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Iran Hails Major Step In Nuke Program; International Concern Over Iran; Chaos, Terror Rule In Syria; New Details On Houston Death Probe; PSU: Sandusky Case Costs $3.2 Million; NRC: Three Violations For Michigan Nuke Plant; Deal Near On Payroll Tax Cut; WSJ: Fake Cancer Drug Found In U.S.; China's V.P. To Meet U.S. Lawmakers; Houston's Private Funeral on Saturday; NBA's Lin a Hit in China; GOP Ad Wars Heat Up

Aired February 15, 2012 - 10:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Iran is calling it a major achievement its nuclear program. Scientists have loaded nuclear fuel rods into the core of a research reactor. These are the first fuel rods that Iran has made. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was there for the event. Iran is now claiming it has mastered the nuclear fuel cycle.

Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr joining us now. So Barbara, what more are you hearing about this?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it does sound a bit unsettling, doesn't it? The Iranians saying that they have mastered the fuel cycle, the nuclear fuel cycle. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad out and about, getting a tour of the facility where this is going on.

They are talking about three things in Iran, their ability to manufacture their own domestic nuclear fuel rods, their ability to have their own advanced centrifuges and yellow cake production, two other key elements in the nuclear fuel cycle.

Of course, the concern for the U.S. and Israel is whether this will all lead to the next step and that would be to use all of this technology to make nuclear weapons. The Iranians, the U.S. believes are not there yet.

The Israelis are a lot more worried that Iran is well down that road. So, if -- how should we think about today's announcement? Is it significant? Is this the red line that everyone has been talking about? By all account, not yet.

Iran's had a lot of engineering and technical problems in their program. The U.S. is going to want to see some real evidence that what they have unveiled today really works, that this is the real deal. And it is not just for show.

Doesn't mean that they are not seriously worried about all of it, but they are going to be looking much more closely at this, trying to determine if it really takes Iran down that road to nuclear weapons, Fredricka. WHITFIELD: So Iran has talked big before, but we're saying the Pentagon thus far is not at all alarmed?

STARR: You know, I wouldn't say not at all alarmed or that the intelligence services or the Israelis are not at all alarmed. These are judgment calls they have to make and they have to be right and it's very tough.

What the red line for the United States has been, according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is that Iran is not allowed to have a nuclear weapon. That's the red line. They can't do t and so they are looking at each announcement by Iran, each step in trying to determine is this the step that takes them to nuclear weapons? What we are seeing out of Iran today will be analyzed by the intelligence community.

They will try to determine what it really means, but right now, everyone we are talking to says, look, we have seen this kind of thing before. We need to figure out if this is real or they are still suffering from some of the engineering problems they have had.

But you know, you don't want to wait until Iran is already past that red line and have a nuclear weapon. So this is one of the most critical decisions. The U.S. intelligence community has to determine has to determine and advise President Obama on it.

WHITFIELD: All right, Barbara Starr, thanks so much from the Pentagon.

STARR: Sure.

WHITFIELD: Iran's tough words and accusations that it has carried out bomb attacks across the world are fanning new concerns in the international community. Max Foster joining us now from London with some of the reaction thus far -- Max.

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fredericka, we have been talking about the embassy attacks in recent days here on CNN. "The Independent" in the U.K. talks about these attacks can serve as a catalyst for war, very strong words, very frightening words what everyone is afraid of.

If all is true, this is a dangerous moment. The latest bombings have undoubtedly strengthened the hands of the hawks in Tel Aviv, bringing Israel into this. The "National Post" in Canada, what Israel can do about Iran.

Israel can slow down the threat by skirmishing around the edges, noodling around the fringes to gain time while searching for a political solution can be helpful although it can also aggravate some situations.

And in "Todays Zaman" in Turkey today, three different approaches toward Iran, an Israeli military strike would be a reckless act with catastrophic consequences for the entire region and probably not succeed in what it sets ought to achieve.

So the papers really jumping the gun at this point, but trying to work out where things go from here, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Max Foster, thanks so much from London.

All right, now we return to Syria, a nation teetering on the brink of civil war. This morning, at least 20 people reportedly killed in today's fighting and the violence is spreading. This video posted on YouTube claims to show civilians forced into service as human shields.

Rebels say government troops positioned them near tanks and artillery positions so that the opposition forces won't fire on them. This morning, smoke hangs over the city of Homs under siege from government shelling.

An oil pipeline that exploded there overnight is what you are seeing. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in Beirut following the latest developments. Nick, what can you tell us about how this -- how some kind of calm could be brought?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very hard to see how any kind of calm can be brought. Let's look at this pipeline really, which is a life to get more unbearable for the residents of that district of Homs.

Different accounts of how this happens. The government as you saying this was a terrorist act, detonating a blast in this pipeline which supplies vital oil supplies from a refinery in Homs to the capital of Damascus.

Of course, a local resident we spoke to, Omar, said a military plane was dropping new missions on the pipeline, but it caused a thick blanket of smoke to billow out across the town, a focus of the onslaught in the past 10, 11 days now, making life very difficult, reports of people choking on that smoke, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. And so early this morning, you know, President Bashar Al-Assad announced a referendum on a draft constitution, what more can you tell us about that and whether that in any way, you know, brings any hope?

WALSH: Well, this is basically a long-awaited reform to Syria's incredibly draconian constitution. What this does really is remove the Bath party as being the basic only one allowed to form a government, dominant figure in the political landscape and open up a more pluralistic society, letting other parties exist, provide they are licensed by the government.

That's not really much in the concession in terms of opening this up to be a genuine democracy. It's going to be voted on in 11 days' time. All votes that have happened under Bashar Al-Assad have seen him get upwards of 90 percent approval.

So it's not really a genuine democratic exercise and of course, bear in mind, 11 days from now, it's highly likely that Syria will still be shelling opposition strongholds across the country.

So, the idea of the opposition in the country getting a say in that vote, pretty farfetched as well. What does it say to us? Well, it says the Bashar Al-Assad may feel he has to offer some kind of concession, perhaps a sign of weakness or it might just be a pr stunt trying to play for a little bit more time -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Nick Paton Walsh, thanks so much from Beirut.

Here in the U.S., the investigation into Whitney Houston's death is reportedly taking a new turn. CNN's Don Lemon is following developments and joins us now from Los Angeles. Don, what can you tell us?

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is very fitting that this is happening because it sort of goes with what we reported yesterday, what I reported yesterday. First I'm going to tell you what the "L.A. Times" is reporting, Fred, and then I will tell you what I reported yesterday.

The "L.A. Times" is saying that they are expecting, again, this is -- they are citing an anonymous source here saying, they are expecting doctors and pharmacies, whomever who prescribed prescription drugs, prescription drugs found in Whitney Houston's hotel room.

They're expecting them to be subpoenaed and they said it is going to happen sometime in the coming week. Again, that is according to the "L.A. Times." But it fits reporting that I did yesterday, when I spoke to the coroner and the coroner said they are looking into that.

Exactly what was found in Whitney's -- Whitney Houston's hotel room, which prescription drugs and how much -- how many prescription drugs, although they downplayed the number of drugs found there. They said they are finding her medical records and they are wanting to speak with her doctors, trying to figure out who her doctors are.

So it makes sense because if they get the prescription drugs in the room and they take the bottles and they look at the date as to when the prescription drugs were prescribed, when the drugs were prescribed.

If it says you should take two a day with a meal and they were prescribed last week and they count the number of drugs that were in the bottle and if the person who the drugs were prescribed for, Fred, it makes sense, right, whether or not the correct amount of drugs were in the bottle.

So, that's what they are saying. The investigation is shifting into that phase. Now that's not to say that something nefarious was going on, that there is something wrong, that is just where they are going to next.

It could turn out that someone was prescribing drugs for her and should not have been or prescribing too many. But right now, that is just where the next phase of this investigation is going, that's according to the "L.A. Times."

WHITFIELD: All right, Don Lemon, thanks so much, joining us from Los Angeles.

Right now to the funeral plans for Whitney Houston. The service will be held at her childhood church in Newark, New Jersey, where she once wowed the congregation with that powerhouse of a voice.

CNN's Susan Candiotti is live outside New Hope Baptist Church. So Susan, what more have you learned about the planned service?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, we fully expect every one of the 1,500 or so seats inside her childhood church will be packed.

As we know, this will be invitation only and we know some of the guests will include famous singer, Chaka Khan, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, the singer, Brandi and many of her other family members and friends, of course, are expected to be here.

In the childhood church where, by now, of course, we've seen that video time and again of Whitney Houston singing as a little girl in front of the church, her voice captivating everyone even then.

We also know that Marvin Winans, who is a Grammy-winning singer himself and also a minister, will be eulogizing her. Now, we can tell that you if you want to hear more about that be sure to watch Anderson Cooper tonight at 8:00 Eastern Time because he will interview Marvin Winans exclusively.

Of course, the Winans family goes way back with the Houston family as well. And of course, Pastor Joe Carter will be officiating the services here. And he, himself, met Whitney Houston after he became pastor because she kept connected to the church.

And he said even back then, even he was star struck, but very impressed with her because she stayed connected to the church -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And so is there any response or will there, you know, in the short term to the public's real hunger to be a part of this service or in some way see it as it's happening?

CANDIOTTI: Well, certainly that's a tough one because Reverend Carter says, as does the funeral director, that the family realizes how beloved Whitney Houston is, certainly and they said that they have -- they care about her so very much.

But still, they think it's fitting that this particular service be private in the family church where she grew up. Here's what the funeral director shared with us.


CAROLYN WHIGHAM, FUNERAL DIRECTOR, WHIGHAM FUNERAL HOME: They have shared her for 30-some years with the city, with the state, with the world. This is their time now for their farewell.


CANDIOTTI: And of course, there might be an opportunity for the church to set up a television screen, a big one outside the church so fans will be able to see or at least hear what is going on inside the funeral on Saturday.

WHITFIELD: All right, Susan Candiotti outside of New Hope Baptist Church there in Newark.

All right, coming up, we will focus on Houston's life and how she went from an unknown to a superstar. The guy in the middle right there, well, you can thank him for bringing her voice out into the world and to the record producers attention, Gerry Griffith will be with us next.

And extending the payroll tax cut, a deal is near, a question looms, what does it mean to me? Christine Romans breaks down some of the numbers.


WHITFIELD: Checking our stories across the country now. Penn State says it has paid out nearly $3.2 million in fees linked to the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case.

Penn state's web site says, the university will not use alumni donations, student tuition or taxpayer dollars to cover the cost. The university is counting on insurance to pay.

The feds have cited a Michigan nuclear power plant for three safety violations. The NRC says the worst of the violations happened last September.

Half of the control room indicators were lost because of an electrical fault. Inspectors will now be keeping a closer eye on the plant.

And a rare snowfall for parts of Tucson, Arizona. The Valentine's Day snow came down pretty hard for a short time and then it was all gone.

It is hard to believe it, but there was a time when Whitney Houston was an unknown singer performing at little clubs. Jerry Griffith heard her sing in one of those places years ago. He knew he was listening to a great voice with great potential, he just had to convince his boss at Arista Records, Clive Davis to actually sign her and then, of course, the rest is history.

Gerry Griffith joins us now from New York. So everyone has been thinking all this time, Gerry, that it was Clive Davis who heard her voice and anointed her a star in the making. But instead, you heard her, where did you hear her and describe what you heard at the time. GERRY GRIFFITH, INTRODUCED HOUSTON TO ARISTA RECORDS: Well, the first time I heard her was at the Bottom Line here in New York and I thought she was, you know, an amazing young vocalist, but she wasn't ready for the big time.

So it is interesting that about a year later, a year and a half later, I heard that someone else was signing her, some other label. So I rushed down to her manager's office and we set up a situation where I could go see her perform again.

WHITFIELD: And then what did you hear at that time? Had you noticed that her voice had matured, that that year and a half made all the difference in the world?

GRIFFITH: Amazing. It was an amazing transformation. I mean, you know, she was more powerful, she was more spiritual, she just you know, she just had the guts to just stand up there and open up and just let it all go. An amazing transformation.

WHITFIELD: When we look at the old pictures, Clive Davis is on one side, Whitney Houston in the middle and then another photograph, we see, you know, Dionne Warwick. When you heard Whitney Houston, did you know, you know, about the singing pedigree from --


WHITFIELD: When she had come? I mean, you knew about the Cissy Houston connection?

GRIFFITH: I actually knew the family, I knew Cissy and I knew Dionne and a lot of the people that worked in their organization. So, yes, it was quite easy to say I want to do this I want to bring this to Clive.

WHITFIELD: So what was that conversation with Clive Davis, you said you have really got to give this young lady another shot, you know, Electra Records is about to sign her, but we want her on our label. How convincing, how much arm-twisting did you have to do?

GRIFFITH: It wasn't -- I really didn't have to do very much, except I had to convince him that I wanted to do a showcase with her, specifically for him. We set it up, a week later, we went in to see her perform and she was even better as a solo performer than she was with the ensemble.

WHITFIELD: And there are certain songs that really resonate with you as that solo performer. You said some of your best memories involve some songs that she sang in the studio.

"You Give Good Love" is one of those. She did it in one take. Take me there, if you could, what you remember hearing and how she handled that song?

GRIFFITH: Well, that song was played to me on a piano. The writer of the song, and the producer, they performed me on -- just with a piano, I fell in love with it. And we -- brought it to Clive and we agreed to do it, but she actually -- she actually did that song, the song that you hear on the record, in one take. It's amazing.

WHITFIELD: And what did that say to you about her as an artist that she could do that?

GRIFFITH: God, that -- that she was above the rest. She was way, way, way above the rest. You know, it wasn't -- it was -- the emotion was there the feeling was there. And it was just part of her and that's why she is the icon that she is today because everybody feels that and hears that when she sings.

WHITFIELD: She feels the music and that she would feel the music as teenager when you heard her really is very extraordinary to show that kind of maturity in those songs.

GRIFFITH: I'm sorry. I was just going say we would have never known when she sang the national anthem how far she had come as a performer.

WHITFIELD: Gerry Griffith, thanks so much. You know, our condolences go out to you and all those who knew her well and certainly mourning the passing of Whitney Houston.

GRIFFITH: Thank you so much.

WHITFIELD: CNN prevents "Death of a Diva," an in-depth look at the life of Whitney Houston, the investigation into her sudden death. That's Saturday night, 8:00 Eastern Time.


WHITFIELD: All right. This morning, some good news for you and your wallet. Lawmakers have struck a tentative deal on extending the payroll tax cuts that are due to expire at the end of the month. That means working Americans won't suddenly se their paychecks shrink next month. My goodness, I can hear the roars, the applause already.

Christine Romans back with us. So how significant is this? Because people hear that and they do get excited.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This payroll tax cut, this is something that many people haven't even noticed in their paycheck, but they would feel it. They certainly would feel it if this were reversed.

What it is, is basically you pay 6.2 percent tax on the first $110,000 that you make, right? So you have had a break on that for the past year or so and Congress is looking like it is going to extend that.

This is for 160 million people, comes out to about $1,000 a year or $40 a paycheck, Fredricka, for people who make $50,000 or more a year. You know, I tell you. Not everyone is happy about it and I will tell you why.

Because there are some Republicans and Democrats who worry about giving people a tax cut out of a Social Security tax. They don't want that touched. They don't want to mess around with what people are paying or giving into the Social Security tax.

You know, and a lot of argument about that if you want a tax cut, fine, a tax cut's fine, but just don't mess around with Social Security on it. So there are some people in both parties concerned about that.

But by and large, you don't want to raise taxes on people, working people in an election year. That's what this was all about.

WHITFIELD: OK, and what other perks might there be in the deal?

ROMANS: Well, a couple of other things here too, extending unemployment benefits, we know that is going to run out -- extended benefits will run out for about 1.3 million people sometime this year.

So it looks like a deal works for that. That would have to be paid for though. That is a big difference between finding some solution on that one. That's going to have to be paid for.

Also enhancing this doc fix, the doctor fix. This is reimbursements for doctor for what they are paid for, the Medicare procedures and the like and Medicare customers and coverage so both of those things will have to be paid for. So there still will be fighting among Republicans and Democrats, or shall we say, negotiating.


ROMANS: For how they will pay for those.

WHITFIELD: All right, Christine Romans, thanks so much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

WHITFIELD: Let's talk politics now. Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum both seem to be struggling with their likability factor. I'll ask the political panel if they can actually turn things around, next.


WHITFIELD: Checking stories right now. In Syria today, thick black plumes of smoke are seen rising over the city of Homs. Opposition groups say government blew up an oil pipeline. The government blames terrorist groups.

And state run media says President Bashar Al-Assad plans a February 26th referendum on a new constitution, but at this point, it doesn't seem likely to tamp down the uprising.

A fire at a prison in Honduras has killed nearly 300 people, according to local fire department. Some 35 prisoners were taken to a hospital. The blaze is now under control. This is the third fatal prison fire in recent years in Honduras.

Back here in the U.S., makers of the cancer drug, Avastin are reportedly warning people that counterfeit versions have been found. Tests of the fake drug show it did not contain the active ingredient. Avastin's maker says the fake drug is not safe or effective and should not be used.

The man expected to become China's next leader, Xi Jinping is scheduled to meet with U.S. congressional leaders today. Later, he will head to Muscatine, Iowa, a town he visited decades ago when he was just a provincial official. Here is CNN's Ted Rowlands.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, people here in Iowa are absolutely thrilled that the next leader of China is coming to visit, especially the folks living in the very small town of Muscatine.


DICK MAEGLIN, MUSCATINE, IOWA HOST: You look at the logistics and the cost of him putting in and coming to this little town that's 35 miles removed from an airplane that will accommodate him and his entourage, there's some motivation, just for a little time, spend an hour, hour and a half in a room with, as he says, his old friends. That's significant.


ROWLANDS: Muscatine will be the first stop for Vice President Xi. He will spend about an hour and a half in one of the homes that he had dinner in back in 1985. Seventeen of the people that he met 26 years ago will be there to meet with the expected new leader of China -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: "Political Buzz", is your rapid-fire look at the best political topics of the day. Three questions, 30 seconds on the clock. Playing today: Pete Dominick, comedian and political talk show host on Sirius XM Radio; Patricia Murphy, editor of Citizen Jane Politics and a contributor to the "Daily Beast" and Boris Epstein, he is a Republican strategist and former aide to both John McCain and Sarah Palin.

All right, good to see all of you.


WHITFIELD: All right, first question. A new CNN poll says the likability rating among Republicans for Romney is falling but rising for Santorum. Neither are doing well among all Americans, however. What does that say about Republican's chances come November? Pete, you first?

PETE DOMINICK, COMEDIAN/TALK SHOW HOST, SIRIUS XM: Well, Fred, I think the word "likeability" should -- should be thrown out. It sounds like a word that a beer company came up with I mean, we shouldn't really care about this everyone said I want to have a drink with George Bush. Nobody liked him. George Bush didn't care. President Obama I think cares too much.

But yes, people like Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney have a problem, women problem for -- for Rick Santorum. He's also got a problem with gay people and anybody who like gay people, has got a problem with anybody who got an A on a science test there has never been any momentum for any Republican candidate outside of Mitt -- outside of Rick Perry. We know what happens to him and of course, all the excitement has been about, in this candidate, in this race has been for a 76-year-old, Ron Paul.


EPSTEIN: The problem here is not with likability and Pete's right on that. The problem is for Barack Obama, his approval to disapproval is still underwater. His 45 approval, 47 disapproval. Let's not forget about that. Also let's not forget, in 2008, more people wanted Hillary Clinton, percentage of popular vote than Barack Obama among the Democrats.

So these numbers are coming out right now are not as important as they might seem Mitt Romney is going to be nominee, Mitt Romney is going to one representing the Republicans in the election, and right now is the time for him to circle the wagons and say, listen, I'm the one that represents you.

WHITFIELD: And Patricia?

PATRICIA MURPHY, EDITOR, CITIZEN JANE POLITICS: Well, I do think these numbers are a problem for Republican but if Republicans have anybody to blame for it, it's probably Mitt Romney. He is conducting a scorched earth policy against the rest of his opponents. That drives his own numbers up, his negative numbers up and he has said, his aides have said that they are planning an assault on Rick Santorum that will make the assault on Newt Gingrich look like a love tap.

So if there is any elder in the Republican Party who wants to prevent a murder suicide and keep their chances alive for November, they need to inform Mitt Romney run a cleaner campaign.

WHITFIELD: Ok and then you know, love is in the air, the President taking his wife out for a fancy Valentine's Day dinner and warned other guys not to skimp, as a public service message. Was it the right message to send in such tough economic times? Boris?

EPSTEIN: It's not a bad message to send. We guys should be nice to all our girlfriends, wives, significant others on Valentine's Day. It's the President being himself for a minute, which is a good thing. What's not a good thing, is that he is doing it while he is trying to combat class warfare on the other side, trying to wage class warfare.

So this president who is saying hey, guys if you have the money, spend it, he shouldn't be the one that's saying, hey, those who have the money should be taxed more and more and more. So he should be himself more, not to cloak of himself in class warfare politics, the Democrats have historically waged in.


DOMINICK: That was unbelievable that was what Boris just do is unbelievable -- he took the Valentine's Day question, turned it into the class war. I applaud that I don't know how, I could never do that. I -- I think -- I think President Obama clearly has been bought and paid for by the floral industry, the chocolate industry. This is -- this is clear. I think we know what's going on here. This is ridiculous.

Everybody, including Boris and all his critics, think he's great husband, a great father, it's not like he's going to appoint a Valentine's czar that's going to mandate men to buy their wives and girlfriends things. He's a great husband and I don't think anybody has any problem.

EPSTEIN: That's a good idea.

WHITFIELD: Patricia?

MURPHY: Well, as the woman on the panel this is a no-lose for the President, it's a no-lose for men in America. Take the issue to heart, take the public service announcement, you cannot go wrong. Newt Gingrich also had a nice Valentine's Day with his wife so, listen, nonpartisan, you can't go wrong.

WHITFIELD: Right, right.

MURPHY: I didn't see how politics comes into it. Just keep going.

WHITFIELD: I know come on people it's all relative. And you know the ladies like a little love on Valentines and you have the days of the week.


EPSTEIN: I wonder if Newt Gingrich shopped at Tiffany's.

WHITFIELD: Whatever it takes. Ok.

So your "Buzzer Beater", 20 seconds each, reports says there are about two million dead people still registered to vote in America. Another 51 million are eligible but not even registered to vote. How do we get the live ones to actually register? Pete, you first.

DOMINICK: Well, I think this goes back to the first thing we were talking about, this whole likeability factor, which, again, I don't like. But the idea is you have to have candidates to inspire people that want to make young people to register to vote for the first time, like President Obama did like him or not, he did that. We're not seeing that that much in this election, and I'm not worried about dead people voting. That's not my concern but people are disenchanted with the political process and we need them to get involved and care.

WHITFIELD: All right, Boris? EPSTEIN: It is vital for Republicans to get new people to register to vote, people who weren't registered last time but would support him in the middle of the country, in the Midwest to go out and register to vote. As far as those who are dead, maybe they are still voting in Texas, maybe they are not. Who knows, but it be best to get those unregister and off the vote ledgers.

WHITFIELD: And Patricia?

MURPHY: This is the easiest question that I'm going to get the best way for people to get registered, is go to, we have a map, click on your state, register to vote it's so easy, do not wait to get inspired, do not wait for more information, just click on Very easy, absolutely essential, especially for young women to get into the process.

DOMINICK: You know Fred, I was just going to say, I was going to say go to I was just going to say that but of course Patricia said it first.

WHITFIELD: We're all going to say it in harmony.

MURPHY: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: There you go, all right, Patricia Murphy, Pete Dominick, Boris Epstein, thanks so much.

MURPHY: Thank you.

EPSTEIN: And happy belated Valentine's Day.

WHITFIELD: Oh, thanks, happy belated Valentine's to you too.

All right, "Dancing with the Stars" reportedly wants former presidential candidate Herman Cain to be on the show. His response next in "Showbiz Headlines".

And speaking of stars, we're seeing one break out of the NBA. Jeremy Lin has done it again.


WHITFIELD: Whitney Houston's ex-husband, Bobby Brown is reportedly upset after hearing he may not be wanted at the singer's funeral Saturday. "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT Host A.J. Hammer is live in New York with details -- A.J.

A.J. HAMMER, HLN HOST: Well, Fred, of course, we wanted to know what was going on here, so we put the question directly to Bobby Brown's representative. Here is the only thing he would tell us. He said "Any report or statement that does not originate from my office about Bobby Brown or his representatives is not authorized by Bobby Brown. We are not focused on reports, stories or false reports, for that matter."

Of course, it doesn't really answer the question as to whether or not Whitney's family is trying to block Brown from the funeral and how Brown may feel about that. We do know that Bobby and Whitney's daughter, Bobbi Kristina, has been with her father since she got out of the hospital over the weekend.

But the reports that Bobby Brown wouldn't be invited to the funeral are certainly understandable, given Brown's tumultuous history with Whitney. How so many people have been pointing the finger at him and they've done it really for years, for her erratic behavior, the time that they were married, we saw it play out on the reality show.

But they are just reports at this point Fred, and we know that Bobbi Kristina's relationship with her dad has not always been easy. There's obviously a lot at play here. Everybody, at a minimum is hoping everything is being done to look after Whitney's daughter right now.


HAMMER: We know that they shared a very, very close and special bond, not just mother/daughter but they were truly friends, something Whitney often talked about.

WHITFIELD: Yes. It's all so sad.

All right. Meantime, talk about the next season of "Dancing with the Stars". apparently an invite being extended to Herman Cain and he is saying what?

HAMMER: Well, I am here to tell you he is saying no.



HAMMER: In just a few weeks. Yes, there is your story right there. Here is the thing. Dancing with the Stars reportedly wanted the Herman Cain train and reportedly, he has turned them down. This is what his rep told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. They said Cain can't dance to an 8-count, he can only dance to a 9 count. I guess 9- 9-9 is a way of life for Herman Cain, not just tax plan.

WHITFIELD: Hilarious.

HAMMER: There are also reports, I should mention, that the show did reach out to Michele Bachmann to appear on the show because we have seen this before, they like to have some political contestants in the mix. We saw Bristol Palin during her appearance and, of course, they got a lot of buzz for that they also had former Congressman Tom Delay on the show. I thought Cain would be interesting.

WHITFIELD: Very much. Could have been very interesting to say the very least. We know he can sing. One would presume that, yes, he probably has rhythm and can dance, too. Maybe he is shy after all. Doubt that. HAMMER: No.

WHITFIELD: A.J., thanks so much.

Perhaps you want information on everything breaking in the entertainment world. A.J. has it this evening on showbiz tonight, 11:00 Eastern on HLN.

Jeremy Lin isn't just the toast of Madison Square Garden right now. He is turning into the toast of the globe. Coming up, we will show you how fans in China are going a little bit linsane as well.


WHITFIELD: Checking stories cross country now, let start in Indiana where a measles outbreak is spreading. Three more cases have been confirmed, bringing the total to 13. Two new cases are school children, school-aged kids, that is. Patients are being told to quarantine themselves and immunization clinics are being set up in affected schools.

In Fort Lauderdale, police are looking for this man and they say he grabbed a $6,500 Rolex from an airport security bin after the woman in front of him left it behind.

And the mob is back in Vegas, with fireworks and fanfare. The Mob Museum opened in downtown Las Vegas Tuesday. It has more than 600 Mafia and law enforcement artifacts, making it the largest collection of its kind under one roof.

All right, everyone is calling the Jeremy Lin phenomenon linsanity. It just got more linsane last night in Toronto. Knicks down three to the Raptors with a minute left, lin scores and gets the foul, ties it at 87. Tied, time running out, right there the Harvard grad no one wanted just a month ago gets the winning basket with just five-tenths of a second to go. Here is what Lin said after the game.


JEREMY LIN, NEW YORK KNICKS: I'm thankful that the coach and my teammates trusted me with the ball at the end of the game and, you know, I like having it at the end of the game but, you know, I'm just very thankful.


WHITFIELD: Wow. That is a team player. The Knicks are 6-0 since putting lin in the starting line up. Lin is such a hit that Toronto fans were actually cheering for him as well last night. So the called Linsanity going global. CNN's Eunice Yoon says he is a big hit in China.


EUNICE YOON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With his unbelievable performance on the court, Jeremy Lin has become an American sensation and the linsanity over the New York Knicks Guard is starting to spread, halfway around the world, to China.

The Taiwanese-American, 23-year-old from California is winning over fans here in a country where there are as many basketball buffs as there are Americans in the world.

BROOK LARMER, AUTHOR, "OPERATION YAO MING": China has a very, I think, wide and inclusive sense of national identity and it embraces even a Chinese-American born of Taiwanese parents in Palo Alto who is a devout Christian.

YOON: Lin Shou Hou as he's known here, has already garnered more than a million followers on Weibo, China's version of Twitter. His jerseys selling fast on a popular e-commerce site Taobao. And the Harvard graduate's tongue-in-cheek video on how to get into the Ivy League school has been viewed half a million times on the Chinese Internet, poking fun at Asian Stereotypes.

Lin: Step one, get gasses.

YOON: While capturing the imagination of a nation obsessed with education and success. "He proves that Asians can succeed in basketball" says this fan. But Lin's success here isn't a slam dunk. Lin didn't grow up in China and he didn't rise to the ranks of the nation's sports season like his mentor, Yao Ming. Yao is promoted from the day one as its national icon who represented the nation. Who is standing tall in the world to show that China itself answered could stay and talk.

On the other hand, I think that Jeremy Lin will eventually grow on Chinese.

YOON: "He gives players like me a lot of confidence, this fan says, he is not too tall, just like us."

When Yao retired from the Houston Rockets last year, the NBA feared the game here could lose momentum. Now, they are hoping the 6'3 player who the media have called a hot media have called a super nova can one day fill Yao's shoes.

"This might just be a burst of talent," he says, but I hope he keeps playing like this for a long time."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lin puts it up. Bang. Jeremy Lin from downtown.

YOON: A feeling that is mutual among the linsane back in the U.S.

Eunice Yoon CNN Beijing.


WHITFIELD: And the political ad wars are back. Mitt Romney takes aim at Rick Santorum and Santorum fires back. We take a look in our political ticker ten minutes from now.


WHITFIELD: All right. During Fashion Week in New York, designers are showing off their latest collections. Functional sit not exactly at the top of the list, but it is for some designers who are actually making a living designing uniforms. That's right, for companies like FedEx, McDonald's, even hotels. Our Alina Cho explains.


ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What does this have to do with fashion? You'd be surprised. Designers aren't just creating clothes for the cat walk, they are also designing uniforms.

STAN HERMAN, DESIGNER: There was a time I walked around, had a hamburger at McDonald's, thank you, they wore my uniforms my package was delivered by FedEx press, thank you very much. And everybody I touched seem to have a Stan Herman uniform on.

CHO: Stan Herman is a multi-award-winning fashion designer who branched out into the world of the designer uniform.

HERMAN: TWA, that cute? You would look good in it now, wouldn't you?

CHO: That's great.

Herman has been designing uniforms more than 40 years, companies like McDonald's, JetBlue and for decades, FedEx. So popular, his uniforms arguably cover more bodies than any other designer on the planet.

HERMAN: I was a hot designer on 7th avenue and somebody approached and said would you like to do uniforms, I said what is that? They say, it is clothes and I discover I had loved doing it because it was like branding, branding corporation.

When a hostess greets you on the airplane, she will be dressed like this.

CHO: Gucci and Halston designed uniforms from Braniff (ph) Airlines had a designer in the '60s and '70s. Dior in Nina Richie did it for Air France. Today, (INAUDIBLE) is remaking the uniforms at Sephora has designer uniforms. The inspiration, employees.

PRABAL GURUNG, DESIGNER: How do you want to feel? We want to feel good and that is such a universal emotion, whether it is this or that. I was like, you know, is how I want to feel and I got it.

CHO: Sofie Theallet is showing this on the runway and this at the Graham Mercy Park Hotel in New York

Cocktail uniforms designed in spill-proof silk.

SOFIE THEALLET, DESIGNER: For me, it's not a uniform at all. It is really one dress, more like a cocktail dress really. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Reporter: but how do you design a uniform that suits, well, everyone?

CINDY LEIVE: Almost like a reality competition. Let me see how I can take these constraints and make them look fantastic.

HERMAN: Most important thing is likeability. When you put on your dress in the morning if I don't like it by the end of the day, I'm a grumpy guy. Corporation walks around in a uniform they don't like, they become a grumpy corporation.

CHO: Alina Cho, CNN, New York.


WHITFIELD: And for more on Alina's inside look at the fashion industry, you can watch "FASHION BACKSTAGE PASS", it airs Saturday, February 25th, 2:30 Eastern time.


WHITFIELD: Civility was just around the little while ago in the GOP White House race. Our political editor Paul Steinhauser joins us now. So what happened? The attack ads are back.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: They are back, Fred, no doubt about it. We didn't see many attack ads or commercials at all in Nevada, the three states last week that voted, but yes, they're back and back with a vengeance. Check this out, This is from the pro- Romney independent super PAC and they've really taking on Rick Santorum. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did Rick Santorum actually vote? Santorum voted to raise the debt limit five times and for billions in wasteful projects, including the bridge to nowhere.


STEINHAUSER: That's part of the theme there from the Romney campaign and from the independent super PAC, portraying Santorum as a Washington insider. This ad now playing in Michigan and Arizona which vote on the 28th and Ohio, Super Tuesday state.

Santorum campaign kind of fighting back with a fun ad that really makes fun of Romney for going negative. Here is their ad which is playing in Michigan.


RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Rick Santorum and I approve this message.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney's negative attack machine is back, on full throttle. This time, Romney's firing his mud at Rick Santorum.

This is kind of a response that we never saw from Gingrich, when he was being hammered by Romney and by the pro-Romney super PAC about a month or two ago. Fred, one more thing I want to show you. You know we've been talk about Santorum surge in the polls. Well, an example of a brand new poll out of Ohio, a super Tuesday state. Look who is on top in this Quinnipiac poll, people likely to vote in the primary, Rick Santorum. Fred, back to you.

WHITFIELD: Everyone said this was going to be very unpredictable, so just buckle in, enjoy the ride here. All right, thanks so much, Paul Steinhauser. Have another political update in one hour from now. And reminder for all the latest political news, you know exactly where to go our Website,

All right much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM. Christine Romans is here.


WHITFIELD: Have a great mid-afternoon or mid-morning.

ROMANS: You too. You too. Well, you're done for the day, right?


ROMANS: So that's good for you.

All right. Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Take care.