Return to Transcripts main page
Report Says Militants hacked into Live Video Feeds of U.S. Spy Drones; New Jersey Father Hopes to Reclaim Son in Brazil; House and Senate Health Care Bills Vastly Different; Getting by in a Tough Economy; When Free Means a Con; Seaside Apartments Evacuated; World's Tiniest Snowman
Aired December 17, 2009 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Time now for your top of the hour reset. I'm Tony Harris in the CNN NEWSROOM.
It's 8:00 p.m. in the evening in Iraq where a newspaper report says militants are hacking live feeds from U.S. drones.
It is 3:00 p.m. in Brazil, where a New Jersey father hopes to reclaim his son after a five-year international custody fight.
And it is noon at the U.S. Capitol where the House and Senate health care bills take on vastly different looks. I am getting answers from the House majority whip this hour.
OK, let's get started. Did Iraqi insurgents outsmart the U.S. Military? "The Wall Street Journal" reports militants hacked into live video feeds from unmanned spy drones using Internet software that cost about 25 bucks. Live now to CNN's Elaine Quijano at the White House. And Elaine, what are officials there at the Pentagon saying about all of this?
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, not much, Tony, as you can imagine, given the very sensitive nature of this, being an intelligence matter and all. People here at the Pentagon are being very hesitant, very tightlipped about this story.
"The Wall Street Journal" as you said, reported this morning that militants in Iraq had used very inexpensive software to basically intercept live video feeds of U.S. predator drones. Now, the one message that officials here at the Pentagon are trying to get across is that this is an issue that has been, quote, addressed and fixed, according to a senior defense official. However, one of the reporters who broke the story, Siobhan Gorman said on CNN's "American Morning" that military officials have said this is not a quick fix necessarily.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIOBHAN GORMAN, INTELLIGENCE CORRESPONDENT, WALL STREET JOURNAL: It's a little bit harder than just simply putting a box on a drone, because part of the problem is that the predator networks are 1990s era and so you have to upgrade some of the computer networks as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUIJANO: Now a U.S. official said that no U.S. troops or missions were compromised as a result of this breach. A Pentagon spokesman would not comment on that and would only say when the Defense Department does identify shortfalls, Tony, they obviously work to correct them. But the bottom line here at the Pentagon, officials are not denying the basic outlines of the story that "The Wall Street Journal" reported this morning. Tony?
HARRIS: So, Elaine, we know these incidents happened with drones in Iraq. Of course, the U.S. is also operating drones out of Pakistan. Do we think those drones are as vulnerable as the drones operating in Iraq?
QUIJANO: Well, sources, Tony, who are informed about this, tell CNN that this is not a concern for the drones used by the intelligence community in Pakistan. Why? Well, sources say that those drones use the very latest encryption technology and are used in a much more limited capacity than military drones.
HARRIS: Got you.
QUIJANO: So, the short answer is, they're not really worried about this situation with those drones in Pakistan.
HARRIS: OK, Elaine, appreciate it. Thank you.
Anger and anticipation escalating at the international climate conference in Copenhagen. Protesters back on the streets outside the talks today, while environmental ministers meet inside. They are trying to produce partial agreements to present to President Obama and more than 110 other leaders at tomorrow's session. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, now pledging to help rich nations raise $100 billion to help poorer nations cope with climate change.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We must try to overcome the obstacles that remain. We must not only seize this moment, but raise our oars together and row in the same direction toward our common destination and destiny. And the United States is ready to do our part.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: On CNN tonight, can the 100-plus leaders of the Copenhagen summit reach a consensus on climate change? Will the U.S. take the lead? Get answers in the CNN/YouTube climate change debate tonight at 11:00 after "AC 360."
The Cincinnati Bengals mourning the death of teammate Chris Henry. The 26-year old wide receiver died today of injuries suffered yesterday. Police say he fell out of the back of a pick up truck during a domestic dispute. A short time ago, we heard from Bengals owner Mike Brown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE BROWN, CINCINNATI BENGALS OWNER: He was good at what he did as a player. He was excellent and he was a teammate to our players. He was a friend to almost all of us in the building down here. We knew him in a different way than his public persona. He was soft spoken, pleasant, comfortable to be around. We like him. He had worked through troubles in his life and had finally seemingly reached the point where everything was going to blossom and he was going to have the future that we all wanted for him and he wanted for himself. And then this tragedy cut him down. It's painful to us. We feel it in our hearts and we will miss him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Wow, that is a strong statement.
Mexico's military says it has taken out a major drug cartel boss. Arturo Beltran Leyva (ph) was killed in a two-hour gun battle at an apartment complex in a town south of Mexico City. The U.S. said Beltran Leyva imported and distributed tons of cocaine and heroin into the United States and was responsible for grisly killings including beheadings.
An American father wins custody of his son in Brazil after a five-year legal battle. David Goldman has sought custody since his wife left with the boy on a vacation to Brazil and never returned. Our Jason Carroll has the latest on this story.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tony, David Goldman says she was flown down to Rio at least a dozen times when a Brazilian court has ruled in his favor. This time, he is hopeful it will be the last time.
CARROLL (voice-over): The decision by a Brazilian appeals court was unanimous, but there was no celebrating, not even the hint of a smile on the face of David Goldman.
DAVID GOLDMAN, WINS CUSTODY OF SON: I've been down this road for 5 1/2 years. Until I'm on the plane with Shawn and the wheels are up, I can only be hopeful.
CARROLL: The ruling upheld the decision this summer that ordered his nine-year-old son, Shawn, to be returned home with him to New Jersey. But the homecoming could face one more roadblock. The family of Shawn's now deceased mother is expected to file an appear with Brazil's Supreme Court today, but Goldman's supporters are cautiously optimistic the ruling will stand.
REP. CHRIS SMITH (R) NEW JERSEY: Remember, this is an abducting family. They're kidnappers and yet David has -- but they come from a very high-powered legal family in Rio de Janeiro, so they've had a great deal of sway with the court. CARROLL: The custody battle has now spanned five years, starting back in 2004, when Shawn's mother, Bruna Bianchi, took Shawn to Brazil for what was supposed to be a two-week vacation. They never came back. She eventually remarried and then died last year during childbirth. Her family has taken up the fight to keep Shawn in Rio, arguing it would be traumatizing to remove the boy from the home where he's been raised. Here in the United States, Goldman's fight has been taken up by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and it's that international pressure that some say could make this ruling stick.
ROBERT ARENSTEIN, ATTORNEY: I think the justices are on their toes trying to do the right thing because everybody in the world is watching this case. This case is being watched by the entire world.
CARROLL: A case that won't be over until this father watches his son board a plane home.
GOLDMAN: My emotions are in check. I'm focused on just doing what I can to comfort my son.
CARROLL: Secretary Clinton releasing a statement saying she appreciated the assistance and cooperation from Brazil and she hopes the long legal process is finally over. Representative Smith from New Jersey, who you saw in the piece there and who has been working with the family, says the Brazilian high court will take up the appeal today. The Supreme Court could grant a stay once again delaying Shawn's return or allow Shawn to be returned to his father while the appeal is decided. Tony?
HARRIS: All right, Jason, appreciate it. Thank you.
If and when the Senate passes a health care bill, it will have to be reconciled with the House version. I'm going to ask one of the key players in the House for his thoughts and on where things stand right now, where they're headed.
First though a random moment in 90 seconds.
HARRIS: This is fun, our random moment here. A little girl has a big wish for the holidays, so big this two-year-old singer is our random moment of the day.
Heal the world, make it a better place for you and me! There are people dying, if you care enough for the living, make the world a better place for you and me. For you and for me. All right, a toddler's holiday wish and our random moment of the day.
HARRIS: The battle over health care reform keeps getting ugly, maybe uglier, with Republicans trying to block the bill, Democrats battling over proposed compromises and House and Senate versions of the measure looking vastly different. Joining me live now from Capitol Hill, House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina. Representative Clyburn, great to see you again.
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D) SOUTH CAROLINA: Thank you.
HARRIS: Are you ready for a couple of pretty pointed questions here?
CLYBURN: Yes, I am.
HARRIS: OK, here we go. Before we get to health care, your chamber passed a jobs bill, $174 billion.
HARRIS: Narrowly, 36 Democrats voted against it. What's in the bill? My understanding is that it will provide funding for job training and transportation projects.
CLYBURN: Yes, it will. You know, the reason this vote was a bit controversial is because there are a lot of cross-currents here. There are some people who felt that the top money that we were using to pay for a big portion of this, should not be used for this purpose.
CLYBURN: And a few of them had made public statements to that, not realizing that if we did not use the TARP money before the end of the year, it would go away. And so by the time we got around to explaining to people, it was a bit late in the process. In fact, were it not for that explanation being made in a very timely manner by the speaker of the House, I'm not too sure we would have gotten to the $217 that we got. So, there are a lot of cross-currents here. Other people felt that that half of the bill that was not being paid for would, in fact, be contributing to the debt and deficit.
HARRIS: Yeah. Exactly.
CLYBURN: And they had that problem with it. So, there were a lot of things there. A lot of people are saying, well, you aren't spending enough.
CLYBURN: And we should really do a robust spending bill. So that's what happens when you have all these cross-currents. It's kind of hard to get --
HARRIS: And that's the process, right?
CLYBURN: Yes, sir.
HARRIS: It's being played out in the health care debate. Do you expect the Senate to pass its version of health care reform, all right, before Christmas?
CLYBURN: Yes, I do. Of course, it won't be the first time that I did not get my expectations from the Senate, if they were not to do it.
HARRIS: There, there. There, there.
CLYBURN: But I think they will. I think they'll pass something. And I really believe that our staffs will work together during the holidays and when we get back after the first of the year, the House and Senate will probably have something to vote on.
HARRIS: Yeah. That's interesting. So, I'm wondering, Representative Anthony Weiner of New York says that the bill has gotten worse in its present form, even though more people will be covered. And he had this to say regarding the removal of the public option. Then I've got a question for you.
CLYBURN: Well --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D) NEW YORK: I don't believe that you should let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and unlike some people in this town, I actually want to get health care reform passed, but when we go into a House/Senate conference, one of the things a lot of my colleagues are going to be asking, are what are the things we can do to improve the choices that consumers have, make some competition for the insurance companies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Representative Clyburn, do you agree with that assessment? Put us in the conference room provided you get a Senate bill, are the sticking points in the negotiation for the final bill going to be the same sticking points we've been talking about for months now. We're talking about the public option, in the House bill not likely to be in the Senate bill and then strong language or prohibiting taxpayer funding for abortions? Are we going to revisit the same sticking points again?
CLYBURN: Absolutely. We are going to do that. But that's what a conference is all about. Bob Casey, I understand has been tasked, Senator Bob Casey, with the job of trying to work out language that will satisfy everybody on the abortion question. Other people will be doing other parts of the bill on the Senate side and when it gets to conference, we will all take a look at this.
You know, I've been saying to people, the thing that's a little bit insulting to me in this whole discussion is that the House of Representatives worked very, very hard. You've got 258 Democrats. We produced a good product that most people felt comfortable with. We created momentum to get this thing going over in the Senate. Now all of a sudden, people are acting as if the Senate happens to be the only game in town. The Senate is not the only game in town. This thing is going to come to conference and we on the House side are going to fight very hard to make sure that we get competition in this system, that we contain costs, that we provide choices, that we get rid of rejections and rescissions and we're going to be fighting very hard for those positions. And I hope we can reach compromise that both bodies can approve.
HARRIS: Are you going to be one of the conferees?
CLYBURN: I have no idea. I certainly hope so. I -- I think that I have something to offer to the discussion.
HARRIS: Yeah, well, if you are, we want a pipeline to you. Representative Clyburn, happy holidays to you. We appreciate it. Thanks for your time.
CLYBURN: Same to you.
HARRIS: We've heard about the public option, expanding Medicare, buying drugs from other countries, mandated coverage. So, what's in and what's out? CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, has a status update for us.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tony, we've been talking about health care for over a year now and lots of progress in many ways and lots of obstacles as well. As you listen to what I'm saying here, keep in mind that if the Senate bill passes, at least in its current form, it could offer access to about 31 million more Americans. That's based on some recent projections. But some of the things that have not happened in the Senate bill, one of the big ones we've been talking about since the campaign, no public option. The public option is not part of this Senate bill. That was a big one. And that was something that people have been talking about for some time.
Also something we've been hearing about over the past couple of weeks, this idea of expanding Medicare to age 55. Again, as you know, that's not in this bill either. That was something that was talked about quite a bit even over the last couple of days. One that you may not have heard about that may have helped lower drug costs, this idea of purchasing drugs from overseas. That's not going to happen, at least not as part of this current version of the Senate bill, because of concerns about drug safety on those importations.
Now, there are some things that have happened, worth pointing out and, again, part of that larger picture. First of all, a health insurance exchange, this idea of having insurance companies all over the country creating a marketplace to which anyone can buy in and having those insurance companies compete with one another for people who do not have enough money to purchase health care insurance. This would also be where some subsidies would kick in.
Also no lifetime caps on benefits. As things stand now, there's a lot of -- a lot of caps, for example, the family has significant illness in that family, after a certain amount of money is paid out to cover those health care costs, the money would just stop. It would be capped, and the family would sort of be left to fend for themselves. That wouldn't happen anymore. Also mandated employee insurance coverage, meaning that if you work for a large employer, you're going to get health care insurance coverage or that employer will be penalized.
And finally a big one -- a big one that seems to have really drawn some support really on all sides -- no denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions. There was some controversy over that. There was a concern people would game the system. They would buy insurance only when they got sick and then cancel it when they got better. The compromise that's been reached is that people will pay a penalty for not having health care insurance in the first place. That's the mandate part of this and they will also pay a penalty if they cancel the health care insurance after they get better.
One of the big things Tony that still remains is the hot-button issue of abortion, 2009, 2010 almost, we're talking about this. Abortion is something that could still potentially derail this. There's a concern should subsidy money be used in any way to pay for abortions. People feel very strongly about this on both sides and it may come down in many ways, after all that we've discussed, down to this issue. We'll keep you posted, obviously, Tony, back to you.
HARRIS: Great information, Sanjay thank you. Top stories now, Iraqi militants reportedly tap into live video feeds from American drones robbing the U.S. of the element of surprise, obviously. "The Wall Street Journal" says insurgents are hacking drone feeds with a $26 software program. The paper says the Pentagon has known about the security problem since the late 1990s.
British Airways avoids a holiday strike. Britain's high court granted the airline an injunction preventing a planned 12-day strike by its cabin crews. Travel experts say the strike could have affected as many as a million travelers.
Pro football player, Chris Henry, a wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, died today. Police in Charlotte, North Carolina, said Henry was critically injured yesterday after falling out of the bed of a pickup during a fight with his fiancee. Henry was 26 years old. We will get another check of our top stories in 20 minutes.
One giant bank has decided to give homeowners who are facing a foreclosure a holiday break. Our CNN money team tells how it will work.
HARRIS: Our Ali Velshi has hit the road to see how Americans are dealing with difficult, difficult economic hard times. He has found one woman who has turned coupons into a business.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS: So you say you want to have access to the latest financial news and analysis, we've got it for you. One-stop shopping available for you at cnnmoney.com. Our money team does a terrific job. You're going to hear from a couple members of that money team over the next couple of minutes here.
Let's swing you to the New York Stock Exchange. Just about three hours into the trading day. And look at the numbers on the big board now. Where's the Dow? Boy, this has been a -- this has been a tough day. Yeah, we'll get to the NASDAQ in just a second. But the Dow, as you can see, we're looking at triple-digit losses so far on the day three hours into the trading day.
The NASDAQ hard hit as well, at last check down 23. We will find out what's going on with these numbers from Susan Lisovicz, who is watching everything that's going on on the Street throughout the day, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Got to tell you, there is help coming for thousands of troubled homeowners, from one of the nation's most bailed-out banks. CNNMoney.com's Poppy Harlow is in New York for us. And Poppy, what can you tell us? Good to see you, first of all.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good to see you, too, Tony. What we heard late last night is that Citi mortgage, Citigroup's mortgage arm is going to suspend foreclosures for thousands of people for 30 days. It's going to take effect tomorrow Tony. They say they're going to help about 4,000 borrowers.
When you look at the numbers, it is about 20 percent of Citi's lending portfolio in terms of mortgages. But let's be clear here. This only applies to you if your loan is owned by Citigroup, so if you just make payments to Citi but your loan is owned by someone else, some other group of investors, then unfortunately you're not going to qualify for this, so a little clarity on that.
Also, Tony, this comes as the Obama's administration's efforts to modify mortgages have really fallen short by most accounts. When you look at the numbers, only about 4 percent of troubled borrowers have gotten long-term help under the administration's foreclosure prevention plan. Citi says, listen, we've enrolled -- a little extra sound for you there.
HARRIS: Yes. Yes.
HARLOW: Citi says, Tony, we've enrolled about 100,000 people in the government's program. But get this, Tony, they say only 271 of those mortgage modifications have been made permanent.
HARRIS: Yes. Yes.
HARLOW: That's according, actually, to the Treasury. So out of 100,000 enrolled, only 271 have actually worked. To be fair, on the other hand, Tony, I want to say, some bank executives, some high-level bank executives have told me, listen, we're trying but the paperwork we get from Treasury to do this is about this thick and complex, so a lot of people can't get it done. So we'll see if that changes and helps things as well, Tony.
HARRIS: Right. Poppy, the House of Representatives trying to deliver some help in time for the holidays.
HARRIS: We touched on it just a bit there with Representative Clyburn. What can you tell us about the jobs creation bill passed last night?
HARLOW: Right. Sure. Well, what we know from this, that the House passed, is more than $150 of that is earmarked for job creation and unemployment assistance in many different forms. Take $75 billion of that, they're trying to get it from the TARP fund, which the president has talked so much about, to spend on infrastructure and also helping states prevent layoffs. $79 billion of that would go towards what they're calling an emergency safety net. And, Tony, most of that would add to the deficit. That's what the Congressional Budget Office says.
What would we be paying for there? It would be adding to the deficit. They would extend unemployment benefits. Also, the COBRA health care subsidy and some other things.
But I should note this. This weekend, Tony, the Senate is expected to pass a two-month extension of those benefits, but they won't take up the jobs creation measure until next year. So a little bit of aid on the way it's expected through the Senate and on the president's desk maybe sometime next week, Tony.
HARRIS: Yes, also in that House bill, some money for job training, maybe retraining in some cases.
HARRIS: And also some spending for infrastructure as well. Good stuff.
HARRIS: Poppy, appreciate it. Good to see you. Thank you.
Got to tell you, it's a tough economy. No news there, right? But some people are coming up with some unique ways to overcome job loss. Our chief business correspondent, Ali Velshi, is in Savannah, Georgia, with that story.
And, Ali, look, I don't mean to sound dubious here, but how do you make coupons a business?
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I got to tell you, I would not have known.
VELSHI: And one of the things that you and I have been talking about all week is that we are, you know, talking to people who have come up with creative, innovative solutions to help themselves or their communities and their cities. This one seemed very basic. I wouldn't have thought you could do anything about this. But there's a woman who lost her job and she turned it around. Listen to this.
SHANNON JUSTICE, STARTED ONLINE COUPON VENTURE: A year ago I was laid off from my job as a marketing director. And because of the economy, and because of needing financial help, we decided to start couponing, me and my friends. And what has come back from that is that we've developed a website, called smartcoupondeals.com, where we send out e-mail shopping lists to people showing them where they can save about 60 to 90 percent on groceries. We match what the current -- the coupons are that are currently out there with the sales that are out in the local stores.
We charge $5 a month for our service and we e-mail on the day that every single sale starts a list to all the people. And we actually do all the hard work for everybody. We tell them, we do the legwork for them because couponing is really not an easy thing to do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I'll do is I'll take the sales flyers . . .
JUSTICE: My father has recently retired. And he's just taken to couponing like a duck in water.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this is my stash, as we say here.
JUSTICE: Where he's actually had to build on a second pantry onto his house because he's saved so much and he's buying so many things.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can walk in and spend $150. With my discounts, with my coupons, I can walk out with $35, $40.
VELSHI: Has this generated some income for you?
JUSTICE: Very little right now. We're just in our beginning stages. What we've done is we've started with Facebook marketing. But just in the month of October alone, we went from having 100 fans on Facebook, to 2,000 -- about 2,067 fans. A lot of people feel that, you know, that well, we're not that bad off that we have to go use coupons. The point is that it doesn't matter how bad off you are, you can really, you know, take that savings and put it towards something else in your household.
VELSHI: So it's logical regardless of what your financial station is to try and save on the basics.
JUSTICE: I believe it is. And one of the things that we do too is we also promote charity, too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And one of the nice things that I've found recently was glucose meters. You can go in to some of the places like CVS, pay $20 for this here, and they'll give you $20 back in extra bucks. So you can use the $20. And then what I'll take -- I'll do this. I'll donate it to the Emergency Ministries, one of the doctors offices, so they can start their patients out with a glucose meter. It's just -- it just surprises me that there's not so many people that are out actually doing this.
VELSHI: Tony, here's the amazing thing. It is so simple. She started doing this so that she could save some money. She's made a little small business out of it. Now by her own admission, she's not making a lot of money off of it, but there's potential there. And the third thing, which I think is really great, particularly in this holiday season, they are encouraging people to use these savings, to get the things that have 90 percent, in some cases 100 percent off if you use her coupon system the right way. And even if you don't need it, donate it to somebody else like the mission that Shannon's father is donating to. So that's fantastic.
Here's the other thing. We just got an e-mail from her that by publishing this story today, we've crashed her website. So she says, be patient, she's trying to get it all fixed up. But it's just so simple. I mean a guy like me, who's never really been able to be organized enough to clip coupons, I would subscribe to something like this.
VELSHI: Because if I'm going to save stuff on the money I have to -- save money on the things that I actually have to buy anyway, like toothpaste and pasta, why not?
HARRIS: Yes. I love it. I love it. I got to rethink it. Appreciate it, Ali. See you soon, doctor.
VELSHI: My pleasure.
HARRIS: You know, remember when we took you to basic training yesterday? We want to give you an even closer look.
HARRIS: Preparing for war. All week we've been following Will McClain (ph), a new Army recruit, through enlistment and basic training. Now we follow McClain through one of the grueling parts of basic training, the gas chamber.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on. Hurry up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five, six.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ahh, ahh!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You get a good (ph) thumbs up, privates, I you have a good seal on your mask. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), face to your right. (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), one, two, three.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take a deep breath in. Hold it. I want you to pull the seal on your mask. Pull your mask up so the drill sergeant can see your mouth. And take your left hand and place it on your (INAUDIBLE) left shoulder. With your right hand you can grab a hold of your mask and you can (INAUDIBLE) elbow (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Into through the mouth, out through the nose.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's clean our guns like it's 1969.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come up, come down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His nose is going to touch the charging pin.
HARRIS: Boy, that's very tough stuff, huh?
In Texas, an angry mother is speaking out after her son was dragged off a school bus by authorities two months ago and given to a father now accused of kidnapping him. Jean Philippe Lacombe told a Texas judge he had legal custody of his son in Mexico. He did not. Lacombe and his son have not been heard from since. The boy's mother, Berenice Diaz, told CNN's Anderson Cooper who she blames for losing her son.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERENICE DIAZ, MOTHER OF KIDNAPPED BOY: You know, first of all, I blame his lawyers, (INAUDIBLE), because I suspect, you know, they are involved in this conspiracy. Second, I blame the judge, (INAUDIBLE), because he should have been more precautious at giving this order. And third, I blame the police, because they didn't hear the begs of my child, saying that he's mistreated by his father, saying that he didn't want to go with him. So, I -- I -- I blame them all, you know?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: All right. Berenice Diaz will be in the "Newsroom" this afternoon. Richard Lui is in for Kyra Phillips. That conversation at the top of the 1:00 p.m. hour. Don't -- don't miss it.
And checking our top stories right now. "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting militants in Iraq have used computer software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. predator drones. According to the newspaper, senior defense and intelligence officials say Iranian-backed insurgents have intercepted drone feeds with software that can be bought for about $25.
President Obama leaves tonight for the climate change conference in Copenhagen. He will be joined by more than 100 other world leaders. Hundreds of protesters have been outside the talks. They have been arrested. This scene from yesterday. Inside, negotiations over a comprehensive deal on greenhouse gas emissions appears deadlocked.
British Airways has won a high court injunction prohibiting a 12- day work stoppage that was set to start next week. Union members are angry over plans they say will extend working hours and cut crew levels. Travel experts estimate a strike would have affected about 1 million passengers during holidays.
When is free not really free? Gerri Willis gives us some tips on how to protect yourself from the latest scams.
See you in a second, Gerri.
HARRIS: Here's the thing, free trials are not always free. Visa is cutting off 100 Internet sellers that it says fleeced customers with deceptive ads. Personal finance editor, Gerri Willis, checking in with us.
Gerri, good to see you. Tell us about these scams, will you would, please.
GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Yes, hey there, Tony.
Well, you may have seen those free trial ads on the Internet for things like Siberi (ph) teeth whiteners, colon cleansers. OK, in many cases, when you click on the free trial, you may or you may not get the product. But then if you don't cancel the product or opt out, you begin to get charged repeatedly for future products or services. According to Visa, almost 30 percent of online consumers have been victimized by this deceptive marketing. One company that sells the Siberi supplements more complaints this year than BBB receives about the entire airline industry in one year, believe it or not. Sometimes these free trial offers are buried inside what looks like a fake news site. I want to show you here.
HARRIS: Oh, yes. Yes.
WILLIS: Take a look at this example. See what I'm talking about. You think that legitimate, right?
HARRIS: Yes. Absolutely.
WILLIS: See how even the logos of big media companies like, hey, ours, CNN, it's right there. That is not our website. We did not agree to that, OK. But below this fake article are links to free trials. You may see fake testimonials or consumer comments. Typically on these websites, the deadline to sign up for one of these free trials is the next day. Often the details of the offer are buried in terms and conditions. Legitimate companies will not bury cancellation policies or other charges. So that's how you know you're dealing with someone legit.
HARRIS: Yes, got you. So, Gerri, how do you protect yourself from these scams?
WILLIS: Don't hand over your debit or credit card number to any business without checking them out first. The BB is a great place to start. You can also check in with your state attorney general. Pay attention to any pre-checked boxes on a website before you give a credit card number. If there's a check in one of these boxes, delete it. That's a big red flag if you see that. Otherwise you could be bound to terms and conditions that you don't want. Make sure you review your credit card statements when you get them for unauthorized charges. If you do see unusual activity or unauthorized charges, call up the company, try to resolve it with them. If that doesn't work, you have to dispute with your credit card issuer.
And don't forget to tune into "Your Bottom Line" this weekend.
HARRIS: "Your Bottom Line."
WILLIS: We'll help you put -- yes. We'll put Santa on a budget, believe it or not. How to manage your kids' gift expectations. Plus, some cheap tricks when it comes to food and wine before you buy. We're going to show you how to have a really great dinner party, Tony, and not spend a bundle.
HARRIS: I just -- I need help on managing these expectations. The kids think they're going to get every -- they're not going to get anything. Nothing. Not a thing from me.
Gerri, appreciate it.
WILLIS: I don't believe that for a minute.
HARRIS: Thanks, Gerri. Good to see you.
We are about to meet the world's smallest snowman. And, boy, do we mean small. You've got to see this one to believe it.
HARRIS: Boy, you want to talk about hurry, don't delay. Let's get to the severe weather center now. Chad Myers is there.
And, Chad, you are following a real tenuous situation.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: A little bit. Yes. As your house begins to try to slide into the ocean.
MYERS: Here's the bay, San Francisco. Here's Pacifica. And then here we go, just up to Esplanade (ph) Avenue. And it's kind of a rocky place. Kind of a, you know, pretty topographic. Here's what it looks like right now. Some of that topography is falling into the ocean.
HARRIS: Look at that.
MYERS: We have had high surf out here for the past few days. Surf today, almost 15 to 17 feet. And so this surf, now, pounding against these cliffs . . .
HARRIS: Oh, my goodness.
MYERS: And literally washing part of California into the ocean. And they are evacuating this apartment complex here, 330 Esplanade, this condo complex, as we are seeing. Look how close now the edge of that has gotten to.
HARRIS: That is insane.
MYERS: Over there to the right, you can see where they've tried to stop any more erosion from rainfall by putting up the plastic little -- I don't know, I guess some little visquen (ph), little plastic baggies basically.
MYERS: Trying to get the rain to just fall off and not erode more. But it has been literally the erosion from the surf itself from storms off the shore that have moved in and taken some of these -- some of this underlying sediment, rock away. I'm just -- I'm hoping we get a shot of the ocean here at some point in time, because I know our affiliate KGO did shoot it. And it was really rough. And here we go. Here we go. We're going to zoom out.
And what the problem was, when we're getting into high tide, those waves and those waters were getting up higher and higher and taking some of that down. Obviously rainfall had something to do with this as well as you get -- start to see that mud easily move compared to what would be solid, dry soil.
HARRIS: Well, here's the thing on this, Chad. I'm reading this wire account. And Pacifica's chief building official . . .
HARRIS: This is a guy by the name of Doug Rider (ph). He's quoted as saying the building is not sliding into the ocean . . .
MYERS: Correct. HARRIS: Yet!
MYERS: He said it was (ph) like that.
MYERS: Those people don't care whether it's yet or now or . . .
HARRIS: Yes. But the tenants -- good point. But the tenants are getting their stuff and packing up and getting out.
HARRIS: Because this is scary close!
MYERS: Well, it's a very big cliff. And you can see how close this was built. Everything else away from these areas, a little bit farther away because maybe they had more forethought.
HARRIS: Yes. Boy, all right, Chad appreciate it. Thank you. Keep an eye on this situation, obviously.
Vice President Joe Biden is handing out money today. He announced the first wave of $2 billion in grants for broadband expansion. The money will go primarily to rural communities that are now underserved. Biden made the announcement in Georgia with the state's Republican governor at his side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Make no mistake, this is an historic investment today. It's nearly $200 million in grants and loans we're going to announce. And over the next 75 days, we're going to announce another $200 billion in loans and grants. And when it's all said and done, we'll be awarding $7.2 billion for access for broadband in areas like Dawsonville and all around the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: These broadband grants are part of the $787 billion stimulus package.
The world's tiniest snowman. Are you ready for this? Ever. Josh Levs is here to show us.
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Tony.
HARRIS: We teed it up for you.
LEVS: Yes, you know, it's getting close to the end of the hour. We get to have a little fun here. Take a look here, the world's tiniest snowman ever. Let's watch.
(VIDEO CLIP) LEVS: Three-dimensional snowman. We're looking at an actual three-dimensional snowman all the way inside there. It is one-fifth the width of a human hair. It's made from two tin beads. It's nose is less than 0.001 millimeter wide. And what we're seeing here comes from National Physical Laboratory. The website says it's one of the U.K.'s leading science and research facilities.
And what we're looking at there, Tony, is all about this whole idea of nanotechnology. You know the technology that's growing around us right now.
HARRIS: Yes. Yes.
LEVS: It's used in medicine. It's used in computers. It's used everywhere. It deals with these tiny little microscopic bits. And when you look at their website you learn words like electron microscope, a stigmatism and nano-manipulation, which was used to make that. So what they do is at the holidays they're drawing some attention -- do we have time? Oh, we've got to go. All right. Anyway, so they're drawing attention to the power of this. Now incredibly tiny technology has gotten today. That is what powers the technology that we use. Stuff that's so small like that, Tony.
HARRIS: Yes, that's crazy small.
LEVS: Love it.
HARRIS: All right, appreciate it, Josh, thank you.
LEVS: Thanks, Tony.
HARRIS: We've got a moment here. Time to play the CNN Challenge. You can play the challenge by going to cnn.com. Here's the question, which independent senator announced that he could not support the Democrats' Medicare at 55 proposal, Vermont's Bernie Sanders, Kentucky's Joe Lieberman, Nevada's Harry Reid, Utah's Orrin Hatch? We will have the answer right after this. Got to hurry. Got to hurry. Got to go.
HARRIS: So we are playing the CNN Challenge. And, of course the question is, which independent senator announced that he would not support the Democrats' Medicare at 55 proposal? Your choices were Vermont's Bernie Sanders, Connecticut's Joe Lieberman, Nevada's Harry Reid, Utah's Orrin Hatch? And the answer, of course, is -- you've been paying attention, you know this one. It's pretty easy Connecticut's Joe Lieberman.
And, of course, you can play any time. Just go to cnnchallenge.com for questions that will test your news awareness.
We are pushing forward right now with the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM with Richard Lui.