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Protests in Egypt over Morsi's Expansion of Power; Ceasefire Remains Intact in Gaza and Israel; Black Friday Brings Big Numbers to Walmart; Nine-Year-Old Creates Anti-Bullying Initiative; What's Behind the Walmart Walkouts?

Aired November 24, 2012 - 09:00   ET


RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Randi Kaye.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Victor Blackwell. It's 9:00 on the East Coast and 6:00 a.m. out West. Thanks for starting your morning with us.

We start in Egypt where anti-government protests are much smaller today than they have been the last couple of days. Demonstrators are upset over President Mohamed Morsi's expansion of his own powers. The country's supreme judicial council is calling Morsi's move to -- calling it rather an unprecedented attack on the independence of the judicial branch. We'll take you to Cairo in a couple of minutes.

Life is returning to normal in Southern Israel and Gaza. Schools are open in Gaza for the first time since the fighting started last week. Both sides agreed to a ceasefire. Shootings and rocket fire have stopped for the most part, except for one incident yesterday.

KAYE: Back here at home it's an annual tradition marked by door busters, deals and massive crowds. I'm talking, of course, about Black Friday. Millions of Americans heading to the malls as holiday shopping season gets under way. The National Retail Federation estimates that sales for November to December will increase by 4.1 percent from last year.

And officials in Springfield, Massachusetts will begin a controlled demolition today after this explosion tore through the city's downtown area. Some 25 buildings, including one that housed a strip club, were damaged. Springfield police say 18 people were hurt, but no one was killed, something Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor called a miracle.

BLACKWELL: And veteran actor Larry Hagman has died. His family says it was complications from cancer and that he was surrounded by family at the end. Hagman was best known for his role as J.R. Ewing on the long running TV drama "Dallas." Larry Hagman was 81.

And sad news we're just learning, that the former world boxing champion --

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLACKWELL: And more on that breaking news that the former world boxing champion Hector "Macho" Camacho has now died. He was taken off life support at a hospital in San Juan. Several of his sons arrived in Puerto Rico early today to be by his side. The 50-year-old was declared clinically brain dead after being shot in the face. That was last Tuesday. The gunman and another suspect are still at large.

KAYE: Now let's get back to Egypt. Besides street protests, we are now seeing the first fallout over President Mohamed Morsi's power grab. CNN's Reza Sayah is live in Cairo this morning for us.

Reza, so what exactly has happened now with the government?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this face-off between Mr. Morsi, the Egyptian president and his opponents is starting to take shape with a number of important developments today. One of his presidential advisers resigned in protest, the Supreme Judicial Council. The body that represents the top judges in Egypt held an emergency meeting and released a statement describing Mr. Morsi's decrees that he announced on Thursday to be an attack, an unprecedented attack on the independence of the judiciary.

We spoke to a judge, and this is important, who is telling us that all the judges in the city of Alexandria, this is Egypt's second largest city, have gone on strike, suspended their work indefinitely, and we have an announcement by a number of political factions that on Tuesday here in Cairo there's going to be a million man protest and sit-in with a number of demands.

Among those demands, these political factions are making, is a demand for Mr. Morsi to reverse his decree, so this face-off between the president and his opponents taking shape behind us here in Tahrir Square, and I'm going to carefully step out of the way.

You can see that demonstrators are still there, but the numbers are nowhere near what we saw yesterday. You see the tents. Protesters pitching them to spend the night. Some people trickling in, but certainly, Randi, nowhere near the numbers that we saw yesterday.

KAYE: Does it surprise you, Reza? I mean, you've been covering this region for some time. We saw the Arab Spring, we saw the end of Hosni Mubarak, does it surprise you that now they are calling Mohamed Morsi a dictator and calling for him to step down there?

SAYAH: Well, look, I think one of the outcomes of the Egyptian revolution was that Egyptians in general lost their fear and inhibition to speak up and protest. They value their revolution. Many of these political movements will tell you, they value the democratic principles that they fought for, and they believe these recent moves by Egyptian President Morsi is undermining the democratic process.

So if you talk to many of these people out here. They say it's no surprise that they have come out and protested again. They say they are going to be out here for the duration of this until their call is heeded, and I think one of the factors is looking ahead. How much staying power these protesters have and what Mr. Morsi is going to do to defuse this conflict -- Randi. KAYE: And how much do you think this power grab has to do? How much do you think it's feeding off of Mohamed Morsi's role in the ceasefire between Israel and Gaza?

SAYAH: Yes, interesting timing, isn't it? His announcement of these decrees came 24 hours after he got a lot of international credit for his role in establishing the ceasefire. It's impossible to say that that was a factor, but certainly these announcements are usually calculated by heads of state. Some say that he wanted to do it to ride the momentum of the international credit, but the credit, he's getting, internationally is nothing to do with his population domestically.

We should point out that he has a lot of supporters. The Muslim Brotherhood. He has a lot of backing with Islamist factions, but as we've seen over the past 24 hours, he has a lot of critics and opponents as well.

KAYE: Yes, certainly, a tricky situation to maneuver there. Reza Sayah, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Well, when it comes to bullies, one little girl does something others shy away from.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I stood up for myself, and I would like to stand up for everyone.


BLACKWELL: We'll hear more from this courageous girl and what's being done now to stop bullying in her city.


KAYE: Welcome back. A nine-year-old girl is taking a stand against bullying. She even came up with an idea to stop it. An idea even her school hadn't thought of before.

Kevin Torres from our affiliate KUSA in Denver has her story.


KEVIN TORRES, KUSA REPORTER (voice-over): Not too long ago John Griffin's daughter, Isabella, told him about some mean girls at girls who were bullying her.

ISABELLA GRIFFIN, NINE-YEAR-OLD STUDENT: They were picking on me because of my clothes and how I looked.

TORRES: She went on to tell him about the special needs kid in her class who was also getting bullied except he was getting it worse.

I. GRIFFIN: I thought that it was really mean so I wanted to help him.

TORRES: And then she told him this.

I. GRIFFIN: I stood up for myself and I would like to stand up for everyone.

I pledge to be a buddy and not a bully.

TORRES: Standing up for others by standing in front of the school board.

I. GRIFFIN: You are making a commitment to yourself, your fellow students.

TORRES: Isabella came up with a plan called "Be a buddy, not a bully" which asked students to sign a pledge against bullying.

I. GRIFFIN: A rubber bracelet showing -

TORRES: When they do, they're given a bracelet to wear around school to show their support.

JON GRIFFIN, FATHER: It basically entitles the kids to actually step in.

TORRES: The idea was so successful the Alamosa school district implemented it had through all of its K-5 schools.

ROBERT ELJO, SUPERINTENDENT, ALAMOSA SCHOOL DISTRICT: If not for the likes of our students, along the lines of Isabella Griffin, we'd have our hands full.

TORRES: As you can imagine doing all of this at the age of nine hasn't been a piece of cake. Quite frankly what Isabella Griffin has accomplished so far has been pretty sweet.

I. GRIFFIN: Thank you.


KAYE: So sweet. And joining us now via Skype from Alamosa, Colorado, is nine-year-old Isabella Griffin and her father, Jon. Good morning to both of you.

So Isabella, congratulations on this great work that you have done, certainly comes in handy for so many kids, I'm sure. How many people have now signed your pledge?

I. GRIFFIN: Well, we are actually waiting for our symbol which is for the bracelets to come and then we will go from there.

KAYE: And are you surprised, Isabella, by the fact that the school picked it up as their official program? I mean, how does that make you feel?

I. GRIFFIN: Well, it makes me feel really good that now that I've presented it -- presented it to you, my school, they are going to make it happen. KAYE: Yes. We have some of what we call your confidence points listed here. These are things that a buddy would say to help a friend who is being bullied. One of them that stands out is "Don't listen to them. You know you are better." These are really important points to think about when you're in the midst of being bullied. How did you come up with these?

I. GRIFFIN: Well, I have done a lot of research, and I have come up with these because, well, I remembered what I did for myself, and I know what I can do for others, so I thought about what I could say to them to make them feel better, like "Don't listen to them, they are wrong, or be who you are. You're fine the way you are," and something of that.

KAYE: Jon, you must be so proud of your daughter. Did you expect this to -- to come out of the work that she was doing?

J. GRIFFIN: Absolutely not.

Basically, Isabella sat me down and presented me 20 pages worth of information on why she wanted to create a club in school, and when I really sat down and I looked at everything that she was doing, you know, it kind of made me think we need to take this to the principal. Because this plan and this model, I think, can be instituted not only in the Alamosa school district, but I think it can be a model for schools nationwide.

So once I saw what she had, I wanted to take it further, and at least show her that she has our support, and if it only goes to Alamosa, that's great and to be on CNN is actually kind of shocking.

KAYE: Well, I think the program being there is wonderful as well, but I want to read the "Be a Buddy" motto, Isabella. It says I will respect myself and others and be a friend to those who are being bullied. I will be a buddy, not a bully.

What's your advice to others? I mean if they do see someone being bullied, how do you become a buddy? How do you step in? What's the right way to go about it?

I. GRIFFIN: Well, if you see somebody being bullied you can tell the bully to stop, and if that doesn't work, you can walk the person that's being picked on away from the situation and tell them some of those -- some of those confidence points, and you can just make them feel better by letting them know that you're there for them and that it's OK and they shouldn't have got picked on.

KAYE: I think that's great because they do need to know that they are not alone, like you said. Isabella, great job. Fantastic work in what you're doing, and Jon Griffin, appreciate you both coming on this morning.

J. GRIFFIN: Thank you very much.

I. GRIFFIN: Thank you. KAYE: And if you would like to sound off on stories about bullying, you can tweet me now or any time use the hashtag "bullyingstopshere". You can find me on Twitter @randikayecnn. I love to hear what you think.

BLACKWELL: Hundreds protesting outside Walmart stores on Black Friday, and the movement is raising questions about whether we're seeing a new normal in part-time work. We'll talk to an expert.


KAYE: Welcome back, everyone.

If you went to Walmart for Black Friday sales, the lines to get in weren't the only ones you had to wade through. Across the U.S. hundreds protested outside Walmart fighting for better wages, more hours and affordable health care.

BLACKWELL: But are those low-paying part-time jobs without benefits the new normal when it comes to retail workers? Joining us to discuss is John Logan, professor and director of labor and employment studies at San Francisco State University.

KAYE: John, good morning.


KAYE: The government says 8.3 million workers in the U.S. are underemployed, not getting enough hours, even though they want them, really, but those are the kinds of jobs that companies are offering. I mean are we seeing this? Is this the new normal now?

LOGAN: Right. Well, this is certainly one of the main demands of the protesting Walmart workers. In addition to an increase in pay, many of them make an average of below $9 an hour, and they are asking for a minimum of $13 an hour.

They also want more full-time jobs because at the moment there's a huge number of workers working at Walmart, but especially at Walmart who want to work full time but the scheduling at Walmart provides them only with part-time work which as you say often doesn't provide adequate access to benefits.

BLACKWELL: So John, if the unions get these part-time positions to become full-time positions, that means it will cost the companies more and maybe increase costs to the consumer. Really, how will the companies handle these increased expenses?

LOGAN: Right, well, for a company like Walmart -- I mean, Walmart could certainly afford to pay its employees a little bit more and could afford to create more full-time work instead of part-time work. The company made $16 billion from profits last year and Walmart is particularly significant because it has an impact on what happens in the rest of the retail sector, too.

So if Walmart were to create a positive example in this respect if it were to create more full-time positions and provide better wages and benefits, you may actually see a ripple effect throughout the retail sector.

But similarly, if Walmart creates below standard for the industry, other companies have to compete with that low standards and they have to drive down wages and benefits and they have to create more part- time instead of full-time positions in order to compete with Walmart.

KAYE: So in terms of impact, is a strike against Walmart more likely to hurt Walmart itself or hurt the employees?

LOGAN: Well, I think that the protests at Walmart will be an ongoing thing. I mean, it's really quite remarkable that we had strikes in 10 cities and 46 states yesterday and this has been the culmination of two months of actions at Walmart throughout the country.

Now, Walmart is known for its fairly authoritarian corporate culture. So if anyone predicted a year ago or even six months ago that we would have seen these protests yesterday, I think you would just say, you know, it's not going to happen. But it did happen.

And, you know, I think it will continue to happen because the workers do have a great deal of community support as well. They have attracted a lot of support from civil rights organizations, from religious organizations, from women's organizations, et cetera, so -- so that's not just going to disappear overnight. I think this will be an ongoing thing until they are able to get some of the goals that they are protesting for.

BLACKWELL: And, of course, we'll see what the outcome will be going on to the next weeks or months or maybe years as this continues.

John Logan, professor and director of labor and employment studies at San Francisco University, thank you.

LOGAN: Thank you very much.

BLACKWELL: And we're back in a minute with a check of the day's top stories.


KAYE: Good morning, Atlanta. Look at that. Gorgeous picture there. Look at the sun shining in. Glowing practically over the city of Atlanta this morning. So glad you're starting your day with us here on "CNN Saturday Morning."

BLACKWELL: Let's check the top stories now.

Some sad news to start with -- actor Larry Hagman has died. His family says it was complications from cancer.

KAYE: Hagman is best known for his iconic performance as J.R. Ewing on the TV show "Dallas," but today people are remembering him as so much more. Barbara Eden said this of her "I Dream of Jeannie" co-star. "There was no one like you before, and there will never be anyone like you again." Larry Hagman was 81.

And in about an hour, we will take you live to Larry Hagman's star on Hollywood Walk of Fame.

BLACKWELL: And former world boxing champion Hector "Macho" Camacho has died. He was taken off life support at a hospital in San Juan. Now several of his sons arrived in Puerto Rico earlier today to be by his side. The 50-year-old was declared clinically brain dead after being shot in the face last Tuesday. Police are still looking for the gunman and another suspect.

KAYE: Moving to Egypt where a key presidential adviser has resigned as part of the protest against President Mohamed Morsi. Hundreds of demonstrators are in the streets today. Morsi expanded his control this week, basically taking key powers away from judges.

Someone may wake up a multi-millionaire tomorrow. The Powerball lottery jackpot is now a whopping $325 million. That is the fourth largest jackpot in the game's history. You have to buy a ticket before 10:00 p.m. Eastern tonight to be included in that drawing.

BLACKWELL: And back here in the U.S., the holiday shopping season is now in full swing after Black Friday. Stores consider this time of the year critical. They can make up to 40 percent of annual sales November through December.

Every time I see that woman lose her wig I just can't -- I can't help it.

One store already reporting impressive numbers. Walmart says this was the best Black Friday in its history.

And I'm sure she's not happy to see that video every time it comes on every time.

KAYE: No. I'm sure that she's thankful that you pointed it out. That's great.


KAYE: Finally, Jimmy Kimmel's twist on the crowds and chaos we've been seeing over the years on Black Friday.


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, NBC'S "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": They call it Black Friday because that is the color of your soul after you trample an old lady for a waffle maker.

When the doors open, the mayhem starts. There's trampling. There's punching, kicking. This is the wonderful time of the year when Walmart becomes the thunderdome.

Right now, members of the Geek Squad are huddled in the corner frightened for their lives.

Keep in mind, people are doing this to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Look at this. This is a good one.


KAYE: Man, that's ugly.

BLACKWELL: "YOUR BOTTOM LINE" starts right now.