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Exodus From Libya; Existing Home Sales Up; Christchurch after the Quake; Gadhafi's Odd Moments; Hot Off the Political Ticker; Protection Against Scams

Aired February 23, 2011 - 11:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX: Thanks, Kyra. Live from Studio 7, I'm Suzanne Malveaux. Let's get you caught up to speed this February 23rd. Libyans are gathering in major cities today for a day of rage, a call to protest announced on Facebook.

This is the scene in eastern Libya, which is controlled by protesters. It is much different in Tripoli, the capital. Moammar Gadhafi has reportedly sent out death squads to hunt down protesters door to door, and countries are scrambling to get their citizens out of Libya. The United States is ferrying Americans to Malta today. That's an island that's just south of Italy. The State Department says Libya would not allow the U.S. to land charter flights for the evacuations.

And two Libyan air force pilots have deliberately crashed their fighter jet in the desert. A Libyan newspaper report on its Web site that the crew refused orders to bomb protesters in the city of Benghazi. The Web site says the pilots parachuted to safety.

And protesters smashed posters of Moammar Gadhafi a couple nights ago in Tripoli, but such a scene would be doubtful today. That is because witnesses say a sense of terror grips the city with Gadhafi supporters hunting down protesters with machetes. One Libyan had a defiant challenge for Gadhafi when he spoke with CNN.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want to use a bad word, but this animal that we don't -- we are united. And (INAUDIBLE) to tell him that I'm not afraid of you. There is nothing you can do to me. I am proud. I am a free man now. At last I'm a free man.


MALVEAUX: Protesters in Yemen return to the streets today following a deadly night of violence. An opposition lawmakers says that government loyalists opened fire on a crowd at Sana'a University. Two protesters were killed.

And this, a mother's joy in Bahrain. King Hamad frees 25 political prisoners. This gesture follows Bahrain's biggest protest yet. And 100,000 people jammed Bahrain's streets on Tuesday. King Hamad flew to Saudi Arabia today for talks on the unrest that has shaken the monarchy.

And in New Zealand, 75 people are now confirmed dead, 300 are missing in the chaos in the wreckage of the earthquake. There was applause, however, as rescue workers pulled dozens of people from collapsed buildings. Office worker Ann Bodkan Allen (ph) spent a day trapped under her desk.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the midst of what is by and large one of the bleakest days in the story of our city, the sun came out at the same moment as they removed Ann from that building. And we actually -- you might have seen the guys down there laugh because somebody made the comment that they got Ann out of the building, and so God turned on the lights.


MALVEAUX: You can check on friends or loved ones in New Zealand on the Internet. Google has set up a crisis response page like it did following Haiti's earthquake. The link is quite long. The easiest way to find the site is to search Google for the phrase "Christchurch person finder."

And rallies to support union workers are set for five states today. So you're talking about Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Georgia. The Reverend Jesse Jackson, he's going to rally union workers in Ohio. He did the same in Wisconsin yesterday. Public workers in both states are protesting plans to severely restrict their collective bargaining rights.

And President Obama says he couldn't be prouder to be a Chicagoan. His former chief of staff -- that's right, Rahm Emanuel -- will be the city's next mayor. Emanuel beat out five challengers with 55 percent of the vote, easily avoiding a runoff.

And actress Lindsay Lohan returns to a Los Angeles courtroom this hour. A judge may revoke Lohan's probation for a drunk driving conviction. He called today's hearing after police charged Lohan with shoplifting. Now, this is her eighth court appearance in nine months.

And here's your chance to "Talk Back" on one of the big stories of the day. Libya's defiant leader, Moammar Gadhafi, inspires this question for you.

Our Carol Costello, she joins us from D.C.

And Carol, you know, they call him "Mad Dog." I know there are a lot of other words for him, but what do we know about this guy?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, you're right, Suzanne, there are other words for him, like "delusional," "paranoid," "misogynist," and "completely insane," all words used to describe Libya's leader, Moammar Gadhafi. After his rambling 90-minute speech, it's easy to understand why so many think Gadhafi is daffy.


MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER (through translator): Our PG rocket launchers have been provided to Benghazi by the Americans. They have just confused them. They have made them dizzy. They offer them those hallucination pills in order to use them.


COSTELLO: I'll throw in this picture for you, too. There is Gadhafi with an umbrella, telling his people he did not leave Libya in the midst of a violent rebellion against his rule.

All of this would produce a chuckle, except Gadhafi is now accused of slaughtering his own people, and he's sitting on two percent of the world's oil supply. In fact, there are reports Gadhafi has ordered security forces to blow up Libya's oil pipelines. And boy, would that send a jolt to the world's oil markets.

And you know what that means. Gas prices here in the United States could become intolerable. So what to do?

President Obama has so far condemned the violence in Libya in a written statement, but that's not forceful enough for Sarah Palin, who says, "Gadhafi is a brutal killer, and Libya, not to mention the world, would be better off if he were out of power."

So, "Talk Back" today: Who should stop Moammar Gadhafi? Send your comments to my Facebook page, And I'll read some of your comments later on in the hour -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Excellent question.

Carol, I understand that that shot with the umbrella, he said he wasn't going to talk to the people because it was raining outside. He just couldn't make it.

COSTELLO: He didn't want to get his hair wet, I guess.


COSTELLO: He's a very strange man. But some say he's crazy like a fox. So it will be interesting to see what our viewers have to say.

MALVEAUX: All right. Good deal, Carol. Thanks.

Here is what's ahead "On the Rundown."

A rush to get out of Libya. We're going to go live to Malta. That is where American evacuees are headed.

And a suspended basketball coach is accused of hurting a player during practice. Now the coach faces a criminal complaint.

And a high school wrestler had a chance at a state title, but he gave it all up because of a girl. Hear his story, and it's not quite what you might think.

And a hot topic on the Web. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants to shut down brothels in his home state of Nevada.

And of course this, the favorite of the crowd, "Choose the News." You're going to get a chance to pick the story that you actually want to see here on CNN.


MALVEAUX: Exodus from Libya. People are fleeing by land, air, sea, after Moammar Gadhafi's announcement that he will fight to his last drop of blood to crush the uprising against him. Now, right now, a chartered ferry is taking hundreds of Americans from Libya to the Mediterranean island of Malta. That is where our Diana Magnay is.

And Diana, if you could, explain to us, how is this evacuation working? What are you seeing?


Well, so far, those U.S. citizens haven't left Tripoli. The catamaran that they are on which can hold a maximum of 600 people, so not really that many, was due to leave two hours ago. And according to the U.S. Embassy here, they're still boarding. And they were meant to arrive about seven hours ago at the port to get the whole process going. So it really is taking an extremely long time.

And even though it's only under 200 kilometers from Tripoli to Malta, it's probably going to take them between seven and nine hours to make the crossing. So those 600 are going to be arriving here really in the very early hours of tomorrow morning.

When they get here, there is going to be a travel desk set up so that they can basically make their own arrangements to get from Malta back to the U.S., or wherever it is that they want to go. And of course there will be refreshments and those kinds of things there.

But essentially, when they arrive in Malta, they're going to have to make their own way back. They will be assisted by embassy staff to make travel arrangements and to book hotels in Malta for this evening -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And Diana, who are these people? Who are these Americans who actually were in Libya?

MAGNAY: Well, there are a lot of them who are contractors working for U.S. firms, some -- particularly oil firms in Libya. Some of them -- there are meant to be about 600 just U.S. nationals in Libya, and then thousands more of joint U.S./Libyan nationality. But it's those 600 who are being sort of -- the sick essentially is being darted (ph) for initially. And we know that the sick are going to be first who are able to board, but it will be on a first come/first serve basis for those people who are trying to get out -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And it may be a hard question to answer, but do we have a sense of what their emotional state is? Are they panicked? Are they frustrated? Are they upset? Are they just determined to get out of there?

MAGNAY: Well, I do have a sense of that, because we've been talking to foreign nationals coming into the airport in Rome, in Paris, all around Europe. People have been crying. People have been extremely upset.

We know that conditions at the airport are incredibly chaotic. It has been taking people two days to get the requisite exit visas. There is an incredible amount of bureaucracy that Libyan authorities are still implementing at the airport.

And this catamaran is being chartered, effectively, because U.S. officials can't get air space, they can't get any flights to land into Tripoli. And so that's why they're chartering this plane. So there must be huge amount of anxiety of people who really are trying to get out and haven't been able to over the last few days -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: OK. Diana Magnay, thank you so much. Appreciate it.


MALVEAUX: The Dow loses ground, but home sales rise unexpectedly. We are going to ask what is happening here. Our Alison Kosik, she's got "The Bottom Line."

And a Toronto radio station is banning his artist's music for life over a hockey feud. Our "Most Intriguing Person."


MALVEAUX: Well, they take their hockey very seriously in Canada. A radio station in Toronto is banning Carrie Underwood's music forever after the singer's husband, Mike Fisher, was traded from the Ottawa Senators to the Nashville Predators this week. Fisher says Underwood had nothing to do with the trade, and it is wrong for the station to take it out on her.

I sense a fight brewing. Carrie Underwood, she is our "Most Intriguing Person of the Day."

Now I want to go to's lead story.

Oil prices rose another two percent today, keeping a close eye on the Libya turmoil. Also, a check of the markets as well. The Dow Jones down about 35 points or so. Just keeping a close eye as the turmoil continues in Libya and how that will affect the oil prices.

The latest numbers are out also on existing home sales. They are unexpected.

Alison Kosik, she has got "The Bottom Line" from the New York Stock Exchange.

Alison, we didn't think this was going to happen. ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And finally some good news about the housing market, Suzanne.

We found out that sales of previously owned homes jumped 2.7 percent in January. Analysts had actually expected a drop, so this is good news, especially since winter is not considered a prime time where people get out there and house hunt.

So, if you look at the good news, sales compared to last year are up this year. But the fact remains that people are still nervous to buy homes. Millions of people are out of work. Also, we still have tight lending standards. It's not so easy to get a loan these days -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Alison, you know, I'm looking for a home, I know a lot of other folks looking for a home. How are the prices?

KOSIK: Well, you know what? Prices are lower, and that's probably why we saw sales increase.

If you look at prices overall, they are hitting the lowest level in nine years. The median price of a previously owned home is now just below $159,000. Last year, it was at $165,000. So we've yet to hit bottom in the housing market, and that's something we really need to do, because once we do hit bottom, we can then we can see a stronger recovery in the housing market -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right. I'm looking to buy, Alison, so I'm going to be following your reports closely.

KOSIK: Now could be the time. The price is yours.

MALVEAUX: All right. Great. Thanks, Alison.

Well, now it is our favorite segment, "Choose the News." We're going to tell you about three stories, and you vote text message for the one that you want to see in detail next hour, and we will air it for you.

Now, here are the choices for today.

In Afghanistan, outrage over the government's plans to take over women's shelters. Some say it's going to be like living under the Taliban for these victims of domestic violence.

Also, it looks, sounds, feels like a war zone. It's the arms bazaar in Abu Dhabi, the largest weapons show in the Middle East and Africa.

And in California, women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan find themselves homeless, sometimes with kids, and not many options.

So vote. All you have got to do is text 22360. Vote 1 for Afghanistan women's shelters; vote 2 for Abu Dhabi arms bazaar; or 3 for homeless women veterans. And the winning story is going to air in the next hour. So text. The news coming out of Christchurch, New Zealand, it is heartbreaking. But in the wake of this massive earthquake, we are hearing some incredible stories of survival.


MALVEAUX: Here's what's ahead "On the Rundown."

A frantic search for survivors after the massive earthquake in New Zealand. Amid the rubble, there are some rays of hope. In these tough times, it is easy to get caught off guard by scam artists, but we have got the tips on how to protect yourself.

Also, a hot topic on the Web. A new study says that your cell phone may boost your brain activity.

And in our next hour, public labor unions under attack as states try to balance their budgets. What would it look like if there were no unions? We're going to break that down for you.

Answering the call for a "Day of Rage" in Libya, protesters are turning out in several cities to demand Moammar Gadhafi step down after 42 years in power. This is the scene in the eastern city of Tobruk, which is controlled by the protesters now.

A Libyan newspaper reports that pilots deliberately crashed a military jet rather than follow orders to bomb Benghazi. That's another eastern city under protesters' control.

And Moammar Gadhafi has warned he will die fighting rather than give up power. He has called on supporters to attack the protesters.

For more perspective on this crisis, I want to turn to Egyptian journalist, award-winning columnist, Mona Eltahawy, who is in New York.

Mona, if you can, give us a sense of how Libya is different than, say, what we have seen in these other countries like Tunisia and Egypt.

MONA ELTAHAWY, EGYPTIAN JOURNALIST: Well, Suzanne, what we saw in Tunisia basically was this breaking down of the door of fear. It showed us that we can topple a dictator. Egypt was showing how we can topple a very entrenched dictator who was one of America's best friends in the region.

Where Libya is different is that Moammar Gadhafi has unleashed this horror on Libyans, but yet they still come. So what I think he is teaching other dictators is that even when you do unleash this terrible violence, hundreds of people killed in seven days, they will continue to fight for freedom. And it's telling people in the region that that freedom is worth it. And Libyans are inspiring everybody watching right now.

MALVEAUX: And we have seen pictures of Egyptians actually leaving Libya. And I guess they are working there as well. What is the relationship between Egyptians and the Libyans?

ELTAHAWY: Well, Egyptians, you know, in the same way that other migrant workers have been going to Libya, because Libya has tremendous oil wealth, it's oil wealth that Moammar Gadhafi has basically squandered and denied to his people. But he does host a large number of migrant workers and often treats them very badly. I mean, we've heard over the past few years how terribly Egyptian, as well as other migrant workers and other undocumented workers have been treated in Libya.

The worry for Egyptian workers now is that Gadhafi himself and his son, Seif al-Islam, have both implicated, obviously bogusly (ph), both Egyptians and Tunisians in Libya of trying to kind of bring their revolution to Libya. And so Egyptians are kind of trying to rush out because they are worried that their lives also will be in danger, as well as just the general danger of being there during this awful bombardment.

MALVEAUX: And Mona, what can the United States do? What can countries outside of Libya do considering that this is such a closed society and a closed country?

ELTAHAWY: Well, the United States and Europe are quite different with their relationship with Libya, but what I want from the United States is a really strong position from President Obama.

I mean, Gadhafi isn't a great friend of the United States. So why isn't President Obama stepping out and saying step down now?

We heard John Kerry saying that Gadhafi is irredeemable. He absolutely is. He's been in power for 42 years. What more proof do people want? And this slaughter of his people must end.

When it comes to the Europeans and multinational companies and, in the U.S., lobbyists for Libya, it's shameful that they continue to have business relationships with a country that is slaughtering its people. It's shameful that, as we heard earlier, there is an arms fair in Abu Dhabi that is basically stocking up weapons for dictators in the region who want to basically slaughter anyone fighting in the way that Gadhafi is.

MALVEAUX: Mona, aside from tough talk from the Obama administration, is there something that Americans can do, the United States, to actually impact what is taking place in that country?

ELTAHAWY: I think beside the moral stand and the outrage, I think the United States and every other country must push for some kind of no-fly zone over Libya so that Gadhafi doesn't continue to use his air force against unarmed pro-democracy protesters, and also to prevent any mercenaries being flown in. Because we hear of a lot of mercenaries being used to fight Libyans.

There's a lot the world can do. Britain and France suspended their arms licenses to Libya. It's shameful that all of these countries knowing what a dictator Gadhafi is have been selling weapons to him. So there's a lot besides just speaking out.

Protect Libyan people today. That is the most urgent thing.

MALVEAUX: All right. Mona Eltahawy, thank you so much for your time.

Christchurch, New Zealand, is in ruins now. Seventy-five people are confirmed dead after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. Hundreds more are missing beneath the rubble. But out of the dust and debris, we are seeing some signs of hope.

Ann Allen took cover under her desk when the quake hit and after more than 24 hours of digging in the city's central business district, rescue workers pulled her out of the rubble and into the arms of her husband.

Other amazing stories are coming out of the tragedy. I want you to listen to this call this man received from his wife who was still trapped under the debris.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. She's in -- she's in the classroom. Are you in the classroom? People are doing everything to save you. Who can I talk to?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Talk to the fireman.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Talk to the fireman. Come with me.


MALVEAUX: Want to bring in our Reynolds Wolf to talk about the sheer scale of destruction. I mean it's unbelievable when you take a look at those pictures and the people's stories of being stuck underneath there for hours and hours before getting out. REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's truly mind-numbing. But I have to be honest with you, seeing this kind of activity in this part of the world really isn't a big surprise. This is part of the pacific ring of fire. We have a lot of tectonic activity, and I can tell you that it is very possible you can see more aftershocks, more tremors once again.

This is a shot that we have with Google Earth of Christchurch. And the other side of this range of hills is where the actual quake took place but still it was close enough to cause plenty of damage.

Let's go right into the city and as we do so, we're going to show you just one particular city corner and give you an idea of how things looked before and after. Well, this is the artist's rendering that we have and this is the actual image. This is right on the corner of High Street and Tall Street.

And then as we make the change, you're going to notice how it is there, and this is -- this is how it looks at this point. You can see the dome of that cathedral over on the side street. Just rubble everywhere.

This is what people are working through trying to find survivors. And an impossible task.

This is one deal we have in this corner. Let's go down the street just a little bit now. So as we do go down the street, give you a little more of a perspective, leaving the cathedral to show you some of the side shots. Many of these places burial -- some of the buildings over 100 years old.

That's the before, the next shot is how is going to show you how it looks today. Hard to believe. Just amazing. There are some countries around the world that have buildings that are well designed to handle these kind of aftershocks, these kind of quakes. This is certainly not the situation here. And the problem that you have with these buildings are in a weakened state, with people trying to go into the wreckage, trying to find survivors, there is the very real risk that they could have additional tremors, additional quakes, and then you could see more of this fall trapping other people.

So a very precarious moment right now in this part of the world. Certainly our hearts go out to these folks, and certainly wish them the very best. But that's reality.

MALVEAUX: That's just rubble, it's unbelievable when you see those pictures.

WOLF: It is. A complete transformation.

MALVEAUX: Thank you, Reynolds.

Well, our iReporters, they're sending in valuable reporting from the scene. I want you to take a look at this cell phone video. This is what we just received. Two buses in Christchurch crushed like soda cans by these falling buildings.

And if you're watching this story develop and are moved to help in any way, log on to

And a reminder about your chance to choose the news. You vote by texting 22360. Vote one for outrage surfacing over the Afghan government's plan to run women's shelters. Vote two for the largest weapons show in Africa and the Middle East. Or vote three for the story about women who've served in Iraq and Afghanistan who are now homeless and struggling.

The winning story will air in the next hour.

Well, learning a lesson the hard way. These two guys, they try a trick on the monkey bars. Doesn't quite work out the way they had hoped. But we're going to show it to you that coming back in "Our Guilty Pleasure".

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MALVEAUX: These are videos you just can't turn away from, although this one kind of hurts a little bit, OK. Check out today's "Guilty Pleasure."




MALVEAUX: Two boys learning the hard way. It's best probably not to try that trick on the monkey bars. They were trying to do a 360 but it didn't quite work out that way. Well, some egos were bruised. No reports of serious injuries. Good for them.

Speaking of egos, some would argue that one of the world's biggest egomaniac is Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi who's rather kill his own people than give up power. He has been referred to as Gadhafi the clown among other things. And our Jeanne Moos shows us some of his rather odd moments.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You could kiss him but you couldn't kiss him good-bye, not yet. Moammar Gadhafi gave one of his trademark fist pumping, finger pointing speeches, adjusting his hat, tossing around his robes. He spoke for an hour and 15 minutes and blamed much of the rioting on youths.

Lest you think you are hallucinating, he kept repeating the hallucinogenic --

MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER: From the pills they are taking.

MOOS: As he rambled on, waiters came along not once but twice bringing him refreshments. He finished with a final fist pump --

GADHAFI: Forward, revolution.

MOOS: And a supporter rushed forward to bestow a kiss on the Libyan leader.

It was a speech as long as his odd appearance Monday was short.

GADHAFI (Through translator): Don't believe those dogs in the media.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're looking like --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Marry Poppins with the umbrella.

MOOS: Gadhafi is it a magnet for ridicule.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And live from New York. MOOS: For his look, for his traveling tent, for the female bodyguards who always accompany him. Stephen Colbert imagined them protecting Gadhafi from protesters.

STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Choreographed waves of 6- foot tall Libyan amazons spin kicking protesters in the jaw. It will be like a Janet Jackson video.

MOOS: After this 2009 speech at the U.N. when he ripped up the charter and tossed it, Conan O'Brien did a little translation revisitation.

GRAPHICS: For example, this Chinese restaurant menu says free eggroll with order, but then when my food arrived, there was no eggroll.

MOOS (on camera): We can't even agree how to spell the guy's name. Does it begin with a G, does it begin with a K, or a Q? Does it end with a Y or an I? The three cable news networks each spelled it differently.

It's a vintage "Saturday Night Live" joke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No two people spell it alike. Send us your spelling of Gadhafi. Now remember, it can't be the same as any of these spellings.

MOOS (voice-over): Many call him a mad man.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We believe that you are mad.

MOOS: Weird, yes, says Barbara Walters but --

BARBARA WALTERS, ABC NEWS: Did I think he was crazy? No.

MOOS (on camera): The oddest moment of Gadhafi's latest speech came before it even began when the cameras caught Libya's leader primping.

(Voice-over): That's the real Gadhafi, pondering, should I button my collar or leave it undone as his country comes undone.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


MALVEAUX: These revolutionary times may put Facebook in an awkward position in just a few years. And we're not talking about that Facebook.

Jay Leno has today's "Punch Line."


JAY LENO, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": In honor of the Egyptian revolution, a couple in Egypt have named their newborn daughter Facebook. Yes. Isn't that something?

Hope they don't start ignoring their son MySpace. You hate to see that happen.

And I'll tell you that's -- that's going to cause problems. When that girl turns 16 and all of the boys want to be on Facebook, that's going to cause a lot -- a lot of problems.


MALVEAUX: Actress Lindsay Lohan, she's back in courts at this hour. There is a chance she could be headed back to jail. Here's video of her arrival. Happened just minutes ago.

Today's hearing concerns a necklace that Lohan is accused of stealing from a jewelry store. Because she faces charges in that case, the judge is going to decide whether to revoke her probation on a 2007 drunk driving conviction.

Lohan says she is not guilty of stealing, and her lawyer says the actress would certainly welcome a no-jail plea deal.


NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Our establishment is sliding into policies of such disaster --


MALVEAUX: Well, a question and answer session gets personal for Newt Gingrich. Very personal.

Our Ed Henry has that story in our CNN "Political Ticker."


MALVEAUX: Well, we all know in politics there's no such thing as having a private life.

Ed Henry, part of the best political team on television, live from the political desk in Washington.

Sounds like Newt Gingrich had one of those moments where he couldn't keep private private.

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he couldn't. You're right, Suzanne.

He was at the University of Pennsylvania, and a student got up during this forum and we should point out the student is a Democratic activist who basically said to Newt Gingrich, how can you square the pro family values you espouse with the fact that you've been married three times, admitted to two extramarital affairs.

Gingrich obviously was -- how should we say? Maybe a little perturbed about this and sarcastically said that it was very generous of this person to bring this up and said, I hope you feel better about yourself. He though went on, Gingrich did, to acknowledge personal mistakes but said basically he doesn't believe that that's really going to matter to votes who are going to be thinking about the future, some of the big issues facing the country.

And what's significant about this incident beyond just that back and forth is that it does raise the question as to whether or not conservatives, grassroot conservatives will embrace Newt Gingrich because of some of the personal problems he did have in years past. So that's something to keep an eye on.

Meanwhile, another potential Republican contender, Rick Santorum, is comparing the pro-union protesters in Wisconsin to drug addicts. Santorum said this in South Carolina, an event with South Carolina Republicans. He basically said that the protesters are, quote, "acting like their drug is being taken away from them." And added that the people who support government entitlements are, quote, "no better than a drug dealer. They give you a subtle narcotic to make you feel better as you do worse."

Now this is the tenth time that Santorum has been in the critical state of South Carolina, an early primary state. He's also headed back to Iowa, another important state on the political calendar. So it'll be interesting to see whether or not this message sells with conservatives or not, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And, Ed, we've heard from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Libya, but we have not heard from the president. There are some who are asking, particularly those who are protesting, why such a muted response on these Libyan protests from the president.

HENRY: It's a good question, and I have to tell you, Jackson Diehl has a pretty strong column in today's "Washington Post" blasting the administration from the president on down saying they should have been more forceful early on, and that this is not a gray situation like in Egypt where you have a U.S. ally that complicates a situation. Instead, Libya has been essentially an outlaw state for a long time, modest diplomatic relations in years with the U.S., and Jackson Diehl's point was basically that the administration should be speaking out and telling Gadhafi more directly and forcefully to stop killing some of his own people.

And you're right, we have heard Secretary Clinton speak out, just yesterday, for example, but President Obama has not been public. It was last Friday, as I recall, that his spokesman, Jay Carney, read a statement but we haven't heard from the president directly. So you're going to see some more pressure undoubtedly on him to speak out, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: OK, we'll be keeping our eyes on that, whether or not he speaks, and obviously on the briefing coming up shortly. Thank you, Ed.

For the latest political news, you know where to go, And don't forget to "Choose the News." It's very simple, just text 22360 for the story that you want to see in detail in the next hour. So here are the choices: Vote 1 in you want to see what some think will happen in the Afghan government takes over women's shelters. Vote 2 if you want to see all of the weapons up for sale at the arms bizarre in Abu Dhabi. Or vote 3 for the story about homeless women veterans in California. The story with the most votes will air in the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM.

Whether it's online, over the phone or through the mail, there are a lot of different scams that are out there, but there are specific things that you can do to protect yourself.

Our Stephanie Elam, she is here. She joins us with today's top tips.

Stephanie, what do you have for us?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Suzanne. Trying to help people out here.

Let's start with the biggest one out there, identity theft. And the good news here is that Javelin Research is that research has found that the number of identity theft victims in the U.S. fell 28 percent to 8.1 million adults from 11 million in 2009.

But at the same time, consumers out of pocket cost to repair the identity theft jumped 63 percent from $387 in 2009 to $631 per incident in 2010.

So here's the question, what can you do. "Consumer Reports" says, no matter how urgent it sounds, don't respond to e-mails, phone calls or text messages asking for passwords or other personal info. Also, watch out for something called typo squatting where scammers set up fake websites using common misspellings of legit web addresses.

And get this, the Javelin Report Friendly fraud is on the rise. That means scams by people you actually know. And consumers between 25 and 34 are most likely to be victims of this with 41 percent -- 41 percent -- reporting that their Social Security number was stolen.

So if you feel like you've been a target of identity theft, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. You can go to or call their identity theft hotline at 877- 438-4338. There is the info right on the screen, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And, Stephanie, there are a lot of companies that are there to help people with bad credit. What do you need to know?

ELAM: You know, there's things called advanced fee loans, and you pay up front and then a company promises you a loan or credit card even if you have bad credit. But after you pay that fee, guess what? You never hear from the company again. It's a total scam.

So "Consumer Reports" says remember it's illegal for a company doing business by phone to promise a loan and require a fee before it's delivered. So if the company isn't interested in your credit history, if they ask for you to pay a fee up front, even if it's for insurance, processing or paperwork, most likely, Suzanne, it's a scam. So that's something you've got to keep in mind as well.

MALVEAUX: All right, Stephanie is going to be back with more ways to protect yourself. We're going to take a look at merchandise scams up next.


MALVEAUX: We are back with Stephanie Elam on how to spot scams, and I want to talk about merchandise fraud. If you think you've got a deal that's just too good to be true, you bought a camera or an appliance or something like that and you don't think you've got the real deal, what do you do, Stephanie?

ELAM: Yes. You know, everyone loves a bargain, right, Suzanne? But "Consumer Reports" says the common merchandise scam it goes like this.

So you snag a great price on a product online and then after you order it, you get a call or an e-mail trying to sell you other add- ons, which you refuse. Later, you're told the product you ordered is no longer in stock, and it just never arrives. Maybe it just never arrives and there's no message.

So before you buy, check out the company's rating and report with the Better Business Bureau. You can find it at In fact, your best bet is to shop online with a credit card since they are normally more safeguards there for fraudulent charges that you don't have with cash or a check. As for your debit card, there are often less protections, so check with your bank to see if you can dispute the charge at all.

But all in all, Suzanne, this is a case of just keeping your guard up all time. Shop with companies you know so that nothing happens and you don't get taken advantage of online.

MALVEAUX: All right, thank you, Stephanie.

Well, here is your chance to talk back on one of the big stories of the day, the unrest in Libya and the defiance of Libya's leader, Moammar Gadhafi, has a lot of you talking back, and our Carol Costello, she is joining us from Washington with some of your responses.

And, Carol, I know people have very strong feelings about this.

COSTELLO: They do. They do, Suzanne.

Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi vowing to die a martyr. Witnesses say there's a -- terror grips this country with Gadhafi supporters hunting down protesters with machetes.

So the "Talk Back" today -- who should stop Moammar Gadhafi? This from Traci, she says, "As hard as it is for those watching, Libyans must overthrow Gadhafi themselves. It is their country and they need the empowerment and pride that comes with taking your own country back."

This from Andrew, "This guy isn't just a problem to the United States, he's a threat to the whole world. Where's the U.N. Security Council."

This from Myst, she says, "The Libyan people are the ones who need to get rid of their own tyrant. We are not the world's police"

And this from Fevan, he says, "Maybe Sarah Palin should (do it)? She's as crazy as he is."

Please continue the conversation,,

I heard you trying hard not to laugh. That's from our viewers, not from us.

MALVEAUX: OK, as long as it's not from us, Carol, that's OK.

All right, thank you.

COSTELLO: I'll see you again at the top of the hour.

MALVEAUX: All right.

One of the most powerful men in Washington gets the silent treatment over brothels. It's one of our top trending stories online.


MALVEAUX: Less than an hour to go for you to "Choose the News." Vote by texting 22360 for the story you want to see in detail the next hour. Here are your choices -- vote 1 for Afghan women's shelters, vote 2 for Abu Dhabi arms bazaar, and vote 3 for homeless women veterans.

A Washington power player gets caught up in a brothel controversy. It is one of the trending stories online right now.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid asked lawmakers in his home state to outlaw prostitution.


SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I've talked to families who feel the same way. Parents who is don't want their children to look out a school bus and see a brothel, or to live in a state with the wrong kind of red lights.


MALVEAUX: But in Las Vegas, otherwise known as "Sin City," that idea, well, you can imagine, not going over very well. The owner of Moonlight Bunny Ranch, one of Nevada's largest brothels, is striking back. He says, quote, "Senator Reid will have to pry the cathouse keys from my cold, dead hands." He said that.

Another hot story online, cell phones and how they affect your brain. Well, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that cell phone use makes your brain cells more active. However, the study does not conclude whether that makes you think faster. But if you've ever been stuck behind someone driving, talking on a cell phone, you would probably say, yes, it probably does not.