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Chuck Hagel: Next Secretary of Defense?; Debt Ceiling Battle; Interview with Congressman Marc Veasey of Texas; Life in Damascus: Fighting to Survive; High Court to Hear Baby Veronica Disput

Aired January 5, 2013 - 07:00   ET


RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning everyone. I'm Randi Kaye.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Seven o'clock on the East Coast, 4:00 out West. Thanks for starting your morning with us.

KAYE: And we start this morning with the expected next step in President Obama's big cabinet shakeup.

Sources tell CNN that the president is likely to nominate Republican Chuck Hagel as defense secretary next week. Hagel is a former Senator from Nebraska who retired in 2009. The president explained why he is behind Hagel on "Meet the Press."


DAVID GREGORY, NBC NEWS: Anything disqualify him?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not that I see. I've served with Chuck Hagel. I know him.

He is a patriot. He is somebody who has done extraordinary work both in the United States Senate, somebody who served this country with valor in Vietnam. And this is somebody who is currently serving on my intelligence advisory board and doing an outstanding job.

So, I haven't made a decision on this. With respect to the particular comment that you quoted, he apologized for it.


KAYE: The president there is referring to anti-gay remarks Hagel made in the past, remarks that this ad in "The New York Times" points out. The ad from the Log Cabin Republicans also mentions other criticisms of Hagel. He has opposed sanctions against Iran and some say he's been less than emphatic about his support for Israel.

BLACKWELL: The economy is ending 2012 on the positive side. December's jobs report is out and is showing more than 1.8 million jobs were added last year, 155,000 of those jobs were added last month, while unemployment remained flat at 7.8 percent.

KAYE: We saw it with the fiscal cliff. Now, the Capitol Hill confrontations over the debt ceiling are expected to get as intense if not worse. The debt ceiling is the legal limit on the nation's borrowing.

In his weekly address, the president says he is taking a hard line on the issue.


OBAMA: One thing I will not compromise over is whether or not Congress should pay the tab for a bill they've already racked up. If Congress refuses to give the United States the ability to pay its bills on time, the consequences for the entire global economy could be catastrophic. Last time Congress threatened this course of action, our entire economy suffered for it. Our families and our businesses cannot afford that dangerous game again.


KAYE: As you would expect, Republicans are also drawing a line. Despite approving the fiscal cliff compromise, GOP lawmakers say it was missing something monumental, long-term spending cuts.

Here is a clip of their weekly address.


REP. DAVE CAMP (R), MICHIGAN: The simple truth is that we are in this fiscal mess because Washington takes too much of your money and then wastes it. That's the real problem. And it needs a real solution. We have to make sure Washington is accountable for every tax dollar it spends. We have to make sure your money is spent efficiently and effectively.


BLACKWELL: Venezuelan officials say President Hugo Chavez has the severe lung infection and is, quote, "fighting" for his health right now.

But despite rumors that the 58-year-old won't be able to be inaugurated to his fourth term next, Vice President Nicolas Maduro says his running mate can always take the oath at a later time. There is also some thought the U.S. may be trying to influence a transition from power, although the State Department says that any future political change has to be decided by Venezuelans.


VICTORIA NULAND, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We do not believe that there is a made in America solution for Venezuela's transition. Only Venezuelans can make that set of decision. That is the message that we are giving to Venezuelans of all stripes that we want to see any transition be democratic, be constitutional, be open, be transparent, be legal within Venezuela and that it has to be decided by Venezuelans.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KAYE: New details are emerging about the fatal gang rape of a 23-year- old medical student in New Delhi, a horrific crime that's led to widespread protests in India. The victim's male friend who was also attacked is speaking out for the first time about the attack.

Here is what he told "Reuters".


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): From where we boarded the bus, they took us around for two, two and a half hours across overpasses, through all of Delhi. Then they dropped us below an overpass. Then they tried to run over us.

We had no clothes. We waited there hoping someone would help us. I tried to flag down vehicles. Three-wheeler taxies would slow down, take a look at us, and move on. We got no help for nearly 20 or 25 minutes.


KAYE: So far five men have been charged with murder, rape, and kidnapping in this case. They appear in court on Monday.

BLACKWELL: In the U.S. another rape case is making headlines. In Steubenville, Ohio, two high school football players are accused of raping a classmate at a party earlier this year.

And the social media response has taken really a life of its own. Hacker activist group Anonymous has released information on those they believe are involved in the assault. They've even planned a rally at the Steubenville courthouse today, their second this week.

But when it comes to Anonymous, releasing information to the public, the county sheriff made his outrage clear.


SHERIFF FRED ABDALLA, JEFFERSON COUNTY, OHIO: Now listen. Anonymous, whoever is out there, you can say whatever you want to say about me, but when you start attacking children and putting their names out where everybody can see it and their addresses, then I'm coming after you. Anonymous, you're watching this. I'm coming after you.


BLACKWELL: We will have more on this story all morning long, including a live report from Steubenville in our next hour.

KAYE: Newtown, Connecticut, the site of last month's tragic school shooting had a special visitor yesterday, former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Giffords, a victim of gun violence herself, met with the local leaders discussing gun control and, of course, mental health issues.

The congresswoman retired last year to focus on her recovery. She still has some trouble walking though. Giffords was one of 19 people shot in a political rally in Arizona in 2010.

BLACKWELL: And take a look at this. This is the president as he learns about that tragic shooting in Newtown. He's called the death of those 20 children and six adults, quote, "the worst day of his presidency." The photo was taken by White House photographer Pete Souza and released Thursday as part of his year end photographs on Flickr.

KAYE: We've got much more ahead this hour.

BLACKWELL: Here is a look at what's coming up.


KAYE (voice-over): Partisan, unpopular, ineffective -- just some of the words used to describe congress. All morning long, we'll go in focus on whether the House of Representatives is more like a house of cards.

Be brave. Fight hard. But save a bullet for yourself. That's what one American was taught when he found himself in the middle of the Syrian civil war. We'll talk with him live.

And Baby Veronica might have a new home again. The case that sparked national outrage now heading to the U.S. Supreme Court.



KAYE: Good morning, everyone. And good morning, Washington.

Look at the beautiful shot there of the Capitol building.

Thank you so much for starting your morning with us.

BLACKWELL: Speaking of the capitol it was like a warm family living room in D.C. yesterday as senators took the oath of office for the 113th Congress on Thursday. Some senators like Kirsten Gillibrand of New York held their children as they raised their hand in front of Vice President Joe Biden.

And that kid wants to fix mommy's hair. Her son wasn't making things easy as you can see here.

At one point, Biden picked up the 4-year-old daughter of Ted Cruz the new senator from Texas. She was a bit overwhelmed by the ceremony.

KAYE: So it's official as you just saw there. The 113th Congress is under way. There's a lot to get done inside a very fragile house and that is our focus today. An uphill battle for a House that's been called unproductive, unpopular, and uncooperative -- just to name a few adjectives.

There are 84 new faces in the House.

And joining me now is one of them, Representative Marc Veasey. Good morning, Congressman. How are you?

REP. MARC VEASEY (D), TEXAS: Good morning, Randi. Doing great today.

KAYE: Great. Glad you're with us this morning. Are you settling into the new job? You're finding your way around Washington, OK

VEASEY: Yes. Finding my way around Washington OK. It was a great day for swearing in. My son and my wife and my family that came up all had a great time. Now, we're ready to get to work.

KAYE: Well, so, good. I'm glad you're ready to get to work.

What are your thoughts on joining Congress that narrowly avoided a fiscal cliff after a lengthy public friction and a whole lot of bickering between Republicans and Democrats?

VEASEY: Well, I thought it was very unfortunate it took that long to address something that was very serious. I think when you look at the economy and the things that are -- and the way the economy is improving, the fact that we could have gone into a fiscal cliff and we came that close I thought was unfortunate.

But it's my hope that the Congress will hear from the American public, people will go back to their districts for this next week while we're off and constituents will tell them, hey, we sent you guys up there to do the right thing. Stop all the partisan bickering and let's get to work for the country.

KAYE: If you had been in the 112th Congress how would you have voted on the bill to avoid the fiscal cliff?

VEASEY: I would have absolutely voted yes. I would have been unhesitant to vote yes. It was, again, the right thing to do. You look at the jobs report that came out today that showed that construction jobs for the first time are showing an uptick. You look at the real estate market and what is going on with existing home sales.

The economy is going in the right direction. The president has done a great job to get things back on track. But we need to keep moving forward in that direction and so, I would have voted yes.

KAYE: Well, you're going to be a busy man in a busy Congress certainly with a lot of big issues ahead of you. You've got the federal deficit, the spending cuts, debt ceiling. If the last Congress had so many challenges producing a bill to avoid the fiscal cliff, do you think this congress will be more productive and if so why?

VEASEY: You know, I think that remains to be seen. I think that, again, that congressmen need to hear from their constituents and people need to know that, hey, we sent you guys up there to get to work. We mean business. Stop all of the partisan bickering.

Of course, Republicans and Democrats are always going to have differences on issues. But things of this nature that could cause economic catastrophe, those sorts of things, we should be able to work a lot easier on.

And that's why I'm up here. I want to work with my Republican colleagues. I've reached out to all of my Republican colleagues in the north Texas area to let them know I want to work with them and I will continue to reach across the aisle, all across the Congress, working with Republicans, because I know that it is very important that we do a better job of working together.

KAYE: I want to ask you about a comment made by the number two Senate Republican, Senator John Cornyn of Texas. He faulted the president for the fiscal brinksmanship as he called it, but he also suggested it may be necessary to shut down the government in fact in order to secure this long-term fiscal well being.

What are your thoughts on that?

VEASEY: I think that would be a disaster particularly for our state of Texas, where our economy continues to do a little bit better than maybe the rest of the country. And I don't think that the average Texan wants that and I think it would be terrible for the country.

And so, I hope that, you know, Mr. Cornyn or Senator Cornyn would definitely, you know, rethink that. But I think that that's the sort of thing we need to get away from in Washington, D.C.

KAYE: Yes. Certainly, this new Congress has more diversity than we've ever seen before.


KAYE: Record number of Latinos in the House, record number of women in the Senate. What does this tell you about where we are in the country and do you think it'll make a difference in whether the president will be able to get his agenda done?

VEASEY: Yes. Absolutely. The new Congress is absolutely amazing. When you look at the number of Latinos, you look at the number of women I believe at New Hampshire, the entire congressional delegation in New Hampshire consists of women.

Absolutely, the new Congress is very diverse and I hope that that signals some change. But I think even with the diversity, again, that the Democrats, and we mainly, when you talk about the diversity, that is within the Democratic contest. I believe the new Democrats that are here, that we want to do what's right for the country. We're proud of our diversity but we all love our country and we want to get things back on track.

KAYE: Congressman Marc Veasey, a pleasure to speak with you this morning. Thank you.

VEASEY: Thank you, Randi.

KAYE: And next hour, at 8:15, we'll go to the other side of the aisle and talk to the Republican congressional freshman for his take on inheriting last year's congressional leftovers. BLACKWELL: And this is really a dramatic story of survival. Look at this. Two teenagers in Arizona trapped on a frozen lake. All they had to hang on to is that tree.



BLACKWELL: Twenty minutes after the hour.

The only thing between these teenagers in Arizona and the bottom of the icy lake was that dead tree. They hung on to it for four hours in 20-degree weather after the ice around them started to crack. Firefighters who saw the boat came to the rescue. Later, the boys thanked those firefighters and promised not to explore any more frozen lakes.


CHRISTIAN VAN ALLER, RESCUED FROM LAKE: Dear firefighters, thank you so much for helping me and my friend to be able to get back safely to the ground. We are very sorry about making you all come out and do this. We shouldn't have walked on the ice in the first place.

ALEX ORTEN, RESCUED FROM LAKE: I regret my choices deeply and, again, thank all for sacrificing so much to save us.


BLACKWELL: A third boy who have made it to shore call for help on his cell phone.

KAYE: You know, having lived in Minnesota for seven years --


KAYE: I've seen so many stories like this, because people just walk out on the frozen lakes and it's always up to these incredibly brave guys to get out there and rescue them. You always think, you know, the ice is thick enough. But every year, they publish it. Don't go out there until it's this thick. Nobody listens.

BLACKWELL: The little foot tap test, where you put a foot out there, like yes, we're good.

KAYE: I remember the first time I walked on a frozen lake. It was pretty scary.

BLACKWELL: Four hours on that tree.

KAYE: Yes, that is pretty scary.

BLACKWELL: Well, the coast line of Alaska had a rude wakeup call early this morning. A 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of Alaska around 4:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

Officials sent out a tsunami warning shortly after the quake but it's now been canceled and there's been no damage is reported.

KAYE: And now to Florida where a woman dove through a glass window to escape her burning home after a plane crashed into it. All three people aboard that small plane died in the crash. The pilot reported mechanical problems, was trying to make an emergency landing at an airport a mile away. He said the plane was shaking uncontrollably when it crashed. The woman who lived in the house is expected to be OK.

BLACKWELL: North Carolina is fighting to have the words "choose life" on some of its license plates. The state is appealing a court ruling that said the plates violated the First Amendment because there's no alternative for the people who support abortion rights.

Reports say the money from selling the plates would support some crisis pregnancy centers. The Choose Life campaign argues 29 other states already have similar plates.

KAYE: You may hear a lot of stories in the news about people getting sick, even dying after eating tainted food. Well, it often results in massive recalls of fruits, veggies, packaged foods. Well, now, the FDA is making a change to try and stop that.

Here is CNN's Athena Jones with more.


ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Listeria in cantaloupes. Salmonella in peanut butter. E. coli in lettuce. Foodborne illnesses strike one in six American every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Nearly 130,000 of them end up in the hospital and some 3,000 die.

New rules proposed are aimed at changing that. They're being applauded by food safety advocates.

CHRIS WALDROP, CONSUMER FEDERATION OF AMERICA: This is a really important step toward developing food safety standards that would prevent contamination in food whether it's being produced in a food factory or being produced on the farm.

JONES: The rules would require many domestic and foreign producers of food to be sold in the U.S. to develop plans to prevent their foods from causing foodborne illnesses and to correct any problems that do arise.

The rules also set standards for the safe production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables, making sure workers wash their hands, for example.

It would focus on high-risk areas like agricultural water, equipment and keeping domesticated and wild animals out of fields.

WALDROP: What these rules are going to look at are microbial hazards so they're looking at the pathogens that caused people to get sick when their food is contaminated, so things like E. coli, listeria, salmonella -- those types of foodborne illnesses. JONES: The goal is to make it easier for producers to track down the cause of problems should they occur and help the FDA ask more quickly to shut them down. The agency says these rules build on existing voluntary industry guidelines. They won't be final until sometime after the four-month period allowed for public comment.

(on camera): The big issue here, food advocates say, is making sure the FDA has enough resources to be able to enforce these rules once they become final. That means money for things like inspectors.

Athena Jones, CNN, Washington.


BLACKWELL: An American filmmaker has returned from Syria where he witnessed the tragedy of war and found out why rebels say they always keep one last bullet. Matthew Van Dyke joins us next.


KAYE: Rates in the U.S. moved even closer to record lows this week. Have a look.


KAYE: Bottom of the hour now. Welcome back, everyone. I'm Randi Kaye.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Thanks for starting your morning with us.

Here are five stories we are watching this morning.

KAYE: Sources tell CNN that President Obama is likely to nominate Republican Chuck Hagel as defense secretary next week. Hagel is a former senator from Nebraska who retired in 2009.

The president has called Hagel a patriot who is doing an outstanding job as a member of the White House intelligence advisory board. But critics have noted that Hagel has opposed sanctions against Iran and the surge of troops in Iraq under the Bush administration.

BLACKWELL: Venezuelan officials say President Hugo Chavez has a severe lung infection and is, quote, "fighting" for his health right now. Despite rumors the 58-year-old won't be able to be inaugurated to his fourth term next week, Vice President Nicolas Maduro says his running mate can always take the oath at a later time.

KAYE: And take a look at this. This is the picture that was posted to Facebook. It appears to be a passenger restrained with duct tape and zip ties. It's from an Iceland Air flight.

The airline says a disruptive male passenger on a flight from Reykjavik to New York was hitting, screaming, and spitting at other passengers all while yelling profanities. When the flight landed in New York, the man was arrested and taken to a local hospital. Alcohol is believed to have been a factor here. BLACKWELL: Wow.

Lance Armstrong's fall from grace continues. "The New York Times" reports that he is contemplating publicly admitting that he doped. The sources tell the paper he is considering an admission because he wants to persuade anti-doping officials to allow him to get back to professional cycling. And "The Times" sources, unnamed associates, doping officials in its report, but Armstrong's attorney tells CNN his client is not in talks with the U.S. or world doping agencies.

You may recall Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned for life last year after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency found there was overwhelming evidence that he was part of a sophisticated doping program.

KAYE: AAA reports the national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline rose 0.3 cents to approximately $3.30 a gallon. The highest prices are in Hawaii, $4. But overall the national average is down 81.9 cents. That's nearly 20 percent and the record high of $4.11 back in the summer of '08.

BLACKWELL: Be brave. Fight for freedom. But keep one bullet for yourself.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I joked that I have -- I always keep one bullet left in my gun for myself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. You must keep that. You keep it for yourself. It's better than if the regime catches you. I guarantee that for you. You must keep one bullet.


BLACKWELL: Compelling video you're seeing for the first time on CNN. It's video shot by American Matthew VanDyke, who traveled with Syrian freedom fighters in Aleppo. He recently returned from his time there and he joins us now live from Washington.

Matthew, thank you, first, for sharing the video and spending some time with us.


BLACKWELL: First question here, you immersed yourself in this bloody conflict in this war-torn country why? I mean, why did you do this?

VANDYKE: I strongly believe in the cause of the Syrian people. I fought in the war in Libya in 2011 and I saw the effects of what we accomplished and I want Syrians to have freedom as well.

BLACKWELL: There are a few moments I want to go over after watching the excerpt that you shared with us. There is a moment with one of the interview subjects. Her name is Noor (ph). She spoke nonchalantly about the rape and torture of a friend. First, let's watch and then we'll talk about it after.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My friend has been arrested for so long. Last week received that she is dead because she was tortured by -- raped -- I don't know. I just don't want to think about that. It makes me sick. I'd rather die. Really, I'd rather die than let them have me for five minutes.


BLACKWELL: I would rather die. And there is another portion here where you asked her after she sees the man being killed, why is she here and fighting? And she says, why should I die cheap? I could be in a kitchen washing dishes. Why should I die cheap?

So much violence here. Is this the new normal there?

VANDYKE: Yes, it is. And it's a shame, you know. Noor is a young woman. She was 24 when I filmed her. She's going to spend her 20s in war. This war will likely go on for years.

And the regime, it's not just women that they rape. They've raped men, women, and children. It's been documented.

You know, it's become so commonplace and not shocking to them that Noor can speak of it, you know, it's sad but she is strong enough to get through it.

BLACKWELL: About a month ago, a secretary general of NATO said Syria's government is approaching collapse. Were you there and do you agree with that? What do you think? Is that the case?

VANDYKE: No. I don't believe that's the case. The regime is still quite strong. The regime controls Damascus, Homs, Hama, Latakia. They are quite well in control. They still control half of Aleppo, the city I was in.

The regime is not in danger of imminent collapse. It could take two or three years.

BLACKWELL: You were walking through the streets of Aleppo with a man in an area that typically would be packed with people. I want to play another moment here.

You're with this man. He put it into terms Americans understand. So, let's watch that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what it means, the center of the city? Can you imagine Wall Street like that? That does happen here. This is the heart of the city. It is very bad when your heart stops.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLACKWELL: The heart of the city stopped. He says it's bad when your heart stops.

How are people there surviving day to day?

VANDYKE: Well, there's parts of the city that look like that. There are parts that are abandoned. There's just a few old men and cats wandering around.

There are other parts where people are staying in the city. They're struggling.

You know, there are shortages now in winter of even basic things like bread, electricity has gone down, water is not working. Life is increasingly miserable. Trash piling up in the streets. But they're making it through it.

BLACKWELL: It is interesting that you said old men and cats. There was a moment where that man walks up to a cat and he says, and I wrote it down here, he says, maybe Americans care about this cat more than the Syrian people.

If you put four or five cats on YouTube, it'll get a million hits. They care more about the cat than they do our people.

How do the Syrians view America's decision thus far not to intervene in Syria?

VANDYKE: They're a little bit shocked, disappointed. They thought after Libya that help would be coming to them. They don't understand. They feel abandoned. They feel abandoned to their deaths and largely they're right.

And it's sad and during my time in Syria, I was constantly asked why doesn't America help? I didn't have good answers for them. I tried to make excuses for policy decisions.

But in the end, there is no excuse for it.

BLACKWELL: Matthew VanDyke, an amazing piece of video you put together and shared with us and we can share with our audience. Thank you so much also for sharing the story.

VANDYKE: Thank you.

KAYE: And back here at home, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide who becomes the parents of a 3-year-old Native American girl. I'll speak with the adoptive parents who are fighting her father for custody.


KAYE: Welcome back. Thirty-nine minutes past the hour now.

A custody battle over a 3-year-old girl known as Baby Veronica has been brewing for years. In all that time I've been right there covering this complicated case. It all began back in 2009 before Veronica was even born. Her biological mother decided to put her up for adoption and that's when the Capobiancos stepped in to adopt her. Just four months after they brought Veronica, home her biological father Dustin Brown filed for custody after he legally waived his parental rights.

Now, a little known federal law from 1978 called the Indian Child Welfare Act allowed him to do so because Brown is part Cherokee and a member of the Cherokee Nation, which means little girl Veronica is part Cherokee, too. The law is designed to keep Indian children with Indian family members and protect the interests of those children.

And just this week the U.S. Supreme Court decided to step in and hear the adoptive parents' appeal.

Matt and Melanie Capobianco are joining me on the phone now to talk about the high court's decision.

Good morning to both of you.

What a rollercoaster this has been. You had Veronica for a couple of years and then the Supreme Court there in South Carolina where you are, decided to have her be handed over to her biological father based on this law.

First of all, your reaction to the news that the U.S. Supreme Court is going to hear your case. What did you think when you got that news yesterday?

MELANIE CAPOBIANCO, FIGHTING FOR CUSTODY OF VERONICA (via telephone): It was just unbelievable. We weren't sure what to expect. It was a low chance and we just feel really extremely happy that they decided to hear it.

KAYE: Matt, did you get any sleep last night?

MATT CAPOBIANCO, FIGHTING FOR CUSTODY OF VERONICA (via telephone): Not too much, no. I kept looking at the clock and realizing it was later than I need to be up. But just really excited, you know, restored some hope and a little faith in the judicial system.

KAYE: Yes. Certainly too early to know exactly what is going to happen but why do you think this case deserves to be heard? I mean, why do you believe it doesn't fit under the umbrella of the Indian Child Welfare Act which was designed in 1978 to try and keep the Indian children in Indian homes, Melanie?

MELANIE CAPOBIANCO: Well, I mean, Veronica was always a part of our home from birth and we just felt like she was in a happy place and that those kinds of needs could have been met through us. I just don't think that was what Congress was thinking about when that act was passed and so many American and Native children were being removed from their homes just like Veronica was being removed from our home.

KAYE: Matt, she wasn't removed from an Indian home, correct? MATT CAPOBIANCO: No. She wasn't. And we certainly would have never deprived her knowing anything about, you know, her Indian heritage. Or we never would have deprived her knowing that side of her family if they had ever asked to know her.

But, you know, we wouldn't deprive her knowing her --

KAYE: Right.

MATT CAPOBIANCO: -- Mexican heritage either or, you know, any part of her heritage. She is multiracial. And she is just a beautiful little girl and she's our daughter and we love her.

KAYE: She is beautiful. No doubt about that. In this case as I mentioned it was a non-Indian mother who initiated the adoption and she may not have been fully forthcoming with social services and the adoption agency that the girl's father was Cherokee. But she also had sole custody, right, of the little girl because Dustin Brown had signed away his rights.

So, how important is that detail do you think, Melanie, to the outcome in this case?

MELANIE CAPOBIANCO: I think it is very important but we just got accepted and I think the lawyers are going to hash that out. We just, you know, know that we feel like it was misused in this case. I mean, regardless of the -- of that particular issue, I mean, she was happy and loved and under state law, she would have stayed with us.

MATT CAPOBIANCO: Yes, absolutely.

KAYE: Yes, I know the hearing is supposed to take place. The court is supposed to take this up in April, mid-April, and then you may not have a decision until June. So what will the next six months or so be like for the two of you as you wait to know if you're going to get your little girl back?


MATT CAPOBIANCO: We'll be biting our nails.

MELANIE CAPOBIANCO: I mean, just the last year has been so hard and at least now we have some hope and it's going to probably -- it's been a rollercoaster and I'm sure it'll continue to be a rollercoaster.

KAYE: I know you have only had a chance to speak with her once. Any hope, Matt, you'll have another phone call with Veronica?

MATT CAPOBIANCO: There's always hope. I don't expect it.

MELANIE CAPOBIANCO: We would love that.

MATT CAPOBIANCO: Yes, we would love that. But, you know, Me and Melanie, we're just -- we've been really strong together and been a united front and we're just going to have to remain that way and do what's best for our little girl. KAYE: I know when I was at your home you have all her toys and things still laid out. So, I know you're hoping she'll be able to come home to them and we'll continue to watch this and check in with you as well.

Matt and Melanie Capobianco, thank you both so much and best of luck.

MATT CAPOBIANCO: Thank you, Randi.


KAYE: A man who answered an ad on Craigslist for sperm now being hit up for child support? An interview with him, next.


BLACKWELL: All right. About 12 minutes to the top of the hour now. Let's take a look at some of the stories we're watching this morning.

KAYE: Venezuelan officials say President Hugo Chavez has a severe lung infection and is, quote, "fighting" for his health right now. Despite rumors the 58-year-old won't be able to be inaugurated to his fourth term next week. Vice President Nicolas Maduro says his running mate can always take the oath at a later time.

BLACKWELL: One hundred fifty-five thousand new jobs were added last month. That's according to the newest jobs report that was released yesterday. Unemployment remained flat at 7.8 percent.

2012 still managed to end the year on the positive side. More than 1.8 million jobs were added last year.

KAYE: Immigration and Customs Enforcement have arrested two people they say are linked to several child porn cases. ICE released this wanted poster of the suspects labeling them Jane and John Doe. Now officials say from tips they arrested the woman in the L.A. area and the man in Tucson. It's all part of the federal crackdown on child pornography called Operation Sunshine which brought in more than 200 suspects.

BLACKWELL: A California senator who plans to propose an assault weapons ban has responded to an iReporter. He's a former Marine who refuses to register his guns. Joshua Boston says if a ban goes into place, he will continue to keep his weapons of the books. A registry will one day lead to government confiscation. Her iReport has drawn more than 1,400 comments.

Senator Dianne Feinstein says she respects Boston's service and his proposed ban would keep the rights of existing gun owners.

KAYE: And stay with us, Joshua Boston will speak with me live 10:45 Eastern Time this morning.

BLACKWELL: A Kansas man thought he was doing a good deed, answering an ad on Craigslist to help the lesbian couple achieve their dream of conceiving a child. But for the sperm donor, William Marotta, it's turned into a legal nightmare and now, he is being asked to pay child support.

Earlier, I spoke with Marotta and his attorney. And I started asking the question most people have, how he even found the ad in the first place.


WILLIAM MAROTTA, MIGHT HAVE TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT AFTER SPERM DONATION: Perusing Craigslist, just almost like window shopping, just looking around, and ran across an ad that was asking for a sperm donor. For what reason, intrigued my interest, answered the ad.

BLACKWELL: So, you answered the ad and they -- you found out it was a lesbian couple who wanted to conceive. When you approached them, when did you find out there would be no doctor involved?

MAROTTA: I didn't know that there was no doctor involved.

BLACKWELL: So from start to finish until you got this information from the state, you did not know that no doctor had been involved with this conception?

MAROTTA: Correct.

BLACKWELL: Ben, William signed a contract with the women. What is your argument for the legality of this contract? Was there an attorney involved with this?

BEN SWINNEN, LAWYER, SWINNEN & ASSOCIATES: There was no attorney involved in the contract at all. The main argument for the legality is that at the time the contract was entered into, there was no child and the rights of the child were not bargained away. It cannot exist before conception.

BLACKWELL: If you are found to have to, after this lawsuit or after this effort to get you to pay child support, you have to pay child support, will you then go after visitation rights and fill out the role of father?

MAROTTA: No, because I'm not her parent. That's Jennifer and Angie.


BLACKWELL: Marotta has asked that the case be thrown out. A hearing has been scheduled for next week.

KAYE: It's a bird! It's a plane! Wait, what the heck is that thing? Some people think it's Superman.


KAYE: Time now to take a look at the top CNN trends on the web this morning.

BLACKWELL: An early contender for dunk of the year. This is nasty. Oh, look at that. The Knicks J.R. Smith insane, spinning reverse, alley- hoop dunk last night at Madison Square Garden. I believe it was the night before last when we saw this.

It brought the crowd to their feet. You see Carmelo get up to his seat. Waved that towel. That is just unbelievable.

KAYE: You're into that.

BLACKWELL: It was a great dunk. Knicks win that game over the Spurs.

KAYE: All right. "Gangnam Style", that is so 2012.

BLACKWELL: It really is.

KAYE: It's so is, right? Will 2013 be the year of the one-pound fish?


KAYE: Oh, yes, I'm liking this.

Yes, 31-year-old Muhammad Nazir has catapulted to fame in his native Pakistan with his viral hit, "One Pound Fish". And now, with 11 million hits, it is spreading around the world. Nazir came up with a song while he was hawking frozen snapper for one British one pound at Queens Market in London.

BLACKWELL: And so you like this?

KAYE: I do. Feeling it.

BLACKWELL: You know, Psy says he doesn't want to sing "Gangnam Style" anymore.

KAYE: Yes, well, good. So, we'll sing "One Pound Fish" from now on.

BLACKWELL: Instead of what? Like what's his other hit?

KAYE: He's got nothing.


KAYE: He'll come up with one, though. I'm sure.

BLACKWELL: "One Pound Fish"; OK.

Was it one small fib for Neil Armstrong?


NEIL ARMSTRONG, ASTRONAUT: It's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.


BLACKWELL: A new documentary suggests that Armstrong may have lied when he said he ad libbed that famous line when he became the first man to step foot on the room. In a recent interview, Armstrong's brother claimed that he thought up the famous line months before the July 16th Apollo 11 mission and that he was supposed to say a man not just man.

KAYE: And in California, some people were shocked when they thought they saw Superman flying over the coast.

Here's Jeanne Moos.



JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He may look like the Man of Steel, but he's actually the man of lightweight foam.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Faster than a speeding bullet.

MOOS: Actually, his top speed is 30 miles per hour. But the sight of Superman flying above the California coast was enough to make a cyclist stop and shoot it. The video went viral, and now folks are wondering.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look! Up in the sky!




MOOS: Yes, if Superman were 5'2" and weighed less than 2 pounds.

He's a sensation on the local news.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The big question: where'd they hide the propeller?


MOOS: It's not nice to laugh at Superman. But we'll show you, on the female version, Supergirl.

OTTO DIEFFENBACH, DESIGNER: There's a propeller.

MOOS: There's an electric motor and a battery that goes on her head.

Otto Dieffenbach has built about a dozen of these remote- controlled figures. He's a former Air Force test pilot, with a long career in aviation. He even customized Superman with a cape, that he had to shorten to keep his superhero aerodynamic.

DIEFFENBACH: Aesthetically, it adds a lot to it, and plus, it sounds really cool, when you fly-by it, and it's fluttering.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And plus, it's removable. MOOS: Otto and partner Gary Graft (ph) plan to launch a business, in a few months, selling slightly smaller remote-controlled figures. For under $500 each, the buyers would assemble and customize their superheroes.

DIEFFENBACH: What I really like to show off are her stiletto heels on the back.

MOOS (on camera): She's very shapely, actually.

DIEFFENBACH: She actually started as a nose art. You know, like the old aircraft used to have nose art.

MOOS (voice-over): Modeled after pinup Vargas girls, but Supergirl's anatomy offered engineering opportunities.

(on camera): You mean, her breasts are actually landing gear?

DIEFFENBACH: Yes. Silicone implants, so that she would roll along the ground and do graceful landings.

MOOS (voice-over): While the males have to resort to sort of sticking their landings -- she's shapelier than a speeding bullet.

Jeanne Moos, CNN --

(on camera): Hey, get your hands off her, Gary!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is my wife going to see this?

MOOS: -- New York.