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Scrambling to Avoid Fiscal Cliff; Gang Raped New Delhi Woman Dies; Tea Party Sees Power Declining; How to Get a Ride Quick; Bridgeport Launches Gun Buyback; Senate Approves Aid to Superstorm Sandy Victims; More Snow For East Coast; Markets React To Fiscal Cliff

Aired December 29, 2012 - 11:00   ET


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: From the CNN Center this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING. It's Saturday, December 29th. Good morning, I'm Alison Kosik in for Randi Kaye.

A last-minute effort to steer clear of that looming fiscal cliff. It's happening right now in Washington. We'll tell you what the President and lawmakers are doing to avoid massive tax hikes from taking effect just three days from now.

A brutal gang rape in India has now turned into a murder case. The victim has died. We'll have more on her courageous battle for survival and the growing outrage over the attack.

And federal investigators say they've made an arrest in connection with this week's deadly ambush of two firefighters in upstate New York.

But first, the intense negotiations to reach a debt deal and keep almost every American's tax bill from going up on January 1st. Here's a quick snapshot of what that would look like if a compromise isn't reached. The Senate's top Democrats and Republicans are holding talks this weekend after meeting with the president at the White House.

Jessica Yellin has more.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After a rare Oval Office meeting with top congressional leaders, the president said he's "modestly optimistic" a deal can come together. Emphasis on modestly.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American people are watching what we do here. Obviously their patience is already thin. This is deja vu all over again.

YELLIN: All sides left in agreement, at least over their next step.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: We'll be working hard to try to see if we can get there in the next 24 hours.

SEN. HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: Whatever we come up with is going to be imperfect and some people aren't going to like it, some people will like it less, but that's where we are. YELLIN: So, on Saturday, the Senate leaders will try to agree on legislation extending some income tax cuts, preventing pay cuts to Medicare providers, and fixing the alternative minimum tax. The president says an agreement must include an extension of unemployment benefits and Republicans have called for a measure to avert an estate tax hike.

OBAMA: Nobody's going to get 100 percent of what they want.

YELLIN: On Sunday, senators will try to convince their members to back the plan and schedule a vote. So the pressure is on for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to cobble together the deal. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to assure that no Republicans block the bill. For House Speaker John Boehner, to agree to bring it to a vote on the House floor, and leader Nancy Pelosi to produce the huge number of Democrats needed to pass it. But if that plan falls through --

OBAMA: Then I will urge Senator Reid to bring to the floor a basic package for an up or down vote.


KOSIK: So what are the chances that will happen? Lisa Desjardins is live on Capitol Hill. Lisa, what is happening right now to reach a deal? Who right now is involved in the negotiations?

LISA DESJARDINS, CNN RADIO CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: You know, this fiscal cliff that affects pretty much every American is now down to just a handful of people here at the Capitol trying to work out a deal. At the top of the list are Senators McConnell and Reid that you heard about in Jessica's story.

But also very important today will be their top staffers. Their chiefs of staff, our producer, Ted Barrett, reports that those chiefs of staff will be working with each other trying to hammer out a deal, then talking to their bosses, the senators. And then we'll find out tomorrow probably how far that deal can go. What's the starting point for that deal? We know a little bit. This is coming from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as well as other sources.

We know that Reid is going to start with a deal potentially for keeping taxes the same for everyone who makes under $250,000. That's families. Now we also know second, as Jessica mentioned that this starting point will include an extension of unemployment benefits.

What we don't know, Alison however, is exactly what will happen with those budget cuts that are due to hit on January 1st and also the debt ceiling which we will probably hit in about two months. It looks like neither of those items, budget cuts or the debt ceiling, will be part of this particular deal at least for now.

KOSIK: OK. So -- so let's say a bipartisan deal, they can't come to a deal. You know, will Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, will he be able it hold an up or down vote, or is it more likely that Republicans would filibuster? DESJARDINS: You know, I have to say it's very hard to forecast what will happen, let's say, four days from now or two days from now if there's no deal. What kind of pressures will be on this congress to come up with anything? So it's not impossible that Harry Reid could get that up or down vote. But I'll tell you, the way things stand now, if that was today, he would not get that vote. That Republicans would very likely block that vote with a filibuster.

But again, we just can't predict the future in this Congress. And if there's no other deal, it's hard to say what lawmakers on either side would do when we come to January 1st or January 2nd.

KOSIK: All right. So while -- while lawmakers are negotiating, I understand President Obama is making the rounds?

DESJARDINS: Yes. Yes. His schedule actually is funny, he has no public events at all this weekend except for one. We know that he is planning to be on "Meet the Press" -- s very rare appearance for the President on a morning news show. But he's obviously picking his timing carefully and very poignantly. He wants to put extra pressure on Congress and he's making an appearance tomorrow on NBC's "Meet the Press." So we'll see.

KOSIK: OK Lisa Desjardins in Washington, thanks. We're going to be watching this right along with you.

In India, the young woman gang raped on a new Delhi bus is dead. Doctors say she died peacefully at the Singapore hospital where she was being treated. Authorities plan to add murder charges against the six suspects arrested in the rape. Our Mallika Kapur joins me now from New Delhi. Mallika, what's the latest situation in Delhi? When are these suspects going to actually be charged?

MALLIKA KAPUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They should be charged next week. That's the announcement police official made here in New Delhi today. Is that they will add those murder charges and they expect to do that as early as next week. So the public here is waiting to see whether the government and the police officials actually go ahead with that because the demand here is to see some action taken very, very quickly.

Otherwise, I have to report it's been a peaceful day here in New Delhi. Security has been very high throughout the capital city. But I've been here at Jamtar Morimontal (ph) which is a main site of protests through the day. There have been hundreds of protesters. Right now behind me is a candlelight vigil. Throughout the day, you know protesters have made their voices heard.

They've been loud, they've been firm. But no incident of violence and the protests have been very, very peaceful throughout the day.

KOSIK: So -- so protests have been peaceful. As far as the victim goes, do we know that her identity yet -- and has the government, has the government reached out to her family?

KAPUR: The government has reached out to her family. The government has been assisting her family throughout from the day the girl was hospitalized, the government has been involved. The government was very much involved in flying the girl out to Singapore for medical treatment. And we know that even when she was there in Singapore being treated, that Indian embassy officials were by her side, they were by her bedside when she passed away, in fact.

As far as the identity of the girl is concerned, no, we do not know her name. The family wants to keep it that way. They want their identity, the girl identity to be -- to be concealed from the public.

But it's interesting that the Indian public and the Indian media has given the girl a name, and they have been calling her "Braveheart".

And that's exactly how she's being referred to in the media, now "Braveheart". And people are hoping that "Braveheart's" death doesn't go in vain and that this incident actually does force the government into making some concrete changes here and ensuring the safety of India's women.

KOSIK: All right Mallika Kapur in New Delhi than you.

And the deadly violence goes on in Syria. Today President Bashar al Assad's forces are claiming they attacked several rebel operations in the eastern city of Del Ithur (ph). Meantime, Russia's top diplomat and international envoy to Syria met in Moscow. They're calling for a Syrian-led political transition and warn the conflict is becoming more militarized and sectarian.


LAKHDAR BRAHIMI, U.N./ARAB LEAGUE PEACE ENVOY: The conflict is not only more and more militarized, it is also more and more sectarian. And if we are not careful, if the Syrians themselves are not careful, it will be a mainly sectarian conflict with really dire consequences for the people of Syria.


KOSIK: The meeting appears the signal a shift in position by Russia. So far Moscow has opposed efforts by the U.N. Security Council to oust the Syrian President, a long-time ally.

It's one of the effects as the fiscal cliff gets closer. The hard line Tea Party is having a harder time holding the line on an absolute pledge not to raise taxes.


KOSIK: Some good news regarding former President George H.W. Bush; despite remaining in the Intensive Care Unit at a Houston hospital this morning where he's being treated for an elevated fever, we do have word that he's improving according to his spokesman the 41st president is now alert and is always in good spirit.

Tomorrow President Obama will do something he hasn't done in more than three years, appear on a Sunday morning talk show. The President is giving an interview to NBC's "Meet the Press." The fiscal cliff and the President's plan to avoid it are expected to be the main focus of that interview.

Investors on Wall Street are nervous about the looming fiscal cliff deadline which is just three days away on. On Friday, stocks closed lower for a fifth day in a row ending the week down by two percent.

The conservative wave that swept the Tea Party into power two years ago may be headed back out. As the country teeters on the fiscal cliff, some Tea Partiers seem ready to compromise on taxes. Here's Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER (voice-over): For the Tea Party, change is brewing on Capitol Hill. Florida Republican Alan West who rode the Tea Party wave in the Congress two years ago only to be swept out in November has already lost his office which is being prepped by painters for its new occupant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They say he's an outsider, a reformer.

ACOSTA: Another Tea Partier, Kansas Congressman Tim Huelskamp, was booted from his seat on the budget committee he believes because House Speaker John Boehner wanted to send a message, to get in line for a deal on the fiscal cliff.

REP. TIM HUELSKAMP (R), KANSAS: We have determined there is some secret scorecard.

ACOSTA: A scorecard?

HUELSKAMP: A scorecard which based on particular votes --

ACOSTA: Do you think there's House going --

HUELSKAMP: Well I think there's an attempt to potentially I hope not to push a tax increase through the House, and we will see what happens.

ACOSTA: While the Speaker denied he's bringing down the hammer, stating in a letter that "there is no scorecard" --


PEOPLE: Stop spending now. Stop spending now.


ACOSTA: It's clear Tea Partiers are not rallying to shut down the government anymore. Some are even leaving room for compromise on raising taxes on wealthier Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are all of you saying that you would not vote to raise income tax rates on the top two percent? Are you all basically saying that's just out of the question? REP. PAUL LABRADOR (R), IDAHO: But the problem is that I wanted to see real cuts, real cuts. I'm not saying yes, and I'm not saying no.

ACOSTA: Even as conservative colleagues are holding their ground.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: The simple fact is raising taxes is not going grow our economy.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: I remain the most optimistic person in this town. But we've got some serious differences.

ACOSTA: Boehner's private negotiations with President Obama over the fiscal cliff have many Tea Party Republicans like Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson fuming.

(on camera): Does Speaker Boehner speak for you?

SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: I don't know what he's doing behind closed doors, truthfully. Nobody speaks for me other than myself.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But he told CNN he won't filibuster a compromise that raises some taxes.

JOHNSON: We have to understand and by the reality at some point in time. Republicans have no power in this negotiation. If the -- there's only one person that can prevent taxes from being increased to the American public, it's the president. Because without any action, without him being willing to sign a bill, taxes go up for every American. I don't want to see that happen.

ACOSTA: Some conservatives who once had the power to say "my way or the highway" now realize the train has already left the station.

(on camera): Some of these Tea Party Republicans caution their new spirit of compromise largely depends on what the President proposes. And a few of them remain convinced the President simply wants to take the country over the fiscal cliff to gain the kind of leverage they used to have.

Jim Acosta, CNN, Washington.


KOSIK: There's a new Web site that's helping people find a ride quickly by helping them get in touch with limo drivers online. The service is proving to be very popular with passengers and drivers and is opening up what proponents call a booming new sector in the transportation economy.

Our Tom Foreman has this week's "American Journey" report.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For 13 years in crush and crawl of D.C. traffic, Robert Harrison has made a sometimes difficult living as a limo driver. But a surge of new riders now has him for the first time heading into the holidays with real optimism about his job.

ROBERT HARRISON, CAPITAL STYLE LIMOUSINE AND TOURS: They have saved the day for us as independent limo drivers.

FOREMAN (on camera): That's the impact?

HARRISON: That's the impact absolutely.

FOREMAN (voice-over): He says he owes it to Uber, a relatively new service that allows limo drivers to connect electronically with people nearby who need a car right now.

(on camera): So your Smartphone knows where you are. All you do is put in a request for a car and in a matter of moments --


FOREMAN: That allows drivers who often have hours to kill between prearranged rides to turn the waiting time into money-making time. Uber typically gets 20 percent of each fare, the driver gets the rest.

Travis Kalanick came up with the idea just five years ago and has spread it to a dozen cities here and abroad.

TRAVIS KALANICK, UBER FOUNDER/CEO: If you can fill that time out for those guys, help them get business during their dead time, they can do a far better job sort of making ends meet, you know, making a living wage.

FOREMAN: Uber's rapid rise is not without controversy. In a number of cities, taxi operators and local officials have questioned whether Uber and other similar ventures are dodging laws that controls taxi rates and protect consumers.

To be sure an Uber car is more expensive than a taxi, but the service is proving so popular with customers who like the comfort and convenience some cities are already pushing aside the reservations and Harrison says that's great news.

HARRISON: No Uber driver out here will tell you that they are not making any money. If they are, they are trying to discourage other drivers from not coming on, right?

FOREMAN: Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


KOSIK: Many believe the rising number of pain management clinics, many of them no more than pill mills, is feeding the prescription drug problem in this country. We're going to talk about ways to shut them down.


KOSIK: In Michigan, Republican governor Rick Snyder has signed a new abortion bill into law. The controversial measure requires any clinic that performs more than 120 abortions a year to become a licensed freestanding surge tall outpatient facility. Also is looking to take steps to ensure that pregnant women are not being coerced into a decision. Supporters say the bill which takes effect march 31 protect the health of patients. Critics argue it will force clinics to shut down and restrict access for women.

It's now very easy to get prescription drugs in this country. Some blame so-called pill mills for that. Georgia is home to many of these pain management clinics. The "Wall Street Journal" reports the number has grown from fewer than ten just two years ago to 125 across the state today. Earlier Christi Paul talked with Georgia's attorney general about ways to shut down those pill mills.


SAM OLENS, GEORGIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: 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.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: 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 investigations 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 Oxycodone, 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 this 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.


KOSIK: Maine's same-sex marriage law went into effect at midnight. And today, Steven Bridges and Michael Snell are the first gay couple right behind as the clock starts midnight. Everybody in the state to exchange married.

Boaters in Maine, Maryland in USA. Long lines of people were standing right behind them as the clock struck midnight. Everybody waiting to exchange vows. Voters in Maine, Maryland, and Washington State approved gay marriage in November. They're the first states to do so by popular vote.

Police have now arrested a woman in New York after that Christmas Eve ambush on firefighters. Next, we'll tell you why prosecutors say this woman was a big part of the shooting.


KOSIK: Police have arrested a woman in connection with that ambush on firefighters on Christmas Eve. Two firefighters were shot and killed and two other wounded when they arrived to put out a fire at William Spengler's house. Police say this woman, Dawn Nguyen, the gunman's neighbor, illegally bought the guns used in that ambush.

WILLIAM HOCHUL, U.S. ATTORNEY: The precise charge against Dawn Nguyen has to do with lying during her purchase of these two weapons. According to the publicly filed complaint, Dawn Nguyen told the seller of these guns, Gander Mountain located in Henrietta, New York, that she was to be the true owner and buyer of the guns instead of William Spengler. It was absolutely against federal law to provide any materially false information relating to the acquisition of firearms.


KOSIK: The assault rifle and shotgun were found with Spengler who committed suicide.

This morning, we're learning the name of the man pushed to death from a subway platform in New York on Thursday.

Forty-six-year-old Sunando Sen was on the station platform 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. Police are looking for a woman they say is heavyset, in her 20s. She was caught by security cameras running away after the attack.

Despite that death, violent crime in New York City is actually down. The murder rate is on pace to be the lowest in 18 years. As of Friday, the city has had 414 killings. In 2009, New York recorded the fewest, 471. That's why Mayor Michael Bloomberg calls New York the safest big city in America. It wasn't always that way. In 1990, New York racked up more than 2,200 homicides.

The Sandy Hook School shooting has had an immediate effect on one city. Police in Bridgeport, Connecticut, are determined to get guns off the streets by buying them back using $100,000 in donations from the public. Here's David Ariosto.


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 in private 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 make a dent? MAYOR BILL FITCH, BRIDGEPORT, CONNECTICUT: These guns could have created victims. 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 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.

WILLIAM PORTER, BRIDGEPORT RESIDENT: If that person would have did something to somebody else with that gun, it would then fall back on me. 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 that we're ever going to be able to disarm every bad guy here. But what we're doing is we're taking away the possibility. We're taking away the chance for a bad guy to get another gun.

ARIOSTO: Porter said he got lucky.

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

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


PORTER: 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 whether people will continue to confront issues surrounding firearms in their communities.

David Ariosto, CNN, New York.


KOSIK: OK, at least some work is getting done on Capitol Hill. The Senate has agreed to provide aid to victims of Superstorm Sandy. By a 61-33 vote, the chamber passed a measure offering over $60 billion in help.

It now heads to the House which must approve the bill by Thursday or the process to consider the money must 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 have estimated damages at over $78 billion.

The East Coast getting ready for some more snow, New York will get a couple inches today while parts of Connecticut and eastern Massachusetts, they could see more snow by tonight. Our Bonnie Schneider is monitoring the weather for us today. Bonnie, how much snow is coming to the northeast?

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's -- it really varies depending on where you are. I'll tell you, outside at this very moment, we have big, white, fluffy flakes hitting Washington, D.C. Let's take a look. We can take you to the White House. Look at that.

The snow is coming down heavy and hard. They're working hard over there. Let's take a look at the capitol, too. We've been watching for the snow there. You know, this storm is impacting so many millions of Americans. It's not the same one as the one we saw on Christmas, but this one's also on the move.

It's a fast-moving storm, but it has the potential to dump some heavy snow especially in the Boston area. Let's take a look. You see on the radar picture the reason we're getting the snow and the fog in the D.C. area and also in Philadelphia where we have incidentally an hour airport delays at this point due to fog and snow.

We're seeing the cold air wrap in behind the storm system as it advances to the north and east. So the coastal areas of New Jersey impacted by that water temperature from the Atlantic is still a little warm. We're just getting rain on the Jersey Shore.

But in behind it, the rain changed to snow in Baltimore and in Washington. Outside of New York City, it's cloudy right now. That snow is on the way for you. You're under a winter weather advisory. So just a couple of inches possibly, maybe up to three. Three to five or more as you head further to the west without that ocean influence.

But one thing that happens in the city of Boston is it depends on the track of the low to see how much snow you get. Sometimes it's all rain. Sometimes it's all snow. And this particular scenario, we're looking at heavier snow for Providence and for Boston as the track of the low is definitely going bring about the colder air and the moisture at the same time.

You can see it here in the computer model. This is Saturday, tonight, even though it's not snowing now in Boston, it is snowing in Western Massachusetts. As you plan your day in New England, be prepared for heavy snow tonight and into tomorrow morning, might be a good night to stay in by the fire because this low is going to bring substantial snow to the region.

Notice the cape and the islands going to see a little bit more wintry mix as you get that ocean influence. Then by Sunday, the low is pushed to the north. Even though we've seen heavy snow recently from Maine, you're about to get hit again, one-two punch with the snow hitting northeast.

Behind it, temperatures are much colder. You see that wrap-around effect, as we have temperatures in the 20s in the upstate area. Just to let you know if you're traveling, I mentioned the delay in Philadelphia. We're also anticipating delays across the country today.

Cincinnati, even here in Atlanta, and also Los Angeles, you're looking at wet weather moving into the west coast. Coast to coast we have rain, snow, we have fog, a little bit of everything for this Saturday in between Christmas and New Year's.

KOSIK: Snow definitely a headache -- a headache to travel in, but nice to watch. It certainly looks pretty falling in Washington, D.C. Thanks, Bonnie.


KOSIK: So there happens to be a line that even parents, yes, they can cross. One woman took her parents to court, and she won. Coming up, why a judge found her parents went too far in how they are raising their daughter.


KOSIK: Overly protective parents can run the legal risk of being branded stalkers. Just ask 21-year-old college, honor student Aubrey Ireland. She said her parents would often travel 600 miles to visit her at school unannounced, they accused her of using drugs and being promiscuous.

She sued and won. Earlier, Christi Paul asked Defense Attorney Joey Jackson about this very bizarre case.


JOEY JACKSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Parents need to be concerned and should be concerned, but the facts here are different. So when you look at parenting, yes, we all as parents want the best for our children. But it's another thing to become obsessive.

And here the line certainly was crossed according to the judge and according to the facts. When you start installing monitoring devices, OK, some parents want to see what their children are doing.

When you start traveling from Kansas, right, to Ohio where your daughter is in school unannounced, not saying anything and then you go to her peers in addition to administrators and talk to administrators about my daughter needs a mental health evaluation.

She's promiscuous. She's abusive, engaged in assaulted behavior. It's enough. So therefore, the message here, Christi, is the law applies equally to everyone. Whether you're a parent, whether you're a friend, whether you're a family member, you have to behave in accordance with certain protocol.

And that means what you do is you don't cross that line and you don't do things which cause threat, intimidation, and fear in your daughter.

PAUL: OK, we just want to point out that we do not have any confirmation as to the mental capabilities or incapabilities of either Aubrey or her parents. So we just want to point that out first of all. But how do you -- how do you prove that they're crossing a line legally, Joey?

JACKSON: Well, what happens is that generally the court has a hearing. Oftentimes, as you know, they'll try to avoid a hearing as they did here by going to mediators and saying, listen, you work that out.

If you could establish that there's some kind of imminent danger or present danger or threatening behavior, which causes you that fear, that intimidation, and you do feel unsafe as she was able to establish, a judge would say you know what, you deserve the order.

Remember also, Christi, we're not dealing with a criminal matter where it's beyond a reasonable doubt. So the proof is different. It's a preponderance of the evidence which is, is there a probability, is it likely that you're feeling this way. Is it more likely than not. Certainly she was able to show that on the facts of this case.

PAUL: OK, so let's listen to what Aubrey said in an ABC interview, specifically talking about her parents paying for college.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They basically thought that because they were paying for my college tuition and living expenses that they could tell me what to do, who to hang out with, and basically control all of my daily life.

PAUL: Her parents have requested apparently that she pay back that $66,000 they spent on her education. Could she be forced to do so?

JACKSON: Listen, the bottom line is that one thing does not necessarily relate to the other. When it relates to stalking and abusive behavior, that's one thing. That was certainly within the court's jurisdiction.

But when you're talking about prior things that were paid for your daughter and then you say because I can't control you anymore, I want to claw back and take that money, you know, it's not likely that as a result of that she should have to pay it back.

Furthermore, Christi, what we have to understand here is that the whole issue of them paying had to do, you can argue, with control.


KOSIK: Food, family, fun, what's all that? That's a recipe for success if you're in the restaurant business. At least that's what Martin Savidge found out when he traveled to Cleveland to visit one of our "100 Places Where The Locals Eat."


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Martin Savidge, and I grew up in Cleveland. Trust me, if you're looking to eat where the Clevelander eat, it doesn't get any more Clevelander than here.

(voice-over): For more than half a century, Sterles Country House has been a landmark in Cleveland's Slovenian community.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We always have live entertainment here Thursday, Friday, And Saturdays.

SAVIDGE: Three words -- family, fun, food -- so signature dishes.

NANCY PROSSER, STERLE'S COUNTRY HOUSE MANAGER: I would say the wiener schnitzel.

SAVIDGE (on camera): Weiner schnitzel, the classic, described on the menu as buttery veal hand pounded with bread crumbs and lightly fried to golden perfection.

(voice-over): In the kitchen, you see how the magic is made.

(on camera): What have we got coming out of the back?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's got the fried schnitzel for the dinner.

SAVIDGE: Beautiful, look at that, golden brown.

T.J. LOMBARDI, STERLE'S COUNTRY HOUSE CHEF: Golden brown, pounded veal. Breaded and deep fried. They're really good and I always tell everybody, like I said in the kitchen, a lot of love into those to get them done right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The wiener schnitzel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got the schnitzel, it's awesome, and the Slovenian potatoes that the waitress recommended, highly recommended and the stuffed cabbage, awesome.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): You don't have to be old or even from the old country to enjoy this place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm celebrating my birthday. I got my friends together, thought we'd do something different and having some fun.

SAVIDGE (on camera): The nice thing is after you've had a good meal, you probably had the strudel, you can go out and burn it all off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They've been coming here since day one.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Get the dessert and get dancing.

(on camera): I hope you enjoyed it. If you're ever in Cleveland, you know what they say -- stop on by. In the meantime, I'm going to go work off some of the food.

(voice-over): Martin Savidge, CNN, Cleveland.



KOSIK: The clock's ticking. Lawmakers have just three days left to get a deal done in time to avoid the fiscal cliff. Even if a deal is thrown together at the 11th hour, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says what they come up with will be imperfect and some people aren't going to like it.

I spoke with independent New York Stock Exchange trader, Kenny Polcari, earlier today and asked him how Wall Street is reacting to the looming fiscal cliff.


KENNY POLCARI, INDEPENDENT NYSE TRADER: We've come right to the 11th hour. The -- the fact that there's going to be a substantive deal that comes out of this in the 11th hour is probably nil to zero, right? Essentially in my sense, it's easier to go over the cliff.

Then there's clarity, right? Taxes will go up, spending will get cut. The market will know what is going to happen. It can only get better from there because then you'll get legislators that come to the table, that try to cut taxes and raise some spending.

And they'll argue it from a positive point of view and stand up and say, rah-rah, look what we, did right? It won't get any worse if we go over the cliff. If there's a band-aid, in fact, it leaves complete confusion, there is no clarity.

The market will probably react more negative than actually going over the cliff. I think that's what investors have to be concerned about. Now, that being said, I don't think the market's going to crash by any sense.

But -- I think there's a lot of money still on the sidelines that need to be invested. I think people need to understand the difference between the outcomes.

KOSIK: But if there is a band-aid measure, you don't think the market's going to sell off on that because it's going to create more uncertainty and more confusion?

POLCARI: I absolutely do think the market's going to sell off. I actually think the market's going to sell off worse on a band-aid than it would over a fiscal cliff. The band-aid leaves it completely confused.

No one can plan, company can't plan. People don't know what to do. The impact is going to come on January 15 when people get their first paycheck and realize, my God, what happened, right?

So therefore, I think what happens is that the market has more of a reaction with a band-aid than it does with the actual cliff.

KOSIK: I know you're a betting man. What are you placing bets on, band-aid, deal, or no deal? POLCARI: I'm betting -- actually, I'm hoping that we go over the cliff at this moment because I not there's more clarity. But I'm betting that they're going to come up with this last-minute deal, which they're going to present as look what we did, we extended everybody's cuts for another 60 days.

All it's going to do is create more confusion. I think that's what they're going to come one and try and make themselves look like they've done the right thing when in fact I think it's going to hurt the market more.

KOSIK: Yikes. All right, well, I look forward to that when I sit at the New York Stock Exchange this week if that happens. In a letter back in October 16, CEOs pressed leaders to reach a bipartisan deal to avoid massive tax hikes and across-the-board spending cuts that could lead to a recession.

So, you know, what happens, let's say, if they actually do get a deal, though? Are we going to see the market really rally? And what will be the focus for Wall Street after that?

POLCARI: Well, listen, if we get a deal and we get a deal that's really substantive and that's realistic and that the market believes, I think absolutely the market will rally back and certainly rally back to the 1425, 1440 level.

I don't think now you've got a chance of them going back to 1475 unless of course they full complete rabbit out of the hat and said, look, all along, we had this deal, we were just keeping it secret. I don't think that's going to happen.

But the market will rally. You can feel it. That's why every time one of them comes back and is optimistic, the market takes back some of the losses because it wants a settlement and resolution. The fact it's not getting it and the market will vote with its feet, which is what you saw happen this past week.


KOSIK: With so many moving parts with the fiscal cliff, I know that Ali Velshi is hosting a special on the fiscal cliff. You're going to be hosting CNN "NEWSROOM" at the top of the hour. What do you have?

SAVIDGE: Of course, we're going to follow all things fiscal cliff, look at the details, we'll look at the impact your guest was talking about, January 15th when many Americans will feel it. That's true.

They really up to this point it's been a mental exercise. We're going to look at what the real impact could be. Russia adoption is in the news now. Russia is saying it will no longer adopt children to the United States.

What's going on there? We look into that issue. Especially are children being used as political pawns, tit for tat for something the U.S. did? And then also we're going to look at the movies of 2013. Did you go to the movies during the holidays? There are some big movies coming out. If you saw the trailer sitting in the movie theatre over the holidays you know that 2013 is going to be a big year, much anticipated, many sequels coming. We'll look ahead to what you will see at the Box Office in '13.

KOSIK: I like going early to the movies so I can see the trailers. I'll see that.

SAVIDGE: There won't be too many of them but you do get an appetite for what's to come.

KOSIK: All right, I look forward to it. I'll be watching.

SAVIDGE: Thank you. Nice to see you, by the way.

KOSIK: Same here. Thank you.

A hard-fought presidential campaign was the highlight of the political season in 2012. We'll look back at that and more.


KOSIK: It's been a big year for political junkies. Presidential elections and all the serious and fun moments on the campaign trail. So what are the top political events of 2012? Jim Acosta counts them down.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The year started off with a surprise in a sweater vest, counting down the top campaign stories of the year at number ten, the primaries.

Rick Santorum's stunning performance in the Iowa caucuses -- kicked off a battle for the Republican nomination that few in Washington had expected.

The GOP's odds on favorite, Mitt Romney stumbled in some of the early contests. He refused to release his tax returns allowing another rival, Newt Gingrich to take South Carolina.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We proved here in South Carolina that people of power with the right ideas beats big money.

ACOSTA: But that big money eventually cleared the field and Romney set his sights on the president.

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's still about the economy and we're not stupid.

ACOSTA: At number nine, Bain. Not that one. That one. Almost as soon as Romney had had locked up the nomination, his former private investment firm, Bain Capital, was savaged by Democratic Super PACs and the Obama campaign. The attack ads put Romney on defense for months. The president also got a lift from the Supreme Court, which at number eight, upheld his embattled health care law. Romney vowed to strike it down himself.

ROMNEY: I'm not one that's going to get rid of Obamacare.

ACOSTA: At number seven, gas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor Romney, do you feel that your gas has overshadowed your foreign trips?

ACOSTA: The candidates' verbal missteps often dominated the news cycle.


ACOSTA: Or in Romney's case, his entire foreign trip where a campaign aide lashed out at reporters, a gaffe that went global. And then at number six, the conventions were remembered less for the nominees and their running mates and more for --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you want me to tell Romney? I can't tell him to do that. Can't do that to himself.

ACOSTA: The warm up acts that stole the show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe that we're all in this together is a far better philosophy than you're on your own.

ACOSTA: At number five, the September 11 attack in Benghazi injected foreign policy into the race.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Justice will be done.

ACOSTA: But a week later, the campaign shifted again to the hidden camera video of Romney's comments on the 47 percent and an instant Obama attack ad. Number four, among the year's biggest moments.

ROMNEY: There are 47 percent of him who are with him.

ACOSTA: The GOP contender needed a breakout moment and got one at number three. The debates and President Obama's lackluster performance in the first face-off put Romney back in the hunt. The president would have to redeem himself and polls show that he did.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I said if I got Bin Laden in our sights, I would take that shot.

ACOSTA: But at number two came the mother of October surprises, Sandy. The devastating superstorm put much of the nation's focus on the president's handling of the crisis. And the high marks he received from a top Romney surrogate, New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie.

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I can't thank the president enough for his personal concern and compassion for our state. ACOSTA: Polls show the race moving to the president who won handily.

ROMNEY: This election is over, but our principles endure.

ACOSTA: The sizable margin of victory blindsided the Romney campaign.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The task of perfecting our union moves forward.

ACOSTA: Making election night no surprise the biggest campaign story of the year. Jim Acosta, CNN, Washington.


KOSIK: And I'm Alison Kosik. "CNN NEWSROOM" continues now with Martin Savidge. Don't go anywhere.

SAVIDGE: Thank you, Alison, very much.