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American Student Found Guilty in Italy for Murder; President Obama's Approval Rating Falls Below 50 Percent; President Appears to be Keeping Campaign Promises on Afghanistan; Congressional Hearing on Controversial Breast Cancer Recommendations

Aired December 5, 2009 - 10:00   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 center, this is CNN sat morning for December 5th. I'm T.J. Holmes.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen. Thanks for starting your day with us.

All right, something you don't usually see, snow in the south, as far south as Houston, Texas. But right here we're seeing some more of that snow building up not only in Houston but Knoxville, Tennessee, and Georgia, as well. Yes. We may be getting hit with some of that white stuff, T.J., so brace yourself.

Reynolds Wolf will have the full forecast coming up.

HOLMES: Also this morning, a lot of people out there trying to lose weight, and they use those things to do it. Don't do it today. Find another way. Get on the treadmill, eat some salads. Don't drink that stuff, because 10 million of them have been recalled. Throw them out. We'll explain to you why this morning.

CHETRY: Don't have a Slim Fast for breakfast this morning, at least not the one many the can.

But first, let's get you the latest on this story, a big story we've been following, Amanda Knox. She went overseas to learn in a new culture but ended up many the middle of a bizarre murder mystery.

Now the American student has a 26-year prison sentence slapped on her for the stabbing death of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher. Jurors also sentenced Knox's Italian ex-boyfriend to 25 years in prison. Prosecutors say they tried to force Kercher into a twisted sex game along with another man already convicted. Appeals are expected.

HOLMES: The last hour Knox's family appeared at the Italian prison where she's being held. They still maintain she is innocent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EDDA MELLAS, MOTHER OF AMANDA KNOX: Amanda, like the rest of us, is extremely disappointed, upset about the decision. We're all in shock. She's real heartened by support not only from the people of Perugia, many Italians all over, people from all over the world have been sending us messages of support all through the night. And, you know, the media has been, you know, supportive. Amanda got great support when she came back to the prison.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Well, the family of the victim, Meredith Kercher, they were speaking after the verdict, as well. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LYLE KERCHER, BROTHER OF MEREDITH KERCHER: We're very satisfied. The prosecution put together a case they worked hard for. It has reached a climax, as it were, if not the ultimate climax, because I'm sure there will be some ongoing appeals and so on, which I'm sure will be discussed later.

But ultimately, you know, we are pleased with the decision, pleased that we've got a decision. But it's not time, you know, it's not time for celebration at the end of the day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Knox and her ex-boyfriend were also ordered to pay nearly $7.5 million to Kercher's family.

NGUYEN: The Senate is in special session this morning. In fact, it's just getting under way right now, want to give you a live look from Capitol Hill. Senators are working this weekend to continue the debate on the nearly $1 trillion health care reform bill. And today they are expected to vote on a couple more amendments to that bill.

Well, there is surprising news on the job front to tell you about today. According to the latest figures, only about 11,000 jobs were cut last month, bringing the unemployment rate down to 10 percent.

But experts say they're still worried about the growing jobless gap. The unemployment rate for whites is about nine percent, for blacks more than 15 percent, for teenagers, well, they are having a lot of trouble finding jobs -- the unemployment rate for teenagers, more than 26 percent.

HOLMES: President Obama says those numbers are encouraging, some of the numbers, at least, about the unemployment rate going down. But in his weekly address he does acknowledge there's a whole lot more that needs to be done.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: History tells us this is usually what happens with recessions. Even as the economy grows, it takes time for jobs to follow.

But the folks who have been looking for work without any luck for months and in some cases years can't wait any longer. For them, I am determined to do everything I can to accelerate our progress so we're actually adding jobs again. And that's why this week I invited a group of business owners from all across the country to the White House to talk about additional steps we can take to help jump-start hiring.

We brought together unions and universities to talk about what we can do to support our workers today and prepare our students to outcompete workers around the world tomorrow. We brought together mayors and community leaders to talk about how we can open up new opportunities in our cities and towns.

From the moment I was sworn into office, we have taken a number of difficult steps to end this economic crisis. We didn't take them because they were popular or gratifying. They weren't. We took these steps because they were necessary.

I didn't run for president to pass emergency recovery programs or to bail out the banks or to shore up auto companies. I didn't run for president simply to manage the crisis of the moment while kicking our most pressing problems down the road.

I ran for president to help hardworking families succeed and to stand up for the embattled middle class. I ran to fight for a country where responsibility is still rewarded and hardworking people can get ahead. I ran to keep faith with the sacred American principle that we will deliver to our children a future of even greater possibility.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Well, the president may back a plan to fund a jobs bill with money left over from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, also known as TARP.

NGUYEN: Want to get the latest on the weather outside. Some people may feel a little troubled about that.

HOLMES: A little bit.

NGUYEN: There's a wintry mix on the horizon.

(WEATHER BREAK)

HOLMES: We're talking about something called a Zhu Zhu this morning. Look at those little things.

NGUYEN: They're cute.

HOLMES: A lot of parent and little kids know what they are. You say they're cute. Some say they're toxic. One of those little guy is getting left out because he could actually harm children, a potential hazard in a cute little Zhu Zhu. Stay here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Still ahead, President Obama reaches a dubious milestone.

HOLMES: Yes. Those details are coming up. (WEATHER BREAK)

NGUYEN: And there's much more to come right here on CNN's Saturday morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: President Obama ordered a major troop increase this week for the war in Afghanistan, and that announcement came during a primetime address at west point.

HOLMES: What do Americans now think about the decision the president made? CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley has the numbers. She also has a look at what's really behind the president's slipping popularity.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Betty and T.J. Some interesting numbers for the president, which shake out like this. His powers of persuasion are intact, but the wear and tear of a yearlong recession is more powerful.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: Trouble on the home front is eating into his political capital, but the president's hard sell on Afghanistan did the job.

OBAMA: I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by Al Qaeda.

CROWLEY: The latest CNN poll found that a majority of Americans still oppose the war in Afghanistan, but 62 percent favor the president's plan to send 30,000 more troops there, 36 percent are opposed. In the good news/bad news category for the president --

OBAMA: These additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011.

CROWLEY: Two-thirds of Americans favor the president's exit plan from Afghanistan, but 59 percent think it was a bad idea to announce it.

Despite his success in gathering public reinforcement for more troops in Afghanistan, the president's overall approval rating has fallen below 50 percent for the first time in a CNN poll.

The latest CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll numbers show 48 percent of Americans approve of the way he's handling his job. That is a seven-point drop in less than three weeks.

Partially fuelling this dissent is this -- just 36 percent of whites who never attended college approve of the way the president is handling his job, an 18-point drop from Americans most likely to work in mining, construction, and manufacturing, the three hardest-hit areas of the recession. With his numbers so far into the positives on Afghanistan policy, it is abundantly clear what's dragging down the president -- jobs, jobs, jobs. It is not a wonder he was in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Friday.

OBAMA: Americans who have been desperately looking for work for months, some of them maybe for a year or longer, they can't wait, and we won't wait. We need to do everything we can right now to get our businesses hiring again.

CROWLEY: The president is promising to send new jobs initiatives to Congress next week.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: Beyond the obvious urgency of getting jobs to desperate people, there's political urgency, too. The president can afford to take a hit over unemployment right now, but congressional Democrats can't. A third of U.S. Senate seats and all of the House seats are up for reelection in 2010, and a 10 percent unemployment rate in the new year is no place to start -- Betty and T.J.

NGUYEN: All right. Well, politicians sometimes will say one thing on the campaign trail and then do a whole other thing once they're elected to office.

HOLMES: How dare you say such a thing?

NGUYEN: It happens.

HOLMES: So is the president actually keeping his promises that he made on the campaign trail, at least when it comes to Afghanistan? Our Josh Levs looks at whether his actions are matching his words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We definitely are going to need a couple of additional brigades.

We need more troops there. We need more resources there.

Part of the reason I think it's so important for us to end the war in Iraq is to be able to get more troops in Afghanistan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOSH LEVS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: More, troops, more troops. We wanted to see how specific he got, what specific promises he made and whether he's keeping them. One of the best places in the world to look is this right here, the "Obamater." It's from PolitiFact.com where they keep track of hundreds of promises he made on the campaign trail.

Joining us from PolitiFact.com from the Obameter, Angie Holan, who's been following the president's Afghanistan promises. Hey, there, Angie.

HOLAN: Thanks for having me, Josh. LEVS: I want to start off with a sound bite in which the president made a specific promise about Afghanistan and then you'll tell us if he's fulfilled that or not. Here's the sound bite.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: As president, I will deploy at least two additional brigades to Afghanistan to reinforce our counterterrorism operations and support NATO's efforts against the Taliban.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEVS: Angie, the Obameter says?

ANGIE HOLAN, POLITIFACT.COM: The Obameter says promise kept. This happened earlier this year when Obama made a major speech and ordered those extra brigrades and they did go over. So promise kept.

LEVS: The next one I found really interesting because you talk about NATO, and here you don't exactly say the president has fulfilled this promise yet. Talk to us about that one.

HOLAN: The NATO promise is to lift restrictions on NATO troops, troops that belong to other countries, our allies, and there have either been restrictions or reluctance to send additional troops.

Now, we've put this in the works because the Obama administration is making efforts on this. There have been a lot of diplomatic efforts, and other countries have said that they're open. So this one is in the works, not --

LEVS: In the works from you guys means that you've seen him take some steps toward fulfilling it. He hasn't done it yet, but you think he's done enough that he's going in the direction of actually fulfilling it.

HOLAN: That's right. We have in the works and then we have our other ratings when he actually gets to fulfillment like promise kept or promise broken.

LEVS: Let's zoom in. We'll scroll through these. You guys have a total of five. These are the next two. You have "train and equip the Afghan army and increasing nonmilitary aid to Afghanistan by $1 billion dollars."

Now, in each case there you're saying the same thing. You're saying it's in the works because he's taken some steps towards fulfilling these two, right?

HOLAN: That's right. The aid is still pending in Congress, so he has to wait for them on that.

LEVS: He's working toward that one.

And this last one, we have a screen for you on this, making U.S. military aid to Pakistan conditional on anti-terror efforts. The Taliban has at time used Pakistan to launch attacks in Afghanistan. The president made a promise. How's he doing?

HOLAN: The administration talks often about Afghanistan and Pakistan as being part of the same issue. We rated this one promise kept. Congress passed the aid to Pakistan, and there are processes for the secretary of state to verify they are helping to fight terrorism in those border regions.

LEVS: Thanks for that. I keep a close eye on the Obameter -- two for five so far on the Afghanistan front, none broken. As the president goes, that's not too bad, right?

HOLAN: That's not so bad. We've got three more years to go just about.

LEVS: Angie Holan from PolitiFact.com, thank you so much for joining us today.

HOLAN: Thanks.

HOLMES: And this programming note -- tomorrow on CNN, excuse me, thank you, Betty --

NGUYEN: Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks to Christiane Amanpour in his first interview since President Obama's Afghanistan announcement. Now this Amanpour exclusive airs Sunday, 2:00 p.m. eastern.

And up next in our top stories, a warning for everyone using Slim Fast. If you have any in your pantry, you will want to hear this, and throw some of it out, in fact.

HOLMES: Please keep going. I'm struggling here still.

NGUYEN: Asthma. And Facebook and privacy issues that they're dealing with over there. Can it be a reality when it comes to a secure site? The company is beefing up restrictions, and we'll have a preview.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Welcome back, everybody. Here are some of our top stories.

Check this out. Russian police are questioning the owner and manager of a night club after a fire killed more than 100 partygoers. We have some amateur video here, and you can see the fire and people running, as well.

The fire was tearing through a place called The Lame Horse Club in the city of Perm last night. You can see some of the smoke there. This is 900 miles east of Moscow.

Authorities suspect it began when a performer was juggling pyrotechnics and then the ceiling suddenly ignited. Flames spread to the walls. At least 133 people were hurt. Many were actually trampled and then suffocated as the crowd rushed to get out.

Russia's president is demanding the toughest punishment possible for whoever started the fire and says they have, quote, "neither brains nor conscience."

HOLMES: NBC correspondent and long time anchor of "NBC Nightly News" Tom Brokaw escaped injury after a fatal car crash in New York City. You're seeing the aftermath here. An SUV actually swerved a into a large postal truck.

Now, Brokaw was in a vehicle that then rear-ended that postal truck. The driver of the SUV was the one that was thrown from her vehicle and died.

NGUYEN: Well, if you have a can of Slim Fast in the house, you might want to throw it out. In fact, you should throw it out. The makers of Slim Fast say that the premade shakes may be contaminated with a harmful bacteria. They are recalling 10 million cans.

And the FDA is investigating. The recall extends to all Slim Fast premade shakes regardless of flavor or sell-by date.

HOLMES: A lot of people getting ready for the holiday right now, of course, getting ready to buy a lot of gifts and a lot of toys. Some people, some kids, will recognize those. It's one of the hottest gifts this Christmas, but it could make your kids sick.

They're called Zhu Zhu hamsters, there they are, four of them. An independent consumer safety group says one of the four hamsters has higher than allowed levels of a toxic chemical.

NGUYEN: Just one of them.

HOLAN: Just one of the four. The one we're talking about is the second from the left. His name is Mr. Giggles.

NGUYEN: Squiggles.

HOLAN: Not wiggles -- Squiggles. But the rest of them -- chunk, pip- squeak, and num-nums, they're OK.

NGUYEN: Thank goodness.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: All right, folks. There's some troubling numbers for Barack Obama, and as our Candy Crowley reported just a short time ago, the president's approval rating under 50 percent for the first time in a CNN poll.

HOLMES: We want to take a look now at the political consequences here. CNN deputy political director and friend of our show on CNN Saturday morning Paul Steinhauser is with us now. Why, Paul? We spend so much time looking at these approval ratings when they change week to week and month to month. Why do we love these things?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: You brought up a good point there, they do change, because remember, polls are a snapshot of how people feel now. And people change their minds over and over. What happens now may not happen in a week or a month.

But that is a good question. Why do we spend so much time looking at the approval rating? Because it is the best test of how a president is doing with the public, how much clout, how much power he has.

And remember, the higher the approval rating the more you would assume a clout a president has to get things done, to push things through Congress.

Another reason we look at it, because the president's approval rating also reflects on his party. Next year, next November, those crucial midterm elections, the president's party, the Democrats will be defending large majorities in the House and the Senate, so you would assume the higher the approval rating, the better they may do, the lower the rating, the more trouble they may be in, T.J.

NGUYEN: Let's get down to the nitty-gritty, shall we, when it comes to the president's slipping in his approval rating. Why is that?

STEINHAUSER: This is interesting, Betty. Take a look at the number. You guys, you saw it earlier with Candy Crowley, 48 percent approval, 50 percent disapproval.

When you break down those 50 who disapprove of the job the president is doing, you can see right here, 40 percent of those are probably more Republicans or conservatives who is think the president is too liberal.

But eight percent of those who disapprove of this president right now say they're upset with him not because he's too liberal but because he's not liberal enough. You've heard about some of this pushback against the president from members of his own party because of his actions on health care and the economy and Afghanistan. You're seeing it in that poll -- Betty.

HOLMES: And we're not seeing something here for the first time, not like this is the first president in history to go under 50 percent in his first year as far as approval goes.

STEINHAUSER: No. Our polling director reminded me that dubious honor went to Ronald Reagan back in 1981. He went under 50 percent in November of his first year in office. And you know what, he stayed under 50 percent for about two years.

OK, flash forward to the '90s, Bill Clinton, he went under 50 percent in I think April -- I think May or June of his first year in office. But remember, with both of these gentlemen, under 50 percent in their first year. They both won reelection and served eight years in office.

As you guys said earlier, polls change, people's perceptions change -- Betty, T.J.

NGUYEN: All right, well, we do appreciate you breaking it down for us. Thank you, Paul.

STEINHAUSER: Thank you.

NGUYEN: Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina is slamming the health care reform bill on Capitol Hill.

Fiorina, a breast cancer survivor diagnosed just this year, delivered the weekly Republican radio and Internet address, and she says a task force recommendation to delay routine mammograms until age 50 is a grim taste of what might happen under the Democrats' health care plan and could have put her life in jeopardy.

Fiorina now proudly shows off a different look from last year when she was economic adviser to then presidential candidate John McCain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLY FIORINA, (R) CALIFORNIA SENATE CANDIDATE: The task force did not include an oncologist or a radiologist. In other words, cancer experts did not develop this recommendation. They said that most women under 50 don't need regular mammograms and that women over 50 should only get them every other year.

And yet we all know that the chances of surviving cancer are greater the earlier it's detected. If I had followed this new recommendation and waited another two years, I'm not sure I'd be alive today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: Well, Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina is slamming the health care bill on Capitol Hill, as we mentioned. But we want to tell you this, as well -- she's also running for the California Democrat seat once owned by Barbara Boxer, or her seat, in fact, and we'll continue to follow that as well.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And of course the panel that issued those new guidelines that confused everybody, the new guidelines for routine mammograms, well, they're back in the news, and they are back-peddling just a bit.

During a Congressional hearing this week, experts admit the advice was poorly worded. The lawmakers didn't back off. Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen now has more on the hearing, which at times got just a bit heated.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Lawmakers began with their personal stories about breast cancer, a congressman who lost his aunt, another whose wife had breast cancer. Congresswoman Sue Myrick said she can't understand how a federal task force could suggest that women in their 40s don't need regular mammograms.

REP. SUE MYRICK, (R) NORTH CAROLINA: Because to me it's sending the wrong message to women. It's saying you don't have to be vigilant, you don't have to take care of yourself, you don't have to do preventative care. And the reason that concerns me is I'm a ten-year breast cancer survivor. I'm one of those who had persevered literally to find, you know, my own cancer because I knew something was wrong with my body.

COHEN: According to the recent report from the U.S. preventive service task force, mammograms are highly inaccurate. For every 1,000 women in their 40s who get mammograms, two cancers are found and 98 false positives are found.

The report says women then need to have invasive procedures to check out a positive mammogram, and they worry unnecessarily when the mammogram turns out to be wrong.

The vice chair of the task force defended the guidelines.

DR. DIANA B. PETITTI, U.S. PREVENTIVE SERVICES TASK FORCE: Cancer is a terrifying prospect. It carries special emotional weight because of the consequences of the diagnosis have in the past involved not only death but the prospect of mutilating surgery.

COHEN: And one congressman did defend the course.

REP. JOHN SARBANES, (D) MARYLAND: But to put our head in the hand and not look at the science it seems to me would be a serious mistake.

COHEN: But most who testified on Capitol Hill today were critical, saying the recommendations could put women in danger.

JENNIFER LURAY, PRESIDENT, SUSAN G. KOMEN: We know that mammography is an imperfect tool, but instead of stepping away from it, we must close the technology gap and come up with better methods.

COHEN: Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: All right, well, stay with us this morning. We are just a few minutes away from another check of the top stories, including the reaction to the Amanda Knox verdict. She faces now 26 years in prison in Italy.

NGUYEN: And later Facebook beefs up its privacy policy, but are your photos and controversial comments really safe from prying eyes? We'll find out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(WEATHER BREAK)

NGUYEN: Working overtime on health care reform, yes. Let's give you some live pictures from the Senate's weekend session. There they are. They are working today, folks, just like T.J. and myself. They got started just about 40 minutes ago.

Democrats need every vote they can get to pass the bill, but the public option still a huge sticking point with some senators. Democrat Blanche Lincoln and Independent Joe Lieberman says there is no compromise that they can support just yet.

HOLMES: Fire officials investigating a blaze, some pictures of it here. This is at a fairgrounds just outside of Cincinnati. Reports out about 60 horses have been killed. Officials say this fire broke out about 5:00 this morning in a barn at the horse track.

By the time the firefighters got to the scene, it was engulfed and the roof had collapsed. They think up to 60 horses may have been killed.

NGUYEN: The Philippines president has declared martial law in one southern province, meaning that troops can arrest people without a warrant. It comes after a political family was taken into custody. Police suspect they were involved in attacking a political opponent convoy just last week, which killed 57 people.

Officials hope that martial law will prevent another outbreak of violence.

HOLMES: An American exchange student found guilty of murder in Italy. A jury sentenced Amanda Knox to 26 years in prison for the 2007 stabbing death of her British roommate Meredith Kercher.

Jurors also sentenced Knox's Italian ex-boyfriend to 25 years in prison. Prosecutors say they tried to force Kercher into a sex game along with another man who has been convicted, as well. Kercher's family says they're satisfied with the verdict.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LYLE KERCHER, BROTHER OF MEREDITH KERCHER: We're very satisfied. The prosecution put together a case they worked hard for. It has reached a climax, as it were, if it's not the ultimate climax for now, because I'm sure there will be some ongoing appeals and so on, which I'm sure will be discussed later.

But ultimately, you know, we are pleased with the decision, pleased that we've got a decision. But it's not time, you know, for celebration at the end of the day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Knox and her boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, were also ordered to pay nearly $7.5 million to Kercher's family.

NGUYEN: We've been asking you today what you think about this trial. There's been a lot of talk and debate over the evidence. Many are saying, look, there's no evidence she was in the room where the murder occurred. But yet she was still convicted, sentenced to 26 years in prison.

So we're getting your reaction today. I want to go quickly to my Facebook site. Lou says "If you commit a serious crime, you will be caught. It's that simple. You can run, but you can't hide." Let me go to my Twitter site, and this person says "Maybe the Italian media is to blame for Knox's conviction. The jury was never sequestered." That's a good point there, too. And this other person says, "I would assume unless they can prove she murdered her beyond a reasonable doubt, she is innocent. There is not enough evidence."

So thanks for your comments today. Of course we've got many ways for you to weigh in on several subjects today, so go to our Facebook and Twitter sites, and of course we'll be reading through those.

HOLMES: And an update for our viewers. We just told them about the story out of Cincinnati, those horses that were killed. We can confirm now that that fire at that racetrack or that barn essentially burned, 65 horses to have been killed.

But also the new information we have is that two people have been killed in that fire, as well. Again, we just told you about this just a few moments ago, but we have just confirmed that two people died in that fire along with what's believed to be 65 horses. We'll continue to update you as we get information on that.

Also, a man we were talking about this morning. This was an interesting story.

NGUYEN: Oh, yes.

HOLMES: The man you see here, not the guy robbing the place, but that guy right there, he was almost the victim of a crime.

NGUYEN: Yes, but instead he gave the would-be thief a second chance. We're going to show you how, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Well, when you put something on Facebook, do you really know who is able to see it? There are little tricks that can help keep you and your information private.

HOLMES: Yes, Facebook getting more secure. They're rolling out enhanced privacy settings. John Verdi from the electronic privacy and information center joins us to talk about the changes. This is something really Betty could use because she posts all these wild pictures.

NGUYEN: I do not.

HOLMES: She really needs to hear this information this morning, my man. So tell us, what have they done now? How are they revising their privacy setting?

JOHN VERDI, SR. COUNSEL, ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER: Facebook is rolling out changes over the next few weeks that will eliminate regional networks and will require users to update their privacy sections.

NGUYEN: What does that mean? Break it down for us.

VERDI: Basically, Facebook used to have regional networks where users could restrict information to folks geographically, say for Washington, D.C., or for Silicon Valley, or something like that.

And those distinctions are going away. Facebook has decided that geographic distinctions aren't really useful anymore and that users aren't using them in ways that are good for users.

NGUYEN: So is that all they're doing to beef up privacy settings? There's more, right?

VERDI: No -- that's true. There's more. They're adding privacy settings. And as part of that they're requiring everybody to use something called a transition tool. Because they're using new privacy settings, they're requiring everyone to update the settings that they've give on the Facebook. And that's where the risks come in.

NGUYEN: Like what? Tell us what we should look out for.

VERDI: The devil is in the details in things like this, and in this case the details are the default settings. It's critical that Facebook get the default settings right during this transition to make sure that the defaults reflect the privacy preferences Facebook users have already expressed on the site.

NGUYEN: Here's something I found really interesting, the snowball fights, all that stuff that comes your way, if you sign up for them or participate in them, then your information can be shared with, say, a third party, right?

VERDI: That's true. Facebook makes great use of third-party developers and third-party applications. The polls, the snowball fights, the quizzes, all those things are developed by third-party companies that are not affiliated with Facebook.

And what that means is that when Facebook users interact with those applications, they share information with third parties, and they leave that trust relationship that they've established between them and Facebook.

NGUYEN: What kind of information? Your name, your friends, all that stuff?

VERDI: It really -- it can be that, absolutely. And it really depends on what the application -- what information the application polls. A lot of that information is open to these third-party developers.

NGUYEN: And you would never know. There is no way to find out. Once you click on accepting that, boom, it's out there.

VERDI: Unfortunately, there just hasn't been really great transparency on those so that users could know about those sorts of things.

HOLMES: Fascinating.

NGUYEN: Yes. HOLMES: And this is the simplest thing. A lot of people out there, quite frankly, John, they have these private things, they only have their friends into it.

What they want to know is can they just make sure they keep people out of that area. You know, people are worried. You know, they post something in that private area, they think nobody else can see, next thing you know, it gets out. How can you make sure you keep people that you don't friend out of that area?

VERDI: Well, one thing you can do is to make sure that you pay very close attention to your privacy settings on Facebook. Another thing that you can do is to avoid the use of third-party applications, because obviously those companies are not your friends on Facebook. They're other entities you probably don't have a lot of information about.

NGUYEN: So do you think that these new privacy settings are really going to benefit the user like T.J. and myself?

VERDI: I really think so. There's an opportunity here for Facebook to get this right, but there's a real risk for them to get it wrong. It's critical that they make sure that user's default settings as they more through this process to the new privacy settings are reflective of privacy protective principles.

If they get this wrong, there's a real danger that Facebook is going to face the kind of user revolt that they've seen before.

NGUYEN: So, bottom line, go in there and really look at your privacy settings and decide what it is you want and you don't want and make sure it's not simply in default mode.

VERDI: Absolutely. And make sure you hold Facebook accountable. Facebook does listen to its users and Facebook takes user feedback seriously. So the real responsibility here is on the part of the company to respect the settings that users have already entered on the site.

NGUYEN: Very good. John, thank you so much. We might even friend you on Facebook now.

(LAUGHTER)

VERDI: Thanks for having me.

NGUYEN: All right, have a good day.

You're watching CNN Saturday morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: A crime story in New York with an ending that no one could have predicted. All right, here it goes. A would-be robber was given a second chance by his victim. Our Mary Snow tells us now months late they're the suspect is reaching out to show his appreciation. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We first brought you Mohammed's Sohail's story in June when he showed mercy to a would-be robber who came into a store demanding money, the ordeal all captured by surveillance cameras.

Sohail grabbed a rifle and said the man began crying, saying he needed to feed his family. Sohail gave him $40, a loaf of bread, and made him promise never to rob again.

Six months later, the 47-year-old Sohail says that promise was returned in a way he never imagined. He recently received a letter with $50 inside and no return address.

MOHAMMAD SOHAIL, CONVENIENCE STORE OWNER: I said, what is that? And when I read the letter, there's the same person, you know, the guy come try to rob my store.

SNOW: He read it for us.

SOHAIL: "Now I have a good job, making good money, staying out of trouble, and taking care of my family. You give me $40 and a loaf of bread. Here is $50. Thank you for sparing my life. Because for that, you changed my life.

SNOW (on camera): Did you cry when you get that let her.

SOHAIL: Absolutely, because all the time I'm thinking my mom. My mom say help anybody if anybody need help.

SNOW (voice-over): The letter is signed "Your Muslim Brother," and the writer states he's now a true Muslim.

During the aborted robbery, the man told Sohail he wanted to be a Muslim just like him, and Sohail recited an Islamic prayer and told him he was converted.

While the man's life may have changed, things are also different for this Pakistani immigrant. At his story in Shirley, New York, he displays letters he's received from across the country.

SNOW (on camera): "Dear Mr. Sohail, I just want to say that no person has ever moved my spirit the way you did." Wow. From an admirer, your biggest admirer. Do you know who he is?

SOHAIL: I have no idea. People send me letters.

SNOW (voice-over): And some have sent checks. Sohail says he's received a couple hundred dollars and now offers free bagels, roll, and coffee for several hours during the day, and he vows to help others.

SNOW (on camera): Would you one day like to meet with this anonymous mystery man?

SOHAIL: Of course. I would like to see him. I want to see him. If he hear me, if he listening me, this person, come to my store.

SNOW (voice-over): While Sohail says all is forgiven in his eyes, the Suffolk county police say this is still an open investigation as they have yet to find the mystery man.

Mary Snow, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: One of the world's oldest crimes makes a resurgence, and you could unknowingly be supporting the criminals the next time you go out to eat.

HOLMES: That's a good tease, Betty.

NGUYEN: Yes. Makes you maybe want to cook and stay in.

HOLMES: All right, quick break and we're right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Well, there was a time when the shrimp industry was big, big business here in the U.S.

NGUYEN: Absolutely. And we're going to be talking about that and how it is changing these days. In fact, shrimpers are having a hard time because they are getting some pressure from those dealing in human trafficking. Sean Callebs has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's the kind of night just outside New Orleans that used to be a bonanza for shrimpers like Paul Willis.

PAUL WILLIS, NEW ORLEANS SHRIMPER: This pass on an evening like this ten years ago would have had 300 vessels in here right now ready to shrimp. You're going to see eight tonight. That's what's happened to this industry.

CALLEBS: Field costs and Mother Nature may be a never-ending battle, but Willis says his biggest foe is cheap shrimp pouring in from Asia.

WILLIS: Foreign countries are using cheap labor, slave labor, call it whatever you want. We can't compete. We just cannot compete.

CALLEBS: In fact, Willis says, he's now forced to sell shrimp at the same price he did 15 years ago. And that's still not as cheap as the cut-rate Asian shrimp selling at $3 a pound, a price at which Willis says he wouldn't even break even.

CALLEBS (on camera): It's dolphin-safe, but human rights groups complain if you're buying something like this shrimp, there's no label it came slave-free.

LUIS C. DEBACA, AMB. AT LARGE TO COMBAT HUMAN TRAFFICKING: One of the oldest crimes in the world is alive and well in slavery. CALLEBS: Luis C. DeBaca, the U.S. ambassador on human trafficking, says the shrimp industry in Asia is one of the worst offenders.

A three-year investigation by the AFL-CIO-affiliated Solidarity Center and backed by the U.S. State Department found several leading U.S. retailers receive shrimp from plants in Thailand and Bangladesh where workers as young as eight are subject to sweat shop conditions.

DEBACA: Men's bodies wash up routinely on the shores of Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, where they've been tossed overboard. And usually it's for asking for a fair wage, talking back to the boss, asking to be taken back to shore.

CALLEBS: However, not all critics agree with the report. The Aqua Culture Certification Council, an American agency that runs global certification of food safety, says the report is exaggerated and says since it came out the industry has made a lot of improvement.

It's not only shrimp that may have links to a criminal past but an inexpensive cotton shirt, coffee that's too cheap to be believed, and the chocolate in cookies.

Mark Horner is with Not For Sale, an organization partnering with American businesses to root out international slave labor.

MIKE HORNER, NOT FOR SALE: What we originally thought was a $32 billion industry could be as much as a $150 billion industry, second only to the drug trade.

CALLEBS: He calls it the fastest growing crime in the world.

HORNER: I think the majority of the public doesn't want to bite into food that is filled with the blood of slaves.

CALLEBS: For Willis, the impact is all too real. And he wants American consumers to ask the tough questions.

WILLIS: They've heard tales about, you know, how can they sell it for five bucks when if it's made in the USA it would cost $16, how can that be done?

CALLEBS: Sean Callebs, CNN, New Orleans.

(END VIDEOTAPE)