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Europe and Asia Up After Dow's 400 Point Rally; Gas Now $1.89; Urgent Action Needed for Historic Crisis; Impact of First Black First Lady; Struggling Families Dumping Pets

Aired November 25, 2008 - 08:00   ET


JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: It's coming up on the top of the hour. Here are the morning's top stories. What a difference a day makes. As we speak, markets overseas are reacting to Wall Street's near 400-point rally. In Europe, most of the major indexes are up and in Asia, the markets soared. Japan's Nikkei closed up more than five percent. Hong Kong closed up more than three percent. The market's climb lifted up by the U.S. government's plan to bail out Citigroup and the announcement of Barack Obama's new economic team.
It will be a whole lot cheaper getting home for Thanksgiving. Gas prices are down for the 69th straight day. According to AAA, the national average for a gallon of regular is now $1.89, down almost two cents overnight. The last time we've seen prices like this, about February of 2005.

More than a dozen felons have the president to thank this Thanksgiving. President Bush granted 14 pardons, Monday, for people convicted of a variety of crimes, including tax evasion, bank embezzlement, and drug offences. Mr. Bush also commuted the prison sentences of two others.

Back now to the breaking news. And right now, Wall Street's near 400- point surge lifting markets across the globe. In Europe, where trading is under way, most are in positive territory and in Asia, markets closed up sharply. And there may be more for Wall Street to consider today with two economic reports to be released in about 30 minutes.

This all comes on the heels of a $20 billion plan to keep Citigroup afloat. Big decisions regarding your money and the president making a point of saying, he's keeping President-elect Barack Obama informed.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I talked at length to the secretary about his recommendation on the decisions made to safeguard Citi Corp.

Secretary Paulson is working closely with the President-elect's transition team. It's important for the American people to know that there is close cooperation. It's important for the American people to know that we will safeguard the financial system as the first step necessary for economic recovery.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JOHNS: A little bipartisan dialogue there. Christine Romans is "Minding Your Business." She joins us now.

How you doing, Christine?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there. Well, bipartisan dialogue, too, because the Treasury secretary to be, Timothy Geithner, is already hard at work at the New York Fed. He's the president there. So, a lot of folks on the street thinking that, you know, the key guy for the Obama administration is already hard at work on all the problems we've had in this economy and the financial system, and they like that.

You mentioned, a couple of economic reports coming up. GDP, that's Gross Domestic Product. We'll get an idea of just how badly the economy is doing. It's important for gauging kind of the depth and the duration of any kind of recession. So, a lot of people will be watching that in about 28 minutes.

Also, you know, can we repeat this rally? I mean, I'm not going to try to guess it, because it's just too unpredictable in the markets these days, but two big days, back-to-back gains. The Dow now back up at 8443. But just last week, we had a seven in the front of that Dow number. It was making people very, very nervous. Now, Dow up almost six percent or more than six percent. The S&P up 51 and Asian markets are doing well, too.

I mean, the futures are sort of flat to down a little bit this morning, but that's to be expected after a big couple of day move.

Let me tell you what the personal finance experts would say about this two-day move. This is why you don't just like bail out of a market at the very end, and say, oh, forget it. When things get better, I'm going to get back in. See?

Now, if you were thinking about getting back in next week, you would have just missed this very big move. There's something called dollar cost averaging. And that's when you write it down and you write it back up, and you're putting money consistently into your 401(k), money that you can afford, money for the future.

You know, I'm not asking you to, you know, scrimp at home. I mean, this is -- this is important stuff for your future. But, all the way down and all the way back up. I mean, think after 1987. I mean, this was the biggest two-day rally we've seen since 1987.

Great things have happened in this (INAUDIBLE) market and economy since 1987.

JOHNS: But it's hard. You're sitting there and you're watching it tanking and oh, my gosh, I've got to get out, I've got to get out.

ROMANS: And there's so many people that it might make sense for them to get out. Like, for example, they have to pay their bills, their very near-term bills, you know. Or people who had a lot of what we call risk capital. They were just messing around the market and all this money in the market, you know. I mean, I can understand why people want to, you know, want to bailout.

But, look, if you're talking about a 529, you got a little kid -- I mean, think. Over the next 18 years, you know, history have shown that stocks do go up. I mean, you're buying stocks cheap right now for your kid, right? Now, I'm not a stock market -- you know, I'm not a stock market, personal finance person.


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: I know what you're saying. The only time you're in trouble is if you're actually trying to take that money out right now and (INAUDIBLE).


ROMANS: Exactly. Well, exactly. And there are people. Or if there are people who are very close to retirement.

CHETRY: Right.

ROMANS: I mean, the people who are close to retirement, it's more than heartburn that they've got. I mean, there are -- I mean, it's really serious for them, which is why, you know, we really have to be careful all along in our work life, what we're doing with that money and where it is.

I mean, no doubt, this has been a tough, tough time. But you know, we'll take that two-day rally and we'll use it as a little -- a little reminder that, you know, dollar cost averaging is why you start to get back in with a little bit of money every now and then.

JOHNS: Thanks, Christine.


CHETRY: Well, it's 56 days and counting until the president-elect becomes the president. Team Obama continues to take shape. Barack Obama is going to be holding a second news conference in as many days to announce yet another important member of his economic team.

Obama appointed his captains, as it were yesterday. Timothy Geithner, as we've been saying, as Treasury secretary. Lawrence Summers to head the National Economic Council. Their putting together a massive stimulus package that they hope will create millions of jobs and give the economy a desperately needed jolt.


BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: This will not be easy. There are no short cuts or quick fixes to this crisis, which has been many years in the making. And the economy is likely to get worse before it gets better. Full recovery will not happen immediately.

It is my hope that the new Congress will begin work on an aggressive economic recovery plan when they convene in early January so that our administration can hit the ground running. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CHETRY: And CNN's Candy Crowley live in Washington for us.

Now, Candy, Obama says he wants his administration to hit the ground running. He held a news conference yesterday. He's got another one scheduled today. How typical is this for the president-elect to have such a national presence, especially in this time of crisis?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, president-elects, generally, when they announce their big guns, and that is their cabinet and other people who are going to advise him closely such as Larry Summers, do come out and say, here are my guys.

I think it has been particularly important when it comes to the economy for the president-elect to get out there with these people, to try to kind of calm the economy as best he can.

Having said that, I will say that he's been underground really for three weeks. We've had a couple of news conferences. So, two in a row is sort of interesting to me. And it does, as you know, come amidst a call saying, wait a minute, we've got a lame-duck president and a not quite president and there seems to be this sort of void here and somebody needs to step up.

But I think mostly, you can toss this off, too. He's putting his team together and generally the president-elects come out and say, here they are. And he has many cabinet members to go. So we may see more of him over the next couple of weeks.

CHETRY: There was this buzz about whether President Bush had hand over the reigns to Barack Obama, earlier. Is that just wishful thinking?

CROWLEY: Well, the last -- I'm no constitutional scholar, but the last time I know which was about 15 minutes ago, the 20th amendment of the constitution sets the date for inauguration. So, I am assuming that Congress would have to have a, you know, constitutional amendment to undo the constitutional amendment and it's not feasible.

CHETRY: Yes. Well, I didn't think so, but you know people were buzzing about that.

CROWLEY: Absolutely.

CHETRY: President-elect Obama didn't seem to offer a whole lot of specifics yesterday, in fact when pressed for details of this stimulus program. Let's listen to his reasoning about why that was?


OBAMA: I don't want to get into numbers right now. Part of the task of this economic team behind me is to help to shape the details of that plan.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHETRY: When do you think we are going to hear some of these concrete specifics?

CROWLEY: Well, listen. He says he wants Congress to begin working on it when they get back in January after their term begins, which is early January. So, certainly, we would have to see something. I would think, sometime in December, maybe mid-December before everyone kind of gets into the holiday season, if they can at this point.

But, nonetheless, I think we'll begin to see some specifics, but this is a very -- remember, the one thing we have learned about Barack Obama over the past two-plus years is, he is a very cautious man. He tends to shop things around as he did his cabinet members, to see how it's flying, what other people think. So that he is pretty cautious about doing this, I think is a reflection of his personality, as well as, there is a sitting president.

And having said that, what we do know from yesterday's news conference is that Barack Obama is talking to George Bush, and we also know that Timothy Geithner has been working with Paulson, the current Treasury secretary, to put together or to dispense with the $750 billion that they already have there.

So there's already things going on, largely behind the scenes, of these administrations, sort of melding together in what clearly is a national crisis. So I think you're seeing natural caution and I think you're seeing the effect of a man who is not quite president, who has to still thread fairly lightly.

CHETRY: Yes, that's right. Certainly is a high-wire act as we've said this morning.

All right, Candy, thank you so much.


CHETRY: Also you can watch live coverage of Barack Obama's news conference today on the CNN and It all starts at noon Eastern.

Well, this story out of Colorado really caught our eye this morning. Listen to this. This is the punishment.

(MUSIC PLAYING) -- "I write the songs that make the whole world sing."

CHETRY: Everyone's groaning in the studio.

JOHNS: Listening to Barry Manilow songs, so what was the crime? Stay tuned.

Also, soon-to-be First Lady Michelle Obama likes the call herself mom- in-chief, but she's about to get another role. How the wife of a history-making president-elect is about to rewrite some history of her own. It's nine minutes past the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) JOHNS: That's Patti LaBelle with "New Attitude." And since the election, it seems many African-American women are feeling an excitement and real anticipation of a new day dawning. And Randi Kaye tells us Michelle Obama has a lot to do with this.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Joe and Kiran. She's a high-powered professional, successful, and the wife of the president- elect. Three good reasons why Michelle Obama may change the image of black women.


ALLISON SAMUELS, "NEWSWEEK": When you look at television, we're either, you know, single mothers with a bunch of children or drug addicts or street walkers.

KAYE (voice-over): Allison Samuels wrote this article for "Newsweek." She hopes and expects having Michelle Obama in the White House will help put an end to the stereotyping of African-American woman, often portrayed as overweight, ignorant and angry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to adjust my sit. (INAUDIBLE) was adjusting my sit.


SAMUELS: We still have that negative image of black women being overweight and very loud, and rolling their eyes and talking back and having these sassy one-liners all the time. And that's just not the entire community.

KAYE: Mrs. Obama is a Harvard-educated lawyer who earned a six-figure salary before leaving her job to help her husband's campaign. With about 30 percent of African-American children being raised in poverty, that may register with black women.

OLIVIA FISHKIN, NEW YORK RESIDENT: The average African-American young woman should take heed and hope that with hard work and study that they can also elevate themselves and to aspire to become whatever they want to become.

KAYE: What about her skin color? It's much darker than African- American celebrities like Beyonce or Halle Berry. Samuels say that may send the message that black is beautiful.

SAMUELS: In the African-American community, a lot of times beauty is sort of determined by how light you are. And what I love about Michelle is that she's not that typical look.

KAYE: Michelle Obama's physique may also light a fire under black women. Federal statistics show four out of five African-American women are overweight or obese. Mrs. Obama works out daily, often before her girls are even awake.

SAMUELS: I think all of that is going to play a big role in African- American women. You know, just sort of taking a step back and saying, what can I do to be healthy?


KAYE: So while Mrs. Obama may be focused on becoming mom-in-chief as she likes to say, her role may be far greater than she will ever know.



CHETRY: Kicked out.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Their families can't afford to take care of them. They can't afford to buy them food. They can't afford to take them to the vet.


CHETRY: The economy hits really close to home. A look at how tough times are overwhelming the local animal shelter. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


CHETRY: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." You know, it's a tough economy and people are struggling to make ends meet, and sometimes there's just no way to care for the family pet anymore. And as John Zarrella reports, these helpless victims of the economy have some animal shelters now in crisis mode.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Joe, Kiran, this is Mandy. Mandy is 5 months old. Not long ago, she had a good home. Now her home is here at the Humane Society of Broward County. Agency officials say it's scary, the number of pets whose owners can no longer afford them because of the economy.


ZARRELLA (voice-over): Take a look at the faces, the wagging tails. Each one of them seems to beg -- can you take me home? There's Spot, Bentley, Diamond, Bella, Tinkerbelle the Cat. They're all here at the Humane Society of Broward County for the same reason; they were turned in by their owners.

CHERIE WACHTER, HUMANE SOCIETY OF FORT LAUDERDALE: Their families can't afford to take care of them. They can't afford to buy them food. They can't afford to take them to the vet.

ZARRELLA: Cherie Wachter has been with the Humane Society for 13 years.

WACHTER: Wait, are you going to crawl on my lap. I know.

ZARRELLA: It's never been this bad. Adoptions for the year are down here by 500. Cash donations way down. Nationwide, the Humane Society says pet surrenders are up more than 30 percent.

This shelter in suburban Atlanta for instance had seen a 10 fold increase in pet abandonment during the past two years. And not just dogs and cats. Look at this. A farmer had to give up his goats. At least these owners thought enough of their pets to turn them in.

SHERRY MARTS, ANIMAL CONTROL SPECIALIST: Oh, that's it. Right there. And look at the dog laying there.

ZARRELLA: Sherry Marts with Miami-Dade Animal Services rarely saw animals left behind to fend for themselves. Now, it's all the time.

MARTS: People call because people that live next door to them either got evicted or they couldn't, they had to move but they couldn't take their animal so they leave them behind.

ZARRELLA: Two dogs were left behind at this foreclosed home. One takes off when it sees Marts. The other plays a doggie version of cat and mouse, eventually his luck runs out.

MARTS: Got him!

ZARRELLA: Now he goes to the shelter. If he gets lucky, he gets adopted, a new home and a second chance.


ZARRELLA: The holidays are usually the biggest time for animal adoption, but the Humane Society is not sure what to expect this year. Right now that old saying, it's a dog's life just doesn't carry quite the same meaning.



CHETRY: The Roswell incident.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you wadded this up in your hand, you could not feel it in your hand.


CHETRY: The woman who says she touched a UFO. Miles O'Brien investigates what could be the biggest cover-up in history. You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."



OBAMA: We need a big stimulus package that will jolt the economy back into shape and that is focused on the 2.5 million jobs that I intend to create during the first part of my administration. (END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNS: The nation's financial crisis not officially Barack Obama's headache yet, but he's already taking the reins, saying the economy needs a major jolt and he's pressing Congress for action on new stimulus package.

Joining me now from Los Angeles is Michael Reagan, radio host and chairman of and Stephanie Miller, host of the "Stephanie Miller Show.

And Michael, I guess, the first question would be, is a big spending program the answer from your point of view?

MICHAEL REAGAN, CHAIRMAN, REAGANACTION.COM: You know, who's to know if that's going to be the answer. What's interesting here is with all the spending that's going on, all the bailouts that's going on, do you know that not one regulation, not one law that was passed by Congress going back to 1970s that helped cause all of this has been taken down, been taken out of the whole situation?

So, we could actually be in this same situation years from now because all the laws that created it are still in place. That's what I would like to see disappear.

JOHNS: Stephanie Miller, this Tim Geithner, you know the name. He's coming in to run the Treasury. He's also been a part of the Paulson team. And you have to wonder, is this the right guy to come and sort of effect change, as it were, for the Barack Obama administration?

STEPHANIE MILLER, LIBERAL RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, all I know is the markets have reacted favorably. I'm not sure what Michael and his friends on the right-wing radio are going to do, because you know they've been calling it the Obama stock market crash for the last few days.

REAGAN: Stephanie, Stephanie, I have never mentioned that in my life.


MILLER: Because it was preceded by the Obama. It was -- OK, well, Rush mentioned that we're in the Obama recession and now we've had an Obama stock market crash. He's not even president yet. So, clearly, the market has now had the biggest increase in what, 21 years, you know, based on a lot of -- I think his very aggressive action on his pick so far. So, you know -- he's inheriting quite a mess, but I think he's doing pretty well so far.

REAGAN: Stephanie, Stephanie, I think you're getting your talking points from other radio talk shows. Not everybody who is conservative is saying this is Obama's stock market crash.

JOHNS: OK, so let me jump in for a minute now. One thing I would like both of you to weigh in on is, as we watch these people line up to become part of the Barack Obama administration, we do see again and again people who come from the Clinton administration. And that raises the question once again, is this change or is this more of the same?

REAGAN: One of the problems that you have is this, if you had -- if you elected a Republican, you would have all the people from the Bush Administration. You know, you elect new presidents, the problem is the same people stay there year after year after year. There's like nobody else to choose from.

When my father took over the reins back in 1980, he did bring change. He brought all the Californians to Washington, D.C. But now what you've got is the same-old, same-old. It's like a group of people got together in 2001 when Clinton left and said, listen, I'll meet you in eight years. Whatever we didn't get done now, we'll get done later on. Maybe those people need to change.


JOHNS: Stephanie, go ahead.

MILLER: Yes. Yikes -- yikes, Michael, that would be bad to have all that Clinton peace and prosperity back, that would be bad news.

I mean, you know, where do you go for people that are qualified that you can hit the ground running with? You go to the last Democratic administration. I think the people on the right are upset because they were hoping for this continued Clinton-Obama fight, and you know, he has actually made good on his, you know, on his reaching across to rivals.

JOHNS: Stephanie, this could also be called sort of a Democratic dream team, if it were -- the best and the brightest in a lot of ways. However, big egos come along with that and it makes you wonder, how well are these people going to get along or is there going to be a lot of infighting?

MILLER: Wow. Well, Michael could probably tell you about that. That could be brand new. Egos in politics would be something we've never seen before.

JOHNS: All right. Good enough.

REAGAN: Yes. It would be -- it would be a first time, absolutely. No egos in politics. There'll be no fighting, everything will be fine. But I might say this, when George Bush took over the reins, it was nothing but an argument about his appointments. Nobody is arguing. Nobody is saying none of this people should be appointed. The Republicans are acting like mature people and saying, you know, the president of the United States should get the people he wants in place to do the job. They should have done the same thing for George Bush.

JOHNS: Well, thanks to you both. Thanks for getting up. And we'll see you next time.

MILLER: Thanks.

REAGAN: You got it. CHETRY: We're also approaching the half hour right now -- a look at the top stories this morning. The world's markets are reacting to Wall Street's near 400-point rally. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei closed up more than five percent. The major indices across Europe also in positive territory. And in less than two hours, the markets may get another shot of confidence. This is when Treasury secretary Henry Paulson talks about consumer lending, a new loan program.

Also this morning, millions about to hit the road for the holiday -- of course, giving thanks for falling gas prices, that's for sure. According to AAA, the national average for a gallon of regular is now $1.89. It's the 69th straight day of declines. In fact, the last time we've seen gas this cheap, it was February of 2005.

A federal judge has dismissed three counts of the indictment against former baseball star, Barry Bonds. But the bulk of the government's perjury case remains intact. Bonds is accused of lying to a grand jury about his use of performance-enhancing drugs. Baseball's reigning homerun king is scheduled to stand trial in March.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ask them if they want to report officially.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: TWA 517, do you want to report a UFO, over?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have come to visit you in peace and with goodwill.


CHETRY: We have all our eyes to the sky this week. Let's put it that way. All this week, it's our special series, "In Search of Aliens." And you can't talk about alien life without talking about Roswell, New Mexico, of course. Is it all just a massive government cover-up? Nothing more than a weather balloon? What really happened there?

Our space correspondent Miles O'Brien went to Roswell to try to figure that out, and he is here with us this morning.

A lot of theories out there, still.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kiran. The truth is out there somewhere. It's the grand daddy of all suspected UFO sightings, and while the government says it can all be explained by some secret military testing, those who insists that an alien spaceship crashed there, may never be convinced otherwise.


JULIE SHUSTER, FATHER ISSUED "SAUCER" RELEASE: We are in the vicinity of the debris field.

O'BRIEN: So there I am, on hallowed ground for the alien nation, Mecca for Martians, site of the crash we now know as the Roswell incident. SHUSTER: A look of where the space and also the debris field where the crash allegedly impacted and broke up.

O'BRIEN: All right. Allegedly? What do you mean, allegedly?

SHUSTER: We use allegedly a lot.

O'BRIEN: They sure do. That's Julie Shuster who's late dad started the whole thing 61 years ago. While serving as the Roswell air base public affairs officer, he wrote the press release announcing the U.S. military had found a crashed flying saucer here on this ranch in Corona. Yes, the Roswell incident didn't happen in Roswell.

It couldn't have happened in a more remote place, could it?

SHUSTER: It could have tried, but I'm not sure it would have succeeded.

O'BRIEN: There's no question something very weird crashed here. Everyone agrees on that, right, Julie?


O'BRIEN: That's pretty much a body of fact.


O'BRIEN: Right?

SHUSTER: Like a take my alleged -

O'BRIEN: All right, take that kind of alleged -- are we ever going to know for sure what happened here?

SHUSTER: That's a good question. I would love to know.

O'BRIEN: So would I. So would you. So would this guy.

DON SCHMITT, ROSWELL INCIDENT RESEARCHER: I'm 99 percent convinced -- convinced, not a belief.

O'BRIEN: Oh, I forgot, Don Schmitt knows what happened. He's gumshoed Roswell for years, turning out three best sellers with a made for TV plot. A thunderstorm, a crashed alien spacecraft, four diminutive alien bodies, everything brought to this hanger and then spirited away in the dark, and of course, a massive government cover- up.

What's your theory on why the government doesn't come clean?

SCHMITT: I remain convinced this it is still a cover-up of ignorance.

O'BRIEN: Our government, ignorant? I guess that's not an alien concept. I saw "Independence Day."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no recovered spaceship. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me, Mr. President, that's not entirely accurate.

O'BRIEN: Truth be told, over the years, the Pentagon has provided a case study of how not to put out a brush fire on the grassy knoll. First they said it was a saucer, then a weather balloon, then a secret nuclear explosion detector, then, finally, a parachute test using crash dummies.

COL. DOUG KENNETT, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: The Air Force research did not locate or develop any information that the Roswell was a UFO event or any indication of a cover-up.

O'BRIEN: They call that one the Roswell report, case closed.

Case closed?

SCHMITT: No, clearly not. Spent 20 years talking to you know eyewitness, describing everything contrary to the official explanation and say you're all lying.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Frankie Rowe was 12 when it happened and got a chance to play with a piece of the wreckage. She remembers some, well out of this world properties.

How thick was it? Like tin foil thickness?

FRANKIE ROWE, HANDLED ALLEGED UFO DEBRIS: Not that thick. Thinner than a hair. When you wadded this up in your hand you could not feel it in your hand. Then you take it and you drop it on the table before it ever hit there it's flat.

O'BRIEN: Frankie said a soldier came to her house a few days later and threatened her.

ROWE: He said don't talk about it. I didn't talk about it. Now kids in '47 are totally different, I think they are from a different planet than kids today are.

O'BRIEN: So to speak, right Frankie?

ROWE: Because if we were told not to do something we didn't do it.

O'BRIEN:: Whatever you think about flying saucers, there is one thing that is certain, one thing that everyone can agree on in this story, this 61-year-old mystery has been awfully good for business here in Roswell, New Mexico.

And Julie Shuster should know. She runs the UFO museum which her dad started in '92. 160,000 now beat a path here every year. There's a $25 million new building in the works.

So a skeptic watching this would say of course you don't want to accept the air force explanation. If the case is closed the tourists stop coming. JULIE SHUSTER, DIR., INT'L UFO MUSEUM: I don't think even if it's proven one way or the other, I don't believe it's going to make a difference. It hasn't so far.


O'BRIEN: So where it stands is really where it all began. For more than 60 years we've been kind of running in circles in the New Mexico desert. And in Roswell they've been laughing all the way to the bank. Maybe one of these days someone will find a piece of that magic metal and they'll bring it right here to the desk for you to play with.

CHETRY: Well you crumple it up and it will fall flat. But seriously, it really is amazing that they didn't find a single thing. Right, I mean, all the people that claim they witnessed something and there's not a single stitch.

O'BRIEN: Thousands and thousands of pieces, what they all attest to is that the military rounded up all this stuff. There has to be a piece somewhere, right.

CHETRY: This is the same military that claimed they were testing dummies jumping off a plane, right?

O'BRIEN: Exactly. And why did they have to round up every little piece of the wreckage? Why were they so concerned if it was just a balloon? Lots of good questions there.

CHETRY: Well, all right. Tomorrow it gets even creepier over here. Thanks, Miles.

O'BRIEN: We go a little creepier tomorrow.

CHETRY: Because tomorrow "Close encounters of the fourth kind." You're going to hear stories of people who swear they were abducted by aliens. In fact, we're going to talk to one man who collects all of these claims and tomorrow we're going to hear some of those stories on American morning. And if you have seen something funny in the skies or you're convinced aliens exist or even if you think it's all just science fiction, we want to hear from you, send us your pictures, your video to Click on the I-report link.

JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: And we have some major breaking news to tell you about on the economic front. Christine Romans will be back here after the break. Stay with us.


CHETRY: We've got breaking news on your money. And again, we're seeing the ways in which the federal government is desperately trying to help loosen up the credit and help stem this economic crisis that we're in. What's the latest news right now, Christine?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: let's talk about the big number first. This is the Federal Reserve announcing this morning, according to the AP, the AP has this right now that the Fed is announcing a deal in which it will buy mortgage-related assets. This is up to $600 billion. It will buy up to $600 billion in mortgage-backed assets in frankly another attempt to try to stem this crises that we've seen. It will purchase up to $100 billion in direct obligations from mortgage giants Fannie and Freddie as well as the Federal Home Loan banks. Again, according to the "Associated Press," it will also purchase another $500 billion in mortgage-backed securities. Those are the pools of mortgages that are bundled together and sold. And CNN is confirming this with the Fed. So the AP had it first, CNN just mentioned it now.

The other thing I just got off the phone with the Treasury Department. The Treasury Department has its own new plan today, this consumer finance lending that Treasury Secretary Paulson will tap another $20 billion of your $700 billion troubled assets released on the T.A.R.P. Are you confused with all these numbers? It's crazy. But there's a lot - literally billions flying around to try to stabilize the financial system. This $20 billion will create a new loan facility that will make it easier for people to borrow money to go to college, student loans, for credit cards, for auto loans, for a lot of other sort of consumer finance.

The Treasury Secretary hinted that he was going this way last week. There was a lot of talk that he wouldn't tap the other half of the T.A.R.P. money, that he'll wait for the next president to do that but he has more money at his disposal and looks like he's tapping it.

JOHNS: So in the first piece, this is what all the economists have been talking about for a long time. You have to unlock the credit market, and this is apparently the government's move to try to get going there, at least before Barack Obama comes in.

ROMANS: What are these assets worth, sitting on the banks' books, these mortgage-related assets they are - we keep calling them toxic assets because they are toxic. People don't want to buy them because we don't know what they're worth. They're weighing everybody down. What do you with them in the near term? The Fed apparently going to come in and mop some of some that up. We've struggled back and forth, our policy makers have struggled with trying to figure out the best way to get out from under this mountain of bad debt.

CHETRY: This was the original theory behind the T.A.R.P. program and then they went the other way and just start infusing cash into the banks. Now, they're back to the original plan of buying up those toxic assets?

ROMANS: Yes and no. They're doing everything. They're doing everything under the sun. And I think that's something the Treasury Secretary has taken pains to point out, it's not one or the other, it's not a this or that. I mean they're not ruling out even more in the future, you know? They just, as conditions change, they're showing to -

CHETRY: What's changed in the past couple of days, I'm curious as to why they decided now, they put that on hold, the buying up of the troubled assets.

ROMANS: Right.

CHETRY: They put that on hold, they didn't do that and that was one of the original parts of this and then today we're announcing that they are doing that.

ROMANS: I don't know what's different except for the fact that Citi almost didn't make it. You know and Citi had to come in and help Citi and Citi was somebody who will be beneficiary of the toxic assets off the books.

JOHNS: Do we know whether they're going to try to come and buy these assets at the paper value or at the -

ROMANS: I don't know. I don't know what the paper value is, frankly. I don't think anybody knows. That's the problem. Now real quickly I want to get to GDP. Because this is the gross domestic product number. This is an important number as well. GDP down, I think half a percent. Treasury, Fed, GDP, gosh, all these news every morning, right. GDP for the third quarter was down, decreased an annual rate of half a percent in the third quarter. What we know is the economy is slowing. Whenever you have a negative GDP number, that tells you that you know economy is slowing, you're losing jobs, and it hurts people. That's the upshot - or the down shot rather of a GDP that's shrinking.

CHETRY: And quickly back to this $20 billion you're talking about, that is now going to be freed up in some way shape or form. Is this going to be direct lending or this is going to be giving money to the people that give you money for car loans -

ROMANS: That's only way - and I want to be very clear about this. I mean there's this sort of populous skepticism that I think is healthy about this, but the entire consumer lending system has these layer of financial companies that do the consumer lending. If you just gave the money to consumers, you would have a sugar rush, it would be like a rebate or a stimulus and then it goes away. And we know earlier in the year, that didn't really help things, right. You've got to rebuild the financial infrastructure. And so they're trying to rebuild that lending facility, that layer of financial companies that do this for a living. What they do is they borrow - they securitize these things back and forth to make it healthy for us to borrow things. Our whole economy is built on it and they're trying to repair that infrastructure that we have all grown up and grown used to. This is how we live in a modern economy and they're trying to fix that and repair it.

JOHNS: Christine Romans, thanks so much for that perspective and thanks for coming in again.

CHETRY: You broke it down for us pretty good.

JOHNS: For sure.

ROMANS: Thanks.

JOHNS: All right. A judge hands down a highly unusual punishment, sentenced to listen to Barry Manilow. What's the crime that deserved this? It is 43 past the hour.



CHETRY: There you go. Look at the control room. I didn't know there were that many smokers in the control room. Maybe it's just for emergencies, those lighters. Well, anyway, apologies, by the way to Barry Manilow and his legions of fans. It's not a song, it's actually a sentence. At least it is in Fort Lupton, Colorado. That's where one municipal judge Paul Sacco is sentencing young noise polluters to hard time, an hour of listening to Manilow as well as other music. In fact, some music that he actually wrote himself in lieu of jail time. Joining us from Denver to talk about his creative program is Judge Paul Sacco. Thanks for being with us this morning. Let me just start by saying, poor Barry Manilow. What did the guy ever do to you?

PAUL SACCO, FORT LUPTON COLORADO MUNICIPAL JUDGE: Actually, I like Barry Manilow, to be honest with you. I like a lot of his love songs. But you know, when they're played to mostly young kids, they can't stand it.

CHETRY: And that's right. And that's your aim here. Explain what it is. You've got about 50 noise violators per year, right? And what are they doing that's bringing them into the courtroom?

SACCO: It's like in any city court, my court hears a lot of traffic violations, things like that. This is a ticket that a person would get if the officer is able to hear music 15 or more feet away from a vehicle. So it's music out of a car. And if it's too loud, they get ticket and then come to my court.

CHETRY: I love seeing the video. You see the kids just shaking their heads and I think I heard a little bit of Barney in there. I have a two-year-old, so I know that's a daily punishment, no offense to Barney, when they have to listen to that. What do they tell you? What's their reaction when they're in your courtroom and you say, listen, you're blasting your music out of your car and you're bothering everyone that's around you, and now you got to sit in this room and listen to Barney or Barry Manilow.

SACCO: Well, honestly, very few of them get mad at the initial sentencing, but I think after they go through the program, they're not really happy anymore.

CHETRY: As I understand it, you have personally written and recorded some of the songs. Let's listen to one of your personal best, a little recording here.


CHETRY: That's not that bad.

JOHNS: It's kind of bluesy.

CHETRY: It sounds like a cross between the blues and spoken word. You customized this song. What are some of your least favorite songs that you actually did this and you were stuck in a room listening to music, what would be your nightmare scenario?

SACCO: Honestly, for me, it would probably be b-bop jazz or some of the more repetitive, oh, like bluegrass, maybe really repetitive bluegrass, but honestly, I like almost every kind of music. It's not too hard for me.

CHETRY: You some are saying, you got these American cities facing some hard times right now, everyone having to cut back, wouldn't you be better off collecting some fines from these kids?

SACCO: Well you know, I'm glad you asked that question. Initially, this started, as I said, like any other traffic ticket and I would look at these kids in the eye and I'd say, that will be an $80 fine plus $40 in costs and it just didn't seem right, because number one, their parents were paying the fines and number two, it just didn't mean much to the kids, even if they paid their own fines. Whereas, inevitably, what happened with this program, I think, is kids learned maybe a little bit about manners.

CHETRY: I got you. And that's one thing that's priceless, I guess you could say. So you also insist that since this program started, you've seen less repeat offenders. Tell us about that.

SACCO: Yes, that's interesting. The program started about 1998 or nine, and initially, we had very large groups of people, as many as 75. And as many average, I would say, maybe 40 to 50 per month of kids. And now it's pared down to as few as maybe 50 kids every three or four months. And they're not just kids. They can be older people too, but they generally tend to be kids. But the interesting part about it is as far as repeat offenders go, the repeat offenders are about two out of every 50 people. So that's about a four percent rate. We're pretty proud about that. It's just - accidentally, it worked.

CHETRY: How about it? Well, you know, you used some creativity and perhaps these kids are going to get Barry Manilow nightmares, but at least they're not blasting their tunes in the car loud enough to bother those around them. And by the way, one little side note, we got word from someone at CNN that Lebron James does have Barry Manilow on his iPod. So Barry, if you're listening this morning, some love you. Judge Paul Sacco, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

SACCO: Thank you, too. It's nice to be on the show.

JOHNS: I wonder if Lebron has Barney on the show. Probably not.

With the economy dominating headlines, newspapers are reading like medical journals, we talk of an economy in critical condition that is in need of recovery. Is it all about to make you sick? It is now 51 minutes past the hour.


JOHNS: Childhood obesity is one of the biggest health crisis facing the nation. And recently, CNN brought together some well-known experts from around the country to explore solutions to the problem. Here's CNN's chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Some powerhouse stars came together to fight childhood obesity at CNN's second annual "Fit Nation" summit. Jillian Michaels, best known as a trainer on NBC's "The Biggest Loser" taught us that living a healthy lifestyle is all about working hard and achieving balance.

JILLIAN MICHAELS, WELLNESS COACH: Stop and spend as much time as you can doing what you love.

GUPTA: Talk show host Rachael Ray talked about the importance of eating natural foods.

RACHEL RAY, TELEVISION HOST: I call it the blue food rule. If it didn't come out of the ground blue, don't eat it. You know things with a lot of food coloring, processed foods -

GUPTA: And Olympic swimmer Eric Shanteau gave us his tips for staying on the wagon.

ERIC SHANTEAU, OLYMPIC SWIMMER: Just have a motivating factor. And it can be anything. For me, it's my motivating factor was the Olympic games. But it can be losing weight.

GUPTA: Also in the audience was "Fit Nation" contest winner, Todd Cisneros, a teacher that made a home exercise DVD for his students. And CNN I-reporters Karen Daniel and Muata Kamdibe together lost more than 300 lbs. By the end, the audience was empowered to go out and take action to help solve the obesity crisis in America. And there's more to come in 2009 as we take on issues, like access to health care, gyms, and healthy food. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, New York.



CHETRY (voice-over): Strikeout.

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The company bought the name rights to the stadium the Mets will move into next year for a record $400 million over 20 years.

CHETRY: Jeanne Moos looks at the baseball bailout. Citigroup's multimillion dollar deal that you could be paying for. You're watching the most news in the morning.



CHETRY: Well, the financial news is sounding a lot like an emergency room these days with the economy on life-support, it just needs a jolt so it will recover. It's enough to give anyone a headache. Here's our Jeanne Moos.


MOOS (voice-over): You know we're in trouble when the president says --

BUSH: But we'll recover from it.

MOOS: Both the outgoing and the incoming president sound like they're talking about a patient in critical condition.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: We need a stimulus. A big stimulus package. That will jolt the economy back into shape.

MOOS: Oh, man!

OBAMA: To stabilize the financial system.

MOOS: The latest patient to be stabilized.

MOOS (on-camera): You heard Citibank's in trouble?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. I mean they're huge, how can they be in trouble?

MOOS: But as we hit up customers after they hit the ATM, almost no one spoke of dumping Citibank.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not nervous. It's a great bank. Huge. It will not fail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm optimistic. I don't know what else we can be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess the best decision so to leave it here. I can't put it under my mattress. I don't know what else to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One bank is as bad as another.

MOOS: Only one woman we talked to was really worried.

You actually went up to a teller and said, hey, is my money safe?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I don't know if I can trust it.

MOOS: They told her yes and the tellers had their own question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They asked, is CNN still out there bugging our customers?

MOOS: When we bugged this lady, she'd joked she'd come to the bank.

Citigroup may need a bailout, but Mets' fans will still see strikeouts of Citi Field. The company bought the naming rights for the stadium the Mets will move into next year for a record $400 million over 20 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the time, it seemed like a perfect deal.

MOOS: Citigroup still thinks it's a good idea, calling it an important marketing priority, not to be confused with Enron Field which turned into minute made park after Enron's downfall. Somehow all these springsmenship doesn't seem real.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How can it be - seem like real money when they are talking about hundreds of billions of dollars? It's just that they keep adding zeros and commas.

MOOS: Meanwhile, it turns out Citigroup, which offers a credit card with purchase protection against defective merchandise, had a few defects of its own.

CNN, Jeanne Moos, New York.


CHETRY: Oops, there you have it.

JOHNS: Yes. So we'll see you right back here tomorrow.

CHETRY: Yes, it was great having you with us. And...

JOHNS: Just loved it.

CHETRY: We're leaving the ship to you to run so...

JOHNS: Oh yes.

CHETRY: For the next three days.

JOHNS: Oh boy. Good luck.

CHETRY: It was very nice working with you, Joe.

JOHNS: You too.

CHETRY: And you guys have a great day as well. But keep watching, because now it's "CNN NEWSROOM" with Betty Nguyen.