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Oil Prices on the Rise; Arizona Sheriff Denies Threatening to Deport Ex-Boyfriend; Syrian Families Flee to Bunker; History's Best Presidents; Predicting "Lin-sanity"; Investing In Children

Aired February 20, 2012 - 12:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

I want to get you up to speed.

A gay Arizona sheriff is outed, resigns from a position with the Romney campaign. Well, now his ex-boyfriend speaking out. Sheriff Paul Babeu denies allegations that he threatened to have that man deported. The former boyfriend, identified only as "Jose," he's a 34- year-old Mexican national who says he is in this country legally.

He spoke to our own Miguel Marquez in this exclusive interview.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At some point you felt --


MARQUEZ: -- used and then threatened?

JOSE: Yes.

MARQUEZ: Why threatened?

JOSE: I got a text from him, directly on my phone, saying that I will never have business, that my family will be contacted.


MALVEAUX: In Washington State, an avalanche kills three skiers in the Cascade Mountains. Police say about 12 skiers got caught in a snow slide, but the other nine were able to dig themselves out. The sheriff's deputy tells us that one of those skiers survived because she used an avalanche rescue system which works like an airbag.

Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman have been meeting with Egyptian military leaders in Cairo today. They are trying to resolve the case of 19 American workers who face criminal charges in Egypt's crackdown on non-governmental organizations.

Now, the trial is set to begin on Sunday. Senators McCain and Graham joined us live just last hour with details on how those talks are going.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We have met with the Supreme Council and also the field marshal, Tantawi, who is the head of the provisional government, as you know, the speaker of the parliament. We met with the head of the Muslim Brotherhood and others, and we have emphasized the importance of this issue to the American people, the importance of it being resolved as quickly as possible.


MALVEAUX: This video from Syria said to show men rushing into a burning house to save a child. This is in the city of Homs. CNN can't confirm the authenticity of the video, but Syrian forces, they have launched 17 straight days of heavy shelling in that city. A rebel commander calls the uprising an "Orphan Revolution" because they don't have the international support that was given to other revolts in the region.

President Obama's main military adviser says it's premature to decide to help arm those rebels.

U.N. inspectors in Iran today for another round of nuclear talks. It comes as Iran cuts off oil exports to Britain and to France in retaliation for new sanctions. Well, Iran insists its nuclear program is for energy, medical research. Western nations believe the Iranians are trying to build a bomb.

The decision by Iran to cut off oil exports to Britain and to France, it's already causing oil prices to go up.

I want to bring in Alison Kosik. She's at the New York Stock Exchange.

Alison, this is obviously what folks are worried about. They are concerned.

Do we know why this is happening now? Is it related to what is taking place on the ground?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It really is related to that. And as you're talking about oil prices, sure, they are topping $105 a barrel today. They are reaching the highest level in nine months. And there are several factors at work here, but most of the focus really is what's happening in Iran, what you mentioned.

But the rise in prices is really more of a psychological effect and less of a supply issue, because we, here in the United States, we don't get any of our oil from Iran. France and Britain get very little of their oil from Iran. So it's more about the fear, meaning the trade -- of how oil is trading. It's more about the fear of what if Iran continues to squeeze supply?


MALVEAUX: And how would that impact gas prices? KOSIK: OK. So higher oil prices, no surprise, will mean higher gas prices. And some analysts say the national average could actually reach $4.25 by late April. Now, remember, the national average right now is sitting at $3.56 a gallon, and it's already $4 in two states, in California and Hawaii.

Now, if prices rise, as expected, you're probably going to see consumers pull back and drive less. And if that happens, prices could actually retreat again as demand slows down -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And overall, how would that affect the overall recovery? Are we looking at something that could have a huge impact here?

KOSIK: It could impact the economy. We spoke with one oil analyst, Peter Butel (ph). He told us that rising gas prices could actually stop the recovery that we're in the middle of right now. It could stop it altogether if prices get too high.

But you know what? It's not all bad news.

Rising oil prices, they're partly a reflection of a recovery that's actually picking up speed. You know, as oil prices have moved higher, so have stock prices.

You look at how the Dow is doing, it's up almost 6 percent for the year. The S&P 500 is up more than 8 percent. So portfolios are a little fatter. And sure, it may wind up blowing up your budget to pay an extra buck or two every time you fill up the tank, but prices going up could be a good thing if it's because the economy is getting stronger, that jobs are being created, and stock prices have rallied.

You know, the potential gaining from a strong stock market and a growing economy more than offset the damage to our wallets from rising gas prices. Ultimately, Suzanne, it's one of those real delicate balance kind of things -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right. Thank you, Alison.



MALVEAUX: A gay Arizona sheriff is outed and resigns from a position with the Romney campaign. Well, now his ex-boyfriend is speaking out. Sheriff Paul Babeu denies allegations that he threatened to have that man deported.

Our Miguel Marquez sat down for an exclusive TV interview with the former boyfriend. Here's Miguel's report.


SHERIFF PAUL BABEU, PINAL COUNTY, ARIZONA: All these allegations that were in on of these newspapers are absolutely, completely false.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): It's a Grand-Canyon-size political shocker. JOSE: We're out-manned. With all the illegals in America, more than half come through Arizona.

MARQUEZ: The tough on illegal immigration Arizona sheriff outed by his migrant ex-boyfriend.

BABEU: This is my personal, my private life, but now it's not so private any longer. And it's an awful position for me to be in.

MARQUEZ: He's in that position because of this man, Jose, a 34-year- old Mexican national afraid to be identified, but speaking out because he says he was threatened by his powerful ex-lover.

(on camera): And then at some point you felt --

JOSE: Yes.

MARQUEZ: -- used and then threatened?

JOSE: Yes.

MARQUEZ: Why threatened?

JOSE: I got a text from him, directly to my phone, saying that I will never have business, that my family will be contacted.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The alleged threat to have Jose deported if he went public with the affair.

BABEU: At no time did I or anyone who represents me ever threaten deportation. Ever.

MARQUEZ: Babeu stepped down as co-chair of Mitt Romney's campaign in Arizona, but the tough-as-nails sheriff he's not ending his run for Congress.

Jose says he's here legally and wants to get on with his life, but with the story playing a role in presidential politics, that won't be happening anytime soon.


MALVEAUX: Miguel joins us from Florence, Arizona.

So, Miguel, first of all, Jose says that he is in the country legally. Why is he worried about being deported?

MARQUEZ: Well, because he claims that during the course of all of this drama unfolding, that there was a communication between his lawyer and Babeu's lawyer in which Chris DaRose (ph), the lawyer for Sheriff Babeu -- told his lawyer that he understood -- it was sort of an underlying threat -- he understood that Jose was here on an expired student visa. Jose says the sheriff knew that he was here legally, or claims the sheriff knew he was here legally, saying that he was here on a 10-year multiple entry tourist visa. MALVEAUX: And is there any reaction from the Romney campaign about the sheriff's stepping down and not being a part of that campaign? And was there any problem to begin with, whether or not he was outed like this?

MARQUEZ: So far, not today, but there was over the weekend. When the sheriff resigned, he says that he called the Romney campaign to resign his co-chair seat to the Romney campaign here in Arizona. The campaign said, you don't have to do that, we like you, we trust you, we want you to stay. But he said it would probably be best for all parties, and he did.

Romney hasn't said anything beyond that, but as this thing continues to swirl, we may see more.

MALVEAUX: OK. Yes, a lot of controversy around it.

Thank you very much, Miguel. Appreciate it.

Now 17 days of relentless government attacks on the Syrian city of Homs. People are being killed in their homes, on the streets. The International Red Cross is now trying to negotiate a cease-fire so it can deliver food, medical supplies to that city.

Now, rebels, they have also been asking for weapons. President Obama's main military adviser says that's premature to decide to help arm these rebels. He discussed the challenges with our own Fareed Zakaria.


FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA: GPS": Do you believe if you needed to you could militarily intervene in Syria in the same way you did in Libya?

GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Not the same way we did in Libya. I mean, Syria is a very different challenge. It's a different challenge, as you described it, geographically.

It's a different challenge in terms of the capability of the Syrian military. They are very capable. They have a very sophisticated, integrated air defense system, for example. They have chemical and biological weapons.

Now, they haven't demonstrated any interest or any intent to use those, but it is a very different military problem.


MALVEAUX: Well, the stories of death, despair in Syria are gut- wrenching. Arwa Damon, she is taking us inside an underground bunker where families are now taking refuge. These images are pretty graphic stuff.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This small hall was once filled with laughter and celebrations of marriages. Now it echoes with tragedy. These are some of the families of Baba Amr who have nowhere else to go, finding relative safety in this makeshift bunker, but little comfort.

"We're not sleeping at night, we're not sleeping during the day!" Iham (ph) howls. "The children are always crying. The bombs are coming down like this."

They huddle in near darkness. Some cover their faces, afraid they will lose more than they already have.

(on camera): This woman's son has been detained since the end of August. Another woman's son has been detained. This one right here, for a month and a half.

We just walked in and we've just been swamped, bombarded by these people's tragic stories here.

(voice-over): They survive on basic staples of rice and lentils taken from a government warehouse in the neighborhood, but supplies are running low.

At a wood-cutting-factory-turned-bunker nearby, baby Fatima (ph) is cradled in her grandmother's arms. The image of innocence, though the world she was just brought into is anything but.

Her 19-year-old mother gave birth to her in this makeshift shelter 24 hours ago. "There are no painkillers. I couldn't sleep all night," she tells us. Still, in excruciating pain.

She says her husband left a month ago to get supplies and hasn't been able to get back. He doesn't know he's a father. Baby Fatima (ph) has two great uncles she will never meet, both detained and returned as mutilated corpses.

"It was a site you don't want to see." Fatima's (ph) grandmother's voice trembles as she describes how one of her brother's neck was broken, his skin pealed off.

(on camera): We've just been given a photograph of her second brother who was detained and the state that she received his corpse in. And it's absolutely horrific.

(voice-over): It's a room filled with endless stories of death and despair. Safa's (ph) brother and husband were killed when a round struck their home 10 days ago, but she can hardly pause to grieve. "I have to keep going. I have to live for my children," she says.

Activists gather the children for the camera, leading a song against the regime.

"My husband died on the first day of the bombing. They didn't let me see his body. It was shredded to pieces," Amhada (ph) recalls. "His blood is still in the streets, and Hil (ph), his son, he's sick and there is no medicine."

"He keeps crying, saying, 'I want daddy! I want daddy!' I can't bring his daddy back. What is the world waiting for, for us to die of hunger and fear?"


MALVEAUX: Arwa Damon, she is joining us live from neighboring Lebanon.

And Arwa, first of all, very strong reporting, as always. You know, you put your life on the line to bring us these reports from inside that city.

What did you find the most difficult situation there on the ground?

DAMON: It really is being confronted by the sheer scale of the human tragedy that is unfolding and the desperation in people's voices and the questions that they have that one, quite simply, cannot answer. Why isn't the international community come to help us? How can the world keep watching what is taking place and not do something to try to end it?

And, of course, they all want to know, when is this going to end? And we can't answer those questions for them.

All that we can do is try to record what it is that they are going through, and continue to report on that and bring those images into people's living rooms around the world, hoping that that, at the end of the day, causes some sort of pressure on governments to take action, because the people there at this point in time, they've really been left to their own devices. There is nothing that is going to come charging in to save them at this stage.

MALVEAUX: You were actually able to get out of that place that is so besieged right now. Are families able to flee, or is it too dangerous right now?

DAMON: It's very difficult for them to be able to actually leave the neighborhood of Baba Amr. It involves quite an elaborate route that has to be very carefully calculated.

Those families that you saw in those bunkers, they tried to leave, many of them did, but say that they were turned back from government checkpoints. They quite simply weren't allowing them through.

Some of the families, of course, have chosen to stay because they have nowhere else to go. Bear in mind that this is one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in the city of Homs. So, these people, they are quite literally stuck there.

Some of them try to do runs back to their homes from the bunkers to salvage whatever bits and pieces then can from their houses, and some of them die in that effort. So it just really gives you a snapshot of how dire the situation is in there, and it's going to continue to get worse for those people, Suzanne, the longer this drags on. MALVEAUX: And Arwa, is there any hope from these families that help will come?

DAMON: They cling to this notion that perhaps somehow they will be saved, that perhaps somehow, miraculously, the shelling is going to end, the siege is going to leave. But at the end of the day, they also realize that there is nothing that is going to save them but themselves.

They most certainly feel as if they are in this on their own and they have to continue to figure out various ways to stay alive. The food rations inside the neighborhood of Baba Amr, we were told by the head of the humanitarian community there, it's only enough to last them for another week. And that's not to mention the shortage in medical supplies and trying to deal with the wounded and so forth.

I mean, just imagine this, Suzanne. To try to bury the dead, they even have to do that under the cover of darkness, and even while they're doing that, they continue to get shot at.

MALVEAUX: Well, that's unbelievable, Arwa. Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention. Thank you.

It is tax time. Identity thieves know that there are a lot of documents out there with personal information that's floating around. Well, we've got some helpful steps to keep your information safe.


MALVEAUX: In today's "Smarter is the New Rich," we're talking about one of the most important things you can do for your finances. That is, protect your information from identity theft.

Christine Romans, host of "YOUR BOTTOM LINE," she's got more.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, HOST, "YOUR BOTTOM LINE": Your personal information is everywhere during tax season, and all it takes is your Social Security number in the wrong hands to wreak havoc on your credit and finances. Someone can even try to file a bogus tax return, get the check, and leave you out in the cold for months. The IRS says it may take longer for some people to receive their refunds this year because the agency is also taking some extra steps to combat identify theft.

What can you do to protect yourself this tax season?

Lynnette Khalfani-Cox is the founder of John Ulzheimer is with

John, this year the IRS has a new section on its Web site where it's trying to screen filters and help improve its ability to spot fraud. Is filing online still safe?

JOHN ULZHEIMER, PRESIDENT, CONSUMER EDUCATION, SMARTCREDIT.COM: I think it is still safe. I think the key for consumers to understand is that the sooner they can file, the better, because if you can get your return in the mix with your Social Security, then someone else can't pile on top of it. That's what these fraudsters do, it they'll try to file early, knowing that if you file later on the tax season, you can't because a return has already been filed with your Social Security number.

ROMANS: Unbelievable.

So, Lynnette, what do you do? If you think you're a victim of fraud, what do you do and how quickly do you need to get it done?

LYNNETTE KHALFANI-COX, FOUNDER, ASKTHEMONEYCOACH.COM: You need to take a number of steps to notify the authorities. You should certainly notify the FTC. You should tell the IRS. They have an affidavit, a form that you have to fill out, to let them know that you've been the victim of identity theft. And you should notify your local police department. You get an identify theft police report.

Those are critical steps because they actually ensure you get certain legal protections under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. For instance, if some bogus information winds up on your credit report, you can get that blocked. You can also write to the companies that might have been involved that the scammer abused, just like they abused you, and tell them, give me everything in terms of documentation that you have about the fraudulent transactions that took place, or maybe even false accounts that were opened. And by law, they have to give you that, but you have to file those reports first in order to get it.

ROMANS: All right. Lynnette and John, thanks, you guys. Great advice.

I'm Christine Romans with this week's "Smart is the New Rich."


MALVEAUX: Well, today is Presidents' Day. For many of us, it's a day off of work. The stock market is closed, banks shut down. But we are honoring the nation's presidents today.

Of all 43, only five are still alive. It's an exclusive club.

As a White House correspondent for 10 years, I had the privilege, the opportunity to interview all five of them. Showing up to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for work every day puts you in the unique position to actually get to know some of these guys.

One of them who was relatively obscure made history. President Barack Obama was someone who we actually watched grow on the campaign trail just about four years ago.

So we watched him evolve from someone who was unfocused, exhausted, to inspiring and transformational. He was also initially very open with his emotions and eager to tell his personal story. And he did just that, fighting for the presidency.

Part of his compelling profile was the rocky relationship that he had with his father, who abandoned him when he was 10 years old. And he talked about it openly.


MALVEAUX: You said, "Every man is trying to live up to his father's expectations or make up for his mistakes. In my case, both may be true."

Can you explain?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In my case, you had this person who was almost a myth in our family about how smart he was and how well he had done in school and how well-spoken he was and so forth. So that was something to live up to, high expectations.

On the other hand, here's somebody who wasn't there, and that I would come to learn was an alcoholic, and somebody who had not treated his family well. So that was something that you felt you had to make up for.


MALVEAUX: Since that interview, the president's tone, as well as his focus, has changed. He's now focused not so much on people to getting to know him personally, but defending what he has done for this country as president.

Up next, we're going to bring you a slice of life with former President Bill Clinton.


MALVEAUX: Here's a rundown of some of the stories we're working on next.

The biggest myth about presidents on this Presidents' Day. Then, a man who left his lucrative career to become a principal and is revolutionizing the education system.

And at 12:45, how this FedEx delivery man knew more than all of those high-paid scouts out there, predicted the potential of NBA sensational Jeremy Lin.

So we've been telling you all about the avalanches in the Cascade Mountains, Washington state. Three skiers died. Nine others, who were also caught in that snow slide, they managed to dig themselves out. A sheriff's deputy tells us that one of the skiers survived because she used an avalanche rescue system which works like an air bag. Jacqui Jeras, she's here about the avalanche threat and more.

Was that a surprise for them? I guess they were in a place where they weren't really supposed to be or --

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, they were in the back country or out of bounds area. And a lot of really experienced skiers, kind of the hot dog skiers too, you know, will like to o out in this area. In fact, a large majority of avalanches happen from skiers that aren't in the inbounds area.

This video is from Colorado, actually, Suzanne. And this was taken on Friday. So this is in a different state. This avalanche threat has actually been widespread across parts of the west. And it really entails and show you how it looks beautiful, it looks tranquil and that skier hit just the right spot and it triggered that avalanche. So there's very little warning.

Now, there were warnings issued, saying that the risk was very high above 5,000 feet in the Cascades this weekend. I know these skiers were very experienced and there's avalanche control that they do in ski resorts, but they don't do this outside of it.


JERAS: There's a lot that you can learn to help try and avoid yourself from that kind of situation, and it's really a very sad outcome that happened.

So let's talk a little bit about some of the conditions that lead up to avalanches.


JERAS: I've got a graphic that kind of detailed it and shows you. So, believe it or not, you know, we've had a very dry winter out west. The snow pack has been very low. And that's one of the contributing factors. So the base layer is not very thick. It's been very icy. The temperatures have warmed up this week. And if you take a look at that little corner graphic up there, it kind of shows you where you get weakening.

So we had more than a foot of fresh snow that had fallen the day before and gravity, as well as any kind of little trigger, can just make that slide off. And it kind of makes me think, remember when you were a kid and you were walking around in the snow and there was that crusty layer on top --


JERAS: And you'd take your boot and you'd like punch right on through the ice.


JERAS: So imagine a layer -- a foot of snow on top of that as well. So, the avalanche danger remains high. We're talking the Cascades. We're talking the Rockies. We're talking the Wasatch Range. Much of the west. So, it continues to be a threat in the upcoming days and weeks ahead.

MALVEAUX: All right, good to know. All right, thank you so much, Jacqui. Appreciate it.

JERAS: Sure. MALVEAUX: So, I want you to stick around. We hear from this FedEx delivery guy about how he knew actually more than all those high-paid scouts out there predicting the potential and -- of the superstar, the sensation, Jeremy Lin, up next.


MALVEAUX: It's Presidents' Day. As a White House correspondent for 10 years, I had the privilege and the opportunity to interview all five of our living presidents. I showed up to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for work every day and it puts you in a unique position to actually get to know some of these guys.

I covered President Bill Clinton mostly during his last year as president. It was a surreal experience because despite covering the historic trip to Africa and landmark legislation, the news was dominated by the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Now, at first it was a story that we as members of the press debated whether or not it would actually catch fire. But it was the independent counsel's unbridled power to investigate the matter that kept it going.

One of the most memorable moments was the day President Clinton was impeached by the House and made this appearance in the Rose Garden. Myself and another correspondent shouted questions to him after his brief appearance. And I asked him, if he would, for the good of the country, step down. He left the podium without answering and, of course, the Senate later acquitted him. Clinton has gone on to do great things for the world through his Clinton Foundation.

So, of all of the 43 men who have served as United States presidents, who really stands out in terms of changing the course of our country? Joining us to talk about that from New York, presidential historian Douglas Brinkley.

Thank you, Douglas, for being here. You've done research and written dozens of books on the American presidency. Who stands out for you as the best of the best?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: The best of the best in everybody's mind, really, is Abraham Lincoln because no matter how bad President Obama, President Bush has it, Lincoln had it worse. He had to come into Washington, D.C., with half of the country eventually breaking away and putting up confederate flags. He had a bad first year with General McClellan during the Civil War. And ended up becoming the great iconic states person, thinker, writer, and the most beloved president. He's on top of everybody's list as number one.

And number two is always George Washington. Not only was Washington a good president, but he did something that's very important. He stepped down. He relinquished power. He said the presidency is not like a monarchy.

MALVEAUX: And number three?

BRINKLEY: Number three is FDR. We lived, you know, four times FDR was elected president. We've been lived in the United States in the shadow of Franklin Roosevelt from 1933 to 1980. By that I mean the belief that the federal government can make a difference in your life. Not just FDR's New Deal programs, like the CCC or TVA. Not just winning of World War II, but the shadow of Roosevelt affects Truman when he does the National Security Act or, you know, the belief that the government can build a super highway program under Eisenhower. Kennedy's going to the moon and John Glenn. And even Nixon is in the shadow of FDR. It's only Reagan's election in 1980 that starts making people suspicious that the government can help solve your problems.

MALVEAUX: And what makes a good president, in your opinion?

BRINKLEY: I like to tell people honesty is the number one character. They can talk straight to the American people. With that said, FDR was a bit like a chameleon on plaid. He never let his right hand know what his left hand was doing.

So it doesn't -- it's not a full-proof thing. But you don't go wrong in history if what you say, you don't get your story mixed up. What you say proves out to be true. And also the times that you're president. Obviously if you're a commander in chief at a time of war, the way Lincoln in the Civil War, FDR during World War II or Wilson in World War I for that matter, and you win your war, you do well in history.


BRINKLEY: If it's a war of choice, like Korea or Vietnam or the recent war in Iraq, it's harder with your legacy. Americans like winners. So you've got to -- if you're going to do a war of choice, you've got to win it quickly.

MALVEAUX: All right, Douglas, we're going to -- we're running out of time. So I'm just going to give you one example here. "Washington Post's" Aaron David Miller, he has this great piece about the five myths of the American presidency. I want you to just take a look and deal with myth number one, that the president actually has the power to get things done. Is that really a myth?

BRINKLEY: It's a myth to the degree that big things have to be done through Congress. However, Theodore Roosevelt gave modern presidents the weapon to use of executive orders. And you see Barack Obama doing that now. Congress, for example, told TR to mine the Grand Canyon for zinc, asbestos (ph) and copper. He said, I don't care what Congress says and he signed an executive order to save it using the Antiquities Act. A president has many weapons up their sleeves if they're being stymied by Congress. And you're seeing President Obama become an executive order president right now.

MALVEAUX: And, Douglas, real quick, I want to turn the corner here really quickly because this has created a little bit of a stir. And I want you to respond to it. You did a review of the book, "The Obamas" by Jodi Kantor. That was last Sunday's "New York Times." There are some women out there, some folks, who did not like your choice of words, referring to it as a "chick non-fiction." If you could change that, would you? BRINKLEY: Well, I don't -- didn't mean to hurt anybody's feelings, so I guess so. But it was put in a satirical way. The whole -- I was dealing with the whole Kantor story of Michelle Obama and Gayle King and what it rose too. And I said, you can call it that if you'd like. It's actually quite a positive write-up and it called Miss Kantor, who I admire tremendously, a reportorial wonderkin (ph), which was the nicest thing I've ever said about a journalist before. So I think it's -- people should read the book. But there was some humor and tongue in cheek going on in that and people shouldn't take it seriously.

MALVEAUX: All right, we journalist have been called worse, yes. Douglas Brinkley, thank you so much for your insights. Appreciate it.

BRINKLEY: Thank you.


Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman, they've been meeting with Egyptian military leaders. That is happening in Cairo today. They are trying to resolve the case of 19 American workers who now face criminal charges in Egypt's crackdown on nongovernmental organizations. Now the offices of these NGOs, they were raided, as you may recall, back in December. Well, now you're being looking at video. Some of those raids that had occurred. Well, Senator McCain and Graham, they joined us live just within the last hour to talk about the details of these talks and whether or not these guys will be released.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We just met with the remaining Americans and the -- at the U.S. embassy, where they are now. And we had an excellent conversation with them.

MALVEAUX: What did they tell you?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: And I might add, if you don't mind, it's just not about the --

MALVEAUX: What are their conditions like?

Sure, go ahead, I'm sorry.

MCCAIN: Well, they're in the embassy. They're in the embassy there, as you know, and they're well taken care of. But there's a certain amount of concern, obviously, the intention of -- because right now they're not allowed to leave the country. And although the conditions that they're in, in the embassy are fine, there certainly is reasons for anxiety to get this issue resolved.

MALVEAUX: And did you specifically see one of those Americans, Sam LaHood, the son of the transportation secretary?

MCCAIN: Yes, I saw Sam and I can tell you he's fine. He's growing a full beard and he's not nearly as good looking as he used to be.

MALVEAUX: Does this --

GRAHAM: But, Suzanne --

MALVEAUX: Please, go ahead.

GRAHAM: We're also worried about the employees. I just want to put a plug in for the Egyptian employees of these organizations. John is the head of IRI, the International Republican Institute. Madeleine Albright is the head of NDI. And the accusations against these groups are unfounded and, quite frankly, offensive. They're not spies. We're not trying to destroy Egypt's future. We're trying to help the Egyptian people. And we made that very well known that we don't agree with the premise here. And, again, they were in good spirits. It's a hearty group. And what they've been doing, what -- the work over here is very important for our country and the world and we're very proud of them.

MCCAIN: But we are worried about the non-U.S. citizens who worked with -- with these organizations and we'll work hard to make sure their welfare is cared for as well.


MALVEAUX: Stick around for another story. The amazing story of a truck driver who knew more than all of the high-paid scouts out there, predicting the potential of NBA's newest sensation, Jeremy Lin.


MALVEAUX: I love that song.

Knicks Jeremy Lin done it again. The NBA's latest sensation scoring 28 points, had a career high, 14 assists. And New York's win over the defending champ, Dallas Mavericks, that was all on Sunday. It's New York's eighth win in nine games since the 23-year-old became a starter just two weeks ago. After the game, Lin responded to questions about an ESPN headline that used a slur about his ethnicity.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeremy, do you have any reaction to the derogatory headline that had put up on Friday after the loss or the comments?

JEREMY LIN, POINT GUARD, NEW YORK KNICKS: I mean ESPN has apologized and, you know, there's no -- I don't think it was, you know, on purpose or whatever. But, you know, at the same time, they've apologized. And so from my end, I don't care anyone. It's -- you know, I have to learn to forgive. And I don't even think that was intentional or hopefully not.


MALVEAUX: ESPN suspended anchor Max Bretos and fired writer Anthony Federico for the slur, who today offered an apology to "The Daily News," quote, saying, "I'd love to tell Jeremy what happened and explain that this was an honest mistake."

I want you to listen to this incredible story behind Jeremy Lin's two weeks of sudden fame with New York Knicks. So, guess, who always knew that he was the one, he would be the best point guards out there? Well, it wasn't one of these high-paid NBA scouts or execs. It was an amateur sports analyst from Bend, Oregon. Jim Spellman has the story.


JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From out of nowhere, Jeremy Lin and the ensuing "Lin-sanity" has taken the country by storm. But one man saw it coming. Self-proclaimed stat head Ed Weiland.

ED WEILAND, AMATEUR SPORTS ANALYST: This is my -- my -- sort of my master database.

SPELLMAN: Armed with a laptop and a mountain of college basketball statistics, Weiland pours over arcane details, looking for future NBA standouts. In 2010, Jeremy Lin, a little known player at Harvard, caught his eye.

SPELLMAN (on camera): When you're analyzing Jeremy Lin as a college player, did you ever watch him play?

WEILAND: No. No, I didn't.

SPELLMAN (voice-over): Based solely on statistics, like his ability to rebound, steal and block, Weiland wrote a blog post proclaiming Lin to be one of the best point guards in college basketball. At the time, no one listened and Lin wasn't even drafted. But now he's the hottest player in the NBA and among his fellow stat heads, Weiland is looking pretty smart.

SPELLMAN (on camera): Do you look for underdogs?

WEILAND: Oh, yes. I mean I -- when I led the 2010 preview off with Jeremy Lin, the idea was that, you know, I thought this would -- if and when he broke out, you know, that there might be some notoriety there. I obviously never expected anything like this. Yesterday's "Journal" --

SPELLMAN (voice-over): But the notoriety has come for Lin and for Weiland. Weiland's not the obvious sports analyst. He makes his living as a FedEx delivery driver in a small town in Oregon, far from the glamour of Madison Square Garden. He watches the "Lin-sanity" unfold on an old TV in his simple apartment.

SPELLMAN (on camera): At the moment you're both kind of underdogs in your chosen thing (ph).

WEILAND: Yes, we are, aren't we? Connected.

SPELLMAN (voice-over): Will they meet?

WEILAND: You know, I guess so, if it fits his and my schedule. Yes, I'd love to. That would be fun.

SPELLMAN: Jim Spellman, CNN, Bend, Oregon.


MALVEAUX: A hands-on teacher makes a difference in kids' lives. It's an all-American story and it might just inspire you.


MALVEAUX: It's an election year. So you know what it means. There's a lot of chatter, speculation about what the American people want. Well, what really defines America in 2012? We went on a journey to find out. Talking to folks all across the country as part of our special in- depth series. We asked Ed Chang of Atlanta to tell us his "I am America" story.


ED CHANG, PRINCIPAL, KIPP STRIVE ACADEMY: Good morning. How are you, (INAUDIBLE)? Good morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good morning, professor.

CHANG: Good morning. Good morning, Anna (ph), how are you? Good morning, (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning. I got a 51 (ph) on (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The school day starts with a simple gesture from the principal.

CHANG: When I shake your hands, that you squeeze my hand hard and you look me in the eyes.

Good morning, sweet heart. How are you?

That's a big deal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A reminder to these students that Ed Chang is always watching. The first person they see each day, Chang runs the Kipp Strive Academy that he founded like a business.

CHANG: Hey, Darious (ph), don't forget to tuck your shirt in, please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He even implemented a paycheck system to mirror real life, where students can earn rewards based on their work ethic and behavior. And like any good boss, Chang keeps a close eye on things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, (on camera): Why do you check each class?

CHANG: I check each class because it's really important to make sure that kids have a good start to the day. Usually if a kid starts out in a good place, they finish in a good place. And the opposite is true as well. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): These are some of the lessons Chang learned from his previous career as a physical therapist and medical recruiter, as the son of first generation Taiwanese immigrants who came to this country for their piece of the American dream, Chang's parents wanted him to find a job where he could make a lot of money. And for several years, he did, until he realized something that broke from his parents' expectations.

CHANG: It really wasn't my personal passion. And that's what led me to do a lot of soul searching. It led me to really think about, what did I want to do as a job -- as a career, right? Not the job piece, but as a career. Through that, I discovered really that there was a common thread for me based on how I was brought up, based on my personal values and it was this idea of service over self.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An idea that meant a 60 percent pay cut from his previous salary to instead invest in his own community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He takes care of us a lot and he does a lot of things for us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's always there supporting us and giving us a lot of help in each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's the reason Chang says he chose education. A career field that he admittedly stumbled into but realizes his work here is important.

CHANG: To me, education is the civil rights movement of today.

How are you?


CHANG: Good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ed Chang ends each day knowing he's making a difference.

CHANG: I am Ed Chang, principal of Kipp Strive Academy and I am America.


MALVEAUX: Good for you, Ed.

For almost a month we've been asking CNN's i-Reporters to weigh in on what makes them uniquely American. They share their story with us. So, just go to to see more.


MALVEAUX: Take a look at stories our affiliates are covering.

First, a tense standoff playing out in a Minnesota police station. Officers say they were just doing paperwork when a man they think was suicidal walks in.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, stay back. Stay back. Stay back. Stay back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the knife.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I drew my gun thinking, I need to shoot this guy to protect me.


MALVEAUX: And now something amazing that happens in Massachusetts. You see this burning building. You run to see if you can help? Well, what then? This guy actually runs into the building to save two men who were trapped inside. Surveillance video from a nearby funeral home caught the whole thing. The families of the guys rescued, they are grateful. But this guy, he's pretty modest.


KATIE CAGGIANO, VICTIM'S DAUGHTER: We are very grateful for what he did to risk his own life and -- to save our family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): No, I'm no hero, you know, just a guy that can help.


MALVEAUX: Just a guy who wants to help. Good for him.

CNN NEWSROOM continues right now with Randi Kaye. Hi Randi.