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NRA Defends Stance On Guns; Boehner's Future with the GOP; Public Outrage over Gang Rape in India; Syrian Warplanes Bomb Bakery; Egypt Votes in Favor of New Constitution; Still No Deal; Senator Inouye Laid to Rest; Wealthy Brace for Higher Taxes; Suffering in Syria; Ben Affleck to Seek Polical Office?

Aired December 23, 2012 - 16:00   ET


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN ANCHOR: It's the top of the hour. Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Miguel Marquez in for Fredricka Whitfield. Here are today's top stories.

The National Rifle Association is standing tough on its opposition to new gun laws in the after of the Newtown massacre. The NRA CEO went on TV today to defend his call for armed guards in every U.S. school.

CNN's Barbara Starr shows us what he said and how people in high places of power are reacting to it.







BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Performers and artists now joining with 800 mayors calling for a plan to end gun violence. But Wayne Lapierre, the chief executive officer and public face of the National Rifle Association, made clear on NBC's "Meet the Press" that his organization will oppose legislation adding new restrictions to the sale of weapons or high-capacity ammunition magazines.

WAYNE LAPIERRE, CEO, NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION: Look, I know there's a media machine in this country that wants to blame guns every time something happens know there's an anti-second amendment industry in this town. I know there are political leads that for 20 years always try to say it is because Americans own guns.

I'm telling you what I think will make people safe. And what every mom and dad will make them better, they drop their kid of at school in January is if we have a police officer in that school, a good guy.

STARR: As the last of the Newtown massacre victims are laid to rest earthquake, the NRA has taken the position that armed security officers in schools are a major part of their solution.

SENATOR JOE LIEBERMANN (I), CONNECTICUT: I have found the statements by the NRA over the last couple of days to be really disheartening because the statements seem not to reflect the understanding of the slaughter of children that happened in Newtown, Connecticut. Here's what bothered me. The NRA spokesperson has been following deal with every possible cause of gun violence except guns.


MARQUEZ: Barbara, there have been so much outrage against the NRA. What are its hardcore opponents saying?

STARR: Well, you know, people are making the point, Miguel, I think that school districts across the country have grappled with this question for years about putting armed security guards on school grounds. This is not new.

But the advocates of more gun control, if you will, more gun laws, the opposite of the NRA, they offered this reminder. They say that, again, there was an armed security officer at the Columbine High School on the day of that 1999 massacre and that controlling gun violence requires a package of solutions beyond the schoolhouse door. The NRA, of course, disagrees -- Miguel.

MARQUEZ: You know your way around the corridors of power in Washington. Did the NRA, Wayne Lapierre hurt himself on Friday by what can only be described as this rant?

STARR: Well, look, emotions across the country are running so high, aren't they, on this? Many people I think would believe this is the 9/11 moment of the gun control issue, after this terrible, terrible massacre in Newtown.

So, the question is exactly as you frame it, the political oomph, if you will, behind each side. After all of this, will the NRA be -- have enough political muscle power on Capitol Hill to push back successfully against any new legislation that might be coming or will they have damaged themselves?

What is the calculation? Will those who favor reinstating the assault of the -- the ban on assault weapons or other new gun control legislation, including those high-powered magazines, those -- those magazines that can carry tense and tense and tens of rounds, will they have the political oomph this time to enact new legislation?

MARQUEZ: Barbara Starr in Washington, thank you very much.

Earlier, I spoke with "STATE OF THE UNION" anchor, Candy Crowley about -- we talked about the NRA's Asieh Hutchison who was on her show this morning. He had this response to calls for more legislative action on gun control.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They want to focus on the debate on new laws and new prohibitions and I'm saying that is the wrong debate. That is their solution. I believe a better solution is school safety initiatives. One of those options being an armed presence that we have in one-third of the schools.

MARQUEZ: Seems pretty likely they are going to oppose any legislative agenda, that looks like stricter gun laws. What are the chances of Congress actually passing anything new in gun legislation?

CANDY CROWLEY, ANCHOR, CNN "STATE OF THE UNION": My guess is they will eventually pass something, but anyone looking for quick action doesn't understand the dynamics of the gun debate remain basically the same. I do think there has been movement toward more gun restriction.

Gallup did a poll recently and asked how effective they thought certain approaches would be. Over 50 percent, about 53 percent said increasing security at schools and at the bottom of the list, under 50 percent, more restrictive gun control.

So it is not, at this moment, a certainty that gun control will pass. It might pass as part of a holistic thing. But again, they are pretty busy on Capitol Hill right now. I think it will be a while.

MARQUEZ: Yes, well, speaking of which, we are teetering on the brink of the fiscal cliff. Where do we actually go from here?

CROWLEY: I couldn't find a soul in Washington to tell me the answer to that question.


CROWLEY: It looks like -- I have said all along, Congress always pushes right up against a deadline. They are like reporters. They take every last second they possibly can get before they deliver. The fact of the matter is I don't believe that anymore.

I talk to more and more people that Democrats saying Republicans want to go off the fiscal deliver and Republicans saying the president wants to go off the fiscal cliff. So, I think it's quite possible we will, although it's not going to be catastrophic the first day.

So I think -- it will take past the first of the year for them to actually come one something and I think they will come up with something before the economy just turns to disaster.

MARQUEZ: Perhaps it is nice we all go off the cliff together. John Boehner, the implosion of Plan B seems hugely tough for him to get over. Can the president actually negotiate with Boehner if he can't deliver his own caucus?

CROWLEY: Well, it was interesting. Today, we had some Republicans saying to us that if Boehner thought he had a good deal, that he could get enough Democrats on and some Republicans, he would go ahead and put out a deal that might not get a majority of Republicans.

I just don't see that there is a bill right now because the Democrats are not so sure what kind of spending cuts they want. Yes, I think John Boehner is still in the mix, in the end, he is going to have to deliver in the House. He doesn't necessarily have to deliver all his Republicans. But right now, there's just no deal out there that either side is saying, let me take a second look.

MARQUEZ: Candy Crowley, always the voice of reason. Thank you very much.


MARQUEZ: Now the Navy is investigating the death of a senior member of one of its SEAL teams in Afghanistan. CNN has learned Commander Joe Price may have committed suicide. Price commanded SEAL Team 4 based in Virginia Beach and conducted counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan. His family has been notified. The Navy says there is nothing to suggest that Price was involved in any military-related investigations or controversies.

In India, there are growing demonstrations after a 23-year-old woman was gang raped on a bus. The protesters are growing angrier over the number of rapes in the capital and the inadequate police response. Authorities have tried to ban protests in New Delhi, but that ban has calmed nothing. Public outrage over the violent rape last Sunday has only grown.

Meanwhile, India's prime minister is calling for calm. In a statement he says, we will make all possible efforts to ensure security and safety to all women in this country. I appeal to all concerned citizens to maintain peace and calm. So far six suspects have been arrested with some lawmakers wanting rape treated as a capital crime.

A scene of chaos, after Syrian war planes bombed a bakery in Hama Province, hundreds have been waiting in line for bread when it happened. Opposition groups say more than 100 people were killed and many more wounded.

Later this hour, we'll be interviewing Patrick Vilan from "Doctors Without Borders." He's been in Syria and has a firsthand account of the humanitarian assistance needed in that country.

An unofficial tally shows Egyptians have voted to approve their draft constitution. A preliminary count by state-run news agency shows 64 percent support it. Members of Egypt's leading opposition party say they are planning to appeal the result, but official results are not expected until tomorrow.

Solving the fiscal cliff, one millionaire says he is ready for his taxes to go up. His message to the 1 percent.

And we will have the legendary Barry Manilow join us later in this hour. He will tell us why a Jewish boy is singing Christmas carols so much.


MARQUEZ: Congress has left town for the holidays. If they don't get the deal done soon, budget cuts and taxes will hit the beginning of the year. Earlier today on "STATE OF THE UNION," Republican Congressman Steve Latourette said the president has been too focused for tax cuts for the rich, but he did leave the door open a little.


REPRESENTATIVE STEVEN LATOURETTE (R), OHIO: I'm OK to say president, you won, you can tax these rich people you seem to dislike so much, but you know what come up with some spending cut, we are borrowing $1 trillion a year. He has not.


MARQUEZ: Now Independent Senator Joe Lieberman says he is now more pessimistic than he has ever been and the deal will get done.


SENATOR JOE LIEBERMANN (I), CONNECTICUT: In the after math of the House Republicans rejecting Speaker Boehner's so-called Plan B, it's the first time it is more likely that we will go over the cliff than not and that -- if we allow that to happen, it will be the most colossal, consequential act of congressional irresponsibility in a long time, maybe ever American history.


MARQUEZ: Now, leaders from both sides are expected back in Washington on Thursday.

The president is spending Christmas holiday with his family in Hawaii. CNN's Brianna Keilar is there. Brianna, there is no official word when he is coming back to the mainland, but as that fiscal cliff deadline gets closer what do you think will happen out there as the week rolls on?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miquel, it's hard to believe that President Obama would not at some point come back to Washington. It is not officially on his calendar at this point, but he has obviously come out here for Christmas break while Congress is away from Washington as well.

And it is, of course, a little bit of a working vacation for him, as the White House tries to work something out with Senate Democrats, some sort of package to avoid these tax hikes for middle class Americans here at the end of the year.

That's something, of course that will require some buy-in from Senate Republicans to pass. And it seems that unlikely that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would want to negotiate something that he doesn't feel will be able to also pass the House, which would require the support of some House Republicans.

And that's part of the reason why this is such a difficult task and it has really been thrown into question whether or not the country is going over the fiscal cliff. The Senate will reconvene. It is on schedule to reconvene December 27th that is on Thursday. And I think the expectation is that at some point, President Obama would go back to Washington, especially if there's this possibility that the country goes off of the fiscal cliff. He wouldn't obviously want to be here in Hawaii when that happens -- Miguel.

MARQUEZ: Yes, just sounds like it is a very complicated game of chicken. The president is attending a very sombre event today. The body of Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye is being interred. What can you say about the ceremony?

KEILAR: That's right. This is a ceremony that has been going underway at the National Cemetery of the Pacific, referred to here in Honolulu as the punch bowl. This is a cemetery where a number of people who Daniel Inouye would have gone to school with here when he was in Hawaii have been buried who served here.

Mostly, it would be soldiers buried here who served in the Asia- Pacific theatre. As you know, Senator Inouye served in Europe, where he was wounded and obviously, his amazing story of bravery during World War II happened, but he is being interred here at the punch bowl.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is here. He essentially eulogized Senator Inouye as well Senator Daniel Acaca who is another senator from Hawaii retiring actually. So Hawaii will soon have two brand new members representing it in the Senate.

Just something interesting, Miguel, it is sort of fascinating, as President Obama is at the ceremony watching this happen, just a reminder of just how long serving representing Hawaii Daniel Inouye did, he represented Hawaii from 1959, from before President Obama was even born. He has been a main stay here in Hawaiian politics and this is a very significant moment for this state.

MARQUEZ: Also amazing that this guy served in World War II while members of his family were interred back in the U.S. an absolute hero. Brianna, thank you very much.

No matter how the fiscal cliff negotiations play out, the wealthy will probably see their taxes go up, but Congress can't seem to agree on who the wealthy is or are. Even if they figure that out, there's also disagreement about how their taxes should go up.

CNN's Lisa Sylvester sat down with a megamillionaire who says he is ready to take a hit and you so should the rest of the 1 percent.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The question is who is considered rich? House Speaker John Boehner pushed for tax hikes for those making $1 million or more. President Obama is drawing the line at incomes of $400,000 or higher.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You can afford to pay a little bit more. You know, you're not -- you're not too strapped. SYLVESTER: Earl Mack falls well within the range of wealthy as a multimillionaire. He agrees millionaire earners should see taxes rise.

EARLE MACK, PHILANTHROPIST: We are, this country, is in a lot of fiscal trouble. And I think it's the obligation of all those that can give and help out the country. We're Americans and we should, and it's our -- it's our heritage.

SYLVESTER: Mack, who is a former U.S. ambassador to Finland says the rich could chip in other areas. He made his fortune in real estate development and investment. He says leave the capital gains tax alone because that encourages business development.

But he says the dividends tax rate should be raised back to 25 percent. He says Congress should close tax loopholes on luxury items for jets and yachts. Founders stock, he says, should be taxed at ordinary income tax rates and he says it's time to touch entitlements.

He believes there should be means testing that cuts off the megarich from government health programs like Medicare and even though it may be unpopular, he says you have to reform Social Security.

MACK: They say a child born today can live to 100. You, if you just follow the averages, your lifespan has increased in the last decade a couple of years. So, I think you've got to raise that age for people, let's say, that are under 50.

SYLVESTER: The one area he is adamant should not be touched is charitable deductions that encourage the wealthy to give. He is not alone. The richest of the rich, they are the ones who also give the most.

(on camera): We know if you take the large part, $300 billion given away last year, including corporate giving, roughly two-thirds of that was given by individuals. Roughly half of that was given by the top 3 percent.

MACK: Charitable institutions.

SYLVESTER (voice-over): Earl Mack says Washington should debate, negotiate, compromise, but by December 31st they need to get a deal done. Lisa Sylvester, CNN, Washington.


MARQUEZ: As the war in Syria goes on, there are thousands in the country are hoping for humanitarian assistance. We will talk to someone from "Doctors Without Borders" on the horrifying situation there.


MARQUEZ: Since the war in Syria started, 40,000 people have been killed and the United Nations estimates 2.5 million people need humanitarian assistance. The international medical humanitarian organization, "Doctors Without Borders," says in one city alone there are tens of thousands of people, many of them wounded, trapped by the intense fighting.

Patrick Weland has been suffering -- seen suffering first hand. He is a coordinator with "Doctors Without Borders," and joins me from Luzon, Switzerland. Patrick, thank you very much for being with us. I know you weren't able to get into the city during your trip, but how close did you get and what did you see?

PATRICK WELAND, COORDINATOR, "DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS": Well, we have been able to get to the outskirts of the city and discuss with different medical associations and medical personnel to get an idea of the situation within the city.

MARQUEZ: What do they need? I know you guys are in every tough place in the world. You are there with the soldiers, with the fighters, with the reporters. What do they need in this particular city, Deir Azzour?

WELAND: Inside Deir Azzour, they are in great need of replacing the medical doctors there for months now, working around the clock. And four doctors in a field hospital inside the city where they have to serve a population of between 10,000 and 30,000 people. And they need, of course, supply.

They need medicines, medications, and medical equipment in order to serve the population. But the most important thing is to be able for them to evacuate the wounded people from inside the city.

And of course, bring inside medical stuff and medication. To do so, the only way is to get combatants stopping firing on medical teams and people trying to help these guys inside.

MARQUEZ: So difficult what can the international community do to help right now?

WELAND: For the time being this is the goal and this is what we can ask, from our perspective. We can try to -- of course, we are not -- it's very unlikely that we will get this kind of cease-fire so we are going to try to send medication what we can inside Deir Azzour.

And also help the people outside in the field hospitals around the city in order for them to take care of this population but the situation is extremely worrying and winter is coming. It is an additional negative factor for the -- this population.

MARQUEZ: Do you have any direct contact with the Syrian regime? Can you get messages to them? Are they receptive to anything or is everything through the U.N.?

WELAND: So far, we have been trying to get some official authorization in Damascus. We have sent several times a delegation over there, but the answer was always a big no. And that's why we were obliged to enter the country on an illegal way and trying to find out some ways to help the population. What is very important is also to see that at this time, the opposition has been recognized as -- by the majority of the -- of the countries in the world as the sole representative of the Syrian population that we have got some -- U.N. agencies, United Nations agencies, starts to work inside and the responsibility of the --

MARQUEZ: Patrick, think we have just lost you. Thank you very, very much. I wish you all the best of luck in your work in this very, very tough situation. Thank you.

Well, he has already conquered Hollywood, both Hollywood on and off the screen. But is this Oscar winner ready to be a U.S. senator? People are asking about it. We have got his answer.


MARQUEZ: National Rifle Association is standing tough on its opposition to new gun laws as the debate rages on since the Newtown massacre. The NRA CEO, Wayne Lapierre, went on the air today to defend his call for armed guards in every school.

In spite of what the NRA says, polls show Americans are starting to change their minds about guns. The Sandy Hook school shooting is apparently having an effect. CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser looks at the data -- Paul.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Hi, Miguel. It appears the tragedy of Newtown, Connecticut, may be making an impact on public opinion on gun control in a way other mass shootings the past years have not.

Here is one reason why, more people told us they were angry, shocked and fearful following the horrific 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 questioned in our CNN/ORC national poll say that government and society can take action to prevent future gun violence. That's up 13 points from the Arizona shootings.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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 laws, 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 bipartisan divide and gender gap with most Democrats and women in favor of gun restriction and most Republicans and men opposed.


MARQUEZ: Paul Steinhauser in Washington. Thank you very much.

He is known for his award-winning acting in films but could Ben Affleck seriously be thinking about dumping Hollywood for Washington? He lives in Massachusetts where a U.S. senate seat could open soon if John Kerry becomes secretary of State. Here is what he said today.


BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR: One never knows. I'm not one to get into conjecture. I do have a great fondness and admiration for the political process in this country. It is a big deal for me to come down here and be on your show I have watched so much but I'm not going to get into speculation about my political future.


MARQUEZ: He didn't say no.

Here's what's trending online. President Obama hasn't announced his nomination for the next secretary of defense, but some lawmakers voice their skepticism today about Senator Chuck Hagel for the position a Republican senator says he doubts he will get the votes and says Hagel's past position on Iran is out of touch with the president's policies.

A concert promoter is suing rapper Nas for $10 million, a rich contract promoter alleges the rapper was a no-show for a New Year's concert in Africa that was heavily promoted.

Tim Tebow to Jacksonville? An ESPN reporter says Tebow is signing with the Jaguars this off season is a virtual certainty. The Jets reportedly are likely to honor Tebow's request to be released, which will make him an unrestricted free agent.

A man who didn't make it as a pop star has found the kind of success that no amount of fame can match. We will have his story.


MARQUEZ: The fiscal cliff has a lot of us on edge, no pun intended. Unemployment is high, natural disasters have caused destruction and loss of life. Something so awful and hard to believe as the shooting in Newtown that targets so many children. It's enough to really test your faith. Joining us live from Chicago is Father Robert Barron, a Catholic theologian and founder of the Word on Fire Ministry. Father, many people out there are saying that this is evil, that Mr. Lanza, this young man, that this represents evil. How do you define evil?

FATHER ROBERT BARRON, RECTOR PRESIDENT, MANDELEIN SEMINARY: Well, the Catholic tradition, evil is never a positive force that opposes the good but it is always something entirely negative. It is a lack of a good that ought to be there. Think of like a cavity in a tooth or a cancer that compromises an organ, it is not like the "Star Wars" cosmology where you have the dark and light side of the force battling, rather, evil is always a lack of a good that ought to be there. So the case of moral evil is a twisting or perverting of the will, which by its nature should seek the good.

MARQUEZ: And how do we know God is listening?

BARRON: God is love and God is attentive to every aspect of his creation. God hears the cry of the poor as the bible said. God is attentive to all aspects of reality. People ask me a lot, where is God in Newtown? How is God present there? The right answer, I think, is in every act of love, all those teachers and counselors who gave their lives protecting those kids, that is where God is present. God is present now in all the attempts to respond to this tragedy with compassion and with love, that's where god is found. Yes God is attentive of every aspect of his creation, especially the suffering corners of his creation.

MARQUEZ: It's a tough lesson. What -- what words do you have for folks in Newton this holiday season?

BARRON: You know, I think the key to it is in the biblical perspective; God's love is more powerful than anything in the world. Think of how in Christianity we put right before our eyes this image of Christ crucified? What is that but the greatest outrage in human history, the putting to death of the son of God, there's nothing more horrific, nothing more terrible, tragic than that. What we say is that God's love manifested in the resurrection is more powerful than anything that is in the world.

So at Christmastime, we hear from the prologue to John's gospel. We hear that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. It's not a question of the darkness being utterly eliminated. Rather, it's the light that is more powerful than the darkness. I think that's the core a Christian message in the face of terrible suffering.

MARQUEZ: And how do you -- a couple of days ago, a large percentage of the world believed that the world was coming to an end, I'm sure you studied history and theology all in one. How do you put these things together? Just seems like a very uncertain time.

BARRON: Well, I think we are always living in uncertain times. If you go back over history, almost every generation has said we are living in terrible times and they probably were right there is something that is very precarious about our existence. That's why only in God will our souls find rest the bible says. We seek satisfaction and we seek stability in politics, in cultural events, in great personalities, but the biblical sense is that none of that really provides the ultimate foundation. It's only in God that our souls are at rest. So we are always living in precarious times. OK. All right. So we turn our lives over to God and find our comfort there

MARQUEZ: Father Robert Barron, thank you very much. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

BARRON: Merry Christmas. Thank you.

MARQUEZ: You can see more stories about faith on our "Belief Blog" at

John Beltzer dreamed of being a pop star, hearing his songs played on the radio with millions singing along. It never happened. But he found the kind of success that fame can't touch. Now, he sings for a very special audience of one.


JOHN BELTZER, FOUNDER, SONGS OF LOVE FOUNDATION: I really had this dream of becoming this big pop star. I finally landed a record deal. It didn't work out. They actually dropped me out of the picture. I was really distraught.

ALEXANDRA MALHEIRO: Hi, my name is Alexandra, nice to meet you.

BELTZER: We wrote this song of love, just for you, my friend.

A MALHEIRO: Sing me a song because I'm special.

STACEY MALHEIRO, ALEXANDRA'S MOM: Alexandra has acute lymphoblastic leukemia T cell.

What's in that?


S MALHEIRO: She practices on this chemo doll that we gave her in the hospital.

BELTZER: Now she has --

Songs of Love created close to 24,000 songs, fully produced, personalized songs for teens and children who are chronically or terminally ill free of charge.

A. MALHEIRO: I love pickles.

BELTZER: She likes pickles so I'm thinking she'll eat pickles.

S. MALHEIRO: You have to fill out an application and it asks questions about her favorite color, her favorite music.

BELTZER: Special interests, hobbies. It says here, she is strong willed and brave. So, I'm going to add that to the chorus.

A. MALHEIRO: Fight like a girl.

BELTZER: Is that your motto? Do you fight like a girl every day? Yes.

And that's why we are doing a song for her, to bring her good vibes, boost her self-esteem, and it gives me a great honor and privilege to be doing this.

S. MALHEIRO: We received the song and we were so happy. Everybody loves it.

BELTZER: The fact that you may not necessarily get a hit song, it doesn't mean that you're a failure. You write a song for a sick child, you bring happiness. To me, that is the biggest success of all.

S. MALHEIRO: Who's one of your favorite singers?

A. MALHEIRO: Justin Bieber.

BELTZER: Alexandra

S. MALHEIRO: And John Beltzer now, right? Cause he writes great songs right?

BELTZER: Now she has her own song.


MARQUEZ: You can see more giving in focus stories right here in a Christmas Day special at 12:30 Eastern Time.

Next, we will speak to legendary singer Barry Manilow about his newest Christmas album.


MARQUEZ: Oh, it's that time of the year, eggnog, gifts, home cooking, spreading the Christmas cheer, and the legendary Barry Manilow should know he has been belting out the holiday tunes for decades and he has released another one this year. Barry Manilow joins me on the phone from California. Barry, the hard question, how are you? What's a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn like you doing singing Christmas songs?

BARRY MANILOW, SINGER, (via telephone): You are right. For a Jewish guy, I got a lot of Christmas albums out. This new one is a compilation of three Christmas albums that I've had out over the past couple of years -- ten years. It's the best of those three. And I love it. I'm so glad it's doing well. And the single, "Santa Claus is coming to Town." On the charts. What a surprise that all is.

MARQUEZ: Santa Claus -- can we do a little duet of "White Christmas?" I'm dreaming of a white Christmas --

That's such a brilliant, beautiful --

MANILOW: Piano --

MARQUEZ: We should of set that up. I'm very sorry for that.

Irving Berlin, obviously a classic Christmas song. Any one of these a personal favorite? What is it about Christmas songs? MANILOW: You know one of the things, not only the season, I love the season, I love the giving, I love the receiving, I love all that, it is the only time of the year that people stop hollering at each other for a couple of days. But what I like about the Christmas songs is that they come from the world when they actually used to write a melody and a lyric, like what you say, Irving Berlin, "White Christmas" and that song you were playing, "Happy Holidays."

This is a real melody and a real lyric. And that kind of song writing is going down the drain. And so these Christmas albums give me the opportunity to go back and sing songs that have great melodies and great lyrics. I play around with something like "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and that's fun, too. I jump at the chance to do these Christmas albums.

MARQUEZ: Now one of the songs on here "I have got my love to keep me warm" and I think "Violets for furs," are those technically Christmas songs?

MANILOW: No, but they are cold songs, cold is good enough. You know I'm so grad you brought up "Violets," who is wrote by the genius Matt Dennis. Not many people know that one. And every time I play it, people just love it. I'm so grateful that they do. There's another one I did on this, Joni Mitchell, "Wonderful River," which is also not a Christmas album but about a breakup during Christmas. So I played around with the time of the year. They are not all Christmas songs but, you know, they give you the feeling.

MARQUEZ: Can you remind us of "Violets for your Fur." How does that go?

MANILOW: Say that again.

MARQUEZ: "Violets for your Fur" can you remind us how that goes?

MANILOW: That is, "I bought you violets for your first and it was spring for a while remember beautiful, beautiful nightclub kind of thing. Sinatra did it on one of his old albums.

MARQUEZ: This the sort of music you like to listen to this time of the year, hangout?

MANILOW: I'm sorry, I can hardly hear you.

MARQUEZ: What is so special about Christmas music? Do you like listening to this stuff this time of the year?

MANILOW: I just like the family, you know, when I'm on the road, my band and my crew becomes the family. When I'm not on the road, like now, my family actually becomes my family. Right now, I have got ten people and six dogs on the lawn out here. And can you think of any other way to make yourself happy than that kind of thing happening?

MARQUEZ: Is there any -- you have done so much in your career. Is there anything you think you feel or you still want to do out there?

MANILOW: Well, one of the things what I'm about to do, I'm about by to go back to playing a Broadway theater.


MANILOW: On January 23rd or 24th I open at the St. James Theater on Broadway. I haven't done Broadway in 20 years and I thought, well, before I croak, I just would like to just play a Broadway theater one more time. You know, I come from New York. I used to just play piano for every singer in New York and I used to be in Broadway theaters. I was in the pit. I was in the pits for years. I was the go-to guy when you needed a piano player. And I loved it and I love the feel of being in New York around wintertime, going in or out of the stage door, theater door. I'm coming to New York, St. James extended run starting again in January that will be very fun.

MARQUEZ: Very, very cool. Well I guess the only thing we can say is happy holidays and break a leg.

MANILOW: And thanks for asking. Happy holiday for everybody.

MARQUEZ: Thanks very much.

MANILOW: Bye bye, Miguel.

MARQUEZ: Bye bye.

Well, as we come to the end of 2012, what are the hot trends for the New Year? We will look at everything from technology to toys.


MARQUEZ: We can't predict the future. Josh Levs can. We can make some educated guesses but what's ahead in 2013 but Josh Levs, our chief everything correspondent, is here to tell us what to expect in everything from business to travel to food. Josh.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Better than yesterday when you declared me the chief apocalypse correspondent. It's all good. What do we know about what's coming up ahead in the next year? Let's start with this.

The world of business and your money, you can expect a continued rebound in housing in 2013. This is according to our CNN Money team. Record low mortgage rates and a drop in foreclosure led to a rise in prices. In fact our senior CNN Money reporter Chris Isidore says that will probably be the most important long-term economic trend of the year. So fingers crossed for that, folks.

Also expect a continued rebound in the auto industry, which will be good news. One more thing increased oil and gas production. The U.S. could, in the coming years, actually overtake Saudi Arabia in energy production. That's business.

Now, how could technology change your life in 2013? A whole bunch of technology experts are pointing to the same thing, talking about tablets, saying they are going to play a bigger role in the lives of Americans at work and at play. Along with that comes an increase in how much social networks know everything about you. Also, an increase in how often your employers know where you are as you use tablets and mobile devices to check in on work and do work from the road.

All right, now it is time to come to this cool screen behind me. Our travel section at is taking a look at some of the most likely visited travel cities in the United States in the coming year. They are saying Louisville is going to be really hot this year because of some additions and some changes. Also, Fairbanks, Alaska, which is fascinating. And let's show you one more U.S. city here. San Juan Islands, Washington. Our travel team convinced these will be some of the hot places.

Take a look at these cities overseas, they put together the hot 2013 international destinations, these are some of those, this is Liverpool, starting with that, beautiful, Corsica, also Innsbruck, which is a city in Austria, and this is based on changes that have been made and some bookings that are already out there. Just kind of the buzz in the travel world.

Now, here is real fun, folks. What will more of us be eating next year? Kat Kinsmith (ph) the editor of our (ph) blog is all about food tells me these foods are on the rise. Take a look; she says first of all, southern dishes with actual southern ingredients. And then tater tots are going to be hot next year. She says these new kinds of veggie and grain kinds of entree foods and finally, really cool funky non-alcoholic drink. Nice. Thanks to Kat for that.

Now through all that eating of course you are going to need to exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine says this on the rise in 2013, body weight training, it is catching on. Using minimal equipment, an inexpensive way to exercise effectively.

And last but not least, this is really cool; expect more toys made in America. says new technologies, including these 3-d printers and also items made on demand that you order online will help trigger resurgence in domestic manufacturing. Folks, I have got to know what you think about this and what else is ahead in 2013, that is why we are discussing it at my pages, facebook and twitter, Josh Levs CNN. Miguel Marquez as well.

So Miguel I will tell you what. A year from now, you and I can stand right here, you can keep me honest and tell me if I got any of it right.

MARQUEZ: Well, you've got none of it right. I can already tell you there, Josh. Of course, you have it all right. I don't know where you come one this stuff.

LEVS: Well when you are the chief everything correspondent, you have to.

MARQUEZ: You are the everything correspondent, the chief everything correspondent. Thank you very much, Josh Levs.

LEVS: Boss is watching. MARQUEZ: The politicians are on a break and there's no deal on the fiscal cliff. What happens to your taxes if we go over? Will you be paying more right away? We will tell you in the next hour.