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Writers Strike Turned Golden Globes into 35-minute Press Conference; Wallop of Winter; Mother Kidnapped in Colombia Set Free; Blu-ray versus HD DVD; Hunt is on For the Key Suspect in Murder of Pregnant Marine
Aired January 14, 2008 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HEIDI COLLINS, ANCHOR: Good morning, everybody, you are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Heidi Collins. Watch events come into the NEWSROOM live on this Monday morning, January 14th. Here's what's on the rundown -- a U. S. marine running from the law and a murder charge today. Was he spotted in Louisiana? A live briefing ahead.
Top Democrats clash over race. High stakes ahead of this week's presidential contest in Nevada.
It leads the nation in lost jobs and lost homes. The Countrywide deal and Michigan on the brink, in the NEWSROOM.
On the run, Marine Corporal Cesar Laurean, key suspect now in the bloody death of a pregnant marine. Our Ed Lavandera on the case in Jacksonville, North Carolina, for us this morning.
Ed, what's the latest now on the search?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is day four of this manhunt for Marine Corporal Laurean and there are still troubling questions as to exactly how much help the marine corps here at Camp Lejeune offered civilian investigators early on in this investigation, when Maria Lauterbach was first reported missing. Her family doesn't think enough was done and one local official here in Jacksonville asked me over the weekend, where are the marines?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Late Saturday night reports started surfacing Marine Corporal Cesar Laurean was seen at a bus port in Shreveport, Louisiana. But, North Carolina authorities now say it probably wasn't the man they're looking for. But, they're still confident that they're closing in on the suspected murderer.
ED BROWN, SHERIFF, ONSLOW COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA: At least, you'll feel comfortable that his vacation will be short, his travel may be long, but I hope we'll be there to help him return.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Corporal Laurean vanished just hours before the bodies believed to be those of Maria Lauterbach and her unborn baby were found in the backyard of Laurean's home. Investigators say he left a note claiming he buried Lauterbach's body because she had killed herself. But, authorities say, blood evidence in the house proves otherwise, calling Laurean a liar and a killer. BROWN: If he's telling it like he wants to tell it, it would be foolish to run from what he claims happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But why did it take so long for civilian investigators to focus on Laurean? Many law enforcement experts say he should have been an initial suspect in Lauterbach's disappearance. He had been accused of raping her and she had filed a protective order against him. And, Lauterbach's family tells CNN that the marine command did not do enough to protect her.
PAUL STEINER, MARIA LAUTERBACH'S UNCLE: The marines let Maria down. She was being harassed. She went back on the rape story the week before she disappeared. And due to harassment that she was getting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sheriff Ed Brown says his investigators didn't learn of Laurean's name until January 7th, 20 days after she was reported missing. Investigators say Lauterbach's mother, not marine investigators, gave them Laurean's connection to the case and it was not until last Friday that, the sheriff says, they were told about the military protective order.
LAVANDERA: And, the reason he asked about that protective order is because investigators found the paper in Maria Lauterbach's car. Now, we've asked repeatedly over the last several days to speak with officials here at Camp Lejeune. We've been denied but, late last night, we've got a statement from them saying it is premature to discuss the situation at this point and that the marines are currently collecting information and conducting a review to determine when and what information was available to marine commanders -- Heidi?
COLLINS: Ed, has there been a positive identification?
LAVANDERA: There has not been a positive identification of the body in this case. The body has been sent off to Chapel Hill for tests -- the dental record testing -- so, all of that still is underway. But, authorities here are almost fully confident that that is indeed the body of Maria Lauterbach.
COLLINS: What about cause of death?
LAVANDERA: And then that's one of the other things they have to determine as well. They believe at this point that the murder took place inside Laurean's home, given the blood evidence that was found in there and then the body was burned later in the backyard, but what exactly caused the death hasn't been determined at this point.
COLLINS: Wow, what a case. All right, CNN's Ed Lavandera for us in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Thank you, Ed. And we are going to get the latest on this case. Coming up, less than an hour from now, we will be hearing from Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown his news conference set to begin at 10:00 this morning, Eastern time. We'll bring it to you live just as soon as it happens.
The Michigan primary, now, just one day away. The contest with high stakes for the Republican front-runners.
CNN's Mary Snow has more.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He tells us Michigan roots and his father's popularity as governor here in the 1960s, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is hoping it will give him an edge in the state's Republican primary.
MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a place where memories are very, very deep and where, if you will, I recognize that Michigan is personal. When I grew up, Michigan was the pride of the nation, the envy of the world. We have to be that again
SNOW: That was then, this is now. Detroit's auto-makers are suffering. Unemployment is higher here than the rest of the country. Republican Senator John McCain is hoping a different memory will boost his chances here.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-ARIZONA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're back and I'm happy to be here.
SNOW: McCain won the state's Republican primary here in 2000.
MCCAIN: I do know that we've been through tough times. But, I believe that Michigan can lead this nation in this new green technology economy.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: We want Mike! We want Mike!
SNOW: Mike Huckabee is hoping his newcomer status to Michigan will work to his benefit.
MIKE HUCKABEE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A reporter asked me the other day, just how do you expect to possibly win the election? You don't have the kind of resources. I said you know, I guess if I had all the polls and consultants and focus groups and all the television ads and the headquarters and everything that some of these other guys had, I might be as far behind as some of them are.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END OF VIDEOTAPE
COLLINS: That report, once again, from CNN's Mary Snow, part of the best political team on television. Now, you may wonder why the Democrats aren't campaigning in Michigan. Well, that is because there are no delegates at stake. The DNC stripped the delegates because Michigan violated party rules by moving its primary date up. In fact, John Edwards and Barack Obama aren't even on the primary ballot. Their supporters are being urged to vote uncommitted.
CNN's Jimmy Costa is in Nevada, site of Saturday's caucuses. Of course, we are going to be checking in with him shortly. Well, it's been almost balmy in New England, this young new year, but winter's back with a roar today. CNN's Rob Marciano is following the region's first snowstorm of 2008. He is in Hartford, Connecticut, now with the very latest.
Looks like those flurry -- well, I guess, they're a little heavier than flurry -- has stopped, Rob?
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Oh, no, it's still coming down. The flakes have gotten smaller which -- well, it means a couple of things. First of all, it's probably going to get a little bit chillier. So they're not sticking the other quite as much. Temperatures hovering at or it's only above freezing much of the morning and we've been under a heavy snow warning for a good chunk of the morning, as well.
At some points snow fall rates coming now one or two inches per hour. Now, because it's been so warm or near the freezing mark and because we're in downtown, doesn't do a whole lot of good sticking. But they've had the bobcats out plowing, and sweeping, and doing all sorts of things like that.
That's the old statehouse. That was built in 1796, modeled after the town hall in Liverpool, England. Gorgeous, gorgeous federal-type building. All right, here in Hartford, modern-day, that's down the street, the bus stop right here. Slushy walk as folks wait to get across the street. And, in many spots -- look at this -- we got -- ankle-deep in slush. You got have the galoshes out here today. Tonight, when the temperatures get a little bit colder and, this will all kind of crust over and it will be another difficult commute tomorrow morning. But, all in all, could have been a lot worse.
I'm sure Bonnie Schneider will tell you more about this storm as it explodes off the Cape Cod coastline. Here in Hartford, the authorities have seen for the season, not so much '08 -- but the winter season starting in December, they have received 20 inches of snow. So, they already had a good chunk-of-snow so far. Folks who live in New York City had a little more than two inches. So, they've been striking out. Here in New England, though, a decent amount of snow. It's not Colorado, but it's still nice to see.
COLLINS: Yes. it's beautiful. I love the shot of the booth there. Looks good. All right, Rob. Thanks so much. From Hartford, Connecticut this morning -- Rob Marciano.
And we have Bonnie Schneider standing by in the weather center to talk more -- in particular, about what the maps are saying, Bonnie, and those computer models for that storm.
How's it look?
BONNIE SCHNEIDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Looks like this storm is almost over. We still have more heavy snow expected for the North into Massachusetts. But, as you can see, New York and areas in lower Connecticut, including Fairfield County, snow has definitely stopped. At this point, it was close call to getting more measurable snow around New York City, for example, but the air just wasn't cold enough. The air has to be cold at the surface and a loft -- we had a cold air loft but it didn't come down to the surface -- so we didn't see much snow and you could see that much of Hartford is clearing out. Rob mentioned there's some light snow falling in the vicinity.
Now, as we head, the Boston area, that's where the snow has been free and steady and we're getting more measurable amounts. But, once you head to the coastline, as some of that warmer water temperature kind of mixes in to the Atlantic, we're getting some of more sleet mixing in. We even had reports of sleet on Cape Cod. I want to show you a spot where snow has been consistent and that's Springfield, Massachusetts, in Western sections of the state. We've got a live picture to show you.
Light snow is still falling and visibility pretty poor at this time and this region is still under a heavy snow warning and will continue until 1:00 today. So, look for more snow to accumulate. The roads -- if you are looking at that point on your screen -- the roads are just wet at this point. It looks like they've done a great job kind of clearing them out. The temperature in Springfield is at 31 degrees, so, yes, the snow is sticking. The winter storm warning has expired for areas further among the coast but, you can see that Boston is still affected by this.
We're expecting a little more in the way of wintry weather and windy weather. Snowfall amounts for Massachusetts, well, that's where we really got the heavy stuff, Amherst, for example, nine inches. It's still snowing there, Likely to get a little higher numbers here. Windsor Locks, not far from where Rob is, got six inches on the ground and temperatures are going to stay cold enough for this to stick. But just if you didn't really get it down in New York or lower Connecticut. These nor'easters are tough to forecast. They move to the left, to the right, and really make a big difference in snowfall amounts.
COLLINS: Oh, yes. All right, it is winter. Bonnie, thank you.
Freed from the jungle. Now, a former hostage is reunited with her son. Taken away during her years in captivity.
COLLINS: Welcome back, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
A big deal to buy a major player in the housing market. But, will it clean up the mortgage mess? We want to know. CNN's Gerri Willis crunches the numbers.
COLLINS: President Bush arrives in Saudi Arabia just moments ago. It is the latest stop on his trip to the region.
CNN's Nic Robertson has a preview.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just a day before President Bush's arrival, the red carpet rolled out for the French president, relations warming between Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and Nicolas Sarkozy who will address the King's important Consultative Council, a sort of parliament. A sharp contrast with Bush's two days here. His fast-pace Middle East tour slowing with visits to the king's farm and sightseeing. Flags welcoming both leaders have been out for days but the dual greeting underlying Saudi's concerns about U. S. policy in the region.
KHALIL ALIKHALIL, MEMBER OF SAUDI ARABIA'S CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL: We'd like to see America sending a clear signal about its policies in the region.
ROBERTSON: Despite Mr. Bush's tough rhetoric, there is still concern over a perceived softening of U.S. policy on Iran, but also about Iraq and Israel.
KHALED AL-MAEENA, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, ARAB NEWS: I've come to realize that our self-interests lie in making and formulating own foreign policy based on our own needs.
ROBERTSON: That's why when U. S.-Iranian tensions were reaching a peak last year, King Abdullah was meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, even walking arm-in-arm.
AL-MAEENA: The meeting in Baghdad, I mean, relationship with Iran are cold here.
ROBERTSON: The last thing that Saudis want is another war in the region, the subtext: Israel is pushing America in that direction.
AL-MAEENA: America should look at Iran for its own self-interest rather than from the Israeli point of view or from any other point of view.
ROBERTSON: But, underpinning differences, commonality. Both countries need each other. The U. S. for Saudi influence to help Israeli-Palestinian talks. The Saudis for the U. S. to help curb Iranian expansion both countries fear.
ALIKHALI: The relation, between Saudi Arabia and the United States, is very unique and very special.
ROBERTSON: But not all Saudis' problems are external. In the past few days, shoppers began a five-day dairy product boycott over price hikes and the government faces increasing challenges from the large young population looking for a form in that conservative society.
EBTIHAL MUBARAK, REPORTER, ARAB NEWS: The bloggers on the internet, they're more of the young generation who want the change, to see it come forward. They want it faster.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COLLINS: Nic Robertson is joining us now live from Riyadh.
So, Nic, any of these issues that we just saw in your piece expected to come up today?
ROBERTSON: Well, certainly, President Bush says he addresses the human rights, the freedom issues in whichever country he goes to, and he does, as he was briefing journalists on his plane on his way to Saudi Arabia, just a couple of hours ago, he does understand that those freedom issues are different, in different countries -- so, that, will likely come up. The Saudis want to raise the issue of visas and passports. The United States for a student exchange program -- excuse me -- study program in the United States.
They want that process to go a little bit quicker and, of course, very interested, the Saudis are very interested, in seeing this arms package that is supposed to be coming Saudi's way. They would like to make sure they get some of the munitions they want and, specifically, we hear from sources here they want to make sure they get those Jeda missiles, the technology that makes essentially dumb bombs makes them highly accurate smart bombs, laser-guiding technology -- Heidi?
COLLINS: I wonder, when the president asks for support on Iran what is the answer likely to be?
ROBERTSON: Well, you know, there's two views in Saudi Arabia. One, they want the United States because they know that the United States can stand up to Iran but they don't want the United States to start a war with Iran that's going to immediately affect them, because they're right in the backyard of Iran. What they would like to see is the United States consult with countries in the region. The bordering Iran, the gulf states who would be impacted by it.
Before there was any escalation of violence and, they do say as well, they believe the United States tends to look at the Iran issue just through the perspective of Israel and that the United States has broader interests in the Middle East, and it should look at those interests and look at from its own perspective but speaking, the United States will find there is support at least perhaps privately, strong support, for a strong position against Iran, but publicly, the Saudis also chart their own path, their own cordial relations with Iran. If they don't like the current leader there are others they feel closer to in the leadership of Iran -- Heidi?
COLLINS: CNN's senior head correspondent, Nic Robertson, comes to us live this morning from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Nic, thank you.
The race for the White House this week -- it will look like a sprint. Three states holding contests and the candidates holding their breath. CNN's Jim Acosta is in Nevada this morning, site of Saturday's caucuses.
So, Jim, the top two Democrats are in the middle of a controversy, if you will, about this race, right?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Heidi. Democratic contenders Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are hitting each other hard these days over a remark that the former first lady made about the civil rights movement. This all started recently when Clinton suggested that President Lyndon Johnson, perhaps, deserved more credit for the civil rights legislation of the 1960s than Martin Luther King.
While she later clarified that statement, she angered some African-American leaders with that comment. Over the weekend, Clinton accused Obama's campaign of taking advantage of the gaffe and distorting her comments. Yesterday, here in Las Vegas, Obama called that claim ludicrous.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am baffled by that statement by the senator. She made an ill-advised statement about Dr. King and suggesting that Lyndon Johnson had more to do with the Civil Rights Act.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was responding to a speech that Senator Obama gave in New Hampshire where he did compare himself to President Kennedy and to Dr. King.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Then, one of Clinton's supporters, black entertainment television founder Robert Johnson, stepped into the fray and took a swipe at Obama that seemed to reference the Illinois senator's past drug use -- something Obama talks about in one of his books.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT JOHNSON, FOUNDER, BLACK ENTERTAINMENT TELEVISION: Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues, when Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood that I won't say what he was doing, but he said it in his book...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: And Johnson said later that he was only talking about Obama's past work as a community organizer in Chicago, but the Obama campaign fired back demanding that both Clinton and Johnson apologize for that comment and accused the Clinton campaign of engaging in the politics of personal destruction. This was not a pretty weekend on the campaign trail, Heidi.
ACOSTA: And, there is no sign of a truce on either side on this issue.
COLLINS: No, I bet not. Such a delicate topic, too, when we're talking about the African-American vote this time around. Specifically, do you know of another Democratic candidate that also had something to say about this? ACOSTA: That's right. Over the weekend, John Edwards talked about this as well and he said having grown up in the segregationist south, he took issue with Hillary Clinton's comments that somehow a Washington politician, he put it, had more to do with the civil rights legislation than Martin Luther King. Hillary Clinton has tried time and again. She did here in Nevada, to say she didn't mean to diminish anything that Martin Luther King did during the civil rights' movement, but, yet this issue goes on, and one has to wonder what would Martin Luther King even think about this dialogue? But, yet, it's continuing, Heidi.
COLLINS: All right. CNN's Jim Acosta live this morning from Las Vegas, Nevada. Thank you, Jim.
For more on the presidential candidates and their next stops, go to cnnpolitics.com, it's your one-stop shop for all things political.
A first-grader rescues a classmate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did you know he was choking?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was going like (makes choking and gasping sounds).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: A boy battles a ninja and saves a life -- for real.
COLLINS (on camera): Bank of America has plans for Countrywide Financial, $4 billion worth. The buy-out will give Bank of America control of a quarter of the nation's mortgages. CNN's personal financial editor Gerri Willis is in Michigan for us, this morning. The nation's leader in home foreclosures, unfortunately.
Gerri, what are you finding in this community?
GERRI WILLIS, CNN'S PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Hi there, Heidi. We're in Shelby township, a suburb of Detroit. As you can see, this is a really nice neighborhood. It's not a place you'd necessarily expect to see a lot of foreclosures but that's exactly what's going on here. There are eight foreclosures on this street alone. Let me show you some of them. Check out this beautiful house. Now, this house, the owners bought for $730,000. It's on the market now for $480,000...
WILLIS: ... Over $200,000 of value wiped out, gone. Right next door, if you can come over here with me, we have another house in foreclosure as well. Now, the owners paid $650,000, it's on the market for $420,000. Right across the street, one foreclosure just sold, this one right here. And, I'm going to tell you, this house is -- this is 3,000 square foot: four bedrooms, three baths -- these are mini-McMansions, as we're seeing. $760,000 is what the owners paid. It sold for $400,000.
WILLIS: Very different. So, you can see that with a lot of value wiped out, this is making people here very nervous. I talked to a relocation expert yesterday. She said, the people are really nervous when trying to leave the area, because they can get out from under their mortgages.
COLLINS: Oh, sure, I bet they are. What's the latest on Countrywide's buy-out deal -- could they actually affect some of those people facing foreclosures?
WILLIS: Well, this could be good news. The buy-out, because Bank of America has deeper pockets, it has more money. That means they may be willing to negotiate with folks who have these toxic loans in the marketplace. Now, if you do, if you're having problems, say you've got an adjustable rate mortgage resetting, you need to contact them as soon as possible and start the process of maybe getting some kind of loan modification that will help you out. Remember, at the end of the day, if you have a Countrywide loan, you may see no difference than what's going on with your loan because Bank of America acquired Countrywide.
Typically, though, when a loan changes hands, you have to get noticed within two weeks, 15 days. You have a 60-day grace period to get your payment to the right place, and they can't change the terms of your loan. So, if you have a sweet five percent deal for 30 years, that won't change. You have protections, if your loan changes hands. I just want people out there to know that. I have to tell you, Heidi, at the end of the day we could see a lot more mergers.
COLLINS: Yes. Just kind of wait around for that, I guess. CNN's Gerri Willis. Thanks so much, Gerri, the latest from Michigan theirs morning. Sad neighborhood there for sure.
What happens in Mr. Miller's first grade class usually stays there. But, Ben and Drake have quite a story to share. From (INAUDIBLE) now, Cordell Whitlock, from affiliate KSDK, with a fantastic tale.
CORDELL WHITLOCK, KSDK REPORTER: 7-year-old Ben Mathenia was sitting next to his friend Drake in Mr. Miller's math class in Newheart Elementary (ph), when he noticed Drake was choking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did you know he was choking?
BEN MATHENIA, FIRST GRADE HERO: He was going like (makes choking and gasping sounds).
WHITLOCK: That's when Ben drew on his seven years of life experience and sprung into action.
MATHENIA: Heimlich maneuver.
WHITLOCK: Heimlich maneuver may be tougher for a first-grader to say but in Ben's case, actions spoke louder than words as he wrapped his arms around Drake and thrust upward.
TOM MILLER, BEN AND DRAKE'S TEACHER: I would have expected him to scream, "Mr. Miller! Mr. Miller, Drake's choking! And, he didn't. He just went right into action.
WHITLOCK: Drake swallowed his miniature ninja. Figure. And, like all successful Heimlichs, the ending was predictable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened after you did the Heimlich maneuver? He puked and he puked up the toy.
JENNIFER LARSON, DRAKE'S MOTHER: Thank you so much, baby.
WHITLOCK: Drake's mother couldn't believe the call she got from the principal.
LARSON: When she told me it was a classmate, I just couldn't believe it. I was -- another classmate? Yes. So, like I said, I was very lucky that Ben had actually seen his father and remembered what to do.
WHITLOCK: That reminds us that we can learn from our youth, in this case, about the importance of learning the Heimlich.
MATHENIA: If somebody was choking, you can save them.
COLLINS: Good thing Ben did that Heimlich maneuver. He wants you to save a co-worker.
Welcome back, everybody. Still on the run, Marine Corporal Cesar Laurean described as dangerous and violent. He is the key suspect in the gruesome death of a pregnant marine. Investigators found the charred remains of an adult and a fetus buried in Laurean's backyard near Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Right now, we are waiting for a live news conference. Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown is going to be updating the investigation. Will be coming your way about 30 minutes from now at 10:00, Eastern.
All right, go ahead. Taking you to the New York Stock Exchange, waiting for that opening bell this Monday morning. There it is for you. Obviously, once again, hoping for a better Monday than we had on Friday. I'm sure you're well aware, Dow Jones industrial averages down 246 points on Friday to close the day at 12,606. Today, we are waiting for possibly some positive gains. Fingers crossed. We'll be watching that story for you with Susan Lisovicz.
No glitz, no glamour. The shine strip off the Golden Globes. We'll look at the winners and the losers.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COLLINS: From a Texas spring to this. A wallop of winter. New England smacked by snowstorm this morning after days of unusually mild weather. Areas North and West of Boston may get up to 14 inches of snow before the storm heads out to sea later on. Many schools in the region had cancelled classes, and the power is out for more than 13,000 customers in Connecticut. The storm has been affecting air travel, as you might imagine, into and out of Northeastern airports. Bonnie Schneider is standing by now in the weather center with more.
Hi there, Bonnie.
COLLINS: From the Northeast now to the Northwest. A deadly avalanche kills two skiers in the Northwestern Montana Mountains this morning. There are fears others may be trapped in the massive slide. The possibility of another avalanche has forced search crews off the mountain. Avalanche has killed at least four people over the weekend. Three in Wyoming and one in Colorado.
A mother kidnapped in Colombia finally set free and now seeing the son who was taken away by rebels three years ago.
CNN's Karl Penhaul has the story.
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These last few minutes of waiting must seem as long as any she spent in her six years as a rebel hostage. Clara Rojas is now free and back in Bogota. She's finally about to be reunited with her son, Emanuel. The son who was born during her jungle captivity and taken from her. The son she has not seen or heard from for three years. Hugs and tears from her mother and brother, and then this gold moment.
CLARA ROJAS, FREED HOSTAGE (through translator): I'm so overjoyed I can't find the words to express myself. We have always been in touch in our hearts and in our souls, she says.
PENHAUL: Mother and son have come a long way. From imprisonment in a guerrilla concentration camp deep in the Colombian jungles to this foster home run by Colombian Social Services. With the private meeting at an undisclosed location in Bogota, the social services officials captured it on video.
Clara gave birth to Emanuel by Cesarean section in a jungle camp that was April 2004. His father was one of the very guerrilla fighters holding Clara captive. At eight months old, the guerrillas took the child from Clara and said they were sending him for treatment for tropical disease. That was January 2005. Clara says she never heard from her son again.
The Colombian government investigation showed the guerrillas handed over the boy over to a surrogate civilian family. When they weren't able to care properly for him, the family passed him to social services but registered him under a false name, but that is in the past. With this song, Clara promises Emanuel they will never part again. Not by day or by night will we ever separate. The lyrics go. Amid shower of kisses and gifts, mother and son begin to make up for lost time. And a grandmother comes to terms with finding her grandson.
CLARA GONZALES DE ROJAS, GRANDMOTHER (through translator): The days kept going by. We waited and waited, we never thought he would come. I feel this is a miracle from God. I feel happy and anxious at the same time, anxious for the other children who haven't had the chance at being reunited with their parents, she says.
PENHAUL: The last time Clara and Emanuel played together was in the jungle surrounded by gun-toting rebels. He was sick after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Now, both are free. Free to paint together, free to paste on sticky stars, free to plan a life together.
Karl Penhaul, CNN, Bogota.
COLLINS: Drivers are paying a lot more at the pump. Gas prices shot up once again. According to the Lundberg Survey, pump prices rose nearly ten cents gallon over the past three week. The national average for a gallon of self-service regular $3.07 a gallon. That's 75 cents higher than the price one year ago. The Lundberg Survey says gasoline is finally catching up with increases in crude.
So where was the glitz, the glamour? The writers strike turned the Golden Globes into a 35-minute press conference. Lola Ogunnaike is joining us now with more on this. So Lola, I saw "Atonement". Apparently, this was kind of a big surprise.
LOLA OGUNNAIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It was a huge surprise actually. I think most people thought the award would either go to "No Country For Old Men" or "There Will Be Blood," but actually may have happen here, Heidi, is that those two movies because they're similar in theme and similar message may have split the vote and all the voters in favor of "Atonement" went with "Atonement" and that was the big winner of the evening.
COLLINS: Yes. Well, I love it. Thought it was a great, great movie, but I haven't seen a lot of the others. So probably not too much to compare to. Was that the only surprise?
OGUNNAIKE: Yes. I think the other big surprises the evening was Ellen Paige not winning for "Juno." There's been huge buzz around this movie and huge buzz around this girl. A lot of momentum going in to this film. But apparently, the Hollywood Foreign Press felt more inclined to go with Marion Cotillard for her work in "La Vie en Rose." I love saying Marion Cotillard.
COLLINS: You did very well.
OGUNNAIKE: She's not known really on this side of the pond, but overseas she's a huge star. And you know what she actually did, she went ugly. She lost a lot of weight and she shaved her eyebrows and when beautiful women go ugly for their work in Hollywood that usually spells a victory. It worked for Charlize Theron, worked for Hale Berry, and definitely worked for Hilary Swank.
COLLINS: I am so going to remember that. Who were the big winners though? It kind of seem, all the TV show winners, were on cable?
OGUNNAIKE: Yes. Cable had a huge night. You had shows like "Entourage," "Mad Men," "Extras," "Californication," "Damages," all winning big awards last night. And, David Duchovny, I mean, his new series "California," it just came out and David Duchovny won the award that many thought would go to Alec Baldwin for his work at "30 Rock." But David Duchovny, I guess the Hollywood Foreign Press really likes him. He won in 1997 for his work with "X-Files," so he's back. He must be a favorite.
COLLINS: Yes. I'm going to go with "Entourage." Love that show.
OGUNNAIKE: Yes. Jeremy Piven did win for "Entourage," and you know, he plays the agent Ari Gold. He's incredible, so that was pretty much a no-brainer.
COLLINS: Hysterical. What does all this mean now for the Oscars? Are we going to see the same type of presentation? I don't know what else -- it's hard to criticize them. Because what else could you have done with all the stars and all the clips and everything with the writers strike? Is the Oscars going to look the same?
OGUNNAIKE: I hope that they are able to work out something with the guild, because as we saw last night, if you don't have the celebrities and you don't have the writers and you don't have the glitz and the glamour and the dresses and the red carpet, you don't have much of a show. It really was not entertaining. As you said, they did the best what they could. They kept it short, only 32 minutes. But not much of a show if you don't have fizz and the glamour.
COLLINS: Yes. I thought CNN's Brooke Anderson was spectacular, however.
OGUNNAIKE: And she was amazing and she looked gorgeous.
COLLINS: Her hair, oh, yes, we could go on and on. Lola Ogunnaike, thanks so much for that. We'll check in with you a little bit later on. Certainly, closer to Oscar time. Appreciate it. Thank you.
Meanwhile, in the '80s it was Beta versus VHS. Remember? Today, it's Blu-ray versus HD DVD. Coming up, Veronica De La Cruz has the latest on the DVD format war and some advice for your consumers.
COLLINS: You already know to catch us weekday mornings from 9:00 a.m. until noon Eastern. But did you know, you can take us with you anywhere you go? On your iPod. The CNN NEWSROOM podcast is available 24/7, right on your iPod.
You might remember, just last week, our sister company Warner Brothers Studios announced it was jumping on the Blu-ray bandwagon. So does that mean it will happen? It will be the end, I should say, of HD DVD? Who knows? Veronica De La Cruz is joining us now with the very latest of what is being called, Veronica, the format war.
VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, Heidi, the whole thing was just so ugly. The announcement came last week at the Consumer Electronics Show. I felt so bad for the HD DVD group. They're scheduled to have a press conference. Now lots of analysts are saying, this is the end for HD DVD. And Toshiba, the maker of HD DVD, is promising that HD DVD is not dead. And today, they announced joint advertising campaigns with studio, Heidi. They're slashing prices on players in hopes of winning over consumers.
COLLINS: See? It's all about the price. How low are we talking?
DE LA CRUZ: Pretty low. I mean, if you logon to amazon.com right now, you'll see that HD DVD prices are nearly half the HD A3, which is their entry level player. It can be found on the web right now for $129.99. Some of the discs have fallen from $30 to $14.99. So you can definitely get a good deal right now.
COLLINS: So how do those prices compare with Blu-ray products?
DE LA CRUZ: Well, you know, they kind of don't. Entry level Blu-ray is still well above the $300 mark. Blu-ray has been announcing its own DVD sales on Amazon. The question here is probably will prices, or will Hollywood ultimately decide which format wins the war. Because currently some of the eight major studios have released titles with Blu-ray, Disney, Fox, Sony, MGM, Warner, Lionsgate, and then Universal and Paramount, they are still backing HD DVD format.
So that really is the question here. And if Hollywood doesn't have the final say, there's also this to consider. Blu-ray players are made by several top manufacturers including Sony, Panasonic, Philips and then Toshiba is the only company offering a stand-alone HD DVD player right now.
COLLINS: All right. So if you're in the market for a DVD player right now, what do you do? You just change your mind and go with Blu- ray?
DE LA CRUZ: Well, you wait. I mean, I mean, if you're me, you wait. But I mean, you know, seeing that right now is saying to go with Blu-ray. Also, if you're afraid to commit, a lots of companies like LG offer multi-format players. There's this dual format. You can do both Blu-ray and HD DVD, and you know, Heidi, also if you're scared to get in the game, you can buy the video game console like the Sony PlayStation 3. That comes with Blu-ray technology and you know, you can still play videos at the same time. So that's another way to get in. COLLINS: I'm still playing my Atari, Veronica. No, kidding. That got really dull. All right, Veronica De La Cruz, live from New York this morning. Thank you, Veronica. And a reminder, you can also see Veronica every morning on AMERICAN MORNING, 6:00 until 9:00 Eastern.
Have to take a look now at some of the most clicked on videos on cnn.com. In Japan, an underground environmental movement, Mileage Maniacs, hack their hybrids to push them to new levels of energy efficiency. One of the tricks, driving with only your big toe touching the gas pedal. Uh-huh. Check out, cnn.com/mostpopular for other ways they're boosting the fuel economy. Creative to say the least.
Police say a Tennessee man left more than a tip on the table. At a waffle house they say, while eating his breakfast, the man pull the grenade out of his pocket. The bomb squad was called in. They discovered the grenade was not real but didn't have any -- excuse me, the grenade was real but did not have any explosives inside.
And a sight that left subway riders in Boston doing double take. Dozens of people climbed aboard in their underwear. It was a group prank inspired by comedy troupe that's done the same thing in New York. Talk slow, as you can see these people in their underwear. See these stories and more at cnn.com/mostpopular. And don't forget, you can take us with you anywhere, as we said, CNN NEWSROOM podcast, available 24/7 at cnn.com/podcast.
President Bush's niece takes on plastic bags.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's wrong with these bags?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These bags -- hmmm. Evil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: The city is aiming to ban the bag.
COLLINS: Bags of plastic bags, a recycling movement picking up steam in some cities. CNN's Richard Roth reports.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You'd think the humble plastic bag wouldn't attract much attention.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This bag was just -- dancing with me.
ROTH: True, one had a hypnotic affect in the Oscar-winning movie "American Beauty," but the plastic bag and beauty don't often go together. What's wrong with these bags? LAUREN BUSH, BAG RECYCLING ADVOCATE: These bags -- hmmm -- evil.
ROTH: Former fashion model Lauren Bush, niece of the president, says plastic bags are part of an axis of environmental evil.
BUSH: Plastic bags are very harmful for the environment and I think the average American uses about 300 to 400 bag as year and basically those bags after they're used it, they sit in a land field for over 1,000 years.
ROTH: No bag lady herself, Lauren Bush, joined a campaign in New York to ban the bags. New York City Council listened and passed a recycling law to cope with the estimated one billion plastic bags used in the city annually.
CHRISTINE QUINN, NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER: Those bags are going to be with us in New York, in our country, and in our environment literally forever.
ROTH: Under the law, large stores would have to collect and store all plastic bags. A handful of stores already provide customers with plastic bag return bin.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm really tired of watching all the plastic bags stack up at my house.
ROTH: Several stores already sell reusable decorated bags for $1.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you like a complementary bag. Today is America Recycle Day.
ROTH: San Francisco recently became the first American City to make plastic bag recycling mandatory. 82 British cities including London are considering similar restrictions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We recycle all the time. Very recyclable conscious.
ROTH: China last week banned thin plastic bags nationwide. Effective two months before the Summer Olympics starts, but New York's recycling plan is not everyone's bag.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a -- a bag that comes from a dry cleaner.
ROTH: Some retailers are upset that dry cleaners and chain stores are exempt from the proposal and wonder what might be in those bags?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Consumer use these bags to pick up dog poop. I'd hate to think that some of those bags would back to the super market.
ROTH: Lauren Bush is pushing better bags like this feed bag for the UN's World Food Program. BUSH: Each bag you buy feeds a child in school for a year.
ROTH: Or go across the border to Canada.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Recycled bags (INAUDIBLE).
ROTH: But opponents say bag laws are un-American.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think that they should be adding any laws from the government to recycle. I think that should be a choice.
ROTH: Who knows? The bag everyone wants to toss out may one day be a collectible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I trade one of those?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like this purple one. You might need this for...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, keep it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You sure?
ROTH: Richard Roth, CNN, New York.
COLLINS: The hunt is on for the key suspect in the murder of a pregnant marine. Authorities warn if you see this man, he could be dangerous and violent. We'll get the latest on a case from Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown's news conference set to begin at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. We're going to bring it to you live.
COLLINS: Good morning, everybody, I'm Heidi Collins. Welcome to the CNN NEWSROOM. Stay informed all day right here. Here's what's on the rundown now.
Marine manhunt. This man on the run accused of killing another marine. We're going to have a live update from the lead investigator in just a few minutes.
Top Democrats swinging charges on a race. Did Hillary Clinton insult the black community?
The GOP battling hard over Michigan. Voters get ready to decide. And a dead heart becomes a living beating heart. It's not a Frankenstein fiction. It's a medical milestone. Today, Monday, January 14th. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Still on the run this morning, Marine Corporal Cesar Laurean, key suspect in the bloody death of a pregnant marine. We are expecting an update on the investigation any minute now from Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown. We'll get to that just soon as it happens. Meanwhile, CNN's Ed Lavandera is on the case in Jacksonville, North Carolina now with the very latest.
Good morning to you, Ed.
LAVANDERA: Good morning, Heidi. Well, here investigators are expected to come out here shortly and give the latest update on the overnight developments and what the latest on the investigation at this point. But we're waiting for this to happen. Not quite sure, could happen while we're talking here. But it doesn't seem like the sheriff is quite ready to come out here this morning. But they say that more leads continue to come in as to the whereabouts of Cesar Laurean.
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