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Protesters March on Wal-Mart; Avoiding Pressure to Buy More; A Twist on the Christmas Story; Fired Over Facebook Pic Post

Aired November 23, 2012 - 09:30   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for being with us.

Stories we're watching right now in THE NEWSROOM:

Let's head live right now -- actually, the opening bell, let's talk about that first. Opening bell with the New York Stock Exchange, stocks poised for a slightly higher open on Wall Street. Continued weakness in Europe will likely be the focused during this shortened trading session.

Senator Saxby Chambliss is one of thousands of politicians who have signed activist Grover Norquist's famous anti-tax pledge. But the Georgia Republican says he's ready to talk tax hikes to avoid a fiscal cliff. Chambliss told CNN affiliate WMAZ this week, quote, "I care more about my country than I do a 20-year-old pledge. If we do it his way, we'll continue in debt and I just have a disagreement with him about that." He's talking about Grover.

OK. Now, let's head live to Landover Hills, Maryland. That's in suburban Washington. You're taking a look at community leaders, union leaders and perhaps some Wal-Mart workers. They're heading toward a Wal-Mart store. We believe they made it to a parking lot. As you know, they're protesting salary and health benefits for the workers at Wal-Mart.

Rene Marsh is among the protesters. She joins us now live.

Fill us in, Rene.


Well, I can tell you that they have finally made their way to the outside of this Wal-Mart here. Just take a look. You can see how many people are out here. I would estimate it is in the hundreds. And they're all chanting. Some of them wearing signs, some of them holding signs that say that the wages just aren't where they should be.

Now, within this mix of people, we know that there are union members. We know that there are community members, have not bumped into an employee of this particular Wal-Mart at this point.

I did speak to someone from Wal-Mart and they tell me they've had two call-ins, but not quite sure if it is at all linked to the folks here. Just take a look at all the signs, "Respect your workers, Wal-Mart" is one sign they are wearing there.

And then I'm told -- ma'am, are you an employee? You are an employee of this Wal-Mart?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am a worker from Laurel, Maryland, 1985 store.

MARSH: So you are -- now, did you walk out today?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I did. We are both on strike. She's also a worker. And Wal-Mart in Laurel 1985, we are here to support our brothers and sisters across the United States in our Wal-Mart stores, our Wal-Mart warehouses and more. We do want retaliation to stop.

MARSH: Now, when you walked out today, did you walk out in fear that you would lose your job?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to leave that to God, because I believe in our country, we have federal rights and under the federal rights, we are protected. So I hope there will be no more retaliation when I go back to our stores tomorrow because we are returning to work tomorrow.

MARSH: And, ma'am, what's your situation been? You're out here today because?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm supporting my sister, Cindy. And we're working for end of retaliation in the strike. So we're together.

MARSH: Together.

Now, I saw a lot of signs that said pay is not where it should be. You -- obviously, you're out here. You agree with that.

Tell me how pay has affected or impacted you at all. Do you want to see more pay? What are your thoughts as far as wages go?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want them to give us a living wage. That's one of the things that we're asking for. We can't afford health care. Why should we work 40 hours and have to go to the government to get medical assistance or food stamps to make our families being able just to live a basic life?

We're not asking for anything that workers don't work for inside those Wal-Mart stores. It is our sweat and blood that gives them their billions that they're making. Instead of keep taking them from us, all we're asking is that they give back in return.

We're not asking them to give us anything. We work hard and so we just want a decent wage, a fair living.

And we're tired of broken shifts. We're tired of them not scheduling people right. I mean, how could you live off one day a week or 20 hours a week? We can't do it. And they're making billions.

So, over 100 cities today, workers are walking out.

MARSH: Thank you so much, ma'am. Thank you so much.

And they're not alone out here, Carol. You can see this line keeps on going. It keeps on going. It's wrapped around the corner. And I am told that they will be at some point going on to the property of Wal- Mart.

I did see some managers from this particular Wal-Mart waiting in the parking lot. But I also see police here. So, I don't know if they will be able to get on the property.

Of course, Carol, we will be watching and waiting. Back to you.

COSTELLO: And, Rene, just to clarify. The blond woman you were talking to, does she work in a Wal-Mart warehouse or does she work in a Wal-Mart store?

MARSH: She says that she works at a Wal-Mart store. Not this Wal- Mart, but she says she works at a Wal-Mart store, Carol.

COSTELLO: So, most of the people, as far as you can determine right now, are not actual Wal-Mart workers?

MARSH: As far as I can tell. The majority of people that I see or that I've spoken to, they are members of unions. They are people within the community that sympathize with the workers of Wal-Mart.

But the majority of the people you're seeing here, at least from the people I've been speaking to, they are not specifically Wal-Mart workers, Carol.

COSTELLO: Rene Marsh, reporting live from Landover Hills, Maryland -- thank you so much.

Many are headed to retails stores today to get some shopping in, obviously. We'll take a look at the building pressure for shoppers this holiday season.


COSTELLO: Shop, shop, shop. That's what many people were doing this Black Friday.

But is the pressure to shop getting to us? Some people are losing civility. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Calm the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) down! Push one of my kids down and I will stab one of you mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED)!


COSTELLO: Wouldn't you love to be in a store with him? That was at a Black Friday opening in Sacramento, California. Those shoppers barely inside the store when that man now went off. But once inside, some people may be more threatened by pressure from salespeople. I mean, think about it -- you go in for a 3D TV, then snag a discounted Kindle, and spurge on a new Microsoft Surface, and then score a deal on an iPad 4. But all you intended to buy was a TV and now you wonder -- how will I ever pay off my credit card bill?

Clinical psychologist Jeff Gardere joins us from New York.

You're going to help us with that. We appreciate it.

JEFF GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Carol, so good to see you as always.

COSTELLO: Yes, thank you so much for being here. You have a list of tips. So I want to go down through them one by one.

Number one, don't buy what you already have. That seems simple.

GARDERE: Stay away from -- yes. Stay away from the duplications. Hey, listen, we don't need another hero and we don't need another flat screen TV. Because of the pressure from the retailers, we feel that we just need to go a little bit better, go a little bit bigger. Stick with what you have.

Carol, I love watching you on my 42" plasma TV. I don't need to go to the 52". I'll just keep what I have right now.

COSTELLO: You're a strong man, Jeff Gardere. You say also make a list.

GARDERE: Make a list before you go into the store and stick to the list. You discussed right here on your broadcast that you go in to buy something. Next thing you know, you're buying two or three other things, again that you don't need. If you stick to that list, stick to your guns, you're going to feel much better afterwards and certainly you're going to feel a lot less guilt when you get home.

COSTELLO: You know what always bothers me? I go out to Christmas shop but then I end up buying like gifts for myself as well. It's just -- you can't help it.

GARDERE: Well, you really can't help it because of that pressure that's on. I opened up my computer this morning. I got at least -- I don't know -- 40 e-mails on Black Friday. So that subliminal seduction of just going out and buying stuff, whether you need it or whether you don't.

And then, of course, you want to reward yourself for being out there at the store. If you're going to buy for everyone else, hey, what's another $100 or $200 to buy something for yourself? Then you find out when you get home, did I really need that?

COSTELLO: I know. I do it all the time.

OK. So this may stop me, though. Pay cash not credit.

GARDERE: Well, I think we need to spend in real time. Too often, we're in that virtual world with the credit cards or online, we think we have unlimited funds.

Here is the idea. Just go out. Take out the cash. You know exactly what you have in your hand.

You're going to be limited to what you're spending. You're feeling the pain right now. It's a reality. Check, one, two, three. And you know not to go over that cash.

COSTELLO: That is such good advice. I know you've said it. Stores are perpetuating the shop until you drop mentality.

The skit from "SNL", I think, it t crystallizes this. Let's watch.


ANNOUNCER: Black Friday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the biggest shopping day of the year. We're giving you incredible savings with --

ANNOUNCER: Mega-Mart's 12-minute madness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shortest, craziest sale in retail history. You have just 12 minutes to rush in and grab all the deals you can carry. It's going to be a savings stampede.

ANNOUNCER: Savings stampede.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Door buster specials like iPads for $39.


COSTELLO: That kind of crystallizes it. But we all know that this is a hard core sales tactic, yet we all fall for it. Why is that?

GARDERE: Yes. Look, here is the bottom line. We saw that hoard of people running and it's that hoard mentality, lose your individualism, join the party, have some fun, get those endorphins going, go out and have a party, and shop until you drop.

Look, are you smarter than a retailer, Carol? I know you are. I know I am.

Just knowing that the retailers are pulling every book out -- every trick out of the book to get you to separate from your wallet tells me, you know what? I'm going to be a little bit smarter. I'm going to hold on to my money. I don't want to be manipulated. I'll buy what I need not what you're telling me I need to buy.

I'm getting angry right now, Carol.

COSTELLO: You're making me stronger, though, Dr. Jeff, and I appreciate it. I'm not going shopping today! I'm watching college football.

GARDERE: All right. I hear you. COSTELLO: Dr. Jeff, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

GARDERE: My pleasure.

COSTELLO: So a woman poses for a photo. She uploads it to her Facebook page and she started an Internet firestorm. A few days later, she was actually fired from her job! Have we reached a new era of Internet justice?


COSTELLO: Special day in Washington, D.C. where a little more over than an hour from now, the First Lady Michelle Obama will be presented with the official White House Christmas tree. The tree, a 19-footer from North Carolina was selected in October and harvested this month.

And Christmas trees are a tradition for many people this time of the year. But there's another tradition that gives special meaning, the real meaning to the holiday season for Christians worldwide. I'm talking about the story of the birth of Jesus Christ.

But now a new book challenges everything you may think you know. And you'll never guess who the author is. Let's bring in Eric Marrapodi, he's the co-editor of CNN's Belief Blog. Good morning Eric.


COSTELLO: So this -- this book was written by the Pope?

MARRAPODI: It was. I thought you were going to say it was written by me, which it would have been nice. But, no, it's written by the Pope. And it really spells out some important pieces of the Christmas story tradition that the Pope says are wrong. And there three points -- the timing, the animals and the angels.

COSTELLO: So let's start with the timing about when Jesus was born, it's pretty much -- well, many Christians know that Jesus wasn't actually born on December 25th.

MARRAPODI: Sure historically, the calendar has revolved around the year Jesus was born, which people usually recognize as the year zero. And what the Pope is saying in this new book is that a monk in 550, not too long ago, 550 CE, Common Era, goofed on the date and got it wrong.

And many historians who have read the bible and dug it apart and looked at the other surrounding historical documents have said, no, Jesus was probably born a few years earlier, before the year zero and the Pope sort of spells that out in the book and sort of makes a passing reference to it. And that's gotten a lot of people curious because he's really siding with the historical critical method there in the book.

COSTELLO: And what significance might this have if the Pope proves correct? MARRAPODI: Well it's not going to change the story, the main theme and narrative of the biblical story which the Pope kind of comes to again and again as he's pointing out these things in the tradition that are a little skewed, he keeps coming back to this idea that the Christian tradition and the theology of Jesus coming as a baby, as a savior and redeemer of mankind. And his -- his main theme in the book is -- that doesn't change if these little pieces of the tradition change.

COSTELLO: The other thing in the Pope's book he challenges you know another long-held tradition that animals were present at the manger. No oxen, no donkey, no sheep?

MARRAPODI: Yes this is going to cut hard home for a lot of kids who are going to be the oxen in this year's Christmas pageant. It's going to hurt them specifically. What the Pope says is that is something that is implicitly referenced in the text, not explicitly referenced.

Let's take a look at this passage from Luke. In the passage from Luke -- Luke 2, verse 7 it says "and she gave birth" -- she is Mary there. "And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn."

In the story Mary and Joseph have traveled to Bethlehem because there's -- there's a census taking place so they can be counted. And in that story he talks about them being in the stable because there's no room for them in the inn, and them taking the baby, Jesus and laying him in a manger. And a manger would have been like a trough where the animals ate.

So there you have this implicit reference to animals in the text that there's a -- there's a bowl for animals to eat out of but no explicit reference that and then a cow walked over and chomped on some grass next to the Baby Jesus.

And so the Pope is saying look, that -- that doesn't mean that the tradition is wrong and that the theory is wrong it just means that this little piece about animals we may be overstating.

COSTELLO: And quickly I just have to ask about the angels singing. There were no angels singing?

MARRAPODI: The Pope is saying there were angels but a -- a clear example in the text it says the angels have been talking to shepherds were saying to the shepherds, not singing to shepherds. So he picks apart the text there and says, look. They weren't singing. They were just talking. That doesn't change the message of what they were saying though.

COSTELLO: It was still beautiful, no matter what.

MARRAPODI: Sure. And you can still sing those Christmas carols in church -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Ok that's right. Eric Marrapodi co-editor of the CNN Belief Blog, thanks so much for being with us, Eric.

MARRAPODI: You got it -- Carol.

COSTELLO: We'll be back.


COSTELLO: Fifty-three minutes past the hour.

Fired over Facebook: Lindsay Stone was on a company trip to Arlington National Cemetery when she posed for this photo, you've probably seen it.

That's her making an obscene gesture next to a sign that asked for respect. She uploaded that to Facebook and it wasn't long before the Internet had a response. It was swift and it was harsh.

Miss Stone issued an apology in "The Boston Herald" that said quote, "We never meant any disrespect to any of the people nationwide who have served this country and defended our freedom so valiantly," end quote.

Despite the apology, though, Lindsay was fired from her job at a company that assists adults with disabilities due to an overwhelming Internet-type of protest.

Joining me now is HLN digital lifestyle expert, Mario Armstrong. So -- so Mario, we wondered about this because she doesn't work for Arlington National Cemetery. So shouldn't this --



COSTELLO: -- this controversy be between her employer and herself?

ARMSTRONG: You know, Carol, I don't know how many times I have to go on the air and tell people your privacy is not private when it comes to your actions online. I'm telling you -- parents, caregivers, listen up. If you have kids growing up in this culture, teach them to be digitally literate citizens or they're going to be paying the price.

Now you could disagree or agree but here's the bottom line -- nothing is private. Employers are constantly checking our pages. We're increasingly attached to our employer with our actions. And we don't want people jumping to conclusions.

It's very easy, Carol, to like something on Facebook. To click the button. So when a group of people started basically calling for her head and worst saying she should be shot or she should exiled, people started liking that page in thousands of numbers. And that put immense pressure on the company that she worked for to take some type of action. I'm not here to say it was right or wrong. My personal opinion is it's clearly wrong and out of context. I've visited Arlington Cemetery, and I'm not in the military or have family in the military but there's no way in my mind I could see how that could be seen as a joke in that particular setting especially when you're online.

COSTELLO: It's sort of like mob justice though, isn't it?

ARMSTRONG: I hear that. And I understand that because it's like -- and here's what I don't like about people -- that's why I said in the bottom quote, "watch what you jump on to, people." Because look, you're not emotionally attached to clicking that "like" button on Facebook but someone could really lose their job. And maybe you feel that they should lose their job.

But if you're doing it and you're just going along your way on Facebook and you just click, this sounds like something I should just click on. That actually could be used against that person. So I think we're in a time where we're not seeing the emotional connectivity to some of the actions that we're doing online.

And so are we getting to a state where a flash mob can now create some type of online justice?

You know 20 years ago that picture would have been private. They would have printed it out and many of us probably, going back in the time, probably shot in photos that we wouldn't post on Facebook. But we're not in that age now. That's what has me concerned and upset.

This woman shouldn't be in this situation because she should have known that that was a bad idea.

COSTELLO: Interesting. Mario Armstrong, thanks so much for being with us. We appreciate it.

ARMSTRONG: Thank you, guys. Be safe on those Internets, please.

COSTELLO: We will. We'll see you next hour.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM after a quick break.