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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Stars Aligning on Immigration Reform?; Super Tuesday in New Orleans; U.S. Fighter Jet Missing Off Italy's Coast; Boy Scouts Considering Ending Ban on Gays

Aired January 29, 2013 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: A path to citizenship. Obama just hours away from telling America his plans for immigration.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Gone without a trace. Right now, the search is on for the missing Air Force F-16 like this one after training mission overseas.

CHO: And a seismic shift for the American institution. The Boy Scouts of America reconsidering its ban on gays.

Good morning, everybody. Welcome to EARLY START for Tuesday morning. Glad you're with us.

Good morning, Christine. I'm Alina Cho.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. Nice to see you. Zoraida, off today. John is going to be along at 7:00 a.m. on "STARTING POINT".

It is Tuesday. January 29, 5:00 a.m. in the East. Good morning.

At long last, the stars may be aligning on immigration reform, but the issue is tricky, so tricky that President Obama is expected to issue few if any ultimatums when he speaks about the effort today in Las Vegas. Eight senators, four from each party unveiled their step toward an agreement yesterday on immigration reform. Conservatives aren't happy with it, rejecting it as a form of amnesty. House lawmakers are said to be working on a plan of their own.

White House correspondent Brianna Keilar takes a look at the evolution of immigration to President Obama's first and now second terms.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In 2011, President Obama went to the border town of El Paso to press for comprehensive immigration reform.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Out of many, one. We define ourselves as a nation of immigrants.

KEILAR: That went nowhere. Now in a second term, the president is trying it again, heading to Las Vegas today to push for border security, a verification system for employers to ensure they hire documented workers, with punishment if they don't, and the most significant and controversial part of the president's plan, a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. It includes registering with the government, undergoing background check, paying taxes and a penalty, and learning English.

A solution has alluded past presidents, including George W. Bush.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Legal immigration is one of the top concerns of the American people, and Congress' failure to act on it is a disappointment.

KEILAR: President Obama did announce during his first term that his administration would stop deporting some young undocumented immigrants but he was taken to task at a Univision town hall for not promising to do something different.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You promised something. A promise is a promise. With all due respect, you didn't keep that promise.

OBAMA: What I promised was that I would work every single day as hard as I can to make sure that everybody in this country, regardless of who they are, what they look like, where they come from, that they would have a fair shot at the American dream.

KEILAR: Still, Hispanic Americans, the country's fastest country growing bloc, helped propel President Obama to a second term. It was a "wake-up call" for Republicans.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: I do know there are a lot of Democrats in Congress who, once and for all, want to solve this problem, fix this mess, a broken immigration system, and many of us agree with that.

KEILAR: Brianna Keilar, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Coming up in our next hour, we'll talk with Democratic Congressman Joe Garcia of Florida about the immigration reform push in the House.

CHO: The search is on right now for a U.S. Air Force fighter jet that may have crashed during training exercise. The Air Force says it lost contact with the F-16 last night over the Adriatic Sea, that's off the coast of Italy. They, along with the Italian coast guard, and some commercial vessels, are searching through rain and snow. They are dealing with poor visibility.

Italy's Ansa news agency reports an oil slick was spotted in the area. The U.S. Air Force says the pilot's condition is yet unknown.

ROMANS: New developments this morning in a Brazil nightclub inferno. Four people are now under arrest in connection with that nightclub fire -- a fire that left 231 people dead. Two of the people now in custody are owners of the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria. The other two are members of the band that was playing at the club when the fire broke out. Police say the band had been using pyrotechnics as part of its stage show before the fire began.

CHO: Boy Scouts of America is considering changing its long standing policy against allowing openly gay members, according to the statement by the group. Now, this after months of protests including hundreds of angry Eagle Scouts renouncing their hard earned awards and mailing back their red, white, and blue medals. The father of one California Boy Scout who's application for Eagle rank was rejected because he's gay call the statement, quote, "a step in the right direction."

ROMANS: Some dangerous weather in the forecast this morning. We're on the lookout for severe thunderstorms, possibly tornados through the South and also, of course, across Tornado Valley.

Jennifer Delgado is tracking the extreme weather for us. Good morning.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Christine. You know, it seems like we're always talking about something extreme over the last couple of days and now we're talking about the potential for severe weather.

You see the graphic right here. Anywhere in yellow we're talking about the slight risk of severe storm. Some of these storms could produce tornadoes. Anywhere in orange from eastern Texas to the southern parts of Missouri into western parts of Tennessee, that's where we're going to see the greatest threat for some of these storms to become potentially tornadic.

As we look at the radar right now this morning, look what's happening right now. Storms are really firing up to the west and to the east of the Great Lakes. You can see moving through parts of Michigan, a lot of lightning associated with that, as well as moving through eastern parts of Iowa. The area that we're watching is down in western Texas, just to the north of Guthrie.

We're starting to see some of the storms firing up right now and that's where all the action is going to be. We're going to track this for you. And the problem is, a lot of these storms are really going to get really strong in the overnight hours. We're talking late tonight while people are sleeping. So this is why it's so important to have that NOAA radio.

You notice for yourself. Here's that squall line. It's going to be moving to the east affecting areas like St. Louis, down toward southern parts of Texas and then eventually making its way toward the east tomorrow and then on the back side of that we're talking some snow and, of course, the flood potential, in some parts they can see two to four inches of rainfall.

We'll continue to track that more. And a lot of travel delays. When I said this was a big weather day, I wasn't making it up at all or exaggerating.

CHO: You know, Jennifer, it's balmy in New York.

(CROSSTALK) DELGADO: That's the problem. The heat is the problem.

CHO: All right. Thank you so much.

DELGADO: You're welcome.

CHO: Are you afraid of heights?

ROMANS: Yes.

CHO: So am I.

Listen to this. Tightrope walking Nik Wallenda made headlines -- remember this when he crossed over Niagara Falls? Well, now, he's doing something special for his hometown fans.

CNN affiliate WFLA says Wallenda, who grew up in Sarasota, Florida, will treat his friends and neighbors to a show later this morning. He's going to walk across a wire suspended 180 feet over U.S. 41, that highway there.

Wallenda will be working without a net or a harness but he won't be putting any unsuspecting motorists at risk. That's because part of the highway will be shut down during his walk.

Mom, if you're up and listening, it's not so far you may want to dry south and watch that.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: All right. A startling revelation this morning from Hollywood star January Jones. Why she says her hair is falling out. Coming up.

CHO: Plus, the questions stay the same. Only the players change. Guess what? It's media day at the Super Bowl and we will go live to New Orleans, just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHO: Eleven minutes after the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START.

Forget Fat Tuesday, it's Super Tuesday in New Orleans -- in other words, media day at the Super Bowl. The Baltimore Ravens arrived last night one day after their Super Bowl XLVII opponent, the San Francisco 49ers, touched down. And just a couple of hours, players from the Ravens and the 49ers will be getting hit from all sides with questions.

It is media day, and our Carlos Diaz is live in New Orleans with a preview. Carlos, good morning.

You know, they're caring this the Harbaugh bowl or the bro bowl because this is a match-up we have not seen in Super Bowl history -- two coaches who are brothers. Set the screen for us down there.

CARLOS DIAZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I've got to correct you right off the bat here. It's Harbowl or super bro.

CHO: OK, I stand corrected.

DIAZ: Yes, it is media day, right, I believe, by the way, I'm the first person here for media day. It's how I roll.

CHO: It's 5:00 a.m.

DIAZ: This is -- the big story line here in New Orleans is that it's about two brothers and it's about John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens taking on Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers. We've never seen anything like this. You've never had two brothers coaching against each other in the Super Bowl.

We already know by looking at the press conferences that they've already had that Jim Harbaugh, the coach of the 49ers, is more stern- faced. He's saying, hmm, I'm happy to be here, err.

Where John Harbaugh is just having a good time. When he said he was happy to be her yesterday when his team touched down, you really believe it. So, you see, really, two brothers with two separate personalities.

And later this week you actually have a press conference for the parents. Jack and Jackie Harbaugh, married 51 years, they're going to have their own press conference on Wednesday and then, for the first time ever, a joint press conference with the two coaches together John and Jim on Friday.

That's your Harbaugh week all planned out.

CHO: All right. So, I've been doing a little reading on football and I have found that the Ravens and 49ers are both undefeated in the Super Bowl.

DIAZ: Yes.

CHO: And, in fact, the 49ers are going for a record-tying sixth win at the Super Bowl. One of these teams is going to go home very, very upset. Having said that, who has the edge?

DIAZ: Well, right now, the Ravens are a 3.5-point favorite but the game could go either way. Everyone's talking the Ravens defense, that's what's going to really come for. But, you know what, in the playoffs the Ravens are averaging 30 points a game in the playoffs.

Now, the San Francisco 49ers with Colin Kaepernick as their high- energy quarterback, they have an explosive offense.

So, a lot of you were saying, oh, defense is the key, but this could be a really big offensive battle and right now, 3.5 points, it's really one of those things, the 49ers are actually favored. It's one of those things where you could have an explosion of offense and this game could be a really high-scoring affair.

CHO: And, Carlos, I can't let you go without asking you about this -- I mean, the Super Bowl falling in the same period as Mardi Gras as well. I mean, is the city prepared for this?

DIAZ: What is this Mardi Gras you speak of?

Yes, basically, Mardi Gras, they keep saying they put if off -- they're not putting it off. They're not really putting it off. Mardi Gras usually follows -- it falls in the two weekends previous to Ash Wednesday and Fat Tuesday. But they did, they're calling it Super Gras was what they did is they move Mardi Gras earlier one week, and then they have Super Bowl for a week, and then the second week of Mardi Gras. So they're calling it Super Gras.

It's three weeks of partying in New Orleans. If there's a place to party, it's the French Quarter. In fact, the coaches, that was their big thing in both of their press conferences. We've got to keep the players away from the temptations of New Orleans.

You know, last year in Indianapolis, they weren't talking about the temptations of Indy. I wonder why.

CHO: Exactly. Hmm, I've been down there for Mardi Gras, so I know exactly what they're talking about.

All right. Carlos Diaz, for getting there first, you should be able to pull the ticket and ask the first question by the way. So, we'll be watching for that later.

DIAZ: That's true. That's true. Good point.

CHO: Thanks so much.

ROMANS: The first one on the ground on media day. Intrepid reporter.

All right. Fourteen minutes after the hour. Let's get you up to date.

High hopes from the Hispanic community this morning for President Obama's speech on immigration reform. We expect him to take this issue at a speech at a Las Vegas high school today. Eight senators, four from each party, unveiled their over own first step toward an agreement yesterday and House lawmakers are said to be working on a bipartisan plan of their own.

CHO: A convicted arsonist sentenced to death for setting the 2003 old fire in San Bernardino County, California. That fire destroyed about 1,000 homes, led to five deaths. The children of one victim told the judge how the fire destroyed their lives. Thirty-one-year-old Rickie Lee Fowler described as a meth addict with a violent history. He was convicted of murder and arson charges last August.

ROMANS: Fast food chain Chick-fil-A has stopped donating money to anti-gay organizations. That's according to the LGBT advocacy group Campus Pride. Look at the chicken chain books for 2011. The Georgia- based company was caught up in the same-sex marriage debate last year when the president of the company made controversial remarks that were seen as anti-gay. Gay rights groups were most incensed however when it became clear that the chain's financial support for what they call anti-gay organizations. Campus Pride says the chicken chain's 2011 tax returns showed no such donations to those groups.

CHO: A disturbing story coming out of Washington state. A man accused of tying up his 4-year-old stepdaughter and shooting her more than 30 times with a pellet gun for, quote, "waking him up early." Police say the grandmother noticed red marks all over her to the hospital thinking it was chicken pox. The girl has since been taken into protective custody. Her dad, 26-year-old, Stetson Tedder, is scheduled to appear in court later this week.

ROMANS: Perhaps they were planning for the ultimate Super Bowl party. I don't know. But whatever the case, these two Georgia men were arrested for allegedly stealing $65,000 worth of chicken wings from a storage facility near Atlanta where they work. Police say the men used a forklift to load ten pallets of Tyson chicken wings onto a rental truck. Currently, a nationwide chicken shortage is driving up the price of chicken wings. So, this heist could have been quite possible. Although the National Chicken Council said talk of shortage is overblown.

There's plenty of chicken wings, folks. You're just going to pay more for them.

CHO: I can't say I ever heard anything like that before.

And say it isn't so. Betty Draper's going bald? "Mad Men's" January Jones says her hair is falling out in clumps as a result of all those color changes she's undergone in her career. Of course, Betty is strictly blond but Jones says her hair has been, quote, "every color," including red in her new movie "Sweetwater", which just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

Did you see her at the SAG Awards?

ROMANS: I did not know.

CHO: We've got to pull up that picture at some point. Her hair was flying up like -- there's a lot of talk on Twitter about her hair and so I think she was compelled to say something about it.

ROMANS: It's hard to be blond and red and blond again.

CHO: And also so fabulous.

ROMANS: Yes. Seventeen minutes after the hour. Time for your "Early Reads" -- your local news making national headlines.

"The Los Angeles Times" says details about the L.A. Dodgers new TV deal, we're talking about the Major League numbers here. The team's new 25-year TV package with Time Warner cable believed to be worth between $7 billion and $8 billion with a "B." The deal, which now must be approved by Major League Baseball, would include a new team- owned channel, Sports Net L.A., starting in 2014. And the dodgers already spending that cash. They're on track to pass the New York Yankees in payroll this season. That's right, L.A. on track to pass the New York Yankees.

CHO: Wow. Now to a story in Cleveland's "Plain Dealer", the city of Elyria, Ohio, $3.4 million richer and the windfall came as a complete surprise. Ohio's director of commerce presented the check to officials at Elyria officials yesterday. It's apparently the largest amount the state has ever paid out to a person, or in this case, a city.

Now, the money came from an insurance policy the city had for its city's life insurance coverage? So, what will the Elyria officials do with the dough? They say they're going to be very happy to hear this -- they say they are going to pay down debt and used the money for road building projects.

They always telling me, if you don't have it, don't buy it, right?

ROMANS: Two of my favorite things, paying down debt and building a pure infrastructure. That's worth it.

For an expanded look at all of our stories, head to our blog, CNN.com/EarlyStart. You could follow us on Twitter and Facebook at just search for EarlyStartCNN.

CHO: All right. Coming up, the truth about your car insurance -- why a clean driving record doesn't always mean you will get a better rate. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHO: Wow. New York City, the city that never sleeps. It is 5:23 in the morning. Welcome back to EARLY START.

Christine, minding our business. You know, this is unbelievable. I asked you three times during the break. Stocks are up 800 points just this year?

ROMANS: I can't believe it either. The Dow has had one of the best starts of the year since 1994. And it has been -- I mean, I don't feel richer. Do you feel any richer?

I don't feel any richer, but I'm telling you right now that all of this economic data, corporate earnings, all of this stuff coming together and you've had this big rally. Stock futures are slightly lower this morning. Ahead, there's more corporate earnings news we're going to get, also, key data on housing and consumer confidence.

And I would say that the market took a pause yesterday but the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 6 percent so far this year. Again, the best start to the year since January 1994. Unbelievable.

Meanwhile, the mystery between behind the Boeing Dreamliner's woes has not been solved. Boeing's entire fleet of the state of the art Dreamliner still grounded. U.S. and Japanese officials now say they eave found no major issues with the lithium batteries that are previously been linked to the Dreamliner problems. So now, they're still trying to figure out what happened here. Was it the complex electronics system that has been causing heat events around these batteries?

Boeing's planes have been grounded since earlier this month because two incidents prompted aviation officials to launch an investigation, a very serious situation there.

Meantime, since the Sandy Hook shooting, gun sales continue go up, way up. The American government -- the U.S. doesn't track gun sales. So the best way to kind of look at a proxy for gun sales are the background checks from the FBI. We know, according to the FBI, that these background checks have been just skyrocketing.

Eight of the ten days with the highest number of background checks since 1998 have occurred since the December 14th massacre, the same day as the tragedy at Newtown. Gun shop owners say that semiautomatic rifles, high-capacity magazines are drawing much of this frenzy to acquire guns and ammunitions. Many gun enthusiasts fear that they're no longer going to be able to buy these weapons if Washington passes new gun control legislation. So, I'm telling you that this part of the market has been really, really on fire.

And get this. If you have a clean driving record, you might be ponying up more for auto insurance. That's right. In a case study, the Consumer Federation of America found that insurers relied more on income-related factors like your job and your education than your driving history or how many miles you logged on the road.

So, the study solicited rates for two hypothetical customers, both of these are 30-year-old women with the same car and same mileage. It found that four of the five car insurance companies survey charged the single receptionist with a high school diploma, charged her more, than a married executive with a masters degree.

Here's the catch: the receptionist had a clean driving record, right? But she made less money. The business executive caused an accident. The person who caused the accident had lower rates than the 30-year- old single receptionist. In most instances, Alina, the studies say the premiums had a 25 percent --

CHO: I don't get the rational.

ROMANS: I don't either. The assumption there, there's only one -- and I'll tweet out the story so you can see -- there was only one of the big major insurance companies that gave the lower rates to the person who actually had a better driving record.

CHO: Let's hope that changes.

Twenty-six minutes after the hour. He is the X-Games athlete who walked away from this violent snowmobile crash last week. Now, he's taken a different turn. We will have details coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)