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Obama Set to Unveil Afghanistan Strategy Tomorrow Night in Primetime; Civilian Surge Already Underway in Afghanistan; Retailers' Black Friday Gimmicks Worked Although Shoppers Still Controlled Spending Levels; No One Found Inside Seattle Home Surrounded by S.W.A.T. Team; The Controversy Over End-of-Life Counseling; Strategizing Cyber Monday
Aired November 30, 2009 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Here's a look at what else is happening right now.
In Seattle, Washington, a stand-off with a man suspected of killing four police officers. Maurice Clemmons is barricaded inside a home. A police spokesman says he is wounded; a reporter on the scene says he may be dead. The manhunt started after four police officers were gunned down at a suburban coffee shop yesterday. More on this story coming up.
Also, Serena Williams' tirade at the U.S. Open will cost $82,000. But that's not all, a grand slam administrator told the Associated Press, in addition to the record fine, Williams could be suspended from that tournament if she has another, quote, "major offense in the next two years."
We're keeping a close eye on the world's financial markets today as Dubai tries to soothe rattled nebs from Friday's bombshell. The announcement that the once thriving financial hub is struggling under enormous debt underlines fears that the global economic recovery is still shaky at best. The government of the United Arab Emeritus says it will offer extra funding to all banks in the country, but that offered little comfort though to Dubai's stock market, it plunged 6 percent. The numbers are mixed overseas. Markets are down in Europe, but Asia has seen a big rally.
Wall Street, though, will look to rebound from Friday. The Dubai concerns led to the Dow dropping 155 points. We'll watch those numbers closely. In fact, let's take a look right now, a live look at the Big Board for you. You see modest, modest gains early off today, about 30 minutes into the trading day. Dow Jones Industrial Average is sitting at 10,324.
Help is on the way for homeowners in danger of foreclosure. The Obama administration is expected to announce a new initiative today to put more pressure on mortgage lenders. Our Personal finance editor Gerri Willis joins me to talk a little bit more about that.
So what exactly is going to happen here, Gerri?
GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Well, hi there, Heidi. Yes, let's take a look at the Making Home Affordable program first and how it's kind of come up short.
Originally, it said it would help 4 million people, in fact, it's only made 650,000 mortgage adjustments and of those folks, only 2 percent are actually real modifications that will be ongoing. The others are only trial modifications that only will last three months to five months.
So, what will the administration do to fix this ailing program? Well, number one, it's expected to talk about more resources for borrowers. Number two, partnerships with organizations helping home owners. There are a lot of them counsel individual homeowners and they're expected to climb on board with even more assistance. And of course, more transparency on loan servicers. It has been one clog in the pipeline working with loan servicers who are sort of in the middle between investors and the consumers themselves.
So, Heidi, you might be wondering why have we had so many problems with the Making Home Affordable program. Well, there have been some paperwork issues. Bankers complain that borrowers aren't getting in the paperwork they need to get the mortgage relief, and borrowers complain that bankers aren't actually looking at their paperwork. There's been not enough income to make payments, too much equity in some cases or savings to get people into the program, and some banks think it's better for people to go into foreclosure, more lucrative for them than modify the mortgages.
And, of course, there's lots of criticism today that this program really doesn't answer to today's program, which is that people are losing their jobs and that's why they're losing their homes, because they have no income. And that's not really what this program was set up to do.
But we'll be getting more answers in about an hour, as the Treasury's expected to put out a release that details all of their plans.
COLLINS: Yes, and what is it? Something like 125 regional banks that have failed now, too, having to deal with obviously a lot of issues on this front.
Gerri Willis, we'll be watching for that report, as it comes out a little bit later on. Thank you.
If you missed out on those great deals on Black Friday, you do have another chance to find bargains today and you can do it without ever leaving your desk or your home. Cyber Monday is the day when a lot of people return to work after the holiday and do some online shopping. Many retailers are offering online deals, including free shipping.
So, how are you doing your holiday shopping? Do you plan to buy online on Cyber Monday? What's the best deal that you found? We want to hear about it. Make sure you write in to us on my blog, CNN.com/Heidi. We'll post some of those thoughts a little bit later on in the show. The road ahead in Afghanistan, tomorrow night President Obama will unveil his new war strategy. The prime time announcement's been months in the making. It will be delivered at the West Point Military Academy and it's expected to call for more troops. Want to get the very latest now from CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr this morning.
Hi there, Barbara. What may be the most important military point the president needs to make here?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Heidi, what everyone from four-star generals to private first-classes is going to be looking for clearly is that the president is offering a winnable strategy, a winnable military strategy in Afghanistan. There may be other parts to it, like diplomacy, but young troops join combat units to go to war and to win. So they're going to be looking at several points here.
What are everyone's understanding is is the president seeking about 34,000, 35,000 additional troops to send to Afghanistan. That's going to bring the overall U.S. force level at least to somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 troops. Price tag? Perhaps as much as $75 billion.
But the bottom line, the bottom line, will be what is the exit strategy? When can these troops be told they might be able to come home for good? And the key to that will be the Afghan government and the Afghan security forces, making them able to stand up and deal with their country on their own. It sounds a lot like Iraq. But that's going to be a long-term prospect and the key will be, will the U.S. troops simply be a holding action for the months or years it may take Afghans to really step up to the plate?
That may be a very hard sell. Public support is waning, and again, young troops want to know that they have a winnable strategy. They don't want to hear, well, maybe this is going to work. They want to hear from the president that it will work -- Heidi.
COLLINS: They also know, as well you know, how difficult it is to be winnable, obviously. In fact, when we talk about troops and deployment and how many times have they gone over on repeated deployments, which ones will be the first to go now on this, once it's announced?
STARR: You know, already in the pipeline, Heidi, about a thousand Marines set to go, possibly by the end of December. The balance of the forces, several Army brigades, more Marine units, more support troops, more trainers to help those Afghan forces, all of those getting lined up to go and the first several months of 2010.
But they're going to have to build more bases, more infrastructure, more support facilities for them. Afghanistan remains a very rugged, remote place and if they are going to really spread out, especially into southern Afghanistan, Helmand Province, Kandahar Province, the heartland of the insurgency, those are key areas that the troops are going to go to, they've got to build more facility so they can actually go and do the job.
COLLINS: Yes. All right, Barbara Starr, our Pentagon correspondent, we'll be watching. Thank you.
In fact, tune in tomorrow for in-depth coverage leading up to the president's prime-time announcement. CNN's special coverage begins at 7:00 Eastern.
It may seem like the Senate's been arguing over health care forever, but the debate hasn't actually made it to the floor until today. This afternoon, the battle really begins on the $849 billion reform bill proposed by Majority Leader Harry Reid. Both parties plan to add amendments on issues like the public option and abortion funding that could drag the whole process out for weeks, which means the president may not get a final version to sign by the end of the year like he has said he wants.
Rob Marciano standing by to talk more about hurricane season coming to an end but lots of rain on East Coast still, yes?
COLLINS: Rob, thank you.
This story, we've been following all morning long, a SWAT team surrounding the house where a suspected cop killer is holed up. The stand-up-off right now.
COLLINS: A tense stand-off going on right now in an east Seattle neighborhood. Police think a man suspected of gunning down four police officers yesterday morning is holed up there.
The Lakewood police officers were waiting to start their shift when a man walked into a coffee shop in suburban Tacoma and began shooting. One of the officers struggled with the gunman but died of his wounds. Witnesses in the coffee shop told police the gunman was wounded. The motive? Possibly, he just hated police.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED TROYER, SPOKESMAN, PIERCE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: I'm going to guess that when we get to the end of this there is not a big motive other than upset being incarcerated and was going to go gunning out for cops in general, not specifically targeting Lakewood cops, they just had the unfortunate action to run into him at the wrong place, at the wrong time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Police have identified the suspect as Maurice Clemmons, a convicted criminal with a long rap sheet. Clemmons had 95-year prison sentence commuted in 2000 by then-Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.
Want to get to the scene of the stand-off now and CNN's Patrick Oppmann.
So Patrick, last hour you were telling us that police hadn't heard from the suspect in about eight hours or so and that they were trying to send in robots, if you will, to the house to see what else they can find out about what may be going on inside.
Have they been able to do that just yet?
PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they have, Heidi, and still no word back as the stand-off enters the 11th hour, whether Maurice Clemmons is alive. They say they believe he's in the residence, they have tried communicating with him, tried using flash- bang, stun grenades to force him from the series of residences, and have sent in a robot. No word yet back on what that robot may have found. But it's essentially shut down this neighborhood.
And interesting to point out, a block from me is where a shooting took place about a month back where a Seattle police officer was killed. A suspect, a different suspect, was taken into custody in that shooting. But yesterday, it was one of the possibilities thrown around that the shooting that took place yesterday that took four officers' lives could have been perhaps been inspired by the shooting in Seattle last month, perhaps a copycat-type killing.
Certainly, these unusual series of violences against officers in this region of the country have had a galvanizing affect. Four officers lost in the Lakewood Police Department. There have been memorials set up in Lakewood today. It's going to be interesting to see how the community there reacts to this horrible violence, because this is a police department, it's only five years old, it only has about 100 officers or so, a little over 100 officers, and now dealing with this terrible tragedy.
COLLINS: No question. All right, Patrick, we sure do appreciate that. We'll continue to follow the story, obviously, here.
Tiger Woods taking responsibility for his SUV crash over the holiday. The golfing superstar has commented on it, but not to police. Our Susan Candiotti has been following the story for us.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Three times not the charm for investigators trying to get Tiger Woods to talk about his late night driveway cash into a fire hydrant and a tree.
JON WERTHEIM, SENIOR WRITER, "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED": It is strange that we've seen these broken appointments.
CANDIOTTI: With questions swirling around him and the Florida Highway Patrol turned away three times, that has a lot of people even more curious.
He issued a statement on his website saying they wants to keep the incident a family matter. "This situation is my fault," Woods says, "and it's obviously embarrassing to my family and me. I'm human and I'm not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn't happen again."
But what does that mean? Is he talking about an accident? Or something else?
WERTHEIM: That's definitely the line that gets the yellow highlighter. That if this is a standard, just random occurrence, if he flukily has a car accident, you know, you're not quite sure why he's making promises if something will or won't happen in the future.
CANDIOTTI: The fact is, by Florida law, Woods didn't have to talk with police. Instead, he did only what he had to do, provide them his driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance. Woods' lawyer handed them over, but investigators left the house without coming face-to-face with the biggest name in golf.
Woods agent gave CNN the following statement, "Although Tiger realizes there is a great deal of public curiosity, it has been conveyed to FHP that he simply has nothing more to add and wishes to protect the privacy of his family."
In his own statement, Woods also refers to his wife. Police say she told them she bashed out the SUV's rear passenger windows with a golf club to get him out of the locked car. "She was the first person to help me. Any other assertion is absolutely false."
Yet again, Woods doesn't explain what false assertions he means.
Last week a story in the "National Enquirer" alleged Woods had been seeing a New York nightclub hostess. That woman arrived in Los Angeles Sunday to meet with attorney Gloria Allred and denied having an affair with Woods when she was contacted by the Associated Press.
COLLINS: Woods is scheduled play at a tournament this week in California, but it is not clear from his statement whether he will still attend.
Quickly, want to get this out to you. Just in to the CNN NEWSROOM, we are hearing that Chelsea Clinton is now engaged. She's been engaged to her longtime boyfriend, Marc Mezvinsky. You may have heard rumors quite awhile ago about an engagement that may have taken place last summer, but that was completely false, as we had reported. But now, not so false. Chelsea Clinton now engaged to her longtime boyfriend.
A cautionary tale to tell you about for parents now on H1N1. A mother explains how her teenage daughter ended up in the hospital near death. The virus, she says, went from zero to 60 in a matter of days.
COLLINS: Top stories now. A $10,000 reward is offered for information leading to arrest of a Florida man accused of gunning down his family Thanksgiving night. The shooting happened in Jupiter, Florida, about 90 miles north of Miami. Police say 35-year-old Paul Michael Merhige shot and killed four people, including a sister who was pregnant and a 6-year-old cousin, two others were wounded.
In a dramatic show of defiance, Iran is planning to build 10 more uranium enrichment plants, that's according to its state-run news agency. The announcement comes day after a U.N. watchdog group ordered Iran to shut down construction on a secret nuclear plant near the city of Qom.
Somali pirates hit again, this time gaining control of a massive oil tanker and 28-person crew. The Greek ship was headed for New Orleans when it was captured yesterday about 800 mile off Somalia. Officials say the attack poses a huge environmental and security threat to the region.
A daughter, sick with the H1N1 flu, doctors told her mom to take her home, get her some rest, fluids and she'd be just fine. But that's not exactly how things turned out. Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is here now to talk a little bit more about this.
This seems like the family really struggled to get the right help here.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: They really had to step in and advocate for their child, because most children who get H1N1 flu are perfectly fine, and doctors know that. However, when things go bad, they can get very scary, very quickly.
COHEN (voice-over): Jessica Samples was captain of her high school swim team, a perfectly healthy 15-year-old girl, until H1N1.
(on camera): So on September 27th, Jessica's been feeling sick, but not horrifically sick?
ANDREA SAMPLES, DAUGHTER HAD H1N1: No.
COHEN: And so you took her to the urgent care center.
A. SAMPLES: She was to rest for two days, 48 hours, to stay out of school for 48 hours, drink plenty of fluids.
COHEN: So the next day, September 28th?
A. SAMPLES: She had a really bad cough and I just -- I just wanted her to be safe than sorry.
COHEN: You brought her for the second time to see doctors in less than 24 hours?
A. SAMPLES: Yes.
COHEN (voice-over): Once again, doctors sent Jessica home.
(on camera): September 29th, now day three?
A. SAMPLES: This is day three.
COHEN: She's already been to the urgent care center, she's been to the hospital?
A. SAMPLES: Yes.
COHEN: But you took her in a third time?
A. SAMPLES: She said her hands and feet were numb. I knew something was wrong. I didn't know what, but I knew something was wrong.
COHEN: How would you describe the speed of it?
A. SAMPLES: In zero to 60 in 10 seconds, that's how fast it went down.
COHEN (voice-over): After being told twice to go home, this is how Jessica spent the next two weeks, fighting for her life in the intensive care unit at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas. The virus had gone to her heart, her heart couldn't function on its own.
Dr. Linda Thompson one of the first doctors to treat Jessica.
(on camera): Sounds like when she got here her heart was barely beating.
Dr. LINDA THOMPSON, CHILDREN'S MEDICAL CENTER: The heart was trying to beat but it just wasn't being filled with blood.
COHEN: This machine did the work that her heart and lungs couldn't do anymore?
THOMPSON: Correct. Correct.
COHEN (voice-over): Three times Jessica almost died. But in the end, it was maternal instinct that saved her life.
(on camera): So if Jessica's mother waited another 12, 24 hours before bringing her back in, would Jessica have survived?
THOMPSON: I don't think we would have pulled her through.
A. SAMPLES: My first prayer when she woke up was, thank you, God, for giving me a second chance with her, something that a few days before I didn't think I was going to have.
COHEN: Your mom really saved you.
JESSICA SAMPLES, HAD H1N1: Yes.
COHEN: That's pretty amazing.
A. SAMPLES: She asked, like, mom, did I almost die? She didn't even comprehend how sick she's been. (END VIDEOTAPE)
COLLINS: Boy, oh boy.
And that's just one story, a lot of times we don't hear about other stories that could be out there like this. It makes you think about you know the responsibility and sort of fear that you sometimes have as a parent because you have to really, as you said, use that word advocate for your children when you're talking about their health. You have to keep going back and saying, hey, I know my child and this is not right?
COHEN: That's exactly it. You've nailed it. You have to say I know my child. If you feel like something's wrong, you've got to go back and use these words. You've got to say, I'm worried I see her going downhill. I'm seeing this symptom and this symptom and this symptom. And even if people seem to say it's the flu, a lot of kids get the flu, you have to keep at it. See a different doctor if you feel like the doctor's you're talking to isn't responding.
COLLINS: yes, and you shouldn't be afraid to do that either.
What about symptoms, in particular, though? Because we've done it many times here, telling everybody, this is what you look for. But how do you get the doctor to listen that you're not kidding around and it's not getting better?
COHEN: Right. There are certain symptoms you want to look for. When your kid has H1N1 and you know they have the flu, there are certain signs to look for that tell you they're about to cross that line into becoming desperately ill. And if you list these to the doctor, they will or they should pay attention because they should know the sign as well. Fast breathing or trouble breathing, really having trouble getting a breath in; skin color, especially toes or fingers bluish; fever with a rash; and also, if your child gets better and then gets worse, that could be a sign of a secondary bacterial infection they've gotten something else on top of the flu virus.
COLLINS: Boy, it is so scary.
How's Jessica now? And I'm so curious to know whether or not -- imagine they have done every test in the book now as to figure out why it went the way it did. Did it find anything else wrong her? Autoimmune or anything?
COHEN: Nothing. They did all sorts of tests, they have no idea why she got so sick from the flu whereas the vast majority of kids get over it in a couple days and it's not a big deal. But she's not the only one. There are plenty of perfectly healthy children who have become desperately ill.
Now we're two months out, two months ago she was first diagnosed, she's still not 100 percent OK. Her blood pressure spikes from time to time and she gets very tired. If she goes and swims even for like for ten minutes she gets exhausted and this used to be the captain of the swim team. So she is still not 100 percent. COLLINS: Do they think she'll come back 100 percent?
COHEN: Yes, they do. They do.
COLLINS: All right. Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen, a lot to think about. Thanks, Elizabeth.
COHEN: Bound for Afghanistan, but training in Indiana. Yep, what you see is in the heart of the Midwest and the people taking part are federal employees who will make up the civilian surge.
ANNOUNCER: Live in the CNN NEWSROOM, Heidi Collins.
COLLINS: The U.S. strategy for the Afghanistan war. President Obama will reveal his plans to tomorrow night. He'll make the primetime speech from the U.S. military academy West Point. The president is expected to announce an increase of least 30,000 more troops. He's also expected to seek further troop commitments from NATO allies.
Some Democrats are already voicing doubts and reservations. For months, the focus has been on sending more troops to Afghanistan, but a civilian surge is already under way. They are federal employees who will share their skills and expertise. CNN foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty looks at their mission and their training.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Our Black Hawk helicopter flies low over fields and woods, destination now in sight. The Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, a half-hour flight from Indianapolis, Indiana, this week, transformed into a village in Afghanistan.
On the ground, 36 civilian trainees in camouflage jackets and body armor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good.
DOUGHERTY: They're from the State and Treasury Departments, US Agency for International Development and the Agriculture Department, all volunteered for at least a year in Afghanistan. Part of the civilian surge critical to the new strategy, tripling the number deployed on the frontlines.
They're using their skills in law, agriculture, medicine to help the Afghan people get the services they desperately need. Without that, they could turn to the Taliban. The team's mission today, help solve a land dispute between two Afghan tribes.
HARRIS (ph), STATE DEPARTMENT VOLUNTEER: I'm Mr. Harris, senior representative of the State Department at (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN AFGHAN).
DOUGHERTY: Real Afghans, some of whom don't speak English, play the role of provincial officials and tribal leaders.
HARRIS (ph): OK. I would like to welcome everybody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN AFGHAN).
HARRIS (ph): From the bottom of my heart.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN AFGHAN).
DOUGHERTY: The reading from the Koran, the translator, hot tea they're offered to drink, the soldiers from the Indiana National Guard -- every detail as authentic as possible.
DOUGHERTY (on camera): How real is this?
BRENDAN O'BRIEN, STATE DEPARTMENT: I thought it was very real, actually.
DOUGHERTY (voice-over): Brendan O'Brien served in Kabul, Afghanistan as consul general. He's going back for another year as an information officer. This new training, he says, is critical to understanding how the military function. His life depends on it.
O'BRIEN: The military culture is almost -- is a foreign culture. It's almost as foreign as the Afghan culture to State Department, to USAID, to the Department of Agriculture.
DOUGHERTY (on camera): Just as in Afghanistan, these teams are accompanied every step of the way by the military. They rely on them for security and for mobility.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING IN AFGHAN).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a lot of problems.
DOUGHERTY (voice-over): At the same time, these civilians, unarmed, have to establish trust. The war, as they say, can't be won only with guns.
In this vignette, an Afghan plays the role of a pregnant woman as Maura Mack, a USAID health development officer listens closely. Mack has never been to Afghanistan. She leaves this December for Logar Province. This lesson, she says, taught her...
MAURA MACK, US AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: ... the importance of building these relationships with the people, listening to them, the etiquette, the politeness, building that trust and rapport with them so they really can share with you what their concerns are and be willing to work with us, because we need to work together.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did they interact? How well did it go for you? What -- what impressions did you have?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN AFGHAN).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The one thing that nobody asked me was about what sort of disease are very common in this province.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got on the birds, took off, did a little ride, kind of windy, knocked us around a little bit.
DOUGHERTY: The Afghan staff, the trainees, the military give their feedback, lessons that could make all the difference when these civilians take off for real to Afghanistan.
COLLINS: Jill Dougherty joining us live from the State Department the with more. So, Jill, there's about a thousand people on the ground? Do they think that's enough for a country that -- we should remind everybody about the size of Texas?
DOUGHERTY: Right. It doesn't sound like a lot, some can say they need more. But what they -- the State Department says is you multiply that times ten because they don't go in alone. They actually -- usually each person accompanied by ten others, and that includes some Afghan staff. They can be experts, specialists, et cetera, and then they have people from international nongovernmental organizations. So, it is a force multiplier, you'd have to say, for the civilians, Heidi.
COLLINS: No question. All right. Jill Dougherty from the State Department today. Thank you, Jill.
And tune in tomorrow for in-depth coverage leading up to the president's primetime announcement. CNN's special coverage begins at 7:00 Eastern.
A new Democratic report is blaming the Bush administration for missing Osama bin Laden. The Democratic staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reported Bin Laden had written his will, believing he was trapped in Afghanistan's Tora Bora mountain region. That was in december 2001, three months after 9/11.
The report says former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and General Tommy Franks refused to send in enough troops to capture the al Qaeda leader. Bush administration officials facing the same criticism in 2004 said Bin Laden's location at that time was not certain.
The early results are in. Retails are raked in $41 billion over the holiday weekend, but were stores able to move into the black on this year's Black Friday? Alison Kostic is at the New York Stock Exchange with more details on that. So, Alison, the verdict is no, not so much, right?
ALISON KOSTIC, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, you know what, Heidi? We're off to a decent start to the holiday shopping season. Retails wound up pulling out all the stops, some opening at midnight on Thanksgiving, offering those door-buster deals online, so when everybody was stuffed full of turkey and stuffing they went ahead worked it off at stores.
The National Retail Federation says the gimmicks wound up working. They attracted more customers. Listen to this: 195 million people shopped just this past weekend. That's 20 million more than last year. Parking lots were full of traffic. At the Mall of America, the biggest mall in the country, was the highest in 17 years.
But I'll tell you what, here's what's interesting. People stuck to their budget and they stuck to their lists. Only buying what's on their lists. The average spending per person this weekend was at about $343; that's down $30 from last year.
And more people got up early for door-buster deals. People were looking for those bargains, willing to get up with the roosters for the bargains. But one analyst says, you know what? Black Friday weekend isn't always an accurate gauge of how well the holiday shopping season, as a whole, is going to go. Heidi.
COLILNS: Yes. Today's Cyber Monday. People expected to shop more online?
KOSTIC: They are. In fact, I caught a couple traders on the floor doing a little online shopping, too.
KOSTIC: Doing a little trading on stocks, a little buying some merchandise, you know? Almost 100 million people expected to shop online today as they return to computer as the work. That's 15 million more people than last year, because most e-tailers offering great deals today. Offering one-day sales, free shipping, free gift cards, and analyst says, retailers really need to work hard to keep shoppers through Christmas, keep them buying through Christmas. And that's how they're going to bring up their botto line. Expect deals to continue through December. Heidi?
COLLINS: All right, very good. Alison, thank you.
COLLINS: Voters in Honduras pick a new president to replace the one they lost in a coup over the summer. Conservative candidate Porfirio Lobo appears to be the winner. Back in June, the military forced out President Jose Manuel Zelaya. The U.S. refused to recognize the interim government, but says it will recognize the winner of this election.
Millions of Muslims making the trek back home after the annual Hajj pilgrimage comes to an end. In one of the final rituals over the weekend, pilgrims threw stones at pillars representing the devil. Muslims believe their sins are forgiven by completing these rituals. Millions traveled to Mecca for the event this year. In Islam, it's a duty to make the journey at least once. It is a sensitive health issue involving older Americans, trying to extend the lives of loved ones. We'll have a look at the health care reform controversy over end-of-life counseling.
COLLINS: Very quickly want to give you information that we are learning from the television stations that we work with in Seattle, Washington area. Our affiliates, as we call them. We've been telling you all morning long about a suspect in a police shooting where the suspect was allegedly shot and killed four police officers at a coffee shop. We had been tell you all morning long about how he had been, according to police, holed up inside of the home. S.W.A.T. team was there, everyone trying to get to this person.
They hadn't heard from him in something like 11 hours, according to our reporter on the ground there, who we're going to check in with shortly.
We are now hearing that no one has been found inside that home. If you remember, we were reporting that they were thinking about sending in robots to go through the home. They didn't want to risk any more police officers' lives. So, that's how they were going to handle the situation since they hadn't heard from him in so long. Not positive that that has happened or not.
However, we do know at this point, according to affiliates there in Seattle area, no one is inside the home that they had surrounded. Again, we will give you more information, just as soon as it becomes available to us and go back out to our correspondent there on the ground in the state of Washington.
The debate over health care reform moves to the Senate floor today. This afternoon, the battle really begins on the $849 billion reform bill proposed by Majority Leader Harry Reid. Both parties are planning to add amendments on issues like the public option that we've talked so much about, and of course, abortion funding. That could drag the whole process out for weeks, which means the president may not get a final version to sign by the end of the year like he wants.
A major goal of health care reform to reduce the system's overall cost. But that may require Congress to deal with the elephant in the room. How much is spent in the final days of life?
CNNmoney.com's Poppy Harrow is in New York and has more on this controversy that's surrounding health care. It is something, Poppy, we don't talk about very much.
POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: We don't. Lawmakers don't either, Heidi, because it's such a sensitive issue. People and families, when in the hospital or a loved one is, they all measures taken to possibly save a life, even if it won't meaningfully prolong their life.
But you've got critics who say the amount of spending that goes into doing all of that, it has to be reined in. Some going as far as America could go broke if we don't cut back on that spending. Let's take a look at the numbers, because the proof is in the pudding here. About 25 to 30 percent of Medicare spending goes to people in the last year of their life. You add that up, that is $100 billion. Forty percent of that, Heidi, is spent in the last month alone of someone's life on average.
Now, David Walker, he used to run the Government Accountability Office. That means he was essentially the top accountant for the government. Here's his take on it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID WALKER, CEO, PETER G. PETERSON FOUNDATION: The one thing that can bankrupt America is out of control health care costs, and some of that, frankly, the patient wouldn't even want. If the patient knew what the options were, if they knew what the potential outcomes might be, they wouldn't even want it.
So, it's a patients' right issue as well as a fiscal issue. I think what we have to do is that we need to recognize the reality that ultimately there's a limit how much in taxpayer resources we can allocate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: And you know, Walker says that it's the doctors, Heidi, that need to make decisions based on medical evidence, what they've learned in the past about what procedures are most likely going to meaningfully extend life. Because otherwise you're spending a lot of money, Heidi, and not as much results. That's what some are arguing.
COLLINS: Definitely a hot button issue. How is it addressed in the health care reform bill on Capitol Hill?
HARLOW: Just think back to the summer when the House included a provision in their bill saying they would pay for end-of-life counseling between doctors and patients, saying that could bring down costs. You've got a marked study that had this evidence. It showed that of 600 terminally ill cancer patients, they found that the people that spoke with their doctors about the end-of-life care, what best option was, their medical bills were $1,800 in the final week of their life.
Compare that to people who did not have that conversation with doctors, their bills, Heidi, were just about $3,000. So, there's a difference.
This, though, is clearly controversial. What we saw this summer were outcries over these quote/unquote "death panels," people upset about the House provision. It's not in the Senate version they'll be debating on starting today. If we see health care reform passed, still to be seen if we'll see anything about end-of-life counseling in a final bill. We're tracking this, of course, on CNNmoney.com. Also follow us on Twitter. We'll give you the latest on what the Senate is saying. Heidi.
COLLINS: OK, very good. Poppy Harlow, thank you.
So, don't feel like braving the crowded stores and parking lots? You can find some of the season's best deals online today. And we'll help you track them down in just a moment.
COLLINS: Black Friday may have come and gone this year, but today's the day retails like to call Cyber Monday. It's for bargain shoppers that prefer clicking a mouse over crowded stores. And our Josh Levs is helping you find the best deals.
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi. So, my goal here is to help you strategize your Cyber Monday by having important tips and important links to use. Here's what I'm going to do. I'll talk you through some. You don't need to write anything down because at the end of this, I'll show you where we posted everything for you.
Let's start off with this graphic because there's some points that we've pulled from a great site called Digitaltrends.com. The first thing they say is start early. Makes a lot of sense. Now, look at the next two. Knowing aggregate sites. Aggregate Web sites are these Web sites specifically for Cyber Monday where listing tons of deals that you can take advantage of. But what they're saying is, you should still check directly with retailers, even after you've gone to the aggregate sites.
All right, let's zoom to the screen behind me. I want to show you what we're talking about, so this all makes sense to you. There's so many sites to use. For example, this one here is CyberMonday.com. Lists a lot the of deals available on Cyber Monday. This one here is CyberMonday.net, and this one here is CyberMonday.fm. So, all these different deals.
And what they're saying the trend (ph) is, check these out, but then go directly to the retailer. So, for example, you see Best Buy listed here. Go to the Best Buy Web site. You might actually find something better directly on the Web site. It's possible.
Let's get back to the graphics now. I want you to see more pointers from these Web sites we've pulled together. This is interesting. This comes to us from "Forbes," and they're saying check out the coupon codes. We actually link you to some places where you can get coupon codes, which means as you're buying something at the very end, you type if a code, you pay even less.
Plus, you can sign up for price alerts if there are specific item you're looking for, they'll alert you when they pop up.
This is another suggestion from "Forbes." They're saying, "You know what? For Cyber Monday, you pretty much have to use your credit cards." So, why don't you call your credit card company and say I'm going to be using my cards, how can I maximize my rewards? Get yourself maximum points, miles, whatever it is. Great piece of advice there.
And finally, this is very important. Look at this from walletpop.com. Because so many people are buying so many things online, there are a lot of bad guys ready to take advantage of you. What they're saying is, beware of the scams. There are people who wait all year just to launch scams on Cyber Monday. If a company seems to be contacting you online for information saying, "Hey, we need to check your e-mail address again or your credit card number, a bank account number," don't trust it. Instead, call the company directly.
Also, make sure you've got up to date anti-phishing software on your computer.
All right. That's a lot of stuff to keep track of, we know. And I told you, we're making it easier for you to find in one place. Here's the graphic where we posted everything. It's all up on the blog for you. CNN.com/josh. We've also put it on Facebook and Twitter, it's joshlevsCNN. We hope those points will help out. Plus, you can send in your links if you know other sites that are working particularly well for you. And good luck with Cyber Monday.
COLLINS: So, that brings us to today's blog question. We asked you how are you doing your holiday shopping this year? Did you plan to shop online today for Cyber Monday or are you actually going out to the stores? And what are the best deals you found?
If you go over to CNN.com/heidi, you can see where we talk about Black Friday where the actual amount of people who shopped was up, but the money they spent was down. Let's go ahead and read what some of the responses are already today.
From Theresa, she says, "I buy all my gifts online. It's fast and less expensive. I've done this for five years. Best deal, nine- cup Kitchen Aid food processor I purchased online for $152, compared to $229 in the store."
From Douglas, "My motto this holiday season: if it can't be shipped, I'm not buying it. I hate crowds. For me, 'tis the season for Internet shopping. I've got my credit card standing by.
From Jordan: "I like sites that compile all the deals together so you don't have to go to every individual's store's Web site." Yeah, good idea.
So, we remember, we do want to hear from you. We always like hearing from you. Just go to CNN.com/heidi and post responses. We'll try to get to some more of them today.
We are getting new details right now about the suspect in the fatal shooting of those four police officers in Washington State. Keep it right here for the very latest.
COLLINS: Let's get you over to Rob Marciano now, standing by to talk more about the weather situation on this Cyber Monday, where I guess a lot of people will stay inside and do shopping anyway, right, Rob?
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Is that what -- how long have we been calling it Cyber Monday? Is it since the beginning of the Internet or is this...
COLLINS: Yes, yes, that's the exact date, yes. I have that for you right here.
MARCIANO: Because it took me a while, about midmorning for me to figure out what we were talking about.
MARCIANO: I'm quite...
COLLINS: You are on it!
MARCIANO: Glad you've broke than down for me and with the help of Josh Levs and Tony Harris, we'll have continuing coverage of Cyber Monday throughout the afternoon.
MARCIANO: So, Wednesday -- Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday might be cybersales days, too, because of the weather.
COLLINS: Yes, it might be, if you call them that, that's what they'll be. All right. Thank you, Rob. We'll watch that. Happy Cyber Monday.
MARCIANO: You, too.
COLLINS: I'm Heidi Collins. CNN NEWSROOM continues now with Tony Harris.