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White House Meeting on Guns Next Hour; Big Immigration Reforms Unveiled Today; Senate Set To Vote On Sandy Relief; 231 Dead In Brazil Nightclub Fire; Social Media Sites: Show Me Your ID!; Petition Calls on Sheriff Al Cannon To Resign; What's Killing the Tea Party?

Aired January 28, 2013 - 10:00   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, Newtown, Aurora, Oak Creek, three towns that have seen their share of gun violence. Now the police chiefs are headed to the White House today to talk about ways to keep that from happening again.

Forget about sharing likes or dislikes. Facebook and Instagram want you to share your driver's license online. We'll tell you why.

Go to your fridge. Grab a bottle of Gatorade. Look at the ingredients. One no longer is there, that would be flame retardant. Yes, flame retardant. Believe it or not it's still in 10 percent of the drinks sold in the United States. Found out which ones.

NEWSROOM starts now.


COSTELLO: Good morning. Thank you for being with us. I'm Carol Costello. Next hour police chiefs from around the nation are expected at the White House to talk about ways to curb gun violence.

The police chiefs from Aurora, Colorado, Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and Newtown, Connecticut, also expected to attend. All three of these towns were scenes of mass shootings last year.

California Senator Dianne Feinstein is trying to prevent such shootings. As you know, she's introduced legislation that would ban certain types of military style assault weapons and high capacity ammunition.

New York's police commissioner though, Ray Kelly, says while he applauds Dianne Feinstein and what she's doing, he told CBS' "Face the Nation" handguns are even bigger problems in cities like his.


COMMISSIONER RAY KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE: A lot was eliminated last year, but what we know is that he wasn't motivated for this person. "Inspire" magazine in which he was the prime mover behind, the magazine or this is the article that he read that justified to him the killing of children -- the killing of women. The problem really is concealable handguns. Only 2 percent of the people that we've arrested for guns in the last two years have had assault weapons. We don't want them on the streets. Make no mistake about it, but the problem is the handgun, 60 percent of the murders in New York City are caused by handguns.


COSTELLO: White House correspondent Brianna Keilar joins me now. Brianna, with Feinstein's bill focusing on certain semi automatic weapons and Commissioner Kelly calling handguns the real problem, I don't know. It just seems like it's going to be impossible to pass such a bill.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's certainly not going to be easy, that's for sure, Carol. We've known that even immediately following the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. But the administration is continuing to push and Vice President Joe Biden is really spearheading this effort for increased regulations, trying to deal with gun violence.

Today we're seeing that at the White House as national representatives from law enforcement are here and also which really draws eyes here is having these sheriffs from law enforcement chiefs coming from Newtown, Connecticut, from Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and Aurora, Colorado, where we've seen such, you know, visible incidents of gun violence.

They will obviously be discussing some of the president's recommendations that have come out recently. He wants to close what's called that gun show loophole, making sure that anyone who purchases a gun, even if it's private, that they do so with a background check.

You mentioned the assault weapons ban, reinstatement, and also limiting the high capacity ammunition clips, that's on there as well, as is dedicating more resources to mental health. They'll be talking about all of these things.

As you know, Carol, there has been pushback from folks who support gun rights and that include, of course, the National Rifle Association. The White House is really looking to get some support from law enforcement, which obviously has some clout as it tries to move forward and focus on dealing with this really difficult politically problem.

COSTELLO: And I know the president spoke a little bit about gun control over the weekend. What did he say?

KEILAR: He did. So he did an interview with the "New Republic," and he was asked about gun violence. He was asked has he ever shot a gun. This was interesting because we hadn't heard him talk about it. He said, yes, in fact, at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time.

He was asked about the family. He said not the girls, but oftentimes guests of mine go up there. And I have a profound respect for the traditions of hunting that trace back in the country for generations. So this is sort of interesting, Carol, because I'll tell you that has been lampooned, these comments on the right.

There's a lot of suspicion among folks who support gun rights. Not just on the Republican side, some on the Democratic side, suspicions about what the administration wants to do here when it comes to gun violence.

President Obama has repeatedly tried to say that he respects constitutional rights to bear arms, but obviously, there are still a lot of suspicions and we saw that in the reaction to what he said to the "New Republic."

COSTELLO: Well, I don't know if this skeet shooting thing will calm things down but we'll see. Brianna Keilar, reporting live from the White House.

Also new this morning, a bipartisan push on one of the most divisive issues in Washington, it's a nation's immigration system. And this group of eight Republican and Democratic senators are proposing big, big changes.

They will formally unveil details later this afternoon, but here's what we know. The plan offers a path to residency, even citizenship for millions of immigrants who are in the United States illegally. It also calls for unemployment verification system that prevents identity theft.

And it would end hiring of unauthorized workers in the future. Our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash is working her sources on Capitol Hill. So, Dana, take us behind the scenes, if you will, and give us background on how this happened.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the best way to explain to our viewers is to remind them what happened in the election with Latino voters. I just went back and looked at the numbers. I want to put them up here.

The Latino voters, there were 16 percent of the electorate. So it was pretty big, certainly the biggest so far. Mitt Romney got only 27 percent, only 27 percent. Barack Obama got 71 percent.

And if you just compare that to the last Republican president, George Bush, when he won re-election in 2004, he got 44 percent. So you see that precipitous drop from George Bush to Mitt Romney. There was a big drop from McCain, too. You see that really, really abundantly clear.

So what happened is, after they got crushed with Latino voters, Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina who has been working on this on and off for years, called up Democrat Chuck Schumer and said let's restart some talks on comprehensive immigration and soon there was a group of -- core group of six bipartisan senators that formed.

They met shortly after the election. They met five times, John McCain's office and Chuck Schumer's office. And they came up with what ended up as a pretty comprehensive bipartisan proposal. There are some things left on the table, but they got comfortable enough so that I'm told Chuck Schumer called the president yesterday and said we have this.

We're going to unveil it and we're going to do it tomorrow, meaning this afternoon. Now, there are some things that they still have to work out. Some very, very sticky things, Carol, like how you actually define border security and a secure border, and how you define that path to citizenship.

For example, Marco Rubio says that he does not want attorney crease the number of green cards for what would be 11 million new people here who would be eligible for those and Democrats say that they do want to do that. Those are some examples of pretty deep differences, but by and large this is the most comprehensive bipartisan agreement that we've seen in years and years.

COSTELLO: All right, Dana Bash reporting live from Washington. And President Obama will unveil his own plan for immigration in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

Three months after Superstorm Sandy tore through the northeast, devastating lives and communities, survivors will be watching to see if lawmakers send more help their way today. The senate set to vote on a $50 billion-aid package just hours from now. For many families that help can't come fast enough. Tens of thousands still displaced without adequate heat during one of the coldest months of the year.

And now the latest developments in that horrifying and deadly night club fire in Brazil. About an hour ago, we learned police have arrested one of the club's owners and two members of the band. The band used pyrotechnics during its show and those fireworks are a possible cause of the fire.

More than 230 people died in the inferno, nearly half of them college students from a nearby campus. CNN's Shasta Darlington outside the club in Santa Maria, Brazil. Shasta is on the phone right now. Can you tell us any more about these arrests, Shasta?

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, we're still learning the details. Basically there have been a lot of lines of investigation. And some of the problems that have come up, as they investigate, relate to the club's evacuation system. Did they have an appropriate system in place?

There have been questions about whether or not their licenses were up to date. There have also been some questions about whether security guards might have initially tried to prevent people from leaving the club. Obviously, they didn't know that there was a fire.

But they might have tried to t a least very briefly to prevent people from leaving because they thought they were trying to get out without paying. On the other hand, there were two members of the band that was playing who were arrested.

It was the band that sort of put on this pyrotechnics show, this amateur pyrotechnics show. That is when the fire started. So what responsibility, if any, did that show have in starting the fire?

And these are obviously some of the questions that investigators hope to answer during all of the work they're doing here in the questioning of those individuals. So we hope to have more answers in coming hours and coming days. But I think it's really too soon to jump to any conclusions -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Shasta Darlington reporting live on the phone from Santa Maria, Brazil.

Your driver's license, sure, you need it to buy alcohol or board a plane, but how about to logon to Facebook and Instagram? Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange. Seriously? I mean, Facebook and Instagram want you to post your driver's license online?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENTN: Well, no, they want you at least to show that you are who is actually logging in to that site. So this is coming from, you know this, lately social networks are getting into a lot of hot water over privacy concerns.

What's been happening lately, Carol, there have been a number of users apparently locked out of their accounts, so what that said is it's prompted not just Instagram, but Facebook as well to ask you to confirm your identity.

Now, this isn't just a simple e-mail confirmation, but instead they're asking that you provide a copy of your government photo ID which, of course, shows your full name, birthday, often your address, and for some that hasn't been enough because some users are getting these follow-up messages that ask for more document tags like a birth certificate.

It's obviously raising lots of big questions about user privacy. So we put a call in to Facebook to find out more. We have yet to hear back from them. At the same time, you know this isn't coming completely out of left field. You know, all of this is actually stated in each of these networks' terms of service.

The problem is, probably you or I just never read those terms of service. Now, in Facebook terms, they state that people have to provide their real names and information, and these checks are actually meant to help you, help protect you.

They're meant to keep users from pretending to be someone they're not. While it's annoying and a little off-putting to provide this documentation you wouldn't want somebody on your Facebook using your likeness.

These checks come at an interesting time when you consider how a woman's photo was used without her knowledge to allegedly dupe Manti Te'o. So, Carol, you know, there is -- you know, it is a little off- putting to think about handing over this kind of information. But then again, you don't want somebody impersonating you on Facebook, either -- Carol.

COSTELLO: I know it's like a double-edged sword. KOSIK: Yes or choose not to be on Facebook. You don't have to, right?

COSTELLO: That's true, but --

KOSIK: But you want to.

COSTELLO: You know that's not likely.

KOSIK: You want to.

COSTELLO: Well, is it ever a good idea? If they're asking for your birth certificate, it must be a secure site, but I would never put my birth certificate anywhere on the Internet.

KOSIK: Well, obviously you're t not going to post it on the Internet. The whole point is, is to give them this information and it's supposedly kept private -- kept as private information. Once again, we do have a call out to Facebook. We're dying to ask that question, what are you going to do with this information? Yes, we want to ask that question -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right, Alison Kosik, thanks so much.

A sheriff in South Carolina says he may not gun control laws if he deems it unconstitutional. Now there's a petition calling for that sheriff to resign. You will hear from the man who started that petition next.


COSTELLO: It's 16 minutes past the hour, time to check our top stories. Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi is trying to tamp down a 4- day of antigovernment violence. Protesters clashed with security forces after hearing reports of night time curfews being ordered and a limited state of emergency being declared.

Watch this incredible rescue out of Australia. Two women and a small child trapped in the bed of their submerged truck. To protect the child the women stuffed the kid into a waterproof duffel bag that rescuers then airlifted into a chopper. Wow. The women and kid all OK this morning.

Beginning today there may be a new hidden cost when you use your credit card. Stores in 40 states now have the authority to tack on a checkout fee. That could be as much as 3 percent of your entire purchase. >

President Obama meets with some police chiefs and sheriffs to talk about reducing gun violence today. Sheriff Al Cannon of Charleston County, South Carolina, will not be among them.

Last Friday, I talked with the sheriff who told me he might not enforce new federal gun laws he considered unconstitutional.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SHERIFF AL CANNON, CHARLESTON COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA: We have an obligation to follow or enforce lawful laws, if you will, constitution allows. It's very similar to the responsibility that the military member has to, on the one hand, obey orders, but he's also obligated not to follow unlawful orders. It's left up to that individual to make that decision.


COSTELLO: There are plenty of people though who do not agree with Sheriff Cannon's plan. Brady Quirk-Garvan is one of them. He even launched an online petition calling for the sheriff's resignation and he's joining us now from Charleston, South Carolina. Good morning, Brady.

BRADY QUIRK-GARVAN, FOUNDER, RESIGNALCANNON.COM: Good morning, Carol. Thanks for having me on.

COSTELLO: Thanks for being here. First of all, when you hear the sheriff, what goes through your mind?

GARVAN: Well, I think especially for those of us here in the south, you know, we can't help, but remember the civil rights movement and really we don't need another George Wallace copycat.

I think what we hear is someone that says, I don't want to obey these laws because I don't agree with them and that's not really his role. His role is the sheriff and it's to enforce the law. He doesn't get to decide what's constitutional and what's not.

COSTELLO: He told me he would, if, of course, there are no federal gun control laws passed just yet, but if there are, he says he will go to the attorney general and discuss with him whether it's constitutional and then he will make a decision. But I think in the end he kind of said, well, I'm going to uphold the law. Do you believe him?

GARVAN: Well, I think this might be some level of sort of political grandstanding. I think, you know, he probably made these statements to play to the Tea Party base but I think there's a reality that, you know, any judge would force him to uphold the law and, you know, any judge would sort of advise him to follow the law. I don't think anyone is going to say, go ahead and balk federal law just because you don't happen to like it.

COSTELLO: More than one sheriff across the country has come out and said that he's not going to enforce laws he considers unconstitutional. Where is this attitude coming from, do you think?

GARVAN: Well, I think it's really just coming sort of from a bitterness, really. I think there are sheriffs and people in this country who may not like that we've moved into 2012 and we're reassessing gun laws and what it means to live in a safe society.

And so I think there's just really a sort of anger on the far right that fuels this. And I think that's why you're seeing these sheriffs do this. It's sort of -- its grandstanding to play to the far right and to face Tea Party folks.

COSTELLO: So you started up this petition. Tell me about that. What are you asking?

GARVAN: I did. I started a petition, and you can visit it by going to Basically, I'm calling on the sheriff to resign until he says publicly that he will uphold all federal laws.

I think, you know, if you wanted to be a judge, he could have run for that but he ran for sheriff and as the head of law enforcement in Charleston County, I think he needs to resign unless he says he will uphold all federal laws and state laws and all local laws.

COSTELLO: So you have some 300 signatures so far. How many more do you need?

GARVAN: Unclear how many we need, but you know, one of the great things is that he is already having to respond to these comments. And I think that's one of the great things about this, is it's citizens holding the public officials accountable.

You know, he made some comments that, to me, were outrageous and unacceptable. And so we're helping ban together with other people to say, you know, we're holding you accountable. We elected you, but we want to make sure you're going to follow all the law before the next election.

O'BRIEN: Brady Quirk-Garvan, founder and starter of the online petition, Thanks so much for joining us this morning.

GARVAN: Thanks for having me, Carol, I appreciate it.

COSTELLO: Anytime. Talk back question for you today, what's killing the Tea Party? or tweet me @CarolCNN.


COSTELLO: Now is your chance to talk back on one of the big stories of the day. The question for you this morning: What's killing the Tea Party? Remember back in the day when Fox News and Glenn Beck championed humongous Tea Party rallies?

Those were the days of tri-colored hats and American flags and what many call the dawn of a third party but no more. Sarah Palin arguably the queen of the Tea Party Movement is gone, gone, gone from Fox News.

That means no more home spun political hard balls thrown from her TV studio in Alaska. Here's how she defended the group which had been called terrorists in a 2011 interview.


SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I'm not just going to roll over with a sticker plastered ok my forehead that says hit me baby one more time, call me a terrorist again, call me a racist. I'm going to stand up for those physically conservative patriotic independent Americans who want to best for this country.

I'm going to stand up for radio talk show hosts who, if it were not for them, we would have even less factual information out there about our weakened economy caused by big government, liberal spending, socialists type programs being rammed down our throats. So I'm going to stick up for people who at this point are being called terrorists and being accused of waging jihad against our own country.


COSTELLO: But today Palin seems to have a different message, encouraging Tea Partiers and their fellow conservatives to widen their appeal. She told, quote, I encourage others to step out in faith, jump out of the comfort zone, and broaden our reach as believers in American exceptionalism.

We can't just preach to the choir. The message of liberty and true hope must be understood by a larger audience," end quote. Maybe Michele Bachmann feels the same way, but we really don't know because the former presidential candidate and current Tea Party caucus chairman has gone underground. You can understand why.

She barely won re-election in Minnesota last year. And for Minnesota, Florida, where one Tea Party group is changing its name citing branding reasons, the Tea Party seems to be at a cross roads. Still, Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Cremor insists they aren't going anywhere. She says the Tea Party doesn't have a message problem but a messenger problem.


SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKAN GOVERNOR: When we articulate our message properly and what we're all about instead of getting off on these subjects of rape and stuff, I mean, we win big.


COSTELLO: Still, all the important issues of the day, the fiscal cliff, the budget, and immigration, the Tea Party's response has been muted at best. So talk back today: What's killing the Tea Party? or you can tweet me @CarolCNN.