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Chelsea Clinton Joins the Campaign Trail; Hollywood Gears Up for SAG Awards; Positive and Negative Health Effects of Birth Control; Southern States Await Presidential Candidates; Winter Weather for the West

Aired January 25, 2008 - 11:00   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hollywood rolls out the red carpet for the first time this award season, but will it be the last? Stargazing in the NEWSROOM.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: So the road to the White House heads south this weekend. Today candidates for both parties are focusing beneath the Mason-Dixon line. The Democrats are brace for tomorrow's big primary in South Carolina. Republicans who faced off there last Saturday are looking ahead to Florida. That critical primary scheduled for Tuesday. Chelsea Clinton is taking a prominent role in Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. CNN's Jim Acosta has the story.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If Barack Obama feels it's two against one, get ready for three. When Chelsea Clinton took questions from students at Atlanta's Spellman College, she suggested the move was made by her mother's campaign to slice away at Obama's support among younger voters.

CHELSEA CLINTON, CLINTON'S DAUGHTER: I'm actually here today partly in reaction to that, in that I believe my mom does have the responsive policies for my generation and also people who are (INAUDIBLE)

ACOSTA: The Clinton campaign is well aware polling data indicating Obama's considerable youth advantage. To counter that, the 27-year-old former first daughter has already appeared on her mother's Web site, targeting the fresh-based electorate. Now the campaign is going one step further offering Chelsea in her own words. While she's come a long way since the '92 campaign, Chelsea remains notoriously media shy, just recently telling a nine-year-old school reporter she doesn't grant interviews.

SYDNEY RIECKHOFF, SCHOLASTIC NEWS: She said I'm really sorry but I can't do questions from the press.

ACOSTA: Even at the Spellman event, she declined to stand in front of the reporters' microphones. The Clinton campaign tells CNN Chelsea is still not doing interviews, but some political observers wonder how long that will last.

LARRY SABATO, UNIV. OF VA CENTER FOR POLITICS: The next grade school reporter who approaches Chelsea Clinton is likely to get an interview. She probably won't go on "Oprah" but beyond that, I think we may see her on some of these talk shows.

ACOSTA (on-camera): For years, the Clintons have argued their daughter is off limits to reporters but some of the media may start to question with the new more outspoken Chelsea whether that rule applies anymore.

Jim Acosta, CNN, New York.


NGUYEN: Well, could southern civility be creeping into presidential politics? Probably not. But things definitely were a little less bruising at last night's Republican debate in Florida.

Here's CNN chief national correspondent John King.


JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Despite the high stakes or perhaps because of them, remarkably polite.


KING: At times more economic seminar than debate. The leading Republican candidate called the new bipartisan stimulus deal a good thing but said it doesn't go far enough.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just wish it went further.

GIULIANI: I would support it, but it doesn't go far enough.

KING: Four days until Florida votes, John McCain and Mitt Romney lead the pack and the former Massachusetts governor did question his rival's history.

ROMNEY: I also support the Bush tax cuts. Senator McCain voted against it.

ACOSTA: The Arizona senator said he voted no for good reason.

JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fact is that if we had this spending restraints that I proposed, we would be talking about more tax cuts today.

ACOSTA: The struggling economy dominates now. But Mike Huckabee recalls how his rivals dismissed his alarms at a debate six months ago.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know people acted like I was the only guy at the U.N. without a headset that night but the truth is I was the only one on that stage who said, it may be doing great if you're at the top.

ACOSTA: No one brought up Barack Obama. McCain said he would relish debating Iraq with Hillary Clinton.

MCCAIN: I'm so proud of the job that the men and women in the military are doing there. And they don't want us to raise the white flag to surrender like Senator Clinton does.

ACOSTA: Romney was asked what it would be like to run against both Hillary and Bill Clinton.

ROMNEY: I frankly can't wait because the idea of Bill Clinton back in the White House with nothing to do is something I just can't imagine.

ACOSTA: Giuliani is running third despite targeting Florida almost exclusively. He credited his rivals with running strong campaigns (INAUDIBLE).

GIULIANI: I believe that I'm going have the same faith that the New York Giants had last week. We're going to come from behind and surprise everyone. We have them all lulled into a very false sense of security now.

KING: John King, CNN, Boca Raton, Florida.


NGUYEN: Well, campaign promises, they flow like water during the election season. And here are some that might raise your eyebrows, though courtesy of Barack Obama on the "Late Show with David Letterman."


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will double your tax money at the craps table.


OBAMA: Appoint Mitt Romney secretary of looking good.

LETTERMAN: Yes, sir.

OBAMA: I'll rename the tenth month of the year Baracktober. Pronounce the world nuclear nuclear.

LETTERMAN: How about that? And the number one Barack Obama campaign promise --

OBAMA: Three words, Vice President Oprah!


NGUYEN: Might be all you need, Oprah Winfrey, as you may know, has been campaigning vigorously for Obama. I did like Baracktober. For more on the presidential candidates and their next stops, go to It's your one stop shop for all things political.

HARRIS: Check's in the mail, money in your pocket. Tax rebates, the centerpiece of the plan to boost the sagging economy. The legislation goes before Congress next week. So how much can you expect and when? Well, individuals earning less than $75,000 will get a $600 rebate, $1200 for couples who earn less than $150,000. Families will get an additional $300 per child. Those who don't pay income taxes but earn at least $3,000 will get a $300 rebate. The Treasury secretary says the checks could be in the mail about 60 days after Congress passes the bill. So look for the check sometime in the spring.

Your money, your questions, Gerri Willis answers e-mails about dealing with this economy coming up in minutes right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

NGUYEN: I want you to take a look at this, surveillance video just into CNN shows a deadly explosion in Beirut. Look into the upper right-hand corner. Get this video up for you. We're going to show it to you, upper right-hand corner. You see and hear that? Lebanon's top anti-terror intelligence officer is one of four people killed in the attack; 38 others wounded. Authorities say it was a car bomb in a Christian neighborhood. The blast set a dozen vehicles on fire and ripped a giant crater in the road. Look at this video. Attacks of this nature have escalated as Lebanon's pro- and anti-Syrian law makers struggle to elect a president.

HARRIS: Our friends in southern California, good morning. Many parts of southern California just paralyzed by a brutal winter storm that just won't go away. Snow blanketing mountain areas for a fifth straight day. Hundreds of drivers are stuck on I-5. That's a major interstate. Most were guided out yesterday, but parts of the road remain closed with officials giving no estimate on when it will reopen. In lower elevations, rain is the problem. Some areas got more rainfall yesterday than in all of 2007. At least one tornado touched down, tearing off a roof of a building at a naval base. Fortunately here no one injured.

NGUYEN: What combination though, you've got snow, you've got flooding and then a tornado thrown into the mix -- Rob?


NGUYEN: There is new evidence birth control pills are preventing a lethal form of cancer. Dr. Sanjay Gupta drops by.


NGUYEN: I want to talk know about stemming the human flow. Egypt taking action to stop Palestinians from crossings over from Gaza. Our Ben Wedeman joins us by phone from Gaza.

Ben, you were there as Egyptian soldiers moved in. Tell us, what did you see?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What we saw were the Egyptian soldiers having a very hard time trying to bring this situation under control. In fact, it's always been known that the people of Gaza sometimes are a little bit hard to keep under control themselves. And the Egyptians are finding this out firsthand. We were at one border crossing where the Egyptians were allowing people to leave Egypt to go back to Gaza, but not allowing the Palestinians to go into Egypt and this precipitated basically a near riot.

There were rocks, curses thrown. The Egyptian responding there using cattle prods, clubs and water cannons to try to subdue the crowd. It just doesn't seem to be working. In fact, this afternoon some Palestinians using a bulldozer broke through one of the low walls that marks the actual border between Gaza and Egypt and opened up a new crossing. So the Egyptians are having a very difficult time. And the Palestinians are even more determined than before to get into Egypt to buy the things that they need -- Betty.

NGUYEN: Ben, we're looking at this human shield that they've formed. Is it clear at all whether Egypt intends to actually seal the border or just regulate the flow?

WEDEMAN: I think what they've got to do at this point, as far as the United States and Israel are concerned, is actually close the border for the time being. There are discussions on going about the possibility of opening a regular border crossing, where you have all the normal procedures, which simply don't exist at the moment.

At the moment it's pure pandemonium. I went to Egypt a few days, a few times today and didn't show a soul my passport. So eventually they're going to have to bring it under control. But they're having such a hard time that it's hard to imagine how they're going to actually achieve that -- Betty.

NGUYEN: They are having a hard time. Looking at the video, it looks downright chaotic. Ben Wedeman joining us live from Gaza on the situation there. Thank you, Ben.

HARRIS: Economy and your wallet concerns are big enough for a second round of your questions today. Here to answer your e-mails about all things money related, CNN personal finance editor Gerri Willis.

Gerri, great to see you.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good to see you again Tony.

HARRIS: Hey, Betty, before we talk through these e-mails with Gerri, she's the biggest star in the galaxy right now. This is Gerri Willis. Last night on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."


JON STEWART, HOST: Tell me what these people could possibly be thinking. OK. Here is the first clip from --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the market that everybody has been dreaming about, cheap money, cheap prices. At the same time that never happens.

STEWART: She seemed excited. Like this was somehow a Toyota- thon. Why is she excited?

WILLIS: I'm not really sure. You know, I don't know.

STEWART: She might just be a crazy person.

WILLIS: I can't say that.

STEWART: I see it in your eyes.


HARRIS: Was that fun, Gerri?

WILLIS: It was a lot of fun. You know, he's -- Jon Stewart...

HARRIS: He's really egging you on there.

WILLIS: ... is such a smart guy, to make jokes about the mortgage melt down you've got to be really smart to understand it, almost as fun as talking to you.

HARRIS: Wow, what's next, "Oprah" for you?

WILLIS: I'm just trying to get through this story.

HARRIS: I hear you.

WILLIS: You know?

HARRIS: All right. We should dive into the e-mail bag because we've got other clips we could play.

WILLIS: We've got serious questions here.

HARRIS: Exactly. All right. Here's our first e-mail Gerri. "My wife and I have about $6,000 and we are looking to invest in something. We are in our mid 30s. What do you suggest?"

WILLIS: I'm glad that you're wanting to invest. If it's a long- term investment you can consider investing in index funds, ETFs, asset allocations funds with a company like Fidelity or Vanguard. In an asset allocation fund, you just decide what kind of risk portfolio you want, conservative, moderate, aggressive and the fund is rebalanced accordingly. You don't even have to worry about it. Set it and forget it. Given the recent losses in the stock market, now is a good time to start buying stocks. Maybe you can get a little help by using asset allocation.

HARRIS: You have mentioned that repeatedly. Kevin writes, "Gerri, I have rolled over two different 401(k)s from previous jobs in 2007 to one traditional IRA. Should I convert it to a Roth IRA? I'm 35 years old. What do you think?" WILLIS: It could be a good move but make sure you can take the tax hit. When you convert a traditional IRA into a Roth, you will have to pay taxes on that amount you transfer and that could be thousands of dollars. Since you're young and likely to be in higher tax bracket when you retire, it will be worth your while if you can convert your IRA to a Roth. The tax that you take now will be less expensive than the one you would take later in a higher tax bracket.

NGUYEN: She breaks it down.

WILLIS: Interesting stuff.

HARRIS: All right, Deborah from Washington writes, "I am about to graduate from college but I have a lot of credit card debt on top of my student loan. Would it be better for me to consolidate, consolidate, Gerri, my credit card debt?"

WILLIS: Well, Deborah, consolidating really only makes sense if the new loan has a considerably lower interest rate than all of your credit cards. The challenge now is finding a lender. That's going to be more difficult in today's environment. Creditors want to see higher scores right now and that's going to be hard with a lot of credit card debt.

Check out to see what kind of personal loan you might qualify for. But your best bet may be to transfer your balances onto a low interest rate credit card. Be careful though. I've done this. It can work, but you have to read the fine print and make sure you understand all the details.

HARRIS: That's great. That's great news. I don't want you to get away because we know you have multiple hits to do on all the CNN platforms and Oprah is on line, too. Give us a preview of the big "OPEN HOUSE" show this weekend.

WILLIS: You got to join us 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning for "OPEN HOUSE," more on how to protect your money now. It's serious now. You've got to protect your 401(k), your savings and we have a little fun, too. Throwing a super bowl party on the cheap. We get help from the pros. Tony, we've got some football players on the show.

HARRIS: Well, it's a favorite at our household. I say it all the time. Gerri, great to see you. Have a great weekend.

WILLIS: My pleasure. Thank you Tony.

NGUYEN: Here's something a lot more serious than football, the hang man's noose. It is a symbol of hate that could land a young man in Louisiana in prison.


NGUYEN: All right. Birth control pills, did you know they might protect against a deadly cancer? Dr. Sanjay Gupta follows up on a new study.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Forty three thousands women were studied and they actually - it led to some sort of interesting results. Take a look at what the pill has done for people over time. Probably, Betty, prevented 200,000 cases of ovarian cancer, very good news and also 100,000 ovarian cancer deaths. If you fast forward now and take it into the future, it will probably prevent 30,000 new cases a year.

NGUYEN: Each year.

GUPTA: Each year.

NGUYEN: Tremendous.

GUPTA: Really potentially good news. Remember, ovarian cancer is one of the trickiest ones because the symptoms, if they're even present can be very vague, women may not know exactly what's going on. And by the time they go to the doctor with it it's often late stage which is why this is so problematic. So the pill could be a benefit here.

NGUYEN: OK, so as we look at all this data, how long do you have to take the pill in order for it to be that effective?

GUPTA: Great question. I don't know if there's an exact answer to that. We looked into that as well. What we found was that two things. One is that the benefit seems to extend for decades even after you stop taking the pill. So women in the 50s, 60s, could still be getting benefit from the pill if they took it before. Also if you took it for about 15 years, it seems to decrease your risk of ovarian cancer by about half. So those are rough numbers, but that doesn't - to answer your question.

NGUYEN: That is huge, half?

GUPTA: That is huge, especially for this very, very deadly cancer.

NGUYEN: Let's look at the downside if there is any. What kind of problems could it be causing? You know, there are some that would say maybe lower sex drive. What are some of the things that people may not know about?

GUPTA: That is certainly one of them and there are downsides. This isn't for everybody still even with some of these benefits. There is always this talk about does it make you gain weight? That's probably more anecdotal than actual science.

NGUYEN: A lot of people have heard that one.

GUPTA: People have heard that, also concerns about blood clots. That's probably more of a real one, especially if a woman is a smoker and they take the birth control pills. They get these clots in their legs which can sometimes break off and go to their lungs. That's a real problem obviously. Another thing is breast cancer. So maybe decrease the risk of ovarian cancer but what does it do for breast cancer? It seems to increases the risk while you're on the pill, while you're on the pill. But once you stop taking it, the risk seems to go down again. Why this all happens is unclear Betty. It must have something to do with the fact that it's a hormone and it changes the fuel in your bodies that fuels certain cancers.

NGUYEN: OK. With that in mind, it is also important to weigh the risk and benefits with your doctor. And to get your daily dose of health news online, log on to our Web site. You will find the latest medical news, a health library and information on diet and fitness. The address is

HARRIS: What do you say we take a look at some of the most clicked on videos at this morning. Cincinnati, public schools fired the entire staff of one elementary school. It was not meeting requirements set by the no child left behind program.

Well, the rush of street racing may be exciting but it is also illegal and a dredging ship and a tanker carrying orange juice collided in the Newark Bay Thursday. Fortunately, no injuries to report. For more of your favorite videos, just go to When you get there, download the NEWSROOM daily podcast. See some of the stories that will have you talking. The CNN NEWSROOM podcast available 24/7 right on your iPod.

NGUYEN: This will have you talking as well, a growing problem for White House candidates, immigration reform and Florida farmers.


NGUYEN: Hello, everybody. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM on this Friday. Hope you're having a good one. I'm Betty Nguyen in for Heidi Collins.

HARRIS: Get away day, Friday. Good morning everyone. I'm Tony Harris. Check's in the mail, money in your pocket. Tax rebates the centerpiece of a plan to boost the sagging economy. The legislation goes before Congress next week. So how much can you expect and when? Individuals earning less than $75,000 will get a $600 rebate, $1200 for couples who earn less than $150,000. Families will get an additional $300 per child and those who don't pay income taxes, but earn at least $3,000 will get a $300 rebate. The Treasury secretary says the checks could be in the mail in about 60 days after Congress passes the bill. So look for the check sometimes this spring.

NGUYEN: Well, the road to the White House heads south this weekend. And today candidates from both parties are focusing beneath the Mason-Dixon line. The Democrats bracing for tomorrow's big primary in South Carolina. Republicans who faced off there last Saturday are looking ahead to Florida. That critical primary scheduled for Tuesday.

And Florida citrus growers want to put the squeeze on candidates. Whose got the juice to get immigration reform done? Well, CNN's John Zarrella reports.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Since 1933, they've been picking oranges off the trees at Smokey Groves in Lake Placid, Florida.

MASON SMOAK, FARMER: They will be ready to harvest in two to three months.

ZARRELLA: But these days Mason Smoke is worried, afraid immigration reform could destroy the industry, and there may not be anyone to pick next year's crop.

SMOAK: This country relies on a work force that is not necessarily from this country.

ZARRELLA: According to the Department of Labor, 65 percent of farm workers nationwide are illegal. With the Florida primary just days away, smoke and strawberry grower, John Stickles are paying as much attention on where the candidates stand on immigration as they do their groves and field. The next president they believe must support a guest worker program.

JOHN STICKLES, FARMER: So I want to hear from a president is them saying I'm going to secure the border, but at the same time, I'm going to institute a friendly guest worker program.

SMOAK: It's more than closing the borders and sending everybody home. We will be crippled as an industry and a nation if everybody was sent home and we did not have a guest worker program.

ZARRELLA: Agriculture is the second biggest industry in Florida behind tourism. Citrus alone brings in $9 billion. A lot of votes in Florida are tied to agriculture. But based on what they've heard so far, neither man is sure who he is voting for. All the candidates want tighter security, but while some support a guest worker program, none has talked enough so far to satisfy Smoak or Stickles.

STICKLES: Looking for somebody that is open minded, realizing that they're going to shut down agriculture by removing these people.

ZARRELLA: If that happens these growers fear workers won't be coming from other countries in the future, but much of your fruits and vegetables will.


HARRIS: Primary numbers, we focus a lot on you the voter, but the real power rests with the delegates. Who are they? And how do they matter? Here's a quick explainer.


UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Democrat or Republican, all the presidential candidates are eying a specific target, a magic number, the number of delegates needed to win the party's nomination. For the Democrats that number is 2,025. For the Republicans, it's 1,191. Delegates have a specific role in each party's national convention. They choose the president and vice presidential nominees. Many state primaries and caucuses award delegates proportionately based on how much of a popular vote a candidate wins. Some states are winner take all. In Florida, Georgia, and Missouri, to name a few, the Republican winner takes all of that state's delegates. The Democrats don't have winner-take-all primaries or caucuses.



HARRIS: OK, for more on the delegate count, the presidential candidates and their next stops, again, just head on over to It is your one-stop shop for all things political.

NGUYEN: Well, a Louisiana community in turmoil over a symbol of racial hatred. Now an 18-year-old man faces federal hate-crime charges. He's accused of taunting African-American protesters with a hangman's noose.

Here's CNN's Sean Callebs.


SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eighteen-year-old Jeremiah Munson was arrested long after the peaceful march in Jena. Louisiana had ended on September 20. Munson is now charged with federal hate crimes for tying makeshift nooses crafted from electrical cords to the back of his truck and repeatedly taunting marchers. At the time the community was a racial powder cave. This is what the Alexandria police chief told CNN's David Mattingly when Munson was initially arrested.

CHIEF DARREN COUTEE, ALEXANDRIA POLICE DEPT.: Obviously more of a prank than anything else. We think so anyway. But during this kind of an atmosphere, of course, pranks like that don't go over very well.

CALLEBS: The chief says now he's pleased the feds acted. Federal authorities say Munson conspired to threaten and intimidate African American marchers. The Reverend Al Sharpton commended authorities saying, "I hope this is a signal that the Justice Department will now take the hangman's nooses more seriously. If they had prosecuted the white students that hung the nooses in Jena, we may never have had to raise the national outcry."


CALLEBS: He's talking about an incident at Jena High School. Three students hung nooses from a tree escalating racial tensions that culminated with six black students beating a white student Justin Barker (ph) so severely he was briefly hospitalized. The six African American students were initially charged with attempted murder though charges were later reduced. The white teens that hung the nooses were not charged rather punished by school administrators. That begs the question why does the full weight of the Justice Department come down on Munson, but not on the students? One simple reason, age. Munson is 18, an adult. The students were juveniles. Listen to what U.S. Attorney Donald Washington told lawmakers back in October.

DONALD WASHINGTON, U.S. ATTORNEY: Although the conduct is deeply disturbing and offensive, we decline to pursue charges after learning that the nooses had been hung by juveniles.

CALLEBS: Washington defends the action of his office saying it was made in accordance with long-standing policy.

(on camera): Here's a copy of the indictment. It details how Munson tied the nooses to the back of his truck, then allegedly drove by the marchers. Now he faces not only a hate crime, but also violating the marcher's civil rights. The U.S. attorney in the case says, if convicted, Munson face a year in prison for the hate crime, up to 10 years in prison for violating the marchers' civil rights.

Sean Callebs, CNN, New Orleans.


HARRIS: So how about this? The Screen Actors Guild gets a pass from striking writers and is ready to put on the glitz. We're off to Los Angeles, next.


HARRIS: OK. Hollywood writers' strike, private deals with two more studios. Lionsgate and Marvel are set to be up and running here pretty soon. The Guild says, the contracts are similar to those made with other small studios like David Letterman's Worldwide Pants. The pressure is now on to end the strike before next month's Academy Awards show. The writers' strike took the shine off of this year's Golden Globes, that's for sure. But the Screen Actors Guild scored a pass and is ready to put on the glitz. Our entertainment correspondent, Kareen Wynter, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

Kareen, good to see you. How are the preparations coming along? There you are.


Well, the stage is almost set for this Sunday's S.A.G. Awards. Quite a production going on in here. And before we get to all that, we want to get to Galina Espinoza from "People Magazine."

You look lovely.


WYNTER: Thanks for joining us this morning. Now, where we're standing -- and this is so exciting, this is where the official after- party will be, after the S.A.G.'s.

ESPINOZA: And this is a party that we've been throwing for the last four years with the Entertainment Industry Foundation, partnered with "People Magazine." This year's theme is going to be old time Hollywood glamour.

WYNTER: And you just have to look up to see it.

ESPINOZA: It's amazing. It's such a sophisticated, smoky vibe. And I think that what's going to really make it special is that in tribute of the S.A.G's 75th anniversary, we're actually going to have video screens all around the tent and they're going to be flashing images of movie stars through the decades. So I think that's going to be very special.

WYNTER: Fabulous.

ESPINOZA: And I can just imagine people gathered around the screens kind of looking at who is going to come up.

WYNTER: And it just smells lovely in here.

ESPINOZA: Doesn't it?

WYNTER: For this grand affair you actually shipped in more than 100,000 white roses?

ESPINOZA: We did. From Ecuador and then they flew in to San Francisco and came down from via truck yesterday from San Francisco. With the weather they were actually delayed a couple of hours because there were accidents on the freeway, there was a lot of stress and panic over whether they were going to get here in time. But as you can see, the roses are here and now the crew is busily assembling them.

WYNTER: I'm just sure that they'll get everything ready by Sunday. They worked all through the night, correct?

ESPINOZA: It always comes down to the wire. And everyday you come to the tent and you think, are they making enough progress? But you know what, the show does always go on. So we're not too worried.

WYNTER: And let's talk quickly about the S.A.G awards. This may be the only big awards show this season. You saw what happened to the Golden Globes. So, Hollywood is buzzing, everyone is all pumped up. We finally get to see the stars in their pretty dresses.

ESPINOZA: We do. I think it's going to be a fantastic red carpet because you've got some of the most glamorous women in Hollywood. Everyone is turning out for this event. You've got Kate Hudson, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale, the three great Kate's. You've got Angelina Jolie, nominated for "A Mighty Heart." She always knows how to work a red carpet gown. And then you've got some big TV starts like Debra Messing, Ellen Pompeo, who always love wearing the great designer dresses. So I think that this is truly going to be a quite a fashion show. WYNTER: A tough question I know, but who are you looking forward to see?

ESPINOZA: Oh, gosh, I would have to say George Clooney, just because he is the ultimate leading man in Hollywood. So I think that he always brings a touch of class wherever he goes.

WYNTER: Fantastic. We can't wait. Thank you, Galina. And we'll send it back to you guys.

HARRIS: All right. And you know what, Kareen, I don't know if you can hear me, I understand you may have some IFB issues. But the great thing about this is that the show is on our sister networks, TNT and TBS. Sunday night, 8:00.

WYNTER: Absolutely. Absolutely. So you know if you don't catch it on TNT, you can catch it on TBS.

HARRIS: Outstanding. Kareen, great to see you. Thank you.

NGUYEN: I just want some flowers like that.

HARRIS: Yes, they're beautiful aren't they?

NGUYEN: Yes, aren't those gorgeous.

All right, well Hershey's is stopping production of a certain mint. Yes, there is criticism the candy resembles drugs sold on the streets. Ice Breakers Pacs, as they're called, were introduced back in November. But the candy maker was criticized because the candy came in dissolvable pouches the size of a nickel, making them look too much like tiny bags of illegal drugs. Take a look. Some comparison. Well Hershey's agreed to pull the candy after narcotics officers in Philadelphia said a child could confuse a bag of cocaine with the candy.

HARRIS: You know what, my backyard snowman will never seem the same. Snow sculptures taken to a whole new level.


ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Time now to take a look at your cold and flu report. Some red showing up on the map. That's not a good thing. If you live in Texas, Colorado, New York, they are reporting wide-spread cold and flu activity. So folks there not feeling too hot. We are getting now into the height of the flu season.

California, Arizona, not too shabby either. Pennsylvania, Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts reporting regional flu outbreaks.

I'm Rob Marciano. Hope you're feeling well today. The CNN NEWSROOM will be right back.



HARRIS: "YOUR WORLD TODAY" coming up, top of the hour. About 13 minutes or so from right now. Isha Sesay standing by the with the preview.

Isha, good morning.


We have a very busy show at the top of the hour. We'll have live report from Egypt and Gaza where things are tensing up at the border between those two countries. Thousands of Palestinians have been pouring into Egypt for the past two days. After parts of the border were ripped down. Now another section of the border has seen bust wide open. Meanwhile, Egyptian security forces appear to be trying to gain some sort of control of the situation. They've been rolling out barbed wire, using cattle prods and water cannons. We will have a status report for you.

And we'll also be taking you to the snowy Swiss Alps. Many of the world's movers and shakers are in Davos. Our very own Richard Quest is rubbing shoulders with them. Caught up with Bono who you see there, along with business pioneers Bill Gates and Michael Dell, to get the lowdown on the next phase of the RED campaign. It's a great interview. You will want to stay tuned for that.

Plus, this lady is back in the news headlines. Amy Winehouse there in happier times. Earlier in the week, a video of the singer apparently smoking what looked like a crack pipe emerged. Now she's off to rehab. We'll get a closer look at the life and times of this talented, but very troubled young lady.

That's all at the top of the hour. It's a jam-packed show. You're not going to want to miss it.

HARRIS: Wow. That's a big show, Isha.

SESAY: It is a big show.

HARRIS: Yes, we'll be there. Thanks.

SESAY: OK. Back to you.

NGUYEN: Well you can call it the power of just one. Yes, one trader is accused of swinging the fortune of an entire company and perhaps the world economy. Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange with details on this one.

Hey, there, Susan.


This really reads like some sort of best-seller, kind of --

NGUYEN: Movie. LISOVICZ: -- Yes -- book here. But it is sadly all too real. A junior employee, Betty, at a French banking giant is accused of making more than $7 billion in disastrous bets. And the effects of these bets were felt not just in France, but across Europe and beyond. The bank is Societe Generale, the second biggest bank in France, and it found out about the unauthorized trades last Saturday, quickly began unwinding the positions. The bank admits it did this as quickly as possible, completing the last transaction on Wednesday before going public with what had happened --Betty.

NGUYEN: All right. OK. So lets look at this time frame. Sounds like it coincides with some very volatile trading right here in the U.S.

LISOVICZ: Absolutely. And that's what everybody is talking about. The coincidence hasn't gone unnoticed, Betty. The trader by the way, I believe we just showed him, 31-year-old Jerome Kerviel. Societe Generale says he regularly started exceeding his trading limits, without detection, starting as early as 2006. He concealed his moves by balancing the trades with fictitious trades.

The $7 billion fraud, ultimate fraud, considered to be the biggest loss associated with one trader, even exceeding the damage done by rogue trader, Nicholas Leeson, who lost about $1.4 billion at Barings Bank in 1995. And that damage actually bankrupted the 233- year-old British bank. So, the damage was just devastating, Betty.

NGUYEN: Yes, and the European markets, they plunged on Monday. The Fed issued its historic emergency rate cut soon after. Was the Fed duped by this rogue trader, too?

LISOVICZ: Well, that is a legitimate question, Betty. I mean, let's face it, the Fed had plenty of reasons to cut interest rates on Tuesday. But one NYSE trader, for instance, in today's "News Note" said that rumors started circulating over the weekend about massive losses at a large European bank, which contributed to Monday's panicked selling overseas. And remember, the Fed stepped in just before the opening bell Tuesday. And it looks like it was going to be another terrible day. And it had been a terrible day overseas.

"Reuters" is quoting a Fed official as saying it didn't know anything about the problems at Societe Generale. The big question of course is, whether the Fed actually feels it's done enough and will cut interest rates yet again next week.

Turning quickly to today's action, stocks initially rallied on strong earnings from Microsoft, Caterpillar and Honeywell. But the market has retreated. Well, we've got a mixed session going into the noon hour. Checking the numbers. The Dow is down eight points. The Nasdaq hanging in there with those nice earnings from Microsoft, up 6 1/2. And we've got at least four hours of trading to go. So you know it can switch back and forth all day.

NGUYEN: I know. Well, it started out in positive territory. Now we've dipped back down. We'll see how it ends. Thank you, Susan.

LISOVICZ: You're welcome.

HARRIS: We want to show you these pictures that we're getting out of Los Angeles right now. Pretty dramatic stuff. Live pictures from our affiliate there, KTLA. We've been telling the story over the last couple of days and Ron's been all over this. That storm, this massive winter storm, just off the coast of California. But it's been sitting there spinning and just spinning all kinds of rain and the higher elevation snow, into California.

Rain right now in California. A bit of a break yesterday. But the rain has returned today. And we're talking about, for example, 2 1/2 inches of rain at the Long Beach airport, downtown Los Angeles has received 2 1/2 inches of rain, as well. Seven inches of rain near Santa Barbara. Some flooding, obviously, on local streets. Basements as you -- as you would imagine, also wet from all the rain right now. So just want to show you these pictures and keep an eye on the situation and what our friends in the California area are going through right now. A lot of rain right now so be careful. And we understand there is a flood -- flash flood warning still in effect in Los Angeles. So be very careful out there.

NGUYEN: That's amazing to see. Because that's a residential street right there. You can see homes all around and cars just submerged. We're going to be watching this story as it plays out and bring you the latest.

In the meantime, though, a ring, a beach and a mystery. Solved, though, after 20 years. We'll tie all of this together for you.


NGUYEN: Got to see this. Works of art that will send a shiver up your spine. Check it out. Snow sculptures, the massive creations, are all part of a snow sculpting championship in Breckenridge, Colorado. Now artists from all over the world take part in the annual event. They must carve 20-ton, 12-foot blocks of snow using only hand tools. The winner will be announced this weekend.

HARRIS: Hey, you ever wanted a snow day, but the weather just wouldn't cooperate with you? Well an Oregon fourth grader solved the problem. He built his very own backyard blizzard.

Susan Hardin of affiliate KATU.



SUSAN HARDIN, KATU REPORTER: Forest Pearson didn't rely on any forecast...

PEARSON: It's amazing.

HARDIN: ... didn't just dream of a white wonderland. This fourth grader built his own backyard blizzard with his Christmas present, a 30 gallon air compressor.

PEARSON: The washer comes through these two sprayers.

HARDIN: A pressure washer and a lot of research.

PEARSON: It splits up the water into really small tiny droplets.

HARDIN: The nozzle shoots out a perfect powder.

PEARSON: We can shovel it down to the grass and it grows right back up, just like a weed that you can't cut down.

ELIZABETH PEARSON, FOREST'S MOTHER: If you increase that volume you can have twice the volume of snow.

HARDIN: In one night, his machine builds three feet of snow and all day Forest is here, with his two curious pups enjoying his own personal snow day.

PEARSON: The snow is awesome.

HARDIN: He may find it head spinning, but his mom and teachers understand. This is science.

E. PEARSON: He's watching a molecular process happen here. He's creating a climatic event, you know. It's incredible.

HARDIN: His snow dream started three years ago when he froze ice cubes for an ice track.

E. PEARSON: And I didn't know -- what in the world are you doing?

HARDIN: This year, mom understands.

E. PEARSON: We're past toys. We're into air compressors and spray nozzles.

HARDIN (on-camera): If you think this three-foot berm is a lot, just wait until next year. Forest plans to double its size.

(voice-over): All he needs is a bigger pressure washer.

F. PEARSON: So that means like almost six feet of snow in one night.

HARDIN: And while this is science, Forest admits --

F. PEARSON: It's a lot of fun and it's fun to have people over and let them enjoy it, too.


NGUYEN: He is one cool kid.

HARRIS: You think so? NGUYEN: Yes.

HARRIS: You don't think he's getting smacked around at school?

NGUYEN: No. He's going to be the most popular kid in school, what are you talking about?

HARRIS: Sorry about that.

All right. One more story for you. A high school ring found from California, a beach in Italy and a Missouri man's mystery solved after 20 years. Look at this. This is the ring right here. Brian Schiff lost it in the 80's. But it's coming home. Someone found it on a beach in Italy. Schiff was skeptical when he first heard about it.


BRIAN SCHIFF, LOST RING RETURNED: There were too many coincidences. And then when I saw the actual photograph of the ring, I had actually forgotten that a had a little -- a skier carved out on the side, because I liked snow skiing. When I saw it, I about welled up inside. I thought, oh my gosh, that' my class ring. I can't believe it.


HARRIS: OK. And the weird part, Schiff said he had never been to Italy before losing the ring.

NGUYEN: Amazing. All right. CNN NEWSROOM continues one hour from now.

HARRIS: And "YOUR WORLD TODAY" is next with news happening across the globe and here at home.

I'm Tony Harris.

NGUYEN: And I'm Betty Nguyen. See you tomorrow.