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New Orleans Cashing in on Super Bowl; New Orleans Star Talks Super Bowl; Home Prices Rising; Critics Oppose Obama's "Path to Citizenship"; Dangerous Weather in the South; Can Tim Cook Keep Apple at Front of Pack?

Aired January 29, 2013 - 13:30   ET


CARLOS DIAZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Whatever the final score turns out to be Sunday, there's one clear winner in the Big Easy, the city of New Orleans itself. The big game means big bucks. And the crowds are already here celebrating and spending.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is good food no matter where you go. Good drink no matter where you go. And good people. The people are so hospitable. They're so welcoming and friendly. And you can't beat the weather.

DIAZ: Local officials say hosting Super Bowl XLVII inspired $1.3 billion in infrastructure improvements, including downtown sidewalks, enhancements at the Superdome, and more than $11 million of road repairs in the French Quarter.

BARRY KERN, CO-CHAIRMAN, SUPER BOWL HOSPITALITY COMMITTEE: I think this is just another building block into New Orleans being rebuilt and becoming really a city of the 21st century where everybody would want to be.

DIAZ: Louis Armstrong International Airport, a massive makeover under way, everything from the rest rooms to the runways has been renovated to welcome football fans.

(on camera): With hundreds of NFL officials and thousands of members of the media in town for the big game, fans having a tough time trying to find affordable hotel rooms. And tickets to the game? Asking prices for those are starting at $2,000 apiece.

(voice-over): But those who do make the trip are getting a double dose of fun for their investment.

MARK ROMIG, NEW ORLEANS TOURISM MARKETING CORP.: The iconic celebration for New Orleans year after year has been Mardi Gras. Here, Super Bowl is plopped into the middle of it all. We have not only parades and excitement of that family celebration which is Mardi Gras but all of the excitement of the NFL.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's the perfect storm of party atmosphere between the Super Bowl, Mardi Gras and the general atmosphere of New Orleans anyway. So, yes, it's just the greatest.

DIAZ: This three-week party, dubbed Super Gras by the locals, is expected to bring well over half a billion in economic activity. That's music to the ear of city leaders who are still working hard to attract pre-Katrina visitor numbers.

ROMIG: Again, we've used the Super Bowl as our goal line but this will have benefit and impact for many more years to come.

DIAZ: Giving residents of the 10-time Super Bowl city something to clear about long after the last fan goes home.

Carlos Diaz, CNN, New Orleans.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: All right. New Orleans, a lot going on right now. Watch.




MALVEAUX: So we told you besides the Super Bowl, carnival season, Mardi Gras day just around the corner. If anybody wants to know what New Orleans has to offer, it is New Orleans native and star of HBO's "Treme," Wendell Pierce.






MALVEAUX: Music, great fun, he knows all about it. Wendell Pierce knows all about it.

Wendell, I love your smile. You're smiling, beaming during that spot there.


You know my people are from New Orleans as well.


MALVEAUX: So give us a sense, you know, for those who, you know, might not be on the ground, might not know what Mardi Gras's all. Getting ready for the Super Bowl. What is the city like now?

PIERCE: I mean, you're right in the middle of the greatest street party in the history of the world, Mardi Gras. To have the Super Bowl join that, it's one of the most festive times to be here in New Orleans. We're going to have great food, great time, and one of the greatest games in the part of world sports.

MALVEAUX: And we know it was such, you know, a wonderful time for all of us when Super Bowl came around after Katrina. Really helped lift the city. What does it mean this go round?

PIERCE: Right now, we're in a resurrection. We're in an economic resurrection of the city. This is a point in time that people will remember that New Orleans was on its way back. We came from total destruction and now we're hosting one of the great events known to the world. And so the economic development that's happening in New Orleans, I wanted to be a part of it. This is a demonstration of it.

I'm doing stores called Sterling Farms and Sterling Express. It's downtown and it's in the French Quarter and it's at the Super Bowl, but spreading out to neighborhoods, too. We have to make sure it gets to the neighborhoods so the resurrection and recovery is spread throughout the city.

What people will see is demonstration of the American value of resilience. And New Orleanians have demonstrated that over the past seven years. And this is a marked period of time and a milestone.

MALVEAUX: Talk about the importance of this, the grocery store chain that you're starting, because I think a lot of people realized downtown, the French Quarter, and that is always a place that people invest in. But you still look at places like the Ninth Ward, you look at places like where my relatives are from, the Seventh Ward, and you don't are that investment. Why is it important to put those places in the poor communities? We don't see investment evenly distributed in the city.

PIERCE: Well, our recovery will not be complete unless it's whole. It can't be a tale of two cities. While it's important we brought back our economic engine downtown, central business district, French Quarter, the Superdome, it's more important to make sure recovery gets out into the neighborhoods. So that was the thing that inspired me and my group, to make sure that recovery gets to those underserved communities. And that's the basis, the template of our business, to go there in those -- in what are food deserts, technically, where people have to go half hour before they get to a decent grocery store, and bring in fresh food groceries where they can step out of their home and go straight to the store and shop. That's what Sterling Farms is about. It has to be a complete thing. Only halfway there.

MALVEAUX: Rooting for anybody? I root for the Saints. They're not in it. I guess I'll go for the Ravens.

PIERCE: I'm born and raised in New Orleans. I'm always a Saints fan. I play the character called Bunk, a homicide detective in Baltimore. So, go, Ravens.

MALVEAUX: All right.


Wendell, good to see you, as always. PIERCE: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: Of course, for more on what the big game means for the Big Easy, watch "Kick-Off in New Orleans: the CNN Bleacher Report" special airing this Saturday at 4:00 p.m. eastern.


MALVEAUX: Great new housing numbers today. New numbers showing prices are rising faster than they have in years. Does it mean you should jump into the mark before it gets too hot?

Christine Romans, Ali Velshi, they're answering the question.



Housing finally making a comeback. Home prices in 20 major cities rose 5.5 percent.


ROMANS: Ali, that's the biggest year-over-year increase in six years.


ROMANS: Biggest jump since 2006 before the housing bubble collapsed. We saw home sales rebounding. The strongest level in five years, a trend expected to continue. According to a "CNN Money" survey, economists, Ali, say housing will be a driver of economic growth this year.

VELSHI: I have been saying this for years now.


I'll say it again. It's time to buy. This is an opportunity that's too good to pass. A passage from "How to Speak Money," the book we've written together, I said interest rates are so low people are getting mortgages for 4 percent, 5 percent, or 5.25. This is unbelievable. Mortgage rates are way lower. They've been hovering near record lows for month. 30-year fixed rate at 3.4 percent. 15 year about 2.7 percent. Just a few years ago, like in the book, I thought 5 percent was a once-in-a-lifetime bargain. Rates can't stay this low forever.

ROMANS: No, they can't. They have ticked up to four-month highs --


ROMANS: -- over the past few days. Home ownership falling 65.4 percent. New numbers from the Census Bureau. People have fallen out of love with the idea of home ownership the --

VELSHI: It's a screaming opportunity to buy. Which means are you going to give me that normal thing that you give me about how, well, it might be an opportunity to buy if you have a good job and good credit to put down, but it's not for everybody.

ROMANS: Why do I have to say it if you already know --


That's exactly what I'm going to say. You don't buy a house because you're making a quick turn of investment. You buy a house to live in it, you have money in the bank, because it's in a good school district, because it's a right move for your life. That's the most important thing here. Low mortgage rates and home affordability, I think they make this very, very -- I think this is a good year for home buyers.

VELSHI: I'm going to take your position for a second. The job market is also dynamic. You may have to take a job in another city, which means renting may make more sense.

ROMANS: That's right.

VELSHI: So while I think it's a great time to buy, don't get seduced how much you could save if the timing isn't right for you.

How did I do?

ROMANS: Pretty good.

VELSHI: Back to you -- Suzanne?



MALVEAUX: Pretty good.

The Obama administration coming out with a plan for immigration reform. Critics say a path to citizenship, not the answer. Immigrants, they remain hopeful, but hesitant.


ROLANDO ZENTENO, ARMSTRONG UNIVERSITY FRESHMAN: Hopefully, the Obama administration does something different. He promised something first 100 days of the administration and failed to do so.



MALVEAUX: President Obama, outlining his plan for immigration reform. That's less than two hours from now. It's going to happen in Vegas. Includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrant but even supporters of immigration reform disagree with some proposals that are being discussed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JACK MARTIN, FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM: I have friends in the Latino community that think that it goes much too far, what's being proposed, because of the fact they came into the country legally. They think that the respect for American law is important and that people coming into the country illegally compete against their kids and their relatives for jobs.


MALVEAUX: So, for some young Latinos living in limbo, the path to citizenship would give them a chance to belong to the country they call home.

Their story by Miguel Marquez.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Three young Latinos, they look, sound, and say they feel like Americans. They're not.

ZENTENO: I identify myself with the American culture but, at the same time, the American society is like, no, you're not part of us.

MARQUEZ: Rolando Zenteno, brought here as a 7-year-old from Mexico, wants to be a journalist.


MARQUEZ: He was arrested in 2011, protesting legislation here that would limit access to a college education.


MARQUEZ: He wants a clear path to citizenship.

ZENTENO: Hopefully, the Obama administration does something different. He promised something first 100 days of the administration and failed to do so.

MARQUEZ (on camera): It sounds like you don't trust any politicians.

ZENTENO: I don't.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): For Mariana Reyes, her father a mechanic, her mother a hairstylists, wants to be a lawyer. Brought here as a 10- year-old, she's qualified for the Deferred Action Program. It allows students brought here as kids to apply for temporary legal status. 1.8 million could be eligible.

(on camera): You're taken care of?


MARQUEZ: Your family?

REYES: My parents are not taken care of, and that's one of the things that scares me the most.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Jesus Arroyo, a senior, wants to be a doctor. Brought here as an 11-year-old, he's now applying for Deferred Action but feels trapped between two worlds.

JESUS ARROYO, ARMSTRONG UNIVERSITY SENIOR: It's amazing to see that, you know, they're willing to help us now because all my life, I've been here not knowing what's in my future, not knowing where to go.

MARQUEZ: Three kids wanting a piece of the American dream. All three watching, hoping that dream becomes reality.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Savannah, Georgia.


MALVEAUX: The president's pitching his immigration plan. That's happening 2:55 eastern. Watch it right here on CNN or on the web site as well,

Dangerous thunderstorms are threatening. And also, with an oil spill in the Mississippi, it could mean trouble.

And take a look at this. Awesome. American surfer taking a huge, huge wave there. Could be a record-breaking ride.


MALVEAUX: A report by the Miami newspaper, "New Times," claims a clinic in Miami sold performance-enhancing drugs to several Major League Baseball stars, including Alex Rodriguez, of the New York Yankees. Just received this statement from a spokesman from Rodriguez saying, "The news report about a purported relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Anthony Bosch are not true. Alex Rodriguez was not Mr. Bosch's patient. He was never treated by him, and never advised by him. The reported documents referenced in the story, at least as they relate to Alex Rodriguez, are not legitimate."

On the Mississippi River, they're still trying to clean up this oil spill. Two barges filled with oil hit a bridge. This was near Vicksburg. This happened early Sunday morning. A tank holding thousands of gallons of oil started leaking after the collision. The Coast Guard's Gulf Strike Team is there, helping try to get this all cleaned up, but their job could get harder. Some of the dangerous weather that is headed that way.

I want to bring in Chad Myers, to talk about the line of thunderstorms, right, Chad, that is going to move into the Deep South?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You bet. You don't want men and women on those rescue crews, on the recovery vessels as this line of weather moves right into Vicksburg. These things are moving very, very quickly today. 50 to 60 miles per hour, and they have some spin to them. That spin will continue across parts of Missouri. Here is Springfield, Missouri. A couple of spins right through there. If you are north of Springfield, but yet not quite to Columbia, I want you to pay attention to these storms. They're spinning quickly. Like five minutes ago, these storms weren't spinning. And now they're spinning quite a bit. And so these tornado warnings may be very, very quick. You may have very little time today to get out of the way of these storms. These watches continue all the way to 8:00 and continuing into St. Louis, into Dallas, into big cities.

Sometimes we say, yes, there will be severe weather, but there's not going to be anything to hit. Today, there will be cities to hit. You need to pay attention.

MALVEAUX: Chad, not tornado season yet, but could this be a busy one? Any indications?

MYERS: You never know. Last year we started out as a big tornado -- January, February, March, we had hundreds and, all of a sudden, those storms just shut off. Those tornadoes just stopped. It depends on where the jet stream is. The jet stream is here today. And that's why there is the potential for tornadoes today all the way through tonight -- Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: All right. Thank you, Chad.

MYERS: You're welcome.

MALVEAUX: Stock declines, growing competition have many questioning Apple CEO Tim Cook's ability to lead. Can he push the company forward? A look at Apple after Steve Jobs.


MALVEAUX: So we keep hearing how gun sales are up. Well, the only way you have to track gun sales is by looking at the number of background checks. According to the FBI, eight of the 10 days with the highest number of background checks since 1998 have happened since December 14th of last year. That is the same day as elementary school tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. Gun shop owners say that semi- automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines are driving much of the frenzy. And many gun enthusiasts fear they could lose the right to buy these sorts of weapons if Washington passes gun control legislation.

Apple has a new iPad on the way. This is the fourth generation of the device. It comes with twice as much memory as the old one. And it comes with a bigger price tag.

But the company is facing more competition than it has in years, and everyone is watching to see if Tim Cook, the man who replaced Steve Jobs, can keep Apple at the front of the pack.

Dan Simon has the story.



DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With its incredible sales and product buzz --



SIMON: -- Apple is still the envy of practically every company. But stock declines amid growing competition has the tech industry wondering whether its still relatively new CEO, Tim Cook, can keep Apple on top.

TIM COOK, CEO, APPLE: It is an amazing time at Apple.

SIMON: Cook does not have the natural charisma and showman style of his predecessor, Steve Jobs. He concerns himself more with what is going on behind the scenes. He's almost universally regarded as a brilliant supply chain manager.

TIM BAJARIN, CREATIVE STRATEGIES: Tim clearly is more than capable of handling not only the operations, but the business side of Apple.

SIMON: Long-time technology analyst, Tim Bajarin, said the critics are asking too much of Cook.

BAJARIN: What I'm hearing is they want Apple to innovate faster. That's really an unfair thing to do. If you look at the original iPhone, that was -- actually took four to five years to bring to market.

SIMON: If Jobs was the product visionary, Tim Cook is more executive. And since taking over nearly 18 months ago, he's put his stamp on the company by making Apple more charitable, through matching employees' donations and issuing Apple shareholders dividends, something many felt should have happened long ago with the company's 100-plus billion dollar cash hoard.

In a bit of rare introspection, Cook said this to NBC's Brian Williams when asked about the comparison to Jobs.

COOK: One thing he did for me that removed a gigantic burden that would have normally existed is he told me, on a couple of occasions before he passed away, to never question what he would have done, never ask the question, what Steve would do, to just do what's right.

SIMON: Such as responding to critics and protesters who complain about long hours and human rights abuses at the Chinese factories and sending inspectors to identify the problems.

Also, for the first time in many years, Cook says the company, known for outsourcing its manufacturing, will begin making one of its Mac products in the U.S. This suggests a kinder, gentler Apple. The must-have devices continue to roll out.

COOK: We have got some really cool stuff to show you.


SIMON: Nearly every single one of them has gotten a makeover under his watch.

But Cook has his share of challenges, beginning with the Siri feature on iPhones.

COMPUTER VOICE: Here's the forecast for today.

SIMON: Too slow and undependable at times.

(on camera): Then, there is maps, skewered by users. It has gotten better, about many regard Google's new app as being superior. Cook has yet to deliver his own breakthrough product. And with competitors like Samsung setting their own sales records, Cook now faces his first real test of leadership.

Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.


MALVEAUX: That does it for me. Poppy Harlow is next on CNN NEWSROOM.

Take it away.