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Fiscal Cliff Hanger: 26 Days; Deadly Violence in Egypt; Washington Celebrates Pot Parties, Same-Sex Marriage Licenses; Grammy Nominations Announced

Aired December 6, 2012 - 05:30   ET




ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Rage right now in Egypt. Violent clashes outside the presidential palace. Thousands fearing they might lose the freedom they won in the Arab spring.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): First pot, now same-sex marriage. Washington state legalized both while you were sleeping last night. The details on both, those stories coming up.

SAMBOLIN: Listen to this, a man in Wisconsin is ordered to not have any more children until he can afford them. You will never believe how many kids he's had by different women.


ROMANS (on-camera): That's what I call a tease. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): And Zoraida Sambolin. It is 30 minutes past the hour here.

ROMANS: OK. We're following the developing situation in Egypt. Tension amid deadly violence. Tanks and armored personnel carriers are guarding the presidential palace in Cairo this morning. It was there last night that fighting broke out between supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi.

They tossed rocks and Molotov cocktails at each other. At least five people were killed, hundreds injured. Many Egyptians are angry at what they believe is Morsi's grab for power. Some are outright calling him a dictator.

Ian Lee joins us by phone from Cairo. Ian, what's the latest there?

IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Right now, we're still seeing the army (INAUDIBLE) trying to keep the two groups separated now. The republican guard which is the elite unit that protects the president said that they're here to make sure that no more violence happens around the presidential palace, that they're going to keep the two sides separated. And -- so, that there isn't a repeat of what we saw last night. But we're already starting to see anti-Morsi protesters descend on the presidential palace, chanting and taunting, challenging the brotherhood members who are on the other side. We're seeing them also yelling back at them. It's going to be definitely a task for the Republican guard to keep the two sides separated, because it is very tense here and there's a lot of animosity between the two sides.

ROMANS: Ian, you know, addressed (ph) constitution has been approved. The Egyptians are scheduled to vote on it next week. What exactly in is in this proposal that has protesters so angry?

LEE: Well, there's two things that a lot of people are pointing out that's very ambiguous about this constitution, and that's the right of religious minorities, one. It doesn't address -- it addresses Egypt's Christian minority and Jewish minority, but Egypt also has a high minority that has for a long time been discriminated against.

They also say the rights of the other minorities, the Christians and the Jews haven't been spelled out enough to the satisfaction of those communities. There's also people saying that the rights of women aren't really spelled out enough that their role in society isn't guaranteed that they will have equality or that their rights are going to be guaranteed by the constitution.

I've read parts of it. It is very ambiguous on the role of women in society.

ROMANS: All right. Ian Lee in Cairo for us on the phone. Thanks, Ian.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-two minutes past the hour. It is barely palpable, but there are signs of movement in the fight over the fiscal cliff. A deal needs to be hammered out in 26 days or all of us will be dealing with heavy-handed tax hikes and sweeping spending cuts. The President and House Speaker John Boehner broke the ice yesterday.

They actually spoke by phone. The two sides keeping details of the discussion under wraps and still standing their ground on tax hikes for the top two percent.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R-OH) HOUSE SPEAKER: The revenues we're putting on the table are going to come from, guess who, the rich.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Once Republicans acknowledge that rates are going up for top earners, we believe that an agreement is very achievable.


SAMBOLIN: Kate Bolduan is live from Washington, D.C. Really nice to see you, Kate. So, I know I went into this saying that we're light on details, but I'm wondering if you know anything else. Are we any closer to an agreement? KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think we are a long way from a deal, even although it's really one issue that they're fighting about, which they say if they agree on, it could be a quick road to a deal, we are still a long way from a deal, because politically, they are still very far apart. The two men, as you mentioned, the President and Speaker Boehner, they did speak for the first time yesterday, the first time in a week, which I guess, at this point, in and of itself is significant because there isn't much talking going on outside of that.

But neither side is offering kind of a readout of this conversation, though, aides have told CNN following that conversation that there's no significant or substantive progress that has been made because both sides still remain entrenched in their basic bargaining position. The President saying that there is really no deal -- there is no deal.

Adamant that there's no deal without raising rates on the top two percent of wage earners and really his deputy, his Secretary of the Treasury, Tim Geithner, his point man for these negotiations, he really doubled down on that yesterday when asked in an interview if the administration is ready to go over the cliff if Republicans don't give on rates.

Listen to Tim Geithner.


TIMOTHY GEITHNER, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: Oh, absolutely. Again, there's no prospect to an agreement that doesn't involve those rates going up on the top two percent of the -- remember, it's only two percent.


BOLDUAN: Right. As John Boehner is just as stuck into his position. He's saying that Republicans do not believe this is the right path to cutting our deficit into getting -- into promoting economic growth in this country. He's not giving on their position. They do not want to raise tax rates on wealthy Americans or any American.

I'll tell you, I was outside a meeting that the Republican leaders had with the rank and file members yesterday, speaking to member after member and they were leaving their meeting and do know in these battles.

There's often quite a break from the leadership and rank and file. They have given John Boehner some trouble in the past, but at this point, they are giving him some leeway and they definitely seem to be rallying around the speaker and his negotiations at this point. So, there's no budging on either side.

SAMBOLIN: No, yes. They said there was a lot of support there. But, you know, we saw President Obama saying I'm sticking to my guns also. So, the President is now warning the Republicans next move will be to use the upcoming vote on the debt ceiling as leverage in the budget battle. Let's listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If Congress, in any way, suggests that they're going to tie negotiations to debt ceiling votes and take us to the brink of default once again as part of a budget negotiation, which by the way we have never done in our history until we did it last year, I will not play that game.


SAMBOLIN: I will not play that game.


SAMBOLIN: So, is that something Republicans are really considering, and if so, I guess, how would the White House respond? Although, I guess, we're seeing a little bit of it there.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean, I think you clearly see how the President would respond. This is where the question of leverage comes in to play. The presidencies that he has quite a lot leverage. He came out of the election. He says that he ran on this issue of raising tax rates on wealthy. He believes he is very much the leverage in this negotiation, and so, you don't see him budging.

Republicans see the little levers that they have in the debt ceiling fight. These are two separate, really two separate issues, but they're all coming together at the same time. Welcome to Washington. Everything kind of comes together all at the same time, unfortunately. The debt ceiling if it's not part of any agreement, regarding the fiscal cliff to avert the fiscal cliff, they will need to take up this question of raising the debt ceiling come likely come early next year.

And Republicans see that the question of raising the debt ceiling is where they have some leverage in this negotiation. The President and Democrats do not want the debt ceiling to be kind of -- raising the debt ceiling to be part of this negotiation, because they do not want this on their plate come early next year.

I mean, it all comes down to leverage. Democrats see that they have the leverage here because look at most recent polls today. If you look at this week, if you look at recent polls out this week, it shows that a majority of Americans say if there is no deal, if we go over the fiscal cliff, they will blame Republicans, not Democrats, and not the President.

And you can be sure that everyone is watching those polls. But still now, the debt ceiling if you can even believe it, and I know Christine is rolling her eyes over there, you can even believe that the debt ceiling is starting to become a real part of this --

SAMBOLIN: Oh, yes. That dialogue has been going on for quite some time now, Kate.


SAMBOLIN: But at the end of the day, the Republicans also want to feel like they're winning. So --


SAMBOLIN: We've got a lot of questions for you. So, we'll see you back here a little bit later. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Sounds great.

ROMANS: And 26 days to go on that. Thanks, Kate.

All right. It looks like the bodies of two missing cousins have been found by hunters in a wooded area in Iowa.

SAMBOLIN: Terrible.

ROMANS: Ten-year-old and remember eight-year-old --

SAMBOLIN: Oh my gosh!

ROMANS: -- they went missing back in July. Their bicycles and one of the girls purses were found near a neighborhood lake. That's where friends and neighbors gathered last night for a vigil. The families of the two girls have been notified. The bodies still need to be positively identified by the state medical examiner.

There are still no suspects in their disappearance. But again, this is the worst possible outcome for families who had been praying since the summer that these little girls would be found.

SAMBOLIN: So much time has passed, right, so they were still hanging on to hope that the little girls were alive. That's such a tragic, tragic story.

Thirty-eight minutes past the hour. Recreational marijuana use is now legal in Washington State. People gathered to celebrate and presumably light up once a new state law went into effect after midnight. Having an ounce or less of pot is OK for anyone 21 years of age and over. Smoking pot in public is still banned.

It's also banned in bars and in restaurants. Selling pot is still illegal at least for now. And pot remains illegal under federal law as well. The justice department hasn't said whether it will sue to try to block the regulatory plans from actually taking effect.

ROMANS: Washington State is also issuing its first same-sex marriage licenses.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, you two.



ROMANS: The first couple to receive one in King County, Pete E. Peterson and Jane Abbott Lighty of West Seattle. They've been a couple for 35 years. They were flanked by family, friends, and media on this historic occasion. About 250 people were lined up at the King County courthouse at midnight to get their marriage licenses signed.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-night minutes past the hour. The U.S. military changing the camouflage uniforms that protect our soldiers. We're going to show you ahead, but you better look fast. They might actually be invisible soon.


SAMBOLIN: Yes. Kid you not.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Forty-two minutes past the hour. It worked for Harry Potter. So, now, military officials are hoping it can save the lives of our fighting men and women in the future. We're talking about camouflage. Today, soldiers say the camo that they're wearing simply doesn't work.

But, what if the next generation of camouflage made them invisible. Here's Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Camouflage can be the difference between a soldier getting shot and going home. So, a lot is riding on the next generation design to outfit troops. It's only been eight years since the army spent $5 billion on camo that critics say didn't fool anyone. Soldiers complained to the point the army abandoned its one-size fits all universal pattern.

(on-camera): So, they were looking for camouflage that they could use everywhere.

GUY CRAMER, DESIGNING CAMOUFLAGE: Correct. And it didn't work anywhere.

LAWRENCE (voice-over): Guy Cramer is one of the designers competing to win the army's next multimillion dollar contract. This summer, he showed us the science behind every shape, size, and shade of these pixels.

CRAMER: You now have your camouflage. So, we're trying to trick the brain into seeing things that aren't actually there.

LAWRENCE: Digital patterns re-create shapes already found in nature and 3D layering creates depth and shadows where none exist. That's today's design. But developers already have one eye on tomorrow.

CRAMER: What's coming up down the road and very quickly is the Harry Potter cloak.


LAWRENCE: With that fictional cloak, Harry isn't just camouflage, he's invisible.


LAWRENCE (on-camera): How invisible are we talking here? If I walked into a room with a soldier wearing one of these cloaks --

CRAMER: You wouldn't see him at all. He would be completely invisible to you.

LAWRENCE (voice-over): This isn't make believe. The military has seen the so-called quantum stealth technology. It works by bending the light around an object, even concealing most of a person's shadow. Imagine what that could do for a sniper hiding in a field or the American pilots who ejected over Libya when their fighter jets crashed last year.

CRAMER: They could actually pull out very similar to what they carry with a survival blanket, throw it over top on them. And unless, you walked right into them, you wouldn't know that they were there.

LAWRENCE: So, what was once firmly in the world of make-believe could quickly become quite real.

(on-camera) And the science is in the special fabric. So, you don't need a power source or some instruction manual to make it work. Theoretically, any soldier, even in the most remote location, could quickly put it on and put it to work.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, the Pentagon.


SAMBOLIN: Pretty remarkable.

ROMANS: Yes, I'll say.

SAMBOLIN: Forty-five minutes past the hour. A check on some of the morning's top stories ahead, including a turf war on the Internet.

Why your photo of today's breakfast may not reach as many people. Oh, the humanity of it. I'm really kind of freaked out about this. So, I can't wait to talk more about it.

If you're leaving the house right now, you can watch us anytime on your desktop or your mobile phone, just go to


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Forty-nine minutes past the hour. A quick check of your top stories now.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner chatting by phone about the fiscal cliff. No details about their discussion and no word of progress or future talks with just 26 days remaining to get a deal done. But another prominent Republican is breaking ranks.

Oklahoma's Republican senator, Tom Coburn, a leading conservative and fiscal hawk, saying that he'd prefer raising taxes on the wealthy as a way to raise revenues.

ROMANS (voice-over): All right. A bitter turf war between Twitter and Instagram escalating. Instagram has just pulled the plug on its Twitter photo -- moving forward. That means when users tweet about their latest Instagram photos, no one on Twitter will be able to see the images. Instagram's goal is to get more people to view images on their site instead of going through their rival site.

SAMBOLIN: Unfortunate. Can't we just all get along and share?

All right. A judge in Wisconsin ruling a man cannot have any more children until he shows proof that he can actually afford those children. Forty-four-year-old Corey Curtis of Racine is charged with failure to support two of the nine children that he's fathered with six women. He owes $85,000 and says he is ready to abide by the judge's order.

ROMANS: Good idea.

All right. The Grammy nominations announced in style with a star- studded concert, Jay-Z and Kanye West were among the six artists who tied for the most nominations, six apiece. The others, Frank Ocean, Mumford & Sons, Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and the indie pop dance F.U.N. The Grammy Awards Ceremony, music's biggest night, will be held February 10th in Los Angeles.


ROMANS (on-camera): You'd never know it's the holidays in New York City by the temperatures.


ROMANS It's been in the 60s here this week. I'm worried that by daffodils are going to come up. So, where's winter?


Meteorologist, Alexandra Steele, is in for Rob. Are they going to come up?

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: No. Promise you, they won't come up. You know, New York City has been in the 60s. You should be at 40s, too. Today, New York, you will be in the 40s. But you know, where's it been? In the last nine days, the two weeks or so, we've had 1,600 record highs.

And you know what, of course, with the warmth, we've had a lack of early snow in the Midwest and also in the northeast. Of course, they go hand in hand. So, take a look at this. It's been 276 days in Chicago without measurable snow - measurable is an tenth of an inch or more. You know, we could break the record also in Milwaukee. It's been 275 days without measurable snow. The record there only a few days from now. And really no big snowstorms, not even an inch coming for some of these places.

But that will change. Colder air is coming. I promise, if you're looking for it. You know, we've seen such cold air in Alaska and in Canada. It's finally going to drain farther south. The jet stream takes dip and allows these temperatures to drop off and of course, afford snow if the moisture moves in. Fifteen to 25 degrees below average for so much of the country, but here, the southeast, we're staying from Atlanta, to Nashville, Birmingham in the 70s through the weekend.

Sunday is really when that cold air is going to get in. So two chances in places like Denver, Minneapolis, and Green Bay between now and Sunday for a little bit of snow, maybe a couple inches or so. You know, we've only seen it in the Cascades, the Sierras, and the Northern Rockies.

They get it, but also, we kind of get into it a little bit farther east than we had in the past, guys. So, the big picture today, pretty quiet. A little bit of mountain snow in the northwest, but temperatures definitely coming down for the center of the country.

SAMBOLIN: Exciting, Alexandra. Thank you so much. It's getting cold there.

Fifty-three minutes past the hour. We have breaking news just in. The Duchess of Cambridge has been released from the hospital. You know, she was admitted earlier this week with acute morning sickness. Catherine along with Prince William have announced that they are expecting their first child.

We have the pictures for you. We're getting those together, and we'll show you. So, we can see exactly what she looks like if she's looking well. Everybody around the world sent them well wishes. So, we'll bring that to you.

But first, Kobe Bryant reaches a milestone that only four other players in NBA history have reached.

That story and a former U.S. Senator going Gangnam Style. They are trending this morning.


ROMANS: And welcome back. Fifty-seven minutes after the hour. I'm here with Zoraida. Taking a look at the top CNN Trend on the web this morning.

SAMBOLIN: We're going to start with Kobe, the youngest NBA player to ever reach the 30,000 club. Kobe Bryant scored the 30,000th point -- I can't even say it -- of his incredible years, 17-year career last night in a Laker win over the Hornets. Only four other players have reached the 30,000-point mark. You know who they are? Kareem Abdul- Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. Congratulations. ROMANS: A small club.


ROMANS: A small club, 30,000.

All right. Riding a horse right off the fiscal cliff. Eighty-one- year-old former senator, Alan Simpson, half of the Simpson-Bowles, you know, debt commission, trying to get young people to get serious about the looming fiscal cliff by dancing Gangnam Style next to a guy dressed as a can.



FMR. SEN. ALAN SIMPSON (R), WYOMING: Stop Instagraming your breakfast and tweeting your first world problems and getting on YouTube so you can see "Gangnam Style."



SAMBOLIN: He did do it.



ROMANS: He's very serious about Congress getting its act together.

SAMBOLIN: Good job.

All right. It's a good thing for Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon that Mike Tyson hung up his boxing gloves. They took a few comedic jabs at Tyson last night. Fallon also took a dig at our very own, Anderson Cooper.


CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "CONAN": Mike Tyson is revealing some interesting information about his past.


O'BRIEN: Mike Tyson said that he once walked in on his wife having sex with Brad Pitt. In a related story, Brad Pitt said Mike Tyson once saw him crap his pants.


JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": In a new interview, Mike Tyson says that in 1998, he found Brad Pitt in bed with his ex-wife, Robin Gibbons. Of course, Pitt has evidence to refute that, the fact that he still has both ears. (LAUGHTER)

FALLON: And it never happened.

This is kind of scary, guys. Anderson Cooper, he's fine now, but he said that while filming a segment for "60 Minutes," you heard about this? He got a sunburn on his eyeballs and was temporarily blind. Either that or Anderson Cooper is terrible at faking a sick day.


FALLON: I've got a sunburn on my eyeball. I can't make it to work. Bye.



ROMANS: That's funny. All right. EARLY START continues right now.


ROMANS (voice-over): New this morning, tanks and personnel carriers stationed outside the presidential palace in Egypt, clashes turning deadly overnight, rage at the new leader, fears he may become the old leader. We are live from outside the palace in 30 seconds.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Plus, new reports this morning that Syria is putting chemical components in bombs. All the details, straight ahead.

ROMANS: And as of this morning, for the first time in the history of our country, it is now legal to smoke pot for recreational purposes in a state, and we are there for the pot party.


ROMANS (on-camera): Good morning and welcome to EARLY START this morning. I'm Christine Romans in for John Berman today.