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Hostages Taken at Algerian Oil Field; Hikers Die of Exposure; A Look at Cellphones; President Unveils Gun Control Measures; Examining Inauguration Preparations

Aired January 16, 2013 - 15:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM": Breaking news back on this story, this act of terror is what Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is calling it.

You have American hostages held against their will at this BP facility in the Northern African country of Algeria.

Chris Lawrence, let me go to you at the Pentagon. We knew that in total there were about, what, 40 hostages, as many as seven Americans.

Tell me what more you're learning as far as demands from this group.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, we're still trying to piece together specific demands, but we know that some of the Algerian hostages have now been reportedly released, Brooke.

And, again, that may lead down the line to getting a better idea of exactly what these hostage takers want.

We do know that the al Qaeda affiliate that has been operating in that area is one of the most well funded al Qaeda groups out there around the world.

They have literally made tens of millions of dollars off smuggling and kidnapping, specifically kidnapping Algerian business men and politicians, and some foreigners, and then collecting ransoms off of that to become a very well funded outfit.

BALDWIN: So you're saying that the Algerian hostages within this group have been freed, yet there are potentially as many as seven Americans still sitting there, against their will, and what about -- who were you saying was taking the lead, the Algerian government on this?

LAWRENCE: For the most part on the ground because they have the best sense of what is going on the ground. They have the first security responders who would be able to go to the BP facility and get an idea of what is going on there.

But from the U.S. side, the State Department and the FBI would be taking the lead in consultations with the U.S. military's Africa command. The key thing with Africa command is for a long time they didn't have what is called a commanders-in-extremis force. It is a lethal, small unit, specifically trained for counterterrorism missions and that was a big criticism post-Benghazi, that they didn't have a command, a unit close by who might have been able to respond quickly.

Well, post-Benghazi, that unit has been established and we're told that in all likelihood they would be available. First off, though, you've got to get a clear situation of what is going on the ground and I don't think U.S. military officials at this point have that clear view of exactly what the picture is there at the BP facility.

BALDWIN: OK. As you point out, this is one of the most affluent al Qaeda affiliates in the whole world and this North African nation, seven Americans held hostage.

As soon as you get more information, Chris Lawrence, we'll come back to you. Chris, thank you.

Bottom of the hour, I'm Brooke Baldwin. A fast moving winter snowstorm is moving to the northeast. Take a look at this picture here of the radar. Freezing rain, sleet, snow, all expected to sweep through new England by the end of the day.

Weather conditions are treacherous, like this here. Unfortunately, one family suffered a tremendous loss because of it.

We have learned a father took his two boys on a hiking trip in Missouri Saturday during what seemed to be a great day to be outside, but they did not ever return to their lodge.

Our affiliate, KTVI, has more on this severe weather that caused a tragedy.


ANDY BAKER, KTVI: If you graduate high school here, you never truly move away. So, Waterloo is ready to wrap its arms around Sara, class of '95.

She became Sara Decker moving around the world, three boys, two girls, they had just moved back to a house in millstat after David got a civilian department of defense job at Scott air force base.

CHERIE WENGER, FAMILY ACQUAINTANCE: I just met the kids at Dairy Queen like a month ago, two months ago after a chorus concert. Just, I don't know, just very devastating.

BAKER: The family was camping along the Ozark Trail in Reynolds County over the weekend. The sheriff says 36-year-old David and sons Dominick, 10, and Grant, 8, went for a hike near the lodge Saturday morning.

A searcher found them lifeless nearly 24 hours later. The sheriff says the weather turned on them, heavy rain and a sudden temperature drop of about 40 degrees. They just weren't prepared. TOM VOLNER, REYNOLDS COUNTY SHERIFF (via telephone): I'm sure yesterday was around 60 degrees when they set out. They were seen around 2:00 at Suttons Bluff, but by that time, the heavy rains had set in.

They were all avid hikers. Just we think because of the storm moving in as quick as it did and the weather, the temperatures, that it was actually exposure.

WENGER: It is just devastating. I think the whole town is probably just mortified about it. It is horrible.


BALDWIN: Andy Baker with that.

And, now, we go to Ali Velshi with some big news here today. Hey, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Do you know what this is? Have you seen one of these?

I'm going to talk to you about this and the two guys behind me when I come back. It is a big week for cell phones.

We'll be right back.


VELSHI: Don't pretend like you don't know when I'm holding up to my ear, one of the first cell phones ever around.

Even if you hadn't used one, you've seen it in the movie. Remember Gordon Gecko in "Wall Street?" Listen.


MICHAEL DOUGLAS, ACTOR, "WALL STREET": I don't care where or how you get it.


VELSHI: All right, he made that idea of doing business from your cell phone famous back then.

By the way, that was "Wall Street," the first movie. I actually like this scene from "Wall Street -- Money Never Sleeps," the sequel.


VELSHI: This is a financial crisis and anyone who doesn't admit that is just kidding themselves.


VELSHI: But I digress. Let's talk about how ubiquitous cell phones became.

It wasn't this. It was this, the BlackBerry. This was about 10 iterations in, but it's what so many of us learned to use a smartphone on. This really led the market.

But I'll be showing you a little bit about Apple. This is where the market is right now and many of you have been asking me whether Apple's stock is a great buy. So, let's go back to 2007 and take a look at trajectory this stock has been on, all the way up to the middle of 2012 and then it had some problems around here and started to drop.

People started asking me, so several weeks ago, I spoke to a so-called technical analyst who looks at stock prices and said, where should it go if it is in the mid-500s. Here is what she told me.


KATIE STOCKTON, MANAGING DIRECTOR, MKM PARTNERS: The initial resistance, as we call it, is around $600. That's where Apple has met selling pressure pretty recently.

I think that's a conservative, upside target for the intermediate- terms. It is about 10 percent above current levels.

And beyond that, if we see a breakout above that level, I think we could look at $700, again, which is where we peaked in September.


VELSHI: Let me remind you what she was saying. It was in the mid- 500s. She thought it might hit some resistance, once it gets to 600, but if it gets beyond that, it could go to 700.

Guess what happened. It ended up going back lower, 480-ish. Does that make Apple a screaming buy or is there really a problem?

The problem is that there are rumors that Apple is buying fewer components for its iPhones. Why would they be doing that? Because they're likely thinking that they're going to sell fewer of these iPhones.

Let's talk a little bit about this guy. Everybody who knows -- everybody knows who he is. He started the revolution. These guys may have had the first cell phone. This might have been the first smartphone.

But when Steve jobs said the following, he started the real smartphone revolution. Listen.


STEVE JOBS, FORMER CEO, APPLE: This is one device. And we are calling it iPhone.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VELSHI: We're calling it iPhone. Back then, people used BlackBerries, then they started switching over to iPhones.

I bet you don't know who these two guys are. You would have if you were me, because I've come from Canada. These are two Canadians. These are the guys from Canada who started Research In Motion, the company that makes the BlackBerry.

What they didn't do, they did a lot of things right, but when they first saw this iPhone they looked at it and said, nah, I don't think it will be that big a deal. That was not the right thing for them to do.

Let's talk about iPhone versus BlackBerry sales. The iPhone came out in 2007. The blue line is BlackBerry sales. The red line is iPhone sales. See they sort of trended together for a while and then in 2010, Apple started doing interesting things and started doing that with its sales.

Look what happened to BlackBerry. That's where we are today. We have Research In Motion, a company that is really, really struggling in the market. In 2007 when the iPhone came out, BlackBerry was still doing well because companies like to use the BlackBerry.

Going up way into 2008 and then look at that, look at that drop off, and this company has really, really struggled. You can see right here, actually, little bit of excitement.

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, BlackBerry unveiled its BlackBerry 10. It is coming out on January 30th. I spoke to a guy who said that this stock could go up 400 percent, could go from about $15 up to about $60.

So, the issue here is that BlackBerry lives to fight another day. If this BlackBerry 10 is all it is promised to be, this company could be back in the game.

The rule here is, if, BlackBerry, you do get another chance, don't ruin it and the thing for Apple to think about is don't ignore BlackBerry. You've been able to write them off for years. Now, they may be back in the game.

By the way, for all those -- all of you who don't use a BlackBerry or iPhone, you're using some kind of an Android, or Windows-based device, those are still very popular.

But right now, we're looking to see what happens with Apple stock, BlackBerry stock, iPhones, and BlackBerries.

That's it for me. I'm Ali Velshi. Same time tomorrow. I'm out.


BALDWIN: Gun-owners now know for certain how the pro-gun control wave hitting the nation may impact them. The president just today announcing his proposals to curb gun violence today in the wake of the 27 killed in Newtown, Connecticut, last month.

Here's what the president is asking Congress to do. Limit gun magazines to 10 rounds, ban quote/unquote, "military-style assault weapons," establish universal background checks so buyers at gun shows and private sales, they'll have to be screened in addition to having to go in a store and dedicate more money to helping treat mental illness and enhance school security.

Look at the numbers here, this poll we're getting, this new CNN/"Time"/ORC poll, majority of Americans appear to back the move. Fifty-five percent of those asked were in favor of stricter gun control laws.

And joining me now here in studio is Jerry Henry, the executive director of Welcome.


BALDWIN: Did you listen to the president today?

HENRY: I listened to part of it.

BALDWIN: Give me your number one biggest beef with what he laid out?

HENRY: He did absolutely nothing to address the criminal element, all the things he pointed out will only affect law abiding citizens who already abide by the law.

There is nothing in there that is going to give a criminal any more knowledge that will make him read the law, understand what is in it and follow it.

BALDWIN: Universal background checks, that wouldn't help eradicate some criminality aspect to future buyers.

HENRY: There have been studies over and over of criminals in jail. You ask them where they get their guns. They don't go to gun shows to get their guns. They get them off the street from the underworld.

BALDWIN: The president, and, look, anyone can acknowledge what happened in Newtown, what happened in Newtown may not have been prevented had all this been enacted by Congress more than a month ago. We can't say that for sure.

What it seems like a lot of people are saying is, look, at least if you can -- sounds like my parents, back in the day, you shouldn't stay out later than midnight. If something happens after midnight, things just get worse for a lot of youngsters out there.

I think, OK, well, right now, if you were to have a lot of people say, if you were to have laws enacted, universal background checks, ban on military assault weapons, it would lessen the probability of an element of criminality, an element of young people being killed.

HENRY: Really. That would ...

BALDWIN: One side of the argument, that's all I'm saying.

HENRY: That would have stopped a young man from killing his mother, stealing three of her guns, stealing her car and driving down the road to a school and shooting somebody?

I fail to see how that would have stopped any of that.

BALDWIN: I take your point, that's how I preface the whole thing, beyond Newtown, other examples of people using, for example, an AR-15s le AR-15, you own an AR15.

HENRY: Yes, I do.

BALDWIN: What do you use it for?

HENRY: Target practice, shoot varmints, I live out toward the edge of town and I can shoot on my property.

And it is a very small caliber gun compared to hunting guns, so it is not going to do anywhere near the damage that people tell you it will do.

BALDWIN: We have a clip just exactly showing what an AR-15 is capable. Let's roll that.

Why do you need that to shoot varmints?

HENRY: I didn't count the number of rounds, but if you're shooting varmints, what does it matter if you're defending yourself, then you may need more rounds than that.

The lady in Snellville the other day that shot the guy six times and hit him five, if there had been one more guy or two more guys standing there, her six rounds would have not been enough to protect herself.

I've never known anybody to be in a gunfight that said, gee, I had way too many bullets.

BALDWIN: What would you propose? I think everyone is on the same side in terms of not wanting more innocent lives lost.

HENRY: Right.

BALDWIN: what would you propose that the nation do to help lessen the probability of that happening next?

HENRY: Well, we need to -- number one, we have over 20,000 gun laws on the books. We need to enforce those gun laws.

We don't need to put people in prison and make it a revolving door for them to come back out. And that's what we do.

And then, when we find somebody that is mentally insane or mentally unbalanced mentally insane or imbalanced, we haul them off to the hospital, let them stay a few years and then they're out and back on the street with us again. We need to punish people for the crimes that they do. You cannot legislate evil out of the minds of men. You just can't do it.

BALDWIN: Are you loyal to the NRA?

HENRY: I am a member of the NRA, have been since 1964 and I'm a patron member, but my loyalty is with

I do follow what the NRA does, nationally.

BALDWIN: They have a tremendous influence.

HENRY: Yes, they do.

BALDWIN: Do you agree with their influence?

HENRY: I do agree with that.

BALDWIN: You do?

HENRY: Well, on most cases. There have been some that they've waffled that we prefer not to waffle on but, for the most part, yes, they do have a tremendous influence.

BALDWIN: OK, Jerry Henry, we just wanted your perspective and I appreciate it.

HENRY: Well, thank you.


HENRY: Thank you. I enjoyed it.

BALDWIN: Thank you, sir.

HENRY: Appreciate it.

BALDWIN: And we'll be right back.


BALDWIN: Single ladies and gents, listen up here. "Town & Country Magazine" is out with its list of the world's most eligible bachelors.

Taking the top five spot. Thirty-one, he is the second-youngest, head presidential speechwriter, he is Jon Favreau.

Coming in at number fourth, born into an Argentine polo dynasty, a 2010 Triple Crown winner, Facundo Pieres.

And in third place, he is the oldest of dad Ralph's three children. Yes, that Ralph, Ralph Lauren. A movie producer and former actor, it is Andrew Lauren.

And, number two, currently sixth on the official world-golf ranking and, if that doesn't hurt -- I should say -- he's pretty easy on the eyes. He's Australian Adam Scott.

And the number one bachelor, according to "Town & Country" is, no surprise, second in line for the royal throne, his brother Prince William married Kate Middleton, Prince Harry. Prince Harry, number one bachelor.

This weekend, I'm headed to cover the inauguration with the rest of the best and brightest here at CNN. And I want to tell about the luxury package.

I'm not getting this. Maybe you are at one hotel. It includes his- and-her Rolex watches, a $5,000 shopping spree at Sachs and that's just the beginning.


BALDWIN: Luxury fit for a president can be yours if you're willing to pay, of course. With the presidential inauguration days away, hundreds of thousands are expected to descend upon the nation's capital this weekend.

Washington-area hotels are offering up some pretty posh lodging packages for high-rolling guests.

Shannon Travis with "Political Pop" and, Shannon, I presume you're being put up in the presidential suite at the Fairmont.

SHANNON TRAVIS, POLITICAL REPORTER: Brooke, I was going to ask you the same question. I know you've snapped up your suite already.

BALDWIN: Of course. Of course. No.

TRAVIS: Let's go through a few of these.

Me, neither. Me, neither. So, I think we'll be out maybe at the Motel 8 or something like a lot of other people.


TRAVIS: Exactly.

Yeah, these are pretty luxurious packages. Let's run through a few of them that I checked into today that are still available.

Let's start with the Ritz Carlton Georgetown. Now, for $201,300, you can have four nights at this property. It provides two floors, five suites, one deluxe room, Brook, a 24-hour butler service, custom- designed necklace by a local jewelry designer and a $20,000 shopping spree at Bloomingdale's. Just in case you don't have your tux yet or your dress yet, you can run on over to Bloomingdale's.

Another package that I looked into that's also still available, the W Washington, D.C. It has a killer view up in the ...

BALDWIN: Nice rooftop.

TRAVIS: Exactly. You've been there. That rooftop is killer.

A five-room suite, $50,000 for four nights, a private nighttime limo tour of the national monuments, all except Sunday when they're actually preparing for the inauguration day on Monday, $100,000 jewelry loaner. They'll have a designer come over and hook you up with all of the baubles and diamonds that you want.

BALDWIN: There's that view.

TRAVIS: There's that view.

And post-inauguration massages.

And one last thing. I don't think we have a full-screen for it, but at the Fairmont, Brooke, take a load of this. $100,000 for four nights will get you two Secret Service agents -- fake ones, not real ones.

BALDWIN: (INAUDIBLE) Brooke Baldwin today.

TRAVIS: Exactly. They're going to have some of their workers dress up as a secret service agent. A BMW at your disposal, you'll be driven around in that around D.C. And matching Rolex watches.

BALDWIN: His and hers Rollies. Nice.

TRAVIS: There you go.

BALDWIN: Shannon Travis, a gal can dream, right? Shannon Travis, we'll see you in D.C. this weekend, my friend. Not at the Fairmont. Thank you.

And, now, before I let you go, with Lance Armstrong's Oprah interview coming up tomorrow, we have a question. Has cheating become commonplace?

Tomorrow at 3:00 Eastern, we will examine precisely that. "Why We Cheat -- the Psychology and the Science Behind Cheating," we're all over it. Don't miss it tomorrow, 3:00 Eastern.

That's it for me here . I'm Brooke Baldwin in Atlanta.

Now, we go to Washington to Wolf Blitzer. "THE SITUATION ROOM" begins now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Brooke, thanks very much.