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Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to Court; Abdulmutallab Pleads Not Guilty; New Year Deep Freeze

Aired January 8, 2010 - 14:00   ET



KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: I don't know, though. What would you pick? Would you pick doing that in the field with that kind of conditions, or would pick Baghdad and those conditions?

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know me, Kyra. I would be back at Baghdad tomorrow to cover that story.

PHILLIPS: I knew you were going to say that.

HOLMES: You know, the irony of that shoot, actually, was that Morgan's cameraman there was a guy called Scotty (ph), Scott McWhinny (ph). And the reason I was going to London was to go to his wedding. So a little irony there for you.

PHILLIPS: Were they able to get that up live?

HOLMES: Yes, we got to that. It snowed, and three days later, it was sunny. So we had the idyllic sort of setting, yes.

PHILLIPS: Outstanding. All right, Michael. We'll see you again Monday.

HOLMES: You will.

PHILLIPS: All right.

And if you want to see more from Michael and the backstory team, check out

What will the airline bomb suspect have to say for himself? The world is waiting to hear as his federal court hearing gets under way in Detroit. We're told that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was inside this SUV as it rolled into a garage at the courthouse. He'll be arraigned on six charges, including attempted use of a WMD.

Tackling the job of creating jobs, President Obama expected to focus on the economy today after 85,000 jobs were slashed last month. He's set to speak in just about an hour, and we'll carry it live, right here on CNN.

The wheels on the bus not going round and round today. A deep freeze put a big chunk of the country on ice, and we're keeping an eye on the plunging mercury. If the charges against him are true, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab expected to be dead today, with a whole lot of people joining him. Instead, any second now, he will face a federal judge in Detroit on charges of plotting to blow up an airliner and murder his 289 fellow passengers and crew. Cameras are not allowed in federal court, but we expect to get details from Abdulmutallab's arraignment momentarily.

Outside of the courthouse, rallying Michigan Muslims want the world to know that they stand for peace and they are against terror.

Abdulmutallab's six-count federal indictment carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, but indictment doesn't mean conviction. And some think that terror suspects have no place in civilian court at all.

I'm joined by CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin. And from D.C., terrorism analyst and CIA veteran, Larry Johnson.

Let me ask you, Larry. Would you rather see this guy tried in a military tribunal versus a civilian court?

LARRY JOHNSON, TERRORISM ANALYST: It doesn't matter, as long as he is tried. I think the problem we've had with what the Bush administration, the previous administration, didn't do is they just took these people in and did not give them any kind of judicial process. They are going to hold them indefinitely.

So that's what the Soviets used to do when they would take people, declare them enemies of the state, and say we're going to hold you until we decide to release you. The guys in legal custody -- our legal system has been very robust, and this was the policy of Ronald Reagan, this was the policy of George Herbert Walker Bush, and it was a policy continued by Bill Clinton. So I am very comfortable with prosecuting terrorists, because it worked under Reagan, it worked under Bush, Sr., and it worked under Clinton.

PHILLIPS: Did it work, prosecuting terrorists under those presidents?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: It did. And it worked under -- just a few years ago with almost the identical crime.

What I find is so peculiar about this controversy is that the shoe bomber, Richard Reid, it is almost exactly the same crime. Fortunately, both attempts failed.

That was prosecuted in criminal court, Richard Reid plead guilty. He's serving life without parole. There was no controversy about that at this point.

Why it's suddenly controversial now I think owes more to the partisanship with which we live rather than the real merits of the case. This is a criminal case, that's where it belongs.


PHILLIPS: Larry, are they going to be able to get any good intel out of this guy?

JOHNSON: Absolutely. Look, the FBI -- I've got a lot -- even though I'm former CIA, former State Department, lots of friends in the FBI. The FBI has very good investigators. They're actually the ones who know how to interrogate subjects.

The CIA has no experience with that. FBI has lots of experience, and they are able to get information out through a variety of techniques, all of it legal, none of it involving torture. So, again, this 24-hour methodology that has been built up over this nonsense that the only way to get information is to torture people, that's written by Hollywood screenwriters who don't know what they're talking about and by people in government who have these bizarre fantasies of a brutalizing people. The fact of the matter is, the FBI, law enforcement is very effective at getting information from suspects, particularly when you've got the goods on them, like you do on this Umar Abdulmutallab.

TOOBIN: And if I could just add one point...


TOOBIN: ... it's not even just interrogation that is the only way you get information. Let's say, presumably, he was traveling with a cell phone, he was traveling with documents. You take that cell phone, you find out how it was used, whom he called, whose calls he got. You follow that chain where it leads. You follow the document where is they go.

That's old-fashioned, good detective work, whether it's done by CIA agents or FBI agents. That's the kind of thing that could be very promising, it doesn't violate anyone's rights, it's not involving torture, and it's very effective.

PHILLIPS: Well, Larry, from your experience, do guys like this sing like a canary?

JOHNSON: Sometimes they do. You know, when you go back and you look at the people that are in prison now who were terrorists, active terrorists, Fawaz Younis, who was taken into custody back in 1987, "The Blind Sheikh," Rahman, who was implicated trying to blow up the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, you've got Kiki Moskira (ph) who blow up the Avianca plane, you've got Hakim Murad and Ramzi Yousef who were implicated in the Bojinka plot.

So, you've got a lot of terrorists who've been put on trial, who have giving up information either in the course of the trial, or prior to that. So this nonsense that somehow, using our criminal laws and acting like a civilized nation makes us, you know, wimps is, I think, doing a disservice to this country, because if it was good enough for Ronald Reagan and if it was good enough for George Herbert walker Bush, I think it ought to be good enough for us now.

PHILLIPS: OK. I'm just getting word that the court hearing is over.

And Jeffrey, a not guilty plea from Abdulmutallab.

TOOBIN: Well, I think it's worth noting that it's six minutes after 2:00. This was probably about a four-minute hearing. This is a very routine matter, an arraignment. A not guilty plea is entered just to let the proceedings get started.

PHILLIPS: So he didn't necessarily insist on a not guilty plea?

TOOBIN: Oh, no, no, no.

PHILLIPS: Because this is somebody who wants to be seen as a holy warrior, and I did this. And he already told investigators that he was training in al Qaeda and he wanted to blow up that plane.

TOOBIN: I anticipate that this case will end in a guilty plea, given the evidence, but certainly it wouldn't end this soon with a guilty plea. The lawyer has to spend some time with him. The lawyer has to investigate. She has to learn the circumstances and see if she can make a deal.

All of that is going to take time. So the fact that a not guilty plea was entered is not really significant in determining whether that's how the case will really end, with a trial or a guilty plea.

PHILLIPS: What's it like to been an attorney? I know you have talked with so many about this, to have to represent a terrorist.

TOOBIN: Well, you know, they really believe in the system. And they really believe that the only way that the system is fair for everybody is that if even bad people force the government to prove their cases, because that will mean that when the cases are closer, everyone will have the rights to use the rights guaranteed to criminal defendants.

Look, it's not the work that I chose to do when I was a practicing lawyer, but I respect the people who do it. And I'm glad they're not me.

PHILLIPS: Well, I know what Larry Johnson would want to do if he was in that courtroom with that guy. That's for sure. And it would not be very diplomatic.

Larry Johnson, Jeffrey Toobin, guys, thank you so much.

Well, did you want to make one more comment, Larry?

JOHNSON: Well, I would say I would read him his rights, but if he ends up spending a long time in jail, or a death sentence, I would lose no sleep over it and say he finally may have got his wish.


TOOBIN: He's just not eligible for a death sentence, because, fortunately, no one died. Life in prison, count on it.

PHILLIPS: Got it. All right. Well, we'll, of course, be tracking it, and we'll have you both on many times more from now.

Jeffrey Toobin, Larry Johnson.

Thanks, guys.

Well, this isn't the only terrorism case on the radar. Remember this guy, Najibullah Zazi, arrested late last year? Now the case is growing and more guys are in custody. We'll have details this hour.

It isn't supposed to be this way. It's so cold in the Deep South, it could almost be Canada. So when is the warm-up coming? Chad Myers is here.


PHILLIPS: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab just wrapping up his arraignment hearing in Detroit, and it didn't take long.

Deborah Feyerick outside the courthouse there in Detroit with how he plead -- Deborah.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, he walked into the courthouse, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. He walked into the courtroom very slowly, clearly with some difficulty, as he was surrounded by U.S. Marshals, and made his way to the area where his defense team was seated.

He sat down, his shoulders hunched up. He was talking to his lawyers, nodding as if he understood what it was they were telling him.

When he got before the judge, it was interesting. The judge asked him whether he was on any sort of medication, and he did say that he was on painkillers, but that he did indeed understand the charges against him. He had read through the indictment with his lawyer.

One of the strongest impressions I got there, Kyra, watching him, you know, you think about this journey that this kid took, this whole radicalization process that he underwent, then going from Yemen to Ghana to Nigeria, then here to the United States. And the person that you saw sitting in that courtroom, there was a sense almost that he was almost defeated. Of all of the things he could have imagined or the ways he felt this could have played out, the person who was sitting there looked almost resigned to being surrounded by all of these law enforcement personnel, his lawyers, a crowd of reporters there.

It was a very stark contrast to this slight man, about 5'7", 5'8". Even the pants he was wearing were too big for him. They were sort of curled up at the bottom. His feet were shackled.

But a very interesting picture in that courtroom today -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. We'll continue to follow it.

Deborah Feyerick there live, outside the Detroit courthouse.

Deborah, thanks.

Temperatures now so low, they can actually kill a person. Much of the United States shivering through this weather like we haven't seen in years, and more is on the way.

In the Deep South, that's causing a lot of problems for people and animals. Take a listen.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm John Zarrella, in Florida, where nature's teasing us a bit today. The temperatures in the low 60s and low 70s.

You can see the animals are taking advantage of it. The turtles are out. They're sunning themselves there. The birds are doing the same thing.

In fact, there's even an iguana down here, an invasive species. I'm going to walk over to him real quick. There he goes.

Now, the temperature is expected to drop precipitously over the weekend, and where I'm standing will be down in the 30s by Saturday night, Sunday morning. And you know what happens with these iguanas? They don't like it, and they live in trees.

And what happens is, when it gets that cold, they go into suspended animation, and they literally fall out of the trees. Right now, he's doing all right, that guy. He's sunning himself. But again, nice day today.

All this is going to change dramatically over the weekend.



DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This arctic blast not slowing down the traffic on Atlanta's notorious expressway. As you can see behind me, the roads are clear and moving quite well, but the same cannot be said for all of the side roads, the overpasses and the bridges. That's where the icing has occurred and continues to cause problems here in Atlanta.

Take a look at what happened before dawn this morning. A tremendous pileup south of the city on an on-ramp going on to I-85. More than two dozen cars, at least 27 vehicles in all, involved in a big smash-up as cars began sliding and careening into each other on the ice, on this on-ramp.

There were three injuries reported. Fortunately, not one of those injuries was serious.

The state of Georgia reporting today one fatality associated with this cold snap involving a single vehicle south of the city. The driver in that vehicle dying in that traffic accident.


PHILLIPS: That was CNN's David Mattingly reporting from Atlanta, Georgia.

We're going to talk with our Chad Myers right after the break. He's tracking all the weather conditions, and we'll see if it's going to be any better anytime soon.



PHILLIPS: Well, as freezing temperatures blanket much of the country, most Americans are getting help paying their heating bills, but the need for the assistance keeps growing.

Stephanie Elam here with us, by my side, with our "Energy Fix."

Millions of Americans needing this help. That's for sure.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a lot of Americans. Even though energy prices are lower, still feeling a lot of pain when it comes to paying for energy.

So the economic downturn and the high unemployment rate forcing so many Americans to seek help paying their heating bills. Nearly eight million American households received help in fiscal 2009. That's a record number for the second year in a row, and a 33 percent jump from 2008.

Now applications are flooding in for the current fiscal year which started in October. The National Energy Assistance Directors Association predicts a 20-percent jump in the number of families seeking help. More than $5 billion has been set aside for heating assistance this year, but the association is worried that it's not going to be enough, so it is planning to ask Congress for another $2.5 billion if applications keep pouring in.

Otherwise, Kyra, they are basically saying that they just will not have enough money and they won't be able to help out all of these people.

PHILLIPS: So, then, people who need help paying their bills, will this be available, you know, for a short period of time?

ELAM: Right. And there's still a way right now. As long as there's funds there, there is a way for people to look to get help here.

The Low-Income Heating Energy Assistance Program is federally funded, but run by the state. So to get help, you can call this toll free number. We've got it up on the screen for you.

It's 1-866-674-6327, or you can send an e-mail to They will refer you to your state energy agency.

But also, keep in mind, the eligibility for this is based on income. The majority of families receiving this assistance make less than $25,000 a year, but many states have raised the ceiling so more families can qualify.

And remember, this is not your only option out there. You think you're not going to be able to pay your bills. You can always call your utility company. Many of these companies are willing to work out a payment plan with you. That's better than just not having any payment at all.

So, keep that in mind, because, overall, it's a really rough winter across the country, and people need help. Of course, if you want to know more about Energy Fixes, you can always check out And CNN Money is even on Twitter now.

PHILLIPS: All right. Oh, getting so high-tech.

ELAM: I know. We're so high-tech over there.

PHILLIPS: Thank you, Stephanie. All right.

Well, two alleged cohorts of a Colorado man suspected in a cross- country terror plot are under arrest in New York. One of him wrecked his car after turning over his passport to the FBI and was taken into custody. The other is a taxi driver. The feds suspect that they were in on an alleged plot by Najibullah Zazi, charged in Denver with trying to set off bombs in New York on 9-11-2009.



PHILLIPS: President Obama talking jobs and money coming up at 3:00 p.m. Eastern, and you can catch it live right here on CNN. Again, 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Is a nationwide chain of yoga and wellness centers a cult? Dahn Yoga says no. Some ex-employees say yes, and they claim it all comes down to money. You'll hear from both sides in our special investigation.


PHILLIPS: He promised spiritual healing and true happiness for a price. His name is Ilchi Lee (ph), a Korean businessman who has made millions of dollars with the philosophy that controlling your brain waves can cure what modern medicine can't, but are his followers really being brainwashed? Now the final part of the investigation into Dahn yoga and the heart of its philosophy, brain education -- shoddy science or respected medicine?


PHILLIPS (voice-over): His followers adore him. He says his writings are holy.

ILCHI LEE, (through translator): Brain wave vibration is a scripture. It's a holy scripture. Do you all understand?

PHILLIPS: And this is the basis of his doctrine.

Start by slowly and gently moving your hand...

PHILLIPS: It is promoted as brain wave vibration, pouring energy into your brain with exercises like this. Its creator is a Korean businessman named Ilchi Lee, a savior to thousands of believers who have signed on to his franchise, Dahn yoga. These exercises Dahn yoga says can lead to improved health and even control disease.

GENIA SULLIVAN, DAHN YOGA INSTRUCTOR: The practices that we practice are very helpful. They empower people to really use everything they have to become the best person they can be.

PHILLIPS: Testimonials on the company website are impressive. His members claim that brain wave vibration has lowered blood pressure, corrected lazy eyes, even reduced symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Have you heard of brain education or brain wave vibration?


PHILLIPS: CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta is a practicing neurosurgeon who examined Dahn yoga's claims.

GUPTA: This idea that somehow using parts of your body, you can call it the brain, to vibrate, turn on or off certain parts of the brain is just not rooted in science and there is pretty good science out there nowadays to really study the brain. This just isn't something that's out there.

PHILLIPS: However, Dahn yoga claims its treatments are not quote, hocus pocus, but based on what it calls ancient wisdom.

JOSEPH ALEXANDER, DAHN YOGA VP OF PUBLIC RELATIONS: We do not have scientific evidence, but we do have the anecdotal reports of our members that their pain has disappeared or diminished.

GUPTA: It is probably a little bit dangerous, because people may not get their actual treatment that could work and could be beneficial.

PHILLIPS: So bottom line, this is sort of the placebo effect?

GUPTA: It very well could be a placebo effect. You got hundreds of people in a room all wanting to believe in something, all wanting to be cured of ailments they have otherwise been able to be cured of. The problem is it's shoddy science.

PHILLIPS: So if it is shoddy science, why do so many people believe in Ilchi Lee and the work? Ryan Kent is a California attorney who has filed a lawsuit against Dahn yoga on behalf of 27 former members who claim the organization is a cult. He says Lee has created such an image for himself that people will do and give anything to follow his path.

RYAN KENT, ATTORNEY: Basically they will suck all of the money that the person has and can borrow without fail. They did it to every single one of my claimants.

PHILLIPS: Lee's lawyer says the claim that Dahn yoga is a cult is hogwash and Dahn officials say there is no pressure on its members to give money.

ALAN KAPLAN, ATTORNEY: Dahn yoga is a business and Mr. Lee came up with the whole concept of Dahn yoga 30 years ago. He is enjoying the fruits of his own labors as any businessman is entitled to.

PHILLIPS: If you listen to Ilchi Lee speak --

LEE: (INAUDIBLE) We will witness the emergence of 100 million members of (INAUDIBLE).

PHILLIPS: It's pretty clear he is focused on dollars and cents. "Forbes" magazine estimates the organization made $34 million in 2009. Listen to this excerpt from an audio tape of a motivational session that he conducted in the spring of 2009.

LEE: And second, you have to be crazy about money. Only when you have that are you a person who has the holy vision.

PHILLIPS: There is no question Ilchi Lee and Dahn yoga have a devoted and loyal membership and current members say it is not a cult. If you look at the Dahn yoga website, there are testimonials applauding Ilchi Lee from the president of Costa Rica to a prominent New York scientist. Lee is also seen in photographs with Al Gore, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. Liza Miller says she was once a believer, too.

LIZA MILLER, EX-DAHN YOGA EMPLOYEE: When I found Dahn, I felt like this is it.

PHILLIPS: Now Liza is one of the 27 former employees filing a lawsuit claiming Dahn yoga is a cult. The pressure to make money just one reason she abandoned the leader she once followed.

MILLER: I feel it is my duty to come forward and to share my story so that people are aware of the truth about the organization. Because having been in the organization, you know and people that are still in, believe something completely different. They are being deceived.


PHILLIPS: The attorney for Mr. Lee says the only deception involved is on the part of the former employees who have filed this lawsuit. He says they are all disgruntled and insists all they want is money. Incidentally the next legal step in the case comes toward the end of the month when the attorney for those former employees has to file a response in Federal court opposing Dahn yoga's attempt to dismiss the lawsuit. Meanwhile, one of Korea's most popular magazines, (INAUDIBLE) did a 40-page expose on Ilchi Lee. As you can imagine, it's creating quite a buzz overseas. CNN's investigation is also now mentioned on a number of Korean blogs. We'll keep you posted.

It take money to make money. The president is reportedly planning to push for cash for jobs. He speaks in less than half an hour and we have a preview.


PHILLIPS: Top stories now, a plea from the Christmas day terror suspect in Federal court in Detroit this hour for arraignment. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab pleaded not guilty to several charges including the attempted murder of 289 people on that Northwest airliner.

Temperatures so low they can kill a person. Much of the United States shivering through cold like we have not seen in years and there is more on the way. In the deep south roads are icy and driving is dangerous and snow is falling just about everywhere.

The economic picture painted today not so pretty. The government reports 85,000 jobs lost in December with unemployment still in double digits, 10 percent, but hold on a sec. Apparently the November numbers weren't written in stone. A revised figure shows the economy actually gained jobs that month and snapped a nearly two-year losing streak.

President Obama planning to speak about the economy in just a few minutes. Senior White House correspondent Ed Henry joining us live. So, Ed, what can we expect?

ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, he is going to announce spending some more stimulus money, obviously past much earlier last year, money that's still kicking around the system, focused on what he likes to call a clean energy jobs, but give those new jobs numbers coming out today that you mentioned, he is under pressure from Republicans to do more and that is why Robert Gibbs was talking today about pushing beyond the first stimulus and maybe having a second economic recovery package, something the president has been talking about for several weeks now.

And what Gibbs was doing to try to explain today's numbers was basically say, look, still losing about 85,000 jobs in a month is not great obviously. The fact that unemployment is still flat at around 10 percent, but he pointed out that at the beginning of the year of the president's first year in office I should say, unemployment, you know, basically we were losing something like 690,000 jobs a month on average. Now, down to an average of about 69,000 a month, so the trend lines are getting better even as Gibbs pointed out, it is still not good enough.


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We knew this was going to be a long road. And we knew that along that road, there would be ups and downs and bumps along the way. I think that if you look through and analyze some of the numbers, there are some bright spots which, I think, are at least encouraging, understanding that there are as I said millions of people that have lost their jobs and are hurting.


HENRY: And that is why White House aides are saying privately that with today's event, the president is going to kick off some more travel around the country. He's going to go to Ohio in the next couple of weeks for example to really start pitching the stimulus to try to convince the American people that it is starting to take hold. This White House realizes it is under picture to turn around the jobless picture especially now in a mid-term election year. Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Ed Henry, we'll be waiting for it. Thanks so much.

And at CNN we don't just talk jobs, we help you to get one. We're going to tell you where they are in just a sec.


PHILLIPS: So, we have been talking about the unemployment rate, but what we want to know is who is hiring? Gerri Willis joining us with some advice for job seekers. You've actually been looking at specific areas, right, specific jobs?

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Yes, we were interested in going beyond just the lists you usually hear about which is health care, engineering, technology. We wanted to drill down to specific occupations, so we went to the Labor Department. They gave us their most recent projections for the fastest-growing jobs in the next decade. So there is going to be demand for years. Biomedical engineers at the top with 72 percent growth between now and the next 10 years. Home health aide demand will grow 50 percent, athletic trainers up 37 percent. Veterinarians, vets up 33 percent and personal finance advisers up 30 percent.

What is interesting about this list and all of the jobs frankly at the top of the Labor Department's list is that they require a lot of education. In fact, about half of those jobs require at least a bachelor's degree and among those jobs that are expected to see the most declines, because we want to talk about that, too, so you I guess avoid it, telemarketing and postal workers. So that is what is shrinking over time.

PHILLIPS: Well, telemarketers, we'll be glad about that. We won't get all those phone calls anymore. So, how do you differentiate yourself? How do you become a candidate for one of these jobs that are out there?

WILLIS: Well, you really want to stand out there and of course the first thing you think about is a resume, but you've really got to tailor that resume to each job you apply for, use the exact same wording in your resume as you see in the ad. That is because employers now use software to see how you're describing yourself and you'll sound like an insider if you use that language.

Another thing to do is get up off the couch, get online, go to meet (INAUDIBLE) It's a way to meet local groups in your area that have your interests and finally a bit of good news. According to Yahoo!, one in three hiring managers say they will do more hiring this year, so that's some good news for people out there who have looking for a long time and hoping this job market opens up soon.

PHILLIPS: That is good news. Thank you, Gerri.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

PHILLIPS: We're going to check in with Chad in the severe weather center. As you know, we have been reporting on even death because of the cold weather.


PHILLIPS: Getting married? Then you know weddings can cost a mint, but they can be done without going into debt though. Just recycle this couple's idea.


PHILLIPS: Instead of old, new, borrowed and blue, they are going in a different direction. A Washington state couple is collecting sticky silver stuff to make some green for the wedding. They are putting out a call for aluminum cans to cash in at a recycling center. Their website, Facebook page and twitter account already up and running.


PETER Geyer, COLLECTING CANS FOR WEDDING: We are shooting for 400,000 cans which equals about five tons.

ANDREA PARRISH, COLLECTING CANS FOR WEDDING: When it comes to cash, cans are the most easily available cash. They are anywhere between 35 to 38 cents a pound right now.


PHILLIPS: Well, the happy couple has collected 15,000 cans already. They hope to make at least $3,000 to put towards their July wedding.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just updated my Facebook status update vowing that in 2009 I will use the word [ bleep ] in every board of supervisors meeting so my apologies to those who --


PHILLIPS: Well, you kind of heard it there, not your average 2010 resolution, but all right. San Francisco official says this is the year of the F-word. What set out supervisor Chris Daily (ph)? Well, a newspaper article criticizing his frequent cursing. Mayor Gavin Newson (ph) has already suggested his colleagues install a swear jar.

Being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be a fatal mistake in Mexico. Thanks to drug cartels, that seems to be anywhere all the time. Just ask the young wife who is now a young widow.


PHILLIPS: Mexico's bloodbath -- drug cartels killing each other, killing law officers and innocent people. They could care less. Violence has touched and taken so many lives and including American lives. Here is just one of those heartbreaking stories from CNN's Thelma Gutierrez.


BETZY SALCEDO, WIDOW: He was my life.

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bobby and Betsy Salcedo had everything going for them. He was a high school vice principal, newly elected to the school board and about to get his Ph.D. She had just finished medical school, about to realize her dream of becoming a doctor. He was 33. She was 26. They had so many plans.

SALCEDO: We were going to go home and spend new year's eve.

GUTIERREZ: Over the holidays the Salcedos traveled to Betsy's hometown, Gomez Palacio (ph) in Durango, Mexico. They visited many times before to see her family and spend time with old friends. But in recent years, the town began to change. Warring drug cartels moved in and narco violence hit a fever pitch. Gun battles are so common in the town and throughout the state, they are all over YouTube. Betsy noticed this transformation.

SALCEDO: When I went there, you can feel, when you go there you can feel the danger.

GUTIERREZ: But Gomez Palacio is where Betzy grew up, where her family lives. She wasn't about to stop going. She and Bobby were married there and over the years, he raised thousands of dollars to help the town.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He found us the funds and resources to send an ambulance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And donations to orphanages and collected old boots and jackets from fire departments here to send down there.

GUTIERREZ: The Salcedo's loved Gomez Palacio. They never imagined the violence in Mexico would ever touch their lives.

JUAN SALCEDO, BROTHER: Ten bodies from here, 16 bodies from here, beheaded this and that, people held hostage and your life obviously, they are involved in something.

BETZY SALCEDO: I used to say that all of my friends and they would tell me how scared they were of going out, like before. I used to say, don't worry, if you are not involved in anything, they don't have to look for you. They don't look for more normal people.

GUTIERREZ: Betsy Salcedo doesn't believe that anymore. These photos were taken on December 30th, the last day of Bobby Salcedo's life.

BETZY SALCEDO: We just wanted to have a good time.

GUTIERREZ: They went to this restaurant with a group of friends, medical students and attorneys.

BETZY SALCEDO: We were laughing and we were just about to go when, when men got in.

GUTIERREZ: Were they masked men?

BETZY SALCEDO: I couldn't see anything. I just saw my husband and laying down and that is when I understood that something was happening. So, I lie down on the floor and covered my face. The next thing I saw is that, or heard is that they were taking all the men. I was so scared, and I don't even remember. I was just praying, praying for us, for him, because they were going to take us to, too.

GUTIERREZ: Instead she told me the gunmen seized the women's identification and left them huddled face down on the ground. Then she says she heard the men being hustled out of the building.

BETZY SALCEDO: The next day they told us that they were found together.

GUTIERREZ: All six men, including Bobby Salcedo were brutalized and murdered, their bodies dumped near a canal. Juan Salcedo traveled to Mexico last week to claim his brother's body. He said he was surprised by the local reaction.

JUAN SALCEDO: They even told us to tell people over there, don't come here. We know our tourism's going to suffer. We know we're going to have less income, but tell them not to come over here. They won't be safe.

GUTIERREZ: Bobby's brother Carlos recalls the last time they talked.

CARLOS SALCEDO, BROTHER: Your son just said the best thing to me. Hey, bobby, he leaned over and he just paused and said, I love you. That is the last thing my son said to him.

TONY SALCEDO, BROTHER: The day we found out, when I got home that night, there was a check in the mail from Bobby to my son for his (INAUDIBLE) and it was almost like a sign I passed, here's the check.

GUTIERREZ: On the day, Bobby Salcedo's body returned home to the United States, 4,000 people filled the high school stadium to celebrate his life.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN El Monte, California.