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Stocks Fall On Fiscal Cliff Fears; U.S. Inches Toward Fiscal Cliff; Police Officer And Bystander Killed In Texas; Snowy Weather Ahead; Snowy And Severe Weather Ahead; Late Shopping May Find Good Deals; NRA Defends Stance on Guns; Gender Divides Toy Aisles

Aired December 24, 2012 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: I want us to take a look here. Santa, there he is, the closing bell. Santa ringing the bell. He has a lot of work to do, I know. He's got to get up on his sleigh and keep on going here. The fiscal cliff stalemate in Washington actually dragging down stocks on Wall Street, affecting your 401K investments. Let's -- well, let's listen in.

Live music, Christmas cheer and Santa there at the New York Stock Exchange. And the market's closing and this is after a shorter trading day because of Christmas Eve. And stocks ending the day in the red. Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange. Yes, Alison, a little bit of Christmas there, a little Santa, but kind of a hard hit for the Stock Market today. What do we know?

ALISON KOSIK,CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, by the way, you're listening to Chris Bode, he's the jazz musician that I bet everybody has heard his name. If you can hear me I hope. The (INAUDIBLE) stocks ending lower, the down 51 points. This is after the Dow had a triple-digit loss on Friday. But this is just adding to it. It's all because of the worries about the fiscal cliff -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right, Alison. Let's just listen in, then I'll bring you back for a bit.

All right, there you go. Alison, I want to bring you back for a couple quick questions here. We know that the stock -- the stocks are down. Fiscal cliff, talk a little bit about what we think that means for us if we end up going over the fiscal cliff and you're looking at a lot of tax hikes as well as spending cuts.

KOSIK: Yes, and you know what? You have to believe that even if we go over the cliff, that some sort of deal will eventually happen. If not, within, you know, the first couple days of year, maybe the first couple weeks. But what may happen is you'll see an impact right away to your paycheck in the early weeks of the new year.

But here is an idea of what we're in for anyway. We're going to see a lot of tax changes. Payroll tax holiday. That payroll tax holiday would expire, and what that means is that the amount taken out of your paycheck would go from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent, so that means if you're making $50,000 a year, it means that $83.00 a month will be coming out of your paycheck. And going over the cliff means, also, you'll have a delay in tax refunds for your 2012 returns and that's because there's yet to be any decision made on expanding the alternative minimum tax.

Also at stake, spending cuts. That can impact jobs. There could be big cuts to defense. That could put about 300,000 jobs at risk. Unemployment benefits, those will be cut, meaning about 2 million long-term unemployed run out of benefits. Let's not forget the doctors in this. Doctors face a 27 percent cut to their payment for treating Medicare patients. And that's just a small sampling because I haven't even mentioned the overall impact to the economy. You know, companies will continue holding off on hiring even more than they're doing now. Many people believe we'll go into a recession, and the list really seems to go on and on. You know, if you want to read more about this, go to "CNNMONEY." It really breaks it down -- breaks it down -- breaks this all down. Lots more to see there as they get into the numbers for you, too -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right, Alison. I want to talk more about this. Thank you very much. We know the clock is ticking down. We hope the two sides are talking but so far it doesn't really seem like that is happening and whether or not there really is a possibility of an agreement before this does happen in the new year. So, you got the Democrats, you got the White House, Republicans, they say it is now possible that we're actually not going to reach a deal here.

And as Alison mentioned, what you would see massive tax increases for just about every American and spending cuts that would take effect in just eight days. I want to bring in Brianna Keilar. She's in Honolulu. That is where the president -- he is vacationing, spending his Christmas holiday. But, Brianna, I have to imagine that the president is engaged in some way, that he has left a plan in place, that he is waiting for the Republicans to respond.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I don't know if that's really a safe assumption, Suzanne. Obviously, you have both sides very much blaming each other, but the fact is there are no substantive behind-the-scenes discussions going on. There weren't over the weekend, and there continue not -- it continues not to be the case. The White House and Senate Democrats are not engaged with Senate Republicans and House Republicans. That may be troubling when you consider that anything to avert the fiscal cliff would need to go through the Senate and the House. With some Democratic and Republican support, these two sides would need to be talking to work out something that they could agree on.

So, that is not happening but all eyes are turning towards the Senate and because there are no discussions, there are share -- they're -- pardon me, they is shared pessimism from Democrats and Republicans. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: I feel that it's 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 in American history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R), WYOMING: When I listen to the president, I think the president is eager to go over the cliff for political purposes. I think he sees a political victory at the bottom of the cliff. He gets all this additional tax revenue for new programs. He gets to cut the military which Democrats have been calling for, for years. And he gets to blame Republicans for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: The blame game, Suzanne, of course part of that is public posturing, but this pessimism, this is what we're hearing behind the scenes as well publicly so consider that. Meantime, the Senate will reconvene on Thursday. That means Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, has the task to cobble something together that can get some Republican support and both the Senate and the House. The White House, for their part right now, they want the threshold for those income tax rates to remain at a quarter million dollars. You can imagine, thought, a lot of Republicans and maybe even some Democrats aren't going to like that. So, it's really a big lift at this point and going over the cliff is a real possibility.

MALVEAUX: Brianna, do we expect the president, at any point, to return to Washington? Maybe cut his vacation early if there does seem to be some sort of workable deal that both sides are offering?

KEILAR: I think there's no doubt that that is what is going to happen. That as the Senate starts getting back to work, that he will head back. It's not official yet that he's heading back, but the sense that I'm getting from White House sources is it's really a matter of when not if. If the Senate is trying to work something out, he would need to be back in Washington, obviously, to try to maybe twist some arms, lobby some Democrats to try to get on board with whatever Harry Reid can put together.

MALVEAUX: All right, Brianna. And we expect to see you back in Washington. The weather is a little colder here so get ready. Thanks, Brianna. Good to see you.

KEILAR: I'll get ready.

MALVEAUX: Sad news out of New York. Two firefighters are dead, two others injured after responding to a fire in a small uptown -- upstate town of Webster. Police say they were shot when they arrived to fight fires that were burning three homes. We want to bring in up Poppy Harlow with the very latest. Kind of a tragic story on Christmas Eve. I understand that there was at least one firefighter that managed to escape all of this. What do we know?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is. Two of those firefighters that were shot were injured, they were not killed. And one of them, we're told by the police chief, was actually able to get in his own car, drive himself away from the danger to some ambulances which took him to the local hospital. And he is being treated along with another firefighter. But, as you said, a complete tragedy. Christmas Eve morning, 5:35 a.m., these four firefighters responding to a typical house fire call and were immediately gunned down, shot at, two killed, two wounded -- very severely wounded. I want you to take a listen to what the police chief said in the latest press conference.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GERALD PICKERING, CHIEF, WEBSTER, NEW YORK POLICE: Two firemen were deceased at the scene. Two received serious injuries from the shots and are being treated at local hospitals at this time. The names, and we'll spell them for you after the press conference, fireman Thomas Cha Cufca (ph)was deceased at the scene. Fireman Mike Chipperini, who was also a lieutenant with the Webster police department was deceased at the scene.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: The police chief there breaking down reading those names, obviously men that he knows well and has worked with for a long time. I want to give you the name of the two injured firefighters. They are undergoing treatment right now, Suzanne. Theodore Scardino received injuries to his chest. Joseph Hofsetter received pretty complex injuries to his pelvis. The only good news is that they can both talk. They are both awake, alert and they're not on a ventilator right now.

MALVEAUX: That is so sad. Do we have any idea about who this person was, this shooter and the motive for what happened here?

HARLOW: No idea on any motive as of the last press conference about an hour ago. No idea who the shooter was, whether it was a male or a female. What we do know, though, is that the shooter -- the suspected shooter is dead, according to the police chief. The body is found outside of that first house that caught fire. Authorities also saying earlier today, they do have people in custody that they believe have some knowledge of the situation that they're questioning.

But, you know, SWAT teams had it to come here and evacuate 33 people from the area. And, Suzanne, because it wasn't safe, the flames kept blazing and four houses caught on fire. And four houses were engulfed in there, just now have been trying to put it out. One interesting question was asked in the latest press conference whether or not this was an assault rifle that was used. Of course, that question in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown.

MALVEAUX: Sure, sure.

HARLOW: The police chief said they don't know and they don't know if there was one gun or more. So, we're waiting for an update in the next hour on that. But a complete tragedy and in the wake of what happened in Newtown. I was there all week last week to come here and have this happen again. Unbelievable. MALVEAUX: And I can only imagine what it must be like for the families to hear news about your love one on the day of Christmas Eve. Poppy, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

In Bel-Air, Texas, near Houston, a police officer and an innocent bystander, they were shot to death this morning. Bullets flew after the officer tried to carry out a simple routine traffic stop when the driver fled in his car to an auto part store where he got out, started shooting, killing the bystander. When the officer arrived, the two exchanged fire, the officer was then killed. The gunman was critically hurt and police don't know what set him off.

Many will have to hunker down this Christmas. We're talking about snow, cold, even the possibility of tornadoes in the forecast. Up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: It's going to be a white Christmas in much of the north, but southeast could also see heavy rain, even the threat of tornadoes. That's right. Snow could ruin some holiday travel plans out west. The second storm to come ashore over the weekend closed a stretch of Highway 2. That is in Stephens Pass, Washington. San Francisco is still working out flight delays caused by wind-driven rain. You can see what it did to northern California as heavy surf pounded, pounded the shoreline. I want to bring in our Alexandra Steele who is getting a sense of whether or not it's going to be a white Christmas or a wild Christmas or both. Even a tornado threat you're talking about. That's pretty rare. What are we -- what are we watching?

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is rare, Suzanne. And I want to show you this map. And not only is it rare to have an isolated tornado or two, but a severe weather outbreak that really is the expectation for tomorrow, is even more rare. So, here's a look. Tomorrow, Christmas morning, I'm going to delineate the time so you can see who will see what and when. From Houston to New Orleans, tomorrow morning, your severe weather outbreak threat. Winds 60 to 80 miles per hour, some very serious tornados and even some large, damaging hale. Then, it moves in the afternoon and picks up into western Florida.

And then, from the afternoon into the evening, Atlanta to Birmingham. So, it is very rare, both the severe side we'll see tomorrow, and there's a snowy side we're going to see tomorrow, which is rare as well. But in Florida and Georgia, the last time we had Christmas day tornadoes was in 2006, and there were six. Before that, in 1969 and there were 12. And it looks as though -- I mean, the chance to see double-digit tornadoes is not out of the question.

Also, some rare snow coming. Oklahoma City, you've got five to eight inches of snow coming for you tomorrow. And six of the last 122 years we have had snow, and that's just an inch. We're going to see more than that so really rare. This is a robust storm, and it is a rare one.

What is happening right now in the southeast, the rain, that's just the warm-up band. This is the big act. Here's a look at where we'll see that snow tomorrow. Tomorrow, we'll see it through tonight and into tomorrow from the Wasatch to the Colorado Rockies, so a boon for skiers across the board. And then tomorrow night, there's that severe weather threat. There's that Oklahoma City substantial heavy snow. And then from Tuesday into Wednesday, it moves up the coast with snow. And then into the northeast with more snow as well, Suzanne, for Wednesday and into Thursday. So, a substantial event on the severe side and on the snowy side. And the people impacted is really great in terms of tens of millions.

MALVEAUX: Wow. That's a lot going on.

STEELE: Yes.

MALVEAUX: All right. We should hunker down. Hunker down for the holidays.

STEELE: That's right.

MALVEAUX: Alexandra, thank you. Appreciate it.

STEELE: Sure.

MALVEAUX: The weather could also be an issue for the millions of folks who are headed out for some last-minute shopping. This is according to a poll by Consumer Reports. As many as 17 million of us could crowd into the malls today. Many just might find some pretty good bargain too, proving that maybe putting it off for a little bit actually works. Alison Kosik joining us from New York.

So, Alison, you and I talked last hour. Yes, I'm doing last-minute shopping. But my family is doing last-minute shopping. They're out there as well. So I've got to put a little bit of blame on them. Is it a good idea or no?

KOSIK: You know, it could be, because you probably will scoop up several bargains. Either retailers really want to get a lot of stuff off their shelves by January, especially toys. You know, we reported it earlier this month that toys are among the worst thing you can buy on Black Friday because you can probably get a better deal later in the season. Well, now we're in later of the season. You can probably find a pretty good bargain toy right about now. Same with clothing.

But, you know, the people who are hitting the stores today, Suzanne, they're not necessarily bargain hunters. What they are, are procrastinators. And well over half of the shoppers that Consumer Reports surveyed said they'll just grab a gift card as a last-minute gift. Why battle the crowds for something more.

Wine and liquor are also popular last-minute choices. Twenty-seven percent say they'll just give cash, 4 percent say an IOU will have to do. Although I don't know how they do the IOU. Do they give a pat on the back? Do they give a card? Do they write it out? What's an IOU?

MALVEAUX: Sometimes you write it out, IOU, you know, in a couple of weeks I'm going to get your gift. I swear. I promise. KOSIK: Sure.

MALVEAUX: That's how that works.

KOSIK: Yes, right. Yes.

MALVEAUX: Yes. And what about shipping? How is shipping impacted here? I mean is there any weather-related shipping that's going to happen?

KOSIK: There could be. It's not a huge concern, but, you know, there may be some delays for packaging making it in time for Christmas. FedEx issued a service advisory over the weekend says it expects some delivery issue in many of the states being affected by the bad weather. But it also says it has contingency plans in place.

Now, no service advisories are on UPS or Postal Service websites. But, you know, a big part of this isn't just the weather. It's the fact that there's been this huge increase in volume this holiday season because there's this big surge of online shopping. You know, all are reporting some of their biggest single days ever. You look at UPS. They said it made 28 million deliveries in one day last Thursday. FedEx moved 19 million packages on its busiest day. Even the Postal Service, that so many people say they don't use, it says it moved over 650 million pieces of mail on December 17th.

Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right. Alison, have a great holiday.

KOSIK: You, too.

MALVEAUX: Switching gears now. Are armed guards in schools the way to prevent another Newtown massacre? Well, the debate is raging on and the NRA is doubling down now on its position.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: The National Rifle Association is standing tough on its opposition to new gun laws in the aftermath of the Newtown, Connecticut, massacre. The NRA's CEO went on TV to defend his call for armed guards in every American school. But as Barbara Starr shows us, those who oppose the NRA, they're not backing down either.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Newtown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Newtown.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Newtown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Newtown.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many more?

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, NRA: Look, I know there's a media machine in this country that wants to blame guns every time something happens. I know there's an anti-Second Amendment industry in this town. I know there are political leaders for 20 years always try to say it's because Americans own guns. I'm telling you what I think will make people safe. And what every mom and dad will make them feel better. When 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, the NRA has taken the position that armed security officers in schools are a major part of its solution.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: I have found the statements by the NRA over the last couple of days to be really disheartening because the statements seem to not reflect any understanding about the slaughter of children that happened in Newtown, Connecticut. Here's what bothered me. They were -- the NRA spokespeople have been willing to deal with every possible cause of gun violence except guns.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: Want to bring in our Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.

Barbara, you know, there's outrage from a lot of folks about this. The NRA came out pretty strong about arming the schools. What -- is there any kind of middle ground here from those who say, look, we want to stop gun violence, but there has to be a way -- a better way to protect the children?

STARR: (INAUDIBLE) the NRA did (ph) double down on what it wants, which is a focus on armed security personnel in schools. What other people say, Suzanne, is, look, that's not a new idea. School districts have been grappling with security for years and some of them have gone this way. Even in the 1999 terrible massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado, there was an armed security person on the school grounds at that time. It helped a little bit. Obviously not able to stop what happened there.

So the people who want to see another way to go, many in Congress are talking about a package of solutions. Some new measures on gun control. Some new measures on high-powered magazines. Taking another look at school safety. Taking a look at how this country deals with those who are mentally ill. This package of solutions they say that the problem, and we've seen it at shopping malls, at theaters, they say, look, it goes well beyond the schoolhouse door.

Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right, Barbara, thank you. Appreciate it. So, the question is, there's a little boy on your shopping list. Is he getting a doll for Christmas? Or is the little girl getting a truck? We're going to talk about gender and toys.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: A teacher, a doctor, a chef, an astronaut. Seems these days, boys and girls can be anything they want, right? Unconstrained by gender stereotypes of their grandparents' generation. But not so much. It struck me, when I went shopping this year for my nephews and niece and other small children that I know, all -- you have all this marketing for toys for girls. So it looks like pink. It's in pink. It's focused on beauty and home making. And then you have the shelves for boys. It's covered in blue, black, brown with toying related to building, action figures, super heroes.

I'm joined by Elizabeth Sweet. She's a researcher at the University of California-Davis, who recently wrote about this very phenomenon in "The New York Times."

Elizabeth, I have to say, I was -- it was so refreshing for me because I just went shopping and I thought what -- you know, what is going on here? And then I read the op-ed on Sunday and I realized, I'm not the only one. I'm not going crazy here seeing this alternate universe in the stores. Tell us why do you think you've got this gender segregation here when it comes to purchasing toys.

ELIZABETH SWEET, UNIV. OF CALIF., DAVIS, SOCIOLOGY DEPT.: Well, it's really interesting because, you know, we think of today's society where men and women are more similar than ever before in terms of women are occupying these, you know, roles of political and economic power. Men are doing more in the home than ever. So it's odd to see toys sort of going in the opposite direction.

One thing I think that's going on is that marketers have used really targeted marketing practices and they've segmented the market into narrow realms so they find that they can sell more products if they make separate versions for boys and girls. So I think that's one aspect of it. And I think some people really do respond to the gender toys.

MALVEAUX: So, Elizabeth, tell me about this. Because when I was a kid, there was a real like conscious backlash against this kind of gender distinction in toys, right?

SWEET: Right.

MALVEAUX: You had the whole thing. My mom was a teacher, a schoolteacher.

SWEET: Right.

MALVEAUX: The whole thing, William, a doll -- a doll. William wants a doll and whether or not boys --

SWEET: Yes. MALVEAUX: This movement for boys to be able to play with dolls. I remember I had like a little racetrack that I got for Christmas when I was a little kid. How did that flip? How did that change?

SWEET: Right. Yes, that's really interesting. I mean when I was a kid in the '70s, we had Lego, you know, Lego blocks that were primary color and everybody played with them. "Star Wars" was something that all kids responded to. It wasn't just for boys. So I think one thing that happened in my own research, I look at toy catalogs and I analyzed the content of Sears catalogs. And I found really in was in the '70s, there was very little gendering going on. But by 1995, I started to see the separate color versions of toys happening. Again, I think that was an effort to sell more product. But it also embodies these really problematic stereotypes for girls' toys do, as you say, you know, often relate to beauty, nurturing and domesticity and for boys toys have become more and more aggressive and violent oriented. And as they become more and more separate, then kids are, you know, shunted into these narrow aisles where they have to pick a toy and it's very hard for them to cross those aisles.

MALVEAUX: So, Elizabeth, tell us finally here, I mean, how does this -- how does this translate into growth and becoming an adult here if children feel limited in this way, whether it's their creativity or how they perceive themselves? How do they get over that when they actually -- they play out -- they act out with toys and then they move on and become adults?

SWEET: Yes, that's a really great question, and that's one of the things I think is so problematic about this is that this -- when children are constrained to narrow sets of stereotypes it constrains their ideas of what they can become.

And so researchers have found that stereotypes -- that girls aren't good at math, for instance, or girls aren't good at building limit girls' actual abilities in these areas and their career aspirations.

And in the same way if boys are given the message that nurturing is not for them, then they're not going to develop that necessary skill. So I think these really narrow stereotyped toys limit children in ways that have real long-term effects.

MALVEAUX: So as a parent or somebody who's just giving a gift to a young person, you ought to look be able to look beyond and be able to give the truck to the little girl if she wants a truck or a doll to a boy.

(CROSSTALK)

SWEET: Absolutely.

MALVEAUX: -- wants to have a boy.

OK. All right. Well, thank you --

SWEET: Absolutely.

MALVEAUX: -- Elizabeth. Yes, appreciate -- OK.

SWEET: Thank you, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: We'll see what's under the Christmas tree.

All right. Thanks again.