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President Barack Obama in Hawaii for Holidays; NRA Proposes Putting Armed Guard in Every School

Aired December 22, 2012 - 15:00   ET


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Miguel Marquez. Here are the top stories.

It's worse than a lump of coal in old Christmas stocking. Higher taxes, lawmakers and president Obama have left Washington for Christmas with no deal on tax hikes and spending cuts set to go into effect at the first of the year.

CNN's Brianna Keilar is live in Hawaii where the president is spending the Christmas holiday.

Brianna, aloha and where do we go from here?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, as you know, Congress has left Washington. And members of Congress and senators are in their home states and districts. President Obama, here in Hawaii. The next step will be for the Senate to reconvene, which it's scheduled to do December 27th. And until then, it's up to the White House to try to work out a situation at least on the tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of the year, work out a deal with the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid as well as the Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, trying to figure out something that could ultimately pass the Senate and then next pass the house with not only Republican support but democratic support, as well. And the president holding out hope this could happen. Take a listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody can get 100 percent of what they want. And this is not simply a contest between parties in terms of who looks good and who doesn't. Call me a hopeless optimist. But I actually still think we can get it done.


KEILAR: But the chances of getting something big done that deals with the fiscal health of the country, Miguel, out the window at this point. This is something we're talking about to deal just with those tax cuts set to expire for those making $250,000 or less. And also the president wants to deal with extending unemployment benefits for people who are out of work, but when it comes to dealing with, say, entitlement reform and other things to bring down the deficit, tax reform, that's not expected to be part of this.

MARQUEZ: Wow, pushing it right to the edge. Will Americans, workers across the country see that little line in their paycheck, the taxes go up on January 1st so there's no deal?

KEILAR: We're not expecting that will happen. Payroll processors would likely wait to see if Congress was able -- if they're able to work out a deal before they would start implementing that in a way that people would see in their paychecks. But, if the fiscal cliff did turn out to be permanent, you would expect to see that reflected in paychecks end of January perhaps the beginning of February and in the interim, you're expecting there would be a lot of market reaction obviously and a lot of consumer confidence taking a hit as well, Miguel.

MARQUEZ: And what's the president up to in Hawaii and the family?

KEILAR: Well, officially there's only one thing on his public schedule at this point. This just came out today, from the White House. Tomorrow, Senator Inouye who passed away this past week, the longest serving member of congress, he as you know, was lying in state in Washington. He is going to be buried here in his native Hawaii tomorrow at a cemetery here in Honolulu. The president is going to be attending that service.

But in the interim, we expect the president will do some of the things that he normally does with his family. He often goes for save ice with his daughters or maybe goes out for dinner with his wife and meeting his half sister Maya. But all of those things happen as they happen and we find out sort of at the time. Nothing public other than him going to Senator Inouye's funeral.

MARQUEZ: All right, thank you very much, Brianna. Try to take time for yourself. It looks absolutely lovely behind you. We are all jealous.

In a few minutes, we'll talk to a Democratic congressman about how she thinks we can stop the falling off the fiscal cliff.

Overseas now. In Syria's capital, Damascus, two bombs today, ten dead. One a car bomb exploded in a Damascus neighborhood, the other a shelling at a bakery in a suburb. No one has claimed responsibly for the car bomb. Syrian state TV calls it a terrorist explosion.

Oil giant BP agreed to pay up for its role in one of the worst oil spills in history and now a federal judge has signed off on it. BP settled for an estimated $7.8 billion the money to go to thousands of businesses and people who were affected by the spill. BP pled guilty to manslaughter charges last month for the explosion that killed 11 people.

Millions of us are getting ready to travel for the holidays and are already on the road. The bad news, if you're driving, gas prices just hit a speed bump. After falling for most of last month, the average price per gallon is up 1.2 cents to $3.24. The good news, that it's about the same price it was a year ago.

Drivers in the middle of the country also have to deal with this. Take a look at Cleveland, Ohio, as a major winter storm raced through there yesterday. The day before, the blizzard left nine inches in places like Omaha, Nebraska and more than a foot in some area farther north. It is now headed east. There is now a blizzard warning in effect for West Virginia and Maryland.

Our Victor Blackwell is braving the cold at a toll booth. You brave man, near Cleveland.

Victor, it was dicey out there yesterday. How are things looking now?

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not as great as things look in Honolulu. Let me put that out on the table. I heard you speaking with Brianna that he should enjoy some of that time. Well, we have enjoyed beautiful Cleveland and Richfield, Ohio.

The roads here are good. Things are fine here. We know that more than 90 percent of the about 93 million people who will travel for Christmas and the holidays at the end of the year will be on the road. And we have a little bit of trouble in Virginia. About 40 miles of i- 95 south of Washington, D.C. is just on the national highway traffic and safety administration Web site just red with flags all the way through. Jackknifed tractor-trailer, cars on the side of the road as that storm moves east.

Now, there are also some problems at the airports. We have ground delays in San Francisco on the west coast because of wind from a storm coming in from the pacific, also, the storm on the east coast. You've got ground delays in Newark and also at Dulles in Virginia just outside of D.C. So, that's going to be a problem.

There's also some delays in Fort Lauderdale at the Fort Lauderdale Hollywood international airport but that's because of construction. So some problems that could cause a ripple effects at other airports but overall, nationwide, when you think about how many people are on the road, 40 miles of i-95 south of D.C. is not really that bad, Miguel.

MARQUEZ: Yes. Power outages, any branching breaking lines that we often see?

BLACKWELL: Well, we know here in Cleveland, we actually saw a guy this morning when we out to breakfast, he was inside the diner. He had come because he lost power when a tree fell on power lines outside of his house. So yes, minor power outages here in Cleveland but nothing like midweek with more than 400,000 customers out in the Midwest.

MARQUEZ: Victor Blackwell at Ohio's most inviting toll booth there. Sorry you're not in Hawaii, my friend.

BLACKWELL: It's beautiful.

MARQUEZ: Alexandra Steel is in the CNN weather center. What can we look for in the next few days there?

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: All right. Well, of course, Tuesday is Christmas. So, every kid wants to know if they'll see a White House Christmas. And look on the board here. A white Christmas now meteorology, a white Christmas is when there's an inch of snow on the ground when you wake up Christmas morning. So, it can fall in the afternoon but meteorologically that's the definition.

So, here's where we'll see that. Upstate New York and the Adirondacks getting over a foot of snow with lake effect snow bands, we got coming through tonight. So, from billings to Denver to the twin cities, Pittsburgh even, white snow and certainly a White House Christmas for you.

But Christmas forecasts around the country, let me walk you through it. Boston to New York, temperatures stay in the 30s. So it will be cool and even snow showers potentially around there for you. But, it's going to be chilly Buffalo to Pittsburgh. The ground may be dry and may be white but it's going to be dry as well with partly cloudy to partly sunny skies. In the southeast, temperatures in the 40s and 50s. It will be raining for the most part, 55 in Atlanta with rain showers. Oklahoma City in the 20s could be snow for you. Dallas, rain at 48. Raleigh will just be north of that rain line it looks like. In the upper Midwest, northern plains, it's cold though, 12 in Minneapolis, five in Fargo. In the Pacific Northwest, more rain there on Christmas. As we head south, cloudy dry skies in San Francisco but San Francisco has such an inundation of rain.

And as we look at this computer model, this is what we're watching. More rain comes into San Francisco for tomorrow. And then all eyes look at the southeast. Tuesday through Thursday, it looks as though another storm develops could bring more snow to the mid-Atlantic and the northeast. Wednesday, Thursday time period. So, we have to keep an eye on that.

MARQUEZ: Alexandra, thank you very much.

The NRA says we need armed guards to protect school children in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting. What do Americans think needs to happen? We have new polls.

And Kevlar inserts for backpacks. That's just one of the many ways parents are trying to keep kids safe. We'll dig deeper.

And what are some simple things you can do to keep from getting the flu?


MARQUEZ: Ten days and counting and so far there's no deal between the White House and Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff. Ad members of Congress have left Washington to be home for the Christmas holiday.

Earlier, we spoke to a Republican house member. Now we're talking with Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, an Ohio democrat. She is joining us from Detroit.

First, Congresswoman, let's listen to what speaker Boehner had to say about the situation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We've got differences, but the problem of the country has got big spending problems. And we have got to the get serious about addressing them.


MARQUEZ: He also said taxes should not go up in anyone's -- the first million dollars of income that anyone makes. How do you respond on the spending cut side of things and why do you disagree with his tax break plan?

REP. MARCY KAPTUR (D), OHIO: Well, we need both and we need no more division. The American people want unity. The speaker and I both come from the state of Ohio. You know it was battleground Ohio a few weeks ago before the election. President Obama won. The president wants to reach an agreement. We would like speaker Boehner along with those in his own party who oppose him to come forward with a proposal that they agree on.

Our problem is on the Republican side of the aisle, sadly. Yesterday I was in Cleveland, Ohio meeting with members of Cleveland city council. We talked about jobs. What we need to do with the budget process in Washington to encourage more growth. We talked about housing. We talked about infrastructure but the conversation kept coming back to what's going to happen in Washington, are they going to reach agreement.

My own view is, let's proceed forward. And not let anyone's taxes go up in the middle class on January 1st. Frankly, the average tax benefit to the average household is about $2,000 a year, $2200. Let's just extend that and then let's deal with the other parts of the budgeting that require us, we've already cut $1.7 trillion. We have to look to other solutions on the revenue and on the spending side to pay for the past costs of wars. We've been conducting without paying the bill. And also, the recession-related costs that came out of the great Wall Street induced meltdown that every single community in this country have faced.

So -- so what we really need, we need for the Republicans to come together. You know, in Ohio speaker bane's district adjoins a gentleman named Jim Jordan. He and Mr. Jordan do not agree. There are huge factions inside the Republican Party in the house that do not allow agreement. And the Democrats we only have 200 votes. You need 218 to pass something in the house.

MARQUEZ: Yes. Is it all Republicans though? I mean, what is it like behind closed doors there? What makes Americans seemingly so angry over this entire process? Everybody says they want to get a deal. Everybody is sort of says the same thing but then nothing happens. What is it like in those meetings up on Capitol Hill?

KAPTUR: Well, I personally a very optimistic person. I think we can do this. But it's going to take agreement inside the Republican Party. You have the president at the table. You have the Senate both Democrats and Republicans at the table. The problem, the fisher line is in the house. And I would at the National Press, take a look at Ohio. Ohio carried for President Obama and yet within Ohio, you have the speaker being opposed by very extremist members of his own party who head this tea party working group in the house and it is that fissure line that is creating the division in the country.

The country is not that extreme. Frankly, Ohio isn't that extreme. We can reach unified decision here, but it requires everyone being at the table. But the attention ought to be focused at the divisions inside the Republican Party in the house. It is they who cannot bring a majority of votes in the house and they have the majority.

MARQUEZ: All right, well, I certainly agree with you on Ohio. I was in Columbus stark county Ohio this year. Love it all. Thank you very much, congresswoman.

KAPTUR: Thank you. Merry Christmas to all.

MARQUEZ: Merry Christmas.

In America owning a gun seems part and parcel of being an American but overseas they don't understand how you can walk into a store or a gun show and walk out with weapons some say should be used only by the military. We'll show you how the world is reacting to Americans' gun culture.


MARQUEZ: Coming up, we are going to have more on world reaction to America and gun control in the NEWSROOM.


MARQUEZ: The National Rifle Association is speaking out for the first time on the Newtown massacre. Yesterday its executive vice president said it's time to deploy armed guards at America's schools.


WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: I call on Congress today to act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.


MARQUEZ: As the debate rages on guns and mass shootings at schools in New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie chimed in. He says he doesn't agree with the NRA on arming America's schools.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: In general, I don't think that the solution to safety in schools is putting armed guards because for it to be real effective in my view from a law enforcement perspective, you have to have an armed guard outside every classroom. Because an armed guard at the front door, what if this guy got around to one of the side door if there's many doors in and out of schools. The side door or backdoor and use a gun to blow the door open to go in. By the time an armed guard gets from the front of the building, toward the other building, there could be dozen of people dead by that time.


MARQUEZ: Now, Christie is not the only high profile politician to come out against the idea. The head of the DNC, the Democratic National committee, has slammed the NRA's position. No matter who you talk to, it seems everyone has an opinion about the debate especially after the Newtown massacre.

CNN's political editor Paul Steinhauser found out how people are feeling about this critical issue -- Paul.


It appears the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut may be making an impact on public opinion on gun control in a way that other mass shootings have not. Here's one reason why.

More people told us they were angry, shocked and fearful following the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings than those who felt the same way in January 2011 after a mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona, that left six people dead and some including then congresswoman Gabby Giffords severely injured.

Forty six percent of people question in our CNN/ORC national poll saying that government and society can take action to prevent future gun violence. That's up 13 points from the Arizona shootings.


OBAMA: Over these past five days, a discussion has re-emerged as to what we might do not only to deter mass shootings in the future but to reduce the epidemic of gun violence that plagues this country every single day.


STEINHAUSER: That was the president on Wednesday, as he announced a new effort to prevent such shootings. And our poll indicates minds are changing. Forty three percent say the elementary school shootings make them more likely to support gun control loss. A 15-point increase from January 2011 and 52 percent say they now favor major restrictions on guns or making guns illegal, a five-point rise since early August following the Colorado movie theater incident where 12 people were killed.

The poll also indicates a big by par san divide and gender gap with most Democrats and women in favor of restrictions and most Republicans and men opposed -- Miguel.

MARQUEZ: Paul, thanks who brought us through that.

Americans aren't the only ones speaking out. People around the world are reacting to the Newtown massacre. At the bottom of the hour, CNN international anchor, Jonathan Mann, will be here to tell us what the world is saying about America's gun culture.

Military families learned to live with long absences of love ones even at the holidays, sometimes coming home can be hard. A Minnesota family in which both parents are serving in the military shares their story.


1ST LIEUTENANT JEREMIAH LYNCH, MINNESOTA ARMY NATIONAL GUARD: The day that I came home from deployment was just euphoria. It was fantastic. Somebody dropped me off at home and the kids are all there running out and hugs and kisses. Then you have to start trying to put yourself back into the life of your family. And, of course, they've been working with you gone for a year and they have changed how they will do things.


MAJOR ERIN LYNCH, U.S. ARMY RESERVE: When you're deployed, you have a mission. You are accountable for yourself. When you're home especially with children, you're accountable for them.

JEREMIAH LYNCH: Can you wash your hands?

ERIN LYNCH: It's a lot more pieces to juggle.

JEREMIAH LYNCH: It's like wow, I'm just stepping back into my old life, and being away for an entire year made me think about things differently. You change as a person. So what was perfectly fine for you before deployment might not be now.

ERIN LYNCH: It's not like if there was anything broke before deployment. It's all of a sudden fixed. It's the brand-new feeling of yea. You're new and I like you and you smell nice. And then the no, this is my routine and this is my part of the dresser and don't take it over.

JEREMIAH LYNCH: Hardest part is managing kids. It's very easy to slip into an authoritarian parent mode where you just start commanding them to do stuff and expect them to do it.

ERIN LYNCH: There's always the adjustment period because he had his daily routine and I had my daily routine and they didn't mesh. You don't want to complain that your spouse isn't doing something because you're happy to have him back. I don't want my husband to think he was unappreciated to come home.

JEREMIAH LYNCH: I definitely would tell someone deploying to listen to what we're being told about how hard it is because it is that hard. And don't expect it to be fantastic when you get back. Lower your expectations. Lower them a lot and then you'll be pleasantly surprised.



MARQUEZ: Well, the Lynch family had some help with their re- immigration (ph) process. They took part in a research project at the University of Minnesota specifically designed to help parents with school age kids re-enter their home after being deployed. The study is known as project adapt. It's still ongoing.

And just when gasoline prices are finally coming down, look what's just about to go through the roof unless Congress acts soon, you may not be able to afford this grocery store staple.


MARQUEZ: Everyone's gearing up to celebrate Christmas and that includes congress. They've all gone home for the holiday. Hey. And President Obama arrived in Hawaii earlier today, but everyone is expected back in Washington Thursday after the Christmas break. That's because there are just ten days left till the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts take effect. Both sides are saying there is still hope for a deal on the fiscal cliff before year's end.

Brace yourself for $7 a gallon, milk. It's because a federal subsidy to dairy farmers expires January 1st. Unless Congress acts, the government would have to pay farmers twice the current rate driving up the price for everyone.

California won't be able to stop so-called conversion therapy for young gay people even though the state has banned the controversial practice. An appeals court issued an injunction preventing the ban from taking effect on January 1st.

Here's what's trending online. Three people arrested for a house explosion that nearly wiped out an Indianapolis neighborhood last month. Two of those suspects lived in the house that exploded and killed two neighbors. Police say their motive was to collect a huge insurance payout.

The Pope pardoned his former butler. Paolo Gabriele had been jailed for leaking private Vatican documents. The Vatican says the Pope personally visited Gabriele before his release to confirm his forgiveness.

I only wish I could be splitting some $2 billion right now. But for some lucky people in Spain they get to cash in on the country's annual Christmas lottery that pays out $2.2 billion to thousands of winners. The biggest prize or Elgordo (ph) was won by residents of a town near Madrid.

The Newtown massacre has people everywhere talking about guns and what to do about them. Many around the world are baffled by what they see in this country. Some has advance place on the planet, but that can have so many guns deaths. Take a look at those stats from the CDC. In 2009, there were more than 31,000 deaths in the U.S. from firearms. Of those nearly 12,000 homicides and nearly 19,000 people used guns to commit suicide.

CNN international Jonathan Man has been looking into the phenomenon in the U.S.

And John, I've heard that people around the countries simply can't believe that the gun culture in the U.S. and how things work here.

JONATHAN MANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: I'm from Canada. We're right next door, a lot of guns in Canada. But, things feel and look very different to Canadians when they look at the United States. Things feel look different everywhere. You could choose any one of a number of countries. We did a few comparisons. And I'll give you an example because it's so telling and that's Australia.

Australia, you think of it is a wide open country, full of independent mind, frontier folks. Australia had its own terrible share of mass killings. And in Australia, one in particular drew people's attention 1996, 28-year-old man used a semiautomatic assault style weapon in a tourist spot. He shot 50 people. He killed 35 of them. The Port Arthur massacre really galvanized the whole country. Even the government then which was run by conservatives said we have to do something about guns. And they imposed really, really strange of restrictions.

Essentially what they did is banned assault weapons. They required much more strict licensing for everyone else and they actually imposed what was semi voluntary buyback program. So they bought people's guns from them in some cases a lot of public pressure on people to give up their guns even if they had a right to keep them under Australian law. They gave them up. They got hundreds of thousands, 650,000 guns out of people's hands in Australia. It is about a sixth of the guns in Australia. And here's what the former foreign minister Alexander Downer had to say about the experience.


ALEXANDER DOWNER, FORMER AUSTRALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Sixty seven percent of all homicides in the United States are committed with firearms whereas in Australia, only 11 percent of homicides are committed with firearms. So, I think the two sets of statistics tells you that the scheme we introduced in 1996, hugely controversial, all of the same arguments about rights to bear arms and so on, it has in the end saved a large number of lives in this country.


MANN: OK. So that's Australia which is a country that had a fair number of guns.

Another country to contrast with also, affluent well educate so he sophisticated Japan, there, virtually nobody owns guns, literally, virtually, nobody owns guns. If you want to get a gun in Japan, listen what you have to go through. You have to take a shooting test. You have to take a written test. You have to take a psychological test. You have to take a drug test. There are virtually no guns in Japan. So, there's nothing of the kind that we tend to see here in the United States.

Kyung Lah is our correspondent who was in Japan for CNN for years and years now living in the United States covering Newtown, listen to what she had to say about the comparison between those two places.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I moved back to the U.S. this summer for the last five years, I was living in Japan as CNN's Tokyo correspondent. In that entire time, I never covered a shooting. There aren't any. This is my third mass shooting I've covered in just six months. I don't have the answer, but I can compare Japan and the U.S. In Japan, there are almost no guns. The average person just can't get one. And I have to tell you, it's the safest place I've ever lived.


MANN: And yet, we can talk about a place that you covered as a journalist, the Atoya killings in Norway, when was that? 2011, summer camp, 77 people killed, most them youngsters and Norway is a country where it is tough to get a gun. So you can't stop this completely. But people will say if you reduce the number of guns, you'll have fewer of them.

Here's the thing. This is a country where I can say whatever I want. I can worship any way I want and according to the way the constitutions interpreted, I have the same right to arm myself the way I want. And that makes this country different than anywhere else.

MARQUEZ: Jonathan, thank you very, very much. Have great holiday.

What can you do to keep from getting the flu? Dr. Sanjay Gupta will be here with simple things you can do to keep from getting sick this season, that, plus the top stories straight ahead.


MARQUEZ: Both flu season is upon us and the number of people who have it across the country is growing. It's something we hear about every year, but how much do you really know about the virus and what can you do to avoid it?

CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has the details -- Sanjay.

DOCTOR SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, one thing about the flu season this year is that people are paying about as much attention to it as they have in years past which probably isn't enough. About a third of people have gotten their flu shots so far that need it. So that's a little bit of an indicator. I'll talk about that in a second. I also want to point out though, Miguel, this is a particularly early flu season. We're thinking about the peak of cases usually occurs a little later in the winter. We're already starting to see quite a bit of flu activity. You can see some of the numbers there.

And remember, you know, Miguel, tens of thousands of people still die from the flu every year. You know, one thing that I think is worth pointing out is that after you've been exposed to the flu virus, either in your home or you've touched your hands to your mouth or to your nose, it takes about three or four days to develop flu. So it's not likely that plane ride that you just took or you know, the household that you were just in so sort of keep that in mind, as well. Hand washing I'm going to sound silly and almost implicit saying this. But it's still the best way to go. Do lots of it.

MARQUEZ: Yes, everybody around here has flu. So, I've been washing my hands quite a bit, would be happy to know. But, how can you protect yourself? Isn't it too late to get the flu shot at this point?

GUPTA: No. You know, it's not too late to get it. And you know, people can, you know, there's, again, different peaks here. So we're a little bit of an earlier flu season. If you've already had the flu, then, you probably don't need the shot because that essentially was your flu shot. It sort of taught your immune system to fight off that the virus if it sees it again.

But remember, every year, the strain changes a little bit which is why you need a flu shot every year to try and protect yourself from that. And also, you know again, the hand washing thing just because the most common sort of wave getting this is literally touching a surface that has the virus on it, and then subconsciously touching your nose or your mouth. We touch our hands to our nose and our mouth, you know, literally hundreds of times a day, so, any one of those times could potentially be a way to get sick.

MARQUEZ: All right. What about the naysayers who say I'm not getting a flu shot because if I do, it's going to make me sick, any truth?

GUPTA: No. There's not truth, although a lot of people ask me that same thing. I think this is important. Give me one second to explain this. First of all, the virus inside a flu shot is dead. It's an inactivated virus and cannot give you the flu. It's a myth to suggest otherwise. Why do you not feel well after you get the shot people will ask. Here's why. Because when you get the flu shot, the whole point is to sort of ramp up your immune system a little bit, give it a little bit of a boost and say look, this little type of virus here, that's the enemy. Next time you see it, attack it, kill it, get rid of it. And that's what you want to do.

So, when you get the flu shot and you feel a little lethargic, you may feel like you're getting a little bit sick, that's your immune system reacting to the flu shot. That's normal. That's supposed to happen. It's a lot less significant than if you get the flu.

MARQUEZ: Sanjay, I feel better already. Thank you very much. GUPTA: You got it. Thanks, Miguel.

MARQUEZ: Well, it's December 22nd in the world. It's still here, right? Yes. We're still solid. How can that be? Some people were convinced the apocalypse would arrive yesterday. Where did the idea come from? Our Josh Levs is here to let us know -- Josh.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The world is not on fire like this. And it certainly wasn't smashed, unless it was real. I tell you what, a lot of people having a field day with this including David Letterman, his little bit from his top ten list.


DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, THE LATE SHOW: Mayan word for apocalypse, very similar to Mayan word for apple crisp. Number four, didn't the world end when Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez broke up? Just trying to get out of Christmas with the "-in-laws.


LEVS: Oh, man. I want you all to know, there actually was a survey, the public religion research institute found that two percent of Americans said they believed the world would end based on a prediction by the Mayans, but NASA explains the Mayans did not actually predict that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: None of the thousands of ruins, tablets and standing stone that archaeologists have examined foretell an end of the world.


LEVS: This was a misinterpretation NASA says of the way the Mayan calendar worked. The NASA has this cool animation to explain. Take a look here. It looks like an odometer from a car. The way the car resets to zero, I mean, odometer, the Mayan calendar was to reset on or around December 21st, 2012 based on what the days were.

So the world wasn't going to go anywhere even according to the Mayans. And there would have been a new calendar at that point. This is just one of many apocalyptic scenarios NASA has had to fight off. Some people believe a planet has been on a collision course with earth. NASA says no, that's not the case. And that they would know if it was.

There's this very cool video, it's called a Gamma Ray burst. This is when a star collapses and creates this black hole and in that process incredibly powerful rays shoot off. NASA says there's no sign that this or something similar, a supernova, will happen anytime soon in a way that would affect earth.

Check this out on the screen behind me. I have -- this is, and part of a spread we have that takes you through all sorts of dooms day scenarios through history going all the way back to biblical time and early days of painting. And you can just learn a lot about this. This is one of many things I posted up at my pages. Take a look at the screen at Facebook and twitter, joshlevscnn. I have great links for you all to see there.

And I want to tell you one more thing. This is one more survey that we've reported on. One-third of Americans polled by the public religion research institute believe the natural disasters we've been seeing are a sign that biblical end times are coming, and 15 percent of them believe the world will end in their lifetimes.

So Miguel, what this means, we can certainly expect a lot more apocalyptic predictions every day, every week, every month to come after I posted about this on social media, I've already been hearing from people saying no, no, the date was wrong. It is tomorrow or it is January or it is February. So get set, world, a lot more of these coming.

MARQUEZ: Thank you, Josh Levs, CNN's senior apocalypse correspondent, very nice.

LEVS: Thank you.

MARQUEZ: Well, keeping kids safe is something parents worry about all the time and after the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, they're even more worried. I'll show you one way they hope to keep their children safe at school.


MARQUEZ: Well, it might sound like a contradiction, fighting to take on a growing problem in Chicago. Street violence, but some people are dedicated. Some dedicated young people are taking kids and turning their lives around. Photojournalist Derek Davis shows us how they're doing it.


JUAN GUERRA, BOXER: I grew up watching boxing all my life. Boxing is really, really hard. Takes a lot of discipline. Some people make it look easy but it's really hard. As soon as I walk in those doors, I just fell in love with boxing. There's different things that the gym offers you, and different things that the streets offer you. Most of the time, the streets will lead you to death for the choices you make.

GABRIEL NAVARRO, HEAD COACH, CHICAGO YOUTH BOXING CLUB: The streets are really, really bad. There's a good one or two shootings every weekend. It keeps kids off the street like if the kid is at home, friends come over, let's go out, they're out in the street. And if they come here, it's a real nice environment for them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody get into the ring. We're going to have the rap session.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This week I want to talk about unity. In this gym, we are a community. NAVARRO: We not only do boxing, we do youth development. When you walk in the door, we're not only teaching you boxing, we're also teaching you that you know you have to go to school. We have three or four tutors that we're trying to get these kids' grades up.

GUERRA: I used to have average like B, Cs, now I get As and Bs.

NAVARRO: We're going to have to put everything we've got into that one minute. I joined boxing to stay away from the streets and to get my life together. So it literally saved my life, boxing. I want these kids to go to college for the next generation will be more powerful in our life. We're more than just tough. We're also smart.

GUERRA: I want to become a champion. And I want to show people that this neighborhood is not only about violence, that there's people in here in the neighborhood that are determined to become somebody in life.

NAVARRO: If I help two, three kids a year, that's a real difference. Just like boxing saved me, I'm trying to save others.


MARQUEZ: You can see a collection of these giving in focus stories on Christmas day at 12:30 p.m.


MARQUEZ: Millions of parents who witnessed the massacre in Newtown asked themselves an almost desperate question. How can I make my child safer at school? I found out one way they hope to do that, bullet-proofing or bullet-resistant backpacks. Check this out.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): It is a disturbing sign of the times. You guys make inserts for children's backpacks.


MARQUEZ: Bullet-resistant inserts.

BRAND: That's correct.

MARQUEZ: This is one of them?


MARQUEZ: Show us how they work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. So this is our military-grade product.

MARQUEZ: COO Rich Brand says in the last week, sales have jumped 500 percent, and they're still climbing. Desperate parents seeking ways to protect their kids in the most extreme situations.


MARQUEZ: The material will not stop high-velocity rounds like the ones used in Newtown. But three shots with a 0.9 millimeter at point blank range.

BRAND: All the kinetic energy penetration was actually absorbed with armor.

MARQUEZ: Three small holes, the armor is a little stiffer. And the rounds are inside here.

BRAND: That's correct.

MARQUEZ: And Amendment II is not alone. In Boston, bullet-blocker promises your peace of mind is our business. In Austin, Texas, sales are up 50 percent, new customers, schools and daycare facilities. Even the Columbian designer has of fashionable protective clothing has a request for a full resistance garments for a toddler. People do say, you're profitable off terror and horror.

BRAND: This is the last thing we wanted to do. I mean, this was something that we put out there to request the parents trying to meet the needs.

MARQUEZ: Amendment II says its proprietary carbon metal material lends itself to a product some teachers have asked for, a protective blanket.

Because of the light weight nature of the material of the company uses, they say it can be used as a mat in a school, for instance, and in emergency for protection. At Salt Lake City's get some guns and ammo owner Stuart Wallin says protective gear won't stop a killer, only another gun will.

STUART WALLIN, AMMO OWNER: If you knew every teacher in the school had a gun I think you would think differently about your plan.

MARQUEZ: Since 1995, Utah has allowed teachers to carry concealed weapons. The law is yet to be tested, but after Newtown, anything seems possible.


MARQUEZ: So many companies now finding ways to make bullet-resistant stuff for kids. Amazing.

There are other ways out there to help your children stay safe with your cell phone, for instance. Our CNN money tech reporter Laurie Segall joins us with technology advice and important apps for your kids.

Hello there, Laurie, what tips do you have for preparing for emergencies?

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN MONEY TECHNOLOGY REPORTER: Sure. You know, after this happened, I got on the phone and I chatted with a lot of different schools. And the tech has merge for emergencies, and one thing I will say, set up a group messaging app with your family. Make is very, very easy for you to dial one number and get to everyone. There are a lot of different apps for that. There is an app called what's up, Apple's I message.

And also this sounds l like a no-brainer but understand your school's policy in handling any conflict. I spoke with one teacher who works near Sandy Hook and she said Laurie, thank God I had my updated e-mail and phone number with the school because they're sending out all these live updates and essentially, what that does, is it allows you to stay up to date with real-time conflict. And that kind think so, if you're a parent, make sure your information, your e-mail, your phone number, that's all updated with the school --- Miguel?

MARQUEZ: And assuming the worst, Laurie, what are better ways to connect with your kids during actual emergencies?

SEGALL: There are a lot of apps that promise to help you, you know, connect during emergencies. And one that's actually gotten some attention is called life 360. Now, it was put together in 2008 by a group of entrepreneurs and now they have millions and millions of users. And essentially, what it allows you to do is connect with your family very quickly. And it's used in general parenting, but it also used now more and more for emergencies.

Let me pull up some bullet points and show exactly some of the types of ways it works. Essentially, it allows you to locate your family members immediately. You can look and see where your family is that uses GPS in background. You can find the nearest police and fire stations. Your child can open up the app, see exactly where the nearest law enforcement is near them. Also, it will send messages to family members. So if you're in any type of trouble, distribute a panic alert, and looks - it essentially look like an exclamation mark, child can press the panic alert and it will go out to multiple family members.

Now, you know I will say, Miguel, a lot of apps promising to help you connect during emergencies. But, I got on the phone and spoke with the founder and he said people use this in general for parenting so when an emergency happens, a child is used to using this app and they might go to this kind of thing - Miguel.

MARQUEZ: Always good to be coupled accustomed to it. So, is there any apps to help you handle crime and emergencies all the same time?

SEGALL: Sure, a couple entrepreneurs took this horrifying trend of more shootings in schools and these kinds of thing and they said we want to do something about it. They have an app called crime push and it is really gaining a lot of traction. And it's devoted to specific types of situations like that. You're looking at it right there.

Let me show you some of the main points that it will work on. Essentially, it will aggregate all your emergency school contacts. So a child can see who they need to get in touch with pretty quick. It will ping students with relevant updates, something they can say anything from hurricane to there's a shooter in the building and it will show you a push notification of active safety shelters, where to go. And the cool part of that is that it will open up a map, show you exactly how to get there.

You can also text law enforcement, your GPS coordinates. A lot of times when this kind of thing happens, you don't want to jump on the phone, call the police, you're little bit nervous. You can actually shake your phone. It allows you to do that and it will text local law enforcement where you are. And you can also use it to collect evidence. It has a prompt that will allow you to take pictures and take videos and send to local law enforcement.

So again, can technology prevent something as horrific as what's happened in the last week or so? Absolutely not. But can it help us connect better? You bet.

MARQUEZ: All right, Laurie, thank you very much. All very sensible advice.

SEGALL: Thanks.

MARQUEZ: If you haven't done any Christmas shopping yet, don't worry or worry, I don't know. Our tech expert has you covered. She'll show you the latest cool gadgets.


MARQUEZ: It's the top of the hour and you're in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Miguel Marquez in for Fredricka Whitfield.

The National Rifle Association is finally speaking out on the massacre in Newtown. The group isn't addressing the idea of banning or limiting the guns used to kill the students and teachers at Sandy Hook elementary. Instead they say the answer is deploying armed guards at schools.


LAPIERRE: I call on Congress today to act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.


MARQUEZ: Now, surprisingly, some politicians were quick to slam the proposal.