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CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS
Snow Storm Hitting Parts of the Midwest and Northeast, Causing Delays in Airports and on the Roads; Legal Gay Marriages in California Might Be Nullified Due to Proposition 8; Governor Blagojevich Declares He's Innocent; New Credit Card Rules You Should Know About
Aired December 20, 2008 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, there, everybody. From the CNN severe weather center on the CNN SATURDAY MORNING, Betty and I have invaded Reynolds' space over here for good reason, over this on this December 20th. But, yes, good morning to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, good morning, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen.
You know, the worst of the snowstorm hitting parts of the Midwest and Northeast this morning. Look at this -- tens of thousands of people are without power. Some of them are on the roadways. Thousands are wondering when they're going to be able to catch those flights.
Well, meteorologist Reynolds Wolf is live right here in the CNN severe weather center with the latest on all of that.
HOLMES: Also, we'll head out to California. Proposition Eight -- if you'll remember this. This is the one that was passed by vote on November 4th banned same-sex marriages out there in California. Well, now, a lot of couples that were married legally out there, a lot of gay couples, might have their marriages nullified. Supporters are making a move to invalidate those marriages. We'll tell you about their efforts in the state Supreme Court.
NGUYEN: Also, as you head out to use those credit cards for some of that last-minute shopping, and we got a lot of that to do still.
NGUYEN: There are actually some new credit card rules that you will want to know about. But first, let's get back to the severe weather that's causing a pre-Christmas commute nightmare. In parts of the Midwest and Northeast, hundreds of passengers are waking up inside an airport, after a wintry blast left them stranded. Hopefully, they'll be able to get out today.
HOLMES: And some of the areas most affected, pretty big areas, Wisconsin, Michigan, east to Connecticut and New York, that's a big chunk of the country. This mess is causing a mess on the roads, as you see there. Also, caused a flurry of spinouts, those fender- benders, stalled cars as drivers are trying to start their holiday vacations. We'll turn to Fairfield, Connecticut, here. An 18-wheeler -- look at his picture -- jackknifed, forcing a section of I-95 to temporarily shut down. The weather made it difficult for emergency crews to respond as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was treacherous getting here for the emergency services, but the crews are really struggling to keep up with this right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Police say more than 185 accidents were reported yesterday afternoon alone.
NGUYEN: Well, we're watching our affiliates across the Northeast. We want to give you some live pictures from Boston -- this is our affiliate WCVB -- where traffic on the ground and the sky, slow-moving out there. There were, though, a few scary moments for some airline passengers in Albany, New York, yesterday.
HOLMES: Yes, and I'm just talking about a delayed flight here. Check out the picture we have to show you, we got kind of a lower- visibility whiteout conditions. But that is not where that plane is supposed to be. There's a Continental Express jet slid into snow bank while taxing down the runway. The pilot tried to pump the brakes, but it wasn't working. Nobody was hurt here. The plane, not really damaged, but still not where it's supposed to be.
CNN's Susan Candiotti has more about the mess caused by the snowstorm.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What a mess. Snow in Chicago canceling 300 flights at O'Hare. Travelers are trying to get an early jump on the holidays, instead tried to catch 40 winks at the airport. A snowball effect forced delays up to five hours from the Midwest to the Northeast.
And it's time to get out the snowplows in Milwaukee, this man using one to clear out his yard. In Boston, road salt was moving almost faster than the roads. Icy streets are making it hard to get out of parking spots. And highways were covered with snow just about a day before the official start of winter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is what it is. So, we'll take Mother Nature as it comes. And I think we're going to be in for a long, long winter.
CANDIOTTI: It sure looks like it from here. In Seattle, about 75 bus passengers had to be scared out of their wits when this bus was dangling over a freeway. It's not clear if weather was to blame or something else. But the roads were icy at that time.
In Buffalo, the skyway bridge was closed because of high winds and several inches of snow. Advice to motorists?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay home.
CANDIOTTI: But in New York, that's the last thing Mayor Bloomberg wants people to do, on the last Saturday before Christmas.
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK: Get in a last-minute holiday shopping. The stores need the business and you need to buy things.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On time, I'm shocked.
CANDIOTTI: But at LaGuardia, the only thing these weary travelers want to do is get home. And good news, their flight's on time. Or is it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No matter what that says there, that doesn't really mean that we're going.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That doesn't really prove anything. We've been through that before, where it's said that right up until the end and then two minutes before we're thought we were going to board -- whammo. So...
CANDIOTTI: While his flight may be leaving, others aren't, check the boards. Montreal, canceled; Nashville, canceled; Raleigh-Durham, canceled; St. Louis, canceled, and those are just some of them, with more bad weather forecast this weekend.
Susan Candiotti, CNN, New York.
NGUYEN: Lots of problems out there. It seems like the Northeast, Reynolds, really just socked in with all of this wintry mix?
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Could the timing be worse?
NGUYEN: The last weekend before Christmas?
WOLF: I know. Do you know how many people there (ph) in New York or in Boston, that are just like you, you haven't bought, you know, presents for your favorite people, and they got to get out there...
NGUYEN: Tons of things to do, yes.
WOLF: ... you got people who want to see their family members, as you mentioned, you know, big holiday weekend coming up. I mean, it's going to be a tremendous mess.
Let's go right to the weather computer and show you what's happening right now. We've got scattered snow showers that are out there as we speak. At times, the snow has been particularly heavy. We're all really going to see it really stack up in the highest elevations of the Berkshires, and that's great if you happen to be a skier, but if you happen to be going right along the Massachusetts turnpike trying to get into Boston, good luck to you. It is going to be a tremendous mess for lot of people. You got ice; it's going to be a big issue in a lot of spots, too.
If you happen to be out, say, towards parts of near Cape Cod, you're not going to have much here (ph), you got a lot of wave action kicking in also from the storm system that's raging on through from Worcester back to Plymouth (ph) even though as far north as Beverly. The snow is going to continue to come in.
What you can anticipate, we have no major delays yet, but I'm telling you, this is going to build up, especially in the Northeast. What we're going to be seeing in terms of snowfall and with those delays, it looks like we're going to see the shot that we're going to see this morning, a little break into the afternoon. And then there's the potential for even more as we get a secondary storm system that's going to come in. More on that coming up in just a few moments.
Take a look at these computer models. These indicate the amount of snowfall that we're going to see. We have the darkest purple indicates the greater depths of snowfall. Some places well in excess of a foot. Those would be your highest elevations. Boston, just to the south of Boston, anywhere from, say, 10 inches, maybe up to a foot, maybe even more. If you have to be in the Boston Common, and going to the sled hill, that's great for you.
Here's a shot that we have. This is compliments of WCVB. Roadways for the time being here is great. I'll tell you, they do a great job handling the roads up there, keeping things clear. But with that snow come again at a very quick rate, possibly about an inch an hour later on as we get to the evening hours, it could be certainly tough for them to keep up with.
We also have some video for you to show you something else that people are learning to do all over again -- that is, drive in the snow. This is taken from Grand Rapids, Michigan just yesterday. They had quite a bit of snow. Some places over a foot in Michigan. Michigan, of course, happens to be surrounded by the Great Lakes. When you have that wind coming in of the northwest, you have that cold air at the surface, the overrunning moisture, this is what happens. You have all kinds of snow.
You know, I got to tell you, it doesn't matter how much experience you have in Michigan driving in, it seems like the very first time really gets you. But by the time you're going, say, March or April roll around, you have these final snowfalls of the year, things get a little bit better for you, at least the snowfalls from spring.
Let's go back to the weather map and show you the second shot of the snowfall that's going to come through. It's going to be a double- barreled low. You got this one forming up in the Great Lakes. Another one is going to be moving a bit farther to the south, quite over Washington, D.C., at (ph) the tidal basin of the Potomac is where this storm is always this low, it's expected to be seen here (ph). But when you have that wrap-around moisture, that cold air that continues coming right in behind it, actually, we're going to see the additional snowfall and the dreaded word -- more ice.
Another thing, another phrase to the story you have to remember, you still have people, not as many as there were before, but you have a lot of people from last weekend, without power, there still a few that might be without it. This is going to be really adding insult to injury. Many of those same places that were just shattered by that ice could be getting quite a bit of snowfall. Especially back in the rural areas, the higher elevations, they could get quite a bit of snow and ice coupled through the next couple of days and, of course, into early next week.
That is a quick look at your forecast. We've got so much to talk about. As the travel begins to build up, we're going to take a look and show you flights around the country, how they're being impacted out, say, in (ph) the Great Lakes, especially the Northeast, where you're going to have a lot of headaches today.
Let's send it back to you at the news desk.
NGUYEN: Yes. Plan on some extra time if you're traveling, definitely.
WOLF: Right (ph).
NGUYEN: All right. Thank you.
HOLMES: Thanks, Reynolds.
WOLF: You bet, guys.
NGUYEN: We do have some disturbing news in the case of a missing Florida toddler. DNA tests confirm bones found near the little girl's home are that of Caylee Anthony, the two-year-old who disappeared last summer.
Well, Jessica D'Onofrio of affiliate WKMG has more now from Orlando, Florida.
DR. JAN GARAVAGLIA, ORANGE COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER: With regret, I'm here to inform you that the skeletal remains found on December 11th are those of the missing toddler, Caylee Anthony.
JESSICA D'ONOFRIO, WKMG REPORTER (voice-over): The confirmation is chilling to hear. Little Caylee Anthony never made it to her third birthday she would have celebrated back in August.
GARAVAGLIA: This identification was made by nuclear DNA taken from a portion of the remains and compared to a known profile of Caylee Anthony.
D'ONOFRIO: Her little bones have been mostly recovered, according to medical examiner, Doctor Jan Garavaglia. She's ruled the child's death a homicide by undetermined means.
GARAVAGLIA: Toxicology testing is still to be completed on the bone and hair. While this analysis may prove to be informative, it will be difficult to interpret levels from these specimens. And thus, will not be definitive in helping determine the cause of death.
D'ONOFRIO: A forensic expert tells Local 6, it would have only taken two weeks for a child's body to completely skeletonize during a typical Florida summer. So, even if the body would have been discovered back in August, it's likely a cause of death would still be hard to determine, especially since investigators believe the child's mother, Casey, dumped the body back in June.
STEVE IBISON, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: It's a tough thing for even the most seasoned investigator to deal with.
NGUYEN: Well, the medical examiner says there's no evidence of trauma to the child's bones. And Caylee Anthony's mother is, of course, awaiting trial. We'll continue to follow this story for you.
HOLMES: Well, thousands of legally-married gay couples in California may have their marriages nullified. The couples were married after the state Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in California in May. But they were married before voters approved the Proposition on November 4th, that's the initiative that banned same- sex marriages.
Now, move forward a bit, supporters of Prop Eight asking the state Supreme Court to strike down those marriages. Meanwhile, State Attorney General Jerry Brown asking for the court to strike down Prop Eight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDMUND G. BROWN, JR., CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: It's our belief, and we've looked at this thing very carefully, that the court should strike down Proposition Eight. My job is to defend the law of the people, but that law also includes the Constitution itself. And when we harmonize the two, we come down on the side of the fundamental liberty interests. And that's the issue that really turns this case to strike down Proposition Eight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Well, the Prop Eight supporters filed a brief in response to three lawsuits seeking to invalidate that constitutional amendment that limits marriage to a man and a woman. Both Attorney General Brown and gay rights groups maintain the gay marriage ban may not be applied retroactively.
NGUYEN: Well, he has lengthy to say. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich goes on the record.
HOLMES: Yes. Finally, plenty to say, it's plenty as three minutes worth. He's no longer walking away from the cameras, yesterday, making a three-minute statement. No questions, please.
NGUYEN: And a live look outside, talk about that wintry mix. They are facing it there in Boston. There's a look at the roadways. We'll give you a better picture of what many folks will face as they head off for the holidays.
NGUYEN: All right. We have a big special coming up next weekend on iReport.
NGUYEN: You sent them in throughout the year, wait until you see the ones that we've chose to round out our year-ender.
HOLMES: Some of the best stories that you all helped us tell. That's next Saturday night, 8:00, Betty and I hosting that iReport special. You don't want to miss it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ROD BLAGOJEVICH, (D) ILLINOIS: I'm here to tell you right off the bat, that I am not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing. That I intend to stay on the job, and I will fight this thing every step of the way. I will fight, I will fight, I will fight until I take my last breath. I have done nothing wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: All right. Pretty unequivocal there from the embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, declaring he is, in fact, innocent, making his first public comment about the case since being accused of trying to sell Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat.
CNN deputy political director Paul Steinhauser joins us now live from Washington this morning.
Paul, I guess we should all just go and set up shop in Chicago and in Illinois, you got the president-elect which we've been covering, but also, Blagojevich who has dug his, you know, he's dug in now. So, this thing is going to be going on for quite sometime. What in the world are we going to see next in this case? How long could it possibly draw out?
PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, you know, he also said yesterday, T.J., that he's dying to answer these charges, he's dying to show everybody that he's an innocent man. And he said that what he's not going to do, though, he's not going to go on TV like his opponents. He kind of got a little dig there. He said, "I'm not going to do that. I'm going to do it in a legal setting."
So, yes. His attorneys have already been battling this past week in front of the impeachment committee. And that is maybe his first fight because there was an attempt to declare him unfit. That was thrown out of court. Now, state lawmakers are trying to -- are beginning the process of impeaching him, which could take a couple weeks at the least. So, that is the first step for him. A lot of questions remain, though, T.J., and kind of -- how does he run the state? It's a big question.
HOLMES: Yes, like you mentioned there, the attorney general had actually gone to the state Supreme Court, asking if they would strip him of his power. That was taken away. So, it looks like the only option maybe this impeachment now. But there's no precedent for it in the state, so, they're kind of making it up as they go along.
We're going to roll a little more from Blagojevich. Again, it's the first time we heard from him on the case since this whole thing broke. Let's take a listen to more of what he had to say yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLAGOJEVICH: Rudyard Kipling wrote, "If can you keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you. If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, and make allowance for their doubting, too. If you can wait, and not be tired by waiting, or being lied about, don't deal in lies or being hated. Don't give way to hating."
Now, I know there are some powerful forces...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: All right. We're hearing from him there, going on, talking about pretty much his situation. But you kind of alluded to before we went to the sound byte, he doesn't have any support. And how do you run a state?
Again, we've seen all kinds of scandals and political dramas play out before where maybe they have a little support. There's some against him, but they have some support. Nobody is supporting this guy. How he is going to govern?
STEINHAUSER: Yes. You know, his rating in the public opinion polls, was about 10 percent or 15 percent, even before this controversy.
HOLMES: Oh, wow.
STEINHAUSER: Now, I would assume a lot lower than that, and that's pretty low. He was -- the state lawmakers voted 113 to zero to start impeachment hearings against him. So, you can kind of see what's stacked up against him.
What does he do from here? Basically, just housekeeping kind of stuff. He can sign bills. He can deal with the state agencies. But that is about it, there's no way in heck that he's going to be able to deal with state lawmakers and work on any pending legislation. So, he's, in a way, almost a lame duck. So, what does he do from here? He fights. He is known as a fighter. He was a boxer when he was younger and he is known as a political fighter. He's not going to give up on this one. And he pretty much said yesterday.
And, T.J., the other big question -- what about the Senate seat? It looks like it's not going to get filled any time soon, Barack Obama's Senate seat, of course. So that is another big question surrounding this whole controversy.
HOLMES: All right. No way in heck, I like how you kept it clean on SATURDAY MORNING.
STEINHAUSER: Yes, sir.
HOLMES: And let our viewers know that's not how he usually talks off the air, folks. Well, we appreciate you now, Paul. We're going to talk to you again this morning, hope you keep the language clean, we'll see you here in just a little while.
And we're going to be talking to Paul in a little while about that unsettled political situation, that's just a short flight away from Chicago, it's in Minnesota, actually, the Senate race there, still not settled. Incumbent Norm Coleman, and the challenger, Al Franken, are separated by just a few votes. Paul is going to be back with us to tell us the latest on this incredibly close race.
NGUYEN: Well, you're dealing with your own personal credit crisis? My crisis is not being able to get out those gifts. I haven't been out to do all that shopping yet.
HOLMES: I'm so easy to buy for, Betty.
NGUYEN: Oh, is it really? A gift card is all you need? Cash? Check?
HOLMES: No, that's not personal enough. No.
NGUYEN: All right. We'll talk offline, T.J.
You know, it's even tough though during this holiday season when you're talking about credit and being able to afford all the things that you want to buy.
HOLMES: That you want. There is some help out there for you. But don't go on a spending spree just yet.
NGUYEN: And, we want to give you a live look outside. You may not want to hit the malls in these areas, just because it's so doggone cold out there and maybe snowed in. This is the Northeast, somebody's live pictures from Boston. We'll give you a big look at what you're facing this weekend, coming up here on CNN SATURDAY.
NGUYEN: Well, this is the final make-or-break shopping weekend on the holiday season for retailers. The last Saturday before Christmas is typically the busiest shopping day of the year. And after week sales this year, retailers are pulling out all the stops to squeeze out any last-minute sales. Many big chains are offering discounts of up to 80 percent to lure those last-minute shoppers.
And it is one of the biggest complaints among consumers, surprise fees and interest rate hikes on credit cards. Well, there is good news, because in an unprecedented move, new banking rules were approved limiting financial institutions from what many call deceptive practices. But there's also a problem. Those rules, they don't go into effect until 2010.
So, joining us now to, joining me right now to talk about it is Travis Plunkett of the Consumer Federation of America, he's here from Washington.
All right, Travis, there's what -- 1.22 billion credit cards in the U.S. That's a whole lot of credit out there. So, how do these new rules actually benefit us as the consumer?
TRAVIS PLUNKETT, CONSUMER FEDERATION OF AMERICA: Well, the big change is that the credit card companies aren't going to be able to suddenly and sharply increase the interest rate on your existing balance unless you're really late in paying them. And that's going to help a lot of family who are stretched thin or having a hard time paying their bills. They may be fearful that they're going to fall behind on their credit card loans.
NGUYEN: You know what's so crazy, too, it seems like every credit card that I have has got a different rate attached to it. Do these rules address that?
PLUNKETT: They do. Lots of people now carry credit card debt at different rates. For example, if you take out a cash advance, that's at a higher interest rate than if you make purchases. And the rules say that if you pay your bill, that they need to allocate payments to the highest interest rate debt as well as the lowest interest rate debt. That's very important. It will help people pay off their loans more quickly.
NGUYEN: OK. What does that mean? Yes, explain that.
PLUNKETT: Well, the bottom line is that the credit card companies have been using a trick. Where you have higher interest rates debt and lower interest rate debt, you write one check. They only allocate that payment to the lowest interest rate debt. In other words, it takes you longer to pay off your loan.
NGUYEN: Gotcha, OK. And also, these new rules, they prevent double-cycle billing. What is that?
PLUNKETT: Right. Double-cycle billing is basically charging you interest on debt you've already paid off. It's simply not fair.
NGUYEN: Yes. I don't even know how that got passed in the first place. Also, no more additional fees for, say, paying your bill by phone or over the Internet. But aren't late fees higher with these new rules?
PLUNKETT: Well, late fees aren't touched. Fees have been going up. Fees for being late. Fees for going over-limit. We'd like to see Congress step in and address some problems that aren't touched on in these rules, including high-end growing fees.
NGUYEN: OK, because it seems like those late fees just keep getting higher each and every year. And I understand there's also no age limit on when these credit cards can really start soliciting children, in fact. Because that -- isn't that what gets a lot of people into debt, when they get those credit cards, when they're in their teenaged years?
PLUNKETT: Well, especially older teens as they go off to college. We'd like to see a rule that says that the credit card companies have to take into consideration the ability of young people, especially college students, to repay their loans. They don't do that now.
NGUYEN: Yes. Travis Plunkett with Consumer Federation of America, breaking down some of these new credit card rules. Again, unfortunately, it doesn't take effect until 2010. But, at least, we're getting a head start on what they are, so how we can benefit from them, it's something that we want to keep in mind.
Thank you, Travis. We do appreciate this morning.
PLUNKETT: Thank you.
NGUYEN: Also this morning, we want you to tell us how you are facing this holiday stress? Do you have some questions? Do you have a lot on your mind? Really don't know how to handle it? Well, weekends@CNN.com is our e-mail address. E-mail us with your questions and what you're facing out there because, in fact, we're going to take those questions straight to an expert and provide you with some advice today.
HOLMES: All right. And you also want to tune in to this -- this weekend you can get a guide on how to recover from the current financial crisis. Our Ali Velshi, he's going to lead you down the path toward taking control of your finances and learning to grow your money. "Gimme My Money Back," that's the title of it, at CNN tonight and tomorrow night, 8:00 Eastern Time.
Now, going nowhere fast -- seems like this one playing out all over the country today. Not a good thing, certainly, if you're trying to get home for the holidays.
NGUYEN: Hello, good morning, everybody. Welcome back. I'm Betty Nguyen.
HOLMES: And hello to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes hanging out over here with Reynolds Wolf in the severe weather center. A busy, busy place this morning but we're glad you can start your day -- I'm going to be checking in here with Reynolds. You see, he has got a lot going on. We'll be checking here with him in just a second -- Betty?
NGUYEN: All right. In the meantime, though, two dozen Iraqi military and security officers are now out of prison. They were rounded up earlier this week, accused of being former supporters of Saddam Hussein. Now, a U.S. military official told CNN that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was believed to be behind those arrests.
And starting yesterday, Chrysler is shutting down vehicle production for at least a month. The company is closing all 30 of its U.S. plants. Workers won't be back on the job until January 19th at the earliest.
Also, help for the struggling automakers. President-elect Barack Obama is giving the Bush administration a big thumbs-up, encouraged by more than $17 billion in loans, the president promised to Chrysler and G.M. Obama also warned, though, the automakers not to waste their second chance.
HOLMES: All right. We got a mess going on out there. We got cars doing that there; we've got people doing that there. A lot of snow in many parts of Michigan, so much that the plows, you know, some of them having problems themselves, and they're not even doing that well with getting all that snow out of the way, it's coming so fast. Crews continued to work overnight to clear the main streets, as well as the secondary streets.
However, if you live out in the subdivisions -- hold on. Officials say those may have to wait until Sunday or so to possibly get some of the snow out of those roads.
And in Maine, that's what they're doing. They got plows and shovels and all that out. People had to work for hours clearing the roads after inches of snow clogged up all the major highways. And despite this heavy snow, officials say there were no major accidents. More snow is expected tomorrow.
This is Massachusetts. The same sad, soggy, snowy story. The snowstorm clobbered the highways there as well. Officials say the heavy snow snapped power lines and scattered tree limbs. Driving is extremely difficult as you can imagine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've got 3/4 of a tank of gas; I just couldn't see my windshield kept getting all full of ice.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Yes, it looks pretty bad out there. What's it like being on the road driving like that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, it's terrible. We're doing 15 miles an hour. And everybody is being very careful and very cautious, which is very terrific. I'm glad about that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's slow, really slow. I'm doing about 25 to 30 miles an hour, if I'm lucky. And I have to go down to the Cape.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Oh, yes?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, long drive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Twenty-five to 30? That's just reckless in those conditions.
WOLF: Yes, I know.
HOLMES: No. I mean, it seems low, but that's -- you know, that can seem like really fast when you're on ice and snow.
WOLF: Absolutely. And how many times have we seen someone who happens to have a new truck and they have these snow tires and they get on the road, the four-wheel drive, and they think they can go 90 miles an hour.
HOLMES: They think they can do it.
WOLF: I know, you just can't do it. I mean, it's...
HOLMES: I mean, we put them on TV, because we have a video...
WOLF: Maybe we put them on TV, you know, right front and center, and it happens.
WOLF: T.J., it's going to an interesting day for a lot of people in parts of the Northeast. We have not only the snow to deal with but in parts of the country, strong winds are going to give us blizzard- like conditions. We're talking about part of the Midwest can see gusts up to 40, 50 miles an hour.
WOLF: Whiteout conditions for a lot of people. So, it's going to be really rough for a lot of places.
WOLF: Hey, let's get to it and show you what's happening. We're going to go right and show you some live images we have out there. We've got a couple for you. We're going to start with one, I believe, that would be in either Boston or that would be Rhode Island. This is Boston, WCVB. And, you know, in parts of Boston, I would say you'd see anywhere from three to eight inches of snowfall. However, computer models indicate some places could see up to a foot of snowfall.
We're going to go from Boston and go a little bit farther to the southwest of that area, let's take you to Providence. And in Providence at this time, look, it's a similar situation, beautiful, absolutely fantastic. You see the river there. And hey, you see some color bars. It's all looking good this morning. Let's zoom in a bit and take the next minute or so and show you what's happening in parts of the Northeast. You see the scattered snowshowers that are building up along parts of 95 back in Portland. Back in Burlington, the highest spots where you're going to see the heaviest snowfall. Upstate New York, we could see near a foot of snow, as we make our way to the late-day hours, it's going to be really where it's going to start building back up.
In Boston, I would think you're going to get a little bit of a break, a couple of hours, where from, say, 1:00 o'clock, 2:00 o'clock, things are going to slow down. And by 3:00 and 4:00, you're going to have that secondary shot of winter weather.
Back to parts of Michigan we go, into the Midwest, western Great Lakes, take a look at the Arrowhead (ph), in Minnesota, anywhere nine to 16 inches of snowfall possible through this weekend. A bit farther south, near Sioux Falls, this one we're talking about. Blizzard warnings in effect, one to two inches of snow doesn't sound like a tremendous deal, but when you have the strong winds of, say, 40, 50 miles an hour, it's like putting a sheet of white paper in front of your face when you're trying to drive. I mean, you just can't see. So, by all means, if you don't have to get out there and drive around, by all means, don't do that.
Here's what we have right now in Minneapolis. There's a light touch of snowfall just coming in from the southwest of this time. Sioux Falls, you're seeing one big band of snow coming through and the winds really going to pick up into the afternoon hours.
Guys, we don't have any widespread delays at the airport yet. Give it time, it's going to happen. Both your major airports in New York, I would expect Logan Airport in Boston, you're going to have some issues, perhaps even some of the Twin Cities before all is said and done.
Let's send it back to you.
NGUYEN: What a weekend it's going to be.
WOLF: Oh, yes, good timing.
HOLMES: All right. Reynolds, thank you.
Well, we've seen a lot about layoffs in the past several weeks and months even.
NGUYEN: Oh, yes.
HOLMES: People are wondering what line of work do I need to be in to get a job. Who's hiring right now? Well, apparently Santa. If you're a good Santa, could you get a job right now.
NGUYEN: Yes, and it's a pretty doggone good job.
NGUYEN: But what about the benefits? Our Josh Levs is crunching the numbers. He joins us with the little bit of that holiday cheer.
Maybe Santa can bring you a microphone, because we can't hear you at all.
NGUYEN: Oh, well, Reynolds is playing the role of Santa today and providing that microphone. As we look at the jolly old guy in some of this video. Santa's salary, we'll be talking about that, coming up.
NGUYEN: OK. I know it's a little early in morning and you might lose your cheerios, but try to stomach this, all right? Most people have one of those hideous sweaters, you know, at least one in their closet. Well this iReport sent to us from Hilary Ohm of Colville, Washington, she admits actually wearing those purple number to last year's Christmas party -- what was she thinking? Well, you can barely see -- oh, I can see now, all those little candy canes.
HOLMES: Oh, she's wondering what that was.
NGUYEN: Oh, that's bad there.
HOLMES: Let's go to Steve, see how he's doing. Steve Reeves.
NGUYEN: It's terrible.
HOLMES: But that goes with the -- I mean, you know if somebody's wearing that, they're only going to Christmas parties or something funny.
HOLMES: The other lady with the candy canes?
NGUYEN: She looked a little serious.
HOLMES: She might have worn that to the mall. We don't know. This is Steve from Pennsylvania. He said he bought this one on eBay for $15. It was shipped to him.
NGUYEN: That's $15 too much apparently.
HOLMES: He said his grandmother actually appreciated the joke. She was just worried that he would stretch the sweater out. And that just like a grandmother.
Well, do you have photo or video of an ugly holiday sweater? I'm sure my mom is iReporting away right now... NGUYEN: Right now.
HOLMES: ... because she's got a ton of them in the closet.
NGUYEN: Does she really?
HOLMES: They are hideous, mom, hideous.
NGUYEN: And you're just going to call your mother out like that.
HOLMES: I just think with the trees and the stuff and the...
NGUYEN: And it's festive.
NGUYEN: You got to get in to the spirit.
HOLMES: They don't work.
NGUYEN: Anyway, send them in to us, weekends@CNN.com. We can't wait to see them. And also iReport.com as well.
All right. So, we keep hearing about how the economy is affecting everybody. So, how Santa's earnings these days?
HOLMES: Yes. Josh Levs checking out the salaries out there for old St. Nick -- Josh?
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, guys. You're hearing me, right?
NGUYEN: So far, so good.
LEVS: All right, awesome. Yes. This is what we decided to look at. You know, we keep talking about the economy like you were just saying. So, here's what we did. We paid a visit to a mall where we actually found that Santa and his cookie jar are doing pretty much as well as ever.
"SANTA CLAUS": Hi. Merry Christmas.
LEVS (voice-over): Every year, he makes his appearances at malls across the U.S. And at a time when many people are cutting back, mall properties like this one in Atlanta feel Santa is a crucial part of their marketing strategy.
DEWAYNE HERBERT, MARKETING DIR., LENOX SQUARE MALL: Santa brings this experience that I think shoppers look for during the holiday season. And most of our malls have a Santa. And this particular Santa that we have at Lenox is very special. He's been around 12 or 13 years. Customers and shoppers get accustomed to the Santa of their choice. And every year, it's that holiday tradition.
LEVS: Little Peyton had her first photo with Santa, joining the Karowak (ph) family tradition.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We grew up here in Atlanta and have been coming to see Santa at Lenox for all my life. And I think, actually, my grandfather helped build this mall. So, it's in the family.
LEVS: Cousin Henry gave Santa his list.
UNIDENTIFIED KID: Spiderman bike, rope gun.
"SANTA CLAUS": The children. If you didn't like the children, you couldn't come in here and sit for 10 or 11 hours a day and talk. So the kids make it all fun.
LEVS: Of course, there is a practical benefit.
"SANTA CLAUS": Santa works for cookies and milk and carrots for the reindeer.
LEVS: It's a bit more than that. According to one expert, Santa can make quite a few cookies, anywhere from minimum wage to 175 cookies an hour.
AL LEE, "DR. SALARY," PAYSCALE.COM: This is mostly driven by national photography companies, who often provide the Santas to many different malls.
LEVS: Specialty companies like the Noerr Programs Corporation.
JUDY NOERR, PRES., NOERR PROGRAMS CORP.: We are a year-round operation. We have around 18 people during the year, full-time people at our corporate headquarters. And then we gear up, practically overnight, to around 2,000 people for Christmas.
LEVS: This year, their company hired a few more Santas than last year. How much each makes depends on a few factors.
NOERR: Some Santas, a lot of cookies, and some Santas, a few cookies. And really, a lot of it depends on that persona that the Santa has and how he builds his rapport with the people.
LEVS: From the smiles on the faces around him, it looks like Santa may be one person who won't have to tighten his belt this year.
NGUYEN: You know, speaking of tightening that belt, there's got to be some competition out there, you know, for Santa who actually like to take a lot of those cookies home, shall we say?
NGUYEN: What does an aspiring Santa need to know?
LEVS: Need to know, yes. Here's the deal. Well, we're going to put it this way. Santa has a real beard. You know, Dr. Salary, who we just saw in that piece told us that's one of the biggest things because kids can figure that out. Also, Santa has a real full face, no pillow in the shirt. Real Santa build, and -- this is tricky -- he is Santa 24/7 for the whole holiday season. Santa does not get spotted acting un-Santa like by a child anywhere, in restaurants, anywhere (ph).
And one more piece of advice, you better have good insurance because kids are going to be tugging at you, coughing on you, sneezing all over you.
NGUYEN: Oh, yes.
LEVS: They're going to be all over you. Santa knows how to not get sick so he can stay jolly the whole holiday season.
NGUYEN: Man, it's tough being Santa this time of year, isn't it?
LEVS: It's not easy. Yes, (INAUDIBLE).
NGUYEN: All right. Thank you, Josh.
LEVS: Thanks, guys.
HOLMES: But to that point, can you imagine being in the mall, a kid, and you walk by those restaurants and see Santa in there having a beer or something?
NGUYEN: Right, or, you know...
HOLMES: You got to be Santa the whole time.
NGUYEN: Absolutely. Heading to the rest room, you know, see kids in there, "Hey, Santa."
HOLMES: Hey, Santa, what you're doing?
NGUYEN: It's kind of awkward, isn't it?
NGUYEN: Well, this morning we do want to help you cope with holiday stress. E-mail us at weekends@CNN.com. If you have an economy-related situation that you don't know how to deal with or gifts that you want to buy, that you don't know how to pay for. We all have all kinds of issues this time of year. And so, we actually have an expert here in the studio to answer your questions beginning at 9:00 a.m. So, send them in.
NGUYEN: Just a few days from Christmas and it's already looking like it outside. All the snow covering so many places, including in Boston, we're looking at live pictures in the top two boxes on your screen. The bottom middle box -- that is Rhode Island. Really, a beautiful sight, although it can be treacherous if you're trying to get out there on the roadways.
HOLMES: All right. So, let's turn to another state now that's pretty treacherous weatherwise, but politically speaking, pretty treacherous as well. The saying that every vote counts? That's really hitting home in this state.
The challenger, as you see there on the left, Al Franken, he has pulled ahead of incumbent U.S. Senator Norm Coleman in the recount of November election ballot. There's more counting ahead. The totals are changing by the minute.
John Croman of CNN affiliate of KARE has more now on the tedious process of counting every single vote.
JOHN CROMAN, KARE REPORTER (voice-over): Four judges and one secretary of state discussed three stooges.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's see what it says on it, and on the back of it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the three stooges.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And, what's the challenge say?
CROMAN: A voter filled in the stooges' names in almost every write-in slot. Coleman's campaign challenged it as an identifying mark. But Franken picked up that vote. The same voter wrote nickel bag, a drug reference
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sure "nickel bag" is a rap artist of some kind.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No?
CROMAN: Coleman's camp also challenged the ballot with the write-in for "flying spaghetti monster" at another race but that went to Franken. As did this vote in which the citizen tried to add a "stin" to Franken's name.
But in the case of a Beltrami County voter who wrote in lizard people in the Senate race but only darkened down Franken's oval, it went down as an over vote. Nobody got it. Same in this case, where someone filled more of Franken's oval but enough of Barkley's to nullify Franken's. And in this case where they put an "X" through Franken's oval and then darkened it. That went down as a non-vote.
The Coleman campaign also complained to the canvassing board that the recount may have, in cases, double counted original ballots and duplicates. THOMAS TRIMBLE, COLEMAN CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: We now have a situation in perhaps a dozen precincts where we have significant numbers of votes that are going to be counted twice.
MARC ELAS, FRANKEN CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: There is a systematic effort by the Coleman campaign to prevent all of the votes from being counted for one reason and one reason only, which is that they know that they are behind and that if all the votes are counted, they will lose this election.
HOLMES: Political director Paul Steinhauser, deputy political director -- I just give you a promotion there, I'm sorry -- joins us back here once again.
All right. You know, we saw you there. I mean, it certainly reminds you of chess (ph) and trying to understand what's a vote, what's not a vote. Is this thing getting easier or is it getting more complicated as we go along?
STEINHAUSER: It seems like it's more complicated. Remember, on Election Day, Norm Coleman the freshman Republican incumbent, he was ahead by 215 votes, T.J. That triggered this recount in the first place. After they recounted the votes, Coleman was still ahead. Then, this past week, the canvassing board, we just saw them there, they've been dealing with all those challenged votes and now Franken is slightly ahead by about 200 votes.
But, hey, it's not over yet because now, we still have about 4,000 or 5,000 of the remaining challenged votes to be tallied. That hopefully happens Monday. But wait, we're still not done. There were about 1,600 estimated absentee ballots that were never counted in the first place. They were declared invalid. The state's Supreme Court says they need to be counted if both campaigns can agree, that needs to happen by December 31st.
Will they agree? We'll see. And then finally, when that happens, if they declare a winner, the loser can take this whole thing back to court. T.J., it could go on for a while.
HOLMES: Oh, Minnesota wants to be the new Florida. You know, we don't talk about Minnesota enough in the news. Well, there you go, Minnesota.
Yes, this is the only one that's left in dispute? Are we done with everything else out there in all the Senate seats or there's something else?
STEINHAUSER: This is the only recount. But remember, you've got Hillary Clinton's Senate seat in New York, the governor needs to name a successor, and now that Senator Salazar of Colorado has been named to be Barack Obama's interior secretary, then Colorado's governor's got to fill that seat, as well. And Illinois, which we were talking about earlier.
HOLMES: So, some seats to fill there.
STEINHAUSER: Yes, sir.
HOLMES: And yes, don't forget about Illinois. That one is up for grabs as well.
All right, Paul Steinhauser, deputy political director -- good to see you as always, buddy. Thanks so much.
STEINHAUSER: Thanks, T.J.
HOLMES: And, of course, for all the latest news and notes from the world of politics, be sure to check out CNN.com. Log on for news and analysis from the best political team on the planet.
NGUYEN: Well, mayors, they are asking for money, wanting to use your federal tax dollars for their projects.
HOLMES: Now, there's some good projects out there locally that people need, too.
NGUYEN: Yes. Are we paying for a whole lot of things these days?
HOLMES: Yes, still got potholes on my neighborhood.
HOLMES: OK. But, you know, there are some legitimate things out there. Wouldn't you love to have a polar bear park?
NGUYEN: That's not really number one on my list. No, I (INAUDIBLE).
HOLMES: A Minor League Baseball museum, I know you're into those. What about that?
NGUYEN: That's a little bitter further down the list as well.
HOLMES: OK. Well, are these legitimate ideas? Or this just a plea for more pork? Our investigative unit is taking a look.
NGUYEN: Now, that my friends is a light show. This home in Utah getting ready for the holidays full speed ahead with all of these lights. I don't know, how many would you say were on that house?
HOLMES: I don't even know how to ask -- oh, there are some trees lit up.
NGUYEN: They have trees and everything.
HOLMES: You haven't seen my house yet. You haven't seen (INAUDIBLE) after the holidays. It's very impressive.
NGUYEN: Up in the tree, though, that's what's nice.
HOLMES: Oh, yes. It's like the tree. You pick the (INAUDIBLE). That's a long story.
NGUYEN: Long story, folks.
HOLMES: Well, this iReport here. Well, wow, there's more to it.
NGUYEN: There's even more.
HOLMES: This was sent in to us by W.J. Woods. We've seen these -- wow. OK.
NGUYEN: These people went all out.
HOLMES: We've seen a lot of these over the years where they sync up the lights to some music and kind of annoy their neighbors.
HOLMES: Now, if you have any iReport photos or videos, you can send them to us at CNN@iReport.com.
NGUYEN: All right. So, I want to stay tuned for this. I want to tell you early so you make sure to be there because we're going to show you how you, in fact, shape the news in 2008. You know, throughout the year, we get these really important iReports that help us tell the story, helped you get right to where whatever it is happened. We have our iReport special coming up next weekend.
HOLMES: Yes. That's coming up on Saturday and Sunday 8:00 Eastern Time. We have all the stories of the year. The big ones, of course, and there are a lot of things that, you know what, some pictures we would never get if we didn't have our iReporters. So, kind of a shoutout to our iReporters. And you can see that next Saturday at 8:00.
NGUYEN: In the meantime, though, Toys for Tots has been giving to presents to children in need this Christmas for more than 60 years.
HOLMES: But, as our photo journalist Bob Crowley shows us, the donations are not coming in like they used to.
BETTY WHALEN, TOYS FOR TOTS VOLUNTEER: Good afternoon, Toys for Tots.
KAY CARPENTER, TOYS FOR TOTS VOLUNTEER: Toys for Tots started by the Marine Corps in 1947.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have an idea of how many toys you collected?
CARPENTER: The Marine Corps reserves picked it up as something that they would do at Christmastime to distribute toys to needy children.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you bag these?
SGT. DANIEL SAMPSON, U.S. MARINE CORPS: This is the warehouse for the greater Boston Toys for Tots program. All the toys from local areas and collection points and events come into this facility. They go into the orders and then they go out right from this area.
CARPENTER: The needs this year is rather overwhelming.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do have some, like 31 for the boys.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forty-six of 125.
WHALEN: We are at a standstill. We can't fill any more orders. We are down to zip.
This bin should be full of the toys in their respective age groups, and as you can see, there's absolutely nothing in them. Normally, we would throw the toys in there, but we haven't even bothered putting them in there because as soon as they come in, we just start bagging them. It's really bad. I've never seen it this bad. I'm sure the economy has a lot to do with it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we can get them early, then some of the people that are on the waiting list might be able to receive toys.
CARPENTER: I hope that we get enough help that we can fill all of the orders. And right this minute, it looks like we are going to be turning people away.
SAMPSON: Every kid deserves a present on Christmas, just to put that smile on the kid's face that might not have a toy on Christmas. It really makes it worthwhile.
NGUYEN: And for more on how you can give for the holidays, all you have to do is log on to CNN.com/impact.
From the CNN Center in Atlanta, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING. Hello, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen.
HOLMES: And good morning to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes. Glad you could be here and so you could see this -- the worst of the snowstorm hitting parts of the Midwest. We didn't want to show you that.
NGUYEN: There it is.
HOLMES: Looks like a little rainbow, but that's not the real deal there. This is the real deal coming to us out of Boston, a lot of pictures to show you. Tens of thousands of people are actually out of power. Thousands of others are wondering when they'll be able to catch their flights.
NGUYEN: Also, another round of talks involving key capitol hill staffers and members of President-Elect Obama's team. Topic, a new economic stimulus package. And it does involve the middle class. We'll explain that.
HOLMES. Also this time of the year where you wrap things up and a lot of top 10 lists and things like that.
NGUYEN: So much to do.
HOLMES: So much, but one thing we do want to show you the top stories of '08. And we have a way for you to decide what the top stories are. So tune in for that.
NGUYEN: And our top story this morning though is this, wintery weather is blowing and a dangerous mix of snow and ice and that is disrupting travel plans all across the northeast. The area is still reeling from last week's ice storm. So it's a double whammy for them.
HOLMES: And officials are predicting more snow, as much as 15 inches in some areas. People spending the weekend digging themselves out in a lot of ways, digging their cars out, as well, and a whole lot of people out there are without power.
I want to head out to one of our reporters in the field. This is Crystal Haynes. She is standing by all bundled up in New Haven, Connecticut. What is their situation like? I see a truck behind you, actually just flew by going a little faster maybe than most people would think it should. But are the roads clear? How are the roads out there?
CRYSTAL HAYNES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the roads are a little iffy, if I can say that, T.J. We're right now actually in Meriden, Connecticut. We're going to take a look out. We're on Main Street here in Meriden and you know, transportation officials have been working throughout the night across the state of Connecticut to clear the roads from this major snowstorm that hit.
State police out here were reporting hundreds of accidents during the afternoon and the evening because of those slick roads. Here in Meriden they got about four to six inches, but across the state, they got about 10 to 14 inches and it was expected to accumulate with a tad bit less on the shoreline here in Connecticut.
Plows from every city and town put down hundreds of tons of salt and sand to keep people moving from where they have to go during the rush hour. And that was really the height of the storm yesterday. We're coming into another storm system, but right now Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon it's relatively quiet and they're recommending folks to clear their driveways now, do what they have to do, do a little bit of last-minute errands, because another storm system is coming on in for tomorrow and it's going to get bad. Much worse before it gets better here in Connecticut.
For now, we're live here in Meriden, Connecticut. I'm Crystal Haynes, back to you.
HOLMES: All right, Crystal out there in Meriden, thank you so much. And like she said, either way you put it, bad, much more bad, whatever, it is bad.
NGUYEN: It is terrible out there in many places. Reynolds Wolf joins us now with a look at what people are going to be facing not only today, but tomorrow, Reynolds. A lot of people really starting that trek home for the holidays.
WOLF: Oh, yes, it's getting much bad. No seriously, she's been out there battling that kind of --
NGUYEN: She's freezing to death out there.
WOLF: I'll tell you what. She's absolutely right. She gave a great report and I'll tell you what. She's absolutely right. They're going to have -- she was alluding to the fact that they're having another storm that's coming through. That other storm they're going to be dealing with in the northeast now as we speak over parts of the Dakotas and moving into Minneapolis.
Right now, at this time in the northeast what they're seeing some scattered snow showers, looks like some places could see around three to eight inches of snowfall, but computer models still show us that around the Boston area some places could see a bit more, some places well over a foot of snow for today and for tomorrow.
But for Boston, itself, I'm thinking about three to eight inches of snowfall, north of Burlington, north of Rutland and back in the upstate region of New York, anywhere from six to 10 inches of snowfall. So, it's going to be a very interesting time there to say the least. Now, farther back out to the west, we're talking about that other storm system.
Check this out, nine to 16 inches of snowfall possible for parts of the arrowhead of Minnesota. We've got that blizzard warning that is in effect for Sioux Falls. If you look at the expected snowfall totals, two inches of snow, that didn't seem like a big deal.
Well, you have to remember that a blizzard is primarily a wind event. When you have that snow, light though it may be, it hits the roadways and that's going to be picked up by the strong winds, some winds up to 40, 50 miles per hour, some gusts stronger than that even. You're going to have whiteout conditions, so it's going to be very difficult for a lot of people.
In parts of the twin cities later on today, Chicago, back to Milwaukee, Milwaukee yesterday, the airport was shut down completely. We're talking about of course Mitchell International. Not saying that's going to happen again, but certainly could be very difficult. No question.
And speaking of airports, there's no telling how frustrating it must be for so many travelers. Our CNN national correspondent Susan Candiotti is joining us live from LaGuardia airport in New York. Susan, you're an easy going person. You can tell kind of the mood of some people. You're a good judge of character. How is the mood there? A lot of frustration? CANDIOTTI: It's not bad. Actually people have been feeling pretty good about things so far since we arrived this morning. People have been upbeat. So far, they're saying that their planes have not been canceled. We hear from the airport here that there are delays of only about 15 minutes or so. They have canceled some flights, for example, to Dallas, to Chicago, to St. Louis, to Toronto.
But in the main, from what we can see on the board here involving American Airlines, anyway, most flights say they are going to be running on time. You see all of these people in line here, you see more people down here in this direction. This is where they're lining up to go through security. But so far, so good.
Now, it was quite a different picture yesterday when more than 650 flights were canceled in the New York metropolitan area following snowfalls of up to six to eight inches in some parts of New York and northern New Jersey. Now last night we did talk to someone who wasn't able to get on his plane. He is with the military and turns out he had to stay here all night in order to try to get out a flight this morning.
Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CANDIOTTI: So what's your plan for tonight?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just probably spend the night in the airport, go to the USO for a little bit, wake up here 3:30, be back at the gates to try and get on the standby list.
CANDIOTTI: Ouch, all night in the airport and then back in line at 3:30 in the morning to get on standby?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like I said, it happens, not much we can do about it. As long as I get home, I'll be happy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CANDIOTTI: Now the hour is early, of course, but as we said, so far in this area and throughout the northeastern United States, as well, we are hearing about delays of only about 15 minutes or so. Now, if the weather should take a turn for the worse of course, that could change, but as always, if you get to the airport early, the better the chance you have of getting out on time.
Back to you.
WOLF: OK, Susan, great job as always. We'll be in touch with you this morning. Enjoy the scene, enjoy the coffee and keep smiling. That's a good idea for everybody I'm thinking.
Hey guys, think about it. When you travel over the holidays, just the sheer volume of people is going to make things kind of a headache, but when you bring it in with some rough weather, especially some winter storms, that really puts a wrinkle in things. So let's keep our fingers crossed that things will go a little bit more smoothly than they have been over the past couple of days.
NGUYEN: Man, we were just talking about spending the night in an airport. Man, that is so tough, especially when you have children, as well.
WOLF: Absolutely. That last gentleman she was referring to, a military guy. Considering where he's been and considering the opportunity of going home, I'm sure he would sleep on a bed of nails.
NGUYEN: No doubt. No doubt. Keep it all in perspective. Thank you, Reynolds.
HOLMES: We'll turn it back to some politics here. And a number of Republicans not all too pleased with President Bush right now because he came through for the auto industry.
NGUYEN: But will it be enough?
NGUYEN: OK, so stimulating the economy, a senior congressional source tells CNN that work is being done on a massive stimulus package. Senior Democratic staffers from the House and Senate are meeting with President-Elect Barack Obama's transition team. And what they're doing is working on details of a package in the range of $850 billion to $1 trillion. All right, is that too much money, $850 billion?
Well, a senior House Democratic congressional source tells CNN that those staffers from the House and Senate leadership offices and key committees met today with senior aides on the Obama transition team to discuss the broad outlines of an economic stimulus package. The aide insisted no decisions had been made on the price tag and pushed back on the higher numbers quoting around that stimulus.
Let's get more on this from senior deputy political director Paul Steinhauser. He joins us now from Washington. All right when you look at this money, $850 billion to maybe even $1 trillion, where is that going? What's it all for?
STEINHAUSER: I think the idea, here, Betty, is for the money to kind of jump start the economy, the ailing economy. Where is it going to go? Some of it would go to repair and build bridges, tunnels, roads. Some of it would go to the infrastructure elsewhere like schools, energy, health care system. Some of it would go to people who are unemployed, the poor, a lot of this, of course, to create new jobs. That's the key here. They want to create new jobs and jump start the economy.
Betty, some of it would even go to states that are having a tough time now balancing their budgets and at the same time providing services to people and to paying their state employees. That's where a lot of this money would go.
Barack Obama would love to get this thing passed pretty much immediately after he takes office on January 20th. He was asked about the price tag because that is pretty controversial. Yesterday, at a news conference he was asked about it and he declined to give a number, but he said bold action is needed. We will see how these negotiations go and if this really comes to fruition right after he takes office on January 20th Betty.
NGUYEN: A lot of work in between, though. What's the president- elect up to today?
STEINHAUSER: This morning on his radio address, his weekly radio address, he's going to announce two members to science positions, science advisers. Both of these people are known as crusaders when it comes to global warming. And then Barack Obama gets to go on vacation. He's going to Hawaii. It's something he does just about every year. He grew up out there and he's got a lot of family out there. Barack Obama and the family are going to pack up from Chicago and head out to Hawaii for the holidays.
NGUYEN: A lot warmer in Hawaii. Paul, thank you for that.
STEINHAUSER: Thank you.
HOLMES: All right, we heard from the president. President Bush yesterday, that, in fact, he will use some of that TARP money, that $700 billion bailout to bail out the auto industry. Some say that's a good idea. Some say let them go bankrupt. Well, our next guest here was not a big fan of bailing out the auto industry, Lauren Fix, the car coach.
Back with us, he's on the phone now from Buffalo, New York. On the phone here, you might have some travel issues. I know you all are getting some nasty weather up there in the northeast. We appreciate you being over the phone. Here we are the day after. Has it sunk in a little more to you? Are you feeling this bailout?
VOICE OF LAUREN FIX, AUTHOR: Yes, actually I am. It's funny, the weather is pretty lousy here. We've probably had two inches in an hour snowing (ph). But as far as the snow, there's nothing that outdoes the auto industry and what's going on right now and how it affects each of us, all your viewers and it's kind of confusing, but we think we've got this all sorted out finally.
HOLMES: Sorted out finally, but one big part of having this sorted out, yes, GM and Chrysler are going to get this money they need, about $17 billion. They say they need it to stay afloat. But however, a part of the plan is that they need to prove that they can be viable within the next three months. That's not a lot of time given the dire straits they're in.
So, if they can't prove it in three months anyway, Lauren, like I talked with you about yesterday, you and I in three months going to be right back here on the air talking about bankruptcy. Why don't we just go ahead and do it now if it's likely some would say to happen in a few months anyway.
FIX: I think what they're saying is the bottom line, I've been thinking about this all day since we spoke last. It's almost like a passing the buck thing. It's like George Bush didn't want to leave his legacy as he's the one that let the auto makers fail or they didn't get up and make a statement one way or the other. So he's going to pass it along to the Obama administration.
HOLMES: You really think that's it Lauren? He's just putting a band-aid on this thing long enough for him to get out of office?
FIX: I can't think of any company I've ever heard unless you've got a whole team of amazing magicians that can turn around a major company in three months to suddenly become profitable enough or at least be able to prove that they can pay back this type of bridge loan. And it's not a bailout and people keep saying that it is.
It's not a gift. This is a loan. And there are some stipulations on it that make sense, but there's no stated giving record from the UAW. You look at this and you think who is going to turn around a company in three months? They're going to try. There's no question about that.
Let's hope that the limit on the executive salaries and the perks and getting rid of the planes and all that's going to help. But they're going to have to have an open book. And Chrysler and General Motors are going to be the ones that are going to on the stake. And if they can't redo it by the end of March, they can't make it happen, you're going to force them into an organized Chapter 11.
HOLMES: OK. Let me ask you this thing finally here. And you talked about and so much of what the story has been, you can't let these companies fail. So many jobs are tied to them. So many other industries are tied to them. So what is the up side to prolonging the inevitable? What is the up side for taxpayers, for this country, for the citizens of this country if we're just prolonging the inevitable? Do you see any up side in any positive here?
FIX: Well, it keeps people in jobs through the holidays, so that is an upside.
HOLMES: For the holidays?
FIX: Well, that's going to help and try and help cover some of the expenses that we all incur. I think that they're trying to make it work. At least he's giving it an effort. And I'm sure that companies like Chrysler who actually have money. Like I said yesterday, they actually have enough money through Cerberus that they could give enough money if they choose to.
I just find it very strange they're asking for money from the auto industry bailout as we're calling it officially and when they actually have the money, what's their real picture? Are they going to build it up and then sell it off to some foreign corporation or some holding company, where General Motors is not in that position at all. They're just trying to keep peoples' jobs, get cars out on the road because they both build quality vehicles as does Ford.
HOLMES: Well, maybe that is the up side we can take out of this Lauren is that yes, in fact, people will have their jobs at least through the holidays. We'll see what happens after the holiday holidays. Like you said, it doesn't look good and it would take some magicians to turn these places around in three months Lauren.
HOLMES: Thank you so much, good to talk to you as always. If we don't talk to you again, you enjoy your holiday.
FIX: Thank you, same to you.
HOLMES: Well, we were talking about this a minute ago. Polar bear exhibit, do you think that could help us turn the economy around?
NGUYEN: Not exactly, but in fact, some mayors do think so and it's only going to cost you about $5 million?
HOLMES: That's it?
NGUYEN: Yes, that's all. Is this really where you want your tax dollars to go in this recession?
HOLMES: Also, you stressed out? I know you're kind of stressed out right now.
HOLMES: I'm easy to shop for Betty.
NGUYEN: Is that it?
HOLMES: I'm easy to shop for. Do not worry about my gift this month. I hate to see you get worked up.
NGUYEN: It's not really yours.
HOLMES: I did like to think so. You need some help coping? What has you worried? You can send us your e-mails at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll have an expert here in the studio to talk about some of your issues. And if you have a direct question for that guest, that expert about holiday stress, send us directly your questions and we will pass some of those along and have that expert answer them right here on the air.
Stay with us.
NGUYEN: Stimulating the economy, big city mayors are hitting up Washington for a handout. Listen to this, though, they're putting together some special projects with their economies in mind. But as CNN's special investigations unit correspondent Abbie Boudreau reports, some are not sold on whether it's fiscally reasonable.
ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You usually don't think a nearly $5 million polar bear exhibit in Rhode Island would help turn around the economy. But the U.S. Conference of Mayors sure thinks so. It's one of more than 11,300 ready to go infrastructure projects proposed by 427 cities at a total cost of $73 billion.
PETE SEPP, NATIONAL TAXPAYERS UNION: To the people supporting them, these proposals aren't a joke, but to the taxpayers funding them, yes, it will be a joke to them, only they won't be laughing.
BOUDREAU: Just this month, Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and other big city leaders went to capitol hill to make the case for their list of critical projects.
MAYOR MANNY DIAZ, U.S. CONF. OF MAYORS PRESIDENT: Our plan calls for investments that will stimulate our economy by quickly creating jobs.
BOUDREAU: Mayor Diaz even held up the report saying the projects weren't a bailout, but a build out to put Americans back to work.
Did you have a chance to even read the report?
DIAZ: Well, I read through a lot of it, obviously I didn't sit there and look at all 11,300 projects that were submitted.
BOUDREAU: Why is that?
DIAZ: Why is that, I didn't have time.
BOUDREAU: If he made the time, he would have found projects like a $20 million minor league baseball museum. $42 million for improvements to zoos, $3 million for murals, and even $1.5 million for a new water park ride.
DIAZ: You can't simply just say because something sounds like it isn't right, that it isn't in fact right.
BOUDREAU: A new ride at a water park?
DIAZ: Again, I'd have to look at that particular budget and try to understand why that city feels that it's an important project. But again, we're talking about 11,300 projects, not just one.
BOUDREAU: The new ride at the water park is in your city. So, what is your response? I'm asking you as a mayor. I'm surprised you didn't know about the new ride at the water park.
DIAZ: Well, we have a number of projects and I don't know which one you're referring to, but we just built a new water park and it may be related to that water park or it may be outside the city. I'm not sure.
BOUDREAU: $1.5 million for a new ride at the water park.
DIAZ: But the point is, if part of investing an infrastructure also includes parks. BOUDREAU: Well, there were plenty of roads, bridges, and water treatment projects on the list. We also found plenty of other interesting multi-million dollar projects, like skate board parks, museum and zoo renovation, aquatic centers, bike and horse paths, a dog park, even programs beyond infrastructure to help prostitutes get off the streets and buy thousands of tasers for police departments. The total cost more than $300 million. And many of the proposals in the reports don't create jobs. Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union says it smells like pork.
SEPP: It's impossible for any normal tax-paying American to read this and not come away scratching your head and saying, wait a minute, this isn't about infrastructure. This is about political power grabs, money grabs.
BOUDREAU: To the average American, doesn't this sound like pork?
DIAZ: I don't know, you'd have to ask the average American.
BOUDREAU: Abbie Boudreau, CNN, Miami.
NGUYEN: That is quite a story there.
And speaking of, we have a lot of --
HOLMES: A lot of stories.
NGUYEN: ... look back on this year, what were some of the big stories this year? There were so many of them in the news.
HOLMES: Yes, Santa Claus not the only one makes a list right now.
NGUYEN: (INAUDIBLE) recession. We've got the whole economic situation.
HOLMES: Got to be number one.
NGUYEN: Myanmar was on there, China, the earthquake.
HOLMES: You've got the election, the Obama election.
NGUYEN: How can we forget that? I mean there's so many things. So what were the biggest stories of the year? Our Josh Levs takes a look back.
HOLMES: All right, these year-enders. Top 10 this, top 10 that. But we have other top stories, as well. Everybody's talking about, we've got a list.
NGUYEN: The biggest stories of the year is what we're talking about right now. Our Josh Levs has been looking into that. I have a feeling that, as we were talking about, the presidential election has to be at the top of that list, at least somewhere near there if not the top.
LEVS: I think so. Tell me what you think. I think it's pretty obvious that -- I'll show you how this works in a second. I think it's pretty obvious that Obama and the economy are going to be one and two, but what's three? We've got so many issues, I don't know what we would. Let me show you some choices on the board.
This is what we have set up at dotcom. It's pretty cool. Here's what you do. It's your picks for top stories of the year. All you do is you highlight one, here's Eliot Spitzer, this is violence in Tibet. Let's scroll down a little bit. I'll just show you an example.
Let's say you think Michael Phelps should be the number three story of the year, let's just say. You put him right there and after you've made your whole top 10 list, you go right over here and you see what everybody else is saying and how your choices compare to theirs. This goes through the end of the year, so you've got plenty of time to think about it. I'm not saying Phelps is going to be number three. I'm just saying, after the first two, I have no idea what that list is going to be.
NGUYEN: I wanted to ask you as this continues to go on as people start putting a new list. What's on there right now? What's the top three?
LEVS: Let's go back to it because I wanted to show you actually, I'm glad we have time for that. It is, indeed what I thought would be the first top two. You got Obama at number one and then you got the financial markets at number two. What people are putting here.
NGUYEN: Gas prices.
LEVS: Yes, that's interesting. They're putting the gas prices and then Phelps and then Mumbai.
NGUYEN: I see why that's on there. We will talk more about this a little bit later. Go online and you can list your top 10 of the year. Thank you, Josh.
HOLMES: Your health always a big issue and "HOUSE CALL" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta starts right now.