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Over 900 Hurt After Meteor Shower in Russia; Senate Republicans Block Hagel; Keep a Heart Healthy, Know Your ABCs; "Excited to be on Land"; Tiffany Sues Costco over Rings

Aired February 15, 2013 - 09:30   ET



COSTELLO: Good morning. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Carol Costello. Stories we're watching right now in the newsroom at 30 minutes past the hour, you're watching the opening bell at the New York stock exchange. We could see the Dow open lower today. Investors concerned about Europe's economic health and we're waiting on a handful of new economic reports.

The IRS knows you are eager for your refund but it's asking for a little tiny bit of patience. Early filers have been overwhelming the where's my refund website, and smartphone app trying to figure out exactly when they will get their refund money but checking every five minutes will not help you. Officials say the information is only updated the once a day, and usually overnight.

More than 900 people reportedly hurt after a meteor explodes over southern Russia. Most injuries are minor and blamed on flying glass. Witnesses say they saw a bright white flash and then felt a big old boom. Glass and hundreds of buildings shattered, there were reports shock waves set off car alarms and cut cell phone service.

History on the Senate floor, and in a special "Political Buzz," three minutes of hot talk on Benghazi, Chuck Hagel and of course partisanship. Playing today, chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash, CNN contributor and ESPN senior writer L.Z. Granderson and Republican strategist Rich Galen.

RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: The only person being paid on this program.


COSTELLO: Oh my gosh!

L.Z. GRANDERSON: Wow, we're starting there already. Boy!


COSTELLO: Okay, before we begin --


GALEN: I've been sitting here to think what to say. COSTELLO: Before we begin the conversation a little explanation. Republicans successfully blocked the confirmation of Chuck Hagel for defense secretary in part because of Hagel's controversial remark on gays and Jews and his terrible performance during his confirmation hearings, but also because five months ago, terrorists attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R ) SOUTH CAROLINA: We will continue pushing and asking questions about Benghazi, not because it's personal, not because we're Republicans and he's a Democrat, but because America needs to learn what happened and we need to learn from our mistakes.


COSTELLO: This, despite testimony on Benghazi from General Petraeus, Hillary Clinton, admiral Mike Mullen, Defense Secreatry Leon Panetta, General Martin Dempsey, among others. But it's not enough. Republicans now want to know what happened as the attack in Benghazi went down and who changed those talking points. They want more answers from the president. So Dana, is Chuck, is the blockage of Chuck Hagel's confirmation because of Benghazi, as Lindsey Graham illustrates or is it because of something else?

BASH: It is mostly because of Chuck Hagel. Benghazi was, they sort of have been on a crusade to get more answers for Benghazi and like you see many, many times here in the Senate, they saw Chuck Hagel and his nomination as a way to use that as leverage to get answers and they did, they got an answer about what the president's role was on that day. But really this is mostly about Chuck Hagel and you know, John McCain is actually the perfect example of why it is about the man himself, and that is he said last night after he had kind of given lots of different explanations, all of them I think are credible from his point of view, that the real fundamental thing that has bothered most of Hagel's fellow Republicans here, former colleagues here, is the way that he defied his party, defied his president, then George W. Bush, on Iraq, and that really did not sit well with many Republicans here, and they remember that. It's a whole bunch of other issues but that at its core is the fundamental problem.

COSTELLO: So Rich, I'll ask you as a Republican strategy, are the concerns over Chuck Hagel serious enough to filibuster and block confirmation? That's the first time this has before happened in the history of U.S. politics.

GALEN: Well, everybody says that, but that would get two thumbs up in the political fact check so John Bolten was blocked and I think at that time U.S. ambassador to the UN was a cabinet level slot.

But here's the thing about - the Republicans I think, Dana, have said that they'll probably let this thing go after the ten-day Presidents' Day holiday. They're holding it up another 10 or 12 days. The president only nominated him on January 6th or 7th, whenever that was, so it's not like this has been hanging around for six or seven months and the Republicans are dragging their feet, dragging their feet. I suspect Senator Hagel will be the defense secretary and from somebody who has to write three days a week, having to take a list of defense and carry it in state, that's like manna from heaven.

COSTELLO: Yes, but still, it boggles my mind, L.Z., that we're pretty certain Chuck Hagel will be nominated or confirmed anyway, why waste our time?

GRANDERSON: It makes for good theater. You know, I encourage all of your viewers, you know, when they get done watching us to Google Chuck Hagel and Senator McCain. You don't have to go very far before you see quotes from Senator McCain praising Chuck Hagel, calling him an outstanding citizen and someone that he would be proud to serve with, had he become president back in 2008. What has changed since when those quotes were given to today? The only thing I can think that has changed is the fact you have a president they don't like and they want to stick it to him. This is about theater more than anything else. Mitch McConnell praised him as well on the way out so I'm trying to figure out what has happened over the short period of time? Everything he said about W, that happened prior to the comments being made.

GALEN: But L.Z., he has given speeches and written and joined, been on the board of organizations that frankly make me a little uncomfortable and again I'm on the side of giving a president wide latitude in picking his cabinet, but those things have happened since he left the Senate, so I'm not sure it's fair to compare what McCain said four or eight years ago and what he is saying today.

BASH: If I could just maybe shed some light on that, it was back in 2000, when Chuck Hagel was actually John McCain's national co-chair of his presidential campaign, that's when McCain said that he personally he would even have Chuck Hagel as his defense secretary and what did change is what I mentioned before, it really was Iraq that changed, that sent them on their separate ways personally but much more importantly on a policy level, and that was the fundamental problem at its foundation but there's no question that Republicans see Hagel's positions on Iran as a big problem, and then, yes, of course, that's on top of that is the fact that they don't love the fact that the president nominated him, someone who they think is, for lack of a better with a way to say it, a political traitor, to be the next defense secretary.

GALEN: Dana you're reporting on the day that --

GRANDERSON: The press has quoted him --

GALEN: Let me get back to this.

GRANDERSON: All right.

GALEN: And then I'll stop. On the day he testified, your reporting was fantastic in the dismal job that he was doing and I believe he used - you used the word shocked coming from senators' mouths. I think for a lot of, for some Republicans there was sort of, that feel like me, that the president should get who he wants, they think if that's how badly he did in that forum and he's been a member of the Senate, that maybe we need to give this just one more breath before we vote yes.

COSTELLO: Okay. L.Z. Wrap it up for us.

GRANDERSON: I just, well I just wanted to point out that while it's true his initial quotes, John McCain's initial quotes were in 2000, the Associated Press has quotes from him as early as 2008-2009 still praising the man so it's not as if I'm reaching out for a decade for old quotes. These are still relatively new in the political cycle. And so, I agree. Chuck Hagel did a horrible job. I'm trying to figure out why these two men who praised him fairly recently in the cycle, why are they trashing him this hard? I think it's personal, in addition to his performance.

COSTELLO: All right, thank you so much for the interesting discussion this morning, our CNN chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash, CNN contributor L.Z. Granderson and our beloved Republican strategist, Rich Galen. Thanks to all of you.

Many passengers from the Carnival Triumph are already back in Texas, arriving not by ship but by bus, after their nightmare cruise finally ends.



ELIZABETH COHEN , CNN CORRESPONDENT: Keeping heart healthy is many times like alphabet soup so what do all the letters mean? Know your numbers or BP, LDL and HDL. BP is blood pressure, HDL and LDL are cholesterol.

DR. WARREN LEVY, PRESIDENT, VIRGINIA HEART: HDL which is your good cholesterol, that stands for high density lipo proteins and for men that should be above 40, for women above 50 and you should know your LDL, which is your low density lipo proteins, and those are the bad ones. They need to be under 100 for the general population.

COHEN: What does BMI stand for?

LEVY: IBMI stands for body mass index and it's a very simple way of calculating of the percentage of someone's body that is made up of fat and we have ranges we know are healthy and unhealthy. BMI less than 25 is healthy, above 25 you're overweight and you need to do something about it.

COHEN: And an EKG or ECG?

LEVY: EKG is actually the German abbreviation for electrocardiogram. In English we say ECG but it's an electrical measurement of the heart's activity.

COHEN: If you suffered from a TIA, should you be worried?

LEVY: A TIA is a transient ischemic attack. That's a stroke that almost happened. A TIA can be a warning sign you're at risk of having a stroke and that should never be ignored. COHEN: All important things to know when it comes to your health. Elizabeth Cohen, CNN.



COSTELLO: Forty-five minutes past the hour. Time to check our top stories. More than 900 reportedly hurt after a meteor explodes over southern Russia. Most injuries are minor and blamed on flying glass. Witnesses say they saw a bright white flash, then felt a boom. Glass in hundreds of buildings shattered and there are reports that shock waves also set off car alarms and cut cellphone service.

To Oregon, where the same-sex spouse of a military veteran will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. It's thought to be the first of its kind. Secretary of Veteran's Affairs personally approved the burial. He says his decision was based on evidence of a committed relationship. It does not change the military's policy of not recognizing same-sex marriage, however.

The Monster beverage company plans to start listing how much caffeine is in its energy drinks. The change is part of a voluntary move toward compliance with stricter federal guidelines. Critics including officials in Washington have questioned the safety of energy drinks. Monster's top rival Red Bull already uses stricter labeling.

3,100 passengers from the Carnival "Triumph" are on a new trip this morning and that would be oh, a blessed trip home. Passengers are so happy to be on land, one of them actually kissed the ground. Others are just happy for the basics, you know, like a shower and hot food.

Brooke Baldwin has more on their nightmare vacation.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The scene in Mobile, Alabama, passengers cheer and wave as the Carnival cruise ship "Triumph" makes its way into port. Others show signs like this one that reads, "Sweet Home Alabama" relieved that their nightmare vacation at sea is finally over.

BOB KENNY, CARNIVAL TRIUMPH PASSENGER: It's good to be back on solid ground and you know I mean just when you think about a good three-day cruise that we had and then it was a bad four-day camping trip.

BALDWIN: The ship limped into port late Thursday night, some four days after an engine room fire knocked out power aboard the vessel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are glad to be on dry land. Our -- it's just been a horrible experience for us.

BALDWIN: Having seen and heard the frustration, Carnival's CEO said he boarded the ship to personally apologize to all the passengers.

GERRY CAHILL, CEO, CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES: I know the conditions on board were very poor. I know it was very difficult and I want to apologize again for subjecting our guests to that. We pride ourselves in providing our guests with a great vacation experience and clearly we failed in this particular case.

BALDWIN: Passengers had to endure toilets that didn't work, some reported sewage in the hallways, long lines for food, and hot, smelly cabins. But through it all, some passengers say everyone pulled together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I saw a lot more of the good behavior and a lot less of the bad behavior, so the tempers would flare occasionally at things but nothing too dramatic.

BALDWIN: And as you might expect there were a few reunions on shore. Brooklyn Burgess was among them overjoyed at the sight of her father, who was there awaiting her arrival.

BROOKLYN BURGESS, CARNIVAL TRIUMPH PASSENGER: And he picked me up and hugged me and I started crying. It was just, it was so good to see him. After being on that boat for that long and not knowing when or how we were getting back.

BALDWIN: Brooke Baldwin, CNN, Mobile, Alabama.


COSTELLO: Costco, the big box retailer where you can find anything, flat screen TVs, giant tubs of mayo and Tiffany engagement rings? Well it turns out Tiffany has something to say about that.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This, I take it was not purchased at Tiffany's?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, actually, was purchased concurrent with -- well actually came inside of -- well, a box of Cracker Jack.



COSTELLO: Oh, the Audrey Hepburn classic "Breakfast at Tiffany's." And while that clerk seemed a little nonplussed over a Cracker Jack, the real Tiffany was actually livid over rings -- engagement rings being sold at Costco. And now the jeweller is suing Costco. Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange to explain it all.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Carol, so what this lawsuit reportedly does is that accuses Costco of a big, big faux pas. It says the discount or the bulk retailer actually wrongly promoted engagement rings as Tiffany diamond engagement rings on signs that were located inside the store when they were not Tiffany rings.

Now Costco does sell engagement rings. In fact I saw one for what $62,000 on their Web site there. But none are sold in that famous little blue box. Now Tiffany's lawsuit reportedly says Tiffany has never sold nor would it ever sell its fine jewelry through an off- price warehouse retailer like Costco.

The brand name is everything, you know this, when it comes to luxury goods. If you can buy Tiffany jewelry at a Costco, what it does is essentially cheapens the value of that brand. And these company Carol will go to great lengths to protect the brand's image.

Now we did reach out to Tiffany and Costco. No comment from either of them but Costco reportedly took down those signs when Tiffany complained last year -- Carol.

COSTELLO: I know, I was hoping that I could buy Tiffany rings in bulk. Although I don't think that would make it any cheaper.

KOSIK: And sell them on the street.

COSTELLO: Right, let's do it.


COSTELLO: Alison Kosik, thanks so much.

Call it intermission at the Australian Open. Golfers are force to take a break when the course is overrun by kangaroos.


COSTELLO: The streak is over for the NBA's reigning MVP but oh Lebron James is still on fire for the Miami Heat. Joe Carter joins us now with the Bleacher Report.


Yes, the streak is over because of one shot. One shot that Lebron didn't need to take. He missed a three-pointer in the final two minutes which dropped that shooting percentage of his under 60 percent for the game.

Now it was a rematch of last season's NBA finals and in this game it was all Miami, they beat Oklahoma City by 10 points to win their seventh straight game. Lebron was great again. He scored over 30 points, 39 to be exact.

But this is the shot that dropped his shooting percentage to 59 percent, which is one percent shy of extending his NBA report to seven straight games.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You had your 60 percent field goal percentage going until you jacked up that three in the shot clock. Were you aware what that meant?

LEBRON JAMES, MIAMI HEAT: No, I wasn't aware, but all good things got to come to an end at some point. So you know, it was a good run. But we got the win tonight and that's the most important.


CARTER: Hey, mate. It's a kangaroo. Look at this at the LPGA tournament in Australia. It was delayed by what else -- yes, kangaroos. Dozens of them bouncing up and down the fairway. The play was actually stopped for a short time.

You know, seeing these kangaroos, Carol, got us thinking wondering if one of those kangaroos happened to pick up one of the player's golf balls would that player be penalized? We found out that player would in fact not be penalized, because kangaroos, as you might be surprised in Australia are not part of the golf course.

All right now that we've got that cleared up have you heard of this, the Harlem shake? It's quickly becoming an Internet dance sensation. It starts with one person dancing kind of crazy then a whole bunch of people join in.

Now here's NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon and his pit crew's version of the Harlem shake.

All right. Pretty good. They're even doing this thing at spring training. Here's the Arizona Diamondbacks.

All right. So for more entertaining sports news you can check out

Carol, the Harlem Shake started with a couple of guys in a dorm room. I'm sure they were kicking back a few. And now it's grown to this Internet sensation, doing it from NASCAR to Spring Training. They're doing it on subways. You name it. The Harlem Shake.

COSTELLO: And you just have to put a big weird thing on your head and dance. That's it.

CARTER: It's become that simple yes.

COSTELLO: Joe Carter thank you.

CARTER: You bet.

COSTELLO: The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM after a short break.