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The Most Unproductive Congress Ever?; Senate Approves Aid to Sandy Victims; Eavesdropping to Stop Terrorists; Fiscal Cliff Countdown: 3 Days; Russia Bans Adoptions by Americans; Georgia's "Pill Mill" Problem Grows; 2012: Your Best Moments

Aired December 29, 2012 - 07:00   ET


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Uncertainty over the fiscal cliff is having a ripple effect from Washington to Wall Street. U.S. stocks ended the session on Friday down for the fifth straight day. A triple-digit loss for the Dow, which tumbled 158 points, the Nasdaq lost almost 26 points, the S&P 500 shed almost 16 points.

And the gridlock in Washington could help the current Congress make history as the most unproductive ever. It's amazing. A review by "The Huffington Post" shows 219 bills have been passed this session. That's compared to 383 bills passed by the previous Congress, and 460 by the group before that.

Now, to avoid the distinction, Congress needs to submit about 100 bills to President Obama over the next few days. Something tells me they're not going to be able to do that.

But there is one thing the Senate has been able to agree on, getting aid to victims of superstorm Sandy. By a 61 to 33 vote, the chamber passed the measure offering $60 billion in help. It heads to the House which must approve the bill by Thursday or else the process to consider the money has to start all over again.

At least 113 people were killed when superstorm sandy hit in late October. The governors of New York and New Jersey, the hardest hit states, have estimated damages at more than $78 billion with a "B".

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: While lawmakers in the Washington are in stalemate over extending the Bush era tax cuts, the Senate has approved a bill extending secret eavesdropping overseas. The measure is now headed to President Obama. He's expected to sign it.

CNN's Brian Todd takes a closer look at this controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He ordered it just after 9/11 and it became one of the most controversial tactics used by former President George W. Bush and his security team to fight the war on terror. The secret wiretapping without warrants of communications between U.S. residents and people overseas suspected of being terrorists. It drew fire because, sometimes, the communications of innocent Americans got caught up. In 2008, the practice was authorized by Congress but with limitations. A warrant is now required to target an American, including Americans who are abroad. But it's still a hugely controversial program, and the Senate just approved the five-year extension of it. It'll be signed by President Obama.

JULIAN SANCHEZ, CATO INSTITUTE: Something with an enormous potential for abuse certainly given rather ugly history of the use of intelligence surveillance for illegitimate political purposes under presidents of both parties over many decades.

TODD: Julian Sanchez and other civil libertarians believe there are still way too many innocent people being monitored. Members of Congress who oppose the extension say this classified program is also too secretive and they pushed for more disclosure.

SEN. RON WYDEN (D-OR), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I think we ought to know whether for purposes of the FISA Amendments Act, you know, generally, how many Americans are being swept up under the legislation.

TODD: But there won't be more disclosure because that got voted down.

Dianne Feinstein, the Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, warned that shedding more light on who's being surveyed would destroy the wiretapping program, which she says has worked well.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE CHAIR: In four years, a hundred arrests to prevent something from happening in the United States, some of which comes from this program. So, I think it's a vital program.

TODD: Conservative analyst, Cliff May, says a wide dragnet is worth the cost.

CLIFF MAY, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Let's suppose you're a Pakistani immigrant here. You don't have your green card yet. You call your uncle in Lahore -- yes, you could get caught up and maybe your uncle is just a tailor in Lahore. But if he's a member of the Taliban, it's true, maybe, there's going to be somebody in the federal government who thinks we need to ask some questions of this person.

TODD (on camera): But if you're the person here talking to the uncle in Lahore and you're completely innocent, you're still caught up in this --

MAY: You're not caught -- you're not caught up in the sense you're going to jail. You're not caught up in the sense that anything bad is going to happen to you.


PAUL: Our thank you to Brian Todd reporting there.

KOSIK: We want to update you now on the investigation into the killing of two firefighters who were ambushed as they battled a fire in Upstate New York on Christmas Eve. Police have arrested the gunman's neighbor, Dawn Nguyen. Authorities say the 24-year-old woman bought a semiautomatic rifle and a shotgun for the suspect, William Spangler, who later killed himself.

Nguyen faces federal charges that she lied to authorities. Spangler couldn't buy the guns legally because he was a convicted felon. He had them with him during the attack.

PAUL: OK. Let's talk about some weather because winter is just a week old at this point.

KOSIK: What a winter it's already been.

PAUL: I know, millions of people have been going -- all right, I'm ready for spring at this point.

KOSIK: Yes, scenes like this one in Maine are playing out across the country as snow is on the ground in 69 percent of the lower 48 states. And it's not over yet. Not by a long shot.

Today, an additional 2 to 4 inches are expected from southern Illinois to New Jersey. But, hey, it's winter.

PAUL: I suppose so. And you got a white Christmas, hopefully, at least some people did.

KOSIK: Little flakes here and there.

PAUL: Yes. All right. We have so much more for you ahead.

KOSIK: Here's a look at what's coming up.


KOSIK (voice-over): Still waiting, three days to go, and still no plan to avert the fiscal cliff. What will lawmakers do to save you from more taxes and fewer benefits?

Pain centers with no regulation doling out prescriptions and sending overdoses skyrocketing. They're called pill mills, and in Georgia, they're booming.

The littlest ponds in a political fight. We'll talk to one woman whose hopes for adopting a Russian son may have just been shattered.



KOSIK: Good morning, Washington, D.C. The nation's eyes -- yes, they're watching you as lawmakers put together plans to avoid falling off the fiscal cliff. And those decisions will be made in some crumby weather, 40 degrees, rain and snow all happening there today. Kind of fitting, I'm sure, for the mood. Everyone's probably a little moody about now trying to get through the fiscal cliff negotiations. All right. Tick tock, we're now just three days away from possibly going off the fiscal cliff. It's our focus this morning. If lawmakers fail to reach a deal, that would mean spending cuts and tax hikes for 88 percent of all American households on Tuesday.

Look at the number from the Tax Policy Center. These numbers are interesting.

Some of the poorest Americans who make up to $20,000 a year will have to shell out about $412 more to the IRS if we go over the cliff, and pretty much everyone earning more than $40,000 a year will be affected. Now, if you make $40,000 to $64,000 a year, you'll pay almost $2,000 more a year, and if you make a little more between $64,000 to $108,000, that number jumps to $3,500. And for anybody making more than $108,000, you'll have to give up a little more than $14,000.

Overall, the average American will pay more than $3,500 a year.

So, the question needs to be asked here, will lawmakers be able to pull off a new deal before the New Year?

Dylan Glenn, he's the managing director at Guggenheim Partners. He joins me now live from Miami.

You, Dylan, were part of the Bush administration a little more -- good morning to you -- a little more than a decade ago, which actually initiated this series of tax cuts, which later led to a near government shutdown in 2011 and then the current fiscal cliff battle.

So I got to ask this, when you were all kind of sitting around, drinking coffee and coming up with this idea, did you, you know, see all this working out? Or did you even think about what the end of 2012 would be looking like?

DYLAN GLENN, FORMER NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL MEMBER: Well, Alison, let's look back a little bit and first remember how we got here. And, you're right, in 2001, we were worried about -- the president was worried about the storm clouds on the horizon in terms of the economy. And so we were looking for a fiscal stimulus that might be helpful to the broader economy, and therefore, you got the first round of bush tax cuts which reduced rates on -- marginal rates across the board, but most importantly brought the top marginal rate from 39.6 percent to roughly 36 percent.

And what that did was allow top rate taxpayers who are often were individual citizens that run small businesses have the ability to have reduced tax rates and then as a consequence have that stimulus and have more capital to hire and to bring other people into the workforce.

And that was the first leg on the stool, the second leg on the stool was the second round of tax cuts in 2003, which were to encourage more savings and, of course, capital gains and dividends tax cuts, which were critical to other components of the economy. So, you know, we're here because those all expire December 31st, and the question is whether or not lawmakers will come to an agreement to extend those for brief period of time while they can look at broader fiscal policy or if they'll extend them permanently. Some of us think they should do the latter. But this is a big question in Washington these days.

KOSIK: But when you were coming up with the idea, part of coming up with this idea, with the white board, did it ever occur to you that it could ever come to this? Where you've got the Congressional -- the CBO, the Congressional Budget Office saying, wait a minute, you know, if we go over the fiscal cliff, the U.S. can go back into recession. I mean, did anybody think about the ramifications of something like these tax cuts and -- like, you know, these tax cuts and all this spending going on?

GLENN: Well, I think that the question is, you know, how do we pay for the tax cuts? And I think there are reasonable ways to do so. It just seems that our friends on Capitol Hill on both sides of the aisle have a difficulty in, you know, making necessary -- making necessary spending reductions to enable pro-growth policies to persist. And that's an unfortunate thing.

Yes, look, this was -- I heard a previous guest say this was a deal with the devil because it, you know, because it -- you got tax cuts now for 10 years and a date certain for when they would go away. That's true, but we thought we were dealing with adult policymakers in Washington and we thought that people would do the right thing with respect to fiscal policy.

So, look, we wouldn't be in this circumstance, you know, President Obama actually extended these tax cuts with the intent that Washington would take a more reasonable look at how we can phase in fiscal policy in a way that wouldn't do damage to the overall economy. And I think that's something we really have to be concerned about.

You said earlier, you know, the average worker making $3,500 -- would see their taxes go up $3,500 should we go over the fiscal cliff. That's a significant impact to individual citizens. And so, we should be very concerned about that and what that might mean to the broader economy, which some of us, I think, could put us in a mild recession next year.

KOSIK: What is it with Washington? What is it with our illustrious elected leaders they can't come up with a deal at this point, that they have to wait to make it a cliff-hanger? You know, why does it always have to be like this?

We saw this with the debt ceiling debacle last summer and now we're seeing it again. Do they think this is a popular move? Do they think this is a good move? What's wrong with them?

GLENN: Alison, you know, look, the real travesty of all of this is uncertainty. I know a number of your business guests will come on and say, look, we're corporate America, we want to hire, but we don't know what the tax regime's going to look like next year. Private citizens don't know what the tax regime is going to look like next year. That's in and of itself sort of fiscally -- you know, could cause a fiscal contraction because people don't want to spend cash.

And we all know the consumer is the backbone of this economy. And if the consumer doesn't have confidence what the fiscal regime is going to be, they're liable not to spend. And that's a prudent move on their part.

KOSIK: They're --

GLENN: You asked the question, what's wrong?

KOSIK: Yes, go ahead, go ahead.

GLENN: I'm sorry, you asked what's wrong with Washington. Look, I think, you know, we're coming to the realization in Washington that we have to pay for the benefits that we give to our citizens in this country at some point. And it's a difficult message politically to deliver to your constituents.

So I think until we can get leadership in terms of belt tightening in terms of making priorities in terms of what we want to pay for, in terms of what's best for the economy, we're going to continue to have these sort of fiscal-cliff type episodes. We've got another debt ceiling debate coming up early part of next year, as well.

KOSIK: Yes, we do.

GLENN: I hope we can get leadership.

KOSIK: OK, thanks, Dylan Glenn with Guggenheim Partners, thanks so much.

GLENN: Thank you, Alison.

KOSIK: So what could the fiscal cliff mean for Wall Street and your retirement fund? I'm going to ask independent New York Stock Exchange trader John Paul Carey (ph) in about one hour from now.

PAUL: All right. Let's switch gears here, because after Newtown, gun buybacks are making headlines across the country.

KOSIK: And we're going to tell you how donors funded the biggest buyback ever in one Connecticut town.


PAUL: Nineteen minutes past the hour right now.

You know it's been two weeks since the horrific massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. And as the nation continues to grieve over what happened in Newtown, Connecticut, it's also grappling with the issue of guns -- no more so than in Connecticut.

CNN's David Ariosto has more on Bridgeport's largest gun buyback ever.


DAVID ARIOSTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): William Porter says he is done with guns. The elementary school shooting in nearby Newtown, Connecticut, struck a nerve.

WILLIAM PORTER, BRIDGEPORT RESIDENT: My wife cried. I was shopping, and we heard it while we were in the store. And she cried. You know, it's wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, how are you doing?

PORTER: I'm good.

ARIOSTO: Porter is turning over his handgun to police in Connecticut's most populous city, part of Bridgeport's largest gun buyback ever. And with well over $100,000 donations, police are taking the guns no questions asked.

CHIEF JOSEPH GAUDETT, JR., BRIDGEPORT, CONNECTICUT: I know that every gun we take in is one less gun that has a potential to kill our children.

ARIOSTO: More than 100 guns have been collected in each of the first two days and are expected to be melted down. But with millions more scattered across the U.S., can buybacks like this one make a dent?

MAYOR BILL FITCH, BRIDGEPORT, CONNECTICUT: These guns could've created victims. And we know that if we can reduce the number of weapons that are available through breaking into people's houses and grabbing guns, we are a safer society.

ARIOSTO: Bridgeport's police chief says an attempt to organize a similar gun buyback failed last year due to a lack of funding, but not this time.

GAUDETT: We've seen an outpouring from the community since Sandy Hook, in all manners. From, you know, from teddy bears to cash. And I think this -- this is part of it. I think people want to feel safe.

ARIOSTO: For Porter, a gun locked safely in his home ended up in the hands of his foster child who he says then handed it over to a gang member.

PORTER: If that person would've did something to somebody else with that gun, it would fall back on me. And I don't have -- I'm 52 years old. I haven't had a criminal record all my life.

ARIOSTO: Police say that's how even legal guns can pose a danger.

GAUDETT: I don't know we're ever going to be able to disarm every bad guy here. But what we're doing is taking away the possibility. We're taking away the chance for a bad guy to get another gun.

ARIOSTO: Porter says he got lucky.

PORTER: It did go into the wrong hands, but I got it back and it's getting destroyed now.

ARIOSTO: And now he has more cash in his pocket.


PORTER: All right. Thank you.

ARIOSTO (on camera): But buybacks can get pricey with shrinking city budgets, despite the renewed interest.

For now, private donations are available, but as the memory of Newtown recedes, many wonder if people will continue to confront issues surrounding firearms in their communities.

David Ariosto, CNN, New York.


PAUL: David, thank you so much for the report there.

You know, still ahead, a round-up of some of this morning's headlines for you, including that winter storm that won't quit.

KOSIK: I know.

PAUL: We're going to show you which areas can expect more snow this weekend. I'm sorry if you're in one of them.

KOSIK: And, plus, many of you most likely going to be heading to a New Year's Eve party. But if you don't want to be that person who brings the frozen meatballs, celebrity chef Ming Tsai is going to show you how to make simple, delicious meals on a budget.


PAUL: All right. Bottom of the hour right now. Close to 7:30.

Welcome back, everyone. I'm Christi Paul. I hope you're having a good morning so far.

KOSIK: And I'm Alison Kosik. Randi and Victor are off today. Thanks for beginning your morning with us.

Let's start in Washington where it's down to the wire in the fiscal cliffhanger. Just three days left for the president and Congress to make a deal and avoid those automatic tax hikes and spending cuts. Obama met with top leaders from the both sides of the aisle in a rare Oval Office meeting that lasted just over an hour.

Afterward, he spoke about the importance of the deal for the U.S.'s still recovering economy.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Economists, business leaders, all think we're poised to grow in 2013, as long as politics in Washington don't get in the way of America's progress. So we've got to get this done.


KOSIK: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also spoke after their meeting expressing home that the weekend would bring a deal.


SEN. MITCH MCCONELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: We are engaged in discussions, the majority leader and myself and the White House in the hopes that we can come forward as early as Sunday and have a recommendation that I can make to my conference and the majority leader can make to his conference. And we'll be working hard to try to see if we can get there in the next 24 hours. So, I'm hopeful and optimistic.


PAUL: We're watching that story closely. Obviously, we're bringing you all the latest.

I want to tell you, too, right now about the protesters that are filling the streets in India's capital again. They're demanding justice for the young woman who has died now after she was brutally beaten and gang raped on a bus in New Delhi earlier this month.

Our CNN reporters on the ground tell us today's demonstrations have been peaceful. Police did tighten security. Six suspects are in custody including a minor and the bus driver, and they're now facing murder charges as well as rape charges.

Also this morning, we've learned the name of a man pushed to his death from a subway platform in New York Thursday, 46-year-old Sunando Sen, was standing on that platform of the station in Queens when witnesses say a woman pushed him on to the tracks. It's the second subway murder this month in New York City.

And CNN's Poppy Harlow spoke to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg about the deaths.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Commissioner, would you consider putting more police on platforms in the wake of what's happened in month?

COMMISSIONER RAY KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE: No, we think that we are properly deployed in the transit system.

HARLOW: So not something you'd consider at this point?

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: You show me any place in this world where 5 1/2 million people get together that has the virtually zero crime rate that we do.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: Now, take a look at your screen here because police are looking for this woman. They say she's a heavy set woman in her 20s. And she was caught by security cameras fleeing the scene after the attack.

As people across the U.S. try to dig out from a recent snowstorm, are you one of them? You know forecasters are calling for another round this weekend. An additional two to four inches of snow, in fact, forecast from southern Illinois to New Jersey. So, a pretty wide swath there.

The storm has brought heavy rains, tornadoes, which we don't hear a lot of this time of year and high winds to several areas of the country and it's already being blamed for 10 deaths.

KOSIK: Regrettable, politically motivated, saddening -- these are all statements made by U.S. officials about Russia's decision to ban Americans from adopting Russian children. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the ban into law on Friday. Lawmakers there cite a history of abuse of Russian children adopted by American families.

However, many believe it was a retaliation against a law that was signed by President Obama that imposes U.S. travel and financial restrictions on human rights abusers in Russia.

Joining me now is Keri Cahill.

Good morning, Keri. You were in the process of adopting a --


KOSIK: -- you were in the process of adopting a 13-year-old boy named -- and his name is Daniel from an orphanage in Siberia.


KOSIK: Tell me the status. Is that on hold right now?

CAHILL: It's definitely on hold because of the law that Putin just signed in. But I'm ever hopeful that things are going to change. And I'm hopeful that better communication between both countries might cause Putin to rethink the thing he just signed.

KOSIK: How far along were you in this process to adopt him before the ban went into effect?

CAHILL: Well, I had already met Daniel. I had lived over there for a few months in 2010 and spent a great deal of time with him. I completed my dossier. I had submitted my dossier. It was refused by the region because the region actually had created a law banning U.S. adoptions before the country did.

And that was just recently changed but, unfortunately, not enough time for me to kind of squeeze in before Putin signed this law.

KOSIK: I want to hear more about Daniel. I know he's 13. He has fetal alcohol syndrome. And as I understand it, one of the last times you were with him, he said he didn't want to live if he didn't get adopted. Is that the case?

CAHILL: That is, but that's very common. When children age out of the orphanage at 16, there aren't many prospects for them, a number of them commit suicide. The last time I visited Daniel, he had just found another child from the orphanage had hanged himself and Daniel was the one that found him. It's very common.

And so, when I spoke to him when I was there in June 2011 and talked about the possibility of adoption and what would happen if it didn't work through, he would say -- he said, I don't want to be here if I don't -- if I don't have a home.

KOSIK: Tell me what's happening now, you know, today, tomorrow, in the coming days before this ban goes into effect. Are you in contact with anybody?

CAHILL: I have been trying to reach out to the orphanage itself, I have not been successful in reaching them. I am, of course, in touch with many of my friends in this adoption community. And we're all kind of coming together, pooling our resources and finding ways to help.

And, of course, the most important thing is to get the word out there are still ways to care for these children. Even when the ban goes into effect, we can still send supplies, medical supplies, clothing, financial support, et cetera, because there are 740,000 children in state care in Russia.

KOSIK: It's just amazing, I know.

So, the U.S. State Department has called this move politically motivated, adding that American families have adopted over 60,000 Russian children over the past 20 years and the vast majority of these children are now thriving thanks to their parents' loving support.

But Russian officials cite a history of abuse by American parents. Now, you have already adopted a daughter from the same orphanage where Daniel is.


KOSIK: You've been through this system before. Did you get a feeling that officials were concerned about Americans adopting Russian children?

CAHILL: Officials, yes. But on the ground, the average citizen, no.

The Russian people in general are all the ones that I met are just wonderful, love the children, and do everything they can to support them. It's just the resources aren't there.

And unfortunately, I think what has happened is just a breakdown in communication between Russia and America and there needs to be more work on adoption diplomacy. There needs to be better communication.

I feel like the Magnitsky Act, which I believe Putin is kind of doing this in retaliation of might have been better written so that this wouldn't have happened. I just feel like communication breakdown is the issue. There just needs to be better communication on both sides, so that this will not happen.

KOSIK: When was the last time you spoke with Daniel?

CAHILL: The last time I spoke to him was about two months ago. I have sent several letters and I have received communication through some of the -- there are a few girls that aged out of the orphanage that aged out at 16 that I support financially. And I'm able to reach them on Russian Facebook every once in a while and they can communicate with Daniel and then send his communication to me.

So, I have heard from him as recent as two weeks ago. But I haven't spoken directly to him in about two months.

KOSIK: All right. Keri Cahill, we do wish you the best. Thanks for coming on today.

CAHILL: Thank you so much. Thank you.

PAUL: No doubt, hoping everything works out for them. Thank you.

Hey, if you're just waking up, feeling a little hungry, I'm about to make you hungrier, I'm sorry to say.

Take a look at this, celebrity chef Ming Tsai is going to show you how to make these delicious dishes for your next holiday party which is probably right around the corner, with New Year's, and, hey, it'll only take you less than 20 minutes to make them.

But, first, all morning, we're looking at your best moments of 2012. Thank you so much for sharing us -- sharing them with us.

Look at this photo coming to us from swimming coach Cassie Peterson (ph). She had a fear of heights.

KOSIK: I don't think she does anymore. Maybe she does more so now.

PAUL: Yes, and decided to go skydiving. Congratulations, Cassie, you look great.


PAUL: Do tell, is your calendar overloaded? Because I know this is the time of the year where you're likely going to a party or you're hosting one. And if you're like most, time and money, not really on our side, is it?

So we brought in a celebrity chef Ming Tsai to help. CNN's Victor Blackwell asked him to show us recipes that could be cooked quickly for under 20 bucks and still have that wow factor.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's the holiday season, and that means a lot of holiday parties. Most people know how to do the big simple things, but how do you do the party food? The hors d'oeuvres, the dishes to impress your friends?

Well, we have some help. We have celebrity chef Ming Tsai here with us. He has a new book, "Simply Ming: In Your Kitchen," and he's with us in the kitchen today. Thanks for joining us.

MING TSAI, CELEBRITY CHEF: Nice to see you, man.

BLACKWELL: So, any good party has to have good food.

TSAI: Absolutely, and has to start with a good cocktail.

BLACKWELL: Any party I'm going to.

TSAI: Exactly. So, if you could help me out here, this is pineapple syrup. Pour a little bit into the champagne flutes. I'm just going to add a basal (INAUDIBLE) that has a great little flavor. And you're just going to top that off.

The idea with this book is to teach people how to cook because a lot of people don't know how to cook, right? So, in your kitchen --


TSAI: That's perfect.

"In Your Kitchen" has 80 (ph) video. So, for those that are really scared, call it cooking for dummies, right?


TSAI: You can walk -- this book will walk you through it, and you can start and stop. So, like this is in the book, it's a champagne curial (ph) using pineapple syrup.

BLACKWELL: Cheers! Happy holidays. Happy holidays.

TSAI: You show up to a party, you bring an eggplant caviar, which is roasted eggplant that's been pureed and this is whole wheat pita chips. So, nice and healthy and has a little bit of salt and curry powder toasted in the oven. So, this is -- you put it in the bowl to host, you're done.

BLACKWELL: Very simple, impressive. And when you put the word caviar --

TSAI: Yes, they think you banked it. So please try that and if you want, I'll get --

BLACKWELL: I'm sorry, I was busy drinking.

TSAI: No, no, no -- and I'm going to show you a great side dish. Quite often people want a side dish.

BLACKWELL: Right. TSAI: And you think sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes.

BLACKWELL: Very good.

TSAI: But what I think of is why not a chow mein for a side dish, right? But keep it vegetarian. In case, people are vegetarian, right? You don't have to put the pork in.

What we're going to do, unless you can bring done -- and it'll hold for at least a half an hour in a stainless steel bowl or glass bowl and reheat it.

BLACKWELL: You know what I like about this already? There aren't a lot of ingredients.

TSAI: No, there's not at all.

BLACKWELL: It's always very simple.

TSAI: So, that was garlic, ginger, and mushrooms. Any mushrooms you like, right? And what we're going to use to season this. This is going to take two or three minutes because you want to soften these mushrooms, vegetarian stock to help it cook along.


TSAI: And we're almost done. We're going to add some fresh noodles, you can buy dried ones, some bell peppers, jicama, scallions and a little vegetarian oyster sauce and your dish is done.

These mushrooms are already good. So, now scallions, bell peppers, jicama right, great little country vegetable, and noodles.

BLACKWELL: At my local grocery store, I can find jicama or you have to go somewhere?

TSAI: You could totally find it at the grocery store.

BLACKWELL: I never use it, so I don't know.

TSAI: The Mexicans use a lot of it.

So, this is a veggie oyster sauce. Usually it has oysters, of course, this is dried shiitake mushrooms. And you heat the noodles through and this dish is done.

BLACKWELL: This smells so good.

TSAI: I mean, how easy was that?

BLACKWELL: I'm trying to be patient and let everything finish, but it smells really good.

TSAI: This is good, right, a couple minutes to heat through. I mean, seriously, Victor, for those that don't know how to cook, you can do this. BLACKWELL: It can't get any simpler. It's a great presentation. And here's what I like, no time at all. No time at all.

TSAI: Yes. And inexpensive, right?


TSAI: In this day and age, it matters how much things cost, right?

BLACKWELL: And all of the responsibilities of the season, this looks good.

TSAI: All right, my friend. Bon appetit.

BLACKWELL: All right. Let's try this.

TSAI: Let's see how we did here.

BLACKWELL: Get one of these here.

BLACKWELL: That's good.

Chef Ming Tsai, thanks so much.

TSAI: Hey, Victor, thanks for having me.



PAUL: It's not fair because he gets to taste it and we just have to look at it.

KOSIK: He did (ph) his spaghetti on TV, which is not an easy on do.

PAUL: He did it well.

You're right. You can get much more holiday recipes from chef Ming on, by the way.

KOSIK: So, earlier we asked you about what you thought about the young woman who got a restraining order against her parents. Were her parents really stalking her? Or is she just a spoiled millennial.

And we got a ton of answers.

PAUL: Oh, my gosh. I know. Leanne asked, "I'm just wondering if her parents are paying for her education. What a huge slap in the face. I've heard it all now."

KOSIK: Ashley said simply "spoiled millennial."

PAUL: And Cherilyn (ph) added "spoiled brat. Final answer, too."

But here's a thing. Drew wrote to us saying, "Creepy helicopter parents need to let kids be kids. That's pretty ridiculous." So -- KOSIK: Yes. Great answers, everyone. Keep them coming in.

More to come on CNN SATURDAY MORNING. Stay with us. We're going to be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over the next 50 years, we need more food produced than the last 10,000 years combined. And it's just staggering to think, where is it all going to come from.

We're already pushing the limits on land. We're already seeing food shortages in some parts of the world. So, we need to pick up the pace, I think. And really take it to the next level offshore and open up new frontiers for farming.



PAUL: Welcome back. Forty-seven minutes past the hour right now. We're so grateful for your company.

I don't know if you're aware of this, but every 19 minutes, someone overdoses on prescription drugs in America. That's 20,000 cases a year -- making accidental overdoses a leading cause of accidental deaths, even more than car crashes.

According to the CDC, nearly 15,000 people in the U.S. died from overdosing on prescription drugs back in 2008. Now, the alarming part of this story is how easy it's become to get a prescription for pills, people have become increasingly addicted to. Forty-two states allow anyone to own and operate a pain management clinic better known to law enforcement as pill mills.

Georgia is one of those 42 states. "The Wall Street Journal" reported the number of these clinics in Georgia has grown to fewer than 10 a few years ago to 125 across the state today.

So the big question is, how do you control this?

Joining me now is Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens.

Thank you so much for being here. We appreciate it.


PAUL: I know that Florida has been really cracking down on their pill mill problem and they've implemented these new regulation laws. And some -- some people in Georgia say, well, let's go to Georgia, that's the place to do it.

Why do you think is happening here?

OLENS: Well, a lot relates to the size of the airport, the logistics, interstates in Georgia. Clearly, this wasn't a problem two, three years ago when everything was occurring in Florida. But as Florida has, in fact, passed the necessary legislation, they then moved north. When Georgia hopefully passes the legislation this coming year, with the session starting in about two weeks, it will then probably go north of us once again.

It's a national problem. We need to license and regulate these clinics. We need to understand that they're not practicing medicine. They're illegally selling drugs and selling very dangerous drugs.

PAUL: What has been your obstacle up to this point in getting that legislation passed?

OLENS: Well, you know, you get ahead of the curve. Everyone thought it's not a problem, it's Florida's problem. But now it is our problem. We're having more investigation by the state drug and narcotics agency, the DEA.

So, as people see the problem, I think we'll pass the legislation this year. It won't solve the problem nationally but it will solve the problem in Georgia.

PAUL: What did you think when you heard that figure? There were 10 of these clinics in the state two years ago and 125 now? How are they becoming so prolific?

OLENS: You know, the DEA puts out an annual report every February of the doctors that prescribe OxyContin, which is the alleged drug of choice for the pill mills. Last year, Georgia had 21 of the top practices in the country. That's about 21 too many.

PAUL: Yes.

OLENS: So, clearly, we need get to rid of these practices. We need to acknowledge there are some good doctors that treat people with attractable pain and they need to use the appropriate drugs, but we don't need drug dealers selling prescription pills in our state and we'll deal with it to session.

PAUL: You know, you brought up a good point regarding the doctors. Is there any plan or do you there needs to be a plan to monitor doctors and the prescriptions that are going out?

OLENS: Right. The proposed legislation licenses and regulates the clinics. It provides the opportunity for the medical board to place minimal standards. It states anytime there's a new doctor, a new location, any type of crime, any type of theft, they have to immediately report it to the medical board and law enforcement.

So it puts in place the necessary regulations to, in fact, assure the public that we're doing something serious about this problem.

PAUL: What other help do you need, specifically, to crack down on some of these pill mills?

OLENS: Well, you know, they're pretty easy to find. You look for license plates from out of state in a parking lot. You look for folks coming in and out. Many of these mills also are not writing prescriptions to go to the pharmacy. It's a cash business. There's nothing resembling a medical office.

So, we tell folks -- if you see a place that opens up in your area, that you see all the plates, for instance, are from Tennessee or Kentucky, give us a call. Let us immediately start an investigation. We have numerous investigations pending now, both the district attorney offices and D.A. are working very aggressively in this area.

So, it's like anything else. Call the police, and let's take advantage of their call and let's get these bad guys in jail.

PAUL: Well, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, we're so grateful that you're here. Best of luck with this endeavor. We appreciate it. Thank you.

OLENS: Thank you very much.

PAUL: All right. Be sure, by the way, to catch Dr. Sanjay Gupta's medical investigation "Deadly Dose". That's today at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.

KOSIK: From presidential politics to a rover landing on mars, 2012 was a year full of so many amazing stories.

After this, we're going to take a look back at the biggest moments of the past 12 months.


PAUL: All morning long we're looking at your best moments of 2012, and we thank you so much for sharing them with us.

We want to show you iReporter Beth Woods -- I'm sorry, I think we just lost the picture. I just want to tell you a story real quick.

In 2008, she had been told she'd never be able to have children without medical help. Well, she has a son. A new son, Alex, and his birth was his birth moment of 2012. Congratulations to them.

KOSIK: Definitely.

PAUL: That was one big moment, too. Isn't it?

KOSIK: Can you believe Monday night we're going to bring in the New Year.


PAUL: Ridiculous. The past 12 months were full of so many big moments. We're not going to forget them.

Here's a look back with the biggest stories of 2012.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A massive crowd has gathered here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to be freedom. We want to be free people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Italian cruise ship capsized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nearly 23 percent unemployment.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Viral on social media sites.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Outrage on social media.

SANDRA FLUKE: My name is Sandra Fluke.

OBAMA: The Affordable Care Act.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a massive play by Facebook.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The largest IPO in tech history.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is really breast feeding in the picture.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: One article has the entire country talking.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The president says he now believes that same-sex marriage should be legal.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: We now know the name of the suspect blamed for the movie theater shooting.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Shooting at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Police now tell CNN people have been shot in front of the Empire State Building.



LEMON: Bath salts.

JASON CAROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jerry Sandusky sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison.

WHITFIELD: An iconic statue honoring the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno is gone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The British people are going gaga for the diamond jubilee. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Flying squirrel.



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Someone sold photographs of Prince Harry naked during a strip billiards game.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's one of the hottest novels around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What went wrong? Why now?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST: I think it's forcing some changes at the Republican convention.

CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR: What do you mean, shut up?

OBAMA: Thank you.

CROWD: Four more years! Four more years!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Christopher Stevens and three other embassy staff, they are dead.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We will bring those to justice who committed these murders.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All the effects of Hurricane Sandy already.

COOPER: Sandy's carved a path of destruction all along the Eastern Seaboard.

BLOOMBERG: We can't fully secure the crane until the wind dies down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God. They're doing another story on this? "Gangnam Style."




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Live picture in Los Angeles from Endeavor. The shuttle rolling down the streets of L.A.

BURNETT: Let's take a look at the man at the center of the scandal, General David Petraeus.

BLITZER: Israel responded to fresh rocket attacks from Gaza.

WHITFIELD: Despair in Syria has gone on for 20 --

BURNETT: Red line warnings talk.

BLITZER: CNN projects that Barack Obama will be re-elected president of the United States.


BLITZER: Terror at as elementary school in Connecticut.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Twenty children dead, six adults are also dead.

OBAMA: So our hearts are broken today, for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children. May God bless the memory of the victims, and in the words of Scripture: heal the broken hearted and bind up their wounds.


PAUL: Boy, what a year. Hoping for real good things in 2013 certainly.

The next hour of CNN SATURDAY MORNING begins right now.