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Obama Embraces Immigration Plan; The Actor Vs. The Burglar; Google Maps North Korea; Safe Drivers Pay More for Insurance; Outbreak of Severe Thunderstorms Expected; Tiger Wins at Torrey Pines by Four Strokes

Aired January 29, 2013 - 09:30   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Thanks for joining us. I'm Carol Costello.

Stories we're watching right now in THE NEWSROOM at 30 minutes past the hour.

As the opening bell rings on Wall Street, premarket trading showed Ford sales sliding even though the automaker posted higher fourth quarter income in sales at home , but it didn't perform as well in Europe and lost $732 million for the quarter.

Four people now facing charges for the deadly nightclub fire in Brazil. Police arrested the club's two owners and two band members. They're also questioning several others. Mourners remembered all 231 victims by releasing white helium balloons into the air for each life lost. All of the victims have now been laid to rest.

To Africa now, the U.S. is expanding its role in the conflict against al Qaeda-linked militants in Mali. "The Wall Street Journal" reports the United States has signed an agreement with neighboring Niger to provide legal protection for American military personnel operating there, and while French-led troops are at the forefront in Mali, the U.S. is helping with aerial refueling missions, intelligence and airlift support.

Back here at home, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hasn't even left the State Department or said if she might run again for president in 2016, but she has a super PAC ready and willing to support her if she does. The group, Ready for Hillary, has already garnered nearly 50,000 Twitter followers.

Friday actually is Clinton's last day on the job. But right now, she's hosting a global town hall at the museum in Washington. It's being livestreamed on YouTube if you want to watch. The event is a chance for her to you engage with young people from around the world.

President Obama also on the road today to embrace a newly unveiled plan to reform immigration laws. The proposal would give millions of undocumented workers a chance to stay in the United States legally, but just as notably it has the backing of both Republicans and Democrats at least for now. White House correspondent Brianna Keilar joins us live.

Brianna, is the Senate proposal everything the president wanted?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm sure it's not exactly everything he would want, Carol, that if you were able to write his own bill, that it would be exactly identical to this. But that doesn't mean that it isn't palatable. And right now, the White House is welcoming the fact this bipartisan proposal is out there, if not endorsing it because they aren't at this point.

As you know, the hottest button issue traditionally when dealing with immigration reform has been how do you deal with those undocumented immigrants who are already in the country, millions of them? And so, when you think about it, it wouldn't be surprising that any sort of proposal that deals with this, that has the sign-on of some Republicans that it might have a tougher pathway to citizenship than what the president would like.

And he sort of lined -- he sort of outlined his here in the last year and a half, and we're expecting him to talk more about that in Las Vegas today. He has proposed registering with the government undergoing background checks, paying taxes in a penalty and learning English and certainly anything Republicans would sign on to, Carol, they would want a tougher pathway.

COSTELLO: OK. There's -- senators have a plan, the president has a plan. Now, House members say they have a plan. Whenever the House gets involved, usually there's trouble.

So what do you think?

KEILAR: Well, certainly, they will be farther to the right, that would be the expectation. So trying to get all of those ideas out there, and then I think we'll have a better sense of if there may be some insurmountable differences.

The difference and you're hearing this also from House Republicans, we heard this over the weekend from Paul Ryan, that they want to do something. Obviously, the devil is in the details, and the truth is, Carol, that time is really what will tell. We can't tell if this is going to succeed right now.

But when you look at the past -- 2007, President Bush failed in his attempt to deal with immigration reform, conservative members of his own party scuttling that effort. And in 2010 you had kind of a piecemeal measure in the Senate which was to grant some sort of pathway to citizenship for some of these children of undocumented immigrants. That failed as well.

But there is the sense and you're hearing this from Republicans as well as Democrats that they think the election, the fact that Hispanic voters were such a force, that they went so overwhelmingly for Democrats, that that's really changed the conversation. And how this effort turns out, Carol, is going to be the true test of if they really did. COSTELLO: Brianna Keilar live at the White House for us this morning.

He helped honor his colleagues during the screen Actors Guild Awards, but it's what happened after the show that has this actor making headlines.


COSTELLO: From the SAG Awards to snagging a burglar? Oh, that was how the night went for one Hollywood actor.

Nischelle Turner joins us from Los Angeles.

Taye Diggs, wow.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. You know, Carol, if Hollywood is looking for their next James Bond, I think we just may have found him seriously, because just hours after Taye Diggs walked the red carpet at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, he wound up in a real life drama.

Now, according to the LAPD, Taye Diggs, who plays a doctor on ABC's "Private Practice", returned to his home from the SAG ceremonies to find a man in his garage, quote, "looking for items to steal."

Now, the man took off, but Taye Diggs caught up with him down the street. He tackled him. He held him until the police arrived and took the suspect into custody.

By the way, Taye Diggs did all of this still in his tux from the ceremonies.

You know, Carol, this can't be considered a surprise because he is definitely in shape. Now, the suspect is not in the best of shape right now. He's a 20-year-old man named Hassan Juma. He was taken to jail. He's been charged with burglary.

And remember, LL Cool J had something similar happened to him this past summer. He caught someone trying to break into his home.

So, I got a note for all the criminals out there. There is a chance that you just might run into someone like LL or Taye if you break into the wrong house in Hollywood. You just might want to think twice from here on out.

COSTELLO: Yes, why not break into Danny DeVito's house or something?

TURNER: Hey, don't sleep on Danny. He might get you, too.


COSTELLO: It's true. Now, he does look like a tough little guy in some roles.

Hey, let's talk about --

TURNER: Exactly.

COSTELLO: -- "Star Wars". It's is supposed to go 3D but not yet?

TURNER: Yes, this is a delay, though, that I think most of the fans are going to be able to deal with. We're talking about 3D-ification of the prequel "Star Wars" films, you know, the one with Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman. These were the ones about Anakin Skywalker.

Now, Lucas Film says they're going to delay their push to turn these movies into 3D films so they can focus on the new "Star Wars" trilogy that they just recently announced. And I think most "Star Wars" fans would say, OK, yes, I would prefer to see the new J.J. Abrams-directed story than a 3D version of a film that I've seen a few times already.

Even though the earliest we're like to see "Star Wars Episode VII", Carol, is 2015.

COSTELLO: Oh, the long time --

TURNER: I know, we got to wait, we got to wait.

COSTELLO: I'll be waiting, though, and I'll go see it, I know it.

Nischelle Turner, thanks so much.

TURNER: Me, too. All right. Sure.

COSTELLO: To lower your car insurance, you have to be a safe driver. You always thought that was the case anyway. But it turns out safer drivers might actually pay more.


COSTELLO: Forty-three minutes past the hour. Time to check our top stories.

A motorcyclist in China barely escaped death. He's sitting at the intersection when a truck driver makes a left turn and then suddenly the truck overturns. That truck misses that cyclist by inches. We're told no one was hurt -- no one was even seriously injured.

A woman accused of pushing a man to his death at a New York subway train is said to be arraigned at this hour. Erika Menendez is facing second degree murder and as a hate crime. Prosecutors say she thought the man was a Muslim and told them she hated all Muslims and Hindus after 9/11.

Major flooding in Australia has left at least four people dead and forced thousands to evacuate. It's also blamed for sea foam. It's a by-product. Sea foam was washing up at a beach. It's not frightening people away, though. They are actually going for a swim in the foam and playing around in it, doesn't it look fun.

Daredevil Nik Wallenda is getting ready to put his life on the line once again. A little more than an hour from now, he plans to walk a skinny steel of wire 180 feet above the ground, in his hometown of Sarasota, without a safety harness. He made headlines last year for walking 200 feet above Niagara Falls. We hope to bring you live pictures of his latest feat as it happens.

North Korea is one of the most isolated nations on the planet, even for Google Maps. But now, we're getting a better understanding of how the communist country is laid out. This new detailed map was put together in large part from community of citizen mapmakers.

Zain Verjee is in London. And could they even get into the country to do this? How do you do that?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Basically the whole idea of citizen cartographers is crowd sourcing, you know anyone who knows anything about the satellite areas, anyone who has details about streets all get together and then over the years this is what we've come up with, this map. So the good news here for you, Carol, is the next time you go on vacation, you can go to Pyongyang and you're going to be able to know exactly where to find Kim Il-Sung's mausoleum. You'll know where the local gulags are because the prisons have actually also been identified a few of them on these maps.

But this is actually a pretty big deal, because this is such a secretive nation. We really don't know a whole lot about North Korea and now the map is basically identifying places that were before secret and we never even knew that they were there. The U.S. is worried about North Korea because it has a nuclear weapons program and has threatened to target the United States, so it's important that the more information we have about North Korea, the better it is for the U.S. and the rest of the world.

There hasn't been a whole lot of data, in North Korea itself doesn't really matter because Carol most people don't have access to the Internet anyway.

COSTELLO: Oh geez. It's interesting though, that these maps comes on the heels of a trip to North Korea by the head of Google, Eric Schmidt.

VERJEE: Yes everyone is going uh-huh, wink-wink, what exactly is the connection here? So he was over about three weeks ago along with the former governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, who basically then issued a statement, Google did and said there is no connection between that visit and this new map. They said that this has actually been in the works for a while.

This is kind of interesting, Carol, Eric Schmidt's daughter was also on this trip and she put up this blog post about the visit and they were able to look at North Korea's national intranet and she described it like this. She said, "It was a walled garden of scrubbed content taken from the real Internet."

So basically I'm going to translate that for you Carol which means she's implying that the North Koreans are living in their own reality.

COSTELLO: Gotcha. Thanks for the translation. We appreciate it. A weird story. Thank you, Zain Verjee reporting live for us from London.

It doesn't seem fair? If you're a safe driver. You should pay less for insurance. It's always been that way, right? But a consumer watch dog group says many safe drivers are actually paying a lot more.

Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange. Ok this is disturbing. I'm a safe driver. Am I paying more?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good for you. You could be. So yes and it's really disheartening Carol when you think about it. Yes you see all those insurance commercials saying safe drivers pay less. Well guess what it turns out it's not always the case. The Consumer Federation of America released a pretty provocative report on this. And what the CFA did was look at five policy quotes from major insurance companies that were given to hypothetical motorists in 12 different cities and here's what it found out.

In two of three cases, quotes for premiums -- in two out of three cases rather quotes for premiums were higher, more expensive for drivers who had clean records compared to those who had been in an accident. What? Yes, according to the head of the CFA, insurers put more weight on income-related factors more so than driving-related ones.

And it figured this out Carol because what the study did, look at this it had identical information for a 30-year-old woman, same policy, zip code, median income. But the difference was one with a receptionist in a rented home with a small lapse in coverage but a clean driving record. The other was a married executive who owned a home with no lapse but recently caused an accident. Now the CFA says State Farmers was actually the only insurer to quote the receptionist less, while all state quoted her 164 percent more than the executive. Lousy, lousy if you ask me.

COSTELLO: So what are the insurance companies saying?

KOSIK: Funny you ask that. Geico, State Farm, Allstate and Farmers all are declining to comment to CNN. Progressive said it has a voluntary program that installs a device on a driver's vehicle and it actually monitors their actual driving behavior and bases rates on that information.

Now industry officials in general say drivers are always able to shop around for the best price, in fact state regulations do require that insurers -- that they have to consider a wide variety of factors when they determine if a customer is a safe driver and raise in income are not included in that. So just a little advice if you feel like you're getting an unreasonable quote don't settle on the first insurer. You know, keep making calls until you get a price that at least seems fair -- Carol.

COSTELLO: I'm going to be checking. Alison Kosik, thanks so much.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will be stepping down. We're just learning that info came from the White House, LaHood will remain at the department until a successor is named. He's the only Republican still left in President Obama's first term cabinet.

"Talk Back" question for you today. "Obama skeet shooting: On target or telling?" I'll be right back.


COSTELLO: Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes could slow down your day in portions of central Texas and Oklahoma and in much of the southeast.

Jennifer Delgado is in the weather center keeping an eye on things for us. Hi Jennifer.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Carol. You're right we are looking at a slight chance anywhere you're seeing in gold. But the area in orange that's the area that we're really concerned about. You can see for northern parts of Louisiana into the Boot Hill of Missouri, some of these storms that are going to be developing as we go through even tomorrow could produce some very damaging winds or of course, some tornadoes.

And we point out to you overnight tornadoes because those are the biggest threat, of course, with so many people sleeping. As we show you on the radar we do have two tornado watches in place for parts of Arkansas, you can see into Missouri. And a lot of lightning associated with the storm.

Now as we go through the afternoon, more of these storms are going to be developing. But we said to you we're really concerned about the evening and the overnight hours. Because of course so many people sleeping.

As we take you through the clock, if you notice, 11:00, line of storms really starts to fire up. And that's where our greatest concern is. And that's why we tell people all the time to make sure Carol that they have a weather radio. You want to make sure this is on and you have batteries. This would certainly save your life.

Again, this is the NOAA Weather Radio.

COSTELLO: Good advice. Thank you, Jennifer.

Our "Talk Back" question today -- "Obama skeet shooting: On target or telling?"

This from Frank, "Both sides are dug in on this issue. I don't know anyone who is on the fence. It won't change a thing except the Republicans may just add one more reason not to like him."

This from Phoenix. "So what? Does he use weapons he wants banned? My God, some people will make an issue out of everything."

This from Dionne, "Laughable but pathetic -- an attempt to win over Second Amendment supporters."

This from Bill, "Congressman Blackburn, do we need to know everything about the President? Does he prefer knitting or crocheting? Cut me a break, Lady."

And this from Minh win, "Obama says he goes skeet shooting quite often. That's like me saying I rap on a daily basis and play the violin on the weekend. You all feel me?"

Keep the conversation going, or tweet me @CarolCNN.

You think an NBA title, an MVP award, an Olympic gold medal made Lebron's year? Well, what he said at the White House put all of those accomplishments in perspective.


COSTELLO: Tiger Woods making a bold statement that he's ready to return to the top of the golf world. Tiger led by as much as eight strokes at the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open and went on to win the tournament by four. It was his eighth career win on the Torrey Pines course and his 75th PGA wins overall.

That places Tiger seven tour wins behind all-time leader Sam Sneed. Tiger credited his long and short game for the win.


TIGER WOODS, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: I drove the ball beautifully all week. And as I was explaining that my short game's been coming around. It came around end of last season. And you're not going to hit every par five in two, but you need to get up and down.

And I did that this week. My short game was back to how I know it can be. The shots that I hit, especially out of these nasty little lies, I hit some really good ones this week.


COSTELLO: The win at Torrey Pines comes just a week after Tiger missed the cut at a tournament in Abu Dhabi.

President Obama had the reigning NBA champ Miami Heat over at the White House. The President is a Chicago Bulls fan but happily accepted a Heat jersey in his name.

It's been quite a year for Lebron James. You know, the NBA crown, MVP, Olympic gold. But the White House visit put all of those achievements into perspective.


LEBRON JAMES, MIAMI HEAT: I mean we're kids from Chicago and Dallas, Texas, and Michigan and Ohio and South Dakota, Miami. I mean we -- we are in the White House right now. This is like -- "Hey, Mama, I made it."

(END VIDEO CLIP) COSTELLO: You can see how tall he is. The President also thanked the heat for visiting Wounded Warriors at Walter Reed Hospital while they were in Washington.

That's a look at sports this morning. The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts now.

Stories we're watching right now -- protecting players. The NFL and the union working together on a plan to fund research into health issues. We're talking with the NFL players association's executive director.

Plus, Chick-Fil-A, Dan Cathy makes an unlikely new friend. The director of a gay rights organization protesting the company. Now the same organization is suspending its protests. We'll ask the director why.

Also, the governments say they're companies, but the days of excessive spending are still happening. Many CEOs are getting huge bonuses with its government's blessing.

Watch this.