Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Saturday Morning News

Wall Street Ended the Week with a Spark; Parts of East Coast Going Through Early Winter Weather; There Could Be a Connection Between Bad Economy and Bigger Waist Lines: Some Experts Say You Should Be Worried

Aired November 22, 2008 - 09:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, from the CNN center in Atlanta, Georgia, I'm T.J. Holmes. And welcome to this CNN SATURDAY MORNING.
MELISSA LONG, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Melissa Long, in today for Betty who is on assignment. We're going to talk to her a little bit later in the morning ...

HOLMES: Yes, we will.

LONG: from California.

HOLMES: Find out what she's up to out there.

LONG: Hard work. Good work.

HOLMES: Ha, no good.

LONG: Always good.

Wall Street ending the week with a spark. Welcome news, of course. And this happened as this news spread of who the president- elect might have for the Treasury Secretary post.

HOLMES: Also this morning, parts of the east coast going through some early winter weather. This winter weather's getting to me.

LONG: We're all choked up about it.

HOLMES: I am. I've been choked up all the past couple of days actually.

Also, we're going to be talking about some fast food restaurants making big money in these tough times. Unfortunately, you know sometimes it's quick, and easy and inexpensive.

LONG: Yes, but there could be a connection between the bad economy and bigger waist lines. Some experts say you need to be worried. We will talk about that coming up.

HOLMES: All right. Let's get started.

We start with issue number one, the economy and the country's money crisis. We are coming off a week where the issue dominated the news, from the unemployment lines to the assembly line. The big three automakers went to Capitol Hill in private jets, mind you, and they stepped off asking for $25 billion in loans. They say they need it to stay in business.

Well, instead of cash, they got a homework assignment. Go home and come up with a viable recovery plan. That homework assignment given to them by members of Congress. Weekly jobless claims hit a 16- year high. The number of new claims for unemployment, that's new claims in just a week, 542,000.

Yesterday, President Bush signed a bill to extend unemployment benefits, and it was another wild ride on wild street -- on Wall Street. Might as well.

LONG: Might as well change the name.

HOLMES: Call it wild street these days. After losing more than 870 points in two days, that's about 10 percent of its value, the Dow finished up almost 500 points yesterday. That's great news. That rally came on word that President-Elect Barack Obama was on track to nominate a new Treasury Secretary. Some people like the name.

LONG: We do expect an announcement as soon as Monday on Barack Obama's pick for the Treasury Secretary. Sources say the New York Federal Reserve president Timothy Geithner is on track to get this nomination.

CNN's Ed Henry is covering the Obama transition team. He joins us live from Chicago this morning. Good morning, Ed. Nice to see you.


You know, Tim Geithner is somebody who's a known quantity on Wall Street, running the New York Fed. That's why there was that rally you mentioned of almost 500 points yesterday on Wall Street upon the news that he's expected to be tapped on Monday to be the new Treasury Secretary.

What people close to the transition say is that the President- Elect wants to move quickly to get an economic team in place early next week because there's a bit of a leadership vacuum right now. President Bush as a lame duck, the President-Elect not taking office, of course, until January 20th of next year.

Meanwhile, the financial crisis is deepening so they want to try to get some confidence on Wall Street, that a new team is being put in place. After they turn from economic security, they'll go to national security. We're also told by sources close to the transition that after Thanksgiving, Hillary Clinton now in line to be tapped as Secretary of State. Obviously, a very interesting pick by Barack Obama, someone who was his rival in the Democratic presidential nomination battle.

Two sources close to the transition also saying that retired marine General Jim Jones is the leading choice right now to be Barack Obama's national security adviser in the White House, another high- powered Washington player. And what's interesting is foreign policy experts are looking at all of these players coming together and saying it's not just a team of rivals. It could be a team of egos that are very hard to manage.


RAY DUBOIS, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INT'L STUDIES: These are individuals not lacking an ego, and it will be important that President Obama be able to manage those egos in a way that not only does the policies that he espouses get appropriately -- are formulated and articulated, but most importantly implemented.


HENRY: Now, senior Obama aides say that the President-Elect is confident he can keep all these high-powered players on the same page. Otherwise, he wouldn't be picking them. They also say that in the end, it's going to be up to the President-Elect and then president next year to actually make the policy, not just the advisers -- Melissa.

LONG: So, Hillary Clinton possibly Secretary of State. We'll find out about the official announcement after we all digest Thanksgiving dinner. But what about the New Mexico governor? He had been in the running for that position, Bill Richardson, supporting Obama very early in the primary season, now possibly leading the Commerce Department.

HENRY: You're right. And Bill Richardson took a lot of flack from Clinton loyalists. He's somebody who really gained prominence by serving in the Clinton administration and then you're right, he picked Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton after he left the nomination battle for president. And a lot of people close to Richardson say that he expected that as a reward he would be potentially the Secretary of State but, yes, that's not going to happen now. So we're hearing, though that he is the leading contender to be Commerce Secretary instead, Melissa.

LONG: Ed Henry, live for us in Chicago. Ed, thank you.

Now, like any parents moving to a new town, the Obamas are concerned about the right school for the girls. And the soon to be first family, they had a decision to make, and they've made it. Where 10-year-old Malia and seven-year-old Sasha will go is the Sidwell Friends School. It's a private Quaker institution in Washington. Chelsea Clinton is a graduate. Vice-president elect Joe Biden's grandchildren also go to school there.

HOLMES: All right. He's in his final days as president, and you know, he's still out there pushing, in Peru specifically, President Bush pushing for global economic fixes. The APEC summit happening there this weekend. Bush's push to get the leaders of the 21 member countries to agree not to pass any new trade embargoes over the course of the next year.

He's scheduled to address the conference in about 25 minutes and expected to talk about free trade. We will be monitoring that speech both for political stories and news on the transition to power, check out We have the analysis from the best political team you will ever find anywhere.

LONG: Such a touching, bittersweet story. He really wouldn't want you to be sad for him, but he would want you to help others.


BRENDEN FOSTER, 11-YEAR-OLD WITH LEUKEMIA: ...inspired a lot of people. 'Tis the season to give.


LONG: We first told you about Brenden Foster a couple of weeks ago. The Seattle-area boy, wise so far beyond just his 11 years. He faced leukemia with a calm shown by so few adults. He said I should be gone in a week or so. Brenden died yesterday. Before he died, he had one wish, that the homeless people he saw on the way to the doctors could have sandwiches. So, volunteers handed out 200 sandwiches and then Brenden's wish inspired food drives in several places around the country. A legacy for a young man gone too soon.

An Arizona prosecutor wants to drop one of the two murder charges against an eight-year-old. Police charged this boy earlier in the month with the shooting deaths of his father and another man. Police say he confessed to killing both during an interview. Police have since released this video of that interview. Attorneys for the boy argue he should not have been questioned without a lawyer or a family member present.

Nebraska lawmakers have voted to impose age limits now on their contentious Safe Haven Law. The current law allowed parents to drop children off that they could not care for at hospitals without the fear of prosecution. The amended law added an age limitation. Now, no child more than 30-days-old can be left at a hospital. Thirty-five children had been dropped off at Nebraska hospitals since that law took effect in September, and all but six of them were at least 10 years of age.

HOLMES: It doesn't officially begin for another month or at least until next month or so. That looks like winter, right? Snowflakes falling in western Pennsylvania yesterday. Excuse me. Not really sticking to the roadways yet or slowing down motorists. Snow also blowing in the wind in western North Carolina but little accumulation on the ground there as well.

It's cold here in Atlanta, at least our Reynolds Wolf out and about in that cold for us this morning. Reynolds, good morning to you, sir. Tell us where you are, what you're doing and what it's like out there.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, we're here for e- recycling. We're outside Turner Field, just to give you some bearings. You see Turner Field over here on this side. Some folks are coming in. Straight ahead is the minivan, loaded up with all kinds of goodies. When I say goodies, they got old computers, old BlackBerries.

They got cell phones, everything they're recycling, and they're doing so that they can use some of the insides of those electronics. We're talking about the batteries, talking about the -- all kinds of things that can be re-used. Cell battery recycling is a great thing they are doing here today from say 9:00 to 4:00.

The weather here has been -- it's been OK. It's been beautiful but very chilly. Temperatures as I mentioned starting off in the 20s, now we're into the 40s. Take a look at your weather maps. We're going to show you something else farther to the north, not just the cold air. We have been dealing with some snow up in the Great Lakes, specially in places like Syracuse, back over to Erie, Pennsylvania, even into Buffalo. We could see up to a foot of snow in many locations, especially as we make our way into Sunday afternoon.

Now for the rest of the nation, if you head back over towards the Rockies you're going to see fairly nice conditions there. It's going to be dry and cool. But in the higher elevations in the northern Rockies, you could see some snow. Some fog in southern California. But here again, the big story is going to be the cool conditions and e-recycling.

We're going to talk more about that coming up very soon, in fact just a matter of minutes. But for the time being, let's send it back to you in studio.

LONG: Reynolds, thanks so much.

We're going to talk about food coming up. Talk about breakfast, lunch, dinner, when you go to a fast food restaurant. You can actually eat without spending a lot of money.

HOLMES: Yes, you can.

LONG: That's a problem, though. It can be very tempting when you're trying to stretch the dollar.

HOLMES: Yes. We will show you how this easy fix may have those consequences down the road.


HOLMES: This is ridiculous. This will be your outrage story of the week. A lot of people are out there losing their homes about now, can't keep up with their mortgages, can't keep up with their bills. 74-year-old blind widow -- stay with me here. A 74-year-old blind widow had a lien put on her property.

Do you know why? She owed literally one cent, a penny. Eileen Wilbur is her name. Says she couldn't believe it. This is out of Massachusetts here. But city hall, in her town, paid 42 cents for a stamp to mail her the letter saying she still owed one cent on her water and sewer bill. The lady has raised seven children in the five- bedroom home over the past 50 years. A former city council member wrote a check to pay the bill. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EILEEN WILBUR, HOMEOWNER: When you see the word lien on your property, that made me stomach boil. I think if they said you owe $100, I'd pay $100. But don't touch my property.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I went to City Hall as soon as it opened, and I wrote out a check for a cent to make a point to them.


HOLMES: Yes. And you know what, folks? The folks at City Hall, they're actually defending themselves. They say the letter that was seeking the penny was computer-generated and went out with around 2,000 other bills for outstanding balances. A penny.

All right. Another sign of the increasing hard times, people turning back -- or turning their backs on their little loved ones, the little furry ones. An animal control facility in Nashville says the kennels are full of dogs waiting to be adopted. They say animal shelters tend to see an influx of animals during difficult economic times.


BILLY BIGGS, METRO ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER: The guy got foreclosed on, and he left all five of his animals there. One had like 11 puppies.


HOLMES: We've had reports of other communities where pet owners are giving up their animals, mostly because of the economy.

LONG: Unfortunately, the animals running around in my neighborhood right now, we're trying to find a home for. A little dog is looking to be adopted. Yes, looking for a good home.

General Motors could be on the brink of collapse but yes it is looking to expand in China. Why? Here's CNN's Emily Chang.


EMILY CHANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At one of Beijing's biggest car markets, rows and rows of gleaming automobiles, just waiting for a test drive. Feng Chongwei is shopping for his first car. This is GM's Buick Excel.

FENG CHONGWEI, FIRST TIME CAR BUYER (through translator): With the economic crisis, car sellers are under great pressure so we can get better discounts, says Feng. The pressure is so great, GM has warned it could collapse. So if the U.S. government bails out GM, it will be saving a company that's relying on business from China to survive.

HOU YANKUN, AUTO INDUSTRY ANALYST: China is the largest auto market outside the United States for GM, and they use most of the profits for GM.

CHANG (on-camera): GM broke into the China market early. It's now considered the most prestigious U.S. auto brand here and employs about 20,000 Chinese workers. Even on the verge of bankruptcy, GM wants to expand in China. Its sales in the U.S. may be falling, but here they're rising. In fact, some say China could speed past the U.S. as the world's largest car market in a matter of years. Automakers expect to sell a million more cars in China this year compared to last year, and about 2.5 million less in the U.S

However, drivers in China are hitting the brakes, too. Car sales slowed for the first time in three years in August during the Olympics because of rising gas prices and restrictions on car use in Beijing to limit pollution. Business is better now, but still slow.

GUO YONG, AUTO MARKET MANAGER: The car market in China has been influenced by the world economy, but in a big city like Beijing, thousands of cars are still being bought.

CHANG: Dealers here expect a boom in sales ahead of the Chinese new year, good tidings for GM if GM, as the world knows it, survives.

Emily Chang, CNN, Beijing.


LONG: Money is being made and fast -- in fact, fast food restaurants are making some money during these tough economic times, but could there be a connection between the bad economy and our waistlines getting bigger? Some experts say you really need to be concerned.


LONG: If you are constantly on the go with a packed schedule, fast food may be convenient for you and your family. It's also becoming the top choice for those that are trying to cut spending during these tough economic times. But could it lead to bigger problems down the road?

Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition and food studies from New York University joins us live from New York to talk more about this trend that you see as being alarming. Good morning, professor. Nice to see you.


LONG: What are the trends that you are seeing with respect to people that are watching their wallets and going more and more for fast food?

NESTLE: Well at a time when restaurants all over the country are closing because nobody is going to them, fast food sales are booming. McDonald's is going up. All of the fast food chains are reporting they're having really great sales. LONG: Well, you can look and see that they have the dollar menu, so often there are affordable meals or affordable snacks. Help us to go to the fast food restaurant, if we have to because of the finances, and still find something that is healthy.

NESTLE: Well, I always like to put it this way. If you go to McDonald's with $5, you can buy five hamburgers or one salad. And if you don't have any money and you're hungry and you want to eat, you're going to pick the hamburger.

LONG: What about getting the baked potato versus the French fries?

NESTLE: Well, that's a good choice, but the real issue in fast food is quantity. You just don't want to eat too much of it. Fast food was never meant to be daily fare. It was always meant to be something that you did once in awhile. When my kids were little, I took them there once a year on their birthdays.

LONG: So, fast food restaurants and companies are recording an uptick in business. What about people that have been on the organic band wagon? Recently, they're having to cut back. What about going to a farmers market? How can you still live that organic, healthy lifestyle?

NESTLE: Well, I think you really have to realize that vegetables are -- the serving sizes of vegetables are really very small, and if you pay a couple dollars for a vegetable that will be shared among several people. The perception that vegetables are expensive has to do with calories more than what's actually in the vegetables. So, you just buy a little and share it.

LONG: What about the fact that people are getting emotional, they're getting worried about their finances, and then you seek comfort in some of the things that aren't too good for us?

NESTLE: Well, this is completely understandable, but health is really important whether you're rich or poor, and in an economic crisis it seems to me health is really important to maintain health, unless we do something about our health care system, people are going to need to stay healthy.

LONG: So just give us two tips as we wrap up, what should we do when we're going to the grocery store to try to watch the wallet and still eat healthy?

NESTLE: Oh, just eat around -- buy foods from the peripheral aisles. Never set foot in the center of the store. And learn to cook.

LONG: OK. Learn to cook as well. Stay home, and you know exactly the ingredients in what you're eating. Professor Marion Nestle, thanks so much. We appreciate your time, joining us live. She's a professor at New York University. Thanks so much. Have a wonderful weekend. Now, if you have to take a trip but you are short on cash like so many now, CNN's Gerri Willis has some uncommon tips that could save you not -- hundreds, if not into the thousands of dollars.


GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Hey, T.J., lots of folks are trying to cut down on holiday expenses this year and one place you might be able to save it, lodging. Instead of booking a hotel this year, some folks are swapping houses. Basically, two families agree to swap homes for a vacation. You can save thousands of dollars in some cases.

Check out or go to to search for potential house swapping buddies. Remember to take precaution if you are considering a swap. Ask for referrals and, look, talk to the person a few times before the swap takes place. Consider locking up your jewelry and other valuables for your stay. But house swapping is not the only inexpensive option out there.

Hotel rates are actually lower this year than they were last year. They're likely to fall more between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Find out what deals are available on the web and then negotiate. Call the hotel directly. Tell them that a rate you found and ask about any discounts or promotions.

Coming up on "OPEN HOUSE," how to get the best deals on cars right now. A look at unconventional steps some folks are seeking to get them through the foreclosure crisis, and how to stay out of debt this holiday season. That's "OPEN HOUSE," 9:30 a.m. Eastern -- T.J.


HOLMES: All right. Thank you, Gerri. We are going to tell you why you don't want to take that old computer or that microwave that's been collecting dust and bury it in the back yard.

LONG: Yes. You don't want it in your back yard. The land fills actually don't want it in theirs either.

HOLMES: Yes. So what do you do?

LONG: Reynolds Wolf joining us with the answer, but you're going to have to stay here because he's hard at work right now. He's going to join us live in a moment.


HOLMES: All right. Today, a chance for people to do the right thing and get rid of their e-waste the green way.

LONG: It's easy, very easy just toss your old cell phones, computers, TV sets whatever in the trash but not necessarily the right decision.

HOLMES: Not good for the environment. LONG: Exactly.

HOLMES: Our own Reynolds Wolf, Mr. Green himself, live near Turner Field to explain. What have you got there, Reynolds?

WOLF: What I got is an old printer. It's a printer that you know no longer has a use so instead of throwing it away, best thing to do is come down to a place like this, an e-recycling center. When you take it over to a big pallet like this, guys will come by and will do something like -- maybe a little less gentle than that. Yes. It's all for a good cause. It's all about recycling. It's always a smart thing to do. And for so many, it gives us a better idea of what exactly happens in a center like this.

We're going to turn to our friend Robert. Robert is from San Diego. What exactly are we going to do with these printers, these computers, these cell phones when they show up at a place like this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, when they come here, they're going to get remanufactured once they get to the plant. They're going to separate them into the useful parts, the glass, plastics and metals and aluminum and those can be put back into new products. Sony's ultimate goal is to recycle pound for pound the product it produces. So it takes 50 lb. To make a Sonny product. We want to recycle 50 lbs.

WOLF: Well are the specific things you're looking for this morning? What are the things that people can bring by? And what are the things that they might want to leave their homes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bring your DVD players, your old VCR, your tape, your reel-to-reels, any game consoles that you don't use anymore. We just ask that stay out of the laundry room and kitchen.

WOLF: Out of the laundry room and the kitchen. I try to stay away from those places myself. Thanks so much, Robert.

I want to show you something else. We got more trucks that are pulling up. This one has got TV sets. He's got a few monitors. A little bit of everything. But way up on the other side, we've` seen all kinds of goodies. Things like big screen TVs, all going to be broken down, recycled, and put to good use. That is what we're doing here today. And many other places around the country. It's all for a good thing.

So follow the advice, especially you, T.J. Let's send it back to you in the NEWSROOM.

HOLMES: All right, thank you, Reynolds. Please stop chasing cars.

All right. We're going to be talking about bailing out the nation's troubled auto industry. Should we do it? In the next hour, we'll hear from two people closely watching all this and talk about the pros and cons. LONG: And we're also waiting for President Bush. He's in Lima, Peru for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum. As we hear from him this morning, we'll bring it to you live.

HOLMES: All right, but right now, we're going to go ahead and go to "OPEN HOUSE" with Gerri Willis. But when the president pops up, we'll pop in.