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CNN NEWSROOM

Boyfriend Murder Trial Defense Starts; NFL Players Draft Harvard; Obama Talks Immigration Reform

Aired January 29, 2013 - 14:30   ET

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


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: First, she hadn't seen him in a month, second that a man and woman killed him and threatened her, and thirdly she was acting in self-defense. Do you think she's going to take the stand in this? Is that important for her to try to win over jurors?

JACKSON: You know what happens, Poppy, is that generally speaking almost without exception when you have a self-defense case, you have a defendant who almost has to take the stand.

And when I say almost, we're going to hear in this case, social workers, psychologists, who are going to speak to the issue of whether she was a battered woman, of whether she had PTSD or some other psychological, you know, deformity, where she just was forced, her state of mind was such that I need to protect myself.

And so if they can get the information out, being the defense through those witnesses, it is less likely she'll testify. But I almost think that she has to, Poppy, at some point, go to that witness stand and explain the inconsistencies.

And explain her motivations and why she had to, was left with no choice but to stab him, slit his throat and shoot him. So I would expect that at some point she will indeed testify.

HARLOW: And defense also wouldn't want anything sort of showing any premeditation here, because that matters as well. There are these explicit photos of Arias that investigators found on the victim's bed. Do you think that that plays into this at all into her defense?

JACKSON: It does in a significant way because the photographs that were taken are very sexually explicit. And, remember, the cornerstone of her defense is that she was abused, whether it was mentally, whether it was tormented, whether it was controlled, and that he, in fact, used her as a sexual object.

And so I think that the defense, in really walking a fine line, because you never want to demonize a victim, Poppy, at all, because it has a backlashing effect, but I think they're going to have to establish through the photos that, see, this is the Travis Alexander that no one knew, I knew him, I couldn't take it, as a result, I defended myself. So that's what we're going to see, I think, as the defense case unfolds.

HARLOW: And they'll be there to hear her voice, obviously. He's dead, they won't hear from him. It is a real question of trust there on behalf of the jurors. Thank you so much, Joey. Appreciate it.

JACKSON: My pleasure.

HARLOW: All right, folks, we are minutes away from President Obama kicking off his push for immigration reform. He's going to do it live in Las Vegas at a school there, but does his plan mesh with the senators who introduced their own plan just yesterday? We're about to find out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: President Obama spoke about football injuries recently, saying that the game needs to be safer. He made a lot of waves doing that. And now there is word that the NFL and its players plan to put some big money into researching the long-term health effects of the game.

CNN has obtained a proposal that says the NFL Players union and the league, are going to fund $100 million ten-year Harvard study to try to diagnose, treat and prevent player injuries and illnesses. A thousand current and former players are apparently going to take part in this.

Dr. Vin Ferrara knows a lot about football. He played at Harvard himself. He's a doctor as well. He was the quarterback of Harvard's football team. He invented a football helmet, a few years ago, really designed to absorb hits better than regular helmets.

He joins us now live. Thank you for being here. I appreciate it very much. The helmet is called the Xenith. So give me -- there you have it. So tell me a little bit about it and also how many teams, how many players are using this right now?

DR. VIN FERRARA, FOUNDER, XENITH LLC: Hi. It is nice to be with you. So this is the Xenith X-2 football helmet and key features of this helmet, one is the way it fits, quite different than other helmets on the market.

When the player puts the helmet on, he pulls the chin straps, the helmet snugs down around the player's head so it gives you an instant custom fit, helps the helmet stay in place and stay on the head as well.

And the other main feature of the helmet is that it uses what we call adaptive shock absorbers, air cell shock absorbers. They deflect the energy away from the head, which helps the head move less suddenly and less violently.

We have sold probably 175,000 of these helmets since 2009. Players at all ages, all levels, ranging from the NFL all the way down to youth football.

HARLOW: You know, it is interesting, you had your first concussion when you were in seventh grade and I know you were watching hockey star Eric Lindros suffer multiple concussions, stood up and said this is enough. And then looked in your medicine cabinet and you saw a saline solution squeeze bottle and that's how the idea came to you?

FERRARA: Pretty much. I played football, had one diagnosed concussion in seventh grade. A few other hits during my high school and college career that, you know, made me see stars and I never told anybody about it.

And then after having gone through medical school and deciding to go to business school, also, wanted to get into the business of health, somehow, and happened to see a clip of Eric Lindros on the ice with what was probably his ninth or tenth diagnosed concussion. And it inspired me to try to do something about the problem.

HARLOW: So Virginia Tech researchers have taken a look at your helmet. They have tested it and said there is a lot of promise there, but also room for improvement in design. The cost is about double other helmets out there.

And one of my questions is, a concern about do you think that having this added protection could have the negative side effect of making football players push harder, lead harder with their head, think, well, I'm more protected now so I can be more aggressive.

FERRARA: Well, certainly, you know, when there is a perception of added protection, it can cause players to take additional risks and that's really where the educational component comes in. The helmet is one piece of the puzzle.

Technique, rule enforcement, culture change are just as important as protective equipment. It is really a comprehensive strategy, and, you know, as far as there being room for improvement, there is certainly always room for improvement in protective equipment.

We feel like this is by far the most innovative product on the market. It has been rigorously tested, tremendous feedback from players and really Xenith is the only football helmet manufacturer that was founded in the 21st Century.

That was founded explicitly to design and develop better football helmets. So we really feel like we're well positioned and we're continually working on improving our technology. We see a lot of advances to come as well.

HARLOW: Quick question, the cost?

FERRARA: The cost for a varsity helmet is around $200 to $225. The cost for a youth helmet is around $10 to $125. So just for, you know, for correction, it is not double the price of other helmets.

It is maybe slightly higher, but it is right around the competitive range of other products are in. It's very affordable. If you look at the cost of buying cleats over a four-year high school football career, parents will spend more on cleats than they do on helmets.

HARLOW: Thank you very much for coming in. Appreciate it.

Folks, we want to take you to special CNN coverage of President Obama's big announcement on immigration reform, live in Las Vegas. See the president right there. Let's take a listen.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. It is good to be back in Las Vegas! And it is good to be among so many good friends. Let me start off by thanking everybody at Del Sol High School for hosting this. Go, Dragons.

Let me especially thank your outstanding principle, Lisa Primas. There are all kinds of notable guests here, but I want to mention a few. First of all, our outstanding Secretary of Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, is here.

Our wonderful Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, former Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, two of the outstanding members of the congressional delegation from Nevada, Steve Horseburg and Vina Titus, your own Mayor Carolyn Goodman!

But we also have some mayors that flew in because they know how important the issue we're going to talk about today is, Maria Lopez Rogers from Avondale, Arizona, Quassim Reed from Atlanta, Georgia, Greg Stem from Phoenix, Arizona, and Ashley Swearington from Fresno, California.

And all of you are here as well as some of the top labor leaders in the country and we are just so grateful, some outstanding business leaders are here as well. And, of course, we got wonderful students here. So I could not be prouder of our students. Now those of you that have a seat, feel free to take a seat. I don't mind.

I love you back. Last week, last week, I had the honor of being sworn in for a second term as president of the United States. And during my inaugural address, I talked about how making progress on the defining challenges of our time doesn't require us to settle every debate or ignore every difference that we may have.

But it does require us to find common ground and move forward in common purpose. It requires us to act. I know that some issues will be harder to lift than others. Some debates will be more contentious. That's to be expected.

The reason I came here today is because of a challenge where the differences are dwindling. Where a broad consensus is emerging and where a call for action can now be heard coming from all across America. I'm here today because the time has come for common sense, comprehensive immigration reform.

The time is now, now's the time, now's the time, now's the time. I'm here because -- I'm here because most Americans agree that it is time to fix the system that has been broken for way too long.

I'm here because business leaders, faith leaders, labor leaders, law enforcement, and leaders from both parties are coming together to say now is the time to find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as the land of opportunity.

Now is the time to do this so we can strengthen our economy and strengthen our country's future. Think about it. We define ourselves as a nation of immigrants. That's who we are, in our bones. The promise we see in those who come here from every corner of the globe, that's always been one of our greatest strengths.

It keeps our workforce young. It keeps our country on the cutting edge and it helped build the greatest economic engine the world has ever known. After all, immigrants helped start businesses like Google and Yahoo. They created entire new industries that created new jobs and new prosperity for our citizens.

In recent years, one in four high tech start-ups in America were founded by immigrants. One in four new small business owners were immigrants including right here in Nevada. Folks who came here seeking opportunity and now want to share that opportunity with other Americans.

But we all know that today we have an immigration system that is out of date, and badly broken. A system that is holding us back instead of helping us grow our economy and strengthen our middle class. Right now, we have 11 million undocumented immigrants in America, 11 million men and women from all over the world who live their lives in the shadows.

Yes, they broke the rules, they crossed the border illegally, maybe they overstayed their visas, those are the facts. Nobody disputes them. These 11 million men and women are now here. Many of them have been here for years and the overwhelming majority of these individuals aren't looking for any trouble.

They're contributing members of the community. They're looking out for their families. They're looking out for their neighbors. They're woven into the fabric of our lives. Every day, like the rest of us, they go out and try to earn a living. Often they do that in the shadow economy, a place where employers may offer them less than the minimum wage or make them work overtime without extra pay.

And when that happens, it is not just bad for them. It is bad for the entire economy because all the businesses that are trying to do the right thing that are hiring people legally, paying a decent wage, following the rules. They're the ones who suffer.

They have got to compete against companies that are breaking the rules. And the wages and working conditions of American workers are threatened too. So if we're truly committed to strengthening our middle class, and providing more ladders of opportunity to those who are willing to work hard to make it into the middle class, we got to fix the system.

We have to make sure that every business and every worker in America is playing by the same set of rules. We have to bring the shadow economy into the light so that everybody is held accountable. Businesses for who they hire and immigrants for getting on the right side of the law. That's common sense.

That's why we need comprehensive immigration reform and -- there is another economic reason why we need reform. It is not just about the folks who come here illegally and have the affect they have on our economy. It is also about the folks who try to come here legally but have a hard time doing so and the effect that has on our economy.

Right now, there are brilliant students from all over the world, sitting in classrooms at our top universities. They're earning degrees in the fields of the future, like engineering and computer science. But once they finish school, once they earn that diploma, there is a good chance they'll have to leave our country. Think about that.

Intel was started with the help of an immigrant who studied here and then stayed here. Instagram was started with the help of an immigrant who studied here and then stayed here. Right now in one of those classrooms there is a student wrestling with how to turn their big idea, their Intel or Instagram, into a big business.

We're giving them all the skills they need to figure that out. But then we're going to turn around and tell them to start that business and create the jobs in China or India or Mexico or someplace else. That's not how you grow new industries in America. That's how you give new industries to our competitors.

That's why we need comprehensive immigration reform. Now -- now, during my first term, we took steps to try to patch up some of the worst cracks in the system. First, we strengthened security at the borders so we could stem the tide of illegal immigrants.

We put more boots on the ground, on the southern border than at any time in our history, and today illegal crossings are down nearly 80 percent from their peak in 2000. Second, we focused our enforcement efforts on criminals here illegally and who endangered our communities.

Today, deportations of criminals, is at its highest level ever. Third, we took up the cause of the dreamers, the young people who were brought to this country as children. Young people who've grown up here, built their lives here, have futures here. We said that if you're able to meet some basic criteria, like pursuing an education.

Then we'll consider offering you the chance to come out of the shadows so you can live here and work here legally, you can have the dignity of knowing you belong. But because this change isn't permanent, we need Congress to act. Not just on the dream act. We need Congress to act on a comprehensive approach that deals with the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are in the country right now.

That's what we need. Now, the good news is for first time in many years, Republicans and Democrats seem ready to tackle this problem together. Members of both parties, in both chambers, are actively working on a solution.

Yesterday, a bipartisan group of senators announced their principles for comprehensive immigration reform, which are very much in line with the principles I've proposed and campaigned on for the last few years. So this moment it looks like there is a genuine desire to get this done soon and that's very encouraging. But this time action must follow. We can't allow immigration reform to get bogged down in an endless debate. We have been debating this for a very long time. It is not as if we don't know technically what needs to get done. As a consequence to help move this process along, today I'm laying out my ideas for immigration reform.

And my hope is this provides some key markers to members of Congress as they craft a bill because the ideas I'm proposing have been supported by both Democrats like Ted Kennedy and Republicans like President George W. Bush. You don't get that matchup very often. So we know where the consensus should be.

Now, of course, there will be rigorous debate about many of the details and every stake holder should engage in real give and take in the process. It is important for us to recognize the foundation for bipartisan action is already in place. And if Congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion, I will send up a bill based on my proposal and insist that they vote on it right away.

So the principles are pretty straightforward. There are a lot of details behind it. We're going to hand out a bunch of paper so everybody will know what we're talking about, but the principles are pretty straightforward. First, I believe we need to stay focused on enforcement. That means continuing to strengthen security at our borders.

It means cracking down more forcefully on businesses that knowingly hire undocumented workers. To be fair, most businesses want to do the right thing, but a lot of them have a hard time figuring out who is here legally, who's not, so we need to implement a national system that allows businesses to quickly and accurately verify someone's employment status.

If they still knowingly hire undocumented workers, we need to ramp up the penalties. Second, we have to deal with the 11 million individuals who are here illegally. We all agree that these men and women should have to earn their way to citizenship.

But for comprehensive immigration reform to work, it must be clear from the outset that there is a pathway to citizenship. We got to lay out a path, a process that includes passing a background check, paying taxes, paying a penalty, learning English, and then going to the back of the line behind all the folks who are trying to come here legally.

That's only fair. All right, so that means it won't be a quick process, but it will be a fair process. And it will lift these individuals out of the shadows, and give them a chance to earn their way to a green card and eventually to citizenship.

And the third principle is we got to bring our legal immigration system into the 21st Century because it no longer reflects the realities of our time. For example, if you are a citizen, you shouldn't have to wait years before your family is able to join you in America. You shouldn't have to wait years.

If you're a foreign student, who wants to pursue a career in science or technology, or a foreign entrepreneur who wants to start a business, with the backing of American investors, we should help you do that here, because if you succeed, you'll create American businesses and American jobs.

You'll help us grow our economy. You'll help us strengthen our middle class. So that's what comprehensive immigration reform looks like. Smarter enforcement, a pathway to earned citizenship, improvements in the legal immigration system, so that we continue to be a magnet for the best and the brightest all around the world, pretty straightforward.

The question now is simple. Do we have the resolve as a people, as a country, as a government, to finally put this issue behind us? I believe that we do. I believe that we do. I believe we are finally at a moment where comprehensive immigration reform is within our grasp.

But I promise you this, the closer we get, the more emotional this debate is going to become. Immigration has always been an issue that enflames passions. That's not surprising. There are a few things that are more important to us as a society than who gets to come here and call our country home, who gets the privilege of becoming a citizen of the United States of America. That's a big deal.

When we talk about that in the abstract, it is easy sometimes for the discussion to take on a feeling of us versus them. And when that happens, a lot of folks forget that most of us used to be them. We forget that. It's really important for us to remember history. Unless you're one of the first Americans, a Native American, you came from someplace else, somebody brought you.