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WEEKEND EARLY START

Fiscal Cliff Countdown; Man Pushed To Death At NYC Subway; Three Days Until the Fiscal Cliff; Murder Charges In brutal Gang Rape; Interview with Nelson Mandela's Granddaughters; Tips for Staying Healthy in the New Year; Fiscal Cliff Negotiations

Aired December 29, 2012 - 06:00   ET

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


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: And from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, this is EARLY START WEEKEND.

Still waiting. Three days to go and still no plans to avert the fiscal cliff. What will lawmakers do to save you from more taxes and fewer benefits?

A young woman wins a restraining order against her parents. Is this a case of abusive parents or an overly entitled child? You won't believe her complaint.

And, the new year's almost here. The number one resolution, weight loss, of course. The secret to shedding the pounds and keeping them off.

It's Saturday, December 29th. Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christi Paul. Randi and Victor are off today. Thank you so much for starting your day with us. And, of course, Alison --

KOSIK: Happy to be here.

PAUL: It's good to see you.

We have to talk about money. Your money, specifically.

KOSIK: Yes.

PAUL: And sadly it's still not good news.

KOSIK: And it's still about the fiscal cliff. That's really what it's all about. That's what we're going to start with.

Negotiations going on this weekend to try and keep from going off the fiscal cliff. The deadline's now just three days away. President Obama says he's "modestly optimistic" the top Democrat and Republican in the Senate can work things out. Our chief White House Jessica Yellin has more on what needs to happen in order to make a deal.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Alison, Christi, hi. Well, the good news is, things could have been worse. It does seem, to those of us watching from the sidelines, as though time is running out. But Congress does some of its best, at least its speediest work, when the nation's back is against the wall.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN (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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN: The president's basic package has much more for Democrats to like. So don't expect that to get very far. But all sides now agree the Senate must first pass a bill before the House makes any kind of move. So all eyes will be on Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid and their negotiators holed up on Capitol Hill. The Senate comes back into session at 1:00 on Sunday.

Christi, Alison.

KOSIK: OK, Jessica Yellin, thanks. PAUL: And, of course, with the pressure now squarely on the Senate to fix the fiscal cliff mess, reaction is pouring in from their colleagues. Chiefs of staff for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will lead the talks this weekend. A period of time Reid calls, quote, "very important." McConnell says he's hopeful both sides will have a plan to present to their respective members as early as tomorrow. And other Republican and Democratic senators are underscoring the importance of reaching an agreement soon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BEN NELSON (D), NEVADA: If we don't have a deal within the next 24 hours, the question is, where do you buy a parachute? It looks like we'd be going over the cliff. Because the closer we get to the end, the less likely it is that you're going to be able to compress an agreement into place that will have enough votes to pass.

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R), TENNESSEE: When the dust settles and everything's said and done, federal individual income taxes are not going to go up on almost all Americans next year. That will either be settled this weekend by our votes or it will be settled after the first of the year. So that's the most important point for Americans to know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSIK: And as you may have guessed, uncertainty over the fiscal cliff had a ripple effect from Washington to Wall Street. And for the fifth day in a row, U.S. stocks closed lower, finishing the week down almost 2 percent. Looking at the numbers now from Friday. The Dow tumbled 158 points. It's the biggest lost since November 14th. The Nasdaq shed almost 26 points, while the S&P 500 lost almost 16 points. But despite a roller coaster week, it's been a pretty good year for the markets all in all. All three indices are up between 6 and 14 percent.

PAUL: Well, you know, whether it's a stalemate over the fiscal cliff or the debt limit, it turns out an inability to act could earn the current Congress a pretty dubious distinction. The most unproductive in U.S. history. A review by "The Huffington Post" shows 219 bills have been passed this session. Now compare that to 383 bills passed by the previous Congress and 460 by the group before that. Currently, the 104th Congress holds the title of least productive. And to avoid that milestone, the current Congress needs to send nearly 100 bills to President Obama's desk in the next few days.

KOSIK: Well, would you believe that that lack of productivity isn't hurting paychecks on Capitol Hill even as tax hikes and an end to unemployment benefits for 2 million people could be on the way because of the fiscal cliff. Congress, it's about to get a raise. It's part of an executive order that President Obama issued which ends a pay freeze for federal workers. So salaries will go up by 0.5 percent after March 27th. That's an extra $900 before taxes. Currently members of Congress make $174,000 a year, except for leaders who make a little more. The last time lawmakers got a pay raise was in 2009. PAUL: All right. Let's switch gears here because this morning I want to tell you about the fact that we know the name of a man pushed to his death at a New York City subway station now. He's identified as 46-year-old Sunando Sen. Here's a sketch of the suspect accused of pushing him to his death. She's described as a heavy set woman in her 20s who was wearing a ski jacket and sneakers. Poppy Harlow has more on the investigation for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's horrible. It was horrible. It was -- it echoed through the bottom. And I never want to hear something like that again.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM (voice-over): This man says he heard the final scream of the victim. James Callan's train was halted because of the incident.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They said that this is the last stop on the seven (ph) train. Debris fell on the tracks. That's all they were telling people.

HARLOW: Witnesses say the victim was standing on the edge of this subway platform in Queens when a woman, who was pacing and talking to herself, pushed him onto the tracks. Surveillance footage captured this woman running from the station. Police are searching for the woman they describe as heavy set in her 20s wearing a ski jacket and sneakers.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK: We do live in a world where our subway platforms are open, and that's not going to change.

HARLOW: At a news conference Friday, Mayor Bloomberg and New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly were inundated with questions about the subway death.

HARLOW (on camera): Mayor Bloomberg, a second subway pushing death in this city in less than a month. I'm wondering what your reaction is to that. How can it be prevented?

BLOOMBERG: Well, I don't know that there is ways to prevent. There's always going to be somebody, a deranged person.

HARLOW (voice-over): Just this month, a 58-year-old man was killed when a homeless man shoved him onto the tracks in Times Square.

HARLOW (on camera): Commissioner, would you consider putting more police on platforms in the wake of what's happened this month?

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

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

BLOOMBERG: You show me any place in this world where 5.5 million people get together that has the virtually zero crime rate that we do. HARLOW (voice-over): The MTA, which runs New York City's subways, would not talk to us on camera, but said people should stay away from the platform edges and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Bill Henderson advised the MTA.

HARLOW (on camera): What can be done to prevent things like this?

BILL HENDERSON, NYC TRANSIT RIDERS COUNCIL: Well, I mean, not -- you can't eliminate the possibility. But this is a very rare occurrence.

HARLOW: Why not put some sort of barrier here?

HENDERSON: Well, you have different car types running on the tracks on New York City subways, and they have doors placed at different points along their length. If you ran a different kind of car, you'd have to move the openings.

HARLOW: Just not practical?

HENDERSON: Just not practical. It wouldn't work.

HARLOW: Very expensive?

HENDERSON: Very expensive.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: Boy, certainly something to think about. We thank Poppy Harlow, of course, for the report there.

KOSIK: All right, so here's a question for you. Just how many Americans will have to shell out more in taxes next year if we go over the fiscal cliff? Sixty-six percent, 88 percent, or everybody? The answer is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KOSIK: Can you hear it? Tick tock, the clock is ticking. We're now just three days away from possibly going over 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 come Tuesday.

Look at these numbers from the Tax Policy Center. Some of the poorest Americans who make up to $20,000 a year will have to shell out about $412 more to the IRA. And pretty much everyone earning more than $40,000 a year will be affected. If you make $40,000 to $64,000, you'll pay almost $2,000 a year. If you make a little more, between $64,000 to $108,000, that number jumps up to $3,500. And for anybody making more than $108,000, yes, you'll have to give up a little more than $14,000. Overall, the average American will pay a little more than $3,500 a year.

So, will lawmakers be able to pull off a deal before the new year? Here's CNN chief business correspondent Ali Velshi. ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Alison, I have no idea whether we'll get a fiscal cliff deal done or not. I do have a pretty good idea as to how we got into this gigantic pickle in the first place.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT (May 28, 2003): And now we've passed a bold package of tax relief for America's families and businesses.

VELSHI (voice-over): It starts when then President George W. Bush initiated a series of tax cuts for all Americans. But it's a deal with the devil. The cuts, which are politically expedient, but costly to government, expire in 10 years time.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (December 17, 2010): Both houses of Congress have now passed a package of tax relief that will protect the middle class.

VELSHI: When it came time for the cuts to expire, the U.S. is just emerging from the worst recession since The Great Depression. So President Obama agreed to extend the tax cuts for two more years in exchange for congress extending federal emergency unemployment benefits. Those cuts are expensive. If they're extended, by 2020, the Bush-era tax cuts will be responsible for more than half the total national debt. Democrats insist that taxes go up for the wealthy but stay in place permanently for those earning less than $250,000 a year.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: We need to stop the job killing tax hikes, and we need to start cutting spending now.

VELSHI: Republicans refuse to play ball. They say no higher rates on the rich, no tax hikes on anyone based on an ideology that calls for government to be as small as possible.

Now its roots are as old as American politics. But today, the philosophy's main spokesman is this man, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. Norquist's pledge, signed by almost all Republicans in Congress, forbid signatories from raising taxes ever under any circumstances.

Things come to a head in the summer of 2011. Republicans demand the government reduce its deficit as a condition for raising the nation's debt ceiling. Without a deal, the U.S. would lose its ability to borrow money. Both Democrats and Republicans deploy scorch earth tactics that nearly shut down the government and ultimately cost America its AAA credit rating for the first time in history.

But in a last-minute compromise, both sides agree to $1 trillion in spending cuts up front and another $1.2 trillion in cuts to be decided by a special congressional super committee. But a poison pill was attached. If the super committee can't reach a deal, automatic across the board cuts, known as the sequester, would go into effect starting January 2013. At the exact moment when those Bush tax cuts, extended for two years, if you remember, would expire. So the point is, we could have all seen this coming and some of us did. We yelled at the top of our lungs by it, but we were drowned out by the election. It seems common sense and good governance often get drowned out by seemingly endless and continue elections in America. This time there may be a serious price to pay for it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELSHI: And we together will be watching these developments play out over the weekend as Congress is set to convene Sunday evening. But as you know, Alison, And you've been saying, the markets may put the pressure on lawmakers to act decisively on Monday morning. It's a shortened day. Stocks were weak toward the end of the week as investors wanted no part of this uncertainty, especially going into the new year.

I'll be hosting a special edition of "Your Money" in just a few hours, 1:00 Eastern, to bring you all up to speed on what you need to know as we watch this faceoff unfold.

Alison, back to you.

KOSIK: All right, thanks, Ali Velshi.

So, how will the markets and small businesses react if we do go off the cliff? Could we see another recession? In an hour, I'm going to ask the former National Economic Council member under George W. Bush about the future of our economy.

PAUL: Meanwhile, India's capital is on lockdown right now. New Delhi and other cities brace for more protests and unrest after a young woman, who was brutally gang raped, dies. We have a live report for you from New Delhi coming your way. Stay close.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: It's 20 minutes past the hour. Thank you so much for sharing your time with us.

The U.N. Arab League special envoy for Syria says the war-torn country faces two choices, hell or a political process. Lakhdar Brahimi met with Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow a short time ago, and they both urged an end to Syria's 21-month-long civil war. They warned that things may only get worse if peace does not happen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: It's not clear if the Syrian regime or the rebels are listening because fighting continues to rage there.

KOSIK: We want to update you now on a story we brought you last weekend about a young Indian woman who was savagely beaten and gang raped.

PAUL: Yes, this horrific crime has sent thousands of protesters flooding into India's streets demanding justice. The 23-year-old woman has died now of her injuries at a Singapore hospital. And the suspects in her brutal attack are facing murder charges at this point.

KOSIK: CNN's Mallika Kapur is in India's capital, New Delhi.

Mallika, police have tightened security there. By how much? And are they worried about massive new protests?

MALLIKA KAPUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You're right, they were very worried about massive new protests because you remember the scale of the protests we saw here in New Delhi last weekend. They were quite violent. But, you know, security has been stepped up dramatically across the capital city today. You know, I attended one of the protests today. And even to reach that site, (INAUDIBLE), which is a popular protest site, it took a while because there was a heavy police presence on the streets. Some of the roads leading to the main area, the government offices in Delhi, (INAUDIBLE), 10 train stations were sealed off. And the protests today, though they were large, were very, very peaceful. They were loud, they were noisy, people making their point, making their voices heard, but by and large, overall, they were very peaceful today.

Alison.

KOSIK: OK. So six suspects are in custody. Is that the case now? And have they been charged with murder yet?

KAPUR: Not yet. You're right, six people are in custody. One of them is a minor. And the police have just announced this morning that they do intend to add murder charges and they will file these charges as early as next week. That's what the police announced earlier this Saturday here in India.

PAUL: So, Mallika, let me ask you, why has this attack, this attack specifically, become such a lightning rod in India?

KAPUR: That's a really good question and one that's been coming up over and over again. And I think there are two reasons for that. One of them, Alison, is just the sheer brutality of this attack. This young girl, 23 years old, all she did was go watch a movie, then get on to a bus, and she was brutally raped and beaten. You know raped six times by men in a moving bus. They used -- an iron rod was used during the rape. You know, she had suffered such serious injuries. And then she was dumped on the roadside.

Just, I think, the savage nature of this attack. This has really sent shivers down the spine of all women in India. And this is the tipping point because women are just absolutely fed up now. And they say this time we won't take anymore, we want more protection, we want equal rights.

KOSIK: All right, just heartbreaking. Mallika Kapur, thank you.

PAUL: You know, the whole world has been keeping up with the health of Nelson Mandela. And there certainly have been a lot of rumors out there. His granddaughters would only speak to our Nadia Bilchik, though. You're about to hear what they have to say about their grandfather's condition.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: You're up early on a weekend. 6:30 right now. Bottom of the hour.

KOSIK: We are.

PAUL: I know.

KOSIK: It is early.

PAUL: Welcome back. I'm Christi Paul.

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

PAUL: All right, take a look at this. This is a construction sign in Portland, Oregon, having a little fun with that looming deadline. The flashing orange lights warn of a fiscal cliff.

KOSIK: That's funny. That is funny. That's good. I like that.

PAUL: And then they give the dates as January and February.

But let's get back to Washington, because nobody's really laughing there right now.

KOSIK: Sure.

PAUL: President Obama says he is "modestly optimistic" about the prospects for a deal after meeting with top political leaders. And now it's up to the Senate to come up with and agree upon a plan. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell say they are hoping to have a plan ready for a vote when both houses reconvene on Sunday.

In Michigan, Republican Governor Rick Snyder signed a new abortion law for his state. The controversial measure requires any clinic that performs more than 120 abortions a year to become a quote "licensed free standing surgical outpatient facility." It also takes steps to ensure pregnant women are not being coerced into a decision and includes rules that a physician must follow to, quote, "properly and respectfully dispose of fetal remains." Supporters say the bill, which takes effect March 31st, protects the health of patients. Critics argue it will force clinics to shut down and restrict access for women. OK, a tail of two cities as Chicago's homicide rate increases topping 500 murders in the year, by the way. New York City's on pace for their lowest murder rate since 1963. That, by the way, is when they began keeping records. As of yesterday, four days before the new year, of course, the city had 414 homicides. That's 57 less than the previous low back in 2009. The high for a single year was 2,245 back in 1990. Wow. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the numbers are another sign that the Big Apple is the, quote, safest big city in America.

KOSIK: To a CNN exclusive now. New information on South African leader Nelson Mandela, and this is coming right from his very own granddaughters. They contacted and spoke exclusively to CNN's Nadia Bilchik.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NADIA BILCHIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Over the last few weeks, the entire world has been monitoring the treatment of your grandfather Nelson Mandela. And he was released from hospital on Wednesday. I know the two of you saw him this week. How would you describe his condition?

ZAZIWE MANAWAY, NELSON MANDELA'S GRANDDAUGHTER: We were just so happy that our grandfather's home after his hospital stay. He's doing extremely well. He's surrounded by the family. We actually just left this afternoon, we just saw him this afternoon with the kids. And he was happy to see the kids. So, he's really, really been taken care of very, very well, very, very well. And we'd just like to thank the whole world for sending us messages and keeping us in their prayers. We're just so happy and we're just happy that he's home. He's doing extremely well.

BILCHIK: And you said he was playing with the kids? So he's actually sitting up? Is he walking?

MANAWAY: He's sitting up and he was waving at the kids and he was smiling at the kids. He's very alert. And he's very aware of what's going on. So, yes, he's doing extremely well. Very well.

BILCHIK: I know this is there's -- you know, there have been so many speculations. I mean some people said he was released from hospital because there was nothing more they could do for him. And now I mean I've even heard I mean that he'll be waiting out his final days at home. And again, is some of the speculation, you know, anything you can tell us? I think the whole world just cares so much about him.

ZAMASWAZI DLAMINI, NELSON MANDELA'S GRANDDAUGHTER: I think, you know, as a family, we are very, very grateful for all the well wishes that we get on a daily basis, especially when it comes to our grandfather's health, but at the same time, you know, I think it's important for people to remember that, you know, he is 95 after all. And that, you know, once in a while he needs, you know, medical care and medical attention.

And, you know, we're very -- we're very grateful because, you know, he's surrounded by the best medical team, you know, he's very well taken care of, and he's very comfortable, and he's very happy. We spent a lot of time with him and we see him a lot.

And so, you know, we know that people worry and we know that people, you know, are concerned, but, you know, we just like people to know that he's doing very well --

MANAWAY: Very well.

DLAMINI: And he's in good spirits and he's very cheerful and he's very, very well taken care of.

BILCHIK: And you know, you've told me that some of the media reporting, especially social media you've said has not been 100 percent accurate. Can you give me some examples of where it hasn't been and how that makes you feel?

MANAWAY: I mean, you just said an example now, that he's going home and these are his last final days, that's absolutely not true. Our grandfather is well. And it just -- it can be very, very hurtful for us to hear these messages out there in the social media that our grandfather's going to go home and just going to go die and, you know, it's just insensitive. And we just really would like to appeal to the social media and the media to just please be (inaudible) sensitive, you know, to our feelings, our grandfather's feelings as well. He is very alert. I mean, my grandfather still wakes up in the morning, reads the newspaper, so he's also aware what things set around him --

DLAMINI: Yeah.

MANAWAY: About -- and so we just really would like to appeal to everybody out there to stop saying these rumors, they're not true. Our grandfather is great and he's doing very well.

BILCHIK: Zaze (ph) and Zwati (ph), some of the things, again, I've heard is that there's so much speculation because there's so much secrecy. Some people say certainly reporters say why don't we know what's really going on? Do you think that's true?

DLAMINI: I think it's also important to remember, that, you know, he is -- he has every right to his privacy.

MANAWAY: Privacy.

DLAMINI: And as the family, we -- we call on people, and we urge people to give us the privacy to be able to deal with whatever we're going through as a family in private.

MANAWAY: Private.

DLAMINI: I think many people afforded, you know, that simple rights to just, you know, if there are family members in hospital, that's -- they can deal with it privately. So I think that's -- it just boils down to the fact that it's a private matter, and whatever goes on with him, especially when it comes to his health should be dealt with privately as a family.

BILCHIK: What happens to South Africa when your grandfather Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is no longer physically with us? What does happen to South Africa?

DLAMINI: I -- I think people need to remember that, you know, my grandfather played a huge role and not only him, many other South Africans played a huge role to get us to where we are now. I think my grandfather said this when he was resigning from public life that, you know, it is now to South Africans to take "take this country forward." That a legacy like his should be carried by as many people as possible.

And then I think generations like ours and generations to come are responsible. And it's really up to us to really take it forward and take this country forward. And I think that, you know, we are in a very -- I think that our government is very capable and there are many people who are very capable to do that job and to carry this country forward. So I have no doubt in my mind that as South Africa we will be fine. And that we can't put the weight of our country on one person.

MANAWAY: On one person.

DLAMINI: We're more than capable to take this country forward and, you know, I mean even as his grandchildren, you know, we want to be a part of that legacy and carry out our grandfather's legacy forward. We're very proud and we're very honored to come from this family. And I think that people should just remember that, you know, they too can do something themselves.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KOSIK: And that was Nadia Bilchik with that exclusive interview with Nelson Mandela's granddaughters.

All right, parents, you know you love your kids, you called to check on them, you want to make sure they're OK. Even when they are at school, though?

PAUL: Yeah. Well, one young woman says her parents went way too far, took them to court. We'll have her story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KOSIK: OK. So I want to tell you about Aubrey Ireland, she's 21 years old, an honor student in college and a successful musical theater star. But now she's caught up in a really messy family fight, one that ended in a court battle.

PAUL: Yeah, get this. She's accusing her parents of stalking her. And a judge agreed to this, granting her a restraining order against her parents. Alice Barr and our affiliate KCTV filed this report for us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALICE BARR, KCTV CORRESPONDENT: Aubrey Ireland is used to the spotlight as a music theater star as the prestigious University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music.

But she's gaining national attention now for a very different reason. Accusing her parents David and Julie Ireland of stalking her and winning an unusual protection order against them, making them stay 500 feet away until at least next September. No one answered at the Ireland's home in Leewood today, but neighbors here describe a tight- knit family, proud parents who worked hard to give their only child anything she wanted, but who veered toward overprotective. Not letting Aubrey play at neighboring homes.

Neighbors also told us the Irelands went around the neighborhood asking folks here as well as friends and relatives for letters of support saying they were good parents to take to court against their daughter. But the parents admitted to a Cincinnati judge that they installed monitoring software on Aubrey's computer and cell phone, making her feel like, quote, "a dog with a collar on." Aubrey says they would often drive to her campus unannounced to check on her, accusing her of promiscuity, drug use, and having mental problems. The parents say she's lying and that, quote, "she's an only child who was catered to all her life by loving parents. We're not bothering her, we're not a problem." But on a national morning talk show today, Aubrey called the protection order her last resort saying, quote, "I never wanted this to happen. That's the last thing I wanted, but I wasn't in control of my life at all anymore."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KOSIK: Who do you believe? Who do you believe?

PAUL: I don't know. It's always usually somewhere in the middle, isn't it? And I posted that on my Facebook page, Christiepaulhln, and there are really passionate, you know, thoughts on this, on both sides. So we want to hear from you, what do you think? Did she have stalker parents? Or is she a spoiled member of the millennial generation? Tweet us, your answers @Alisonkosik and @Christi_Paul on Twitter and you can also send messages to @CNNnewsroom.

KOSIK: All right, this is the same story every year, Americans make new year's resolutions to eat better, lose weight, but why is it so hard to stick to that? We're going to tell you how to get and stay slim and trim in 2013.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: For all of you on the East Coast, I know you're bracing for another round of this winter storm. An additional two to four inches of snow forecast from southern Illinois to New Jersey, and some areas struggle to dig out from the foot or more they already have. Nationwide, the weeklong event has dumped heavy rain, spawned tornadoes, high winds, forced flight cancellations, and ten deaths have been blamed on this storm too.

KOSIK: And as 2012 does come to an end, it's time to make those new year's resolutions for 2013. And not surprisingly, the most popular involved eating well, exercising more. So with me is fitness and nutrition expert Mark MacDonald. I first want to go through a few of these with you, the top five new year's resolutions. Let's go to those. Losing weight, yes, surprise, surprise is at the top, even though so many people, they make it, you know, their number one priority to drop those extra pounds. They can't make it past February.

MARK MACDONALD, FITNESS AND NUTRITION EXPERT: Yes.

KOSIK: I mean I get to the gym in January, it's packed and then everybody clears out after that. What's up with that?

MACDONALD: Well, you know, it's -- we are all through the holidays, we have that holiday 15. So we're at a tipping point, scale's too high, clothes are too tight. And we just got to get it off. So we cut calories, we starve ourselves, we go on that crash course diet --

KOSIK: Yes.

MACDONALD: -- that drops our blood sugar, that makes us burn muscle, which slows down our metabolism. Then when the weight comes out a little bit, the pain isn't as severe anymore, the cravings kick back in, we overeat, that makes us store body fat. And then come February, we've regained everything we lost and we ditched the diet.

PAUL: Right, I mean it's the same story every single year.

MACDONALD: Yes.

PAUL: I mean how do we get out of that cycle? How do we inspire ourselves? Please --

MACDONALD: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MACDONALD: Three simple things. The first thing, you've got to shift your minds. So you've got to ditch the diet. Let go with that diet. The average dieter buys a new diet book every 90 days.

PAUL: Ah!

MACDONALD: There's -- exactly. They're starting over. The second thing, you've got to eat in threes. So, very simple, go to eat every three hours, feed your body. Your body's a refill that goes machine, and you've got to eat a balance of protein, fats, carbohydrates, divide your plate in three that bounced your blood sugar, stabilizes your blood sugar and stabilizes your hormones and makes you consistently release stored fat.

KOSIK: All right, all right, but I've got to cut in here. Because give me a break.

MACDONALD: Yes.

KOSIK: We're all really busy.

MACDONALD: Yes.

KOSIK: How do we fit in good nutrition, I mean these really good meals --

MACDONALD: Yes.

KOSIK: -- go home, cook a nice meal after working a full day at work and also get to the gym. We've got kids, we've got commitments.

MACDONALD: Yes.

KOSIK: I mean, come on.

MACDONALD: It's not the easiest thing.

KOSIK: How do you find the time?

MACDONALD: Well, you know, you just have to be creative. So we talk about enjoying your food for one. So, instead of you eating your diet foods, you've got to make sure that you bring it for the family so you can spice up your food so you don't prepare your diet food and then your family eat something else. So make it for everybody. Second, you've got to make sure that you enjoy your exercise. So you can go for like a family walk or you could do something. You can exercise at home, like we do indoor trampoline dodge ball.

KOSIK: Does Wii count?

(CROSSTALK)

MACDONALD: Wii does count. You just have to -- instead of focused on, I have to lose the weight, I have to drop it, you have to make this enjoyable so it's involving everybody. And rather than dieting and cutting and restricting, you must stabilize your blood sugar. That allows you to achieve permanent weight loss, and you can make 2013 your year of health.

KOSIK: I'll do my best, Mark MacDonald.

MACDONALD: You can do it.

KOSIK: Thank you.

MACDONALD: Thank you.

PAUL: See if we can make it to March. All right. The holidays may be winding down, but Hollywood awards season, you know that's just heating up. So this would be the perfect weekend to catch one of those blockbuster movies I know you have been wanting to see.

Kareen Wynter is here to give us the latest buzz from Hollywood -- Kareen.

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Christi and Alison, you know, it really is the perfect holiday weekend to just catch up on some flicks you've been dying to see. We are, after all, in the midst of the busy award season, and there are tons of movies getting a whole lot of buzz, many reviews are in, the critics have been anxiously chiming in.

So what are some of the big screen standouts? Well, Steven Spielberg's latest drama, "Lincoln," starring Daniel Day-Lewis is a must-see.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANIEL DAY-LEWIS, ACTOR: Government of the people, by the people, for the people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WYNTER: The film offers a window back in time to the weeks preceding the end of the Civil War and passage of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. Some historians, though, they contend the movie's limited snapshot of Abraham Lincoln's presidency paints an incomplete picture of history, but "Lincoln" is definitely going to be a contender this awards season, and Day-Lewis' portrayal of the 16th president was so spot on, it's really no surprise here that not only was Lewis nominated in the lead actor category for the recently announced Golden Globe nominations, but the movie also got a nod in the best picture category. Not bad since the Golden Globe nominations are usually a good indicator of how the Oscar race will shape up.

Some other films to watch, Ben Affleck's nail-biting thriller "Argo." A gripping account of the Iran hostage crisis of 1979. "Argo" also scored a best picture Golden Globe nomination. The critics have been raving about Affleck's directorial performance, though who knows, he may take home a golden statue in the directors category come January when the awards are announced. Listen to what he told me about what drew him to this project.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR/DIRECTOR: I wanted to make a movie about real people who sacrifice for their country when they do these missions, who are more kind of grounded and realistic. Like, what it cost them in their marriage, they never see their kids, they can't tell their family where they're going or when they'll be home. The uncertainty they have. The quiet uncertainty. Will I ever come back? Will I die overseas?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WYNTER: And this isn't Affleck's first time directing. He directed "Gone Baby Gone" in 2007 and "The Town" in 2010.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a problem? You say more inappropriate things than appropriate things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doc, she's crazy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WYNTER: And if you're in the mood for something a bit more comedic, check out Jennifer Lawrence's latest "Silver Lining Playbook," which co-stars Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro. Lawrence's performance has gotten stellar reviews, so it could be her year. Lots of stars to watch, so many movies to see. Get the popcorn ready. Alison, Christi?

KOSIK: OK. Thanks, Kareen.

Here is a Saturday morning riddle for you. So what do Anderson Cooper, Kathy Griffin, and nude pictures on a couch have in common?

PAUL: I don't think I want to know.

KOSIK: And why is it leaving our own Candy Crowley speechless? Stick around for a bizarre and unforgettable moment from last night's "Situation Room."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KOSIK: Did you know, Christie, that Anderson Cooper and comedian Kathy Griffin are teaming up this year to usher in the new year on CNN right from Times Square?

PAUL: Wouldn't be the same, would it?

KOSIK: Without them? Of course. Let's just say that things got a little weird.

PAUL: Last night.

KOSIK: Putting it mildly.

PAUL: On the "Situation Room," when the two were promoting their new year's eve special. Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Somebody tells me, and I'm not sure this is true, but somebody tells me that you're obsessed with Wolf Blitzer. And yet every year it's me talking to you guys, because I'm doing Blitzer's show. So I am wondering is that -- do you take it personally? Do you think there's something to this?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I think Wolf is wise to stay away from Kathy Griffin, because I once -- I don't know if you know this story, Candy. I lent -- Kathy Griffin went to ask to come to my house on Long Island. And like a nice guy, I sent her a key because she wanted to go there a day in advance, and that night --

KATHY GRIFFIN, COMEDIAN: To clean up the place.

COOPER: No, just to go -- first of all, she arrived. She was terribly disappointed. I think she thought it was going to be like a house in "Downtown Abbey." There is no staff. It's not, it's a small house.

GRIFFIN: The chef was late. The chef actually never arrived.

COOPER: There is no chef. And anyway, so she arrives, and while I'm on the news that night during commercial breaks, I'm receiving tweets, not even tweets, actually, text messages from her.

GRIFFIN: Sexts.

COOPER: Naked pictures. She is sending me naked pictures of herself sprawled out on my couch, draped over the kitchen counter.

GRIFFIN: Excuse me, I think Candy has done that on a daily basis.

COOPER: I had to get a wet vac and a cleaning crew in there for like a week.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Moving this conversation along --

(CROSSTALK)

GRIFFIN: Candy, put your shirt back on, this is embarrassing. I said why don't you ask Anderson what I sexted him on election night.

COOPER: Oh, she did. She was sending me dirty messages for David Gergen.

GRIFFIN: Top that, Crowley.

CROWLEY: See, and usually I can follow up very well, but there's just no place to go after with sexting David Gergen. I'm sorry, there is just not--

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: You know what the most embarrassing thing was? The embarrassing thing was, I actually showed David Gergen the messages, that's how -- because she was pressuring me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KOSIK: I think with Kathy Griffin, it's almost like watching a train wreck, you want to watch it just to see what is going to happen next. What is she going to say next?

PAUL: It's not only that, but it's Anderson, you rarely see that man speechless. And something happened, and he just didn't know what to do with it.

(CROSSTALK)

PAUL: Especially when she takes her shirt off, he's speechless.

KOSIK: As I'm sure are a lot of people.

PAUL: Anyone would be. Sure. That's funny. So we just wanted to kind of give you that preview so you know what to expect on new year's. And we certainly hope you'll be with us here on CNN for that. We're so grateful to have you.

KOSIK: And thanks for starting your morning with us. We've got more ahead on CNN SATURDAY MORNING, which begins right now. Good morning, everyone, I'm Alison Kosik.

PAUL: And I'm Christi Paul. Randi and Victor are off today, so you're stuck with us. It's 7:00, though, on the East Coast, 4:00 out west, boy, early for you out west. Thank you so much, though, for sharing your time with us this morning. We appreciate it.

And I want to start with you to talk about these negotiations going on this weekend to try and keep from going off this fiscal cliff. The deadline's now just three days away. And President Obama says he is modestly optimistic that the top Democrat and Republican in the Senate can work this out. He also warns time and patience is running out, though. Here's CNN's Stacy Cohan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STACY COHAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Obama says both he and the nation are out of patience. And he's urging congressional leaders to do their job.

OBAMA: If an agreement isn't reached in time between Senator Reid and Senator McConnell, then I will urge Senator Reid to bring to the floor a basic package for an up or down vote, one that protects the middle class from an income tax hike.

COHAN: Following a high stakes White House meeting Friday, Senate leaders appear poised to work toward a solution.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY.: 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.

SEN. HARRY REID, D-NEV.: I'm going to do everything that I can, I'm confident Senator McConnell will do the same. But everybody, this is 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.

COHAN: Senate Majority Leader Reid called for the Senate not to meet on Saturday while leader negotiate. House Speaker John Boehner said he will not bring anything to a vote in the House until it has passed the Senate. If both chambers fail to act, nearly every American will see a tax increase starting January 1, and unemployment benefits will expire for millions.

OBAMA: Ordinary folks, they do their jobs, they meet deadlines. They sit down and they discuss things, and then things happen. If there are disagreements, they sort through the disagreements. The notion that our elected leadership can't do the same thing is mind-boggling to them. It needs to stop.

COHAN: In Washington, I'm Stacy Cohan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)