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CNN NEWSROOM

Father Abducts Son from School Bus; Weight Watchers Members Donate Food to Needy; Mexican Drug Kingpin Killed

Aired December 17, 2009 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And we are pushing forward right now with the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM with Richard Lui.

RICHARD LUI, HOST: Thank you, Tony Harris.

Coming up, child custody catastrophe: a Texas boy forced to go with a father he does not want by a judge he does not know, ruling on facts he did not have. The child now missing, the father's a fugitive. We'll have a live talk with the mother coming up.

And then father and son reunion now closer than ever in Brazil. A five-year intercontinental custody battle may be over, but the dad's not celebrating yet.

James Bain, on the other hand...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am now signing the order, sir. You are a free man. Congratulations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LUI: And with those words and that smile, 35 years in prison for horrific crimes that he did not commit, finally, freedom.

OK. We are pushing forward on a custody case that's now a criminal case. And the gut-wrenching tragedy of it was caught on a school bus camera. We showed some of that to you just moments ago.

A 10-year-old Texas boy, screaming, crying, taken off the bus, returned to his dad on a court order. But prosecutors claim the father tricked the judge here. Father and son, now long gone.

CNN affiliate KABB has been on top of the story for months now, and our David Mattingly has been working on this story as well. David, what's the latest?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Richard, this is truly a disturbing case as you said. What is at stake here is that the system, the very system that's set up to be protecting children may have been duped into assisting in a child abduction.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY (voice-over): It's an ugly child custody fight caught on tape, with a very frightened little boy, caught in the middle.

JEAN PAUL LACOMBE DIAZ, SON AT CENTER OF CUSTODY DISPUTE: Please help me. He's not my dad. He's not my dad. I don't want to live with him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on. You're going to have to get off the bus. Come on.

J. DIAZ: No, I don't want to live with him!

MATTINGLY: With his own father standing outside his school bus, listen as 10-year-old Jean Paula Lacombe Diaz pleads with Texas constables for help, begging to stay with his mother.

J. DIAZ: I want to stay with my mother!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not going to let him do anything to you.

J. DIAZ: No. Please! No, no, no, no, no, no.

Someone help me, please! Someone help me, please! Someone help me, please!

MATTINGLY: His mother says it should have never been allowed to happen.

BERENICE DIAZ, JEAN PAUL'S MOTHER: Take him to a place where he's going to be safe. Not just given to him if someone -- if the kid was shouting, just please don't give my buddy to him, please put me in a safe place. He was pleading for that.

MATTINGLY: But Texas constables had a court order, and turned him over to his father on the spot. Jean-Philippe Lacombe told a Texas judge he had legal custody of his son in Mexico. He did not.

(on camera) All this happened two months ago. Texas authorities have since discovered Lacombe actually lost custody and visitation rights, after he took his son away to France in 2005. His mother had to fight two years to get him back. She moved to the United States, thinking that here, they would be protected.

(voice-over) So, where did everything go wrong? The judge says he acted properly, based on the documents he was presented.

JUDGE SOL CASSEB III, BEXAR COUNTY, TEXAS: You've got lawyers who are officers of the court telling you, "Here's the order. Here's my client swearing to you that something's going to happen to the child." You have to understand in this case these people were making allegations, they were swearing to me.

MATTINGLY: But listen to what the child says here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is he not your dad?

J. DIAZ: Because he hits me a lot of times. I don't want to live with him. I want to live with my mother, please!

MATTINGLY: The district attorney says there's been no report of physical abuse in this case so far, and they're still investigating. But, she says, just the allegation alone at the time should have been enough for officers at the scene to act.

SUSAN REED, BEXAR COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The officers are initially under responsibility to report any form of child abuse that they are aware. You have a child who is out crying. Common sense would be that the officers call Child Protective Services. And they didn't do that.

MATTINGLY: The father and the child have not been heard from since. Calls to his attorneys by CNN were not returned. Jean- Philippe Lacombe is now wanted for kidnapping and accused of lying to the judge.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LUI: All right, David Mattingly is still here with us. And, David, have the authorities looked in to the process, the constables coming to the mother and removing the child?

MATTINGLY: Everything what we're hearing from Child Protective Services, from the D.A. says that they should have listened to that child on the spot and done something about it.

And when I asked the D.A. about it, here's what she told me. She says they have not been investigated -- the child's claims that you heard him saying there, that his father had hit him.

LUI: Right. Right.

MATTINGLY: She says they have not been investigated that I'm aware of. I have checked with CPS. There was no investigation. So what the child said on the bus was not translated to anyone.

That incident happened two months ago. And there was no investigation about these claims. A lot of questions right now about those officers at the scene, what they should have done, according to every law enforcement source we've talked to, is report that right away to CPS and let them sort it out.

LUI: A lot of questions. David Mattingly on top of the story. Thank you so much.

Now, as David, as you heard him say just a moment ago, the child's mother brought her son to the U.S. so something like this would not happen. Let's push the story forward with Berenice Diaz. She and her lawyer, Miguel Ortiz, join us from San Antonio.

Thank you both for joining us.

Berenice, let's start with you. Now, as David Mattingly was just mentioning, it happened two months ago. Yet, we're just getting the video now. Why is that? B. DIAZ: I don't know. That's why I'm asking. Why do they hold on the video that long? They could help my child, you know? Long time ago. So, that's the same question I made to the people who had the video.

LUI: It is tough for any parent to hear about abuse, and it was -- from the tape itself that your son had said that his father had hit him. The D.A. has said, as well as what David was just showing us, there's no reports of abuse here. Did you see any evidence of that?

B. DIAZ: My son has posttraumatic disorder, since I brought him from France, that this one time that he took it from France. And he said so many things about it, and he talked to the doctors, that he was mistreated by his dad, and sometimes he was locked on the apartment that they were living, so they go out. And, you know, so many things that -- that is a mistreat, yes. The records of this, by himself, by my child, saying that.

LUI: All right, Miguel Ortiz, I'm going to get to you in just a second. But Berenice, just one more question for you. Did you file a complaint with Child Protective Services within that two-month period?

B. DIAZ: I've been filing a complaint to everybody, but no one has listened, until Susan Reed point to my story in the D.A. department.

LUI: OK. Berenice, I'm going to ask a question of your lawyer there, Miguel Ortiz.

Miguel, we look at this as a question of custody in this situation. 2005 Berenice had custody of her son Jean Paul. What happened after that?

MIGUEL ORTIZ, LAWYER FOR BERENICE DIAZ: What happened after that, once she was granted custody of the child, the father of the child kidnapped the child, took it to France. Because of how the system works in Mexico, she has to actually look for the child herself.

After two years, she found the child's friends. They conducted a court hearing in France, lasted for about 2 1/2 months. And the court in France ruled that the mother had custody, the rightful possession of the child, and the child was ordered to be returned to Mexico.

Immediately after that, she decided to come to San Antonio, where she has family, to ensure that it doesn't happen again. But it happened again.

LUI: And that's what has happened up to this date. OK, this is an issue of international concern. We have a French citizen, the father Jean-Philippe. We also understand this happened in Mexico. Now we have the United States involved. This is certainly a case of international import. How are you dealing with the different law authorities to deal with this?

ORTIZ: Well, what we have done, there is the International Child Abduction Remedies Act, where all the major countries are part of the -- a convention where there's an agreement that, in the event this type of situation happens, that those governments outside the United States, will enforce the orders granted here.

It applies also with an order made in Mexico, where that's what we're doing. The exact same process was what happened in France, the International Child Adoption Remedies Act. And that's the process which is really the process they use here in order to gain possession of the child.

They actually filed a petition under the International Child Remedies Act, where there were alleging that my client has adopted the child and kidnapped the child, which is really what is what creates a great concern which is how a statute that was designed to protect children actually was used to kidnap the child.

LUI: It worked in the opposite way.

Berenice, where do you think your child Jean Paul is at right now?

B. DIAZ: I really don't know. He's Mexican citizen; he's French citizen, and he's married to a Russian woman. So now I don't know where is he. I still have the Mexican passport, so I don't know with -- with -- which papers he has been, you know, taking my child. I really don't know where he can be.

LUI: Have you heard anything from him, any indication of him still being alive or where he might be?

B. DIAZ: No, no. No, I haven't. I haven't had a word, a telephone call, any mail, nothing. Nothing. So, where he is? I sent him love and hope. I'm getting close to him.

LUI: Berenice, thank you so much.

Miguel Ortiz, thank you both for stopping by to talk about the case that is ongoing right now.

ORTIZ: Thank you.

LUI: Now, Berenice has set up a Web site with Jean Paul's picture, the father's picture, her contact information, other details about this case. You can tell it's a very emotional issue for the mother. That site is at FindJeanPaul.com.

And another international custody case to tell you about, as well, has taken a major turn. A father's struggle to get his son back from Brazil might be over after five years, thousands of miles, and tons of red tape.

All right, 34 years ago today, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme got life. The Manson Family member convicted of trying to assassinate President Gerald Ford. She was paroled this past August at the age of 60.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LUI: See this guy right here? He's an expert on fragrances and flavors, and he's sniffing for a job. So, let's give him a taste of success. Paul McCard, you're our "30-Second Pitch." You'd better get ready.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LUI: Well, the clock is ticking and President Obama knows it. He heads for Copenhagen tonight to join other world leaders at the global climate summit. Tomorrow marks the final day, and more than 100 leaders are arriving in hopes of signing a final agreement.

Now, earlier today, Secretary of State Clinton, tried to revive momentum at the stalled talks. She said the U.S. plans to help raise $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing nations deal with global warming.

All right. Some welcome but temporary relief for homeowners facing tough times during the holiday. Citigroup is saying it plans to suspend foreclosures and evictions for 30 days, giving a break to about 4,000 borrowers with Citigroup loans.

The suspension runs from tomorrow through January the 17th. Citigroup says the affected loans make up about 20 percent of the company's $746 billion mortgage portfolio.

And people who are out of work are catching a break from Congress. The House voted overwhelmingly yesterday to extend the filing deadline for jobless benefits and the COBRA health subsidy through February. The House also approved a $154 billion job creation package aimed at infrastructure projects and keeping police, firefighters, and teachers on the job.

All right, since we're talking about jobs, people can always use more benefits, but what they really want is that all-important job, so people like Paul McCard, a chemist who has worked for more than 25 years in the fragrance and flavor industry, joins us right now.

OK. So, Paul, you were laid off a year ago from a New York City- area fragrance company, and now you are literally sniffing for work. And you've got our "30-Second Pitch" for the day.

First of all, I'm interested before we get to that pitch, Paul, what do you do as a sniffer, as a fragrance expert here?

PAUL MCCARD, JOB SEEKER: Well, basically what I've done is I will take a flavor or a fragrance, and I will analyze it. I will break it down into its individual component parts and find out what makes it tick, re-creating it and formulating a final product, giving it to the...

LUI: Do you actually use your nose -- do you actually use your nose in this process?

MCCARD: Yes, you do. When you actually come up with the final product, you have to compare it with the target that you're dealing with, and this way you can get an idea of if you're on target or off target.

LUI: So, is your honker insured?

MCCARD: Not right now.

LUI: Not right now. But it was, at one point it was, though. That's an important instrument...

MCCARD: Yes.

LUI: ... based on what you have to do. OK. That's what you do. That's what you've done in the past. You're looking for a job, a new career path. Give us your "30-Second Pitch." Ready? Stretch a little here, three, two, one, go.

MCCARD: My name is Paul McCard. I'm an analytical chemist. I work in the flavor/fragrance industry. My responsibilities dealt with duplications of flavors and fragrances, quality control of raw materials and finished products, compounding and sensory. That's where you get to the odor.

My high-tech skills include GC, GC mass specs, specific gravity and effective index flash point. I would like to get into the flavor, fragrance industry or food and beverage, cosmetics and pharmaceutical, preferably, hopefully, in either New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut.

LUI: All right. You did it in 28 seconds. Well done.

Paul McCard, you see the e-mail if you'd like to reach out to him there at the bottom of the screen: Enterprise1228@aol.com.

And my friend, to you and your nose, good luck. And, Paul, by the way...

MCCARD: Thank you very much.

LUI: You bet you.

If you want proof our "30-Second Pitch" actually works here, all you have to do is check out former pitcher, Leanne Taylor, a laid-off radio personality who we got to speak with a couple weeks back. Great person. Guess what? We got some word from her that she has found a new gig. Starting December 20, Leanne will be the morning show host for WAAL, a classic rock station in Binghamton, New York.

Congrats Leanne. Glad we could help. We look forward to listening to you on the radio.

Now, if you want to be part of the pitch -- it's always fun; you can get a job like Leanne -- e-mail us your resume at 30SecondPitch@CNN.com, or tweet us at KyraCNN. Next hour, we've got another one for you.

All right. Prosecutors call them some of the most disturbing images they have seen. We'll tell you why dozens of people have been arrested in Ohio. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LUI: All right. We've got your top stories this hour.

Cincinnati Bengals player Chris Henry is dead. Police in Charlotte, South Carolina, say that Henry fell off the bed of a pickup truck during a fight with his fiancee. And they say that the woman trying to drive away earlier, but Henry jumped into the truck bed.

It is the largest child-porn investigation in Ohio's history. Prosecutors in Cleveland have indicted 50 people, some of them juveniles here. Investigators say they seized computers and cameras with images of infants, toddlers and young children being sexually tortured.

And the British Airways cabin crews will not be striking this holiday. A court has issued an injunction blocking the planned 12-day walkout. The airline says it is delighted for its customers. The U.N. warns -- or rather, the union warns it could eventually vote again to strike.

All right, some big-time travel interruptions...

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes.

LUI: ... sure to be on the way. Chad Myers is watching that for us. What's going on? I know you've got that big system in the south you've been watching the last couple of days.

(WEATHER REPORT)

MYERS: Our Web site of the day today: VRBO, Vacation Rental by Owner. Go to any one of these states. Say I want to go to Florida. Click on Florida, and you'll find yourself a listing. You can go to all the listings.

I found one here that actually I've stayed in before. This was in Grassy Key. And there's the view that I had of the ocean and the palm trees. And all of these are available. You can see what dates they are available. And you actually don't have to pay a commission, because you're renting them directly from the owner. And because of the cheapskate that I am, it actually saves you money.

LUI: Well, cheapskate -- cheapskate, that's a great idea. You can go from owner to renter directly. Without a rental person, right?

MYERS: You might save 30 percent on what that rental company might charge you.

LUI: All right. Thanks, Cheapskate Myers. Appreciate it.

MYERS: You bet.

LUI: All right. See you in a little bit.

Losing points for charity. People on Weight Watchers are taking losing weight to a whole new level here. Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, has today's "Fit Nation."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rosemary Baressi never considered herself obese.

ROSEMARY BARRESI: I always battled weight, but not -- I never thought it was a significant amount of weight. It was maybe five, ten.

GUPTA: But when a neighbor mistakenly called her pregnant, she immediately decided to join Weight Watchers and became a lifetime member.

Now, 12 years latter, 31 pounds lighter and a Weight Watchers meeting leader herself, Rosemary and the entire Weight Watchers family, are starting to give back in a meaningful, but somewhat ironic way.

BARRESI: We've asked our members, if you've lost a pound, you bring in a pound of food to symbolize that weight loss. And what we do in turn, we turn it over to City Harvest, which in turn donates to the 10 or 12 groups that are in our local area.

GUPTA: The Lose for Good campaign, as it's being called, is now in its second year, and it's delivering some remarkable results.

DAVID KIRSCHHOFF, CEO, WEIGHT WATCHERS: This year in seven weeks members have lost over 4 million pounds of weight. They've contributed over 2 million pounds of food.

GUPTA: It's an astounding amount of food. But for Rosemary, it just simply makes sense.

BARRESI: We have opposite ends of the same rainbow. We're dealing with obesity, and these people are dealing with, "Oh, my, how am I going to pull a meal together with what I have in the cabinet?"

GUPTA: And for the organizations receiving the food, it's a very welcome helping hand in a difficult economy.

JILLY STEPHENS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CITY HARVEST: We can pick it up in the morning, and it will be on someone's table this evening. So, really, that's an immediate result, and we can't ask for anything better during this time.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LUI: The war next door. Mexican troops battle some of the nation's most powerful drug lords. Those would be the people in shackles.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LUI: You may not know the name Arturo Beltran Leyva, but a lot of people are happy that this man is dead. Now, Beltran Leyva ran the Mexican drug cartel of the same name, until he was killed in a shootout with the Mexican navy. That was last night in a housing complex just south of Mexico City.

Now Beltran Leyva's brother, also a drug kingpin, was killed as well, along with five other traffickers and a Mexican sailor in that.

Now, there's a fair chance some of the cocaine and heroin on the streets of your city was put there by the Beltran Leyva cartel, so is the kingpin's death a major victory for the good guys or simply that much less competition for his rival?

Let's ask Anthony Placido, chief of intelligence for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Now, Anthony, thanks for joining us today. I want to read something from the Justice Department. They described Beltran Leyva as one of -- among the most powerful drug traffickers in Mexico. How big of a catch, as well as a killing, was this, that we're reporting right now?

ANTHONY PLACIDO, DEA: Well, you know, Richard, in a time when we talk about low-level functionaries and the occasional lieutenant being taken down, he wasn't a big fish, but rather a whale. His significance really can't be overstated.

LUI: And how many whales are there out there?

PLACIDO: The U.S. government has a list called the Consolidated Priority Organization Target List. Internationally, about 50 or so, on the list. He's one of the most important in Mexico.

LUI: So, you are the chief of intelligence for the DEA. Fifty whales, we're not even talking about the fish. How does the DEA work to infiltrate and get information to enact such a -- a -- such a moves against these cartels that exist in Mexico?

PLACIDO: Well, this is a real story of success, and it's success in the bilateral relationship between Mexico and the United States. Interagency coordination in the United States and with our partners in Mexico are really what resulted in this success last night.

LUI: Well, you know, some say here, Anthony, that the U.S. demand for drugs is what's driving, of course, the production and the sale of drugs come from Mexico, and, therefore, the deaths that we've reporting so often just across the border to the south. What is the DEA doing to work to reduce that demand?

PLACIDO: Well, as a law enforcement officer, some 30 years experience, I would be the first to tell you that the long-term solution to the problem of drug abuse and addiction-related violence, must include demand reduction as well as attacking the supply.

But the Drug Enforcement Agency is really geared toward focusing on the people who organize, finance, direct and control the transnational business that creates so much mayhem across the globe.

LUI: It would appear, though, Anthony, based on the reports that we have had, just this situation as well, Tijuana, which we're about to talk about in about five minutes, that success, though, does not appear to be that great.

PLACIDO: Well, you know, there are many success stories around the country, and it depends on how you measure success. Clearly, there are still drugs flowing into the United States. The goal of the initiative is really to return the situation in Mexico to one that can be managed as a law enforcement problem rather than a national security crisis.

Currently, we've had more than 14,000 drug-related murders in the last three years in Mexico, forcing Mexico to mobilize 45,000 military troops. That is beyond the dimensions of a law enforcement problem. It's a true national security crisis, and I think through our collaboration, we can return it to a problem that's more appropriately managed as a law enforcement matter.

LUI: What grade would you do -- would you give yourself in terms of the progress so far?

PLACIDO: Well, I don't know that I'm giving myself a grade. Last night's effort was an A. Overall we got lots and lots of work to do.

LUI: And what else do you need to do better?

PLACIDO: Well, this, I think, last night's operation is the beginning of what we need to do, and that is, collaborate at a bilateral and multilateral level to share the information that is so critical if we're going to fight transnational criminal organizations.

LUI: All right. Great success to you. Anthony Placido, chief of intelligence at the DEA. Thank you so much for stopping by and filling us in on what are some of your procedures and thinking there at the agency. Appreciate it.

PLACIDO: Thanks very much.

LUI: All right. As I was alluding to, we'll take you to Tijuana, where the truce apparently is over. For months, competing cartel bosses have held their fire, but for whatever reason, the bloodshed is back.

Since Saturday, listen to these numbers, just five days ago, more than 45 people have been killed in a city barely 15 miles from San Diego. Forty-five-plus in five days. Now, in some cases cops say killers have left threatening notes behind, as you can see, very difficult for the DEA in many cases.

But in Durango, in the Mexican heartland, something much worse was left. The severed heads of five police officers and a prosecutor turned up yesterday outside a church. Police assume it is revenge by the Gulf cartel for the killing last week of ten cartel members by Mexican soldiers. The decapitated lawmen were kidnapped on Monday night.

All right. A NEWROOM follow-up for you right now. An awful story from Phoenix. Four young Liberian refugees charged with gang raping another refugee, an 8-year-old girl. This happened in July at a storage shed outside an apartment complex. A judge has now ruled that one of the suspects, a nine-year-old boy, is incompetent to stand trial. The judge said he cannot understand the charges against him and cannot be made to understand them anytime soon. Another nine- year-old is still being charged. So is a 13-year-old in this. A 15- year-old is charged as an adult.

OK. Just in time for Christmas. A judge stepping in to the British Airways' labor battle. Who came out on top of this?

And, boy, time flies, doesn't it? One hundred and six years ago today, Orville and Wilbur Wright proved they had the original right stuff and successfully flew the first power-controlled airplane. It put Kitty Hawk, North Carolina and on the map. The anniversary celebrated every day on North Carolina license plates.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LUI: A British judge may have saved Christmas for air travelers across Europe. Good thing for them. The judge ruled today that British airways' cabin crews cannot stage a 12-day strike starting next week that they wanted to do. Union members are angry here, everyone else, got a sigh of relief.

And our Michael Holmes is at London's Heathrow airport. And, Michael, thousands of people risked not being able to get to where they wanted to go in Europe, Asia, North America, and many other places.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a sigh of relief, indeed. Up to 1 million people were going to be affected by this strike, Richard, if it went ahead.

Now, what essentially happened here was British Airways took the union to court because they said some of the people who voted in the ballot to go on strike weren't meant to vote. They were ineligible, if you like. Now, it was only a small percentage of those who voted and would not have affected the outcome of the strike vote, but guess what? It's the law.

And so if you like, it's a technicality. The judge sided with British airways. They are thrilled, of course, passengers are. The union, boy are they ever annoyed. They are saying this was a disgraceful day for democracy when a court can overrule an overwhelming decision by employees and all that sort of good stuff.

Now, what they're saying they're going to do is have another ballot, but they're not going to be able to organize that and certainly not able to organize a strike until well into next year. So, British Airways, Christmas travelers, a sigh of relief, Richard.

LUI: And what are those passengers saying with the sigh of relief there?

HOLMES: yes, I know. We've been talking to them all day. And most of them are obviously really happy. But because they thought that this strike might happen and had to plan accordingly, a lot of people actually had to be somewhere else in that 12-day period starting from next Tuesday, the 22nd. They had to be there, so they had to make other arrangements. We spoke to one girl from Illinois earlier, Katie Marcus. Have a listen to her story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATIE MARKUS, AIR PASSENGER FROM ILLINOIS: I've been going to school with about 16 girls, and about half of them that I came here on British Airways with have been affected, and they've had to pay at least $300 to about $2,000 extra just to make sure that they had a ticket home.

HOLMES (off camera): So, they were going to buy another ticket from another airline?

MARKUS: Yes, before Christmas, to see their family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Yes, so there's one of those stories. Now, they were a group of students who were here on a study program, and they actually had to spend money to get back. They're not going to get any of that money back because British Airways said, we'll give you refunds if your flight doesn't fly during the strike period, but if it does fly, no refund. Well, the plane's going to fly, so no refund.

So, there's a lot of people in that situation, Richard, who actually did have to make contingency plans, and now the strike's off. Well, that's great, but they're going to be out of pocket.

LUI: $1,500 to $2,000. These are students. They don't have much money, my friend. Just trying to get home.

Okay, Michael Holmes there reporting on BA and the strike that has now can averted. Appreciate it, thank you, sir.

Your top stories right now. Senate Democrats facing internal pressure over their health care bill. The more liberal Democrats say the bill doesn't do enough. The more conservative ones want much tighter restrictions on federal funding for abortions.

And do you know those high-tech drones being used to track al Qaeda? You've seen them. Well, "The Wall Street Journal" saying they can be easily hacked. The paper saying $26 software has enabled Iraqi insurgents to view the drones' video feeds.

And it wasn't unanimous, but the Senate Banking Committee has voted to push forward Ben Bernanke's nomination for another term as Fed chief. The vote was 16-7. Some senators blamed Bernanke for not spotting problems, though, that led to the meltdown. The full Senate now takes up his nomination. We'll see how it goes. Christmas is only days away, can you believe it? We're that close. But if you are one of many people who still have not made those last-minute shopping lists done yet, don't worry. You could be actually rewarded for your procrastination.

Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange with details on free shipping days. Susan, I'm one of those. What is this all about?

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're one of those, I'm one of those, millions of us are in this category. And that's why -- everybody, listen up, because it's a one-day, annual online shopping event. Over 700 retailers are offering free shipping with guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve.

Who are these merchants? Everyone from low- to high-end, specialty to big box, I mean, Adidas, American Eagle, Barnes & Noble, Border's, Nordstrom's, Saks, you get the idea.

There are some strings attached, and Richard, the intrepid reporter that I am, I went out there. I did it myself, purely for research. The strings attached, you probably have to spend a certain minimum. And then make sure when you're checking out to put the gift code in there that you get on the Web site.

What's the Web site? Freeshippingday.com. And some of the merchants are offering, you know, extras and discounting by the more of you spend, the more you get, that kind of thing. Just go there, check it out for yourself.

LUI: Yes, some are like $50, some are like $125 and sometimes it actually pays off to get the free shipping. I'd like to think the reason why I'm waiting so long is because I've got a strategy. That's not me. Some people evidently do. They wait for the deals...

LISOVICZ: The strategy to panic a few days before.

LUI: Yes.

LISOVICZ: The fact is that every year you see the game of chicken between retailers and consumers. The retailers always blink. They want to get the sale done.

So, are you going to get a better bargain the longer you wait? probably. That's why it's Saturday before Christmas is always the busiest day. The problem, the downside, is that the retailers are stocking less because the economy stinks. So, you may not get what you want, because you waited, Richard. Keep that in mind.

LUI: So, you think we played it right? Do you think we timed it right, you and me, by waiting until today?

LISOVICZ: I think you and I will be commiserating on Christmas Eve. One week, one week, just one week, until Christmas Eve.

LUI: I cannot believe it. All right, my friend, Susan Lisovicz, thank you very much for the good tips. LISOVICZ: You're welcome.

LUI: It's "The Price is Right" meets the pulpit. Go to church, win cash prices. CNN's Christine Romans goes to church for us to check it out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PASTOR DAN WILLIS, LIGHTHOUSE CHURCH OF ALL NATIONS: All right, Father. You get it all. It all belongs to you. We thank you. It all is yours, in Jesus' name.

Whoo! Let's go!

ROMANS (voice-over): At the Lighthouse Church of All Nations in suburban Chicago, parishioners are lining up every week, hoping to receive more than just the Sunday sermon.

Church Pastor Dan Willis also recently began giving away money. With a congregation hit hard by the economic downturn, Willis finishes every service with a cash prize, giving away $1,000 every week.

WILLIS: If you are in seat number 365, you just won $500.

Due to the economic recession, I wanted to teach the parallel between faith and finances.

Three hundred, 400, 500. How are you feeling right about now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm happy. Thank you so much!

ROMANS: Willis doesn't call the prize a lottery. Instead, referring to it as a love gift, a chance to bless a lucky few while also helping fill his pews. He says church attendance has grown from about 1,600 to 2,500 in just a few weeks.

WILLIS: Debt is not a financial condition. Debt is a spiritual condition.

ROMANS: Recent winners say the money couldn't come at a better time.

FRANK CRUZ, PARISHIONER AND $250 WINNER: I went down to Red Lobster and celebrated with my wife and my kids. And then after that, I paid a couple of bills off and I did groceries.

CARYN POWELL, PARISHIONER AND $250 WINNER: As I drove out, my gas tank was on "E," so I drove straight to the gas station.

WILLIS: Could you imagine what would happen -- and I get passionate about this part -- if every church did something like this?

ROMANS: That's exactly why some others in the religious community are concerned.

WILLIAM SCHWEIKER, THEOLOGICAL ETHICIST, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO: The whole point of the Christian life is to care for others, to love others, to give. And yet, this could set up a mindset where the purpose of going to church is to acquire for one's self, which is what Christians usually call sin.

WILLIS: We love you and there's nothing you can do about it.

ROMANS: Still, Willis says it's not just the love that he hopes will continue to grow at the Lighthouse Church, but also the parking lot. He plans on building an additional lot to handle the hundreds more people coming to church every week, praying for a chance to win some cold, hard cash.

WILLIS: Sweetheart, you just won $100!

ROMANS: Christine Romans, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. Balancing faith and finances, when money is tight. Christine Romans explores how we worship and how we spend. "IN GOD WE TRUST: FAITH AND MONEY IN AMERICA." That airs this Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.

He sees you when you're sleeping, you see him when you're awake. We'll tour one mother of a Father Christmas collection.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LUI: You'd never know it by his smile, but this man's the victim of one this man is a victim of one of the worst miscarriages of justice our court system has ever seen. The name (ph)Jamie Bain jailed for 35 years, and innocent! He joins us live at the top of the hour with his story.

Plus, it's hard to get inside a teenager's head at the best of times. But we will look inside of the worst of how violence affects the teen brains. Today's "Walk in My Shoes" special report from our T.J. Holmes.

Holy moly, is she Holly Jolly? A Texas woman has gone all out decking her halls and her bedroom and her bathrooms and a lot of other stuff. Seriously, this place would give the Grinch a heart attack. Here is Bob Hallmark of the affiliate KLTV.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOB HALLMARK, KLTV-TV CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the minute you walk into Bonita Hicks' home, you know she has more than your average affection for the holidays.

BONITA HICKS, SANTA CLAUS COLLECTOR: Sometimes I ask myself, why didn't I stop at 100? it would be easier.

HALLMARK: Nearly every kind of Santa is on display. Cooking Santas, musical Santas, biker Santas, even flying Santas. Some she has made by hand and others are collectibles. In case you are wondering, this all started as a way to cheer up her then-ailing husband.

HICKS: It was about probably '81 or '82 that I went shopping and found a Santa and I took that Santa home and he laughed. He thought it was the funniest thing in the word. Of course, that just fed me, and I thought I had to go out to get another one.

HALLMARK (on camera): You might think it would only be one or two rooms. No, there is no room in this house that does not have a Santa Claus in it. There are over 2,000 of them.

(voice-over): Even the bathrooms have Santas, and of course Christmas trees.

When I get them out, you know, near Christmas and put them up, it is just like seeing old friends. I enjoy it.

HALLMARK: Her home has become something of a holiday tour attraction for the neighbors.

JANET SCHROEDER, NEIGHBOR: I have been over here several times, and every time I see one they didn't think I had seen before.

HALLMARK: Her hope is that her love of jolly Old St. Nick will send a simple message.

HICKS: I would just like for people to enjoy themselves more. I love Santa, and I believe.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LUI: And we love those Santas that you have for us there. Is Mrs. Hicks done collecting Santas, by the way? Nope, not here. She says as long as there is a Christmas, she will keep adding them on. They'll be good ones, no doubt.

A long battle between a New Jersey father and the Brazilian legal system may be over. Why has his son's extended Brazilian family fought so hard to keep him?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LUI: David Goldman is in Brazil right now hoping to get his 9- year-old son, Shawn, on a plane and bring him home to New Jersey as soon as possible. Now yesterday, a court in Rio gave him custody, so what is the rush here?

Well, the story began back in 2004 when David's wife took Sean to her native Brazil on vacation. She never came back, divorced David and kept the son. When she died last year, the family fought to keep Sean. CNN's Deb Feyerick went to Rio back in July to get their side of the story, and keep in mind here, this interview was before yesterday's ruling.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the age of 35, Bruna Bianchi had everything she dreamed of. Living in Brazil with her American-born son, happily remarried, a baby on the way, her own business. It was almost perfect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was really, really brave to come back here. She wanted her life back.

FEYERICK (on camera): But it came with a price. Bruna gambled she'd be able keep her son, Sean, in Brazil and work out custody with her first husband in New Jersey, David Goldman.

No one except Bruna knows the exact moment she decided to stay here in Brazil, but it is at this point that the stories of husband and wife take sharply different turns.

(voice-over): David went to court in New Jersey. Bruna in secret went to court in Brazil, an attempt to beat the system. Each got custody. But under the terms of the Hague Convention, the U.S. court ordered Sean to be left home.

PETER LAUZON, CHILD CUSTODY EXPERT: A lot of times parents are not allowed to move, and that is why in all likelihood, she took this particular step of kidnapping the child.

FEYERICK: And Goldman says Bruna warned him not to go to police. Threatening ...

DAVID GOLDMAN, SEAN GOLDMAN'S FATHER: I would never see my son again.

FEYERICK: But the mother and brother say, not true.

(on camera): Was she threatening him? Don't come, you will never see your son.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She asked him to come many, many times.

FEYERICK: Goldman's attorney calls the invitation a bold-faced lie. Meanwhile, years passed. Sean was living in Rio, learning Portuguese and making friends.

Then tragically, last August, his mom died, hours after giving birth to a daughter. Again, Sean's world was about to change. A Brazilian high court judge ordered Sean's immediate return to Goldman, concluding Bruna's family had alienated the child from his real dad.

Sean's stepdad is making a legal claim for Sean to stay in Brazil where he has lived half of his life.

GOLDMAN: I am pleased with the decision today.

FEYERICK: Why, as a stepfather, you are fighting for a custody of another man's biological child?

JOAO PAULO LINS E SILVA, SEAN'S STEPFATHER: I was six -- sixty percent of Sean's life together with him, giving him love, care, protection , supporting him financial. What is steps of this? Steps of love (ph).

GOLDMAN: To allow a man with no blood relation to keep another parent's child is against their own laws.

FEYERICK: So why is Sean, now nine, still is in Brazil?

SILVANA BIANCHI RIBEIRO, GRANDMOTHER: She always ask, Mom, someday, something will happen to me, please, Sean is your son. Promise that you are going to stay with him.

FEYERICK: Bruna's family, still grieving her death, is still determined to fight on.

LUCA BIANCHI RIBEIRO, UNCLE: Can you imagine that now you need to live in America and live with someone that you don't know, but it is your biological father and you do not remember? Just go. I mean, he does not want to go. He is so sad.

S. RIBEIRO: I miss my daughter so much.

FEYERICK: Deborah Feyerick, CNN, Rio de Janeiro.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LUI: Again, Deb Feyerick talked to Sean Goldman's extended family in Brazil back in July, obviously before the court ruling yesterday, giving custody to his father in the end in that.