the United States Congress adjourned without passing these three agreements.

LOPEZ: Trade wasn't the only item on the agenda. North Korea was a major topic during the meeting with the leaders of Japan and South Korea, as was Russia, later in the afternoon, who agreed on a new round of talks to be held early next month, another step in the long road to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.


President Bush will meet a Peruvian president, Alan Garcia, the host of the summit, and then he takes part in a group picture, famous for sometimes colorful attire. They then sign the final declaration, the 12 point statement where they agree to not to raise trade barriers for the next 12 months. They also pledge to fight terrorism and on corruption.

LONG: Juan Carlos, this really could be the president's final overseas trip. Do you get the feeling this is a farewell tour?

LOPEZ: It seems that they've been able to accomplish more than what you would expect from a farewell tour. And it might be his last meeting with world leaders, but not necessarily his last trip abroad.

LONG: Juan Carlos Lopez, live for us from Lima, Peru. Thank you.

Really, no surprise, the economic crisis is impacting car dealerships in a tremendous way. In fact, one of the largest dealers in Minnesota is shutting down six of its dealerships, selling three others, simply because people aren't buying vehicles. And if you're wondering, the costs, that's roughly 400 jobs that will be lost. And so, yes, this domino effect will continues.

The big three automakers do not work in a vacuum, CNN's Gary Tuchman looks at how a move made in Detroit has impacted an Ohio town.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When a decision is made in the sky scraper in Detroit, it can change life in towns far away, very badly, very quickly.

In the small town of Moraine, Ohio, near Dayton, it's easy to figure out what industry is the lifeblood here. And that's before you see this place, the GM plant, the town's dominant employee where more than 4,000 people worked in its heyday and 1,000 now.

But a decision has come from Detroit. This factory is closing, forever, two days before Christmas.

What does that mean for the rest of this town? Aim Goodwin (ph) is a local union leader.

AIM GOODWIN, LOCAL UNION LEADER: It's really bad, very bad.

TUCHMAN: At a different factory, the Jamestown-Moraine plant, not owned by GM, they store and transport car parts to the GM facility. Certainly, they could ship parts to other GM plants or other car companies. Right?

TONY MURPHY, GM SUPPLIER EMPLOYEE: What am I going to do? That was my very first reaction.

TUCHMAN: Wrong. Tony Murphy works here as a forklift driver. When that GM plant shuts its doors on December 23, the plant where he works will close forever. He and more than 60 others will have to find new jobs in a region where there are fewer and fewer.

(on camera): Have you started working for a job already.

MURPHY: Oh, yes. I've been to an interview before.

TUCHMAN: And how did it go?

MURPHY: I don't know. They haven't called me back, so I guess it didn't go too well.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The labor contract at the small supply plants has no provision for any severance. And the cheap medical insurance disappears the day after they walk out of the factory for the last time.

MINCHELLE WASHINGTON, GM SUPPLIER EMPLOYEE: I might end up losing my car. I don't want to lose my house, but I know I might end up losing my car.

TUCHMAN: Minshelle Washington is a single mother.

WASHINGTON: Drawings, Jada (ph) made a drawing at school.

TUCHMAN: A scared single mother.

(on camera): So what happens if you get sick or your daughter gets sick?

WASHINGTON: That's the bad part because, if I get sick, it's downhill because I have diabetes. And I've got enough medicine probable for an extra month after my insurance is gone.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Even for businesses that have nothing to do with cars, the future is frightening. The Upper Deck Restaurant and Bar, right next to the GM plant, used to be jammed every day at lunch. Now you can almost hear crickets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I used to have a bartender, plus three waitresses at lunch. Now, we have one bartender and she waitresses.

TUCHMAN: Back at the parts factory, the employees seem to understand why this man, the owner, is pulling the plug.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have no other choice but to go down because there's nowhere to send the material.

TUCHMAN (on camera): How does that make you feel, sir, for your employees?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, it hurts like hell.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): What the employees don't seem to understand ...

(on camera): Who are you angry at?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The executives at GM.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): ...are the decisions made in the skyscraper.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Moraine, Ohio.


LONG: No doubt, the holidays will be challenging for those workers and thousands of people just like them. Expert advice that may help to put some of the sparkle back in the season and the best part of all, it is free.


LONG: The holidays tend to be difficult for so many people and then there's this year, the fear of no money. The holiday's around the corner, you add on no job or the fear of losing the one you actually hold and suddenly the cheery colors of the holidays do look a little blue. Josh Levs joins us with an import guest and important guidance for people, as well.

JOSH LEVS, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, we're giving people lots of happy news every day, aren't we? And certainly at this time of year, as we know, it can be t ought. This is Erik Fisher. He's a licensed clinical psychologist, works here in Atlanta.

You work with people on things like anxiety, also on spiritual growth, which I think is interesting to talk to you about. So let's start off with this. Obviously, at this time of year, we always hear about the holiday blues. Is it worse this year because the economy is so bad?

ERIK FISHER, LICENSED CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: It definitely has the tendency to be worse because we've got an added stressor. With yearly holiday blues, people are kind of being called back to other times and memories they had when they were kids or younger issues in their life, but now, we have this added issue of the economic issues of looking forward from this holiday into next year and what's to come?

LEVS: So, what's happening? You know, people feel depressed this time of year anyway and now things are even worse because of the economy. They're like, am I going to be able to pay my bills, will I be able to have a job a few months from now. What's the No. 1 thing they should do?

FISHER: Keep moving. I think we always need to know that we got to keep moving forward. If we're not sure how much we can save, save 50 cents every day. Somebody said the money they were saving on coupons, they were putting the money they saved on coupons spending at the grocery story, into a savings account and do things to keep busy.

LEVS: It's interesting that, I mean, you're a psychologist and you're giving people money-saving tips because you know it ends up helping their psyche later on if they feel more prepared for the economy.

FISHER: Exactly.

LEVS: All right. You've got this specific challenges every year. You look at spiritual growth. You've got specific challenges that go with this time of year. How do you know it's the kind of thing you just snap out of? Go do something that makes you happy, versus if it's something serious enough to get help.

FISHER: If stresses are lasting three, four, five, months, things like that, you're feeling down in the doldrum or anxious in the, things like that, that's something to really take a look at. If it's a period of time like, see what happens after the holidays, see how you're feeling then and see if it's just a periodic thing, and that's something to pay attention to.

LEVS: All right, I like to be very solution-oriented. We talked a little bit earlier, you had some ideas for things people can do to make themselves feel better, aside from saving money. You said exercise is a big thing. A lot of people drop out of that, the holidays. If they keep that up it helps.

FISHER: Well, exercise helps release endorphins. So, the more we can exercise, get out to do that. Read, find a good book to read, see some movies, spend time with friends. You know, just talk to people, too. Just don't turtle in and try to hide from all of this.

LEVS: You mentioned to me earlier also, one thing I hadn't thought about which is because of the economy, a lot of people can't afford therapy. So, if you cannot afford therapy, you don't have the time, you don't have the money, what do you do?

FISHER: Right, well you can look for some cheaper options. The United Way sometimes has therapy, as well as look for the community for the community mental health boards and sometimes they can offer therapy, too.

LEVS: All right, really quickly, I know you have a Web site, You're also author of a couple books that people can check out with some good ideas, right? "The Art of Managing Everyday Conflict." and "The Art of Empowered Parenting." Did I get that right?

Erik Fisher, thanks so much for joining us.

FISHER: Thank you very much.

LEVS: And folks, we're going to keep talking about this. And we invite you to send your ideas, as well, send them to dealing with the holidays. Also I'll tell you, coming up later this hour, I'm going to speak with the nation's top experts of divorced families, about how to handle that dysfunction that so many people have to deal with including some awesome tips for hosts and guests at those dreaded holiday parties -- Melissa.

LONG: I think people will be very interested in that segment coming up. All right, thank you.

LEVS: Thanks a lot.

LONG: You know, this next story, also about the economy. The New Jersey Nets with an assist, to hundreds of unemployed fans who showed up on the hard woods.


LONG: It's 9:30 Eastern Coast Time on this Sunday, I'm Melissa Long in today for T.J. and Betty. Here's a quick look at some of the stories that are happening right now. One, young man is dead, another in critical condition, after a mall shooting near Seattle. Police say the incident yesterday may have been gang-related. They're looking for the gunman this morning.

President-elect Obama picking a former Treasury secretary to be the top economic adviser, Larry summers. The man, the transition team is expected to announce other names tomorrow morning in Chicago.

And President Bush is talking up the benefits of free trade today at a summit in Peru. He is meeting with Asian and Pacific leaders at this forum and the economy, certainly, a hot topic.

Now, the victims of a bailout. Mortgage giant, Freddie Mac, got big money to keep doing business. But as we learn from our Kate Bolduan, there's a downside to that government intervention and ito putting homeless women and children at risk.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Facing a mortgage meltdown, the government took over mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in September to prevent them from collapsing. A save that could have unintended victims.

JUDITH DITTMAN, ALTERNATIVE HOUSE: For the past four years we've had funding from them of about $50,000, that has helped to make this program the success that it is.

BOLDUAN: The program is the Alternative House in Virginia, a place for young, homeless mothers, like Ana Ventura.

ANA VENTURA, HOMELESS MOTHER: They've done so much for me. At first, I felt like I was weak. And now, I feel like I'm strong. And that I'm ready to be out there on my own.

BOLDUAN: Fourteen percent of the Alternative House's budget comes from Freddie Mac's charitable arm. It's one of many programs Freddie helped. The foundations says it's given nearly $225 million in the D.C. region since 1991. But future donations are now on hold, as the government reviews all of the corporation's investments.

DITTMAN: With the current financial crisis, we're not sure whether or not that funding will be coming though this year.

BOLDUAN: Meanwhile, mothers like LaTasha Ekeh still need help.

LATASHA EKEH, HOMELESS MOTHER: My daughter's not going to have to struggle how I did with my mom. You know? And I just, and if there wasn't programs like this, I would probably have been homeless on the street right now. Me and my daughter.

BOLDUAN: Ekeh and the entire program face an uncertain future, as they're will be forced to cutting back services and staff, if they lose their funding from Freddie Mac.

DITTMAN: We can't have mothers on our streets, homeless, with no place for them and their baby and we can't have children sleeping under bridges. That's just unacceptable.

BOLDUAN (on camera): it's not just a problem of losing Freddie donations. The reality is, in a struggling economy, charitable donations in general, are often the first thing to drop off. It just makes matters worse that this program's big donor is currently frozen for review.

Kate Bolduan, CNN, Washington.


LONG: Working for less. According to the "New York times," the president of Washington University in Saint. Louis is giving himself a pay cut. He is slashing his base salary of $560,000, by five percent. He says the economy has hit the university fund-raising programs hard and other faculty members are also facing pay cuts. Other college executives have taken similar actions.

The New Jersey Nets are hoping to give their dedicated fans, their ticketholders a fast break from the grinding economy, so they held a jobs fair yesterday.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's a good idea. It doesn't put you in a position to actually sit down for an actual interview like you would if you were going to a one-on-one job, but it gives you different ideas of different positions that may be open and what people are looking for, what the hiring managers are looking for.


LONG: Now, the NBA team says it will pass along all those resumes to most of its corporate sponsors and a couple hundred firms that hold season tickets.

No script required as the actors and producers decide how to get paid. Both sides are negotiating royalties for actors when distributing movies and TV shows through new media. That distribution includes mobile phones and the Internet.

Producers say actors should accept a contract similar to the ones other union reps, or writers, directors and stagehands accepted earlier in the year. SAG, the Screen Actors Guild, say it will try to convince its members to strike.

Tracking CNN's 2008 Hero of the year, is Liz McCartney. She was selected among the top 10 CNN Heroes after six weeks of online voting on our Web site, McCartney has been helping survivors of Hurricane Katrina to pick up the pieces and try to rebuild their lives and their homes. She received her award last night at the famed Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. The gala event hosted by, as you see, CNN's Anderson Cooper.


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: You know, they're so wonderful because they're just ordinary people, just like you and me, but what they've done is found a niche. They found something that's really wrong with the world and they decided to go out there and do something about it. They haven't been scared by the fact that it's either our way or it's going to take a lot of time and effort. They know that in order to make positive change in the world, they have to invest themselves and that's what they've done. And in doing so, they have done so much good work in the world.


LONG: And you know that pretty, young lady. That's CNN SUNDAY MORNING anchor, Betty Nguyen also a winner of CNN's internal Hero of the Year awards. She was honored for her charity, Help the Hungry. It's a program that provides humanitarian aid for families in Vietnam.

And celebrities on the red carpet at that event arriving at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, to celebrate those nominated, where where these CNN Heroes of the Year? The celebs in attendance there, Selma Hayek, Holly Robinson Peete and her husband Rodney, Ricki Lake, Jessica Biel, and of course, as we mentioned, Betty and her mom.

More than one million of you voted for the Hero of the Year. Thank you so much. And you can see the special moment when Liz McCartney wins during the all-star tribute hosted by Anderson Cooper on Thanksgiving night, that is Thursday night. 9:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN as you are digesting your Thanksgiving dinner.

Reynolds Wolf, keeping an eye on the weather, of course, for the holidays, but also for today. A lot of people in upstate New York, waking up to chilly temperatures and quite a bit of white stuff.


WOLF: We've got a great iReport to share with you first. This is from New Brunswick; take a look at this that we got for you. Yep, there you go, some of the first snowfall of the season. This sent in by Richard Ray. I think that's how you pronounce the name. and you can see, driving along. I hope he's not driving, Melissa, while he's shooting this.

LONG: Yeah, I hope he's the passenger right now.

WOLF: Yeah, you know those slippery conditions you tend to have out there. Yeah, you want to have both hands on the wheel, especially early in the season. Seems like later as the season progresses, you get used to the snowfall. But the time it gets March the snow will be long gone, but people become pros, they know how to drive in this, once again. So, let's hope that he is driving carefully.

LONG: Well, we always say never compromise your safety when covering the news. And please don't film while driving.

WOLF: Yeah.

LONG: Random question. It may seem random, but it will make sense in a moment. Of course, most people are thinking about turkey for Thanksgiving. But, have you had Spam before?

WOLF: You know, I have had Spam. I actually lived to talk about it. It is not that bad. Gets a bad rap. It's OK, it's not bad.

LONG: Well, we're talking about that luncheon meat, coming up. People love to make fun of it. Spam, practically, Hawaii's state food and with the economy forcing so many people to cut back, Spam is back.


LONG: This troubled economy has brought us endless stories of job layoffs and spending cutbacks and while people are watching their wallets, there is at least one company where employees are raking in the dough.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ingredients: pork with ham salt, water, modified potato starch, sugar, sodium and (INAUDIBLE).


LONG (voice-over): We called it "Mystery Meat" and the "Gelatinous Cube," and who could forget the classic Monty Python diner sketch that made fun of it.

ERIC IDLE, MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS: I'm having Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam...

LONG: Invented around the time of the Great Depression, it was a staple for those who wanted the taste of meat but couldn't afford meat. Then, as time got better, we got snooty and eating the canned lunchmeat became a major faux pas. Fast-forward to today, at a cost of $2 and change per can, Spam is making a huge comeback, partly because of our withering economy. In fact, employees at this California supermarket say, it's flying off the shelves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got to tell you, though, recently, we've had a little shortage on Spam. In fact, we just got it back in stock a few days ago, luckily. But, there was apparently quite a demand and the supplier just couldn't keep up.

LONG: While most companies are laying off workers and cutting back, the Hormel Foods in Austin, Minnesota, the nerve center of the Spam dynasty, is overloading its employee with overtime. Two shifts of workers, canning Spam seven days a week, and indefinitely. And more and more people are actually had mitting they're putting it back on their shopping list.


LONG (on camera): Really?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dice it up and use it in a breakfast plate. Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually, I like it where it's not cooked. I just like it right out of the can.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well hey, I'll have to put it back into my menu items.

LONG: Back into the rotation?


LONG (voice-over): That shopper says dinner with a nice Syrah. And if you need more proof of the resurgence of Spam, check out the imitation versions of infamous canned meat.


LONG: Imitations, because again, it's popular and it's affordable, most importantly.

Holidays, they can be crazy with the expenses, the over obligating yourself, the burden of some other family's traditions, expectations you feel, family members who do not get along. Josh Levs has the experts standing by.

Josh, are you looking into this because you're also battling through this?

LEVS: Oh no, now my in-laws are watching. No, not me at all. Just doing my job, people. Wasn't even my idea. But actually I am sure, just like anybody else in the world, can be affected by all of this.

I'll tell you something. I think a lot of people would sooner eat a lot of Spam if they could skip over some of these rough family dynamics. We have a really interesting guest, here. Jill Brooke is here with us.

Jill, you're with us, right?


LEVS: All right, Jill, thanks for joining us.

Now, she -- let's zoom in for a second. I want to see what you run. She's the editor of, which is the leading Web site for divorced women. So basically, you know about all kinds of families and I know you have advice about handling the holidays. Start off some basics for me. If you're running a party and you're going to have all sorts of - there's divorced families, you got the whole mixed. What do you do and not do?

BROOKE: OK, well first of all you have to be strategic and manage your expectations. And realize that you can be the architect of your happiness because before Thanksgiving, you go to the grocery store and you buy the ingredients of the meal. Well, you need to preplan the ingredients for an emotionally happy meal and here's the recipe. If you're the host, for example, what you should do is e-mail everybody who's coming and say, can you please send me your Thanksgiving traditions, your meals that you like and maybe I can incorporate them into the meal.

LEVS: Oh, that's a good idea.

BROOKE: And you want to know what else is really nice about that, it makes people feel inclusive and that is a important part of this holiday.

The second thing I think is really important for a host to do is realize, all right, let's say you know that for Aunt Sophie, for instance, is going to ask somebody about like so, who are you dating? And that's a really uncomfortable question. Be strategic and have good comeback lines because this way you can diffuse the bomb, versus ignite it. And that's also the advantage of place cards, folks.

LEVS: Seating so that people don't end up next to the wrong people. I know how critical that is. This is great stuff. You know, I got to admit. Skip over to guests, now. Because I talked to you a little bit earlier, you gave me some pointers for guests. I went very low- tech, unlike your Web site, typed up a little bit. Now, you told me to start off with this prepare comeback lines. I love that. Give me an example. What's that all about?

BROOKE: All right, so Aunt Sara says, oh, so did you hear about your cousin, Allen? He has a great job right now. What about you? And let's say you don't. so, instead of getting upset about that, what you should ap actually say, is you know what, I really have our family work ethic and I'm going to try as hard as I can and I know I'm going to land something great. By the way, did you hear about Obama's choice for the new Treasury secretary?

LEVS: Perfect, everybody has something to weigh in on all of a sudden.

BROOKE: That's right. And also realize that, you know, you can actually have many discussions that are neutral, that aren't necessarily emotionally loaded.

LEVS: I love this stuff.

BROOKE: And for some reason, I don't know what it is, because I know even with my own mother and I have a holiday table where I have my husband's ex-wife, my stepdaughters, my son, my family, so there are lots of minefields, here.

LEVS: And you got to navigate those.

BROOKE: But you can navigate them. And you know what, you navigate them with love. Because o act of love, however small, is wasted. So, really ask people about what they care about. Not what you want to hear, but what they care about. And realize also, that people will tell you what they want to tell you and don't be too nosey.

LEVS: I got to cut you off, here. Really appreciate your time. Thank you so much. More information, of course, all this at your Web site. So good to hear from you, but we get a lot more coming up, including some of your latest iReports and some news for you. Be right back.


LONG: A father takes his two sons to work, but it is not to learn a trade, the three of them spend the day begging for money on the streets of Phoenix, another unfortunate sign of the tough, economic times. Peter Bush of our affiliate KPHO has this story.


PETER BUSH, KPHO REPORTER (voice-over): If you pulled up next to Robert Pasan (ph) today, the first thing you noticed probably wasn't the 47-year-old man with a cardboard sign.

ROBERT PASON, JOBLESS: I realize that when people see you by yourself, people think that you're just want to buy drugs or liquor.

BUSH: So, to put food on the table, Robert swallowed his pride.

PASON: Hope people will help us out.

BUSH: And brought his two sons to the street corner with him.

PASON: Maybe you'll get very rich (ph).

BUSH: James is 12, Matthew is only eight. Instead of learning in school...

PASON: God bless, you guys. Thank you.

BUSH: They're begging for money in the middle of Phoenix.

(on camera): Must be difficult asking your boys to come out here with you?

PASON: Yes, yes, it is. Yes, it is very hard. I hate to see my kids suffer. BUSH (voice-over): Robert lost his truck driving job two weeks ago, next week he could lose his apparent. At the Phoenix Rescue Mission, the dining hall is bursting at the seams, filled with new faces.

NICOLE PENA, PHOENIX RESCUE MISSION: We're dealing who people that have never come to a shelter to a congregate feeding site. They've never needed a food box before.

BUSH: Speaking of food, the boys were treated to McDonald's for dinner, it was the first thing they've eaten since yesterday. Dad mostly sat and cried because he knows they'll probably be back tomorrow.


LONG: That story on the out of work father and his two sons begging for money from phoenix.

Maybe you don't have much money to slip into the Salvation Army kettle this holiday season, no problem. Some locations are making it easier for you, You can use plastic. In fact, you can swipe your credit card or debit card at the red stand, you can punch in how much you want to donate, you get a receipt and you're off and running.

Time now to check in with Howard Kurtz in Washington to see what's coming up on his program, CNN's RELIABLE SOURCES.

Good morning, Howard.

HOWARD KURTZ, RELIABLE SOURCES: Good morning, Melissa. Coming up, why did ABC devote its precious primetime to a high-price call girl. Diane Sawyer and "People" magazine trumpet the tawdry tailed Eliot Spitzer's hooker.

What should we make of all these leaks about Hillary and David Letterman sidekick Andy Kindler on whether it's too dangerous to make fun of Barack Obama?

Plus, the conversation about sexism in the media. Was Sarah Palin a victim? With the buzz queen herself, Tina Brown. That and more ahead on RELIABLE SOURCES.

LONG: Thanks Howard, at the top or the hour.

Now, CeCe Winans is a chart toping gospel singer with the voice of a angel and if you ask how she made it, she's going to tell you it's her faith that's taken her all the way to the top. CNN's Fredricka Whitfield has this story.


CECE WINANS, GOSPEL SINGER: I'm called to be a mom and a wife first. So, putting God first and then your family and then you put everything else after that.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): CeCe Winans says her faith helped her through the tough times. Winans grew up in a well-know family of singers from Detroit.

WINANS: I gave me my first solo when I was eight years old, didn't want to do it, but I had no choice in the matter. I cried all the way through it. But, I'm glad they made me do it.

WHITFIELD: And so are her fans. Winan's career spanned 20 years and includes countless awards, including nine Grammys. But, that's not what inspires her.

WINANS: On my worst day, I can smile because I know whatever I'm going through the God that I serve is bigger than that problem and everything is going to be all right. And that's really what success is.

WHITFIELD: Winan's has started a girl's conference called "Always Sisters" to reach out to the next generation of women.

WINANS: It's a great platform to change the young people's lives and to equip them to be successful and to go out and do what God has called them to do. To be the best young lady they can be.

WHITFIELD: And winan's message of success continues in her new album, "Thy Kingdom Come."

WINANS: That's what really what this CD is about. Telling us to hey, let's be who we are, let's go out and change the world.


LONG: Inspirational story, for sure.

Sixty-five whales beached in Australia. We're going to tell you about the urgent effort to save the pod and how they're doing.


LONG: It was a massive effort to rescue dozens of pilot whales beached off a Tasmanian shoreline. Despite the effort, there was a lot of sad news at the end of this story. David Reilly with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, has our next report.


DAVID REILLY, AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION REPORTER (voice- over): It was a fight against time and tides for these wildlife rescuers. Sixty-five long-finned pilot whales came ashore at Anthony's Beach near Stanley, the site of countless previous strandings. Only 13 were still alive when they were discovered, badly sunburnt and clinging to life. Volunteers spent last night trying to stabilize the animals, but by daybreak, one more had died.

The twelve remaining were transported to nearby Godfrey's Beach, where rescuers believed they'd be less likely to swim back to shore. Then heartbreak: another whale dying as it was carried into the breakers.

CHRIS ARTHUR, TASMANIAN PARKS AND WILDLIFE SERVICE: We're giving them the best chance that they've got and the best chance we can give them.

REILLY: There was more frustration as some confused whales returned to shore, only to be carried out again by rescuers. But by mid- morning, things were looking up as the small pod regrouped and headed back to the open waters of Bass Strait, the army of locals and tourists crucial to the rescue effort.

ARTHUR: Well, the volunteers have been exceptional; the volunteer efforts yesterday and the effort that happened this morning. We've moved 12 animals 12 kilometers.

REILLY (on camera): The surviving whales were part of a maternal pod mostly made up of mothers and their calves. Rescuers hope once out to sea, they'll be able to rejoin another migratory pod.

(voice-over): Scientists have attached brand-new satellite tracking technology to the survivors.

DREW LEE, TASMANIA PRIMARY INDUSTRIES DEPT: So, we're putting these trackers on to really assess their survivability at sea once they're released.

REILLY: It's hoped the technology will help improve future whale rescues.

David Reilly, ABC News, Stanley.


LONG: Coming up next, on RELIABLE SOURCES, the high-price call girl who brought down Eliot Spitzer, talking to the media this week. What did she say? Was it a good move? Howard Kurtz asked the media.

And then on LATE EDITION at 11:00 Eastern, should we save the auto industry?

Bur first, a check of the morning's top stories.

And "Now in the News," this morning, transition officials say President-elect Barack Obama plans to announce the leaders of his economic team, tomorrow. Sources say he'll pick Timothy Geithner, seen here on the right, for Treasury secretary, and Lawrence Summers to head his National Economic Council.

Afghan president, Hamid Karzia's office says Obama is pledging to boost U.S. aid to Afghani and make the war-torn country a priority in his administration. Karzai's office says Obama made the promises during a phone call yesterday, but the president-elect and the aides of the president-elect say no specific promises were made.

President Bush is wrapping up an international economic summit in Lima, Peru with a note of optimism. He expressed confidence the global financial downturn will eventually be overcome.

More top stories in 30 minutes. RELIABLE SOURCES begins right now.