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Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Underway; Troops in Iraq Served Turkey Dinner; American Students Arrested in Egypt for Protesting; Bagging the Black Friday Bargains; Yemen's President Steps Down; Egypt Apologizes for Protester Deaths; Eltahawy's Tweet: "I Am Free"; No Credible Holiday Terror Threat; Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade; Thanksgiving in Afghanistan; The "Last Supper" in the Lone Star State; Cooking the Bird; American Students about to Be Freed

Aired November 24, 2011 - 06:59   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Thanksgiving overseas. We'll take you to the front lines where U.S. troops are celebrating this holiday.

ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: Snoopy is ready, so is Julius the Monkey. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade only hours away, and we're live along the parade route.

COSTELLO: Hey, bargain hunters. It's almost time for the Black Friday blitz. How to snag the best deals and steals?

CHO: And a century old tradition comes to an end in Texas. Why some football fans are calling this Thanksgiving meal the last supper, on this AMERICAN MORNING.

COSTELLO: Good morning to you and happy Thanksgiving. It is Thursday, November 24th. Ali and Christine are off somewhere on this holiday soon to eat turkey. I'm Carol Costello along with Alina Cho on this AMERICAN MORNING.

CHO: Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

Celebrating 85 years, the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade is a favorite holiday tradition, and it's only hours away. You can expect to see some new faces floating above Manhattan, line Sonic the Hedgehog. Our Jason Carroll is live along the parade route for us this morning. It's a tradition to see you there. Good morning.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning. You caught me off guard. You can see Tom the turkey there at the start of the parade. The parade now just about two hours away. As you guys know, I did this parade last year, and what I'm already seeing is how huge the crowds are already out here already at this point because the weather is expected to be so nice.

I want to introduce you to these guys. I was walking by. They shouted out my name. And we have four generations of your family here. Four generations of the Brendell (ph) family. They are from long island. You do this every year, yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the last 35 years at least.

CARROLL: So Frank, I want you to widen out a bit to show how many are here. This is all one big extended family out here. How many of you guys are out here?


CARROLL: Is that an accurate count? You didn't lose anybody on the way, did you?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. We're keeping count.

CARROLL: Obviously this is Thanksgiving. What are you guys thankful for on a day like today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The family able to be together is great.

CARROLL: Thank you so much. We appreciate you guys having you here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy Thanksgiving.

CARROLL: Glad we were able to have you.

This is an international thing that's going on here as well. We've got people from Venezuela down there. We've got -- I said I would get Holland on, Holland over here. But we also have a few people here from Georgia. Where else do we have? Where else? New Jersey. We always get New Jersey. Tennessee, I promised Tennessee. Virginia. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Michigan. Michigan is here representing as well. It's always good to have a lot of people here.

Actually 3.5 million people are expected to line the parade route this year. Weather making it better, 50 million people expected to tune in. As you said Sonic the Hedgehog one of the new balloons that we'll be seeing again, making a debut after an 18-year absence. So once again the parade will get started just about two hours from now. We're going to bring it to you live. Back to you.

COSTELLO: And Snoopy, your favorite, too, Jason. Thank you.

CARROLL: Yes, of course, Snoopy.

COSTELLO: We'll talk to you later.

CHO: Snoopy, Jason is old school, a Snoopy lover.

One thing we are very thankful for, our brave men and women in the military serving here and overseas. We still have about 20,000 troops in Iraq right now. But the forces are flooding out as the December deadline for withdrawal fast approaches. Thousands have been sent to Kuwait waiting to be reassigned or sent back home.

CNN's Martin Savidge is at Camp Virginia right now celebrating the holiday there with troops. Good morning.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. It's a little after 3:00 in the afternoon here, which means that the meal service is pretty much wound down. We started at 11:30, so we've been up about three-and-a-half serving what was a fabulous turkey dinner. Here's the menu. They had roast turkey. They had carved smoked ham. They had roast beef, all of the trimmings. We're down to the last few. But everybody left with a full stomach and empty plate.

And if they were giving out medals for the best turkey meals, then the young lady who is with me here, Sergeant First Class Susan Porter with the Minnesota National Guard who was responsible along with her crew, and that's a crew, of putting together this fabulous meal. How do you think it went?

SGT. SUE PORTER, FOOD SERVICE SUPERVISOR: Actually, I think it went pretty smoothly. Everybody came in and things went pretty well.

SAVIDGE: You had a lot of people. How many?

PORTER: We are still tallying everything up. We're still looking at the numbers and whatever. I'm pretty confident it was around 4,000 people. We prepared for 6,500.

SAVIDGE: You did that in three-and-a-half hours?

PORTER: Correct.

SAVIDGE: Normally you would be the mom at home, right?

PORTER: Correct.

SAVIDGE: Tell us about what your meal would typically be.

PORTER: The trimmings and turkey and ham and pies and all of the good stuff.

SAVIDGE: You're not at home. You're here. Who is taking over the chore of running the family and doing the meal?

PORTER: That would be my daughter. She'll have Thanksgiving for all of the kids.

SAVIDGE: You miss them?


SAVIDGE: Well, Happy Thanksgiving. Congratulations to the wonderful job that you have done. Thank you very much on behalf of all of us for all of them, because meals like this are so important to anybody who has been stationed overseas.

But I will point out this one thing, Carol. What was different this time and why the faces were so bright is that normally the holidays are a time when you're sad and missing family but for many of these soldiers, they are going home. This is the last stop. They catch the flight and they'll be home in time for Christmas. That's the hope and the plan. We wish them safe travels. Happy Thanksgiving, by the way.

COSTELLO: Happy Thanksgiving to you. Great story. I hope they all make it home by Christmas. That would be the best Thanksgiving day ever if they were to get that word. Martin Savidge, thanks so much reporting from Camp Virginia in Kuwait.

CHO: In Egypt an uneasy calm this morning in Cairo's Tahrir Square after nearly a week of violent and deadly clashes with protesters demanding the country's military rulers step down. Authorities say three American college students suspected of throwing Molotov cocktails during the demonstrations will be held for power more days as the investigation continues. CNN's Ben Wedeman is live for us in Cairo this morning. Ben, good morning to you.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alina. These three Americans, young men studying at the American University of Cairo, remain in detention. They were interrogated by the Egyptian police yesterday. However, that was in the presence of the console general from the American embassy.

The U.S. embassy here is saying that they are just making sure that the questioning is done in a proper, legal way according to Egyptian law and that these young men do have access to lawyers. But beyond that they really don't have a lot of power to influence the course of the investigation at this time.

We're told they are being treated well, being kept in humane conditions, but obviously the standards in Egypt for detention are not necessarily those of the United States.

At the moment you may be able to hear chanting down below in Tahrir Square. More people are coming in. This is Thursday, the end of the week. We're expecting another million men march tomorrow in the square. It's more peaceful in the streets to the east of the square where we've seen around the clock clashes going on. We understand that the military has come in with bulldozers to erect dirt mounds to separate the protestors from the police. At this point the death toll from the fighting since Saturday is 38 at least, well over 3,000 injured. Alina?

CHO: Ben Wedeman live for us in Cairo. Ben, thank you very much.

COSTELLO: Here's something to be thankful for. There are no credible terror threats facing the United States right now. That's according to a notice sent to police departments by the FBI and the department of homeland security. This is the first holiday season since the death of Osama bin Laden. Officials say in the past terror organizations plotted attacks during the holidays because of large crowds.

CHO: Occupy Wall Street organizers are planning a Thanksgiving feast for thousands of protesters at New York's Zuccotti Park. Turkey day meals with all the trimmings will be prepared at a nearby kitchen space and served later this afternoon.

COSTELLO: Two turkeys getting a new lease on life. The two birds, Liberty and Peace, were pardoned by the president. President Obama did the honors at the White House ceremony yesterday.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: From our family to yours, I want to wish everybody a wonderful and happy and healthy Thanksgiving. And now since Liberty and Peace have been so patient, it is my privilege to grant them the official pardon. I've got to give them a little symbol.


OBAMA: All right. What do you think? Are we ready? All right, here we go. All right, are you all right, Liberty? OK.


OBAMA: I like doing that. You are hereby pardoned.


COSTELLO: It's like the Pope. Liberty and Peace will now retire to the historic home of George Washington in Mt. Vernon to spend the rest of their fat days.


COSTELLO: Still to come this morning, how to get the best black Friday bargain without waiting in line for hours or camping out in the cold.

CHO: All right, and they're calling it the last supper in the Lone Star state. Why turkey dinners in Texas won't taste the same tonight. We'll explain.

You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. It's 13 minutes after the hour.


CHO: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING on this Thanksgiving Day. Happy Thanksgiving.

If you're watching us this morning from a tent on a cold curb outside an electronic store, your determination is admirable, but it wouldn't necessarily guarantee you the best Black Friday bargains. So what's the best way to get the most bank for your buck and just how far are retailers willing to go to get your hard earned cash?

We want to ask Marshal Cohen, he's the author of the book "Buy Me" and chief system analyst at the NPD Group. Marshal, great to see you. You know, with Wal-Mart, Toys "R" Us and all these other stores, GAP, Kmart, they're all going to be opened at some point today on Thanksgiving Day, hard to believe. But it's actually going to happen. You know, is there even a Black Friday anymore?

MARSHAL COHEN, CHIEF INDUSTRY ANALYST, NPD GROUP: Not really. It's what I call the graying of Black Friday. What you're seeing are retailers trying to get into the 21st Century. Brick and mortar stores now competing with online retailers in trying to offer better deals earlier and earlier, and I think the early bird is the one who's going to catch the worm.

CHO: Yes. And in fact, there are so many -- you know, it's not about coupon clipping anymore. There are so many deals out there. You know, if you get on -- get in early on your smartphone, you can get a better deal. I mean, it's mind-boggling but -- but that is the case now, isn't it?

COHEN: Yes. It's really the consumer who does pre-search, doing all that work beforehand are the ones who are going to get rewarded with the best deals.

CHO: So let's talk about the best deals, because that's what everybody is tuning in for, right? One hundred fifty-two million Americans are going to be shopping in one way, shape or form this weekend beginning today.

You know, traditionally electronics are considered to be the best deals out there this time of year. But -- but there are others, right?

COHEN: Yes. You know, this year it's really back to traditional gifts. So many of the items that, you know, we've seen in the past few years are the same hot items that we're going to be seeing again this year. So look for traditional gifts.

Things like sweaters, particularly cashmere sweaters, really great opportunity to take advantage of that. Fragrance, another good opportunity to get some sale deals. Even toys. Early on, lot of the stores are going to use toys as a great lure with price.

CHO: So what about all of this that I'm hearing now that Black Friday is no longer the best deal to be had. I mean, if you wait a little longer in the season, you're -- you're more apt to get a better deal.

COHEN: As the season progresses and you get closer and closer to the holidays, the deals do get better but so the selection also gets smaller.

CHO: Of course.

COHEN: So sometimes the best deal isn't really a great deal if it doesn't fit or it isn't the right product you want.

CHO: So you talk about pre-searching, you know, whether it's online or, you know, clipping the coupon the old fashioned way. I mean, what's the best way to go about doing this on this Thanksgiving Day when you're finishing the turkey, you're tired and you're thinking, all right, tomorrow I'll go out and shop. What should you be doing right now to ensure that you can get the best deal as you head out the door?

COHEN: Really, it's actually pretty simple. All you have to do is go to certain different sites.

CHO: Like?

COHEN: You know, click on there and start to find out. Or just put in the product that you're looking for and you'll see a host of different product offerings that are going in some cases right away, even give you the price of what the product is.

CHO: Yes, the deals --

COHEN: That this put in good deals, you'll be able to really find them.

CHO: Yes, the deals are starting right now, aren't they?

COHEN: You know, it's really interesting. You know, it used to be that the retailers would -- would never tell us what the deals were going to be on Black Friday. Now, they are actually telling us days in advance. So if you did a little bit of homework and if you, you know, are now out there looking and have time to be able to do some search, absolutely go online and look, you'll find some great bargains.

CHO: Is that some -- is that a function of what's been going on in the economy, do you think?

COHEN: Part of it is that. You know, the consumer really hasn't been given the ultimate Christmas gift. The government didn't come up with a solution to the debt crisis. That was the government's chance to really, you know, give us a great holiday with confidence.

CHO: The other question I have is about discounts just in general. You know, obviously, they're going to get better later on in the season. But already, you know, you go to some websites and some things are 70 percent off already. I mean, this was unheard of maybe even five years ago.

And yet when the markets went south in 2008, I noticed that retailers really, they cut back on inventory but they also gave us deeper discounts, which is great for the consumer, right. And that's continuing, isn't it?

COHEN: Yes. You know, the recession caught the retailer by surprise. I don't know how, but it did. But, you know, so really what happened was we had huge discounts on new product offers better than ever. Those were kind of deals of the lifetime.

But retailers also have to anniversary those deals. So what they've done is spend time. They go a year in advance in putting together a lot of these promotions, so they're planned and they give you really good deals. So it's not desperation sales. It's limited product that's meant to drive traffic into the store and they may only have 24 in a store. You've got to be one of the early ones to get it.

CHO: I've been speaking to retailers over the past couple of years and they said that their buys are 30 percent less than what they've been pre-2008.

Now, having said that, I want to talk a little bit big picture here. You know, we don't have to tell people -- remind people that the economy is suffering. People are out of work. You know, what is the retail outlook going forward?

COHEN: You know, over the last eight months, we've seen seven out of the last eight months the consumer has shown with retail sales growing between 0.5 and 1 percent. It doesn't sound like a lot, but in this economy that's really good news.

So the consumer has been kind of forging through this challenging economic time. Holiday is never the time when the consumer pulls back. Even during the heat of the recession. Even during 9/11. You know, there was this consumer movement at holiday time to say we're going to still spend and buy nice gifts for our loved ones.

The challenge will be because of the lack of confidence and consumption this year, you know, don't look for the consumer to be spending a lot more. So look for a small marginal growth with less self-purchasing. In other words, you may be buying that gift for somebody else. In good years you buy one for yourself. This year, you may not just do that.

CHO: One for you, one for me.

COHEN: Exactly right.

CHO: One for you, two for me.

COHEN: Two for me. That's right.

CHO: But less of that. Less of that. Well, at least it's inching up. That's good news.

Marshal Cohen, great to see you as always. Happy thanksgiving.

COHEN: And same to you.

CHO: Thanks so much -- Carol.

COSTELLO: "THE NEXT LIST" is a new CNN program focusing on some of America's most creative minds. Every Sunday, Dr. Sanjay Gupta profiles people on the cutting edge of technology and innovation. This week, Sanjay looks at the future of food.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the most satisfying thing about what I do is, you know, we already know that our food taste good and it's creative, is that we're able to focus on the future. And we're able to create futuristic things here today.

To know that we're one step ahead of the curve but, you know, I'm still a kid at heart at this place. We're still always creating things that explode or light on fire just for our own personal amusement usually.


COSTELLO: You can catch "THE NEXT LIST" every Sunday at 2:00 P.M. Eastern right here on CNN.

And if you're planning to do some holiday shopping this weekend, prepare to be monitored at the mall.

You are watching AMERICAN MORNING. It's 22 minutes past the hour.


COSTELLO: Twenty-five minutes past the hour. Welcome back. "Minding Your Business" this morning.

U.S. markets are closed for Thanksgiving. Investors shaking off a holiday hangover. The Dow skidding another 236 points yesterday. The sell-off triggered by a report that Chinese manufacturing has fallen to a 32-month low.

An estimated 152 million Americans are expected to shop over the Black Friday weekend. That's according to the National Retail Federation. That's actually up 10 percent from last year.

Two major U.S. malls, one in Southern California and other in Virginia will monitor every step shoppers take this weekend by tracking their cell phone signals. Officials say they are just trying to identify shopping patterns.

Out of the Disney vault and onto YouTube movie rental, the Google-owned website is offering the first of hundreds of Disney Classics. Google is trying to compete with others like Apple and Amazon who already offer movie and music rentals.

AMERICAN MORNING will be back after a break.


CHO (voice-over): Happy Thanksgiving. It's the end of an era in the Lone Star State for thousands of football-loving Texans this Thanksgiving feels more like the last supper on this AMERICAN MORNING.

COSTELLO (on camera): And welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. Your top stories now. It's 30 minutes past the hour.

After months of bloody anti-government protests, Yemen's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh has stepped down.

Saleh agreed to leave after 33 years in power. The Yemeni president is the fourth leader to be swept from power in the Arab Spring protests this year.

CHO: Egypt's military government apologizing for the deaths of protesters in the past week with clashes with police in and around Cairo's Tahrir Square. Thirty five people have been killed. More than 3,000 injured in the demonstrations demanding the country's military leaders step down.

Meantime, three American college students suspected of throwing Molotov cocktails off a roof during the protests are being held for another four days while prosecutors investigate.

COSTELLO: After taking part in protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square, journalist, Mona Altahawi was taken into custody. She tweeted that she was arrested and beaten at Egypt's Interior Ministry. Her latest tweet bringing much better news, it says simply, "I am free."

CHO: There are no credible terror threats against the U.S. this holiday season. That's according to a notice sent to police departments by the FBI and Homeland Security.

This is the first holiday season since the death of Osama Bin Laden. An official says in the past terror organizations have plotted attacks during the holidays because of the large crowds.

COSTELLO: The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade celebrating 85 years is a favorite American pastime. More than three million people are specked to pack New York City streets with millions more watching at home. Festivities kick off at 9:00 a.m. Eastern. Actually, are we going out there live now to talk with Jason Carroll?

CHO: Maybe a little bit later. Just live pictures there. Look at those floats. I can't wait to step outside of our studios. It's right in our backyard.

COSTELLO: I know we're lucky.

CHO: And happy Thanksgiving to our troops overseas. We are definitely thankful for their service. The Defense Department delivered more than 160,000 turkey meals to Iraq, Kuwait and afghanistan.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is spending the holiday in Afghanistan with troops of Bagram Air Force Base. Good morning, Nick.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This isn't just about people's holiday meal. It's also about an enormous logistical operation for the Pentagon.

Around the world, they've moved 168,000 pounds worth of turkey to Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly 100,000 pounds worth of beef, a huge chunk of it on that table over there. A lot of it being consumed here in this dining facility in Bagram Air Base. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to tell Pam I love her. I'll see her soon.

WALSH: Tell the camera and not me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pam. How you doing? Love you. Be back soon.

WALSH: People are pouring down the line here to get salad and various desserts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm from California, sir.

WALSH: First Afghan Thanksgiving?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, this is my first deployment.

WALSH: And your last?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, probably not.

WALSH: Why did you join the military?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wanted to do something bigger than myself. It was my calling.

WALSH: Are you enjoying today so far? There's a ridiculous amount of food.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are ridiculous amount of food here and I'm getting food for the rest of my co-workers.

WALSH: That's your excuse, right?


WALSH: Why are you still alive? Do you expect to survive the day?


WALSH: Nobody here aggressive toward you yet?


WALSH: Which nationality are you?


WALSH: You won't be a turkey tomorrow?


WALSH: Less dangerous being a turkey tomorrow. At the same time there's a slight tinge of sadness and remembrance here. This is the missing man table around that NATO insignia, the hats of the different nationalities who served and lost people here and below it words saying we can't toast these people at this time.

An enormous operation of terrifying numbers here. Just to feed people for Thanksgiving, but also remember this is America's longest war, a decade now here in Afghanistan and for many of these soldiers, it's a drawdown that begins in the coming year.

It could be the last time they come back to have Thanksgiving here. A sense of success for some, remembrance of others they lost and also celebration with a day with a large amount of calories.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello to the United States of America. I can't wait to get back. I love everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happy Thanksgiving.

WALSH: Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Bagram Air Base.

CHO: Lots of food. My idea of Thanksgiving. If you have to be overseas, let's make sure there's lots of food.

COSTELLO: If you are anywhere, let's make sure there's lots of food, right? All over Texas today, college football fans will be sitting down at the dinner table for a meal that's been dubbed the last supper.

That's because a long standing Thanksgiving tradition is about to become a footnote in history. As Ed Lavandera reports, the turkey won't go down easy.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No one ever imagined the good-byes in the fight songs of the University of Texas and Texas A&M would mean goodbye forever.

On this Thanksgiving though a 117-year tradition comes to an end, Thanksgiving dessert in Texas has been watching the Aggies and Long Horns play football.

There aren't dinner tables big enough to safely sit these bitter rivals.

(on camera): When you hear the word longhorns, what do you think?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A piece of beef to me. It's something I eat for dinner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I kind of want throw up a little bit.

LAVANDERA: When I say Aggies, what do you think of?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's almost like a derogatory term. It's beneath where you are standing. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Little whiners.

LAVANDERA: UT in Texas saying A&M are separated by 100 miles, but culturally they might as well be from different planets.

EVAN SMITH, CEO AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, TEXAS TRIBUNE: They are diametrical opposites, but to some degree it's exaggerated on both sides. You know, A&M is self defined by the core. This rigid conservative College Station mentality is one way of looking at A & M and Texas in Austin is pot smoking hippies.

LAVANDERA: Evan Smith is editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune Web site, a New York outsider by birth, but now a reincarnated Texan.

(on camera): So you know your rivalries, how does this compare?

SMITH: It's much worse. You never fought with your family on Thanksgiving. This is a day of rage. At the end of the day, it's food and rage and then football. It all fits together very well.

LAVANDERA (on camera): This is where the last game will be played and Thanksgiving in Texas may never be the same. Texas A&M is leaving the Big 12 athletic conference, moving to SEC.

It's mostly a fight over UT's $300 million deal with ESPN to create the Longhorn TV network, but trying to figure out when both of these teams will ever play again is like listening to both sides of a bitter divorce.

(voice-over): We talked to the Longhorns Athletic Director, DeLoss Dodds who blames the Aggies for leaving the Big 12 conference.

DELOSS DODDS, ATHLETIC DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS: They've made a conscious decision to move to the SEC, which you know, we're going to live with. If they wanted to come back, we'll take them back.

LAVANDERA: Then we headed over to talk to Texas A&M President, Dr. Bowen Loftin. He says the Longhorns should make room in its schedule to keep the rivalry alive.

DR. R. BOWEN LOFTIN, PRESIDENT, TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY: It's clearly Texas's choice in our opinion whether it goes on or not. And we hope they will simply reconsider.

LAVANDERA: Historic traditions like the Aggies bonfire will disappear. No need for the Longhorns rally. Only nostalgic snapshots of a rivalry that has defined more than a century's worth of generations will be left.

Ed Lavandera, CNN in Austin and College Station, Texas.


COSTELLO: Got both of them. That's kind of sad though. CHO: It is sad. It's a little bit about money or maybe a lot a bit about money.

COSTELLO: I think it's probably all about money.

CHO: It is probably all about money. I was just being nice.

COSTELLO: Thanksgiving.

CHO: Exactly.

Listen up, chefs. If you are in charge of the bird this Thanksgiving, avoid turkey trauma. Butterball Talk Line operators working the phones today to help you roast it like a pro. You can get a crispy skin and juicy meat. An expert in our studios this morning talking turkey straight ahead. It's 38 minutes after the hour.


CHO: Good morning, Lady Liberty. Happy Thanksgiving, New York City. It's sunny and 36. Take your coat. High of 54 later, still sunny so it's a beautiful day for a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

COSTELLO: Or anything else I might add. It's an awesome shot. Welcome back and happy Thanksgiving. Are you excited for that Thanksgiving Day meal or are you filled with anxiety and dread because you're in charge of cooking?

Well, have no fear. Carol Miller from Butterball joins us this morning with some tips. We talked about thawing in the last hour of AMERICAN MORNING.

And now we're going to talk about actually cooking the turkey. So you have your nicely thawed bird here. What's the first step?

CAROL MILLER, BUTTERBALL TURKEY TALK-LINE SUPERVISOR: You know who cooks the turkey at my house?

COSTELLO: Your husband.

MILLER: My husband.

COSTELLO: You would think the Butterball lady would cook the turkey.

MILLER: I talk turkey on Thanksgiving. He needs to do the cooking.

COSTELLO: It starts with the right pan. Make sure you have a rack.

MILLER: This is what's happening in America's homes as we speak. The turkey is thawed sitting in a shallow open pan so the air can flow around it. You put a rack on the bottom.

If you don't have a rack that fits the pan, you can use carrots or I use a coil of foil. Take aluminum foil and crunch it up and put it in the bottom of the pan then put the turkey on it.

So you don't have to run out and get a wrap. Those will work great. If you're going to stuff the turkey, do that before you put it in. And then you can just -- I think this is fun to get kids to do this.

Just paint the turkey. You can just brush on or if you want to use one of those sprays you can. This is just vegetable oil.

CHO: Is that better than butter?

MILLER: You can use butter. It has milk solids in it so sometimes it gets a little splotchy. If that's your family tradition, use butter that's fine. Just something to give it a pretty sheen.

COSTELLO: We do have a question via Facebook about basting the turkey. I'm going to read it verbatim here. Does rubbing herb butter under the skin help the moistness of the turkey? So she wants to go under the skin.

MILLER: Right. And using this method you could because it's a way to tweak it and make it your own. You would put your hand in there and lift the skin up and get your butter and put it in there. It's a little messy. Might be something you get someone else to do. It adds a little more flavor.

When you ask about basting, the skin of the turkey is not very porous. It's like a raincoat. It goes to the bottom of the pan. If your family tradition is to baste, that's OK because you don't want to get rid of those traditions.

What you want to do is not do it too often because what happens, you open the oven door, heat is in the kitchen. It's going to take longer.

CHO: Well, let's talk about cooking the turkey. Because -- first of all how warm -- what should the temperature be?

CAROL MILLER, BUTTERBALL TURKEY TALK-LINE SUPERVISOR: Sure. The temperature is all important. You know at this point if you don't have a thermometer call a guest and have them bring one. So it's really, really important. So we've got it in there. We put it into a --

COSTELLO: Just the one in the flower. Give us a thermometer.

CHO: Exactly.

MILLER: You're going to slide it into the oven at 325. So that's -- it's so simple. We've done it.

CHO: But you know the biggest question I have about cooking the turkey is, you know, you hear a lot of an hour per pound or so many minutes per pound. What's the formula?


MILLER: It really depends on the method that you're using. This one, if you've got a 10 to 18-pound turkey, it's going to roast up in about three to three-and-a-half hours. If you have a turkey that's stuffed, you need a little bit longer. And my suggestion is always test the turkey about a half an hour before the estimated time cut. You can keep cooking, you cannot uncook. You know and everybody --

COSTELLO: And you have a dry turkey, right?

MILLER: You want that moist juicy turkey so you know check that.

CHO: So it's not a certain amount of minutes per pound.


CHO: You can't do that.

MILLER: It doesn't really work because there's tiny little turkeys that are six pounds and great big turkeys. Science 101 has to do with heat distribution that's beyond what we need to know. But use your -- the formula for the method that you're using. If you're -- you know, sometimes people get confused about that.

COSTELLO: OK. One last quick question. Someone wonders if you baste in Red Bull if that would counteract the effects of the -- of the (INAUDIBLE) turkey.

MILLER: I don't know.


COSTELLO: I love that question.

CHO: There are all those people who talk about, you know, you get that turkey coma. I'm one of them.

MILLER: Yes, I know. I know. You know Butterball has been making it better. And right now as we speak those ladies are manning those phones. So if you've got a question --

CHO: Who do you call?

COSTELLO: Make sure you call them.

MILLER: You call them. Yes.


CHO: That's right.

COSTELLO: Carol Miller, thank you. You're going to be back in the next hour, too, for more tips.

MILLER: Yes. CHO: That's right. We'll be giving you tips on carving the turkey and what in the world to do with all of the leftovers. That's my favorite part.

If you have questions, tweet them to us at CNNam using the hash tag TurkeyTalk or go to AMERICAN MORNING Facebook page.

Forty-seven minutes after the hour. We're back after this.


CHO: Forty-eight minutes after the hour. Here are your morning headlines.

Today U.S. markets are closed for the Thanksgiving holiday and there will be an abbreviated session tomorrow with the Closing Bell ringing at 1:00.

Overnight in Asia, Japan's Nikkei was down nearly 2 percent sinking to its lowest level in 32 months.

European stocks trading slightly higher this morning.

The northeast is thankful for clear, sunny weather today. Take a look at the map. But more snow and rain is in the forecast for the northwest. Spots of rain this Thanksgiving Day in the southwest as well.

A time honored tradition Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. There will be more than 50 balloons floating high above Manhattan including some newbies, Julius the monkey and B., a Tim Burton creation. The parade begins at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

"Occupy Wall Street" organizers here in New York City are planning a Thanksgiving feast for thousands of protesters at Zuccotti Park. Turkey day meals with all the trimmings will be prepared at a local kitchen and served in the park this afternoon.

A very special Thanksgiving matchup. San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh will battle it out on the gridiron with his older brother John, the Baltimore Ravens coach. First time in NFL history the two brothers face each other as head coaches.

That's the news you need to know to start your day. AMERICAN MORNING is back after a quick break.


COSTELLO: It is 51 minutes past the hour. This news just in to CNN.

Egyptian authorities are in the process of releasing three American students being held in Cairo on suspicion of taking part in that big protest against the country's ruling military council.

Joining us on the phone, Joy Sweeney, her son Derrik is one of the students captured.

Joy, this is -- got to be the greatest Thanksgiving Day news you've ever gotten.

JOY SWEENEY, MOTHER OF FREED STUDENT: It is absolutely incredible. We are just so blessed and so grateful right now. God is awesome. Can't wait to give him a big hug.

COSTELLO: So what -- what have you heard?

SWEENEY: Well, we actually -- I talked to Mr. Roberto Powers on the phone, I don't know, about an hour ago. And it was confirmed officially. He is -- they are -- all three of them have been released and the attorney general is not going to appeal. And as I was speaking to Mr. Powers, the boys were being taken to a physician for a medical examination and from there they were going to be taking the boys back to the police station for them to be officially -- all the paperwork being processed for them to be released.

And then from there, somehow either the university or the counselor, somebody was going to get them back to their dorm rooms. And at that point in time, we would probably hear from them.

COSTELLO: I was just going to ask you, have either you or your husband talked to your son?

SWEENEY: No, no, no. They don't have their -- until they get to the police station, they won't have their cell phones back. And -- no, we have not been able to speak to them yet.

COSTELLO: Did your husband talk to your son yesterday at any point?

SWEENEY: No, I did.

COSTELLO: You did. What was --

SWEENEY: Right after I think I talked to you.


COSTELLO: So tell us what his mood was like then.

SWEENEY: He was still terrified. He was very, very concerned. Adamant that they didn't do anything wrong. Very confused. You know -- gosh. Just grateful to hear from me and I just let him know about the outpouring of love and support that he was receiving from all over -- the world actually.


COSTELLO: OK. So he's going to eventually get back to his dorm today. Will he be coming home then?

SWEENEY: Yes, yes.


COSTELLO: No question there. Yes, he will.

SWEENEY: No. I'm adamant. You know, I mean, we haven't confirmed that with him, but Mr. Powers said that Derrik was one of the people that conveyed that he was ready to leave. And Mr. Powers said he would strongly advice it. He said their pictures have been plastered all over the news, all over the news over there. He said it wouldn't really be safe or prudent for him to stay in the country.

COSTELLO: So what is the first thing you're going to say to your son when you see him in person and you're able to throw your arms around him?

SWEENEY: I just -- like I said, I cannot wait to give him a big hug. I don't ever if I'll let go of him the entire rest of the day. You know, I'm so -- you know, I'm going to say I love him, I love him, I love him, and I'm so ecstatic that he's home. And I just can't express how jubilant I am right now. I am -- I just am so happy.

COSTELLO: That's so, so awesome. Hey, throw some turkey in the freezer and save it for him.




SWEENEY: We haven't even bought one yet. OK.


COSTELLO: Yes, you got bigger things on your mind, I guess.



SWEENEY: It was one of those Thanksgiving holidays where buying food was the last thing on our list, OK.

COSTELLO: So awesome.

SWEENEY: But, anyway, we will -- we will definitely enjoy it and have so much to be thankful for. Not that we didn't already. But now one more thing to add to our list, I guess.

COSTELLO: Yes. Happy, happy Thanksgiving, Joy Sweeney. Thank you so much. And we're glad you were able to share your happy news with us.

CHO: It's incredible. Talk about a Thanksgiving to be thankful for. I mean, really -- and just this morning we were reporting that they might still be in custody for another four days.

COSTELLO: Four days.

CHO: So it's really incredible and very, very happy news. Good for her and good for their family.

Your top stories are next, including an amazing story. Lakes are shrinking after the yearlong drought in Texas. Now those receding waters are revealing deep secrets. Old ghost towns reemerging from the depths.

COSTELLO: And a flood of sticky, gooey black muck stops traffic on a Pennsylvania turnpike for 40 miles. What on earth is that stuff?

CHO: We'll tell you. And what are you doing tonight? Eating Thanksgiving dinner? Hunting down shopping deals? Or a little of both. Stores are opening up earlier and earlier causing some to ask, have stores crossed the line by intruding on the national holiday? What do you think?

Fifty-six minutes after the hour.