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'Brink of War' for Koreas; Black Friday & Your Money; Interview With CNN Hero of the Year Anuradha Koirala; Boomtown USA; Saudis Announce Roundup of Terror Plotters; Obama Hurt in Basketball Game
Aired November 26, 2010 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Deborah Feyerick, in for Ali Velshi, and here's what's on our rundown.
As hordes of holiday shoppers head to the mall we'll with money to burn, we'll hear from one guy who says you should keep that money right where it is, in your pocket.
Saudi Arabia says almost 150 suspected members of al Qaeda have been arrested, 124 of them are Saudis.
And they can't build houses fast enough in one North Dakota town. We'll tell you what's driving this boomtown's economic comeback.
We begin with the latest bombshell in the Koreas, and I don't mean just verbal.
Three days after North Korea bombarded a disputed island near a disputed sea border, the commander of U.S. forces in South Korea got a firsthand look at the damage. While he was there, the North fired again. This time, apparently a drill confined to its own territory.
Supposedly, General Walter Sharp neither saw nor heard the blast, but reporters on the island and the few civilians who have not evacuated just yet, they did hear it. Two civilians and two South Korean marines were killed in Tuesday's attack. The vast majority of the island's civilian population has now fled to the mainland. That's about 1,300 men, women and children.
But South Korean troops stationed there are getting company, and their boss is being replaced. South Korea's defense minister either quit or was fired, or perhaps maybe a little bit of both. The president named a former chairman of South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff to succeed him.
All the while, the U.S. aircraft carrier George Washington is leading a strike group that will hold exercises in these same waters starting on Sunday. North Korea says -- and I quote -- "The situation on the Korean Peninsula is inching closer to the brink of war."
And for "Two at the Top," we go to the South Korean capital and CNN's Stan Grant. He's been monitoring the situation, following it very closely -- Stan.
STAN GRANT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Deborah, tensions are rising on the Korean Peninsula, and all eyes on these joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea, due to begin on Sunday. The USS George Washington heading towards the Yellow Sea for these exercises.
Now, they had been some time in the planning. They were meant to be defensive, but, of course, taking on a whole new meaning after those clashes between North South Korea and Yeonpyeong island. North Korea saying that these exercises are going to take the Korean Peninsula to "the brink of war."
Now, South Korea announcing a new defense minister at the same time, after the former defense minister resigned. And tension is rising on the streets of Seoul as well.
We've seen former veterans of the Korean War, almost 60 years ago, out on the streets protesting against Kim Jong-il, the leader of North Korea, saying they want him dead. And younger people we spoke to on the streets here say they're "tired of being slapped around by North Korea and would rather see all-out war until someone loses."
Now, people who closely watch North Korea are looking at possible motives for this rise in tension and say it all comes down to leadership. Kim Jong-il has been unwell for some time and planning the succession to his 27-year-old some Kim Jong-un. Many observers say what we're seeing here is an attempt by him to establish his leadership credentials as someone who can stand up to South Korea and the United States -- Deborah.
FEYERICK: Of course then China has to weigh in.
Stan Grant, thank you very much.
Well, we've moved into a new phase of BP's program, Gulf coast claims. Tuesday was the last day folks could file for emergency damages from this year's disastrous oil spill. The man in charge of all the compensation sums things up in today's "Sounds Effect."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNETH FEINBERG, ADMINISTRATOR, GULF COAST CLAIMS FACILITY: It's unprecedented. In 90 days, I've received 450,000 claims. We've already paid out about $2.2 billion to eligible claims, individuals and businesses. And we will continue to process these claims.
We're around for three years. The goal is to try and make everybody whole in the Gulf who was injured by the spill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FEYERICK: The process has now shifted to longer-term concerns. People can accept lump sum payouts, but give up their right to sue BP over the Deepwater Horizon spill. There's also a new plan that will pay out quarterly, and that doesn't affect any future legal action.
FEYERICK: Well, the annual Black Friday frenzy is here. More than four in 10 of you taking advantage of the sales.
Did it help the markets? The Dow closed down less than one percent, at just over 1,091 points.
Poppy Harlow joins me from New York.
Poppy, what's going on out there?
POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM CORRESPONDENT: It is getting crazier by the hour, Deb.
I've got to tell you, when the doors opened here at Macy's in New York City at 4:00 a.m., there were 7,000 shoppers outside. That is an increase. That's better than the 5,000 that we saw last year.
What's interesting is a lot of people are here just sort of for the novelty of it. Rather than buying a lot, a lot of people are here just to see what it's like.
I want to bring in some shoppers live. They came all the way from Wales. We have Lynn (ph) and Leeann (ph).
And you were just telling me that the discounts are great, but that you thought there would be even bigger crowds. Is that true?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, definitely. I thought it was going to be really, really crowded today. It was just -- it was actually not too bad.
HARLOW: Not too bad?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got around. But it was a fantastic experience. We loved every minute of it. It's been great.
HARLOW: Is this a truly American thing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very American. We would have nothing like this back home, nothing on this scale. I mean, we thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. It's been fabulous.
HARLOW: It's a little loud because as you can see, Deb, there's an anti-fur protest around us.
But can we also see some of the things you bought?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got, like, a little ceramic newsstand. I'm thinking since it's my first time to New York, in America, it's just something that I think I'll take back and it's going to remind me of my trip, which I've loved completely. So, yes, that's my favorite.
HARLOW: And I have to ask you guys, are you shopping more, or is this it for you guys?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're shopping more. We're going to be doing more shopping.
HARLOW: All right. Have a very good time. Enjoy. Have a good time your first time in New York.
Thanks for being here, guys.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll just wish everybody a happy holiday.
HARLOW: Thank you so much, guys.
And Deb, I will send it back to you, as it has become pretty wild here behind me.
FEYERICK: Absolutely, Poppy. Well, certainly first time to New York, and you get a lot of protesters at the same time, where they deliver it all.
Well, the tree is arriving at the White House right now. Take a look.
You can see the Obama girls are there, Mrs. Obama, Sasha, Malia. They're greeting the Christmas tree that's going to be there, and they'll have a chance to maybe decorate it.
There's the president. You can see all of them weighing in on whether it will be silver bells or tinsel or all those things.
The tree came from Pennsylvania. There it is. You can see it in its wagon.
Of course, I don't know how far that horse came, but the tree certainty looks like it's in good form. So -- and this is from Pennsylvania, where the tree arrived from.
Now, a lot of people are going to be celebrating a rebound in holiday spending, but one person who is not going to let them get away with it, Reverend Billy. He's an artist an activist who heads the Church of Life After Shopping. He's in New York today, not exactly preaching to the choir.
Reverend Billy, you made a big movie about what's going on in this country. What do you find? Why shouldn't people be buying?
BILL TALEN, "THE CHURCH OF LIFE AFTER SHOPPING": Yes. Our film, "What Would Jesus Buy?" is also a song we're going to sing for you a little bit later.
The news today, all the buying that's going on, all the consuming. But there's another thing that should be in the news, which is that a lot of local people, a lot of local economies are very active right now. People with the ma-and-pa stores, the artisans, the farmers markets are booming.
We have a secret revolution going on right now. People know record profits, nine percent unemployment, people know that corporations are not helping them, and they're starting their own alternative Christmas celebrations. And we're here to celebrate that.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Local-lujah!
TALEN: Amen! Local-lujah!
FEYERICK: Are the local stores that you're talking about, are they offering the same kinds of sales, or is this something more, that you have to support the community people in order to kind of support the community itself?
TALEN: Well, they are doing more, because local economies are sustainable economies. They are economies that have a friendlier relationship to the Earth.
The super malls and the chain stores, you've got thousands of miles of shipping and trucks. You've got sweatshops, everything is wrapped in plastic packaging. You've got personal debt, you've got credit cards.
This is not helping the Earth.
Earth-alujah? Somebody give me an "Earth-alujah!"
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Earth-alujah!
FEYERICK: Go ahead.
TALEN: Amen. We want to spend or money where we see the money coming right back into the community.
You're not going to have that happening with a Wal-Mart. You're going to see your money disappear. It becomes mystery money. So local economies this year --
FEYERICK: Now, what is the larger message? What is the local message about what it is people are spending? What -- is it people are thinking about the recession, how all that plays into how people should be reevaluating how they spend their dollars and how they sort of see what gives them wealth?
TALEN: At The Church of Life After Shopping, we're getting communications by the scores every day. People are living differently now. They're consuming less.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Amen!
TALEN: Americans just shop too much. We're just wrapped in fossil fuels.
Climate change is real. The Earth is speaking to us. Every couple of days there's another freak storm that's right out of the bible. We've got to listen to that and change how we live.
And we're doing that. We're doing that. But you have got to make it the news at CNN. You've got pick up on it. Amen.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Amen!
TALEN: And we're grateful that you're paying attention to us.
FEYERICK: And you have a song for us? You're going to serenade us with a little bit of gospel.
TALEN: We're going to serenade you with the song "What Would Jesus Buy?" Let's ask that question.
Would he be in a super mall? I don't think so.
What would Jesus buy?
FEYERICK: Well, last night CNN aired its fourth annual All-Star Tribute to heroes at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. And after almost two million votes were cast online, Anuradha Koirala was named Hero of the Year for her work rescuing more than 12,000 women and girls from sex slavery.
CNN's Anderson Cooper sat down with Anuradha, nicknamed "Terminator," to talk about her great work.
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "AC 360": You've been named 2010 CNN Hero of the Year. How are you feeling?
ANURADHA KOIRALA, 2010 CNN HERO OF THE YEAR: Well, I feel that there are more responsibilities now on me.
COOPER: You feel more people are now looking at you, more people know of you?
KOIRALA: Yes, of course. Now I feel that they will be not only looking at me, but they will know the issue -- more issue -- the issue which we have taken up, the sex trafficking.
COOPER: You seem like such a quiet lady, but I know your nickname is "The Terminator." Why do they call you "The Terminator"?
KOIRALA: If your daughter or mine -- it doesn't make whose daughter, everybody's daughter -- was trafficked, and if you catch hold of a trafficker, do you think then you're going to go, "Oh, how sweet you are, you did such a nice job, you took my daughter"? Or will you start giving him roses (ph)? If I have to confront a trafficker, then I can really hit hard.
COOPER: When your children see you winning this award tonight, what do you think they will think?
KOIRALA: I've already sent a message and they're all crying. And I know they will be very happy about it, and I know they will be very happy.
COOPER: This award comes with $100,000. In total, $125,000. What will that money mean to your work, to your mission?
COOPER: There is only one woman's hospital in all of Nepal. That's in the capital. But what about the other parts of the country where there is poverty, poverty, poverty? So I'm thinking that I will double up women and children's hospitals with this.
COOPER: Have you ever thought about giving up? Have there been days where you thought, I'm going to stop this?
COOPER: Well, congratulations. It's such an honor to meet you.
KOIRALA: Thank you so much. Thank you.
COOPER: Thank you.
FEYERICK: Well, really inspiring stuff. And if you missed the CNN Heroes broadcast, you have two more chances to watch, Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern and 5:00 p.m. Pacific.
FEYERICK: So the place to be is in the middle of the country, it seems.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Or in the middle of Russia.
FEYERICK: Yes. I'd rather go to Tahoe.
MYERS: Why do we go there?
MYERS: Because we're going to go "Off the Radar."
Roll the music. Boom, boom, boom, boom.
FEYERICK: All right. MYERS: What do astronauts eat for Thanksgiving if they're in the space shuttle, or if they're up on the space station?
FEYERICK: I would say dried turkey, but I'm sure that's wrong.
MYERS: No, that's exactly right.
FEYERICK: Oh. Well, there you go.
MYERS: Doesn't that sound delicious?
MYERS: In fact, their freeze-dried turkey was probably a lot like my turkey yesterday, because by the time I picked up my turkey, out of the oven, it was already 200 degrees. And they say if it's above 162, forget about it, don't even eat it. Yes, we made a lot of gravy to kind of cover it up.
Freeze-dried turkey. They came down though -- some astronauts came down yesterday and actually had some chances in Russia to find some turkey. But I think they just found vodka. I'm just kidding. Obviously, they're astronauts.
Here's the landing, a beautiful landing, coming down from yesterday. They landed -- it was called a bull's eye -- what we're seeing is the turkey.
They're coming down, and they came down yesterday. A couple of them came down from the space station.
Look at that. When you get out of that space station, you haven't had gravity for so long, they lay down --
FEYERICK: You're getting your sea legs. You're getting your Earth legs back.
MYERS: You have to get your Earth legs back, exactly.
Now, if you would like to send the astronauts that are still up at the space station some Christmas gifts, some Christmas cards, you can.
FEYERICK: They have a post office?
MYERS: You can tweet them.
FEYERICK: Oh, there you go. Even better.
MYERS: And you can send them electronic postcards. Here's the Web site. You can take a look at it, NASA.gov.
You can find out how to do this. You can tweet them, you can pick four different fronts of literal postcards if you'd like, and then tweet them and send them up there, and wish them best wishes, whether it's Thanksgiving, Christmas, or --
FEYERICK: That's a great idea. That's a great idea.
MYERS: No, they're lonely. You don't realize that they're up there doing basically our work to figure out how to make the world better. If you want to send them well wishes, you can.
FEYERICK: Yes. I wonder if the view from up there starts to get routine after, like, the first 100 days. Well, anyway --
MYERS: I would say 100 days. Before that, no.
FEYERICK: Chad, thank you so much.
MYERS: All right. Welcome to Atlanta.
FEYERICK: Appreciate it. Thank you so much.
MYERS: OK. Stay warm.
And we're also going to be taking a look at the president. Apparently, we heard that he had busted his lip.
He did get 12 stitches. That coming out of a basketball game.
Now, also, we are looking at a story, it would appear, about several kids who were rescued. Their parents were told that they were dead. Three teens refused to give up. Their amazing story next in "Globe Trekking."
We'll have a lot more for you. Stay with us.
FEYERICK: Half past the hour -- and here are your headlines:
A U.S. carrier group is steaming towards the Yellow Sea for this weekend's joint military exercises with South Korea. They come days after North Korea shelled a southern island, killing four people. Pyongyang calls the preplanned military drills a provocation.
The Web site WikiLeaks has governments around the world buzzing again, hinting it may release sensitive diplomatic documents. The State Department is now reviewing several years of international cables and papers and they're alerting U.S. allies about the potential leaks.
And giving thanks is -- well, so yesterday. A chunk of the country is out shopping right now, giving retailers a Black Friday boost. Holiday sales are expected to jump more than 2 percent this year.
Time to take you to the "Globe Trekking" now.
Up first is the amazing story of survival for three teenaged boys. They were plucked out of the waters near Fiji by a tuna boat two weeks after a memorial service was held in their honor. The three had been missing for 50 days. Their families say they really hadn't given up hope the boys were alive even after searches by New Zealand's air force turned up no trace.
And officials said there was no way they could survive, but survive they did. They drank rainwater and ate raw fish and a seagull that they caught. In all, the boys drifted around 750 miles in their small aluminum boat.
And there's been a third explosion at a coal mine in New Zealand. Recovery crews are working at the Pike River Mine to reach 29 miners believed dead. The first explosion at the mine happened one week ago. Rescue crews were trying to reach the men when a second blast rocked the mine just a few days ago. At that time officials said they believed none of the miners had survived. It could take months to recover their bodies. No one was injured in today's blast.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Candidates have plastered Port-au- Prince with campaign posters. They've been spending millions of dollars, hiring planes, hiring bands to advertise their campaigns -- despite the fact that 10 months after the earthquake, much of the city still lies in ruins.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FEYERICK: Ivan Watson there, who returned to Haiti. Haitians head to the polls this weekend to pick a new president. Not only are they going to vote with all that rubble that you see, but there's also the looming death of the cholera outbreak. They have plenty of choices to lead them out of the desperation. There are 19 candidates for president, including a singer best known for performing in drag, and the wife a former president who was overthrown in a coup.
And for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, it's a somewhat inauspicious anniversary. Today marks nine years and 50 days since the war began. That's significant. How come? Well, because it's the same amount of time Soviet troops spent in Afghanistan. The final Soviet troops left more than 20 years ago in February of 1989.
And there's a jobs crisis in Williston, North Dakota. Unlike the rest of America, it doesn't have enough workers. Why? Well, I'll tell you. The town's mayor is telling job seekers to stay away, at least for now.
FEYERICK: Williston, North Dakota. Have you heard of it? It's a place that seems to have the exact opposite the problems the rest of the country has with jobs and housing -- too many of one, not enough of the other.
CNN's Kate Bolduan explains.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They've got a unique problem up here in Williston, North Dakota. Many wouldn't call it a problem, more jobs than they know what to do with. But that's created a crisis you wouldn't expect.
(voice-over): Welcome to "Boomtown USA." Population: 17,500. Help wanted signs: 2,000 to 3,000.
WARD KOESER, MAYOR, CITY OF WILLISTON, NORTH DAKOTA: Williston is in a unique situation where we have less than 2 percent unemployment. We have --
BOLDUAN (on camera): That's amazing.
KOESER: I know it is.
BOLDUAN (voice-over): Great news, right? Well, there is this -- the town now faces a serious housing crisis. Hotels, houses, apartments all full, forcing many like Galen Booth to live in campers.
GALEN BOOTH, PLUMBER: It's not like you've never seen before when you come on the drive out here, on the drive home, there's places like this all over. The whole town, all the streets, it's just -- it's crazy.
BOLDUAN: Booth has been living here six weeks with three other men while working on one of the new hotels going up in Williston.
BOOTH: It's not as bad as a person would think. It takes a little adjusting to get used to, but it's not horrible.
KENNETH LEONG, OIL WORKER: I have my sleeping bag, my pillow.
BOLDUAN: We found Kenneth Leong sleeping in his car outside a big box retail store. From Rapid City, South Dakota, he's in search of a better job than he had back home.
(on camera): How much more rough going to possibly make than at home?
LEONG: Ten dollars.
BOLDUAN: That makes a difference.
LEONG: Big difference -- offsets the fuel, offsets the extra effort. I think it's well worth it.
BOLDUAN (voice-over): Williston mayor, Ward Koeser, says they can't build housing fast enough.
KOESER: They come here and find a job usually within a day. It's not a problem to find a job, but then they have a trouble finding a place to live. And so, that's what we find happening here is that we have builders who are coming in building homes and apartments and places for people to live.
BOLDUAN: It's all thanks to oil. New technologies have led to huge oil discoveries in western North Dakota and oil companies say they're just getting started.
LANCE LANGFORD, EXEC. V.P. OF OPS, BRIGHAM EXPLORATION CO.: This is the one unique oil find in the United States that we've had in for a long, long time. We've just scratched the surface. That's not just for us. That's for the entire industry.
BOLDUAN: With no other option, companies like Halliburton are now building their own man camps to offer their employees somewhere to stay. This one is made of shipping containers.
TRAVIS KELLEY, PROJECT MANAGER, TARGET LOGISTICS: We'll put this building up to house 15 people in 90 days. So, it's quick construction.
BOLDUAN (on camera): And that's the point?
KELLEY: That's the point.
BOLDUAN (voice-over): Although a long term solution may still be a couple of years away, Mayor Koeser knows he's facing a crisis other small town officials only wish they had.
(on camera): Do you like the idea of being called "Boomtown USA"?
KOESER: Well, there's good and bad. I mean, it sounds exciting. Obviously, those who have ever been in one know there are challenges that come with it and we're dealing with those on the city level. But I'd rather be in a boom than a bust.
BOLDUAN: City officials fear, with the rest of the country in dire straits, people will do anything for work and the weather here is about to shift from cold to deadly. The mayor knows the housing crisis isn't going to be solved any time soon. So, he says please come but wait until spring.
Kate Bolduan, CNN, Williston, North Dakota.
FEYERICK: Thanks, Kate.
And our Black Friday coverage continues online. Check out CNNMoney.com.
A look at the top stories happening right now.
North Korea warns if South Korea and the U.S. go through with a military drill planned for Sunday, it could push the region into conflict. This comes after Tuesday's deadly attack on a South Korean island.
It's Black Friday. A lot of folks are braving the weather in some places and long lines just about everywhere to get the best deals. And stores are offering new types of discounts -- for example, checking in on location-based services like Foursquare and Facebook. The hot items: electronics, clothes, and, of course, toys. And bear with us on this one. A northeast Georgia newspaper reports that a man robbed an adult novelty store Wednesday. He apparently got away with a male enhancement system worth about $105. It happened a day after someone walked out with three replacement parts for the same enhancement system. Imagine the lineup.
And FedEx says that they have not been able to find a package containing radioactive material that went missing yesterday. The package is radioactive rods, which is used in CT scans. It's safe if people don't tamper with the package. We'll keep you updated with the latest on that one.
It was a black and blue Friday for the Saturday. From the White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, the president was inadvertently hit while playing basketball today. Apparently an opposing player elbowed him in the lip.
He was playing basketball with friends and family. He received 12 stitches by the White House medical unit. The stitches were given in the doctor's office on the ground floor of the White House. He's going to be sore for a little bit on that.
We're following news of a major roundup of terror suspects -- a major disruption of alleged plots in the heart of the Middle East. I'll have the details right after the break.
FEYERICK: Government officials, security forces, oil refineries, the media, all of them allegedly targets of a network of terror cells in Saudi Arabia. Today, those cells are exposed -- 149 suspects arrested.
We got the details from CNN's Rima Maktabi. She's following the story from Dubai.
Rima, this sounds massive. What are the details?
RIMA MAKTABI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Deb, these terrorist members were spread over 19 cells and the investigations and the arrests took around eight months in Saudi Arabia. The majority of the members of these cells were Saudi nationals, 124 members Saudi. But 25 members were from other Arab countries and Africans and they were South Asians.
And the Saudi security forces confiscated around $600,000 with these cells. And the ministry of interior in Saudi Arabia expects more arrests in the coming days and also expects that some dormant cells and cold dormant cells to surrender -- Deb.
FEYERICK: Rima, was this part of a coordinated plot? Were they acting independently? And how close were they to carrying out these alleged attacks?
MAKTABI: As the ministry of interior, they say these attacks were imminent. At least 10 plans were imminent. The targets were to assassinate government officials, media figures and also security officials. About the intentions of these cells, this is what the spokesman of the ministry of interior said --
FEYERICK: And do you know, there were some people
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. MANSOUR AL-TURKI, SAUDI INTERIOR MINISTRY (through translator): Their general motive are spreading an ideology of hate, by calling others disbelievers, collecting money to finance the deviant al Qaeda group inside and outside the kingdom, easing travel from some individuals for training in destabilized places and executing criminal plots to spread chaos and insecurity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MAKTABI: The plans too were to target oil refineries and installations. And as you know, Deb, Saudi Arabia is the biggest oil supplier to the world, and to target government buildings in Saudi Arabia -- Deb.
FEYERICK: And, Rima, you say a number were from within the country. There were some from outside as well. Does it look like they were getting any help from within the Saudi government? Or were they solely sort of operating independently as part of a terror organization?
MAKTABI: Well, the ministry of interior ensures that these cells inside Saudi Arabia were linked to cells in Yemen, in Afghanistan and Somalia. But after one question from a journalist to the spokesman of the ministry of interior who had a press conference today in Saudi Arabia, there was no confirmation or even denial on whether intelligence agencies of other countries supporting these al Qaeda cells -- Deb.
FEYERICK: Rima Maktabi, thank you so much, from Dubai. We'll check in with you a little later. Keep us updated. Thank you so much.
And the president, moving on, was pigging out this Thanksgiving, or at least he had the option to. He had no less than six pies on the table. How did he work it off? Stay tuned.
FEYERICK: And time now for a CNN political update. A little down time for the president.
Senior White House correspondent Ed Henry in Washington.
Boy, 12 stitches in his lip. That must have been some basketball game.
ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Deb, really painful. You're absolutely right. I mean, no good deed goes unpunished.
Here's the president trying to make sure he doesn't get a flabby belly after Thanksgiving, he winds up with a fat lip. It looked like his lower lip. You see some of the photos that he was holding gauze to that lower lip. He was playing at Fort McNair with Reggie Love, one of his White House aides, some family members and others.
We're trying to find out which elbow went flying into the president's lip. I'm told by as senior administration official it was not Reggie Love, the president's personal assistant who you remember played basketball at Duke University. They frequently play basketball together.
Bottom line is Robert Gibbs says the president got 12 stitches. We're told that he was administered these stitches here in the basement of the White House by the White House doctors, a medical unit, and they used a local anesthetic so that it was, you know, not some sort of serious, serious surgery and that also they used kind of a different kind of filament that makes sure that it increases the number of stitches you need, but it decreases the size of the scar. So that's what they tried to do there.
I asked a top White House aide whether or not the person who hit the president with the elbow will get a presidential pardon and this aide just laughed.
Secondly, you know, in a lighter note, the president was actually watching from a second floor window a little bit earlier when the first lady and his daughters welcomed the official White House Christmas tree, about 18 1/2 foot Douglas-fir from Pennsylvania. That's going to be sitting -- you see it there, a pretty large tree. And it's going to be sitting in the blue room for all the official holiday events they have here at the White House in the days ahead.
But, Tony Umrani, one of our photojournalist got some pictures of the president looking down on that ceremony from a second story window from the White House residence and again he had that gauze on his lower lip. So, here we are sometime after this morning basketball game, the president still suffering a little bit from that fat lower lip. And so, this is going to be something that he's going to have to deal with for a few days.
Finally, you know, things he's going to have ready for next week as he recovers here is that big Slurpee summit that had been put off last week. It's now going to happen Tuesday here at the White House, Democrat and Republican congressional leaders.
Top of the agenda, of course, Deb, is going to be the fate of those Bush tax cuts. They expire at the end of the year and the president has been saying, look, let's make sure we extend the tax cuts for the middle class. Republicans pushing also to extend the tax cuts for the rich.
So, they're trying to work out a compromise here. But I think this coming week, for the first time, we may get an idea whose taxes may be going up or not, Deb.
FEYERICK: Well, there's going to be some relief to some folks.
Any idea when the president is going to get those stitches out, by the way, or do they just dissolve?
HENRY: No. They have not said how quickly it will happen. I mean, 12 is a significant amount of stitches. I remember getting 20 when I was as a kid. I got it on my chin. I fell off my bike, I'm embarrassed to say.
I can't say it was in a manly basketball game or something like that. I fell off the bike. It was a one-bike accident. It was not even somebody knocking me over, I fell off my bike myself, 20 stitches.
FEYERICK: It's always good to make up a story in that kind of situation. But at least --
HENRY: You know, there were three guys trying to beat me up and I pushed then back.
FEYERICK: On your back.
HENRY: It was just me -- me falling down by myself.
FEYERICK: Ed Henry from the White House -- thank you so much.
HENRY: Thank you.
FEYERICK: Well, a missing package containing a radioactive rod has been found. FedEx said it was misplaced in a shipping station in Knoxville, Tennessee. It says FedEx employees were never exposed to the radiation, that according to a spokeswoman.
So, where does intent begin? That's what prosecutors are wrangling with in the case of the so-called honeymoon killer. We'll take a closer look -- coming up next.
FEYERICK: Well, the case of the so-called "honeymoon killer" has taken a turn. Released from prison in Australia, he's now facing charges in his home state of Alabama.
FEYERICK (voice-over): . Now, he sits behind bars again on charges in the U.S. that he killed his wife. Tried, convicted and imprisoned for killing his newlywed wife in 2003, Gabe Watson was released from prison in Australia early Thursday and flown to Los Angeles
Watson, coined the "honeymoon killer" by Australian media, served 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to a charge of manslaughter stemming from the death of his wife Tina. The couple, wed in Alabama, was married for only 11 days when Tina died while scuba diving off the Great Barrier Reef on her honeymoon with Watson.
Now, seven years later authorities in Alabama say they have their man. Assistant Attorney General Don Valeska say a grand jury returned an indictment against Watson in October for murder and kidnapping. The indictment was unsealed Thursday. Alabama authorities believe Watson hatched the plot to kill his wife while the couple was living in Alabama, because he wanted to cash in on his wife's insurance policy.
Tina's father Tommy Thomas speaking to reporters in Alabama is hopeful justice will be served.
TOMMY THOMAS, TINA WATSON'S FATHER: The one thing that we're focused on is seeing justice done by her and for her. And until that day comes, until he actually faces the evidence for the first time in a criminal trial before a jury, there can be no rest or no peace for anyone in our family.
FEYERICK: Watson's attorneys could not be reached for comment by CNN, but did release a statement to CNN earlier this month saying, quote, "The state attorney general has manipulated a grand jury to believe that not only can he prove that Gabe murdered his wife of 11 days but that the crime began in Alabama."
Watson is scheduled to have an extradition hearing in Los Angeles early next week. He could then be back in Alabama in early December, awaiting his first court appearance in his home state.
FEYERICK: Well, that's a wrap for us. CNN NEWSROOM now continues with Brianna Keilar.
Take it away, Brianna.