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Much of the Nation in a Deep Freeze; Three People Shot at Manufacturing Plant in St. Louis; Illegal Immigrants Soon to Pay In- State Tuition?; Ohio Set to Execute its Second Inmate with 1-Drug Method

Aired January 7, 2010 - 10:00   ET

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


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Topping our stories happening now, an update on a workplace shooting we've been telling you about this morning. Police say three people have been shot at a transformer manufacturing plant in St. Louis, and they just confirmed one suspect is still on the loose. He is armed with an assault rifle. We are also unsure of the condition of the shooting victims right now.

The "St. Louis Post" dispatch website reports some workers ran up to the roof to escape the gunfire.

Illegal immigrants could soon be paying in-state tuition at New Jersey colleges and universities; a bill on this making its way through the state legislature. Supporters say the measure offers an incentive for promising young people to legalize their status. Opponents say it rewards law breakers.

Just a few minutes from now, Ohio set to execute its second inmate using a single drug lethal injection. Vernon Smith, now known as Abdullah Shariff Kaazim Mahdi was convicted of the 1993 shooting death of an Arab store owner.

Ohio made history last month as the first state to use a single drug to put a convict to death.

ANNOUNCER: You're watching CNN, you're severe weather headquarters.

COLLINS: Much of the nation in a deep freeze this morning, and it's only going to get colder once the snow is over. Drivers in Omaha, Nebraska, are dealing with this. People in North Dakota are bracing for wind chills as low as 52 below zero, not quite as brutal in the south, where the goal is to keep traffic flowing, especially in cities really not used to snow.

We do have team coverage for you this morning. Jacqui Jeras is in our winter weather headquarters, still can't say it, Jacqui. And Rob Marciano is very chilly in Memphis. First, I want to get to you, Jacqui. So this really is a one-two punch, isn't it?

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it really is. Even more than that for a lot of people because we keep getting those Arctic intrusions of air. And by the way, you know, your lips get numb, Heidi - COLLINS: Yes.

JERAS: From being in the cold so you have a valid excuse today certainly for that, especially when you're doing live shots just like Rob out there.

OK. I'm going to try and start with the glass half full kind of scenario and that's that our system that is bringing the snow is moving very quickly so it's going to be a little bit limited in terms of the snowfall accumulations and not much more than you normally can't handle. But we are getting reports now out of Chicago O'Hare they have cancelled about 130 flights and we've got delays pushing an hour now trying to get into the city.

And literally over a dozen deicing delays across the country. Snow heaviest right along the i-70 corridor at this hour. Now, most of what we're seeing here across the deep south is just very, very light in terms of a wintery mix but we'll start to watch the moisture pick up throughout the day as low pressure begins to develop.

Check out some of these temperatures. You know, we've talked about, for example, how prolonged the cold air has been. For example, in Atlanta, Georgia, it's been two weeks. Yes, count them, two weeks since we've had temperatures near normal where we should be. Now, here's the next intrusion, it's coming in today. Worst of it is in the upper Midwest where the wind chill indices are going to be anywhere between 30 and 40 below overnight tonight.

The worst of the cold is tomorrow morning and then the southeast will see the worst of it on Saturday. And then we're going to start to warm up just a little bit as we head into the latter part of the weekend. This is the wind chill chart I wanted to show you from the National Weather Service. Just a little reminder to have you bundle up and keep yourself warm.

When the wind chill index gets down here into the 30s and 40s below zero, look how long it takes your skin to freeze. We are only talking like 10 minutes so not very long. So make sure you bundle up. And even in the south, you know, when your cars can get a little testy in cold temperatures like this, so make sure you have things like a blanket, extra hats, gloves and socks.

If you're in a winter weather environment where the snow has been coming down, make sure you've got a shovel with you, a bag of sand or cat litter because that will put a little weight in the back of your car if you don't have four-wheel drive plus it will help you get out of some of those slick spots. So make sure you always keep safety in mind.

COLLINS: Yes.

JERAS: Heidi, I'm sure you might remember, speaking of car safety in the winder. Did you used to plug your car in?

COLLINS: It wasn't my car because I wasn't driving at the time but, yes, absolutely we plugged that station wagon with the panel on the side into the garage, absolutely.

JERAS: Won't start if you won't do that.

COLLINS: All right. Jacqui, thanks for the memory. We'll check back later on with you.

Meanwhile, say the word "snow" in the south and city crews start loading up the sand and road salt. It's been below freezing all week long as we just heard and that bitter cold is now actually being blamed for seven deaths. Four of them in Tennessee. That's where we find Rob Marciano in Memphis this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROB MARCIANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here in Memphis, at least three fatalities have been attributed to the bitter cold. So the sheriff's special services unit volunteers are going door-to- door.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's important that we come out and check on these people to make sure they're not using an improper space heater, that their houses are warm, that their utilities are still on and functioning.

MARCIANO: But many in Memphis are without utilities because they simply can't pay, so the mayor and Memphis Light Gas & Water cut a deal, to turn the power back on until the weather warms up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a situation in which I simply don't have the ability to compare the threat to human life for some dollars over here. So to me it was fairly simple. We just push that aside. We've got some lives to save out here.

MARCIANO: Jackie Moses (ph) had been without utilities for almost a year, until now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Oh, I have lights.

MARCIANO: Propane heaters, and even burning charcoal inside to stay warm. A dangerous way to live.

When you're trying to survive, you're not thinking of that hazard, you're thinking of survival. Listen to that.

MARCIANO (on camera): What's that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Heat!

MARCIANO: The sweet sound?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. That's heat! Oh, my gosh!

MARCIANO (voice-over): Jackie was born in this house, came back two years ago to care for her dying mother and she still can't find any work. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All I want is a job, you know. I don't care if it's beneath what I used to do. I don't care, as long as I can take care of myself.

MARCIANO: For now, she's grateful for getting to sleep in a warm home with even colder nights on the way.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Rob Marciano joining us now live with more on this. Pretty incredible story there, Rob.

MARCIANO: Yes, you know, Jackie is not the only one frustrated because she can't find a job in this economy, but she hasn't had heat. Since yesterday, the city coupled with the power company have gone around and turned on the lights and heat to 500 customers that have been unable to pay in these bad economic times.

They're hoping to do a little bit more than that today. But I don't know if you saw during that piece, you could see her breath when she was speaking in that house. The house was colder inside than it was outside. I can't imagine what the last couple of nights have been for her. Certainly last night was much warmer.

Speaking of warmer, it was warmer about two hours ago here in Memphis. A surreal sight to see any sort of snow falling here on Beale Street where BB King used to play quite a lot and colder weather now moving in. The front is through Jacqui has been talking, still snowing a little bit but temperatures tomorrow and Saturday morning could easily be in the single numbers, maybe close to zero, as this extended unprecedented or at least a cold streak that hasn't happened in at least 10 years continues across the south. Heidi.

COLLINS: All right. Rob Marciano live for us from Memphis, Tennessee, this morning.

MARCIANO: The cold, snow and ice are providing some picture perfect images for our viewers. In fact, take a look at some of these I-reports now. These pictures sent to us by Richard Lewis from the smoky mountains of Tennessee. He says there are a lot of broken tree branches on the trails and roadways and he says the mountains are dangerous because of so much snow. Lewis says a misstep could cause an avalanche.

So we're talking about the big chill on our blog today. We wanted you to fill in the blank, it's so cold that..., and then just tell us what you think. Go to cnn.com/heidi, post your replies there and we're going to read some of them a little bit later on this hour.

An update for you now on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. He of course is the man accused of trying to blow up flight 253 on Christmas day. He's getting ready to appear in a Detroit court tomorrow for his arraignment. Yesterday a grand jury indictment was filed against the 23-year-old Nigerian. He now faces six charges. They include the attempted murder of 289 people and trying to use a weapon of mass destruction. Today the public gets a report on the near catastrophe and the missed opportunities to prevent it. One White House insider warns Americans will likely be shocked. CNN senior White House correspondent Ed Henry is taking a look at the preview of that report and the president's remarks on it because we are going to hear from the president a little bit later on today, Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Heidi. In the afternoon, we'll be hearing from the president that shocking comment coming from his national security adviser, retired General Jim Jones, saying that when the American people get some of these details, there's a certain shock value to them.

In part because while we've heard bits and pieces of this story, this is the first real chance for the administration to try to pull everything together into some sort of a narrative. We're told it's only going to be a few pages long. This is the unclassified version of the report being put together by John Brennan, the president's Homeland Security adviser.

And let's not forget that this is an important moment for this administration that's been dealing with this story for a couple of weeks now, the first real major attempted terror attack on this president's watch. You'll remember that the president last week in Hawaii was talking about systemic and human failures that nearly led to this attack. We've heard a lot about the systemic failures that may date back to the Bush administration, but any human failures that occurred would have obviously happened on this administration's watch.

That's why in part it's so pivotal for this administration to explain what went wrong, but more importantly what they have learned from it to make sure that they prevent future attacks, Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes, so the question remains, I guess, Ed, a lot of people have been asking it, is anybody going to be held accountable here?

HENRY: Well, that's a good question. Because the president himself has said that he demands accountability at all levels of government on this. And as I noted, so far we've mostly just heard about the systemic failures, not the human failures. Who, where, which agency is to blame, where does the responsibility lie.

We haven't heard a lot about that from this White House and you can bet that will be one of many questions we will be pressing them on after the president speaks. He'll have John Brennan, his Homeland Security adviser, and his Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano coming out to brief reporters on the details. That's one of many areas we'll be pressing them on, Heidi.

COLLINS: All right. We'll wait to hear it.

Thanks so much. Ed Henry for us this morning.

HENRY: Thank you. COLLINS: And we want to let you know, we will have live coverage of the President Obama's comments on the report. He is scheduled to speak at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. We'll carry that for you, live.

She's a woman who gets a funny feeling about money matters and companies pay her big bucks for these instincts. We'll introduce you to this intuitionist.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Still sketchy information on a workplace shooting that we've been following this morning. Police say three people were shot at a transformer manufacturing plant in St. Louis. Police say the shooter is on the loose. He is armed with an assault rifle. We are not sure of the condition of the shooting victims either at this point.

A plant spokesman says there's no information right now to indicate the shooter is an employee. The "St. Louis Post Dispatch" web site reports that some workers ran to the roof to escape the gunfire. We'll, of course, keep watching this story for you and bring you any more details just as soon as we get them.

Have you ever got a funny feeling about something that turns out to be right later on? Well, now imagine companies paying you big bucks for those kinds of instincts. CNN Money.com Poppy Harlow caught up with an investment intuitionist.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM (voice-over): When it came to calling the financial crisis, most of Wall Street got it wrong, but Laura Day says she got it right.

LAURA DAY, INTUITIONIST: I woke up and it had actually been a couple of weeks, the market had really been bothering me. By bothering me like the same way a scab will itch you. I just sold everything into cash.

HARLOW: She felt the stock market crash coming literally and then the oil sell off.

DAY: I said I wouldn't be buying oil futures any time soon. And then two weeks later the oil market tanked.

HARLOW: So how does Day do it? She says by harnessing her intuition.

DAY: I literally do this in my sleep.

HARLOW: And she makes millions doing it. Day says major corporations and hedge funds pay her $10,000 a month, not for her business acumen, she's the first to admit she knows nothing about the market or the economy, but for her gut feelings.

DAY: What they really are hiring me for is to predict, is to troubleshoot in the moment so problems don't happen.

HARLOW (on camera): What are some of the example questions, I mean, that you've gotten in the middle of the night from a business leader, for example.

DAY: They're saying they're going to pull the deal if we don't give in on this point, do you feel they will?

HARLOW: Are they bluffing?

DAY: Exactly. I'm not a risk factor to them. Because if I'm completely off, they would probably know.

HARLOW (voice-over): But is there science to back it all up? Dr. Joel Voss and Dr. Ken Paler, co-authored a study focusing on unconscious memory and implicit recognition at Northwestern University.

DR. KEN PALLER, PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY, NORTHWESTERN UNIV.: Our thinking about intuition is that there can be useful intuitive ideas that come out of some actual implicit knowledge.

DR. JOEL VOSS, BECKMAN INSTITUTE POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW: What I'm skeptical of is that someone can make a decision that's accurate in a field in which they have no expertise. That is completely against any known findings that I can think of.

HARLOW: While celebrities like Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt all praise her work on Day's web site, on Wall Street, the feeling is mixed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't trust it.

HARLOW (on camera): What do you trust for that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I trust the history, not the future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure, why not. Most people are pretty much akin to throwing a dart at a board anyway.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Poppy Harlow joining us now with more on this. So Poppy, that scientist sounded pretty skeptical. But we'll play along. What does the intuitionist say about the economic recovery?

HARLOW: You know, of course, we don't pay her $10,000 a month but I tried to get some information out of her. And I said, listen, so many people are worried about the economy, are we in a recovery mode, is the stock market going to keep rebounding in 2010. She said listen I don't do that on television. I can't give you my gut instincts on that one but I will tell you that it's not about what the broader economy is doing or what the stock market is doing, it's all about how you take advantage of the opportunities in front of you, Heidi.

So I'm trying to harness my gut to come up with some very smart business moves. It's not working yet but -

COLLINS: Apparently it can be incredibly lucrative. All right.

HARLOW: It can, it can.

COLLINS: Poppy, thanks so much. In fact you can see more from Laura Day on cnnmoney.com and of course, be sure to follow Poppy there on Twitter. Thank you, Poppy.

Also I want to let you know we've had a bit of a change. We're learning from the White House right now, we told you a couple of times this morning that we expected the president to come out and make some comments regarding the preliminary report that he had asked to be complete regarding what happened with flight 253 and we have been told he would be speaking about 1:00.

Now we are learning that that will be closer to 3:00. So once again we'll carry those comments for you live. They'll happen around 3:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Even if studies said eat more vegetables to live longer, you might not feel like running to the kitchen, but the healthy results of these studies may have you heading for the bedroom.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Getting a look at the top stories today, the white supremacist accused of opening fire at Washington's holocaust museum and killing a guard last June has died. 89-year-old James Von Brunn died at a North Carolina prison while awaiting trial. He had a long history of poor health. Von Brunn faced charges that could have earned him the death penalty.

Not fit to take to court, that's what the NBA is saying about Washington Wizards player Gilbert Arenas. Commissioner David Stern has suspended him indefinitely without pay. Arenas is accused of bringing unloaded handguns into the team's locker room. Federal and local authorities are investigating. Arenas had joked about the incident but now says he's sorry. He'll lose $147,000 for each game he misses.

New Jersey's Senate votes today on whether to legalize same-sex marriage. Just getting it to a vote is seen as a victory for gay rights advocates, but the numbers are working against passage. Governor John Corzine has said he'll sign the measure if it passes, but governor-elect Chris Christie who takes office January 19th has promised to veto it.

All right. So here's a new year's resolution you may actually want to stick with. Have more sex. Whether you're a man or a woman, studies say sex makes you healthier. Well, duh. CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joining us now to explain a little bit further.

All right. So let's talk about the health benefits of sex.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think people get it, that sex makes you happy and connected and feel good.

COLLINS: I think I see a new talk show for you, by the way.

COHEN: Oh, thanks. Will you be my executive producer?

COLLINS: No.

COHEN: But I think what people don't know is that sex can actually give you physical health benefits as well. There's an article coming out in the "Journal of Sexual Medicine," something I'm sure you and I both read on a regular basis.

COLLINS: I definitely subscribe to that.

COHEN: And it's coming out soon. It's going to outline all of the health benefits of sex. So let's look at a couple of them. Studies have shown that people who have frequent sex have lower rates of heart attacks, prostate cancer, breast cancer and a whole host of other diseases.

Now, Heidi, I know that you want to know what's frequent sex, right? I mean, what does that mean?

COLLINS: Yes.

COHEN: Well, some of these studies define frequent sex as three times a week, others define it as more than once a month.

COLLINS: I thought you were going to say three times a day. That was a joke in the morning (INAUDIBLE) to add.

All right. So explain the physicality of this. Why does sex have all these health benefits?

COHEN: Well, part of it is just that sex is good exercise. I mean if you have sex three times a week, somebody, I don't know who actually measured how many calories get burned during sex. So we did the math for you. If you have sex 12 times per month, that's about three times a week, that is the equivalent of running seven miles in that month.

So you can run seven miles or you can have sex 12 times per month. That's your choice, burns the same number of calories.

COLLINS: Wow. It feels immature doing this segment right now but I can't get pass the guy who measured the number of calories that were burned.

COHEN: I don't like to think how he did that but go ahead.

COLLINS: Yes. So I know that you've actually written about this this week because there was a couple who experienced this incredible health benefit.

COHEN: They did. They said, you know what, we want to be healthier and they said we're going to have sex every day for a month. This is Sadie Nardini, who is a yoga instructor and her husband, who is a photographer. And they said every day in December. And they did. And they said they had more energy, they felt better and Sadie said this time of year she usually gets colds or the flu and she didn't get sick at all. So you know what, Heidi, they're doing it this month too. Everyday in January, they're going to have sex and you can read all about this on cnnhealth.com.

COLLINS: I love it. I can't wait to hear how many people actually read that because I know you can measure the hits.

COHEN: I'll let you know.

COLLINS: Absolutely. All right. Elizabeth, thank you so much for that segment.

And I don't know about the guys out there, but from sex to football, if you're not watching, you should be. Texas or Alabama, who are you rooting for in tonight's battle of the unbeatens? It of course is the college football national championship coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Well, you can add snow to that deadly arctic blast now gripping two-thirds of the nation. The cold has killed at least seven people. In Indianapolis, blinding snow slowed morning rush hour traffic today and the National Weather Service has issued winter storm warnings or advisories in all 92 Indiana counties.

Blizzard-like conditions made for treacherous driving in Wichita, Kansas. And more snow is forecast from the upper plains to the northeast and as far south as Kentucky and Tennessee. It's really unbelievable.

Our CNN meteorologists are closely following this widespread deep freeze. Rob Marciano braving those frigid temperatures in Memphis, Tennessee and Jacqui Jeras is in the CNN winter weather headquarters right here in Atlanta. I want to begin with Jacqui. Can't believe we're saying winter weather headquarters in Atlanta but really physically it is.

JERAS: Hey, we could say that in Florida today too, Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes.

JERAS: You know, almost nobody is spared from this Arctic blast, it's at least two-thirds of the nation, more than 60 percent of the population so there are a whole lot of people out there being impacted by this dangerous weather. You know, it's not necessarily unprecedented in some areas, but in many it is. This is from our I- reporter J.T. Davis and this is from Perry, Florida, which is just inland from the Big Bend area, if you know it well.

What happened here, this was in his horse pen area and the sprinkler went off overnight and just covered everything in that ice, so you've got to watch out for things like that as well as well as burst pipes in this kind of weather and make sure that furnace is working properly.

We did have some records in the sunshine state this morning. These are 10 to 20-year-old records being broken. 30 degrees in Tampa this morning as well as Sarasota, 37 in West Palm Beach and Ft. Myers at 38 degrees.

All right. Here's the worst of the Arctic air coming in today. Mostly across the upper Midwest but we're going to see the coldest temperatures in the plains tomorrow morning. That front is going to start to spread to the south and east and push through the region here and we'll watch the coldest air in the southeast by your Saturday morning.

And yes, we're talking 20 to 30 below normal here, 10 to 20 degrees below normal into the southeast. Warming is on the way, but you're going to have to be a little bit patient. ` (WEATHER REPORT)

COLLINS: Like sort of a wall to keep that Arctic air out. Got it. All right, Jacqui Jeras, we look forward to that. Thank you.

Now to Rob Marciano where it is darn cold in Memphis. I know you've been there for a couple days now, Rob. What are you finding?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGST: Well, temperatures have dropped. Yesterday, got here yesterday afternoon and this morning, temperatures about as warm as they have been for the past couple of days. But the winds have shifted, the front is through and now we're getting gusty winds, 15 to 20 miles per hour and windchills are down in the upper teens. A windchill advisory has replaced the winter weather advisory.

Still snowing a little bit, which is not unheard of here in Memphis, but certainly a rare sight and a little surreal to see snow piling up at least on the sidewalks and the awnings here on Beale Street. So, the cold air being the story, and the economy here in west Tennessee not necessarily good.

As a matter of fact, the mayor describes it as one in five people here in Memphis being in a state of poverty. So, there you have people who can't pay their bills, can't pay their utility bills. Seventeen hundred people are unable to pay their utility bills. Their power has been cut off. So, people are in danger in just their own homes.

So, they came up with a plan to get together with the utility company, with the city to go around and restore power and heat to some of these homes at least until the weather warms up towards the beginning of next week. Kind of a stopgap measure. They were able to do that for 500 people so far today.

They hope to double that again today, and we were able to witness, as you're seeing in the video, one of those people who's been in and out of work for two year after coming back home to care for her mother, and she's just so frustrated that she can't find work. She really wants to take care of herself, but she's very, very grateful that she had power and light and heat last night for the first time in several nights.

I mean, some of these people, Heidi, keeping warm by propane heaters, but this woman was actually lighting charcoal in her home. I mean, just how dangerous is that, not to mention the carbon monoxide potential.

So, it's a dire situation. You have to think about snow just piling up, that's the easy thing to look at. It's this desperate cold in a depressed economy here in west Tennessee and the mid-South that have people worried about just surviving this cold snap.

COLLINS: Yes, the economy really playing a hand here, obviously, as well. Rob Marciano for us live in Memphis, Tennessee, where they are certainly not used to cold, cold temperatures like this for this long.

It brings us to today's blog question. We asked you to fill in the blank. "It's so cold that..." and we are getting a ton of responses. I'll give you some of them now.

From Pam, she writes this. "It's so cold that my blanket's trying to get under me!" Kevin says, "It's so cold that my glass of iced tea feels like a hot beverage." And from Cassie, "I left the coffee shop with a mocha latte and got into my car with a Fudgesicle."

From Tom, "It's so cold that I hugged my mother-in-law for the first time in 20 years." That is cold.

From Rich, "It's so cold I saw a man on a street corner rubbing his hands together over some ice cubes to get warm."

And from Lauren, "It's so cold my co-workers are jealous of my hot flashes."

So remember, we do want to hear from you. Though it is a serious weather situation for many people, we're trying to have a little bit of fun with it this morning. Just log on to CNN.com/heidi and share your comments there.

Well, tonight college football crowns a new national champion. The battle of undefeated teams matches the Texas Longhorns against the Alabama Crimson Tide. A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows many of you aren't happy with the process, again. Fifty-nine percent want to see the BCS replaced by a playoff, again.

Two storied programs, one game. For all the marbles. CNN's Mark McKay is joining us live from Pasadena, California, the site of tonight's championship game. Mark, good morning to you. Fans there ready for what may be an epic match-up?

MARK MCKAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You better believe it, Heidi. I don't think it comes as a big surprise to learn that the tailgating has already begun a little after 7:30 local time here in Pasadena. Yes, the fans are ready. We've been waiting for this match-up for the better part of a month since it was set in stone in early December and it has arrived. Number one Alabama against number two Texas. Two 13-0 teams going at it tonight in the BCS National Championship game. A beautiful setting here at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. A lot of early morning activity. That will increase as the day goes on.

I have no reason to complain at all, Heidi, about the chilly conditions this morning considering what Rob is putting up with in Tennessee. We're expecting the chill to wear off, clear skies and low 70s at kickoff tonight just after 5:30 local time.

COLLINS: Yes, no question. All right.

So, every year we talk about the BCS rankings and what sort of problems that creates. But this year, we've got these two undefeated teams at least. In fact one of the players for Alabama, Mark Ingram, of course, just won the Heisman Trophy. Tell us a little more about what we should expect to see here.

MCKAY: We should expect a great, sensational end to a season for a guy that won Alabama's first Heisman trophy. That's quite a statement, considering the history of the Crimson Tide football program. Mark Ingram looking to put the capper with a national championship on a superb season. Saw him score 15 touchdowns, rush for over 1,500 yards.

His story, though, you would think a great family tale, that his whole family would be here. One member of his family will not be here tonight, Heidi. His father, Mark, Sr. is in a holding cell in a New York City jail, some 3,000 miles away from here. Mark Sr. going through a seven-and-a-half month prison sentence for money fraud and money laundering, bank fraud.

Mark, Sr. and Mark Jr. have been in contact. The running back from Alabama says he constantly talks to his father. He learned everything he knows about football from his father, who was a wide receiver for the New York Giants during their Super Bowl winning team in 1991. Mark Sr. will be watching his son on college football's biggest game tonight on television for sure, Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes. He's actually going to be sentenced tomorrow for those crimes, so kind of tough to be playing thee games and winning that trophy when all of that is going on with your father, certainly.

Hey, Mark, there are other big names out there. And we're not talking just about players, either. Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer. What's the scoop there?

MCKAY: He has been hired by the BCS, Heidi, to promote the system. The press secretary under the Bush administration, will be here at the Rose Bowl tonight. No connection between the two teams. He wants to promote the system and navigate through possible congressional hearings. Congress wants to find out is this the best system, is this -- should a playoff happen?

President Obama is in favor of a national championship playoff. We don't see that on the horizon. Congress may be looking into that. Mr. Fleischer will be on hand here and perhaps down the road to promote the BCS.

Five undefeated teams at the end of the regular season, Heidi, yet only Alabama and Texas will play for the National Championship tonight.

COLLINS: All right. It's going to be a heck of a game. Sure do appreciate it. Mark McKay, thank you.

Hunting for Osama bin Laden and his right-hand man. The search may have opened the doors for a double agent turned suicide bomber.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Time to check some of the top stories we're watching this morning.

Charlie Sheen out as a T-shirt pitchman. Hanes has dropped its advertising campaign in the wake of domestic violence charges against the actor. Then his wife says Sheen held a knife to her throat and threatened her life. He denies the charges. The company says it was a pretty standard decision.

The man nominated to lead the TSA is facing more challenges in Congress. "The Washington Post" says six Republicans are asking for more information on an FBI censure of Errol Southers 20 years ago. It's the latest road block for President Obama's TSA choice. An interim chief is running the agency right now. Democratic leaders hope to move quick to get Southers in place in the wake of the Christmas Day bombing attempt.

The Department of Homeland Security is stepping up efforts to get more air marshals on planes and more diplomats in place overseas. They're asking more employees to train to be air marshals, to ride on commercial flights. They are also looking for volunteers to go overseas in so-called high threat areas. Diplomats there will help screen visa applicants.

The failed bombing of Northwest Flight 253. Today the public gets a revealing look at the near-catastrophe and the security mistakes that led up to it. The findings are expected to be pretty unsettling. President Obama is going to talk about the report and its recommendations.

Earlier this hour, the speech was pushed back by a couple of hours. It is now scheduled for 3:00 p.m. Eastern. When it happens, we will carry those comments for you live.

Al Qaeda now claiming responsibility for last week's suicide attack on CIA officers in Afghanistan. Seven died in the blast. CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has more now on how the hunt for al Qaeda leaders played into that attack.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The sophistication was unprecedented. The alleged Jordanian suicide bomber, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, may have been a triple agent. A one-time militant who then promised to help the U.S., but then attacked Americans.

Bruce Reidel, a former CIA officer, has advised President Obama on al Qaeda.

BRUCE RIEDEL, FORMER CIA OFFICER: It's a very, very sophisticated operation. It must have taken a long time to plan and to set up. And it demonstrates that their capacity to strike back at us remains very, very significant.

STARR: Several sources tell CNN the bomber was driven to the U.S. base by American operatives. He was never searched. No one has said why, and it's believed most of the Americans had never even met him.

But he was offering irresistible information, the possible whereabouts of Osama bin Laden's deputy, Iman Al-Zawari. He detonated his explosives within minutes of arriving. The U.S. and Jordan courted al-Balawi over the last year, believing he e-mailed back with credible information on possible al Qaeda attacks.

But still, a Jordanian intelligence officer was there as a crucial go-between. Now it's all brought to light, perhaps the CIA's most covert partner in the hunt for both Osama bin Laden.

REIDEL: The Jordanian intelligence service is the best intelligence service in the Middle East and south Asia, bar none. They are far more effective in working against jihadist groups like al Qaeda in Iraq, like the al Qaeda core in Pakistan than any other intelligence service.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Barbara Starr joining us live from the Pentagon on this. Barbara, where does the investigation go now?

STARR: Well, a couple of things, Heidi. Number one, U.S. and Jordanian intelligence officials, since they both suffered fatalities in this attack, are going to go back and scrub everything they have. Where did it possibly go wrong? Were there any signs they missed? What information did this man have access to? Who did he meet? Who knows about him? Is there any possibility that intelligence, other intelligence operations may be compromised?

They have got to go back and look at all of that. And it is the Jordanian-U.S. intelligence cooperation here that is so critical. Most people don't realize it, but the Jordanians have been helping the U.S. with the hunt for both Osama bin Laden and other top operatives for years. It's a very quiet, very covert espionage game. It was brought out into the light by all of this. Now, they have to come to a new understanding of the way forward with all of that, Heidi.

COLLINS: All right, Barbara Starr at the Pentagon this morning. Thanks, Barbara.

If you like gadgets, you're going to love this. It flies, it hovers. What is it? Our Josh Levs has the answer and a whole lot more in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: 2009 was the year that rocked the auto industry, but it's a new year and things are looking up a bit. The nation's biggest automaker says it's going to make money now in 2010. Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange with more details on this. Hi there, Susan.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Heidi. Well, you know, on the surface companies are in business to make money, so that in itself shouldn't be a shocker. But then again this is GM, right, Heidi, so that is a headline.

GM's chairman, Ed Whitaker, says he expects the company to turn into the black this year. GM has been losing money since '05.

How much money you might ask? Well, let's just round it out to $90 billion. Oh, and that doesn't include the $50 billion that the U.S. government loaned it to help keep it afloat. Yes, so Uncle Sam is the majority stakeholder. So, it's got some issues.

And remember, its rivals, Ford and Toyota, made money in the third quarter despite this very tough environment.

Another headline from GM, well, hundreds of GM dealers may be restored. There were 1,300 of them that lost their franchises last year as part of that huge bankruptcy process. Congress is now allowing dealers to appeal through an arbitration process. They'll need to prove they're profitable. Whitaker says the company probably made mistakes in getting rid of so many of them. Heidi.

COLLINS: Part of GM's problem, of course, was it had too much inventory and too many dealers. How will restoring the dealers affect GM's profitability?

LISOVICZ: A very good point. Restoring all of them, extremely unlikely.

Why is that? Well, for one reason, GM makes far fewer cars. Remember, it's winding down Saturn, Pontiac, it's selling or losing Saab and Hummer. GM indicates it could bring back some of them. Why is that? Well, some of them may be profitable and the environment, thankfully, is improving. Car sales picked up in December. We just reported that a few days ago, and that's expected to continue this year as the economy improves.

Something else we hope for as well. Another encouraging trend is that Americans hit the mall in December. Most retailers today are posting better-than-expected sales in December, so we're seeing some retailers, like, for instance, Sears. Sears shares are up more than 12 percent. Well, and the Dow is up 12 points. NASDAQ is under a little bit of pressure. Heidi, back to you.

COLLINS: Susan, thank you.

LISOVICZ: You're welcome.

COLLINS: They just might be the coolest new toys on earth. Some of them might change your life. It's the latest from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Obviously, it's a huge one every year.

Josh Levs has been watching some of the new gadgets and gizmos. Of course you can check it out on our Web site.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you can check them out. We have all the latest for you up there. We've got some really cool ones to take a look at.

Let's go to this first video from this week there in Vegas at the CES. Look at that thing. Look at that. Getting a lot of people talking. That, and then you've got two new flying devices there. You had a little drone that's created that you can attach a camera, and they call this a flying little ducky. Each of each of these will ultimately be sold. This drone thing, they're saying you might be able to get for $500. It has a little camera on it. And you can send it around anywhere.

That's how the CES kicked off, with some of these really cool gadgets.

Now, there's a couple of things that are getting a lot of talk since then that we show you in dot-com. Let's go to the next video because this is one of the big things, the big new gadgets people were talking about and that is the arrival of 3-D TV. You've probably been hearing about it along the way.

One of the leaders in this is Mitsubishi. And it looks exciting, you can put on these special glasses if you want to if you have programming that it works for. They are talking about $5,000 originally, technically $4,999 for one of these 3-D TVs but a lot of people are jumping all over it, even in this economy. New technology keeps growing. People getting excited about it and new stuff being created.

One more video to show you here. Again, you can see all of this on our Web site, CNN.com. It's really interesting. This is from Lenovo. It's a laptop, but the top part that's a monitor just comes right off, and it becomes a touch screen. So, you can ditch the keyboard and leave it at home, carry that part with you and stick it in your bag, or you can plug it back in and use it as a keyboard.

Those are just a few of the things, Heidi, people are getting excited about at the CES. What I want to do is show you a special section here on CNN.com that's all about it. We keep updating it throughout the day. This section on CES.

What we've done, the folks at CNNMoney have shown what they're calling ten of the year's cool's gadgets. This is going to be a video phone, a new Android phone where you'll be able to look at your friend live as you're talking.

Check out this one here, live TV in your car. Again, it's a tablet shape and you'll be able to watch TV no matter where you're going from the Wienguard (ph) company. We'll scroll through a few more of these before we go.

Ten-finger touch screen. You see me use this big screen a lot. You're going to be able to get a pretty big-size monitor, in which you can use both hands at once, and type all over it and allegedly, that allows you to get more stuff done, and they're talking about getting that out in the market in not too long.

Let's see, we've got a little bit more time here. Navigating with the iPod touch. This is a new way that you'll be able to navigate anywhere you are. The days of -- as it is, some people have those devices but pretty soon they're saying the days of needing to rent a GPS when you're traveling somewhere are probably going to be behind us.

We can end on this one here, because this one is pretty cool. I like this one. They're talking about a flat keyboard that you just lay out on a table anywhere, and it works. Fully functional, totally normal keyboard, so it doesn't have any weight to it. You can roll it up, unravel it when you need it.

All that and more. We'll post some links at the blog. CNN.com/josh. We'll also get it going at Facebook and Twitter. JoshlevsCNNWe'd love to hear from you. What are your favorite new gadgets and gizmos. What about you, Heidi? What are your favorites?

COLLINS: I like that notebook thing. I've been hearing about that for a while. Carry it under your arm.

LEVS: Yes, just a couple of pounds.

COLLINS: Yes. Love it. All right, Josh. That's just some of them. As you said, check out the Web site for more.

Meanwhile, the so-called balloon boy's dad heads to jail in just a few days. After a guilty plea, he's now telling CNN the balloon saga was no hoax after all.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Just days before heading to jail, the so-called balloon boy's dad is speaking out publicly for the first time since he was sentenced, and he's talking to CNN's Larry King. Despite pleading guilty to perpetrating a hoax, Richard Heene maintains the infamous incident was real.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD HEENE, FATHER OF "BALLOON BOY": We had searched the house high and low and -- I'm sorry.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": That's okay.

HEENE: And I -- you know, after I saw him and Bradford telling me that he went inside, I at first didn't believe Bradford and I told him that perhaps he was wrong, I just saw him.

KING: Sum and substance, you believed your son was in the craft.

HEENE: I knew when he was in the craft.

KING: Well, you didn't know it because he wasn't.

HEENE: No, no, no, in my mind. In my mind. There was no other place because I visualized him. I yelled at him to not go in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Heene says he pleaded guilty to save his wife, Mayumi, from being deported to Japan. And you can watch the entire interview tomorrow night on "LARRY KING LIVE," 9:00 Eastern only here on CNN.

I'm Heidi Collins. CNN NEWROOM continues with Tony Harris.