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CNN SUNDAY MORNING
Business Ahead for Barack Obama; Chinese New Year
Aired January 25, 2009 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: From the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING for January 25th. Happy Chinese New Year to you.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. That's nice.
HOLMES: It's 8:00 o'clock here on the west.
WHITFIELD: What? Really?
HOLMES: On the east right now.
HOLMES: Good morning to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes.
WHITFIELD: It's 5:00 a.m. on the west, how is that?
HOLMES: Yes, it's 5:00 on the west, all right.
WHITFIELD: Hello, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield, in for Betty Nguyen. That's right. Don't adjust your television set. I know Betty is usually here, but I'm filling in for her today while she's filling in for me later on this afternoon. We just want to confuse everybody.
HOLMES: Yes, well, I'm certainly mixed up. But no, it's good to have you here.
WHITFIELD: Thank you.
HOLMES: You have a show that you're usually by yourself for several hours anchoring a show that ...
WHITFIELD: I know. I'm usually solo and it's fun to play along with the a.m. crew.
HOLMES: To play along. Well, we got a lot to play along with today.
Some pictures to show you out of Texas. We saw of these a little earlier today but they are fighting some wildfires down there. We know at least 6,000 acres have been burned in parts of central and also western Texas. We'll be talking about this.
And, you know, it seems like maybe a rare thing, we talk about wildfires so often in dry conditions during the summer months, but not necessarily uncommon to have it during the winter months as well.
WHITFIELD: All right. And for those of you who are inspired to be in touch with the Vatican -- well, Pope Benedict XVI says he has come up with a new way or at least his folks have. Now, you can catch the Vatican on YouTube.
Couple of reasons why: One, the Vatican wants to be a little bit more, my guess, conscientious of their public image; and the other, they want to reach a larger audience. So, this is one great way in which to do so. They are updating it and producing the YouTube images and messages every day. And guess what? They are in several languages -- German, Italian, English and Spanish.
HOLMES: Pope on the iPod.
HOLMES: Who'd a thunk it?
WHITFIELD: Isn't that cool?
HOLMES: All right.
Well, what do you do your first six days at work of your new job? Did you get a day off after six days? Well, President Obama is taking today off. You know, as the president, you don't really have a day off but he doesn't have anything on his schedule, I should say. No public event.
Back to work certainly tomorrow, has a lot going on. This will be his first full week as president. The president plans to visit Capitol Hill this week and expected to press his former Senate colleagues and other lawmakers on a range of issues, certainly the economy and his stimulus plan.
Deputy political director, Paul Steinhauser, is keeping track of all the president's movements over the next several days and weeks and months and term, I should say.
Good morning to you. He has a big push. He's going to make this week on Capitol Hill, the stimulus plan, trying to get it through.
PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Exactly. And you know, they've got the Democratic votes. What they really want to do here, the Obama administration, is get the Republicans on board as well, T.J., because it's such an important plan for the economy. They want bipartisan support.
So, as you just mentioned, Barack Obama likely is heading to Capitol Hill, first time as president, on Tuesday. He will meet with Republican leaders from the House and the Senate. They invited him up there. And he will be meeting with them to push the plan.
And they have some problems with this plan, T.J. First of all, they think it's too expensive, 825 billion, they think that price tag is too much. They think there's too much government spending and not enough on tax cuts for individuals and businesses. And, some of them think, "You know what, the plan just may not work."
So, he's up there to sell the plan. Tuesday, we think, is the day. And that will come one day before the full House starts to consider the bill and maybe even vote on it this week. Barack Obama would like to get the whole thing on his desk by Presidents Day which is February 16th.
HOLMES: All right. What are -- is he setting -- I mean, he had high expectations coming in. I mean, he built up his whole campaign of hope, you know, coming into the White House. Said all of these things he was going to do.
He is kind of off to a pretty good clip here at the beginning. Talk about the stimulus plan he wanted in place. Also, I mean, closing Gitmo. He signed that executive order. But it seems like he's doing some major things, some big things.
Can he keep up and keep his supporters satisfied? He is setting kind of a high bar for himself for getting things done.
STEINHAUSER: He did. He promised a lot of things, obviously, in the presidential campaign. But as you mentioned, it was a very busy week, a number of executive orders from Guantanamo Bay to government ethics. And I think you can see that pace, at least, in this upcoming week continue.
And then, there's his cabinet, T.J. He's got nine in, six to go. Nine members of the cabinet have been confirmed and he's got six more to be confirmed.
And there are two sticking points. First of all, let's talk about Timothy Geithner, who is the treasury secretary nominee. Remember, there was a speed bump last week or two weeks ago when we learned that Timothy Geithner was a little late in paying some $34,000 in federal income tax. But while he got grilled on that and apologized over and over, he did pass the committee vote in the finance committee, 18-to- five. Tomorrow night, the full Senate should confirm him.
Eric Holder is the other big sticking point. And this one is a little trickier; this one is a little tougher. Holder, of course, is the nominee for the attorney general, but Republicans have been grilling him over some clemencies and pardon at the end of the Clinton administration when he was deputy attorney general. They want to question him about that and they also want more questions about how he feels about interrogation methods for detainees.
There was supposed to be a vote last week in the committee. Now it's push backed. We will see what happens.
HOLMES: We will see. But like you said, nine down, six to go.
Paul Steinhauser, good to see you as always, my friend. Thank you so much. STEINHAUSER: Thanks, T.J.
WHITFIELD: All right. So, when you won an election for president, you get to define bipartisanship. CNN senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry, explains.
ED HENRY, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Trying to end his first week on a bipartisan high note over the economy. For the first time, President Obama called in leaders from both parties to say the $825 billion recovery plan is right on track.
PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES: What I think unifies this group is recognition that we are experiencing an unprecedented, perhaps, economic crisis that has to be dealt with and dealt with rapidly.
HENRY: That show of unity completely different from a move the president made late in the day, signing a memorandum overturning a Bush policy that prohibited international family planning groups from using U.S. tax dollars to promote abortion. A decision that cheers liberal groups who support abortion rights, in fact, Mr. Obama's campaign, but cast the president in a much more partisan light. So, it was signed behind closed doors. A sharp contrast from earlier in the week when the president made a big show of signing executive orders, ranging from shutting down the military prison at Guantanamo Bay to cracking down on lobbyists.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
OBAMA: OK. All set?
HENRY: It is still early, but obvious that this administration does not want to be pulled off a message of bipartisanship.
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He wants to hear ideas and hopes that Washington can put aside its partisan differences in order to get the American people what they deserve, and that is a package that will get the economic going.
HENRY: But the president is facing questions about whether the plan will really stimulate the economy, with projects like $200 million for the National Mall, including new grass.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) MINORITY LEADER: We expressed our concerns about some of the spending that's being proposed in the House bill -- and the fact that it doesn't spend out very quickly.
HENRY: White House officials insist the plan will create up to 4 million new jobs in the president's first two years, and Mr. Obama is playing hardball to get his way, according to Democratic and Republican sources in the room. When Republican Eric Cantor presented an alternative plan, the president said many of the GOP ideas will be included but they'll have to live without other provisions, adding pointedly about the election, "I won" -- which may not sound so bipartisan after all. Ed Henry, CNN, the White House.
WHITFIELD: And we know you're starving for more information about the first days of the Obama administration. And that's where this guy, John King, comes in with "STATE OF THE UNION." It's coming your way at 9:00 a.m., less than an hour from now. John will be talking to the New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, and he'll premiere Will.i.am's inauguration film. A lot on tap for John King.
HOLMES: All right. Well, now, listen to this. People, family and friends who gathered to mourn the death of one family member -- well, now they have two more family members they need to mourn. After shots rang out at a wake in Kansas and two people are now dead, another seven injured. This happened in Wichita, after this gunfire erupted.
No arrests have been made. The police say they are having a hard time actually communicating with a lot of the witnesses because many people who did gather there to mourn at that wake, they spoke little English, but that investigation continues.
We'll turn to Miami, where an investigation continues as well as police are pleading with the public for information after a shooting that took place there. This ended up in two teenagers being killed, seven others were injured.
Witnesses say the shooter wore a mask over his face when he opened fire and told the victims, many of them teenagers to lie on the ground. This is a developing story we were following yesterday. Police believe that someone actually opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle on this group of folks who were standing outside a grocery store. Again, we're following developments on this story and bring you more information, certainly, as we get it.
WHITFIELD: All right. Wildfires are being blamed and at least one death and the destruction of six homes across Texas. Officials say the fires have burned more than 6,000 acres in parts of central and west Texas. In Jack County, which is west of Dallas, one blaze destroyed nearly 2,000 acres of grasslands. And firefighters say dry, windy conditions are helping to fuel the fire, so it's still not quite over for all of them.
All right. Near Oklahoma City now. Emergency crews battled a wildfire that burned several acres there near a housing development. Officials say no one was hurt in the Friday fire. Homes near the blaze also escaped serious damage.
HOLMES: All right. The suspects -- birds. Investigators are trying to piece together exactly what happened to U.S. Airways Flight 1549. You know that name and that number by now because the plane ended landing where planes don't usually land, the Hudson River. So, the apparent engine failure, the cause is not officially released yet, but more and more evidence pointing to, indeed, a flock of birds. After pulling the left engine from the Hudson yesterday, you see it there floating on that barge -- you couldn't make it out there, but after pulling it out, they took a peek at it. There it is. Earlier reports show that there is soft body damage and that is, in fact, consistent with a bird strike.
HOLMES: Oh, come on, Sully. You have to know you got to love it. I don't know. He seems like kind of a private guy. Maybe he doesn't love this so much but that's the pilot, that's his homecoming from yesterday. Sully is what they're calling him. The Captain Chesley Sullenberger is his name.
He had a welcome party yesterday in Danville, California. And he spoke publicly for the first time. We've been waiting to hear from him and he said about two words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHESLEY SULLENBERGER, PILOT: Lorrie and I are grateful for your incredible outpouring of support. It's great to be home in Danville with our neighbors and our friends. Circumstance determined that it was this experienced crew that was scheduled to fly at that particular flight on that particular day. But I know I can speak for the entire crew when I tell you we were simply doing the jobs we were trained to do. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Reluctant Sully, but we know what comes about this honor means a sandwich or something is going to be named after him. We were talking earlier about what the "Sully burger" would be all about and what did we decide on? It would be a plain old chicken sandwich, get it?
HOLMES: Plain chicken burger, and with the chicken and plain - it's the birds and he's just, the plane ...
WHITFIELD: However, I do think we need to some water crests, get it?
HOLMES: You had to get that in there, hadn't you?
HOLMES: I was hoping you would but it's fine.
WHITFIELD: All right. Well, much -- mucho congratulations to Sully there. HOLMES: Yes.
WHITFIELD: Job well done.
So, here she is! T.J.'s favorite segment -- because you know it's true. The new Miss America, Katie Stam from Indiana. Despite a throat infection in a recent bout with laryngitis, she belted out a song for her part of the talent competition. She blew them away.
Stam is studying communications at the University of Indianapolis. We're not going to see her? I mean, that little tiny, tiny picture right there?
HOLMES: That's all we got?
WHITFIELD: Well, she says she hopes to be a television anchor one day. Who knows? Maybe she will be right alongside you, T.J.
HOLMES: Maybe she will.
WHITFIELD: And you won't gawk at the pictures but instead gawk in person.
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: There's no gawking in this newscast. There's no gawking. It's all good.
WHITFIELD: You, too, Reynolds. You can gawk. I saw you guys earlier. You were like, huh?
HOLMES: No, we were not!
WHITFIELD: We saw it.
HOLMES: It's a great honor. She's an inspiring journalist.
HOLMES: She's at school. She's going to have her education paid.
HOLMES: She might go to grad school. I know her whole background.
WOLF: And major props to the great state of Indiana.
HOLMES: Yes, congratulations.
WOLF: That's what I'm talking about. All right.
HOLMES: All right.
WOLF: All right, guys -
WHITFIELD: Back to the serious stuff. WOLF: Yes, exactly. You know, what we're seeing this morning -- right now, some scattered snowshowers popping across the landscape especially through the Ohio valley and into the Corn Belt. It is going to be heavy at times. You could see anywhere from three to seven inches in some locations.
So, if you're making a drive from Davenport maybe going over to Peoria or maybe over to the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, it's going to be a treacherous drive for you. Take it easy out there. If you don't have to go at all, by all means, don't. Not the best day for you and things may get better as we get into the start of the workweek.
Back into the Rockies and the Wasatch Range, the rain continues to fall in to valleys, but higher up, from about 8,000 feet up, we're seeing the snow really begin to pile up one to two feet possible in a few locations. Your forecast at the Southeast, mix of sunshine and clouds. Back up to the West, we're still seeing some scattered showers in the San Joaquin Valley. In Sierra Nevada, it is going to be a snowy day for you, higher up to Pentaho (ph).
Now, take a look at these temperatures. Single digits for you over parts of the Northern Plains and the Midwest. That cold air is going to continue to march its way into portions of the Ohio valley as we get into Monday and Tuesday and with that, there is a chance we could see some sleet and some freezing rain and maybe even one to three inches of snowfall in a few spots. That's going to cause all kinds of issues, possibly widespread power outages for much of the region.
It could be a messy time to start things off. So, let's be prepared as we get into Monday and Tuesday.
Let's send it back to you, guys.
WHITFIELD: All right. It sounds good.
WHITFIELD: Thanks so much, Reynolds.
WOLF: All right, guys.
HOLMES: Thanks, Reynolds.
Well, Happy New Year to you, Reynolds, to you, Fredricka ...
WHITFIELD: Thank you very much.
HOLMES: ... and to all of you out there. China ushering in the year of the ox but it could be a bear for your wallet. We'll see why the stars may not actually be alive.
WHITFIELD: And speaking of stars, we'll find out tonight which actors walk away with the Screen Actors Guild Award and become frontrunners for next month's Oscars.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HOLMES: All right, you ox. Talking to you this morning. It's the New Year.
HOLMES: The ox out there.
WHITFIELD: All right. Well, I thought you said, all right, yak. So, I'm like, "Who is that?" OK, I'm with you. Yes.
HOLMES: You're with me now?
WHITFIELD: I'm with you now.
HOLMES: The year of the ox.
WHITFIELD: Delayed response.
HOLMES: It's New Year's Eve. Chinese New Year starts tomorrow and it's the year of the ox, right?
WHITFIELD: Yes, it is.
HOLMES: Coming up.
WHITFIELD: And you were born in a year of the snake.
HOLMES: Snake -- which is kind of complimentary to set the whole ...
WHITFIELD: Oh, it was very complimentary.
HOLMES: The whole vain thing.
WHITFIELD: OK. Next up. Pardon.
HOLMES: Yes, there we are.
WHITFIELD: All right. Well, and there we are. Both T.J. and I are from the year of the snake.
HOLMES: Year of the snake, folk, yes.
WHITFIELD: A little slither. And Wolf, what else would you expect in the year of the dog, Reynolds Wolf.
HOLMES: Yes. I like that.
WHITFIELD: And I love that Josh ...
HOLMES: Is a rat.
WHITFIELD: (INAUDIBLE). Yes. See, there are good rats out there, he says.
HOLMES: I don't know if there's a good picture of a rat but that was a bad picture we put up on the screen.
WHITFIELD: I know, but it's all in fun.
WHITFIELD: CNN international correspondent Eunice Yoon explains what at all means to everyone.
EUNICE YOON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a start of a lunar new year. A time to celebrate one of the biggest holidays in Asia and the second of the 12 animal signs in the Chinese zodiac, the ox.
It's also a time to visit the fortune teller to see what's in store for 2009.
YOON (on camera): Happy New Year.
UNIDENTFIED MALE: Yes. Please sit down.
YOON (voice-over): But for me, the year of the ox doesn't look as though it's going to be too bullish.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): You will have stomach problems. You will spend a lot of money. So, don't give out loans because people won't pay you back.
YOON: Despite the festivities at this fair with inflatable manure hats, traditionally, the ox has brought economic doom, ushering in the 1973 oil crisis and the Asian financial crisis of 1997. Will the curse continue?
Master Joseph Wong says a very unlucky star is moving its way across the U.S and Europe.
JOSEPH WONG, FENGSHUI MASTER: This is the last two (INAUDIBLE) happen on the west. And the best part of this is known as (INAUDIBLE) that will bring bad luck to that area. They will suffer economic crisis.
YOON (on camera): Does it say anything there about how President Obama is coming up with a stimulus plan to try to help turn the U.S. economy around?
WONG: Of course.
YOON (voice-over): Those born in an ox year, like U.S. President Barack Obama, face especially tumultuous time but can thrive, Wong says, if they stay patient and mentally strong. Businesses classified according to key elements, like fire and metal, will struggle. WONG: Fire represents restaurants, industrial goods and computers. The businesses will go downward. Metal represent finance, stock markets, metal ware (ph) transactions. They will have big fluctuations in the prices (ph).
YOON: So, 2009 utterly hopeless? "Not if you carry a lucky charm," Wong says. Rubbing hands might also do the trick.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Rubbing hands promotes good luck.
YOON: Plus, it provides relief from all that hand-wringing brought on by financial stress.
Eunice Yoon, CNN, Hong Kong.
WHITFIELD: I like that.
WHITFIELD: I would just do this because I'm cold but now, come on, good fortune.
HOLMES: All right. We're going to do the rest of the show like ...
WHITFIELD: Roll that dice.
HOLMES: Oh, come on.
WHITFIELD: I'm kidding.
HOLMES: Oh, my goodness, Fredricka. Well ...
WHITFIELD: That's kind of what it is from long ago.
HOLMES: Well, while she plans her trip to Vegas, we will tell you how it got easier to keep track of what's happening in the White House.
WHITFIELD: And take a virtual tour of the brand new Web site. Josh Levs will be our tour guide.
HOLMES: All right. Coming up: "STATE OF THE UNION" -- a new show, second week for it, coming up at the top of the hour.
WHITFIELD: And that would mean John King, and he joins us now from Washington with a preview.
What's ahead on your new fancy set?
JOHN KING, "STATE OF THE UNION" HOST: It is a new fancy set and we're proud of our new set here in Washington, Fredricka and T.J. What do we have coming up today? We're going to talk to some leading Republicans and how they react to the first week of the Obama administration -- Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Congressman Mike Pence. What will the Republicans do with the new president here in town?
We're also going to have a very rare interview right off the top of the show with David Plouffe. Many Americans might not know that name but he was the architect of the big Obama campaign victory. His job now is to stay outside the White House to help the president sell his agenda. We'll talk to David Plouffe about that.
And also, a very interesting conversation we have with Michael Bloomberg. He's the mayor of America's largest city, a former CEO in the financial world. He has some questions about Barack Obama's management style, whether he has the experience. So, he'll offer his prescription for the ailing economy.
As you noted, we got our new magic wall right up here in the studio. We've got some great technology. So, we're going to have some news and also have some fun, guys.
WHITFIELD: Oh, that's good. And speaking of fun and magic, CNN viewers, remember the hologram and Will.i.am and so, maybe we're going to revisit that to a certain degree today?
KING: We have a special treat. We're trying to get new and diverse voices every Sunday from all around the country, whether in politics, in culture, in art. And Will.i.am, as you know, was here for the inauguration. He was one of the big entertainers at several of the big events. And he put together a video tracking his experience here for the big historic inauguration of Barack Obama and it will premiere right here exclusively on the "STATE OF THE UNION" in just a little while.
WHITFIELD: Wow. Didn't we know, John King got cool. We like that.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much. We look forward to the variety in the "STATE OF THE UNION" at the top of the hour.
KING: Thank you, guys.
HOLMES: All right. We'll see you soon here, John.
And, a lot of sports fan certainly know this lady, but if you don't follow it closely, you might not know the name. Kay Yow, there she is, the coach of North Carolina State, a champion in every sense of the word. She just lost her battle with breast cancer. We will look back at her remarkable life and career.
WHITFIELD: And later on, we're going to be shifting gears and previewing tonight's big SAG Awards. Will it be "Slumdog Millionaire's" time to shine? Have you seen that?
WHITFIELD: It was good.
WHITFIELD: Yes. It got my nod.
WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back to SUNDAY MORNING. I'm Fredricka Whitfield, in for Betty Nguyen.
HOLMES: And hello to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes. It's 8:30 here on the east coast, 5:30 out west.
I know you're used to seeing Doctor Sanjay Gupta right about now in "HOUSE CALL." We flipped it up a bit here. Sorry to confuse you. But we have a new earlier start time here at 6:00. So now, Sanjay moves to 7:30 is when you can see "HOUSE CALL" and, of course, John King follows us at 9:00 o'clock.
WHITFIELD: Yes, and of course, usually Betty Nguyen is here.
WHITFIELD: But I'm here to confuse you even further.
HOLMES: Oh, yes.
WHITFIELD: You'll see her instead this afternoon filling in for me ...
WHITFIELD: ... while I am filling in for her. There you go. We're all straight now.
HOLMES: Yes. Let's all get used to it.
WHITFIELD: Let's take a look at one of the top stories we're following. This morning, police are trying to track down the people who actually opened fire at a wake in Kansas. Police say two people were killed and seven others injured in Wichita, after gunfire erupted while people there actually mourned. No arrests have been made. The cops say that they had a hard time communicating because many people gathered at the wake, they didn't speak very much English.
HOLMES: On to President Obama now, he is taking a bit of a day off after four full days of meetings. I say a day off. He actually just has nothing on his public schedule. He'll be back at work tomorrow as he begins his first full week as president. The president plans to visit Capitol Hill this week, he's expected to press his former senate colleagues and other lawmakers to help in passing his stimulus package. Certainly an issue that this president, other presidents, this country often deals with, abortion, a woman's right to choose. President Obama supports women's abortion rights but wants to tread carefully on the hot button issue that constantly divides this nation. CNN's senior political analyst Bill Schneider on this story.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): President Obama is up front about his support of abortion rights.
OBAMA: I am pro choice. I believe in Roe versus Wade.
SCHNEIDER: But he deals with the issue as his press secretary has said about a different matter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Out of an abundance of caution.
SCHNEIDER: In 1984, President Reagan issued a ban on government funding for international family planning groups that promote abortion. One of Bill Clinton's first acts as president was to lift the ban. President George W. Bush's first executive order was to reinstate it on January 22, 2001. The anniversary of Roe v Wade. President Obama is lifting the ban, once again. Could Mr. Obama have waited until after the anniversary of Roe v Wade when abortion opponents were marching on Washington? He tries to treat value differences with respect.
OBAMA: If you believe that life begins at conception, then -- and you are consistent in that belief, then I can't argue with you on that because that is a core issue of faith for you.
SCHNEIDER: He says he wants to find common ground.
OBAMA: Surely, we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country.
SCHNEIDER: Will President Obama also reverse President Bush's ban on embryonic stem cell research?
OBAMA: I usually prefer a legislative process because those are the people's representatives.
SCHNEIDER: Why such caution? Because President Obama saw what happened when his two predecessors acted boldly on social issues. The country became bitterly divided. Obama wants to turn the page.
OBAMA: The political arguments that have consumed us for so long, no longer apply.
SCHNEIDER: Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
WHITFIELD: Less than a week in office. Just six days now, at least by the end of today, it will be six full days, right? HOLMES: Yes.
WHITFIELD: President Obama has announced a new website that he's creating to help keep track of how tax dollars actually get spent. A tool for you.
HOLMES: Another sign here how this president is going to use the internet in an unprecedented way. Josh Levs here to tell us what we can expect. Josh, good morning.
JOSH LEVS: Yeah, good morning to you guys. And yet another new website, it's kind of amazing. I showed you guys before the new whitehouse.gov. Let's zoom in because I want people to see if they haven't yet. It came out literally the minute that he took his oath of office. They had this whole thing ready. It's very different, it follows his campaign theme and his campaign design. But one of the things it has instead of the weekly radio address you can now watch as video his weekly address. In that address yesterday, here is something he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And every American will be able to see how and where we spend taxpayer dollars by going to a new website called recovery.gov.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
LEVS: Here it is, recovery.gov. It's on the board behind me. There's not much there yet. Let's zoom in for a second, recovery.gov. What it does is it tells you right now check back after the passage of the American recovery and reinvestment act to see how and where your tax dollars are spent. Now, that is something we can expect to see in the future for this, also real political significance to the fact that it's even up yet and it has to do with this. Part of what he is doing already is using the internet to push people to be on his side when it comes to pressure in congress. He has this contact form. One of the main things at the website, you fill in your information, your contact, you can type up to 500 characters here. What this does is you're giving your opinion. You figure your voice is being heard but, at the same time, you're giving the White House your contact information so when they want to reach people, say hey, call your representatives, call your lawmakers, boom, one e-mail they reach everyone who filled this out. Similar with his recovery plans too. He wants to use it both ways not just hearing from you but pushing people to help him politically as well. Again, it's a strong sign of what a strong political tool this is.
WHITFIELD: Yeah, and Josh you know the web has not been around that long but the White House was pretty inventive not that long ago. Can we compare and contrast now the White House website? The evolution of?
LEVS: I love this piece of video. Take a look at this from 1998. There you go. That was whitehouse.gov.
WHITFIELD: Way back in '98! LEVS: It's like the early days of the internet. There are like six little things you could click on to get some information. Obviously, look at that! Awesome. Ten years is hundreds of years in the internet terms. Then right behind me this is what the White House website looked like just before we went over to the brand new website which you're seeing on the right of your screen right there. That is indeed how incredibly far we've come in this time guys.
WHITFIELD: I think that's pretty telling too, that very prominently displayed is the first family, the entire family unit, it's not just the first image of the president which traditionally would have been the case on the website. Interesting messages. Thanks Josh.
WHITFIELD: Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's impeachment trial in the Illinois Senate actually starts tomorrow but he is still doing damage control. Blagojevich has hired a PR firm to help him coordinate media interviews and news requests. He is already scheduled to do interviews tomorrow with some television stations in New York and he plans to boycott those impeachment hearings that are scheduled for tomorrow. You can hear the governor's side of the story right here on CNN, one of his television interviews that he is conducting on "Larry King Live" at 9:00 p.m. eastern, Monday night tomorrow.
HOLMES: College students got enough to worry about. A lot of high school students out there as well. They're trying to get into these schools first of all and trying to figure out a way to pay for these schools and it's getting a whole lot tougher. The education department saying that the financing system that helps students is facing a crisis. Loans from private firms now especially hard to get. More than half the lenders have stopped loaning money, while others are making it even tougher to borrow. Some states will most likely begin cutting aid as well and all this, meanwhile, colleges raising tuition.
WHITFIELD: Some sad news we want to share with you about a basketball great. Kay Yow, the coach for North Carolina State University, has died after a lengthy battle with breast cancer. Yow was loved by all. Her players, colleagues, sports fanatics. During her career, she led her teams to more than 700 wins, including four Atlantic coast conference titles. Yow was always a beacon of encouragement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAY YOW: My three things would probably be -- be thankful, grateful every day. Look for ways to serve people. Meet other people's needs. And be ready to encourage those people who are down. And look for any way you can to give hope to people.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Wow. Remarkable. 34-year career. Four weeks ago she announced she was stepping down for the season because of fatigue. Kay Yow, dead at the age of 66. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
THOM GEIER, SENIOR EDITOR, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I think you hit it right out of the park with the Heath Ledger prediction. That is about as sure a thing as seeing botox and double sided tape on the red carpet.
WHITFIELD: Oh, my gosh. You did not go there! But yeah he was fantastic. I think everyone who saw that movie when you left the movie, you just kept thinking wow, what a powerful, you know, actor and how sad that we don't get to see him in another film after that. Let's talk about some of the other -- the category of best film. We've got Benjamin Button, Brad Pitt is the star in that, as well as Kate Blanchett. What else do we have? "Doubt" and "Frost/Nixon." This really seems like it's going to be a tough category for one to really stand out.
GEIER: With the SAG awards they don't really do best picture but because they are focused on the actors they do best ensemble cast. I think this is a race between "Milk" which has a lot of familiar faces from Sean Penn and Emile Hirsch and James Franco and "Slumdog Millionaire," which seems to be everyone's sentimental favorite to be the best picture winner this year at the Oscars. I think everyone loves an underdog story, particularly the actors. I think that might be the one that sneaks out the win in this category.
WHITFIELD: It was a beautiful story told in a heart-wrenching kind of way. That, again, was one of those films that kind of stays with you for a while. You don't know what you're getting into when you go to the movie and then you just learn. You're like, oh my gosh, you're kidding me.
HOLMES: And Tom you talk about an ensemble, this category being best ensemble cast. Historically what are we seeing, does this give us any clue about what's going to happen down the road with the Oscars. If the ensemble winner here, does that translate into the best picture?
GEIER: It sometimes does, it sometimes doesn't. Overall the SAG awards have predicted the Oscar winners in the acting category 75 percent of the time in the last five years and about 60 percent of the time in the last 10 years. So it's been a mixed bag.
HOLMES: Is everything up in the air? Besides the Heath Ledger, when you talk about the ensemble cast. Oftentimes we see front runners, is everything up in the air this time around?
GEIER: I don't think everything is up in the air. I think that Kate Winslet is a shoo-in for the supporting actress category in "Revolutionary Road." Of course she didn't get a supporting actress nomination for the Oscars for that film so that might be a unique thing here.
WHITFIELD: But she walked away from the Golden Globes with acknowledgement from her role in both "The Reader" and "Revolutionary Road." Do you see her kind of getting accolades in similar fashion here? GEIER: It's certainly a possibility. One big chance in the best actress category where she is nominated for "Revolutionary Road" and Merle Streep is also up for "Doubt" and Anne Hathaway for "Rachel Getting Married." And I think it's a sort of three-way tie between the three of them.
HOLMES: I haven't seen any of these movies.
WHITFIELD: You have to catch up.
HOLMES: None of them.
WHITFIELD: I mean you're not going to be able to by this evening but at least -- maybe in time for the Oscars, right? Maybe this is kind of the indicator of the things that you need to watch.
HOLMES: Then I'll pay attention. Tom Geier, sir, good to have you with us this early in the morning. Appreciate you getting up.
WHITFIELD: We heard about the Ron Clark Kids Academy and their road trip to remember up to the inauguration.
HOLMES: You took a little trip of your own.
WHITFIELD: I took a little trip too. The Tuskegee airmen were among those who were honored as guests for the inauguration so I got to attend with my dad there, Mel Whitfield who is a Tuskegee airman and I will tell you all about our road trip to the nation's capital.
HOLMES: Yes, Fredericka, it's that time to tell us about your little road trip.
WHITFIELD: Last week, historic, you know, on many levels. Inauguration, we all know why that was historic, but it also was very meaningful for a very special segment of the invited guests among those billions out there. The Tuskegee Airmen fought in World War II in a segregated military and they became the special guests of President Obama to be there at the swearing in. My dad is among the 300 or so Tuskegee Airmen who received the invitation. He happens to live in the nation's capital so it was a fairly easy journey, but it still took some doing because my dad is in a wheelchair as are many of the airmen. It still took some doing to get from point a to point b to make it to the nation's capital, to make it to the capital building for the swearing in. So take a look through this lens.
F. WHITFIELD: Dad, you are among the Tuskegee men who are the special guests of the president-elect and we're just about ready to leave. How do you feel?
MAL WHITFIELD, TUSKEGEE AIRMEN: Great! Great, great, great! F. WHITFIELD: Ok, we're off. Dad is all bundled up. It is cold! All right. These buses right here will have many of the upwards of 300 Tuskegee Airmen, all invited as special guests for this inauguration. These men all served in World War II in a segregated military and it was during the Truman years that the military was integrated. These men are so excited for the first time being invited to a presidential inauguration. Look at the long line of buses. We're all heading now to the capital. It's been interesting. It's been about a ten-minute ride, actually. And it's almost quiet on the bus. The only thing you can really hear are the sirens and you would think for a moment that these men would be rowdy and rambunctious, but I guess when you reflect and think about how much they've been through in their lifetimes, after serving in World War II, serving in a segregated military, flying bombing missions and everything else that would follow.
We're here, right on Constitution Avenue. You can see the general public going through security over here. You got all of the armed services right here along this route. This will become the parade route. Did I tell you we were going to bundle up my dad to make sure? Yeah. Here we go. He is cocooned but you know what, he will be warm. He's in a nice down sleeping bag. Are you all right? Are you warm? Good? Ok. We've got all of the buses lined up and everyone is ready to go and ready for the show to begin. We're heading into the orchestra pit area. You cannot beat this. Beautiful. Ok. It is now 9:45. We're here at the foot of the capitol. This is where it will unfold right here. So we are taking our seat. If I understand my numbers correctly, 1,000 will sit up there in the bleacher area. Dignitaries, past presidents, military band, and special guests. And here at this platform level, the ground level, this is where it opens up to the mall, 1,600. Oh, my goodness. Let me take another look at that view. Is that not beautiful?
What are your first impressions, dad? Maybe a little difficult to hear me but if you look straight ahead is Don King. I just saw actress Tyne Daly being seated over here as well. Photographer Annie Liebowitz here. Dustin Hoffman. There is Samuel Jackson. Angela Bassett just walked by. You can hear the crowd. The view and the sounds from section 5, as everyone got a chance to see the new president on the jumbotron moments before he is to be sworn in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I, Barack Hussein Obama. And will, to best of my ability.
OBAMA: And will, to the best of my ability.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States.
OBAMA: Preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the United States.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So help you God?
OBAMA: So help me God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations, Mr. President.
M. WHITFIELD: I'm telling you, he is a dude. He's a maker of --
F.WHITFIELD: All right, 12:30. Roughly eight hours after our journey began today, and it has been filled with lots of excitement, lots of emotion, especially for the Tuskegee Airmen who were hereupon special invitation and to see this huge sea of humanity. Everyone here for a common purpose, to celebrate what is ahead. And celebrate with the 44th president of the United States. It's 5:00 p.m. now, Tuesday, nearly 12 hours since his journey began. Dad, a little weary, but like most of the Tuskegee airmen today, feeling very refreshed.
M. WHITFIELD: For so long, I look forward to this. It's off my mind now. Maybe I can relax. It is actually happened while I'm alive. I wouldn't know nothing, had it not been a case like this. Everybody had a chance. And I think everybody is so -- so happy. I mean, never been -- I don't think America has ever been as happy in their life. All Americans. I'm just not -- just not talking about black folks. I mean white folks and all nationalities.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
WHITFIELD: Ah, so that is daddy who is 84 years old. He just so enjoyed it, you can see. The invitation, the moment with his fellow airmen there. They are so used to making history because they've done so much. I mean, being a Tuskegee Airman was one thing but along the journey of their lives, they have been credited with so many breakthroughs along the way, and then they would be invited to witness this historic week.
HOLMES: That's neat.
WHITFIELD: Yeah. It was just really nice.
HOLMES: And you said he was wearing his original flight suit.
WHITFIELD: That was his original flight suit, folks, at the beginning when he was in the green that was his original flight suit, yes, for 60 years, he has kept it and he's still able to wear it! He proudly wore it along with a lot of his Olympic medals because I know you have followed my dad over the last year.
HOLMES: He's done a lot.
WHITFIELD: '48 and '52 Olympian. He was all dolled up, he had a good time.
HOLMES: That is awesome. Glad you got to show us that piece.
WHITFIELD: It was fun, it was great. Congrats to the Tuskegee Airmen and thanks for their service.
HOLMES: Thank you for that as well, heck of a trip. Stay with us. We're going to take a quick break and talk about the Vatican You Tube, really?
HOLMES: You can stay in touch with the Pope's every move now, even if you are, if you're watching this, thousands of miles away from him.
WHITFIELD: Made very easy now. The Vatican is getting into the TV news business, so to speak, with the launch of its own channel on YouTube.
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POPE: I sincerely hope that the glimpse of openness to restore the ceasefire will be taken advantage of with wisdom in order to --
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, the new channel will update viewers on what is happening at the Vatican. The pope's activities. And let viewers all across the world watch his special catholic holiday messages. The channel will air in four languages.
HOLMES: All right, the Pope is a news anchor, kind of sort of. That's it for us. Thank you so much. It's a pleasure getting a chance to hang out here with you. Betty will be along later in your place.
WHITFIELD: That's right.
HOLMES: John King is up in a second with "State of the Union." But a quick check of the headlines for you first.