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Big 3 Bailout Loan: White House Promising Funding; Illinois Governor Scandal; Obama Cabinet Selection; Money Meltdown: Revved up for Rescue; British Under Fire in Afghanistan; Weaving Prosperity

Aired December 13, 2008 - 10:00   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and good morning, everybody. It is Saturday, December 13th.
I'm Betty Nguyen.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes.

You're now in the CNN NEWSROOM.

We'll begin in Washington, where maybe that was the place that the big three automakers should have been going instead of Congress asking for some money. There is word out of the White House that possibly there is a deal in the works to provide emergency funding to the nation's struggling auto industry. That money would come from the Treasury Department's $700 billion bailout fund for Wall Street.

Now, already, General Motors is planning to cut a third of its production and temporarily close 21 factories. Both GM and Chrysler say they are nearly bankrupt.

And as we've been seeing for the past several weeks, we saw those big three CEOs go up to Capitol Hill begging -- Kate Bolduan -- begging for money. They still might get it anyway without having to get the OK from Congress.

Have you gotten any sense of, how do some of the congressmen and women feel about that, that, you know, we're going to around you, Congress, we'll just go to the White House and get our cash?



BOLDUAN: No, it was interesting yesterday when I was on Capitol Hill. Democrats, they support this. This is what they were pushing for, to tap TARP funds early on.

Some Republicans are getting behind it because they supported the legislation and it didn't go through. So there is a little bit of a mixed bag there, T.J. But a senior White House official does tell me this morning that the administration is still considering the options to assist U.S. automakers, saying the White House is gathering, reviewing information and data about the automakers' true financial situation and what their near-term future really is. Yesterday, two senior administration officials told CNN President Bush is thinking about tapping TARP funds to help automakers possibly this weekend. Now, this is significant change from the administration's previous position, that TARP money was only meant for the financial industry, not auto companies. The Treasury Department released a statement saying, "Because Congress failed to act, we will stand ready to prevent an imminent failure until Congress reconvenes and acts to address the long-term viability of the industry."

But some Republicans, as I just mentioned, T.J., they really warn that if you are going to give these TARP funds, it has to come with some very strict strings attached -- T.J.

HOLMES: Well, we will see if those strings are attached, and we will see if they get that money.

The last thing, just real quick, do we have any money on when? Is there -- want to get this along -- a decision quickly, because, of course, GM and Chrysler said they need the money immediately.

BOLDUAN: Yes. You can tell that GM and Chrysler, they really say that they needed the money yesterday, rather than in a few days from now.

I have been pushing the White House to find out a little more this morning. And all I have been able to hear is that they are working, they're looking. And they understand that, clearly, there is a big need here.

HOLMES: All right. Well, keep pushing without being pushy.

Kate Bolduan for us in Washington.

Thank you so much. We'll see you again.

BOLDUAN: Of course.

NGUYEN: Well, he has not said that he is going, but it seems like everyone else in Illinois is trying to figure out how to get Governor Rod Blagojevich out of office.

Our Drew Griffin caught up with the governor yesterday and got a chance to ask him a couple of questions.

Drew joins us now live from Chicago.

Drew, it doesn't seem like he really wanted to talk too much.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: No, and certainly didn't give the answer that most Illinois politicians want him to give. He is either going to have to leave office voluntarily, or the politicians say they are going to push him out.

We caught up with his yesterday. He was in his attorney's office for about three hours. And just as he was emerging -- this was about 3:30 in the afternoon -- he was caught off guard, I think, by the fact that we just strolled across the street and starting asking him a question.


GRIFFIN: Drew Griffin with CNN. Can you say anything to the people of the state of Illinois, sir? Do you have anything to say?

GOV. ROD BLAGOJEVICH (D), ILLINOIS: I will -- absolutely.

GRIFFIN: Are you going to resign, sir?

BLAGOJEVICH: I'll have a lot to say at the appropriate time.

GRIFFIN: Governor, are the authorities right -- did you do what they say you did?


GRIFFIN: Betty, he obviously didn't answer any of the questions that I was asking him, only that he would tell us something when the time was appropriate. Everybody was hoping that time would be appropriate sometime this week. Obviously, it didn't happen.

Now the Illinois attorney general has petitioned the Supreme Court to have him removed, basically because he is unfit. And on Monday, in Springfield, the legislature will meet to begin, number one, to try to strip him of any power he has to appoint a U.S. senator. And number two, to begin impeachment proceedings.

So things not looking good for the governor right now.

NGUYEN: A lot of things in play as well.

Drew Griffin joining us live this morning.

Thank you, Drew.


NGUYEN: All right. We're going to take you back to some of those Illinois politics, shall we? Because Jesse Jackson Jr., "Senate Candidate Number Five" in the government's criminal complaint, but not a target of the investigation.

Well, The "Chicago Tribune" is reporting that two businessmen with ties to Jackson and Blagojevich discussed with the governor raising at least a million dollars in campaign cash in exchange for Jackson getting the Senate seat. And according to The Trib, that meeting led to a fund-raiser last weekend attended by Jackson's brother.

Now, Congressman Jackson, who denies any wrongdoing, met with Blagojevich Monday, one day before the feds arrested him. All right? So that's the breakdown.

Here is what Jackson told our Don Lemon.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: When you met with the governor on Monday, what did you discuss?

REP. JESSE JACKSON JR. (D), ILLINOIS: I presented him my credentials -- a notebook, which I am prepared to give anyone a copy of.

LEMON: No discussion at all of quid pro quo or anything like that? Was there a discussion?

JACKSON: I have nothing to offer. Nothing to offer but my record of public service. That's how I've conducted myself for 13.5 years. And I did that day as well.

LEMON: That's all you discussed?

JACKSON: That's all we discussed.


NGUYEN: And you can catch more of Don's interview with Jesse Jackson Jr. on his show, that's the CNN NEWSROOM with Don Lemon, tonight, 11:00 Eastern.

HOLMES: All right. Well, Governor Blagojevich has been given pretty much two options. Keeping his job ain't one of them.

Lynn Sweet is the Washington bureau chief of "The Chicago Sun- Times." She knows Chicago politics inside and out.

You know it well. Probably never seen anything quite like this.

Is there anyone who believes, including the governor, that he could possibly hold on to his job?

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES': Well, I think you just named the one person who probably does think so.


SWEET: Because in this whole sad episode, it shows that Governor Blagojevich was thinking that things could only be regarded as political fantasies of whatever kinds of schemes and deals he could have. You have a few ways this could happen.

We are reporting in the "Chicago Sun-Times" that the governor might actually just take some action next week about resigning. He needed a few days to sort this out. And also, since he is in such a big legal jam with prosecutors, probably the only thing he has to offer is his resignation.

The Illinois Supreme Court could do a few things. They could temporarily call him unable to conduct his job.

HOLMES: Do we know how quickly they might act? SWEET: No, no. This is uncharted legal waters we're in. Everyone knows that.

The other thing they can do -- and this hasn't gotten as much notice -- is they could just ban the governor from doing several specific actions that are at issue here, such as appoint a new senator, sign a new tollway contract, et cetera. So the Supreme Court has two options. The state legislature, going back to work next week, has a few options from starting impeachment to stripping the governor of his power to appoint.

HOLMES: Now, how long could that process possibly take if the legislature decides to, in fact, go ahead with impeachment?

SWEET: That could take -- nothing could be fast. Even if they take -- stripping of his power to a point, that could take weeks because the governor has a right to consider a bill for 60 days.


SWEET: Well, clearly, even if he let the clock run out on that -- this is how he could buy time -- I don't think he will. Then that bill dies because the legislature starts a new session in January. They'd have to start the process over again. That's why there's such a push right now just to have the Supreme Court, Illinois Supreme Court, go into these uncharted waters and try and remove him.

HOLMES: So essentially, maybe, the governor right now is just -- maybe not trying to prolong it, but maybe get his own ducks in a row.

You have covered Chicago for quite some time. You know this political scene. Outside, for people outside of it, they find this just fascinating and unfathomable that something like this could be going on.

For you, for all you have seen in that city, several governors have been in jail, have been indicted in that state. How surprised were you and shocked were you when you heard these allegations?

SWEET: Well, he has been under a legal cloud, so, frankly, I wasn't surprised that finally there are some charges and an arrest coming. But I never thought it would be with all these intricate schemes, especially the ones that do seem, as I said, to be part of political fantasy. You know, the idea that he could curry favor with the president-elect by appointing a pal, and then a few days later emerge with a high-level appointment.

That strikes even my imagination. And I have seen schemes. A lot of people I've covered have gone to jail, served time, or out. Actually, this one takes the cake, yes.

HOLMES: Well, yes. And like you said, from all you all have seen in Chicago, it takes a hell of an imagination to come up with some of this stuff.

Lynn Sweet. Ma'am, again, with the "Chicago Sun-Times," Washington bureau chief. We appreciate your time and your insight this morning. Thank you so much.

SWEET: Thank you.

NGUYEN: President-elect Barack Obama is looking to fill another seat on his cabinet. The post, secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Let's take you live now to Elaine Quijano in Chicago.

OK, Elaine. Tell us about Shaun Donovan.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. He is Obama's pick for HUD secretary, Betty. And we should note what is interesting about the way in which this was announced.

This is typically an event that happens at a news conference, where the president-elect will come out, announce a cabinet pick, and then take a couple of questions. This announcement, word of it actually came in the form of an e-mail released around 6:00 a.m. Eastern Time, noting that this was the pick.

Now, certainly, there are many questions that are still swirling surrounding the situation with Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, the embattled Illinois governor. And this morning's "Chicago Tribune," Betty, is reporting that incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel did have a conversation with Blagojevich, did discuss Obama's vacated Senate seat with him.

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that in and of itself. In fact, it would be expected that there would be some contacts with the governor's office. The problem is, the president- elect and his team have not talked publicly about this just yet.

Now, again, we should note that U.S. prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has made abundantly clear that there are absolutely no allegations against the president-elect contained in that federal complaint that was filed earlier this week. Also, we should tell you as well that a source close to Rahm Emanuel told our Jessica Yellin yesterday that Emanuel is not the target of this federal probe.

But, Betty, the question remains, when is it exactly that the president-elect and his team will disclose what contacts there actually were between their camp and people within the governor's office? What is taking so long? The president-elect said yesterday his staff was looking into it and would release that list in the coming days. So we continue to wait for that -- Betty.

NGUYEN: Absolutely. All right. We'll be watching here as well. Thank you, Elaine.

OK. So what is in store for the economy next year? We've had a whole lot of talk about it this year, but will things change? HOLMES: Change next year? We have a guest coming up who says possibly, and also some good advice. I was just talking to him up in the green room. He says you need to be proactive. Don't wait for something to come to you. Proactive could mean taking a plan to your bank and saying, hey, how about this? And that might actually work.

NGUYEN: Really? OK.

HOLMES: He has a story about someone that it worked for. Stay here.


HOLMES: All right. We are hearing about pink slips, bailouts, foreclosures. We need some good news these days.

You got some, Marvin?

This is my guy, Marvin here. Marvin Cosgray. He's a banking expert.

We do need some good news. But first, let's talk about all these bailouts for a second, the auto industry, as well as the $700 billion one, the one for Wall Street and the banks.

People are waiting for that to trickle down. Aside from the auto right now, but the $700 billion been in place, the banks got it, people are waiting. When will we see something real where we know that's working for the everyday American, not for bankers or anybody on Wall Street? For the everyday American.

MARVIN COSGRAY, BANKING EXPERT: For the everyday person, which includes myself and you, what we need to do right now is be patient, because it will take a while for the trickle-down effect to go into place and to come down to the average American. But what we need to do is take control of our lives right now.

We need to assess our own personal financial situation. We need to preserve cash. The rule of thumb is to have about a six-month annual equivalent in cash on reserve to handle rainy days, anything like that that happens.

We also need to pay the minimum payments that we can on our debt. And I'll tell you something else we need to do now, too, T.J., is take advantage of this low interest rate environment.

Mortgage rates right now are the lowest they have been in four years. We need to take advantage of that and start refinancing, and lower these payments.

HOLMES: But some people right now, as we know, are having a tough time trying to refinance because their homes aren't worth as much. They're having a tougher time. People are locking down on credit as well. But I hear you say there maybe -- you need to hold on right now for dear life. Pay those minimum payments and do what you can right now. And you know what? Hopefully that will work. But don't depend on that $700 billion bailout to come bail you out.

COSGRAY: Don't depend on that. The check is not in the mail. It's going to be a while before that happens.

But look, there are ways that people, especially distressed homeowners, can address their current situation. Number one is, go in and talk to your banker.

HOLMES: Now, this was interesting to me. You say go in and talk to your banker. People say, ugh, and they get intimidated. But you had a good story about how this worked with somebody you worked with.

COSGRAY: This happened recently in our bank. One of our customers who is a distressed homeowner contacted the loan officer and asked if they could come in and speak with the loan officer. The loan officer asked me.

We arranged a meeting. We got together. These folks came in. They're distressed, but they had a plan.

They said, this is what we can do if the bank will work with us. And they showed us this plan. We agreed to it. And we actually modified the loan to help them stay in their house and save their home.

HOLMES: So you have to -- and again, that's not going to work for everybody, of course. But you need to find a way. And it's possible to be proactive. And in a way, they came in and pitched something to you and sold it to you. And you know what? It's not one of your standards on your books, this is one of the loans we offer, but they pitched something to you.

COSGRAY: T.J., they took control. They didn't wait for the bank to come in at the last minute and try to do something with them.

We have many customers, as many banks do. Our folks need to be proactive in seeking solutions to these problems.

Now, there are two Web sites also that...

HOLMES: Yes, wanted to mention -- go ahead.

COSGRAY: And then also These two Web sites give good advice and counsel on what distressed owners should do in these times.

HOLMES: All right. I was wanting to try to get one in about the auto industry. I am going to leave it right there, however. But we'll see what happens with the auto bailout.

Marvin Cosgray.

Again, I love that story about the people that come in. And that's one that really people need to hear and need to know. That maybe you just need to be proactive and go in there and take control of yourself.

COSGRAY: Proactive, be patient, and stay calm.

HOLMES: All right. Marvin Cosgray, hey, that's easier said than done.

Stay calm, folks.

Betty, I will hand it over to you, oh calm one.

NGUYEN: I am doing my best to stay calm.

So, over these past eight years, we have had a lot really to be upset about and energetic about. We have faced a whole lot of things -- 9/11, the war in Iraq, now a recession. So, are there any regrets when it comes to the Bush presidency? I sat down with First Lady Laura Bush.


HOLMES: Well, Defense Secretary Robert Gates surprised troops in Iraq with in unannounced visit to Balad Airbase. Gates told forces there he doubts U.S. forces in Afghanistan will ever reach the same levels as in Iraq. He says the real solution is for an expanded Afghan army and police with American support.

Meanwhile, the British marines coming under heavy fire in Afghanistan just as Prime Minister Gordon Brown stopped by on a surprise visit of his own. Four Royal Marines were killed in separate explosions in southern Afghanistan.

CNN's Atia Abawi has more now from Kabul.

Hello to you. And tell us, there has been, you know, so much attention put on Iraq, that, you know, not a lot of people keep their focus on Afghanistan and the violence there. But the violence continues. And in some places, on the rise.

ATIA ABAWI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's very true, T.J., actually. The violence has been going on here since 2001. It's been going on for three decades now. And something fairly new in the region is suicide bombings, something that has started in 2001. It's basically a copycat tactic that they learned from Iraq's success.

Actually, a couple of months ago, the Afghan defense minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak, did mention that Iraq's so-called gain and the so- called decrease of violence they have seen has been Afghanistan's loss, because many of those insurgents are now poring through the Afghanistan borders, using their tactics, and seeing this as their new battleground for their holy war. And Prime Minister Gordon Brown actually did mention in his press conference with President Karzai today in Kabul.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GORDON BROWN, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: For the Taliban to engage in such cowardly behavior that means that a 13-year-old young boy is used to kill British troops, is something that will offend public opinion not just in Afghanistan and Britain, but right across the world. And my thoughts are with the families of all of those who have suffered this grievous loss.


ABAWI: Well, T.J., we should mention that we did speak to the Taliban today. And they denied that a 13-year-old boy was used in the suicide explosion, and actually it was a 26-year-old. They said they don't have any need to use children in their warfare. They say they have enough Mujahideen, as he calls them, volunteering in these attacks, having the will to actually go after these foreign troops, because they don't want them on the land right now. They think they are the ones causing the instability -- T.J.

HOLMES: All right. And Atia, one more thing here. We have been talking a lot in the news about Iraq and about troop withdrawals there.

Is anything like that on the horizon possibly in Afghanistan? Or, is there certainly a need to increase, and everybody agrees that there is that need to continue to increase troop levels, in Afghanistan?

ABAWI: You are absolutely right, T.J. Both British and Americans have dedicated more troops to come in in 2009. Right now there doesn't seem to be a deadline.

I think that both countries have learned their lessons in the past that you can't leave this country at the moment. There is such instability. By leaving, it will cause even more instability, not just for the region, but for the world -- T.J.

HOLMES: Atia Abawi for us in Kabul.

Atia, thank you so much.

NGUYEN: First Lady Laura Bush has fought to educate girls in poverty and expand democracy, but the Bush presidency has also faced a whole lot of adversity.

I sat down with the first lady this week to reflect on the past eight years and whether the first lady's role should become a paid post in the future.


LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: Well, I guess I would say that just not doing enough, that I wish I would had done more on different issues. Of course I am sorry that I didn't get to go to Burma and meet a free Aung San Suu Kyi, and that Burma was on the course to a democratic transition. But that's something that I'm sad about, that I hope that one day I will be able to go to Burma and meet Aung San Suu Kyi. NGUYEN: Anything you are going to miss the most about the White House, being first lady?

BUSH: Well, I will miss all the people that are there. I'll miss all my staff, of course. And then all the other people that worked there for every president that -- we have known a lot of them for years, because they were there when President Bush, George's dad, was there.

NGUYEN: As we move on, we look at the role of the first lady, it has evolved over the decades. And there was some talk -- debate, rather, that that should be a paid post. What do you think about that?

BUSH: Well, I think, no, I don't think it should be a paid post, because the fact is, the first lady or the first gentleman, when there is one, get there because they are married to someone who is the actual office holder. And I think that's important to recognize that the spouse of the president is not an office holder.

We weren't elected. I was not elected. George was elected.

But I also do think that we benefit every time from the expertise and from the special interests of our first ladies. The first lady comes to the job with expertise and interests that she is able to use to benefit the people of the United States. And I think that happens every time, but it's not an elected job or an official job.


NGUYEN: So there you have it. She does not think it should be a paid post. Although, like I said, there is some debate out there on whether it should be because you look at first ladies, especially in these last few decades. They have come from -- take Michelle Obama, for example -- from a high-powered, high-paying job. And you serve as first lady, they often dedicate their time, and a whole lot of it to pushing for causes around the world.

HOLMES: We will debate about this.

NGUYEN: I know how you feel about it.

HOLMES: No, no, no. But it's an interesting debate and you brought up a lot of good points. So I man -- now I'm -- you got me thinking about some stuff.

NGUYEN: Yes, interesting stuff. But she says no way.

HOLMES: All right. At the half-hour here on this CNN Saturday morning. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM now, 10:30 here in the East.

The nation's troubled auto industry could be getting emergency roadside assistance. Not from AAA, from the White House.

The Bush administration considering ordering the Treasury Department to use some of that money that was meant to help banks and Wall Street, using that for the auto industry. Now, we could see a decision on that soon, but this comes now -- and talk about it -- after the Senate defeated a $14 billion auto bailout.

General Motors and Chrysler say they are running out of cash and running out fast, could be going under in a matter of weeks. Ford, meanwhile, says they could probably hold on until 2009 looking for a line of credit.


RON GETTELFINGER, UAW PRESIDENT: It is imperative that this emergency bridge loan money come forward so that it just rests everybody from a standpoint of knowing that these industries and these companies are going to survive.


HOLMES: And unfortunately, more job cuts to tell you about this morning. More job cuts announced.

Bank of America, in particular, cutting some 35,000 positions over the next three years. The company is making changes as it deals with it's acquisition of Merrill Lynch and tries to accommodate the deepening recession.

Meanwhile, Wyndham Worldwide cutting at least 14,000 jobs. The company's hotels include the Ramada, Day's Inn, Super 8 chain.

And the Sony Corporation another one to tell you about. Some other major cuts this week. The electronics giant says it will cut 8,000 jobs by March of 2010.

NGUYEN: Well, they are trying to get back to business in Illinois, but firs they have to figure out the governor's fate. The state attorney general wants the Illinois Supreme Court to declare Governor Rod Blagojevich unfit for office. Now, state lawmakers have their own plan. They could start impeachment proceedings as early as Monday.

Meanwhile, the governor's chief of staff has resigned. And a source close to the investigation tells us that the president-elect's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, well, he has been told that he is not a target of the probe.

HOLMES: Well, Jesse Jackson Jr., you can also call him "Candidate Number Five" these days, but don't call him a target of the investigation. According to the government's criminal complaint, he is not a suspect, if you will, or a target of their investigation.

The congressman says he had no involvement in any alleged pay- for-play scheme and that he never authorized anyone to promise the governor anything on his behalf. Jackson met with Governor Blagojevich Monday. That was a day before the feds arrested the governor.

Here now is what he told our Don Lemon. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACKSON: I presented him my credentials, a notebook which I'm prepared to give anyone a copy of, that has my bio in it, legislation that I passed, the Rasmussen poll, the Zogby poll, how I think I can win in 2010, and how a team of Democrats -- because this is about the top of the ticket in 2010 -- can win re-election for Democrats in 2010. That's very, very important.

LEMON: No discussion at all of quid pro quo or anything like that? Was there a discussion?

JACKSON: I have nothing to offer, nothing to offer but my record of public service. That's how I have conducted myself for 13.5 years. And I did that day as well.

LEMON: That's all you discussed?

JACKSON: That's all we discussed.

LEMON: Do you think it's still possible for you to get this job that you want?

JACKSON: Well, let me tell you what I have been doing.

LEMON: Do you think it's still possible?

JACKSON: Well...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We hope so. We hope so.

LEMON: Why do you say that?

JACKSON: Let me -- before you answer that, let me say that -- because I respect my wife's opinion on this -- I have been fighting corruption in the state of Illinois from day one, for 13 years. The "Sun-Times," in their endorsement of me, said Congressman Jackson is the rare official who -- Democratic official who has spoken out against corruption in the state and in the city. I'm the same person I was when the "Sun-Times" endorsed me for the November 4th general election fighting against corruption.


HOLMES: Well, you can hear a lot more from Jesse Jackson Jr. tonight, 11:00 Eastern. That's CNN NEWSROOM with Don Lemon. Again, tonight, 11:00 Eastern Time.

NGUYEN: All right. And we're going to talk about this. It's really important, especially when you are thinking about what to do this holiday season. Think about this gift -- saving lives in Rwanda.


NGUYEN: The Atlanta courthouse shooter will spend the rest of his life behind bars. No chance for parole. That sentence was handed down just minutes ago.

Now, last month, jurors found Brian Nichols guilty of killing four people and leaving another person with brain damage in the 2005 rampage. He was up for the death penalty but spared yesterday when the jury deadlocked in Georgia. A death sentence requires a unanimous jury decision.

HOLMES: Authorities believe they may have found the body of 2- year-old Caylee Anthony. This has been a case that has been going on for the past six months or so now. But police do have confidence now that human remains that were found about a half-mile from Caylee Anthony's grandparents' house are those of hers. In fact, they say they have the characteristics of that 2-year-old.

They are still going to wait until they get DNA results confirmed. But Caylee Anthony's disappearance, you may remember, was a story that sparked national interest because her mother waited a month to report her missing. Investigators say she also gave them misleading statements.

A utility worker found the remains in a plastic bag. Listen now to the 911 call.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. This is Orange County Utility Emergency Dispatch. We found a human skull.

OPERATOR: Oh my gosh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know. We got -- is it a meter reader?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to let you speak right now with the representative from our field services facilities.

Hi. Everything is being recorded. Here he is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you doing? A skull we believe is human.

OPERATOR: What's the location?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's right off of Suburban and Chickasaw (ph) in the Caylee Anthony area.



HOLMES: Yes. You heard the reaction there of the 911 operator. And even the folks on the phone who were calling it in, they know that area, a big story nationally, the Caylee Anthony area.

Well, Caylee's mother right now, Casey, is still behind bars. She was arrested and charged with first-degree murder months after her daughter disappeared. She could face life in prison if convicted. Prosecutors have already said they will not seek the death penalty.



NGUYEN: This is a story that will touch your heart. Widows and orphans came to her doorstep, and Janet Nkubana didn't turn them away. No.

In 1994, Rwanda was full of genocide survivors. So she began helping them. And she is still helping them now.

And we do welcome her today. And she has such a great story.

And really a great project that you're working on. Thanks for being with us.

JANET NKUBANA: Thank you for hosting me.

NGUYEN: Talk to me about this, because you saw this first hand. You were born in exile in Uganda, but you are Rwandan. And when you went back to the country in 1994, right after the genocide, what made you want to start a project that would help the survivors?

NKUBANA: When I went back to Rwanda, it was my first time to go to my country since I was born. A hotel professional (ph) was joining (ph) the small hotel, but every day, since I entered that hotel, people -- I meet a wide range of people with trauma -- women with fresh wounds, children that are cut up, their arms.

Some women really were gang raped. They were really in total trauma. But the bottom line was, they were really hungry. They needed something to eat.

NGUYEN: They needed food.

NKUBANA: They needed food.

NGUYEN: They needed to start anew. And the only way that they could make money was by learning a trade, some kind of a skill. And you were the key to making that happen.

Talk to us about these beautiful baskets and how they are changing lives.

NKUBANA: Weaving in Rwanda is a culture that has been going on for years since our great grandmothers were weavers. And this is part of what they taught their daughters because they were not given opportunity to go to school. So grooming girls, occupying (ph) them, part of what they did was doing these baskets.

So, now, after the genocide, nothing they knew. They never went to school. The only thing...

NGUYEN: They had no skills, yes.

NKUBANA: Yes. The only thing they knew was to hold a needle and weave a basket.

Now, when they kept coming to the hotel, bringing baskets, asking me for food -- "Can you have this and give me food?" I said maybe we can transform this into an income-generating opportunity.

NGUYEN: Right.

NKUBANA: And when the American government passed (ph) the African Growth and Opportunity Act, selling products duty free...

NGUYEN: You were able to finally bring it over here to sell.

NKUBANA: Yes, I was able to say that this is a great opportunity. Let me utilize it and see how I can help as many people as possible.

NGUYEN: Quickly, these beautiful baskets, hand-woven, are being sold here in the U.S. places like Macy's. So if you're thinking about a holiday gift, it's a great one because the money goes to help these families.

Talk to us about how many people have been helped and what kind of money they earn from these kinds of baskets?

NKUBANA: OK. Right now, we have around 4,000 women. And you know the minimum numbers of families in Rwanda is seven. So you can imagine how this is impacting as many people in Rwanda, as many families as possible.

We have children here in homes that go to school. We have single mothers sending their children to school. We have the health issue that was really terrible, health for the family through these baskets.

NGUYEN: So it's more than just putting food on the table.


NGUYEN: You are sending kids to school, you're helping with these health concerns. I mean, one basket like this does so much to help a family.

NKUBANA: It can help a family for a week.

NGUYEN: For a whole week, one basket.

NKUBANA: A whole week. One basket.

NGUYEN: That's amazing.

NKUBANA: And you know, apart from that, these baskets have done another huge impact.

NGUYEN: The peace process, hasn't it? NKUBANA: The peace and reconciling...

NGUYEN: Reconciliation, yes.

NKUBANA: Yes. So, several people, through weaving, because they meet every day, they chat, women came up and said, "I know my husband killed your family. Please forgive us. Please forgive us."

NGUYEN: Oh wow.

NKUBANA: And you know, CNN covered the lady who opened up to the kid and said today, "I have forgiven you."

NGUYEN: I've forgiven you for what you've done.

NKUBANA: So you can imagine the sales of these baskets is not impacting lives, but is also healing a country that was once really into shambles.

NGUYEN: It is so powerful. Just amazing what one little thing can do. And that's something that we can do during the holidays to make a difference.

Thanks so much for your time today.

NKUBANA: Thank you very much.

NGUYEN: We really appreciate it.

NKUBANA: Thank you very much. I appreciate your time. And I thank everybody.

NGUYEN: Absolutely.

T.J., it is really a wonderful story.

HOLMES: It really is. And I'm glad we were able to have her in studio this morning. Beautiful baskets, beautiful cause. I'm glad she could be here.

Thank you for being here.

Well, the holiday season, there is a rush, as always. And you know, in that rush, you might put yourself at further risk for identity theft. Our Melissa Long has some tips for those of you on the go.


MELISSA LONG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It can be a secret agent's or a traveler's worst nightmare -- your wallet is gone.



LONG: Even Jason Bourne in the Bourne movies couldn't escape the red tape to reclaim his identity.

But there are ways to stay in control.

SARAH KANTROWITZ, "TRAVEL & LEISURE": Before you leave, first e- mail yourself a cope of your itinerary so you have all the important information. The second is to buy comprehensive insurance coverage that covers you in case you lose your wallet and passport.

LONG: If the unthinkable does happen, act fast.

KANTROWITZ: Cancel your credit cards immediately and be sure to let the credit bureaus know. And in addition, go to a U.S. consulate, prove your identity with additional forms of ID.

LONG: But your Social Security card is something you should leave home without.

KANTROWITZ: Make a copy of your health insurance card so you have all of your important information, but be sure that it doesn't have your Social Security number on it. And if it does, black it out.

LONG: Travel under the cloak of secrecy.


NGUYEN: All right. You know that first kiss. It's something that some people will always remember.

HOLMES: You remember your first?

NGUYEN: Absolutely. I'm not going to tell you about it, though. It wasn't the best of circumstances.


HOLMES: Well, we're actually -- we'll get into that later. But we'll introduce you to a couple whose first kiss came, seriously, on their wedding day.

NGUYEN: Can you believe it?

HOLMES: Not kidding.


NGUYEN: All right. First up, Florida Governor Charlie Crist has taken the plunge. And no, we are not talking about swimming. Crist is the first sitting governor in Florida to wed in nearly 42 years.

Look at the lovely couple. He married New Yorker Carole Rome last night in Petersburg. About 200 people attended that. Crist is 52. She is 39.

HOLMES: Way to go, Gov.

NGUYEN: Yes. Crist and Rome had a dinner in New York in September of last year, and then he proposed 10 months later.

They do look good together.

All right. They are abstinence educators by profession. OK?

HOLMES: Yes. And if there's ever a case that screams practice what you preach, this is it.

NGUYEN: This is it.

HOLMES: All right.

C.D. and Melody Fabien...



HOLMES: ... they join us from Chicago to tell us about the first kiss.

All right. Is this for real? Because I didn't believe it when I heard it. Are you telling me -- how long have you all known each other?

M. FABIEN: It's been about two and a half years now.

C. FABIEN: Two and a half years.

HOLMES: Dating how long in that time?

C. FABIEN: Since last December 9th.

M. FABIEN: Yes, December 9th.

HOLMES: OK. Didn't kiss until you were at the altar.


C. FABIEN: That's right. That's right.


M. FABIEN: Why? Because we didn't want to start something we couldn't finish.

C. FABIEN: Exactly.

NGUYEN: Uh-oh.

HOLMES: Lord, have mercy.

NGUYEN: Let me ask you this -- I mean, come on, be real with us. That had to be hard.

I know you wanted to kiss her. I know you wanted to kiss him. I mean, what did you do? Did you just say, OK, see you later, we've got to go, it is getting too hot in here?


C. FABIEN: Yes. Basically, yes.

M. FABIEN: You know, he would hug me, he would kiss me on my face.


M. FABIEN: And things like that.

C. FABIEN: I tried to be sweet, you know.

M. FABIEN: We just would be like, we're not going to kiss, because we knew if we started to kiss on the lips, it would go further and further. And we wanted to save sex for marriage.

HOLMES: So that's what it was. You thought you would both be too weak to actually...

M. FABIEN: Yes. Yes.

C. FABIEN: Exactly. We knew our weaknesses.



M. FABIEN: And I think true strength is knowing your weakness.

NGUYEN: That's true.

M. FABIEN: And so many of our...

NGUYEN: T.J. doesn't practice that, but that's OK.


NGUYEN: But we've got pictures of the wedding. I mean, you look great there.

M. FABIEN: Thank you.

NGUYEN: I want to go back to that picture of the first kiss. Was it worth the wait?

M. FABIEN: Oh, yes.

NGUYEN: What kind of kiss was this, too? Because we've got to get down to it. Did you just peck her or did you lay one on her? I mean, we want to know about this first kiss.

M. FABIEN: He laid one on me. It was great. It was beautiful.

C. FABIEN: Yes. It was sweet, but it was also enough to light the fireworks.

NGUYEN: Uh-oh.

HOLMES: OK. How short was the reception?


C. FABIEN: You know what we did? We took about 25 minutes just to kind of unwind...

M. FABIEN: In the limo. It was nice.

M. FABIEN: ... in the limo as we drove around town.

HOLMES: What do you mean unwind in the limo? What does that mean?

C. FABIEN: We just made out.


NGUYEN: And they haven't come up for air until now, apparently.

M. FABIEN: A two-week honeymoon. It's been great.

C. FABIEN: A two-week honeymoon. Yes.

HOLMES: OK. Was there ever a fear -- really, I mean, did you ever think, well, what if this guy, what if this girl is just a horrible kisser?


HOLMES: What do you do?

NGUYEN: And you're stuck with him the rest of your life.

M. FABIEN: No. I mean, he kissed me on the cheek and I'm like melting. So I just knew he was going to be a great kisser. There was just so much passion.

C. FABIEN: There was such an intensity building between us just by looking in each other's eyes. It's like, ooh, I just can't wait.

HOLMES: That's a heck of a buildup.


HOLMES: Now, we do make light of it and we are kind of having some fun here, but there is a lesson that, if more young people would look at you all's example instead of what they are looking at on TV, in movies and videos, we would all be better off.

M. FABIEN: Yes. Yes.

C. FABIEN: Yes. M. FABIEN: And that's what we teach in the schools. I mean, we've got 2,000 girls getting pregnant every day in America, you've got about 10,000 cases of STDs among teens per day in America.

C. FABIEN: Yes, per day.

M. FABIEN: And we are really trying to fight that. We are trying to say it's possible to wait.

C. FABIEN: And we're trying to set a different standard of respect and honor and love instead of just getting, getting, getting, and seeing how much you can take from somebody. Let's see how much you can give to somebody if you really love them.

NGUYEN: It is a great message. And boy, worth the wait, no doubt.


NGUYEN: So glad to see you both happily married today. And you can kiss all you want to.

C. FABIEN: Oh yes.

M. FABIEN: Yes, we can.

HOLMES: We'll let you go so you can get back to it.

NGUYEN: I know. I saw that look in their eyes. I'm a little worried now.

Cut the video, folks. This is a family show.

All right. Take care.

Well, Illinois's pay to play, you know that scandal that we have been talking about. Well, there are growing calls for the governor to step down. And next hour, our Drew Griffin takes a look at what may happen on Monday.

HOLMES: Also, an unwanted baby? Well, unwanted. How could nobody want that baby? The baby finds a home though. Now his adopted family could be forced to give him up. That story coming our way at noon.