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New Secretary of Defense Nominated; Immigration Reform on the Agenda

Aired January 8, 2013 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, HOST: Hi, I`m Carl Azuz.

And today we`re going to one-up Phineas Fogg. Instead of 80 days, we`re going around the world in 80 seconds for some global headlines at the start of today`s show.

Our first stop is in Syria, where a civil war is driving hundreds of thousands of people out of the country. According to estimates from the United Nations, more than half a million Syrian refugees have crossed over the border. They`re looking for safety. They`re also looking for warmth. And with predictions for a harsh winter, that could be hard to find.

Next, we`re heading to China, where some newspaper journalists are protesting against the government. They`ve accused officials of censorship and restricting freedom of the press. Local government officials aren`t commenting about the situation. The people you see here are supporting the journalists laying flowers down at the newspaper`s headquarters.

Now, we`re going to go to Australia, where intense heat and strong winds are fueling the flames of two wildfires. This is happening on the island of the Tasmania. The first have destroyed more than 100 homes, but as of late Sunday night, officials said there hadn`t been any deaths reported, although they were looking into reports about potentially missing people.

Last stop on our global tour, Alaska, where an oil rig was a little closer to shore than you might expect -- right up on it. This Royal Dutch Shell rig ran aground last week. It happened while it was being towed back to its winter home. There could be up to 150,000 gallons of diesel on board, but observers are saying there are no signs that any of it is leaking out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s Shout Out goes out to Mr. Apfeld`s social studies classes at All Saint`s Catholic School in Fort Worth, Texas.

The U.S. Defense secretary`s office is located in what building?

Here we go now.

Is it at the U.S. Capitol, Pentagon, White House or Fort Knox?

You`ve got 30 seconds. Go.

The Defense Department`s headquarters is in the Pentagon, one of the world`s largest office buildings.

That`s your answer and that`s your Shout Out.

AZUZ: There might be a new person behind that desk in the Pentagon soon. On Monday, President Obama announced his nominee to be the next secretary of Defense, former Senator Chuck Hagel. He`s a Republican who served 12 years in the U.S. Senate and he`s also a veteran who fought in the Vietnam War. If he`s confirmed as the next Defense secretary, he`ll be the first enlisted soldier to eventually hold that office. Hagel has made some controversial statements in the past and that could lead to some challenges during his confirmation process.

Yesterday, the president also nominated John Brennan to be the next director of the CIA. Right now, Brennan is the president`s chief adviser on counter-terrorism. He worked at the CIA for 25 years, so getting the job as director could be seen as kind of a homecoming for him.

And just because President Obama nominates them doesn`t mean Hagel and Brennan will get those jobs. We mentioned they have to be confirmed. And that power belongs to the U.S. Senate. There will be confirmation hearings, where senators will get to ask these nominees questions before deciding whether or not to vote for them, to approve them for the jobs.

Confirming presidential nominees is one of the responsibilities that can only be done by one part of Congress or the other. For example, the House of Representatives can decide if a government official should be put on trial, but the Senate is the group that holds that trial.

On other things, obviously, the House and Senate work together, like coming up with laws.

Yesterday, Athena Jones looked at the issue of gun control.

Today, she`s putting the focus on another subject that could be a priority for the new Congress -- immigration reform.


ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What might comprehensive legislation look like?

The president says it should include measures to beef up border security, punish companies that purposely hire undocumented workers and give the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants here a way to obtain legal status.

Groups that want to restrict immigration are skeptical.

DAN STEIN, FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM: The president himself has said he doesn`t think these laws are enforceable. How -- how on earth is Congress ever going to be convinced to pass a package of -- of the kind he`s talking about when no guarantees can be made to the general public that the laws will be respected?

JONES: Doubts that could signal a long road ahead for this legislative push.

JOHN GRAMLICH, "CQ ROLL CALL": Right now, what`s interesting on immigration is that everyone is talking the talk, and that includes Democrats and Republicans. But, again, there`s a big difference between talking the talk and walking the walk on policy.

JONES (on camera): A big question is whether the parties can agree on how to approach this immigration issue.

Should it be one big bill, which many Democrats are pushing?

Or several smaller ones, which many Republicans favor, because they say this issue is so complex?

Athena Jones, CNN, Washington.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See if you can ID me. I`m an annual celebration that includes parties and parades. I start on the 12th day after Christmas and I end on Mardi Gras.

My biggest U.S. celebration is in New Orleans. I`m Carnival and I occur right before the season of Lent.


AZUZ: Carnival season is on in New Orleans and it runs through Fat Tuesday. One artist is honoring the city by using items that are associated with the celebration.

This is a mosaic. It`s a type of art that uses small items to form a picture or a pattern. In this case, the artist and his helpers are using recycled Mardi Gras beads. They`re recreating a cityscape of New Orleans. And when they`re finished, the 42-foot wide work of art is expected to set a new record. All it takes is one and a half million beads, some very precise placements and a whole lot of patience.

While Carnival brings huge crowds to New Orleans, a different event brought tens of thousands of people right here to Atlanta, Georgia last week. It`s the Passion Conference, a gathering of young Christians who are committed to changing the world, in part by taking on the issue of human slavery.

Jim Clancy looks at how the movement is gaining momentum.


JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): More than 60,000 young Christians from around the country and around the world held candles aloft in the frosty air. Their own faces shine back at them from a massive cube set up outside the Georgia Dome -- faces of those who have pledged to light up the world and put an end to human trafficking in their lifetimes.

BRYSON VOGELTANZ, PASSION 2013: Slavery is trapped in dark places all over the world. It`s trapped here in Atlanta in the shadows. It`s in the shadows in Mumbai, India. It`s in the shadows in Cambodia. It`s in the shadows around the world in brothels and factories. These 60,000 students, they`re going to shine a light on slavery.

CLANCY: For many, this is a journey of the Christian faith, one that brings them here to the Passion Conference to worship, pray and learn. For the past two years, they`ve been focusing on the unholy scourge of sexual slavery and forced labor, the 27 million victims, the billions of dollars churned out by robbing men, women and children of their freedom.

These young men and women are determined to change that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The truth is spoken here. And where truth is spoken, things change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re going to raise the awareness. We`re going to fight for those that ho -- don`t have a voice. And we`re just going to tell people about this. And we`re going to let this world know that there`s an issue and we`re not OK with it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To just know that this is out there and like it - - it just opened my eyes to all this. Like I had no idea this was really going on. And then like I just want to be able to help as much as I can.

VOGELTANZ: This is about students starting a journey of justice, that their entire lives would count for justice, their entire lives would count for freedom. And that`s happening here.

CLANCY: Last year, the event raised $3.5 million. With 20,000 more participants this year, tablet computers were used to help speed the donation process.

Some of the money comes from the students themselves. More was raised in their communities. It will be used to help raise awareness, rescue victims and help them restore their lives.


AZUZ: Describe the civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner in just one word.

It`s a challenge, but we know you`re up for it. Martin Luther King Day is coming up soon. We want you to send in iReports describing Dr. King in just one word. The deadline is January 15th, so you`ve got one week to do it and one place to find all the detail,

All right, we`re going to wrap things up today in the skies over the California coast. It`s a bird, it`s a plane, it`s Super Man?

It certainly looks like the comic book character. It turns out this souped up soups is a remote-controlled flier. And this YouTube video has made him an online sensation.

Not exactly the man of steel. He`s more like the man of lightweight foam. Of course, this cape-fur happened in Cal-Al-Fornia. We just wish that it happened in a city named Clark, but I guess you Kent get everything you want. These puns are just super bad.

We`re going to go before we get carried up, up and away.

One real quick thing. We have a new blog up on our home page.

One week into the new year, how are your resolutions holding up?

Tell us at

And we`ll see you right back here again tomorrow.