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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Stars Aligning on Immigration Reform?; Arrests in Brazil Nightclub Fire; Boy Scouts Reconsider Ban on Gays; John Kerry Confirmation; Wave of Violence in Egypt; Clean Drivers Paying More for Car Insurance?

Aired January 29, 2013 - 06:00   ET

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


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A path to citizenship, President Obama just hours away from telling America his plans for immigration reform.

ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: Gone without a trace. Right now, the search is on for the missing pilot of an Air Force F-16, just like this one, after a training mission overseas.

ROMANS: And a seismic shift for an American institution. The Boy Scouts of America is reconsidering its ban on gays.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

CHO: Good morning, everybody. I'm Alina Cho. Zoraida is off today, and John will be along at 7:00 a.m. on "STARTING POINT." It is Tuesday, January 29th, 6:00 a.m. in the East.

ROMANS: At long last, the stars maybe aligning on immigration reform, but the issue is tricky, so tricky, in fact, 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, the so-called "Gang of Eight" unveiled their first step toward an agreement yesterday. Conservatives are not happy with it, rejecting it as a form of amnesty.

House lawmakers said to be working on a bipartisan plan of their own. White House correspondent Brianna Keilar takes a look at the evolution of immigration reform through 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, 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 checks, paying taxes and a penalty, and learning English. A solution has eluded 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 undocumented young immigrants. But he was taken to task at a Univision townhall for not doing something bigger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You promised that and a promise is a promise, and with all due respect, you didn't keep that respect.

OBAMA: What I promised was 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 growing voter bloc helped propel Obama to a second term. It was a wakeup call for Republicans.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: I do know that 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)

CHO: And coming up in our next hour, we will talk with Democratic Congressman Joe Garcia of Florida about the immigration reform push in the House.

ROMANS: Meantime this morning, the search is on for a U.S. Air Force fighter jet that may have crashed during a 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. (INAUDIBLE) news agency reports an oil slick was spotted. The U.S. Air Force says the pilot's condition is unknown.

CHO: New events in the Brazil nightclub inferno. Police have now arrested four people in connection with the deadly nightclub fire that killed 231 people. Two of those now in custody are owners of the Kiss Nightclub in Santa Maria that's in Southern Brazil. The other two people under arrests 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 their stage show shortly before the blaze broke out.

ROMANS: The Boy Scouts of America is considering changing its long- standing policy against allowing openly gay members. This is according to a statement by the group. This after months of protests including hundreds of angry Eagle Scouts renouncing their hard-earned awards and actually mailing back their red, white and blue medals. The father of one California Boy Scout, his application for eagle rank was rejected because of being gay. A father called a statement a step in the right direction.

CHO: A Clinton for a Kerry? That's right. In just a few hours, John Kerry is expected to be confirmed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as the next secretary of state, replacing Hillary Clinton. He is also expected to breeze through the full Senate. Meantime, tomorrow, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick will name an appointment for Kerry's Senate seat.

ROMANS: All right, some dangerous weather in the forecast this morning. We're on the lookout for severe thunderstorms, possible tornadoes through the south, and all along tornado alley.

Jennifer Delgado is tracking this extreme weather threat for us on this Tuesday morning. Good morning.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Christine. Yes, it continues to get busy. Now we do have a tornado watch. It has been issued and this is going to be in place until noon. You can see the area in red right here and here are the cells that we are watching.

They have been firing up, again, over the last two hours. We're going to continue to see more of this potential as we go throughout the day. Now, it's not just going to be down in Oklahoma. We're going to see this threat through parts of the southern plains as well as the lower Mississippi Valley.

Right now, tracking strong storms moving through parts of the Upper Midwest, you can see moving through areas like Michigan, a lot of lightning into parts of Eastern Iowa, including Grand Rapids as well as into Iowa City.

Now what we're going to be dealing with as we go through the day, afternoon heating, as the frontal system is going to be charging over towards the east. Anywhere you are seeing in the orange shading, darker shade. This is our moderate threat for severe storms.

And that means some of the storms could produce tornadoes, just like what we are seeing right now with the tornado watch being issued. In the yellow, we do have the slight risk and that goes from Houston all the way up to parts of Illinois.

Now as we take you through the future. What we're really concerned about is with these storms moving through late tonight as well as into the overnight hours. So many people are sleeping. This is going to be the threat that we're talking about. You need to have that NOAA radio.

As we show you, as we go 12 a.m. notice this line of storms moving through Houston all the way up towards Chicago and through parts of Arkansas. That storm system continues to move over towards the east for Wednesday. We have a slight risk of severe storms, and the system doesn't depart until Thursday.

We're also talking about two to four inches of rain and on the back side of that low, more snow and a bitter chill on the way, once again as we head to Thursday. There you have it. Tornado threat, cold weather as well as a flood threat over the next couple of days. Look at those temperatures dropping down minus 5 for Bismarck as we head into Thursday.

ROMANS: That is one weather report.

CHO: And we're warming up here in New York. Thanks so much.

DELGADO: You're welcome.

CHO: Could Tiger Woods rule golf again in 2013? Well, people debating that again this morning after he won the Farmers Insurance Open in dominating fashion yesterday. It was Tiger's 75th PGA Tour career win. Seven behind the record held by Sam Snead and it was his eighth win at Torrey Pines in San Diego, including the 2008 U.S. Open.

ROMANS: When the top dogs in the country compete at the Westminster Kennel Club Show, two new breeds will be part of the mix this year. Take a look, cute dog alert. For the first time, treeing walker coonhounds and Russell terriers will be part of the competition.

That's coonhound on the left, the terrier on the right. Westminster Kennel Club Show takes place in about two weeks, February 11th and 12th in New York. Good luck to you. I love dogs.

CHO: Every year I say I might just stop in, because it looks amazing, you know, never been.

Egypt, moving closer to the brink this morning with violent clashes putting the new president to the test. We are live in Cairo, coming up.

ROMANS: Plus, President Obama, skeet shooter? The comments from the commander in chief are raising a few eyebrows.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHO: Welcome back to EARLY START. It's 12 minutes after the hour and a lot to cover for you this morning. Anti government protests raged on through the night in Egypt, despite President Mohamed Morsi's 30- day ordered curfew.

Demonstrators took to the streets in cities like Alexandria where they clashed with police and disrupted rail service. At least 38 people including civilians and soldiers have been killed in Egypt over just the past two days.

CNN's Ben Wedeman joins us live from Cairo. Ben, good morning.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, we've seen -- Cairo quieter than it was in the last few days. There were clashes overnight, but they have subsided. Really, the focus of many these protests are on those cities along the Suez Canal, where that 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. 30-day curfew has been imposed.

But the residents of those cities are not really respecting the curfew. Many of them purposefully went out and broke it. In fact, in one of the cities, a large football match attended by thousands of people in defiance to the orders of a government that does appear to be increasingly unpopular.

CHO: Ben, these pictures are all too familiar. You remember all too well that the so-called Arab spring two years ago ousted Mubarak, brought Morsi to power. And now the Egyptians are turning against him. From what I understand it, there are several little issues that add up to these big protests there in Egypt.

WEDEMAN: There are actually fairly large issues. There's opposition to the constitution that was sort of passed in December against the opposition of a lot of people. There's unhappiness with this verdict, 21 people sentenced to death for their part in a football riot that left more than 70 people dead a year ago.

There are feelings that the Muslim Brotherhood-led government of Mohamed Morsi has simply not been able to run this country. At the same time, the economy is really in a shambles. There are almost no tourists to speak of in Egypt. So it all adds up to a situation that is highly volatile.

CHO: CNN's Ben Wedeman live for us in Cairo. Ben, thank you very much.

It is 14 minutes after the hour. Let's get you up to date. High hopes from the Hispanic community for President Obama's speech on immigration reform. We expect him to take up the issue in a speech at a Las Vegas high school today.

Eight senators, four from each party, the so-called "Gang of Eight," unveiled their own first step toward an agreement yesterday. House lawmakers are said to be working on a bipartisan plan of their own.

ROMANS: A convicted arsonist sentenced to death for setting the deadly 2003 old fire in San Bernardino County, California. The fire destroyed about a thousand homes and led to five deaths. The children of one victim told the judge how the fire destroyed their lives. The 31-year-old Ricky Lee Fowler, described as a meth addict with a violent history, convicted of murder and arson charges last August.

CHO: The fast food chain Chick-fil-A has stopped donating money to anti-gay organizations. That's according to the LGBT advocacy group, "Campus Pride," who looked at Chick-fil-A's books for 2011. The Georgia-based company caught up in the same-sex marriage debate when their president made controversial remarks that were seen as anti gay.

ROMANS: Facebook has partnered with a suicide prevention group save.org to study suicide victims' social media behavior in the days leading up to deaths. The critics are saying even though partnerships like this can be helpful, Facebook needs to be careful not to be seen as Big Brother.

CHO: From Broadway with love, 100 performers staged a benefit concert last night in Connecticut for families in the Sandy Hook community. They were joined on stage by Sandy Hook Elementary students and others from Newtown area schools. All proceeds and donations going directly to the United Way of Western Connecticut Sandy Hook School Support Fund.

ROMANS: President Obama is being challenged on his skeet shootings skills. Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, who's a regular on "STARTING POINT", she says she had no idea he was a skeet shooter and now wants to take him on at Camp David. The whole thing started when "The New Republic" asked the president if he ever fired a gun. He responded, "Up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time".

CHO: I was surprised by that.

Sixteen minutes after the hour. Time for your "Early Reads" now, your local news making national headlines.

This coming to us from "The Washington Post". Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says his wife is pregnant. The leader who's country has been consumed by a bloody two-year civil war offhandedly leaked that information to a Beirut based newspaper.

ROMANS: Cue the outrage, this from "The New York Times". The government watchdogs says the Treasury Department disregarding its own guidelines, allowed a large pay increases for executives at three companies bailed out during the financial crisis. Report says treasury officials signed off on annual compensation for $1 million or more for all but one of 69 top executives at AIG, Ally Financial, and General Motors.

CHO: For an expanded look at all of our tops stories, head to our blog, CNN.com/EarlyStart. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Just search for EarlyStartCNN.

ROMANS: All right. In today's "Road Warriors", this year's flu hit early and hard. Now a stomach bug is making the rounds and travelers aren't immune to the coughing, aching, fever.

If you are trying to do a business trip or any kind of travel with this going on, here's what you need to know: Many hotels stocking up on extra supplies like tissues and hand sanitizers. They're giving sick guests some special attention. One Houston hotel is offering rides to the doctor or the pharmacy, Alina. One national chain will send up room service with complimentary chicken soup and ginger ale if you're feeling under the weather. Maybe their way of keeping you in your room and not to the common areas.

To keep you healthy, the Centers for Disease Control has some very specific tips for travelers. If you're running a fever, you should delay your travel for at least 24 hours until the fever is gone. Consider skipping the cocktail on the plane, opt for water. It's important you stay hydrated if you feel like you're getting sick.

Pack a travel health kit with tissue, pain and fever medicine, cough drops, sanitizing wipes, I've got one for you here. Clean surfaces like the tray, the tray table, clean it vigorously on the plane. Clean the TV remote control at the hotel.

You can buy one like this. This is a ready-made kit, which has got a lot of different things in here. You can buy one like this at drugstores or you can make one for your own needs. You can tailor it for what you need. Make sure there are sanitizing wipes in there.

And most importantly, get your flu vaccine so you better protected at home and on the road.

CHO: Right.

ROMANS: And I'll tell you something that Sanjay Gupta says -- Sanjay Gupta says especially with the norovirus, which is the stomach bug that will put you down for two or three days -- wash your hands, don't just rely on hand sanitizer. Wash your hands, Sanjay says sing "Happy Birthday" twice. For another norovirus, really aggressively wash your hands, wash your clothes, wash your dishes in the dish washer, he says, because just -- you can't get the water hot enough for the norovirus.

CHO: Good tips. I love (INAUDIBLE).

ROMANS: Gross but important.

CHO: The room service about the chicken soup, that's my favorite.

All right. Coming up, truth about your car insurance and why a clean driving record doesn't always mean you're going to get a better rate. Just wait until you hear this story, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHO: A beautiful night -- morning, slash morning in New York City. It's 6:22. Sun is not up yet. It's going to be pretty balmy, 55 degrees.

ROMANS: If you're just getting to bed, God love you. If you're just getting up, God help you.

CHO: Welcome back to EARLY START. It's 23 minutes after the hour.

Christine here, minding your business, and again, I asked you this three times, stocked up 800 points this year.

ROMANS: I know. CHO: Just this year. That's incredible.

ROMANS: It's sort of the stealth rally I think people haven't noticed. I mean, I don't feel any richer. I don't know if you do, but 800 points almost for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. And stock futures are down a little bit this morning, Alina, and I say that mostly because I think you are taking a pause here. We got a lot of important corporate earnings here.

Key data on housing and consumer confidence. Those come out at 9:00 and 10:00 this morning. So, today's direction will probably be determined by that. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up around by 6 percent so far this year. That's the best start to a year since January 1994. So, it's really a unique and rare kind of start to the year.

Meantime, following the mystery behind the Boeing Dreamliner's problems. And that mystery has not been solved this morning. Boeing's entire fleet of state of the art Dreamliner still grounded. U.S. and Japanese officials said they have found no major issues with those lithium batteries that had previously been linked to the Dreamliner problems. Boeing's planes grounded since earlier this month after two incidents prompted aviation officials to launch investigations around the world.

Since the Sandy Hook shooting, gun sales up, way up. A vigorous bull market in guns. The U.S. doesn't track gun sales, so you got to look at background checks. That's considered one of the most reliable ways to track gun sales. And according to the FBI, eight of the top 10 days of background checks since 1998, eight of the 10 days of background checks have occurred since December 14th of last year. That's the day of the tragedy in Newtown.

Gun shop owners say that semiautomatic rifles and high-capacity magazines are driving much of this buying frenzy. Gun enthusiasts fear that they'll no longer be able to buy some sorts of these weapons if Washington passes new gun control legislation.

And get this -- if you have a clean driving record, you might be ponying up more for auto insurance. That's right. One 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 log on the road.

The study solicited rates for two hypothetical customers. But of them 30-year-old women with the same car, same mileage, it found that four out of five insurance companies, they charged a single receptionist with a high school diploma, they charged her more than a married executive with the masters degree.

The catch -- the receptionist, Alina, had a clean driving record. The business executive had recently caused an accident. The person who caused an accident had lower rates. In most cases, the study said the premium had a 25 percent difference.

CHO: Two words: not fair. ROMANS: I'm going to tweet that story out so you can see who they surveyed.

The one thing you need to know about your money today, I've been telling you about this, 800-point rally. Rebalance. With the Dow up almost 800 points so far this year, you should be periodically rebalancing your portfolio to make sure you have the right mix of stock, bonds, and cash.

Personal finance doesn't happen to you, people. You make it happen.

CHO: Thank you, Christine, for the reminder.

ROMANS: You're welcome. No, it's a good time to rebalance. The beginning of the year is a good time of the year to rebalance.

CHO: All right. When is the beach more like a bubble bath? Well, when the ocean foam is out of control like this -- wow!

ROMANS: That's something.

CHO: We have more on that coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)