Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Saturday Morning News

Pentagon Shooter Had History of Mental Problems; Violence Rattles Iraq Days Before Pivotal Election; Chile Earthquake Leaves Family of Entertainers Adrift; Roberts Retirement Rumor Races Around Internet

Aired March 06, 2010 - 06:00   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: From the CNN Center, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING. It is March 6. Good morning, everybody. Thanks for being with us. I'm Betty Nguyen.

RICHARD LUI, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, good morning to you, Betty.

NGUYEN: Good morning.

LUI: I'm Richard Lui, in for T.J. this day.

It's 6 a.m. right here in Atlanta; 5 a.m. in St. Louis; and 3 a.m. in San Diego, if that's where you're at. Thanks for starting your day with us.

We've got more revelations first this morning about the Pentagon shooter. Details about John Patrick Bedell's links to the Pentagon, his marijuana use and his impressive resume. He graduated with a degree in physics.

NGUYEN: And then there's the rumor mill. Yes, the story that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was considering retirement. That spread like a virus on the Internet this week. But it wasn't true. We're going to look at how that rumor got started in a Georgetown classroom.

But first, here's a quick check of our top stories overnight.

Just a day before Iraqis vote in national elections, a car bomb kills three people near a Shiite holy shrine in Najaf. At least 54 others are injured. Violence has been increasing ahead of tomorrow's parliamentary elections.

Now, we're going to take you live to Baghdad in just a couple of minutes.

LUI: And "The New York Times" is reporting that Somalia's government is planning to take back control of the capital from insurgents with help from the United States. "The Times" says so far, the U.S. has mainly been focused on training Somali forces. But U.S. air strikes and special ops on the ground could be used to get rid of al-Qaida.

NGUYEN: And another member of Congress walking away from Capitol Hill.

New York House Representative Eric Massa says he's going to step down, effective Monday. He had announced earlier this week that he didn't run for -- he would not run for a re-election.

He's a first-time Democrat and has had health issues, but he's also under an ethics probe for alleged harassment.

LUI: And we got new details this morning about the man killed by police at the Pentagon Thursday night. He had once proposed researching smart weapons for the military. John Patrick Bedell also had a history of mental illness.

Our Dan Simon has more on the Pentagon shooter now.


JOHN PATRICK BEDELL, KILLED IN SHOOTOUT AT PENTAGON: In the next few minutes, I will talk to you about what information currency is.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You don't have to watch John Patrick Bedell's YouTube video for very long to realize this was a man with serious issues.

This video, titled "Information Currency," is the rambling of a troubled 36-year-old man instructing people how to use information to make money.

BEDELL: I hope you will visit my Web site and download the software that I have released.

SIMON: Bedell may have been disturbed, but he was clearly intelligent. His online resume shows he graduated with a degree in physics in 1994.

A professor remembers him as a thoughtful student.

DAVID PARENT, ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING PROFESSOR, SAN JOSE STATE UNIVERSITY: I thought I knew him pretty well. I had him in a -- in a class where he was a pleasure to have him there. When -- and he would ask really good questions that would spark the class into having good questions. I would have characterized him as a gentle man.

SIMON: Years later, in 2004, a link to the Pentagon -- Bedell, who also studied biochemistry, proposed the Pentagon fund his research on smart weapons.

CNN obtained his 28-page proposal, though it's not clear if he ever submitted it to the Defense Department -- at this point in Bedell's life, no apparent red flags.

But that changes in 2006. A search of criminal records shows his first real trouble with the law, arrested for growing marijuana.

Authorities say Bedell later obtained a medical marijuana card, and the local sheriff says his mother was concerned about his frequent use and told police about it.

CURTIS HILL, SAN BENITO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA, SHERIFF: She feels that he's, you know, delusional, is agitated. And he got -- he got upset with her because, you know, she's asking questions about what he has been doing.

SIMON: Bedell lived in this gated northern California community with his parents, described as well-known and respected.

In recent months, they became more and more worried about their son's erratic behavior. Like in January, they got a call from a Texas deputy who had just pulled Bedell over for speeding. The deputy sensed something was wrong.

(on camera): And so he got Bedell's cell phone and called his parents?

HILL: That's correct. You know, see, and -- and what he -- what he articulates to the mother is that: 'Hey, I'm calling to ask a few questions about your son, because the inside of his vehicle appears to be in disarray. And what can you tell me about him?'

SIMON (voice-over): Bedell went on his way. The family later filed a missing-persons report, and then dropped it when Bedell came home a week later.

But Bedell soon left again, when, according to the sheriff, his mother questioned him about a $600 charge at a shooting club. It's not clear if the money was for a weapon.

Then, on February 1, more trouble with police. Bedell, now with a beard and appearing gaunt, was pulled over in Reno and determined to be high on marijuana. Authorities say he had 75 grams of pot in his possession. He was charged with several crimes, but didn't show up for his court appearance.

A month later, after driving across the country, Bedell shows up at that Pentagon Metro station dressed in a suit, and, according to police, opens fire.

(on camera): Bedell had a documented case of mental illness: bipolar disorder. The sheriff here in his hometown says Bedell had been committed to a mental institution three to four times.

Bedell's parents put out a statement saying his son's actions were caused by an illness, not a defective character.

Dan Simon, CNN, Hollister, California.


NGUYEN: Now to Iraq, where there's been a deadly explosion in one of the holiest cities. And police say they expect more violence as voters get ready to hit the polls tomorrow.

CNN's Arwa Damon is in Baghdad. All right. Give us the latest on what you know dealing with this round of violence that we saw overnight.

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we do know so far is that the explosion was caused by a car bomb, and it was a few hundred feet away from one of Shia Islam's holiest shrines in the southern city of Najaf. At least three people have been killed and more than 50 wounded.

This is especially disturbing because of the location where the attack took place. The area around the shrine is arguably one of the most heavily guarded in all of Iraq. And, of course, this comes the day before Iraqis themselves are going to be heading out in that very critical vote on Sunday.

Now, we have already seen attacks on polling centers. Remember, we had early special voting for the Iraqi security forces a few days ago, and there were two suicide bombers that walked into crowds of security forces as they were assembling before they went to cast their votes.

And while we do look at these attacks and as the numbers who have been killed, and it is significantly lower than it has been in the past, remember, Iraqis are carrying the psychological trauma of six, seven years of war, of having seen the most brutal and horrific acts. So for them, any small attack is going to have a severe psychological impact.

NGUYEN: No doubt.

All right. Arwa Damon, joining us. Thank you, Arwa.

LUI: Well, six days after one of the worst earthquakes, Chile got a reminder that it is not over yet. A powerful aftershock had people running into the streets less than 24 hours ago. The tremor measured 6.0. Scientists say Chile will experience yet more aftershocks for years to come.

CNN's Sara Sidner is in Constitucion, where life is anything but back to normal.


SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hairo Ruiz Monsalves is trying to salvage his dream.

HAIRO RUIZ MONSALVES, MAGICIAN: Como David Copperfield (ph).

SIDNER: He was the magician in his family's traveling circus before the Chilean tsunami came and unceremoniously made his dream disappear.

(on camera): What more can you do now?

MONSALVES: Nothing (ph).

SIDNER: You don't know?

MONSALVES (through translator): Since I was a kid, I wanted to be a magician. And when I was 13, my dream came true. Now, everything is lost.


SIDNER (voice-over): The entire family business is in ruins now, just like many of the coastal Chilean towns they end up in.

(on camera): To give you some idea of just how much work there is left to do here in Chile, all you have to do is look at the small amusement park in his seaside town. The main attraction, the Ferris wheel -- well, it's still sitting in the middle of the main road, six days after the earthquake and tsunami hit.

SIDNER: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH). What did you think about the earthquake?

"The quake, all the houses fell down. The cars went into the sea, and the sea destroyed the cars. And the houses move a lot. And the circus was standing, but it fell apart and crashed."

Five-year-old David Monsalves is an acrobat in the family circus. He's content simply picking up the empty popcorn holders the family used to sell.

But his grandfather is very disturbed, because, he says, he was forced to do a terrible thing after the disaster struck. He had one of his five lions shot dead, fearing it would kill after it escaped wounded and angry. He says the rest of the animals were put in zoos across the country.

But the humans have nowhere to go. So for now, the traveling family circus is stranded on the beach in Iloca, Chile, trying to figure out how to get back on the road again.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Iloca, Chile.


NGUYEN: They have a lot of work to do down there.

But I want to talk to you about this: class action. Economics has students and teachers taking a stand against their schools at colleges all around the college.

LUI: Yes, dramatic race against time as well after a man falls onto the tracks of an oncoming train.


LUI: And it's all caught on this tape. There he goes.

NGUYEN: Man. OK, we'll get you the latest on that.

And Reynolds Wolf mapping out your weekend forecast. There he is. We'll be talking with him shortly.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's right, guys. We're going to be talking about the warm-up we're going to see in parts of the eastern U.S. Over the last couple of weekends, we've been in the deep freeze. But this time, going up for a warm spell.

We'll let you know how high it's going to go, coming up right here on CNN SATURDAY MORNING.




LUI: Education comes at a cost, and cash-strapped university and college students across the nation are complaining about having to pay more and more as the years go on.

NGUYEN: Yes, they are. And you know what they're saying? Enough already.

And yesterday, and Thursday as well, many held a day of action.

Take a look.




NGUYEN: What's all this about? Well, several states already have raised fees and tuition at state institutions to make up for the bad economy. And all these budget cuts come after the federal government has poured billions of dollars into higher education over the past year.

LUI: Yes, and our Josh Levs is here with a look at just how much taxpayer money has been spent to prop up the nation's ailing colleges.

And -- and Josh, either way you look at it, they need the money, and it's not good for a lot folks.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I got to tell you, when I saw these numbers, to me this is one of the starkest numbers in this entire fight, because when you hear people complain, imagine how much worse it would be had they not gotten tens of billions of dollars in federal money.

Take a look at what they've got in the past year from the stimulus. We've been looking at that stimulus, that giant -- keep in mind, we don't actually have stimulus money. It's all borrowed money the nation is paying interest on -- $17.2 billion have been poured into higher education from that stimulus alone over the past year. And still, even with that, young people all over the country and professors, all sorts of people, really upset about all these massive budget cuts.

One of our producers put together this map. Take a look. She just looked at a few examples of what's happening at a few schools around the country.

The University of Arizona is looking to add a 31 percent tuition- fee hike. That would force students in state to find $2,000 extra in this coming fall, raising the total to about $8,900.

She looked at the University of Georgia. They would have a 35 percent hike for this coming academic year. It would cost students $2,000 more.

And one Richard knows very well, UCal-Berkley, your alma mater over there, with a proposed tuition and fee hike was approved -- 32 percent hike throughout the California university system there. To a grand total, guys -- nearly $11,000 a year. All of that, all of those hikes needed, after getting tens of billions there from the stimulus, guys.

NGUYEN: That is really striking, especially when you look...

LEVS: Amazing.

NGUYEN: -- you said, what? -- $17.2 billion was poured in, and yet you still see these hikes.

LEVS: So imagine how much worse it would be even without all that stimulus money. It's a really, really ugly picture right now for a lot of people (ph).

NGUYEN: Well, we're going to talk to Steve Perry (ph) a little bit later, our ...

LEVS: Yes.

NGUYEN: ...our education contributor. And he's going to get down to the business of figuring out what's causing all of this, what's the root of this problem.

But in the meantime, I know you got much more coming up.

LEVS: Yes.

NGUYEN: What do you got in the next hour?

LEVS: You know, we got something fun.

You know, you think you know that there's a remake out there of "We Are the World." But the remake that you actually need to know about stars people you've never heard of.




LEVS: I'm going to tell you what this video has accomplished for Haiti on the Web in just a matter of days. Guys, we'll have that, 7:15 a.m. Eastern, next hour (ph).


NGUYEN: Checking our top stories now.

Police, they are draining a pond near San Diego as they search for a 14-year-old girl. They're looking into whether her disappearance about a year ago is related to another missing-persons case.

On Tuesday, police found a body in a nearby park. And they think that could be 17-year-old Chelsea King, who vanished last month. They have charged a registered sex offender with her disappearance.

LUI: Six people aboard this charter bus were killed when it crashed on Interstate 10 in Arizona. Another 16 were injured in yesterday's early-morning crash. Seven remain in critical condition right now.

Federal authorities saying the bus-company operator had been denied an application to operate as an interstate carrier.

NGUYEN: Well, you have to see this video from Arizona. Just check it out. Right there. A guy falls onto the tracks there, and a couple of transit workers were able to pull him to safety with just seconds to spare.

Now, you can see the man, he -- he stood up, stumbled, you know, onto the tracks. Well, officials say he was drunk.

The two men who saved him though, they're being considered for bravery awards.

LUI: And they were fast.

NGUYEN: They were super fast. It's just one of those things -- I mean, I guess they were in the right place at the right time. But can you imagine what would have happened if this guy wasn't -- I mean, look, you can see the train...

LUI: Exactly.

NGUYEN: ...coming, those lights in the background.

Well, here's another story that you might have heard about -- that Chief Justice John Roberts was considering retirement. It was all over the Internet.

LUI: Right. Right.

NGUYEN: People talking about it. But here's the deal: It wasn't true. Nope. We're going to look at how that rumor got started in a Georgetown classroom of all places.

LUI: How about that?

And a former Vatican choir boy accused in a gay sex scandal. He was one of Pope Benedict's elite ushers as well. But now he's jailed, facing serious allegations.

The racy documents and wiretaps, straight ahead.


LUI: A rumor that Chief Justice John Roberts was planning to retire spread faster than a virus on the Internet.

So how did this one get started and why was it taken so seriously?

Brian Todd breaks down the anatomy of a rumor.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It seemed to spread about as fast as you could text it and hit "send," A rumor that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was -- quote -- "seriously considering retirement."

It was first posted Thursday on the celebrity Web site Radar Online, with details that Roberts would be leaving for "personal reasons." It moved with warp speed through the social media, into newsrooms and even made it live on the air on FOX News Channel.

UNIDENTIFIED ANCHOR: There are reports online that the nation's Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is considering stepping down. That would be a huge deal.

TODD: The FOX anchor quickly added their own reporter was saying the story wasn't true. And it wasn't. A spokesperson from the court quickly steered CNN away from the story as well.

At some point, Radar Online update to say Roberts would not be leaving.

How did this rumor get so far so fast?

It apparently started here, at the Georgetown University Law Center, during a class in criminal justice taught by Professor Peter Teague. Two students present who wouldn't go on camera tells CNN that Teague opened up class by telling his 100-plus students that Roberts would be stepping down, but to just keep that information between them.

But at least one student sent e-mails out. Others may have sent out Tweets and other messages. And within minutes, Radar Online had posted it.

The Web site has not disclosed exactly where it got the information and didn't return our calls and e-mail.

The students say about a half after he told the class about Roberts, Teague told them he'd made it all up. They say he did it to teach them that informants in the criminal-justice system are not always reliable.

TODD (on camera): Current and former students give us a portrait of a professor who is quirky but very effective. And they say that Professor Teague has used this teaching method before, but not always with the same outcome.

(voice-over): Matt McGrath, Kim Allen, and Philip Sanguinetti took Teague's class last year. They say he did the same thing with them.

KIM ALLEN, GEORGETOWN UNIV. LAW STUDENT: He starts the class and he tells everybody to close your laptops, e has something to tell us and then he says that there's -- that we are all going to find out tomorrow that John Roberts is retiring.

TODD (on camera): Did you suspect anything?

MATT MCGRATH, GEORGETOWN UNIV. LAW STUDENT: It did seem strange. But on the other hand, Professor Teague has sort of a courtroom voice. You know, he's got a -- a very serious manner, and I was inclined to believe what he said at first.

TODD (voice-over): But these three say no one in their class sent the information out and they quickly realized it is game playing.

PHILIP SANGUINETTI, GEORGETOWN UNIV. LAW STUDENT: It just seemed very unlikely there was -- that -- that -- that a law professor, even if he had this knowledge, would impart that kind of knowledge to a whole -- a massive bunch of students. There were 120-odd students in the classroom.

TODD: Will Professor Teague use this method in the future? We repeatedly called him and looked for him at the law center. We never reached him. The law school would not comment.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


NGUYEN: That's amazing.

LUI: Yes.

NGUYEN: Hey, rumors spread very quickly, especially with social media out there. Once you -- you know someone tweets it or...

LUI: That's right.

NGUYEN: ...puts it out on their Facebook, and people believe it to be true, boom, it takes off. So be careful what you say.

LUI: That's right. Because one person tells another person, tells another person, tells another person. And yes...

NGUYEN: Tells two friends and two friends and two friends.

All right. Well, we have another story that may interest you. It's a bit of an unfortunate deja vu in a way. An NFL quarterback defending himself again against accusations of sexual assault.

LUI: While the Vatican does damage control over a different kind of sexual scandal and involves a member of the pope's inner circle.


NGUYEN: Good morning, everybody and welcome back. I'm Betty Nguyen.

LUI: And I'm Richard Lui in for T.J. Holmes on this day. Thanks for starting your day with us.

NGUYEN: All right. So let's check some of the top stories for you overnight. A car bomb at a Shiite shrine in Iraq kills three people and injures 54 others. It happened this morning in the holy city of Naja. Most of the injured were Iranian pilgrims. Violence has been increasing ahead of tomorrow's voting for 325 seats in the Iraqi parliament.

LUI: Now a week after Chile was rocked by an 8.8 earthquake, more aftershocks. Just look at this video here. You can see the effect and the swaying power lines in the sky. Two were recorded yesterday and both were at least a magnitude 6. That is big. Scientists say Chile will experience yet more aftershocks for years to come; 200 have been recorded since last Saturday's quake alone.

Well, NFL star Ben Roethlisberger is accused of sexually assaulting a woman at a rural Georgia night spot on Friday. The woman was part of a group of mingling with him and friends at the restaurant. An agent for the Steelers' quarterback says he will cooperate in the investigation. Now last year, a Nevada casino operator filed a civil lawsuit against him and eight others alleging sexual assault. He's denied nose allegations and no criminal charges were filed.

LUI: And now to an investigation into how public works contracts are awarded that has uncovered a prostitution ring at the Vatican involving a choir boy and a papal usher.

CNN's Randi Kaye brings us the story.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A Vatican choir singer now at the center of a scandal. Accused of running a gay sex network, providing male prostitutes to one of Pope Benedict's ushers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My god, nothing surprises me anymore the way things are today.

KAYE: This is the man who allegedly paid for sex. Angelo Balducci. One of Pope Benedict's elite ushers, a gentleman of his holiness. One of a group of ceremonial ushers who bring dignitaries to meet the pope.

(On camera): Balducci, who is married, is a member of the Italian government and a high-ranking public works official. He was jailed last month during a corruption probe accused of accepting favors, such as sex or money, for construction projects. The alleged gay prostitution ring came to light through wiretapping related to that corruption investigation.

(voice over): Documents obtained by CNN don't include any details about money exchanged but do have excerpts from nearly two years of wiretaps. April 22nd, 2008, Thomas Chinedu Eheim, the choir singer.

"If you are free, three or four situations that can be good, very, very good. Two black Cuban men, really tall, tall, tall. So if you are free, we can try to organize right away. I saw both of them, Angelo, they could be two excellent options.

And an on August 21st, 2008, Balducci: "Which are the better ones?" And then the choir singer: "The better ones are the ones I just told you about. One from Bologna, and the other from Rome."

Balducci: "All right, then let's do it for 3:30."

Eheim, who has been dismissed from his choir duties by the Vatican, told the Italian magazine "Panorama" that he provided Balducci with men from Italy and abroad, including rugby players, actors, models, even seminarians. He said Balducci never met the men on Vatican grounds. The Vatican isn't commenting.

(On camera): The choir singer told the magazine that Balducci had asked him for sex too, but he refused. He arranged for the other men, he said, because he needed money and Balducci paid him for his help. Balducci, he said, told him he was married and it had to be a secret, and that sometimes Balducci requested two men a day.

(Voice over): Earlier this week, even before details of the wiretaps were released, Balducci's lawyer told reporters, It is shameful that things unrelated to the corruption investigation have been published. He refused to answer questions about personal matters.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


LUI: Oh, man.

NGUYEN: Wow, that is an eye opener, right there.

LUI: It is. This has also been for some folks, snow, right? Over the last two or three weeks?

NGUYEN: Some people just can't get away from it.

LUI: I know, it follows you like a magnet. Betty, it used to be neither snow, nor rain, nor gloom could stop the postman and woman from their route.

NGUYEN: Well, soon all it may take is a Saturday.


WOLF: All right. You saw the sign there to severe weather. And there is going to be a chance of severe weather for mainly the midsection of the nation. Could see some showers, could see some thunderstorms, maybe even some heavy snowfall. When I say heavy, talking under a foot, but still significant for parts of the Central Plains.



LUI: Let's check our top stories for you. Two U.S. women accused of trying to leave Haiti with 33 children, after the devastating earthquake there, will now spend at least another weekend in jail. The judge said he would probably release them soon, but after a closed hearing yesterday, he declined to explain the delay.

NGUYEN: Well, police have drained a pond near San Diego, as they search for a 14-year-old girl. They are looking into whether her disappearance, about a year ago, is related to another missing person's case. On Tuesday, police found the body in a nearby park and they think it could be 17-year-old Chelsea King who vanished last month. A registered sex offender was charged with her disappearance.

LUI: Six people aboard a charter bus were killed when it crashed on Interstate 10 in Arizona, another 16 were injured in yesterday's early morning crash. Seven remain in critical condition. Federal authorities saying the bus company operator had been denied an application to operate as an interstate carrier.

So, you know, it looks like the economy is doing what the weather usually could not and that's stop the mail here, Betty. The U.S. Postal Service is hemorrhaging money. We have all heard about that. And it's possible here that Saturday will be knocked off the days they've got to work. We tag along with one postal carrier who has been hitting the pavement for 30 years, Saturdays included.

NGUYEN: Yes, and a reality show chef gets the boot from TV. But that's all he needed to get the reservation list filled at his restaurant. Reynolds Wolf takes us there. Stay with us.


LUI: So what's that post office motto again? It is not for the weekend? NGUYEN: Neither snow, rain ...

LUI: Yeah?

NGUYEN: What is the rest of it?

LUI: Heat, gloom -- we're reading it right here.

NGUYEN: Gloom of night, yeah.

LUI: Shall not stop them from their appointed rounds, when it comes to the post office.

NGUYEN: That's what you thought, right? That all could change because the Internet and the economy are having an impact on the postal service. And among possibilities, no Saturdays deliveries. Can you believe it? What are you going to do without that Saturday mail?

Our Brian Todd takes a look.


TODD (voice over): For three decades, Delvin Johnson has been unloading, sorting, hoofing it house-by-house, becoming a fixture on his Northwest Washington beat. He survived the anthrax scare at his local station and other perils of the job.

(On camera): So, in about 30 years how many dog bites have you had?

DELVIN JOHNSON, MAIL CARRIER: Well, recently I had only one.

TODD: Just one?

JOHNSON: Just one. This one right here.

TODD: That one?


TODD: How long ago was that?

JOHNSON: That was about two years ago.

TODD: So, in 28 years you went without one, and then you got one.

JOHNSON: Yeah, yep.

TODD: Just two years ago.

JOHNSON: Yeah, yeah, got one about two years ago.

TODD (voice over): For mail carriers like Delvin, dog bites might be the least of their worries these days. The U.S. Postal Service lost nearly $4 billion last year, we're all simply doing more e-mailing, and online bill paying, and that means a lot less physical mail to and from your doorstep.

(On camera): What is your volume like now compared to say, five years ago?

JOHNSON: Well, it's dropped off maybe a third. It seems to be, you know, picking up again. But it dropped off about a third.

TODD: A third just in the last five years. Is that the most drastic drop you've ever experienced?


TODD: In fact, over the past two years, the Postal Service says, the volume of physical mail, including packages, has seen its most drastic drop in two decades, plummeting more than 35 billion pieces in 2008 and 2009. A system which was built to handle so much more is now oversized, antiquated, and considering cutting benefits and workforce.

As for our mail, the service has drawn up a list of more than 150 post offices for possible closure, and may cut Saturday delivery. Back in that D.C. neighborhood, we asked Janet Bachman about that.

(On camera): They may cut the delivery from six days to five days. Do you think it's a good idea?

JANET BACHMAN, WASHINGTON RESIDENT: I think it's an excellent idea. The great majority of the posts I get, and I imagine most people get, is frankly junk mail. So five days a week, no problem.

TODD (voice over): Down the street, Tove Bjorgaas says she'd miss that sixth day.

TOVE BJORGAAS, WASHINGTON RESIDENT: Saturday's a day when you do your chores and it's good, you know, to get the mail every day.

TODD: Still, it now looks like the icon that never stopped for snow, rain, heat, or gloom of night is about to become much less a part of our lives. Neighborhood resident A'Lelia Bundles offers some perspective on what might be lost.

A'LELIA BUNDLES, WASHINGTON RESIDENT: It's that personal touch. You know, you get to know your postman because he comes every day six days a week.

TODD (On camera): As for Delvin Johnson, he's been offered early retirement twice. He's held it off each time, but wants to go at least another two to three years until the mandatory retirement age of 55 because he's got one child in college, and another one in college in a couple of years.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


LUI: No more Saturdays, he's going to be freed up.

NGUYEN: You know, I'm waiting for a piece of mail today, I love those Saturday deliveries.

LUI: You like getting up.

NGUYEN: No, if you don't get it in the mail early enough, you know, maybe if I can put it there Friday, there's a possibility, it's not too far away it will get there by Saturday. I'm kind of one of those procrastinators that I love Saturday mail. Hopefully it won't go away.

LUI: Mail's kind of like little gifts, too. I like that.

NGUYEN: That's true, except for the bills.

LUI: That's right.

NGUYEN: Well, 15 minutes of fame is all one local chef needed to boost his business.

LUI: Before the reality TV show "Top Chef," this local restaurant had a few walk-ins, but now the reservation list, it is full. Reynolds Wolf reports on the business benefits of reality TV.


LUI: Chef Kevin Gillespie is a household name to foodies everywhere thanks to his appearance on season six of "Top Chef", it you watch that.

NGUYEN: Yes, and reality TV can have quite an effect. Thrusts unknowns into the spotlight, but the exposure can backfire. I'll say this isn't an sentence where it does, Rennie.

WOLF: No, it's actually pretty good. As you look, Kevin had an interesting time there. He didn't win "Top Chef." The thing you have to remember is that lots of fans thought that he should've. Things have worked out pretty well for him. I paid him a visit at his Atlanta restaurant called the Woodfire Grill. And it's safe to say for this guy, business is definitely smoking.


WOLF (voice over): Chef Kevin Gillespie is firing up the grill for another busy night. While many restaurants around the corner and across the nation have hit hard times here at Wood Fire Grill, in Atlanta, Gillespie business is up 300 percent. The difference, he says, is in the kitchen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kevin, you are not top chef.

WOLF: Gillespie just finished filming bravo TV's sixth season of "Top Chef." Although he was told to pack his knife and go, the show turned out to be his recipe for success. KEVIN GILLESPIE, OWNER, WOODFIRE GRILL: It's like night and day. Business was picking up before I left for the show, but it was very slow. It was very incremental. And when returning from the show, it just -- it blew up. This place was on a wait every night reservations were incredibly hard to come by. And amazingly enough, we held that level of business through this entire thing, even after the show has been over.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We feel that you got gypped.

GILLESPIE: Well, thank you.

WOLF: It seems everyone wants a taste of what he's serving.

(On camera): A huge difference maker, especially in a recession.

GILLESPIE: Absolutely. It's been amazing and we know we've been given a rare opportunity that most people have never ever been given. And I hope we don't squander it.

WOLF: Gillespie is not alone. Economists say in this tough economy, reality TV can boost profiles and launch the careers for some entrepreneurs.

PROFESSOR TOM SMITH, FIANCE ECONOMIST, EMORY UNIVERSITY: This is a great vehicle for showing that you have some talent, that you have some skills.

WOLF: But that exposure can come with a dark side.

SMITH: People think, hey, if I get this show, I'll become famous so I better put myself in a position to have a show. Put my kid in a balloon, or not, right? Let's crash a dinner, what have you. So there's nothing to say that just getting on a show is going to, you know, create a bunch of revenue for your business or it's going to make you famous.

WOLF: Kwame Jackson will tell you, that takes hard work.

KWAME JACKSON, OWNER, KRIMSON BY KWAME: You know, I always tell people, you know, Donald Trump doesn't send me checks weekly. It's all about what you choose to do with that opportunity.

WOLF: Jackson came in second on the first season of "The Apprentice" but he proved that real life is far more interesting than anything on reality TV. He used the show as a springboard to launch his neckwear apparel line, Krimson by Kwame.

JACKSON: I think that it would have been much harder to launch an apparel brand from scratch with zero recognition. It think that recognition helps in opening doors and getting some people's attention. But I think you have to deliver substance thereafter. I think you have to be able to have a vision of what you want to achieve.

WOLF: Back in Atlanta, Gillespie is working hard to turn excited viewers into repeat diners, because he says, there's no telling when his 15 minutes may be up.


WOLF: And there really is a pro and con to this kind of thing. Because he was on television, because he is a known figure, the thing is, the bar, the expectations people have is right up here. So every single night he's got to perform. His restaurant has to be a total premium. And any slip, people are going to notice. Definitely bring the people in, but you have to perform in your place of work to keep them coming back.

NGUYEN: I mean, I guess that's good. Because, you know, it keeps them on their toes and there's a lot of competition out there.

WOLF: Oh, absolutely. And if you are not top notch. You know restaurants oftentimes, we hear about, oh, you going to try out this new place. But then kind of, you know, the novelty wears off. Those places that put good food out there continuously that, you know, stay.

LUI: And second (INAUDIBLE) and being very humble about what you've got after being on TV like that. And you have to have a beard, evidently.


WOLF: I am deficient in that category.

LUI: At lot of beards over there.

WOLF: I'm going to work on mine.

NGUYEN: Why don't you work on getting us some breakfast?

WOLF: I'll do that, too. I'll get you some breakfast on the way out. I can handle it for you.

NGUYEN: All right. Thank you, Reynolds.

WOLF: Great stuff, yes.

NGUYEN: Well, hello, everybody. We appreciate you joining us this morning. There's much more to come right here on CNN SATURDAY MORNING. So let's get to it. We are broadcasting live from the world headquarters right here in Atlanta, Georgia.

Good morning, it's March 6th. I'm Betty Nguyen.

LUI: Good morning to you. I'm Richard Lui in for T.J. Holmes on this Saturday. It is 7:00 a.m., right here in Atlanta. Here with Betty and myself; 6:00 a.m. in Minneapolis and 4:00 a.m. in Las Vegas. We thank you so much for starting your day with us on this Saturday.

College, it's already expensive. We all know that. But it is getting worse. Tuition and fees are going way up because of state budget cuts. Thousands of angry students are hitting the streets this week to protest that. And we may see more protests today.

NGUYEN: Also, I got a great opportunity to meet a man that a lot of people look up to. That guy right there, the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader. We talked about a lot of things. But, Richard, you know what, I really wanted to get inside his head and figure out what's it like to be the Dalai Lama? What are some of the -you know, just regular things he does? Who inspires him? You'll be surprised to hear some of his answers. Quite a fascinating man and so looking forward to sharing that with you.

LUI: Amazing.

NGUYEN: But first, let's get you to Iraq.

LUI: That's right.

NGUYEN: Where there's been a deadly explosion in one of the holiest cities. And police say they expect more violence as voters get ready to hit the polls tomorrow.

LUI: That's right. CNN's Arwa Damon is in Baghdad.

And Arwa, what's been happening behind this latest round of violence you've been watching there?

DAMON: Good morning to you both.

Well, here is the issue. And that is that security is still a very precarious here in Iraq. And leading into these elections, you do have the Islamic state of Iraq, that is the umbrella organization that is headed by Al Qaeda that has threatened and vowed to derail these elections. In fact, the organization has gone so far as to issue a curfew, warning people to stay home on election day.

And so earlier today, we saw a car bomb exploding a few 100 feet away from one of Shia Islam's holiest shrines. This is especially disturbing for two main reasons. First and foremost, because the area around the shrine is heavily guarded, so it throws into question, once again, the ability of the Iraqi security forces to provide protection on election day. But also, because attacks on shrines tend to be very inflammatory, and it was an attack on the holy shrine Samara (ph) back in 2006, that really caused Iraq's sectarian violence to significantly increase.

And this vote is very critical because it is going to define if Iraq stays on this path of democracy, if that's what we want to call it, or if it moves toward being a secular and religious state.

LUI: So Arwa, as you take a look at this, of course, the concern is those going to vote tomorrow. With the impact it may have on citizens there. Are you getting a sense from normal everyday Iraqis they may stay away from the polls because of this uptick in violence that you are reporting on?

DAMON: You know, that is of course everyone's concern. That the security will somehow end up impacting voter turn out. But remember Iraqis are very resilient and very brave. They go out every day in Baghdad and other cities that are still seeing a fair amount of attacks. And they undertake that risk.

I would think that come election day, voter turnout will probably be low in the morning. People will sit back as they have in the past, wait and see what's going to happen, see if any attacks take place, and then head out to vote.

LUI: Great. Arwa Damon there live in Baghdad, as we watch the -- as the lead-up to tomorrow's parliamentary election. It's so important for that country. A lot of eyes are watching that here in the United States, as well. Thank you, Arwa.

NGUYEN: Well, back here at home, education does come at a cost and cash-strapped university and college students across the nation are complaining -- and very loudly -- about having to pay more and more. Yesterday and Thursday, many held a day of action to focus on rising college costs. Several states already have raised fees and tuition at state institutions to make up for the bad economy.

And tensions -- they are high in many universities in California after a U.C. San Diego student, a person there hung himself on campus at the library. That happened just a day or two after a flier went around campus advertising an event encouraging people to, quote, "dress ghetto style."

Our Sarah Hoye joins us.

Sarah, I hear there's a student movement starting that. Tell us about that.

SARAH HOYE, CNN PLATFORM JOURNALIST: Yes, that's right. Well, at universities throughout California, there seems to be a number of student protests against the race issues. So, U.C. Berkley became a scene again of another protest, like you said, they had the educational protests.

NGUYEN: Right.

HOYE: This time, it's against race. So, they're standing with their people at San Diego, who all of these incidents happened earlier, a couple of weeks ago. And now, they're standing out not only for the students at San Diego, but also to draw light to their campuses, as well.

So, at U.C. Berkeley they had what was called a blackout in which for about three hours earlier this week, they stood in silence to protest the incident at San Diego and also to call attention to Berkeley, which is having their own issues. So after about three hours, they marched over to the chancellor's office and where some other administrators were, and let them know, hey, we have some demands, we want to be heard. But we're going to stand here in silence.

They've actually caught their ear. They're going to be meeting with them and so, more events coming up for next. So ... NGUYEN: So, I wanted to ask you this -- I mean, what can university officials do? I mean, this event was encouraging people to, quote, "dress ghetto style." What can officials there do to prevent types of events like this that are held by individuals or groups on campus? And perhaps, there's, you know, a ton of them. And how do they know in advance?

HOYE: Well, at the administrative side, what they want to do is kind of get out ahead of it, where they say, yes, this is wrong. You have everybody from chancellors to the governor who are saying, you know what, this can't happen. We need to do something about it. Let's be proactive. Let's get people together, having talks.

Whether that's bringing in better faculty, different faculty, more diverse faculty -- basically opening the eyes to those of who are on campus and to kind of bringing the sense of community together.

NGUYEN: Yes. And so, are you seeing that these protests -- I mean, are students' voices being heard?

HOYE: The voices are being heard. Not only the incident in San Diego ...

NGUYEN: Right.

HOYE: ... but then it went up to Irvine, Davis ...

NGUYEN: It's spreading.

HOYE: It is spreading.

NGUYEN: Very good. All right. Well, thanks for staying on top of it.

Did you have something to say?

LUI: You know, I was thinking back to the history. Yes. I've gone to school in the U.C. system, and during the Rodney King riots, also, you saw certainly that tying together of all the U.C. schools. The question, though, is, you know, how can they mitigate it escalating into violence? And it doesn't -- it looks like it's peaceful so far from what we've seen at the moment.

Any talk about that? Any concern about that?

HOYE: Well, one of the things at U.C. Berkeley earlier in the week, during their protest, nobody was physically attacked, which they had two other blackouts, one in 2001 and 2004 in which students had been pushed or spit on or things like that.

LUI: Right.

HOYE: So, things are actually relatively calm. So, maybe this is a change for the future.

LUI: All right. (CROSSTALK)

NGUYEN: Sarah is one of our new all-platform journalists. We appreciate you. Giving a visit to us here at the world headquarters in Atlanta. Thank you for coming.

HOYE: Well, thanks for having me.

NGUYEN: And you're based where? Tell us for the folks at home.

HOYE: Philadelphia.

NGUYEN: Philadelphia. You're all over the map these days.

HOYE: Yes.

NGUYEN: And that's what we do here at CNN. Thanks so much. We appreciate it.

HOYE: Thank you.

NGUYEN: OK. So, you know, every once in a while you get that lifetime interview. And that moment we go, I'm actually interviewing this person -- it's pretty cool.

LUI: You got it. Yes.

NGUYEN: There he is -- my sit-down interview with the Dalai Lama and some of the questions I asked him that really his answers truthfully just surprised me a little.

LUI: How about that? Looking forward to that one.

Plus, we got the best of the music industry get upstaged by a bunch of YouTube amateurs? They are now the unsung heroes of Haiti.


WOLF: Let's give you a few facts here. It's Saturday morning. You're watching CNN. It's time for weather. So, let's go ahead and let's talk about that for a little bit.

You know, over the last couple of weeks, many people living along the eastern seaboard have been dealing with very cold temperatures, a lot of snowfall, and at times, a couple of blizzards, especially in places like Washington, D.C. Well, today, it is going to be pure bliss for you along much of the eastern seaboard and this big H is going to be the big reason why. Not really the H itself, but rather what it stands for, high pressure, which has a compressing and calming effect on the atmosphere that's going to give you plenty of sunshine today.

And as the sun is out along the eastern seaboard, those temperatures are going to be going up -- certainly not into the 80s or 90s, but still very comfortable. And we're going to get things started, say, for example, in Washington, D.C. at 35 degrees, 32 in Baltimore, 30 in Philadelphia, and New York with 34.

But look where we end up -- by late in the afternoon, we're warming up to about 50 degrees in New York, D.C. going to 51, 50 in Boston. You want warmer conditions? We can find them for you, especially in places like Miami and Tampa are going up into the 60s. Sixty degrees in Memphis and by Beale Street, 68 in Houston, back to Dallas, we go with 65 degrees.

Then when you get in the Central Plains, things get a little bit cooler and with that, possibly some snowfall. Here is the reason why: we've got this area of low pressure that's going to bring in some of that mild air into parts of the southeast. But at the same time, it's going to pull in some cold air from the north, that cold air bringing in, mixing with that moisture is going to bring you some snowfall. I'd say less than 10 inches of snow, but still could give you some slippery conditions along parts of 70. So, certainly, keep the advice of that.

And then back into the -- well, parts of the -- let's see, we've got the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in New Mexico, then Central Rockies, even into the Wasatch Range, snow might be a problem for you. Northern Arizona, snow could -- you could certainly -- could have snow there. In the Sierra Nevada, I would say south of Tahoe, you could see that pile up.

And in terms of rainfall, right here along the central coast of California down to about San Diego, rain is going to be a possibility. But then everything north, it's going to be partly cloudy and fairly comfortable with high temperatures and those spots going to 64 degrees in Seattle, 59 degrees in San Francisco, 60 in L.A., and then again, nice and comfortable in parts of the eastern seaboard. So enjoy it, it should be a great day.

We'll have more in the forecast coming up right here on CNN. See you in a little bit.


NGUYEN: President Obama is pushing his health care reform in his weekly address this morning. Take a listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Despite all the progress and improvements we've made, Republicans in Congress insist that the only acceptable course on health care is to start over. But you know what? The insurance companies aren't starting over. I just met with some of them on Thursday and they couldn't give me a straight answer as to why they keep arbitrarily and massively raising premiums by as much as 60 percent in states like Illinois.

If we don't act, they will continue to do this. They'll continue to drop people's coverage when they need it. They'll continue to refuse coverage based on preexisting conditions. These practices will continue. And that's why we have to act now. That's why the United States Congress owes the American people an up or down vote on health insurance reform.


LUI: Point -- counterpoint, Republicans are using their weekly radio address to respond to the president. And congressman behind the microphone is Representative Parker Griffith. Up until December, he was a Democrat, but now, he is a Republican making the party's case today in the health care debate.


REP. PARKER GRIFFITH (R), ALABAMA: President Obama and Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid refuse to listen to the American people. For them, health care reform has become less about the best reforms and more about what best fits "Washington knows best" mentality -- less about helping patients and more about scoring political points.


LUI: In Chile, it has been exactly one week since that country was rocked by an 8.8 earthquake. But the country is still being shaken by yet more aftershocks. You can see this video right here the effects of that quake and the swaying power lines, two were recorded yesterday and both were greater than six magnitude. That's big. And scientists say Chile will experience aftershocks for years to come, 200 have been recorded since last Saturday's quake alone.

NGUYEN: Well, in the wake of the Haiti disaster, people all over the world have wanted to help.

LUI: Yes, a group of YouTube stars came up with an idea that's quickly becoming a viral video sensation. And our Josh Levs is taking a look at that for us.


LEVS: So, you know about the celebrity version of "We Are the World." You've heard about this. Obviously, it got a lot of publicity. But what you might not realize is that a new version of "We are the World" by these YouTube stars has taken off online. Fifty-seven of them all over the world managed to put this one video together. Take a look.


LEVS: So, that's the clip of it right there, and the woman who put this together is actually one of the singers whom you saw just now. I got on Skype with her and spoke with Lisa Lavie. She's a YouTube singer star. I talked to her about how she put this together.



LISA LAVIE, CREATOR, YOUTUBE "WE ARE THE WORLD": There were people that were recording in their bathrooms, in their kitchen. Some without mikes, some with mikes. So, it was really hard leveling out all the voices, and, of course, compiling the video. But we spent, like, three days, one sleepless night on this video. But it all came together really well. We're really proud of it.


LAVIE: I was expecting like, let's say 35,000 views, and within 24 hours, it was like 120,000. And I was like, oh, my God, 120,000 views. That's awesome.

And then, it just started a snowball effect. It's just became a viral video. It's awesome. It's so exciting.


LEVS: And you can actually follow the traffic, people watching that video and are then giving money to help Haiti online.

And I also want you to see something on the screen. This is a window into a whole world of YouTube singing you might not know about. The way she set up this video, you can click on any face at any time and it brings you to a page about that singer in which you can see all of the songs that that singer has put together, literally all 57 of them. You just click on it anytime, click on the face, and all of a sudden, you're hearing that person sing.

I've linked the whole thing for you everywhere we've got. Let's show my screen.

You have it up right now at our blog, which is, also Facebook and Twitter, JoshLevsCNN. We're hearing from a lot of you already, saying, hey. A lot of people telling us they think this is better than the celebrity remake.

It certainly is a sign of the times in the case of where we are right now. We'll give them a little clip here we can end on, guys, for a second.



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

A published report says U.S. Special Forces could be sent to Somalia. The "New York Times" is citing an unnamed U.S. official as saying that troops may be used to help the government battle al Qaeda militants in the capital of Mogadishu.

And police say the man accused of opening fire at the Pentagon was mentally ill. John Bedell is accused of wounding two police officers before he was fatally shot Thursday. The sheriff in his hometown said that Bedell had spent years in mental institutions.

And the Vatican is looking into yet another sex scandal. A choir singer is accused of providing male escorts for this man. That's Angelo Balducci. He's a married Italian politician who also works as an usher for Pope Benedict.

Now, Balducci was jailed last month on corruption charges. Investigators found out about this alleged prostitution ring during wiretaps related to that investigation.

NGUYEN: Well, for decades, the Dalai Lama has been a champion of world peace -- that we know. But did you know that he gets up before the crack of dawn to meditate? He's fascinated by science. He also loves strawberry jam. And that's not all.

I recently sat down with his Holiness to find out what inspires him.


NGUYEN: Let me ask you this, there are millions all over the world who admire you. They adhere to your teachings. Who do you look up to? Where do you get your inspiration?

DALAI LAMA: Perhaps, firstly, my mother. When I was very young, my mother provided maximum affection. Then, of course, I think, generally, the Tibetan community. Like any other major religion, Buddhism, also, there's very much emphasis on compassion and forgiveness. Then, of course, when I met these people -- these are people who are smiling. So, that also that's part of inspiration.

NGUYEN: You call yourself a simple Buddhist monk.


NGUYEN: Many people think of you much more than that. But if you weren't a monk, what would you be?

DALAI LAMA: Just an ordinary human being.

NGUYEN: Really?


DALAI LAMA: I'm just a simple Buddhist monk, also an ordinary human being.

NGUYEN: What does the Dalai Lama do in his spare time? Do you watch TV? Do you watch the news? People want to know ...

DALAI LAMA: Meditation.

NGUYEN: What is it like to be you? Meditation.

DALAI LAMA: Meditation and reading, studying.

NGUYEN: What do you do for fun?

DALAI LAMA: Hmm? NGUYEN: What do you do for fun?

DALAI LAMA: I'll just joke (ph).


DALAI LAMA: I thought (ph) it was joke. I like that.


NGUYEN: He is just such a warm person. And you were just asking me, did he laugh?

LUI: Yes.

NGUYEN: I mean, just that giggle of his.

LUI: It's infectious.

NGUYEN: It is. It really is. And he's so full of life and so full of light ...

LUI: Yes.

NGUYEN: ... in the sense that -- you know, I thought that what struck me was that his mother inspires him. I mean, that's something that any of us would say, especially from someone who inspires so many to take it back to that, to the roots.

LUI: That's right.

NGUYEN: And then, you know, he says he likes to joke. That's what he likes to do in his spare time. I just wanted to know what it was like to be the Dalai Lama.

LUI: Right. And whether your share his beliefs or you don't, it sounds like he's just a normal guy sometimes, at least from the interview you had with him.

NGUYEN: Yes. But at the same time, he understands this, you know -- this -- I won't even say a role, but what he has been given. And what his voice and his words mean to millions out there. And so, he takes that very seriously. He takes his religious beliefs very seriously.

In fact, actually, in meeting with the Dalai Lama, a lot of people get the opportunity to be blessed with the "kata," which is a Tibetan spiritual scarf and is used in some of the rituals there. And he was able to bless that and provide me with one. And that -- and let me tell you, this was a moment in my own personal history that was very, very special to me.

And coming up, we're going to be talking a lot about the Dalai Lama and his beliefs when it comes to the things that he's fascinated about. That being science and technology. Next hour -- you know, a lot of people will say -- religion and science, that they just simply don't mix, especially when it comes to stem cell research. Well, find out what the Dalai Lama has to say as he weighs in on the debate.

LUI: And I'm going to ask you what surprised you about him. That's going to be interesting, since you had a lot of ...


NGUYEN: I'll give you the answer coming up.

LUI: The government's been trying to save you money from big credit card fees, we're watching that.

NGUYEN: But now, banks are putting in their two cents. Will it cost you even more?


NGUYEN: All right, everybody. By now, you've probably gotten your first credit card statement since the new rules took effect nearly two weeks ago. And the new laws -- well, they should eliminate a lot of costly industry practices. For example, your card issuer can no longer arbitrarily increase the interest rate on an existing balance. But banks are already coming up with lots of new rules that you'll want to be on the lookout for.

Financial analyst Clyde Anderson is here this morning to talk about what these banks are doing.

So, you know, with any situation when there are new rules, there are ways around them. So, what are these ways around them that we need to know about?

CLYDE ANDERSON, FINANCIAL ANALYST: You've got to know, this is a big business.


ANDERSON: And so, there are definitely things that are going to pop in the new tricks of the trade. And some of them are, you know, you talked about them arbitrarily raising interest rates. A lot of times, they'll offer variable rates now.


ANDERSON: It's the variable rate that will switch. And so, you got to be careful of things like that. You've got to be careful of new fees that they're going to charge.

NGUYEN: Like what?

ANDERSON: They're charging new transfer fees. Some companies are charging 5 percent of transfer ...

NGUYEN: Really? They used to charge you nothing and actually give you an incentive to transfer.

ANDERSON: Exactly. You remember that. NGUYEN: Right. Yes.

ANDERSON: But now, even if you don't use your credit card, you could be paying fees for that.


ANDERSON: Two percent fees for just not even using the credit card.

NGUYEN: So, it's a fee for -- it's a non-usage fee?

ANDERSON: Non-usage fee.

NGUYEN: How is that legal?

ANDERSON: Non-usage fee, because you think about it, they're not making money off the customers that don't use the credit card. And right now, it's really a money crunch. And so, if they're not using those, they're going to get some money somehow.

NGUYEN: But is that a smart way to do business? Because a lot of people will say, forget about it, I'm going to cancel. But I guess they've already got your fee and you never use it anyway. So --

ANDERSON: Exactly, because what they're doing now is canceling some people, too, that don't use the credit card.


ANDERSON: So, you got some people who have had accounts for years with some of these major credit companies, they're not using the card and the card will be canceled.

NGUYEN: Well, I'll be honest with you, I keep a lot of cards -- well, not a lot, at least one credit card that I don't really use but I keep it because I've had it for so long.

ANDERSON: Right. Exactly.

NGUYEN: And that's good for your credit rating, right?

ANDERSON: It is. Yes. It doesn't hurt your credit.

NGUYEN: So, what do you do now?

ANDERSON: That's a hard one, you know? You really just have to be careful. And if you want to keep the credit card in place, you're going to use it. And that's the thing.

NGUYEN: All right. Let's see reward points. I understand that's an issue where I love getting those checks in the mail ...


NGUYEN: ... when I finally made enough points to, you know, get 10 bucks or something like that.

ANDERSON: Right. Exactly.

NGUYEN: But those -- are they going away?

ANDERSON: They're cutting back on that and what they're doing is charging some people to enter into the program of the rewards program. Some credit card companies may charge you $29. And now, you can become a member of the rewards program.



NGUYEN: Well, lucky you, right?

ANDERSON: Yes. So, there are things like that.

NGUYEN: For the privilege.

ANDERSON: For the privilege for being able to use that and getting rewards.

NGUYEN: But are they giving you any incentives to be in that rewards program?

ANDERSON: Well, you know, your normal rewards. If you're talking about flight rewards or things like that.

NGUYEN: But that's your normal rewards, you're being charged for it now.

ANDERSON: And now, you're being charged for it. That's the difference.

NGUYEN: Yes. See, knowledge is power.

ANDERSON: It is. It is.

NGUYEN: Let me tell you that.

And one other thing, with these new rules, are people going to find it tougher to get a credit card?

ANDERSON: Yes. It's going to be a lot tougher to get credit cards.


ANDERSON: I mean, because -- it's just like banks, we talked about with loans. You know, they've restricted it a little bit. And so now, it's a little bit harder to do what you used to do where they would give you a credit card if you're breathing.

NGUYEN: I'd tell you. ANDERSON: Now, it's not the case. A lot of times, they're going to really scrutinize the income information. They're going to make sure that you really can make these payments on the credit card. I mean, there are several good things that happened too. I mean, they're going to disclose to you how long it will take to pay off your current balance. I think it will be a shock to a lot of people, but it's good. And they'll also tell you how long it will take or in a three-year period, you know, what you have to pay to pay the credit card off.

NGUYEN: That is good information.

ANDERSON: So, that gives you some tools to help, too. You just got to read everything and that's the key, because they have to disclose now, but you've got to read everything on those credit card statements to make sure you know.

NGUYEN: So, it kind of comes full circle. Yes, there are some cutbacks on what they can do and charge. But to make up for it, they're going to provide additional fees. But at the same time, there's a bit of a balance. Well, you're getting additional information, as well.

ANDERSON: Some knowledge.

NGUYEN: Yes, some knowledge ...

ANDERSON: Some knowledge.

NGUYEN: ... if you remain a member of -- yes, and sometimes membership costs.

ANDERSON: Membership costs. You have these privileges but it costs you.

NGUYEN: Yes, it does. Well, it's been a privilege working with you. It's great to see you.

ANDERSON: Yes. You as well. You as well, Betty.

NGUYEN: Thanks so much for the valuable information that you provide us every weekend.

ANDERSON: Thank you, Betty. I appreciate that.

NGUYEN: All right. Clyde, we'll be in touch.


NGUYEN: Clyde is here every Saturday morning and he's here to answer your questions. So send your e-mails to He's got his very own page. I'll tell you, he set up shop here. You can reach Clyde's Web site at

All right. We're having more top stories at the top of the hour when CNN SATURDAY MORNING continues. But first, "SANJAY GUPTA, M.D." begins now.