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Israel Blasts Gaza; The Week That Was; Interview with Israeli Knesset Deputy Speaker Danny Danon; Warren Buffett Talks Fiscal Cliff, Congress, and 2016 Elections; Is 'Lincoln' Accurate?

Aired November 17, 2012 - 06:00   ET


RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: From CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, this is EARLY START WEEKEND.


KAYE: On the brink of war as fighting escalate between Israel and Hamas. Experts say there will likely be a lot more bloodshed before that violence stops.

And, battling over Benghazi. Lawmakers are furious. The president is standing his ground and there is still no one in custody. All morning we're putting the conflict and the players in focus.

And it's a fight we all wage around this time of year. How to stave off those extra pounds this holiday season.

It is Saturday, November 17th. Good morning, everyone. I'm Randi Kaye. Victor Blackwell is on assignment today.

We start in the Middle East this morning where the fuse is running short on the powder keg in Israel. This has become a fairly common sight in Gaza this week. Israeli planes have been carrying out air strikes over Gaza since Wednesday.

Meanwhile, militants on the other side have fired nearly 200 rockets into Israel. Israel is massing troops near the border with Gaza. They've got 30,000 troops there right now and have called up thousands more reservists to be ready.

At least 39 people have died in Gaza since the operations began. Three have been killed in Israel from the rocket attacks.

Meanwhile, world leaders, including representatives from the United States and the United Nations, are calling on both sides to show restraint.

While you were sleeping, Israel stepped up the campaign. One of those air strikes leveled a key Palestinian government building. It was the cabinet headquarters. Our senior international correspondent Sara Sidner is in Gaza City.


SARA SIDNER: Around 3:30 this morning here in Gaza City, a massive explosion. We know there have been at least four bombardments that have hit Gaza. One of them hit the police headquarters.

I'm going to move out of the way. The police headquarters just through the darkness there where there are some trees. And you can still see a bit of light flickering there. That is light from a fire after a massive explosion there.

And to give you some context. There are two universities very close by. That's the area where you're seeing quite a few lights. Some of the only lights that are still on in the city.

Just next to it, just next to it there is what appears it be a parking lot. It's a big square. And that is historic because in 2008 that is where the very first bomb fell during Operation Cast Lead. The last time there was a major battle between Gaza and Israel.

Right now as I speak, we can hear the sound of drones overhead. We can also hear the sound of planes. And that usually means one thing and one thing only, that soon we'll start hearing the sound of bombs falling.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Gaza City.


KAYE: Egypt is one of two Arab countries in the region that has a peace treaty with Israel. There have been big protests in Egypt against the Israeli offensive. Cairo is vowing it won't leave Gaza unprotected. In a fiery speech, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi condemned what he called Israel's blatant aggression against humanity.


PRESIDENT MOHAMED MORSI, EGYPT (through translator): We support the people of Gaza. We are with them in their trenches. What hurts them, hurts us. And the blood that flows from their children is our blood, too.


KAYE: The Israeli government says Palestinian militants have fired more than 700 rockets at Israel over the past year alone and it wants that to stop.

And southern Israel, near the Gaza border, is right in the rocket's path. CNN's Frederik Pleitgen joins us now from southern Israel, near the Gaza border.

Fred, good morning. You have been on the front line near Gaza. What are you seeing there?


Well, what we're seeing is we're seeing Israeli troops massing on the front line there. We've been visiting several sites where we're seeing a lot of armored vehicles, we're seeing a lot of tanks. We're also seeing a lot of bulldozers that, of course, are getting ready to invade Gaza if, in fact, they are ordered to do so.

Now, it's interesting because the Israeli government has not said what would actually trigger a ground offensive. They said that they're just getting ready for it right now and they said they were perfectly willing and capable to conduct their ground offensive if they feel that they are not achieving the goals they want to achieve with the current campaign of the air raids that are going on.

Of course, the big goal that they have is to stop rocket from coming outside of Gaza. And I can tell you, as we speak right now, I'm hearing war planes overhead. We're hearing a lot of drone activity also over Gaza, which is right back there.

And we've also seen several plumes of smoke come up from air strikes that are happening right now. There seems to be a new sort of wave of air strike that's actually happening right now as we speak.

The Israeli troops on the ground, actually they seem to be very, very focused. We were with one sort of forward operating reconnaissance patrol and they were very wary of taking fire from Gaza. They were hiding behind trees, setting up position there. Just very focused. Somewhat tense, but obviously they also said they are ready to go in if they're asked to do so, Randi.

KAYE: And in terms of rockets, have more rockets been falling in southern Israel since Israel launched this air strike?

PLEITGEN: Certainly. Yes. There certainly have been. There have been rockets falling into the area around Ashkelan (ph), around other towns, as well, that are close to the Gaza area. But, of course, we also saw yesterday that a rocket fell near Jerusalem that was targeting Jerusalem, which is quite far away from the Gaza Strip. Also, rockets targeted Tel Aviv, as well.

I spent the night in the town of Ashkelan, Randi, and the people there, of course, have been living with these rocket attacks for a very long time. I would say they're kind of used to them. They sort of have a routine with these rocket attacks. But right now, of course, that has escalated to a point where it's becoming difficult for them, as well.

And we were in a commercial district last night, where normally on a Friday night it would be bustling with people. There were bars that normally would be full. The whole place was absolutely abandoned. There were maybe three other people there. So it is something that's having a deep impact on public life there.

As you said, three people have already been killed in their houses, but it's just the constant threat that is causing people to stay indoors most of the day and to really watch out and make out specific routes when they leave their house to make sure there's a hardened shelter in the area, Randi.

KAYE: Yes, a very, very tense situation there and growing more tense.

Fred Pleitgen, thank you very much, in Israel for us. And now back here at home, the Coast Guard is still searching for two crew missing from an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. An explosion ripped through the oil platform yesterday. At least 11 people were injured. The platform is about 20 miles from the Louisiana coast. Only about 30 gallons of fuel spill into the Gulf.

And now to Memphis, Tennessee. You're looking at the wreckage from a chain reaction crash that sent at least seven people to the hospital. Memphis police say a speeding driver crashed into one car, overcorrected, and then crashed head on into a police car. In all, six vehicles were involved, including a city bus.

In Aurora, Colorado, details have been finalized for dividing up the $5 million in donations for the victims of July's theater shooting. Families of the 12 people killed and five people who suffered permanent brain damage or paralysis will now get $220,000 each. Six people who spent at least 20 days in the hospital will get $160,000 each. Thirteen others who spent less time hospitalized will get $35,000 each.

Florida Congressman Allen West will get his recount starting in just a few hours, actually. Late yesterday, state election officials agreed to recount early ballots only from the close House race. West, the Republican incumbent, is 2,000 votes behind challenger Patrick Murphy, but West says that he believes those early ballots were actually counted twice.

David Petraeus on the hot seat, but he wasn't talking about his affair. Instead, it was part of the back and forth on Benghazi. Our focus this morning, the battle in Congress, with accusations aimed right at the White House.


KAYE: David Petraeus' testimony on the Benghazi attack wrapped up the week of back and forth on the issue. There were several closed door briefings and hearings as Congress tries to get answers to their questions. It's our focus this morning. At issue is why it happened, the administration's original assessment of the attack and how that changed in the days and weeks that followed. It's been a heated week on Capitol Hill. Here are some of the highlights.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think it's been very clear now for quite a long time that there was no demonstration. And that, of course, was the key element in what Ambassador Rice was saying and what the president was saying and all about this hateful video in the demonstrations that it triggered. There was not any demonstrations. And I didn't have to have any secret briefing to know that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it convinced me that there was no effort to politicize the information we were being given. I don't think it was deliberate or malicious in any way. But we do have remaining questions to get at, at why better information didn't come up more quickly. REP. CONNIE MACK (R), FLORIDA: The American people really want to get to the bottom of this and get some answers. I think a lot of people are frustrated that we hear one story one day and another story another day. And I think, by the way, this isn't just Republicans, this is Republicans, Democrats, Independents all across the country saying, what happened? We want the truth. We want to know to make sure that this doesn't happen again.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), CHAIRWOMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I think it was a good hearing. I think it gave us an idea as to the depth and breadth of this, of future areas to question. And we will just continue to do so and plow through this until we believe we have enough information to make some findings.

SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R), GEORGIA: Two things I take away from this hearing today is that, number one, were mistakes made? Gosh, we know mistakes were made. And we've got to learn from that.

Secondly, what was again highlighted is the professionalism of our men and women who were in the intelligence committee and who are in the armed services who were involved here, obviously, as well as in the State Department.

There was some very heroic acts that took place. That does not in any way minimized, obviously, the fact that we lost four Americans. And at the end of the day, our committee is going to get to the bottom of this.

REP. C.A. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER (D-MD), HOUSE SELECT INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE.: I think his testimony today cleared up a lot of issues on both sides of the aisle. I think it was also important as the director of the CIA at the time of the incident, it was important that he testified.

I think it was important for our country, our intelligence community and for General Petraeus and his family and himself to bring some closure to the issues involving him.

One of the issues was -- a lot of people were putting out that, in fact, he resigned so he wouldn't have to testify about Benghazi. That's ridiculous. And he stated today that was not the case.


KAYE: That is just some of the verbal fireworks from this week. We'll have much more on Benghazi and the hearings next hour. I'll be talking with the former FBI deputy director about how the intelligence community has handled the issue.

Setting the scene in Israel. The battle is heating up there between Israel and Hamas. We'll take a closer look at the fire power in play.


KAYE: A woman's death in Ireland has reignited debate over that country's strict anti-abortion laws. Hundreds turned out in Dublin to protest the death of a 31-year-old Hindu woman who was in the hospital for a miscarriage. Despite complications, doctors refused to perform an abortion and she died three days later of a blood infection.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The state has failed in the past 20 years to put in place legislation to make this possession clearer and to protect women in this country. And I think it's just a huge shame that this woman had to die in such tragic circumstances and highlight the fact that there is a major absence of clear legislation in this country at the moment.


KAYE: Irish laws only permit an abortion if the woman's life is at risk.

This morning, Ikea says some of its furniture was made by political prisoners during the 1980s. The Swedish company says the furniture was made by a supplier in the former communist country of east Germany and says some Ikea officials may have known political prisoners were used and the company did not do enough to protect it. Ikea says it deeply regrets this happened and reiterates the use of political prisoners has never been acceptable.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog warns that Iran has taken a major step to large scale uranium enrichment. The International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran has installed 2,800 centrifuges in an underground facility. The IAEA says it has not been permitted to inspect that site.

In less than two hours, President Obama leaves for his first overseas trip since winning re-election. He'll spend four days in Cambodia, Myanmar, and Thailand, where he'll attend an Asia summit. His stop at Myanmar, formally known as Burma, will be a first for a U.S. president.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas will undoubtedly come up during his trip, which it's on the agenda or not. The White House is keeping a very close eye on the conflict as Israeli troops mass near the border with Gaza. Our Tom Foreman takes a closer look now at the fire power in place.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let's look at how the battlefield is shaping up over in the Middle East. Here's Israel, alongside the Mediterranean Ocean. It's about the size of New Jersey. Seven and a half million people. Seventy-five percent Jewish. The economy's good. Unemployment below 7 percent.

Gaza, by comparison, geographically very small. Only about twice as big as Washington, D.C. Predominantly Palestinian. The economy there is quite bad and employment is very high. has called Israel the tenth most powerful military in the world. So let's break that down and see why. They have compulsory military service. That means every young person must go into the military for a while. One hundred and seventy-six thousand active troops are available and they have about a half million that they can call up from the reserves very quickly.

Ground forces also impressive. Some 3,000 tanks. If you count all the artillery pieces and mortar, things like that, you get up to about 12,000 units that can operate on the ground. And, of course, their air force is formidable. About 800 aircraft out there, including some 200 helicopters. This is largely what they've used to have these strikes within Gaza.

Now, if you look at Hamas, their forces are much smaller in terms of their official forces certainly. If you look at people who are really in uniform, soldiers, police, whatever you want to call it, about 12,500. And, of course, they have nothing like the weapons that the Israelis have. However, Palestinian militants do have lots and lots of rockets.

And I want to bring in a model of one of them here. This is a Kasam 2. You've probably heard about this a good bit. These rockets are popular because they're cheap, they're easy to make out of steel tubes. They only weigh 70 to 100 pounds. And they're fueled essentially by commercial grade fertilizer. And they can pack quite a punch. They're not very accurate. But if you fire enough of them, they don't have to be accurate.

If you go beyond this to some of their more robust and better targeted rockets and missiles, then you also start talking about range. In this conflict so far we have reports of weapons fired from Gaza traveling as much as 50 miles to hit Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. In fact, Israeli officials now believe as much as a fifth of the population of Israel is subject to these rocket attacks. That's something they say they simply will not tolerate anymore and that's why we keep hearing all this talk and speculation about a possible ground invasion of Gaza.


KAYE: What a fascinating look. Tom Foreman, thank you very much.

And coming up in about 10 minutes, we'll talk to an influential Israeli politician and get his take on the chance of war versus the prospect for peace.

What a difference a week makes. The election had been grabbing all the headlines. Yes, it was just over a week ago that the country was all hyped up about long lines in Florida. Remember that? Voter I.D. laws and, of course, Ohio, Ohio, Ohio. Now, an unfolding Pentagon scandal is stealing the headlines and a few states, by the way, want to secede.

George Howell explains it all in today's "The Week That Was."


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Guilty of colossal incompetence or engaged in a cover-up? BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me.

DERRICK BELCHER, ALABAMA RESIDENT: This is a petition asking the government to let Alabama secede from the union.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Secession, sparring and a sex scandal ruled the week that was one week after the election --

REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R), CALIFORNIA: This is not simply a cover up of a third rate burglary. We have four of our diplomatic personnel dead and it is not a McCarthy era tactic to demand accountability.

REP. GARY ACKERMAN (D), NEW YORK: If you want to know who is responsible in this town (ph), buy yourself a mirror.

HOWELL: And it's politics as usual, as both parties battled over Benghazi. And, of course, there was also that thing over at the CIA.

KYRA PHILLIPS, HLN ANCHOR (voice-over): It's been really disappointing and shocking to learn about this.

PAULA BROADWELL, PETRAEUS BIOGRAPHER: I was embedded with General Petraeus in Afghanistan.

FRAN TOWNSEND, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR: Jill Kelley apparently attended the Citizen's Academy in Tampa and that's where she and Agent Humphries initially met.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: My sister got an anonymous e-mail because of her statue and her position (ph).

HOWELL: And the story expanded, ensnaring General John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, who, by the way, says he did not have an affair.

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, CBS' "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": You have a four -- you have two four-star generals involved here, several women involved, one set of twins, and a guy -- a shirtless guy from the FBI. Don't you miss the simplicity of the Clinton years?

HOWELL: Well, Dave, here's a little simplicity. Nancy Pelosi is keeping her job.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: I have made a decision to submit my name to, once again, serve as the House Democratic leader.

HOWELL: Now, if she could only get those talking points straight.

PELOSI: We did not have the majority, but we had the gavel. Excuse me, we don't have the gavel. HOWELL: Somebody who seems to have the GOP gavel, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. The likely 2016 contender told Republicans this week, quote, "stop being the stupid party." Meanwhile, Steven Colbert told us to stop talking about 2016.

KAYE: Do you think it's too early to talk about 2016? We don't think so.

HOWELL: OK, fine, we'll go back to 2012. So, why do some folks want to go back to the 1860s?

BELCHER: This is a petition asking the government to let Alabama secede from the union.

HOWELL: That's right, from Alabama to Alaska, Ohio and Oklahoma, some citizens want to breakaway, yes, secede from the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who's going to pay for the highways? Who's going to pay for the post offices?

HOWELL: Good question.

ALAN SINGLETON, RESIDENT: I think it's ridiculous, honestly. I really do. I think it's really dumb.

BRENT GOUDEAU, RESIDENT: It's actually not ridiculous. It's like we're living in the far side or a twilight zone. Who knows.

HOWELL: And that's the week that was.


KAYE: Four hundred bullets, two assault rifles and a ticket to "Twilight." Why police believe this man was planning another massacre like the one in Aurora, Colorado.


KAYE: It is about half past the hour now. Welcome back, everyone. I'm Randi Kaye. Victor Blackwell is on assignment. Thanks for starting your day with us. Here are five stories that we are watching this morning.

All eyes on Gaza and Israel right now where fears are growing of an all-out war. Israeli warplanes have been pounding militants targets in Gaza, and convoys carrying tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers are rolling towards the Gaza border. That is sparking speculation Israel is gearing up for a potential ground invasion. Palestinians officials say at least 39 people in Gaza have been killed, hundreds injured.

Former CIA Director David Petraeus now says he believed from the outset that the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was a terrorist operation. That differs from earlier accounts, which suggested the attack was sparked by anti-Western protests.

Petraeus, who resigned his post over an extramarital affair, testified Friday behind closed doors on Capitol Hill. Much more on what he had to say about the Benghazi attack is coming up next hour.

In the Gulf of Mexico this morning, the Coast Guard is searching for two missing crew members from an oil platform. An explosion ripped through the platform yesterday. It's about 20 miles off the Louisiana coast, and used for production, not drilling. Very little fuel, they say, was spilled.

As we mentioned earlier, victims of the mass shooing in Aurora, Colorado will soon be receiving financial competition from a $5 million fund. Meanwhile, police in Bolivar, Missouri have arrested a 20-year-old man suspected of planning a similar attack at a movie theater showing the latest "Twilight" film.

They were tipped off by the suspect's mother.


DARIN CHAPPELL, BOLIVAR, MO., CITY ADMINISTRATOR: Any time you have a family member that feels concerned enough that they alert the police department -- they know their loved one better than anyone else. And when they're concerned enough to alert the police department, then we have to take that very, very seriously.

Given the nature of the concerns that were addressed, there was just no question that the police department acted responsibly in taking this individual into custody, for his safety but also for everyone else's, as well.


KAYE: According to police, the man purchased two assault rifles, 400 rounds of ammunition, and was thinking about shooting people at a movie theater and a Walmart.

We now know the train that crashed into a parade float in Midland, Texas, was going under the speed limit. Investigators say the conductor hit the emergency brake, but it was just too late. Four U.S. Army sergeants were killed in the crash. They parade was to honor U.S. troops. Officials say they died while helping other people get out of the way of that train.

Israel has opened the gates of hell on themselves. That is a quote from the military wing of Hamas, following attacks by Israelis this week so deadly and precise, they were referred to as surgical.

And new this morning, this video shot overnight of the bomb blasts in Gaza. Reports that at least three people have died in Gaza following Israeli air strikes. Also, Israel has approved the call up of 75,000 reserve troops in preparation for a potential ground assault and to defend the Israeli people from rocket attacks.

Joining me now live from Tel Aviv, Danny Danon, deputy speaker of the Knesset -- that's the Israeli legislature.

Mr. Danon, good morning. Thank you very much for being here.

There has, of course, been a long-standing dispute between Hamas and Israel.


KAYE: But this most recent spate of violence started after Gaza officials say an Israeli military helicopter shot a 13-year-old boy in the head earlier this month, leading to the recurring rocket fire attacks from Gaza into southern Israel as retaliation.

Is Israel sort of taking any responsibility for the start of this recent wave of attacks?

DANON: Randi, let's speak about the facts. The fact is that today, there is no Jewish settlement or occupation in Gaza, and we see hundreds of missiles flying from Gaza into Israel, into civilian population. And we ask ourselves, why? Why are they doing so?

It is all coming from Iran, so you cannot blame any incident on that. And unfortunately, we hear the leaders of the Hamas saying it very clearly: We are determined to fight against Israel.

By the way, it's the same leadership that condemned the U.S. for assassinating Osama bin Laden. We cannot allow the situation that Israelis cannot live in Israel, four million people now under the threat of missiles. We are very determined to take care of this problem, and we'll do whatever is necessary to get rid of the Hamas regime and to bring stability to the region.

KAYE: So you do believe it was Hamas that started this then?

DANON: Well, it is a fact. I can count hundreds and almost thousands of missiles that Hamas shot at us, and it's on a daily basis. So we waited once, twice. And if it happened in the U.S. and you had missiles flying to New York City, Washington, D.C., I'm sure the U.S. would have acted long before we waited, maybe too long. But now we are determined, we are calling for the troops to get ready, and we're telling to the Hamas leadership and to the people in Egypt today, we cannot wait anymore.

KAYE: Let me ask you about the troops, because, as you mentioned, there is this possibility of this ground campaign. Israel has approved the call-up of 75,000 reservists. Do you see Israeli troops going into Gaza? And under what circumstances? What would make that happen?

DANON: Prime Minister Netanyahu said it very clearly. The goal of this operation is to bring peace and quiet to the region, to the southern part of Israel. If the air strikes will not be efficient, if the Hamas will not understand that we're talking business, we mean that we will not allow missiles to fly over Israel on a daily basis, we will call the ground troops to be involved. We do not want to do it, but on the other hand, we cannot wait until we see more missiles coming.

Only two days ago, three people were killed in Teit Malahi (ph). We see the picture, and the Hamas hurting the Israeli children, but are using the Palestinian children because they're hiding behind them, as well. KAYE: Let me ask you about the president, because you have been incredibly critical of President Obama in the past. In your book, you say the Obama administration has sent contradictory messages to the Arab leadership, in effect bringing into question the level of its support for Israel. So as a result, many Palestinian leaders believe they can now get their state without offering any concession of their own.

Are you still, sir, as critical of the president considering that he's shown his support for Israel and said Hamas needs to stop the attacks?

DANON: I said it very clearly in the past. President Obama made few mistakes coming to Cairo in 2009 and delivering a speech of appeasement in the Middle East. It doesn't work that way. We have to speak in a different language in the Middle East. I know that yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke with the president. We do have the support of the U.S. behind us, but it's too early to call. We have to see if we will have to act and go into the ground operation, then we'll know if the U.S. is supporting us or no.

For now, we do have the support and we are grateful for the support, the technical support, and also we feel (ph) the technology that we're using to bring down some of the missiles.

KAYE: Danny Danon, deputy speaker of the Knesset in Tel Aviv for us this morning. Thank you very much, sir.

And coming up next hour, I'll talk with Mustafa Barghouti (ph), a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

A billionaire's view of the fiscal cliff. We got an exclusive interview with Warren Buffett. We'll get his take on the expected economic disasters, and whether he thinks there is hope of a last- minute deal.


KAYE: Welcome back. 41 minutes past the hour now. A group of Walmart employees are threatening to walk out on what could be the shopping day of the year. That is Black Friday. It is part of a strike that started in October over what some say are poor working conditions. Pro-union groups that support the protest say there could be 1,000 protests in front of stores. Walmart is the nation's largest employer. It says the protesters don't represent the views of the majority of its workforce, about 1.3 million people.

Hostess Twinkies are in short supply today. Grocery stores started running out shortly after Hostess announced it would cease operations. About the only place to find them right now is on eBay, and you can expect to pay top dollar. One report said a ten pack was going for 25 bucks. The company blames its demise on a prolonged labor dispute.


GREGORY F. RAYBURN, CEO, HOSTESS BRANDS: We did have a number of bakers cross the picket lines and come to work, and they trickled in during the week. I was hopeful that that appeal would resonate and that people would understand that, you know, look, at the end of the day, if they really didn't want to work there, they could come back to work and find another job while they have a job and make 92 percent of what they made the year before. But, you know, we didn't get enough people crossing those lines yesterday.


KAYE: If Hostess does, in fact, cease operations, it is likely that a competitor will scoop up Twinkies and other popular products at auction.

President Obama says he's hopeful that a deal will get done on the looming fiscal cliff before it's too late. He met with congressional leaders at the White House. There is a lot of compromising to be done before the end of the year, but will it get done?


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: We're prepared to put revenue on the table, provided we fix the real problem. Even though most of my numbers, I think without exception, believe that we're in the dilemma we're in not because we tax too little, but because we spend too much.


KAYE: Experts say that not getting a deal done would be disastrous. But billionaire Warren Buffett may not agree with that. He sat down with our Poppy Harlow for an exclusive interview.



Well, we sat down with legendary investor Warren Buffett for a wide- ranging interview. And of course, top of mind is the issue of the fiscal cliff. We talked in depth about the fiscal cliff, and he certainly thinks that lawmakers in Washington should work together, and, as he puts it, put country over party.

That said, he wants to see President Obama take a very hard line in these negotiations with Republican lawmakers. Here's his take.


HARLOW: What is the likelihood of the United States falling into a recession if we go over the cliff?

WARREN BUFFETT, CHAIRMAN, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY: I don't think that's going to happen. I think that if we go past January 1st, I don't know whether it will be January 10th or February 1st, but we're not going to permanently cripple ourselves because 535 people can't get along.

HARLOW: Even if we go over for two months, does that dip this economy back into recession? BUFFETT: I don't think so.

HARLOW: You don't think so. That's interesting, because the CBO believes that.

BUFFETT: Well, I mean, you know, we had Hurricane Sandy, which disrupted the economy for a period. We had Katrina many years ago. There are things that will disrupt the economy. I mean, 9/11 was an extraordinary case.

But we have a very resilient economy. We have had one for hundreds of years, and the fact that they can't get along for the month of January or something is not going to torpedo the economy.


HARLOW: Now, Buffett also told me that the president and Congress need to make every attempt possible to reach a compromise, but he also said that does not mean that you, quote, "roll over and give away the store." So again, he wants to see the president take a hard line here.

Now, a big part of these negotiations is taxes on the wealthy, and if tax rates should increase or not. So we asked Buffet for specifics when it comes to taxes, especially taxes on investments or capital gains taxes. Here's what he told us.


BUFFETT: We certainly -- we certainly prospered with capital gains rates more than double what they are currently.

HARLOW: So we'd be fine with 30 percent capital gains.

BUFFETT: I think, sure.

HARLOW: What about income tax?

BUFFETT: Income taxes, they were as high as 90 percent during my lifetime. Now, very few people got up there. But I saw lots of people paying federal tax rates of 50 percent, and they went to work every day.


HARLOW: And that position, Randi, on taxes puts Warren Buffett at odds with a lot of other big-name American CEOs. We discussed many more things, including who he thinks should be president in 2016. You can see our full interview with Warren Buffett on -- Randi.


KAYE: Poppy Harlow, thank you very much.

CNN's Ali Velshi also spoke in depth with Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Fed Reserve about the looming fiscal cliff, and Greenspan said a mild recession would be, quote, "a small price to pay" for getting the nation's debt problems under control. Listen to this.


ALAN GREENSPAN, FORMER FED CHAIRMAN: I think if we have to have a moderate recession to solve this huge fiscal problem that is in front of us, I think that is a very small price to pay, because we're not going to get out of this thing without pain.


KAYE: There is much more to hear on that, so make sure to check out the full interview today at 1:00 p.m. Eastern on "YOUR MONEY" with Ali Velshi.

Did you know drinking water after a meal could actually jump-start your metabolism? Celebrity fitness guru Mark MacDonald is here to tell us how much and when.


KAYE: Welcome back, everyone. Holiday season is here, and extra pounds are right behind those endless parties, meals and drinks. But if you're looking to enjoy all the great food and sweet treats without busting your gut, well, celebrity fitness and nutrition expert Mark MacDonald is here to tell us how to do this.

Thank goodness we have you, because I'll tell you, the season is killing me already. OK, so a lot of people, they look at the holiday season and they say, it's OK to overeat, it's the holidays, right? So how do we get around that?

MARK MACDONALD, FITNESS AND NUTRITION EXPERT: We've got to shift our mind-set. So in essence, the holiday is only about five days. So the reality is that rather than saying I'm just going to gain my holiday 15, you can still eat the foods that you love and you can have fun on the holidays, and those events, but you have to make sure that you're eating consistently throughout, so that you don't gain the 15. You enjoy your food and you keep your metabolism humming.

KAYE: So you can't just enjoy from say Halloween when the chocolate starts coming all the way through New Year's, that's not cool?

MACDONALD: You can, but you are going to gain 15 pounds. So if we want to kick off the new year's without having to lose the 15 pounds, it's critical that we are really focusing on eating in threes. So when we look at it, making sure that you're eating every three hours, you're eating a balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. You divide your plate in 3, third protein, third fat, third carbohydrates throughout that. But then when you go to Thanksgiving and you want to enjoy that meal, instead of gorging yourself on that one meal and then fall asleep on the couch, just enjoy that meal, and then four hours later, eat the seconds four hours later.

KAYE: OK, so you can go back twice. I'm hearing that. That's good. That's really good news for me.

MACDONALD: I love Thanksgiving.

KAYE: OK. But you just don't do it all in one sitting. You wait a few hours. Which is when you're hungry probably, again, anyway, right?

MACDONALD: When you overeat, you spike your blood sugar, you store fat, and it makes your metabolism slow down and it makes you want to crash. So let's make it enjoyable. Just divide it into two different meals so you still get those calories, you don't feel deprived. You're having fun and you're keeping your metabolism humming.

KAYE: What about water? I know you are a big fan of drinking a lot of water. Should you have one or two glasses of water before the Thanksgiving meal or any meal?

MACDONALD: You should be drinking water throughout the day. Your body is a rehydration (ph) machine. It keeps your metabolism humming. So I would definitely drink water with the meal, before the meal, throughout, and a lot of times we think we're hungry when we're actually thirsty. So you should drink about -- women about two to three liters, which is going to be eight to 12 cups. Men, 12 to 16 cups throughout the day.

KAYE: So as you look at the Thanksgiving table, what don't you like? What should we maybe avoid? Is there anything that you say just don't ever do it? Please don't say pumpkin pie.

MACDONALD: I love pumpkin pie. My take on this: Thanksgiving is one day. Enjoy it. You know, so, if you want to have some turkey, make sure you eat protein. So have your turkey first. You can have some stuffing, you can end with a little pumpkin pie and some ice cream. Just, instead of doing it all at once, do that like a mini meal, and then four hours later do it again.

But I don't think you should deprive yourself on Thanksgiving, just get back on plan. So don't make it 45 days of eating up. Enjoy your day and then get right back eating every three hours, balanced meals, and then you can enjoy your holiday food, you can keep your metabolism humming and you can win through the holidays and not gain the 15.

KAYE: Got it. Well, that's what all that leftover turkey is for, to eat every three hours.


KAYE: Mark, thank you. Appreciate it.

MACDONALD: Thanks, Randi.

KAYE: Well, Steven Spielberg is back. His new movie, "Lincoln," is in theaters right now, but how has Hollywood handled the history, and how accurate is that portrayal of our 16th president? We'll take you to the movies.


KAYE: A pivotal moment in U.S. history. That's what the new movie about Abraham Lincoln is meant to portray. It opens across the country this weekend. But does it tell a misleading story? Here's CNN entertainment correspondent, Kareen Wynter.


KAREEN WYNTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Randi, Steven Spielberg's latest cinematic feat, the presidential biopic "Lincoln" is already receiving deafening Oscar buzz for both the filmmaker and its star, Daniel Day-Lewis, but is Hollywood's Lincoln in line with history? You know, I took that question to one of the world's leading presidential historians, and what I learned might surprise you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This fight is for the United States of America.

WYNTER (voice-over): Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" offers a window back in time to the weeks preceding the end of the Civil War and passage of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congress must never declare equal those whom God created unequal.

WYNTER: But for some critics, the movie's limited snapshot of Abraham Lincoln's presidency paints an incomplete picture of history.

ERIC FONER, HISTORIAN: As cinema, it's very, very good. As history, I'm a historian, it leaves something to be desired.

WYNTER: Eric Foner, whose book "The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery" won the Pulitzer Prize for history, says the film's narrow focus exaggerates the president's role in ending slavery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This settles the fate for all coming time.

FONER: The emancipation of the slaves is a long, complicated historical process. It's not the work of one man, no matter how great he was.

DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, ACTOR: Time (ph) stood (ph) still to afford us this moment. Now, now, now!

FONER: It was not Lincoln who originated the 13th Amendment, it was the abolitionist movement. It's only in the middle of 1864 that Lincoln changes his mind and decides he is in favor of this amendment.

WYNTER: Acclaimed screenwriter Tony Kushner based the movie script in part on Doris Kearns Goodwin's best-selling book, "Team of Rivals."

TONY KUSHNER, SCREENWRITER: We were enormously accurate. Steven and I both cared a lot. We'd worked with Doris, we had worked with a couple of other Lincoln historians. What we're describing absolutely happened.

FONER: It's not a question of being wrong, it's just inadequate. It gives you the impression that the ratification of the 13th Amendment is the end of slavery. Slavery is already dying at that moment. WYNTER: In fact, he says if the 13th Amendment had not passed in January 1865, Lincoln had pledged to call Congress into special session in March.

FONER: And there the Republicans had a two-thirds majority and would ratify in a minute. It is not this giant crisis in the sense that the film is portraying it.

DAY-LEWIS: Shall we stop this bleeding?

WYNTER: One aspect of the film that is not being questioned is Daniel Day-Lewis's masterful depiction of the 16th president.

STEVEN SPIELBERG, DIRECTOR: The most important thing was to get "Lincoln" done right.

FONER: Daniel Day-Lewis I think presents a very plausible Lincoln.

I would recommend that people see it and then read a book about Lincoln.

WYNTER: Because while it's based on real events, "Lincoln" the movie is not a documentary, and a full understanding of history doesn't happen in 2 hours and 29 minutes.

(on camera): And Randi, the film expanded into more than 1,500 theaters this weekend, but last weekend in previews it earned nearly $1 million on just 11 screens. Those are very impressive numbers for a movie that is sure to entertain a lot of people. Randi?


KAYE: Kareen Wynter, thank you very much.

And thank you for starting your morning with us. We have got much more ahead on CNN SATURDAY MORNING, which starts right now.